December 8, 2011

why give naked wine?

...when you can put it in an adorable handmade gift bag!

In another effort to make use of fabric scraps leftover from previous projects, I came up with this little wine gift bag after seeing some for sale at $7 each! When headed to a neighbor's for dinner one night, I brought our wine contribution in one of these. It was a hit!

All you need:
  • Fabric scraps 
  • Coordinating ribbon
  • Thread
To make:
1) Cut your fabric into two pieces. One square, about 13" on each side and a small circle, 4" diameter.
 I found it helpful to first cut out a circle "pattern" using some sturdy interfacing. You could also use cardstock.
 2) Next, make snips all the way around the circle, 1/4" deep and about 1/2" apart
 3) Snip in the same way, all along one edge of the square piece
 4) Right sides together, place the circle directly over the snipped edge of the square
5) Insert a pin where the edges meet. Begin rolling the circle down the length of the snipped square edge, one finger tip length at a time.

6) Once you get a few pins set, start sewing! Begin with a back-stitch, use a 1/2 inch seam and work slowly, sewing along the curve of the circle
7) As you reach the end of your pinning, stop sewing but leave the fabric secured under the presser foot. Continue pinning the remaining fabric in the same fashion as before, just match up the snipped edge of the square to the circle a few pins at a time. Continue sewing and pinning until you've sewn all the way around and end with a backstitch. Remove from your machine and snip the loose strings.
8) Grab a wine bottle and your ribbon. Turn the bag right side out and stand the bottle up inside it. About 1-2 inches from the edge of the fabric, mark with a pencil at what height the ribbon should be placed on the neck of the bottle. Pin the center of the ribbon at your mark, then stitch it on using a back-stitch
9) Turn the bag inside out again, tucking the ribbon all the way inside. Match up the fabric and pinch together at the base of the bag at the opening. This is the point where your seam should match to the round bottom. Insert a pin there
10) Line up the remainder of the fabric and pin along the edge
11) Starting at the bottom, sew all the way up the length of the bag (about 1/2" seam. Or whatever seam allowance works with your round base.) Snip loose strings. Use pinking shears to finish the seam edges, both along the straight side and the bottom round, leaving at least 1/4" seam allowance
12) Iron the side seam open, or to one side. Then to finish the top of the bag, I sewed 1/2" from the opening, all the way around, then finished the top with pinking shears (just like the interior seam). You could also hem the top to your liking.
13) Turn inside out, add bottle and tie a pretty bow!

November 13, 2011

handy dandy gift guide

Around the holidays, when various magazines put out a gift guide with their winter issue I get so excited. They're especially great for those years when I haven't gotten out for much shopping and don't feel tuned in with what's new, or when I'm just feeling stumped on what to do for a particular person on my list.

It looks like one of the blogs I'm diggin' (Creature Comforts) has created a holiday gift guide available for free online, and it's the bees knees. I'm seriously considering printing this puppy out so I can have it on the coffee table to peruse without the laptop glare. Check it out for ideas that will please everyone on your list, and don't cut out early... lots of items in the guide have a coupon code available AND there are free printable gift tags in an array of designs, both waiting in the back of the guide!

I do have a soft spot for adorable uses of paper, and free printables are the coolest.

Happy shopping!

October 24, 2011

new arrivals

Lots of new arrivals these days! Two in August, one to a dear friend and another to a niece. Then one more in October to a cousin. It's been a run of little baby boys and I can't wait to meet them all! I've been playing around with some bib and burp cloths as handmade gifts:

The bib comes from a pattern in Martha Stewart's Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts. I'm really enjoying this book and have found many great patterns there. I chose quilting cotton for the front and a soft flannel for the backing on all these. It's fun to give something personalized, so I decided to try my hand at applique. They might be a bit simple, but I'm proud of the results!

This was also my first experience using bias tape. Loving the finished result, but it's kind of a pain to work with. Maybe it'll get easier with practice but as you can see, I chose to leave the bias tape finish off of the burp cloths. Oh well, I still think they turned out okay too :)


September 12, 2011

bye bye shoes

Well, we've decided to give a green light to the garage sale this weekend. Should be interesting to see how it goes! Due to some recent life and career changes, I'm purging a ton of my closet. This is a big deal because I tend to hang onto shoes for an especially long time. Right now, I've pared down to 1/3 of what I had and am not looking back. It feels really good actually. Sadly though, I don't believe that clothing normally brings in much money this way, but my experience with resale shops is that they're only worthwhile if you deal in trade (rather than take cash.) Since I don't need more clothes, garage sale it shall be. Although, anything I'm trying to unload that's extra nice I've decided to list on Ebay.

