Sunday, May 30, 2010

Cloth Napkins

There are a few things that don't get old for me when it comes to sewing.  Cloth Napkins happens to be one of those.  It is simple and repetitive, but soothing in that.  I also love that they really just let the fabric speak for itself, and they truly are "functional".  Napkins make a great gift for a hostess, teacher, a friend, or yourself I think we are up to six sets now, but we use them all the time.  

Last weekend I made six sets (!) of napkins including one that was a custom order, some smaller "lunch-sized" napkins, and then the regular 15-inch napkins.  They are all in the shop now.  

My friend, Beth, came over last night and worked on her very first project (napkins!)  Of course I forgot to get pictures, but she is coming back to finish and I'll try then. (be forewarned, Beth :)  

This weekend I am working on a baby blanket using some of Heather Bailey's latest fabric I love her fabrics! and some minky sooo soft.  I'm also making an apron for a friend and another for the shop.  

I'm thankful for a day off tomorrow!  Happy Memorial Day, Friends!


Saturday, May 29, 2010

Why I'm {finally} on Twitter

I came across an article yesterday on the Handmade Marketer called Why I'm Not Following You on Twitter.  That's a good one! I can think of  reasons I don't follow anyone on Twitter, chief among them that I just don't need another distraction.  I still don't.

After reading the article, I think something finally "clicked" that this doesn't have to be another distraction but could actually be useful!  So, I signed up and now have my very own account @MsKellyIrene!  

Do you have a Twitter account?  
I feel weird asking you to follow me, but isn't that the whole reason I signed up?? Like the article says, I won't just spam you with what I had for dinner or when I am finally going to bed. So here goes.  
pretty please :)

This information has been cross posted on Irene Design and Quest for Real Food.


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Outtakes from our photoshoot...the ones you will not see on Etsy!

Yesterday I took Adeline outside while I was getting some pictures of new items for my shop.  For a long time she occupied herself with collecting grass.

She soon found a hanger that had been attached to one of the dresses I was photographing.  

What a happy girl!

Then I had the brilliant idea to let her model one of the dresses.  The only problem was that it was slightly too small.  OH YES, I had to take the hanger to get a "good" shot.  Not a good idea. Not a happy girl! She stayed up too late the night before.

So I gave her the hanger back.  The dress was still too small (it's a size 6 months; she is 9 months old).  Glad to have the hanger back but really kind of peeved at me. yes, I know there is no subject in the previous sentence. I'm OK with that and do it often.

I love this girl!


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I made it

There are quite a few items I have made that have never ended up on the blog for one reason or another...mostly because I am too busy using them to photograph them or so I tell myself. A few months ago maybe two I made a dress for Adeline using a cute curdory cat print I bought on clearance in the fall.  
I used the Romeo and Mae Pinafore Pattern but just cut the back piece twice rather than the back and front pieces separate. I like how it turned out, and she wears it a lot, but it sure is hard to get pictures of.  She just moves so much and no, she's not crawling...just reaching! 

Thanks to Kim at for hosting the "I made it blog party" and giving me an excuse to get these pictures up!


birthday party planning

I've been preoccupied lately with thoughts of planning Adeline's birthday party.  It isn't until August, but I know the next 3 months are going to fly by.  I can't quite put my finger on what I want the theme to be, but some ideas I really like include

Party flags with lots of colors and prints

orange/peach/gold (what color is this??)

Cute, unique invitations


Can you believe I'm planning a first birthday party for this beauty?!


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Treasury Feature

My table runner was featured today on a beautiful Etsy Treasury.  
For those of you not familiar with Etsy Treasury, it is a member-curated collection of items from Etsy.  EAch member can choose their own theme and what they want to include.  Hundreds are created each week, but only a few will make it where they all want to go: the front page!  

Go check out the treasury! Simple Roots did a great job curating this one, and the items she included really are beautiful! I'm honored to have one of mine among them.


tea, please.

Tea is one of those pleasures that can be simple and ritualistic or it can be ornate and a rare luxury.  Whether it is my afternoon cup of tea black tea with cream, sometimes sugar, or a flower bloom from my hubby, tea is something that offers great delight.

Some of my favorite "tea" images from WeHeartIt.

If I were a collector I am not, I would collect tea pots. 

And yes, 9 times out of 10, I will take tea over coffee.


Sunday, May 23, 2010

weekend update

It's not really so much of an update as it is to say I hope you all had a wonderful weekend.  Mine was busy but satisfyingly productive.  More to come, but for now, bed.


Friday, May 21, 2010

Five Things Quiz :)

Thanks to Dawn at Hello Dearie for posting this.  I really enjoyed reading her answers and thought it would be fun to give it a go for your weekend reading pleasure.

