Here's another successful bit of December sewing -- the "perfect" winter dress for Emily. I worked the pattern out myself based on features of all her favorite dresses, and here's what it's got that she loves: very short cap sleeves, which qualifies it as short/no sleeves (although I can get her to wear a long-sleeved tee underneath); a comfy elasticized neck that just pops on and off (based on a Japanese tunic that she loves and is rapidly growing out of); a snug fit in the torso; and a bit of swing to the skirt. And of course, a really cute fabric!
When I first saw this Hilco "Knut" sweater knit (that's sweatshirt fleece to us North Americans) I knew I had to make something out of it for her, it is just so cute. And she loves polar bears, and she has even seen video of Knut himself (although she likes Flocke better). So I grabbed a yard of the pink and thought about it for a bit...and this was what I came up with. Here's a closer look at the neckline and cap sleeve.
The fabric is so soft and warm, I feel a little better about the fact that she won't wear a jacket. And she loves it so much, the 2nd one (same print, but in blue) is already cut out. I'll be trying it in a jersey when it warms up as well and see if it works as a warm-weather pattern too!
I am supposed to be doing my Eye Spy today, but the topic was "something I want to try in 2009" and my answer is....nothing! (taking "try" to mean try out or attempt for the first time, not "hope to finish", because I've got plenty of that). 2009 is going to be the year of tying up loose ends and focusing on my favorite things to do. So, no plans to try any new crafts or activities in the next 12 months! Maybe in 2010....
Just popping my head up long enough to say happy new year! and to show off a little sewing I couldn't blog about before, as it was one of evan's xmas presents! This is not a good photo (I was being sneaky) but here is my first Föhr!
Now Evan has a farbenmix garment, too!! I made this one up from some orangy-red cotton ribknit I'd bought on sale, plus orange bits and an applique cut from an Aquabats shirt that didn't fir any of us. The fit is near-perfect -- I will lengthen the sleeves on the next one a tiny bit, but this one fits fine. The pattern went together so quickly; I was able to put this together while Evan was home! (Well, if he'd been hanging out downstairs with us I couldn't have gotten away with it). We all approve!! And more Föhrs are definitely in the offing.
I honestly can hardly believe what I found out this morning, it seems so insane. But basically, it seems that in Congress' rush to compensate for the toy recall disasters of 2007, they have passed legislation that puts all small crafters out of business as of February 9th. No handmade toys, clothes, accessories, decor, or anything can be sold for any kid under 12. No craft fairs, no etsy, nothing. Like I said....INSANE. But it's true. Don't believe me? (I know you don't want to!) Check out this article at Fashion Incubator, which is a pretty good intro. Go to the Handmade Toy Alliance's web page. If you've got the stomach to read more, start with this (very long) etsy thread on the subject -- and at least go to this page and scroll down to Meitaibaby's post, which is excellent and says in part:
As written, this applies TO YOU AND ME. Yes, the little guys. The craft-fair sellers. The artisans. If you do not comply with the new regulations, you will be in violation of the law and will be selling illegally....We MUST be proactive and let our representatives know that the law as written is dangerous. If not, there will be a lot of a) new felons as of Feb. 10 or b) a lot of bankrupt businesses on that day.
There seems to be a lot of confusion (and again, disbelief) about this, but there are a lot of clarifications emerging. And it appears that yes, everything (meant for kids under 12) must be tested. (See details here.) The level of testing is different for different items, things like clothing "only" need to be tested for lead, but if there is no change in this law there will be no more handmade items, probably lots of small companies going under...
does this make ANY sense in the situation our country is in? What we need is support for small makers and individuals handmaking goods in their houses! Cottage industry is what we need right now!! If you are a crafter, buyer of craft, or supporter of handmade goods, please spread the word, write your legislator and keep your fingers crossed that someone wakes up and realizes what they did here!
We already had been using the ikea barnslig bath towels for Emily, and loved them, so when I saw the robe made out of them, I thought it was just too cute (and so did Emily!). I wasn't sure how I'd trim it, but when I picked up the towels to make the robe (a size 98/104 took two towels), I saw these matching barnslig burp cloths in the next bin and ended up getting those to make the belt and the appliques (you can see them in close up here and here), which worked out really well.
Here's what didn't work: first, this was the first farbenmix pattern I've used where the pattern pieces didn't actually match up. I had to really work at getting it to all go together at the shoulders and the sleeves. Then, I realized that I had never checked the measurements since Emily always fits into a 98/104 so well, and the robe is really short! If you look at the design examples a little more closely than I, you can see that the longer robes all have the sleeves rolled up quite a bit. I'm guessing that everyone sized up quite a bit on this pattern. And it's really far too short for her. But the final blow? The bathrobe has been added to the Great Clothing Boycott list of 2008. She loved it in photos, and she thinks it's cute....but she does not like wearing it. Sigh.
I still think the final result is actually quite nice. And if the boycott ever ends, I will actually tackle this pattern once again, this time measuring for proper length and checking all pattern pieces against each other before cutting.
And I did get an awesome bonus -- tons of new household goods made from my leftovers! I have a big set of lovely half-washcloths made from the towel remnants, cute coasters made from the burp cloth leftovers (backed with felt), and as a super-extra bonus, discovered that the burp cloths make the best kitchen towels I have ever had. So good, in fact, that I bought more just for that purpose (and so did my brother)!
the only non-ikea element is the red gingham westfalen bias tape from bunte fabrics.
The fall sewing checklist continues! Next to be finished was this forest friends muriel, made with some corduroy Emily picked out herself and trimmed with some lovely farbenmix ribbons.
I honestly bought the corduroy she wanted without the slightest clue what i was going to do with it. It was only after getting the ribbons and realizing they were a perfect match for the colors in the fabric that the idea for this dress developed.
And I have to say, thank goodness for fabric.com's generous cuts -- I actually only ordered a half yard of the green and without the extra few inches that were actually there I could not have made the dress!! I added an applique based on the adorable deer designed by paulapü to match her ribbons. Someday I'd like to get some of the iron-on motifs made from her designs, or the fabric! So cute!! I am so envious, to have all these cool notions and things made from your designs must be so awesome! (At least I can make fabric, thank you Spoonflower!) Anyway, the applique:
Emily declared it cute and then...asked when I would make her "orange stripey dress". Which I didn't know I was making! So...have to start figuring that one out next!
And today (yesterday, actually, I fell asleep before posting this after writing it!), I am thankful for too many things to list. I will just say..yes we did. and yes we will.
the fabrics are Robert Kaufman "cool cords" from fabric.com; the ribbons were a gift but can be bought at bunte fabrics.
Halloween week has been very busy! (And it's not over yet!) We went to the zoo for their Halloween "Spooktacular" where Emily gave cotton candy another try and decided that she does in fact, love it (she had it at the shore this summer and hated it). And, she won 3rd place in the costume contest, which was an experience*.
I dug out her TUK knockoff kitty shoes that match my Tredairs and discovered that the size marked on them was wrong -- if I'd waited to pull them out she'd have never worn them! So, whew. And she loves them!
I finished up this experimental Insa skirt and learned that black corduroy is really, really hard to photograph:
I made this Insa to see what it would look like without the overskirt, just as a basic skirt, and I was very pleased. I also was experimenting with some bias tape used as trim rather than ribbon. It even has some little bows at the back, which were much harder to make from bias tape than from ribbon!
Here's a closeup of the bows. I don't love them, but like I said, it was largely an experiment so I'm not going to worry about it. Much!
I also realized I have never posted the shirt I made for myself! It's from the Zoela pattern (the women's version of Zoe, which I've made before)
The body is a very soft cotton baby rib, the sleeves a blend of some sort I picked up a while back. Unfortunately, while the stripes are cool, the fabric is already pilling from the synthetic content it must have. Also unfortunately, I kind of hacked out the applique because I just wanted to be done. But, it fits great and is very comfortable. More Zoelas for me are on my sewing list already!! Maybe even one in velour like Emily's Halloween Zoe!
And now, it's time to get some lunch into a hyper Halloween witch so she has the energy to get through several events today!! Happy Halloween, everybody!!
*To make a very long story not-quite-so-long, I misunderstood the contest and thought it was more of the little kid costume parade type thing I am used to -- no, it was actually a 3-winners-only highly competitive display of bad parenting. A small group of mothers climbed onto the stage and blocked several kids from the judge's view, including Emily -- but the MC called the kids up anyway. Then, these same mothers booed when the last winner -- Emily -- was announced, as none of their kids won. Booed!! All these kids were under 5! I was horrified at their behavior, not to mention the lessons they were teaching their kids, but luckily Emily was oblivious to it and was excited to win when she had misunderstood the contest to be just going up to the judges to see what they thought of your costume.
So, the famous Feliz! I thought this pattern was stunning when I saw the first examples of it, but I wasn't sure what to do with it -- we have zero call for party dresses around here. But then I realized, I needed to make a dress for Emily's witch costume, and it would be perfect! Here is the result:
And here is the little witch making a "witch face":
That is not actually her complete outfit -- she is dressed up here for the Halloween party at her playgym (to which I wore this) I am making a heavy top for outdoor events, but I knew it would be a bit warm at the gym so I just put a black tee underneath. There's also a broom and a black cat around here somewhere....I should get complete outfit photos this weekend!
