Friday, June 27, 2014

teacher gifts

It's the last day of school today, so along with the sheep happens bag and yarn I gifted to one of my kids' teachers, I made a couple summer totes with some Anna Maria Horner "stacked" fabric in home dec weight.  This book-inspired fabric is the perfect choice for a teacher, wouldn't you say?

I accented the handles and lined them with a couple other of her coordinating prints.  Then filled them with summer goodies- a water infuser, some chips and Smarties (for helping make my kids so smart!) and a gift card for them to choose some summer reading.

I made the totes without a pattern, just sewed some rectangles together, made a gusset bottom, lined and added a slip pocket.  Sometimes simple is best!

Blogging will be sporadic for July and August as I will have 3 energetic little people wanting my attention on my days off!  Plus heading out to the lake for some family R&R :)  But,  I do hope to sneak in some regular sewing while I am there.  I have a stack of quilt tops meant for the cottage bunk beds that need quilting and binding!  Plus a couple secret swap projects that I plan to finish up.  So, hopefully some good things to show you once routine is restored. 

Wishing you all a fabulous summer (or winter, in the other hemisphere!).

xoxo Kristie

Friday, June 20, 2014

"sheep happens" bag: a tutorial

Awhile back, I picked up a set of some cute Japanese polka dot fabric, with some sheep in the polka dots.  Right away, I was thinking these prints would be perfect for a knitting project bag (or any type of project for that matter).

With the end of the school year drawing near, I have decided to make some gifts for my kids' teachers, one of which is a knitter!  I decided to use this fabric to make a drawstring bag, and give a skein of pretty sock yarn along with it.  I named the bag the "sheep happens" bag, and it turned out so nicely that I thought I would make a tutorial to share with you here!

The bag is made of linen and cotton on the outside, and is lined with cotton.  It is round bottomed, therefore can sit nicely on its own without toppling over, and the drawstring closure doubles as a handle.  It came together quickly, and is the perfect size for small projects.

And here is how you can make your own!


fat quarter of linen or home dec fabric for outer
fat quarter of cotton for inner
30" of pretty ribbon, 3/4" wide
Thread, etc


6" x 21" of sheep fabric
6" x 21" of linen, sub cut into a 4" x 21" piece and a 2" x 21" piece
11" x 21" of lining
two circles of 6.5" diameter, one of each outer and lining fabrics (I used a bowl as a template)

NOTE:  I used 1/4 seams, not the traditional 1/2" for bags.  Because I am a quilter, after all ;)

1. Sew outer pieces, right sides together, along long sides such that the 4" strip is on the top, and the sheep piece is in the centre.  Press seams.

2. Fold outer and lining, right sides together so that short raw edges are aligned.
For lining, sew along short side to make tube.
For outer piece, do the same, but stop sewing 3" from top.  Backstitch.  Leave 1" gap, and sew remainder of side to top.  Flip to right side, finger press seams at gap away from hole, and sew short lines on either side of the hole to secure.  This will be where the drawstring ribbon exits.

3. Press outer and lining tubes in half, and then in half again.  Press along bottom edge to mark quarters.  Do the same with the circle pieces (see photo).

4.  Align circles with bottom of tubes, right sides together,  matching and pinning the four creases around the circle.

5. Sew circles to tubes, working fabric from tube along circle's curve and ensuring that all 4 pinned corners line up.

6.  Insert outer, right side out, into lining, wrong side out (i.e. right sides will be facing each other).  Ensure side seams for the outer and lining are aligned.  Pin, if desired.

7.  Sew along top, leaving 2" hole for inverting.

8. Turn bag right side out and press top seam.  Top stitch along top, close to the edge, to close the hole.  Also topstitch on either side of ribbon hole to make channel for the ribbon as shown.

9.  Turn edges of ends of ribbon over and stitch to prevent fraying.  Secure large safety pin to one end and insert into hole.

10. Using your fingers, pull safety pin along the channel until the ribbon emerges out the other side.  Tie ribbon ends into a knot.

Ta da!  You have yourself a Sheep Happens project bag.  Now go make something else to stick in it!!


Wanna win a sheep happens bag?  I am giving one away on Instagram today, Friday June 20.  Come check out my feed for details (kristieocd).  If you aren't on IG, leave a comment here before 3 PM (Central time) and I will enter you. Have a great Friday!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

my favourite mini quilt

Yesterday was my best friend Michele's 40th birthday!  I am sure she loves me sharing that with the world ;)  But hers is extra important to me- she survived a rare SCAD heart attack a few years ago, so after having had to face the possibility of losing her, I am all the more grateful to have such an amazing friend in my life.

