Thursday, December 8, 2011

She lives!

I've said more than once that I can't believe how time gets away from me.  I opened an Etsy shop and then fell off the face of the earth; or so it seemed here among the cobwebs on my blog. The shop has done quite well actually, mostly selling e-reader cases made-to-order. They've been quite popular! Check them out. Then a few rounds of colds and a couple weeks with Mr. R out of town, then a few more rounds of colds, an extra day at preschool each week, and a weird two-day rash all brings us to the beginning of December already.

And now the mad rush to complete all my projects by their own respective deadlines begins! I need to have all my machine sewing done by the time my family arrives (7 more days, hooray!) since either they or Scooch are taking over my studio. Then I have a few hand sewing projects I'd like to try. I'm hoping to don our tree with a bit more than a string of lights and two ornaments this year.

I have been able to squeeze a few selfish projects in the mix these past couple months.  Shannon on luvinthemommyhood had a cowl knitalong, and after reading about it for a while, I just had to knit one up myself.  I went with the Stockholm scarf that I found on Ravelry.  It was a relatively quick knit, and I wear it all the time; around the house, to the park.  Scooch even crawls up under it so we're both wearing it. I'm not crazy about the colors, but they're what I had on hand, and it's warm.

Now, I know I've complained about our laundry situation here a time or two. Ahem. Lucky for you, that complaining was on the blog that my family reads. Aside from not being able to get soft laundry (no dryer, hard water, don't use fabric softener, etc), our washer has a tendency to turn things grey. I'm not talking just a dirty tinge. I'm talking nasty dark grey. For example, Monkey's washcloths. They are white with colored bindings. I only use them to wash Monkey in the bath. They come out of the wash white around the edges, and almost black in the center. So nasty. You'd think I scrubbed Mr. R's tire rims with them. So, some new washcloths were in order. I plan to make a tutorial for these at some point, but for now, here's the finished product.

I have some other things in the works as well. Here is my To Do List which must be completed, at different intervals, by December 24:
  -Complete a certain pair of stuffed items for two boys for Christmas
  -Make stockings for said boys
  -Finish any custom orders from Etsy (currently 2)
  -Make a sweatshirt for Scooch
  -Make ornaments for our mini tree (all of our holiday decor is in storage in the US and last year I was too deep in post-baby-sleep-depro mode to care)

Oh, and I forgot to add that, along with that list up there, we're going to Scotland for a few days right before Christmas, and Mom and I are baking half her usual load of goods once they arrive. Even half her usual load still means we'll be baking from sun-up to sun-down from the moment she arrives until at least Christmas day. Busy busy busy! I love busy for a change.

And this is something I'm thinking of for future blog posts. Instead of one a day, maybe one a week. Not sure yet whether I want to be that personal on this blog. Several of these are pretty can-of-worms type topics and I don't know that I want this blog to be that.  I might just play around with the safest topics.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Shop is open!!

We are open for business!!  Yahoo!!  I am so excited to introduce to you, my Etsy shop:

You can click right on the photo to go check out my rather slim selection.  And to kick things off, you can use coupon code SHOPOPEN to receive 20% off your order!!

Phew!  I made it!  Sort of.  Remember how I said that I would open my shop today even if I could only list ONE item??  Well, that's almost exactly what I did.  I actually listed 5 items, but they're all the same zippered pouch, in different sizes and fabrics.  I actually have more things finished and ready to sell, I just need to get them photographed and listed.  Isn't it amazing how much life can get in the way of these things?  What's funny is that if I were opening and actual brick and mortar shop, I wouldn't be able to miss my opening day.  But because it's online, it seems so much easier to say, well I only got a few things in, but at least there's something there.

This all sounds a bit like I don't take this seriously.  I assure you that I take it very seriously.  I have wanted to sell my own handmade items for years and years and this is the beginning of that dream coming true for me.  I know that these items aren't my own designs yet (well, one is), but I'll get there.  Plus, I would rather list a few quality items, rather than loads of stuff not made to my standards.  So, please bear with me as I get the rest of the items I currently have available online.  (You can look at the category list on the left of my storefront to get an idea of what will be coming.)  I'll post here each time I list new items.  Almost everything will be available on a made-to-order basis as well. 

