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Warning: strtotime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/marinama/public_html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 35

Warning: strtotime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/marinama/public_html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 35

Warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/marinama/public_html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 43

Warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/marinama/public_html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 43

Warning: strtotime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/marinama/public_html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 35

Warning: strtotime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/marinama/public_html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 35

Warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/marinama/public_html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 43

Warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/marinama/public_html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 43

A tale of two costumes

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So, can we agree that this may be one of the most adorable costumed children you have ever seen? Call me biased because I created both costume and child, but it is #1 hard to deny and #2 my main defense in explaining a momentary ethical lapse I experienced at Halloween.

Let’s just start by saying I have always loved Halloween. As a child, I loved getting to dress up in a costume of my choosing, usually made for me by my Mom. As an adult, I love looking out for novel, clever costume ideas and really any well-done costume will satisfy. I love the creativity allowed to brim forth on this out-of the ordinary day.

Of course, it is with great excitement that I now get to help my young children with their costumes. I have been so lucky and thankful that my son thus far has come up with ideas that I have been excited to make. He could very well request the usual: Batman, or a Transformer or whoever the latest popular character is. But instead, his picks have been pleasingly more unique. Among my favorite costumes he has chosen : a chameleon, an eagle, a chicken.

I can’t remember how I got it into my head that I wanted to make my almost 4-year-old, Ruby, a snail costume. But once it got into my head I was certain it would be the cutest costume in the world and she therefore HAD to be a snail. This is where I veered over into ethically questionable territory. You see, she was past those early years when the child really has no say in the matter of their Halloween costume. In fact, I was still lamenting the fact that I missed the opportunity to make her a lobster costume when she was 2. She wouldn’t have been the wiser and, man, it would have been cute. As much as I campaigned to get her to see how magnificent being a snail would be, when I asked her what she wanted to be, her answer was always: a butterfly.

I’m not even sure how but somehow I convinced her to be a snail, even though it was not her top choice, and for weeks leading up to Halloween, I plowed through the days with the decision that she was going to be a snail, the cutest snail in the world. I made and fitted her costume and as Halloween approached was so excited about how cute it turned out. For weeks, I allowed myself to be blind to the fact that I was hijacking her Halloween for my own personal satisfaction. Then, as my conscience nudged, I found ways to justify my plan. “It’s really all about me, right?” I joked to friends, as if acknowledging my transgression with humor somehow made it OK.

Then one day at preschool, as the kids were taking turns excitedly telling what they were going to be for Halloween, Ruby dutifully reported “a snail”:no enthusiasm, no sparkle in her eye, no ownership, simply an uninteresting statement of fact. This was when that tiny voice that had been saying, “what you are doing is wrong” started to become louder. On the way home from school I asked her, “Ruby, what do you want to be for Halloween?” Her answer was, of course, a butterfly. At that moment I decided I could no longer go through with my plan, and we went to the fabric store right then and there so she could pick out the colors she wanted for her butterfly costume. And right away I was rewarded for doing the right thing by the excitement that bubbled from her at the prospect of getting to be a butterfly.

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I stayed up late that night making the wings. I used 2 layers of sturdy craft interfacing sandwiched between pink and purple and blue felt on the outside, with inset windows of shiny colored lamé. Ruby instantly loved the wings and wore them almost non-stop well past Halloween. And though I’ve since hung them up in the closet, when she catches sight of them she almost always wants to wear them. Here she is playing outside recently:

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Meanwhile, the snail costume sits, disregarded, in plain sight on my dresser. Although, I will say she did enjoy playing in it for some time after I asked her to put it on for these photos.

Yes, it makes me ashamed to think how close I came to carrying through with my plan even though I knew that it was wrong.

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Here again, I submit: Exhibit A.

Can you blame me for my momentary weakness? I am only human.


Warning: strtotime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/marinama/public_html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 35

Warning: strtotime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/marinama/public_html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 35

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Warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/marinama/public_html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 43

Warning: strtotime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/marinama/public_html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 35

Warning: strtotime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/marinama/public_html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 35

Warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/marinama/public_html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 43

Warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/marinama/public_html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 43

More Balls

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Joyful vintage polyester meets toy ball pattern from Grand Revival online.

These just speak for themselves, don’t they? Loud and clear.


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My Purse

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Although I have been using her for 6 months now, I thought it was time for a formal introduction. Meet Janet, the purse I made for myself for my birthday last summer. Made from a dreamy blue vintage polyester found by none other than my Mom and accented with this beautiful pair of butterscotch buttons found by none other than my mother-in-law, Janet embodies my affection for 70’s style.


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Summery Skirts

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I had a frenzy of skirt-making the first week of last summer. During this week, my eldest usually goes to his grandparents, leaving me with time to have my last fit of crafting before shifting to summer mode and saying goodbye to such indoor domestic pursuits for the season. Sigh.

