Thursday, December 31, 2009

Christmas, Part I

Okay, so I have been waiting until after Christmas to post my Christmas projects because I didn't want to spoil the surprise for anyone. I worked myself to the bone, up almost every night past midnight to get things done. Now I wish I had taken better pictures of things, because I have given a few away with no pictures. Oh well.

So here is the quilt that I made for Chloe and the matching "thinking chair" that I made for Cadie (fellow toddler moms will know just what a thinking chair is). I know, she's only 7 months, but she loves her chair already.

I laid her in it for a nap the other day because it was about dinnertime and I didn't want her sleeping too long, and it was perfect. I just had to keep an eye on her so she didn't wake up and roll out before I could catch her! I figure pretty soon she will be climbing all over it. Until then, it is all the kids' favorite lounging spot.

The pattern for the chair is McCalls 9665, which, by the way, is much cuter in real life than on the envelope. And it was fun because the other kids helped me stuff the pillow forms for the inside and they still had no idea what it would turn out to be. I'm really glad I made it, but it was a lot of work.

I'm also very pleased with Chloe's quilt. Like I mentioned earlier, it's my first time to try a real quilt, and lots of friends and family members just rolled their eyes when they heard what a huge one I had undertaken. Now that it's done, I can look back and wonder if I should have tried a few things differently, but I love the quilt anyway. I depended a lot on advice from the "Oh Fransson" blog (see list to the right). She really makes it look easy. Maybe it's her fault that I decided to make it queen sized.

Oh, and to practice free-motion quilting before I tackled the actual quilt, I made these hotpads:

I made a whole bunch because I cut too many quilt squares that turned out being the perfect size for a nice big hot pad. And they were a great gift for friends, sisters, school teachers, etc. These are my last few, and I wish I had more. The first one that I kept for myself is now my favorite thing in the kitchen. This pattern is free here at YCMT, by the way.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


Hey Girls! I had so much fun reading your comments all week. Thanks to everybody for sharing your stories. I really love this sewing community and the way we can all be connected online. Now I get to announce the winners... Sarah G. and Brie! Watch for an email about your prize. If you want to email me a pic of your finished pillow, I'll post it for everyone to see.

Friday, December 11, 2009

My First Giveaway - How did you learn to sew?

I think everybody I have talked to about sewing knows what a big fan I am of A couple of my friends have asked me to teach them how to sew, and I told both of them, "find a pattern you like on, and then come over and we'll sew it together." The patterns all come with step-by-step photographed instructions that make it impossible to fail. And they are up-to-the-minute cute.

So anyway, for my first giveaway, I'm going to choose two lucky winners to receive the adorable pillow pattern shown above. Just leave me a comment below, answering one little question... who taught you how to sew? Or did you teach yourself using a book, the web, or something else? Next Friday on December 18th, at 10:00 pm I will draw two numbers from a hat based on how many comments there are. If one of the numbers matches your comment (1 for the first comment, 2 for the second, etc...) you'll receive an email with instructions on how to download the pattern!

If you haven't learned how to sew yet, maybe you will win and learn from this very pattern! My offer still stands, come on over and we'll sew it together!

Getting started on the stocking stuffers

I disentangled my sewing machine from Chloe's quilt today (why I chose to make my first real quilt a queen sized beast just boggles everyone's mind - including my own...) and got re-inspired for Christmas with these cute little necklaces.

They are so easy and are featured in a tutorial here on the YouCanMakeThis.Com blog. They are doing all kinds of diy Christmas stocking stuffers and gifts. The only issue I had with the tutorial was that I didn't think my fabric tubes were long enough. I had to sew 2 together and put a knot on the seam, then continue adding beads and tying until it was the length I wanted. That little step would have been a lot easier if I had known to do it before I had a bunch of beads on my necklace. In any event, I now have two necklaces to send to a little niece, and two hidden away for Chloe's stocking :).

Friday, November 13, 2009

Laura's nursing cover

This is how I spent my kids’ naptime today.

Then it was such a lovely day outside that I had to go out to take the pictures. Days like today are why “snowbirds” spend the winter months in Florida.

On the day of Laura’s baby shower I drove 30 minutes to get there and then realized that I had left her gift sitting on my kitchen counter.  I apologized and she was very sweet about it. Later, I needed to nurse Cadie, so I pulled my balled-up nursing cover out of my diaper bag. She went crazy over it and so did her mom, so I decided that would make a way better gift than just more baby clothes.

