Archive for the 'Craft/Sewing Projects' Category

Moving On: The Sewing World in 2010 and My Hopes for 2011

One of my favorite-est sewing websites, Sew, Mama, Sew, is inviting readers to reflect on the sewing world in 2010 and to predict where it’s going in 2011. And because, of course, I love to state my opinion, I’m joining in. Read on and share your thoughts on your own blog if you’re an outspoken, opinionated sewist, too!

Looking back on the sewing scene of 2010, what trends stand out in your mind?
I believe that the biggest trend in sewing in 2010 wasn’t confined to sewing; it’s been sweeping every part of life in the United States. Throughout this past year, there’s been an incredible emphasis on and appreciation of things “handmade.” We are learning to cast aside consumerism and value that which is personal and sustainable. People who have never sewn before are picking up needle and thread and crafting items for themselves, for their family, and for their friends, and the result has been beautiful and heartwarming.

What were some of your favorite things? (Trends, fabric collections, patterns, blogs? Whatever you really loved.)
My favorite things have been, of course, “Sew, Mama, Sew” and using knits. Knits, knits knits. I’m obsessed. My favorite source for children’s knits is Chez Ami, especially the clearance section!. Two other sewing websites that I adore are Pattern Review and Burdastyle. And then there is, of course, my blogroll, which I know you’ll want to peruse at your convenience.

What was your very favorite fabric collection or print? (If not listed above.)
Oh, Tufted Tweets, of course! I adore this fabric collection. I want to wallpaper the backs of my eyes with it. I don’t know why, but I love the graphic nature of it, the colors, and the little bit of whimsy and humor in it. It’s fantastic!

What was the best thing you made in 2010? (Be sure to share a photo!)
Well, I don’t know about my best thing, but my favorite thing was my daughter’s birthday quilt. I gave it to her the day she turned one, and it’s made up of scraps of fabric from projects I worked on from when I became pregnant with her up to that day. Oh, and it’s all polka dots, of course. Here’s a picture of the top:

And here’s a link to the final product: Birthday Blankie Complete

Although the Birthday Quilt is my favorite thing I’ve made this year, the most popular items by far on my blog have been my Summer Necessity Swimsuit Tutorial and my post, Four Kids, Four Quilts, on the meaning of quilting and its uniqueness as an art form.

What is one of the best things you saw that was made by someone else?
Oh my goodness, there are so many. I love everything that has been featured on Burdastyle. For a bunch of inspiration, visit their Albums. Some specific pieces I adores are This, This, This, and can you believe These? There is really so much that I loved. I’m awed by the amount of amazing talent that is out there!

What do you think 2011 has in store? (Again, trends, fabric, patterns, etc.)
I think 2011 will continue the anti-consumerism trend. However, I think, as far as sewing goes, we might see a return to more complicated garments; we’ve been focused on linen and cotton and clean lines and simplicity that it’s time for a bounce back to a little bit of opulence. I think we’ll see more retro sewing; the 60’s are so very hot right now! Maybe we’ll even revisit the polyester of the past. I think we’ll see much more retro/modern fabric released; we sewists are tired of endless florals. We want graphics, we want bold, interesting designs! For patterns, I hope we’ll end the glut of bag patterns that are out there and that the designers that we love will take chances and come out with more clothes. That’s just my hope, though; bags are easy, and obviously they work. I would love to see more patterns for knits out there; I think the Big 4 pattern companies are realizing that finally, even though Burda has been publishing good knit patterns for ages.

Anything you’re ready for the sewing world to get over?
Whoops, I guess I already mentioned that. Please, Amy Butler and everyone else like you, will you stop coming out with more bags? You know we love them, but once you have one pattern you like, you really don’t need another one whose only difference is a few pleats. Also, end it with the florals! Give us straight lines and angles and eye-popping, soul-stirring beauty. And all you sewists out there — simple linen is beautiful, but let’s get a little fancy! We need some details, some sparkles and ruffles and grommets and buttons and contrasting thread. We’ve been holding it in too long, and it’s time to let our creativity run wild!

