Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Little Dresses for Africa

Just a quick post as I'm getting ready for work...
I found this blog, and thought this might be another good way to create some fun clothing items, and have a useful place to donate them (I also love to donate blankets to Project Linus):

This site accepts donations of pillowcase dresses and simple elastic-waisted shorts for children in Africa!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Destashing Update

While not as fast as I would like, I have made a little progress :)  Luckily, I have LOTS of friends who are having babies, so I have made up some "pee pee tee pees" (or tinkle tents.)  I saw some for sale at a local maternity store, and thought, "I can make those!" so I digitized a design to make them, and just finish them up on the sewing machine.  A great way to use up scraps of cotton, terry cloth or flannel!  (For those, who are not familiar with the joy of changing a baby boy, trust me, these are more useful than I first had thought they'd be!)

I've also given away a couple of hooded towels, and embroidered some baby bibs (all with materials from the stash!)  Of course, I MEANT to take pictures of them, but forgot and then brought them to work today and already gifted some of them! 

So far, I've also avoided going into a craft/fabric store, BUT I had forgotten that I have had some great finds at the Target $1 aisle!!!  I found myself browsing the section of the store, and looking at inexpensive ribbons, placemats, tote bags, etc and thinking of all the things I could make with them.  Some even found there way into my cart (but luckily, reality struck, and I quickly put them back!)

But, it reminded me that I have a small stash of 9 (yes 9!!!) insulated zippered lunch totes that I purchased from Target this past summer that I have been meaning to embroider.  I made one for Theresa, and she uses it all the time, but she doesn't need 9 of them LOL!  But, as usual, I just KNEW that I needed lots of them, so I have them in purple, pink, and turquoise! :)  I guess the kids' friends will be getting them for birthday gifts from now until I'm out!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

American Girl Dolls

Theresa turned 6 this past Tuesday, and for her birthday, she really wanted one of the 18" American Girl Dolls (she already has the 15" Bitty Twins) that looks like her. So, there is an American Girl Doll store in the Dallas Galleria, and we just happened to have to go to Dallas last weekend for a friend's wedding, so it seemed like the perfect way to celebrate!

It was an amazing (and amazingly crowded) place!!! Two stories of shopping for dolls, clothes, accessories, even a beauty salon, ear piercing, and bistro to "lunch" with your doll! We skipped hair and lunch (over an hour wait!!!) but DID get the doll's ear pierced to match Theresa, and shopped for the doll and 4 outfits. was also pretty pricey! Not bad in lieu of a party, but not something I can afford to buy often.

What's a mom who can sew to do??? Find good (and simple patterns!)

So, that was my mission this morning! Yes, I KNOW you can buy them in stores (and I do have them) but I honestly don't enjoy the tissue-thin pattern paper, so I wanted something from an e-book.

I came across this site, which offers inexpensive ($3.99/pattern) and FREE patterns, so I'm sharing it with you!

I have NOT tried them out, but that is my goal.

Right now, Theresa wants a wrap-top sundress for her doll to resemble the 2011 American Girl of the Year doll, Kanani ( - a girl from Hawaii. They would NOT sell the dress separately, and since Theresa doesn't look like Kanani, she didn't want the doll. So, she told me I could "make" her one! (that's what I get for telling her I wouldn't buy anything from the store I could "make")!

One more project for the list, AND I am going to need some Hawaiian print fabric......

Thursday, January 13, 2011

13 Days of Keeping My Goal.....

Okay, so far this hasn't been as hard as I expected. Of course, it helped that I had to go back to work (I'm a teacher) get all the kids back in school/daycare, and just been busy, busy, busy. This also means I haven't really gotten a chance to do ANYTHING, or really start on any of my projects or UFO's either :(

Then last week I got a stomach bug that was going around with the students, and my husband came home and KNEW I was sick, because it was probably the first day I had had "child-free" in over a year, and I didn't do ONE bit of sewing or crafts!!! If I could have brought my sewing machine into the delivery room with my son, I would have still been working on a last-minute project for him! LOL! (hmmmm..not a bad idea if there ever is a "next time," that might make labor go faster) :)

Anyway, I am hoping to be back in the swing of things this weekend, as we have a 3-day weekend (so do the kids, but I can still get some sewing done around the baby's nap, and the big kids will stay busy in the sewing room or the living room long enough for me to get SOMETHING started) I'm obviously having withdrawls from it. :)

I do have several friends who are expecting, so I think that "baby" stuff will be what I focus on...will post pics :)

What are y'all working on right now?

