My First Sewing Pattern

For the past two years I have had an item on my to-do list that never gets checked off.  That item is: create a PDF sewing pattern.

As of today, that item is now checked off!  After months (er…okay…years) of percolating I finally took the plunge and just did it!  It was perhaps just a wee bit more work than I had anticipated, but I can’t tell you how much I actually enjoyed the whole process of it.  Okay, I will admit to a few cries of frustration as I navigated the learning curve of digital drawing, but I am SO PROUD of the finished work.  And I am pretty sure this won’t be my last pattern! :)

If you have visited my shop lately, or if you follow me on Facebook, you might remember this:

Finger Puppet Sewing Pattern

Well, now there is a sewing pattern so you can make one of your very own!   Like all of my favourite PDF patterns, I included lots of photos to make the process simple and easy-to-follow (I hope!)  This is a great scrap-busting project, and a fun way to upcycle a mint tin.   Both the pattern, and the finished product, are available in the shop.

What have you been checking off your to-do list lately?




Everything’s Coming Up Roses – Summer Garden Blooms

One of the fun things about moving to a new house is that you get the surprise of finding out what the previous owners planted in their gardens!  Each new bloom and emerging plant has been like a wonderful gift.

Now that summer is fully upon is, everything seems to be bursting into bloom.  Not being a huge flower planter myself (herbs and vegetables are more my thing) I have been thoroughly enjoying being the benefactor of the pretty plantings of the previous house owner!  And the roses!  There are wild roses everywhere!  Front, back, side, and around the pool.  And although I enjoy their pretty fragrance, I do NOT enjoy their prickly thorns.  Ouch!  So a few of these might find their way to the compost pile at some point, or at least get a significant pruning.  But for now, I am content to enjoy the beauty of all of these blooms!

Here are a few that have just begun to show their pretty heads:

Garden Flowers Orange Lily Pink Hollyhock Pink Hollyhock Garden Flowers MarigoldThe marigolds are not a surprise as I planted them myself.  :)
Mini Rose in Pink And here is a rose I don’t mind.  This miniature rose bush was given to me by one of my students as an end of year gift and after being transplanted to the garden it is just beginning to come back into bloom.  DaisyAnd daisies, which I always now think of as “the friendliest flower.”  (Bonus points to you if you know what movie that comes from!)

Finally, it’s not a bloom, but definitely beautiful in it’s own right (not to mention downright delicious!)

Ripe Red RaspberryI’d love to know, what’s blooming in your garden right now?

Fudgy, Gluten-Free, Honey-Sweetened, Brownies

Gluten-Free Brownie

Ever since I started eating chocolate again, I have been on the search for a healthy brownie option.  Not that I don’t love traditional brownies, because I certainly do!  But I know all of that white sugar and white flour is not the best thing for my body, so I began to do some recipe searching and experimenting.

In the last several years I have made black bean brownies (yum!) chick pea brownies (not so good) and numerous variations with multiple flours and natural sweeteners.

But these are, hands-down, the BEST brownie I have tried.

Gluten-free, they get their fudgie texture from avacados.  Not that you would know they are in there!  The original recipe called for one cup of white sugar, which I quickly subbed for honey and after a few trials came up with these yummy treats.

Ready to begin?

Fudgy Avacado Brownies


  • 3 eggs (or 3 egg whites and one full egg)
  • 1/2  - 2/3 cup honey  (1/2 cup is mildly sweet,  2/3 is as sweet as you would expect a brownie to be)
  • 8 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup almond meal (or whole almonds and a food processor or high-powered blender)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 ripe avocados

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Grease an 8×8 pan.

If you don’t have almond meal, it’s really easy to make your own in a food processor or high-powered blender.  Simply place whole, natural, almonds in and whiz until they turn to fine crumbs.

Almond Meal

Beat the eggs well.  Mix with the honey until very well combined.  I mixed mine in my new Vitamix (I LOVE that thing!) but it’s just as easy to do with a mixer or a strong arm. :)

Eggs in the Vitamix Add Honey

Using the Vitamix as a mixer

Melt the chocolate chips and add to the egg mixture.