What’s on your sewing agenda for 2011? What are you excited about? What would you like to learn more about?
I received a dress form for Christmas, so I’ll be working hard to learn how to really fit a garment and hopefully, to create my own. I’d love to see more focus in the internet world on making clothes. Real, usable, everyday clothes that we love and our kids love and that bring out our beauty. Fewer crayon rolls, more t-shirts and pants and dresses. Oh, and let’s focus on FABRIC, people! I hope the blogging world will leave the cotton cage it’s in right now and teach people how to work with ALL kinds of fabric. I mean, right now, working with thin knits and leather and satin increases our “tension,” if you know what I mean (ba-dum-pshhhh!). We as sewists need to know how to tackle everything that’s out there; show us a project in leather and one in canvas, etc., etc., and watch us grow.

Thanks for reading everyone! Now bring on 2011 in the sewing world!


Date Night: 2010

Okay, you all know I have four kids right? And that they’re all five and under, right? So I think you’ll understand that it’s been YEARS since my husband and I went on a date. Just try finding a babysitter that’s WILLING to sit for so many little kids and, once you do, ask them just how much they’re going to charge!

BUT, a few weeks ago a friend of ours (thanks Athena!) volunteered to watch our monsters one evening while we went to a nice dinner and then to see the Nutcracker at our local performing-arts center. It would be a sort of early Anniversary celebration (my dear hubby and I tied the knot on New Year’s Eve almost eight years ago).

Whoa. This was huge. Massive. This . . . warranted a new dress. I tried Dillard’s first, which, surprisingly enough, has a decent selection of Made-in-the-USA garments. Nothing. I wanted black, and I just couldn’t find anything that worked. Then, on a chance visit to Hobby Lobby, I discovered some ruffled black knit that was probably left over from last season (remember those big pink ruffles from last Spring?). I went home and printed out a coupon (who goes to Hobby Lobby or Jo-Ann’s without a coupon? Seriously, who???), and got two yards for $10.00. Then I went to Jo-Ann’s and picked up several yards of the $3.99 pointe roma for a lining. The next day I simply laid down a well-fitting sheath dress over the fabric and hacked out the front and back (only two pattern pieces) and, using THIS tutorial on lining a sleeveless dress, I was finished with my “date” dress in just a few hours.

I added a belt, necklace, and shoes that I had and WAH-LAH!

Please look only at the dress. I have, after all, had four children. And I have a giant head. But anyway . . .

My daughter told me, “Mommy! You look BEAUTIFUL!” (seriously, doesn’t that kind of thing make you feel GREAT?). And then she took this picture of my husband and I:

I love this picture. And I love my husband. It’s been eight years, and I still think we go so well together. And every time I wear this dress I’m going to think about what a lovely time we had on Date Night: 2010 and what a crazy, fantastic time we’ve been having together since the day we met.

Happy Holidays!

Don’t you think?

Happy Holidays to one and all! I hope you are enjoying the warmth of loved ones this season!


Yesterday my husband told me he was ashamed of me because I haven’t posted since August.  I’m assuming for the sake of our relationship that he was at least sort of kidding, but he’s right.  I’ve been remiss.  I simply wasn’t expecting how hard it would be to have two children in two different schools at two different times as well as two younger children at home.  Add that to running a playgroup and attempting to sew, and there hasn’t been any time for blogging.

But, if you’re still interested, here’s an update . . .

I still have not bought anything that wasn’t proven fair-labor.  That means, mostly, that in the past six months I haven’t bought any clothing that wasn’t manufactured in the United States.  In some ways, it’s been easy.  I’ve been hitting consignment stores and websites, and that aspect has certainly been good to my pocketbook.  But, in other ways, it’s been hard.  I didn’t really go “back to school” shopping with my five-year-old other than to Once Upon a Child and a few other used clothing stores.  And sometimes, when I’m feeling my age and the fact that I’ve had four children, I haven’t been able to go out and buy something pretty to make myself feel better.  It’s shallow, I know, but sometimes shopping makes it all better, am I right?  Plus, about two weeks into school, I experienced a worst-case laundry scenario; brown crayon.  Washed with an entire load of school clothes and then dried with them.  Twice.  Pretty much everything the kids wear to school was in that load, and about half of the items were homemade by yours truly.  I was heartbroken.  I searched all over the internet for some solution and found one with the following ingredients: 1/2 cup each of borax, white vinegar, Shout, high-efficiency laundry detergent, and baking soda all stirred into a scalding hot bathtub.  The mixture actually fizzed, which made me a bit nervous, but hey, the clothes were already ruined so there wasn’t any point in holding back.   Miraculously, after stirring the clothes in the tub all night and then washing them three times on hot the next day, the stains came out of all but three garments.  Unfortunately, all three of those garments were dresses I had made for my little girl.  And at that moment, all I wanted to do was go out and by her a fantastic new outfit.  But I realized that it wouldn’t be the same.  The thrill of shopping at the mall for items made by women and children for pennies in horrible working conditions is a hollow thrill.  And the pleasure of dressing a child in something homemade is unbelievably fulfilling.  So, I resisted the urge.  But I still get sad every time I think of those little dresses.  *sniff*  But, that is the way of children’s clothes.  In only it hadn’t been BROWN crayon I might have been able to pass it off.  😉

