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Entries in Molly's Sketchbook (89)

Friday
Oct212011

Molly's Sketchbook: Pulled Fringe Napkins

I have celebrated Thanksgiving all over the country, from sunny California to crisp New England. Everywhere I've spent the holiday has unveiled its own unique traditions. One year I went to Kauai and ate poi with my turkey, while an army of giant ants enjoyed our homemade pies. Last year I helped my friend Nicole make a delicious Mexican mole turkey in Richmond, Virginia. But no matter where Thanksgiving finds me, there are always some comforting constants: good food, friends and family, and a thoughtfully set table.  

I've made it something of an annual tradition to contribute a new set of cloth napkins to the Thanksgiving table, wherever it is! In fact, this is my fifth set! (You can see all of them here.) It's a tradition I love because, even if you're like me and don't have real silver or good china, it feels special to embellish your mismatched plates and odd serving dishes with some beautiful homemade napkins!

This year's napkins were inspired by pretty antique linens. I used the soft and lovely Prairie Cloth, whose subtle texture and loose weave lend a warm, homespun feel. I gave the edges a fringed finish to add to the napkins' old fashioned charm. My Pulled Fringe Napkins are as simple as pumpkin pie to whip up and will surely make your Thanksgiving festivities a little extra special!

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Thursday
Oct062011

Molly's Sketchbook: Glow in the Dark Spider Web Treat Bag

Growing up, I was a big fan of Halloween. I always had a great time going to the store with my mom to pick out the fabric for my costume; and I loved getting dressed up and bobbing for apples at the school party. But what I loved most of all was trick-or-treating, and not just because of the candy. It was  wild and thrilling to be out and about roaming the streets after dark, on a school night, getting free candy. To this day, when I think of Halloween I envision the foggy little streets of my hometown, Albany, California, dotted with roaming bands of witches, cats, and robots.

The one thing missing from the Halloweens of my youth was a festive candy bag (I just used a brown grocery sack or a pillow case.) But if I could go back in time, I know my 7 year old self would have loved this super cool Glow in the Dark Spider Web Treat Bag. It's just the right mix of whimsical and spooky. And it's a snap to make! All you need is one hank of Glow in the Dark DMC embroidery floss, one 18-inch square of Wool Felt, and one yard of grosgrain ribbon, and you're set to spin your own web!

Happy Halloween!-- Molly

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Sunday
Sep252011

Molly's Sketchbook: Long Pom Pom Cowl

This summer on the streets of Soho I noticed that last winter's big cowl trend wasn't going away, even in the hottest weather. Instead of  the bulky knits of winter, these summer versions were sewn in lightweight silk, cotton, and linen fabrics and were worn like flowing necklaces over tank tops and sun dresses. I am someone who hates to be hot, so even though I admired these pretty summer scarves, I couldn't imagine putting something extra around my neck in the sticky heat. But since the weather has started to cool down, I've been yearning for an oversized sewn cowl of my own!

For a simple look with a natural beauty, I chose two of Purl Soho's most special fabrics, Sheer Linen and Duo Weave Linen from Globalweave. They both have a gorgeous drape and come in a lovely palette of soft colors, from lichen to ash to butter.  To contrast with the subtle elegance of the linen, I added a sweet pom pom trim around the edges. The effect is somewhere between a beautiful scarf and a charming necklace!

Wear the Pom Pom Cowl loose and long or doubled up around your neck for warmth. It's the perfect thing to stash in your bag when you're not sure if you'll need another layer. I know it's going to be in my bag all season!

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Sunday
Sep182011

Molly's Sketchbook: Twenty Minute Totes in Outside Oslo Fabric

Is it just me, or is this time of year "birthday season"? My early-September birthday seems to start off a bundle of birthdays in my life. Several good friends, my husband, my mother in law, and my niece were all born in September or October.  With all these birthdays in a cluster, it's easy to feel the handmade-present-crunch!

This year, I know just what will save me: the Twenty Minute Tote! I originally designed this as a last minute wedding favor, and ever since, it's been my favorite quick project. You can whip up a bunch of them in a couple of hours (each one really does take 20 minutes or less!) and end up with a stack of pretty presents.  Slip in a book, drop in some fancy chocolates and treats, or tuck in a nice bottle of wine. A homemade tote bag makes anything you put inside a lot more special. Plus, it's just about the most eco-friendly gift wrapping around!

Since this design is so simple, a lot rides on what fabric you choose. This time around, I used a gorgeous new collection of upholstery weight cotton called Outside Oslo. These bold, stylish prints are sophisticated without being serious and come in a rich palette of colors perfect for fall.  I added some sturdy cotton webbing handles for a pop of color, and I love the way they came out!

A quick project, some stunning new fabric, and a whole bunch of birthdays, it's a great way to get going on fall sewing! For all the how-to's, just visit my Twenty Minute Tote Project Journal here!

Monday
Sep052011

Molly's Sketchbook: Swaddling Blankets

I love making handmade presents in anticipation of a new baby. I will always remember knitting my soon-to-be niece a baby blanket while I was on a road trip through Europe many years ago. As I looked out the window and watched the fields and mountains pass by I thought about what she was going to be like with every stitch. What would they name her? Who would she look like? Would she like me? I felt like my good wishes for her were being knitted psychically into the blanket. Ever since then I've tried to make something special for each of the new babies that have come into my life.

In addition to heartfelt, I also try to make my handmade gifts practical. There isn't much point in putting so much care and effort into something if it won't be used. So lately, my go-to baby gift has been a set of Swaddling Blankets with a hand-finished edge. They strike a good balance between usefulness and homemade detail. They are the right size to swaddle a baby (42-inches square), but they work perfectly well as a burp cloth or stroller blanket too.

I actually made my first set of Swaddling Blankets a few years ago as a project for the Purl Bee. Now I'm giving the original pattern a fresh look with this season's  fabrics. I  designed two sets of two blankets each, one set  in pretty pink:

and one in crisp blue:

I used the graphic Nani Iro double gauze stripes as the outsides and bright, lightweight Shot Cotton for the lining. These two fabrics together make a wonderful blanket, so airy and soft.

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