Events · News · Shows

Upcoming Spring Shows!

I thought the early months of 2017 would be a quieter time to sew some garments, build my skills, and develop my online store. But surprisingly, it seems there are quite a few craft shows happening out there!

Chinchilla Whiskers will be at these upcoming shows. I hope you’ll add these to your calendar!


Puplandia Valentine’s Day Shopping Extravaganza on Saturday, February 4, 2017 11 am – 3 pm at the Oaks Park Dance Pavilion. This show features over 50 amazing vendors of local art and craft. It is a fundraiser for Puplandia Dog Rescue. If that’s not enough to draw you in, there will be a puppy kissing booth!


Buckman Art Show + Sell 2017 on Saturday & Sunday, March 11-12, 2017 at Buckman Arts Focus Elementary School in SE Portland. I have always enjoyed attending this show as a shopper, especially art created by the students! The Buckman show features 140 artists and makers selling their original artwork, furniture, toys, jewelry, textiles, paper creations, photography, paintings, ceramics and more! Plus there’s live music and dance performances, food cart deliciousness, free children’s art activities, and more.

Hope you’ll stop by and say hello!


Will this be the year?

new_year.jpgWe’re two days into 2016 and I still have hope that it will be a creative year for Chinchilla Whiskers. Gosh, it’s easy for me to get disheartened. I’ve been sick. When I am down, everything goes into disarray, at least from my point of view. As I’ve been keeping up with Facebook, texts and emails these past few days, it seems a lot of friends are going through health issues and assorted yuckiness too.

I was really geared up to make some changes in the house for the New Year. You know: more clean, less clutter. I started following, a home cleaning and organizational website. I think the site overwhelmed me with its many daily email reminders and testimonials. Even though the emphasis is on doing 15 minutes of cleaning/decluttering at a time, it consumed my thoughts and energies. And while I enjoyed reading it, you can imagine I didn’t have much luck with the Magic Art of Tidying Up (Marie Kondo) method of decluttering all-at-once.

So here I sit on the living room floor in front of the fireplace surrounded by a cat scratcher, my opened to-do notebook, a (finished!) felt embroidery project and supplies, and boxes of Christmas decorations waiting to go back in the attic. Basically, a mess.

While it’s still quiet in my house this morning, I decided to visit this blog and “Just Do It” (like my 11 year old son would say a la the Shia LaBeouf meme)! Trying not to be too careful with my words and just writing.

My creative hopes for 2016:

  • Get my Etsy site really going.
  • Participate in more craft shows.
  • Hone my skills and learn new ones.
  • Use my sewing spreadsheet to keep me moving along.

My family hopes for 2016:

  • Health for us all! We have been fortunate despite a few scares in the last few years.
  • Explore the world, even with my reluctant traveler boy.
  • More time together with just my husband and I. One date night outside of our anniversary would be an improvement.

My personal hopes for 2016:

  • Always, always be a better person.
  • Keep fighting the prejudices and judgments instilled from an early age.
  • Be there, be square.

My overall thought the past couple of weeks has been something I think I read in Cheryl Strayed’s new book Brave Enough. Basically, you have to make your own magic. This really resonates because I often rely on others to set the tone, make the decisions, or influence how I feel.

This year I want to remember that it is in my hands to make the magic happen.



Another Perfect Quilted Tote

Here’s my second Elizabeth Hartman Perfect Quilted Tote available as a pdf pattern. The pattern includes instructions for two sizes: a tall tote measuring 14½” tall x 10½” wide and a wide tote measuring 11½” tall x 12½” wide. Again, I chose to make the wide tote .

Here’s where it started – my pile of inspiration. Hard for me to stay away from these colors. There’s quite a mix of stuff in here: Mixteca by Eleanor Grosch, Denyse Schmidt’s Jo-Ann’s fabric, Violet Craft’s Waterfront Park, Birch’s Elk Family, Lucie Summers’ Summersville, and more.


Here’s side 1. For the solid fabric I used the Yarn Dyed Essex in black.


Here’s side 2.


Had a lot of fun making this! It will probably end up as an auction item for my son’s school.


What Does the Fox Say?

I picked up this fox cute pattern by McKay Manor Muses and the cuddle soft fabric at Craft Warehouse a little while ago. Got the safety eyes and nose too. With my tree skirt finished, I wanted to try something different. I have made some stuffed animals for my son before, but they were pretty basic, along the lines of an Ugly Doll. I was excited to use the plastic pellets in the paws and tail that gives many store-bought stuffed animals that nice weight and drape. I also really liked the fiber fill I used, a new product from Pellon called Perfect Loft. It’s soft but structured and doesn’t clump or bunch like regular stuffing.


The pattern instructions were well-written and easy to follow. They include a lot of good tips about sewing with cuddle fabrics.


Here’s my completed fox listening to “What Does the Fox Say?” on YouTube.

Here he is on the mantle. He is awaiting a scarf which I am in the process of knitting.


My son likes him posed as Psy doing Gangam Style. This little fox will probably soon join his menagerie known as the Tri-Castle Area.

For the Home · Holidays

Christmas tree pants finished

I finally finished my Christmas Tree Pants (Skirt) from Happy Zombie‘s great tutorial you can find here.

It all started back in January 2013, when I challenged myself to have this done for Christmas 2013. Well, I met my goal and it’s not even Thanksgiving!

