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Sewing with Kids Underfoot

Wednesday, 26 January 2011 9:00

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When you have small children at home, your most common question isn't, "How do I make that?" – It's, "How do I make that with a two-year-old and a four-year-old running loose in the house?" (If you have children that age, you should probably stop reading this for a moment and go see what they're up to.) Sewing with little kids underfoot can be a challenge. But if you think ahead and do a little creative planning, you won't have to put away your sewing machine until they're in college. We've collected our best ideas and found some handy expert online resources for fun activities.

Creative People We Love: Izzy & Ivy Designs

Tuesday, 25 January 2011 9:00

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In our third installment of this series, we are happy to introduce you to "The Three Fabri-teers"... that's my name for the trio of very creative women behind Izzy & Ivy Designs. Based in Utah, Shasta Parry, Jana Nielson and Lauralee Billingsley produce a series of absolutely adorable patterns for little girls. Ruffles and flounces, buttons and bows... they make me wish I could still get away with wearing a puffy skirt with four tiers of colorful ruffles... without being mistaken for a giant pastry. The princess skirt on me, maybe not, but one of Izzy & Ivy's signature saucy bags and purses it totally up my alley. These are happy patterns; I think it's because they're designed by such happy and upbeat people. With sixteen children between them, what I see as happiness could simply be lack of sleep, but I think it's really a genuine love of working with their hands to create something fantastic. Shasta, Jana and Lauralee exude an infectious optimism.

Make Your Own Grocery Bags

Monday, 24 January 2011 9:00

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Just when you think you're the reigning 'Queen of Green' – reusing and recycling your way through the day, someone rains on your parade. Two stories hit the media recently about everyone's favorite green choice: the reusable grocery bag. Turns out we should be washing these things after each use or they can become a breeding ground for bacteria. I tried washing the ones I got at my market and they fell apart. Great. Then, another story pops up that shows many of these same bags are coming from overseas and contain potentially unsafe levels of lead. Great x2. Time to make our own: prettier, safer, sturdier. Reclaim your throne, Queen of Green!

Silk Color Block Pillows - Standing Crane: Cascading Bottom Pleats with Bow Accent

Friday, 21 January 2011 9:00

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Did anyone ever try to teach you origami? I'll wager a paper crane was your first, and maybe your only, project. So here's your little known fact for the day: origami is Japanese paper folding; its predecessor is the Chinese paper art called zhe zhi. The graceful crane is revered in China as the symbol for longevity. Although often depicted in flight, the four pleats of our Standing Crane Pillow, the last project in our Silk Color Block Pillows week, simulates the beautiful folded wings of a crane at rest. While you are resting, ponder today's Chinese proverb: 
Better the cottage where one is merry, than the palace where one weeps.


Silk Color Block Pillows - Tiger Eye: Five Knife-Edge Box Pleats

Thursday, 20 January 2011 9:00

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The Chinese consider the tiger to be king of all the beasts and a symbol of powerful energy. Ancient myths tell of five tigers – white, black, blue, red and yellow – who hold the universe in perfect balance, preventing a collapse into chaos. Our fourth Silk Color Block Pillow is the Tiger Eye with five sharp box pleats representing the five tigers of protection. A hidden line of edgestitching keeps these pleats crisp and clean without any topstitching to disturb the beautiful surface of the silk dupioni. Today's Chinese proverb is: A gem is not polished without rubbing; nor a man made perfect without trials.


Silk Color Block Pillows - Yin Yang: Swooping Curve of Light Against Dark

Wednesday, 19 January 2011 9:00

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Light is to dark. Hot is to cold. Force is to passivity. Yin Yang describes how both sides of any coin must exist in order for the coin itself to remain whole. The third project in our week of Silk Color Block Pillows is our Yin Yang pillow with a swoosh of light against a line of dark. We show you have to make and insert a facing to produce a sharp, flat curve without topstitching. If you don't spend much time in the world of garment sewing, a facing with understitching may be a new technique for you. Something else new is today's Chinese proverb: Forget the favors you have given; remember those received.


Silk Color Block Pillows - Feng Shui: A Mirror Image Four-Patch

Tuesday, 18 January 2011 9:00

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Feng Shui is the Chinese art of arranging your surroundings to promote balance and comfort within the patterns of yin and yang and the flow of chi. We arranged the second pillow within our Silk Color Block Pillows week to showcase a perfect balance of light and dark. The front and back are mirror images so when you look at the pillow from the side, the colors meet and match each other. The steps of this pillow are quite easy; it's the attention to detail and the patience to make sure all the seams align perfectly that create the beautiful balance. That... and a really sweet invisible zipper. Today's Chinese proverb is: A closed mind is like a closed book, just a block of wood.


Silk Color Block Pillows - Good Fortune: Three Blocks & Four Buttons

Monday, 17 January 2011 9:00

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Welcome to our week of silk color block pillows, each one guaranteed to bring you good luck and long life... or at least to be fun and easy to make. Our first pillow is Good Fortune, which features a beautifully balanced trio of color blocks with a button-front closure. Breaking a square into three varied sections is pleasing to the eye; our four equal buttons then add a measure of even symmetry to the odd number of blocks. Here is your Chinese proverb for the day: A bit of fragrance clings
to the hand that gives flowers


Sewing with Silk

Friday, 14 January 2011 9:00

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How can something so lovely come from something so icky?? Ohhhh... I'm going to get emails from the insect lovers on that one. But you have to admit it's pretty amazing how one of the world's most luxurious fabrics gets its start wrapped around a pupating silkworm, which actually isn't a true worm at all, it's the caterpillar of a moth in the Bombicidae family. One cocoon contains approximately 1,000 yards of silk filament. One thread consists of up to 48 individual silk filaments. A very picky eater (similar to my middle child, who I believe subsisted on Goldfish® crackers for nearly a year), the silkworm's diet consists solely of mulberry leaves. Starting Monday of next week, we have a series of beautiful color-blocked pillows made with rich silk dupioni. We thought you'd like to know a little history as well as some tips and tricks for successful sewing with silk.

Scrap It: The Angela Shoulder Bag

Thursday, 13 January 2011 9:00

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This cute tall and narrow tote is named after my very favorite Angela, my oldest daughter. She designed the bag with a bit o' help from her very favorite aunt. Together they created a simple yet stylish shoulder bag, using Angela's own stash of fave fabric scraps and cotton webbing for the strap. We thought it turned out so well, we asked the designer's permission to share it with you. She graciously agreed to let us re-create the bag, and even let us pick our own fabric. I guess the whole 'designer thing' hasn't gone to her head yet, causing her to throw scissors across the room and shriek, "Tell that Klum woman and Tim what's-his-name to get me some fabric I can work with!!! " If you want to make your very own Angela Bag, you get to pick your own fabric too... and no one will throw scissors at you – I promise.


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