Please go take a look, and tell your friends and family to take a look as well.  Please help me spread the word.  YOU are my advertising!

Later on, I'll be posting some ideas for future items, and I'd like your input, since you are my customers. *smile*

Monday, October 17, 2011

FO and Book Review

I finally got back in the studio for the first time in almost two weeks.  No sewing for the shop this time.  Scooch desperately needed a new fall coat, and I had my eye on one I knew he would like.  It just happened to be in the new Sewing For Boys book; the book I won a copy of from Sew, Mama, Sew! during the book's blog tour.  Cute boy clothes patterns are a rare commodity, and to have a whole book dedicated to our little bug-hunting, tractor-loving, sticky fingered rascals is just bliss!  I chased the blog tour, entering every giveaway along the way.  I almost did cartwheels when I won!  Then I had the long wait as it was shipped from the U.S.  When it finally arrived, I got right to work ordering the fabric for the things I wanted to make first: the Luka Hoodie and Paulie's Pullover.  Then I had to wait again for the fabric to arrive *sigh*.  The hoodie fabric arrived first:

With fabric finally washed, dried, pressed, and cut; it took me part of just two evenings to complete the Luka Hoodie.  I used brown baby wale corduroy that I ordered online from Germany for the majority of the hoodie, and then I used the adorable owl print from the Urban Zoologie line from Ann Kelle for the front and secret pocket.  The lining is a brown knit which I wouldn't use again for something like this.  The pattern called for less than 10% stretch.  I couldn't find anything about the amount of stretch in this fabric when I ordered it, and it ended up having far too much stretch.  Luckily, my walking foot saved the day, and the hoodie.

I love this little jacket.  For reference, Scooch just turned three, and store-bought size 3 tops are a tiny bit big on him just now.  I made size 4/5 of the hoodie because I wanted him to get good wear out of it.  It's quite big on him now, but he LOVES it, which makes this mama super duper smiley.  I love that the hood has elastic in it instead of a tie, and Scooch got a big kick out of the secret pocket.  I think I can expect to find all sorts of 'treasure' hidden away in there in the future...

Such a cute little design, and loads of potential for changing it up.  I kept my alterations minor this time.  I put slits in the side seams, changed up which fabrics I used where, and added a little flap behind the buttons to prevent drafts from getting in.  Oh and yes, I still have to add buttons.  I wanted to see it finished before deciding, and I think I'm going to have to go with covered buttons.

Now for the rest of the book.  I just love this book.  The designs are adorable, simple and practical, and the patterns are straight-forward, and not fussy.  You really can make a whole wardrobe for your boy (or girl) with this book.  I'm not sure that I would recommend it for complete beginners though.  The instructions are more basic and there is not a lot of hand-holding with extra explaining and diagrams.  I really love how simple the designs are, leaving loads of room to be creative with them.  Just for starters, take The Henry Shirt; a cute, short-sleeved, snap front, collared shirt.  Replace the snaps with buttons.  Make it long-sleeved.  Use linen for a casual look.  Use shirting for a dressed-up look.  Embellish the front with pin-tucks or machine- or hand-embroidery.  Leave off the pockets.  Add extra pockets.  So many options and now I can't wait to make this top in many different versions!

Friday, October 14, 2011

where did the beginning of October go??

Oh my, I do apologize for my huge absence.  I'm not even completely sure I can account for my whereabouts for the past couple weeks.  It seems like I've been planning my Goals for October post (I really liked the idea of setting a few goals for the month from the 30 Days of Lists) in my head for just a couple days, but then this morning I realize it's October 14 already!!  Better trim up a few of those goals...  *ahem*  It's even taken me all week just to get this post up!  I kept having to change the date as the days went by and I still hadn't finished it!

Let's see, I was doing loads of sewing for my Etsy shop opening, but I haven't sewn much in about a week now.  Monkey is have some new sleep troubles (completely not his, or my, fault this time; we have some loose tiles on the house and the wind was super gusty last week, causing much banging right next to Monkey's bed) and so I've been really sleepy the past week or so.  I've found out the hard way that I can't sew when I'm tired.  I learned a long time ago not to rush, even if I only have a small bit of time to sew, but I make more mistakes when I'm tired, and because I'm tired, I don't take the time to correct them.  I always end up unhappy with the results.  So I just don't do it.

