babydress3

When we found out we were having a girl (something I won’t fully believe until the baby comes out of me), I was mostly surprised and a little bit terrified. However, I was very, very happy that I would get to use all of the beautiful baby clothes my grandmother sewed for me. I’ve mentioned this before, but she is an amazing seamstress, far more precise and skilled than I’ll ever be, and I have bags and bags of handmade dresses and sweaters and pinafores, many of them smocked, knitted or embroidered with such skill that it blows my mind. I should have ironed these before I took pictures, but I never iron anything so I didn’t want to falsify information on my blog.

babydress1

babydress2

babydress4

There are tons of embroidered and smocked dresses like the ones you see above, ranging in size from newborn to about six-seven years old. There are stacks of the sweetest pinafores, though they are impossibly small and baby will have to have several costume changes a day to get through them all.

babyshirt

babyshirtstack

As stated above, I am nowhere near the seamstress my grandmother is, and probably never will be, but I did want to make a few things for the baby myself. I had never done any type of garment sewing before, and the thought of it has intimidated me for years — patterns, sewing on curves, finishing seams, BLECH. I just always assumed it was never an attainable skill for me. Have I mentioned I’m a total optimist? Guys, it turns out it’s not that difficult, ESPECIALLY baby clothes which are tiny and usually boxy because babies don’t need fitted things.

jumper

This crossover pinafore is the first garment sewing I ever attempted, and it was mind-blowingly easy, because the instructions were crystal-clear. I’m sure there’s some way you could even make it reversible but the logistics of that confused me (mostly just the button placement) so I didn’t try. I love it because it can go from a dress to a top as she grows up. Trying this really simple thing first gave me a lot more confidence to branch out to this peasant dress:

heartpocketpeasantdress

There’s a free pattern available for this dress for newborns 0-3 months, but I would highly, HIGHLY recommend purchasing the pattern with sizes from newborn to 6 years, which also includes options for a top or dress, and straight or scalloped edge. I LOVE THIS DRESS. So easy to customize in any way you want (embroidery, appliqué, pockets, etc.) and such a confidence-booster.

embroideredpeasantdress

This is the same dress with an iron-on transfer from this embroidery book, which took about two hours in total, including embroidery time.

elephantpeasantdress

..and the same pattern again, with added pockets and scalloped edge.

newbornwrapshirt

This newborn wrap-style shirt is from the Purl Bee blog, one of my favourite sites for free patterns. When we were in New York on our honeymoon, we went into the Purl Soho brick-and-mortar store, and I wandered around in a deliriously happy daze for a few minutes. I couldn’t afford anything in there, but it was the most beautiful place in the world.

babypants

The baby pants are from the same blog, though I hurried through these so they’re not as neatly finished as I would have liked. I might try making another pair with a drawstring waist instead. Though maybe that’s somehow dangerous for a baby? I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT ANYTHING, YOU GUYS.

babypants2

Here’s another pair of baby pants that sewed up quickly and to which I added elastic at the cuffs, just because. Again, I wonder if these might end up being loose around the waist, so next time I might either cinch them a bit tighter or use a drawstring instead.

jerseyhoodie1

jerseyhoodie2

These hooded kimono wrap jackets may be the cutest things ever, and though I had never sewed with jersey, this blog post really cleared some things up for me. Basically I just switched to a ballpoint needle and it was fine.

gingeronesie

I’ve made a lot of appliquéd onesies, but this one is my favourite. We might put this phrase on her birth announcement. Have I mentioned that Mark is a redhead?

I also whipped up a few bibs (think I just Googled “bib template” and worked from there)…

bibs

…and a few of these super-easy pacifier clips (though I made them shorter than the tutorial called for because of strangulation risks)…

pacifierclips

..and finally, this oversized baby quilt. I’ve made a lot of blankets and quilts for her, mostly just to kill time. I’m working on my first entirely hand-quilted quilt right now, but I go so terribly slow that she might be a teenager by the time she receives it. For this one I just sewed a bunch of triangles together into patches, and then I had them up on my basting board in the order I thought I wanted, then Mark came into my office and started switching them around and we ended up with this sort of parallelogram thing. Hey, that’s the first time I’ve used that word since junior high, probably! I like that we both worked on it together. Also, I know this is the girliest fabric ever, but I have so damn much of it.