Skirts are satisfying in that they are easy, pleasing, and can come in handy. I decided to make these tiered skirts so I could have fun combining some fun vintage prints.

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This one I made for my then three-year-old. I loved this fabric my mom found for me second-hand, but it was sheer, more appropriate for a curtain, so I lined it and added a bottom ruffle to the lining. We rarely have weather warm enough for such things, but one can always hope.

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I also made this one for her because the only fault of a little girl’s skirt, in my estimation, is that it may lack the all-important pocket, or pockets, necessary for transporting those little girl essentials, whatever they may be: pebbles, sticks, a used band-aid.  Or, in this case, a tiny lemur friend.

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So there is my unseasonal ode to summery skirts.


Warning: strtotime(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/marinama/public_html/wp-includes/functions.php on line 35

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Card wallets

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As a Mom of young children, it is a rare treat to go out without children in tow.  It takes a while to wrap my mind around the fact that I don’t have to take the 3 tote bags loaded with everyone’s drinks, snacks, hats, jackets and forms of entertainment, as is my habit to carry most everywhere I go. I only have to carry what I myself will need: maybe my phone, credit card, ID and some cash. I feel light as a feather! I feel as if I could walk on clouds. I designed these little wallets for those who, like me, enjoy the chance to travel light. With my phone in one coat pocket and my little card wallet in the other, my shoulders don’t know what to do without their constant burden. Maybe I am a couple inches taller even.

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I also love the chance to use so many different, fun fabrics. Even a small vintage orphan scrap can have a life as one of these cute little wallets.

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I even got to use the fun snaps I have been collecting here and there.

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Feasting my eyes on these little morsels gives me a great sense of satisfaction. Rescued and unwanted fabrics occupy a fleeting vision of order in my otherwise cluttered and scattered mind.


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Spring Miscellany

Here is a random collection of things I made last spring:

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#1 Large pillows from corduroy scraps. These are a big hit in our living room due to their generous size!

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#2  A set of 3 balls for baby Morgan’s baby shower. He is 4 months old now, and quite a charmer!

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#3 An end-of-the-year thank you gift for Owen’s amazing second-grade teacher: a tote made from a vintage tablecloth with a beautiful nasturtium motif.

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#4 Made 3 of these sturdy market totes from this odd painted-canvass-like fabric my neighbor picked up for me at a yard sale. I like it that when people see outrageous fabric, they think of me.

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#5 Finally finished the second of 2 purses commissioned by my friend, Nikki, who was very patient, thank you. Did my first zippered pocket (on back) which was exciting to learn. I used  this tutorial from U-Handbag.

And that wraps up the spring craft update.


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Bats

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I’m Back!

You missed me terribly, didn’t you? I apologize for leaving an empty space in your life which my craft blog once occupied (Yes, I’m talking to you, Mom). But rest assured I have managed to overcome the technical tribulations that have plagued me these last 6 months, and I am ready to make a comeback, stronger than ever. My brave and generous husband has provided a new computer for me and wrestled my website back from Soviet Hackers. As you can see, having a craft blog isn’t as pedestrian as it may seem.

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Well, it may have all worked out for the best since my bats now have a very timely appearance.  I actually created these guys last spring. Since my 3-year-old has a very tactile bond with her sateen-backed snuggle blankies, I wanted to create a snuggly critter with a large, flat surface area of satin to be blankie-like. Why, in May, my mind envisioned the wings of a bat instead of, say, a butterfly, we will never know, but I think they are just adorable!

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The faces are felt or fleece with hand-embroidered features. The wings and ears are lined with satiny/silky fabric for the child who enjoys the feel of it. The wings have felt inside to give them thickness. My 3-year-old claimed the prototype bat with the red wings and light blue body. The black and green one went to a dear boy who turned six last May. 100% recycled, as usual. The bats seemed the perfect way to restart my blog now that it is October. Luckily, though a busy summer and even busier fall are leaving me with little time to sew, I have a little backlog of projects to post from the past 6 months. It’s good to be back!

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Monkeys

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It was well over a year ago that a friend of mine requested a Monkey for her little boy who loves them. Eventually, after mulling it over for some time, and looking at lots of monkey and monkey toy images on the internet, I came up with this monkey design.
The ball got rolling when I took inspiration from the sock monkey on how to do the muzzle. I decided I’d make the muzzle like the toe of a sock and start from there. Then followed all the fun monkey details: the opposing ears, the heart face, the long limbs and the curly tail. The design just came together.
Sock monkeys have some stretch so I boldly decided to try some of my much-loved but-rarely-used double-knit polyester for the prototype. I had this adorable orange and brown checkered stuff that I was excited to try.
Well, everything about the design was time-consuming, if not downright tedious. Assembly, in particular, involved a lot of fussy finagling to get things as I wanted them. The spiral tail, the hand-sewn muzzle, getting every part positioned correctly, all these things turned out to be harder than I thought.

