Applique the Grad!

So graduation has come and gone, and most years I am spending May behind my embroidery machine for the many friends who need gifts made, and for my own gifts. Monogramming is hotter than ever with everything on the store shelves bearing an initial, even toilet paper!

There is no doubt that a teenager heading off to college will use a nice set of towels. However, this is another of those generational things. I hate to tell you all, but kids are not all about the matchy-matchy things. My kids would never pay attention to the hand towel, bath towel and washcloth all out at once. As a matter of fact, one of my kids prefers shower poufs over washcloths. So I made a trip to Costco and bought these HUGE bath sheets, okay, beach towels, in vibrant colors. They will serve a college kid well. All summer around the pool or lake, and in the dorm, a big wrap up after a shower. They are also cost effective, so I can afford to give them to a big group (about $12) although the labor can be intense.

My daughter goes to an all girls school, so I picked the bright blue and a couple of purple towels. I have a stash of large wooden letters that I use as a template for applique, but you can freehand your letters or search online and blow it up. I finally figured out a use for that button on my printer that allows me to enlarge or shrink my copies. When I made the applique aprons here, I shrunk the letters.

You will want to copy your pattern onto the double sided fusible, on the rough side. Trim around (but not up to the letter) and iron on the wrong side of the fabric. Then trim around the letter. And iron it to your towel, or apron or whatever. Then stitch with the applique stitch around with a contrasting color. Cute as ever!
Other ideas for this applique is writing the name in bubbles, and cutting them out and overlapping on a pillow. (I'm doing this for the new dorm room and will post). You could use a complimenting decorator fabric and make the initial for a throw pillow for the couch. Or in a great outdoor fabric and toss it on the outdoor furniture. So many ideas, so little time. But the gifts are almost done ( I really need a rainy day!), my daughters graduation was truly memorable, and I have to get back to SweetiePetitti and get some baking done! Come visit sometime!

Gifts for Girlfriends

As my daughter finishes her Senior year of high school, the girls were all about "this is our last Homecoming, this is our last rafting trip" and other final events that mark the end of high school. We will have dozens of graduation gifts we'll have to make (always home made!) and certainly 4 amazing years to remember. She wanted to begin with a little gift for a few of her friends so photo pillows was our project.

In the digital age, girls photograph everything! Me, I take 10-12 photos at a time for one blog or another, and download them, delete them and start over. So when I told her she needed to find photos of her and her girlfriends, it was a scavenger hunt of digital pics. Once the photos had been chosen, she cropped, photo-shopped and enhanced to her heart's content and then we printed them on...wait for it...FABRIC! Love this stuff! Fabric, sold in sheets (at our Etsy store) that runs through the printer like a sheet of paper. As with paper, the clearer the photo, the better the quality of the fabric print.

Next we went fabric shopping, because, well, the 200 yards of various fabrics stashed in the sewing room just wouldn't work. A solid or tone on tone is best for the side of the pillow that the photo will be on, and then of course a fun contrasting fabric for the other. We also picked up ball fringe, a bag of batting and we were set.

We did our pillows 14" X 14", a pretty basic size. Using a rotary cutter and mat I cut my squares at 14½". Really, there are no rules. The picture was about 7X10 so we trimmed the excess and used double sided fusible to press it into place on the solid fabric. You could even embroider names, date or the event if you wanted. After the photo is secure, sew around the photo using an applique stitch in a great color, think of it as your frame! Then baste the fringe to this side of the pillow, to the right side of the fabric, fringe hanging to the inside. Trim any excess. Now put the front and back together, right sides together, and stitch around, leaving an opening of about 6" at the bottom of the pillow. Turn your creation inside out, which is now, right side (of fabric) out. And stuff it to your satisfaction. Ideally you will meticulously hand sew the bottom closed, but if you are a 17 year old senior who just finished your last year of high school, you will run it closed with your machine. What the heck. And seriously, it is a great keepsake for girlfriends. Or Grandmas, sisters, Aunts, dads anyone, right?
by Susie

Happy Mothers Day!

I am fortunate that on this Mothers Day my mother is only a phone call away. I just came back from a visit with her and it was lovely. Who could ask for anything more.

My mom is glamorous, right out of the pages of Vogue. When I was growing up she would look at the fancy magazines and say "I can make that" and sure enough she would go to her sewing room and churn out the most beautiful outfit. She made me great clothes - so cool that in High School girls wanted to borrow them. And my mother had constructed them with her passion! She was an inspiration then and she continues to be.

The picture at the right is my High School graduation and she made both our outfits. I remember my dress like it was yesterday. She let me pick out the fabric and she took her time fitting it and making it the right length. I wish I still had that dress. I still have a few jackets in my closet that she made - as good as Valentino, they are!!

Happy Mother's Day Mom. I love you and thank you for inspiring me to be the best I can be and Make it Myself!

A is for Apron Book Review

I recently cracked open a new, inspiring book on making, of all thing, Aprons!! A is for Apron is a fun book and if you want a quick project for a hostess gift, have some adorable left over fabric but not enough for a skirt, or if you're feeling like you need a short project to get your head back in the game - this is it!!

