Blocks for Me.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Want to see my new toys?  This is totally a guilty-pleasure purchase.  I couldn't resist the beauty of Sundance Catalog's ribbon spools in grosgrain, plaid, and velvet.  They come on fabulous wooden spools, with a pearl-tipped straight pin holding the ribbon in place.  The colors, textures, and weight of the ribbon are perfect.  I love beautifully wrapped gifts, and I can't wait to tie some of these gorgeous ribbons onto Christmas packages.  Until then, though, I'll continue arranging and stacking and rearranging and playing with these beautiful blocks that are just for me. 

I think these will look lovely in my sewing room.  I have some small picture ledge shelves that I plan to hang soon, so I already have a place to put these.  I'll happily reuse the spools when I run out of ribbon.  I've been looking for a good elastic storage solution -- wonder if these spools will work?

We love Kermit.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Remember when Kermit the Frog was on Sesame Street?  Why is he not on Sesame Street anymore? Did Elmo, Zoe, and the other "new" characters kick him off?  What there some sort of turf battle that I missed out on?  And if so, where was Miss Piggy with her karate chops?  

I think Kermit holds a special place in my heart.  He was pretty central to Sesame Street when I was a kid.  When I was in junior high, my aunt gave me a framed picture of Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy, which hung in my room throughout high school.   Mr. Great does a pretty funny "Here in Frogland" impersonation.  

With all that, how could I not remake my Kermit shirt into something my daughter could wear? Doesn't it make you smile?

Doesn't she make you smile?

Pattern Notes:  This is another refashioned tee using the Lil Blue Boo Sienna Dress pattern, which I modified as described in this post.

Little Sewing Hands.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

My four-year-old has shown an interest in learning to sew.  She doesn't have a lot of patience for hand-sewing (sounds like her mama!), though we've tried stitching on burlap and on plastic canvas in star shapes, sewing buttons, and working with felt.  We've used lots of types of pink and sparkly yarns and threads, and a lavender needle.  But acorns don't fall far from trees, and the girl is convinced that the real sewing is done on a sewing machine.

We started machine lessons a few months ago.  She sits on my lap, watches as I thread the machine and bobbin.  She raises and lowers the presser foot, helps guide fabric, and pushes stitch-changing buttons.  We talk about every step of the process.  Our first project was entirely her idea -- a scarf for her dolls with fabrics she chose from the scrap bin.  Next, at her urging, we made a panda doll by sewing around a panda illustration on some cute Japanese fabric, adding a back, and stuffing with cotton balls.  She loves that thing!  Unfortunately, so does the cat, and the poor panda now has a gash in its soft little head (did somebody lace our cotton balls with catnip?).  Our latest project is a gift for her little brother, who will turn two on Christmas Day.  This one was my idea, but it's been a team effort every step of the way.

(Please don't tell the little guy about this.  We want him to be surprised, okay?)

We started with a DIY i-spy kit from Pattern Play on Etsy.  We could easily have done without the kit, but I didn't want to bother with shopping for all the tiny trinkets, and I love the fabric list of treasures to find.  Big Sister chose the fabrics from fleece scraps sent to me by another sewing mama, and she chose the thread.  She helped with all the stitching.  Here's what she made (note the spool -- love that!):

We initially left space at the bottom for a personalized label, but Big Sister decided that she didn't want it on there after all. 

We're very excited to wrap this up and give it to Little Brother.  But how will we wait more than a month?!  I know, we'll just have to get started on our next gift project.  Stay tuned for that...

DIY I-Spy Kit Notes:  I noticed that a couple other Etsy sellers offer kits as well.  Violet's kit comes with fabric and a personalized treasure list.  InvitationCreation's kit comes with game ideas.

Bitten by the Vintage T Bug.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Whether you call it upcycling or refashioning, it's all the rage.  Everywhere I look, people are converting old t-shirts into fabulously funky kids' clothes.  Although I own more fabric than I'll ever be able to sew in my lifetime, I couldn't help myself and had to get my hands on some fun vintage shirts. 

