Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Sewing: Rickrack Napkins and Placemats (Tutorial at Kirtsy)

I have been belated in posting about Audrey's birthday party this year. I shared her "Come to the Zoo" birthday invitations, and her Vintage Zoo Dress, but I've been holding back on some of the other details because of some fun things in the works.

Well today I am able to share the Rickrack Napkins and Placemats I made for the party. The tutorial for these is part of a new collection called "10 Simple (and Special) Sunday Afternoon Crafts from 10 of Our Favorite Design Bloggers," curated by BlogStar for Kirtsy (have you seen their fabulous new site?!). I am more than thrilled to be one of their "10 Favorite Design Bloggers." "Really?!!?" Wait until you see the beautiful and simple crafts that are part of this collection. It's amazing what creative minds can do in an afternoon. And such variety!

The collection of ten tutorials is free. Plus, Giggle is sponsoring it with a deal for $10 off your purchase when you sign up for their Giggle Daily Deals exclusive sales (I love flash sale sites, don't you?).

So about the placemats and napkins!

Rick rack, or “ric rac,” if you prefer, is so simple: up-down-up-down-up-down. Yet whatever it adorns is suddenly transformed with a vintage pop and lightheartedness. I think it’s the perfect way to add a smile of color to otherwise plain placemats and napkins whether you are going for modern and bold or sweet and old-fashioned. I was hoping for a little sweet and nostalgic for Audrey's birthday. Just a touch of rose, but not too much because, as I know you've heard before, Audrey is not a pink girl. So I used grey rick rack too--so pretty and modern. These are the same fabrics I used in her dress--love them!

And, not only does the addition of rick rack make a big impact, it makes one without too much effort. What could be better? If you can find a couple hours on a Sunday afternoon you can have a whole set of new placemats and napkins just in time for dinner.

Check out the tutorial collection: "10 Simple (and Special) Sunday Afternoon Crafts from 10 of Our Favorite Design Bloggers," and then stay tuned for more about Audrey's Zoo party.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Sewing: Dresses for a Wedding

My brother-in-law was married this past weekend(!) and I was a bit concerned that the flower girls would steal the show. Likely it was my giddiness (and lack of sleep) after finishing the four dresses in time. But even though they were completely adorable (especially while throwing the rose petals) of course they didn't steal the show. You should have seen the bride, my new sister-in-law. Breathtaking. Everything about this wedding was beautiful. I haven't been to one in a long time and it was so fun to see the details and all her perfect DIY.

The wedding was on a deck at a beautiful mountain lodge so it already felt like the perfect setting. But the things the bride selected added that much more. The linen double-layer pillowcase dresses and gold saltwater sandals (such a great pick by the other flower girls' mother) the flower girls wore fit in perfectly with the other details, such as succulents in individual pots for wedding favors; 

dinner napkins paired with a ribbon-tied, tender ee cummings poem and wrapped in an ivory burlap sleeve; ivory burlap and natural linen table runners;

gold ceramic vessels potted with succulents for the buffet; this great "Mom's Typewriter" font for signage, tags, and namecards;

a cluster of centerpieces with ranunculus, hyrangea, succulents, billy balls and twisted reeds;

and darling paper-covered mini clipboards with crossword puzzles to keep the guests mingling at the brunch the next morning. The mother of the other flower girls also orchestrated the brunch, which was delicious.

She used the bridal and maid of honor bouquets as centerpieces--so pretty! When I was married I had been hoping for a bouquet of peonies too but it was too early in the season. These, set off so gorgeously with hosta leaves, were a coup to get this late in the season--I was so happy to see them, but not nearly as happy as the bride!

Ordinarily I would have sewn a little dress for Tess too--in fact I had the perfect one in mind--but I skipped Tess this time and made one for myself. Finished it the morning of the wedding! I just couldn't find anything like what I had in mind, and for the first time in a long time I found a pattern just like I had designed in my head. So mommy had a new dress too.

If only it had been a little easier to document all of us in our dresses. These pictures were the best we could come up with.

