Tag Archives: handmade

Babies for Brazil


Sorrow’s amazing addition to the sew-along. Love the Brazilian babe!

A while back I emailed a handful of crafty friends and asked if they’d be interested in a very special project. And then, after a deluge of positive email responses, I completely forgot about this little crafty event.


And so, I am now inviting the Internets to join along too. My friend Jessica, who has done amazing work in Brazil for years, recently brought toys to the children living in impoverished communities. The photos struck me; there were many gorgeous little Brazilian girls and boys carrying around very anglo baby dolls. They were tickled to have their own toy. But it got me thinking.

My favorite doll when I was a child was an African American Cabbage Patch doll named Elizabeth. (Second only to Aggie, the red-headed Irish version.) These two dolls were with me everywhere as a young girl. I adored them. Like little girls in countries around the world, my dolls were special. They had a tiny suitcase full of clothes and regularly were seat-belted into the car next to me. Thinking about it now, Elizabeth was a precursor to a life in love with Africa.

May 17 2010 035

I want to provide the children Jessica is working with in Brazil with dolls that look like they do. Specifically, these Brazilian babies would provide a bit of handmade love to little girls living in poverty. Call me sentimental, but it makes me smile to think of a handful of girls growing up with a handmade item, knowing a woman they’ve never met thought of them, saw their potential, wanted to know they were special and wanted to encourage them to be amazing.

This is what a doll — a tiny piece of folk art — can do. Do not underestimate the power of focused women, especially when they are artists.

June 30 2010 026

Duda wrapped her sweet doll in a homemade quilt.

Care to join this sew along? The rules are simple:

Make a handmade doll — knit, sew, whittle — in the spirit of Brazil. Include details in the doll that encourage your village girl. Photograph your creation and place it in the Flickr pool. Then, mail the doll, with a note if you’d like, to Jessica in New York by September 1.

It should also be said that I don’t know a thing about sewing dolls. I am going into this blind and simply hoping good fortune and patience will see this idea through.

Please leave a comment if you want to play along. I’ll email details to those who participate. This is an easy way for women internationally to provide a bit of handmade love to girls in a Brazilian village. It is simple, sincere and sweet. I hope you’ll join us!


Abe Darby are My Favorite Flowers, Speaking of Roses




For Rosie

Rosie had a stupid thing happen — her purse was stolen this summer when she was on vacation. We met  in Denver soon after the incident. When she lamented her new handbag had just arrived before she’d taken it on vacation, I knew good karma must soon be returned. She’s a sweet woman with a witty, spicy blog and it would be easy enough to send a little love her way.  Voila.

Is it the fancy handbag she’d carefully ordered? Nope. But it is made with her in mind and that’s something no sweatshop can say.

As for that contest earlier this week? The three winners, randomly selected, are: Trish, AmiS and Holly. Email me your addresses and I’ll get your baby bags in the mail!


NiÑo, Pinto, Santo Roscoe

What's up little dude?

What to bring one of the sweetest little boys when visiting? Considering Mr. Roscoe has just about everything he could ever wish for, including a gaggle of adoring family, an African parrot and a kitty that regularly put up with his loving ways, perhaps something unique.


Something to throw? Something African? Something that will make him scream like a little maniac?


Yes. How about some stenciled bean bags filled with pintos and backed with some African cheetah love from Mozambique?

Cheetah Bean bags

Drawstring bag

Bean bags tucked inside

Drawstring for the bean bags

They were all wrapped up nicely in a drawstring bag that was promptly discarded at the bottom of the toy chest. The bean bags should have been a little less full of beans; there were a few leaks by the end of the weekend.

My buddy Roscoe

Thankfully, he’s not a seam allowance critic.


Finny/Donk Sew Along: May

Dear Finny McFinberg,

So, remember last weekend when I was bugging you to help me with some freezer paper/stencil/paint ideas for our embellished t-shirt May sew along project? You looked at me from the moon and responded, “Um, I just cut out some fabric and kinda glued it on the shirt.”

Ah. Right.

And so, while you are out with Bubba, enjoying your envy-inducing sabbatical, fly fishing and backpacking with friends this weekend, I’m sitting in Phoenix sewing.*  Yes, you can feel sorry for me. When sewing induces sweat, it’s time to start looking at real estate. And yes, this is the same conversation we’ve been having every summer for the last 10 years (literally) and no, I don’t actually plan on doing anything about it anytime soon. That’s the way I roll. Me + summer in AZ = unneccessary bouts of extreme grouchiness. Amazing how that green-tinged mood crops up when I think of you standing in waders in some beautiful zenful river, sweet talking fish.

Okay, just cranked up the AC and poured myself an icy drink. Phew. Back to the topic at hand, shall we?

You know what? This may be the simplest craft project ever. For those who don’t have a sewing machine and regularly lament, bitch and moan that they can’t play along — guess what? This project takes 10 minutes, a pair of scissors and very little craft talent. And yet the result is damn cute. I present my new hippie badge tank:

Take two tank tops

Two tanks from Costco

You need about 2 inches of this

Plus one package of this Stitch Witchery glue stuff

A hippie badge

Plus a little VW van fabric

Little hippie van

et, voila:

Finny/Donk sew along May project


Good choice, Finny. Honestly, the hardest part of this project was finding fabric I wanted to wear on an already cute tank. The VW Heather Bailey print has been hanging around for a bit and worked perfectly. In cleaning out the art studio (turned roommate’s headquarters) this weekend, I found a stack of T-shirts someone gave me. And so, if you’d like a VW hippie badge T-shirt — leave a comment. The first three will have one mailed out this week.

As for you, I hope the fish, the backpacking and the sabbatical are going swimmingly. Miss you!



