Simple Gifts to Stitch: July

Dear Finny,
When you announced the theme of selecting one of the children’s projects or making a project for a child, I was thrilled. I have so many wee ones in my life these days who I love to spoil. One in particular has a fondness for change. It’s gotten to the point that when there is money missing at his house, his parents automatically go to his room to ask Mr. Sticky Fingers where the dough is. Ha! I love that mischevious side. So I thought — why not make him the coin purse? He is 4, loves his money and loves his Auntie Kelli. I figured this would be a perfect crafting storm.

simple gifts to stitch July project
simple gifts to stitch July project
simple gifts to stitch July project

Alas, this project was not as easy as I had hoped. Working with vinyl isn’t so bad, but getting this darn coin purse to cup, as shown in the directions, is tricky. In fact, I never figured it out. Thankfully, my recipient isn’t terribly picky and I’ve already added a few copper friends to the gift to make him smile.

simple gifts to stitch July project
simple gifts to stitch July project
simple gifts to stitch 007

Believe it or not, this was created while sewing sober. I can see how you’d think otherwise.

I hope you and Bubba are having a fabulous adventure in Costa Rica. I can’t wait to hear all about it. And I really hope someone is there to care for the Magic Garden while you are gone. I am loving the gardening inspiration you’ve been providing with your daily jaunts and finds.

By the time you get home, I hope the Flickr pool is full of great projects and I can pick one for our winner. And I’ve got August’s theme selected and it is a challenge. Good thing you are on vacation resting up!


Wrapped and Ready

Dear Finny,
How are you my friend? How is the running going? How is the garden? Is your sweet Bubba back on American time after his international galavanting? Speaking of, as you know I am leaving tomorrow on a jet plane and won’t be back again (for a few weeks.) Anyway, to hold up my end of the Fin and Donk Sewing Adventure bargain, here is my wrap skirt for the June/July challenge:

traveling fashion 001
traveling fashion 003
end of may 2008 007

In a not so humble moment, I have to say this is my favorite thing I’ve ever sewn. I love it. I love the color, the simplicity and the way it swishes when I walk. It is just too fun! I can’t wait to make more of these from Nigerian prints when I get home.

In other news, and yes I know it has been blogapalooza around here as of late, but I’m weening myself from technology and trying to get it all in while I can: we celebrated AJ’s birthday early this morning at the bagel shop. You may remember AJ from previous hedgehog entries. He is one of my sweet friends and he was thoroughly surprised and happy with the delivery of a casserole of these heavy cookies this morning. He walked around the bakery handing them out to customers. Then he told me an hour later he had an artery exam. If I’d only known! These take four sticks of butter, 6 eggs, a cup of oil and lots of chocolate. Not to mention the cookies or nuts. They are basically a heart attack wrapped up in a cookie bar and I made him an entire casserole minutes before he was seeing a cardiologist. How’s that for timing? Nothing says happy birthday like a nice gift of cholesterol.

end of may 2008 002
end of may 2008 003

Okay, off to do some continent hopping. Last post for a bit. Thank you all for your sweet traveling words. Can’t wait to check in soon from the first stop: Nicaragua.

Take care Finny. Can’t wait to see how your garden goes when I get home.


Wrap Her Up and Call Her a Lady

Can I have that waist too

It’s no secret around here that I’m a huge Jackie O fan. Love the pearls, the bobbed coif, the giant sunglasses. I’ve been copying her for years and think perhaps the only perk of marrying Tom Cruise is a new and improved Jackie O-inspired sense of style. Katie Holmes, I adore how you are looking these days, even if you are a bit Stepford.

I’m not sure when I became a fashion prude but I couldn’t be happier that this style is on its way back. I am sick of the thong panties peeking out the top of too low, too snug, muffin-top-inducing jeans. (So I don’t spin around in the mirror. Ha!) In all seriousness, you don’t have to be thin or wealthy to dress like a million bucks these days. Nothing looks better than clothing that fits — including bras that hold the girls at attention, jeans that are hemmed to the right length and heels that are appropriate for the occasion. You can being wearing Tarjay next to Hermes and I wouldn’t know the difference if the model had both items tailored to her size.
I’ve made my fashion faux pas a time or four and am frankly one of the least fashionable in my gaggle of girlfriends. White eyeshadow in college? Overlooking the warning for brunettes on the Sun In bottle in high school? Wearing plaid during a brief, very ugly and very distraught grunge phase? Considering clean pajamas a great clothing day at NAU? All shamefully true and yes, they do make me want to hide behind an even larger pair of JKO frames.
In these missteps I’ve learned a couple things. Diane Von Furstenberg is always a classic. Pearls are always good to have in a pinch; they’ll make any item seem more polished. I am my happiest in flip flops or running shoes. I’ve learned I should spend money on good handbags, shoes and a lipstick that flatters any time of day. I wear my Gap basics thin, while trendy items often hit the Goodwill basket before they’ve lost their Old Navy scent. Black is my slimming best friend. Jeans, a white t-shirt and a sincere smile often catch a man’s eye when a slinky dress just makes me look like every other girl in a Scottsdale restaurant — hungry and uncomfortable. (And really wishing I wasn’t holding a $12 glass of wine.)