babyquiltfront

I just quilted diagonal lines — it took less than an hour to quilt — and when she’s born, I’ll sew on a little patch with her name and birth date on it.

babyquiltback

babyquiltbinding

This nesting period has been so delicious. I know I won’t have time to be doing a lot of this when she’s here, and I also know that second baby will probably get nothing (Mark and I are both youngest children, so we’ll be able to sympathize). I have a few more things I’d like to make, but I’d also be very happy if she showed up tomorrow. Which is totally possible. Which is terrifying.

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hospitality2

My list of guilty pleasures is long and somewhat horrifying, and includes such things as Kraft Dinner with cut-up hot dogs, getting fake-interviewed by Rolling Stone magazine while I’m showering, eating Nutella straight from the jar with a spoon or maybe sometimes even just my finger, and reading books about serial killers right before bed. Also, there is nothing I love more than a good bad movie. I don’t mean, like, some shitty rom-com or some dumb action thing (although let’s be honest, Con Air is the best thing ever), but a real, genuine bad movie. I’m talking about a film that is made in complete and total earnest, and despite being a train wreck, its total sincerity shines through the entire time. This is a very, very, VERY rare quality and I in fact have only ever witnessed it fully in two films. One is The Room, which is just…indescribable, though people have been trying in vain to analyze it for a decade. I love this movie so much that I’ve watched it no less than five times in 2013, and possibly even more than that. It is best served up with a pitcher of something boozy and this drinking game. The other film I love, possibly even more than The Room because it is slightly less narcissistic, is the 1990 classic Troll 2, which, despite its title, is not a sequel to Troll and does not contain a single troll. Instead it sort of revolves around some vegetarian goblins, the most confusing family in the world, and a popcorn sex scene (!). I could never do justice to its brilliance; you’ll just have to see it. I will say that my mother-in-law loved it so much that she requested her own copy of it. Also, there’s an incredible documentary about it made by the former child star of the movie. Also, we paid good money to change our license plate in honour of it.

nilbog

In honour of this wonderful movie, I designed an embroidery pattern featuring possibly the best quote from a film chock-full of sparkling little gems. I find it to be just a generally good life lesson and it would make a great hostess gift this holiday season! I used a combination of stitches here, including a fishbone stitch for the leaves, but you could easily do it in all backstitch and it would still look great. There are tons of great stitch tutorials here and also dozens of videos on YouTube that I reference all the time.

hospitalitycloseup

I’ve also included just the border, in case you want to do something a little classier like embroider a song lyric or possibly a different amazing Troll 2 quote (I’m partial to “We need some time for some things to happen!”). I designed this to fit in a 7-inch embroidery hoop, but it’s easily scalable up and down. Also, instead of dealing with fussy transferring techniques, which is my least favourite aspect of embroidery, I used this fantastic stabilizer that you simply print the pattern on to, stick to the front of your fabric, embroider over top of, and rinse after finishing. It just dissolves away. SO EASY.

hospitality

Enjoy the pattern! And if I haven’t convinced you to watch Troll 2 by now, there’s probably no hope for us as friends.

Download the Troll 2 embroidery pattern here.
Download just the embroidery border here.

 

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elderberries

I know I haven’t updated in a shamefully long time. I’ve been to Austin, and singing a lot, and starting banjo lessons. I’ve been in a bit of a creative funk as well, and haven’t had any desire to make stuff, which is terribly unusual for me.

However: I did write this tutorial on how to cross-stitch this classy Monty Python and the Holy Grail quote! I really love the look of unexpected words/imagery done in a classic needlepoint style (see: anything from Subersive Cross Stitch). I also love this movie and though there were hundreds of phrases I could have chosen, this one jumped out at me. Make it and surprise a Monty Python fan you love!

Tutorial here.

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treatyoself

I realized the other day that most of the television shows I love feature some pretty terrible people (30 Rock, Arrested Development, Breaking Bad). Parks and Recreation is the exception to this rule — it might be the sweetest, least cynical show out there. Amy Poehler is obviously a genius and a national treasure, and Tom Haverford and I both make this face a lot, and don’t even get me started on how hot Ron Swanson is. I can’t even.

