Monday, February 28, 2011

Personal: Interview on DC Metro Mommy

DC Metro Mommy is a great resource for savvy moms in the District and beyond. In addition to featuring the top 10 things to do with kids in D.C., they post about health, food, classes, home services, and more. They also have a section devoted to style and design, called Design Bug, which ran a story on the closet remodels I did in my girls' rooms (who knew closets could be fabulous? It's true!).

Today they posted an interview with me. I was surprised and excited when they asked if I'd participate in their interview series. I haven't done an interview since my dot-com PR days and the subject was much different then (B2B ecommerce and other buzz words)! DC Metro Mommy asked some great questions about my design style and inspiration, how I find the time to create and my new role as a SAHM. If you're curious you can read the full interview here. The Q&A made me think I really need to get around to creating an "About" page... I'll add it to the list!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Knitting: Dusty Lavender Sweaters Encore

Scarlett is still waiting for a sweater knit just for her. Truth be told, she isn't aware there is one for her on my list, nor does she have the vocabulary to discuss it. But I am certainly anticipating it. In the meantime she is looking very nice in another sweater originally knit for Audrey.

And Tess is holding her own in one created for Scarlett.

So nice to have another payoff without putting in more work!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Sewing: Couture Skirt (Tutorial for a Time...Pattern Always)

There is not much I enjoy more than dressing my girls in something I made for them. If the something includes some sewing and some knitting (or crochet) it is even more fun. These outfits are of course a rather long time coming so when they are finally worn I feel like singing! And if they fit (my girls aren't really great about trying things on for me midstream) and look at least as cute as I had planned, well then, I really want to take a lot of pictures! Which brings me to this post!

This was such a fun Sunday morning. Audrey and Scarlett played along with me so nicely. I was really setting out to take pictures of Audrey, since her Couture Skirt is the story of this post. But Scarlett wanted to play too and how could I exclude her? (She even put her shoes on herself, on the wrong feet...) Cute Scarlett. My darling middle child hasn’t been the object of many projects lately. Don’t worry Scarlett, your time is coming!

I love classic lines on children. Seems to me the Europeans do this the best. I often look at blogs and catalogs and stores from overseas and wish I had some of it hanging in my girls’ closets. Perhaps in Europe they buy better quality, but less clothing for their children? That’s why you see children with well-tailored clothing and matching coats walking the sidewalks, of say, Paris. It’s a great approach. I try and do it for myself (buy fewer, nicer things) but it’s hard when cute, inexpensive things are so plentiful! (I love Target!) And when my girls would rather wear stretchy, comfy most of the time. And when I don’t love the idea of dry cleaning or sending Audrey to preschool playground and art activities in something that requires pressing. So thank goodness for Sundays! The one day during the week when a little bit of dress up works. So if I’m putting quite a bit of effort into an outfit for one of my girls, it’s more often than not something for Sundays.

I thought of this skirt while knitting the Lacy Sweater for Audrey because I wanted the right skirt to complete the outfit. I had been looking at European children’s clothing, which, while gorgeous, is often simple and makes me think, “I could sew that,” assuming I could find the right fabric. So I gave it a try. It was difficult to find the right fabric. I had a solid color in mind and went looking and didn’t find it. But I did find a surprise: this gorgeous, herringbone, off-white wool at Joann.

I wanted to line the skirt to make it more comfortable for Audrey to wear, and to make it more finished. Then I started thinking about haute couture: that small group of fashion houses constructing amazing custom garments for I don’t know whom! Not me. While I won’t ever be one of their customers I thought I could mimic their approach for my own daughter. Audrey is my muse after all and she inspired this skirt, and I constructed it just for her using her measurements rather than an “off the rack” pattern. Nothing “ready to wear” about this skirt!

