Work-in-Progress Girl


Little Things

I’ve made a lot of little things in the last little while, so here’s a big photodump of an entry talking about all of them.

I guess I should go back in time to the thing I made longest ago, back in September or October, I think, which was a little mini-quilt, based on the Ravenclaw house crest:

Ravenclaw Mini

I made this for Mari-Ann/RockIslander, who is a Ravenclaw. I took a picture of the Ravenclaw crest from online, blew it up a fair bit, traced around the edges of the eagle and transferred the pattern (in reverse) to fusible web. So then I cut it out (using the sharpest cuticle scissors ever, which are so much more awesome for cutting delicate fabric bits than for mangling finger tips) and fused the bird to the background. It’s actually two layers of fused fabric – the background wing was done separately, so that I could use a darker portion of the fabric, which I hoped would give some depth and sort of visually separate the two wings. Then I stitched around the bird, creating feathers in the wings and tail. (You can see a photo of that here from Mari-Ann – my own picture of the back turned out terribly, but I’d already sent it away and couldn’t try for another shot!) In the crest, the stripes run the opposite direction, but I paper-pieced that portion as well, and forgot to reverse that pattern! Oh well.

I like to think that if I were a Hogwarts student, I’d have been a Ravenclaw myself, but I bet I’d have wound up in Hufflepuff because I was really far too lazy a student to have made Ravenclaw when I was in high school. Hufflepuff sometimes seems to be the fall-back house: you don’t fit anywhere else? Well, Hufflepuff it is, then.

Children's Wash Cloths

About two weeks ago I was clearing out some stuff from the plastic cabinets in my sewing room, and I found a pile of children’s fabrics I didn’t even remember I had. I tend to avoid buying children’s fabrics because I never know what to do with them and I don’t have children, so no particular need for items made using children’s fabric. But I do sometimes buy scrap packs of fabric, and I’ve started to amass a fair collection of children’s prints from those scraps and from the occasional times I’ve bought children’s fabrics to make gifts for friends who are having babies. When I found this particular print, I just got the urge to do SOMETHING with it, but it was a small piece of fabric – about 8 to 8.5 inches wide at the largest point by width of fabric – and I couldn’t decide what to do with it. Then I remembered having seen a tutorial ages ago for making wash cloths out of terry cloth and cotton. Well. Terry cloth I’ve got. Several years ago I had the genius plan to make little hooded bath towels for babies. Which, needless to say, didn’t happen. So yeah. Wash cloths. (I didn’t go look for a tutorial because… it’s just not that complicated.) I’m torn between making wash cloths till the end of time (or just the end of that million miles of terry cloth) to use up all the ginormous pile of children’s fabric I didn’t realize I had and just giving away the fabric. I was thinking about getting rid of it all on Sew Mama Sew’s December giveaway day, but to be honest, there’s such a big pile, I’m not sure I’m going to want to pay to ship it all away!

Liberty Pincushion

This is another slightly older one. Back in September I bought some Liberty of London fabric to try it out and see if I’d like it as much as so many people seem to. I don’t. I find most of their prints to be fussy little florals (which is pretty high up my list of dislikes) and while I’m sure it’s wonderful for clothing, it’s so thin that I can’t understand why (some) people want to use it for quilts. Yes, it’ll last for a while, but it’s kind of delicate stuff: I don’t think it’d stand up to continual use in a bed quilt. Anyway, in the pincusion, I blended the slightly thicker than quilting cotton Essex Linen with the slightly thinner than quilting cotton Liberty Tana Lawn, so I used interfacing on the Liberty fabric to give it a little more heft, which probably did it some good. The edges of the cathedral window, particularly near the bottom ends of it, are kind of loose and open in a way I don’t love, but I couldn’t quite figure out how to make them crisper, tighter corners. Maybe putting in a few whip stitches or something to join one edge to the other? (And also, maybe using a thinner fabric than the Essex linen.)

Anyway, you can make your own Cathedral Window pinnie using this pincushion tutorial on YouTube. The first one that I made, above, I made a little larger than the tutorial recommends. She says 10 cm squares for the patchwork back, which is about 4 inches, but I made mine 4.5 inches, and I shouldn’t have because it looks much nicer on the second one, which (though you can’t tell without scale in the photos) I made at the recommended size:

Liberty Pincushion

Okay, the tutorial creates a pretty great pincushion (I think) – I love the cathedral window look and it’s a pretty easy way of creating it – but it’s not the best tutorial out there. The words don’t always line up with what’s being shown in the video and there is one crucial bit of information that doesn’t get talked about that is only shown in text on the sidelines of the video (and if you’re watching the woman’s hands, as I tend to do, you might just miss it). So here’s the most important bit of information: the section that you leave open to turn the pincushion is in the patchwork portion of the sewing NOT when you sew the top to the bottom.