Here’s my little homage to the show — one of my favourite mottos ever. I’ve included the pattern in reverse as well, in case you use a transfer method that requires the reverse image. I really really hate transferring embroidery patterns; it’s my least favourite part of the process. This time I knew I wanted the gold embroidery thread (SO fun to work with, by the way) to stand out, so I wanted to use a dark fabric as the background. I found this wash-away stabilizer at a local sewing store and it worked like a charm — I just printed right onto it (it says not to use a laser printer, but that’s what we have and it was fine), stuck it onto the fabric, embroidered over top and then rinsed it for a few minutes until it all dissolved. Easy-peasy!

I only used two stitches here — back stitch and satin stitch. There are tons of tutorials for these out there, but this is a good place to start if you need some help. Have fun and let me know if you have any questions!

Download the pattern here.

 

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adfinalproduct

I use Arrested Development as a sort of litmus test for people’s compatibility with me, which makes me sound like an asshole. Which, obviously, I am.

But seriously, this show is one of things I love so much and so ardently that it is beyond my comprehension that other people might not. It is pure perfection, and I am both excited beyond words and petrified for the new season, out on Netflix this May. What if it’s terrible? What if these characters I adore are unrecognizable and/or boring to me now? What if it’s super racist like Sex and the City 2? Will it mar the brilliance of the original series for me? These are first world problems, but damnit, they’re my first world problems.

Er…I digress. Here is something I stitched up just for me while on the road, and now have the pleasure with sharing with the world. This will make absolutely no sense to you if you don’t know and love and frequently become confused by Tobias Fünke, but if that’s the case, what are you waiting for? You have five weeks to catch up!

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seattleaquarium

Four years ago today, Mark proposed to me in this exact spot outside the Seattle Aquarium. It was a bit random, which I liked very much. It was Friday the 13th. I had lost a crown while biting into a piece of salmon that morning at Pike Place Market, so I was rather distracted. Also, I hadn’t wanted to leave the hotel room in the first place — I was busy soaking up an old episode of Full House (we didn’t have a TV then and I was always transfixed by them when we stayed at hotels). We had dinner reservations, but the restaurant was just down the street, so there was really no hurry. Mark kept trying to get me to turn the TV off so we could go for a walk before dinner; he was oddly insistent on it, which is super out-of-character for him, so really I should have known something was up, but I didn’t. We went for our walk, down by the pier, and I know now that he was trying to find a place that didn’t have people around, but this was fairly hard in downtown Seattle on a Friday night. Eventually we wandered over to the aquarium. I was leaning on a railing, gazing out at the water, absentmindedly probing at the newly-gaping hole in my mouth (thankfully it was a molar so you couldn’t really notice), thinking about seals. I turned around and there he was on one knee, proffering this beautiful ring that he designed himself. I was in such shock, all I could do was curse. Clouds of expletives flew out of my mouth and I just stared at him, repeating filthy words over and over again. He eventually asked me to throw a “yes” in there, and I did. We made it to Le Pichet, a restaurant I’d been longing to go to mainly to order their famous roast chicken, which takes an hour to make and serves two people. I’d been dreaming of this chicken — this was before I could handily roast one myself (humblebrag) and I’d read extensively about how good this particular piece of poultry was. We ordered it, as well as some champagne. I then proceeded to alternately cry and laugh throughout the entire meal. I ate about two bites of that chicken, and we couldn’t take it back to the hotel because we didn’t have a fridge in our room. We stopped at a corner store on the way back to pick up a calling card so we could phone our moms, as well as some wine. I fell off the curb and hurt my ankle. I woke up the next morning at 6 am and took a weepy shower, still trying to fully comprehend the whole thing. I was almost scared by how happy I was.

