29 December 2012

this year's Christmas stuff

Well, I was going to try to have another year of handmade for everyone, but being pregnant has stomped out most of my motivation. I did make a couple of things for gifts but not nearly as much as I was hoping for. And, um, I took pictures of none of it. But here are some links if you want ideas for next year, or just stuff to do.

Adam made hammocks for the girls. Out of pink and purple nylon canvas. Heh. His hammocks are both green - a super dark olive, and a more regular green that is frequently used in camping gear. But he bit the bullet and made the girls' hammocks out of their favorite colors, instead of camping colors.

We had the girls make these felt star ornaments for my parents - SM sewed the whole thing herself, RG helped pull the needle, JE chose the color of edging floss and the button for the middle and I sewed it, and TA - well, she's still a baby so I did it in her behalf.

I found this fabric pumpkin tutorial just before Halloween and made a couple out of scrap fabric I had kicking around. I really liked them, so I ordered a charm pack (pre-cut 5 inch squares) of specific Halloween fabric from fabric.com to make more pumpkins for my sibling gift exchange - the theme was holiday decorations. When it arrived, I'd just seen this post for a mini-quilt ... and since I've been wanting to try out some quilting anyway ... it just went better. So I made a Halloween mini-quilt and sent it off to my brother and his family. I'm kicking myself for not taking a picture of it since it was my first one. But I have the makings from the charm pack for 3 more of them, so I'll take pictures of them when they're done. I got them started but nothing was finished before Christmas so their intended recipients will be surprised later.

And that was it for my homemade Christmas. Sigh. I started on a group present for the girls but it didn't get finished. I intended to make Christmas Eve pajamas but ended up buying them (about 3 hours before we gave them to the girls - talk about last minute shopping). Hopefully next year goes better.

Oh, and as a sidenote - 2 posts ago, I said the bobbin case was missing from the sewing machine. The next day after posting that, we cornered JE (age 2) and got her to tell us it was "hiding." She had poked it with her finger into the innards of the machine. Fortunately, Adam was able to shake it back out, but I was still ready with a screwdriver to take the machine apart if necessary.

27 December 2012

some random thoughts to finish 2012 and start 2013

Thought 1: 
As I've been reading this or that sewing or crafting or home decor blog, I'm leaning more toward the blogs in which I know the author/creator has multiple children along with their creative pursuits and blogging (which always includes amazing photography of course). The holiday drama of "Oh, I'm sooooo busy! We should all SIMPLIFY!" from bloggers who have only one child does not impress me and is really becoming annoying. You think you're so busy with ONE kid who is in school all day while you do your creative thing? It's self-inflicted, Sister. Cry me a river. Try having four at home all the time because I homeschool the older two, the younger two are demanding toddlers, and I'm 7 months pregnant with #5. I can't keep up with the dishes and laundry, let alone have the time to spend half the day making stuff and taking pictures of it with a really expensive camera. Yes, these are the choices I've made for my family, but wow - spare me the whining about how busy you are with ONE child. And then I don't save those blogs to read again later. People who have lots of kids garner a lot more sympathy from me when they comment about their level of busy-ness.

Thought 2:
I have 224 things bookmarked just in my online sewing folder (yes, I counted). This does not include blogs in general and online fabric shops, or the 14 links to specific projects that I've completed in the past 2 years. Some are general tutorials, like "how to make ruffles" and tips on using knit fabrics. Most are individual specific projects. It is time to stop collecting bookmarks and start moving them into the "projects I've completed" file. And write more on my own blogs rather than reading other people's blogs. But for what it's worth, I'm in the middle of compiling a post of links to blogs that I have found good projects on, so maybe they can give you ideas as well. I'll try to get the list finished this weekend.

Thought 3:
On that note ... I don't know if it's nesting, or I've progressed to a certain level in my sewing, or what. But I really have this bug to MAKE STUFF right now - particularly, to make my home and living more beautiful. I can't do anything about the house itself. I'm not even allowed to paint. Meh. But I can make things more pretty, add details to things we already have (ribbon around a lampshade, for example), and work with things that can go with us wherever we end up. I thought about it a lot yesterday and I'm going back and forth between attempting an entire month where I work on something for at least an hour every single day, or shoot for 52 projects, one for every week of the year. Clothing counts in the MAKE PRETTY STUFF target. Clothes look much nicer when they fit the wearer properly, and heaven knows that straight-from-the-store stuff doesn't fit my girls very well. They prefer dresses and skirts, which are either way too short or a tent.

Most of the pretty things that I've thought of so far are for the girls' bedroom. So last night, I got the bulletin board out of the girls' room and started painting the frame to match their hairbow boards, just for the heck of it. It was just the boring wood - now it's lavender.

I have some vague ideas about the master bedroom, but nothing that I can quite put into words yet. I will say that I really really really want to find colors in the seaglass color scheme - blues and greens. They're relaxing for both Adam and me, and not overly feminine. In a house full of girls, poor Adam needs his space in the house to have nothing with pink or flowers (except maybe some real ones). And I wish we could find somewhere else to stash everything that we don't want the girls getting into - our room has had landfill status for as long as we've had kids, because that's the only room we can even attempt to keep them out of.

Thought 4:
It's time to make the jump from skirts to dresses for the girls, which probably means that I need to figure out how to put in zippers. Ummm ... yeah. Maybe I'll use dress patterns and tutorials with buttons for awhile to start. Zippers are still a little too scary for me right now.

I also want to make quilts for everyone's beds - I've been seeing a lot of quilts this year on blogs and they're amazing. They're also not something you could buy in a store. That level of project is still at least a couple of years off, for the cost if nothing else (I want the good fabric so it's going to be expensive to make 6 quilts) but I've already added mini-quilts to my list of things to work on this year. I made one for my brother and his family for Christmas for my first time out of the blocks and I thought it went all right.

27 October 2012

of course

I suppose I wouldn't be a real sewer (or seamstress or sewist or whatever "people who sew" are called these days) if my kids hadn't ruined something at some point. I was working on trick-or-treat bags yesterday as well as some fabric pumpkins (found here on PS I Quilt - aren't those cute? And totally easy!)

