Sunday, August 29, 2010

An Easy Sew

Well, today I am irritated because my sewing machine continues to give me trouble when I use the embroidery carriage on it. For some reason that I can't seem to determine, my topstitches aren't grabbing the bobbin thread and so the needle bounces up and down, poking holes but depositing no thread - except occasionally - and then usually ends up fraying and breaking if I don't stop it while cussing it out like I'm an old sailor.

So I thought that because I'm so troubled by my super expensive machine, I'd post about happier times and a pattern I found to be super easy to sew together in a hurry.

Let me tell you - for kid's clothes, I LOVE a New Look pattern.  For one thing, they are always cheap - usually $2.44 - $3.96.  Unless you happen on a McCall's or Simplicity for 99 cents day at either Hobby Lobby or Hancock Fabric (around here), then you are usually stuck paying between $5.50 - $8.00, and when you pay that much for a pattern, why not just go buy something cute already made, right?

I've only made this pattern once, but I really liked it.  I did the dress that is pictured on the model, but I left off the pockets.  I just didn't want to deal with them.

I used a navy plisse for the top and bottom trim and a fabric that I got on clearance for the main dress body.  Some people might think that floral looks like something you'd find on your memaw's couch, but I love it.  I even made a little swing top out of it using navy and white gingham accents and it is probably my favorite thing I've ever made.  Maybe I'll get a picture of that up at some point!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Frankly, my Dear...

The wife of my husband's good friend from college recently gave birth to their second child, a little girl they named Scarlett - after the famed heroine of Margaret Mitchell's novel Gone with the Wind.  Although they currently reside just outside of Washington, DC, since Miss Scarlett's dad is from South Carolina and both her parents attended the University of South Carolina, I decided that - along with her namesake - this makes her at least 3/4 southern and as such in need of a traditional southern baby gift:  The monogrammed outfit.

I do not know why or when this phenomenon burst onto the scene or why it happened to take such a strong hold, but one thing is certain:  Any child of any social standing is to have at least one monogrammed a-line dress or john-john in order to be considered part of proper southern society, period.  Perhaps it was because the affluent parents could boast that they were well-off enough to afford a new wardrobe for each child in the house by plastering each baby's initials and proper names all over the fronts of their little seersucker and gingham outfits, but I just happen to think it's powerful cute.  Judge for yourself!

so cute with the itty bitty bloomers!

Close-up view of the monogram on the bodice.

This was by far one of the most difficult patterns I've ever dealt with.  Not being a master seamstress (I definitely consider myself like, 1/2 a step above a novice!), I had no idea what some of the directions meant.  That is when I take things into my own hands and just make up stuff to make the fabric bend to my will.  While that can be fun sometimes, sometimes you just want to be able to read the directions and mindlessly follow them, you know?  And when you're making a gift, especially, you just want it to turn out &$*!-ing amazing, right?  So this project ended up frustrating me to the point that instead of having it finished and ready to send the moment that Miss Scarlett joined us here in the outside world, it took me a whole month after her birth to get from being stuck on that stupid collar piece to getting the dress tidied up and finished being sewn together.  And it frustrates me to know that there are ways I could have done it neater or better, but as it was, the child was going to be 18 before I got it finished if I got too picky on it, so I just had to let go and send it with all my good intentions as a substitute for master seamstress skills. 

To make sure that there was a little more of a nod to the baby's name, I also personalized this onesie to send along with the dress -

"I'll think about that tomorrow"

Hilarious, eh?  I couldn't resist.  The thought of a brand new, tiny, still pink baby bearing these carefree words sent me into a fit of giggles, and once that happened, nothing - not even a finicky font that wanted to pull through the delicate weave of a baby onesie - was going to stop me.

And so here was the gift as a whole that was finally mailed and received shortly after Scarlett turned a month old this past week.

Did you ever have a project that you just got a mental block on and couldn't push through?  How do you work through those times?  Does it help you to go to another project and then come back later, or do you prefer to stew over it until the solution is bullied out of your brain?  I'd love to know your tips and tricks, because this month I'm making a flower girl dress for my daughter, and though the pattern is simple enough, there is *gasp* a zipper involved, and I don't know if I'll be able to make it without much cursing and seam ripping of delicate silk fabric.

Heaven help us!

Friday, August 27, 2010

And now for some ink...

Right, so this is supposed to be a journal about both my sewing AND my stationary exploits, but so far it's been decidedly sew-bloggy.  Let me just shake that up right now.

A few years ago, I started to offer a line of personalized stationary called "House Notes," because it features a complete vector art drawing of your home.

I. Freaking. Love. This. Stationary.

But no one has ever bought any!

Yes, it is more expensive than your run of the mill stationary, but how can you not love it?  How do you not want to send people a "hi!" note with your cute little house on it?  How do you not want to buy this for your friend who just bought their first home, or their dream home?  How have I not already gotten this to Oprah or Ellen!?!?!

