Friday, April 29, 2011

Inspiration: A Princess Bride

I'm not usually the kind of person who gets swept up in the media mania of the minute.  As a pre-teen, I was one of the few girls I knew not completely in love with one or all of the New Kids on the Block.  I was too busy being in love with Patrick Swayze.

But since I love just about every facet of weddings - from the paper items announcing the engagements and ceremonies to the delicate stitches of flower girl dresses - I absolutely could NOT miss the wedding this morning of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

I had stayed up insanely late working on a dress for myself for once - which will be another post, naturally - and had decided I would just wake up whenever I happened to wake up and watch anything I missed on replay.

So my eyes popped open precisely at 4:57am.

I went straight to the sofa to watch the coverage, waiting - like most every other woman watching - to see Kate's dress.

I was so totally not disappointed.

I just love how classic the dress is, and how simple.  I'm a big fan of clean and classic and simple everything, so this dress is right up my ally.  I especially am in love with the neckline - she needs no jewelry except the earrings that were gifts from her parents and her wedding band.  I'd love to know the significance in the designs of the lace - And oh my heavens - how about that petite little bouquet!

There are already designers creating knock-off versions of the dress, so I doubt it will be very long before you can wear your very own modern princess dress at your wedding, but I did a quick search to see what patterns exist that are close and found only this one from Vogue

This dress is quite beautiful, but is much heavier than Kate's dress.  In fact, because of the opaqueness of the lace and the more collar-like neckline, this dress is actually far more reminiscent of another princess bride, Grace Kelly.

I just love this return to class.  Less is more.

I can't wait to see how Kate's dress inspires all of formal wear fashion, and I'm considering a couple of projects definitely inspired by the Princess' classic choice.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Here Comes Peter Cottontail, Hopping Down the Bunny Trail...

...Hippity,  Hoppity Easter's on its way!

I had quite a few little things to do this year for Easter, and lo and behold I even got to do a couple of personal items.

Let me just stop and consider for a moment how it feels to actually have accomplished projects for a particular holiday well in advance of said holiday:


Wow.  That's a nice feeling!

Anyway - so with Easter Sunday coming tomorrow, I wanted to share with you all the cute little bunny things I had a hand in creating this year.

First up are a couple of things I did for the grandkids of the woman who took my place at my old job when I left to have my daughter.  I am used to working on plain old t-shirts, so working on anything "nicer" was a little nerve wracking, to say the least!  But everything turned out great, I think!

These feature the most popular design for me this year, which was the Bunny Alphabet by Planet Applique.  It was just so versitile; it didn't just have to be placed dead center in a t-shirt, as evidenced here.

How precious is this this little Bunny B?  And I never ever would have thought to place it on the skirt of the dress near the hem; it's a great way to get around having a shirt with an emblem already embroidered on (if you don't know if your design can cover it) or if you want it to show.  It's also great to consider if you have a shirt with a stain you'd like to cover that doesn't happen to be right in the center!

We can't forget big brother's shirt!

I know these two made quite the pair with the Bunny outfits for the Easter rounds this year!

One of my friends, Kristi, has a daughter who is 3 months to the day younger than my own daughter.  Since her birthday was just two weeks out from Easter this year, Kristi decided to hold an egg hunt in a local park for the party.  It was awesome and the "2" bunny was perfect for the birthday girl's celebration shirt!  And it really shows how you could use this for more than just Easter - birthdays at a petting zoo?  Bunny letter shirts for the guests and a Bunny number shirt for the birthday partier!

And of course, Lilah had to have one, too.  I sometimes feel like that old saying about how the Cobbler's kids have no shoes...I'll be working on things to sell or for gifts and Lilah will say, "Is that MY shirt, Mommy?" and I hate be constantly telling her "Not this one, honey!" 

So I tried to make up for it a little bit by making her an Easter dress this year.  I scored this fabric - the paisley and the purple - at Wal-Mart for just $2.00 a yard, which makes the materials for this dress, including the zipper and the pattern (which I had gotten for $0.99 at Hobby Lobby), that I had to purchase right about $5.00 or so.  The pattern  - McCall's 6269 - was fairly simple, though I would recommend writing down your plans if you plan to do combinations of the views shown on any given pattern.  I had meant for the front to be simply a cumberbund style sash and got confused while I was cutting and ended up with a sash in front and a sash in back because the front bow wouldn't tie prettily.  That was annoying.

