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Entries in Molly's Sketchbook (98)

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.

Click to read more ...

Friday
Aug262011

Molly's Sketchbook: Apple Coasters

When I was a kid I dreaded the day that I would start seeing commercials for school supplies and my mom would suggest we go buy a new backpack. I didn't even want to think about giving up my summer freedom. Sometimes, to add insult to injury, the first day of school would be on my birthday!

But these days, with first-days-of-school far behind me, I actually look forward to this time of year more than any other. I love the crisp weather, the foliage, my birthday, and I really love apples! Since apples are so quintessentially autumn and because they're so graphically appealing, I was inspired to celebrate this beautiful time of year with a super cute set of Apple Coasters. They'll add a barrel of autumnal cheer to any table!  Or start your kid's school year off right with the perfect teacher gift.

The Apple Coasters are close cousins to my summertime Citrus Coasters, which is to say that they are a total breeze to make, no fancy stitches or skills required. For this season's version we chose our favorite reds, greens, and yellows for our new 100% wool felt Apple Bundle. I just love the way they look all together, so fresh and bright!

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Thursday
Aug112011

Molly's Sketchbook: Adjustable Unisex Apron

I wear aprons all the time, and I'm not kidding when I say "all the time". My typical at-home outfit involves a bandana to keep my hair back and an apron to keep at bay all of the thread and fabric fuzz that follow me everywhere. When friends stop by unexpectedly they are always surprised by my house frau attire, but nobody wants a lint brush for a best friend!

As you might imagine, I have a good collection of aprons, many of them vintage and quite feminine. Some of my favorites include a pink one from the 50s made out of a feedsack and one with ruffles and a pie shaped pocket that my sister made for me. Even though I love them all, these fanciful aprons don't come in very handy when it's time to roll up my sleeves and get messy in the kitchen, nor does my husband really appreciate his options. So I decided to make a rugged, adjustable unisex apron for both of us to use in the kitchen. It's big enough to be worn by a 6 foot tall guy but can easily be folded up to fit a 5 foot 4 gal like myself. Plus the no-nonsense styling means neither of us will risk batter-splattered ruffles!

The Adjustable Unisex Apron is an update of a pattern I designed way back in 2008 called the BBQ Apron. Although this version is perfect for Labor Day grilling, its classic design and super simple construction make it useful well beyond the BBQ pit.  I used some amazing new fabric, Kokka Canvas Ticking, which seems like it was born to be an apron. It's both soft and strong and will wear and wash beautifully. I love its classic denimy feel and its subtle colors. Best of all this apron is beyond simple to make. It's so easy that I think I might make two so my husband and I don't have to share! 

(P.S. The beautiful wooden spoons in the pictures above can be found at Timber from Live Wire Farm right here.)

Update:

To make the version of this apron posted on 2/9/12 you'll need the following materials (everything else is the same!):

 The matching dishtowels can be found here.

Click to read more ...

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