For the big 4-0, she put in a request over 6 months ago- admiring the mini quilt I have at the cottage with and Emerson quote, she asked if I could make her something similar with a quote that has been a mantra of sorts for her since her heart attack:

"Do not let yesterday take up too much of today." 

For months I waited for my inspiration to strike.  How to make the quote and the fabric come together into something inspiring and beautiful.  It stumped me.  Then I got to thinking about life, and how we are all made up of these random experiences, some good and some bad, but how they all meld together to form us as a person.  How often it starts out one way and then takes on another path, a diversion.....about all the colours and textures that make up a life.  Kind of magical.

I set out without any end plan.  I just started piecing bits of neutrals together.  Got out some fabric paint and stamps.  Pieced some wonky letters in colours where I wanted impact.   Tried my hand at  some embroidery.  And slowly brought it all together. The more randomness I added, the more cohesive the piece started to look and the more I liked where it was going. And here is the end result!

The quilting included some new frontiers for me, and I went with the same carefree attitude I had with the piecing. I channelled my inner Krista Withers and started filling negative space with swirls, pebbles, lines.  The quilting is dense and the resulting texture is amazing.

Added sections of clamshells and waves and used touches of hand stitching to accent the stamped letters and to outline the pieced ones.

On the back, the London subway map fabric (to represent time she spent living in England). And some hanging sleeves with a birthday message :)  For the binding, I continued with the scrappy theme.

It was gifted yesterday, and Michele declared it was her favourite gift she received (which pretty much brought tears to my eyes).  Then we had a lovely afternoon at the I am HOPING this is indicative of life in our 40s?!?!

Happiest of birthdays, Michele xoxox

Monday, June 16, 2014

Week 4: less stress project meets hormones

This week, HORMONES were introduced to the LSP.

It wasn't even a fair fight.  Hormones clearly won.

I am grateful I survived this week without becoming a news headline.  I had fantasies of running away from home or dropping my children off on a street corner somewhere far, far away.  I also considered divorcing my husband several times.  No, I did not eat well, sleep well, exercise or accomplish any of my LSP objectives.  I was in survival mode, people!

It's truly amazing how a normally rational (??) human being can be completely blind sided by little molecules coursing through the blood stream.  The tiny fraction of my brain that survived the onslaught kept saying, "You have been taken over by aliens, hang tight and do NOT make any major life decisions for 5 days! You can do this!"  I clung to that voice and muscled through.  It seems my monthly craziness has just compounded with age, a smaller part of the rational surviving each time.  Is that true for anyone else?  Or am I totally losing my marbles?

Anyways.  This morning, I could tell the war was over.  I popped into my youngest daughter's room to wake her up this morning and saw this sight:

Little sleepy toes popping out from quilts made by mama.  I was awash with love, and all was right with the world again.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

quilt journey: Angela's quilt!

The #quiltjourney continues, where a group of seven of us quilty friends are mailing pieces of quilts across the continent to be added to, eventually forming a whole quilt filled with love!  I wrote about the start of my quilt, and my addition to Cara's (IG: meamom) as well, and today I will share Angela's quilt so far!

Many of you know Angela- she blogs over at Cut to Pieces.  I love this girl.  So talented and more than that, just a sweet, loyal friend with a wicked funny sense of humour (my favourite!).  Anyways, I was sent these two awesome pieces from her and Cara as the start of her quilt.

Both with lots of colour, bold and graphic.  And both already pretty large!  I loved them both, but honestly was having a hard time visualizing how they would tie together, not battling each other but in harmony in the quilt.  So I decided to do a bit of a "bridge" to allow some transition.

First job: picking fabrics with my trusty sidekick ;)  I used lots of my hoarded favourites like Katie Jump Rope, Heather Ross and AMH.

Next was determining design. Angela has written an amazing book on curved piecing called A Quilter's Mixology which modernizes the Drunkard's Path block.  Not sure if it was a wise move or totally delusional one, but I decided to add some curves to the curve guru's quilt!  And while the other sections sent to me where predominantly colour with pops of white, I opted to do the reverse, but inserting curved stars of bold colours into a white background.

I began by making modified drunkard's path blocks in 3 sizes.  I trimmed them such that the edges of the coloured fabrics would feather together to form the stars.

I then came up with a random arrangement of them onto 3 sides of one of the previously made sections...