The Feliz is nowhere near as difficult to put together as it might look. There is a lot to do (especially if you go for the ruffled look and have to make and apply them all!), but if you go slowly and carefully it comes together very easily. I only did a few things differently: I hemmed the underskirt before assembling the dress; I basted the straps to the overdress before assembling; and I followed the suggestions here for adding the elastic into the side casings and adding interfacing to the back opening of the overdress. That was definitely necessary -- not only does it make the dress go on and off more easily, but it keeps the dress in place when the sash comes loose. Which will happen a lot, if your Feliz-wearer is like mine:
The twirl on this dress is amazing. Emily is seriously enamored of it -- she insisted on wearing the dress right up until bedtime. So, I think there will be more Felizes in our future, whether or not we need any party dresses! The only things I would do differently: I would cut the overskirt longer and check the length before hemming, after assembly. I also might think about adding facings to the sides of the underdress, while it would make the dress even heavier there, I didn't like the wrong side of the fabric showing at the sides. Not a big deal, and if it wasn't all on black I probably wouldn't even notice. I also might make the whole thing a bit shorter since it will end up in the garden...but for now, we're just enjoying this witchy Feliz!
Both skirts are made using the Rømø pattern I've used before. The base fabric is a "Spooky Hollow for Joann's" cotton I bought years ago and stashed when it went on sale - I've waited all this time for a good reason to use it! Finally! The orange dotted fabric was left over from making Emily's Halloween costume dress (in fact, the ruffle on her skirt was actually made for her dress, I had a big length of ruffle left over and she asked me to put it on her skirt). Here's my skirt alone, and Emily's. Honestly, I think this is my favorite skirt pattern, so simple to put together (both versions) and also so easy to dress up. I just did a facing this time on mine (instead of a full lining) since I will probably not wear it as much, which made it come together even quicker. The girl's version is so easy I'd make Emily 10 of them....if I didn't suspect she is planning to boycott skirts now (as well as pants and sleeves).
I also have to show off this adorable cotton fleece (think really nice sweatshirt) I got for my birthday from my brother! (Well, with the gift certificate he got me from Bunte Fabrics.)
It's called Knut, after the famous polar bear, obviously. So cute!! I think it will be used for a copy of a favored dress Emily is on the verge of growing out of. I will almost hate cutting into it!! I also got the corduroy you can see in this photo, Emily picked that one out from the choices I gave her. NO idea what that's going to be. It's so adorable. I should also note that Bunte Fabrics is having a great sale right now on Japanese canvas fabric as well as lots of other stuff -- if I hadn't already known what I wanted it might have taken me forever to decide what to get!
Here's the latest installment in the Autumn sewing blitz -- a cherry corduroy Insa for Emily! This has actually been in the works for ages, ever since we (Emily and I) saw Sara'scherry cord Insa on flickr and Emily insisted that she wanted THAT SKIRT. So, I decided to simply clone Sara's idea and used the exact same Robert Kaufman babywale corduroys for mine! Here's the full view:
Plus, here's a shot of it on the dressform, as the weather has gotten warm again and there's no chance of getting it onto Emily anytime soon. (Also note the completely inconsistent light we have this time of year -- every room a different color.) I ended up almost trimming it identically -- I brought home a very similar green ribbon along with my pink rick rack! But the ribbon didn't wash well so I waited, and then I found that perfect jacquard cherry mini-ribbon. I did not copy the trim on the yoke seam from Sara (she said it is always covered up anyway), and I also added a little medallion that I made from scraps. So, it's not a perfect clone...but it sure is close! Luckily we're continents apart, so no chance of an embarrassing playground faux pas.
The pattern went together incredibly well -- it is a bit long, and definitely too long for a girl who plays in the dirt in her skirts and dresses, so I shortened the yoke quite a bit, and truthfully, I'm happier with the proportions this way. The resulting skirt is really nice, full without much bulk. We like it so much there's a second one underway already!
Another project has been marked off my Fall sewing list!
This is the farbenmix Roxy tunic/dress pattern, made with some really cute "Katie Jump Rope" Denise Schmidt fabric I got last Xmas (thanks, Hallie!), which I have been itching to use. It's paired with a dot fabric from Quilt Gate I bought a ton of early this year (it went out of print, but I love it as an accent or trim so I stocked up). Unfortunately, I couldn't get an invisible zipper in the orange, so I used a regular one, and I really am not thrilled with that. But, it's not like Emily cares!
It's finished with some eyelet trim I ran through my new ruffler foot. I also used some rick rack edged elastic on the sleeves, which is cute but was a bit of a pain. I love the pattern -- no adjustments necessary, and the fit is fantastic. The princess seams went together like magic, and the bit of flare it has at the hem is just perfect. I might try puffing the sleeves a bit more next time, but that's just for fun, not because it needs it. And it got raves from Emily! A Roxy will definitely be on the Spring planning list (if I go that long without making another!)
I've gotten fall sewing underway, with several projects finished (although, unfortunately the light changes this time of year, making the house glow but making photographs hard to get!) Here are two, both purple at Emily's request. First up is the recycled Henrika:
Henrika pattern from Farbenmix, made from some navy cotton rib and a recycled Hanna Andersson playdress (the dotted purple stuff). The skirt is really the original playdress skirt grafted on to the Henrika top. I think it came out really cute, but Emily has declared war on all sleeves, so it may be a while before I get her into it. I had very little trouble with the pattern; the sleeves I chose are long by design but I shortened them a tad anyway.
Also purple, and thankfully without sleeves, is this Noelle skirt, also Farbenmix:
Here it is from the back:
I love the lacing detail -- I did the topstitching in a decorative stitch that echoed it. Black velvet ribbon trim, sparkly plastic pony beads on the laces for extra oomph! I did run into some trouble with the Noelle pattern, I think this is the first thing I've made for Emily that actually is a bit fitted -- and now I realize that she is a size smaller in width than she is in height. Everything up until now has been slightly boxy in the cut, so it hasn't been noticeable, but to my surprise, the skirt slipped right off! I have it laced as tightly as possible now, and I think over tights it will be fine. But I will have to watch out for this in the future. It was a "shocking surprise" (as Emily likes to say) because I still think of her as the roly-poly bundle she once was, but that was about 2 years ago now....oops! I will definitely use this pattern again, but I will measure more carefully on all fitted patterns from now on! (And I've already recut one I was working on.)
Just a quick note to let all you sewists out there know -- I've started a wiki at wikia for farbenmix and studioTantrum/Fledge patterns, and if you have made even one, please come by and add some info! Take a few minutes to fill in an entry, or add links to your blog or even your sewing notes! If enough people help fill it all in, we'll have a great resource for everyone who loves these patterns!!
And now, because Nancy went and put it into my head, the original "wiki" song:
It's a top for Emily, made from some cotton baby rib and some recycled fabric from a favored pair of "cheetah" PJs (which I know some of you will recognize!). The pattern is QUIARA from Farbenmix, which I have made before and really like. The problem? The kitty's face. We all have different opinions on how to finish it. I was thinking maybe button eyes, but I couldn't find any buttons I liked. Evan likes it the way it is. And Emily thinks every little detail should be embroidered in. Any suggestions? (I'm starting to think that if it sits long enough, my lazy streak will win out the more we will all get used to it and decide to leave it as is.)
By the way, this shirt was the start of my Fall/Winter sewing! And if it's done, it's the first thing I finished on my Fall sewing list. Yay!
I recently wrapped up the last stragglers from my summer sewing pile and now that's all done. First, I finally finished this butterfly pinafore and matching Hannah top that had been sitting for a while; I had run out of the dot fabric and had to track another half a yard down! The butterfly fabric I picked up a while back, Emily picked it out off my fabric shelf. (There's plenty left so I think we'll be seeing it again next year!) The top I trimmed with FOE (fold-over elastic), which I have been using for a few years, but not on clothes. I didn't like it as much as just a regular inserted elastic, but I may warm up to the effect. Overall, not an outfit I am in love with, but Emily's happy so I'm happy.
And finally, my very last Summer 2008 sewing project: the mini-Rømø!
After I made mine, Emily wanted one to match. She also wanted a ruffle just like her doll Lilli's (it's hard to see in that pic, but the doll's top has a pleated organza ruffle). And a different ribbon. (The demands ended there, thank goodness.) The hard part was getting her to settle on what she wanted, once that was done, the skirt went together super-fast, and she was wearing it that day:
Note the coordinated pajama top and garden hose!!
And now...it's time to get cracking on fall and winter...a few things are done, and more are in the pipeline...I can't wait!
Some of you may have seen the Yo Gabba Gabba toys popping up at Target and Toys R us (and ebay, if you want to pay 10x the real cost...). There's some pretty cute stuff! We ran across them last week and let Emily pick out two -- she went for the talking Brobee and the musical Muno guitar. (I think the guitar was her number one pick!)
Unfortunately, when we got it home and unpacked it, it turned out to be just too heavy for her to hold it and "play" at the same time. She loved it, but she could only play with it on her lap, which was just not fun enough...especially when Cornelius came on and she wanted to rock out 3-year-old style.
