My first softie!

Monday, February 28, 2011

When I saw the Allsorts fluffy stuffy bunny pattern, I knew it was time for me to venture into the world of sewing softies.  I've never had much desire to sew a stuffed animal -- after all, there are shorts and Spring dresses to be sewn -- but that all changed when I saw Jenny B's ridiculously cute *free* pattern.  So despite my February goal to sew for my boy, I had to tackle the project right away.  Here's what I came up with:

  And a view of the reverse of the dress (also a *free* pattern from Allsorts):

Now I'm new to sewing softies, so I have no real frame of reference, but it seems to me that the design and assembly of this little bunny are ingenious.  You sew directly onto a freezer paper tracing, then cut.  There's nothing hard about this.  It's allsorts of easy (ha!), and it's fast.

I used a deliciously soft fabric called Minky Bonded Cuddle, which must have been on super sale when I bought it because now it's pricey.  Apparently I like a challenge, because this fabric is backed with microsuede, which makes the hand embroidery (done at the end after the bunny is fully sewn and stuffed) more than a little tough.  I think that also explains the crooked features, but I've decided that I like my bunny's imperfections.  I also found some ridiculously soft yarn that made the perfect little cottontail.

I'm already at work on a second bunny.  Big Sister is green with envy that I got a bunny before she did.  So a pink bunny, made with Minky Cuddle Super Plush is in the works for her.  It's slippery fabric, but it's so soft that I have been told very clearly that this bunny will NOT have a dress.  Fine by me.

I've had such fun with this project that I've already bought Wee Wonderfuls: 24 Dolls to Sew and Love for future softie projects.

Tumtum and Nutmeg.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Big Sister isn't quite reading on her own yet, but she loves when I read aloud to her.  And reading together is one of the highlights of my day.  She's not exactly a snuggly, quiet listener.  She's a wiggly, question-asking listener.  She pays attention, and she's curious.  She laughs out loud, sometimes when I think the text is funny and often when I don't.  She's loved chapter books for a long time now, and every night she begs for just one more chapter.  When I love the book, I often give in.

We recently finished this fun book, which had me reading one more chapter almost every night:

It's Tumtum and Nutmeg: Beyond Nutmouse Hall by Emily Bearn.  There are three books in one volume, for a total of more than 500 pages.  Quite a long book for a wiggly four-year-old, but really it seemed much too short.  It has everything a book needs -- tiny, cute animal characters who talk and wear clothes, real human children, adventure, suspense, mystery, tenderness, a love story, a fairy, pirates, underwear, army men, ballerinas, pogo sticks, a mean aunt, camping, boating, chocolate, and good friends.  It's perfectly suited to both boys and girls.  We can't wait for additional stories.

The main characters -- Tumtum and Nutmeg Nutmouse -- are modest little sweethearts who love their simple, quiet life in the majestic Nutmouse Hall, which is in a hidden broom cupboard of Rose Cottage, where the (human) Mildew family lives.  Unlike their friend General Marchmouse, the Nutmouses do not especially want a life of adventure.  But adventure always seems to find them.  In the first story, the Nutmouses begin visiting the Mildew children's room while they are sleeping, mending holes in their clothes and taking care of their delapidated attic room.  When Aunt Ivy comes to visit the Mildews and spots the mice, the Nutmouses find themselves embroiled in an epic adventure to fulfill a promise to rid the house of Aunt Ivy, before she rids the house of mice.  In the second story, General Marchmouse -- whose adventurous spirit leads to carelessness -- gets captured by the Mildew children and taken to school, where he's put in a cage with naked gerbils.  The Nutmouses must rescue General Marchmouse before the teacher gets rid of all the rodents.  The third story has General Marchmouse and the Nutmouses stranded on an island, from which they must escape before they encounter trouble with pirate rats.  Each story is fun and exciting, with new adventures and characters.

I will warn that the stories, while quite well-written, do contain a few themes and concept that might warrant explanation and prompt discussion.  Be ready for mention of rifles, battalions, gunpowder, soldiers, armies, grenades, fighting, pirates, liqueurs, drunkenness, and gangplanks.  For the most part, those things are not central to the story, but they're prominent enough that editing as you go would be tough.  So if you're not ready for questions about those things, you might want to wait a bit.  Also, the word "stupid" appears in the story several times.  Unlike the other themes though, it's quite easy to omit while reading.

If you can't wait to learn about the ballerinas on pogo sticks, head to Amazon, where the hardback including all three stories is now on sale for $6.80!

Bonus:  The Calico Critter Norwood Mouse Family contains a perfect Tumtum and Nutmeg, plus two little friends (General and Mrs. Marchmouse?).

Making Valentines.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

My little girl may look just like her dad, but she's got a whole lot of her mama on the inside.  She's every bit as focused, determined, and stubborn as I am.  I'm pretty sure she's even more creative and artistic.

