When swaps go well

Swaps – when they go well – are wonderful. But I must admit, I haven’t swapped in ages as awhile back I went through some horrible swaps. Too often, people never send their half of the swap or (to be frank) you don’t get something of equivalent “value” as what you send. Don’t even ask me about the time I swaped a huge set of Lantern Moon knitting needles and got a bunch of ugly poorly dyed (it was almost a blessing those ugly colors bled when the yarn got wet) cheap yarn in return.

That said – when a swap goes well…you have made a new friend and have received something that makes you smile when you open it and everytime you look/use it thereafter. And that’s just the type of swap I just had!

My swap package from Donna was huge and full of delights.

First and foremost…the coasters! Each one is a unique beauty. I’d say I was excited to use them, but as soon as my 7-month-old daughter saw them – they became mostly hers. I put them on the table and 5 minutes later she’s waving them in the air. The green one is a particular favorite (the picture above shows the front of it.)

But then Donna also sent a gorgeous handmade bib. I have to show you both sides since each one is a beauty. Considering how messy mealtime is getting with Quinn, I shudder at submitting this bib to that kind of torture.
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I can’t tell you how difficult it is to get a 7-month-old that just learned how to crawl to sit still for a bib show off shot.

Thanks Donna! I’m positively tickled with what you sent. And really, the best part is I’ve “met” someone I truly like and consider a new friend.

June 15, 2009 at 3:56 am 9 comments

Orange you glad I made coasters?

For a little bit of fun I participated in the Kindred Crafters Coaster Swap. I figured it would get me sewing again and coasters make for a relatively quick project that I can do after the baby goes to bed and before I do (which is not too much later than the baby!) I had to wait to post about it until my swap partner got her package from me.

I was paired with Kindred Crafter’s very own Donna. She said she was into orange. I hope she meant it because here are the coasters I made for her.


I wasn’t sure how many I was supposed to send so I made 2 sets of 4 that would be complimentary to each other. Lots of luscious Joel Dewberry Aviary fabrics with natural linen. And, of course, lots of orange orange orange.
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I backed them mostly in the woodgrain print…but one special one got a little birdie love.
(Please pay no attention to the very not straight edges.)

And of course, I have to have one more shot from the side.

Best of all…it sounds like they were a hit with Donna!

June 14, 2009 at 5:40 pm 8 comments

RSS Feed Aggregator – Recs?

Does anyone out there have a recommendation for an RSS aggregator?

I’ve used Bloglines for years…but I’m fed up with it. It’s difficult to remove old feeds and to move feeds around between categories. And about once a week, my feeds go crazy and show 200 new posts per site. So it looks like I have thousands of unread posts.

And worst of all (at least to me) is that I’ve emailed the company 3 times over the past 6 months with the issue and haven’t gotten any response at all. Poor tool performance + poor customer service = goodbye Bloglines.

So I’m on the market for a new online tool. I started playing with Google Reader but I am not overly fond of having to stay logged into my email to have the feeds going too.

What do you all use to keep up on blogs and RSS feed items? Any tool that you just love?

June 5, 2009 at 12:14 am 11 comments

We have winners!

Thank you everyone for entering for the giveaway. I hope everyone enjoyed the event as much as I did. I read through EVERY comment and I have some new blogs to read thanks to you!

Sadly, we could only have three giveaway winners. (And I didn’t win any of the giveaways I entered so, trust me, everyone who didn’t win has my utmost sympathy!) For this giveaway, the Random Number Generator has chosen…

Winner #1 (Carrot Cake/Gold Seeds): hap
Winning would make me so very happy. I feel like I’m always the bridesmaid, never the bride when it comes to these things. 🙂
I’m new to this blogosphere, so you probably read all the ones I do, but I do like madebyrae.blogspot.com

Winner #2 (Fluttering Butterflies/Yellow Gnomes): VickiT
What wonderful prizes you are so generously giving away. Thank you for the opportunity to win them. Love those fabrics.

Winner #3 (Betsy’s Closet/Blue Gnomes): Tanya
Holy Gnomes! What a great give a way and so very generous, thanks for the chance to win, I am seriously crossing fingers and toes. You probably already know about Amber’s blog, it is one of my favorites and she is a really nice person too which makes it all good.

I’ll email winners directly to get mailing addresses. Please check your spam filters to make sure you get the email. Thanks so much again everyone! I can’t wait for the next giveaway day.

June 4, 2009 at 3:57 am 4 comments

Giveaway Day in May

::Updated 6/2 8:30 PM PST – Comments Closed…no more entries::

Happy Giveaway Day!

Apologies in advance for the horrible photos. This is what happens when you forget to take the pictures until 10 o’clock at night. But, hopefully, once you see what is IN the photos you won’t care about the quality of the photo.

I have 3 duos to send out. You have until JUNE 2, 2009 (8pm PST) to enter. The rules are simple…just leave a comment (anything’ll do) on this post by the deadline for 1 entry. You get bonus points (ie an extra entry) if you leave me a link to one of your favorite sewing, fiber art, or paper crafting blogs. (I’m trying to build my blog reading list.) Please please please make sure to leave me a way to contact you if you win. Winners will be drawn via the random number generator…and yes, I’ll go ahead and ship internationally.