But I'd say it all worked out in the end!

So Happy Easter to all you folks who celebrate it!  I'm looking forward to the new projects Spring-time brings!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Business T-shirts

Before I got my super duper sewing machine with the embroidery function, I struggled for ways to make my homemade gifts really personalized for my friends.  In October of 2009, I had what I thought was a stroke of genius:  I would take the technique for reverse applique and apply it to modified photos for t-shirt designs.
It worked like a dream.

Exhibit A:  This Prince t-shirt was made for my friend Kenina, who said she used to kiss the Purple Rain poster above her bed every night in elementary school.


Exhibit B:  Older, wiser Prince for my friend Callie, who would do a lot of my super duper monogramming for me before I got my awesome machine!

For my friend Tinita, something to wear to her Celtics games - her man Kevin Garnett!

And finally, for my daughter's first birthday party (which was Elvis-themed since she shares her birthday with him), I made myself a fun little Elvis shirt...embellished with some rhinestones, natch.

 Now, I've been waffling over whether or not to try and sell these for the past two years.  I want to sell them, but they are extremely labor intensive and that kind of freaks me out when I think, "What if I have five people order them all on the same day and I have to turn around and do all the design work plus the sewing and cutting in a few days?!"

But I think I've found a way around it, and so starting Monday, April 25, you can order a totally customized to you t-shirt from the Etsy store!  Prices will start at $45 for a 100% cotton T-shirt reverse appliqued with an artistic version of a photo that you email me.  You can have your favorite artist, your baby, your boyfriend or your pet.  Not all photos work well for the technique; It's best to have a simple, close-up photo that is super clear.  So have a backup picture in mind.  I'll have the options for the t-shirt colors with the listing.

Not only could you feature a picture, but if you are a small business owner, I can do your logo as well!  What a fun gift to give a new client or your employee of the month!  Below are two of the t-shirts I've done for my favorite coffee shop downtown using the same reverse applique technique.

Playing on the "other guys" logo, I made a t-shirt to promote buying local.  At this restaurant, they get as many of their products from local sources as possible, so you really are promoting the local economy by patronizing this shop!

This shirt is simply a logo shirt, but also created using the reverse applique!  What a fun way to support your favorite local business!

As an alternative for kids, who really don't mix with expensive art shirts, I created this simple embroidered version of the logo tee, featuring the phrase "all natural" on the front and the coffee shop logo on the back.  I love, love, love it!

So if you or someone you know would love to have a custom tee, be sure to check out the Etsy shop Monday for the listing!  To start, I'll only be selling three at a time just in case I have a run.  The first "My Bucks" t-shirt sold in 24 hours and I have one requested that has to be finished Monday, but since the digitizing is already finished, it can go a little faster.  Expect any new custom order to take a week from photo receipt to shipping.

T-Shirt Weather

I love living in the South because you never know what season it's going to be unless it's August.  In August, you are assured it is summer because it is always 9 billion degrees outside.  But outside of August, the weather can go from sunny and 79 one day - like yesterday - to drizzly and 55 - like today.  But it is technically spring and so I can TECHNICALLY talk about it being t-shirt weather and I will do that because I have a LOT of t-shirts to share!

First I want to show you a trio of shirts I did for my friend Whitney's girls and niece.  She requested something summery and I immediately had in mind this great little flip-flop applique.

For three little girls who spend a lot of time at the beach, I think these are perfect.

And Whitney was kind enough to grab one of these cute little tops for Lilah so that I could make her a summery appliqued top, too!  Although the flip flops turned out amazing, I had just gotten a new applique the night before and couldn't resist the opportunity to try it out, and I have to say I am pretty pleased with the results!

This very traditional looking monogram is so cute in applique - I imagine it would be perfect on a baby's bag or done smaller on a burp cloth.  Or how about wrapping a bride's shower gift in a bag that has her new married monogram already appliqued on it?  Great idea for a honeymoon shower, for sure!

