Thursday, October 23, 2014

Craft: Day of the Dead Doll (Free Pattern)

I know I am not the only admirer of the art and imagery surrounding Dia de los Meuertos. It's pretty irresistible. And so while I don't get super excited about decorating for Halloween I did find myself completely smitten with this Day of the Dead Doll pattern.

I have to blame Cricut for this late night, as I'm one again participating in their Design Space Star Competition with my fabulous Team12. We settled on the idea of skulls and bones and I knew I wanted to give it a Mexican spin.

After perusing the Internet for imagery I decided to try a softie. Makes sense given the primary audience in my home. But I may have to keep this little doll for myself. And make a few more.

I'd love to play with other embellishments. Hand embroidery. There are lots of possibilities here.

But this can be a nearly no-sew pattern too! With adhesive stabilizer all of the felt appliques can simply be ironed on. Hand sewing gives it a great touch if you want to do that. I used my Bernina 580 and my latest favorite stitch, #713, to stitch around the outside of the doll, which is the only stitching required, but that could be handsewn too.

This would be a great project for kids!

I've got the tutorial below.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Sewing: Plaid Taffeta Wrap Skirt with Ribbon Tie (Tutorial)

I love plaid for Fall, don't you? I spied this beautiful plaid taffeta fabric at Jo-Ann last year and had been wondering what could be done with it. Lucky for you they are still carrying it in the store and I've seen it online. They have this Royal Blue, as well as a Fuchsia and a Green. I bought some of the Green, perhaps for myself--we'll see.

Bold plaids are such a fun statement for Fall so when Jo-Ann invited me to create a "Sewing with Style" look for their Jo-Ann 2014 Fall LookBook I decided to use this fabric for a sophisticated look for Scarlett. It's not very often that a little girl wears a full length dress or skirt. It's such a great, dressy look! I would love to see a wedding party of little girls dressed this way. Scarlett loves it.

We just happened to have this beautiful velour top to match and some gold glitter flats. I think this is a great look with a cardigan too.

This is a pretty easy project to make. Great for beginners! It involves simple hemming and straight seams. I've got all the instructions below.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Sewing: Halloween Satin Opera Collar Cape and Mask (Tutorial)

If you've visited my blog around Halloween you've learned it's not a holiday into which I throw my heart and soul. But as my girls and their opinions grow, it is becoming more fun and I certainly don't want to be a stick-in-the-mud. So I've adopted an approach that isn't too much work and still appears to be in the holiday spirit.

I have only sewn one Halloween costume for my girls, Scarlett's peacock costume. (I really admire those who stitch wonderful costumes but I usual have other things competing for my attention and the ready made costumes are filling the need pretty well right now.) The opera cape I made for Scarlett was such a simple way to create some drama I decided to make one for myself when Jo-Ann asked for a Chic Halloween look for their Fall Lookbook 2014.

This project makes the most of a great fabric. I found this beautiful orange and black abstract floral print satin charmeuse at Jo-Ann in their special occassion fabrics. This cape would be really cute in quilting cottons too however. 

With the Opera Cape and an embellished mask I've got something at the ready to throw over whatever I'm wearing. I would show up to the school Halloween party in this, or call it my "costume" for a neighborhood party, and why not don it to open the door to trick-or-treaters? I got really excited about a new look for Halloween and made a chiffon skirt with coordinating fabric from Jo-Ann but in truth black leggings or jeans may be the better way to go with this.

Click through for the instructions directions for making your own beautiful, dramatic cape. I've also got a full tutorial with photos in this Opera Cape post if you'd like to see more of the step-by-step.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Cooking: Orange-Almond Buttermilk Cake with Almond Buttercream (Recipe)

Doesn't the title say it all? If you like almond, along with moist, dense cake and creamy frosting, this is your cake! I made this for my sister-in-law to celebrate her birthday but it would have fit in nicely with our Frozen Princess Tea Party, if I'd had the time. There is something so delightful about 7" cakes stacked on this small milk glass pedestal. It just looks precious.

It's hard for me to choose between a chocolate buttermilk cake and one like this with a hint of citrus, so I recommend adding both kinds to your rotation!  This buttermilk cake has my tried-and-true buttercream frosting, which can be spread smoothly, swirled or piped (or piped like this), so it's perfect for birthdays and other celebrations.

The recipe is after the jump.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Sewing: "I Heart Marcel Marlier" Dress

Have you heard of Marcel Marlier? I have to confess that I hadn't until An and Suz invited me to join in their series. When I saw his illustrations I was gaga. I immediately fell in love with the work of this Belgian author and illustrator. 

I don't know if it's the romantic vignettes he uses to frame many of his illustrations, or the amazing sunned and smooth complexions of his children,...

..or his "slice of life" style capturing the wonder of childhood,...

...or the frequent inclusion of small pets....

There is so much to love!

His illustrations remind me of another vintage illustrator I love, Eloise Wilkin, of Golden Books fame. They both depicted the idealized life of the generation or two before mine. I see in their work images similar to those in my mother's photo albums. a time when children were children for a long time and little girls always wore dresses!

Oh the dresses! They are my favorite. I have long loved vintage designs and have stacks of vintage dress patterns I'll never get to (though thanks to this series I just crossed one off my list!).

Whether the dresses are simple shifts or full fit-and-flare party frocks they always seem to balance feminine details with simplicity. And they flatter little girls without encouraging them to dress older than they are.

To imagine my own storybook shoot I chose a vintage a-line dress with a full inverted pleat in front and sewed it with this pretty aqua cotton-wool. I wanted to add just a little something and I was really lucky to find the perfect blue velvet ribbon--in two sizes! So I could trim the pleat and add a tiny bow below the neckline.

I love the way it turned out! I self-lined the dress so it feels silky on but it is cozy too. Perfect for the Fall. Thank you An and Suz for the motivation to sew something classic. It seems they are always my favorties.

There's something in this for you too. A giveaway! You can enter right here.

You'll have to check out all the other great Marcel Marlier inspired looks on this tour, including the one shared today by Dandelion Drift. So far beautiful looks have appeared at: StraightGrain , sewponyMade by SaraLa Folie Sewing BoothCompagnie MStitched Together and La Inglesita, with more to come.

And if you are inspired by Marcel Marlier too you can join in the sew alongs. Check them out on StraightGrain and SewPony.
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