Liberty Pincushion

My stitches are pretty well hidden in the back, but that slightly rippled edge in the top right seam is where I left it open. When I made the first one, I sewed shut the patchwork and left open part of the side, which Did Not Work At All. I had fused on interfacing after stitching the patchwork section, so I had to rip it open and rip through the interfacing, and then restitch it closed by hand after stuffing it. Pain In The Ass.

Anyway, I made this pin cushion (and the following two projects using Liberty fabrics) for Cathy of Blueberry Patch, who won a giveaway prize from me alllllll the way back in August. Yes, it really took me until now to make and send it out. Cathy and I both own shoes made with Liberty fabrics, and I know she’s a fan of Liberty, so when her name was chosen for the prize, I decided to pick up the a Liberty scrap pack (and a couple Fat Eighths) from Pick Click Sew on Etsy so that I could try it out and have some fabric for making the prizes. At the time, I didn’t know what I was going to make with it, but I kind of love all the things I did make.

Liberty Fabric Bucket

The next thing I made was the good old fabric basket from Ayumi’s tutorial at Pink Penguin. This is a great tutorial and a great size and a great way to pull together some of the smaller scraps of Liberty that I’d gotten. The scrap pack had a real mishmash of colours and prints (because I used up all the good red ones in that first pincushion) and I had hard time figuring out how to make them all work together.

Liberty Fabric Bucket

In the end, I just went crazy with the colour combos and didn’t try to match things up at all. I added the little flange of green between the patchwork and linen portions to tie in the lining fabric a little more (especially since there was none of that fresh spring green in the rest of the prints). Some of these prints are just kind of crazy – scroll up to the other photo and look on the far left side at that little carriage print, can you imagine making clothing out of that? who would want to? Anyway, I think it all comes together better than I thought it would, even though there’s nothing in particular tying one print to the next. I used the Essex linen here again, which I think is nice for the base, since it gives it a little extra heft, which helps hold the shape of the basket. (I also put a fair bit of quilting into the basket bottom because I think that helps give it some structure as well. Though really at this small size it doesn’t need too much help. The one larger one I made was too loose and kind of floppy and really could have used a few layers of a nice stiff interfacing.)

Anyway, part of the reason I didn’t have a good grouping of colours to go into this was because I used up most of the red/pink prints on the first pincushion and then I set aside most of the “good” blues (all my favourite ones, anyway…) for making the next item I sent. I don’t have a good photo of this because we’re all light-shunning vampires at my house and I couldn’t find enough sunlight anywhere to photograph it properly, but a Tiny Tree Garland (tutorial/pattern by Noodlehead):

Tiny Tree Garland

I so wish I’d had some blue perle cotton to string these up, but all I had was gold, white, pink (sashiko thread), and red. I went with red because it was the most vivid colour (and white just looked… wrong).

Tiny Tree Garland

I made these using the aforementioned Liberty scraps, but also bamboo felt from TaDaa Studio Felt. I like the bamboo stuff – it’s as soft as nice wool felt, but doesn’t have the allergy issues I know some people have with wool (or the animal ethics issues some vegans have with wool — not that I’ve got that issue myself, but I’ve made things in the past for people who have).

Tiny Tree Garland

I was trying to leave enough space between trees that Cathy could cut it down into a set of seven hanging ornaments if she’d rather use the trees that way (garlands can be awkward! and I couldn’t figure out a NICE way to end the dangling strings – I was sure I had some giant shiny gold beads that I was going to string onto the ends, but I couldn’t find them for the life of me), but looking at the photos, I’m not sure I really left enough string for loops. Anyway, it’d be pretty easy to pull out what’s there and swap in something else. (I did knot the thread on either side of each tree, but… that’s what scissors are for :D)

Anyway, that was my special prize package for Cathy, who received it excitedly yesterday 😀

Okay, jeez. Epic length post here. One last thing:

Flannel-Voile Receiving Blankets

I’ve been all about using things up lately because I’ve been going through another crisis of OMGTOOMUCHSTUFF and these receiving blankets were a way of using up some voile and flannel I had laying around. If I had more flannel in the right colours, I’d use up the rest of my (small) voile stash on blankets just like these. These were made using a Self-binding Blanket tutorial. Mine are a bit smaller than in the tutorial because I only had 1 yd of each cut. I think I cut them in the end to 34″ square for the voile and 30″ square for the flannel, but I can’t quite recall. (I do know neither of the voiles were very well cut yards because I couldn’t get the full 36″ out of them!) Anyway, it came out to about 32″ square for the blankets. They’re not perfect by a long shot – the top-stitching is pretty appalling (I couldn’t find matching thread, so I just went for contrast, but ugh, every flaw is magnified) – but I think they turned out pretty cute anyway. And they’re so lovely and light-weight. Almost makes me want to make a giant bed sized one. (Not that I’ve got a source for extra wide-width flannel or voile, but.)

Okay. 2000 words. That’s longer than some essays I wrote in university. Time to wrap it up.



Purging Stash

I’ve been all on fire about getting rid of unnecessary things lately. I even cleaned out both the fridge and pantry, throwing away anything that was expired and recycling packaging and putting aside some other things to go to the food bank. I’m itching to start getting rid of unwanted books, but don’t have any way to get them out of my house (other than walking, and books get heavy pretty quickly). I can be pretty relentless about purging unnecessary things from my house – I tend not to be very sentimental about possessions. I have special items made by family and friends, but if I’ve got multiple items from someone, I won’t feel bad getting rid of some of them, so long as I have something really meaningful left behind. But somehow it’s an awful lot harder to purge fabric.

Every so often I’ll go through my fabric and pull out anything I’m pretty sure I’ll never use, and then I put it in a reusable bag from the grocery store, but then… I don’t do anything with it after that. Sure, I could give it away or donate it or try to sell it on etsy… but somehow I can’t quite bring myself to do any of those things most of the time. I have occasionally traded fabric, sending away the bits I don’t like and getting something better in return, and that’s something I’m always okay with doing, but I rarely take the initiative there either.

I do find it easier with my non-quilting cottons. I’ve given away or traded flannels and canvas and voiles relatively often before. And today I’ve got some more voile I want to get rid of. If any one reading this happens to want some solid voile scraps, send me an email (clumsy.chord(at) and I will be entirely happy to send it your way:


The pink and orange are actually half yards. The blue is a little more than a half yard, though I think it’s less than 3/4 yd. The grey really is just a skinny leftover strip, perhaps 8 inches wide and either a yard in length or 54 inches. (I can’t recall if it was cut down the length or the width of the fabric.) These fabrics were leftovers from a brief foray into making receiving blankets for babies (and they’ve all been prewashed, hence the wrinkling – I’m always afraid to get too aggressive with pressing something as delicate as voile, seems like it could scorch easily), when I discovered that I didn’t particularly love sewing with voile. (I mean, it’s not so very bad to use, but I made binding with it, and that was not terribly pleasant. It’s far too thin and slippery to be hand-stitching down to anything.) It’s a bit ridiculous to have them sitting around doing nothing, but they’re not really usable amounts for someone, say, making clothes. (I guess maybe you could make something for a little kid out of a half yard? I don’t know.) But people do quilt with voiles, so maybe someone’s got something in the works and wants some solids to add to their voile stash? [ETA: The blue and grey are gone gone gone. Thanks Lynn!]


And then there’s this big pile of looks-like-nothing-much. It’s two metres of terry cloth because once upon a time I had a genius idea of following one of Amy Butler’s patterns from Little Stitches (I think…) for a little baby terry cloth backed, maybe hooded bathrobe. Or something like that. I don’t know. Anyway, clearly I didn’t get beyond buying the fabric for that project. I assume it was an Amy Butler pattern because her patterns give me nightmares, so I can see myself buying the supplies for something and then backing away first slowly and then running away like mad when I tried to figure out what the hell she was talking about. Anyway, that one is also up for grabs, should anyone want it. (Though in that case I’d prefer to be reimbursed for shipping – it’s a bit bulky!) It’s never been washed and it’s about about 2 metres long (so another 8-10 inches more than 2 yards, depending how generously they cut it at the store) and over 60-inches wide.