Whitney's daughters scored a couple more t's, but these were just straight on monogram jobs.  This one I had to create myself, because I didn't have a pattern and Whitney wanted it to match a shirt her niece has.  Every time I see it, I can't help but think of Dotted Swiss.  I know it doesn't look a thing like Dotted Swiss, but I immediately click to a sense memory of feeling those little knobby bunches of fabric on a dress I wore as a kid.  To this day, I can't pass by a piece of Dotted Swiss fabric without running my fingers across it like a Braille text.

This little piece of precious is a onesie for baby sis, to replace one I gifted her when she was born and has already grown out of.  The previous onesie featured a very traditional, script monogram, so for this one I kind of wanted to do something a little more fun and modern.  This font is called "Sparkly," and I just love it.  It's a little "wacky 60's sitcom" to me, and since I feel like my life is a bit of a wacky sitcom most days, expect to see me find an excuse for it on other things soon.

This is far from all the T's I've been working on lately.  As a matter of fact, I have some VERY special T-shirts to which I want to devote an entire post - I just have to find all my pictures first!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Dark Side has swag!

I am very lucky to have some pretty rad relations in the form of two nephews and a niece.  The older of my nephews recently won his school spelling bee, a feat which I thought deserved a little bit of swag.  This nephew is a pretty big Star Wars fan (come by honestly via his dad and fed heartily by at least one of his uncles), so I decided to whip up a little tote bag for him to use at the library or book store or just to hold some Star Wars paraphenalia.

Love, love, love this bag - it's nice and deep and also will sit on the ground and hold your stuff because it's not just two pieces sewn together, it's actually got a notched bottom that makes that great space for things.

Here is a closeup of the man himself.  LEGO Darth...he's a touch less scary than regular Darth.  Loved that there was a Darth quote that was so appropriate for my nephew's accomplishment.

This project was a super quick, last minute kind of thing that I love being able to do.  Darth is appliqued using black corduroy and the bag itself is made of tan canvas with a red canvas handle.  I busted out the serger for this project.  I was a little scared, but it made the inside edges so much nicer!  I have made these bags before and lined them, but I thought for a little guy, maybe a lined tote was too purse-y. 

I got a super sweet and to the point thank-you note from him today in which he declares it "cool," so I hope he's enjoying it for whatever use he is employing it!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Ho, ho, ho!!!

I have FINALLY delivered all my Christmas 2010 gifts!!  I am so relieved.  Everything is off my plate!  And, because I refused to get trapped in the same situation this year, I have already blown through about 1/3 of the Christmas gifts on my list for this year already.  Ok, so it's kind of cheating because most of them are simply adding a monogram to a ready-made product...but I LEARNED MY LESSON.

But - back to all the Christmas joy of 2010:

I have a sweet, beautiful friend who lives on an idyllic plot of land in Mississippi with her cute as a button husband and their cuter than a button toddler.  For me, she represents the epitome of fashion and style and I just wish I could be so effortlessly gorgeous as she is.  Her house is like a spread in Cottage Living and she always looks like she just stepped out of a J. Crew catalog.

In short, I am intimidated by shopping for her.

So I make fun things instead so at least if it is awful, she'll know it's from the heart!

This past year, I gifted her this fun apron!

The apron goes "MOO!"

Ok, so for a girl who is married to a cattleman, I thought an apron with a cow print was appropriate.  But not like, a steak marinating, grill-manning cow-print.  Something with a girly flair. 

Something like this super-scripty, hot pink monogram!  What a fun juxtaposition!

And it's reversible!  The back has a large pocket.

A large pocket that says "moo" :-D

This was a great pattern to use.  I know that this is not the type of apron that is in style right now, but this was just a first attempt, and I wanted to build up to the more Donna Reed type aprons that are all the rage.  And maybe if I fool around with them enough, I can end up creating my own patterns and having something fun to sell on the etsy shop!

For her sweet little boy, I decided to use a ready-made hoodie to make his little tractor-loving dreams come true.  

How precious is that gingham tractor???  And I was able to use a metallic silver thread for the exhaust pipe up top.  I heard from my friend that not only did Mattman love his "Tratur-jacket," but Dad thought he might like to have one, too.

Still looking for the perfect green hoodie that's daddy-sized.