....and pieced them all together with white.

In the end, I didn't attach the strip of blocks on the right- I will send them along to the next quilters in line and they can decide accordingly.  But, I am happy with my "touch", and hope Angela likes it, too!

Monday, June 9, 2014

less stress project: exercise

I am one of those people who actually LIKES exercise.  I like the way the endorphins make me feel.  I like a challenge.  I like that exercise really is a simple work=results formula. If you stick with it, you improve.

So if it's so great, why do I bail on it so often??

Despite all these positive exercise benefits, I still have the tendency to hit snooze, relax or sew instead.  Because as much as I do LIKE exercise, I kinda HATE the first ten minutes.  You know? When it is cold outside in the winter and you just wanna crawl back in your warm bed.  When it is hot and muggy and mosquito-y, which I like even less than cold.  Those first ten minutes, before you find your groove, it is all huffing and puffing and creaky muscles.  BUT once you get past's great.

Looking at all of my resolutions, I think this one is going the best.  I strived to exercise more, and I certainly have.  Have I skipped days when I could have made it happen? Of course.  But overall I have made it out 4-5 times per week, and just over a few weeks, have seen progress.

I am keeping it simple- just basic cardio stuff now: runs, power walks and today, I added in some cycling! My first run was pretty horrendous- slow as can be, with many walk breaks and the feeling like I was going to hurl.  But have stuck with it and am now running the same loop without stopping or needing to call 911.  Work=results! I am going to keep at this and then slowly add in some weight and so on.  I plan to build up a good base over the summer, and maybe add in a trainer or some kind of challenge in the fall....will see where that goes!  If you want to see my daily progress (and some really embarrassing, sweaty photos), you can pop over to visit me (kristieocd) on Instagram....I call myself #thesoggytomato and with one look, you will see why!

My toughest challenges still seem to be sleep (reading too many good books!), not snapping at my kids (little button-pushing buggers xoxo), and food.  But not giving up, and plan to really focus on eating this upcoming week.

How is YOUR less stress life going??

Monday, June 2, 2014

Week 3 of the less stress project: It's a metaphor.

This week was like any other, really- running from school to work to activities, fitting in the rest as well as possible.  Some things in my control, others not so much.

One big (and unfortunately continuous stress) in our lives is renovations.  We have had a bunch of work done on our home, unfortunately some of it hasn't turned out too well, so we are often chasing down contractors, waiting for trades, and bleeding out cash to fix things we have already paid to fix.  It can be really frustrating, and is one of those things that falls into the "out of our control" column, which further adds to that frustration.

This past week, we enjoyed a restful rainy day at our new cottage, only to discover a major roof leak from a deck to a sunroom below.  Now, if you have been around awhile you know that we have this ongoing issue with water- our original cottage was destroyed in a flood, our current home has ongoing roof leaking issues (even though we "fix" it every year!), our basement has flooded, and so on.  Perhaps the result of an Aquarius marrying a Pisces?  Regardless, a big PITA.  So we were NOT excited to find this new issue at our place of relaxation. We went about having a quote to fix it and were stunned by the $16.5K price tag.  Seriously?!?!  

So this brings me to the title of this post- it's a metaphor.  Have you read "The Fault in our Stars" by John Green?  The movie is actually coming out this week as well.  It is about a teenage girl,  Hazel, diagnosed with terminal cancer, who meets Augustus, an osteosarcoma survivor with an amputated leg, at a Teen Cancer Support Group.  On their first encounter, she is kind of enamoured with him- until he pops a cigarette in his mouth.  "Are you SERIOUS?!?" Hazel asks, and proceeds to tell him that he just ruined everything and how ridiculous it was for a cancer survivor to be a smoker.  Augustus explains that the cigarette is a metaphor- he puts the killing thing between his lips, but doesn't light it, thereby taking away its ability to do the killing.

This passage reminded me somewhat of my Less Stress Project.  Stress will always be around, like cancer, and ready to do its damage.  It is up to me to take away its power over me.

So the leaky roof is an annoyance,  for sure, but need not be a STRESS.  It's a first world problem- poor me and my drippy second home.  No one is dying or bleeding here.  We will deal with it.  We will get another quote.  It was probably doing this before we bought it and so it is not an emergency.  I will use my energy in a positive way to work towards a solution to this problem, rather than lamenting it.

Small battles won this week on the stress front.  

Now if I could only figure out how to stop my kids from pushing my buttons.....they drove me freaking mental this week : /