I also had some delays with my shop opening due to some supplies getting lost in the mail.  hrm...  BUT: I'm opening my shop NEXT FRIDAY!!  So, come hell or high water, even if I can only list one item, the shop WILL open on Friday, October 21, 8am GMT!  I currently have 12 different items I plan to carry in my shop, some on a made-to-order basis, some ready-made.  Then, depending on how these items sell, I have a few (ok, a LOT) more items I plan to add.  Only one thing is my own design at the moment, but I am licensed to sell the rest.  I'm hoping to design some more of my own items, you know, when I have time, ha!

You'd think with no sewing or blogging going on for a week that the house would be pretty spic and span.  I wish that were true.  Unfortunately I've had a string of migraines and then a head cold; so I've been pretty out of it for a bit.  No wonder I can't believe how far into the month we are, I was in a fog for most of it.  On top of that, Monkey turned one (ONE!) almost two weeks ago already.  Being the loners that we are around here, we just had some cake and presents, and Skype chats with family.  It was nice.  I can't believe my boy is one.  He's walking, chattering away, very independent and stubborn, and quite a comic.  I love him so.

So, I wanted to let you know where I've been.  Now, I'm going to get back to some sewing, hopefully, so I can get a few more things finished for MY SHOP OPENING!  Don't miss it!  There might be a good deal, or a giveaway or two, you never know... *smile*

PS-I edited this post in the dark as the power is completely out in our house while the electrician fixes something that was burning in our fuse box (that's never good).   It's so nice and quiet and peaceful in here.  Mr. R is reading by torch to Scooch, and Monkey is sleeping soundly.  I think I might institute an In the Dark time once a week or so.  Maybe not a full power cut (not so good for the food in the fridge); but lights, tv, and electronics off.  Games and stories by torch are just way more fun than with the lights on anyway, didn't you know?

Friday, September 30, 2011

30 Days: Final Week and Goals recap

I decided to wait until today to post the rest of my lists, instead of posting a week's worth on Wednesday and then the last two today.  I must admit, I'm glad it's done.  I enjoyed some of the topics, and those lists were quite fun to make.  However most of them, as I've mentioned, I found a bit thoughtless (not that they weren't well-thought out, but that they didn't provoke much thought from me) and dull. 

With that said, here are my remaining nine lists:

Oh, remember Day 1?  'Goals for this month'  I honestly thought this list was going to be a washout, but I went back and looked at it today, and I didn't as bad as I thought at first.  Here we go:

1. Make lists!  *check* - made at least 30 of them, along with the other bajillions I made for other things.
2. Learn something about myself - um, not sure I completed this one.  I was hoping to learn something about myself through the lists, and I definitely didn't do that.
3. Not stress about my lists *check* - I used to have a tendency to be obsessive about certain things.  I would go crazy nuts with something for a while and then drop it altogether.  I certainly never would have finished 30 Days of Lists had I been that freakish person about it.  I'm glad I didn't.  Some days I didn't complete a list until the next day.  Not stressing is good.
4. Start our family conversion to healthy/fresh eating *um, half-check?* - I still need to finish reading the book I started about this (more on that later), but I've been extremely conscious about what we're eating lately, and I'm starting to make smarter choices.  Again, not wanting to go all gung-ho and then just drop it.  So we're headed in the right direction, just reeeeaaaally slowly.
5. Get a haircut.  Nope.  I had an appointment for Scooch and I, but had to cancel it due to Mr. R being out of town.  I never rescheduled.  And Scooch still has to walk with his head back so he can see out from under his fringe.  Poor boy.
6. Make pants for both boys.  Nope.  BUT, in my own defense, I did do a LOT of sewing this month.  And, my mom sent a boatload of clothes for both boys (thanks, Mom!!), so now I think Monkey is the only one who might need a pair or two. 
7. Lose five pounds.  *check* (sort of, hrrmm...) - So, I weighed myself yesterday, and I had totally lost 5lb.  I checked in again this morning to make sure, since today is really the last day of the month, and I had gained a whole pound since yesterday.  Not quite sure how that happens (especially after two trips to the park and sweating in the sun at the park both times), but I think I'm marking this one completed, because the scale DID show that at one point in this month, I had indeed lost that blasted 5lb!
8. Sew something for me *check*  - See evidence here and here.