Tonight, Adam was going to sew something really quick on one of his hammocks and we discovered that the bobbin case for the machine has vanished, along with the bobbin spool I was last using ... And we did a lot of housecleaning today, so I have no idea where that thing could possibly be. The spool is easy to replace, but the bobbin case? Yeah. No sewing at all until that thing is either located or I find another one online to replace it because the machine doesn't work without it. My 2-year-old and 6-year-old absolutely will not leave my sewing stuff alone, and both are good at absconding with things - like small bobbin cases, possibly - that they decide to claim as their own. Sigh.

Good thing I'm not working on Halloween costumes - they're done. Christmas presents, on the other hand ... that's going to be a little more difficult to get started on.

23 October 2012

Disney trip outfits

Adam decided a few weeks ago that we were going to Disney World for my 40th (gag) birthday - yay! He asked me for a budget (since I'm our financial manager), told me the dates we'd be gone, and assigned me to make outfits for the girls for every day we'd be in the DW parks. Other than that, I knew nothing, not even what hotel we were going to stay in. It was my birthday present!

We were there last week and it was a great trip - the biggest surprise was that my parents and sister were in the hotel room next door. Hooray hooray for family helping with small kids!

I made princess dresses, which I've already posted about ... and then the girls never wore them at Disney World. It was too hot and humid the whole time to even think about wearing satin. Well, I have Halloween outfits for all of them now.

I got stuff to make country flag shirts for Epcot - I ordered little 4x6 inch desk flags from countries in our family's heritage - England, Germany, Denmark, and Poland. I pulled them off the little sticks and was going to applique them to plain t-shirts and have them worn with jeans. That didn't happen either. With "cold weather" setting in for fall and winter, you can't find short sleeved shirts ANYWHERE in stores. And don't get me started about how much of a pain in the neck it is to find PLAIN shirts at all without garish and ugly pictures and words all over them. I ended up buying long-sleeved shirts and one of the baby's shirts was a turtleneck. It's 90 freaking degrees outside (even in October), and all I can find at the store is a turtleneck? Seriously? For Epcot, they just wore the US flag shirts I got at Walmart for Independence Day with shorts. SM wore her Pledge of Allegiance skirt.

They wore two of the things I made ... the first day at the Magic Kingdom, they all matched with pink Minnie Mouse fabric that I found on fabric.com and at Walmart. I ended up buying it at Walmart (even though I'm really hating on that store these days) so I could start sewing right away and not wait for the shipping. I got the accent fabrics from a local small fabric shop (Stitch-n-Frame) - the woman at the shop was fantastic in helping me pick stuff out that I never would have considered on my own. I was definitely willing to pay more for these fabrics just to have the help in choosing them, plus they're from the fancy shmancy fabric designers that I read about on sewing blogs but have never actually come across in a store until now - the floral print is from Riley Blake and the pink dots were from Michael Moore.

SM's dress was the same pillowcase style dress from the One Yard Wonders book that I made for JE at Easter. I embellished it with a ruffle around the waist, which idea I got from Sumo's Sweet Stuff (via Project Run and Play).

RG wanted a skirt. I was shooting for this ruffle from Flamingo Toes but I put the ruffle together without taking the taller bit into consideration. Oops. Need to read ahead better. So I just attached the ruffle I had to the bottom of the skirt and called it good. I do still want the Flamingo Toes skirt and even know which fabric combo I'm going to use for it. It's just a question of who will get the new skirt. Maybe me.

JE's outfit was from the One Yard Wonders book - a pinafore over a shirt and shorts. She's still in diapers so she needed something over her bum. I prefer her in shorts or leggings, not just a diaper cover. I like how it looked like a jumper - you couldn't really see the shorts, but when she got chocolate ice cream all over the pinafore in the afternoon, we just took it off and she was still fully dressed.

And baby TA - I went around and around with trying to figure out a dress or jumper for her, until a friend told me to just put her in a skirt with a onesie. I did this tiered skirt tutorial from Craftiness is not Optional and it's so teeny and cute! I really like the look of this skirt, so I'll be making more of them. I need to tweak the proportions a little bit next time - because my sewing is not total precision, I need at least one inch extra on the middle and bottom layers to accommodate for the gathering and hem.

This was the clearest shot I got of all 4 outfits. Hopefully my dad or sister got a better one at some point during the day! Some of our princess pictures didn't turn out (Rapunzel is completely out of focus, for one) so I'm glad we had multiple cameras going. This was taken within 10 minutes of getting past the front gate on our first day, and wow - the stars aligned for this. Leading up to the trip, every time we asked the girls who they wanted to meet, the first name was always Mary Poppins. And there she was as soon as we got there.

For Animal Kingdom, we had safari vests, of course! They were done mostly freehand - I measured and traced around t-shirts and made test versions out of an old sheet before I cut into my main fabric. I used cotton ticking (which is usually used for upholstery and frequently has stripes - I found some plain), got random fat quarters from the Walmart craft section to make the pockets, and colored flower buttons to coordinate.

I was winging it when I made the first test vest - I traced a shirt onto the sheet and sewed it all up and it didn't work really well. My mom found this tutorial on Couturier Mommy on how to make a vest pattern from a shirt tracing, which I mostly followed - I still eyeballed it for the armhole lines. I traced the shirt onto a piece of packing paper that we use for large art projects, then pinned that to the fabric ... that went much better. TA's vest ended up a bit too small - it fit around her, but was snug and it was too hot for her to wear anything fitted. So she didn't wear it very long. RG was also not being very cooperative that day so she didn't wear her's very long either. I have no pictures of all 4 of them at AK - I think my dad got one but I don't have it yet.  Here's one of SM and one of JE at Rafiki's petting zoo to give you an idea - bias tape around the armholes, buttons and buttonholes down the front, and patch pockets all over the front.