You just have to see for yourself:


So these are definitely going into the etsy shop this weekend, because I would *love* to make some for you or your friends to give as Christmas gifts.  I can do them as a "you print" option, where I send you a .pdf set up to print on your own home printer for $60, or I can have quantities of 50 printed for you starting at just $105 including shipping.  Want the image alone to do with as you wish?  For just $50, I can create a vector art version of your home, sent to you as a .pdf, .jpg, and .eps file so that you can use it in any format you'd like!  Check out the etsy store to order!  Please contact me at if you're interested in smaller quantities of printed cards or if you have any other questions, and I can set up a custom listing just for you!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Sometimes I think I watch too many reality game shows.  Sometimes when I'm trying to use up pantry items for dinner, I can't help but think of how I would complete a food limitation challenge when watching "Next Food Network Star" or "Top Chef."  The same goes for sewing projects.  As I was watching again the newest Fruit of the Loom "Fruit Guys" music video commercial where we see a bride and groom come out of the chapel in comfy sweats, I was suddenly struck with this idea of making a formal gown entirely out of simple jersey knit.  I can't help it, I think it would be both interesting and challenging and a lot of fun.  I thought of doing a formal gown with the twist of using just a casual fabric, but somehow I think that making it from jersey - either from repurposed t-shirts or sheets or actual yardage - would just yield a very interesting result, as well as giving me purpose to learn to sew on knits.

Of course, this challenge to myself is going to have to go to the back of the line, since I have 900 million Christmas projects as well as starting stock for the etsy shop that needs to have been started like 5 months ago. :-O  But I'm definitely coming back to this, because I think it would be a fun and interesting challenge to myself as a novice seamstress, and may give me some new ideas for products in the future! 

Have you ever issued yourself a sewing challenge?  Did it turn out as you expected?  Any tips for me as I think about this project in the way back recesses of my mind?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Inspiration - Science Pillows

I'm constantly looking for new and cool ideas to steal borrow to make for gifts, and I found something the other day that I think would be super fun for a "go along with" gift for a little dude just starting elementary school!

How fun are these Science Pillows from Uncommon Goods?!  I especially love the volcano and respiratory system pillows.  The artist based them on old science text book drawings, and I just think that is so much fun!  These would be great to make as a science class project or as a supplemental project with your kids at home - or if you home school, this could be a fun way to combine a home ec assignment with a science lesson or three.  You could do beautiful floral pillows to give as gifts or other fun images lifted straight out of the pages of your science text books!  I especially like how these are a sewing craft that can be given to a boy, because I'm always at a loss for things to make for little boys.  Imagine making something where you could sew a small pocket on the backside which holds extra felt pieces for play on the pillow - food to follow through a digestive tract, or different types of precipitation from a cloud?  Or give one of these with a fun age-appropriate reader book on a science topic!  The possibilities are almost endless.

I'm all about supporting artists and their work, but at a staggering $204.00 each, I'd rather try my hand at making one myself, thanks!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Baby Thunderstorms = Craft Floods!

I'm not sure how it's possible, but it seems like I always know at least 4 people in a year having a baby.  Now, this seems like a pretty high number to me already, since I don't really KNOW that many people to begin with, but the baby showers this year have been off. the. charts.  I have known about fifteen women having babies this year, and it's a pretty good mix between first babies and subsequent babies, so to say that a baby boom is in full force for 2010 is I think almost an understatement.

Being a practical person, I generally like to give gifts to expectant moms that are useful.  A giant box of their preferred diapers and/or wipes.  Crib sheets.  A gift card to round out the odds and ends right before or after baby arrives.  But I always like to give something personal, too, because I like to give people something they might not buy for themselves but would like to have.  That is why I love when I find out my friends are having little girls!  That means I get to bust out the old embroidery carriage for my sewing machine, and in true "proper Southern lady" fashion make something special with a monogram for the baby-to-be.

The machine is getting lots of use lately, since not only is there a baby boom in full force, but it seems it is ALL girls!

Here is one of the recent gifts I made for a sweet little baby named Amy.

gingham and a mini floral print - so sweet!
I love this little pattern, and I make it A LOT.  My own daughter, Lilah, who will often be featured modeling the results of my sewing, has two tops using this pattern!  It's so cute, almost like a pillowcase dress, and fully lined, which I love.  You can make it reversible if you like, but I prefer to just use a nice soft batiste for the inside.  I love this fabric combination in particular, with the lavender floral and gingham most definitely representing the sweet little English Rose that will be wearing it!  That's right - this little outfit went all the way to the UK!  A dear friend of mine became an auntie again this summer, and so I made something special for her sweet little niece as an attempt to repay her family for the beautiful hand-knit sweaters they sent when Lilah was born.

But one must remember that there ARE cultural differences between ourselves and the English, and let's just say that it's a good thing I explained the significance of the monogram in southern American children's clothing!  I hope that Amy's mom didn't find the monogram too garish to allow her to wear once or twice this summer :-)


Welcome to "With Pin and Ink," my new blog that I will use to showcase all the crafts I'm working on for fun and for sale in my etsy shop with the same name.  My crafting interests run the gamut, but I've recognized that my aptitude tends to lie in the fields of graphic design/stationary making and sewing crafts, so that is what I decided I should offer to the world!  If you see anything showcased here that you wish you could have, I invite you to check out the etsy shop first to see if it's available.  If it's not, please send me a convo about a custom project through etsy and we'll try and get you set up!

As we go along, I hope to provide some step-by-step tutorials and/or patterns for projects that I create, and I will always be sharing links and patterns for the projects that I'm working on, so that you can create at home if you are so inclined.  I know that those are my favorite features on other blogs, and I just hope that I can keep it as fun and interesting here as I find other craft blogs to be.

Thanks for joining me!