I was afraid I was going to have to take the whole thing apart to add a strap that would stay on! But when I started looking at it, I realized that two of the slots in the back that the horrible packaging twisty wire went through were in the perfect spots to improvise a guitar strap! So, I took two short lengths of 3/8" elastic, one length of 1" wide cheetah print ribbon (picked out of my ribbon box by Emily) and a hot glue gun....and ta-da! Guitar strap!
It works perfectly - she can already sling it on and off by herself. Here's a closeup of where it's attached -- basically, I just ran the 3/8" stuff through the little holes, hot glued the ends to the ribbon, and then used lots of hot glue and rolled the ribbon up.
I could have used a narrow ribbon instead of the elastic, it really has no function -- I just had it handy. You can't take it off, but if it gets too short I'll just cut it off and make a new one. And now she can go crazy during the Super Music Friends Show and play along!
So, this is a bit of a story. My brother has been doing all this amazing stuff to make a Mario-themed party for my nephew. He's been working for a couple months coming up with ideas, and at some point I suggested star lollipops, which we decided would be fun to do. Then we got all excited about making our own lollipops, and planned on performing our grand experiment during a recent visit he made to our part of the country. We found an excellent recipe, I looked into flavors and colors, we found supplies and molds....but then....the molds took forever to get here and they didn't get here before his visit ended!!
So I sent him his half of the supplies and we both made them (with kid help!) this past weekend. And up there are mine!! We were both very happy with our results (and Emily loooooves them) and we'll definitely be making more!
A few notes:
The metal molds rock. I would not use anything else.
You don't need to use wooden utensils. Silicon is fine, and would actually work better -- I followed the instructions and used a wooden spoon -- which was still damp from stirring the water/sugar mix, and when I used it to mix in the flavor and color the water instantly boiled off and made bubbles in my candy!! My brother used silicon and had no such trouble.
Have more than the 10 molds called for ready for each batch -- because I used some small molds, I could have easily made 12-13 lollipops. My brother used a larger mold and got 11 lollipops per batch. (As you may have guessed, he let us go first and then learned from our experience.)
If you are wondering, my lollipops are "cake" flavor (which is mostly kind of sugary and buttery, and very tasty). I also picked up creamsicle and shirley temple (the drink) flavor, going with the theory that fake fruit flavors in candy can turn a kid off real fruit...I figure fake cake and popsicle flavors? what can that do? Next time it will be orange colored creamsicle lollipops, I think Emily will like those even more!!
And while I'm talking flavor -- since I used flavor as opposed to extract (flavor is much stronger), I only was supposed to use ¼ teaspoon, and accidentally didn't even put it all in. The result was a very sugary flavor, sort of like cotton candy. Which we really liked! I will go easy on the flavor in the future.
They are not kidding when they say the temperature will creep up slowly then suddenly start shooting up. Literally stare right at your candy thermometer towards the end so you don't overshoot and end up carmelizing your sugar! I actually turned off the burner just short of 300° and it still went slightly past the mark.
All in all, a really fun project with delicious results!
Mmmm...there are only 5 left now!! How long will they last?
I've just recently discovered this is... and have decided to join in the fun! This is my favorite work in progress at the moment, or at least the most photogenic...part of Emily's fall wardrobe! I don't usually get that into the trim, but she's been asking for it more and more as she gets increasingly girly these days. This is the piece I'm most excited about from my fall sewing slate. What is it? You'll have to wait and see!! (And no, orange and black doesn't mean Halloween, either. Just two of her favorite colors!)
I'm getting questions and comments about the horizontal dart, so here's a pic:
Okay, that's an online edit of the original, not a new detail photo but I think you can see the dart clearly? So basically, every a-line skirt I've ever seen had vertical darts that led to the waist. This pattern has four horizontal darts that hit around the hip area, left and right, front and back. The waist curve is much deeper than usual, but when you sew the dart, it all pulls into this nice curvy shape. Honestly, I didn't think it would work since I'd never seen it done before (and found no examples on google of such a thing) but it actually fits better than patterns I've used in the past with the usual darts to the waist. I'm totally sold!!
I made no adjustments to the pattern at all, just figured out my european pattern size (on Ottobre's size charts, which you can download as a pdf here, btw) and cut the pattern out. So far, farbenmix has yet to disappoint! (if you're interested, take a look at the official design gallery.)
So, we're (mostly) back to speed now. Emily was luckily only sick briefly; Evan and I developed horrible (and I mean horrible) sinus infections that are just now finally winding down. So now the catching up begins in earnest!
I got my replacement Spoonflower fabric quickly and the grainline is much straighter -- still a bit off but nothing like that first batch. One thing I did notice -- the colors are slightly different on the monster fabric (not on the milk & cheese fabric), not obviously, but just a tiny bit brighter. So you're definitely going to want to treat each print run as a new dye lot and don't expect to piece them together. Although, sometimes you'll be able to (just like different dye lots of regular fabric, yarn or whatever). Order the amount you need in one go! And what's happening to all this lovely fabric? Well, I haven't been able to get back to making any more stuff (sorry for those of you waiting!) but Emily finally got her wish. It's not a dress, but I think it may work even better than my original idea:
The pattern is the same Japanese pattern I used for her brown polka dot skirt; the solid tiers are a pink denim I've had forever (which was still slightly less stiff than the spoonflower fabric), and the trim is a "mauve" velvet ribbon. She was wearing it within oh....15 minutes of it being finished? The fabric works well pieced in like this, I think I will keep trying to come up with ways to work with it.
Then I decided that I really needed to start trying to sew for myself as well..and this is the result:
It's the farbenmix Rømø skirt pattern (which is actually a mother-daughter pattern in all sizes!), made out of some....ah! Amy Butler fabric. I bought this from someone I knew because I liked the color and the silhouette pattern. It's lined instead of faced, and trimmed with more velvet ribbon (plum, this time). It's very comfortable, and fits well. The horizontal darts kind of freaked me out but they actually work! The only thing I don't like about it is that I had to use a regular zipper as my local hellhole Joanns had invisible zippers in about NO sizes and NO colors. I'm thinking this'll be great as a winter skirt in something heavier, too! But first...Emily wants a matching skirt. Luckily, I have fabric leftover and this pattern includes her size! If the kid version is as easy as the mom version it'll be done in no time at all.
To everyone who's asked -- yes, Spoonflower have been totally awesome about trying to work out the problem, and are re-doing my fabric and trying to find a way to prevent this from happening again. It's all part of being in beta, I guess! And while I was unhappy about the problems, I am totally happy with the way they have handled it. Fingers crossed the new yard of the monster fabric will be suitable for Emily clothes! In the meantime, I was able to use the unwashed Milk & Cheese fabric and some bits of the Monsters that I....un-squared? Intentionally skewed? back out of shape to accomplish what we wanted to do for Heroes Con, and here is a peek:
Okay, I'll let you see them for real:
Pencil cases and (refillable) Moleskine jackets for the large and small cahier notebooks (my favorites, notebooks included)! A look at one open:
Whoops, that's my own with graph paper! Anyway, we will have a very small number of these for sale at our table, and only 3 or so Monster items in the whole batch (the "or so" meaning, depending on if Emily successfully snags one for herself). So if you're interested, stop on by!
For those of you interested in the process, a few notes: I was slightly wrong about the skewed fabric being totally fine for something like this. It was totally possible to work with it, but omg did I have trouble NOT following the grain when I was sewing! It was giving me conniptions to sew what seemed to be such crooked lines. But other than that, the fabric worked beautifully for these. Here are the prototypes I made while working out my pattern:
#1 - the hedgehog fabric: I decided I hated how it looked with binding around the edges. It works fine, I just didn't like it.
#2 - not pictured: actually, I threw this one out. It was close, but not quite there.
#3 - the frog fabric: this was the one I made once I was sure the pattern was what I wanted, I like this one a lot.
#4 - the robots! Here's the final prototype, after playing with it a bit I decided to add an elastic strap (like the full-size Moleskines) to keep it closed. This one I loved. And in fact, this one is the one I'm using right now.
And finally, the prototype pencil case: no changes from this one, although there was an earlier version that didn't work right. And now I have a matching frog set!
Anyway, that's it, time to pack and get ready to get out of here in the a.m. Have a good weekend!
We've been hoping my Spoonflower order would get here in time to have some Special Secret items on our table at Heroes Con -- and today the doorbell rang and there it was! We were all very excited:
The fabric looked almost exactly like I expected -- slightly lighter, which is probably because I did it so quickly I didn't proof the files on another monitor; and the blacks are a little washed out. But the line weight was good, better than my proof on paper at home. And there is always, always color shifting when you print, especially in RGB. The fabric is a bit heavy -- good for a skirt or jumper, or crafts; definitely too stiff for anything like a blouse, it has very little drape. But all in all, I was very happy with the results:
Then, I went to prewash the monster fabric that I intended to make something for Emily out of. It came out of the wash (warm/cool) looking great, no fade or color loss. Came out of the dryer (low heat), again, looked great. I ironed it, and measured it for shrinkage (it didn't shrink at all along the length, and shrunk to about 96% of the original width) -- no effect was visible on the print at all. But suddenly I realized that the print was slanting quite a bit -- and I was certain it had looked perfectly straight before. I tried to square the fabric (in other words, get the grainlines squared to each other, read more about this here), and then realized I couldn't, because it was squared. Thinking I was crazy, I got out a clear ruler -- and sure enough, the print is way off the grainline of the fabric (ignore the apparent curve of the ruler, it's because I used the macro setting):
I checked the Milk & Cheese fabric, and sure enough, the fabric (this one is unwashed) is printed perfectly perpendicular to the edge of the fabric:
Unfortunately, the grainline is not perpendicular to the edge of the fabric. You can see how much it slants compared to the print here.
