Tuesday, June 28, 2011

FYI: Blog Feature on SITS

Have you heard of SITS? The SITS girls are a community dedicated to supporting women bloggers. The women behind SITS do Bloggy Boot Camp and have a blog full of good education and information, and they just spotlighted Aesthetic Nest!

You can see the feature here and check out a lot of other interesting blog spotlights and their features on women on the move.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Sewing: Convertible Cargo Pants for Kids

I have been thinking about making these cargo pants for some time. I love cargoes for their functionality and just plain decorative appeal--all those pockets and pocket flaps and contrast stitching.

Seemed the perfect way to add some interest to kids' simple pull-on pants. And since I finally got around to these in summer I decided to make them convertible cargoes. Why not? They can be worn long for sun protection or rolled up for some spontaneous wading. And hopefully they'll still fit to go back to school in the Fall.

But this past weekend they were worn up and down for exploring. While out-of-towning we took the girls to some sand dunes. So incredible! It felt like we were in the middle of a vast desert but it only looks that way. This is red sand and finer than the kind we're used to on the beach.

Audrey thought it was great for rolling around in and making sand angels. Scarlett didn't like the feel so much but finally warmed up to digging.

It was the perfect location for following animal tracks and playing treasure map. But it was a short visit. Even though we went on a cool morning it didn't take long to feel hot with the sun reflecting off the sand.

So we headed back. Shook out the sand. And spent the afternoon in the pool.

Scarlett wanted to be carried a good part of the time, and well, Tess doesn't have a choice, so behind the lens this is what it looked like, only with the camera too! Pretty funny, but it's ok, I'm used to it!

If you'd like to add cargo pockets to your favorite pull-on pants pattern click below for the tutorial and pattern. Though it's all girls in our family these would be perfect for boys too!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Sewing: Some Things for the Fourth of July

The Fourth of July is just heartbeats away but you still have a bit of time. Last year I didn't get around to it until literally a day or two before but I came up with some fun last minute decorations.

You can find tutorials here for:
  • Striped tablecloth
  • Star bunting
  • Star buttonhole napkin rings (similar to these)
  • Hot dog trays

And, if you are like me--any holiday is an opportunity for a new outfit for your children--you might like to sew something for your girls to wear to the fireworks. You could try my Patriotic Pillowcase Dress tutorial here.

This tutorial has also been published by All Free Sewing in a free ebook, "Create a DIY Fourth of July," along with some other great sewing tutorials!

Hope your holiday planning is shaping up. I'm buying little flags for my girls to wave and looking at menu ideas for the traditional BBQ. There is nothing better than a patriotic summer holiday with family and friends!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Sewing: Beach Robes

Friends invited us to use their vacation home this past weekend and we took them up on it! It was a bit of a road trip but so worth it because it was beautiful, and, it came with a pool! We couldn't get Audrey and Scarlett to stop swimming longer than it took them to eat a popsicle or sandwich or collapse into bed. It was so much fun to spend a few days without the usual obligations and projects and just relax. I loved watching the swimming lessons pay off.

Just in time for a bit of pool time, I made these cute Beach Robes from the latest MADE pattern. I bought the towels at Target last year thinking I'd make some suit coverups but never got around to it so I was really happy to have this great pattern for using them. I especially love the use of seam binding--one of my favorite ways to finish and add some pop. The girls love them too. We've used them at swimming lessons (where they are perfect for a quick but private poolside change!) but this weekend was the first time we used them outside. The robes worked perfectly for warming up for a few minutes and grabbing a bite to eat.

Though the pattern didn't call for it, I added some lining inside the sleeves too. I just had to use more of the cute fabric. I still can't believe the uncanny match of this Meadowsweet print and the polka dot towel! It's crazy.

For Audrey's robe I used some Joann fabric (Kate Ward Thacker "Butterfly Garden") I had bought for something else. It also happened to be a great match and I liked adding a bit of femininity to the stripes and blue binding.

I like these so much I am going to make another for Audrey who is swimming a lot this summer. I am also going to make one for little Tess--even if she doesn't swim this summer it will be great for bathing. They are pretty quick to make so I think i just may be able to squeeze them in.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Sewing: Scrap Your Stash Tutorial

Susan of Living with Punks invited me to participate in her "Scrap Your Stash" series this month. Stop by and see what I came up with. Though I love quilts I haven't worked with small pieces much lately so it was definitely a change of pace. Susan has rounded up some good ideas for getting rid of your small but gorgeous leftovers. Take a look.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Crochet: Pretty Posies (Tutorial)

When I make something this cute and this simple I wonder why I don't do it more often! These little crochet posies take less than five minutes a piece to make and just a few minutes more to sew on a t-shirt and isn't the shirt transformed? Much improved I think. It gives a cheap t-shirt a boutique feel.

It took me MUCH longer to get a few photos of Scarlett wearing her new t-shirt than it did to make these posies! Some days she is feeling more "spicy" than others.

Pretty Posies are the perfect litte extra to add to dresses, hats, kerchiefs, bags, baby blankets...whatever needs a little something. And they are a great way to use up yarn scraps. I am throwing some leftover skeins in my bag with a hook to make some more in the next few days. Maybe they're the answer for the mismatched tops and shorts in my girls' drawers.

If you want to learn how to make this simplest of crochet flower click to read more and view the tutorial.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Crochet: Not-So-Simple Kerchief (Tutorial)

Here is the second of the kerchiefs I came up with this week. Well, actually it's the first one, but I wanted to share the Simple Kerchief first. This is the "Not-so-Simple Kerchief." After the complaining about the process a bit here I have to say I do like the final result. Of course Audrey makes most things look good to me, but I tried this on my sister, who has amazing curly reddish hair and it was darling on her too.

