Monday, November 24, 2008

Letter Case Tutorial

The Art of Letters
So, enough of the mind wanderings, let us get all crafty. My sister in-law had a birthday last week, Happy Birthday to you M! I wanted to make her a special gift and I have been thinking about how much I miss letters lately so, I came up with the idea to make a personal letter case, filled with handmade cards. It ended up being a fun and fairly easy project so, I thought I would try my hand at a tutorial. It seemed like just the project to get my feet wet, it's my first - so bear with me.

Here we go...

The following instructions are for a letter case that fits 8 1/2 x 11" card stock folded in half and the corresponding envelopes. You could easily change the dimensions to fit different size cards.

*Several colors of wool felt
*Heavy-weight fusible interfacing
*One Button
*Matching or contrasting thread

Cut 1= 9 3/4" x 14" felt rectangle for outside cover
Cut 1= 9 3/4" x 14" felt rectangle for inside cover
Cut 2= 5 1/2 x 9 3/4" felt rectangles for inside pockets
Cut 1= 3 1/2" x 1 1/2" felt rectangle for flap closure
Cut 1= 4" x 1 1/2" felt rectangle for pen holder

Cut 1= 8 3/4" x 13" rectangle of Heavy-wt. fusible interfacing

1. Center the interfacing on the wrong side of your inside cover with the fusing side down. Then fuse interfacing to felt according to manufacturer's guidelines. Set aside.

2. Now is a good time to embellish your outside cover as well as the inside pockets if you like. I just cut some simple shapes out of felt and sewed them where I wanted them with a straight stitch on my machine. You can decorate your cover with embroidery, beads, buttons etc, whatever strikes your fancy. Set aside.

3. Pin the 3 1/2" x 1 1/2" felt closure piece to the wrong side of your inside cover at the right center outer edge. Stitch in place. I just centered mine by eye and made sure it was laying the way I wanted it, then sewed it in place on the machine.

4. On the right side of your inside cover, pin the 1 1/2" x 4" felt "pen pocket" piece to the center (you can fold the cover piece in half like a book and finger press to help you find the center line). Then machine stitch close to the edge around 3 sides to create a skinny pocket for a pen.

Putting it all together:
5. Put the front and back covers together with wrong sides facing each other and edges matched up. Make sure that everything is put together the way you want the finished product to look (you know, right side up, cover art where it needs to be etc.)

6. Now place your pocket pieces on the outer left and right edges of your inside cover, lining up edges. Pin everything in place.

7. Machine stitch through all thicknesses and around all outside edges with a 1/4" seam allowance.

8. I finished my edges with pinking shears, but you could also use a hand sewn blanket stitch or other method.

9. Cut a slit in the flap closure the size of your button. Mark where the button should sit on the front cover of your case, then sew the button in place. And Voila! A lovely handmade letter case to give away or keep for yourself to inspire you to start writing letters again.

If you have any questions or suggestions on how to make this tutorial better, please leave me a comment or email me.

I made the cards by folding 8 1/2" by 11" card stock in half, I then cut out shapes from various fabrics and lightly glued them in place with a glue stick. I machine stitched around the shapes then tied off my thread ends and snipped the extra thread.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

What's The Big Idea

It's quiet in the house, but for some Hawaiian slack key guitar coming from the stereo. My husband is away at the Green Build Conference in Boston and the girl is snug under blankets. I am taking a moment to take stock of things. This is busy time and I feel like I'm falling behind. All my good intentions keep wiggling away just beyond reach. I need to get to the holiday making, I want to be prepared. There's the rush of time and the slowness of hands to contend with. I just keep getting interupted with new ideas and it's distracting. I know, I know...I am grateful for the ideas - 'cause sometimes they don't come but, I keep jumping too far ahead of myself. I am trying to gear up for the new year, I have these big plans see...Lola Nova is on it's way to becoming a more realized vision - I hope. I need to focus and suddenly all I can think about is chickens.

After Glow

Last night I put together an impromptu birthday dinner for my dear friend Sue. Her boy and my girl have been buddies since about 6 months of age. The two of them together create a singular paroxysmal experience. The excitement level each child reaches becomes volcanic and chaos rules. This fever pitch only happens between these two for some reason, perhaps it is chemical. It is often hilarious, sometimes dangerous and always exhausting. So, while the grown-ups attempted civilised dining and birthday well wishing, kung-fu wolverine banshees tore up the night. This odd photo was taken after guests went home the babe was down to bed and I was left contemplating the wreckage. The rainbow sprinkles had melted into the whipped cream frosting, the candles had burned low and I decided to have one last bite and leave the dishes 'till morning.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Willie Nelson Tribute Night