Here’s it pieced before making the quilt sandwich.
Here’s the finished product 11 months later.



I’m pretty happy with it. It’s better than the bed sheet I’ve been using the last couple of years and the Martha Stewart skirt from K-Mart that just didn’t do it for me anymore.

Of course, there is always wonky-ness, but that’s how it goes. I cut the scappy binding on the bias because I had never bound anything with curves. Worked out great.

The quilting I would have re-thought. I like the echo quilting around the stars, but some of the straight line quilting is a little boring. This is where my fear of free-motion quilting limits me.

Looking forward to using this under the tree this year!


Serged Exposed Zipper Bag

Here’s a cute zippered toiletry bag I made completely on the serger! This is one of the practice projects included on the Beginner Serging: Machine Basics and Techniques class I’ve been watching on Craftsy taught by Amy Alan of Really Handmade.

I chose this very sweet octopus fabric from the Coastal Mini Series by Timeless Treasures.  For this project, all you need is 2 fat quarters, a zipper and some fusible fleece. The finished bag comes out to be about 9″ L x 5.5″ W x 5.5″ H. I could really get into making a lot of these.


As it seems to be going with all of my recent summer sewing, I have been spending a lot of time with my seam ripper! This little project was no exception. The serging part was a breeze! What set me back was the zipper. Toward the end of the project, when I trimmed my zipper end off flush with the bag, I wasn’t paying attention and the zipper pull came off the end of the zipper. I could not get it lined up and back on the teeth.  So…I took the whole thing apart. And when removing serging, that’s a lot of thread.


I think with a little more practice there are a few things I could improve on this bag. One: my zipper seams are not even along the teeth. It is a little wonky. Second: one of my end tabs is not completely centered at the base of the zipper. But, all in all, it’s pretty darn cute. I hope to make some more using fat quarters I’ve been holding on to but just don’t know what to do with.


The Serger: Relearning the Basics

A couple years ago, I received a Bernina serger for Christmas! I dutifully took the new owner classes offered at my local shop, but was still so scared of the thing that I haven’t touched it much since. I did make a skirt, which came out great, but that’s it.

Several months back, I purchased Beginner Serging: Machine Basics & Techniques with Amy Alan on Craftsy. My local sewing shop only offered introductory serger classes sporadically. With my schedule and limited time, I needed something I could do from home whenever I could squeeze it in.


Well, I finally just got to start to watching and this class has been great for building my confidence! Luckily, Amy is using the same machine as me. So that helps simplify things. I’ve gone through the basic stitch lessons and am now learning some decorative techniques. The class also includes three projects to sew along with – a zippered toiletry bag, an apron and a scarf.

But I was so excited about what I learned so far, I decided to take a break from class and make a simple garment with my new skills.

I decided on Kwik Sew K3602. I’ve always had great luck with Kwik Sew patterns. I like how they are printed on paper not tissue and the instructions make sense.

Kwik Sew K3602

I recently picked up $6/yard Valori Wells flannel at Craft Warehouse and decided to use it to make these pajama bottoms. They’re turned out a little big. I was torn between making the size S or M. I have a medium waist, but small hips. So, I decided to go with the M.


Here’s a close up of my serging on one of the leg seams. It just feels good to be using this machine and not being as scared of it as I was. I hope to make more garments and conquering my fear of the serger will get me going in that direction.

Up next on my garment to-do list is the Grainline Studio Scout Woven Tee. Here’s the fabric I’m going to use — a print from Robert Kaufman’s London Calling 3 cotton lawn collection.

Celebration from London Calling 3 by Robert Kaufman
Celebration from London Calling 3 by Robert Kaufman
For the Home

Patchwork Fabric Baskets

Awhile back, I had the privilege of helping to make the small version of this basket out of Full Moon Lagoon for Mo Bedell‘s Quilt Market booth. I became hooked on these! They are super fun and easy to make. You can find the tutorial here on Pink Penguin’s blog.


Here I used some left over scraps from the baby quilt I recently made for my son’s teacher. I thought she could use this little basket for diapers or other baby sundries. The fabric here is Sarah Watts’ Timber & Leaf. The solid is Essex Yarn-Dyed Flax.


Here’s another one using some of my favorite orange fabrics including Denyse Schmidt, Comma, Carolyn Friedlander, Joel Dewberry and Dear Stella.

These are a great way to use up your scraps and make something useful at the same time!


Perfect Quilted Tote

I had been curious about the “quilt as you go” technique. I loved the look and some sewing friends said it was so easy.  To try it out, I needed a project. So, I purchased Elizabeth Hartman‘s Perfect Quilted Totes available as a pdf pattern. The pattern includes instructions for two sizes: a tall tote measuring 14½” tall x 10½” wide and a wide tote measuring 11½” tall x 12½” wide. I chose to make the wide tote.


Here’s the technique in process. It is so much fun! Elizabeth’s instructions are very clear and easy to follow. It works out well to select a couple fabrics with large motifs that you can fussy cut and use as focal fabrics, such as the typewriter fabric by Julia Rothman on the example above, for the quilted panels. The typewriter fabric helped me decide on my blue, orange and grey color scheme.


Here’s the finished tote! I am really pleased with how it turned out. The inside includes 2 pockets, one with a zipper, and a magnetic snap.  For my solid fabric for the body of the tote, I used Essex cotton/linen blend in Grey. Inside, I used Kona Cotton in Bahama Blue.