I think this kerchief has a fun pattern--nice and ropey and open, so it seems a good pick for summer, but I think these would be great for Fall too! This one can be tied under the chin or at the back of the head as with any kerchief but it has the added bonus of tying through the end. Kind of a fun look.

This pattern is worked from the top down and involves all the basic crochet stitches: single, double, and triple. There are decreases which are fairly easy but not mindless. If you are ready for something more involved this is your kerchief!

Click to read more and view the tutorial.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Crochet: Simple Kerchief (Tutorial)

My friend Liz is a baker of wedding cakes, birthday cakes and other celebratory confections and when she bakes the flour and fondant fly. I have picked up cupcakes from her house and she has delivered decorated cookies on giant jelly roll sheets and whenever I see her in baking mode she is wearing a cute cotton kerchief over her hair. It makes sense from a practical standpoint to keep the hair covered, but more than that, it has struck me as cute! Really cute!

I almost made a matching kerchief to go with the Dirndl Skirt I made for Scarlett this Spring, but didn't. Mostly because I finished the skirt about ten minutes before our airport shuttle arrived. But kerchiefs have been on the brain, and they just collided with crochet! I hope this project doesn't fall into the category of strange crochet items made only by those with too much time to spare--things like toilet paper cozies. It may be bordering a bit on kitsch but I am liking the crochet kerchief!

I also thought it would be the perfect practice item for those learning to crochet with my how-to series on TipJunkie. A simple kerchief!

But. My first try at this (the chartreuse version below) was not so simple. I have been crocheting a long time and found myself a bit bothered by the pattern I set up. I think it looks fun--open and kind of ropey--and certainly a good lightweight pick for the summer. But it involves a number of stitch changes and a lot of working into chain stitches, which slows it down a bit. And the different height of the rows (because of the different height of the stitches) made it more difficult than I'd planned to get the desired triangular shape. After fiddling with it for two days (not straight mind you, I do have three wee ones at home) I decided it's more appropriate for intermediate crochet.

Then last night I tried again. And a couple hours later I had it! A simple double crochet kerchief. That's more like it! Sometimes I guess you have to tackle a few problems for something to get easy. That's my life lesson for the day! But on to the project!

I have two tutorials to share. This first is the "Simple Kerchief" shown in pink. This is worked from the bottom up. You start at the point and work double crochet rows increasing at each end to make this lovely symmetrical triangle. I'm trying to remember my geography; I think it's an equilateral triangle, but maybe it's an isosceles... It's great practice for double crochet and increasing with easy single crochet edging to finish. I will post a separate tutorial for the flower embellishment. It's simple too.

The second tutorial is for the "Not-so-Simple Kerchief."

So what do you think? Crochet kerchiefs. Love 'em or hate 'em or waiting to see? Scarlett seems a bit unsure in this photo but I promise she had some fun wearing it.

Click to read more and view the Simple Kerchief tutorial. Click here for the Not-so-Simple Kerchief tutorial.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Personal: June is my Birthday Month (Shop Coupon!)

Well, it's hard to believe it's been another year! Audrey's jaw dropped when I told her my birthday was coming up. She asked, "are we going to have a fiesta?" No, Audrey. Once a decade is probably about it!

But I'm still celebrating. I think every birthday deserves celebration. Audrey and I decided a chocolate cake is in order, from scratch of course, it's the only way in my opinion (maybe the one from this party).  And cake isn't all there is. I'm offering 20% off everything in my Etsy shop for the month of June. Just enter the coupon code: BIRTHDAY20 

It's been so creatively invigorating to be blogging and exchanging ideas with all of you. I'm looking forward to what this next year brings. Thanks and happy June!

(In addition to my birthday, June usually brings Peonies, my favorite flower. Mine are blooming just in time.)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Crochet: Spring Frills Scarf (Tutorial)

So it's officially summer! I love the Memorial Day kickoff with its barbecues, pool parties, decorated gravesites, and "permission" to wear white and linen, or better yet, white linen! I can't wait for our weather to catch up. Well this narrow, ruffled scarf can be worn in just about any temperature because it's light weight. I think it works over a short sleeved t-shirt or with another layer, or two. And it would look so cute over some white linen!

I came up with the pattern and tutorial for another of Shannon's great "Comfy Sews vs. Cozy Knits" competitions. I love it when she asks me to participate because it forces me to come up with something new for myself--a rare thing these days. I'm posting the complete tutorial here, and some extra how-to for double crochet and increase double crochet, to go along with the How To Crochet series I am doing for TipJunkie.

This project may be the perfect thing if you find a few minutes to work on something for yourself. It works up quickly, but more more importantly, it works up rather mindlessly. It's perfect for carrying along to work on while at the pool this summer, or waiting for an appointment, or on a vacation--with just 1 or 2 skeins and a hook it can easily fit in your purse, diaper bag or carry on. And the simple instructions mean you rarely have to refer to the pattern--you can just work away. I started work on this in one day during our Italy vacation while riding in a car, on windy roads no less, because the repetitive stitch work meant I could look ahead most of the time and avoid motion sickness! It's true!

Yes, it's officially summer, but this Spring Frills Scarf has ruffles--lots of them--and we can all use a few more of those, can't we? 

If you are new to crochet, you can do this! I've got a detailed how-to for the stitches you need. And if you have been doing it for a while, you can do this quickly! So without further delay, read more for the tutorial.

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