Monday, February 28, 2011

Every Girl Deserves a Dress

I've never participated in a sew-along before, have you? I think they look like a lot of fun, but they seem to be mostly for kids clothing. I've seen the cutest little dresses and skirts, with some of the neatest detailing, and really adorable things for little boys--but I have neither to sew for so it would be a bit of a waste. Sometimes I see them for bags, but I can knock those out on my own so they don't interest me. What appeals to me about a sew-along is that sense of community, of a bunch of people doing the same-ish sort of thing at the same time. I came across a sew-along today that has a wonderful sense of community and purpose, will enable me to sew a few cute things, and has the chance of ending up across the world.

Vanessa at Little Big Girl Studio is hosting a sew-along for the global charity Dress A Girl Around the World. It's a charity that delivers pillowcase dresses to little girls around the world, because every girl deserves a dress. You can learn more over at Vanessa's blog or by clicking here. I don't have any spare pillowcases laying around, so I plan on using up some of the things in my stash. Just thought you might be interested....

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Why yes, my fabric will have a cuppa

Am I allowed to say cuppa? I'm not a Brit...I'm not sure if there are rules with these sorts of things. Anyway, I lifted the ban on my fabric buying for an hour yesterday. I was only going to get some red polka dot fabric but then I saw something else and decided I deserved it. I'm going to make you wait until I use it to reveal it to you, because I ran into a little preparatory fun...but this week. Pinky swear.

I bought an eyelet trim to use, but it was bright white. It would have worked well enough, but when I showed my mother the fabric she said "Why don't you tea stain it?" See? This is why I need people around. I wouldn't have come up with that idea. It was so super easy I decided to share the process with you.

Here's what I started off with:

It's not a high quality piece, so the weave isn't too tight--which is perfect for tea staining fabrics.

You want to make sure you have enough room in the pot to give it a good stir and to enable the tea to get into any folds adequately. I used ten cups of water and a tea bag per cup. I used regular Tetley tea for this. Bring the water to a boil, then turn it off and put your tea bags in to steep. I left them in for about five minutes. Here's a picture just to give you an idea of the size pot I used:

Haha--it really doesn't give you an idea at all, I am now realizing. A rough estimate is 4 quarts. After five minutes, take out the tea bags and put in your fabric (of course if you're dying fabric you will need a much larger pot). Make sure it is fully submerged (or do I want to say immersed? Is there a difference?) and that there is room to give it a swirl and move it around a bit.

I left it in for about ten minutes, but it could have been less. Give it a check every few until it's where you think you want it.

When it's done put it in some cold soapy water (I used dish detergent--you need a mild soap of some kind or else the acid from the tea will remain on the fabric--not a good thing).

 Swish it and work it a little bit with your hands to really get the residue off. Then give it another really good rinse to get all the soap out:

I gave it a light squeeze, then put it in a dish towel and pressed on it to get most of the water out. I hung it out in the sun until it was dry. If you put it in the dryer it may leave tea stains and then you have to wipe out the inside of your dryer or you'll stain all your clothes, and the sun was out anyway... When I compared it to the fabric it's being paired with it was a little darker than what I wanted and a bit reddish. So to fix that, I used the same amount of water and put a dollop of bleach into it and a bit of soap. I swirled it around for a few minutes until it looked about where I wanted it. Gave it another good rinse, squeezed it out, hung it out to dry. And now it's perfect:

It's much less red and much more subtle but still has an aged antiquey look to it, which is what I was going for anyway:

Probably not the greatest way to go about it...I should have done a swatch test for color intensity so I wouldn't have to bleach it. And now I think I could have tried a few different teas to see what shades they turn the fabric. Or I could have just pulled it out sooner. BUT I like to wing things and I'm too impatient to test things, and all's well that ends well so no worries!

OK, off to watch the Oscars! Enjoy your Monday--I command you to! And don't forget the CSN giveaway--details at the top of the sidebar :)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Come On Spring! Giveaway Winner

We have a winner, folks!

I used the cold, impersonal method of a random number generator  to select a winner, and that winner is:

Number 33! You say your name isn't Number 33? Well....hows about if your name is Katie and you blog at Katerpillar's Got Her Fingers Crossed! (how adorable is that name?)? YOU are the winner!! I'm going to shoot you an email but if you see this before you get that, email me where you want your goodies sent at sweetbeebuzzings@gmailDOTcom. I'll get them off to you as soon as I can.

The downside of a giveaway is you can't give something to everyone, but I like doing giveaways so the next chance might be yours!

