Friday, October 29, 2010

Sewing vs Knitting: Contending at luvinthemommyhood

Nothing makes my day like an email from Shannon at luvinthemommyhood, and the one titled, "You're gonna hate me..." was no different. I was laughing before the text even loaded on my screen! It didn't disappoint. Shannon was inviting me to participate in a quintessential Fall battle: to sew or to knit?

Of course I couldn't pass it up! She had me instantly. But picking sides was another story. 

Call me wishy-washy. Call me conflicted. This is my dilemma every Fall. I am shocked out of my summer projects by cooler weather and the realization that, yet again, I didn't get a jump on things. So then the question is whether to hurry and crank out some sewing or settle in to a knitted project? Do I invest the time in the luxury of a handknit and hope for one or two completed this season? Or do I satisfy my compulsion to cross more things off my list by sewing steadily through the months?  There's nothing more frustrating than being forced to chose between two great things!

Well, I usually try to do both. And so it is with this battle. I do kinda hate Shannon ;-) because I have not one, but two projects I'm submitting! Too hard for me to pick, so I'll let you: do you sew a "City Cowl" or knit a "Country Cowl"?

Here is what you should consider. The City Cowl is sleek and a bit sophisticated in the skin print (zebra velboa). It adds some comfy warmth but maintains a bit of an edge.

If you want to really go for the glamorous look it is generous enough (17"x40") to pull up over your head. Perfect for a walk to the office, or the mailbox!

Wear it over a sweater or as an accessory to your tailored coat. It's not too bulky to tuck in around your neck and easier to manage than a scarf if you're running around town.

But, then there is the knitted Country Cowl: Put it on and it feels like the weekend. It makes you just want to snuggle into the couch and slow down. Who doesn't need that? It's like wearing a big hug. And its chunky yarn, rolled edges and textural pattern make a big handknit impact without the commitment a sweater requires.

Plus, I've included a knitted drawcord to up its versatility. Weave it through the holes and you can wear it a bunch of different ways. It can be funky, vintage country, such as this layered sweater collar...

 ...or cinched under your chin country-Victorian...


...or cinched a bit looser, which may be my favorite.  

Both cowls are pretty easy and won't take too much time away from the rest of your to-do list. Decided or not, you can find the full tutorials here:
City Cowl
Country Cowl 

Thanks to Shannon I can have my cowl both ways this Fall--sewn and knit. I guess I'm luvin it!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Knitting: Country Cowl (Tutorial)


Here's my take on the "it" accessory this Fall: the Country Cowl. There are so many fun cowls out there--I would like a bunch of different ones--but I had to pick one to start with to duke it out on the knit side of the battle over at luvinthemommyhood, so I chose to do this one in a chunky wool blend and included a knitted drawcord to give several options for wearing it (click below to read more and see the options).

It was so much fun knitting I couldn't wait to finish and wear it and I love it! It's also the first knit pattern I'm sharing, which is fun, and adventurous... If you want to knit yourself a Country Cowl click below for the  tutorial. You can also download the pattern in PDF form here.

Sewing: City Cowl (Tutorial)

This "City Cowl" is one of the cowls I made for luvinthemommyhood's "Comfy Sews vs. Cozy Knits" boxing match. If you read the post you already know I couldn't decide between the two so I decided to do both! See here for a few ways you can use this soft and sleek cowl and if you want to sew one for yourself click below to see the tutorial.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sewing: Little Red Riding Hood Blouse

It has always made me feel a bit anxious when retail stores and catalogs roll out their clothing a whole quarter ahead of season--seems I am just warming up to summer when I find the shopping aisles crowded with sweaters for Fall! (I just received a "Spring Preview" catalog in the mail. What!!?) Well, now I am wishing I were using a bit of that strategy as I feel a month or two behind the season with my clothing creation! How I wish I could stop time for a bit and catch up (and not just with the clothing)! Instead I seem to try and squeeze in one more summer sewing project for the girls to wear, oh in mid-September or so, and then it's suddenly October and I haven't started knitting or crocheting all the sweaters on my list, let alone sewn some Fall dresses. I hate to give in and buy things because it's so much more fun to make them, but sometimes it can't be helped.  

So when I found this jumper dress at Janie and Jack I thought it would be the perfect compromise. I could buy it and then quickly make a blouse for Audrey to wear underneath. Quicker than sewing an entire dress.

I opened my fabric stash drawer to see if I had anything that would work. I was thinking of using some of the Japanese prints I bought last Fall and haven't yet used, but they weren't quite right. Then I pulled out this beautiful "Little Red" fabric. Perfect! I bought one yard of it this summer thinking of a dress for Scarlett, but as is so common for me, ran out of time. I was saving it for next year but decided it would be perfect as a blouse for Audrey!

Isn't it the cutest? I love that the big, bad wolf looks more like a cute little "wolfie"--a pet rather than nemesis. It feels a bit like a blouse I'd find in a little french children's boutique, had I the chance to go to one!

The fabric is designed by Tasha Noel of A Little Sweetness and I purchased it from her Etsy shop. It's a Spoonflower quilting weight fabric and the first I've ever purchased. I was happy when I received the package in the mail but fell in love when I started working with it. The quality is so fabulous--super silky and irons beautifully.

I can't believe I ended up matching the pattern this perfectly along the front placket--pure luck!

I used two patterns to make the shirt (seems impossible to find classic patterns such as a long-sleeved, peter pan collared blouse doesn't it?): New Look 6880 for the basic blouse pattern and New Look 6309 for a long sleeve. I chose to gather the sleeves for a break from all the tailoring in this outfit and love how they turned out.