May-June Fin Donk Sewing Adventure Project

So, what to sew in the next Finny and Donk Sewing Adventure? Why, dahling, I thought you’d never ask. The wrap skirt, of course. Make it a length you find suitable and post your best fashion forward photo in the pool by June 30th. We’ll select a winner (of fancy goodies, no less) by her creativity and style.


P.S. I need a haircut. I’m thinking the Jenny McCarthy asymmetrical bob. The uneven length may drive me nuts, but I think she’s looking pretty fabulous.

Tacos and Margaritas, Anyone?

can i get you a taco

Querida Finny,
I just love your birdie apron. I wish I had bought five yards of that fabric and could at least toy with the idea of sewing the beautiful dress we saw in the window of Josephine’s. Oh, my love of expensive fabric knows no bounds.


Good thing I’ve got a couple side jobs. Remember that customized apron idea I had for Mother’s Day? Well, I’ve completed two orders. The first was for Jessica and it turns out she is really pleased with the results. Woo hoo! The second I just completed last night, so fingers crossed it also gets a good review. A friend of a friend emailed me to see if I could make her mom and apron and include her nickname (Meesh) and tacos. Come to find out, Meesh is a taco-making machine. I think I captured the espiritu with this April apron project.

ribbon and embroidered taco

So, who is our grand prize winner for April? Your chance to pick. I’m thinking up a fun project for May-June. Do you mind if we double up? I won’t be around a sewing machine (or electricity, really) for most of the later.


Winner Winner Chicken Dinner


Or as they say in Spain, “Ganador, Ganador, Cena de Pollo.” Okay, they don’t say that in Spain, but it is what Ms. Melanie should be signing to herself today. The American mujer quien viva en la Espana rocked the March sew-along challenge. Love the toro fabric! Love the flowers. Love the spunk.


In all fairness, all the entries were really good. Selecting one isn’t easy. (When in doubt, go for the toro.) Ms. Melanie, look for a care package of domestic goodies headed your way soon. What to send a friend in Spain? Hmm…

Now Finny, what shall we sew next for this fabulous sewing adventure?



Dear Fin,
Guess what? In all my domestic prowess (roar), I realized mid-sewing the March pintuck table runner project that really what I was learning here was how to sew a pleat. Score! You know how many of my skirts hang way too low because I’ve never been sure how to pleat in an inch here and an inch there? Well, guess what? I mastered the pleat this weekend with my entry to the Finny and Donk’s Sewing Adventure.

Side table, before

B.P. Before pintucks. Also, A.C. After cats.

I figured my little kitchen side table needed some sprucing. Now that my casa is happily cat free, my houseplants needed to be repotted. Alas, my cutting of that begonia my great-grandfather gave my great-grandmother when he was courting her? Didn’t make it through the 10 weeks with kitties. Thankfully my Tucson grannie has more of the plant and I can snatch another cutting next time I visit.

Pintucked table runner
Pretty green floral fabric on the back

The other plants were very pleased to see bigger pots, fresh soil and their canvas pintucked table runner. Voila! Now, you get to pick the April project. I’m not going to influence you (place mats) but you know what my kitchen could use (place mats)? I am thinking my community dinners would be that much more fun with a bit of canvas pintucked place mats to rock the table. Canvas because my dinners already look like they are sponsored by Salvation Army. Nothing matches. Might as well try to blend the crazy collection of cloth napkins with something neutral.

Side table, with new table runner
my life-long rubber plant

Looking forward to your selection and browsing that fabulous photo pool to see how everyone else pleated themselves silly.


Domestic Disasters

Dear Fin,
Oy vey, oy vey, oy! What a ridiculous week of disasters it has been. First off, remember that nudu hat? The gray one that the minister in Chicago ordered and I finished lickity split? Well, I didn’t sent it with delivery confirmation because I’ve never had anything get lost in the mail. Before. Yep, I had to start over after the hat never arrived. I’m sure whomever received the hat found themselves tickled pink by their new gray dreaded accessory. Alas, this left me scrambling to fill the order again and I’ve thankfully just dropped this baby off in the mail. I kinda like it better in black anyway. Hopefully so does the customer. Fingers crossed this baby arrives in no time and the remaining fee comes my way pronto.

adios nudu

And the tunic. Thankfully my love for Amy Butler is well known around here because you’d never know by hearing the obscenities I’ve screamed her direction in the last week. Pattern sewing is just not my strong suit. I am not dramatizing this scene: me last weekend, sewing four hours on the tunic, trying desperately to finish it in time to meet a you’ll-be-able-to-wear-this-for-Easter promise I made Rebekah when I realized I’d sewn the yoke on incorrectly for the third time.