So I shopped Etsy (though thift stores would surely have been better) and paid too much for a sparkly(!), rainbow(!) carebear(!) t-shirt straight out of the 1980s.  I cut it into a dress bodice and then began second-guessing my design choice.  Should I use raglan-style sleeves?  Should I use a waist strip of coordinating fabric?  Should I make the skirt twirly or a-line?  Oh no!

Then I did what any reasonable dress maker would do.  I ran to Target and bought a cheapie t-shirt so I could make a sample dress (again, nevermind that I have cabinets full of fabric).  I chose coordinating fabric that I had on hand, but I didn't bother to prewash anything (gasp!).  This is what I came up with, though the photo makes the neckline look a little wonky, which it isn't really:

My twirly girly loved it.  Apparently it was the perfect dress for happily making mudcakes.

Carebear is now on the backburner though, because I decided to first convert an old Kermit the Frog shirt of mine, which I wore many years ago for an artichoke/crazy shirt party (yes, really), into a dress.  Strawberry Shortcake is waiting in the wings too.  I can't neglect my little guy, so Captain America is in the queue for him, for conversion to hoodie.  (Let's not talk about the fact that my pre-kids self swore to avoid licensed characters.)

Pattern Notes:  I started with the Lil Blue Boo Sienna Dress pattern.  After studying lots of pictures of dresses made from this pattern, I decided to lower the neckline slightly in front and raise it slightly in back.  I also altered the front armpit-to-neck angle slightly.  I determined neckband length as 80% of the opening.  I added a waistband strip.  I used a circle skirt, guided by the MADE's calculation instructions, (radious = waistband measurement without seam allowances divided by 6.28).

Thankful Things.

Monday, November 15, 2010

I love November.  We're past the Halloween and candy craziness (mostly), and we've got a little bit of time before we find ourselves knee-deep in Santa craziness.  The weather is often gorgeous.  It's a good time to reflect and think about our many blessings.

We celebrate Thanksgiving all month.  Families have all sorts of traditions around Thanksgiving, and I love to read about them.  Here's our tradition.

Every night at dinnertime, we talk about things we're thankful for.  We all contribute, even guests.  Our nearly two-year-old keeps it simple.  He's usually thankful for pasta or Rita the cat, things he can see right then.  Our four-year-old really seems to understand the concept and, most nights, puts thought into her contributions.  She's almost always thankful that "we're all a family," but she has also said she's thankful that we all listen to each other, thankful for healthy food, grandparents, dance class, and her brother.  When she was first talking, every night she was thankful for "The Castle" (DisneyWorld) or "Winnie-a-Pooh."  It's fun to see her Thankful Things evolve.

We write our Thankful Things down, and we put the list in our special Thankful Bowl.  It's a small bowl, and by Thanksgiving, it's pretty much overflowing with blessings.  Someday I may get a second Thankful Bowl, so that eventually we can pass one on to each child, for them to begin the tradition with their own families.  But, for now, we cherish our one bowl full of blessings.

I recently read about a twist on this (I wish I could remember who gave me the idea, so I could give proper credit), which I'm eager to try.  One of these evenings, after talking about Thankful Things, we'll turn our paper over and talk about nice things we did for others.  Isn't that a great lead-in to the Christmas holidays, which inevitably take a materialistic turn?


Friday, November 12, 2010

Welcome to my tiny corner of the blogosphere. I've followed blogs for years, I've done a fair amount of online journaling, and I've made some very special friends through the Internet. Apparently all of that has led me here, to the beginning of my journey as a blogger.

I have never thought of myself as a blogger. After all, bloggers have endless time on their hands, take professional-quality photos, know technology as well as Steve Jobs, write exceptionally well, and have talent and wit to spare. Right? And bloggers are so self-absorbed that they think the entire world wants to read what they have to say. Right? Well, if that's the standard, then I should turn in my blogger badge now. I confess that I have very little spare time, I'm just beginning to learn how to use a grownup camera and am muddling my way through a free trial of Photoshop Elements, and I know technology about as well as Homer Simpson. But I've learned the past couple of years that creative outlets are good for me and provide important balance in my life. So whether or not anyone besides my husband ever reads this blog, I'm excited to explore my creative side in this new way. And if I can inspire somebody along the way, make someone smile, or make a new friend or two, then that's a great bonus.