Melted Chocolate

Stir in everything else but the avocados.  If you are using your blender, this is a good time to pour out the ingredients into a bowl.  Once the avocados are added things get really thick and it’s a bit of a job to get everything to mix and then scrape everything out of a blender.  (Speaking from experience!)

Gluten Free Brownies

Mash the avocados well until there are absolutely no lumps.  (I ran them through the Vitamix with a little of the batter to keep things moving until they were really smooth.  A food processor would work well too.)


Fold the avocado into the chocolate mixture.  Pour into the pan.  Bake for about 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Eat, and enjoy!

Fudgy Avacado Brownies
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 16
  • 3 eggs (or 3 whites and one full egg)
  • ½ – ⅔ cup honey
  • 8 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • ½ cup almond meal
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 ripe avocados
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 8×8 pan.
  2. If you don’t have almond meal, it’s really easy to make your own in a food processor or high-powered blender. Simply place whole, natural, almonds in and whiz until they turn to fine crumbs.
  3. Beat the eggs well. Mix with the honey until very well combined. I mixed mine in my new Vitamix (I LOVE that thing!) but it’s just as easy to do with a mixer or a strong arm. :)
  4. Melt the chocolate chips and add to the egg mixture.
  5. Stir in everything else but the avocados. If you are using your blender, this is a good time to pour out the ingredients into a bowl. Once the avocados are added things get really thick and it’s a bit of a job to get everything to mix and then scrape everything out of a blender. (Speaking from experience!)
  6. Mash the avocados well until there are absolutely no lumps. (I ran them through the Vitamix with a little of the batter to keep things moving until they were really smooth. A food processor would work well too.)
  7. Fold the avocado into the chocolate mixture. Pour into the pan. Bake for about 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

What recipes have you been experimenting with lately?

Crafting Together, and a Quilt with a Story

One of the drawbacks of last summer’s move was moving further away from my husband’s family.  Being a plane-ride away from my own family, and being blessed with such wonderful in-laws, it was definitely  a draw-back to move an additional half-hour away.  However, I think we have seen them more this winter than last and it has been wonderful!

With projects to do around both of our houses, my husband declared every other Saturday as “family work day.”  We spend one Saturday a month together at our house, and one Saturday a month together at theirs.  Father and son use the time to help each other with projects around the house (and for that I am so thankful) and we women have been making our way through our piles of crafty projects!

There is something really special about the time women spend together creating.  I love hearing the sound of knitting needles clacking, of sewing machines humming, and I have certainly benefited from my mother-in-law’s help and wisdom.  Sometimes we chat, sometimes we listen to music, sometimes we watch movies, and other times we just sit in the quiet, absorbed in our projects.  And there is something in me that thinks “this is the way life is supposed to be.”

Now that my sweater is complete, I have moved on to spending those Saturdays working through some of my sewing UFOs.  And with that purpose in mind I rediscovered, and finished, this quilt.

Hand Tied Hippie Quilt

And although I do love the front, it is the back that I am particularly enamoured with.

Hippie Quilt 1970s polyester satin back

Isn’t it awesome?  And it is just as soft and smooth and satiny as it looks.  This was a true treasure out of my grandmother’s fabric collection, and along with many of the fabrics I used for the top, probably purchased 40 – 50 years ago.  Sometimes I like to imagine what my grandmother had intended with her purchases.  This is a wildly beautiful print!  But I am kind of glad she never worked it into one of her own sewing projects, because it looks right at home here on this quilt.

So this is how I have been spending the cold winter days (which stubbornly refuse to turn into spring.)  Quilting.  Sewing.  Knitting.  Thinking about my grandmother.  Creating quilts and sweaters and memories woven together.

Do you craft together with others?  What are your favourite winter-day projects?

My First Knit Sweater! (and other March Break Projects)

It’s finished!  I can hardly believe that I have knit my first sweater.  I have been wanting to learn to knit my own clothes for so long.  There were a few hiccups in the road, but I managed to figure everything out and was blessed to have my mother-in-law for help every few weekends, too!  So without further ado……here is the finished garment!

