Monday, December 31, 2012

Christmas crafts: Elena's Dress

I had every intention of blogging my Christmas crafts as I completed things, before Christmas.  But here we are and I'm just starting.  At least it is still Christmas season, right?

I actually had Elena's Christmas dress finished, all but the last bit of hand sewing, done before December 1.  

The pattern is the Oliver + S Bubble Dress.  It's the second time I make a dress from this pattern, the first was for Elena's baptism.  The skirt looks so long that when I made the first one for her I actually cut off about five inches.  Then when I put it on her, five minutes before (or maybe after) I was supposed to leave the house you could see her diaper out the bottom.  I almost did it again this time, but resisted the urge, and in the end it was perfect.

The fabric came from Superbuzzy a long time ago.  I think it's a Tefle from Kokka.  The buttons are really lovely too, although it is hard to tell from the picture.  They belonged to an aunt of a friend of mine who used to have a sewing business.

Here's a little sneak peak at Lucia's dress, that post is coming up next.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Open for Business

That's right.  I did it.  Margee Slim now has a Etsy shop:

I've wanted to do this forever.  I'm starting small, with just one product on offer: french press covers.  I'm so excited to get it off the ground.

If you use a french press (and if you drink coffee, you should), you need this.  I designed this cozy over 5 years ago out of a need to keep my coffee hot.  Inspired by the traditional tea cozy, I designed it with an opening at the top so it can sit on the french press even while the coffee is brewing--who want's their coffee to get cold while it brews?

Over the past 5 years I have made many more for friends and tweaked the pattern a little bit at a time until I got it just right.  Each cover is one-of-a-kind.  I start with a genuine coffee sack and cut it down to it's most interesting parts--usually focusing on the company's printing.

I then decide if it will be pieced with a cotton print or left on it's own.  Behind the top layer is a layer of muslin to keep the batting from poking through, then a layer of cotton batting and then a layer of Insul-brite.  I then machine quilt those four layers in some interesting and complementary pattern.

Finally, I choose a complementary lining fabric and sew that in so all of the seams are enclosed.  You can see the lining fabric along the bottom as it also binds the base of the cover.

In the shop now are the first 7 covers available:

Four feature the coffee sack they are made from.

The other three include more intricate features.  

African print hexagons (hand sewn):

Appliqued poppy:

HUGE thanks go to Libby again for designing my etsy header.  We're working on labels next.   And thank you to Katie for letting me use her photo for my profile picture and the butterfly inspiration.

And, because I just can't help but include a photo session outtake shot.  Here's Lucia when she got tired of not being the center of attention.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

New Banner and a PSA

Do you love my new banner?  (Google Reader users, hop on over to the blog to check it out.)  My awesome sister, Libby, designed it for me and I'm so excited about it!  Thanks Libby!  You really should do graphic arts for a living.

On another note, I have an important PSA (public sewing announcement, haha) to share with you.   Do you know about Small Business Saturday?   Essentially you get $25 free from American Express if you make a $25 or greater purchase from a participating small business.  I found out about it last year and got two free patterns from Oliver + S.  They are doing it again this year, so if you want some of their patterns this is the weekend to order them.  But it made me wonder if there were any other online sewing shops participating, so I contacted Superbuzzy and Purl Soho (there's a certain fabric I've had my eye on for awhile).

Superbuzzy can't offer the $25 rebate but is offering 15% off your entire order that day.   According to an email I received from Purl they are participating. *

Finally, never a missed opportunity to do a little sewing.  Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

*Check out this link for more information on how to participate, you have to sign up with American Express first.  Also, I'm just passing on the information I received, so please don't blame me if it's wrong!)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Argyle Anyone?

My sister, Libby, and I send boxes of baby/kids clothes back and forth across the country.  I think this is to save money, but I’m not really sure it does.  Either way, it’s fun to see our girls wearing the same clothes.  I love how even with the same clothes on they are each unique.