If'n you want some CSN money check out the link at the top of the sidebar. And I've got a great giveaway event to share with you next week that will give you LOTS of opportunities to win some fun stuff!

Have a great weekend! I'm going to go and try to be creative now. We'll see what happens...

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Pursuant to a Request....

Hahaha--that was all offically sounding.

Just a quickie--you guys leave me the greatest comments. Sometimes I laugh out loud. All the time I grin. Comments make me happy. And I learn things. Like I didn't know with the way my widgets or gadgets or hoojeewatzits are set up that there wasn't a follow option unless you were on Google. So I added a 'Subscribe to this Blog' thingamajig so hopefully if you're on Yahoo or something else you can follow. I'm not sure if I did it right or if it will work or if I added the right thing since I'm not entirely sure what's what with that stuff. Sometimes I figure things out and feel quite computer savvy, but with other things I'm all "Whaaaaat? I don't knoooooowwwww!" So anyhoodle, if you read this and want to follow through something other than GFC, try the Subscribe widget and let me know if it works for you. That was the whole point of this post, y'know--to tell you I added a subscribe widget and to ask you to let me know if it works. I ramble. You should be used to it.

That's all I've got for now. Don't forget about my giveaways--the spring bag fixins' giveaway ends tomorrow, and the CSN giveaway ends next week. Get those entries in, if you want a chance to win. I'll turn off the cheese now. Ta-ra!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Have a Swingin' Good Time with CSN Stores

So the snow is pretty much melted here except for a few shady spots in the yard or where the plows piled it high (and those piles are dirty and gross). I love the way the backyard looks when it snows--our shed looks like a barn, and we had a bunch of fir trees before the last storm broke the branches on a bunch of them. But when it's gray outside, I find myself looking at our old swing set and how old it looks without the summer surrounding it . My rear end hasn't fit comfortably in a seat for years, and we've slowly broken half of the features doing heaven knows what (not recently, mind you). I keep telling my parents they should take it down, but my nostalgic mother will have no parts of it. I'm not about to get on her bad side, but if she just happens to read this maybe she'll consider one of these rockin' backyard swing sets for the endless grandbabies I hear she wants...

I would like to meet the person who doesn't want a castle in their yard, so I could convince them that they need one. Seriously? I think I would live in this.

This might be a bit extravagant...but think of the fun! You could do army/firefighter training on this thing (at least you can in my head)!

Of course...we'd probably kick it old school and simple. Nothing wrong with that :)

You know where I found all these bits of fun? I bet you do...CSN Stores--where else? They have everything from shoes to bags to furniture to fitness equipment and so on. I've read many reviews of their products in blogland, and they have all been positive. And these delightful folks want to give you a chance to win $35.00 to any one of their stores. Interested?

THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED!!!  To win, all you have to do is leave a comment here. You can tell me a joke, leave a smiley face, tell me your favorite color, tell me you have nothing to say, anything! Other than that I just need to be able to contact you so leave your email, or make sure I can get to it somehow. Otherwise, you're just going to have wander back here to see who wins (which isn't a bad thing, mind you :)   This giveaway is open to US/Canada readers only--sorreeeee--I'd give one to each of you if it were up to me. I'll leave this open until 11:59 pm EST on Friday March 4th, and announce the winner the next dayish. So get those entries in, folks! Good luck!

And my springtime giveaway ends this Friday! Don't forget to enter if you haven't (details at the top of my sidebar).

Ta for now, my lovelies!

Check out some of the great giveaways here!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Snuggly Story Time Quilt

Several months ago I was in desperate need of fusible fleece, so on my lunch break I went to Walmart to pick some up. Normally I don't buy fabric there anymore--there seems to be such a stigma attached to it that it worked it's way into my brain, even though I have never had a problem with anything I've made from fabric I've bought there. This is no longer a concern since Walmart has shut down their fabric departments in all stores near me. Anyway, I was blowing through the store when I saw, somehow, out of the corner of my eye, the most precious fabric. I immediately snatched it up because I just knew it would be something cute one day. They had another print that matched it so I got that too, thinking I'd make a quilt. And last week, that's precisely what I did.

I called it a cheater quilt because all I did was throw in some batting and quilt the two fabrics together--no patchwork, no applique, just sewing. But the more I thought about this I decided it's NOT a cheater quilt--my grandma made a quilt for my sister that's all white-work--it's two pieces of fabric and miles of intricate hand-quilting. This is far less complex, but it's a real quilt. It's completely reversible so you don't have to pick a favorite side:

This side is a mint green background with all sorts of Mother Goosey, nursery rhyme characters on it. They're kind of topsy-turvey--I think I would have liked it more directional, but not big deal.