Well, anyway, I haven’t been blogging.  But I HAVE been sewing.  Here’s a quick recap of my sewing escapades over the last few months:

"Popover" Bibs

OSU baby set for a friend

Minky Baby Set

"Sunburst" Tunic -- later ruined in the great crayon incident of 2010.

"Insa" skirt from "Sewing Clothes Kids Love"

"Imke" shirt from "Sewing Clothes Kids Love"

More Girl Apron Sets (Available in my etsy store,

More Boy Apron Sets (Available in my etsy store,

There’s been more, but it’s mostly Halloween, and that’s a post for another day.


Back to School(ish) Sewing

Whew!  I don’t think I’ve ever gone this long without a post!  I’ve missed blogging, but other more important things were calling; namely, back-to-school chores.  School supplies, paperwork, meeting teachers, stressing out, basically all the things moms usually do in August.  Except this is my first time at it, so it’s taking me a while to learn the ropes.  And I have, of course, been sewing.  I’m finding that back-to-school is an excellent time to create.  And, because we only buy fair-labor clothing — and, increasingly, fair labor supplies — it’s a necessary time to create.

First off, my daughter, who is entering kindergarten this year, needed a lunch bag.  Inspired by the round-up of tutorials on Sew, Mama, Sew, I came up with this:

I would say that it’s closest to the lunch bag from The Long Thread, except I added a top flap and zipper.

I lined the inside with Insul-Bright in my first attempt at sewing with insulated batting.  Honestly, it wasn’t any different than sewing with conventional batting in any way that I could tell.  I simply quilted it onto wrong side of the lining material and then went about sewing the bag.  It’s good stuff, and I’ll definitely use it again. I love that it’s machine-washable, making my daughter’s sack laundry-safe.  The bag itself, however, is not my best work.  But, on a recent trip to the bookstore with my daughter, I read the book Ish by Peter Reynolds.  I can now say that while the above bag isn’t a perfect lunch sack, it is lunch sack-ish, and that’s good enough for me. I’d highly, highly recommend the book, by the way, especially if you or your children needs to learn that the creative process is a freeing process, not a confining, perfectionistic one.

Anyway, next I focused on re-usable baggies.

I used the bag full of zippers I found for twenty-five cents at a garage sale and went to town. They won’t work for wet stuff, but I think they’ll be stellar for dry foods. And they’re machine-washable and a fairly quick sew. Most importantly, they’re pretty.  If I know kindergartners, I know they appreciate pretty. I’m working on a tutorial for these right now, since they’re so fast and simple, so stay tuned if you think you might like to make some zippered re-usable baggies yourself.

Next up, a white t-shirt for my son’s first day of Pre-K.  I have no idea what they’re going to do with it, but it was on the supply list, so here it is, decent enough on the second attempt (the first one was way too big).  It’s not a perfect t-shirt, but It’s t-shirtish.  And white t-shirts are something you simply have to learn to make yourself or resign to paying more to get them from a fair-labor retailer since it’s impossible to find good white t-shirts at thrift stores or garage sales.  It makes sense, after all.  White tees are the first to gather irreversible stains.  They just don’t last long enough to become hand-me-downs.

And lastly, of course . . .

I had to make my sweet little daughter an outfit to wear on the first day of school.  I used the Miss Madeline dress pattern from The Handmade Dress, omitting the waistband and raising the hem about eight inches to give it a tunic length. I love The Handmade Dress; their patterns are simple and easy, perfect starting points for everyday dresses.  Their creator is a homeschooling mother of three, so you know that when you’re buying the patterns, you’re supporting a worthwhile enterprise.  The fabric that I used for the shirt is from a “Made Exclusively for JoAnn Fabrics” print that I got for $3.99 per yard, and the interlock for the leggings was part of an armful of knits I took home from a garage sale for $5.