And that’s why I made another one. There are a bunch of patterns out there, but I’ve been using one that I found here.

The only thing I would change about this pattern is the way she tells you to put on the D-rings. She says to sew the shorter strap closed without them, and then use pliers to open the D-rings and put them on. When I made my cover, I had such a hard time getting those D-rings open, I had to ask my husband for help. He got them open and shut again, but they never looked quite right after that. This time I just slipped them on before I sewed the short strap together, and it was easy.

Oh, and I also make triangle pockets instead of square. I just think they’re cute. This time I used nice soft terrycloth. These weigh down the corners a bit, and are also good for wiping messy faces. And the whole thing can be thrown in the washer every so often.

If anyone is wondering about this thing’s practicality, let me tell you this is the best invention since the nursing bra. I don’t use it every day, but when I need it, I am SOOOO glad to have it. There is nothing worse than holding a screaming hungry baby and looking for a private place to nurse when you know you could deal with a semi-private place if you had some kind of cover. Just my opinion…

Monday, November 9, 2009

Cadie's Wrap Around Dress and Top Pattern

Wow! It's finally ready. I owe many thanks to all my testers, and to my very busy photographer. You guys are awesome! Here are some pics, first some that I made:

And here's some by my very dedicated testers:

I love all the tester dresses. I can't describe how thrilling it is to see my design brought to life in all these different ways. Thanks so much everyone!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Twinkle toes

Look at my girls new slippers that I made from 'Precious booties with ribbon ties' by Precious Patterns! This is one that I know I want to make again, but I can't help but want to try new things with it. Like changing the shape and somehow including elastic around the heel so they stay on without ribbon... Chloe's size wasn't even included, actually. Thank goodness for printers that can enlarge stuff. Her ribbon ties don't really match, either, but she picked the ribbon out and that was that.

And here's Chloe's halloween costume. She is a princess fairy. That little dress is actually the bottom half of this tiered maternity dress that I found at a yard sale for 50 cents. I cut off the tiered part, put elastic around the top to hold it up. Then some more elastic half-way down to make it blousy, and then I cut up the dress's belt to make straps.

The wings are made out of some wire hangers and girl’s tights. We kind of half followed a youtube video by Threadbanger about making fairy wings. By that I mean, I watched it once about a month ago and then I just messed around with the hangers and tights until Chloe was happy with the look of them. The paint job is all her own. She didn’t want my help at all.

And that funny little fabric scrap hanging from the doorknob… That’s Chloe’s decorating, of course!

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Passing it on...

Is age 4 too early? This was Chloe's first sewing lesson. I remember when my mom taught me to sew on buttons. I think it was my first sewing lesson too.

Chloe was so funny. She wanted to make silly socks for a "funny foot parade" to be held at her preschool last friday. I helped her brainstorm about how we could decorate them, and when I suggested she sew buttons all over a pair of socks her eyes grew wide with amazement. "I can do that?" Then she ran and sat at my sewing machine, all ready.

I then explained that she must learn hand-sewing first, and buttons had to be sewn on by hand anyway. She was okay with that. The pictures tell the rest...

Don't laugh! She will learn more with time. All in all, I am so proud of her. She picked it up pretty easily and didn't injure herself with the needle. And only one button fell off!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Cadie's Dress

This is a little design that I messed around with to make a top for Chloe a few weeks ago. Now it turned out this sweet dress for Cadie. It was fun because the whole dress is just one piece. All I had to do was cut and embellish (if you count sewing on bias trim and tiny lace as embellishing). I even made my own bias trim because that was preferable to another trip to Joann's with 4 kids. I'm thinking of writing down the pattern in all my spare time...

Does anyone have any thoughts on that?
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Monday, October 12, 2009

The giant lima bean bag

I got this pattern off of YCMT and decided to enlarge it because any purse of mine has to double as a diaper bag (sigh...). I messed around a bit with acrobat and inkscape and I thought I was only enlarging the pattern to 110%, but it turned out huge. Either I made a mistake somewhere or it would have been big enough without the changes. Oh well. Big bags are in right now, don't ya think?

My husband called it a big lima bean.

Monday, September 21, 2009

In Krasnodar, I think

Picasa just pulled this out of the abyss of my hard drive. I think the  blue and red are beautiful so I'm posting it. I can't believe I was ever there.
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Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Sea Animal Mittens are DONE!

Okay, if any of my neices or nephews are looking over their mommy's shoulders right now, close this page!

