Friday, June 29, 2012

Oliver + S Jump Rope Dress

I just finished the Oliver + S Jump Rope dress. I have to say, I am really pleased with how it turned out.  I did have to step out of my comfort zone for this one.  I usually avoid things like sleeves, collars and plackets because they take time and require some thought.  I like to sew things that come together quickly and don't require much thought.  This wasn't necessarily one of those projects.  Don't let that scare you though, the instructions are so well written that it wasn't terribly difficult to work through.  I did use this Sew-A-Long  from the SewMamaSew Blog. I am a visual learner so the extra pictures on the SewMamaSew sight really helped.

A few tips/notes that I will add/emphasize.

1.) When adding the collar, it really does help to hand baste it.  Hand basting is also one of those things I avoid, again it's a time thing.  But, I took the time and did it on the collar so that when I sewed it down it didn't go all wonky.  I didn't have to pick out any of the stitching from the collar, it went on so much easier by basting it first. (I might change the buttons, I didn't have any colored ones on hand that matched so I went with white but I'm not digging them.)

2.) When sewing the sleeve tabs, use tissue under the tabs as a stabilizer.  It really does work.  I didn't have any of the little points get caught under my presser foot or down under the needle.

3.) I followed the directions for the belt loops but I think I would make them a little shorter next time.  My belt doesn't quite fill the loops.  Might be something you double check before sewing them down.  In the Sew-A-Long it was mentioned that the belt loops were difficult and they weren't wrong.  There is something about those tiny loops and getting them just right that was challenging.  If anyone has a tip or suggestion for making it easier, please share.

You might notice that the buttons are pulling across the chest a little on my model, that is because the dress form is about an 1 1/2 inches larger than Piper.  I sewed the size 18-24 month pattern and it fits her just right (she's 2 1/2).  The fabric used is called Sweet Shop by Springs Creative.  I really adore the fabric and am considering getting some more.  It is nice and light for summer and the colors are bright and fun.  

This dress was just a practice run for the one I intended to have finished for my nieces birthday next week.  Needless to say her gift will be late, unless I do some serious sewing over the weekend.  It's unlikely though because I've got 2 dozen cupcakes to make for said niece and then she and my sister are going to join me on Sunday to see Brave and maybe do something else special which I will report on later. ;)

Friday Favorites

Okay, so today's favorite isn't crafting related but it is a favorite thing of mine and it is Friday and I make the rules so it's okay.

On of my favorite memories from childhood is sitting on my grandmother's porch eating ice cream.  She always had the vanilla ice cream popsicles coated in chocolate, and they always melted down your arm before you finished.  She kept the ice cream out in my pap's work shop in the deep freeze.  We were allowed to go get them when ever we wanted.

So, my Friday Favorite for this week is eating ice cream on the porch on a hot summer day.

Do you have a summer favorite?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Gymboree Look-A-Like

Over the weekend we were out running errands.  I had a $10 coupon for Gymboree that was about to expire so I popped in real quick to see what I could pick up off of the sale rack.  Imagine my surprise when I walked in and saw these cute shorts for the 4th of July on the rack:

I was surprised because I had made these knickers for Piper for Memorial Day:

Of course not identical, but close enough that I got a chuckle out of it.  So, this either means I am a forward thinker in children's fashions or someone from Gymboree saw my cute knickers and decided to take them main stream. ;) Gymboree if you need some more ideas feel free to e-mail me. :)

Also, you may notice the shorts are not hanging on a hangar on the back of my basement door like my other photos.  I have a "model" now.  For my birthday DH got me a child sized dress form.  I love it!  It is perfect for all those times I need to see how something "fits" but am hesitant to put on Piper because it is still pinned together and I fear sticking her.  You will get a better look at the dress form in other pictures I am sure.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty Jr.