My guess is, the fabric as supplied to Spoonflower is already pulled way out of square -- they are printing on it perfectly straight, but once the fabric is washed and straightens itself up, the print is thrown way off. From the front, the grainline is not obvious and you can't really tell -- but if you wash it or attempt to square it up you can never go back. Essentially, this means the fabric is unwashable and not suitable for garments or anything that might need washing. Which was a major, major disappointment for me as the monster fabric was specifically meant for a dress for Emily. (I wouldn't have made it pink if I was going to try and sell things made of it!).
This would probably be fine for a very random print with no straight lines; and of course it is fine as long as you are making items that will never need to be washed. And the good news is, I didn't wash the Milk & Cheese print, so I can still use it (and look for a sneak preview in the next day or two of what I'm doing with that!). And I may be able to salvage the monster fabric -- I am going to try and steam some small blocks back into looking okay; and maybe I can figure out a way to use it as an accent (a ruffle or trim, maybe?) on an outfit when we get back. And fingers crossed this is a problem that can be worked out so I can make Emily her monster dress sometime in the future!!
Our shore vacation was somehow both relaxing and exhausting. I think the fact that there is an amusement park there on the boardwalk had a lot to do with that. Emily went on every ride she was allowed to, including the giant ferris wheel (and it is a giant one) twice. The girl is fearless!! Anyway, we're trying to unpack and catch up today, but I wanted to show you all the sneak peek I just got of my first Spoonflower order!
At 0:25 you'll the see monster fabric I made up from Evan's monsters for Emily....it's a surprise, if the fabric washes well she'll be getting an outfit out of that. Then at 0:32 there is some tasty Milk & Cheese fabric which is destined for some items we hope to have at Heroes Con in a week. Depending on when it gets here and how fast I can sew!! They look exactly like I had imagined in the preview -- fingers crossed they look as good when they arrive!
This past weekend we had a heatwave -- and the 2008 Mocca art fest to attend (see pics!). Spending two days of the heatwave inside a nice air-conditioned hall was pretty alright. Until the building was evacuated on Sunday, that is. In what was supposedly over 100 degrees. But still, a good show for us, and lots of fun for Emily -- this was her fourth and she's not jaded yet!
Friday I finished her Moomin dress (using the farbenmix pattern Vida, with panels made of vintage finnish Moomin fabric, and heck was that hard to get hold of). We all love Moomins here (more on that some other day), but she is crazy for them in the way only a 3-year-old can be (note the "mymble knot" hairstyle -- this alternates with "pippi tails", i.e. pigtails as her regular style). She was so excited that her dress (starring! Little! My!) was done she insisted on wearing it to Mocca on Saturday (and then again today, to tell the truth!). I was really happy with the dress, the pattern is excellent. But here, I'll just show you! I got some cute pics of it while she was running around in our little corner.
I did not get a photo of the faced hem, which was a fun detail to add. if you see the underside of the skirt there is a very wide band of bright yellow dotted fabric. I needed to do a faced hem because of the Moomin fabric (I was barely ekeing those panels out as it was and couldn't afford a hem allowance!) so I decided to have some fun with it. It came out pretty cute -- even though it was extra work I will definitely do it again! The pattern was a little intimidating (so many pieces!) but actually incredibly easy and quick to put together. And lots of room to grow -- I think this dress will wear out before she grows out of it!
As an added bonus, she ate lunch out of her Moomin bento box both days (thanks uncle tim!!!) -- no photos, but it was nothing exciting (grapes, macaroni, and cutout pancakes). She was a happy Moomin-loving girl all weekend. And now...off to the shore to get out of this heat!!
We all love strawberries here -- we eat them in season, and I freeze them in sugar for strawberry bread and as puree for Emily's yogurt. Hopefully we will get a chance to go and pick them this year, but our June is pretty packed so maybe it'll have to wait. (Someday, I'll have a deep freeze full of berries all year!) Emily also loves strawberries on her clothes, so I made her this shirt this week:
Some polka-dot jersey and pink interlock, plus a little green baby-rib from an old t-shirt. The pattern is Zoe from Farbenmix -- it looks a little like a rashguard to me, but it came out pretty cute. Emily certainly loves it! Strawberry and stem were freehanded and then cut out. (Is that even English?) I also tried the Farbenmix-recommended triple zig-zag on the hems, and I actually really like it a lot. I will definitely be doing that on knits from here on out! I did not try the recommended ironing-the-shirt-before-you-take-a-photo technique there, apparently. Oops!
If you are in a strawberry locale, I hope you enjoy your June berries as much as we do!!
Can you believe there is finally a place that will custom print a small length of fabric that you design? It's my dream come true! As well about everyone else's apparently....Spoonflower is a new business that will print out your own designs on fabric which you can then use for clothing, crafts, whatever. And the results I'm seeing on their site look amazing!! Evan and I have wished for a way to make our own fabric for as long as I can remember....and of course now I want to just design fabric for Emily's clothes, ha ha!! I think we would still do some fun prints of our characters as well, of course. Finally, the search for the perfect print would be over! Yes, it's a bit pricey, but it's actually cheaper than many imported fabrics, so not that bad. Especially when you're talking kid's clothes that take just 1-2 yards. My brain is practically boiling with ideas right now. Unfortunately, they are in beta so I have to wait. for. an. invite. and wait. I'm normally a patient person, but I want to make fabric right now!!!! If you want to make fabric, run over and sign up on the list too. And then.....wait.
I was not kidding when I said Emily was practically harassing me over wanting robot pajamas. Every day it was "are my robot pajamas done?" "Can I wear robot pajamas tonight?". Finally, finally, she has robot pajamas. Sorry for the wrinkly photo, they're back on her the minute they're out of the laundry.
These were so easy and simple, but just getting going was a saga! I had several vintage kid's pj patterns, but all way too big or small. I went to Joann's with a list of patterns, and, my local Joann's being a total pit, not a single one was in stock. I started flipping through catalogs and found a really nice looking Burda pattern (out of stock of course) and finally a New Look pattern that was actually IN. THE. STORE. At last. Making the actual pajamas was simple. Cut a single pattern piece twice, sew it up, add elastic, sew an applique on a tank top from Old Navy (Emily hates sleeves at night). Okay, maybe that's a slight over-simplification. Still -- so easy, I have already made her 3 more sets!!
new clothes for emily! and; why there aren't more...
Finished up two new projects over the last couple weeks while all the deadline craziness was going on. First up was this dress:
The pattern is from the Spring 2008 Ottobre Design magazine, and it was my first Ottobre project. Really very simple and I was really happy with the results. The dress came out a bit short, but we found leggings that went with it perfectly and the outfit has already been worn to a friend's wedding and looked great. Emily actually spotted this cherry print online and asked for it! She was happy to finally get her "cherry dress".
And want to know why don't I get more done? Look at this photo and check out that print lined up on that back seam. Why did I do that? That's called being totally anal overly meticulous. I mean, it's a kid's dress. She'll have grown out of it by Fall. Note to self: relax.
Then I finished up this little top:
it's another farbenmix pattern, "Hannah". I shortened the sleeves, accidentally cut off part of the seam allowance and Emily made me cut off almost 4" from the bottom. And it's still a bit blousy on her, so I'm going to say this one runs kinda big. Still cute on, though! It was originally just going to be a plain basic for wearing under jumpers, but she insisted on a heart applique so she would have a top "like her Nele doll".
Next up: if Emily has her way, it will be Robot Pajamas. She asks for them every day. The fabric is here, now I'd best get looking through my patterns!
We are totally overwhelmed with work and obligations (so overwhelmed we are not going to be able to get to the NYCC at all this weekend -- sad!) but while I have almost no time to post or go online, I have been wrapping up a number of projects lately. (Especially since Emily's interest in sewing means she will sit near me pushing a needle through some felt while I sew.) Here's a favorite -- my first made-from-scratch t-shirt! (For Emily!) Surprisingly, it was not hard and came out really cute. It's made from a pattern (farbenmix Quiara) and I used two t-shirts I wasn't wearing (they were too big) to make it, so it's also recycled. Crazy!!
Normally, the first time I make a pattern I like to make it without changes, but I did widen the neck a little to get more of the screenprint onto the shirt. I also would have liked a stretchier knit for the neckband, it came out fine but it was a pain to sew. But, we're all happy with the final result. I will definitely be making more tees in the future, now that I know that it's actually possible.
A few bits of news -- as those of you who read Evan's blog already know, we are working on season 2 of Yo Gabba Gabba! Yay!!! Not sure what our contributions will amount to yet, but we are at least doing some writing. So that is fun.
Speaking of which, the Aquabats/DJ Lance show back in February was awesome, and Emily had a fantastic time! See loads of photos (not mine) right here.