With that plan in mind, along with a couple ideas for accessories I'd like to peddle on Etsy in the future; I was compelled to check Craigslist for a mannequin/dress form. I'm thrilled to have found the perfect one! Thank goodness it was super affordable. I just hope it helps sell my listings on Ebay for now. Time will tell.

Until next time, cheers and have a great week!

August 31, 2011

this n' that

Today and the rest of this week is being spent cleaning out closets and getting ready for some home improvements and (possibly) a garage sale. I haven't yet committed to the sale, as I know how annoying they can be to put on. Guess we'll see how much stuff I want to get rid of and then decide whether it's worth all the trouble.

As I was getting hungry for lunch, I couldn't see anything in the kitchen at first. I have some of my favorite hummus from Holy Land, but eating that with only veggies seemed too boring. I don't have any pita or chips... but I do have a ton of leftover corn tortillas! It's not too hot today, so I decided to fry some chips up in vegetable oil on the stove. Nothing like fresh tortilla chips, delicious!

I had this with my new favorite drink that I think of as "mock soda". I'm trying to stay off sugary drinks and eat better, dang-it! While it hasn't been easy to give up my favorite fizzy beverages, I learned this one from a friend and it's been a good substitute. Also kind of feels like I'm treating myself to a cocktail. :)

Mock Soda:
Fizzy Mineral Water (Mendota Springs/San Pellegrino)
Pomegranite Juice (Just a splash to taste. I use the regular POM Wonderful, but the flavored versions would be good too)
Squeeze of Lime juice

And now, back to cleaning out my closet. The hardest part is the honesty! What doesn't fit quite right, or hasn't been worn in a year, or I just don't particularly love is getting the boot. Onward.


August 12, 2011

my amazon wishlist runneth over

Well here we go, yet another lovely sewing book is available for pre-order!

I've only just discovered Colette Patterns, but I'm truly impressed. Their designs are completely adorable and inspired by classic, retro styling. Still best of all the patterns are created for new seamstress' (like me)! Topping it all off, I love to support a Portland, OR based business.

They even have a couple of free patterns available on their website; hopefully I'll get a chance to complete the Sorbetto top before summer's over. My chosen fabric for that project is in the mail, courtesy of Ebay!


August 10, 2011

not your average monthly visitor

Early this year I learned about a company who offers a new and exciting kind of beauty service. It's Birchbox; providing a monthly shipment of at least four deluxe, personalized beauty product samples in lovely reusable packaging. I'm so glad to have found them! Since my subscription began in February I've been consistently pleased with and even surprised by the quality and variety of the samples. In the past, I've stuck with the same cosmetics I already know and love, so this has been quite a departure. I'm so glad to have taken the leap an now I'm inspired to post about them too. You can learn more about the service on their website, but I wanted to share my experience since I'm so impressed with this company.

Here are a fraction of the samples I've received during my seven (7) months as a subscriber:

As you can see I've gotten a good deal of variety; everything from hair, skin and nail care, to perfume, makeup, edibles and even a fabulous toothpaste. (See the bottom of this post for a full list.)

Here though are my biggest surprises... I've received two FULL SIZED products within my monthly shipments!!

The blush is fabulous, and happens to be worth $29.50 (greater than 3x the monthly fee since I subscribed for 1 year.) This lip balm (my new favorite) retails for $12, at 30% more than the monthly fee.

The value is truly incredible and I don't know how they do it.

This next image represents a few of the "Extras" I've received:

Each Birchbox promises four to five deluxe samples. As you've seen, that is certainly true! Add to that, each box also includes an 'Extra' item. Sometimes the extra turns out to be my favorite thing in that month's box. (New style of pony-tail holder anyone?) Fabulous!