I know how nauseating all of that probably seems. Sometimes I’m even a little embarrassed at how much I love being married. I didn’t have the best examples of happy marriages, though Mark did, and I never in a million years thought it would happen for me, let alone at a relatively young age. Though I know it’s not effortless — we both work really hard at our marriage — it is easy for me in a way that no other relationships in my life have ever been. I could write a million more posts about him, and I probably will, but here’s one last thing: If we end up having a kid that’s even half as decent and kind (and unendingly patient) as he is, I’ll be overjoyed.

markpia

Spring is coming, and we have more light in the evening, and I cannot stress how much this has affected my mood. It’s amazing! I wish I could be taking advantage of this gorgeous weather by walking Luka, but he cut his paw pretty badly a couple of weeks ago and is currently waiting for five stitches to heal. He has a little doggie cast and we put a sock on him when he goes outside, and he has to wear the cone of shame when we leave him at home alone. Poor guy. On a related note, I signed up for pet insurance today, something I originally thought was a huge scam, but given the thousands we’ve spent at the vet since we adopted him five months ago, it seems like a no-brainer.

Been in the kitchen a lot lately, inspired by all the cookbooks I own and the hundreds of internet recipes I have bookmarked. I’ve been making this for lunch quite a a bit, though I usually top it with a fried or poached egg for some added protein. And also because I devoutly subscribe to the theory that a fried egg makes pretty much everything taste better (like leftover toasted, buttered cornbread OH MAN I WANT SOME CORNBREAD).

cauliflower

chocolate cake

oj

I also finally finished a quilt I’ve been working on for a while — I’m calling it my Februweary lap quilt, because I did most of the piecing during some especially soul-suckingly grey February days. I really like this one, and contemplated making it a full-size quilt, but ended up being too lazy and wanting it done quickly…even though it still took me about six weeks from start to finish. I used this quilt block and it came together pretty quickly.

quilting

quiltfront

quiltback

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quiltbinding

signedquilt

Sneak peek of new embroidery pattern (inspired by Mr. Tom Haverford) and some vintage embroidery patterns my mother-in-law passed on to me. Some of them are from the early ’40s! I’m probably gonna embroider everything in our house. Luka had better watch out.

vintagetransfers

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fotc

Listen, I’m a happily married lady, but that doesn’t mean I can’t have other boyfriends, right? I hope not, ’cause I have at least 20 of them. Josh Ritter, Taye Diggs, Steve Buscemi (yes, you read that right), Benedict Cumberbatch (but only as Sherlock), Jet Li, Peter Dinklage, Jon Hamm, Michael Vartan (I watched a lot of Alias in university), Luka the dog, Willem Dafoe, Kyle Chandler (as Coach Taylor, obviously), John Krasinski, what’s-his-face who plays Ron Swanson, Idris Elba…

The list goes on. And on. High up on that list are the two super-fine specimens from Flight of the Conchords, Bret and Jemaine. I have literally rambled to Mark for minutes at a time about how I can’t decide which one is hotter. I might not be the best wife ever. Anyway, this cross-stitch pattern (which I designed in Berlin during a rather unhappy period) is a tribute to those beautiful singing New Zealanders.

Check it out here!

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crushed it cross stitch

Last week I attempted a step aerobics class with my friend Heidi. It was hilariously terrible, in the best way possible. Neither of us is especially graceful, though she is WAY more co-ordinated than I am. We had never tried a step class before and minutes before the class we were sitting in her living room, spooning Nutella out of a jar and contemplating whether or not we should actually go. We dragged ourselves there, stumbled through the class, and though at certain points we were laughing so hard we were doubled over, it was awesome. When I got home, Mark asked me how it went, and I stupidly, confidently answered, “We crushed it.”

That was the inspiration for this cross-stitch pattern, a celebration of “fake it ’til you make it”, something I probably need tattooed on my body.

I used this tutorial for the frames, done on thick cardstock. My finished piece was about 5X7 inches and I think it was 14-count aida cloth. Play around with fabic/floss/frames and please let me know if you try the pattern!

Download the pattern here (in colour or black and white with symbols):

Free colour cross-stitch pattern.

Free black and white cross-stitch pattern.

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I started sewing about four years ago, when my lovely mother-in-law gifted me with her old Husqvarna. I loved that machine and still do. She gave me a few lessons showing me the basics, eternally patient when I had to ask her to re-show me things over and over again. I am not a quick learner. I get a little panicky sometimes, thinking about taking a class in something I don’t understand, because I need things demonstrated so many times before I begin to take them in.