And then there is this. Canvas and home decor fabric. I keep telling myself never to buy them because I hate having the scraps but feel too guilty to throw them away. There was a bit of accidental purchasing involved in here – the green on white I thought was a quilting cotton, but obviously had reading comprehension issues. It’s a half yard. The grey one is also a half yard. Actually, it’s not. I used it in the lining of some pot holders I made, to add extra layers of fabric without using fabric I actually liked. I’d like to think I didn’t purchase that intentionally, and there is some part of me that thinks it was included in a scrap pack I bought somewhere, but it’s too big in size for that to be likely.


Then these cuties are mostly fat quarters, though there are strips removed from two of them. The hippos are a half yard. I like these, a lot, but I can’t figure out what the heck to do with them! When I bought them, there were both canvas and quilting cotton prints of the same thing that came out around the same time, and I accidentally bought the canvas ones. But what do you do with a fat quarter of canvas? I dunno. These ones, I think, I’m not going to give away right now – I think I’ll save them for December Giveaway Day/Week at Sew Mama Sew. I bet there’s tons of people out there with ideas for canvas.

Really, I could probably keep this up for weeks: a different selection every time. Maybe I should finally sort that bag full of unwanted quilting cottons by… colours or something and just give it all away. Well, another day. It’s too dark for photographing anything (and it’s only 6:30 pm!) so I might as well stop trying to get decent shots of anything!

Anyway, linking up with Finding Fifth‘s Sunday Stash, this week hosted by Rachael of The Floral Suitcase.

Finding Fifth


Two Owl Stuffies and a Receiving Blanket

Two Owl Stuffies   Flannel Receiving Blanket

Well, this entry is a very, very long time coming – I made these back in March, I think. I know I finished the owl in the foreground on March 9, but I don’t know how long it took to get the rest of it finished. Anyway, they were for a baby gift for Jennifer at Quiddity Quilts, for her son who was born earlier this year (April? I forget that too!) and her daughter.

Owl Stuffies

I don’t do a whole lot of sewing outside of the quilting arena and I always feel a little bit adrift when I try to follow patterns and make things, so I made the first owl (the one in front) as a practise piece, which would be given to Jenn’s daughter, if I thought it turned out. The pattern, available here, comes from Patty Sloniger of Beck and Lundy and is really simple to follow, fortunately. I made a couple tiny changes to the second owl, but on the whole I thought it turned out pretty well. (My changes were to sew the eyes on starting at the bottom of the eye, because they drifted north-ward on the first owl and I think they look better closer to the belly fabric, and to add a touch of stuffing to the wings and ears.)

I always tell myself that I’m not going to buy any fabric that isn’t quilting cotton (I never know what to do with the leftovers, and I always feel too guilty to throw them away – what a waste!), but I never manage to follow my own rules and I bought minkee for the belly/wings/ears, corduroy and velveteen for the backings, and wool felt for the eyes. (Probably I had the felt anyway – I like making ornaments! And I know for a fact that the grey beak felt was given to me by Ofenjen.) I still have enough of the corduroy, velveteen, and minkee to make another 3 or 5 owls!

Owl Stuffies - back

I used corduroy from Ann Kelle’s Remix line for the “boy” owl and velveteen from Anna Maria Horner’s Innocent Crush line for the girl. I kind of love both lines, although I wish the print on the Innocent Crush fabric were a little smaller so I could have got more of the print in! (I fussy cut it so that a piece which sort of looked owlish to me was visible on the back.)

The other part of the gift was the receiving blanket. I’d planned to make two – they seemed so simple, just baste the voile and flannel together, round the corners if you wish, and bind – but hand-sewing voile binding to piece of voile is HARD. Sewing thin, slippery fabric to more thin, slippery fabric? Not easy. And then to NOT stitch through into the flannel? I’m sure it took me as long to bind that little bitty blanket as it took to do my last almost bed-sized quilt. (If I do it again – and I must because I’ve got spare voile and spare flannel in my sewing room! More non-quilting cottons! – I will stitch the binding to the flannel side and hope that it’ll be slightly easier to work with.) The idea for these blankets came from Anna Maria Horner, and her explanation is available here. (She doesn’t say too much more about methodology than I did though! It really is that simple. You’ll note her blankets have the bindings machine sewn, but I am not very good at that, so I never do it.)