Lastly, I want to share some info about the point system and ordering full sized products. Here are the ones I've sprung for:

Regarding points, there are two ways to earn them.
1) By making purchases (including your subscription cost!)
2) By reviewing the products received in your monthly shipment. Each product review is worth 10 points.
This system is great because once you reach 100 points, you're able to redeem them for $10 toward full sized products.

I've found that Birchbox rewards subscribers with regular anniversary specials in addition to the points. It pays to check your email and their blog/facebook page prior to placing a product order. At both the three and six month marks, I received a 20% off coupon code toward product orders. Beyond that, they occasionally offer a free gift with purchase; When Cynthia Rowley collaborated with them, they offered a ring designed by her (w/minimum $25 purchase). Other freebies have included designer tweezers, hair feathers, and right now they're offering Skullcandy earbuds- cute!

Just in case it's not already clear, I'm super excited about my Birchbox subscription. Yet as with everything, there are a couple of "gotchas" that I also feel compelled to share... while the company does a great job of profiling new clients in order to customize their samples, I have received two things that didn't quite fit my needs. (e.g. hair serum for curly hair while mine is stick straight.) Additionally, food allergies don't seem to be a consideration at this time. Among all my shipments I've gotten two edibles, one of which included nuts. This was fine with me but wouldn't be for everyone, so I wanted to point it out. Surely I have a curly haired or nut eating friend though, if I can't tolerate a sample here or there.

Well that's all folks! If you decide to try out Birchbox, I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I have. It's a lot like receiving a birthday gift every month. So please do let me know if you decide to take the leap like me!


This is not a sponsored post.

Following is a full list of products pictured, from top to bottom:

Seen in all Images: Birchbox packaging (reusable gift box with tissue paper)

Products in first image:
Redken shine flash 02 glistening mist
Oscar Blandi Olio di Jasmine Hair Serum - Travel Size
DDF Wrinkle Resist Plus Pore Minimizer Moisturizing Serum
Zoya Intimate Spring 2011 Nail Polish Collection (in Dove)
NARS Orgasm Illuminator
Smashbox Cosmetics Photo Finish Primer
June Jacobs Papaya Purifying Enzyme Masque
Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse® / Multi-Usage Dry Oil
Ouidad Climate Control® Heat & Humidity Gel
sweetriot Dark Chocolate Covered Cacao Nibs
Pangea Organics Toner for Normal to Combination Skin
LIV GRN C2C Fragrance Collection Natural Eau De Parfum
Zoya Touch Collection (in Pandora)
Befine Night Cream
Shaveworks™ The Cool Fix™ Targeted Gel Lotion
Marvis Classic Mint Toothpaste
Cargo Lash Activator Mascara

Products in second image:
Laura Geller Baked Blush-n-Brighten
Pangea Organics Lip Balm

Products in third image:
AHAVA Dermud Enriched Intensive Foot Cream
tinyprints Greeting Card
Twistband Hair Tie

Products in fourth image:
Jouer Luminizing Moisture Tint
Juice Beauty Stem Cellular Repair Eye Treatment
Zoya Remove Plus Nail Polish Remover
Cynthia Rowley Resin Bow Ring (Limited edition free with purchase)

August 1, 2011

LOL Lust

Eeeeeeep!!! I just came across this on Color me thrilled! Can't wait to get my hands on this lovely, fabric covered book. Liberty of London's first!

Hopefully by the time it's released this October, I'll be able to acquire some of Liberty's coveted fabrics to use. Either way I'll surely be posting my projects. A list of included patterns is available in this sneak peek.

*Update on 10/28/2011
The book has arrived and it's just lovely! Wanted to mention though, that it is not in fact fabric covered (as I'd thought). That must be only for the UK version of this little treasure. Oh well, it is still bound with a fabric replica and will make a fantastic addition to my pattern stash and my coffee table.

May 3, 2011

out with the old

Last weekend was largely consumed by Spring Cleaning at my house, even though Spring hasn't exactly "sprung" in our neck of the woods! Still, it feels great to have gone through the drawers and closets deciding what will be kept, tossed, donated, consigned or sold on Craigslist. The highlight of this year's purge was finding a different venue for donating. I'm excited to have stumbled upon it, and hopefully it's just as inspiring to others.