We finally had an actual snow day (at last! a real pile of snow!), it was lots of fun. I think it was the first snow man ever for all three of us, Emily being just 3, I having grown up in Florida, and Evan...well, I don't know what his excuse is! Here are our snow creatures - a snow man, snow puppy, and two snow bunnies. The snow puppy and small snow bunny are Emily's (with help).
The day after we made those, we headed into Manhattan for a meeting (rescheduled because of the snow), amazingly got free parking on Park Ave and on the way back to the car stumbled into fun! Evan said to me, "Hey, look, Scandinavia House" and I said "they have a kid's playroom! It's supposed to be cool!" We went and it turned out we were they on the one day they allow non-members into the kid's playrooms. $5 per kid, parents free. And totally worth it! Emily was in heaven going crazy for the Pippi and Moomin stuff, as well as the Icelandic fairytale landscape in the main room. (The kid's center got written up just a few weeks later in the New Yorker.) Emily wanted to eat at the cafe so we'll probably be heading back soon!
See all that fabric to the left? Standing up all nice and tidy like a row of books? Never to fall into a sloppy pile or tangle into each other again? That is result of my stumbling across this blog post last week, which explains how to use comic book backing boards to organize your fabric, and going "I must do that now!!"
So on our next trip to the local shop, we picked up boards (Golden Age size, if you're interested, so that I can actually store and move the wrapped bundles in magazine size longboxes, and not the ridicuously expensive ones, either), I dug out an extra box of pins and then I got to work.
One note: I lost the blog entry and had to go googling around for it, and came up with several posts about different ways to do this; I think it's important to use this particular method which folds fabric over the top and bottom of the board. This will prevent the fabric from slipping off if it's a bit loose or the pin comes out.
After the muno dress, I was ready to do more experimenting with appliques, and this was my next project: the bunny dress!
The dress itself is the "Anna" pattern from Farbenmix, it's a wrap dress that's basically two aprons attached at the shoulders -- sounds weird, but works well and will grow with her really well. And a great canvas for doing things like this! The front section is more of the pink fabric left over from the muno dress; the back is a cotton dot I got from someone I know, Emily specifically asked me to use it in her next dress.
The bunny is based on an applique design from a vintage pattern I have -- I redrew it a bit and had to totally redo the dress pattern because the original didn't fit on the bunny's body!! (I felt sorry for all the 50s mom's who tried to make that pattern work and had to go throw back a martini after a couple hours struggling with it.) I was pretty happy with this, it was my first "mixed media" attempt in sewing -- the bunny is a cotton knit, the faces (there's a little bunny face on the back as well) are all embroidered, then the dress was sewn as a flat piece and applied on top.
Embroidering the faces was interesting -- I hadn't embroidered anything in years (and I mean years) so I was totally winging it. I didn't honestly even know what stitch I was using, I just sort of did it intuitively. (It turned out to be a split stitch, which later experiments prove to be my favorite for linework.) And I used some sort of sloppy satin stitch on the eyes, which turned out okay but sent me to the computer to request a couple of embroidery books from the library (I do have some needlework books, but they're packed up...somewhere...). But I think they came out fine, regardless of my less-than-precise approach. Here's a detail of the front bunny, and here's the little bunny face on the back.
I really love the pattern, in fact I've already used it again for Emily's Girl's Day dress! I'll be taking a break from it for a bit, but I'll definitely be making more Annas. And I will definitely be doing more embroidery!! I'd forgotten how much fun it can be!
Emily has been really into hairbows for the past 6 months or so. I had trouble finding what she wanted though (bows with certain things on them, or to go with certain outfits) so I decided to learn how to make them myself. It ended up being easy enough that I made EIGHT pairs of bows to give her on Girl's Day this past monday. (She also got a doll she'd been pining for since December, and a new dress. More about that soon!) I also made an extra Hello Kitty set at her direction for her to give her friend Josie on Girl's Day.
Now, hopefully she will be satisfied with the sheer quantity and stop asking for more hairbows!! (Although, I admit, now everytime I see a really interesting ribbon I'm like....hmmm....I could make a bow out of that!)
So, since I last posted I have been sick twice, not once but TWICE. First the flu, then after about 3 days being well, a cold settled in. This has been the absolute worst winter of my entire life as far as colds and flu -- usually I get one or none. This year, it's been 2 a month at least. I will be thrilled when spring gets here!! In the meantime, just trying to stay healthy and getting a few things done here and there. (And by the way, if anyone has a sure-fire immunity booster or cold and flu fighter, please let me know about it!)
This year, Emily was so into Xmas that she didn't want to see it go...so the small pink tree became a Valentine tree (all it needed was a few hearts and a red garland) and she and I made Valentine heart-pocket-things to replace our stockings. She picked more Aranzi Aronzo designs to glue on and they came out great (no pics though, how did that happen?) We stuffed valentines and little gifts into everyone's hearts and the homemade highlight of Emily's gifts (the real highlight, I have to admit was a set of Hello Kitty cookie cutters) was this set of felt heart-shaped sugar cookies. With icing! And sprinkles!! I want to eat them.
So, our valentine's day was pretty great, especially since it fell on one of the few days this winter that found all three of us in good health. I hope yours was great too!
We had a lot of things go missing this year. Some turned up, some didn't...but one of the most frustrating near-losses was this dress! But...at least the story has a happy ending:
I bought the fabric right before or after Emily was born, thinking I'd make a little dress (it's the out-of-print and actually hard to get Alexander Henry Flora de los Muertos print). When I finally had time to sew, I decided to hold off since she was growing our of her clothes so fast. This spring, I finally cut it out, found matching leggings and got ready to sew it together for the warm weather. Then....it vanished! I looked everywhere, on and off for months. I re-opened packed boxes, checked with people I'd shipped things to, you name it. I finally decided to write it off and spent months tracking down just 1 single yard of the same fabric to re-do the dress. Before I could cut it out -- Evan found the pieces of this one! I'd packed them all up (I keep projects I'm working on in ziploc bags to keep from losing pieces) and the whole bag had slipped behind the china cabinet in the dining room. Yay!! And luckily, a generous enough pattern that it'll still fit this year. I put it all together, made some matching buttons and at last...the hidden dress comes out of the shadows!
Emily has been asking for a "real" muno dress ever since I designed one for her Animal Crossing character. Finally I figured out how best to do it and let her pick out a dress pattern and fabric color for the base. Muno is appliqued with raw edges out of knit fabrics (the black is actually from a t-shirt that was too big!). She loves it, and it's super-cute on! Unfortunately for me, she immediately listed off for me the 10 or so characters she wants dresses of, including a Yo Gabba Gabba character that's been seen twice for mere seconds!! Yikes!! I told her, maybe later.....
No, not the food we ate, but the food I made! My mom got Emily a basket of Haba play food for her birthday, and we got her a bunch more to complement what my mom sent. I decided she needed more play food and delved into the world of felt food. (I have actually had a Japanese craft book with patterns for felt cakes for a while but had never attempted any.) It turned out to be incredibly easy, and fast -- I did all these in a couple hours the night before her birthday.
thumbprint cookies, not actually something we eat around here but they're like cartoon cookies or something. you know they're cookies:
farfalle! this is Emily's favorite pasta shape (other than, say, pumpkins or penguins):
farfalle with (Haba) mushrooms, ala Emily:
and the reusable shopping bags I made for her to keep all the food in:
I had a yard of this Paris street map fabric and had never found a good use for it. For some reason it struck me as perfect for shopping bags, I don't know why. In any case, cute and she loves them.
All the food was a huge hit, Emily has been making "stew" (her recipe includes bananas and a loaf of bread, and she laughs hysterically when we go "bananas?! bread?!") and pie and pasta with mushrooms ever since she opened everything. And I want to make more, more more! At least the felt cookies. So cute and easy!
Our happy little pirate, trick-or-treating! What you can't see in this photo: the cute little pirate cutlass, her skull-face trick-or-treat bag (from Target!), her dog's eyepatch and matching bag. You can see a little bit more here.
The costume has two main pieces: first, a real dress she can keep wearing, with a skull-and-bones bodice and pirate-striped skirt. I had a lot of trouble with the dress, actually, but finally found a pattern that worked perfectly. (Thank you Joann's 99 cent pattern sales!) Easy, buttons instead of a zipper, and very finished-looking when done. I'll definitely be making more dresses from it. My only problem? They were sold out of her size, and I had to scale down a size 4 pattern. It worked out alright, luckily.
On top of the dress is a separate jacket -- big thanks to Jenna (of Glamarama and Tartlette fame) who sent me lots of pirate advice and a link to a McCall's fairy costume pattern that I was able to adapt by adding sleeves and a belt. I lined it in taffeta to try and make it more comfortable (Emily is anti-top-layers) and also did a faux buckle effect with velcro underneath so she could get out of it fast if it really bothered her. I don't think she'll be wearing it for fun, but she did tolerate it long enough to actually trick-or-treat.
The hat was a cheapo hat from Joann's, doctored up with gold trim and a copy of the skull-and-bones from Brobee's hat. All in all, a costume we were all happy with. And Emily now has a pirate dress to wear until she grows out of it -- or wears it out, she is crazy for her pirate dress, I think is it now 2nd only to the Brobee dress in her wardrobe hierarchy!
I hope you all had a Halloween as fun as Emily's!!