When I sent it all off to Jen, I swaddled her son’s owl in the blanket, like so:

Swaddled Owl Stuffie

Isn’t it just the sweetest?

Leave a comment

Two Voile Scarves

Two Voile Scarves by clumsy chord
Two Voile Scarves, a photo by clumsy chord on Flickr.

Well, this should be my last post for the year! I had hoped to get a Year in Review type post done as well, but I guess I’ll save that for 2012… Something else I’m saving for 2012? Twelve for Twenty-Twelve. But more on that another day.

This are my last finished items for the year, though they were finished quite a while ago. I can’t really remember when! I’d have to go back and watch my old TTMT videos to find when I talked about them, because I didn’t take any photos when I made them and they just sat in a heap on the futon in my sewing room for a couple months (or more?). I’d planned originally to give these away for Christmas gifts, one to my Grandma and one to my younger sister, but I changed my mind and gave them away in the last Sew Mama Sew give-away day.

Here’s how I came to make them: I’d found a pattern/tutorial somewhere online for making voile scarves, in which you used 9-inch by width of fabric pieces of two prints, sewed them right sides together (leaving a gap to turn it right-side out), and then top stitched to finish off. Possibly the simplest scarf pattern ever!

I went looking for pretty voiles and decided on these two pretty Anna Maria Horner prints. The one on the left is the Forest Hills print in Sea from the Little Folks line, and on the right is Pastry Lines… in what I think is Sea. I’d hoped they’d match, and they did, but I didn’t like how the prints showed through when I used them together, so I wound up making one scarf from each print, rather than two scarves from a combination of the prints.

In any case, they’re about 52 inches long and 8 inches across, which means they’re actually a little too short to use as scarves – the drape is too stiff (even with buttery soft voile) for the ends to hang neatly. I guess I should have weighted the ends somehow – some kind of dangly fringe? – or tapered the ends so that they’d hang more neatly. In any case, my general dislike of the draping issue kept me from giving them away to family, but I needed to do something with them, so I gave them away to strangers instead! If they like, they could trim off the seams and use the resulting pieces of fabric in other projects or they could open the ends and add some sort of weight or add an extension to either end with a coordinating print or… I’m sure there are lots of things they could do! (Or, as some of the entrants to the give-away claimed, they might be just the right length for someone short.)

In any case, when I was writing up the entry for the give-away, I suddenly realized that I had exactly no photos of these scarves. And it was late and it was dark, so I tied them around the bar at the end of the futon, tucked a piece of un-ironed bright orange fabric behind them, took two very poor shots, and called it good. This was the best of the very small, very poor lot of photos. I wish I had something nicer so they’d look prettier in my “back catalogue” of finished items, but I guess you can’t have everything, right?


Giveaway Day! Post the first: Handmade Scarves

EDITED TO ADD: The giveaway is now closed, any additional comments will NOT be included in the draw. I will draw a winner and contact him or her tomorrow or Sunday. Thanks for all your great responses!

It’s Giveaway Day again at Sew, Mama, Sew! And for once I’m actually ready for it! I’m doing three give-aways, separated into two posts. This post is for scarves, handmade from some very lovely Anna Maria Horner voiles. The other give-away, for fabric charm squares, can be found here.

Both these scarves are made with double layers of voile and are about 8-inches wide and 52-in long. I’ll be honest and say that I find them slightly too short, and thus they don’t drape as nicely as they would at a longer length. However, you could always add some sort of weighted embellishments at the ends or perhaps simply trim off the seams and use the material in any way you choose ;D These scarves were made by me in my non-smoking, no pet home. The material was NOT pre-washed, so it may shrink a little in the wash. Or it may soften up a little and drape a little more neatly.

There will be two winners from this post, and here is how to enter.

1. Leave a comment!
2. In your comment, tell me where you’re from and which of the two scarves you prefer (white or blue).

I will be writing names/locations on slips of paper and drawing the winners myself. There will be one international winner (international, for me, means outside of Canada) and one Canadian winner, so don’t forget to let me know where you’re from! The winner in the first draw (for the Canadian) will be given their choice of scarf. Hopefully whoever gets the second scarf will be happy with it whether it was his/her favourite or not!

You can enter your name (once only please) between now and December 16, and I will make the draw on Sunday, December 18. Best of luck, and enjoy all the new blogs you stumble across this week! I think that’s always my favourite part of Giveaway Day, finding so many interesting new people.