My Covert Robin

I’ve been a silent little lovely as of late, but rest assured, I’ve also been a busy bee;). I’ve been sewing up a storm and doing my very best to throw myself head first into the amazing world of textiles, sewing & quilting. Sure, it’s a faction of my job, but man oh man have I fallen in love with this world. Who knew I loved sewing this much? Not just sewing, but creating in general… sewing, stenciling, arranging… it’s addicting in the best of ways.

There’s loads to share, really, but I’ll get started with the Covert Robin. Coolest event name ever? It’s possible. The event was created by Rachael of Imagine Gnats and is a round-robin gift exchange of handmade presents. You sign up, get to make something special for another blogger, and then receive a handmade present from a mystery gifter (a “covert robin”). It’s a pretty awesome idea and I couldn’t help but get involved this year. My ‘host’ was Clara of Clover & Violet, another favorite sewing blog of mine. She was super nice and helpful and I’m grateful to her for guiding me through my first covert exchange!

covertrobin

My giftee was the lovely Louise, aka ‘Weas’, of the blog Weasinart. I did a little research and found that she’s really a Renaissance woman of sorts. She sews, bakes, makes jewelry and is just generally crafty. I wanted to make her something special that she would also be handy and helpful. After some careful consideration, I decided on the Artisan Apron by Rachael Gander for Pellon®. I made a few modifications and opted for a large patch pocket in the front so that I had a mini canvas on which to embroider Weas’s logo. I added two wooden spoons and a little bit of Maine Maple Syrup and sent the package on it’s way. I hear that Weas was thrilled, which brings a giant grin to my face.

apron

I also received a package from my talented gifter, Jennifer from Busy Being Jennifer. This absolute sweetheart made me my very own embroidered owl wall art. I adore it and it will be hanging on my office wall as soon as I repaint.

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Have you ever considered an exchange? It’s a great way to meet new friends, learn about new techniques, develop new skills and test your creativity a bit.

Raccoon Camo Clutch

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My husband would undoubtedly be proud if this post was actually about a real camouflage clutch, but alas it’s actually just about a little raccoon named rocky. This fellow has gotten a fair amount of mileage this week, thanks to the fabulous Rachael of imaginegnats. She has labeled 2013 the year of the Raccoon and a few of us are jumping on the bandwagon and making the masked little fellow the superstar that he should be.

It all started with a needle book, then a little ornament, then a coffee cozy and then little rocky got his very own week full of fun projects. Kelley of Casa Crafty kicked it off with the raccoon elbow patches. I already have plans for my lightly worn, but still my favorite, boiled wool jacket! I followed with some raccoon gift tags for the holidays and beyond. Jill of Made with Moxie showed us how to make mini rocky raccoon shoelace pets for your littles or perhaps even fashion savvy you! Jennet of Feathered Nest created the cutest little raccoon hair clips that could also be adapted into keychains. The whole thing inspired me to keep going and I just had to turn rocky into his very own clutch… and then I just had to share it with you;). Looks like this is my very first DIY here on JPL, so I hope you like it! Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions and if you make one of these little darlings, show Rachael some love and post it to her flickr group.

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Raccoon Camo Clutch

Gather your materials:
cream colored linen
lining fabric (I used a print from Hello Pilgrim by Lizzy House)
Pellon® SF101 Shape-Flex®
two colors of felt (I used green and beige to mimic traditional camo colors)
rachael’s raccoon felt ornament template 
embroidery needle & thread
sewing machine & related supplies
scissors
rotary cutter & mat

camoclutchmaterials

The best way to get started is to construct your very own Rocky. Simply follow Rachael’s instructions. He’ll look a little something like this before you sew him together:

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Next, cut two 9-1/2″ x 12″ rectangles from your linen, lining fabric and Shape-Flex®. I like to use a rotary cutter for this to make sure that my lines are straight, but you could easily use a pair of sharp scissors.

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Place the Shape-Flex® on your ironing board with the fusible side up (hint: the fusible side is a little bumpy). Place the linen over the Shape-Flex® with right side up. Cover with a press cloth, spritz with water from your iron and firmly press in sections for about 8-10 seconds. Do this for the whole area of the rectangle. Repeat steps for second piece of linen.

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Place your lining rectangles right sides together and pin in place. Mark a 3″-4″ gap along one short side. Starting at one mark, sew toward the outer corner  and up one side with a 1/2″ seam allowance, backstitching at the start and finish. Repeat for the other side. Place your newly interfaced linen rectangles right sides together and pin in place. Sew down one long side, all the way across one short side and up the opposite long side with a 1/2″ seam allowance.