My first knit sweater! My first knit sweater

First Knit Sweater Back

The pattern is the Waterford Cardigan, remember this post? It was actually very easy to follow and the only part I found really tricky was adding the trim to the sleeves.  I think they should be a little looser than they are, but overall, I am really happy with it, and it is super soft and warm.

I am extra excited that I finished it while there is still cold weather left to enjoy it in!  (Not that I would complain if there was an early spring…)

This was actually only the first project I finished on what quickly became a very crafty March Break.  One week off school made for lots of extra time to be spent in the sewing room!  Here are the other projects I accomplished this week:

 MArch Break PRojects

 Not bad for one week!  Now if only it were March Break every week…. :)

What about you?  How are you spending your Spring Break?

The End of an Era – My Last Rainbow Pencil Rolls

Today marks the end of an era.  It has been 5 years since I decided to turn my love of all things handmade into more than just a hobby.   4 years ago I opened my first Etsy shop (now replaced by artisaninthewoods), filled it will all manner of sewn and quilted things, and waited excitedly for my first sale.  I was ecstatic when I received that first “sold” email from Etsy.  And of all the items in my shop, that first sold item was…….

Rainbow Pencil Roll

A rainbow pencil holder.  24 slots, all colour-coded to match standard pencil crayon sets.  The pockets made just tight enough that the pencils are less likely to fall out during travel.

Not only were these pencil rolls my first sale, but my second as well.  They went on to become one of my Etsy best-sellers, and responsible for more custom orders than anything else (except for create-a-creatures of course!)

For the last several years I have been stitching rainbows.  I have made them from scrap fabrics, customer-chosen fabrics, and hand-dyed fabrics.  I have made them large enough to hold an artist’s set of 36 markers.  I have monogrammed them and tied them with ribbon, buttons, and velcro.  I have even made them to give as gifts myself, and two people have benefited from receiving one out of my “oops” bin.  (Like the one I made with 23 slots instead of 24 – how did I miss that???)

But yesterday, I stitched up what may just be my last rainbow rolls.  I love sewing.  I love these rainbow rolls.  But I also love new projects, and I feel it is time to move on.  So last night, with a little hint of nostalgia, I put my last 3 rolls for sale.

Rainbow Quilted Pencil Roll

It is the end of an era.  But the beginning of one too.  (If you follow me on Facebook then you will have already seen the newest in laptop fashion!)

You have been good to me rainbow rolls, but now we move on to new adventures!

If you’ve been looking for a rainbow pencil roll, you will still find a few in the shop.

What new projects are YOU embarking on?


Machine Sew a Button

Sewing Basics: How to Sew a Button by Machine

Machine Sew a Button


Sewing a button by hand is quick and easy.  But sewing buttons by machine is even quicker and easier, especially if you are already familiar with a sewing machine.  I don’t often use the machine when I’m just sewing on an odd button here and there.  But I always used the machine if I am sewing multiple buttons, such as after sewing a shirt, or if I am replacing all of the buttons on a thrift-store find.


A sewing machine, capable of a zigzag stitch, threaded to coordinate with the button.

Step 1: Set up the Machine

Zigzag stitch

  • Set your machine to a wide zig-zag stitch
  • Drop the feed dogs (If you aren’t sure how to do this with your machine, check the owner’s manual)

Drop the Feed Dogs

Step 2: Set the stitch width

  • Place your button in the proper place on the garment under the presser foot.
  • Place the needle down into the first hole
  • Carefully place the presser foot down on the button.  If the pressure of the foot moves the button out of place, I release the presser foot and use my fingers to hold down the button instead.  Just keep them out of the way of the needle!
  • Manually make the first “stitch”  This is where you will want to play around with the width of your zigzag so that your needle slides into the next button hole.   Keep making manual stitches until you are sure that the needle moves from one hole to the other.  (This is really important to avoid breaking your needle once you get going!)