I sewed on that machine for four years, mostly straight line projects for around the house. I made my first quilt with that Husqvarna (did you know they also make chainsaws? I kind of love that), binding it with the help of this video, which I have probably viewed at least 30 times. I am still an extremely novice quilter. I can do straight lines, but not free-motion quilting yet, though I’m working on it. I like simple patchwork quilts, nothing too fussy and I don’t like applique. I like squares, log cabin blocks, and not much else. Perhaps I am a little picky.

I finally bought my first sewing machine about four months ago. In typical Pia fashion, I did very little research on it and made a pretty quick decision. Luckily, this usually works out well for me. I bought a Janome this time, and it sews like a dream. I love my studio/office so much that sometimes I go in there and just stand around, gazing at my fabric and my cutting table. I sound like a total idiot right now, but man, do I loooooove that room. It’s just for me. It has terrible lighting, but one day I’ll try to take better pictures of it.

sewingheaven

This is a baby quilt for a dear friend’s little boy. I made it with almost all fabrics I picked up in Japan last year — cute mushrooms and flowers and polka dots. I have a lot of very “girly” fabric, so I was a little flummoxed as to how to put together something less feminine, but I think it worked. Of course gender is a social construct, etc. (hey, I remember something from my anthropology degree!) and I totally don’t think girls have to have pink and boys blue, but I wanted to make something bright and not too gender-specific. I feel like I’m digging myself into a hole right now. I’ll stop typing.

And a little something for her five-year-old twin daughters, as well — I made these from this tutorial, just changing a few of the details. Super quick and fun to stitch up! I stuck a toonie in each of the pockets.

I also whipped up this small quilt. It’s basically one giant log cabin block, which means that it came together in about an hour. I used handprinted fabrics from India, and just hoped that the overall effect wouldn’t be too busy. I think it’s okay, though. Hopefully someday soon there’ll be a brown-skinned, red-haired baby crawling on this quilt.

indiaquilt

indiaquilt2

Speaking of babies, look at this huge suck. He crawled into Mark’s lap while Mark was working the other day and refused to budge. Also, we have now succumbed to him getting on the bed with us. We are pathetic. BUT LOOK AT THIS FACE!

These days: more quilting, blackberry buttermilk muffins, irises, a stack of beautiful craft magazines from the UK (courtesy of a very sweet cousin). Life is happening. What a gift.

quiltboard

craftmags

blackberrymuffins

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businesscards

Last week was a blur of Game of Thrones and Etsy research and a midweek stomach flu that absolutely flattened me. Mark was feeling rough as well, and we spent most of Tuesday lying in bed with the dog between us, all three of us dozing on and off. In between naps, I succumbed to my usual sick mode of wailing to Mark about how I had absolutely no energy and what if that’s not because I was sick, because what if I actually wasn’t sick (this is in between bouts of vomiting) but just a normal thing and how will we ever have the energy for children, etc., etc. He very kindly humoured me and reassured me that I was in fact sick and that all would be fine tomorrow. And it was. I know there’s a stereotype that men are huge babies when they’re sick, but I am, in fact, the absolute worst. I’m also a huge hypochondriac (this is, incidentally, not a great trait to have when you also do medical transcription) but I think I was maybe legit sick that day.

Anyway, I recovered from that and on Thursday, uploaded my first listings to Etsy. I waited a full 24 hours before telling anyone about it, just in case I decided that this whole thing was ridiculous and wanted to take it down. That did happen several times, but Mark convinced me to ignore those impulses.

Here is my store. I believe that the pieces I make are simple but classic, and what I really want is for them become keepsakes, things that are passed down. My mother-in-law has a cross-stitched piece on her kitchen wall that her mother made in 1931, and every Sunday when we go over for dinner I admire it and imagine her stitching it, 80+ years ago. I really, really, really hate self-promotion but I am trying very hard to push through my discomfort and be proud of what I’m making.

floss

I’ve been quilting up a storm lately — back soon with photographic proof.

(Luka says hi).

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