Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Christmas Dress

finished just in time. Probably because there were so many pieces to this dress it became more of a chore than a fun project! I still can't say I love it, but it will look very festive with her red and white tights. I used a Simplicity pattern that was inspired by Project Runway. The pattern gave different variations so you could customize the dress with short or long sleeves, bubble skirt, appliques, etc. It sounded like a good idea in the beginning, but ended up requiring too many steps! Anyway, it's done. Christmas is here. We're excited.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Holiday Baking

A quick, simple, cheap and eco-friendly way to share your holiday baking.
Instructions: Save tin cans. Remove labels, wash in dishwasher and dry before they can rust. Grease can. Fill half way with quick bread dough (I tried both pumpkin and banana, both were delicious). Bake as usual, maybe a little less time. Let cool. Cover with fabric square. Use rubber band to hold down fabric while tying with twine/ribbon/string. Attach gift tag. Give. Or eat. I got the inspiration for this idea here. Happy baking!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

a lucky little boy

because his mama is so great! Finally a gift I can post about because it's been received! This little ensemble is for the baby of my cousin, Emily. Emily and I grew up together, both being the only girls in our families of boys. She is the big sister I never had. She is expecting her first baby around the same time I am and now I just wished we lived closer.

I decided to stay away from light blue, figuring that she'll get enough of that. I made the little guy my favorite pair of baby shoes, a soft blanket and appliqued onesies. I kept the baby's daddy in mind when choosing the appliques. A true outdoors man, I thought Daniel might appreciate the fish, dogs, longhorns and namesake initial. I'm envisioning Daniel putting the little guy in his fish onesie, strapping him in the baby carrier and taking him fishing.

Baby gifts are a lot of fun to make. I can't wait to meet this little guy and I'm so excited for his parents!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Turkey Finger Puppets

Thanksgiving is here! I'm hoping this last minute project will be another distraction to keep our little ones in their chairs at the "kids table". We'll see. At least they were fun and easy to make, and hopefully will become useful at some strange time when kids need distracting. Like waiting in line at the grocery store or at church. I'll add it to my finger puppet stash. I saw the idea here and went with it. Just a little sewing and hot glue. I had all the supplies on hand after a random (but very discounted) shopping spree at discountschoolsupplies.com. 25 cents for a bag of 100 googly eyes... who can resist. (Obviously not too many people. Looks like they are sold out.) Anyway, I hope your Thanksgiving is filled with good food and good company. And of course gratitude.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

family pajamas

You know when you get the catalog with the family all in matching pajamas? They sell them everywhere at Christmas. Well, I always feel kind of sorry for the dad in the picture. It's usually some cheesy model, but still, does he really want to be wearing those red plaid flannel pajamas that his wife, son, daughter, dog and cat are wearing? I doubt it. And if he does, he still looks kind of ridiculous. Despite my opinions on matching holiday pajamas I thought it might be a fun and easy project to make our family pajamas. I wasn't going to have them all be some red plaid tackiness, but had a hard time finding a print that would be cute for Kate and Paul. So I decided we could sort of match. Sort of. I made Paul plain black pj pants, for myself I used a printed cotton and I made Kate's a red flannel with a ruffle made from the left over material from my pants. I like them...ok. I guess I should have gone with my instinct and skipped the "sort of " matching idea. I think next year I'll just make pj's for the kids. My girls. (Wow, that sounds weird.) Because kids are allowed to match and not look silly. They can wear as much plaid or flannel or crazy bird fabric as they want and I'll still think they look pretty cute.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Pilgrim Party Hats

Thanksgiving is 4 days away! Where has this month gone? I am really looking forward to the party that Thanksgiving will be--and hoping my turkey comes out ok. We are doing a kids table this year, mainly because of our lack of space at the adult table. We may have to tie them to their chairs to get them to sit through dinner... so I thought I'd try to come up with a few things to distract them while the adults are chatting away. I saw this pilgrim hat idea to store treats in and thought I'd modify it to be a party hat. They are a little elementary looking, but I didn't want to spend too much time on something that will likely just get stepped on and ripped apart. But maybe it will hold their attention for a few seconds? We'll see. Hope everyone's Thanksgiving preparations are going well!