Okay, so yes, obviously I need to change the name of this site to "I PIMP FOR YO GABBA GABBA", I know. But this one actually isn't exactly about the show....it's about Emily's favorite new dress!
Presenting -- the Brobee Dress! Somehow I bent time and space to sew this up for Emily while we were working...
How it happened is this: a little while back, we got our season 1 crew shirts. Emily kept asking if she could have one, and so I decided to turn one of them into a dress for her! No pattern, I freehanded it on paper and then draped it on her dressform (and I have to tell you, having a dressform for her made making this a breeze!), and I was really happy with the result. The contrasting bits are some cotton blend jersey that I thought would match, the main body of the dress is all cut from a M sized shirt. I was even able to cut around the logo on the back, thank goodness for today's oversized shirts! The dress has been a huge success -- too huge, in fact. She would wear it every single day, no joke, if I could somehow let her. It is going to wear out long before she grows out of it. After we get back from Toronto I'm going to see about making a Muno dress from the same pattern, this time there's no shirt so I'll probably applique him on.
Speaking of getting back, we are packing up as I type and getting ready to leave for the Toronto Comic Art Festival -- we're looking forward to the semi-vacation and hope to see some of you there!
And if you're not going, don't forget to tune in next Monday to the premiere episode of Yo Gabba Gabba! I'm not 100% sure what ended up in which episode, but I think one or two of the segments we worked on will air next week.
Here's the apron we got from Megan for the swap - finally got a decent photo of it out of the little imp! Isn't it adorable? And HUGE POCKETS!! It also reverses to the opposite color scheme. Thanks again, Megan!!
Our third What's Cookin' apron swap has come to a close, and I think it was my favorite one yet! The theme was mini aprons, made for each other's kids. I was really happy with what I made, and Emily and I were both thrilled with what we got!
First, my apron. I was making this apron for six-year old Ada, and after reading her likes and dislikes, my idea came together almost instantly for once. I scaled up this apron I'd designed for Emily, and used this adorable bunny fabric I had on hand (okay, actually I ordered more to use later and used what I had here while I waited for my order!). I thought the resulting apron was really cute, and apparently so does Ada!
I also made little sister Esme a matching bib she can wear while she watches Ada cook:
And here are the matching recipe cards to go with the apron!
I included one of our family's favorite recipes, one for strawberry bread. Imagine my surprise -- they grow strawberries and will have plenty of opportunity to make this bread come (real) spring!)
And as for Emily's apron, well, she is a reluctant model this week. So hopefully Megan will be posting a photo, because it's an adorable art smock with polka dots (one of Em's favorite motifs)! Megan and her little boy Canaan also included recipes chosen by Canaan and a book, Joey and Jet In Space, which Emily is in love with. (She loves rockets and space!)
Thanks to everyone who participated and made our swap so much fun!
At last! The winners of the Monster Vote of Confidence are now appearing on a wide selection of shirts in our cafepress shop. More stuff and better organization soon, but shirts (and onesies and bibs) are available now!
We were asked to do a custom 8" Munny for the Uberbot Holiday Heroes charity auction, and he is done just barely in time! He's based on our Surf Mummy designer mini-mate from back in the day. And I think he's really cute. In a gruesome, living-dead sort of way. Surf Mummy will be up for auction in a few days to raise money for Toys for Tots, here's hoping he helps makes the holidays special for a bunch of little kids! More info at Evan's journal; more photos in Evan's flickrstream.
And this is the apron that I made for the swap, which I made for Sara:
I went with a winter theme and tried to follow her likes (sparkly, blue, not too foofy). I had some serious moments of doubt - first, when I got the giant snowflake fabric I began to think I was insane for coming up with this idea. Then of course, we were gone for a good bit of the month, and I didn't think I'd be able to finish it. But, somehow I did, and I was really happy with the final result! Here's a closeup of the under-layer with its loose snowflakes:
And here's a pic of the recipe cards and a few extras (a matching goody bag with gelt, and some rose tea for relaxing):
So all-in-all, two very successful swaps so far. Can't wait til the next one! (of course, I know what the theme is, hahahaha!)
and while I'm not really in the party mood, as hostess I kind of have to show up, don't I? Today is the big reveal day (well, weekend, starting today) for the second What's Cookin' apron swap and I have to say, I am pleased as punch about the fabulous apron that I got! Check it out:
the theme was "holiday hostess" -- a party/hostess apron with either a holiday (of the recipient's choosing) or winter theme. Debi drew my name and obviously went with the winter theme. And seriously, those fabrics look like I chose them myself! Vintage-y blues and yellows to go with my kitchen, a cool mid-century asterisk pattern on the yellow and snowflakes (and I love snowflakes) on the overlay. Here's a closeup of the pocket so you can see the fabrics better:
That pocket detail makes me think this may have been made from a vintage pattern, or is inspired by a vintage apron. But I'm just guessing here. Debi also sent me matching recipe cards with 2 great-looking holiday recipes, and a little ornament which was immediately stolen from me by a little baby! So all-in-all, fabulous guesswork and/or research by Debi to make an apron that I seriously might have made myself. I mean, it's scary how totally "me" it is. Thanks, Debi!!
As for the apron that I made...I'll post about that as soon as I know it's been safely received!
Emily's 2nd Halloween, and her first one with a slight clue what was going on. I made her this Cheburashka costume, which has great significance to us but which I knew would be interpreted by most people as a teddy bear (although a few people thought she was a puppy!) I had a serious moment of doubt working on this costume...I didn't think I could pull it off since I was winging most of it. But then everything clicked and it ended up working out fine. Furry felt is pretty awesome, although I feel like washing it would destroy it completely. And I'm not sure how comfortable it actually was -- but she didn't complain a bit, and even kept her hands inside the little paw-mittens!
We took her to the mall for their big trick-or-treat thing. She liked looking at the other kids a lot, didn't like adults talking to her so much, and ended up pretty overwhelmed:
She sure looked cute though! Next year: real door-to-door trick-or-treating! Well, maybe.
Best costumes at the mall: two little asian boys dressed as yellow-track-suit Bruce Lee and a Shaolin Monk. Their mom was really happy that Evan recognized both costumes!
And here we have my etsy purchase for month three of my 5-4-3-2-etsy pledge. And yes, more skull-ness!! This cute little magnet was a great find, and he's been on the fridge since he got here. Now I just hope she makes more so he can have a friend!
That winds up my initial 3-month pledge. I haven't decided if I'm going to pledge again right away or not. But there's lots of skully cuteness out there, so maybe!!
Mary and I are once again your hostesses for the second What's Cookin'? Apron and Recipe Swap and we hope that you will join us! The theme this time is holiday party aprons and recipes -- hope to see you there!
I actually ended up finding this month's 5-4-3-2-etsy purchase(s) back on September 1st, while looking around on etsy after seeing everyone else's purchases -- I need more (bigger) bibs and thought, well, someone must have some on etsy! Sure enough, I found Mary Kenyon's CoffinQuilts etsy shop, full of cool bibs, aprons, totes and more. And best of all, she was able to make the bibs toddler size for me (if you like a baby bib in her shop, just drop her a line and see if she can make it over at the bigger size, and vice versa) so actually my bibs were custom made, but at her regular price, which was yes, just $5 each! I like them so much, I'm tempted to cheat and buy more for October...but I won't. (I mean, I may buy more, but I won't use them as my official purchase!)
So, the details: both bibs are reversible (a green floral backs the cherries and pink-on-black polka dots back the sugar skulls); they fasten with nice heavy-duty pearl snaps -- two so you can adjust the neck size; totally washable, although of course they're not so pristine and all after a few cycles, as you can see (see one of them new here). And they fold up quite small, so I can stash one in my bag if we're going to eat out (assuming I remember to, of course). So, once again, I'm very pleased with my purchase, definitely more than worth $5!
So, this pledge-to-etsy project is happening! Mary Ann and I have come up with some cool ideas and we have a site to organize it all. The site is sketchy right now, but we wanted to get the ball rolling instead of waiting until it was perfect since that'll be, like...never. In any case, go read the prelimary details and sign up at: 5-4-3-2...etsy!
The clever and talented Mary Ann has come up with a brilliant idea to support and promote etsy, the site where people can sell their handcrafts -- by pledging to buy one item a month, spending less than $5, and then posting about it at the end of the month so we can all see what everyone bought. I've already made my August purchase!! (You'll just have to wait and find out what it was!) I think Mary Ann needs to be the one organizing this since it was her idea, but in the meantime, won't you think about joining us?
Ah! Got a few things finished off that had been hanging around the house, making me feel guilty. First up, my matching craft (or beet-cutting, or tomato-sauce-making) apron to go with Emily's:
This was an easy one, it was cut out and all I needed to do was stitch the bias tape around all the edges (and I just left extra at the corners for the ties!). I still have some of this laminated fabric left, and now I'm thinking...matching placemats!!
I also finished up this crossover top I had made for Emily:
It's modified from one of the many patterns that are out there for this perennial -- I altered it to copy a top I had as a kid. I don't have the original top or pattern, but what I did have was a little copy of it that one of my parents made for a doll I had! The main change is that the front is straight across, and in the back the wrap part is cut at a different angle. Mmmm, hard to describe actually, you'll just have to take my word for it. Anyway, it had been done for a bit, just needed buttonholes and buttons. Check out the cute little ladybug buttons I'd forgotten I had!
