Friday, December 24, 2010

A last post for the year

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from M'Lou Designs!

P.S. I am offering an end of year sale through Jan 4th.  Just enter 'HappyHolidays' when you check out and 25% will be deducted off your order.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Let the Christmas planning begin!

So, we haven't gotten the tree out of hiding yet - as a brief aside, I have a contact allergic to pine sap, so to avoid swollen itchy hands, we got a fake tree last year.  I'm looking forward to decorating this year with M'Lou as a willing participant.  I can already see the tree being pulled down at some point ... maybe the breakable ornaments need to stay in their boxes this year.

Anyway, I am now ramping up for a push for Christmas presents.  I always say I'm going to plan ahead, but it never happens - it's always all of a sudden December with no idea what happened to the other 11 months!

After Christmas I'll be sure to share the gifts I'm working on, but I would hate to spoil the surprise before then.  However, I will share some of the things on my wish list or that I think should be on your wish list. You can click on any of the pictures to take you to that listing or see the store links after the pictures to see even more wonderful stuff!

1.  Ok, so this one isn't actually on my list because it's my husband's present to me!  Yes, I did buy it for myself, but he told me it was my Christmas present, so that counts :)  I do still need to buy backing fabric ... maybe Santa's elf will help me out ;)p

And here's where you can get one of your very own: sewlovechristmas

2.  If I had more wall space or a bigger house, I would have one of everything at Sarah Jane Studios.  I have no words to describe how wonderful her illustrations are.  They are just amazing!  I did end up succumbing and purchasing a couple of her calendar single card prints - a small indulgence instead of the entire room full of prints I really want!

And here's where to find more of her lovely work: Sarah Jane Studios

3.  And a wish list of fabric that I have no projects for I just REALLY want!

Some of the yardage from Moda's It's a Hoot collection

The full FQ (fat quarter) bundle for the collection ... can't you just see an adorable little girl's quilt?

Yummy deep reds in this lineup - I will admit that I do have a traditional quilt pattern that would look AMAZING with this fabric, but I'm resisting ... I want you all to admire my restraint!  This is the Lumiere de Noel by French General FQ bundle ... another Moda line.  I think I'm sensing a theme here.

And this is another kit that would just be too cute for a little person.  Again it's from Moda ... yep, definitely sensing a theme ... from their Punctuation line of fabrics.  Also, if you buy this kit it comes in a retro metal lunch box ... TOO CUTE!!

All of the fabrics above, except the Punctuation quilt kit, came from a fellow Dallas Modern Quilt Guild member's store.  You can see more of the wonderful fabrics she carries at her store, Maricopa Fabrics.

The Punctuation quilt kit came from Green Fairy Quilts.

Let me know what's on your list (it may need to get added to my list)!


Monday, November 22, 2010


I have several friends that are posting things they are thankful for as their Facebook status every day or every couple of days. I didn't want to copy them, but I realize how many things I have to be thankful for! I'm going to kick off the week of Thanksgiving listing some of the things I'm thankful for.

  1. My family - both biological and through marriage.
    • I am extremely thankful for an amazing husband (who I don't appreciate nearly enough) that supports me through all of my trials and joys. I am thankful for an amazing daughter who reminds me that it's okay to giggle every day.
    • While anyone that knows my family knows we're all a bit nuts, I'm thankful that there are people out there that love me for who I am and have for my entire life ... and that we're all still on speaking terms ;)
    • I have had the incredible good fortune to marry into an amazing family and I treasure my relationship with them. It is an amazing thing to have people claim you as family without the "in-law" part.
  2. My health
    • I realize as I get older how precarious life can be and that having good health is a gift not a given.
  3. Opportunities
    • I have had some amazing opportunities in my life. This could be an entire thankful post in and of itself, but I'll try to be brief. I am thankful that I have had the opportunity to travel both domestically and internationally. I am thankful that I had the opportunity to go to college and to graduate school. I am thankful for the opportunity to continue stretching my brain and explore new career options such as M'Lou Designs.
  4. And last, but certainly not least or even close to all of the things I have to be thankful for, I am thankful for my friends.
    • I am thankful that I have friends that encourage me to move beyond my worry wart, thinking stage and make me take action. I am thankful that I have friends that I can have honest discussions (and whining sessions) with about life, family and the ups and downs of day to day living.
Thanks for taking a minute to read this post! I hope it may make you take a moment, if you haven't already, and realize all of the things you have to be thankful and grateful for during this season.


