my projects look WAY better when photographed by amazing photographers


Whoot! The clutches that I made for the wedding- in action.  And, the Oliver + S Birthday Party Dress on a cute pirate!

My sister-in-law and her husband recently got their wedding photos back from their photographers and, I have to say, the collection is amazing.  Tara and Ben of Hitched Studios truly captured the spirit of what was an incredibly beautiful day.  Tara, who has her own business photographing families and creating other types of portraits, gave me permission to share the above images.  My silly sewing projects {bridesmaid clutches and a dress for my daughter} look a million times better when photographed by crazy talented photographers, don’t you think? Click on over to the Hitched Studios blog if you would like to see more of my sister-in-law’s wedding, including {of course} a photo or twelve of a gorgeous bride!  Something tells me you will end up sticking around a bit as you become captivated by the pure beauty that Tara and Ben capture at every event they photograph.    And if you are looking to hire photographers for something, please get in touch with me so that I can rave even more about these two incredible professionals.

pleated clutch

I made this clutch for my sister-in-law who is getting married in June.  This was the prototype for six clutches I will make {using silk shantung} for the bridesmaids in her wedding.  Since the prototype turned out well, I gave this bag to her as a bridal shower gift.  I was inspired by this photo and from there, I worked out a pattern on my own. The bag uses a 6 inch flex frame closure.  I learned how to make pleats by reading bits of this book, which I borrowed from the library.  The bridesmaids clutches will be a teal color and the linings will be chosen from a range of pink cotton prints. Choosing the lining fabric will be my favorite part of the project.

Quite frankly, I was shocked by the lack of cursing that went on while I sewed up this bag.  Normally, when I don’t work from a tried and true pattern, I end up very frustrated.  I took very good notes as I went along, so hopefully the next six clutches will go as smoothly.

I think I may have one more wedding related project in me.  An Oliver + S Birthday Party Dress for my girl! I traced and cut the pattern (the version with the tab, not the ribbon), have chosen the fabric, and just have to start cutting.

Speaking of children’s clothing, have you seen what’s been going on in the Elsie Marley kids clothing week flickr pool? I sewed a small beach cover-up for a beautiful new friend, and I have three dresses in progress for my girl.  I’ll show those off soon.

bridal shower decor

Recently, I worked on a few projects with two other bridesmaids in preparation for my sister’s-in-law bridal shower.  My husband’s cousin, who {poor thing} is on pregnancy bed rest, offered to do most of the work. She cut up mountains of fabric rectangles and triangles so that we could make fabric wrapped vases, personal-sized tissue holder covers as favors, and flag garlands.  She put the vases together on her own, and then she, my other sister-in-law, and I got together for a sew-a-thon the night before the shower to make the favors and garlands.

The idea for the vases came from this post at Once Wed, although we used materials we had on-hand (packing tape and hot glue). What is so nice about this idea is that you can use any vase that has non-curvy sides.  You could make a set of coordinated vases that are different shapes (cylinders, rectangles, squares).  We happened to luck out because a friend of mine lent us a set of eight square vases.  But vases of varying shapes and sizes would have been great as well.  All of the fabric is Denyse Schmidt’s County Fair.  I was so pleased with how nicely it coordinated with the cafe at the Fuller Craft Museum where the event was held. (So pleased, in fact, that I made sure the bride’s blindfold was matchy as well.) My mother-in-law came up with idea for the palettes and paint brushes mixed in with the flowers for the centerpieces. It was the perfect little touch to personalize the party for this particular bride, who is an artist. Each bridesmaid brought two bunches of tulips and we assembled the arrangements just before the shower. The food by Lavishly Dunn was excellent and the cake, which was decorated to match the fabric, was delicious.  It all made for a lovely afternoon.

sweet and simple

A certain almost-three-year old will have his ‘kids’ birthday party tomorrow.  It will be simple. Balloons, good food, music, dancing and possibly a little crafting. Depends on how organized I am tonight. And depends on how long it takes me to make a lasagna entirely from scratch.