5 things I am looking forward to
1. Heading out to Eastern Kentucky for a weekend with friends.
2. Going to California to see our families this summer
3. Adeline's first birthday; I have lots of party ideas running through my head right now.
4. Brandon's graduation at the end of the year (YIPEE!)
5. Beginning to look for jobs and the adventure that awaits upon graduation.

5 things I did yesterday today it's late.
1. Got overly ambitious what's new? and cut out 6 napkin sets to sew "this weekend".  If only the hems didn't need to be ironed first! Whatever.  Two sets are ready to be stitched!
2. Spend time with a good friend and her super cute little boy with blond curls.
3. Eat left-over Coconut and Red Curry Lentil Soup for the third time in as many days.  If you ever want to know how healthy you have (or have not) been eating, just eat lentil soup three days in a row.  You'll get a very definitive answer if your eating has not been up to par.
4. Spent too much time on the computer and stayed up too late. seriously.  I should be in bed right now.
5. Listened to two great messages by Tim Keller: "Real Friendship and the Pleading Priest" and "The Community of Jesus".  Have you all heard of this guy?  He's incredible.  He works at a church in New York City, has several books out, has been on the NY Times Best Seller List, and can tell you about things like The Community of Jesus in a way that I have never heard a pastor do before.

5 things I wish I could do
1. Live near the mountains.
2. Go back to France and visit my host families.
3.  See my friends currently living in places like Texas, Tanzania, California, and South Carolina.  I miss you!!
4. Live near my family. I miss you too!
5. Have a job teaching ESL or cultural integration for refugees and immigrants.

5 places I would like to travel
1. Somewhere warm where I could sit on the beach with a cool drink, a book, and the sunshine.  That's what my honeymoon was like.  I want another one.
2. North Eastern Europe How about Estonia?
3. Western Europe specifically? everywhere. 
4. Asia again, everywhere.
5. Every where else I did not list

5 cute things I found online lately

Speaking of France.  And Nutella. Image from We Heart It

It's late.  I want breakfast.  
Also from WeHeartIt

Crochet Slippers from BrokenHalelujah


Thursday, May 20, 2010

The night my machine almost went to the ER

Tonight I had big plans that included only about 30 minutes worth of sewing.  The rest was going to revolve around diminishing the pile of dirty dishes in the sink, washing some laundry, and some time of prayer and reading.

Unfortunately, as soon as I hit the foot pedal on my sewing machine, I knew she was not well.  She moaned under the pressure of stuck threads or gathered dust, and I immediately went to work.  This happens frequently enough, and I know the drill.  Only this time around it wasn't just a little bit of dust stuck in the bobbin spool.

Nope this time the fix involved my very best make-up brush, a screw driver, and taking apart my machine.  Surgery, people.  I now know what the very innards of my machine look like.  It's something like this

 and this

I am slightly traumatized but thankful that I eventually "fixed" the problem.  Whatever was stuck is no longer stuck. My machine can stitch forwards, backwards, sideways, and in circles.  I am not particularly sure what exactly fixed the problem because at one point I was putting the machine back together with no solution, settled on the fact that she would be in the hospital tomorrow, and the next I was trying to rescue an errantly-placed screw and suddenly everything had loosened up.

I still have one misplaced screw that I cannot retrieve, and two screws I have no idea what to do with, but my machine is running as if nothing every happened.

I decided that after such an impromptu surgery, a little R&R was in store of both of us!  I "straightened" up the sewing table, ironed a few bits in preparation for continuing to work on Adeline's quilt, and returned downstairs much later than I originally anticipated but feeling grateful and there is not a trip to the sewing machine hospital in my immediate future.

And in case you were wondering, the dishes are still in the sink, the laundry is still in the hamper, and I am going to do my reading in bed.  Tomorrow is a new day.


Blog Spotlight: Debunking Five Myths of Sewing

 Every once in a while I come across a blog post that must be shared.  Today I got one of those in my Google Reader.  This was all one of those posts where I immediately thought, "Why didn't I think to write that?" because if I had, my words would have been the same.  nearly. 

Deborah from Whipstich wrote a guest post on the Simply Modern Mom blog debunking Five Myths of Sewing.  I have so many friends who have said to me something along the lines of "I wish I could sew, but ...".  Well, Friends of mine, no more excuses!  Go read this post and then come on over and play with some fabric and my sewing machine!!

Rather than repeat Deborah's words that would be plagiarism, I want to just let you know a little bit about how I got into case you don't already.  Don't worry, it won't take long.

My mom sewed when I was younger, and I always wanted to sew with her but rarely took the time.  She was always ready and willing any time one of her daughters wanted to sew, but in my 10 or 12 year old mind, there were better things to be doing--like playing Prairie Girls in the barn or going on some adventure in the stream.  In Junior High I took a sewing elective and made a hampster.  End of story.  