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Fall Cleaning???

Is that even a common term?  Anyway ... I'm working on reorganizing my craft space for like the 5th time this year.  Yes, I know!  It's a disease.  Fortunately, my hubby is very understanding as long as he doesn't have to really do anything ;)

In this case, he did have to help me move the massive hutch we have in our center room.  With the start of prolonged fall-like weather (meaning it will only get into the 60s with 70s and 80s still sprinkled in there because it IS Texas after all), I felt it was necessary to unearth the fireplace that I covered up with my junk crafting supplies this summer.

And NO I wasn't procrastinating on actually working on stuff ... okay, maybe a little, but I actually got two new projects started and completed.  Granted they didn't turn out the way I thought, but at least they're not constantly running around in my head anymore :)

Here is a picture after we moved the hutch but before I stuck all the stuff back in it. I was worried I might have to nudge it into a better location after I moved around some of the other furniture.

I wish I could claim that all the mess was because of the reorganization.  Unfortunately, I think it has more to do with my pack rat nature than anything else ... ok, fine it also has to do with my inability to actually FINISH a project :)

Here are a couple of in-process pictures.
This is with my big metal rack moved into place and a lot of stuff moved out into the hallway :)

Much closer with most of the stuff back where it should be and me playing with my craft table arrangement.

And the moment you have all been breathlessly waiting for (drum roll please!) ....

I still have too much stuff in this room, but I think it's just going to continue to be a problem ... at least I cleared the space in front of the fireplace (that you can't see, but it's off to the right).

Here's my new craft space.  Under the cutting mat table, I have two sets of plastic drawers with all of my notions for sewing and various things like buttons, interfacing, etc.

I'm pretty pleased with it - still have some organization to do.  Like where do I stick all my craft books that I use for inspiration.  I'm thinking I may have to finish some projects to make room for more ... ;)

I'm planning on getting a fair amount of crafting done this week as next week heralds some changes for the next 5 weeks.  I'll keep you posted as things develop ...


Monday, November 1, 2010

Post-Halloween Photo Roundup

I will admit that I had a bit of fun getting M'Lou dressed up for the costume party Saturday night.  She was a dance-aholic all night long and I don't think it was just the costume ;)

This is my take on 80's chic :)  
The best part is that all of this is stuff she had in her closet.  Gotta love budget costumes!

Here are a couple of pics from Halloween Day.  We headed to the Arboretum with friends and went trick-or-treating there.  Good thing because we weren't feeling up to the actual nighttime trick-or-treating - or at least I wasn't. We had nap mutiny and I wasn't ready for the hysterics ... meaning mine ;)

I think she always has more fun at the Arboretum than we do - except when we want to leave and she's still running around like a hooligan or we won't let her into the restricted areas (really that rope is there for a reason ...)

And to end the post, a new word that M'Lou somehow learned ... it's a mystery how she learned this word!
For those that do not speak M'Lou, she is saying 'candy'.  Like I said a MYSTERY how she learned this word at this time of year ...


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Last Minute Kid Costume - A Tutorial

So, M'Lou had a costume day at her daycare and I wasn't ready to unveil her "real" costume.  I love the fact that I made more work for myself (her "real" costume parts were pretty much all done), but this was easy and straightforward.

