31 December 2014

2014 holiday challenge review

Mindy and I did a Holiday Challenge this year, started in February. Here's my report:

February: heart pillows.

March: Dr. Seuss print clothes for all my girls.

April: JE's birthday dress, because birthdays are holidays!

May: SM's birthday dress.

June: Nine Independence Day skirts for my 5 girls and 4 of their cousins.

July-August-September: the bottom fell out on my sewing mojo, and I did nothing for any holidays. That's when I need to start working on Halloween costumes and Christmas gifts, actually. In August, I was hoping to get a picnic blanket put together for Labor Day out of cut-up jeans. I started cutting old worn-out jeans one day in my living room with my kids "helping," and then the scissors had to get put away when JE started giving haircuts. We still have some extra-choppy bangs going on.

October: birthday dresses for RG and TA (and I started the Sew All 26 alphabet challenge. Always looking for something new to motivate myself!)

November-December: All the sewing for the Christmas gifts, which I just posted in my C and D alphabet posts.

These review posts are helping me organize my thoughts and see where I did well and where I need to improve. Hooray that I completed so many sewing projects! And I'm really glad I met the target of making birthday dresses for all 5 of the girls. For another round of the Holiday Challenge, I think it would be better for me to choose what holidays I'm going to work on through the year and some project ideas for each, all in one big list so I'm not trying to come up with new ideas all the time. The planning is what trips me up on a lot of things.

30 December 2014

2014 sewing inventory

Here's my final list of items sewn in 2014:

- 5 flannel nightgowns, one for each of the girls, a variation of the Oliver+S playtime tunic. I made the top the same and lengthened the skirt part all the way to the floor.
- 4 heart pillows with letters that spelled L-O-V-E. I also helped my girls make their own little heart pillows. Holiday challenge - Valentine's Day.
- I helped a friend's daughters make 2 "simple skirts" out of my leftover Minnie Mouse fabric to wear at Disney World. The girls were 8 and 6 and did quite a bit on their own but needed a lot of help.
- 4 tier skirts and an Oliver+S ice cream dress, all with Dr. Seuss fabric. Holiday challenge - Read Across America Day (on March 2, Dr. Seuss's birthday). The dress was also JK's birthday dress.
- Spring break "sewing camp" with some friends - the girls made dresses and square block "quilts" for their dolls.
- JE's birthday dress: Oliver+S roller skate dress.
- SM's birthday dress: Oliver+S music box jumper.
- 9 Independence Day skirts for my 5 girls and 4 of their cousins - all simple skirts with added pockets and ribbon trim. Holiday challenge: Independence Day.
- a t-shirt playdress for TA.
- jumper Sunday dress for JK.
- SM's white baptism dress.
- 4 comfort blankets for JK, which are a king-sized blanket cut into quarters and re-hemmed.
- 2 flannel baby blankets for gifts for friends - the edges were hand-stitched.
- a pillow cover from MADE's video tutorial.
- 3 Origami Bento tote bags - ballet bags for RG and JE, and one for a friend's birthday gift.
- a team project with SM to make a "picture quilt" for Grandma's birthday - I basically sewed everything onto a background fabric in a very crude version of applique.
- RG's birthday dress: Oliver+S music box jumper.
- TA's birthday dress: a t-shirt dress with an applique (she's only 3 so has no idea she was cheated on not getting her own new Oliver+S dress, but I'll make it up to her).
- 7 doll skirts, 5 doll shirts, 10 doll dresses.
- a kitchen floor rug for Adam's Christmas gift.
- the roof and walls for the playhouse Adam built for the girls' Christmas gift.
- 4 stuffed animal cats.
- 20 items out of my mending box fixed and returned to circulation, although from the size of the pile, you'd never know I did anything at all.

Wow. There are so many things I wanted to do that I didn't get to, but this is definitely more than I've ever sewn before. I'm happy with the list! Onward for 2015!

27 December 2014

D is for doll clothes

My girls all have the My First Disney Princess dolls - not the baby dolls, but they look "toddler"-ish. Very cute. They're 14-inch dolls, so a bit smaller than American Girl dolls but LOTS cheaper. We were starting to have issues over the doll clothes because they come with just the outfit they're wearing, so I decided to make doll clothes for one of the group Christmas gifts.

I started with this list of ideas and links by Nest Full of Eggs. That got me going on skirts but my attempts at a circle skirt did not go well. It was enough for me to decide to move on to another idea for my letter C in Sew All 26 - a Circle skirt was not going to fly. I got through 7 skirts - one for each doll - and called it good. The trims were the fun part!

I needed something for the top half of the dolls, of course. So I did a couple of searches and found 2 shirt patterns/tutorials for dolls. I had to tweak the sizing because they're designed for the 18-inch dolls. I used this pattern from Serving Pink Lemonade to make 4 shirts - 2 light blue and 2 hot pink (only one of each in the picture). I stopped with 4 because my pattern tweaks were still pretty wonky and it was my first attempt at working with knit fabric ... which ... like the circle skirt, did not go very well.

The second shirt pattern - here by New Green Mama - was tweaked larger instead of smaller, and made into a dress. I made 10 of those. Still wonky but whatever. The girls don't even notice, or care. My favorite is the white/navy dot with the hot pink ribbon. While I was putting the combinations of fabric and ribbon together, I was thinking that I wished I had more fabric to make full-size dresses like them! But all of this fabric was out of my scrap box, so that's not going to happen.

These are certainly not worthy of being sold or given to anyone besides my own kids. But I put in some solid work and tried some new fabrics and tutorials, and the girls are happy with the wardrobe for their dolls to share. That's what matters.