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Carefully clip the corners of both the exterior and the lining close to the stitching — be careful not to snip the stitches!

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Turn the linen piece right side out and push out the corners. Slide the piece inside the lining. Line up the side seams and the raw edges and pin in place. Sew all the way around the top raw edge, backstitching at the start and finish to secure the stitches.

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Reach through the gap that you left in the lining and gently pull the exterior linen out through the opening.

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Push the corners of the lining out. Before doing anything else, you want to sew that gap closed. This can be done by hand as an invisible stitch, or on your sewing machine, sewing close to the edge.

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Now push the lining down into the linen exterior.

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I like to pin in place before top stitching to ensure that everything stays where it should. Topstitch close to the edge for a clean finish.

camoclutchtopstitch

To create the ‘fold-over’ clutch look, simply decide where you want your fold to be, fold & press in place. Now it’s time for Rocky! Grab your finished camo face, center him on the edge of the fold-over and pin in place.

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I used a variation on the invisible stitch to secure rocky in place. If you do the same, make sure to sew only through the exterior and not the lining!

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Grab your super-stylin’ raccoon camo clutch and go!!

camoclutchonthego

** note: I used a print from Hello Pilgrim by Lizzy House as a backdrop for most of my images.

Raccoon Gift Tags

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I’m guest-posting over at Imagine Gnats today! Check it out for a super simple gift tag DIY. Raccoons are the new black!! I’ll have another snazzy little raccoon project that uses Rachael’s Raccoon Felt Ornament Tutorial right here on Thursday.

The Birthday Pup

Before I dive right in and accost you with a billion photos of my awesome dog (welcome to my Facebook feed!) let me say this: I know I’m a bit over-the-top about this pup. The thing is, he is my little partner-in-crime. I work from home and he hangs out with me every day. We head out every couple of hours and run around the yard until we’re tired and then come back in so I can work and he can pass out, snoring, on the chair to my left. He is loving, sweet, hilarious, energetic and fearless and Jason and I love every single moment with him.

We first started talking about getting a dog shortly after we got married. We both grew up with dogs and I’d been wanting to get one for years. I started obsessing over petfinder.com and when we stumbled upon Sawyer’s (previously known as Groovy!) sweet little face, we knew he was the one for us (see photo below on the left). We put the application in immediately with Peace & Paws Dog Rescue and anxiously awaited news. I’m pretty sure we both did a happy dance when we got the acceptance email. We picked him up from Rescue Riders Transport in NH after his long journey up from Alabama. I have to give both Peace & Paws and Rescue Riders a HUGE shout-out here. They are amazing and have changed the lives of countless dogs and people. Sawyer was one of an adorable litter of pups, many of whom made the journey North with him. (There is a photo below of a few of them together for a puppy reunion we had over the Summer.) From the moment he was placed in my arms — all 10lbs of him — we were hooked. He snuggled either on my shoulder or on Jason’s chest (depending on who was driving) the whole way home. Talk about the best decision we ever could have made!

Over the last 10 months since he first came into our lives (we got him at 2 months old, on Dec. 16) Sawyer has made quite a mark;). Watching him play with our nieces & nephews (from 2 all the way up to 13!) is both hilarious and adorable. Two of the youngest girls regularly ask for him by name. He gives kisses like it’s his job and says more with his eyes than some people do with their words. He’s smart as a whip and will pick a specific toy out of a pile if you ask him to. He gets insanely excited when particular people come to visit and perks his ears up every time he hears their names. And, nothing beats the welcome that Jason gets every single day when he gets home from work. Barking, tail-wagging, butt-shaking, doggie-kissing awesomeness.

Today we celebrate the first birthday of our dear little (ahem, 70lb) Sawyer. We love you buddy!! Happy Birthday!




[So many people have asked what kind of dog he is and the short answer is: we're not 100% sure. His mom, Marilyn Monroe (now living with one of Sawyer's guardian angels down South), looks to be at least part Pit Bull. We think he might have some Lab, but have also been wondering about Chow Chow as well. We do know that he is 100% awesome;)]

Thankful…

Today, I’m thankful. It was one short year ago, right now (4pm), that the sounds of “Little Martha” by the Allman Brothers began to play in the main concert hall at Stone Mountain Arts Center. I had my dad to my left and my mom to my right when I stepped into the room and looked down the aisle to the main stage where Jason was waiting. If you know us, you know our story… I’m biased, but I think it’s a pretty darn good one. That day was eighteen years in the making, from our first meeting until finally meeting up on that stage. It was well worth the wait. So today, I’m thankful for my amazing husband. Happy Anniversary:). We had a fantastic first year, and I couldn’t ask for a better partner in crime. I love you!