Ok – onto the goods! I decided that since I’ve been on the difficult hunt for some tough to find Flea Market Fancy and Heather Ross fabric, it was only fair to share some of the wonderful finds I have in my stash. I was lucky enough to recently grab some of the Gnomes in both yellow and blue (stalking eBay pays off if you’re persistent) and it seems like good karma to pass it along.

First up, a copy of the Carrot Cake pattern by Barbara Brandenberg and a fat eighth of the yellow seeds pattern from Flea Market Fancy by Denyse Schmidt.

Next up, a copy of Fluttering Butterflies by Black Mountain Quilts and a fat eighth of the yellow gnomes pattern from Lightening Bugs and Other Mysteries by Heather Ross.

And just when you thought it couldn’t get any better…finally we have a copy of Betsy’s Closet by Acorn Quilt and Gift Company and a fat eighth of the blue gnomes pattern from Lightening Bugs and Other Mysteries by Heather Ross.

Ok y’all…comment away and good luck!

May 27, 2009 at 5:04 am 380 comments

Giveaway Day in May is coming

Sew Mama, Sew is hosting another Giveaway day and I decided to participate.
Giveaway Day

My stash is building, I accidentally bought multiples of a few things (made me so mad, but perfect for a giveaway,) and everyone loves free things.

So stop by on May 27th and see the goodies that are up for grabs from me. And visit the Sew Mama, Sew directory on May 27 to see all of the other great blogs participating.

May 22, 2009 at 4:03 am 1 comment

What happened to the knitting?

So a few of you (ok…just two of you) have asked “where’d the knitting go?”

Right now, knitting consists of looking longingly at my UFOs sitting in various piles in my craft room. I love knitting. There’s a Zen-like quality to the soothing repetitive motion. I love the feel of the points hitting my index finger, the way the knit stitches nest into each other, and the smooth feel of the merino sliding through my hands.

But knitting takes time. And time is the one thing I have so very little of. Between work and the baby, I have maybe 1 hour at night before I collapse into bed and I usually try to spend that time with my husband.

So alas and alack, I don’t knit right now. But I sure do miss it. And I miss more than just the knitting. I miss that Zen time and what it represents. Being a mom is wonderful and I treasure every minute I have with my daughter. But my attention can only be divided in so many ways, and (as so many of you understand) the thing that tends to get sacrificed is the attention I give to myself. And both literally and figuratively, knitting represents that “me time” that I don’t have right now.

And look what happens when you knit for baby in advance:
The hat fits her perfectly! Just in time for Summer. D’oh!

And it’s pure decadence that I have a knitting night scheduled with some friends (including two moms-to-be) next week.

May 20, 2009 at 5:00 pm 1 comment

Product Review :: Sewline Fabric Pencils

In a search to find the perfect fabric marker I stumbled across the Sewline pencil. Using a ceramic-based lead, the pencil is designed to give you a thin clean line while still being erasable/removable.


Available in a rainbow of colors (white, pink, yellow, green, brown), the pencil comes with a packet of six lead refills and has one eraser in its top. I got the white, pink, and green pencils to make sure I had a lead that would show on whatever fabric I was marking.


I like the form factor of the pencil. It’s nothing special when compared to a mechanical pencil (comfortable to hold with a nice diameter barrel) but it’s vastly different from other fabric marking tools I have. And I don’t think you can tell from the photos…but the pencil has a slightly triangular shape to the barrel. Would you like to see my informal test of how the lines compare with other markers?



As you can see, the Sewline (far right) makes the finest line. The tailor’s chalk (center) is the most difficult to control and left a small amount of chalk dust. The chalk pencil (far left), while easier to control than the tailor’s chalk, left a large amount of dust and it dulls quickly requiring frequent sharpening. There may be an argument that the Sewline is best as a pattern/design tracing tool while tailor’s chalk is best for marking clothing for tailoring since the Sewline definitely needs a firm surface underneath the fabric to work while the tailor’s chalk leaves a heavy mark by just rubbing against the fabric. But since I make quilts and toys and I have no clue how to resize clothing, the Sewline would seem to be the tool for me.

The Sewline pencil drew fairly smoothly and I adore that fine fine line. I’m just starting to explore applique and I can see how this fine line will be perfect for tracing out the more intricate shapes. And of course – you don’t have to stop to sharpen it. In my quick tests, the lead did not break, but if this is like other mechanical pencils…the thin leads are probably prone to snapping if you extend them too far or apply too much pressure. I did encounter some minor drag on the fabric when I drew and had to hold the fabric down with my hand to keep the fabric from stretch while I marked. But I have a feeling that was largely due to the amount of pressure I was using.

I’m glad that I got multiple colors because, as you’ll see below, each color shows up with varying success on different colored fabrics. Sewline is coming out with a 3-chambered pencil (just like those pens we had in grade school) that holds 3 different leads at once.
I think I’ll be using the pink pencil the most frequently as it seems the most versatile.