26 December 2014

C is for cats, cottage, crimson-trimmed rug

C is for Christmas presents that also start with C - cats, a cottage, and a crimson-trimmed rug.

The girls and I were doing a random search for patterns to make stuffed animals, and found this great round-up at Sewing Support of LOTS of stuffed animals. They wanted this, that, and the other and this cat - the Cotton Candy Kitty - was included on their list. Ultimately, what it came down to was this was the only pattern that printed out well and I was running out of time. So they all got the same cat. (SM, our oldest, got a different gift from Dad - the other 4 girls got these cats.) Fortunately, it's part of the design to use regular quilting cotton for the fronts of the ears so that's how they're all different. They're made of fleece - pink with white dots. I embroidered the faces. Cats are actually a very popular toy at our house, since the girls have been told straight out that we will never have a real cat. Dad is allergic to them.

This was Adam's brainchild - he built the frame out of PVC pipe and I covered it with fabric. The roof and 4 walls are 5 separate pieces all made from regular quilting cotton and wrapped around the pipe and attached with velcro. The door is that I cut and edged a slit in the pink fabric, and then just hand-stitched a flap of green felt across the top over it. There are no windows or other details on the sides and back yet - that will be a project for the girls and I to work on together in the next few weeks. I figure we'll cut things out of felt and hand-stitch them to the pink, the same as the door.

I got the idea of making a kitchen rug a long time ago from one of the quilting blogs I read but there was no way I was going to put all that effort into a quilting piece just to stand on it in the kitchen. This was a piece of print duck canvas (who the heck thought of naming a type of fabric "duck"???), layered with an old towel for cushioning, and then a layer of the rubberized no-skid rug mat that I got from Home Depot. The border is bias tape. This was one of my gifts to Adam.

soft and warm

Lamb attempt number one:
Only about six inches tall.  
Forgot to add the ears (pinned on for the picture).
Not happy with it.
So I scaled the pattern 150%, tweaked it a bit
and used cuddly pink fleece to make lamb number two.
Much much happier.
Nose is embroidery floss and eyes are permanent marker.

Rice-filled bags are fabulous to use as heat packs.
Just microwave for a few seconds and toasty warm.
Little pocket warmers are a great way to use scraps.

25 December 2014

D is for Dragon

Cupcake asks Daddy to read her "dragon" every night, The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch.  He knows it so well that he has his own version of telling it, with sound effects and silly lines added in.  One day I'll get it on video.  When I came across this link to making your own rug, I thought it looked pretty easy, and we are in need of a good rug in the kitchen.  I found the non-slip rug liners at Walmart, and some denim at the thrift store.  The other side had flowers all over it, and while I would be happy with it I didn't think my husband would be too thrilled with it for a Christmas present.  So I turned it to the solid blue side, but it was too plain.  I debated a lot about what to paint, but finally settled on a dragon (which he loves), so it will be from both me and Cupcake.

The actual making of the rug was easier said than done.  The rubber doesn't go through the machine easily, and getting the whole thing smooth is difficult.  So not a project I'll do often, but glad I did it at least once.  

 And while I'm on the topic of rugs, I made a scrap rug too!  This one goes to my sister, Tawnia.  I worked on it off and on for exactly three months.  I used the same non-slip rug backing and just pushed strips of fabric into it.  Because I was constantly adding more colors and patterns and textures, as I finished other projects, I added scraps at random.  But working from one end to the other makes sense too.  Not every hole needs to be filled - every other or every third is plenty.  I will definitely be doing this again - I've already got lots of other scraps trimmed (around 1" by 6") for future rugs.  It could be fun to try stripes or pattern or even a giant heart in the middle.  I used the scraps from other projects but thrift store sheets would be great to get a lot of fabric at once.  And old t-shirts are fabulous because knit doesn't fray.  Although this one took a lot more time, it was a mindless, relax in front of the TV but still being productive, sort of project.  Yay!

14 December 2014

I Spy Bucket

 small plastic jar + vase filler +
twenty five small objects + item list =
a fabulous I Spy game ready to play!


C is for Christmas Cardigan

I completed Cupcake's Christmas skirt at Halloween, when I made her Bo Peep outfit reversible.  I'm glad I did, because I haven't been able to do as much sewing as I've wanted to in the last few weeks.  But it needed a little red sweater to go with it, and I couldn't find one anywhere.  I was given one years ago for myself, that was always just a little too small, so I didn't mind resizing it down to fit her.  I just laid a shirt on top of the sweater, traced around it, and resewed it all together.  Done.  The sleeves are a little snug, but it works for the few times she'll wear it this month.  I may add a pin or button towards the top to add some sparkle.  

01 December 2014

quiet time here

I know it's been quiet here but I have been sewing quite a bit lately. I'm shooting for a Christmas as close to $0 as I can. We bought a real tree and I have to buy stamps for our Christmas cards, so obviously we're spending some money for our holiday ... but I'm trying to use materials we already have for making gifts. The results will be posted after Christmas, since the girls read the blog. No preview notes or photos, but I will say that C and D in the Alphabet Challenge will be covered.

In other homemaking news, we had a lovely Thanksgiving with my brother and his family visiting from Virginia. It snowed on Wednesday last week, so we had our first White Thanksgiving. The girls went sledding with their cousins in the morning before our big dinner.

Adam has figured out the secret to pie crust - he totally nailed it on every pie. The secret is - freeze the butter, then grate it with your food processor grater attachment. Don't ever touch the butter with your hands. Mix it in with the flour with a pastry cutter and handle the dough as little as possible until it's rolled out and in the pie plate. Adam has been trying for "flaky" pie crust for years, and this was fabulous.