Thursday, September 1, 2011

One for You, One for Me, 100 for Everyone

Hello, lovely readers and friends I have yet to meet.  It's back to school time here in the US, a time I always consider the real "new year."  My enthusiasm for sewing perks up once the humidity drops and the kitchen canning work slows down.  That means it was a good time yesterday to sew a birthday present for a sweet little 3 year old girl, my cousin's daughter, who is named for our maternal grandmother.  Thanks to the inspiration of a creative sewing friend (I keep telling you to check out her blog and I hope you have by now Sew Inspirations blog ) I was able to sew up a very similar an exact copy of her adorable mermaid beach towel.  My cousin has a place on the beach in SC (at least I hope she still does after Hurricane Irene) so I hope this towel is something that her daughter can enjoy there.  She's at the age where Disney princesses and mermaids are part of her everyday life; let's not tell her yet about becoming a grown up, ok?
Mermaid towel

Here are the steps I took to make my version:
I used a beach towel from Target, currently on clearance so you can grab them before they disappear from the shelves.  For the tail I happened to have a small, 18" long piece of this orange fleece in my fabric resource center.  At one point I was going to make myself a Polarfleece vest for wearing to Orioles games....but their losing ways means that I'm unlikely to need a vest for any fall playoff games:-(   

I bought two fat quarters of this groovy cotton swirly orange and fuschia fabric from Joann's.

One half of the tail design
I stitched two tails together, trimmed the beach towel into curved sides and lower bottom, bound it with bias trim and zigzagged the bias trim along the edges.  Tucked the bottom of the towel into the tail shape and zig zagged it together with exposed seams since the fleece won't ravel.  
Side bias binding with zig zag stitching

Two layers zig zag stitched together then trimmed with pinking rotary cutter

Pieced the top ties from the second fat quarter and again zig zagged it to enclose the towel top.  To give the ties some body without stiffness I stitched them with a strip of silk organza inside. Trimmed the tail seam allowances with my fun pinking rotary cutter and in little more than an hour I was done.  

Oh, I also included this beautiful picture book in that birthday package.  If you are not familiar with them, there are two awards given to children's books each year, the Caldecott medal for picture books and the Newberry for children's literature .  The award and nominee lists are good sources of books if you don't frequently shop children's books. American Library Association Caldecott Awards list

One mermaid towel for someone else.  What about one for me?  My reward came yesterday afternoon when these two books arrived from Amazon.  

Another wonderfully creative friend (yes, she blogs as well  From These Hands ) has turned me on to the wonderful designs of Alabama Chanin.   These two books are rich with illustrations, ideas and instructions.  They are written with a spirit of bounteousness, sustainability and adventure.  I will keep them on my nightstand for those times when my head is overwhelmed with some aggravating responsibilities that I have these days and I can get lost in creative ideas instead. I am intrigued by her use of cotton knits, however.  I generally do not like wearing cotton knits so I'm going to give her projects a try in wool jersey and see if I can achieve a similar result.  These books include great instructions, design stencils, patterns and even recipes.  What's not to like and I bought them for only $14 each, less than some indie patterns that have greatly disappointed me in years past.  Amazon listing

I am always drawn to these swirls!

Patterns in the back of each book

And now I have just officially finished my 100th post.  I came late to blogging, I'm still rather slow and unsophisticated about so many design aspects here but I have enjoyed the entire process immensely.  If you take a few moments from your day to read my ramblings, I thank you.  If you make the effort to write a comment, ask a question or offer advice, I thank you since you add a spirit of camaraderie to my day.  If you have a blog and link to mine, I thank you for your courtesy and generosity in introducing this one to others.
Sew grateful,


  1. Cute mermaid!!! That towel is great - you couldn't easily find fabric like that.

    I have both Chanin books (though I can't find one of them) and a project planned, hopefully this year. I look forward to seeing what you do!

  2. Love your idea for that mermaid towel. So cute!

  3. Love the mermaid towel. I saw that on a blog too. Bet it was the same one :O). So cute!

  4. Congratulations on your 100th post. You have made a lovely gift! I'm sure she will love it!

  5. Happy 100th post. Love the blog, just so you know. I read it every time, you are very gifted in this and sewing.

  6. Thanks for reminding me about this towel. Might be just the thing for the birthday girl we'll be partying with next weekend. Taking your award-winning book idea one step further, I often like to give the award winner from the child's birth year for their first b'day (their first because the awards don't come out until the year following when they are written).

  7. The towel is adorable. I'm sure she'll love such a unique gift.


Love your comments, opinions, advice and questions. I just ask that we all "play nice."