Friday, December 31, 2010

Last Day of 2010

So, today is the last day of 2010, and my official "goal" of not purchasing anything new for my craft room starts tomorrow! I will try to list some pics of what I have to barter on the bartering page as well.

I look back on 2010 and all of the blessings that have come to my family - the new baby Sebastian, good health for my children, and I am looking forward to what 2011 has to bring!

So, enjoy your last hours of the year, and I hope that you awake tomorrow to an even better one!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

I hope your day is wonderful - blessings to all, especially those who have to work (my mom and sister are both nurses, so they're at work today) We celebrated early with them, will open gifts with the children today, and will celebrate again with my husband's parents later in the week.

My mother has started a "new sewing machine" fund for me, since my Singer has been beat up on for awhile now, and I've probably spent more getting it tuned up over the past few years than a new machine would cost! LOL! She's adding to it for various holidays until it is enough, so maybe that will be my year-end reward! :)

I told her about my Destashing Goal for 2011, and she replied, "Well, you do have enough to keep you busy!" If only she REALLY knew... :)
She did teach me to sew, but unlike me, she has always been able to stick to one project at a time, and either uses up the fabric, or passes it on to others. I'm not really sure how she can do this, it seems crazy that she doesn't have a stack of UFO's, or how I'm related to her.

I guess I take after my dad's mom - she was an avid sewer, crocheter, and crafter in her heyday. Age and medical problems have unfortunately stopped her ability to continue with her hobbies, but she is still FULL of ideas! The last time I visited her, we spent time dreaming of projects that she wishes she could complete. If only...

Anyway, I hope that Santa brings you everything you wish for!

I am posting a freebie for you (a digitized embroidery design for those who own an embroidery machine) - a slip-on wine coaster for New Years. This is a different design from the one in my Shellbug Designs yahoo group (if you are a member of both.)

It is found here:

Please do not share the link with anyone else, it is for readers of my blog only!

I will try to offer some type of "goody" from time to time - not always limited to machine embroidery designs! :)

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Original "Material Girl"

Do you LOVE the feel and smell of material (especially "good" fabric) or is it just me?

I remember hearing Madonna's song "Material Girl" when I was a young child in elementary school, and thinking that she was really on to something! I thought that she was snubbing boys for bolts of fabric!!!  LOL! 

I have ALWAYS been a sewer at heart - I can just imagine all the fun things I would do with a great print, color, or texture of fabric (minkee fabric is one of my absolute faves!)  I'm not sure if it started when I used to play with scraps from my mom's sewing projects as a kid, or what, but I have always really liked to sew.  Before I could sew, I would glue or even tape the fabric together.

I would watch "Pretty in Pink" over and over again when I was older, not so much for the story line, but because I wanted to see Andie Walsh (Molly Ringwald's character) create her perfect prom dress from the castoffs she was given (the ultimate and original upcycler!)

I notice that my 5 (soon to be 6) year old daughter, Theresa, is the same way.  She knows she can't just take fabric out of my drawers or off the cutting table, but anything in the sewing room trash can (that I purposely do NOT use for anything else) is all hers.  She will snip "fringe" to make blankets for her dolls, or cut a hole from the center, slip it onto a Barbie, and tie it around the middle with ribbon to make a make-shift shirt.  She has also glued on embellishments, and now will even pin it, and we will sew things together!  Ahhh...the fun of raising the next "material girl!" :)

Theresa in her first skirt - cut and sewn with MINIMAL help from me! I'm a proud mama!!!

Thursday, December 23, 2010


So, my goal for 2011 is (are you ready for this?)