Monday, November 17, 2008

leaf garland

Only 10 more days until Thanksgiving! This leaf garland was a fun and very easy Sunday afternoon project. Outside most of the leaves have fallen and turned brown so it was great to see these vibrant colors again that surrounded us only a few weeks ago. I got the idea to make this garland from a friend and I love decorating for free! We collected these leaves about a month ago and put them away in heavy books so they would dry flat. We pulled them out yesterday and they were in perfect shape. I used some thread and a needle to sew through each leaf and hung them with thumbtacks. The entire project took about 20 minutes. Kate tried to help, but mostly liked crunching up the extra leaves. I'm sure older kids would love this project. I really like the way it looks hanging in our house and it's getting me very excited for Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

knitted hat

This simple hat is my first project to be checked off the list after my shopping spree at Purl Soho in NYC. I noticed such a difference knitting with good quality yarn, I don't know if I will ever be able to go back to using acrylic. This yarn is a nice quality cotton that is so soft. Perfect for a sweet baby's head. I originally thought Kate might be able to wear it, but it will have to be saved for a new baby. The pattern for this hat came from Last-Minute Knitted Gifts. It's been rainy and cold here lately--perfect weather for knitting!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Advent Stockings

I am so happy, excited and relieved that this project is finished! These stockings will serve as an advent calendar for our family this year, and hopefully many years to come. The original inspiration for this calendar came from a mittens advent calendar I saw in a catalog last Christmas. I loved and if it weren't so expensive, I probably would have just bought it. I waited for it to go on sale but never did, instead sold out. I considered this year (for a brief moment) to knit mittens for all 24 days and quickly realized that the calendar probably wouldn't be finished until 2020. I then searched around and was inspired by this and this stocking advent calendar and decided stockings it would be. I love a little sparkle in holiday decorating so that's where the sequins and trim ideas came about. I used corduroy for the stockings and made 2 different patterns. The stockings are small, they will just hold slips of paper with different advent activities that we will do each day leading up to Christmas. Maybe someday I'll incorporate small gifts or tokens, but for now I think we've got enough stuff. Kate is still a little young to get really excited about this but I'm hoping in the years to come the kids will really look forward to each day's activity. And if they don't, I know I will. I do love the holidays!

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Gentle Art of Domesticity

I checked out this book, The Gentle Art of Domesticity by Jane Brocket, from the library a few weeks ago and just had to pay a late fee when returning it because I didn't want to send it back. It is different than any other craft book I've picked up. If you're expecting a collection of project ideas and patterns like I was, this book is not. Rather it's a compilation of beautiful photographs and inspiring essays on the gentle arts. Baking, sewing, knitting, quilting, etc. It also explores art, literature and film that can inspire or were inspired by the gentle arts. The author put her PhD on hold to pursue the gentle arts because she found they made her happier! I found the book to be really inspiring and refreshing. One of my favorite quotes from the book was:

"Despite the fact that domesticity is a deeply unfashionable concept, experience tells me that it is a wonderful means of building and supporting and sustaining relationships. A creative domestic space is one that not only enables individuals to flourish, but also encourages shared lives and experiences."

This quote reminds me of a portion of this talk I heard last month. Now let's all go create something beautiful!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

knitted mittens

My practical self has decided that large knitted things just aren't going to work for me. I have this thing with finishing things and crossing them off the list. And big knitting projects take too long. I've decided to stick to smaller projects like mittens, hats, baby booties and socks. Well here are my first pair of mittens. Check. Again, my knitting skills are extremely novice but I've now mastered knitting in the round! It's really pretty simple, but I feel like it looks hard with four needles flying around. At least I fool Paul. I found the basic pattern for these mittens here. I'm happy with how they turned out, although I need a little help with my finishing skills. Any tips from knitters out there?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Paper Pumpkins

For a quick and easy craft project to spice up your Halloween decor click here. These would also be great in red for Christmas and made to look like ornaments. Kid friendly too... although maybe not for the under twos. :)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Halloween crafting

I made these witches brooms for a few of our little friends and still have some to give out at Halloween. I filled them with toddler friendly treats (animal crackers, suckers, stickers) but you could fill them with candy or whatever the receiver would like. I originally spotted these here and here. For another Halloween craft idea (that is a lot of fun) check out a project we did last year (and will repeat again).