 I love how, on this side, the quilting gives it a lattice effect that the vines appear to be climbing up and around, into a puffy white cloudy sky.

To give you an idea of the size here it is laid out on a twin bed:
I have no clue why this came out so blurry because it didn't look like that on my camera. Gremlins... Anyway, it goes from about the foot of the bed up to where the pillow starts, and is the exact width. Perfect for a crib, or a play-on-the-floor quilt, or to snuggle for story time.

Some of my favorite shots:
I don't know why it amuses me so, but I adore how she hung her basket like that.

 This is the only story I can't figure--Chicken Little? Henny Penny? The Little Red Hen? Let me know if you recognize it...

 I like this one because the pig in the sailor outfit looks like he's flipping someone off. Yes, I made the third little pig a naughty 'un.

To quilt it I just ran blue masking tape from corner to corner and stitched along the edge, moving it from the center to the edge. I hand-stitched the binding onto this one. My machine binding leaves much to be desired, but as it's usually only for me I don't care. But for this--I think it would be an adorable gift coupled with a few good books. So I hand-tacked it down. Once I got into the groove it went super-quick, and I had no difficulty whatsoever. I used fleece bias tape (which I'd never even heard of) on the edge of this--I thought it would be nice and soft on a baby's face. I'm kind of pleased with the binding--you can't really tell back from front (not too much, anyway), so it reverses nicely:

The corners were the only tricky parts but the fleece disguises any wonk.

I really have been enjoying the little quilting projects I've been doing lately. Who knows? I might finish that bow-tie quilt within the year. Don't hold me to that, though--I distract easily.

Don't forget the giveaway--ends this Friday!!! Link to the info is at the top my sidebar!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Almost forgot to show you....

Hello, my dears. I adore getting packages in the mail, and I get geeky excited when they're from other countries. So I just wanted to pop in real quick and show you something that came through my mail slot last week from foggy old England.

Helen, who blogs at Serendipity Child, creates a variety of mixed media artwork that she sells in her Etsy shop. I don't  have endless decorating room right now but she does have a couple of pieces that I really like. I love the bright colors in this one:

image from here

But I love the truth behind this one:
image from here

Because doesn't it? I know in these here parts when things are being jerky someone always says "Who wants tea?"
So, here is what I bought:

A simple, pretty, double-sided keychain with a piece of her artwork made in miniature (and I adore things in miniature). It got here super fast, too. She sent me a delightful little note with it that I saved because it was so sweet. I'm trying to be much more conscious about buying things from smaller businesses instead of the pre-made, everyone-has-the-same stuff kind of stores. It's so much nicer to deal with real people, and there's always that extra little touch that makes you happy you did. Plus I am very much more interested now than I ever was in having things that are unique and handmade.

That's all I've got for now. Have a superbly delightful Friday!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Paper. The next best thing after fabric.

About once a week I feel a need to visit a craft store. I don't usually need to buy anything--I just need to go. You know that feeling? Maybe I'm looking for inspiration, or its cousin, motivation... The first few months of the year always have me in a bit of a slump--I want to curl up and do not much, usually because it's chilly. I certainly don't want to sew, and when I'm working on my afghan ('s slow going) I get a row done and think "That's enough for today." I'm a work animal, I tell ya.

This weekend I actually did need a few things at Joann's. All of the Wal-marts near me no longer have a fabric section, and that is where I used to buy my interfacings. So I had to trek to Joann's and pay a lot more (I had coupons, but still). I sauntered down the clearance aisle, and they had the most amazing deal. A HUUUUUUGE pad of scrapbook paper--360 sheets! For $10!!! And then a coupon!! I decided that instead of running out every time I wanted paper I should just have some on hand. Luckily for me when that little voice in my head started to pipe up with "But you don't scrapbook!" it was easy to shut up with the counter-argument "But it's such a good deal!"

When I got home even my nephew had his wheels turning with what we were going to make out of all of these wonderful options. We had so many choices that we had no idea where to start. We decided to flip through and stop on a page and see what we could come up with. The one we landed on elicited the response "That reminds me of ice cream." And so he made an ice cream cone:


This was enough for him, so he left to watch TV. My mom decided to play for a few minutes while she was making dinner and made a placemat--she said it was the first thing she can remember making in school. She told me that she had gone home and made them in all different colors and then made everyone eat their dinner on them. Now I know where I get it from...