The Tunic that Nearly Killed Me

I didn’t even attempt to rip it out. I am just thankful I didn’t pull out my shears and make confetti of the entire project. I’m going to attempt to decipher the pattern and sew this top again this weekend. Poor Rebekkah had to find something else to wear to services tomorrow. {And if you have any gentle tips on what you think I may be doing wrong with the yoke, I’d be happy to hear them. That said, if you are going to forward me blogs where the seamstresses write, “Anna Tunic? So easy! One afternoon of skipping through the sewing and I wore it to dinner!” you might as well send me a barf bag too.}

As for that table runner? Haven’t even thought about it. I am guessing I’ll jump on that baby this weekend. I have to say, you paved your own way quite successfully on this project, didn’t you? Bravo!

Hope the Easter bunny brings you gobs of Reese’s eggs, my friend. Miss you, and oh how I could use your pattern-sewing and margarita-making skills right. about. now.


Top of the Mornin’ to your Table Runner


Dear Finny,
I decided on the table runner. Maybe it was the pretty greens in the photo that reminded me of the day we celebrate my people (St. Patrick’s) or maybe it was the simplicity of the linen that drew my eye. I like it!


So, sewers — here is your challenge: the pintucked table runner for March for Finny and Donk’s Sew Along Challenge. The twist is to not only follow the pattern but to do something you’ve never done before. For example, quilt, stamp or embroider your fabric. Use a fabric you’ve never tried before. Do some hand sewing just for the heck of it.


Whatever you decide, please drop a photo off in the sewing pool before March 31st so we can pick a winner. Show us where you are displaying the runner and describe what you’ve learned!
Because March is a green month, I’m considering recycling material for this project. That’s the only hint I’ll give. How about you Fin?


Finny and Donk’s Sewing Adventure, II


Dear Finny,

Sewing Slacker, reporting for duty. I must confess — I haven’t been sewing much lately. I am pretty sure my copy of Simple Gifts to Stitch has a nice layer of dust and I have no idea what I’ll select for the next project.
Don’t you love having me as your partner in this little sew along?
The fundraiser went well. My mom is flying home to Texas today. I’m getting my personal life back in order now that I’m not working insane hours. So, tonight! I will post the project. Promise.
In the meantime, how awesome are these entries to the January/February challenge?


Thank you for selecting such a deserving winner for the scarf project. That scarf is beautiful and I’m rather fond of Lynn. Too bad it is already 80 degrees in Phoenix. My window of scarf-wearing weather has been slammed shut and the air conditioning is coming on soon.

Hope you and that fabulous garden are doing well!

Hippie Leafy Button Scarf

why do you look so bummed, faux fur girl

Why do you look so bummed out, faux fur girl? Is that because you are wrapped in scratchy fake animal skin?

book for fin and donk sewing adventure

You should cheer up. You are the first model featured in this fabulous sewing book — you know, the book we’ve selected for our 2008 Finny and Donk Sewing Adventure.

Project #1

That’s right! The button scarf is our first project. Good thing too, because I cannot for the life of me get my buttonhole maker to work on my machine and this gives me the perfect opportunity to learn how to do it by hand.

embroidered leaf

When I was searching this weekend for a pretty set of fabrics for this fun project, I came upon a giant bolt of silk with this gorgeous green leaf pattern. I wasn’t sure it would work, but when paired with chocolate brown corduroy, I fell head over heels.

wood toggle button

I embroidered one of the leaves, added a toggle button and pulled out my new labels. R. Draper Label company in Australia is so fantastic. I placed an order with them in November, which arrived promptly.

New fabulous labels

Then two weeks ago I received another order. I contacted them about this and told them there had been a mistake — I received another set of labels without paying for them. I liked them and was willing to send the cash. They said there had been a mistake made when they created the first set and they didn’t want to throw these away. They were a gift. Love you R. Draper. Thank you!

leafy wrap

Voila — button scarf completed. I made two and have great plans for them.

casual saturday afternoon

One is off to a charity auction, the other is being sent to a hippie friend who had a birthday quickly approaching. And yes, faux fur girl, I’d be bummed too if I was was wrapped in synthetics when I could have had leafy silk.