Despite being a lot of tedious work, the polyester worked well and I LOVED how the monkey turned out. I vowed to try to make as many as I could bear while the inspiration and process were fresh. I knew from past experience that I make things in batches and then I am over it. And once I’m over it,  I’m over it. And since the monkeys were so fussy, I knew after I finished them, it may be a long time, if ever, before I could bring myself to make one again. I completed 7 and was very proud of the accomplishment. I love them dearly and never want to make another monkey as long as I live.

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I sent one of the orange-and-brown ones off to my friend’s little boy, Kristopher, and he loves it, so I guess it was worth the wait. My kids each claimed one and they really have a lot of fun with them. Owen likes to hang his from its tail, and Ruby loves to dance and run races with hers, dragging it along.

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My friend suggested I develop an official pattern for the monkey. That way, if someone really wants one, they can make it themselves, instead of asking me to make one. And while it is a good idea, I feel intimidated by the prospect of describing the process of making one, since so much of the process involved finessing. Even down to the last monkey, I never felt like I had easy control of the outcome. It made me feel like I should take a class; maybe there are some tricks. As much as I’ve sewn, I am mostly self-taught and don’t have all the tricks under my belt. I rarely follow real patterns, choosing instead to draw out my own on brown paper bags. And there have been many times when I’ve learned a technique for something I was going about the hard way.

Anyway, these have been a long time in the making and I am finally getting around to posting them. I still want to do another playground photo shoot, and am toying with the idea of developing a kid’s book with them, before the rest of the monkeys find homes.


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Ruby’s quilt

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During one of my scrap sorting sessions, I collected up a pile involving these colors. I started with that pile and filled-in with some other fabrics I had and before I knew it, I was making a quilt for the day when my 3-year-old Ruby gets a twin-size bed. While I had intended to use a flannel sheet for the quilt back, looking at some of Denyse Schmidt’s minimalist quilt designs inspired me to piece together the quilt back with some large pieces of corduroy I had. Now, I almost like the back as much as the front, and have two quilts in one.

While I have a million quilts in my head that I want to make, I barely have time to do one. Well, rather, the time I spend making a quilt is time I rightfully should spend doing other things: cleaning the disaster zone that is my home, for one, getting the proper amount of sleep, for two.

This is only the second standard-size quilt I’ve ever done, and with big quilts, the last part of the process can be intimidating. I had finished the top and back, so I was ready to sandwich, baste, quilt and bind. These last four steps to assemble the layers of your quilt into a finished product are often considered the drudgery of the quilt making process. You’ve already done the fun creative part to get the look you are going for, now it’s time to buckle down to the work of assembling the darn thing. It’s the perfect time to get one’s mother involved, if you ask me.

As luck would have it, my Mom was coming up for a visit. She is the helpful sort and must love me a great deal because she agreed to help.

So, I basted the layers together with temporary hand-stitching and discussed a quilting plan with my Mom. Then we began to quilt it together, running the quilt layers in long, wavy passes through the machine; me at the machine, my Mom guiding the bulk of the beast. We had done this in December, with a smaller quilt we made together, so we are getting pretty good at it. (I joke with her that I will get another quilt ready to assemble by her next visit)

Well, needless to say, I was very grateful for her help! With her help, we were able to quilt it fairly quickly. I did her nifty trick of leaving enough overhang from your back to fold it around for your binding. So the binding went quickly too. Then, Voila, a real, live finished quilt! Now this is the kind of project that feels like a real accomplishment to complete! 100% recycled fabrics with new cotton batting.

I took so long to post it because I’m still not quite happy with the photos I’ve taken of it. How do you get a good picture of a big ‘ol quilt anyway? Oh well, I decided to just go with the photos I had taken and move on…


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Balls

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I got lost in polyester knit a while back and haven’t surfaced since. I have been unable to resist fun polyester knits when I come across them second-hand: textured, stretchy, thick, bold and bright. You know, the fabric of your Grandma’s pantsuit from back-in-the-day. But I did not really know how I was going to use it. I was a little scared of it, being so thick and stretchy. I was looking for a fun and easy way mix and match my collection of polyesters.

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This ball pattern, found online from Grand Revival, fit the bill perfectly. The balls were the type of sewing I enjoy most but don’t always do: straight-forward, not fussy, with a relatively quick turnaround and satisfying, consistent results.  I had just finished some very fussy projects of long-length (which I will share at another time) and this was just what I was craving. It’s the crafter’s equivalent of down time: putting your brain on auto pilot and reaping the results. I don’t need to tell you how fun it was to combine these fabrics!

These balls are the smallest size of the 3 sizes given with the pattern and they are about the size of a grapefruit and fit nicely in your hand.

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