The past few days have been very busy.  I have been a chaperone to Zachary's traveling road show with his theatre group The Chesapeake Youth Players.  The kids did an adaptation of the James Thurber short story The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (read the short story here: Walter Mitty).  We traveled to 4 different community center/school/library locations over the past two days for 5 shows throughout the county, not to mention the practice leading up to the past few days.  The show has been great.  The kids have been responsible for setting up the stage and taking care of their costumes before the show and tearing down the stage and packing up the cars after the show.

The adaptation takes place in a classroom with Walter Mitty, Jr daydreaming about various stories.

Harry Potter

Treasure Island

Robin Hood

Star Wars

I am so proud of all the kids and can't wait for their next show!

The Chesapeake Youth Players

Now, time to get things back to normal.  I've been working on a project for Piper for the past week but with things being so busy it has been slow going.  Hopefully I will have a new dress to show you soon.  

Friday, June 22, 2012

Friday Favorites

I thought it might be interesting to see which tools on my sewing table I consider my favorites.  We all have things that we prefer to use over others and for a variety of reasons.  On Friday's I will introduce you to my favorites.

The first thing I would like to introduce to you from my sewing table is a hemostat.  I stole borrowed these from my DH's work bench (he's a gadget guru) but I don't think he's getting them back.

Hemostats are traditionally used during surgical procedures to clamp blood vessels.  Gadget guru's use them as a heat-sink  for soldering circuits among other things I don't always understand.  I use them for turning tubes of fabric.  Hemostats are long and thin, so they are perfect for sliding a tube of fabric over.  The ends are rigid for gripping so they hold well to a piece of fabric without damaging it.

I have also used the hemostat in helping me to thread my serger.  I seem to have much more control with the hemostat than I do with with clunky pair of tweezers that came with the machine.

Hemostats come in different lengths and can be ordered from places like Amazon for just a couple dollars. I highly recommend having a pair handy.

What do you have on your work table that is a favorite?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Brown Sugar Cinnamon Breakfast Crescents

Yum!  I think the title says enough.

I was laying in bed before the kiddos woke up this morning thinking I didn't want a bowl of cereal for breakfast.  So, what could I do about that?  I knew we had a roll of the Big 'n Buttery crescent rolls in the refrigerator so I started to think about what I could do with them.  I know I have seen plenty of recipes online for breakfast style crescent rolls so I know I'm not re-inventing the wheel but this was my version.

1 pkg. crescent rolls (I used the big 'n buttery ones, because if I'm going to indulge I'm going all the way)
1/4 cup butter soften
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
chocolate chips or nuts (optional)

1.) Preheat oven according to package directions

2.) Unroll crescents into individual triangles.

3.) Spead soften butter over each crescent triangle.

4.) Mix cinnamon and brown sugar in a small bowl.  Sprinkle mixture over buttered crescent triangles.

5.) Sprinkle chocolate chips or nuts over the crescent triangles. (We used chocolate chips because like I said, I like to go the whole way when indulging.  Okay, so it wasn't the healthiest breakfast but it was delicious!).

6.) Roll crescents starting with short end of triangle and working toward the point.  It takes a little tucking to keep everything inside.

7.) Bake crescents according to package directions.

8.) Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve.

9.) Lick your lips, cause these were so good! ;)

I didn't take any pictures of the process because the kiddos were hungry.  No time to waste when feeding hungry children.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Toddler Photography

Have you ever given your child your camera?  Piper takes mine all the time.  If she doesn't use my actual camera she happily shoots away with my iPhone.  Sometimes the photos make me giggle.  Like these:

Zoe's paw

Piper's Foot
(hmmm, maybe she's working on a theme)

The kitchen table from her view

Another Piper foot

Partial picture of her brother

You know, maybe in an odd way this is what life from the vantage point of a 3 foot tall 2 year old looks like.  No matter what it is, I always smile when I take a look at the photos Piper has taken for me. I don't have the heart to delete any of them.  Maybe someday I will make her a scrap book full of her work. If I do, there will easily be a book dedicated entirely to pictures of Piper's feet, it is her favorite subject. :)

Monday, June 18, 2012

It's a Learning Process

Last week I started out making these:

I measured Piper and thought she was a 2T in width but a 3T in length.  I'm never sure how accurate my measurements are on a wiggly 2 year old so I usually round up a little so as to not make something too small.  In hindsight, maybe I should just work with the numbers I have.  