Just kidding.  There is more!  Pick up quite a few years later...two years ago to be exact...and I found Etsy.  I also found out about all of the A.MA.ZING fabric options available and a giant store we used to have in town called Baer Fabrics.  yes, i still get teary-eyed thinking about it. Rest In Peace, Baer. I really wanted some new table linens but didn't like what I saw at the stores.  A friend lent me her sewing machine, my younger sister who is a much more talented seamstress than I and has her own Etsy shop told me what basics I needed to buy, and I bought four yards of fabric plus the basics from Baer.  I went home, cut out some squares and rectangles, and ended up with a brand new set of reversible cloth napkins and matching table runner.

It was all over from there.  I was hooked.  Sewing was easy.  Sewing was fun.  And sewing gave me a creative high I had been missing for quite some time. Now, I love to sew.  I need to sew or I feel like I am losing my sanity yes, Babe, I really do mean thatNot everyone has quite as strong of a reaction, but I can tell you that my friends who have come over to sew with me at least liked it enough to keep it up once in a while! 

Whether you are a seasoned "pro" or the one filling in the blank with reasons why you don't sew even though you want to, go on over to the SMM blog and read Deborah's post


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Shopping for fabric can be sooo time consuming, and yet once the newness of the whole world of "designer" fabrics wears off, it can seem that the same 10 fabrics show up every where.  Don't get me wrong; I'm not saying I don't like those fabrics.  There are times though that I want something a little bit different.  

There are plenty of options for fabric shopping, and one that I recent re-discovered is spoonflower.  Have you all heard of this shop before?  I remember running across it last year, filing it away "somewhere" in my brain, and then of course forgetting all about it.  I am still looking for the perfect fabric to make pillows for Adeline's room and our living room, and my attention has not been turned to spoonflower.

Individuals can design and print their own fabrics as well as offer those fabrics for sale to others!  That means that if you are in the market to buy some "different" prints than what you'll see in 50 other Etsy shops, you can shop here.  There are some seriously talented designers on this site...see a few below.

Along with the option to choose from different designers, you can also choose your own type of fabric to go with the design you like (quilting cotton, organic cotton, cotton knit, bamboo-cotton rayon, and upholstery weight cotton twill, linen-cotton canvas, and cotton lawn).  You can choose your own cut size for each fabric, and there is no minimum order!  Prices vary from $18-32 per yard, so for most people this would be great for smaller projects or those wanting to find a niche market of selling items made with these fabrics.  

I still haven't settled on any for our house yet, but I am also considering designing my own.  Wouldn't that be fun to have pillows in your house that you not only sewed together, but that made with your very own fabric designs?!  The wheels are spinning; I'll let you know if they take me anywhere :)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

shop update

Is it really Saturday?  I feel like I have done enough this weekend to have it be Monday--but I'm glad it is still Saturday!

Last night was a big milestone for me--my daughter spent the night at my friend's house for the first time.  It was hard for me taking her out there and dropping her off, but it was also really nice to have some time with my husband and friends! I was teaching at our church's women's ministry before hanging out with the hubby.  We stayed out until 2 am...we haven't done that since we were visiting his parents in December. does it make me sound old to be excited about being out at 2am?  

Because of the craziness of yesterday and today, I did not have the energy to sew tonight, so I planted myself in front of the computer with one goal: LIST.

I have a basket full of items I have made but never actually listed in my shop, so tonight I listed all of them!  My shop has doubled in size now, and hopefully will get a little bit of traffic.

To celebrate the productivity, nearly every thing in the shop is on sale or has free shipping!  

I hope you are all enjoying your weekend.  I'm looking forward to spending time with our church community in the morning and doing some sewing tomorrow night!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Lookie what I won!

When I checked my email a few days ago, I received one that said, "You won!"  Who, me?  You mean I actually won one of the many giveaways I have entered?  "Yes, someone has to win, right?  It was you!"

I didn't just win one something, I won 7 somethings!  7 cross stitch patterns to be exact.  Etsy seller, Grace, of andwabisabi generously offered the winner's choice of 7 cross stitch patterns on the Voleur de Bijoux blog. Grace not only sent me the 7 patterns but also a pdf of how to actually do cross's a good thing because I did not know how!

It's funny because I've bee thinking recently that I needed a "living room" know, one that I can do in the living room when I feel that relentless drive to create something but can't get away to the sewing room for whatever reason.  Thank you so much to Grace for offering these patterns and giving me a "living room project".  I can't wait to get the materials and get going!

It was a little difficult to choose my patterns because there are just so many good ones!  The patterns are really well priced ($2.50-$5.00 for a pattern, more for kits and finished pieces).  The pdfs I recieved are also really high quality. If you are interested in getting your own pattern, kit or finished work, head over to the andwabisabi shop to check them out!

Happy (almost) weekend everyone!

