Oh, Boy! Owlish Delight For You!

Boys. You just have to love them. My guys are fun and spunky. How about yours? What's more fun? Hanging out with more boys like cousins ...

and friends. Oh, they're cute, aren't they?

How about literary buddies who get to travel to great places like New York, Toronto, Malta, New Zealand, Utah, Michigan, Vermont, and it goes on.

This little boy is very grateful for your help. It touched his heart. He was deeply affected by your generosity. "Boy, you do have some friggin' awesome friends, Mom." That "f" word slipped and he did say it to me. I put it in to show you how impressed he was. Then his mouth was promptly washed with soap and he was banned from hanging out with the one who taught him the word at school for a while. I still love my little foul-mouthed guy so don't call the authorities, ok?

He asked me to make something for you. Well, there were many of you who responded to our plea. How about a pattern instead? I did a demo on Quilt Out Loud this month. This was the design that was to be sold but I decided to give it to you, my rockin' awesome readers. [Note the absence of the "f" word.] Please enjoy and we would love to see your photos!! You can find the pattern here.

Thank you to Jodie Davis, Mark Lipinski and their awesome crew. It was so much fun to have you guys here. Check it out!

Most of all, THANK YOU!

xo, L and Alex

Sew Weekly Challenge: In My Easter Bonnet or "Royal Wedding Refashion!"

Friends, this challenge turned out MUCH better than I had ever anticipated.  I was quite nervous about making a hat because I own no hats.  Well, I own baseball hats, but those aren't quite "dressy" enough ... even when covered in sequins.  You've seen them, you know what I am talking about.

After my journey to Cincinnati, I brought back this lovely little number:

 That fabric!  Those buttons!  Those shoulderpads!

Well, I was mostly done with the outfit refashion when I realized I still needed a hat.  What to make a hat out of?  Silk was not going to be able to stand properly on its own, so I needed a foundation to cover and decorate.  And that is when Meg the Klutzy intervened.  I kicked over the garbage can in my sewing room, and out popped these two beauties...

Shoulder Pads!!! 

I pinned them together, added some black trim around the edge, made three fabric flowers, disassembled a broken, unloved necklace and stole its beads, and added some fabulous blue flower bobby pins from a high school dance to hold it all in place!

Here is the hat with the new fabulous outfit!

I took off the sleeves, repurposed the shoulder pads, stitched the jacket and skirt together at the waistline, added a black ribbon belt, created a V neck line, closed the jacket front, inserted a zipper in the left side, added the leftover buttons to the dress bodice, and hemmed the skirt. 

I. Love. It.

A close up of the fabric and buttons - I like that they are closer together and are so sparkly.  I think it gives this outfit a little pizazz!

Throw on a black blazer, pop that collar, and I am stylish and ready to go to work!

Me with the television - Will and Kate are about to kiss!  Squee!

I got up at 3am CDT to watch the entire wedding while finishing my hat- and friends, it was FABULOUS!  Kate was stunning in every sense of the word, and Will was oh-so-romantic when he wouldn't turn to look at her until the last second!  Harry was quite the rascal and the hats were marvelous to behold.  I had the best time chatting up my sister in Texas, who also woke up at 3, and talking about the guests, the dress, the romance - I had a great time, sis!

It was all so magical :) 

Our Spring Show is This Weekend!

Angie and I have been busy in the studio preparing for our annual spring studio show and it's almost here. We hope you can drop by and see what we've been up to. The studio show is this weekend, Saturday, April 30th from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, May 1st, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Please email or phone if you need directions. This year we are donating a portion of the proceeds of this sale to the Japanese Earthquake Relief Fund. As many of you know, Angie taught in Japan for three years, so this personal connection has made the events there even more poignant. Here is a sneak preview of some of our latest creations. Many of them are Asian inspired in honour of beautiful Japan and its people.

Below are some of Angie's new creations....

And some of Marly's...

Reverse side of above pendants

Angie will also have some photo art cards on display....

O.K....back to the studio....hope to see you this weekend!

We Interrupt This Service...