Orange shirt - I used an Adult Small (M'Lou is about a 3T and I wanted it to poof at the bottom)
3/4" elastic
Green ribbon
Green fat quarter -18" x 22" (I only used about 1/4 of this)
Black fabric/felt scraps for eyes and mouth
Green embroidery floss
Black embroidery floss
Embroidery needles
Sewing machine

Of course I forgot to take pictures when I started, but here we go.
  1. I took the bottom of the shirt and folded it under - I used about a 1.25" seam allowance and a straight stitch.  I left about 4" between start and stop of the sewing to allow me to feed in the 3/4" elastic.   I used the shirt hem stitching as a guide and measured 1.25" from that line and then sewed along that line.
  2. I then cut the elastic - I used one of M'Lou's diaper covers as a gauge for how much elastic to use.  I think I used about 18" plus a bit to overlap the ends.  If I had it to do again I would probably add another inch or two.
  3. Here is the elastic that I used for this project.  Gotta love when you have just what you need in your stash of random craft materials :)
  4. I fed the elastic into the sleeve I made at the bottom of the shirt easing the shirt fabric around as I went.  When I had the elastic fed all the way through I made sure that I hadn't twisted it so it would lie flat once I stitched the ends of the elastic together.
  5. I overlapped the elastic ends and using a ribbing overlock stitch (one of the fancy zig-zag stitches on my machine - see the picture) sewed it forward and then hit my reverse button to go back over it.
  7. Once the elastic was in, I sewed up the opening using a straight stitch.
  8. Here's what the bottom looked like after inserting the elastic and then stitching the opening closed.
  1. I then took a green fat quarter and ripped off about a 1/4 of it using the long edge so I would have enough to go around the neck.  Yes, I said ripped, it seemed like too much work to try to clear off my cutting mat to actually cut it :)  Also, I just eyeballed the amount of length I would need, but you may want to measure to make sure you have enough fabric.
  2. When I tear the fabric, I try to cut all the way through the selvedge on one side to start.
    I then tear the fabric all the way across and clip through the the other side if I can't tear all the way through (which typically I can't).
  3. I folded the resulting strip of fabric accordion-style and like a paper doll and cut off the corners so that it would create leaf-like greenery for the top of the costume.  At this point, you could do a stay stitch around the edges of the fabric to keep it from unraveling, but I kind of like the idea of it looking a bit ragged.
  4. I folded the fabric onto itself until I liked the width that my leaves were going to be.
    This is another eyeball moment.  I just clipped off what I thought would be the right angle for the leaves.  For me, I thought roughing it in would be fine since nature isn't perfect either ;)
  5. I pinned this greenery on to the neck and then sewed it on using the same overlock stitch from before.  I eased it in as I sewed since it's a straight edge being sewn to a circular neck.
  6. I pinned more for reference and so I would know about where the fabric would end up.
    As I went, the fabric moved around further than I thought it would - about 1/2" just to warn you :)
  7. I then snipped at the valley of each leaf (see picture for clarification) to allow it to ease in some more and tacked down the tips of each leaf.
  8. Clip enough of the valley so that the leaves will lay flat on the shirt.  depending on how you cut your leaves, this may be more or less than I cut.
  9. It was then time to start tacking down the ends of the leaves.  I used the full thickness of the embroidery floss, i.e. I didn't use just 3 threads of it.  I liked the thicker look of the full thickness, but I'm sure a half thickness would work as well.
    For all the knots on this costume, I used a basic knot instead of using my regular fancy quilting knot. I thought it would be a smaller knot and therefore make it less noticeable on the back side of the shirt since I wasn't going to do any kind of liner material.
    Once I made my knot, I sewed three stitches in the tip of each leaf to keep the leaves down (sorry about the fuzzy picture). Keep in mind if you haven't done any stay stitching to hold the edges that you will need to allow some extra space so your needle doesn't just fray the edges - not that I did that (cough, cough)
    Now that you've stitched the tip down, how to do you end it? You can do another simple knot (see the info below on how I tied off the stitches for the face) or you could do what I did for these. I ran my needle under the stitches I did and then I tied a knot in the loop I made when I ran the needle under the stitches. I did this twice to make sure the knots and stitches were secure.
    Here you can see how I have gone through the stitches and then tyed a knot.
    Here's what the tack should look like when you are finished. I promise there really are three stitches there, even if you can't see them.
  1. I then used the green ribbon to tie up the sleeves.  If you have a more appropriately sized shirt, you could probably get away without this step.  You can also wait on this step, but I wanted to see how the shirt would bunch before I put the face on the pumpkin.
  2. If you opt to go with the ribbon, I would recommend doing some gluing and/or sewing on the ribbon to keep the bow in place.  I'm just saying that M'Lou came home with only one ribbon.
  3. Using the black fabric scraps, I made the face of the pumpkin and pinned it in place.  Using a running embroidery stitch, I attached them to the front of the shirt.  
  4. I stuck with a traditional face and just cut out triangle eyes and a toothy grin. For all of these, I folded over the fabric so I would have mirror images similar to what we did for the leaves around the neck. I then pinned everything in place to make sure I liked where everything was going. Keep in mind that you are going to poof the bottom so you will want the face to be "high" on the shirt.
    I sewed all the face on using a basic running stitch. I used the simple knot, as mentioned in the section about tacking down the leaves, to start with. I also used the full thickness of the embroidery floss here.
    Here's what the front looked like when I was done.
    Here's what the back looked like when I was done.
    To tie off each section of thread, I tied a regular knot and made sure that it would end up near the shirt fabric. I do this by tying the knot up against the fabric and then using my thumbnail to hold it in place while I pull the thread through and make the knot tight.
Now for the big reveal!  Here is the cutie wearing her new pumpkin costume.