Phew! We made it to the wedding. And it was beautiful. For a little bit more about my dress click to keep reading. For my tutorial for making a double-layer pillowcase dress click here.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Sewing: Double Layer Pillowcase Dresses (Tutorial)

Well, just when I thought I had our rhythm figured out around here, things changed. That is of course how it goes with home and family but this one has been more of a challenge, or I'm losing my edge! Tess has consolidated her naps (so young!) and it's only in the last week or so that I've managed to get Tess and Scarlett napping at the same time again--it's essential. Tess is also crawling all over, and loves to tackle our stairs. So far no falls but I feel like I spend her awake time, which is most of the time now, snatching her from near misses. I think it's the distraction of her two older sisters. It wasn't quite like this when there was only one baby or one baby and one toddler. Wears mommy out. Add to this the less structured summer schedule, and a new resolution to workout (why did I let that slip?!), and well, there isn't much else getting done! My friend Kari once wisely told me, "when you say 'yes' to something you are saying 'no' to something else." It's so true! I just have a hard time accepting it. But I'm working on it.

So enough with the excuses. I have actuallly been sewing up a storm. I am making four little flower girl dresses for the wedding of my brother-in-law. We're so excited! His bride-to-be has some beautiful things planned for the garden wedding including burlap, linen, and white flowers. After we spoke about it I thought it would be so great to veer from the traditional flower girl attire and do something in linen and creamy-white silk. I thought of pillowcase dresses. I love their silhouette--so simple and pure. Seemed the perfect thing for a summer garden wedding. She and the mother of the other flower girls agreed.

So I am doing them double-layer in this gorgeous natural linen (same fabric as this dress, actually) and silky white fabric (not silk--I am sometimes a bit more practical). I could have just banded the hem, but the double layers behave differently, prettily I think. I love this combination! I imagine the generous white bow looking so beautiful next to these little girls' faces. I think linen looks great crisp or wrinkled. And it is nice to have the full dress lined in something that should feel good to them.

Now I just hope these dresses look as beautiful on the girls as I've imagined. (Last night I was thinking it would have been a lot less risky to just buy some!) And I hope that the girls actually make it down the "aisle" in them! Anyone read Lily's Big Day?

If you are interested in a little tutorial on making a double-layer pillowcase dress click to read more. UPDATE: view photos of the flower girls in their dresses here.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Gardening: Planting Patio Pots

My father is a serious gardener. All of his children have picked up a love of beautiful landscaping, and some of us like to get our hands dirty--one of my sisters has even picked up organic vegetable gardening. When I bought my first house I loved working in the beds and picking out shrubs, perrenials and roses. The houses that followed were also opportunities to create beautiful, if modest, outdoor spaces. But lately, and what I really mean is, since the birth of my oldest daughter I just haven't managed to get too much going outside.

However, each Spring my husband has encouraged the idea of planting patio pots. So great! So do-able! The idea of planting a whole bed is totally overwhelming when so much is going on inside the house (for instance three little dresses in the works), but, a few small pots--that I can do. And clustering them strategically where we can see them out the windows, or next to our outdoor table makes me feel like the whole yard has been re-landscaped. Hooray!

So I was ready to go this Spring, which turned out to be Summer, but nevertheless, here are some of the pots. I tried creating little vignettes with a narrow color palette and used this great chartreuse Coleus  ("Wizard Sun Golden" Coleus to be exact) as a constant in all of them. The pot above has Nicotiana Alta and "Cabaret Mango Tango" Calibrachoa too. I think it looks pretty good already but I am excited to see it fill in. I tried to find the plants I remember really performing last year.

I seem to always gravitate towards shades of lavender, and gray-green foliage but lately I've been loving more citrusy greens and I fell in love with the coral and fleshy tones in "Gallery Leonardo" Dahlia, "Score Coral Reef" Geranium, and especially, Aztec Coral Verbena (no, I don't have all the names memorized--I kept the tags this year!). I had so much fun with the pots I was inspired to venture out into some of the beds (we mostly cleared them about three years ago, maybe more) and start working. It's so much fun! I love thinking about how I might organize the beds (it's almost like the composition of a painting, really) and squeezing in a few nursery visits.

The only problem is that, similar to shopping for fabric, it seems that I either get a vision in my head and then can't find the plants locally, or I stumble on something fantastic (like the Spurge above) in a nursery and don't quite know where to put it. It's difficult to make the plan and stitck to it.

These "Bombshell" Hydrangea were an unexpected find at Home Depot of all places. I have loved these cone shaped Hydrangea and was so thrilled to find them! I hope they'll be happy in my shady back yard.

I have always loved Sedum but had never seen this varieagated type--I love the yellows! I'm putting it with the Spurge and some Salvia and Russian Sage to create a lavender-silvery green and bright yellow little landscape. I can't wait to watch it fill in!

More things making me happy in the garden: the Iceberg Roses I received for my birthday last year seem to have pulled through a very tough Winter. I thought I lost them all--so much dead wood--but they are blooming!

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