In one of the last boxes she sent there was an argyle baby sling.  Since she and I are fans of the Moby I figured she must have bought this one for the fabric (she loves argyle) or maybe it was a gift, I don’t know.  But since it wasn’t being used I asked her if I could cut into it and use it for an outfit for Elena.

I love it!  She has gotten so many complements on the outfit too. 

The pattern is design 4 in Ottobre 6/2009. And it essentially cost me $0 and 2 hours to make.

The fabric is cotton with a tiny bit of nylon for minimal stretch.  It fits just right and is a little hard to get on and off.  But I’m glad I made it when I did because I don’t think I had enough fabric for a larger size.

The only change I made to the pattern was to add a ¼ inch seam allowance on the sleeves and armhole.  I planned to use sew binding to the inside to finish these edges instead of binding these edges with visible binding like the pattern indicated.  But I couldn’t find any fabric in my stash that I thought matched (even though it wouldn’t show) and I was getting tired/lazy, so I just serged the edges, folded them over once and top-stitched them down.

These one-piece coveralls are our favorite things to dress her in at this age, so I definitely plan to make her more, in the next size of course.  The next one will probably be in jegging fabric, something with a little more stretch will make diaper changes easier since it doesn't have snaps.

I have to say, I’m pretty pleased with how I matched the pattern.

Stay tuned, I have a big reveal this weekend!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

We're rollin'

I've been making this recipe of cinnamon rolls for a couple years now.  I searched all over the internet to find a good overnight recipe and I LOVE this one by Pink of Perfection.

For two years I've been making them at Christmastime for the daycare teachers and last year I started making them for the annual charity bake sale at work.  The only problem is that they must be individually wrapped and since I bake them that morning it can be a pain.

So this year I decided to search around for a good way to bake them already wrapped, or at least a start.  I came across these pannetone wrappers and used those for the bake sale.  I thought they worked out well.  After they baked I put them each in a plastic bag from Michael's and closed them with a twist-tie. But this weekend I decided to do a true test and compare baking them in the pannetone wrapper versus a mini tart wrapper (left over from a Panera souffle).  Ta da:

The mini tart wrapper (left) wins.   The cinnamon roll in the pannetone paper was fun the way in grew up but it didn't really maintain the center and all of the filling spilled up to the top and out.  The other one kept everything contained in the paper and even left a little yummy leftovers at the bottom if you dare lick it off (cheese paper anyone?).  Now I'm off to find the best deal for mini tart papers online.  Or I'll just go buy a bunch of souffle's.

One more note:  I usually follow the recipe to a T except I only make about half the glaze, it's too much for my family.  But the ones in the picture were actually made with whole wheat flour.  Use the 2 1/4 cups whole wheat in the initial mix and then add all-purpose flour for the remaining.  I bought white whole wheat for my next batch.  I'll be sure to report back.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Meet Rachel

Fifth grade, I think. Rachel on the left, me on the right.
We've been best friends since sometime between fourth and fifth grade.  To tell you the truth, we didn't hit it off right away.  I may have turned her off a bit with my over-obsessive need to protect my crayons and make sure they were returned in the right order in their box.  I'm glad she gave me a second chance.

Over the years we've had a few opportunities to live nearby one another but most of the time we've live clear on the opposite sides of the world. And that's true right now as she lives and works in Uganda.

Fourth grade school play.  Rachel is the third from the left at the front, I'm the one with the dark bangs in the front.  
This year when her birthday came around I wanted to make her something special and I thought it would be fun if it was something she could wear.  I couldn't keep it a secret though.  So I sent her an email asking if she liked the pattern I picked, Anna Maria Horner's (AMH) Proper Attire Skirt, to pick which color she liked, if any, of Cloud 9's Geocentric line, and asked her to send me her measurements.  She liked the pattern but couldn't decide on the fabric color and sent me a few measurements.