I like when she goes fabric shopping with me because she always picks out really neat combos like the one above. At this point, I was still sitting there trying to figure out what to make. All I had was cutting a heart out of the Valentine paper. See? I'm terrible. My imagination must be forced into action. So then, while I was still sitting there thinking, my mother made a bird's eye view of a picnic table:

So I glued a bunch of hearts together and made a Valentine so I had SOMEthing to show. I gave it to my sister so I have no pic. After dinner the nephew asks me where all the paper is. He then announces to everyone that "We are going to make things and anyone can join us!" Usually I have to twist his arm to get him to do anything crafty (not literally--don't call child services) but he was really into this whole thing. He paper-stapled some sheets together and said it was a book for us to glue our pictures into. Sister Alicia made a really nifty flower--it was very applique-looking. She took it to work to cheer up her desk a bit (no pic, but I wish I did). Then, I made something. Actually, TWO things. I made a little 3-D sunshine because I felt like using the star stencil I had:

Then, I decided to make a house. My mother had suggested it earlier when I was experiencing my "But what should I maaaake?" angst. I think it came out cute:

I get a kick out of the little smoke curl by the chimney--it was my one original moment, haha. Oddly enough, if this was 25 years ago and we were sitting around drawing and coloring, this is what I would have drawn. I was a one-trick pony when I was younger--a house, a tree, and a rainbow. That was my standard artwork. Things haven't changed much, haha. But that's okay--I just enjoy the process of creating something, whether it was my idea or not.

Hugs to you, lovelies! And thank you for all the delightful comments you've left on my last few posts. They honestly bring silly grins to my face--true story. And if you fancy some bag-making and fabric goodies don't forget to enter my giveaway (link at the top of my sidebar). One last thing--I know Valentine's Day is over, but I don't do St. Patrick's Day and it's a little soon for Easter, so I'm sticking with the hearts for a bit.

OK, I'm done babbling. Happy Wednesday!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Hugs and Kisses

Have a happy Valentine's Day!!! Or a happy Singles Awareness Day!!
I'm celebrating the latter this year :)

And hey--don't forget to enter the giveaway! Click on the pic at the top of the sidebar to get the details!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

String Quilt: a.k.a Charlie's Impromptu Photo Shoot

A couple of years ago (pre-blog) I decided to make a quilt. It was right before I got into hard-core bag-making. I had seen the directions for a string quilt on's quilting page. I had a ton of scraps that I thought would be great--and even now when I look at the quilt I think "curtains, skirt, bag lining, curtains, curtains, change purse" as I think of the larger projects the scraps came from. I never took pictures of this when I made it, but when I stumbled across it today I thought I'd share it with you. It's definitely a first quilt: terribly snipped threads, crooked lines, weird tension, not big enough for a bed but too big for a throw quilt--all the things that you don't know you're supposed to be careful about when you're first learning something. But all of the colors make me happy, so that's good enough for me.

Charlie could care less about whatever you're doing most of the time, but today he decided he was feeling like being in a photo shoot.

 He would sit at the front door all day if you let him.

Here he is finishing his upward-dog pose. He does a wicked downward dog too but I didn't have the camera ready when he decided to have a little yoga practice.

 This one is my favorite block--and kind of Valentine-y. I thought I could sneak a shot without him but nope. He was actually sniffing my forehead while I was taking this.

There are some blocks and fabrics that wouldn't normally go but in this instance there is so much going on that they all just blend in together. I was determined to empty the bag of scraps.

 Those are all supposed to be squares but my seam guide thingee kept moving.

The back is pretty wonky. I thought you just sewed and ended up with a quilt. I didn't know you were supposed to keep an eye on the back that you weren't sewing big wrinkles into it and other things. When I showed this to my grandma, I said "The back isn't that great. There's a lot of mistakes." And she said "Honey, we don't tell people those sorts of things." Which made me laugh--taboo quilt topics, haha. I did a fake binding--I cut the backing an inch larger and trimmed the batting to the quilt top size, and then folded the backing to the front and sewed. It worked well enough but I would probably do a proper binding now.

This quilt is super heavy. For a string quilt you're supposed to sew strip after strip to a base square and then sew those squares together. I decided to use this thin fleecy-felty stuff instead of batting. I had no idea how heavy it would make this quilt. And it's a little stiff because of all the layers involved. But I love it. It was my first real quilt. I had made a few table runners, and each improved over the last--but I hand quilted those so it was much easier to keep things straight.