98.7 KUPL Presents: Willie Nelson Tribute Night At The Wonder Ballroom
11/21/2008 • Doors at 8pm, show at 9pm
Advance Tickets are $9.87 (Plus Service charge)
Featuring Fernando, Caleb Klauder, Little Sue, Casey Neil,
Al James (of Dolorean) and many more.
21+;Full Bar

For those of you that live in Portland and parts near by, I have to urge you to come see this show. This Friday night, November 21st at The Wonder Ballroom, the amazing almost annual Willie Nelson Tribute Night takes place - featuring many of the best local musicians. I have been a part of this special event from way back and I have to tell you, this is one of the best times to be had in these parts. And it's under ten bucks, can't beat that! What? You say your not a Willie fan (shame on you), well the music is sure to please all who want to have a swell time no matter what your musical taste. And yes, I will be singing a couple of tunes as well. So come on down for truly good times.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Hooty Hoo

With my new found embroidery and hand applique skills I thought I would whip up a little something for the girl, turns out it was more of a slow stir. I did a quick sketch owl, then with cotton fabric, wool felt and a blanket stitch with embroidery floss this little guy now adorns one bright red corduroy vest. Apparently vests are all the rage right now. The skirt was made from vintage seersucker and ribbon - super easy. If you have a yen to make up a really simple skirt for a little gal you know, you can find some free instructions through Oliver + S blog in the sidebar under free patterns "lazy days skirt." This company also sells some sweet patterns for children.

If I can get my scanner working again and can figure out how to link to a .pdf through blogger I will provide a free pattern for the owl applique. Probably after the up-coming holidays.

Speaking of feathered friends; I have been completely tickled the last few days by a post from Claire over at Is this heaven? No, this is Iowa. She had rescued some chickens and a few of them had lost some feathers, as it is getting cold, she needed to keep these little buddies warm. So she designed and sewed up what else, but fleece chicken coats! Now let me assure you, Claire is an animal lover; this is nothing like forcing a cat to wear a Halloween costume. Having had some experience with chickens myself - I totally get this and think it is absolutely brilliant! You must take a look for yourself. I hope Claire doesn't mind the extra attention (if you do mind, let me know via lolanovainfo[at]gmail[dot]com and I will take you off this post).


Thursday, November 13, 2008

She's Crafty

So the girl and I have been working on fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. She now has completed several necklaces and has doled them out as gifts to her family. She may have a future in it. The family that crafts together...

Monday, November 10, 2008

So I Turned Myself To Face Me


I have been wanting to post for a while but, I think I have been simply absorbing the events of the past week. On my mind these days is not only the historic events that have taken place on a national level but, also the changes that have been taking place in my own smaller, personal universe. Change indeed.

I am struck by the realization that Obama will be the first President recognisable to my daughter (given her age), this hits me in a powerful and emotional way. I don't know yet what kind of President he will turn out to be, but I am grateful that myself and my daughter have been witnesses to this change.

The more humble side of change surrounds motherhood, family, work, home, creativity and well-being. I don't yet know the outcome of all of these events but, I am grateful for today, and hopeful for the future.

Si, se puede

“It's amazing how people can get so excited about a rocket to the moon and not give a damn about smog, oil leaks, the devastation of the environment with pesticides, hunger, disease. When the poor share some of the power that the affluent now monopolize, we will give a damn.”

Cesar Chavez

Farm Workers' Union Founder, Human Rights Activist, 1927-1993

Monday, November 3, 2008

Fall Fling

So, I have a new infatuation. I am teaching myself to embroider. I needed something new for winter, something that would keep me occupied while also having the added advantage of being portable. I've only been at it for a couple of days now and I'm not very good at it yet. I need many more practice hours to feel proficient. This picture is of my first attempts, just to get a few stitches down. The photo itself is a bit blurry, my camera has been acting out, or maybe the photographer is a little blurry instead. Perhaps when this is finished I will make it into something else; I can always use a new potholder. I am finding the act of embroidering rather calming and meditative, with only the occasional mutterings of frustration under my breath. I wonder how long this fling will last. The whole crochet affair of 2006 only lasted a season. We shall see.


I have been the recipient of a couple of awesome surprise gifts recently - it's not even my birthday!

First, this beautiful box made by my oh so talented husband. He's a mechanical engineer by trade, with the soul of a woodworker. He gave this to me out of the blue - just because. Such a wonderful man.

and then this...

My mother sent me a treasure trove of fabric and notions. Some great vintage pieces and some really fantastic corduroy, along with buttons and ribbon and patterns oh my. Wow, was that fun to get in the mail. She is always on the look-out for special fabrics for me, spoils me rotten and I love it.
Thank you both, I am truly blessed.