I decided that it might be easier to use final measurements from a skirt that she likes and luckily that's what AMH uses on the pattern envelope.  I also got it in my head that the skirt had to be gray and yellow, so I ordered the Circles Metal colorway and used some lovely yellow cotton stretch shirting I bought off the remnants table at G Street.

The pattern was fun to sew.  I love the flat piping but I left it off the side seams, I just thought it would look best.  I also left off the buttons.  I actually bought some yellow buttons but when I put them on top of the fabric it looked too busy.  Then I showed them to Juan and he said they looked like condoms.  And they do.  I think I'll just keep those stashed away until the girls are teenagers.  The only other alteration I made was to lengthen the skirt based on the measurements Rachel sent.

I didn't get any pictures of the skirt up close because I finished it with just 30 minutes to get to the post office in time to send it overnight to another good friend of ours that was flying out the next week to see Rachel.

Overall I really love the pattern.  My only complaint is that the actual final waist measurement did not match the final waist measurement listed on the pattern envelope.  It was actually about 1 1/2 inches larger.  I wish I had noticed this much sooner than I did but I had to send it as it was.  As you can see it fits, but it does sit lower on her hips than I wanted and also goes past her knees a little more than I would like.

But doesn't she look cute?  The top looks perfect with it.

I have plans to use this fabric combination again in the near future, so stay tuned...

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween

Mary and her Little Lamb

The dress for Lucia's Mary costume came from United Colors of Benetton and the staff came from Party City.   I made the prairie hat using this tutorial but left off the ruffle at the front. I made the bloomers from a vintage lace half-slip a former coworker gave me when she heard I was making this costume.  I just used a short bloomer/diaper cover pattern from Ottobre and lengthened them.  Then I put an elastic casing at the top of the lace so they would gather right under her knees.  I may take out the elastic so she can wear them as pajama pants.  I'm also thinking about making myself some pajama pants cut on the bias like that, they fell so nicely. 

I also made Elena's lamb costume.  The pattern was Ottobre 4/2012 but I added the ears and the tail.  The fabric is Michael Miller organic sherpa.  It is SO soft, probably the softest fabric I've ever sewn with.  I am dreaming about making us each a lined hoodie with it, and blankets for each of the girls to take to daycare... if only it wasn't so expensive.

I love how each of their costumes turned out.  Lucia had a lot of fun being Mary and sang the song all day long.  I hope next year we can avoid being a princess or a fairy, but if not, I got my chance this year. 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Halloweens Past

Leading up to Halloween 2012 I thought it would be fun to show you some pictures from Lucia's first two Halloweens.  I've never really had a reason to get into Halloween before but I am sure enjoying it now.  Since the day care is located at my office the kids have a Halloween costume parade through my building each year.  It is so much fun because I get to see the kids all decked out and share it with the other parents and my coworkers.

2010  OWL



1981 ??

Sunday, October 21, 2012

A Paca Fun Farm

Last weekend Lucia and I went on our annual pumpkin hunt to Comus Market.  As we drove out there I kept seeing signs for an alpaca farm open house.  So on the way back we decided to stop.  It was so much fun.

When we pulled up to A Paca Fun Farm we could see some alpacas out in front in the fields.  I thought that was the extent of it besides the little store, but after we went in the store they asked us if we'd been out back to see the alpacas.  From there we walked straight into the barn with just a little fence between us and the alpacas.

Lucia seemed to know instinctively to be quiet and calm.   She just watched and watched them.  She was especially taken with the two big dogs who care for the alpacas.  They were eye level with her so I thought she would be scared but she wasn't.  All week she has been talking about George (one of the dogs) who became her imaginary dog friend.

I was loving the baby alpacas.  This one was only two days old (that white fur in the front is one of the dogs).

I also loved getting to see a little into the process of making the fiber into yarn.  They talked us through the process of shearing the alpacas, cleaning the fiber and then dying it.  We could see into her dying studio too.

After all of that I had no choice but to buy some yarn of course.  I bought a lovely bulky yarn to make Lucia a sweater, she picked the color.  More on that when I finish.

