Monthly Archives: April 2010

The Weekend Wrap-up

I am in complete amazement that the weekend is over…. it seemed to fly by so fast. I had good intentions of putting up a post yesterday too, but by the time I finally sat down to do it, I realized it was well past 3 here. Wow, that doesn’t happen often! What made the weekend go so fast? Besides having some company, I also did some planting. I am by no means a gardener, but in addition to needing to replant some flowers that didn’t survive our very, very cold winter this year, I decided to take in some gardening. I’m attempting to grow tomatoes and strawberries – if all goes well, maybe we’ll attempt more things next year (although don’t count on it)!
We also did ‘bug release day’ – setting free our butterflies (which were terribly interesting this year) and ladybugs (which refused to leave their ‘house’ and required me to ‘shake’ them free). Both kids were completely fascinated by them but refused to touch the bugs…. unless you count Easton attempting to step on them as touching. Afterward, we played in the yard and stumbled across this, a baby (snapping) turtle. It was so small we almost missed it – after all the bugs, I believe Easton was rather unimpressed (or it may have been he lost interest after we told him he couldn’t touch it).
With the weekend over, company gone, plants planted, and chicken project completed, I’m up for one more quick project before I start mapping out my patterns for The Sewing Republic, but what to make? What is everyone else working on?


I have made some unusual projects in my time, but I definitely think that these chickens take the cake – not only is it the fact that they are not your typical stuffed animal (I suspect that not many people make chickens for their kids), but they lay eggs! I personally think they turned out adorable and the fact that you push small plastic eggs from their tail section makes everyone giggle. Overall, this pattern was easy to sew up. There’s lots of applique and positioning of small pieces (like the crown, beak, etc.) and some ‘new to me’ procedures (i.e. creating an egg channel; since I typically make more clothes, bags, etc. that are pretty straighforward this was a bit different for me) I would say that an advanced beginner to an intermediate sewer (and beyond) could sew this up without difficulty.
The kid’s reaction? Well, as you can tell from the photo on the left (sorry it’s from my phone, so the quality is a bit fuzzy) Easton adores them. When he woke up from his nap I told him that I had a chicken waiting for him and he made chicken noises all the way to the basement. After hugging it (and making more chicken noises) I showed him the egg laying…… he loved it, but expected candy in the plastic eggs! Taylor loves hers too (and keeps reminding me that she told me the leopard fabric would look totally awesome with this pattern), but she didn’t get much time with it since Easton kept taking it away from her. I will admit that he chicken is ‘constipated’ since I somehow managed to twist up the egg channel in her version.
Now I’m totally thinking I need to make some pigs……

Almost There

I had a great opportunity to sew the yesterday (yay, naps!) and really accomplished a bulk of the sewing that was left on the chickens. I’ve got to admit, I’ve never sewn anything quite like it before so trying to figure out what I was supposed to be doing was tricky – thank goodness for great photographs that accompany the directions because I may not have been able to visualize how to put the body together otherwise! However, once you sew it up you get that “Oh, I get it” kind of moment. Actually, the whole pattern is pretty brilliant – I’m not sure how she figured out how to design this little bird, but she did a great job… I’m not sure I could have done it without beating my head against the wall!
Now all that’s left is attaching the head and stuffing. I can already tell that I’m going to have to get out to buy more, there’s no way I have enough on hand for two of these chickens. Oh well, it’s raining outside so it’s a good day to make it to the store – planting flowers and vegetables will just have to wait!

Linky Thursday

Hot Patterns has a new free pattern up at – the Bossa Nova Swishy Gored Skirt
Singer is giving away a copy of Martha Stewart’s new book, Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts ever day for the entire month of April!
Love those little travel tissue covers, but never knew how to make one? This tutorial will show you how!
I’ve always admired Kaffe Fassett’s quits. If you’re a fan too, here’s your chance to participate in a quilt-along with this designer and get feedback on your quilt by Kaffe himself!
Give your cardigan a makeover by adding some rick rack.
Sewing room in need of a makeover? Whip up this sewing machine cover and give your area a new look.
Just asking a question to Sew Fun could land you a free pattern!
Free fabric from Sew Mama Sew? It’s true! Just sign up for their newsletter to receive your coupon.
Celebrate Earth Day by entering in some fantastic giveaways!
I loved Twinkle Sews – it has a very Burda WOF vibe to it. Now you can check out her style yourself by sewing up this free dress pattern.
A custom sized cozy for your morning cup of joe.
Crafty Corps giveaway for today only – an Etsy gift from Christina Batch-Lee bag!
U-Handbag’s crafty clear-out #3 is underway!