* In all seriousness, I think my next sport/outdoorsy adventuring will be fly fishing. I’m considering trading in the tri bike for some waders and a rod. Hmm…

Score One for Sizing

Sundress for the Summer

My one giant flaw with sewing is I my spacial abilities are quite poor. Sizing isn’t my forte.  My grandfather once received an apron that went to his toes and wrapped around him nearly twice. I knit those once in style One Skein Wonders for a dozen friends for Christmas one year, only to never see a single one ever worn. I did hear a lot of, “Wow! So cute, and so tiny…” Skirts, usually too big. Rebecca’s pajama pants at Christmas were so large she could stand in one leg. You get the idea.

When I started working on this quick sundress for Delaney, I held the first version up to myself to realize that it fit nearly perfectly. That is, it fit me nearly perfectly and I’m only about a foot taller and 100 pounds larger than this sweet 9 year old. Perhaps I should become more acquainted with my measuring tape.

It fits!

And so, imagine my delight when she put this on and it fit perfectly. Giddyup.


Oh baby!


Spring has sprung and the babies are arriving in droves. Last week two girlfriends had babies — one after 42 hours of labor (!) and one after 5.5. Ms. Eloise has graced us with her presence and I can say the kid is as gorgeous as children come. She’ll join her cousin Roscoe in the league of adorable Brennan babies.

My attempt at embroidery

And so, the opportunities to create sweet gifts for the mamas and wee ones have sprouted in turn. I adapted the bunny pattern in”Last Minute Knitted Gifts” (what a misnomer!) to use dishcloth cotton. I thought the end result would be more baby-friendly, although I’m not opposed to every child having a bit of baby alpaca. Or cashmere. I am opposed to spending $30 on a skein of yarn for one baby project that more than likely would be put on a shelf and not played with if made from something so luxurious.

Butter Bunny

Back of Butter Bunny

In turn, I introduce Ms. Butter Bunny. Thanks to help from Finny, I was able to get through this pattern this first time. I know the next one will be remarkably better. And would you believe there was another knit bunny at the baby shower yesterday? Grrr…. At least the future mama seemed to love both. I also made her some burp cloths (from leftovers of the Christmas pants project) and a couple embellished onesies. It was a beautiful party and day!

Sweet little onesies



Abdullah shows his baskets for sale

Abdullah shows his baskets for sale

Abdullah shows his baskets for sale

My father jokes that if there is an African in the room, I can find and befriend him in no time flat. It seems whereever I go, I can find a friendly African face. This weekend, for example, I met Abdullah at the Scottsdale Farmer’s Market. If you are guessing that he was the only African in sight — you’d be right. The market is a hubub of pricey (while lovely) organic eats, crafts, cupcakes and Sweet Republic ice cream.

Ghanian baskets for sale at the Scottsdale Farmer's Market

Abdullah imports these baskets from his friends in Ghana and sells them for $30. I’m thinking they’d make pretty stellar Easter baskets. I’ve got to get back there to buy a few before the holiday arrives. It would be sweet to fill one of these with baked goods for my grandparents or books for a sick friend. I’m on a basket kick of late. I’d love a couple of these to use for shopping at the market too!

Ghanian baskets for sale at the Scottsdale Farmer's Market

Ghanian baskets for sale at the Scottsdale Farmer's Market

Or, you know, to carry Toto on my bike.



Seams to Me: Taxi Tote

When I added Seams to Me to my Christmas list, a friend-via-blogging named Flo — who lives in Japan — immediately emailed and offered to send me her copy. She did so, and I’ve been truly enjoying this book (and her act of kindness) since.

The Taxi Tote is my first project. January is a purse pattern review month around here, and for this second bag I must say — the size is perfect.

Seams to Me: Taxi Tote

It is exactly the right shape and size for an everyday purse. I love a big everyday bag. I carry a ridiculous number of things with me to work — address book, journal, book of the week, magazines, to-do manila file folder, etc. This bag would be Golidlocks-right in size.

Seams to Me: Taxi Tote

That said? The bias tape is a bitch. A complete and total, hormonal, raging bitch. I do not like working with this stuff at all. Even if it produces a nice edge.

Craptastic bias sewing skills

My edges are so far from perfect because I got to the point where I just wanted to have this thing finished.

Seams to Me: Taxi Tote

Yet, you only get better with practice. This bag was made for someone in mind. I may just start over to make myself a spring tote.

Overall review: 4 out of 5 bananas. Clear instructions, interesting pattern, craptastic bias tape required.


Handmade Christmas

I’ve been waiting for the last gifts to be gifted and received to post the projects I made for the holidays.

Cigar Box turned Correspondence Kit for Colleen

Cigar Box turned Correspondence Box

Cigar Box turned Correspondence Box

Cigar Box turned Correspondence Box

Cigar Box turned Correspondence Box

With much thanks to Kinchie for nudging me along to get this done and helping with the details!

Tea Towel Headbands, which I put together with help of my mama. (God bless her patience. I hate turning tiny things like this.) I love the idea of having a little towel on your brow when you are working out, gardening or running down the field playing frisbee. You want to look cute, but you don’t want your hair in your eyes. And if it sucks up a little “glisten” along the way, even better.

Tea towel headbands

Tea Towel Headbands

These were paired with my 2008 Christmas music mix. If one doesn’t get you out on your bike, hopefully the other does.

And finally, Amy Butler wide leg jammie pants. I made these in fleece and added a t-shirt to make pajama sets for eight friends.

Amy Butler wide leg pants -- fleece

Amy Butler wide leg pants -- fleece

Amy Butler wide leg pants -- fleece

And to all a good night! The Christmas tree is down, the Valentine’s heart is going on the front door and I’m looking forward to a rockin’ 2009.