Finally – the all important eraser test. Here’s where my praise of the Sewline pencil stumbles a little.
I made a single horizontal line of each color on the 4 swatches. The vertical line in the center divides the eraser test from the water test. Obviously, this isn’t a perfect/professional test…but I have a 6-month-old so I do what I can with the time I have. I’m sure you understand.

The “E” indicates the eraser side (the right side) of the test and I used water on the left-hand side. I used 4 colors of Kona Cotton as the fabric. Overall, it seemed like a toss-up between the erasing or using water to remove the marks. If you click on the photo and view it larger, the detail shows better. None of the marks came off completely through erasing and the eraser tending to leave behind annoying little curlings of the used eraser (just like a regular eraser – so who am I to complain?) And the water seemed to be just as effective as the eraser to remove the mark. To be fair, I did use a fair amount of pressure to make the lines…so maybe if you draw more gently more of the mark will come off. Also – I didn’t wash the swatches in soapy water…so perhaps more of the markings would come off that way?

My final verdict – I’m somewhere between liking the Sewline pencil and loving it. The downside of the marks leaving traces behind after erasing is a dark mark against it. But the benefits of the smooth, fine, clean line with the ease of use of a comfy mechanical pencil outweighs the erasing issue to me. They’re perfect for drawing applique shapes and tracing toy pattern pieces – which is what I mostly needed a marking tool for, so they’re perfect for me.

I bought my Sewline penciles at the Fat Quarter Shop. But you can also find the products HERE, HERE, and HERE. (You can find them lots of other places too…but I can only list so many links.)

And yes, I did get the Sewline fabric glue pen too. I’m using it to do some strip piecing and will write up a quick review soon.

May 17, 2009 at 2:10 pm 35 comments

What’s wrong with this picture?

Craftzine has a great preview of Lotta Jansdotter’s new book, Simple Sewing for Baby. I love Lotta’s work and I’m looking forward to getting a copy of the book myself. But this picture in the preview had me chuckling.


Does anyone else see what’s wrong with this picture?

C’mon all you swaddling moms out there…you know what I’m talking about. It’s that adorable little hand sneaking out of the top of the swaddle! Of course, the wrap looks gorgeous and snuggly. But anyone who’s swaddled knows that a good swaddle is one in which the baby stays wrapped up tight – with no escaping bits. Sure, that’s not the point of the photo. But seeing as how we we struggled to find the right swaddle for our escape-artist daughter, I found that sneaky little hand amusing.

May 15, 2009 at 4:57 pm 4 comments

Munki-ing Around

After my post about finding Heather Ross fabric…I slipped into an ugly downward spiral of obsession. I realized there are so many gorgeous Ross prints that I didn’t have in my collection yet! I had to have them. I HAD to HAVE them. (I know I’m coming off as super materialistic – pun intended – but I pinky swear that I’m not THAT bad. This is my big vice. This and dark chocolate.) So after two days of Googling and emotionally justifying the cost, here’s what I have:

Yup…a whole STACK of Munki Munki pajamas. All beautiful Heather Ross prints that aren’t made anymore. Now, if you look at this and think, “what the heck is she going to do with all of those PJs?” then you aren’t thinking like a sewist. If you know the Munki Munki line, then you know the PJs were often sold for upwards of $80 retail. And if you know me, you’ll know there’s no way in H-E-double-hockey-sticks that I would pay that price. But thanks to Google and some digging around time, I found all of this stuff on sale for well below retail. It’s funny how value is so subjective. The pajama sellers just think this is older stuff that hasn’t sold and isn’t being printed anymore…so clear it out. I’m thinking these are hard-to-find prints of out-of-print fabric from a fabulous designer that are valuable. Go figure.

These lovelies are going to be sliced and diced into lovely pieces for patchwork. If you can’t see the prints I got: Bicycles, Brides, Gnomes, Vans, Shoes, Ice Cream Truck, Coffee, Martians, Sushi, and Yoga. Isn’t it neat how you can see how this early work of hers influenced some her of later stuff.

There’s a mix of PJ shirts, nighties, and the best finds…tops and bottoms (the Ice Cream Truck and VW Buses – SO cute.) I shopped around and bought the largest size of whatever PJ was available. And I only purchased the cotton poplin although I was sorely tempted by all the fun flannel that I found. I’m happy with how large each piece is and I figure I have a nice amount of yardage here. These are going to be so fun to play with!

Here are my faves (cuz you can’t have enough Munki love pictures.) Have you seen these before? They’re just the cutest things ever. I love love love the ice cream truck print…it’s so cheerful and fun and completely captures the essence of the ice cream truck excitement.

And because I know I’ll get asked…this is a combination of shopping ebay, Amazon, and Only Pajamas. Repro Depot also has some straight yardage left of Munki Munki prints. The “poolside” print may have to find its way into my collection…

I’m mulling over an all Heather Ross quilt top (from the PJs and the other fabrics in my stash. ) But the prints are so different thematically that I’m not sure how that would really work. So I’ll probably just work in pieces into projects here and there. Whatever I end up doing with them, I know these will add whimsy and delight to the project.

Now if my Far Far Away pre-order would just arrive.

May 4, 2009 at 8:40 pm 16 comments

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