Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Giving Thanks

Hello one and all

Here's a summer-y photo of my Mom and Grandma on the top of Mount Battie in Camden earlier this year. I am VERY grateful today as my sweet Grandma had a little health scare this week but she is absolutely FINE now. Silver lining: getting to spend more time with just me and my Grandpa and having my Grandmother teach me how to knit, then getting lots of time to practice.

I hope wherever you are and whatever your day holds tomorrow that your loved ones are happy, healthy and safe.

See you soon with the rest of the Top Ten countdown!!!



Thursday, November 20, 2008

Holiday Gift Giving Top Ten Countdown...#7 Classes and Workshops

Totally unrelated note: I do feel that congratulations are in order as today is the day that I finally figured out how to LINK!!! Are you ready to rock???

Lucky number 7 on the Holiday Gift Giving List is giving your best girlfriend or sister or mom or grandma, etc. a class or a workshop. Especially if you are taking that workshop yourself. You and your class recipient get to spend time together, you get to indulge your creative side (and have fun and guidance doing it) AND you get to go home with a finished product that you will have for years and years to come. At Alewives, we not only have a killer classroom (with huge design walls, a great big sewing table, machines you can borrow and CUBBIES to hold your stuff in between classes), we also have all kinds of workshops suited to every skill level of sewer and even some classes that are geared towards people who don't sew at all.

Look for all of these classes and MORE when our new class list comes out in late December:

For the beginning sewer: Amy Butler's Birdie Sling only takes 2 Saturday mornings to complete and we teach it on a regular basis. Perfect for someone who wants results fast, even if they have never used a sewing machine.

For the beginning quilter: Turning Twenty is our go-to quilt for beginners. This pattern has got it going on: it uses fabrics in large chunks (perfect for today's bold, graphic prints), stitches together quickly and builds the foundation for a lifetime of successful quilting. Turning Twenty also builds confidence in piecing skills and color selection. What's not to like?

For someone who HATES to sew: Why not try our Floorcloth workshop (which uses decoupaging techniques and no sewing) or the Braided Rag Rug class (which uses up scraps from your stash or old sheets). Or try the Crocheted Round Rug class (which takes about 5 minutes to learn how to do). All of these classes are super-easy and super-fun. No skills of any kind necessary: we teach you all you need to know!

For the experienced sewer: We teach Amy Butler's Weekender Bag on a regular basis. That particular pattern takes some time and concentration, but it looks phenomenal when it's all done. Not at all "handmade" (which is kinda nice). We also have a rotating repertoire (if you will) of "intermediate" Quilting classes. One that is coming up in the New Year (and will be taught by yours truly) is called Making History , and it really is making history for me because this is the most traditional quilt I have ever pieced together. My version is a lot like the cover quilt, only cranked up a notch.

To wrap things up (no holiday puns intended), all of the gals here go to great lengths to make sure that when you take a class, you have a fun, encouraging and satisfying experience. I can't think of anything better than sharing that experience with someone who's company you value.

See you again soon and have a great weekend!!!



Monday, November 17, 2008

Holiday Gift Giving Top Ten Countdown...#8 BOOKS!!!

Why not give a certain crafty someone a killer book this year?

I work here and I'm coveting most of these books!

And I think you'll agree: we've got all the best new titles.

For the beginning seamstress: Seams to Me by Anna Maria Horner has a very extensive "basic sewing knowledge" section.

For those with petit bebes: Amy Butler's Little Stitches for Little Ones is a no-brainer.

For someone who's into "living the crafty lifelstyle" you cannot beat The Gentle Art of Domesticity by Jane Brockett. Plus this book would be great even for someone who didn't sew. Plus it's just eye-candy. Plus it would be great for anyone on your list named Rhea. Hint, hint... wink, wink... nudge, nudge... say no more.

See you soon with lucky number 7!



Friday, November 14, 2008

Holiday Gift Giving Top Ten Countdown...#9 Oliver+S Bedtime Story Pajamas

Number nine in our Holiday Gift Giving Top Ten is the Oliver+S Bedtime Story Pajama Set.

The Bedtime Story Pajamas earned a spot on the list because they are soooo gosh darn versatile. Who doesn't need pajamas? Everybody needs them. Everybody gets to open up one present on Christmas Eve and that present is always new pajamas, right? And when I say "everyone," I guess I mean "me." Unfortunately, the pattern only goes from infant's sizes up through to a kid's size 8, but if you need a pajama pattern for adults I can help you out there, too. Assuming you are making these PJ's for one of the kids on your list, this particular pattern has got you covered.

I love all of the Oliver+S patterns: they are so cute and easy and well-illustrated and just plain fun to sew. Things I like about the Bedtime Story PJ's: you can whip them up in an afternoon , they are a perfect project for a beginning sewer and depending on your fabric choices they would be a great present for a boy or a girl. I generally find that girls are much more fun to sew for, but I like a challenge and this is one creative solution to the "what can I make for a boy?" question. You could even just make up the PJ bottoms and buy a matching T-shirt if you were so inclined. How cute would that be?

I made up these sample PJ's in Heather Ross' "Mendocino" line which I loooove not just for the fun and cute mermaid print, but all of Heather Ross' fabrics are printed on this super-soft, almost baby-flannel-esque brushed cotton. It has the nicest, softest hand, making it a dream to sew on and perfect candidates for kid's PJ's.

Now, I can hear some of you out there saying "Shouldn't those PJ's be made out of flannel? Won't that lightweight cotton be too cold?" The answer is "no." Sure, this is Maine and it's coming on winter but that's what QUILTS are for, people! Quilts keep you warm at night, not PJ's!!! If you're making the Bedtime Story Pajamas for a baby then I can definitely green-light the flannel, but for someone older than 2 I truly don't think it would be necessary.