To bring you this important announcement


Some time in the past three years, I worked out that so long as you ask the right person in the right way, it's possible to get pretty much anything in the world for free. Increasing confidence led me to ask for all kinds of things, and every time I did, it seemed I was met with nought but acquiescence. Before long, it was five star this and seven course that – and rarely, if ever, did it cost us anything.
It was almost limitless, and with that kind of power/luck/brass-neckery a person could get to thinking that they were somehow invincible.
So when the chance to go to the Galapagos Islands came up, it seemed the most natural thing in the world to ask for – nay, expect! – it all for free. What's more, by pitching the right story in the right direction, there'd be the added cherry of the chance to finally write for my favourite paper.
But it was some time around then that my luck changed.
Wee Mo and I were all set to travel to the Galapagos to write about a new diving school when disaster literally struck – the Japanese tsunami may have been greatly diminished by the time it reached the Ecuadorian islands, but not so much that it couldn't wipe out an unfinished pier and damage some buildings at our would-be destination.
However, by this time, the seed had been sewn in our brains. We wanted to go to the Galapagos – we had to. So in a break from recent tradition, I dusted off my credit card and went wild in the aisles to book the whole thing.
The next hiccup was that on attempting to check-in for our flight, we were told we didn't have seats after all. We looked at the tickets, amazed and immediately angry, and saw that sure enough, we'd been booked on a flight for the following day. A person could be forgiven for thinking that perhaps the trip to the Galapagos was suffering from some kind of Pirate Curse (which, according to Wee Mo, are worse than ordinary curses).
Photo: Wee Mo
It's possible to spend ludicrous amounts of cash on seeing the islands by booking an expensive boat in advance. However, travelling there first, staying in a shithole, waiting for the right last-minute deal to come up and playing a couple of greedy tour agents off against each other certainly helps reduce the damage.
Unfortunately, there are certain costs that cannot easily be avoided – namely the inflated flight price for gringos like us (it would have been $30 extra each for their mistake had Wee Mo not been so outraged), and the $100 national park fee as all of the islands are protected.
Photo: Wee Mo
Yet, within minutes of leaving the airport, it's clear that everything is worth it. Gigantic pelicans plunge endlessly into the azure water that separates Baltra (the airport island) from Santa Cruz (the most populated, tourist-driven island) and come up with a hearty mouthful every time.
There's more of the same in Puerto Ayora, the Galapagos' biggest town, too. The whole place is a bit sterile, with virtually every shop punting tat and every restaurant over-priced (and that's before an obligatory 22% tax and service is added at the end). 
But humans moving in steadily over the past 100 years hasn't resulted in the local wildlife being evicted. So where back in the real world a cat would be sunning itself on the pavement, here's it's a marine iguana; where at home an unreasonable drunk would be harassing bar staff for another drink, here it's a sea lion badgering fisherman. Above, terrifying, prehistoric shapes move menacingly across the sky (more on them later).
Photo: Wee Mo
Having booked our tour, we decide to head along to Bahia Tortuga [Turtle Bay] to see what lies beyond the town's borders. In fact, the beach is one of the few areas we can walk to unaccompanied: on Santa Cruz, as on most of the islands, idiotic tourists can't simply wander around without a guide.
The walk is longer than we'd bargained for, and the beach a good deal less developed than we had expected (our water is gone before we've even got there). None of that really matters, though, because what is there is one of the most perfect beaches I've ever seen, with sand white and soft like flour. The water is beautifully clear and there's not a hint of waste in sight – this is the kind of perfection that only comes with a near-absence of humans.
Photo: Wee Mo
We march along the beach, roasting merrily in the sun, before setting up to take some pictures on a rocky peninsula named Pelican Point. The animals make for contented models, unafraid to pose and posture, surprisingly happy to eat.
Photo: Wee Mo
Photo: Wee Mo
Hours pass and by the time afternoon rolls round, we are feeling dehydrated and sun burned like a pair of goddamn amateurs. Still, the walk back to town along the winding path passes gangs of lava lizards, bolshy mocking birds and a smattering of the fifteen sub-species of Darwin finches, which may or may not be gazumped by the bottle of cold Gatorade at the end.
Booking a tour last-minute may be cheap, but doesn't include some of the bells and whistles enjoyed by anyone who's paid the brochure price. Our first day at sea starts with a mad dash across land, all the way back to the airport on the other side of the island, to meet our guide and the others who will be joining us for the eight-day tour on the boat.
Three of the group we know already: a British-Indian couple and a Swede who had coincidentally been at the same hostel as us in Guayaquil, back on the Ecuadorian mainland. They are joined by a trio of Swiss (Swissers?) fresh off the plane, and an Argentinian couple who have already been on the boat for four days and have just four remaining, versus our eight. Everyone is around the same age and no one has paid the brochure price. As such, we move quickly past the awkward school disco introductory pish, stop staring at our shoes, and head off to the coast.

The McCalls Summer Pattern Collection

Friends, patterns are like candy.  Sweet, sweet candy that come in all shapes and sizes and in any color or feel you want.  Big pieces, little pieces, tender morsels for that special occasion or your everyday staple.  I love patterns.  Pattern sales at Hancock Fabrics will kill me every time because there is always something to be made or dreamt of...

Except this time.  This time the candy was a big bag of Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans and I got "grass" "porcupine" and "wingnut."  Nothing tasty to be had!  Let me explain...

The Vogue collection also featured these crazy hip pockets/wings/parachutes used for slowing down race cars...and I am still not a fan. 
 The short version of this dress is okay, but I am just not seeing the long version working.  I'm sure I can be proven wrong on this one if someone made a fabulous one, but honestly?  I feel that with a pattern you already have, you could lengthen a bodice to dress length and add ruffles.

This is boring, but I understand that sometimes we do need the staples in our wardrobes... I don't feel that we should have to pay $12 for a basic pattern, though. 

When I see this, I think Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman... before Richard Gere starts buying her clothing.
Infinity dresses are neat...but I've found tutorials online for these.  If you want to make one and you have some fabulous fabric screaming to be used, check out this tutorial from Sew Like My Mom.  Her steps are clearly outlined - love! 

Another Julia Roberts "Pretty Woman" dress...I like the version without the cut out best, but it resembles many other sheath dress patterns.  If you like the cut out, it would be a worthy investment, but I'm afraid I would lose things through there.  Or, I could look at it like another storage area.  Like a purse.  Only it can't be ripped off my shoulder.  You know what? Strike that, I love the cut out.  I'm going to build a zipper compartment in there, I swear. 
Whoever designed this pattern should be ashamed.  I know they googled "Pillowcase Dress" and then decided to print a pattern based on someone's tutorial.  Bad McCall's - I expected better from you.

I felt strangely let down when I saw these patterns.  I get so excited when these emails come out, because after the fabulous new additions to the Colette Pattern line, I had high hopes that the other pattern companies would step up their game.  I am going to keep my fingers crossed that the next email celebrating a pattern collection will contain peppermint patterns and sour patch styles and not ABC gum.

Friends, I would love to hear your opinions on the styles McCall's has put out.  Do any of them ring your bell?  Make you cringe?  Let me know!