Pen Pal Pouch

stationary, journal, & pouch My niece asked for stationary to write to her pen pals for her birthday, and being a person who is quite fond of old-fashioned-delivered-by-the-post-office-mail, I assembled a pen pal pouch for her. Inside there is stationary, stamped envelopes (with vintage postage, natch), stickers, and a journal for keeping notes.

stationary & envelopes

Her current career ambition is to be an astronaut, so I picked out all of my space exploration themed stamps for her envelopes.

pen pal pouch The pouch is a simple zipper pouch that I lightly quilted. I love the little cell phone charm that I put on the zipper and I’ll be sad when my supply of them are gone. Here’s to more snail mail correspondence!

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More Toddler Gifts

x+y zippy pouch
Toddlers are my creative muse at this point. There is definitely an appeal to making something small and cute. All of these projects (with the exception of the leg warmers) are easily completed in an hour or two and will be enthusiastically received.

back of x+y zippy pouch

I’m headed to Chicago for 24 hours on Thursday to see a friend from college who has a four year old and a new infant. We will be dining out with the kids (said friend is a wee bit obsessive about trying new restaurants) so I made this zippy pouch from an unused x+y block to hold crayons and other little treats for the toddler to play with at the restaurants.

x+y pouch

It’s a simple top zipper pouch (which I learned to make here, but these days just know how to make). I used a light interfacing on the back of the quilt square and the lining and then quilted the exterior fabric with straight lines.

leg warmer roll up

The leg warmers were a birthday request from my niece. I knit them flat (details on ravelry) and seamed them with a mattress stitch (which I finally understood after reading this on knitty). Like most of my knitting projects, I was lazy about doing a test swatch and these are going to be baggier than I had originally hoped, but the ribbing at the ankle should keep them in place.

leg warmers waiting for legs

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Toddler Birthdays

A couple of my nieces have Birthdays coming up which has provided some much needed inspiration around here.

all zipped up

big mouth pouch

crayon roll

interior crayon roll

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Lettermo Week 2

Jury duty giving me lots of time to work on my handwriting. #lettermo #showandmail

Ready for blast off. #lettermo #showandmail


Austen style. #lettermo #showandmail

Awesome valentine received from my nephew. #lettermo #showandmail


This week is Agora Days at my school, which means I am teaching a class on Yarn Bombing and another called The Jane Austen Auxiliary Society. In the Jane Austen class we will be spending two days on dancing and two days on letter writing and card games. The quills and walnut ink that lettermo participant Mea Clift sent will be put to good use when students try to write in the style of Ms. Austen.

In other news, I’ve signed up for Leslie Keating’s Handprinted Fabric Swap which I’m a dead excited about. I’ve wanted to do it for awhile and missed the sign ups both times, but this time I signed up on the first day and am already playing with ideas. I won’t have my swap group until March 3, but some practice before then is not a bad idea. Also, I need to make sure to use my real camera this week. Instagram is fun and all, but I am not so good with the iPhonography (I can’t believe that is really a thing).

playing with ideas for hand printed fabric

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Month of Letters Week 1

Prepping envelopes for the week I’ve successfully completed the first week of the Month of Letters Challenge. I mailed 12 letters, including valentines to my nieces and nephews, a couple postcards to other lettermo participants, a letter to a college roomate, and a couple letters of introduction to other lettermo people.

lettermo valentines The valentines were all well received; my nephew Lucas apparently said that he no longer likes letter than come in plain envelopes and he needs a letter opener so that he can save the envelopes forever. I <3 five year old.

Ditched the type I set last weekI also participated in a letterpress card making workshop and made my card letter themed. Those cards are only now printed and folded and will be what I send out in week 2. I have found myself getting into a rhythm of decorating envelopes on the weekend and writing letters during the week. I had a couple busy days where I thought I might not have time to write a letter, but found that there are always 5 or 10 minutes windows when I’m waiting for someone that I usually spend clicking around on the computer. If I have a postcard or stationary handy, I can usually dash off a letter in that amount of time.

scoring and folding Next week I’m on jury duty which, from all reports, involves a lot of sitting and waiting. I’m planning on taking my letter writing materials with me to the court house. The post office is right across the street, so I’ll be able to drop them off on my way to the car.