So this weekend was the big (if virtual) apron swapping party! I hope everyone who participated was as happy with the results as I was -- I loved the apron I made and the apron that I got! First, here's what I made:
I drew Heather, who loves to bake, and ended up going with a baking theme for my apron and recipes. I happened to have this really cute baking themed retro fabric in a wishlist, without any idea what to use it for. And when Heather posted a link to this apron (as a "dream" apron) I was totally inspired by the ruffle motif, and came up with the design you see above. I was really happy with the ruffle on mine, although I didn't get a good pic before sending it off. I was so happy with this apron, in fact, that I made one for myself as well! And then...I made a little matching one for Emily!
I was already in a mini-apron mood, because I made a craft/play apron for Emily's pal Tess' birthday gift -- it's a reversible apron, with one side laminated for messy crafts:
and the other side a pretty floral to go with her kitchen when she "cooks":
And yes, Emily has a match of that one, too!
Finally, here's the apron I got from my partner, Crystal:
It's so cute! And it really is exactly what I was hoping people would get from this swap -- something that you really like that you would never think to make for yourself. She also sent me some recipes I'm dying to try (well, the empanadas will have to wait, the oven is verboten for the next month or so) and some other goodies. See?
Now you might think that's enough aprons for now but...I think I need an apron to match the mini craft apron. And Emily needs (for real) an art smock or something, because those washable crayons? Guess what, they don't always wash out! So stay tuned for more aprony goodness!
How cute is that little puppet theater apron? It reminds me of a similar apron I saw a while back in a Japanese craft book -- that one was for the parent, and had a puppet theater up on the chest area, I guess so you could play with the puppets while sitting down. It was so cute I wanted to buy the book! (But I didn't -- can't buy everything...) Also really cute for kids are these aprons from Furnis:
Here's the meme we're all doing for the What's Cookin' apron/recipe swap. It was harder than you might think, since I only came up with maybe 3 of these!
1. first apron (that you can remember)
An eyelet apron from Germany, part of a traditional outfit my mom's friend brought back when I was maybe 5. I loved that outfit, and I still have the apron! Somewhere...update: still can't remember where it is, but I found one old polaroid in my photo album that shows me wearing it. At the duckpond, apparently.
2. last (most recent) apron
If it has to be finished, then it's my "White Christmas" apron that I did for the holiday theme Tie One On. Otherwise, it's my still unfinished entry for the Tie One On white/yellow theme from April -- I threw my back out the last week of April and couldn't finish it, and since I blew getting it into the TOO gallery, well, I just haven't finished it.
3. dream/favorite apron
Last year I had some of this fabric laminated on the front to make a waterproof apron; originally I was going to use it to make an apron from this pattern, but now I want to use the pattern Rebecca used here. All that bias tape though...yikes!
4. dream sewing machine
I'm happy with my current sewing machine and serger -- if I was better with the serger I might want a fancier one. And someday I wouldn't mind a full-on embroidering machine. At the moment my mad money dream is to get one of these Hello Kitty sewing machines to give Emily when she's bigger! Green or blue...who can choose?
5. what do you put in your pockets? or what strange thing have you ever found in them?
I don't have pockets in any of my clothes except some of my coats and jackets. I rarely use them, but every year when I get them in the fall I find something odd in at least one pocket. Little toys I can't remember getting, usually.
6. condiment(s) you can't live without
I've lived in the NYC area long enough to say mustard. Soy sauce, also.
7. do you wear more showy aprons or dutiful ones?
Definitely the duty aprons.
8. favorite cooking gadget
Could not live without my bread machine and rice cooker.
9. cooking gagdet that promised the world but didn't deliver
The indoor grill we bought -- it just was too much trouble and mess.
10. a recipe that you know by heart and any stories behind it
I don't cook with recipes that often, but one thing that needs a recipe which I do have memorised is baked macaroni and cheese -- it's the actual recipe from the Automat company. Evan wanted me to try it to see if it was like he remembered and it turned out to be the best macaroni we'd ever had.
Finally, I got the chance to try my hand at a freezer paper stencil; I'd been wanting to do it for a while since I definitely don't have time to mess with even the simplest screenprinting. This morning I made this swing shirt for Emily, and it came out really swell, we thought! The design is a little cat face from the credit sequence of Totoro. (See it bigger here!) It was pretty easy too -- I pencilled the design on the freezer paper (on the dull side), cut out the stencil with an x-acto, laid the pieces out on the shirt (shiny side down) and ironed them on. Then dabbed on some black fabric paint, peeled up the stencil pieces (the only really scary step), let the paint dry and heat-set it. I'm sure there's loads of tutorials but I basically followed the system I saw here (where I first saw this idea), especially Amy's brilliant step of adding freezer paper behind the stencil as well. I didn't let it dry overnight though -- I used the blow-dryer on it and heat set it so I could put everything back away as fast as possible. We're all excited to make more stencils!
Also this week, a new washcloth bib, made from an Astroboy washcloth someone gave us years ago (I'm thinking it was our friend Devon but I'm not sure). I think Emily loves it way more than we do!
I'm excited to finally unveil a project my galpal Mary and I have been working on for literally months -- What's Cookin', an apron & recipe swap. The idea is to swap handmade aprons and some of your favorite recipes with like-minded crafty types. I think it'll be lots of fun, so if the idea sounds at all interesting, come on over and read all about it. And maybe I'll see you in the sign-up list!
I've always been really into the idea of cutting down old clothes that still had some wear left in them into kid's clothes -- but until now, I didn't have a kid to re-make anything for! Now that I do, I've started experimenting with the idea. I already had cut down some old pajamas into a pair of pants, which worked out great (and also remade a pair of footed leggings into cuffed pants, making them last an extra 3-4 months!). And this week I finished the best project so far, this cute little geek-baby Boba Fett jumper! The pattern came from a Japanese pattern magazine; the fabric came from this ILM staff shirt someone gave Evan a while back. It was very cool, but big and starting to wear around the collar. So I decided it was the perfect subject.
First, I made a test jumper, using a very old and raggedy cotton shirt I'd bought at Pearl River Mart maybe a decade ago. It came out cute, but halfway through I realized the fabric was worse off than I'd thought, so I cheated and used velcro on the tabs. It looks good on her anyway. And once that came out well, I went for the Boba shirt.
I only had two real challenges: first, the back had the ILM logo across it, so I had to piece the jumper's back to avoid it. Second, I haven't sewn a buttonhole in so long, I apparently forgot how. Several test buttonholes later, I decided to cheat! So those are actually fakes, with snaps sewn on underneath. Maybe next time...
Now we have a small stack of favorite-but-worn t-shirts to be made-over for the next few years. Evan can't wait til I get to his Batboy shirt, but it's so huge, I don't think she'll be getting that one til she's 3 or 4. Jumpers ahoy!
Since the Tie One On holiday theme was extended to December 1st (whew!) for November I want to share this apron with you instead. Now, if you know me well enough to know how I dress, you're probably thinking "white eyelet? that doesn't seem like you..." and you'd be right. No, I'd never pick white eyelet for an apron -- too lacy, too frou frou, too white (me and white clothes are a bad thing together...can you say immediate food spill?). But the thing is, I didn't pick it out. I bought this pattern because I'd been wanting this particular design for an apron project I had in mind (and still haven't started!), but the copy I found came complete with someone's pinned and cut fabric! I decided to go ahead and complete the apron on behalf of the original owner, and it was a really cool thing to do. There's no way to know when the fabric was cut out or why it was never sewn together, but I had a lot of fun speculating and thinking about the idea of finishing someone else's project for them. I hope someone would do the same for me!
I did have to make one alteration in the pattern though -- the shoulder straps are meant to cross over the back and button to the waistband, but when I tried on the apron to figure out where the buttons should go I discovered that the straps didn't get anywhere near the waistband! This pattern was definitely not meant for someone who's 5'10". So I converted the straps to a halter and it worked out just fine.
Here's to whoever started this apron -- glad I could finish that up for you!
I worked my way through a ton of plans on this one, unlike the other two. Originally, I wanted to do potato prints of kitcheny icons. But, I couldn't find fabric paint in the colors I wanted, and I couldn't find fabric I thought was suitable for making the actual apron. So I had just about resigned myself to not doing it at all.
But then, on the way back from the symposium at Duke, we stopped to get gas and found this huge thrift store (where I bought a bunch of cookbooks and some baby clothes for Emily) -- and in the linen section was the perfect dishtowel for making an apron! And amazingly. still clean and white (it was from a linen service, and the others were all stained) So I brought it home and did a quick-and-easy dishtowel apron. But then, what to put on it?
The potato prints were out, I had never found the colors I wanted. At first I thought of doing a comic (maybe of someone making a recipe or something) but I realized I'd never have the time to write it, much less draw it. Then I got the idea to do a mini-version of our House of Fun classic series "Life's Great Rewards" (these strips are pages of small panels, each containing iconic things we love. Evan and I have both done them.) but I couldn't settle on which things to draw. As I was trying to make a list in my head, I realized I was mostly thinking of food. And mostly, food that started with a "C"!