I'm going to leave the untrimmed threads just as they are. It's nice to have something to look at that you can compare to something new you've made to see how far you've progressed with something.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Come On Spring! Giveaway

As much as I love winter I always look forward to spring. So many fresh new colors to look forward to, in nature and in the fabric shops. I always get a bit more motivated because I'm not chilly and feeling like curling up under an afghan with a book and some tea. I'd be willing to bet that a lot of you feel the same way (probably minus the "I love winter" part). Seeing as you guys pushed me over 100 followers (thank you!!!) and that I'm almost at 200 posts, I decided to do a giveaway, a sort of "Come On Spring!" type of thing. Interested?

One of the first bags I made (and a great first bag for anyone to make) is the "Basket Bag" from u-handbag. Lisa takes a very basic bag pattern and kicks it up a few notches with fancy metal bits and wooden handles. It's a bag that makes you feel like skipping and kissing puppies and giving flowers to friendly old men sitting on park benches. Plus she gives the pattern for free. I am going somewhere with this, by the way. I didn't just start rambling for naught.

SO....I thought I would give away all the fixins' and a few extras for one of these bags. Take a look-see:

You'll get the fabrics for the outside, a lining fabric, a rigid bag bottom, a magnetic snap, some purse feet, some delightful bag handles, and a few extra trims. The fabrics for the exterior bag is the uber fun part--it's one of these:

Mmm-hmmm. A Moda charm pack (fabrics by Mary Engelbreit). And it is perfect for a springtime skipping sort of bag. Take a look at the colors and the range of patterns:

Like yum, right?!

I sincerely think half the fun will be figuring out the fabric placement (you might have to do some cutting to get the size just right). If you don't want to use these for a patchworky bag but prefer to make something quilty you'll need about a half yard of fabric for the bag exterior. And I didn't take a pic because it's interfacing (yawn), but there'll be some of that too. You just need sewing stuff to make the bag.

So.....want it? All you have to do is go to the following seven blogs, follow them, make them your favorite on Facebook, tell me three things you like from each of their sites, and then repost this on your blog. Then come back and follow me. HAHA--I'm super kidding!

THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED!!  All you have to do is leave a comment on this post. You don't even have to be a follower (unless you wanna). I just need to be able to contact the winner, so either leave me an email address or make sure your profile has one listed. Open to everyone, everywhere--except people from Montreal. They know what they did. Kidding! Haha--I'm on a serious conversation heart sugar high right now. I'm going to leave this open until 11:59 EST on Friday February 25th. I'll pick the winner and announce the next dayish.

Good luck!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Pretty matryoshkas all in a row

A few weeks ago I saw this project on Christine's blog. I immediately fell in love and used it as my excuse to finally order the fabric. I spent a bit of time selecting my backing fabrics from my scraps--it was tougher than I thought because for as much as I have none of them were exact matches. But close enough was good enough for this.

I spent a cheery night cutting, stuffing, and sewing, and had a neat little assortment of five dolls (there are five different dolls on the fabric). Then, in typical Bethany fashion, I thought " what?" I don't know any little girls to foist these dolls on, but I liked them and didn't want to give them away. I do this a lot--I get excited about something and make it, and then it hits me that I don't really know what I'm going to do with whatever it is. My answer lately has been to string it up and make a garland, and this time was no different. Well...maybe a little different... I raided this:

Then I took some embroidery thread and strung them all together, one on top of the other (instead of side by side).

Now it's hanging in my bedroom. I love it. The colors are just right, and it's no secret I love nesting dolls, and I got to use some buttons which I love to collect but rarely use. Here are a few close-ups:

I only used a few buttons because I didn't want it to look too cluttered. I banged in a few thumbtacks at the top and bottom (using a shoe like a good girl--proud of me, Dad?). But because the thread is a bit twisted it has a touch of the twirlies. A touch of blue tape behind the middle three dolls solves that problem:

I made these pretty much the same way Christine does on her blog, except after I sewed the outline I just carefully cut the seam allowance way down instead of clipping curves. I also sewed the bottom shut by machine instead of by hand. To sew them together, I used a running stitch up the center of the back of the doll:

I had bought a yard of this fabric, which means I have a lot of potential dolls left. So I was thinking of appliqueing them onto squares and making a quilt. I'm thinking that might be the best use of the fabric because otherwise it might be a little too much to use in a bag or something else--it would be very busy and repetitive...we'll see. I have a lot of quilting ideas going in my head right now. The other one involves my second favorite--gnomes. Maybe one day these ideas will come out through my fingertips :)

Have a happy Monday!

UPDATE: sister says to me at dinner "Are we finished with this obsession yet? I don't feel like reading any more about it." Hahaha! Honesty like that is funny.


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