I know I'm a bit biased, but I thought she looked pretty cute in this costume!

I had fun making this costume.  Let me see your versions if you decide to use this tutorial - also if you catch something that I missed or that I should add, let me know!


Friday, October 15, 2010


As much as I procrastinate, I LOVE the feeling of finishing projects.  It's just this wonderful weight that lifts and means the project isn't lurking in the wings making you feel GUILTY for spending the money on the supplies and then not finishing what you started.

As a way of finishing off this week, I'm going to showcase things that were finished this week.  This week's finished projects are brought to you by the letter M, for Mom - without whom most of these projects would not have been completed.  (Thanks Mom!)

So!  First on the list is this wonderful little cross over dress by Kimberly Gladman and Favorite Things pattern designs (can be found here).  I found this great corduroy and had been saving it for something for M'Lou and then found this pattern and thought it would be perfect!  I used this other great fabric for the inside so that it would be reversible.

I also learned how to use the automatic buttonhole foot on my sewing machine - BONUS!!

We managed to put in some fall flowers with the help of my mom.  Here's a picture of M'Lou helping her Gigi with the planting ;)

She's even modeling her little dress for you!  Granted at this point it was just held on with safety pins, but when I went to put it on her to test the size, she wouldn't let me take it off her.  I think that signals a win!

And finally, I took another great class at Make.  I took their Screen Printing class and had a blast.  Of course, I was the slowest one there, but I'm really happy with how my screen and the printing turned out.

Now to try out some other designs and make up some great things for my shop!!!!

Hope you all have great plans for the weekend!


Monday, October 11, 2010

Get the week kicked off!

So, I felt this video was a great way to kick off the week.

Here is M'Lou and her Auntie M and their exercise video.

I think M'Lou has great potential in the exercise video market :)

Happy Monday everyone!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Is it a blue moon?

I know!  I posted just last week and here I go again :)

So, I am really trying to get focused and get things accomplished ... with some success.  The fall weather here is making me feel energetic (despite the fact that I'm feeling under the weather this week).

I have been rearranging furniture like a crazy person.  I have this compulsion to rearrange my rooms every couple of months.  I've been in this house longer than any other place in my life, so I think I get antsy more than I would if we actually moved where I'd really just be happy that I didn't have to pick anything up for a while :)

In more crafty news, I have been working really diligently on getting all the fairy blocks quilted, so I have been watching WAY too much reality TV via my Netflix instant watch.  Right now, I'm hooked on 'Say Yes to the Dress'.  I know it has no socially redeeming value, but it makes me feel so much better about the kind of bride I was. I'm thankful that we have some time before we have to take care of that for M'Lou.