So, thus was born this month's apron, "C Is For...". Drawn freehand on a dishtowel apron in marker (panels ruled with a piece of junk mail) and colored in design markers.
The September Tie One On gallery is up! Some very cute submissions, too. I forgot when I wrote about my apron to mention that I had really wanted to track down a set of Nigella Lawson's cupcake-motif towels for my apron. But, they're UK-only and incredibly expensive for kitchen towels. Close to $30 for kitchen towels? That you're going to get dirty? Even for a set of 4 that's a lot. Still, if I could have bought them around here I might have thought about it...
This month's tie one on assignment was to make an apron from a tea towel (or dish towel, kitchen towel, bar towel, etc.) Easy as pie, and after one false start (okay, maybe not as easy as pie) I had this cute pink apron made from a vintage kitchen towel.
side view, showing panels
close-up of the embroidery
the original bar towels I bought
The ends of the towel had different motifs, which worked perfectly for my idea, which was: to cut the towel in half off-center, making one longer panel for the main part of the apron, and then make two shorter side panels from the shorter half. You can see the side panels in the second photo. (The apron fits me a bit better than it fits my skinnier dressmaker's dummy -- skinnier because my dummy didn't give birth 9 months ago!) I serged the raw edges of the side panels, stitched them to the front panel, gathered the whole thing and then just used a length of some leftover black bias tape for the waistband/ties.
I'm much happier with this apron, actually (than the last one) because it's very usable. The side panels protect without getting in the way, and the fabric is a textured and very absorbent cotton (I think). See detail photo for the texture -- also for a close-up of the embroidery. I know there is a name for this style of embroidery but I cannot remember it and I don't have any of my needlework books handy to check. And it's totally washable. The fabric is a bit thicker and stiffer as well, which also helps. Definitely will be avoiding the potentially limp fabrics in the future, no matter how much I like the color!
Now, for the false start! The day this month's theme was announced I thought, "this will be so easy! And perfect! Now, to find some cool vintage towel or two on ebay"...and I immediately found an auction that was about to end, for a set of vintage bar towels (well, I'm assuming they're "bar towels" by the motifs, but they're kind of bigger and linen so they may really be "kitchen" towels). No-one bid against me, I won them a few hours later for just a few dollars, and then I waited excitedly to get them in the mail.
My plan was to take the two towels and match up the designs, making a big color-blocked towel, then cutting it down to a good length and just using bias tape to make the waistband/ties (see photo for a mock-up of the apron that didn't happen). I thought it would look really neat, and I think it would have except...when I got the towels I thought "this will be the coolest apron", but I just couldn't do it. I hung them over a chair in the dining room for a couple days and thought about it, and when Evan asked "where did we get these really cool towels" I decided I just couldn't cut them up!! So, they became our new cool vintage bar towels, and I began searching for another vintage towel. Luckily I found the pink and black one and it was shipped quickly so I had plenty of time to make the apron.
Well, practically instant, anyway, and depending on the materials you use, they may even be free!
It's true that you really cannot have too many baby bibs while you are in the really messy stages of feeding a baby. And through trial and error, I figured out that the best bib (for me) has a few important features.
It involves no velcro -- velcro inevitably opens up and snags something in the laundry, plus Emily can pull them off pretty easily.
No plastic -- I know people like those Baby Bjorn-type vinyl bibs but Emily hates them, and they look uncomfortable to me.
A textured surface -- those bibs you can wipe off sound great -- until you realize that the smooth, wipeable surface means that everything that hits the bib will slide off into baby's lap!
And preferably, it will be made of something soft and absorbent so it can pull double duty and be used for clean-up afterwards.
So what's the best bib, then? A simple bib of cotton terrycloth with good coverage and comfortable neckties. And how can you get one? Like this!
photo 1: All you need (besides the obvious scissors, thread and sewing machine) is a washcloth and a 32" length of some sort of folded (or foldable) binding. The washcloth I'm using here is from a pack of a dozen I bought for maybe $5 at Costco, but was technically free for this project since it's about two years old and I just went and got it our of the bathroom. I would say you need a washcloth that's around 11"x11" or 12"x12". Any bigger and it'll be covering up baby's arms. Any smaller and it won't be covering much of baby! The binding is also technically free as it was leftover from another project. This is definitely one of those projects where you can spend anywhere from nothing to a lot, depending on what you decide to use -- free leftover as I've done here, or super-plush new washcloths and pretty ribbons!
photo 2: fold the washcloth in half down the center, and choose which edge will be the top (my washcloth only had one band woven in, so I put that at the bottom). Measure 3" down the fold from the top, and 2" across the edge from the center. You might want to use a washable marker for this, but I was lazy and used a sharpie.
photo 3: draw a curve between your two marks.
photo 4: cut along the curve to make the neck opening. Take your binding and fold it in half, lining the center of the binding up with the center of the neck opening.
photo 5: enclose the cut edge of the washcloth inside the folded binding and line up the centers, pin in place. You may want to pin the binding closed around the neck opening to the edges to be on the safe side. Me, I like to live dangerously. (Okay, I'm lazy.) Starting from either end of the binding, sew the open edges of the binding together to make the ties. As you approach the neck opening, slow down and make sure the cut edge of the washcloth is well enclosed. Sew around the neck opening, then sew closed the rest of the length of binding. Trim threads and...
photo 6: ta-da!! Instant bib!! And perfect for my needs -- no plastic, no velcro, a surface that'll catch those slimy bits of banana and spilled yogurt; and best of all, when she's done eating, I can run it under a little warm water and wash that kid down!
photo 7: here's an optional step -- binding the outside edge of the washcloth as well. This will give the bib a little more stability and it looks darn cute. Although, I have to confess, that isn't really a washcloth there. It's an 11"x11" piece of hemp/cotton brushed terry I had left over from another project. Using a square scrap of something works great (remember to round off the corners!) but you will have to bind the raw edges by either serging them or using binding like I did here. It really is quite the swanky bib though!
I can think of lots of alternatives for this bib -- big satin ribbon ties; adding appliques or trim; using something that will function as well as the terry but look nicer, like a soft cotton velour; using washcloths with embroidery, texture, stripes , prints or patterns; the possibilities are endless! This kid's going to end up in bib heaven....
So, here's the apron. Obviously, the full-size one is on the left. It's based on a vintage "hostess apron" pattern that I have. Unfortunately, the photo is not so good and Crushy slept on the apron for a few hours before I took the photo, making things worse. (Cats and fabric -- argh!!) The mini apron is for a Gene-sized doll, and fared much better -- no sleepy cat laying all over it, for one thing. The scale of the smaller one makes the fabric much stiffer, and makes me want to redo the pattern in a taffeta or something, I think it looks much better. I also like the bows better on the smaller one -- I did them that way because it was easier but they turned out nicer. It's a nice size and the pockets are great, if a bit deep. So I think I'll definitely rework this pattern in the future. Still, even though I'm not 100% happy with the results here, it was just pretty exciting to participate in something for the first time since that BABY arrived. ^_^
OMG! Like, a project! Very little in the way of projecty stuff has been going on around here since the arrival of the E.M.I.L.Y. cyborg. But, a friend of mine came across the very cool tie one on site and since I love sewing, love aprons (but, oddly, never remember to actually wear them) and have recently actually started two pretty major apron projects it seemed like a perfect thing to try. I've submitted my very badly photographed results and hopefully they'll make it into the August gallery. Sheesh, some people can pull off a gorgeous illustration every week in their spare time, me, I'm excited about a simple apron once a month. Or less.
It looks like it'll be too cloudy to see the Leonid meteor shower. Not that you can see much of the night sky here on a good day…light pollution being what it is. (Those of you with clear, dark, skies have no idea how lucky you are. And boy do I miss them.) Trying to find a good location to meteor-watch (before I saw the weather reports) I found Darksky.org, which sounds like a super-villain group, but is actually an educational non-profit working to improve the night sky.
In other news, I've finally finished our little store (I saw "we" because Evan has helped quite a bit, although he can't seem to finish my Mr. Bunny drawing!). My original idea, was, of course, a lot more complicated. But what it's boiled down to is a way for us to make little, limited run things of cute designs we come up with. "Cute" doesn't sell that well, so these are either the kinds of things that we know will only sell a few at most. Or they're things we only want to make available for a limited period of time. And if nothing else, we can make more stuff for ourselves. (That's all I've used Cafepress for over the past two years!) I know I'll be doing some X-mas shopping there myself.
Ugh. Jury duty awaits me Monday. I live in fear of somehow getting put on some 2-month trial. Even after trying to work ahead I still will have to start working again by the middle of the week. Blech. In good news, even in the rotten heat I finished a new project yesterday -- the adult-size-japanese-kindergarten-smock project. I love those smocks and I needed some sort of loose and light long-sleeved cover up for gardening and messy jobs. Unfortunately I had to extrapolate the pattern myself from tiny directions in a Japanese sewing book -- but attempt #2 came out great. It's just cheap muslin with some leftover purple linen for pockets and trim, very comfortable, will protect my arms and clothes perfectly. Not exactly flattering but that's not the point. Now that the pattern is worked out I want to make one up in cute fabric or with silly pockets. And I want my nephew to get bigger so I can make him one -- I have instructions for making one that looks like an Ultraman costume!