So here it is: Knee length, inverted box pleats and angled pockets on the front, a taller waistband, a decorative flower and four pleats in the back (the back may be even prettier than the front!). I was worried Audrey wouldn’t want to wear the flower as she often turns up her nose at the more girly things, but she liked it! Sewing the skirt wasn’t too difficult and definitely worth it when I saw Audrey wearing it. I honestly can’t wait to make more—I want one for her in linen for the summer and think a silk plaid version would be darling on Scarlett.

Lucky Scarlett. She can look forward to wearing this first Couture Skirt of Audrey’s in a couple years, just as she is now wearing the lace-yoked sweater and corduroy jumper I made for Audrey a couple years ago. Scarlett is oblivious to her hand-me-down position for now, which I think is lucky for me, because I love seeing the things I've made worn again.

If you are interested making a Couture Skirt of your own the pattern is available in my shop. I made the tutorial availabe here for a couple weeks after posting the skirt, thus "Tutorial for a Time..." but that time is now expired. The pattern is very detailed and requires a bit of measuring and basic math for fitting but it's worth it! It walks you through making your own custom pattern for the skirt and I provide a pattern for the flower and pockets (in three sizes: 18 mos-3, 4-6 and 7-10).

If you create a Couture Skirt I would really love to see photos! Please think about adding them to my Flickr group here.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Cooking: Molten Chocolate Cake

It was a sweet Valentine's Day with our three girls. Bouquets of flowers in the morning. Dinner at home in the evening: filets, asparagus, roasted potatoes, salad, and for dessert, molten chocolate cake. This recipe is from my friend, Saren (not sure where she got it so I'm giving her all the credit), and I love it because you bake it in a large bundt cake pan instead of individual ramekins, and just scoop it out. A bit more casual, granted, so it is what it is. But it's great for a larger crowd (such a nailbiter to unmold a bunch of individual cakes before they overbake), and every bit as rich served this way.

If you'd like the recipe, click to read more.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Cards: Valentine Candy Heart Box Labels (Free Printable)

Audrey had her Valentine's Day party today at preschool, so of course, last night at ten o'clock I set to work. (Mommy is a bit tired.) Believe it or not, I wasn't really that into Valentine's boxes during my school days. I usually did something simple to make a showing but never had an elaborate box. That may change now that I have children because the simple class Valentines for Audrey were surprisingly fun! 

I had purchased boxes of Wonka Sweettart Hearts about a week ago because Audrey likes them. Nice how there are so many Valentine options these days, complete with places to write "to" and "from."  Although, I feel a bit sentimental about the Valentines exchanged when I was in grade school--simple paper cards in white envelopes, and if you were really generous, a few conversation hearts stuck inside. It just makes me smile to think about those bulky envelopes and the anticipation of opening one to find which conversation hearts (flirty or friendly?) had been placed there by the sender.

It's all modern now. And egalitarian. It's not really possible to play favorites when asked to bring Valentine's that are simply signed, not addressed. (Too hard for preschoolers to read and deliver the Valentines to the correct recipients--makes sense.) So I wanted to personalize them a bit for Audrey. I thought it would make it more fun. And it did, at least for me! I made more this afternoon to give to family and friends.

So I am sharing my "Treats for the Sweet." The PDF file includes artwork for labels to fit three different sizes of candy heart boxes (two Wonkas and a Brach's) because it seems each store carries a different variety.... I personally happen to love the Necco variety and it's a good thing the two stores I visited didn't carry them because I find it difficult to stop eating them this time of year!

You can download the PDF file here.  Print out on label paper (I used these Avery labels), cut out, affix to the candy heart boxes, and distribute to your sweethearts. Or open the box and eat!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Sewing: Luxe Baby Blanket

I've had this minky sitting in my stash drawer for a few months, ever since doing the Luxe Loveys, intending to make a blanket for Tess. Truth be told, I have supplies for a few blankets sitting the drawer...but this made it out because it seemed like the perfect thing to wrap around Tess during our family photo session last weekend. While I used a different blanket in the official photos it was cold enough that I was relieved to have this one to double up in-between. I think Tess was relieved too.