It was a lot of work getting ready for the trip with the sewing but it was fun, and I worked on my sewing skills. I learned that major projects like the princess dresses are still waaaaay beyond my reach and I'm really glad that I have friends like Kera to walk me through them (and/or do them for me). I got more practice on gathering stitches, buttonholes, and bias tape. I figured out, a little bit, how to make a pattern traced off a current article of clothing, and tried a couple of new tutorials that I hadn't done before. I'm branching out!

05 October 2012

princess dress preview

Adam decided a few weeks ago that we're going to Disney World for my birthday and promptly assigned me to make new clothes for the girls, particularly princess dresses for when we're at the Magic Kingdom. I've been sewing like a madwoman for about a month now - all the princess dresses, a Minnie Mouse print, and now I'm working on safari vests for visiting Animal Kingdom.

Here's a sneak preview of the princess dresses (mainly for my mom and sisters). These are horrible pictures, but you can see the dresses. We'll get better ones in about 10 days in front of Cinderella's castle!

The catch is that these all began as adult sized formalwear, and has been cut down and restyled into princess dresses for little kids. My friend Kera (the one I keep mentioning) introduced me to this idea during the summer - you get formals from the thrift store or the back of your closet, and you've just scored a truckload of satin yardage for next to nothing.

SM's dress - blue with the sheer overlay and white ribbon - is a top and skirt because that was the best way to cut down the dress. It was originally a bridesmaid dress from my brother's wedding.

The other girls were outfitted from two formals that I got at a thrift store for 10 bucks total. Kera the Genius cut down RG's purple dress and it's darn near the original, only now sized for a 5-year-old. The big wrap-around looks a little odd here because she had her shoulders positioned weird. It looks like a big bow around her - really cute. Kera did the whole thing with her serger - I did a little bit of hand stitching on the top to get everything into place, but that was it.

JE's teal dress was actually a skirt to begin and we modified it using this dress from A Girl and a Glue Gun as the idea, minus the tulle over the top. Kera had lace that matched perfectly in her own stash which is around the bottom between the silver ribbons. It looks awesome. I've already made her a hairbow (just need to hot-glue it to the clip) out of the lace. Kera did about 95% of this dress in one night while I did TA's 3 times because I kept screwing it up.

TA's dress was copied directly from the same post as JE's - her main fabric was the bottom cut off RG's original dress, and I got the sheer overlay from Walmart. I wanted tulle but you apparently can't get it unless you go to Jackson. 60 miles one way for tulle is not happening.

Now to figure out shoes ...

28 September 2012

Kids Clothes Week Challenge

I just stumbled across the Kids Clothes Week Challenge on the Elsie Marley blog (mentioned in today's post on Made about the wretched kids clothes on Project Runway). Basically, the challenge is to spend 1 hour per day for 7 days (October 8-14) making clothing items for children and see what you've got by the end of the week. The blog owner (whose name is NOT Elsie) apparently does this in both the spring and fall.

It's a Monday-Sunday challenge, and that's a really crazy week for us coming up - RG and TA's birthdays are Monday and Thursday that week, and we'll be on the road that Sunday on our way to Disney World. I don't know if I'll do it or not but I might still be working on Disney World outfits anyway ... so maybe I will? I don't know. Maybe I'll hold off until spring. But it sounds like a fun thing to participate in, and probably get more ideas from the Flickr group that everyone can post their photos on.

If anyone else is looking for something to do - maybe some motivation to get going on making Halloween costumes for the kiddos, or something ... there you go!

Excuse me, I apparently need to go solve a problem involving a large "test tube" of water with a bunch of tiny Connect Four pieces in the bottom that's being fought over in the middle of my living room.

17 July 2012

cradle makeover

Aaron's grandfather built a cradle for Aaron's siblings when they were young. At some point someone repainted it with the blue base and detailing. For the last few years it has been sitting in someone's garage (on the opposite side of the family, strangely enough), and when Aaron found out his sister wasn't using it, he wanted it for our little girl. I thought it was a sweet idea, but as soon as I saw the cradle I knew it had to get repainted. 

So Aaron cleaned it, sanded it, and got to painting. The first coat was quite the surprise because the color we picked out was NOT purple. But we were patient and added another two coats of paint.

And there we have it! A beautiful chocolate brown, suitable for many babies to come. We were planning on adding some pink details for our girl, but once we saw the deep glossy brown we decided no other decoration was needed.  All that's left is to make a small foam mattress (most likely from an egg carton camping pad), and it's ready for the little one to arrive!

11 July 2012

kids and food

My sister-in-law linked to this post about kids wasting food on Facebook. Oh my goodness - that is SO my kids. Especially with the apples. One or two bites, and then I find the whole apple in random places, like on the couch or the bookshelves. It drives me batty. So that blog post made part of me want to laugh, and the other part of me to throw something against the wall. But not food.

Our similar "entertainment" here, just in the past 18 hours ... we were having a clean-out-the-leftovers-in-the-fridge dinner last night, so everyone could have whatever they wanted. RG asked for scrambled eggs so Adam made them just for her. As soon as he put them on a plate and handed them to her, she said, "Well actually I wanted a peanut butter and jelly sandwich." He darn near about threw the plate. She did eventually eat it but only after I threatened to give the eggs to the baby and she could go hungry. And just now, JE asked for a piece of bread. I handed one to her and she threw it on the floor - no, she wanted a sandwich. I really can't tell you the last time she ate her sandwich - she just mangles them  so they're inedible for anyone else to eat. And the one I just made her  - as soon as I put it on the table, she shoved the plate away while yelling, "NO!" And then flailing on the floor, howling about who knows what.

Will someone please just shoot me in the face with a bazooka.

05 July 2012

random stuff

I didn't get any sewing done in May or June because Adam took over my sewing machine. He was making hammocks for his Scout troop before their summer camp week. They turned out pretty well! He really liked sleeping in his, rather than on a cot for 5 nights! At one point during his sewing marathon, he said something about getting a second sewing machine. That made me laugh because here we are completely new to this, and we're already talking about multiple sewing machines. And a serger. But hey - my friend Kera has 3 or 4 sewing machines and she uses them all for different things. She's got quite the set-up all over her family room sometimes, when she's doing big projects like Halloween costumes for all 6 of her kids.