Luckily, Audrey loves the blouse too!

Now on to some more Fall/Winter projects...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Party: Modern Farm Birthday for Scarlett

We celebrated Scarlett's second birthday with a "Modern Farm" party--a cleaner, updated take on the farm theme with a little of the apple harvest season mixed in. Scarlett, not uniquely, made all the barnyard animal noises before she started articulating words, and "Big Red Barn" is her favorite bedtime read, so if she could have named the theme for her second birthday party I think "farm" really would have been it.


I always think of the invitations as the beginning of the party. They set expectations. I love good old-fashioned paper and ink, as opposed to more modern forms, and I really enjoy making my own. So for Scarlett's I designed these Modern Farm invites:


The animal silhouettes became the motif I repeated to tie it all together. It was just too much fun thinking of things to do with them! Such as the tablecloth for the serving table...

...and the buttonhole napkin ties.

When menu planning I couldn't come up with the right sort of dinner for my farm themed child's party so I opted for brunch instead. Why not?! It lent itself more easily I thought. So we served scrambled eggs, muffins, bacon, sausage, apple juice, orange juice, milk, and as "birthday cake," cinnamon rolls.  


It was the kind of meal the adults and the kids could enjoy equally. That's the thing about the first two birthday parties, they really seem to end up being more for the adults (mom especially!), so it was fun to try and have something here for everyone.


That said, I think the kids table was the focus, and certainly the most fun for me in the making!

I used the same toweling fabric I used for the napkins to make the gingham table runners and dotted them with bushels of apples (some from the store and some from our trees) and white vases of sunflowers.


The table was set with child-sized bamboo plates, individual bottles of milk (repurposed Frappuccino bottles inspired by this tutorial) with Modern Farm labels (see below), and favor baskets at each place.

I used wood pint-sized baskets (what happened to these? they are so great!) and filled them with a plastic farm animal, an old-fashioned lollipop in green apple or cherry, and an apple tagged with a thank you card (see below for printables).


After eating brunch, the lollipops and farm animals provided the entertainment for Scarlett's cousins until the adults were finished and ready to open presents. It was such perfect weather we were in no rush.  It has been warmer than usual this Fall but the slanted light meant plenty of shade in which to relax.


I think Scarlett genuinely had a great time! She looked darling in her birthday dress (thanks for all the votes to go without the bow!)...

...she loved the apples..

...and of course tore into the presents with squeals and smiles!

They were stowed in a large wooden crate as our family arrived, which made it easy and fun to unpack and open. 

Audrey got something new to wear too: a Modern Farm t-shirt. She picked "goat-y" in brown because it looks like her favorite animal at a nearby farm we visit.    

And I wasn't totally exhausted when the party was over thanks to my husband who nearly single handedly prepared the food! He is much better than I at breakfast!  

A happy, happy birthday for Scarlett!

For a summary of free printables, tutorials, and resources click below to read more.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Crochet: Ruffled Skirt

I just now got around to making this little ruffled crochet skirt for Audrey to go with the lavender cardi I made her this summer. It turned out pretty cute! Audrey was excited about it, which of course totally makes it for me!

She said, "Mom, it's like your skirt," when I was showing her how the drawstring works. She's referring to this vintage looking crochet skirt I made a few years ago. I love it when she likes things of mine or things I make--I feel it may be a time-limited state of mind for her so I'm making the most of it!

The skirt came together pretty quickly, which is a prerequisite these days. I used this pattern from Sandy's Cape Cod Originals and Lily Sugar n' Cream yarn in Warm Brown. I seriously have about a drawer full of Sugar n' Cream yarn with everything I have been crocheting with it this summer and more hats planned for the Fall. At least I've got less of the brown stashed now.

I never quite know how it's going to go trying to get pictures of Audrey but I always know it will be quick! She likes to goof off and run away most of the time but I still managed to get some cute shots.



Thursday, October 14, 2010

Sewing: Modern Farm Buttonhole Napkin Ties (Tutorial)

Not sure what to call these, really, they aren't "rings," as in napkin rings, so how about "ties"?

I made some similar napkin "ties" for the first time on the 3rd of July (one of my four last minute things for the Fourth) and thought of some of the other possible shapes, such as these farm silhouettes. I love how they turned out! Such fun, happy shapes I think. I can't wait to hear my younger guests talking about which of these they want to use!

For Scarlett's second birthday party I am trying to juxtapose the decidedly rural farm motif with a more modern aesthetic--it's funny to think about in which category the cotton twine belongs... Certainly it has a rural heritage but it's so modern now. I'm happy to have two large cones of it--can't wait to use it for other things.

Same goes with the gingham check. It's old fashioned and up-to-date all at the same time. I love that. The napkins are sewn from toweling fabric I purchased here. Toweling fabric was new to me--who knew? Seems a great pick for a casual napkin. This 18" wide fabric has finished selvages on both sides so I just ordered a few yards and cut squares and hemmed the two cut sides. I turned under 1/4 inch and zig-zagged for a more casual finish and I like the way it looks.

Here is a parade of the different Modern Farm silhouettes tying the napkins:

I am offering templates for these napkin ties, which also work for the small sized appliques I used on Scarlett's Modern Farm birthday dress, in my shop. If you are interested in the how-to for sewing your own buttonhole napkin ties in any shape, click on the link below to see the tutorial.

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