[all images by Anne Skidmore Photography — thank you thank you!!]

The Sawyer Bag

I have the privilege of working with some pretty fab ladies on a day-to-day basis. You’ll see what I mean once I finally fill out my ‘favorites’ page;). One of these fab ladies is Sara Lawson, voice of Sew Sweetness. I first ‘met’ Sara back in January through work and a billion e-mail exchanges, but actually got to meet her face to face and give her a giant hug at Spring Quilt Market. She is awesome — incredibly talented, insanely modest. She is one of those women who somehow manages to be in 20 different places at once, leaving the rest of us to wonder how she could possibly manage. Talk about inspiring;). Also, she actually brought my dog a present when we met at Quilt Market. How COOL is that?


[a very small sampling of some of Sara’s creations — click here for a ton of awesome tutorials]

Sara designed a new bag for a project we’re working on. She very sweetly named it The Sawyer Bag after my pup and then she asked me to be a pattern tester! I was so excited to have the opportunity and it was really the first time that I made a ‘proper’ bag, all interfaced and lovely and structured and grown-up. That is, if grown-up = hot pink zebra fabric;).

It took me a few hours to make the bag. Honestly, the cutting and the fusing take up the most time. The sewing felt almost secondary and came together pretty quickly. That could all be because I hate the cutting part and am new to the fusing part. That said, Sara’s pattern was so easy to follow and she explained things in such a way that it’s super beginner-friendly. It calls for Pellon®‘s Batting, SF101 Shape-Flex®, 805 Wonder-Under® and ST-805 Wonder-Under® tape. So sure, maybe I’m a little work biased, but including the interfacing and batting really does make a difference with the finished product. I love the look of the O-rings.I love the fabrics — Jane and Lauralee from Sis Boom/Jennifer Paganelli’s Superfly Collection. Take a peek at Sara’s how-to right here. Oh, and her tutorial was also a part of bag-week over at A Lemon Squeezy Home, so you’ll want to take a peek at that one too. The only adjustment I made was to add an inside pocket. I’m mad for pockets;).

Thanks so much, Sara, for trusting me with your pattern and helping me along the way:).

thinking pink…

As many of you are likely aware, October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. It’s always pretty amazing to see all of the areas of support and such strong action and it actually makes me hopeful that with so many people banding together, we may actually have a shot at making a serious change. While one month of concentrated efforts is amazing, as an individual it’s even more important to keep it in mind year round. Educate yourself. Take action. Be safe.

On a personal level, I should probably know more than I do. There is a history of cancer in the women in my family. Ovarian and Colon to be exact. Though not breast cancer, the diagnoses are just as scary and the history is sobering. You like to think that you’re prepared, that you won’t be one who has to worry, but the truth of the matter is that you never really know.

I don’t typically talk about boobs on my blog, but here I am. I consider myself one of the lucky ones. I was always told about the importance of doing self-breast exams. I know that the exams aren’t fool proof, that if there is ever any question, you should have it professionally checked out, but still… it’s something. In the Fall of 2008, I actually found a lump. Enter panic, tears, and everything else generally associated with a full on freak-out. I called my mom for a few reassuring words and made a plan. I woke bright and early on Monday after a fitful night of sleep and was lucky to get an appointment for that afternoon. The doctor’s initial assessment was comforting, but didn’t fully set my mind at ease. He said it didn’t feel abnormal, as far as large lumps in a breast are concerned. Still, he referred me to a breast specialist at Beth Israel for a consult. I went through all the steps… the biopsy, the period of waiting, and finally the confirmation that it was, indeed, benign. A fibroadenoma to be exact. Huge sigh of relief on my end, but emotionally draining nonetheless. Despite the diagnosis, it was recommended that I move forward with an extraction. The doctors didn’t have any reason to worry about anything changing, but it was a big lump, about 3cm actually. The surgery was scheduled for January of 2009.