Anyway, I don't have pictures of anything right now, but since I got my machine back, I have made ...

- a felt garland for Adam's birthday and Father's Day, like my Christmas one ... this one was just circles rather than all the mixed shapes. I used various shades of blue, and threw in the occasional green, yellow, or orange to break it up. I really like it! I plan to make one for each of the girls in their "signature color" for when we celebrate their birthdays and other big events.

- a "cozy" for Adam's camp gear - see this post for how their Scout troop is starting to do their food on overnight campouts and what that item is. Adam was going to make one for himself but I beat him to it and gave it to him as part of his birthday stuff. I made one out of old jeans and some cotton fabric on the inside (blue and white stripes ... but one of these days, I gotta stick something cutsey and girly on the inside of some of his Scout stuff - mwa ha ha!), and I put 3 layers of quilt batting in between. My machine didn't like how thick it all was but we managed to get it done.

- one of the t-shirt playdresses. I have the fixin's for 6 of them (2 each for SM, RG, and JE) plus 2 sundresses for the baby. I made one of them awhile ago, and finally took the time to make the 2nd one earlier this week. I'm giving myself a deadline of next week to get the whole bunch of them done. I want this pile of fabric off my dining room table where it has taken up residence for over a month.

- two Independence Day skirts, for SM and JE. RG didn't want one and I didn't have time to make anything for the baby. The fabric was in the stash I got from a lady at church cleaning out her fabric storage and she gave a bunch to me. It's an off-white background with the Pledge of Allegiance printed all over it and some little flags. I did the Simple Skirt from MADE, like I did with the Easter skirts so they went very fast. I'm getting better at this! Yay! My next thing to figure out with skirts for the girls is how to embellish them - add a ruffle around the bottom or do a different model/tutorial for a skirt. Something new and different.

30 June 2012

Things to do with Blueberries

It's berry season!  I always love it when they are actually affordable at the grocery store, but FREE is even better.  I've been picking quarts and quarts of berries from bushes that grow wild behind my parents' farm, and I'm literally running out of things to do with them.  Here are a few of the things I've come up with:

1.  The best blueberry muffins you've ever tried are here.  Absolutely delicious.  They never last more than a day.  The recipe, strangely, only makes 8-9, so make sure to put some water in the bottoms of the empty muffin cups so that they don't burn.  Also, the crumb topping seems to make an exceptionally large amount, so I reduced it a bit.

2.  Blueberry pie, completely from scratch.  (Wow, that sounds SO Martha Stewart!)  I made the crust from scratch, which I've never done before, using this recipe from "Made" (which we reference an awful lot on this blog).  It was easy and tasty, though my lack of skill made it a little ugly.  That just means that I need to try again!  I used the recipe for pie from the good ol' red-plaid covered Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, which was one of the best wedding presents we received.

3.  Jam!  Trina actually inspired me to give it a try last year, but I never did.  I was a bit intimidated, but there's really not much to it.  I used this recipe at a friend's suggestion, and it was delicious.  I've made five pints so far, which will keep my family in jelly for the next six months or so.  In an interesting twist, I was also able to use my grandfather's old Bell jars and canner; he died two years ago, and it was really neat to utilize the things he had put to use my entire life.

4.  Salad that's BETTER and CHEAPER than Wendy's berry chicken salad:  In a salad bowl, toss a handful of fresh spinach, a few blueberries and strawberries, some feta cheese, and some slivered almonds (better if you toast them for a few minutes).  You can throw in some chicken, too, and it's even better!  Top it with a raspberry vinaigrette, or really go pioneer woman: sprinkle olive oil and balsamic vinegar together with a pinch of salt, then toss it all together.  This is a great lunch!

5.  For breakfast, add blueberries to a bowl of Corn Flakes or Cheerios (or the store brand version); it makes a simple, quick breakfast taste a bit more gourmet.

6.  If you, like me, are running out of ideas, freeze the rest to enjoy later.  There's a trick:  DO NOT wash the berries you're going freeze; this will keep them from being too mushy later.  Spread the unwashed berries in a single layer on a cookie sheet or in a flat tupperware container, then freeze them. When they are solid, you can store them in a bag in the freezer, and it's easy to remove just the ones you want without having to thaw a massive lump of berries.

If you have any suggestions I've missed, do share...it's only June, and there are a lot more blueberries in my future.

29 May 2012

Feeling crafty lately

I've had a productive week.   In the last few days I cut off a pair of ripped blue jeans, sewed buttons on two pairs of pants, repaired a hole in a sweater, and removed outdated shoulder pads from a blazer.  I also made two coupon file organizers (which people bought from me for real money!), and I stumbled across this gem on the internet:  http://psimadethis.com/tagged/fashion/page/5.  (The drawback of this website is that it doesn't have individual pages for individual projects; the project to which I'm referring is at the bottom.  Some of her stuff is a bit too fashion-forward for me, but a lot of it is cute.)

Basically, you take an old, stretched-out, pit-stained shirt, and turn it into an infinity scarf.  I had a t-shirt that fit the bill.  It had been a favorite of mine 30 pounds ago, but it now hung on me; it also had armpit stains, but it just seemed too cute to throw away.  (I tried to find a picture of the shirt in its original state, but no luck.)  After literally less than five minutes of work, I had a new accessory!

I've really gotten into this "up cycling" thing.  It's fun to take something old and turn it into something new and creative.

So, that leads me to my next question:  I've found lots of uses for old clothes, and I've also come up with ways to improve upon something old or worn.  I haven't yet figured out anything to do with old shorts.  I have several pairs that are too big for me now that I've lost baby weight, but they don't fit anyone else in the family either.  Do they just get donated to Goodwill, or does anyone have another idea of what to do with them?

What are some things you have "up cycled"?