I carefully prepared the pattern and cut the fabric.  I added flat felled seams to the outer seams.  I made a cute pocket with a contrast lining that folded over to the outside.

I added a contrast lining to the inside of the waistband.

Then came the big moment...I had Piper try the pants on for size so I could make sure the bottom hem was just right.  I just knew she was going to look adorable in them.  Or was she?  Turns out I shouldn't round up.  The rise of the pants were at the right spot if she wished to be a grandpa, but I doubt at the age of 2 that is the fashion statement she's trying to make (not that 2 y/o's should make fashion statements). 

So, off to Wal-Mart to get some inexpensive fabric so I don't use up all my nice corduroy on experimenting.  I picked up some ticking with the intention of making a pair of shorts from the Sandbox pattern.  If they turned out then she would have a sturdy pair of shorts for play.

I cut, I sewed, I sewed wrong...again!  This time wasn't a measuring error, it was an exasperation error. I was so disappointed in the first attempt that I was over thinking the second pair and sewed them together backwards and upside down.  It does take some amount of skill to get pants legs pinned together just so in order to sew them backwards and upside down (there is no picture, I need no reminder of this).

Good thing I bought 2 yards of ticking.  Attempt number three, sewing the size 12-18 month pattern,  and marking of the top and bottom of the pants and now I have these: 

I intended to make shorts but something about the ticking kept saying capri to me.  I lined the pockets with a pinkish fabric left over from Piper's Valentine's Day dress, the same fabric used to make the tie for the waist.  I just felt like they needed a little feminine touch.

If I have learned one thing from this project it is that I still have a lot to learn.  But that's life, right?  I think we should always be learning and improving ourselves. 

Next up, my nieces birthday gift.  

Surviving Summer

Were those crickets I just heard?  In my defense we had a busy week.  So far we are surviving this summer vacation and having fun doing it.

We started out by celebrating the end of another successful school year and the beginning of what I hope to be a fun summer.  What better way to do that than with a trip to the ice cream parlor?

Wednesday we played outside in the water.

But, it was too cold to be in so they did the next best thing. :)

Thursday, we did some painting.

Friday, we made cupcakes.

And sampled them too. :)

Sunday, we went to the park and had a picnic for Father's Day.

The slides were "electrifying." :)

Today was a little cool, cloudy and sprinkley (auto-correct doesn't think sprinkley is a word, it's a word, right?) outside so we decided to do some more painting.  Who doesn't love to paint?

Apparently, some of us enjoy painting more than others...

I'd say we're off to a good start! :)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Knits and What Nots

Sometimes it's the little things in life, you know. Last week I got an e-mail from one of my favorite online fabric stores ( telling me about a moving sale. So, I did what comes natural to the "hunter/gatherer" in me and "hunted" the web-site during Piper's nap time. To my excitement knits were 60% off! I did the next thing that comes natural to the "hunter/gatherer" in me, I "gathered" some and put it in my cart. The box got delivered today!

How excited was I to open this:

Every color of the rainbow!  I wanted to drop what I was doing (tending to the children) and run off to my craft room.  I did the right thing and didn't let my crafting ADD get the best of me.  But, I did daydream a little about what I would do with it.  That's okay, right?  Especially since the kiddos were doing this:

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Eek, school's out!

Today is the last day of school.  In a few short hours I will be picking Zachary up for a fun filled summer.  Or will it be?  Eek! I'm not ready.  Of course I knew this day was coming but I thought I had time.  Zachary is relying on me to entertain and stimulate his mind for the next 2 months.  I am not one of those Mom's that plans a fun activity for each and every day.  I'm not creative (in that sense).  If I'm not careful our summer could end up looking a lot like this:

Instead of this:

If you could be so kind, say a little prayer that we all make it through this summer in one piece and more with more than a few brain cells left. :)

Monday, June 11, 2012

Crafting ADD

I have a confession to make, I have crafting ADD.  Even though I have a dozen other things on my agenda to get finished, if I come up with an idea I have to drop everything and do it now.  I can't let the new project go or get it out of my head until it has been executed.  I know I'm not the only one out there with this problem.  I wonder if there is a 12 step program or some kind of support group.  Probably not, we're all too busy working on projects that must be finished "now" to leave home for a meeting.