Who doesn't need an apron? The projects—from ultra-feminine and vintage chic to whimsical color-play—include waist and bib aprons, pinafores, smocks, cobblers, and even something for the pint-sized cook. All of the projects are photographed in a playful style. And templates, sewing basics, and quick and easy projects for sprucing up store-bought aprons and whipping up aprons from recycled materials are also included!

So, I grabbed a vintage dishcloth that I love - an old California map - and created this masterpiece.

And then I bought some groovy Christmas fabric (yes, it's in the stores already) and made this adorable gem!!

I'm hooked - guess I'll have to start cook and baking more often so I can wear my aprons!

Love isn't only for Valentines Day

by Susie Tilton
Does any holiday illicit panic like Valentine's Day? When I was a teenager I was afraid I wouldn't be noticed. As an adult, I have mixed feelings. I would love a velvet box....but we need to recarpet the TV room. I'd love a romantic getaway, but we need to buy a plane ticket for our college age son to get home. Oh well, the good thing about being creative and crafty is that you can invent your own fun. When the big V Day falls on a weekend, a dinner party is they way to go. Whether it is for 2 or 12, a set of beautiful napkins will make your Valentine's dinner special.

My dinner party began with the table setting. I have a pretty fair collection of tablecloths and placemats, so I chose a solid color to begin with. I have these great black bamboo placemats, and I love the sophistication of black with everything. At my local fabric store I bought this cute, but basic red heart fabric. My plan was 9 napkins. 8 for dinner, 1 for the bread. Even if you never serve bread, it's a great formula whether you are buying or sewing. This way, if you have a napkin that is badly stained or lost, there is an extra. Three yards will give you plenty of room to cut out the napkins. A perfect size dinner napkin is 20"X20" with a double hem and mitred corners.
I use my cutting board, long sturdy ruler and rotary cutter for 22"X22" napkins. Plan a 1/2" hem around the napkin, press, and then fold over for another 1/2" hem. The mitred corners are illustrated in the Home Decor DVD, and once you learn to do it, you'll never accept the cheap turnover corners again. The finish is clean and professional.
Once the napkins are finished, you will realize there are many occasions to sew this simple project. Halloween, Christmas, Fourth of July, Birthdays and Easter. If you plan on the fun in the napkins, you can keep your eye out for great solid colored placemats and tablecloths to complete your table.
Wondering what to serve for this special day? Check out the blog by my alter ego, Sweetie Petitti, who spends her days in the kitchen. There will be a great romantic dinner posting coming up. And make sure you look at the cute heart shaped tuile cookies. Happy Sewing!

Handmade IS Better!

Yes, we all know I LOVE to bake for people. It is a creative, cathartic process. And I enjoy the whole concept of gifting. Sometimes a little sugar brings pure joy to someone, I like that I can be responsible for that. So of course I gave away plenty of sweets this past holiday, but I had a few gifts looming in the sewing room. And finally, I have finished! Since I am a pretty talented sewer I decided to put this here as well as for my faithful baking readers on SweetiePetitti blog.

First up is the Chicken Apron. My frind Mel gets an apron a year from me. I am always looking for an idea to embellish a great canvas apron (wonder where I buy those?) I have monogrammed, embellished, left blank and even embroidered some clever saying. She loves an apron and especially likes the full ones that go over the head. I am a butcher apron girl, but more on that later. I gave her an appliqued apron like the ones that follow, for her birthday in October. But when I was at her house gifting her, she showed me the apron a family friend made for her about 30 years ago when she was married. The photo follows. It is green ticking with a calico chicken whip stitched on the front. It is stained and well worn, and obviously her favorite. So I asked to borrow it. Yes, I know it is January and I have held her favorite apron for almost 3 months, but I think she may feel it was worth it. How cute is this? I found green ticking with no problem. Then I spent hours (honest) trying to find coordinating calico-type fabric for the chicken. I think I got some updated colors, instead of whip stitching I appliqued, and well, the result is pretty darn cute. She's off playing in Vegas this week, but she will be gifted this weekend. My other apron gifts were for friends and family. I admit I get into a groove and stick with it. The groove now is applique. Big loopy letters in great fabric, way more fun than a boring old monogram. Take a peek.

Back in the fall I did an article for Family Corner appliquéing beach towels, I just can't stop! I have been hitting the clearance shelves with the fleece throws in lots of colors to applique for the hundreds (okay maybe just 30) graduation gifts.

Finally, I just couldn't resist an apron for me. But my needs are quite different. I wear the classic apron at work, so I am not interested in wearing it at home. I love a long apron with long straps and a straight cut. A butcher's apron if you will. I can whip one up pretty quick in a fun cotton for whatever mood or holiday stirs me. They don't really hang well, so you'll have to trust me on the finished product. Better yet, come on over when the ovens are fired up, I am certain to have one on. So, get in there and bake!