22 May 2012

Birthday Gifts

I have made it a goal of mine to focus more on handmade presents lately.  (I did it at Christmas, too.)  A few reasons:  they cost less, they are more personal, and no one in my life needs more cheap plastic toys.  So when my little girl's second birthday rolled around this month, I chose two handmade gifts to make for her.

The first was a circle skirt from this website; I absolutely love MADE and find lots of my inspiration from there.  (I also did a shirt dress last week, but I don't have a photo of it.)  I read Dana's tutorial and saw her say how easy this skirt was, but I assumed that there was no way it could really be that simple, especially since her sewing skills are head and shoulders above mine.  But, really, the longest part was drawing the perfectly-curved line for the pattern.  The entire project took about an hour, and the only tedious part was the hemming.  I used a scrap of fabric I had laying around -- less than a yard -- and spent about $2 for some colored elastic at JoAnn's.  My daughter loves it; it's very feminine and girly and perfect for spinning in circles while we dance in the living room.

The second project took a bit longer and was much more involved, but I'm prouder of it.  The pattern came from the book Little Things to Sew, which I borrowed from a friend.  (The last thing I need is another sewing book sitting around reminding me of how little time I have to devote to sewing.)  However, if I was going to buy another sewing book, this would be it.  It's full of clothes, toys, and kid-sized useful items specifically designed for small children.  There are dresses, backpacks, art smocks...and a fabulous child-sized front baby carrier.  I spend a lot of times these days with my six-month-old son in a Baby Bjorn, and my two-year-old gets irritated because I can't then pick her up.  I kind of hoped that a carrier of her own, for her own doll (named "Baby", conveniently enough) might cheer her up a bit.  

The pattern itself is quite simple, and very little fabric is required.  However, some of the curves are tiny, and didn't come out quite as neatly as I'd have preferred.  She didn't notice, though!  In fact -- sadly -- she was kind of underwhelmed.  She was more interested in her new crayons.  Bummer.  So I couldn't get a picture of her wearing the baby carrier; I'm hoping it will grow on her.

The next three gift-giving opportunities I have coming up are both for my husband:  Father's Day, our anniversary, and his birthday.  At some point, I'd like to learn to sew a men's shirt, but until then, I'm not sure I have anything in my repertoire that will serve as an appropriate homemade adult male gift.  Any suggestions?

28 April 2012

my non-pinterest idea list of little girl clothes

I've had a run of reading sewing blogs this week. Reading and bookmarking and thinking, "I want that, and that, and OH! LOOK!" Since I don't do Pinterest (and no, I'm not going to start) ... here are the top 5 things on my list right now. Of course, this does not mean that I'm actually capable of making any of them because hello, I just started sewing. But I did just buy this "how to sew" book (and I want to take her beginner e-class in September) so maybe I can work up to some of these things.

I am most definitely not a designer. I love clothes that mix up a lot of different colors and patterns, and still look so put together. Actually arranging that kind of outfit ... yyyyeah. Not my talent. Looking at a bolt of fabric and picturing what I can do with it - not so much. But these blogs and pictures are getting me thinking that maybe I can figure it out at least a little bit.

These are the dresses and skirts that have really struck me this week:

original post: Sew Together - I saw it on Project Run and Play

The bottom hem of this skirt is 23 feet. Oh. My. That is a truckload of fabric! I love love love the color-block tiers - I really want to learn how to do that. Maybe not 23 feet worth of it, but it is definitely on my to-do list.

original post: See Kate Sew

I was just clicking back through old links on this blog because it was a new one for me, and stopped cold on this dress. There's a tutorial for it and it looks so easy! It's a simple and plain dress - no busy prints (not that there's anything wrong with prints of course - I love them), but this is really fancied up into a piece of art. Art that you wear.

original post: MADE

Ah, Dana.  The blog that started it all. Seriously. Dana got me thinking I could actually sew for my kids, and here we go. Her daughter Lucy is the exact age, and appears to be the exact same size, as my oldest. So anything I see on Lucy in the pictures, there's a good chance it will look exactly the same on SM. This says SUMMER to me, in lots of ways. Where's the seersucker?

original post: Craftiness is not Optional - she was a guest on See Kate Sew's ruffles month/pleat week. (Hello? A whole month devoted to RUFFLES? Awesome!)

I'm starting with skirts for my girls ... this would certainly be a way to fancy them up! And oh look - while I was finding the original post to credit this picture, I came across a tutorial on this blog on how to make a tiered skirt. BOOYAH! Now I just need the right fabric combination for one! Or two or five ...
original post: Hopeful Threads. I don't remember how I found this blog, but what a great idea - to sew things with the purpose of donating them to the needy. This month, they're sewing for Dress a Girl Around the World, and that's what this particular dress is going to.

I have found my Independence Day dresses for my girls ... if I could just find that fabric! It's perfect. I'd make it for all 4 of my girls. There's a link in the post to a free pdf pattern for it, which I have already downloaded.

20 April 2012

Easter outfits!

I did it! I'm so impressed with myself! I made skirts for myself and my 2 big girls, and dresses for my 2 little girls. I also made the diaper cover and little headband for the baby, and drawstring circle purses for the other 3 girls. And here we are!

I did get individual pictures of all of the girls, but we hit a glitch in the camera download and not everything made the transfer. I'm also having problems flipping things from horizontal to vertical ... the joys of learning a new photo editing program.

Anyway ... I LOVE the pink edging on SM's skirt - just regular ol' 1-inch bias tape from Walmart. She likes the double skirt - when she's out picking dandelions by the truckload, she folds up the top skirt to be her basket and she's still modest because the lower skirt doesn't go anywhere. It's 2 entirely separate skirts attached at the waist, rather than one skirt with a funky extension for the bottom.

I think what impressed me the most about myself - the shock that I succeeded - was TA's diaper cover. The leg holes were kind of a pain to sew but I managed and she has her diaper covered when she wears the dress without a onesie underneath.