So four and a half out of eight.  That's better than my usual track record for goals. *grin*

Next Friday I'll have my regular Friday Moment post again, and hopefully a new selfie and some other good stuff.

Happy Weekending blogland!  Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Fall is my favorite season.  I love the crisp air, the crunchy leaves, the hot cider, the fall festivals.  I got married in the fall, and fall colors were my palette for my wedding.  I especially love fall in upstate NY.  The colors are amazing up there.  People travel to the area just to see the colors.  Since I can't see the colors this year, I found some local color instead.

Oh, and while writing up this post, I enjoyed the end of another fall favorite of mine: maple sugar candy from the NY State Fair.  Thanks again, Mom and Dad, for sending me some!!

Monday, September 26, 2011

i heart pouches

I finally finished the two pouches last week that I was making for myself.  I had to wait on zippers to arrive since I didn't have any in the right color.  It was nice because I had them all completed up until the zipper stage, so I was able to get them finished in about an hour each once I had the zippers.

First up, the flat-bottom pouch by the split stitch in large.  I LOVE this bag.  Since I normally carry around a big diaper bag these days, I plan to carry this inside it with my own things (including the camera pouch) so I don't have to dig through the kids' stuff anymore to find something.  Plus it's so lovely that I could even carry it on it's own.  I showed it to my husband and he asked if the pleated panel was supposed to be uneven.  Um, yes.  However, now that I look at it, I should have made it more uneven so it really looks intentional.  Ahem.

Recognize that fabric?  I used the same Amy Butler print that I used for the diaper clutch I sent to my sister-in-law here.  The lining is, dang it, I can never remember what this fabric is called, maybe a chambray?  I snatched it from my mom's stash a while ago, and it's probably 10+ years old.  I love the weight it has to it, I might need to make myself a skirt or something with it...  The striped fabric is also the same fabric that I used on the inside of the diaper clutch.  I really liked how those two prints looked together.

To help keep it organized, I added pockets on each side.  One side has just a wide slot, and the other side has an ID slot and phone slot.

I didn't like the idea of attaching a strap to the zipper, so I added a side tab to attach my strap to.  This bag is the perfect size for what I planned on using it for, so I'm really excited to use it!

Neeext up is another flat-bottom pouch, but with the alterations I mentioned here to make it a camera pouch.  I used the same Amy Butler print as in the big bag above, but in a different color.  The inside and ruffle are a blue/grey chambray, and the wrist strap is scraps I had.

I made almost all of the changes I said I was going to make.  Instead of an interlining, I used fusible fleece.  The pouch still has nice body to it, but is a little more squishy to protect my Lumix from bumps.  I added slot pockets inside for two SD cards and an extra battery.  I meant to also include an elastic band for the card reader I use, but I forgot.  I also took about 2 inches out of the width of the pouch.  I couldn't have judged that any better.  My camera fits in the opening perfectly, I wouldn't have wanted it any narrower.

I added the side tab again for the wrist strap, which I love.  I might need to make another strap, if I have enough scraps, for my camera too!

And here's the camera pouch next to the original, so you can see the size change I made.  The only thing I didn't do, was supposed to be a surprise.  I was going to either embroider a little camera, or I was going to add a little iron-on embellishment, but I couldn't find a camera image like the one in my head, and the iron-on looked too busy with the ruffle, so I left it out.

This has all been great practice since these pouches will be showing up in my Etsy shop soon!  Those wrist straps will also be available for cameras and mobile phones.

Friday, September 23, 2011

baby love, day 5: knitted blanket and wrapping up...literally

Phew!  Last day of baby love!  If you're just checking in, this week I'm showing off the gifts I made for my SIL who is having a baby soon.  Here's what you missed:

Day 1: Embellished Tops and Embroidered Ornaments
Day 2: Diaper Clutch and Burp Cloths
Day 3: Eye Mask and Clothing Labels
Day 4: Dress, Hat and Bloomers

Today is a knitted blanket.  I had to throw something knitted into the mix.  I was going to make a knitted summer hat as well, but being that the family lives near Miami, I don't think a knit hat would get much use.  So instead, I went with a white version of the blanket that I made for my own little Monkey.