Sew a Button by Machine

Step 3: Sew

  • Now put your foot on the peddle and let it go!  Make about 10 stitches and your button is secured!
  • If you have four holes like my button, move the button up so the needle will slide into the lower button holes and sew another 10 stitches or so
  • Trim your threads and you’re done!
  • Repeat for any other buttons you are sewing on your garment

Sewing a Button on by Machine

That’s it!  Don’t forget to raise your feed dogs up when you’re done so you will be ready for whatever you want to sew next!

Sew a Button On

Have you ever sewn buttons by machine?  Any tips or tricks to share?

How to Sew a Button

Sewing Basics: How to Sew a Button

How to Sew a Button

This is one of those basic sewing tasks that everyone should be able to do.  Seriously.  Everyone has had a button fall off at some point in their life and it only takes a minute or two to sew it back on, and no stellar sewing skills are required.


How to Sew a Button

  • needle
  • thread that is close to the colour originally used
  • scissors

Step 1: Thread the needle

  • Cut a piece of thread about the length from your fingertips to your elbow
  • Tie a knot in one end

Beginner’s Tip:  if you are a total non-sewer (and don’t want to be one) make this even easier by cutting a piece of thread as long as your whole arm, putting it through the needle and pulling until both ends meet.  (The needle will be in the middle of the thread.)  Then tie your knot using both ends at the same time.  This keeps the thread securely on the needle and you won’t have to worry about holding onto it as you pull.

An easy way to make a knot:

Wrap the thread around one of your fingers several times.

How to tie a Knot

Using your thumb, push the threads off your finger.  They will sort of roll over each other and form a tight circle.

Sewing: Tie a Knot


Tying a knot Sewing

Hold the “circle” between your fingers and pull on the thread.

Tie a knot sewing

Voila!  A knot!  (It might take a try or two to get the knack for this, but once you’ve got it, you’ve got it!)

How to sew a button

Step 2: Sew on the button

Hold the button in the correct position.  Working from the back of the garment, push the needle up into one of the button holes.  This will leave the knot on the back of your clothing where it won’t be seen.

How to Sew a Button

(My button still has a bit of thread on it as it hadn’t quite fallen off the sweater yet.  If you are replacing a button that has completely fallen off, all your holes will be empty at this point. )

Then push the needle down the opposite hole.  When you do so, try to aim the needle point so it comes through close to, or on top of,  the knot.  This will keep all of your stitches in one place and even the back of your garment will be tidy looking.

How to Sew a Button

Come up again into the first hole.

Sewing a button

Go down the second hole.

Repeat a number of times until the button seems good and strong.

Sewing a button tutorial

If your button has 4 holes, like mine, come up into one of the other holes and do the same thing on that side.

Step 3: Secure the thread

Now that your button is nicely sewed on, you don’t want to lose it again!  Tie a good strong knot to keep it in place.

An easy way to do this is to make a stitch on the back of the garment.  Pull the thread, but leave a loop as shown.

Tutorial How to Sew a Button

Pass the needle through this loop and then pull on the thread to close the loop and create a new one.

Sew on a Button Tutorial

Repeat three times, then pull tightly to create the knot.  There are step-by-step photos to show this process at the end of this tutorial.

Clip your threads close to the knot.

That’s it!  Pretty simple, right?

Next week I’ll show you how to do the same thing using the sewing machine!

My First Knitted Sweater! In Progress.

I am extremely blessed to have a wonderful second family.  My husband’s parents are almost as near and dear to me as my own, and we enjoy doing so many of the same things!  This week-end, my mother-in-law helped me start my very first knitted sweater.  Up to this point my knitting has consisted primarily of dishcloths and scarves, so this feels like a big step.  My mother-in-law is an experienced knitter and I appreciate her patience and willingness to help me learn!

This is the sweater I picked out to try:


It’s called the Waterford Cardigan and it’s a free pattern from Lion Brand Yarns.  It uses a bulky yarn and large needles which is perfect for me as it’s working up nice and quick!  Look how much I got done yesterday!


My first knitted sweater!


The yarn is Loops & Threads Country Loom which was on sale for half price just after Christmas!  I had actually picked it up for another sweater project which didn’t work out, but I think it will work nicely with this pattern.