There seems to have been a lull in sewing books lately. However, Bret made an Amazon order last week and I managed to find a new release that looked good – so I ordered it. Yesterday, How to Use, Adapt, and Design Sewing Patterns arrived and I must admit, I’m anxious to delve into it. Just from the initial ‘browsing’ of the pages, I noticed lots of diagrams, illustrations and photos. I’m hoping that I can glean lots of information from it so I can start drafting my own clothing patterns and not just ‘crafty’ ones.
While I was on Amazon, I did notice LOTS of great upcoming books over the next 6 months – which means that my wishlist just got bigger!
Anna Maria Horner’s Handmade Beginnings: 24 Sewing Projects to Welcome Baby is released next month. Even though I don’t have a baby anymore, I may check this title out. I love making baby gifts and think that Anna’s style is so fresh.
The title of this book, 200 Sewing Tips, Techniques & Trade Secrets: An Indispensable Compendium of Technical Know-How and Troubleshooting Tips, totally intrigued me. I’m guessing that this book may be more for beginners, but I’m guessing that it might be worth a look while I’m at the bookstore sometime. If anyone knows more about it, please let me know!
Just in time for summer sewing, Sew Serendipity: Fresh and Pretty Designs to Make and Wear. It looks like a cute little project book, but I’m guessing it’s going to lean more toward the beginner. Undoubtedly, I’ll pick it up anyway – I love fast and easy projects and who knows, maybe Taylor might get bit by the sewing bug and want to make something too.
Somehow over the years I have managed to ‘collect’ a number of fabulous fat quarters. I’ve managed to hold onto so many of them only because I haven’t found the ‘right’ project to use with them…. maybe Small Stash Sewing: 24 Projects Using Designer Fat Quarters will help me fix that?
I really love the retro inspired patterns that have been coming out over the past few years. Consequently, I’m thinking that Sew Retro: 25 Vintage-Inspired Projects for the Modern Girl & A Stylish History of the Sewing Revolution might be worth a look, or at least provide some eye candy and an interesting look at ‘historical’ fashion.
It’s probably safe to say that I was absolutely GIDDY when I saw that Amy Butler has a new book coming out this fall – and for bag, no less! Amy Butler’s Style Stitches: 12 Easy Ways to 26 Wonderful Bags is due out in August – I guess I had better start stocking up on fabric and interfacing for this one. Lisa from U-handbag also has a bag book coming out in the near future, but I wasn’t able to find it listed.
I don’t know many people who don’t love Wee Wonderful’s designs. I’ve made a few of her softiesplush, but have never tried any of her dolls (I’m not sure mine would look as polished as hers), but I’m definitely picking up Wee Wonderfuls: 24 Dolls to Sew and Love. I’m not sure what I’ll be doing with all the finished dolls (Taylor is too old and Easton won’t be into them) so I guess I’ll have to just keep them for show.
The Dressmaker’s Handbook of Couture Sewing Techniques: Essential Step-by-Step Techniques for Professional Results – because who doesn’t love couture?
I knew Marie Osmond sewed and even had her own line of products, but I had no idea she was writing a book. Marie Osmond’s Gifts Worth Giving comes out in October – I’m anxious to see what it’s all about (plus it’s released just in time for Christmas gift giving).


Want to know what all the work on the Pensky looks like? The photo on the left shows a portion of the boxes (completely filled with paper to be entered into Excel files)that have taken over my extra bedroom – there’s more in a storage room and on the dresser, and on Bret’s desk! 95% of the data from these boxes have been entered (and only one box left to go) and I am longing to visit my sewing machine again!
Speaking of sewing, here’s a preview of the chicken heads. Personally, I think they look pretty good – although the real test will be the kid’s reaction.