#lettermo week 2 Week 2 envelopes waiting for their letters.

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Vintage Stamps!

letters mingle souls I was following links on the internet last weekend when I found information about a man who sells unused vintage stamps. I dropped him an email on Saturday morning and today I held in my hand an amazing collection of unused US postal stamps. I had asked for balloons, dinosaurs, rocket ships, and animals, but am most delighted with the stamps I didn’t ask for. He included a number of postal themed stamps which are delightfully meta to be using during The Month of Letters.

american poultry industry My favorite single stamp is this chicken, celebrating the Centennial of the American Poultry Industry. A very important event in 1948.

balloonsI only recently realized that you could use vintage postage to send letters (but when I think about it, of course you can. The PO can’t put an expiration date on stamps) and I am excited to have some in my hot little hands. Remember that we used to have to lick stamps to make them stick? Hot hands are a liability with those stamps.

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letter writing

outgoing January 2013We interrupt your regularly scheduled program for the following announcement:

You may have noticed that the sewing has been on hold for awhile around here (with a few exceptions) but I haven’t completely stopped being creative. In the last year, I’ve become increasingly taken with handmade letters. It started when I first met Donovan and Kathy of the Letter Writers Alliance at the Renegade Craft Fair in Chicago. I’ve been writing more letters since that meeting and then in November I noticed a post of the LWA blog about throwing a mail art party and I was completely hooked. Now I’m contemplating participating in the Month of Letters challenge.


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Finished Quilt!

baby quiltI have a new niece on the way so it was time to start and finish a quilting project. I really enjoyed working on this one over the thanksgiving break. It remains to be seen if there is another quilt in the works, but for now I’m very happy with this one.

greet the day with a song

It started out as a low volume quilt, but quickly became colorful. I used several special fabrics and love seeing them in the finished project.

rounded corners I rounded the corners because I think this makes a baby quilt look more casual and usable. I’m constantly trying to convince my friends and family that quilts are meant to be used.

bias bindingThis was my first time making bias binding and while it took me a long time to figure out exactly how to make the continuous strip (I had drawn my pencil marks the wrong direction), I was pleased with how easily the bias binding attached to the round corners.

pin basting

If there is another quilt in my near future, it’s definitely time to buy more spray binding. I ran out after attaching the quilt top to the batting so ended up having to pin baste the whole thing in order to keep the backing fabric in place.

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a not very low volume quilt top

piecingIt has been 15 months since I’ve pieced a quilt top. A new niece will be coming into the world this winter and I’ve had it in the back of my head that I wanted to make her a baby quilt. Saturday morning I made what I thought would be a half-hearted attempt to pull fabric for the quilt, ended up destashing nearly 12 pounds of fabric, and then spent the rest of the morning cutting the pieces for this quilt top.

a weekend's workThe inspiration came from these quilts in the low volume QAL. Of course, there isn’t anything low volume about the fabrics I ended up using, but I do think they are suitably pastel for a baby quilt. And I’m thrilled to be inspired to sew again.

baby quilt top

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Destashing and it Feels So Good

destash for Jennifer

So I destashed all of this fabric. Looking at it now, even after it is claimed and boxed and waiting for delivery, I’m not totally sure how I feel about it leaving. I haven’t been sewing much in the last year and at all in the last six months or so. The last quilt I made was in August 2011 and I only finished it because it was a gift for a baby whose arrival was imminent. I haven’t wanted to be in my sewing room for a number of complicated reasons (having to do with energy and family and inspiration). The hundreds of dollars of fabric that I have sitting in there were making me uncomfortable as they went unused week after week. I have a friend from high school who has started quilting and I sent her a message last week asking if she would be interested in buying a bunch of fabric from me. Even after she said yes, I hesitated to pull the fabric, photograph, and price it for her.

And then yesterday morning I woke up ready to make a new baby quilt. I started pulling possible fabric for the quilt, and at the same time pulled fabric to destash. Now that my fabric shelves are much leaner I suddenly feel lighter and more ready to sew. I don’t know how long it will last, and I certainly don’t think it is a simple linear relationship, but the destashing felt good. I’ve read about others feeling this sense of relief when they destash and I never really got it until today. What do you think that is about?

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