It was really nice to spend the day with my Mom-in-law.  We shopped for yarn and then spent the afternoon curled up in cozy chairs, knitting the hours away. Bliss!

My first knitted sweater

And even though this sweater is only just beginning, I have already picked out my next project.  I bought this pattern on Ravelry and can’t wait to knit it!  The yarn she used is beautiful, but just a tad too expensive for me.  I am thinking of substituting something like this as it is a similar heavy weight.  We’ll see when the time comes!

What projects are you working on right now?


Animal Hospital Restoring Lost Limbs

Animal Hospital: How to Restore Lost Limbs

Animal Hospital Restoring Lost Limbs

Did you ever have a stuffed animal or plush toy who lost a limb?  We are big stuffie lovers at this house, and sometimes a precious stuffed friend just gets loved too much.

But never fear!  A quick trip to the animal hospital (or sewing room) can have him all fixed up in no time!

Step 1: Clean the Wound

Sometimes, as in this case, part of the limb is still attached.  Other times, the whole limb might be detached from the body. Either way, we want to clean up all those loose threads before we start stitching.  Simply clip them off with a pair of sharp scissors.

Repair a Stuffed Animal

Step 2: Prepare the Needle

Thread a needle with some thread that matches the fur of the stuffie (as close as you can.)  Tie a knot on the end and you’re ready to go!

Threaded Needle

Step 3: Stitch on the Limb

Start by burying the knot inside the stuffie where it won’t be seen, and pulling up the needle at the edge of the hole.  If the limb is no longer attached to the body, choose a spot to start stitching and hold the limb in place as you stitch.  The arrow in this photo shows where I buried the knot.

Repairing Stuffed Animals

When you are finished stitching, you won’t want to see your stitches on the outside of the stuffie.  Keep your stitches small, tight, and close together.

Begin by taking a small stitch in the fabric along the opening.

Replace a Lost Limb on a Stuffed Animal

Pull the thread tight and then take a stitch in the limb, down close to where you want it to sit in the opening.

Stitching a Stuffie

Pull your thread tight and take another stitch along the opening.

Then take a stitch on the arm.  You’ve got the idea.  Keep doing this all the way around the limb until it is all stitched on.

As you go you may have to keep tucking the limb back into the hole.  If it’s really being stubborn you could try keeping it in place with pins.

Voila!  The limb is repaired and there is not a stitch to be seen!

Save a Stuffed Animal!  Sew on his lost limb.

Step 4: Tie a Knot

This is an important step.  After your stuffie is healed, you don’t want to see him back in the hospital for a long time.  To keep that limb secure you want to make a good knot.  There are a few ways to do this, but this is the method I use.

Begin by taking a small stitch in the crease where the arm meets the body.  Pull the thread, but not all the way.  Leave a loop as shown below.

Fix a Stuffie

Take your needle and pass it through the loop.

Pull on the bottom thread (see arrow below) to close the original loop, and to make a new one.

Animal Hospital Sew on a Lost Limb

Pass your needle and thread through the new loop and pull on the bottom string again to create a loop.

Pass your needle through the loop for a final time and pull on the bottom thread to create one more loop. At this point there will be a spot where the threads overlap, close to where you made your first stitch.  This will become your knot.

Stick your finger on this spot to keep the knot in place and pull on the thread until your last loop is gone.  You now have a knot!

Stuffed Animal Repair

To tuck the knot back into the stuffie where it won’t be seen, pass the needle down into the fabric as close to the knot as you can get, and take it out about an inch or so away.  Pull the thread through, and pull tight (you don’t want to break the thread, but you want some force to pull the knot into the fabric.)  Cut the thread close to the stuffie.

Stuffed Animal Hospital

Step 5:  Give Your Stuffie a Hug!

All fixed!  Don’t you think he deserves a hug for being so brave?


Do you have a stuffed animal lover at your house?  Have you ever had to repair an over-loved stuffie?  What was your favourite stuffed animal as a kid?  I’d love to hear your stories!

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