A couple of weeks before Valentine's Day, I asked what sort of valentines she would like to give her friends at school -- ballerinas, princesses, mermaids, cute animals, what?  I suggested a trip to Target to see the options.  She seemed very confused by the question.  Did I mean that she was not allowed to *make* her valentines?

I don't want to stifle her creativity, of course.  But I feared the Sunday night mad rush to finish 20 valentines.  So, thinking only of myself, I tried to tempt her with Disney characters.  She didn't even consider it.  She insisted that valentines must be made, not bought.

See, she's her mama's girl.

The week before Valentine's Day, she spent almost every moment working on valentines.  Our kitchen was covered in construction paper, doilies, sparkles, stickers, glue, ribbon, markers, and tape.  When she woke up, she went straight to valentines.  When she got home, she went straight to valentines.  At school, she did little but make valentines (including lift-the-flap books!) for her family. 

We did still have a bit of Sunday craziness, because she spent lots of time on very special valentines for very special friends, while spending almost no time on the majority of her classmates' valentines.  And she hadn't written names on any of them.  But even the last-minute valentines were personalized with a drawing of the recipient, including mostly-accurate hair and eye color.  I am very proud of my little artist.

Lots of love.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Sending lots of love to everyone who reads my blog, who encourages and inspires me, who makes me laugh and makes me want to be a better mother, daughter, wife, friend, and person.  Wishing you all lots of happy hugs and kisses this Valentine's Day.

Strawberry flowers.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

It's dreadfully cold here today, so I'm thinking back to last weekend, when it was beautiful.  A quick garden check revealed a few beautiful strawberry flowers.  Spring can't come soon enough!

Brief Moment in the Snow.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

If we're lucky, we get a very light dusting of snow once a year.  This year the ground was nicely frozen in advance, so we knew that if we got snow, it would stick.  We woke Friday morning to a beautiful white frosting covering everything.  We were all so excited to get out in it.  We put on double pants and double shirts, our warmest boots, coats, gloves, and hats.  And we set out for a winter adventure.

Look, it's really SNOW!

We tried to make a snow kitty, but that didn't work very well.  There wasn't a lot of snow, and what we had was pretty dry and wasn't exactly made for detailed sculpting.  Bummer.

We had great plans for making a baseball snowman.  But we discovered that snow is actually COLD.  And it's slippery.  And when you fall down, it's quite wet.  It's a little warmer inside a tiny house.


Truth be told, our winter adventure was quite a short one.  But it was fun while it lasted.  

Come again, snow!

Goal one -- check!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

It feels a bit like cheating to say that I met my January sewing goal, when I made myself something so quick and simple as a t-shirt.  But a lot went into the prep work, and it's FOR ME, and it fits, so I think it counts.  "Sew something for myself in January" = done!

I made myself a boatneck tee (Jalie 2005).  I had a terrible time deciding on fabric and ultimately went with one of a few pieces that had already been washed and wasn't quite as juvenile as most of my other options (a 100% cotton interlock, I believe).  I also had a terrible time deciding on sizes.  I'm unfortunately pear-shaped, so my measurements indicated at least four different sizes.  After reading lots of Pattern Review comments, I went with the size indicated by bust measurement, but I adjusted up a size at the waist and hips.  There are some things I'd do a bit differently next time, but I think this one fits pretty well for a trial-run muslin.

Lo and behold, when Monday morning rolled around, I found myself taking off the blue sweater I had planned to wear and putting on my new shirt instead.  It worked great with a dark brown corduroy jacket and was surprisingly work-appropriate.

Although I did meet my specific January sewing goal, I have not come anywhere close to satisfying my my larger goals of sewing for myself.  I've had fabric picked out for Selfish Seamstress's coffee date dress for months (I'm only 10 months late for Grosgrain's Frock by Friday sew-along).  Maybe I'll tackle that one of these days when the weather warms up again.

Warm ears.

I love being a sewing mama.  I love having a dedicated sewing space and not having to drag my machines out of a closet.  I love having a plentiful fabric stash on hand.  All of those things mean that I was able to decide at 10:00 pm last night that Big Sister needed a warmer hat for today's freakish cold front, so I whipped up something cute in a hurry. 

This is from Deidre Wicks's Happy Hat pattern, with flowers inspired by Katie Segel's fun creations.  The pattern is for an adult hat, so I modified it a bit to fit Big Sister's head.  It was extremely easy to put together. The lower band and ear flaps are lined with a very soft, furry fleece, so it's nice and warm.  Big sister was so happy to discover her new hat this morning that she put it on with her PJs and wore it until she left the house.

I was happy that I went to bed long before the cold wind blew in.  And I'm happy knowing that my cutie pie's sweet little ears are protected from this brutal cold.