To NOT buy a single piece of fabric, pattern (even on-line), embroidery design for the ENTIRE year.
And, to finish a UFO each and every month.  That's in addition to the projects that I know I will find it necessary to make (several friends having babies, a daughter who loves clothes I make her, and a small business on the side that keeps me busy)  But, I'm still going  to do it without purchasing ANYTHING new.

Here are the rules I've established for myself:

1.  I cannot buy fabric (even if it is required to finish a project), patterns, embroidery designs, or other "main" items but I CAN barter for them (you'll have to wait for more info on this later)

2.  I CAN purchase NECESSARY notions (thread, buttons, zippers, snaps, etc) but IF AND ONLY IF I don't have something in my stash that will suffice (and I probably do)

3.  NO purchasing of embellishments, adornments, etc because I own an embroidery machine, tons of ribbons, buttons, etc that will work just as well as store-bought items.

4.  I can SELL anything extra I make, but still can't use the $$$ to buy anything (I'm saving for a craft room makeover, as I need French Doors, since the room is so "open")

5.  I'm limiting myself to $100 for the YEAR to purchase what I NEED (see #2) and that's all.  Sadly, I could probably drop $100 in one shopping trip if I really wanted to, so that's also a real challenge.

6.  Because I'm not doing this for greed, I will donate 10% of any money I make selling the items, and at least 10% of what I create to one of my favorite charities. (I can, and probably will, donate large scraps of fabric to my local chapter of Project Linus - they take cotton and fleece 6.5" square or larger)

7.  I will also do all of this while working full-time, being a mom, digitizing and testing embroidery designs for
my business ( and have fun doing it! :)

My ultimate goal?

To decrease my stash by 75% (hey, a girl's gotta have SOMETHING to look through), to finish all of my UFO's, and to get to enjoy all of my purchases from years past.

I'll keep you posted along the way, share my tips and tricks, and allow you to barter for items in order for me to be able to finish the current project.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Introduction :)

Hi! I'm Michelle Brown, math teacher by trade, mom of 3 wonderful blessings, and sewing/craft/machine embroidery enthusiast (or OVER-enthusiast if I'm brutally honest!)

I have probably NEEDED to destash for awhile, but it became most apparent before baby #3 (Sebastian) was born, as we had to convert the guest bedroom/office to a bedroom for the oldest to give Sebastian a room nearer to ours.  That meant that MY craft room (formerly a room off of the entryway) had to share with the office.  Give up 50% of my room for the baby?  Okay.....

Luckily, we have a storage room over the garage that's accessible from the inside of the house.  And, by room, I mean an entire room (un-airconditioned, but still a room)  So, I moved SEVERAL large plastic crates into it, sold a bit at a garage sale, and crammed as much into the remaining space as I could.

Still, each time I want to create something new, it is like a mini-explosion of fabric scraps, thread, patterns, and more all over the space.  And since it is the first space you see upon entering the house, it creates a bit of stress for DH whenever people come over.  Sometimes, it looks like my craft room vomited all over :(

I have TRIED to argue that messy people are the most creative, but he isn't buying it.  Honestly, he has been really great recently, not really saying anything, but today, even I had to admit it was a "bit" much. 

I went to the storage building to get a piece of fabric I just KNEW was in there.  I went through several boxes of fabric and notions, not so much because I couldn't find what I went there for (what DID I go there for now???) but because there were so many other "long-forgotten" treasures that I soon became engrossed in opening up all the boxes.

Dreaming of new and old projects...the jumper for my daughter, blankets for my son, pillowcases for the nephews, and bibs for babies who were now entering kindergarten....

...fabric that I purchased with THE project in mind, or because I liked the color, or the texture, or the price.....

You get the picture.  And, if you are like me, and have a bit of an "addiction" to fabric, sewing supplies, and craft items, then you're probably following along wondering, "So what's the problem?"

The problem is that, even at age 33, if I live to be 100, I will NEVER (and I mean NEVER) be able to make all of my UFOs (that's Unfinished Objects for those of you without the addiction), or finish close to a third of my "grand ideas."

Why?  Because each time I start something, or even finish something, I want to try something entirely new, and so off to the fabric store I go, and then, I see something EVEN BETTER, and so the cycle continues.  Never ending really...