In the process of making all 5 or 10 or however many individual items ... I learned how to make buttonholes, I learned that I have no idea how to estimate how much elastic is needed for my girls' super-skinny waists (not much), and I learned that what works for a skirt for a small kid does not work the same way for an adult ... my skirt looked okay. It's wearable. But I do not like the way it hangs on me. When I find a skirt pattern that I like and that is cut to fit me well, I'm going to take this one apart and do it again because I really love the fabric.

My skirt - fabric from Modern Fabric Studio
The 4 girls' outfits - fabric from 7 Layer Studio, the lime squeeze colorway set (bought at fabric.com but they are apparently not carrying it anymore, which is a shame because it's REALLY cute)
The 2 skirts for the big girls - the simple skirt tutorial on MADE
JE's dress - the "ballet-neck toddler dress" in the book One Yard Wonders
TA's dress and headband - from a regular paper pattern, New Look E6576
TA's diaper cover - MADE's perfect diaper cover saves the day. I hate it when baby dresses don't have diaper covers.
their circle purses - I traced my largest mixing bowl onto 2 layers of fabric, and sewed them together all the way around so it's a double thickness of the fabric and can be turned inside out (if it gets dirty. Which, knowing my girls, it will.) I did little button holes all the way around, wove a ribbon through them, and pulled it up into a little bag.

13 April 2012

sneaky muffins

Okay, so about those 12 recipes I said I'd post this calendar year ...

I told my kids this morning that I was baking "chocolate chip muffins" because RG won't touch vegetables. This is what I did:

3 eggs
3/4 cup applesauce
1/2 cup milk
1 cup brown sugar
3 cups grated zucchini
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups flour
3 teaspoons cinnamon (I think this should be cut to 2)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
lots of chocolate chips - I didn't measure, just dumped in most of a 12 oz bag.

Mix ingredients down to zucchini, then add all the dry ingredients, then add the chocolate chips.

Bake at 325 for 1 hour if doing 2 9x5 loaves, 20 minutes if doing muffins. I got 30 muffins out of it.

They've been out of the oven long enough to cool, and RG is already on her second one.

The original recipe is here. This is all my variation. No oil, half the sugar from the original recipe, extra zucchini, applesauce, and flaxseed. I have no idea how healthy these are, but a lot more than the original recipe would have been!

11 April 2012

Frozen Rainbow Pie

The original recipe of Frosty Lime Pie comes from a Company's Coming cook book.  Obviously my amazing husband tweaked a few things.

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup lime juice
1 tsp (or more) grated lime rind
1 egg white, room temperature
1 cup whipping cream
2-4 drops food coloring

Beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth.  Beat in egg yolk.  Add lime juice and rind; mix in slowly.  In a separate bowl, beat egg white with clean beater until stiff; fold in.  Using the same separate bowl and beaters, beat cream until stiff; fold in.  Add food coloring.  Pour into prepared pie shell and freeze.  Let thaw approximately 15 minutes before serving.

1/3 cup butter
1 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
(for chocolate crust add 3 tbsp cocoa)

Melt butter.  Add crumbs and sugar.  Press evenly on bottom and sides of 9 inch pie plate.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.  Cool.

Now if you look at the picture you'll notice that it isn't just green.  Aaron always has to take things one step further.  He took the exact same recipe and divided it into thirds, making layers of lemon, orange and lime.  It is difficult to divide an egg yolk into thirds, but possible.  When pouring into the crust, wait an hour between layers.  And we topped it with whipped cream with raspberries or strawberries mixed in (raspberries blend much better when whipping the cream).

Note: We have tried this with a regular pie crust, but it tends to thaw too slowly compared to the filling making it difficult to slice.  The graham cracker crust is a wonderful compliment and is amazingly easy to make!

04 April 2012

more inspiration

I have the MADE blog in the side column as an inspiration link ... found another one. Through MADE, actually.

the Purl Bee

It's the blog for a sewing shop in New York City. I am literally going through every single page of this blog - I'm up to page 41 - and I can't tell you how many specific projects I have bookmarked already. More than 20. Mostly things made out of felt and regular fabric - Christmas ornaments, soft toys for my kids, things for my house ... cloth napkins, anyone? Seriously. These and Beth, you need these for your parents' house on Cape Cod. I don't know the first thing about boats or anything nautical, but aren't those amazing? And coasters. Who uses coasters? I don't, but I might have to make some now.

I don't have many knitting projects bookmarked because I don't know how. Yet. I did start learning last fall but didn't get very far with it. This site seriously makes me want to learn to knit well. And live in a cold environment. It's too hot and muggy in Mississippi to think about wearing a scarf or even own a sweater, but on this blog, the sweaters and scarves and blankets are amazing. We have to move somewhere cold so I can wear them, and dress up my little kids in them. And I want this rug.

31 March 2012

sewing goal so far

Yeah, so that sewing goal of posting 12 projects this year, at one per month? And it's March 31 and I still haven't posted anything ... BUT! I have been sewing!

I started with finishing the fish for the baby's cloth fishbowl in the Christmas present post.

Then I did a test run for the pattern I wanted to use for the girls' Easter dresses. Adam got me the book One Yard Wonders for Christmas, and it's in there - it's a variation of a pillowcase dress. I used some vintage-y fabric that someone gave me when they were cleaning out their sewing room to move. Good thing I did the test run because since I finished it, SM won't wear it and is insisting that she asked for a skirt rather than a dress. That's a load of garbage, but either way, she won't wear the dress. And that's too bad because I really like it. 

While I was at it, RG got a new skirt. When I make something for one, it's only fair that I make something for the other. She chose which fabric she wanted, and I put it together in just a couple of afternoons. The thing that took the longest was doing the elastic around the waist because at first I sewed it all shut without trying it on her and it was way too loose. So I had to undo it and tighten it up. I love the pink rick-rack around the bottom - my first detail I've added on anything I've ever sewn. Which, of course, is not much yet, but still. Details! I'm not good at details like this, so I was really happy that it actually worked and looks cute.

 practicing something from her ballet class at a gas station stop on our recent trip to Texas - there was music playing outside the store

happy girl in her skirt that Mom made

I've started the Easter outfits. JE's is done - it's a dress from the same pattern as the first one. TA's is cut out and started - it's a sundress with buttons over the shoulders. I'm using an actual paper pattern for the first time, borrowed from my next door neighbor. I think I can get the facing done tonight when Adam gets home from his church meeting. SM and RG will have skirts, probably with white shirts. I'm using this tutorial for simple skirts from Made - SM will get the double skirt with the bias tape binding around the hem (the green one with yellow trim in the tutorial). RG will get just the regular skirt, and I got some lace trim to have peek out from the bottom as a little flourish for her. 