I made fabric garlands for party favors.  The version for the boys is above.  A friend had asked me to make a garland for a gift for a new baby boy and I came up with this fabric combination.  I liked it so much that I decided to make more for the party. The girls’ are here.

I was going to put the garlands in bags with a handful of mini-chocolate bars from a variety bag from the grocery store. When I realized how much money I was about to spend on those mini bars of sub-par chocolate, I removed them from my cart. Instead, I decided to give each kid one whole bar of good chocolate from our local candy shop.  It ended up being a better deal and the quality does not compare.  Plus, I like the simplicity of this small gift.

OK.  Off to conquer a lasagna.  Happy weekend!

birthday party recap

My husband’s birthday. What to say? It was a lot of fun because a lot of great people were there. And it was a little extra festive, because I spent all of my crafting time for the month of August on silly party ideas. Which was a really good thing because I almost never make stuff for us to keep in our our own home. This was a perfect excuse to do just that. There was no one unifying theme to this party, but I will say that I was inspired by the colors of a pack of tissue paper that I bought at Target. Here is the run-down on the crafty details:

I almost never do this, but I did send out paper invites for this one. I already had the card stock and used that pack of tissue paper to cut out little flags. I sewed the flags onto the cardstock and that was that. Sending out paper invitations really does get people to a party.

{Love the toes in this shot.}

I made a pinata and decorated it with that same tissue paper. I used three layers of paper mache. Two layers would have been better for my audience (two kids under three years old). I had to cut the pinata open with a knife because my little man and his cousin couldn’t make a dent in it with the baseball bat. I also made little loot bags for gathering the candy. Didn’t get a good photo, but they were made with a cute squirrel fabric by Lecien.

Yes, I am a sewing nerd. So yes, I did make personalized napkin rings for each party-goer. I have made these as gifts before and really wanted a set for us. So, the next time any of these people return to our home for a meal, they will have a napkin ring to wrap around their napkin…or their ponytail…or their wrist. That is what happened at the party and it cracked me up. These are made like little slipcovers for slap bracelets. Remember those? I hope to post a tutorial for these soon.

{Most creative use of a napkin ring.}

{Profit drinking.}

I set up a little lemonade stand so that my son and his cousin could sell lemonade at the party. He is mildly obsessed with fattening up his piggy bank, so I was pretty sure this activity would go over well. I wanted to buy a new beverage dispenser like this one, but I knew that my sister had a less fancy grocery store version that I could “dress up.” I printed a vintage looking lemonade graphic that I found via google image, covered it with contact paper, and wrapped it around the dispenser. And because every good crafty blogger needs a fabric banner, I made one to decorate the lemonade stand and other bits of the yard. I am excited that I now have one of these to use over and over at future birthday parties and other events.

The drink marker thingamabobs were very simple. And I think they actually helped some people keep track of their drinks. Using pinking shears, I cut small triangles from the scraps that were created while I was making the banner. I then cut a little slit in each triangle, threaded them with baker’s twine, and tied them onto the glasses. I bought a few mason jars because we didn’t have enough glasses and I didn’t want to use plastic. I’ll reuse the jars for canning.

We played a beer tasting/guessing game. I downloaded a free font called Mom’s Typewriter that I found via iDIY to make these little game cards. Guests brought six packs of beer. My sister and a friend selected a type of beer from the cooler, covered the bottles with small paper bags to conceal identity, poured samples into glasses, and people tried to guess the name of the beer they were drinking.

I bought two bunches of zinnias at the farmstand. I love these flowers so much and they are always in bloom right around my husband’s birthday. Of course, I knew my husband would enjoy them, but I considered them to be a little hostess gift to myself. Music was provided by The Flashdance. I just clicked on this link and played the mixes. Way better than any playlist I could have come up with and people definitely complimented the music. Three cheers for generous blogging DJs!

I kept the menu simple and whenever I was offered help, the answer was “yes.” {Motherhood has taught me that skill.} I provided some basics: veggie dip, fresh salsa, cheeseburgers, pasta salad, baked beans, homemade lemonade, iced tea, and the cake, while guests filled out the menu with fancier extras such as grilled shrimp, a pesto, cheese and sundried tomato torte appetizer, spring rolls, salad greens with goat cheese, watermelon, seven layer magic bars and mint brownies. Good eats for sure!