Monday, October 6, 2008

Christmas Robe

I think I love this robe more than Kate ever will. One of my favorite blogs to read is SouleMama and I remembered seeing a similar robe she made for her daughter last Christmas. I am planning to make Kate some Christmas pj's and then remembered the robe and it quickly made it's way to the top of my project list. I found the vintage pattern on ebay as well as the flannel Michael Miller fabric. The flannel is so soft I'm going to have a hard time waiting until Christmas to snuggle her up in this! It came together really quickly. I got a little hung up on the button holes--I've only made 1 before. But I think I've got the hang of it now. I should probably put the Christmas projects on hold for a while and think about Thanksgiving. I am cooking the turkey afterall.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

knitted bonnet

My original intention for the hat was knitting it for the new babe. I even bought unisex color yarn because we don't know the sex yet. Somehow it fits Kate! Clearly, I am a beginner. It turned out cute in a funky, pioneer sort of way. Hopefully she can get some wear out of it this winter. And if anything, I learned how to knit an i-cord with double pointed needles. Baby steps. The pattern was on loan from my friend Becca, who got it out of this book. It really is a beautiful book with pretty pictures. And if you're only a sewer, check out their other book, with sewing projects. Remember peanut?

quick, easy and inexpensive napkins

We use a lot of napkins in this house. It's either the little hands that are always messy (or the big ones), I need something to put the toast on or to wipe up the floor. We are always using {and buying} a lot of napkins. We usually use cloth napkins at dinner but we don't have very many. So here are the red polka dots again in action! I cut rectangles, ironed the edges (folding in 1/4 inch twice so the raw edge isn't exposed) and sewed! It took about 30 mins from start to finish and couldn't be more simple. {Just a side note, I bought this red fabric sometime in college on a random trip to walmart. It was before I was really even sewing, I just remember it was on clearance for $1 a yard so I bought 3. I've had it forever and it has served many purposes! Suddenly my kitchen is made up of red polka dots. Maybe one day I will use it all up...} So help save the planet and yourself some money and sew some napkins!

Friday, September 26, 2008

meet Lucy

Aka "dolly". This gal has been on my project list for a long time. And I'm so excited she's finished! I've been reading the Wee Wonderfuls blog for some time and love the dolls she makes. So when this pattern came up for sale, I couldn't pass it up. The pattern was really easy to follow, just a lot of steps and quite a bit of hand sewing involved. There are still more clothes to be made but I think I may take a break for a little while! I'm really happy with how it turned out. I worked with a wool blend felt for the first time {as opposed to the cheaper polyester felt more commonly found} and I really noticed a difference. It made me want to find some 100% wool felt. Felt is kind of addicting. I'm already thinking about all of the things I want to make with it! For now it's off to a tea party with Kate and Lucy. You're all invited :)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Corduroy Pants

I wish I could say I made this jacket... but no, just the pants. Speaking of jackets though, look at this one--it's gorgeous! I've got to get my hands on that pattern. {I think I'm putting it on my Christmas list, hint hint.} But really, nothing special, just simple brown corduroy pants to wear with the cute jacket. I have a hard time finding jeans or pants that aren't knit that fit well over kate's big cloth diaper bum. So I used leftover fabric from this jumper and these pants really are simple to make. Except when you start them at 11pm and sew the wrong sides together, and then have to rip them out and start over. Don't do that. I used Simplicity pattern 5936 and for less than $10 I got a jumper and pants! Not bad.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

High chair for baby

Kate's baby, that is. I'm not sure who is more excited about this doll high chair makeover, Kate or me. I found this little chair on craigslist for $5 and it was too cute to pass up. Especially since they sell wooden high chairs at Pottery Barn Kids for $50! I spent $3 on a quarter yard of oilcloth fabric to recover the seat (and still have plenty of fabric left over to make place mats, lunch bags or bibs. Oilcloth is great.} I put on a coat of white paint with leftover paint from another project and voila! A new doll high chair for $8! I was thinking of stashing this away for a Christmas present but considering Kate is all over the house, it's pretty hard to keep things from her. Plus she has already taken a liking to it and likes to put her baby in the "baby high chair".

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

5 years later...