My crafting ADD struck this weekend.  A few weeks ago I made this dress for Piper:

I had just gotten my serger out of the box and was looking for a quick project to practice with it.  Cute, easy and quick to put together.  My kind of project.

Last week I got my Hanna Andersson summer sale catalog in the mail (always dangerous).  In the catalog, I saw this dress:

Sadly, that current dress is sold out.  However, I figured I could remake something very similar.  Using the O+S Popover Sundress pattern and adding a tiny remix and I ended up with this.

I could spend the time doing a "tutorial" on how I did it, but it wasn't anything terribly difficult or genius.  All I did was measure the length of the original dress, decided how big of a ruffle I wanted, subtracted that number from the length, sewed up said ruffle (there are a dozen or so tutorials online for ruffles) and added it to the bottom of the dress.  I have 2 or 3 more remake ideas for the Popover dress.  It's such a basic dress that lends itself well to changing it up easily.  I just hope I can focus on the projects I should be working on and not letting my crafting ADD get the best of me.  Just in case I can't, stay tuned for more. ;)

Friday, June 8, 2012

One Down

I've got my first piece finished.  I know what you will say when you look at it, it's not finished there aren't any buttons.  There are 2 good reasons for that.  First, I don't have any orange buttons.  I have a plethora of buttons in all sizes, shapes and colors, except for orange apparently.  Second, the minute I put buttons on this adorable skirt I'm going to want Piper to wear it.  If I'm going to be able to wait until fall, I have to wait to put the buttons on.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Pattern Progress

So, I've done a lot of talking up to this point but there hasn't been a whole lot of action.  I imagine if I'm going to have something for Piper to wear by the time fall rolls around I ought to get to work.  So, I have finally started to cut out some patterns.  My original plan has already completely changed.  Instead of updating the plan I will just surprise you as we go.  Who knows what I may end up with.  I have several digital patterns that I will be using.  I really like the digital patterns because I can print them over and over so instead of drafting the size I need from the original tissue pattern onto another substrate (I use freezer paper), I can just cut out the size I need.  If I need a larger size pattern the next time I sew that item, I just print another and cut the appropriate size again.  This has been saving me a ton of time.  One of my least favorite parts of sewing is pattern prep.  Now, there is one important thing to consider when working with digital patterns (other than print size being correct), make sure to check that a budding artist has not put one of her artworks into your printer.  See the example below.

Piper is a wonderful helper on this project.  While I was cutting patterns, she too wanted to help.

I guess it's a good thing that was an extra piece, she's still working on her accuracy. :)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


I've heard it more than once when I tell someone that I am making Piper's fall wardrobe.  Why?  It is a good question and one that is hard to answer.  There was a time when sewing was done as a way to save money.  I know that I can go to any store and purchase things cheaper than what I am about to make them for.  That hasn't been lost on me.  I have used coupons when possible to purchase fabric and supplies.  Of course the time I will spend on this project has some value to it as well, though I am not sure you could add a dollar amount to it.  So, why am I doing it?  I read an interesting article on the Oliver + S blog that might help me answer this question.  The blog post was titled The Economics of Sewing.  When I read over the post it really spoke to me.  I think on some level, wether consciously or not each one of the top reasons for this project might hold true just a little.  I thought maybe I could touch on a few reasons others have given as to why or why not they pertain to me and how.

1.) The pleasure process.  There is something so rewarding about starting with a large flat piece of fabric and after a few cuts here, a few stitches there it turns into something wearable.  I am always a little amazed when I finish a project.  I look at it and say "I made that."  It's a wonderful feeling.