What started out as a jump start on the holiday gift making rush turned into my cutest pattern yet! I am so proud to show off these little guys. And since I want everyone to be able to make at least one, I'm offering a free peek - one of the patterns, here on my blog. You can download it from the column to the left.

Be sure to visit my etsy shop for a full description, I'm too tired to write it tonight.


Friday, September 18, 2009

Chloe's nightgown

I am adding a new section to my sewing diary - a list of other blogs that I love. The first one I'm putting there is MadeByRae. Her ideas are so up my alley. And she has a new baby too!

I have been wanting to try her spring top tutorial ( for a while now. Today I did - but as a nightgown for Chloe. I decided to gather the bottom part instead of putting in pleats (this is a nightgown, for goodness sake!). But then when I was cutting that piece out I went a little crazy with the rotary cutter and cut too much off - so there wasn't very much to gather anyway.

I really like the combination of the boxy square neck top and the feminine ruffled sleeves. When I come across just the right fabric, I might be making myself a tunic - length version.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

New (to me!) jeans and a tiny jean purse...

A couple months ago I picked up two awesome pairs of jeans at our church's swap and shop. If you can't find one of those a couple times a year, that's something I recommend putting together. Both my church and my kids' preschool hold them and I donate AND scavenge! Anyway, I found two awesome pairs of jeans that I have been dieting since then to fit in to (the joys of being a woman... what makes us do that?). Today they finally fit! Okay, I have to wear loose t-shirts with them because they still give me a bit of a muffin-top, but I'm celebrating.

So, now that I can actually zip them up and feel relatively comfortable -- I needed to cut a few inches off the bottom of these make-my-butt-look-good jeans because they are a size long and I mostly buy size short.

But don't they look cute?

And then I was sitting there at my sewing machine with my kids still asleep, looking at the cut off parts of those jeans, thinking, "what can I make with these?" That, girls, is the sewing disease. You can't just stop at hemming the pants, because that is totally thrifty and sane. You have to spend another 45 minutes making something totally useless and cute.

This is what I created...

All I can say is it's a good thing that I have a 4 year old princess who is going to wake up and love her new little purse!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Make some hooded beach towels with my free pattern!

So guess what's on sale!?!?!? Beach towels! The other day we were at wally world and I just had to let the kids all pick one. After they went to bed I cut and sewed and mixed them all up. I've been wanting to try my hand at making hooded towels for a while now.

When I got up at 6 the next morning to sneak out of the house for my morning walk, I nearly died from fright at this strange shape coming out of the hallway. It was my four year old Chloe wandering around in her hooded towel! Who knows how long she had been up already...

Then I typed it up all nice in a little eBook for my readers. Have fun with this fast and easy project! Just click here to download the e-book.

To give credit where it is due, I took some ideas from the hooded towel tutorial on And then I fiddled with it to make it special for my kids, of course!

Monday, August 24, 2009

My Maxi-Dress is on!!!

This is so exciting to me because the folks at YCMT have such strict criteria for the ebooks they promote, and a pretty thorough testing process for all the patterns - they had 3 separate testers make mine and give me feedback! To have made it through is a huge deal to me and I am thrilled to be listed among all the talented authors on that site. I have a 'library' full of patterns in my YCMT account and every one of them is fantastic.

And for anyone who hasn't met her - that's my cute little sister Kat in almost all the pictures. Thanks so much for all your help sis, now your pictures are all over the web!

Sunday, August 23, 2009


I'm starting this blog so that I can write about and post pictures of things I'm working on in my life as carolinafair. Who is that? Well, the other day I was sitting at my sewing machine while the kids were napping (or pretending to be napping) and I got this old familiar feeling that reminded me of sewing as a little girl, as a teenager, and as a college student. I remembered making dolls and doll clothes, my first pair of knickers (okay, my only pair - who would wear those now?), parachute pants (I'm laughing inside now), curtains for our first house... And I started thinking where is that girl? Somewhere along the way she turned thirty and then there were kids and laundry and lunches to make and the sewing machine got dusty.

But then I heard someone I really admire talk about creating things and how the desire to do so is in us already, and it's not a bad thing. So sometimes those lunches are going to be made after 11:00 p.m., and the laundry will become a mountain, and the kids will get to see me create again. When I find the time, pictures and patterns will show up here (I hope).

So that is carolinafair. She is the girl inside who doesn't have an age. She makes things and fixes things so they can be loved again. She hates store-bought patterns because they never fit right. She wants to write patterns that people can use and then love their creations. And she usually comes out when I sit down at my sewing machine.
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