A scarf. It was 5 years ago that I sat in my friend Maria's apartment and she first taught me how to knit. I made it pretty far and then gave up. Fast forward 5 years later and I decide I want to give this knitting thing another try. While there are about 10 other projects I'd rather be doing than this scarf, I felt that I owed it to myself, and the scarf, to finish! Don't look too closely--it's not without flaws. But it is super soft and maybe sentimental? I remember sitting in that apartment with Maria who shared it with her new husband, Skyler, Paul's best friend. Paul and I were just dating at the time and I can still remember our conversation about marriage, the future, possibilities and where it would all lead. After all that uncertainty 5 years later I'm pretty content with how things played out. And equally content that the pink scarf is finally finished!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Brown Jumper

There is a sad story that goes along with this jumper. Sad to me, anyway. This summer I found Kate some adorable new shoes at the Nordstrom anniversary sale--brown and pink mary janes. I thought they would be perfect for fall so I bought them a size to big so she could grow into them. On our way back from California we mailed a few boxes because we couldn't fit everything into our suitcases. I put the shoes in the one of the boxes thinking we wouldn't need them for a while. We got back to Connecticut and my first project was a brown and pink jumper to match her new shoes for fall. A few days after we arrived the boxes came looking like someone had taken baseball bats to them! I guess the journey was really long! Most of our stuff was fine and we were just relieved it arrived. I began unpacking the boxes and only found 1 brown mary jane. I was sure the other one was buried under something or kate had found it and took it in another room but after a long search we determined that it was gone! The little brown shoe lost along the highway somewhere in middle America clearly fell out of the ripped box. What good is one shoe!? Especially when you have a brand new jumper to match! Needless to say, I was a little disappointed. We've filed a claim with UPS so hopefully we get some money and I can look for another pair of brown and pink mary jane's to match... if not, she's wearing the jumper anyway!

Enough with my sad story, the jumper itself was very simple to make. I embellished the top with 2 covered buttons. I bought a covered button kit at Joann's and it's about the coolest kit ever! Next I'd like to try these embroidered covered buttons. Until then, be on the lookout for one brown shoe. It's got to be somewhere in America. Lonely, I'm sure.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Knitted bib

I'm back! Sort of. My lofty goal of making a quiet book this summer has not yet been achieved. I did, however, manage to pick up knitting again. I first learned how to knit back in college from a good friend and I'm ashamed to say that I still have not finished the scarf I started then. (Although I am close.) The scarf is still at home in Connecticut so I thought I'd try a smaller project this time. I had completely forgotten how to knit so I watched videos online. A friend told me about knittinghelp.com and I also found other great how-to's on youtube. This bib was really simple. It only required the knit stitch and making button holes was actually a breeze. I'm looking forward to trying out a few new patterns. Knitting is one of those great mindless activities that you can do while watching a movie or on long drives (as the passenger, of course).

I found the pattern for this bib on knittinghelp and just a tip--I started making it using wool yarn until I realized, duh, I wouldn't be able to wash it. Use a cotton or polyester yarn that can be washed and dried.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Taking a break.

We’ve made it across the country (again) and are now summering in California. Actually, working, but I’ve always wanted to say I was “summering” somewhere and I think Long Beach might beat out the Hamptons? Anyway, while packing for our 2 month time away we had to cut a few things out and unfortunately the sewing machine didn’t make the cut. There is an ancient one here that I may try to dust off and I have a few non-sewing crafty things to do (a quiet book for kate and possibly another attempt at knitting) but I don’t expect posts here to be very regular. So I’m signing off for the summer. Hopefully the 2 readers that look at this blog will come back every now and then. Until then I’ll enjoy reading lots of books and being inspired by all the other crafty people out there on this world wide web. Happy Summer!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Reversible Apron

Kate will sometimes "try on" my apron and then trip as she tries to walk around the kitchen. It's obviously much too big for her! I've been meaning to make her a smock type apron but when I saw this tutorial I liked how the apron was reversible and thought I'd give it a try. It was really simple and took less than an hour to make. The most time consuming part was cutting out the letters for "chef" and "artist". It would also be cute to put the child's name on it. I used heat 'n bond lite to iron on the letters, then did a zig zag stitch around the edges before sewing each side together. Bias tape is used for the tie and it's adjustable so hopefully it will fit her for a while! Now my little "chef" can help in the kitchen and hopefully be a little neater. Although I doubt an apron will really change much.