As of this post I have only got a couple of Bedtime Story Pajama patterns left at the store, but rest assured that I am re-ordering and there will be puh-lenty of patterns here with puh-lenty of time left to make them up before the holidays.

By the by, am I the only one who thought the word "pajama" was spelled with a "Y" in there somewhere?

My spell-check says no, but I think yes.

See you again soon!!!



P.S. I almost forgot to mention that Alewives will be hosting the Oliver+S Trunk Show this coming January 5th through 19th!!! I'm really looking forward to this event and for those of you on our mailing list keep your eyes out for more info!!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Holiday Gift Giving Top Ten Countdown...#10 Amy Butler's Birdie Sling

Thanks for joining me !

Today I begin the great Holiday Gift Giving Top Ten Countdown: a list of all the year's best offerings when it comes to handmade goodness. All of these projects are perfect for making and giving and we will be covering everyone on your list from babies to what to make for boys to great ideas for your pets right on through to the grown-ups. You may think I'm starting in with the Holiday lists a little early, but these handmade items take time, don't ya know?

Bringing up the all important #10 spot
is Amy Butler's Birdie Sling.

I cannot sing the praises of this bag enough and have become completely enamored with it. Every once in a while a bag comes along that has it all: style, good looks, ease and functionality and this bag has got it going ON. The Birdie Sling is not a delicate little clutch, but a BIG bag that you can toss all of your stuff into and be off for the day.

This bag would be perfect for all the ladies on your list: girls as young as 6 love this bag (think beach bag, sports tote, etc.), right on up through to older gals. Even my sweet little Gramma has hinted that she has her eye on one of these Slings. It's fun to pick out fabrics for this bag, too: you just need 1 yard each of 3 coordinating prints, which we would be very happy to help you with at the shop. The Birdie Sling sews up in no time flat and is aimed at the beginning sewer, all factors which make for excellent gift giving.

I have a funny little Birdie Sling anecdote, too. Earlier this fall, Mom and I were in Portland visiting Sam, who is completing our website for us, and we decided to go window shopping. One of the places we visited was the Angela Adams store. I was sporting my very own personal Birdie Sling (you have to represent, you know?) and the gals at the Angela Adams store went completely ga ga for my bag. This is very ironic because Angela Adams has made quite a name for herself selling bags of her own design. Furthermore when I told the girls in the store that I made the bag myself they just couldn't believe it. Believe it, ladies: it can be done. And I mean no disrespect to Angela, but the Birdie Sling is a little more, ahhh, shall we say... accessible? than one of Miss Adams' gorgeous numbers.

Here is a picture from my most recent Birdie Sling workshop which I teach at the store as a Beginner's bag class: these ladies are, from left to right, Jennifer Genthner (who despite being much taller than me is only 12 years old!!!), Julie Geyer and Wendy Conrad. They are all beginning sewers who made the Birdie Sling in just two classes! I thought it was very nice of them all to color coordinate their bags, too. Nice work ladies! I hope you are out there using the heck out of your slings and making me proud!

So there it is... #10. The Birdie Sling has been insanely popular at the store and we have plenty of patterns in stock. You are sure to make somebody's day when they unwrap this present and you will have fun making it, too!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Voila Wine Totes or Super Simple Gift Bags

Ha ha, hee hee... maniacal laughter with a glint in my eye-- I have taken over Rhea's blog. Actually, it wasn't too hard to convince her to allow me to guest blog just this once. I'm May, industrial marketing guru by day, sewing lounger and avid crafter by night.

This time of year I begin obsessing over holiday gifts, what to bring to various festivities to thank my hosts, what to do when I've procrastinated or am at a loss for a last minute gift, or I have found the perfect gift, but alas have no time for wrapping. The solution...Voila Wine Totes or Super Simple Gift Bags.

One fat quarter, some left over ribbon, 2-5 minutes of sewing and Voila, Super Simple! Fat quarters are for me like getting those little tasters in the shovel-like tiny plastic spoons in an ice cream or gelato shop. It is a wonderful way to sample of a variety of fabrics and try out all the flavors, even some I wound not commit to in a larger scoop to continue the Italian ice metaphor, before determining what I'm in the mood for.  

Step one: Pink the top edge and part way down both sides. These pink edges along the sides will provide the finished edge for your ribbon casing later.


Step 2: Fold over along the pinked edge and sew a channel or casing wide enough for your ribbon. If you fold with the right side out, your casing will be on the outside and create a flouncy ruffle as seen in the red tote. If you fold with the wrong side out, your casing will be on the inside as seen with the bird fabric. 

3. Fold in half and sew in an "L" shape along the bottom and side stopping at the edges of your ribbon casing (don't want to sew that closed).

4. Turn right-side out and run the ribbon through the casing. Look carefully on the red tote, and you will see that I had fun layering two ribbons and playing with the decorative stitch buttons on my sewing machine. 

5. Fill with your favorite wine and present to the host with the most. Do you re-gift wine totes? I 'fess up that I do. I finally decided to turn it into a positive rather than a negative. I make little booklets that allow each giver to record the occasion and their sentiments, and recipients can make notes. These can record the tote's journey and all of the lovely libations with which it was filled--kind of like a chain letter for vino. Of course, you do not have to fill these with only wine. Fine chocolate, sewing notions, jewelry (Erik, are you writing this down? Hint, hint, hint!) also work well.

Come to Alewives for more inspiration and variations on this design!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Off to VOTE!!!

It's Election Day and I'm off to vote...

Whatever your political inclinations are, I encourage you to do the same!!!