2.) Customized fit. In measuring Piper yesterday, I found out a very important thing.  She is a "size 2" in width, but a "size 3" in length.  When purchasing something from a store I don't have a choice in how it will fit her.  So, if I want something to be the right length (especially pants), then they are too big around the waist and vice versa.  By making her clothing myself I can make them fit just the way I want.

3.) March to your own drum beat. I think this may be one of the most important reasons and certainly one of my biggest motivators in starting this project.  Each week Piper and I attend various fun kiddo classes.  Each week I notice that Susie has the same jacket as Piper or Molly has the same shirt.  I think teaching our children at a very young age to embrace their individuality is so important.  I know that the things I make will be one of a kind, just like my girl.

4.) The "you made that?" draw drop effect. This one might go hand in hand with #1.  I take pride in telling someone that I made what Piper is wearing.  I work very hard to make things not look so "home made". So, when I get the reaction from people and they can hardly believe she's wearing a dress, top, pants, all of the above that I made, I take pleasure from that.

5.) Age appropriate dressing.  This is probably another one that was a very important motivator for me. I get very frustrated shopping for Piper already.  In my opinion, toddlers do not need; low rise jeans, mini skirts, or bare midriffs.  At the age of 2, Piper is a sweet, innocent, child and I intend to keep her that way as long as possible.

6.) Creating heirlooms and memories.  I had a dress when I was young that was so special I still remember what it looked like today.  It had a red skirt, with tiny white hearts and a white swiss dot top.  I remember that dress because my Mom made it for me.  I haven't seen the dress in years, but I remember exactly what it looks like.  I know my Mom still has it.  I look forward to the day when my daughter can wear it too.  I know the things that I make won't be "heirlooms" in the traditional sense.  I'm making play clothes, and I hope they fulfill that goal.  However, I have a bin that I put hand made items into and I hope that when Piper is older they will hold special memories for her as my dress does for me.

7.) Love.  I'm doing this because of my love of sewing and my love of Piper.  I like the way it's put in the original article.
Indywriter said, “if I have taken the time to create something handmade for you, it’s because you are special to me or to my family. I am not only giving you a dress, I am giving you the precious gift of my time and my thoughts during the process of making it.”
When I sew for Piper I think about her.  I think of how much she's grown and where she's headed.  Each stitch contains a thought or wish for her.

There you have it.  Perhaps I could print this out and just hand it to the people in line behind me at the cutting table in the fabric store.  But then, I wouldn't be able to talk about my adorable little one if they were busy reading.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Measuring Up & Pointless Laundry

This morning I took Piper's measurements so I can attempt to make things that fit her.  I had measured her several months back and I'm hoping the previous measurements compared to today's will help me to gauge how much she will grow by fall.  Wishful thinking, perhaps?  When her measuring was all finished, she wanted to measure me.  I was quite surprised to find out that my big toe was "45", my face was "12" and interestingly my nose was "40-40".

Over the weekend I had several more coupons so I was able to get the rest of the fabric needed to complete my project.  I picked up 2 different colors of corduroy, a cotton interlock knit and some denim.  I want to start with bottoms so I can make tops to mix and match with them.  So today I spent my morning washing fabric.  I know that every sewing pattern, book, website, etc. tells me to wash the fabric prior to starting to work with it but I have always felt that this was pointless.  Yes, I know fabric shrinks when washed.  And, I know that will affect my final product once it is eventually laundered.  Here's the problem, I dislike doing laundry.  The 6 loads waiting in piles by the wash machine are testament to that.  Usually DH gets tired of waiting for clean underwear and will do it for me (have I mentioned yet what a good guy he is).  I knew this time however that no amount of waiting would get him to do it for me.  So, I bit the bullet and washed several yards of unused, perfectly fine fabric.  One thing I have learned from those various books, patterns, and websites that did come in handy today was to serge the edges of the fabric before washing, this eliminates a lot of fraying from the cut edges.