From the Star Tribune a couple weeks ago: She's the Fairy Godmother of Gowns

I've been honored to be a bridesmaid in a few weddings over the years. These experiences have provided wonderful memories and strengthened my friendships. Alas, once the celebrations are over, the bridesmaid dresses accumulated by being in the wedding party have been carefully stored in the corner of my closet since their one time use. Since these garments have become a closet fixture, I tend to notice them only once it's time for a cleaning. It's fun to take a moment and pull the dresses out of the plastic to reminisce about the events they represent (while realizing how tiny my waist was when I wore them.)

The thought of donating my bridesmaid dresses to a thrift store hasn't crossed my mind. While I've never had a problem with donating other clothing or housewares to thrift stores, these dresses seem too personal. Then a couple weeks ago, I read in the local paper about what Jeri is doing out in Waconia. She dedicates her alterations business each spring to revamp donated gowns (no matter how dated and bridesmaid-y), turning them into current prom dresses. Jeri works with high school girls who would not otherwise be able to afford their prom. It completely changed my mind to learn of someone using their time, talent and business space to modify and tailor used gowns for young women in need. For free. Fantastic.

Since it would take around two hours (round trip) for me to drive out and donate in person, I contacted Jeri via email and confirmed it was okay to mail in my donation. I don't have the symbol hanging in my closet any longer, but I still have my friendships, memories, and photos. If you have a bridesmaid dress or other formal gown residing in your closet, consider what else it could be doing.

Contact: Jeri Kuecks
Vista Images - Waconia, MN

April 2, 2011

scrappy do

Sewing is a new crafting venture for me. Even though I purchased my first sewing machine well over a year ago (yes, it may have stayed in it's box most of that time!) I suppose the machine itself, sewing patterns and the many supplies needed to begin a project were daunting.

What got me over the hurdle was my discovery of a local sewing studio which offered a beginners class. They taught me all about my machine and we made a small project. I enjoyed the beginner class so much that I signed up for another to help me get going on a couple of patterns I'd picked out.

Having completed even just a few sewing projects, I've developed an interest in finding ways to make use of the scrap fabric that remains. For one thing, fabric isn't cheap! So throwing away what appear to be usable scraps is out of the question. Here's a super simple way I've found to transform scraps into a hair accessory. Thinking they'll make great handmade gifts for the nieces!

How To Make a Headband

-Cotton fabric scrap, cut to 16" long x 3.5" or 4" wide
-0.5" wide elastic, cut to 4" length

1) Fold the fabric lengthwise, right sides together
Sew the length of the strip to create a tube, with a 1/4" seam, double stitched at both ends 2) Turn the tube right side out 3) Flatten the tube while centering the seam along one side
Iron the tube flat (Photo shows the underside with seam on the left, topside on the right) 4) Lay the fabric right-side up (seam side down)
Align the elastic strip with edge of the fabric at the center of the strip 5) Fold the bottom edge of the fabric up over the elastic and hold with a finger
Then, fold the top edge down to cover the elastic and bottom fold
Hold with a finger and bring over to your sewing machine 6) Place the folded end under the presser foot with the folds facing up
Use a 1/4" seam allowance
(Note: The blue gingham strip shown under the back of the presser foot is a home-made "shim" of sorts. Not sure if all machines are as finicky as mine, but this shim helps the feed-dogs work properly when I'm sewing something thick like this) 7) Sew across the fabric covered elastic three times (full forward stitch across, full back stitch across, full forward stitch across) 8) Snip the loose threads and turn the fabric out, fully releasing the elastic 9) Place the turned out edge under the presser foot with the folded edges facing up
Sew an edge stitch across the fabric twice (full forward stitch across, full back stitch across) 10) Snip the loose strings 11) Lay the headband right side up (seam side down) and align the elastic edge with the fabric edge at the center 12) Repeat steps 5-10

13) Enjoy your new headband! Feels great to see these cute fabric scraps put to use.

April 1, 2011

the first of many

Hello there! As a blog follower, I've pondered a while about starting one of my own. So here it is! This being my first blog writing experience, it could be a bumpy start. I hope you'll bear with me while the training wheels come off. My vision for this little online space is to share my crafty inspirations, sprinkled with affordable fashion ideas and beauty tips I've picked up along the way. Maybe a little decorating, cooking or gardening will pop up every now and then too. Who knows! Until next time...