AND I even got fabric to make myself a new skirt for Easter! The kids get new clothes. Why not me too? It will also follow the simple skirt idea - I don't have the time or expertise yet to do anything more fancy. But I'm really excited about the fabric - I got it from Modern Fabric Studio from their clearance section. LOVE their selection and the service was good - I had some followup emails about the purchase that I appreciated, and when the fabric arrived, SM declared it "the most beautiful fabric in the world!" I got 3 different fabrics from them, but only have plans for one piece so far. I will definitely keep them in my bookmarks to buy from them again.

So here are my January/February projects, and a preview for March/April. I'll definitely take pictures of all the Easter dresses and get those posted soon. And I already have a bunch more projects lined up as soon as the Easter dresses are done. I took the girls to Walmart a couple of weeks ago and they all chose fabric to get 2 t-shirt dresses. Each. Eight more dresses - there's April/May.

Grand total on clothes I've made so far: 4 Christmas dresses, 2 playdresses, 1 test run for the Easter dresses, 1 skirt for fun, 1 Easter dress.
On the schedule: 1 more Easter dress, 3 Easter skirts, 8 more playdresses. 

14 January 2012

finally - the Christmas presents I made

For this Christmas, I decided to make at least one thing each for Adam and the girls, and homemade for all the extended family we were getting gifts for. Here are my results (and this is going to be a long post):

patchwork quilt doll blankets for my 3 big girls, plus two more for cousins. I used this idea as my inspiration for making them. When I was going through a friend's scrap box for another project, I also thought of doing the patchwork - they were 4-inch squares, 4 across and down so about 16 inches square total. You'd want to adjust based on the size of doll you're making it for - we have fairly small dolls.

Adam wanted a fleece liner for his sleeping bag, which is a summer-weight bag but he has some winter camping to do this year with the Boy Scouts (if you can call it "winter" around here). I actually just gave him the fleece in his gift box because I ran out of time, and I sewed it later in the week. But it was done before New Years! I had teased him about getting him something pink and princessy so he would think of his girls back home while he was out camping, and he actually asked (because I was "really" going to get him pink fleece for his sleeping bag) that whatever I got, it not be embarrassing. I tried to find Lightning McQueen or something equally as kid-fun but definitely BOY, but all I could find was Thomas the Train. Eh. I went with soccer balls (on a BLUE background) because my boy LOVES soccer.

Baby got a cloth fishbowl and fish ... which will be played with by her sisters. Inspiration, pattern, and directions here. I did hit a point partway through making the first section of the bowl when I got really aggravated with it. It was a bit more challenging and time consuming than I had anticipated. But then it came together and I thought, "OH! That's how it works!" And I was really excited about it. I'm not saying I'm going to rush out to make a bunch more of them but in the end, I'm glad I did it. It's really cute, and maybe if we have boys later, I'll make one for them out of boy prints instead of all the flowers. No fish in the picture because I have to redo them.

I stole the idea for ribbon boards for the girls' hairbows from a friend. I've seen these boards for photos and other bulletin board uses, but here we go with the hairbows! I had two 11x14 frames that the glass had broken from so they weren't being used. I painted them to be the same color, and made the boards out of cardboard (cut to size from a diaper box), quilt batting, fabric, ribbon, and my trusty hot glue gun. The ribbons are glued on the back, but not tacked down at the cross points like they would be on a photo board. That's where you clip on the hairbows. I made some of these, some were bought, some were given to us.

I got my sister Emily's name in our sibling gift exchange and the theme was "something useful." I had some fleece left over from a baby blanket with penguins on it - she LOVES penguins. It was so her. And the pink was to remind her of us and our PINK girls! I made a hat and scarf for her. I also made a scarf out of the blue fleece that I specially ordered for my sister Tawnia as a sort of thank-you for all the help she gave us this past summer on our family reunion vacation. I was almost 7 months pregnant with TA at the time and was not keeping up with my other 3 kiddos. Tawnia was AMAZINGLY helpful. Anyway, before I wrapped and boxed up the scarves and hat, SM and RG modeled them.

close up of the hat - I added a little fringe on the top. I used a fleece hat that Adam has for my pattern mockup. It was 4 quarter pieces, and then a band all the way around the bottom.

I didn't get pictures of the next three things ... My brother and his family spent Christmas with us, so I made gifts for them. I made a fleece pillow for my nephew. I got the idea from a display at Hobby Lobby - get a pillow form from Walmart or something, cut a big square of fleece for each side, and do knotted edges all the way around. I had boy-print fleece already for my baby blankets that hadn't been cut into yet - blue background with lizards on it.

My 12-year-old niece got a couple of little makeup bags - this is the tutorial that I used. I altered the measurements slightly to make it a little more narrow from top to bottom, and wider from side to side. I had to buy a whole yard of oilcloth because that was the smallest measurement and only used a few inches of it so now I need to figure out what else to make with it. More makeup bags? It's a dark purple background with funky Hawaiian looking flowers on it - orange and yellow.

For Grandma and Grandpa, who also spent the holidays with us, I bought 4 plain white dish towels and had my 4 girls draw on them with fabric markers. Well, the baby didn't do the drawing - I did big block letters of her name and each letter was a different color. That idea came from the Family Fun magazine.

Adam even got in on the homemade trend. He made me a pegboard for the many spools of thread I'm accumulating with my new hobby of sewing. The pegs are at an angle so I can hang this on the wall and still see all the colors on the spools. (I can't figure out how to rotate the pictures in my new photo program - it's very annoying.)