On A Roll

Mother’s Day is rapidly approaching (May 9) and I’m already plotting what I would like to make this year. High on my list is Cath Kidston’s jewelry roll from her book, Sew and now this – a cute little make up brush case from The Sewing Republic. I’m also thinking this would make a great gift for Taylor’s friend’s birthdays… pair it up with a matching box bag and I think it would make a great set!
Anyone else thinking of sewing something up this Mother’s Day? What’s on your list?

Stain Master

Late last night (while we were working on the ‘Pensky File‘), Bret decided to do a load of dress shirts for his upcoming trip. Unfortunately, he didn’t check the pockets before he washed them and wound up having a Uni-ball Signo Gel pin (so it’s more like a marker than an ink pen) leak everywhere. Since these were his favorite shirts, I attempted to salvage them this morning. I wound up purchasing 2 different products Carbona Stain Devil (for inks and crayons) and OxiClean Max (pre-treatment). Now, I don’t mean to sound like a product placement ad, but the OxiClean works wonders (I didn’t see that the Carbona did anything). I honestly thought that I wouldn’t be able to remove any of the color, they are in pretty bad shape – the photo on the right is proof as it is the ‘ground zero’ shirt (although some of the color has already been removed since I had already started working on it before I remembered to snap a picture). I’m not going to lie to you either, I really worked on these shirts – I scrubbed, blotted (there was a lot of ink lifting off of the shirts after I sprayed), soaked, and repeated, but I’m happy to report, all but two shirts (one is completely white and really looks beyond repair and the second is the ‘ground zero’ shirt) are fixed! I think if I go back and work on the worst shirt, I can still fix it – the stain is substantially lighter and almost gone in most spots.
So, the moral of this story is twofold: 1) always check your pockets before washing; 2) if you get a stain on your favorite fabricclothes, use OxiClean!

Circus Time

You can definitely tell spring has sprung because it seems like there is a never-ending list of activities that is ‘taking away’ sewing time. Our latest? The circus. I have to say, there is a definite difference between Barnum & Bailey’s performances and the one we saw (Bret, Taylor and I were bored), but Easton was completely enthralled which is all that mattered (plus the snacks and ‘toys’ were bonus too, although, I have discovered both my children are afraid of clowns). I’ve also been putting in hours helping Bret with work and a project we have begun to affectionately call, “The Pensky File”. I have about 40 more hours to put in by Thursday…. sewing will undoubtedly have to wait until then.
As for the chickens, they are calling my name – they can do that now since they have their heads completely assembled. I think the rest should come together fairly quickly (knock on wood) and then be prepared for an onslaught of ‘previews’ and ‘hints’ as to my next Sewing Republic projects. I have 3 new, LARGE projects that I’ve been developing (alright, brainstorming, because nothing is down on paper, yet) that I am VERY excited about.

Linky Thursday On Friday

If you’re a fan of Sublime Stitching, the Apronista has a great giveaway for you!
These little paper houses are so cute – I especially love the stamp holder. What a cleaver way to give a gift or stash your small stuff in an adorable way.
Summer is almost here and if you’re looking to keep your hair back while you’re outside, this basic, skinny headband will let you do it in style.
Win a 5 pack of Denyse Schmidt patterns! I could really dress up the extra bedroom with a few of those quilts!
Don’t just protect your laptop, but carry it in style with this laptop sleeve tutorial.
This giveaway has absolutely NOTHING to do with sewing, but a $50 gift card to Chili’s is always nice.
Planning a trip? Keep yourself organized with this handy travel organizer.
Have a Bernina? Just leave a comment on what your favorite feature is about your machine and you’ll be entered to win a whole box of goodies!
Turn a shirt into a pretty summer dress.
Free Stuff Friday over at Think Crafts Blog.
Intimidated by Japanese craft magazines? Overcome your fears by learning how to sew up a little girl’s dress by using a Nani Iro Pattern Book.
A quick and easy accessory – a t-shirt necklace. If that’s not quite your style, you can always turn your old t-shirt into a grocery bag.