I decided to go with a soft, washable and dryable yarn since baby things always seem to be in the wash.  I went with white because it's what I already had in my stash.  [Did you catch onto the stash-busting theme going on this week?  I love how many things I was able to 'shop' for in my existing stash!  My serious fabric and yarn buying obsession comes in handy when money is tight and I want to make nice gifts.  I already have a huge 'store' to pull from!]

And now that I've got all these gifts to send, I need to wrap them up.  I love natural and reusable wrapping.  I always love getting a gift with wrapping I can save to use again for something else.  I had a bunch of vintage sheet scraps I got in a scrap pack online a while ago, and they all turned out to be the perfect sizes for my handmades.  I kept everything really simple.  Of course, if I had all my rubber stamp supplies I would have gone crazy on the gift tags.  Since I didn't, I just played with my new Pilot Hi-Tec-C pens and doodled on the tags instead. *cheese*

I layered everything gently in a box, and then surrounded it all with wrapping tissue.  Then, for fun, and something for the new daddy-to-be, Mr. R gave me some newspaper highlights to stuff into the empty spaces.

And lastly, a card.  It was the first time I've stitched on paper I think, and it was quite fun!

Whew!  That's a lot of baby goodies!  I hope you've enjoyed this week of baby love.  I can't wait to meet my new niece, even if it is over Skype!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

baby love, day 4: dress, bloomers and hat

It's day 4 of baby week here on Scooch Monkey!  Up today is the cutest of baby outfits.  As I have two boys, I don't have many patterns for girly things at my immediate disposal.  Luckily, I have purchased a few books of projects that also contain girl patterns.  My favorite being Amy Butler's Little Stitches.  I just love this little dress and bloomer set.  This was one of the first things on my project list when I put together this baby love set.  I even chose to use Amy Butler's fabric from the Soul Blossoms line.  She is my favorite fabric designer, after all. 

This one started out as a sewing fail.  Well, not a sewing fail really; more like a style fail.  It's quite evident that I'm just getting back into the swing of sewing, as I forgot to fussy-cut the fabric (english: line up the print on the fabric with the pattern).  You can see what I mean in the above photo, the circles aren't centered, and the pattern in the skirt isn't centered.  In the end though, it turns out that I didn't even care for these two color schemes together anyway.   Luckily, this was fabric I bought just for this dress, not something pulled from my stash, so I was able to order more.  Speaking of buying fabric, some designers are really really hard to find in England, so I end up ordering a lot of fabric from the States.  The original dress is still pretty cute, and might show up at a discount in my Etsy shop if I can ever get it up and running.

I really love this little dress.  So many nice details.  The skirt is lined and the bodice is faced.  There is elastic in the back to help it fit better.  I took extra care to make sure all the edges were finished off nicely.  I serged all the exposed inside seams (which is SCARY! see note after jump about my serger issues).  And see how the fabric print is all nice and centered now?  Muuuch better.

The only place I altered from the pattern was with the snaps.  The pattern called for buttons, but I just love using my snap press, and since I chose to lug it all this way in the move, I decided to use it.  I really like the way the snaps look too.

The bloomers and hat turned out lovely on the first try; except for that silly butterfly, but more on that later.  I made a smaller size of the bloomers previously, and remember something about the elastic lengths being way off.  Too much in the top and not enough in the bottom, or something like that.  I didn't have that problem this time.  Everything looks about right to me.  Not that I would really know, having two boys I don't have much experience with bloomers.

This little hat is cute, and I'm so glad I figured out a way to sew the points where they all line up perfectly!!  I might just have to do a tutorial on that actually...  The butterfly isn't my favorite, but I think the biggest reason for that is because I put the wrong side of the velcro on the butterfly portion.  Have you ever tried to stuff toy filling through an opening flanked with velcro (the scratchy side)??  Oy!

Tomorrow is the final day of Baby Week.  I hope you've enjoyed it as much as I have.  I'll do a review of the week and I'll show off the final piece (a baby blanket), and show how I wrapped it all up to send off to my family.