New hat, new blanket...what more could a baby girl want?

This blanket is a generous size: 45x60 inches. I wanted something on which she could do a lot of rolling around. Something she could cuddle with for a nap when she's a bit older. It's pretty great! I wish I had one large enough for myself.

I made it just like the Luxe Loveys, only larger. It took two packages of blanket binding to make it all the way around.

Enjoy it little Tess! (By the way, she seems to be enjoying her sisters' hand-me-downs. Ok, Mom is enjoying them. It's so nice to see things like this little layette worn again.)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Crochet: Earflap Hat for Tess

UPDATE: I got around to the pattern for the "Ruffled Rose" I made for this hat. You can find it here in my Etsy Shop.

It's always interesting to see what floats to the top of the list. There is of course always a list of things to make and do, but it never remains in the same order for long. Take this hat for instance. I had seen the Mia pattern a couple weeks ago and thought it was really darling, but I've been trying to avoid the lure of multiple smaller projects like this in favor of bigger things, such as sweaters for my girls. But then we scheduled an extended family photo shoot outdoors and I thought Tess really needed this hat to keep her little ears warm! Seriously, how cute is this hat?!

This is the Mia Earflap Hat, which I found through The Jilted Ballerina, who, by the way, has an amazing number of video tutorials for various crochet projects. The flower is my own design. I wanted a full, slightly extravagant bloom because the texture of the hat is so rich. So I came up with this ruffled rose. Very fun I think. Makes me think of a few other applications for it.

The yarn is Bernat Cottontots  in Country Red, which looks more like deep pink to me. It was perfect for this project--very soft and great definition for all the texture.

So I'm not sure which I favor: finally crossing something off my long list or bumping something spontaneous to the top. This hat was a fun surprise. We'll see how the family photos turn out. It was certainly hat weather!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Knitting: Soakers and Scarflette for Baby

It is absolutely freezing outside here! To be accurate, it's below freezing. So one might wonder what I am suggesting with this bare-legged attire for baby. I need to state right upfront that these darling soakers and baby-sized Scarflette are intended only for brief photoshoot fun, afterwhich any baby ought to be fully dressed and promptly cuddled! It really is a rather pleasant temperature inside my house so I don't think little Tess was uncomfortable, but I am one of those moms that believes in covering babies from wrist to toes, in something soft, even in warm weather. I am not one of those moms that likes to dress the tiniest baby in the most outrageous of outfits for phototaking, or stick them inside unusual the Scarflette styling is a bit out there for me. Please note that I wouldn't have my little baby (or anyone else's) nap or be left unattended wearing this little Scarflette. While it is not easily pulled tight, it is best worn for a few minutes of "isn't that cute" and then taken off and put away.

Now that I'm finished with the caveats, Tess does look pretty cute in her Scarflette:

I think she looks so much like her older sister, Audrey, in these photos (maybe it's the serious expression) it's uncanny! Except for the blue eyes of course. They are quite crystal right now and rarely blinked.

I have had the book, Vintage Baby Knits, for over a year now but it wasn't until I saw these little soakers knit up by French Press Knits that I had to dive in! There are lots of cute patterns in this book and I learned so much about "soakers." I didn't realize they were traditionally knit out of wool and worn over cloth diapers to, of course, "soak up" the wetness while keeping baby warm and dry. We are not using cloth diapers so they are for us more of a novelty than necessity. I love the look of bare baby legs sticking out of these, when it's appropriately warm of course.


I used Bernat "Bamboo" yarn in the Wicker color. This color is one of my favorites. I actually have two suits from my working days in this color, and it looks a bit like the color of yarn I just used for the lacy sweater for Audrey.   I had to modify the Milo Soakers pattern a bit as the yarn is a bigger gauge.

The Scarflette knitting pattern is available in my Etsy shop, along with the patterns for child and adult sizes. (Remember, this Scarflette is just for supervised fun, not practical wear! :-))

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