My daughter loved her outfit, and she did wonderfully on her first day.  She was so excited to go to school, and she’s such a social little girl, that she went into her classroom, sat down, and watched me leave without a tear.  The same can’t be said for me, I’m afraid.  I bawled on and off throughout the day.

And after that experience, while I’m sitting here decompressing from the whirlwind of getting children ready to go to school, I want to say good luck and brightest blessings to all the moms and kids preparing for school to begin in the coming weeks.  Moms, you’re doing a good job.  Your significant others and your children probably don’t appreciate you or your work enough, but the peace and comfort you give your family with all that you do makes it possible for them to focus on learning.  And kids, how brave and wonderful you are, facing the challenges of a new school year armed with optimism, excitement, and new (or new to you) shoes.  I hope you all have a wonderful year!

No matter how one may think himself accomplished, when he sets out to learn a new language, science, or the bicycle, he has entered a new realm as truly as if he were a child newly born into the world.”  ~Frances Willard, How I Learned to Ride the Bicycle

Freezer-Paper Stenciling

I’ve been doing some freezer-paper stenciling. Have you? If you haven’t given it a go yet, you should!

I’ve been focusing on “boy” designs since, let’s face it, there really isn’t much to do for boys except dress them in clothes that they love. Which is kind of a welcome change from dressing my girls in clothes that I love.

I made these shirts on my vacation; my mother-in-law and I had so much fun with them! The process is unbelievably simple. If you’d like to try it, check out the Freezer-Paper Stenciling Tutorial over at Made.

The first shirt was for my 2-year-old, who, as you all know, is completely, utterly, wholeheartedly obsessed with Monster trucks.

The second shirt was made from a picture of a ’72 Ford pickup, the vehicle my husband drove as a youngster. I was hoping to save this shirt for a little longer so it’d still be nice for school, but I caught my son in the coat closet one day with his head and one arm inside and a guilty look on his face. I supposed then that if he wanted to wear it bad enough to smuggle it into the coat closet, he could go ahead and wear it.

This final shirt was made especially for my four-year-old. Can you tell what it is? Here’s a close-up . . .

I love this shirt. Not only because my son adores it, but also because it reminds me that sewing/stenciling/crafting doesn’t have to be about embroidered fawns and shirring, and that blogging doesn’t have to be about pictures of homemade cookies and curly-haired blond children in vintage-y clothes and on retro furniture. Sometimes it’s about making something that someone else is going to absolutely love, something that’s just a little bit playful and tongue-in-cheek, and then sharing it with everyone else. Speaking of sharing, does anyone in the Texas Panhandle have a working scanner? I’d love to scan in the stencils so that they’re available to anyone who wants them, but alas, unless I break down and head to Fedex (remember when they were Kinko’s?), I’m stuck without a way to get the finished designs into the computer.

SWAP — Trees and Birdies Tunic

It’s been a super busy week for me — anyone else getting ready to send their kids to school? I’ve been getting back to my “SWAP” — sewing with a purpose — focusing mainly on school clothes. I know that it isn’t entirely a necessity like pants and t-shirts are, but this “Emma” tunic from Ottobre 04/2010 just called to me:

I found the fabric at Joann’s in the juvenile apparel section. It’s 100% cotton, but it’s very thick, almost a bottom-weight or a light canvas (you know, like stuff you could use to make pants?). I thought it would be perfect to pull over a t-shirt on the cooler fall mornings.

I love the print. Oh, how I love the print. It’s not designer or anything; just one of those made-exclusively-for-JoAnn’s-Fabrics designs.

The binding is designer — although I can’t remember which one, since the selvedge edge of my 1/4 yard piece didn’t have any writing. I saw it on the quilting fabrics wall and stopped looking for anything else; I thought it was perfect. It’s applied just like bias binding; I just cut the pieces so that the squares would fall in line at just the right spot.

I adore these pockets; they’re such classic Ottobre. Trust me, once you go Finnish, you’ll never go back. 😉 Their designs are really all about the details, so that when your garment is done, it doesn’t look homemade, but it does look stylish and modern.

So there you have it. More school clothes for my little one. Now on to some amazing corduroy that’s calling my — er, my daughter’s — name. Don’t you just love sewing for fall?

Chaos. Everyday.

Four kids. Two parents. Everyday life. Stop in often for new updates, crafts we've been working on, and a journal of life with four kids age five and under.

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