Another interesting bit of info i read lately on the Montessori philosophy of apron wearing:
An apron makes each task special. Donning and taking off an apron marks the beginning and the end of important work. These aprons are used for preparing food, setting the table, washing dishes, painting, and so forth.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Alphabet Magnets

I’ve been looking around for some magnets for our fridge that Kate can play with—but my search hasn’t gone very far. I remember seeing the idea to make your own on The Purl Bee and decided I would give it a try. I found business card magnets on eBay, 26 magnets for $2.50. Don’t go to Staples, they want to charge you $15 for 50 magnets. Then I just used scrap fabric I had around. One side of the magnet is sticky, so you stick the fabric on the sticky side, trace the letter on the back and cut it out with pinking shears. The trickiest part was drawing the letters backwards on the back of the magnet so they turned out right on the front. Kate seems to have taken interest in them. Although she doesn’t quite get that after taking them off the fridge you’re supposed to put them back on. Alas, another thing for me to pick up off the floor!

Friday, May 9, 2008

What was once old, now new!


We cleaned out our closets last weekend and this t-shirt was in the giveaway pile. It had been sitting there for a few days when I remembered an idea I saw in the book “The Creative Family” by Amanda Soule. She suggests repurposing an old t-shirt into a pair of comfy knit pants. I’ve been looking for a little white knit skirt for Kate and haven’t found one so I thought I would try repurposing my old white t-shirt into a little white skirt. It worked out pretty well. Especially considering it was free! I used another skirt Kate had as a model and figured if it didn’t work out there wasn’t too much risk involved (besides time, of course). The most frustrating part was figuring out how to sew on the knit material. It’s not the same as quilter’s cotton! My thread kept breaking and eventually I figured out I needed to change my needle and type of thread I was using. Now Kate has a new comfy white skirt for summer. And if she stains it, I don’t care! Look through your closet—what can you make new again?

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Getting things done

I feel as though I have been furiously sewing lately and I don’t have much to show for it! Nothing too exciting--just mending, hemming, sewing diaper pail liners and these shoes. I’ve made these cloth baby shoes before in a girl version and they were even easier to make the second time around. Comparing them to Kate’s shoes now they seem so small! I’ve already forgotten just how little newborn toes are.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Simple Pillows

These pillows came together so quickly. I got the general idea from this book, but basically it's just three pieces of fabric, 1 front and 2 for the back. The back pieces overlap creating a nice pillowcase. No zippers but still easily removable and washable for all of kate's messes. Really simple and really fast. Finally our pillows match!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

pink polka dots

Another dress! I’m addicted. I think this will be my last one for the season. Kate’s closet is now ready for Summer! I used Simplicity pattern 4246 and I like how the skirt is so full. Can you tell I love polka dots?

*please forgive the blurry pictures. It was too rainy to go outside and this girl is too busy to hold still!

Sew Vintage

They don’t make things today the way they used to. The sewing machine I learned to sew on was about 80 years old and belonged to my Great-Grandmother Ansley (kate’s middle namesake) and after 80 years still worked great. When I bought my own sewing machine a few years ago my mother-in-law gave me great advice. Either invest in a fancy (and expensive) Bernina or find an older machine with all metal parts. Not ready to invest a thousand dollars I found my trusty ole Singer on eBay for $150 dollars. It was made in the 1950’s and still sews great. I really love it.
I started thinking about how great old sewing things are because I got the best package in the mail today! For $6 on eBay I found 100 wooden spools of thread and a ton of sewing notions (ric rac, bias tape, blanket binding, sequins, lace, elastic, etc). I was so excited I had to take pictures of my great find. If I went to Joanne’s today and bought all of this thread and notions I think it would cost at least $75. And I got it for $6!! It was fun to go through it all and think of the little old lady it used to belong to. I wonder what type of things she used to sew, probably fancy dresses and petticoats. Now it’s my turn… where to start!?

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Baby Legs

When I spotted these homemade baby leggings I immediately thought of my little niece, Leah. Leah is wearing braces on her legs for the next few months and has to wear mostly onesies and socks. I thought these would be perfect for her. I used this tutorial and it was so simple. I did it while we watched American Idol (addicting…) and after seeing how easy it was I want to make some for Kate as well. I tried these on Kate to see how they would look and of course they were much too small. Hopefully they will fit Leah who is just 5 months old! I also like the idea of easy diaper changes. That is one thing I dislike about tights—taking them on and off!