Thursday, May 13, 2010


If anyone knows how I can edit the HTML code to center the header of my blog, I would greatly appreciate the help.  If you have no clue what I am talking about, look down at the previous post :)

Resources for customizing your blog's look

Did you notice the new design?! If you are reading this in your feed reader, come on over and check it out!

One of the reasons I chose to switch to blogger last month was because the customization seemed more intuitive for someone like me--someone who is just stumbling from one idea to the next. I had previously assumed that if you wanted to have any control over your blog design you would need some kind of specialized degree I don't even know what it's called! or you would need to pay someone with said degree to take control of the blog for you.  That is all fine and well for some folks, but I like to do things  the hard way my way. Plus I can't really justify spending the money on a blog design when I'm not even making money right  now! ha!

Between this blog and the Quest for Real Food, I have spent hours trying to figure out how the heck I could make my blogs look the way I wanted them too.  The worst part is that I could search for the same thing on different days and come up with completely different answers.  So I wanted to share a few of the resources I have found to be most helpful. 

Blogger in Draft
If you have a Blogger account, you can sign in through and use their templates to choose your background, layout, font sizes and colors, etc. Because these are free templates, you are not going to have an entirely one-of-a-kind blog, but it is still free! If you have not been to this site yet, GO NOW!  I wish I had found this from the beginning.

Installing customized fonts 
There is a great tutorial by Kevin and Amanda that teaches how to incorporate custom fonts into your blog posts.  I am working on this on Quest for Real Food but haven't quite made the change over here yet.

Finding fonts
Scrapvillage is a great resource for downloading fonts.  I think it only works with PCs though...if anyone has a good link for Mac-compatible fonts please post it in the comments.

Picnik offers free and fee-based photo editing options with loads of features.  All of those photo collages I make are done on Picnik.  The yearly fee for a premium account is something around $25, and it is worth it! I made the new blog header and shop button by uploading a "picture" of a white square that I made on Word and then adding all of the elements seen there.  If you would like to use it on your blog, please email me at irenedesign @ ymail . com for permissions.

I will be honest with you here; I really don't know all that photobucket does.  I just use it to store images like my shop button, blog button, and blog header so that I can use the html codes for each.

I hope some of these resources will help you out a bit!  If you have any to share, feel free to leave them in the comments or email me.  If you have any questions, be sure to leave your email in the comments so I can get back to you directly, or send me an email if you would prefer.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Pillows are a great way to decorate a room with little commitment from your wallet.  We have some pillows in Adeline's room and our living room that are ready to be replaced, so I've been scouring the internet for ideas.  The fabric and button combination about are already a favorite and would add a modern touch to Adeline's nursery. 

To go more with the nursery feel, I found this fabric "set" and love it for Adeline.  I am still undecided as to whether it fits the theme in her room, but I think it is cute none the less.

Our living room is a whole other beast.  It has (beautiful) tall ceilings, rich tan and orange colors with (oooold) cream walls, and loads of furniture because it doubles as an office and triples as a dining room.  I am toying with sticking to the orange and reds or possibly branching out with some blues and greens.  Here are some ideas

Still deciding, but I think this is a good start!  What kind of pillows do you have?

Monday, May 10, 2010

"Purging: I had to start somewhere" or "Just Say No."

I have recently decided that there is such a thing as too much inspiration.  If you saw my Google Reader, my mental To-Do list, and the piles of fabric in my sewing room we are talking about serious piles, you would whole-heartedly agree. 

I recently purged about 1/3 of the subscriptions on my Reader. That's pretty good, don't you think?!  The one that hurt the worst was my "Sewing" feed.  I received a daily dose of sewing tutorial roundups from around the web.  There are so many great ideas for new projects that are just dying to get on that mental To-Do list let's just call it my mTDl., but that mTDl was causing me to lose my sanity.  

So I cut the poison at it's source.  Of course the page is still bookmarked, but I actually have to go look for it if I want project ideas.  But I don't.

I do not want any more project ideas.  Right now I have more projects than I will be able to finish in a year.  At the top of my mTDl that is so much easier, right? are Adeline's quilt, my dress for the wedding, and more clothes for Adeline.  At some point I should also include cleaning my sewing room and listing the items I have already made in my shop yes, I said I was going to do that in April, and clearly it did not happen.  I can't sell what I don't have listed though! 

Along with my sewing feed, I got rid of some "bargain" subscriptions because I rarely needed what they were telling me about and I facebook-like them, so I can still get the info if I want to, some subscriptions of folks who haven't updated in who knows how long, and a food blog that did nothing but make me droolReally, I don't need that sort of thing happening too often.  

Now that I am feeling so inspired toward productivity and purging I need to keep my eyes out for some form of storage for my serious piles of fabric.  Perhaps I will make some fabric buckets and hit two birds with one stone! did you notice I didn't say "kill"?  I really don't feel like killing anything.  Is there about way to say that?

THIS is the crafty inspiration I need.

image sources