My friend Annie was my day-of-surgery companion. The tough exterior that I so often try to flaunt is actually a bit of a front and I’m not sure I would have been able to do it on my own. Annie was a trooper, rising early, staying calm and making me laugh as usual. The doctors assured me that they’d get it out with no problem and would go in around the nipple so as not to leave too much of a scar. I went under listening to my doctors jokes and the soothing sounds of Ella Fitzgerald. I don’t remember much about waking up, but Annie claims that I was a little loopy from the anesthesia. Apparently I told her that my doctor signed my boob and that I tried to flash her in the middle of the very open and crowded recovery room. For the record, he did sign it.

I’m absolutely one of the lucky ones, but the importance of awareness is always on my mind. Be aware. Check yourself. Make sure to schedule annual exams with your doctor. And if you too find yourself among the lucky, make sure to stay strong and supportive for other friends in need.

In Support of Breast Cancer Awareness:
National Breast Cancer Awareness Month
National Breast Cancer Foundation Inc.
Susan G. Komen for the Cure
The Tutu Project
The Pink Initiative
the NFL goes Pink for October

Helpful Exam Info information:
[remember, self-exams are not typically accepted as an adeuqate means of early detection. It merely a way to keep an eye on yourself and perhaps give you that key tipoff that you need to make a trip to your doctor]
Exam Tips via NBCF.org
Tips from breastcancer.org

A Photo A Day :: October

I’m participating in an awesome little photo challenge called A Photo A Day by Fat Mum Slim. I’ve been posting everything through instagram, but suppose I should start throwing them over to twitter as well! Regardless, I thought it might be fun to share the weekly recaps here. If you’re not already following me on instagram and now you’re curious about what else I’m posting (more pictures of sawyer, of course!) you can follow me here.

Fabric = Love

In the big unveil, I mentioned a brand new job that kicked off in early January of this year — one that actually leaves me feeling fulfilled at the end of the day. Amazing, right? I’ve gone through my share of career rough patches, but at the end of the day, I consider myself extremely lucky to have found what is now my 3rd fabulous career. From music biz to boutique owner to… (drum roll please…) working for Pellon®! I never would have imagined that I’d be working for a quilting/textile company, but here I am. I’m based in a bright little home office out in the Maine country and handle everything from social media to the website to the project designer program. I love it. It’s also what inspired me to grab that trusty little sewing machine of mine and dive right in. It’s virtually impossible to be surrounded by stunning fabrics, crafty tutorials, and incredibly talented designers all day long and NOT be inspired. Seriously… I dare you to try it;).

With all of this newfound quilting/sewing/crafting glory comes a newfound love of fabrics. Who knew that there are so many incredible designers out there. Sure, I knew about Amy Butler and Lotta Jansdotter, but I honestly didn’t know much more than that. Enter Spring Quilt Market + Pinterest + daily blog tours and I’ve got a never-ending lists of fabrics to covet. So, be warned lovely readers… the fabulous fabrics are coming your way and I can’t guarantee that they’ll ever stop!


{rashida coleman hale :: angela walters :: liberty of london}


{lizzy house :: jeni baker :: joel dewbury}


{cori dantini :: sarah jane studios :: skinny laminx}


{thomas knauer :: creative thursday :: heather ross}

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ps — Interested in what Pellon® is all about? We’re all over the place these days — click, browse, repeat;). Website :: Blog :: Pinterest :: Facebook :: Twitter

Turtle Love Co.

If you’ve been wondering about that little badge on the right that marks me as a Vintage Style Council member, this post is for you!!

I’ve long admired local jewelry company, Turtle Love Co. Based in Portland, ME, the company heralds the independent and the vintage, two things that appeal to my old boutique sensibilities (If you’re a new follower and unfamiliar with Clarabella… just ask. I love talking about it!!) I first met TLC head honcho, Adrianne, while I was still working with emilie inc. We got together a few times to talk shop and after a wonderful brainstorming session that led to even more discussion back at the TLC headquarters, the Vintage Style Council was born. We are a lovely collection of bloggers — a few design mavens, a few fashionistas, a few culinary goddesses — all with our own unique voices brought together in support of this awesome little company.

I’ve created two Pinterest boards inspired by pieces in TLC’s vintage collection. They’ve both been featured on the TLC blog and I hope you’ll take a moment to check them out! Makes for some fabulous afternoon browsing;).


the Adelle Diamond Engagement Ring :: on the TLC blog :: A Little Romance via pinterest


the Ellie Diamond Engagement Ring :: on the TLC blog :: Honoring Ellie via pinterest

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