Adam cut (with machine tools owned by a friend from church), sanded down, and painted this wood set for my brother and his wife. The model was a wood piece just saying LOVE that we received as a gift last year from a friend.

And now you have lots of ideas for Christmas this year, or birthdays between now and then, or just stuff for fun!

10 January 2012

2012 goal for the blog

My personal target for this blog for the year is to post one sewing/crafting project and one new recipe every month ... or 12 for the year of each since I'm sure there will be a month here and there when I don't get any sewing done, let alone finish something.

With the sewing, my list for the year is:
~ Easter skirts or dresses for all 4 of my girls
~ alter the skirt that I wore on my wedding day when I wasn't in my white dress
~ a beach blanket from old jeans
~ skirts for SM and RG out of a dolphin panel print that my mom gave me
~ fix and tie a quilt that Adam's mom made for him - the back of it tore open and the batting is all wonky. I want to pull out all the batting and put in new, and tie it. It was never tied.
~ a baby blanket for my sister's baby due in August
~ the summer playdress wardrobe for my kiddos who are growing out of everything faster than I can keep up
~ some kind of Independence Day decor for our house. I have a couple of ideas but I'm still looking.

I'm also starting to find toys online that I think would be really cool to make for the babies - I'll put those in another post when I get the links compiled. I loved making a lot of our Christmas presents and am getting to be very anti junk-plastic-toys from the store. Well, really, I'm getting to be anti STUFF in general - the sheer accumulation is driving me bonkers in our little house where we have all this STUFF but nowhere to put it away out of sight when it's not being used. But that's a tangent and a rant for another day.

I'd like to still post recipes - whether or not I actually cook it - because Adam is quite skilled at reading a recipe and knowing if it will be good or not. He does not like to eat the same things all the time and is constantly on the lookout for more recipes. He consistently finds excellent food combinations that (he says) are not difficult to make.

02 January 2012

My Christmas Crafts

Last year, I had the rule that everyone who received a gift from me would get at least one homemade thing. I didn't do quite that well this year, but I did make several gifts that I was really proud of and which were big hits! I'll do pictures and instructions for three crafty gifts in this post. (In advance, I apologize that I don't do photos or descriptions as well as professional bloggers do, but I'd be glad to explain more if I need to. I also got all these ideas from the internet, so it's easy to find more information.)

1. Knit scarves

I do know a basic knitting stitch, but I literally can just do straight lines. I cheated this year and let someone else do the knitting for me, and I just did decoration. I bought a set of jersey knit sheets at Target. (A queen-sized set was $24.99; I probably could get a much cheaper set on clearance somewhere, but I really liked the bright red one I found. Anyway, since it was lots and lots of fabric, I figured it was worth it.) Then I picked out the seams; I only ended up using the fitted sheet, so I left the other parts alone. (I will be making pillowcase dresses out of the two pillowcases, and I am currently using the sack the whole thing came in as a portable DVD player case. The flat sheet will get used for another project in the future.) Next, the hardest part: cut the entire length of the sheet into 16-inch sections. I found that the entire length was a bit too long for a scarf, so I ended up cutting off about ten inches. Basically, just hold it up and wrap it as you'd wear a scarf to test the length. No need to hem anything; it will coil up naturally and just look cute. If you want, you can stop right here and have a solid-colored scarf, but I decided to do some decoration with a bleach pen. DON'T use the color safe one; use the one for whites (about $4 at Target). Stretch the part of the scarf you want to decorate -- I suggest the ends -- over some plastic or cardboard; cereal boxes work well. Secure it with alligator clips. Then "write" or "draw" with the bleach pen. It's a sort of gel, and it WILL splatter, so wear old clothes! Allow the design to sit until you see it start to change color; mine took about 20 minutes. Then rinse off the excess bleach and wash the scarf in cold water. I had enough fabric in the fitted sheet to make five scarves, so even without utilizing the other parts of the set, the scarves were about $5 each. I found lots of instructions and tips for painting with bleach and bleach pens by Google-ing "bleach pen art". You can do this on t-shirts and tablecloths too!

2. Kitchenaid Mixer Cover

I'm especially proud of this one, because I didn't have a pattern! I borrowed a store-bought Kitchenaid cover from a friend and laid it on fabric to trace. You'll need to use heavier fabric than just cotton; I used a home decor weight. It takes two pieces that are essentially semi-circles. (For a 4-quart mixer they were about 13 inches wide and tall, but with the top two edges rounded. You'd make it bigger for the 6- or 8-quart mixer, and make sure to leave 1/2 inch on all sides for a seam allowance.) Then cut a piece to put them together. For my mixer, it was 4 inches by 38 inches. Pin the center piece and one semi-circle piece with right sides together, then sew; do the same with the others. Then make a narrow hem all around (I did 1/4 inch double-folded), and you're done! I searched "Kitchenaid mixer cover" online and found basically these instructions; I modified them a bit because I didn't feel like doing any quilting or using seam binding.

3. Bow Holder

I got the idea for this one from the blog Make It and Love It (www.makeit-loveit.com). It started with a really ugly $4 picture frame from the Salvation Army. I threw away the picture in the middle and the glass, but the glass could be useful for something else if you're industrious. I cut a piece of fabric that was big enough to cover the frame. I laid the empty frame over the fabric, then cut about one inch larger than the frame all around. Then I cut out the center of the fabric, leaving about one inch around the inside of the frame as well. I use Mod Podge to paint the frame and stick the fabric to it. To do this, you need to cut the inner and outer corners in a slit to fold them over nicely. Once the fabric is all glued down, Mod Podge the outside to make it stiff and shiny. After that, find a contrasting fabric and lay the cardboard interior over it; you just need to cut enough to cover the inset, then hot glue it down. Finally, cut enough ribbon to put at intervals along the inset -- I used five. You'll hot glue only the top and bottom of the ribbon, leaving the lengths of the ribbon loose to put bows on.

I had a really good time doing these, and so far the recipients have been pleased!