{Oh, the big browns on this little one. !Para comersela!}

I took Jen’s advice and put into action as many little projects as I could without making myself crazy. The diy smilebooth did not happen. I had a theme and props and everything. But I couldn’t work out a way to protect my camera, so I let it go. Of course, I was rushing around even minutes before the party started, but once guests arrived, I just let things happen and really enjoyed myself. And mostly, had a lot of fun watching the handsome birthday boy have a great time on his big day.

Update:  Thanks to Sara at Party Perfect for featuring this party.  I drew so much inspiration from her beautiful blog, so be sure to check it out if you are looking to get creative with entertaining.

the archives

I am chipping away at some of my party prep ideas. The stack of larger triangles will become a flag garland. The smaller triangles will serve another purpose. I’ll post photos of that project if the idea that I have in my head plays out as I envision.

It was a lot of fun to cut into some of my favorite pieces of fabric. I’m not one to be afraid to use up beautiful fabric. I understand the sentiment when people say things like “it’s just too pretty to cut into,” but I’ve come to realize that my tastes change fairly often and there is always something new coming out that I love.   It just seems like there are so many good designers out there and they tend to be fairly prolific. When I work on a project that allows me to choose some of my favorites from my modest collection, I don’t worry that I am using it all up. Rather, I feel like I am archiving those prints by using them in a project. Even if it is something that I am giving away.  Because I almost always take a photo of the things that I make and post them either here or on flickr. In that sense, I am able to hang on to every last beautiful print.  So, I guess having a blog does help me get over that “it’s too precious to use” mentality.

I do have to work on a strategy for the “Holy crap. That print is gorgeous.  I better buy some of it before it goes out of print” moments in my life.  Evidence of this above.  Joel Dewberry’s Chestnut Hill collection. The top and bottom prints are an all time favorite.  Purchased at Quilt Home. 30% off the whole collection. I’m not sure they are still running that sale but i do have to say that those women at that shop understand the need for instant gratification.  I ordered on-line on Wednesday and it was in my mailbox on Friday before 11 am.  They are based in Washington State and I am in Massachusetts, so honestly I don’t know how they do it.

In other party news, my husband has put in his birthday cake request.  Chocolate cake with caramel seeping through, a thin fudge layer inside, covered in white chocolate whipped cream frosting with butter crunch candy on top. There will be plenty of vanilla ice cream on the side, because you can’t get through a piece of rich cake like that without a small mountain of vanilla to temper it.

party time

{Mosaic created using FD Flickr Toys.}

1. Piñata 2. piñata love 3. Lemonade stand, Chagrin Falls, Ohio, Memorial Day weekend 2007 4. summer fruit swap: stacked 5. neon dream 6. Tutto un mondo intorno – All the world around 7. memories of a cozy lunch… 8. swanky bunting 9. 72/365: CITRUS! (DAY O2) 10. Mojito Cupcakes with Macadamia Nut Crackle 11. Lemon Love_Affair 12. Water Fight 13. hung out to dry

The Cydermaker’s birthday is coming up. It is the only “warm weather” birthday we have in our family, so we always have a party. I want to make it a little extra special this year, so all of my craft time in the month of August will be dedicated to the cause.  All the talk of weddings around here (both my brother and my sister-in-law are engaged) has me wanting to do things like sew fabric banners, make customized swizzle sticks, and create silly inspiration boards like the one seen above. I have a ton of fun ideas. Reality and time constrains will whittle down the list, but I am excited to have a change of pace in my crafting focus.  Who knows? Maybe I’ll even be organized enough to blog about some of my projects.  The invites are already sewn up, so I feel like I am ever so slightly ahead of the game.

What do you think? Is it totally lame to attempt a DIY smile-booth at a very small birthday party in your own backyard? Probably. But it could be a lot of fun.

P.S.  If you are looking for some great party planning inspiration, check out Party Perfect.