I also bought a Cricut recently and have been playing with it to figure out what it can do and what really doesn't work.  As a side note, construction paper is not a great idea.  I'm hoping to get a cartridge with some fun cards and envelopes this week.  As soon as I do, I'll get some images posted.

In the meantime, here is a pic from our hike over the weekend.  M'Lou was able to hike almost an entire mile on this trail.  We were impressed!

Friday, October 1, 2010

In a Handbasket

Good intentions and all have not done squat to keep up with my desire to post on this blog .

So to attempt to make it up to you I'm going to do a major post with pics and/or descriptions of things that I've actually completed since the last time I posted.

Ok, here goes:

A wallhanging for a good friend.  I won't mention how long it took me to sew the binding on.  You would think that close to being done that I would have just knocked it out, but NOOoooo ... I take procrastination to a whole new level :)

So here it is finished in all it's glory:
 My friend loves chihuahua's and lost two of hers this year.  I had started this after I'd made a trip to visit her and thought it would be a fun machine applique project.  I quilted this on my machine at about 1/2" intervals.

 I figured with a dog quilt you HAD to have dog bones on the back and for the binding :)
Yes, I know I need to work on my labeling to make it more elegant, but this is very heartfelt and all that really matters :)

Let's see next on the finished list:

A monster I made as a custom request for another friend.  Here is the stylish M'Lou modeling it.
This is what happens when you ask a 2 year old to "Hold up the monster so Mommy can take a picture."

And then you get a more accurate interpretation and help :)

Here is the back with it's cape.  Sorry it's fuzzy, this is why I need remedial photo instruction and a photo setup!

I was also commissioned to help a friend with a dress for her daughter's 1 year birthday party.  It's not until closer to the end of the year, but we're hoping this still fits her by then :)  Miss Cat is going to be a very tall girl!

I made up this pattern using the Amy Butler fabric as inspiration and a shirt that fits Miss Cat as a template for the top.  The black lace at the bottom was her mom's inspired idea!

We played with the ribbons trying to decide how to secure them in the back and hold the dress up as the original design was a halter dress that needed some gathering that was beyond my skills as a seamstress :)  We ended up going with snaps and having them criss-cross in the back so we can move them as she gets bigger.

To round out this post, I thought I would post the two big WIPs (works-in-progress) that I have on my plate.

First, the Tokyo Subway quilt that I posted about on my FB page.  It's a quilt-along with Oh, Fransson! and if you haven't found her site and love to quilt, you SHOULD head over.  Here's the link to the Subway quilt:  Link.

Here is the start on cutting out all the squares.  I have a LONG way to go and probably more fabric that I have to purchase ... no, really, I need more fabric for this quilt.

You probably can't read it, but the smallest number of patterned fabric squares I have to cut is 29.  The most is 87.  And have I mentioned that cutting up the pieces for quilting is one of the things I hate most about quilting?!?!?

Next on my list of major WIPs is the quilt for my sister.  I'm closing in on it slowly.  Right now, I've finished hand quilting all the diagonals.  I'm now working on quilting around designs in the fairy blocks and then going to work on the border.  I'm hoping to be done with at least two sections of fairys by next week.  I'm really determined to have this done before we see them towards the end of the month.  I may still be sewing the binding on when we get to Colorado, but by God it's going with us and I'm handing it over!!!!! :)

Here's the overall design.  I've done all the diagonals and finished with quilting 3 of 12 fairy blocks of one section.

Here's a closer view of my quilting.  I'm pretty consistent at about 6 stitches/inch.  I'm actually proud that I'm consistent :)

Okay, well time to get another shirt posted to my Etsy site and then to some crafting and quality time with M'Lou!