I thought these last two were about 2 months old, but looking at the picture it looks like they might be different ages.

PS.  In case you are wondering about Lucia's dress.  I made it in the Spring, it's Anna Maria Horner LouLouThi Velveteen, In The Clearing Berry.  Such lovely fabric.  The pattern is Ottobre 3/2011, Tropical Blend.  I love that she is wearing some things longer now because it seemed like a silly fabric to use heading into summer.  She did wear it quite a bit during the summer though without a shirt underneath.  I'm so happy that it still fits and that she loves it so much too.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Sleep Sacks

I made something!  It felt like it took forever to finish such a simple project, but given the little amount of free time I had these last couple of weeks, it is an accomplishment after all.  

When Lucia was a baby we never used sleep sacks, we swaddled her and later just put blankets on her despite the warnings.  But between the fact that Elena never liked being swaddled and we were given an awesome set of sleep sacks when she was born, we were sold.  She just grew out of those and it was time for bigger ones.  We also wanted something a little warmer than what we had.  So, here is another example of "I can make it".

The details:  The fabric is mostly gauze receiving blankets.  The one one the left above has a knit lining.   The one on the right is cotton batting and free-motion quilted, the one on the left is wool batting.   I made the lion one second and you can tell that I learned a couple of things from the first one.  The zipper on the one on the monkey one came out wonky, so I used wonder tape for the second one and it looks so much better.  Also, I added a strip of white jersey behind the zipper and folded over the top so it won't scratch her chin.  Finally, both have separating zippers that open from the bottom.  The Sleep Sacks have the zippers this way and I think it's such a great idea.  It keeps the zipper pull away from the baby's face and you won't accidentally catch their neck skin when you zip it up (poor Lucia, I did that too her once).   

Anyway, if anyone is interested in the dimensions or more details so you can make your own, please let me know!

Sleep tight. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A piggy for my love

I got to start and finish something this week!  It's a small accomplishment for a three day weekend, but that was the kind of weekend it was.  This is a pattern by one of my favorite artists and bloggers, Abby Glassenberg.  She is an amazing designer of softies but an even better teacher.  Her blog is so instructive.  I am eagerly waiting for her second book, it's all about designing your own softies!  

Elena loves her little piggy.  I am planning to make her a second identical one to take to day care.  I think it will help her fall asleep since she likes to suck on a piece of cloth with her thumb.  The fabric is a lovely Japanese cotton terry that I found at Momen+ this summer.

And what better for lunch on a day off than breakfast.  Lucia and I had pancake bites!  Libby, these were delicious and a perfect solution for pancakes when you just don't have time to stand in front of the stove.  I made the orange cloud pancakes from King Arthur which were delicious. I'll be making these again. 


Welcome to my blog.

I’ve been writing this blog for about five years actually, the only problem is that it’s always been in my head. I’m finally taking the plunge and starting a real one. For the past five years I’ve become a faithful follower of numerous sewing blogs and I seem to be adding a new one to my reader each day. I can’t get enough. I love how the online sewing community has taught me so much over the past few years and how it has made me see what is possible with this favorite craft of mine.

My mom taught me to sew when I was young. I remember clearly how much I loved when she sewed for me. I plan to show some of the things she made that I keep dear. And I love that she had the patience to teach me and the willingness to let me use her machine. My best friend used to tease me that we always had a “project” going and that we would always say “I could make that” when out shopping. We still do both.

Now I have two little girls, Lucia and Elena, who I love to sew for more than anyone else. Lucia often asks me if I made her dress.  I find it irresistible to sew gifts for all my other nieces and nephews, their mommies and daddies and anyone else who comes along. I also love it when Juan asks me to sew something for the house, it makes me know that he values my craft. And then between all of that (and work, child care, cooking, housekeeping, etc.) I sometimes sew for myself. When I'm not sewing I dream about sewing, day and night.

I hope you come along on my little journey.