Monday, October 31, 2011

FYI: I'm a Halloween Slacker

Happy Halloween everyone! We have been busy with lots of Halloween fun: school parades, pumpkin patch visits, neighborhood parties, a straw bale maze, and a hayride. Seems Halloween gets bigger and bigger every year. It is certainly more fun for me as my children grow older, and I love doing seasonal things with them, but in general I haven't been a huge fan of the holiday. This past Saturday, I was talking with some friends at a great kids party they throw every Halloween and confessed, "I am a Halloween slacker." They didn't believe me, and most who know my love of sewing and other creative things, don't believe it, but I promise you, it is true.

I guess it should be different, but I have never sewn a Halloween costume for my girls. I love seeing the amazing things other moms and dads do for their children, but I just can't seem to make the investment of time and money, and more importantly the trade-off of the costume instead of another project.

I thought I would turn the corner last year and make a beautiful Little Red Riding Hood costume for Audrey. I couldn't wait to make a red wool and satin lined hooded cape and dirndl style dress, and even bought a pattern, but alas, Audrey wanted to be Count Dracula. "The Count?" I asked, hoping for the Sesame Street version, and thankfully the two were a bit mixed in her mind, but even then, I was not inspired. I would just rather sew a beautiful dress or work on styling a birthday party!

I did end up making a black and purple satin lined cape for Audrey's "Count" costume last year. I'll have to blog about it sometime, because it's fun. But I lost steam after that. I should have appliqued numbers on the cape but I didn't. Just found some plastic fang teeth, put her in some black leggings and a white t-shirt and called it good.

At the party Saturday, one of my friends saw Audrey in her purchased pirate costume (looking pretty cute I thought) and said, "oh, that is just wrong!" I am still laughing at her honesty. You should see the amazing costumes she makes for her children. This year they were gnomes and toadstools. She is right of course. I could make Audrey a pirate costume, which would be much nicer and much cuter, but then I wouldn't have had time to make Tess the cute criss-cross smock. Or maybe I would have had to purchase the baby shower invitations instead of making them. Anyway, I think I've stated my position on this thing.

I did sew a white feather boa to a black witch's hat I bought at the grocery store and donned it with my (purchased) black and white spider skirt to get in the spirit. Our house is decorated, although a bit sparingly compared to some. And I love how excited Audrey and Scarlett have been to wear their costumes, even though they're off-the-shelf. They don't know the difference. Maybe when they do, and they're really excited about something, I will put in the late hours to sew some fabulous Halloween costumes. It would be fun to develop some costume concepts with them.

I did get an unexpected boost in celebrating the holiday with this flower arrangement. Now this is something I could get into--holiday arrangements. How fun. Especially if I had access to flowers as nice as these. My neighbor had a bunch of flowers leftover from doing a weeding, and about a week later they were still looking beautiful. So I accepted the offer to take some out of her garage, carried one of my favorite vases over, and came away with this! Isn't it fun?! Orange gladiolas and roses, white roses, chartreuse bells of Ireland (one of my favorite flowers!) and some orange blooms that look like a relative of the billy idea. The glads were a bit droopy so I thought I'd try them this way, arcing over the lip of the vase. It was so much fun playing around with the arrangement, and even more fun to place it on my orange Halloween tablecloth.

Well friends, maybe next year I'll pick up the speed with some handmade costumes for Halloween, but this year, I'm going to enjoy trick-or-treating with our girls, tuck them into bed on their sugar highs, and then get back to work on my "instead of" project: a baby blanket I've almost finished.
My "FYI" posts share news or a perspective about something that's been on my mind. You can read them all here.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Sewing: Cargo Pants for Fall

I loved making convertible cargo pants for my girls this summer and wanted to try them again this Fall, without the "convertibility." Our good friends, Aimee and Brian, brought me a couple yards of fabric home from their trip to Japan last year (what a fabulous, generous souvenir to share! and right during my obsession with japanese import prints) I love this cute print with hedgehogs and mushrooms. It seemed perfect for a pair of school pants for Audrey.

I used the MADE kid pants (with flat front) pattern and enlarged it for Audrey. You can find a tutorial for the rest over here where I'm guest posting for Tip Junkie today.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Sewing: CrissCross Smock for Tess

I just finished a crisscross smock and matching diaper cover for Tess. I love this classic pinafore shape. I'm sure you've seen many patterns for something similar. I used Butterick 5439, which I've used before--for a polka dot version for Audrey's first birthday.

Taking these pictures of Tess reminded me so much of Audrey when she was close to this age! We have a few pictures of her with a little red bow in her hair. There are some strong similarities but Tess is the bleached version! 

And looking so grown up all of a sudden! And pleased with herself.

But, what, you may ask, could I be thinking with this sort of outfit in late October? Well, I'd had it cut out for months intending it for this past summer and just didn't get to it. But I picked it up again in the middle of my gingham spree (see here and here and here) because I thought of a cute holiday ensemble for Little Miss Tess. So "layering" is the answer to why this and why now.

This crisscross smock will be a pinafore over a couple other things. It will be cute I think! But I couldn't resist taking some photos of Tess bare armed and bare legged and barefoot! And she can certainly wear it this way next summer, although maybe with a pair of shorts.

I love this natural linen! I used it for this Modern Farm Birthday Dress and these Double Layer Pillowcase Dresses, and I'm not finished with it yet! It's such a great weight and a great neutral, and though I love the idea of "no linen after Labor Day" I think this particular weight and color works even when summer is past.


I paired it with some red rickrack. I think this would be called "medium" sized. I was thinking of using the baby stuff but I was in a bit of a rush to be that precise. My favorite part the way this left strap turned out. The rickrack and button hole are perfect! Not so much with the other strap, but that's ok.

I used the MADE pattern for a diaper cover, which is darling and seamless on the backside. I didn't finish the side seams before I starting making the casings so I zigzagged along them catching the raw edges of the seam allowance and I rather like the result. A bit of added texture.

Tess was in such a great mood playing in her sister's room this morning that it was hard to be more selective with the photos and I just had to include these last two of her trying to put the lens cover back on the camera. Perhaps she is an assistant-to-be, or maybe she was just finished with her photo session!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Invite: Oh Baby! Oh Boy! Shower

Oh I love it when there's another party in the works! Here we are: oh baby, oh boy, it's a baby shower!

I love love love conceiving and throwing birthday parties but it's not often I get the chance to do a baby shower, and for a boy! It's so fun for this mother of girls to think "boy" for a bit. And I can't wait to meet him!

This celebration is honoring my sister-in-law and I was inspired by the things she has chosen for her baby registry--so many great colors: blues in several shades such as teal, aqua, robin's egg, and blue-grey, some greys, and white and off-white. I love her simple modern taste.

I couldn't resist playing around with a chevron print, and making my own envelopes again! Envelopes are my new favorite thing after this invitation. But I also have some "stitched circles" forming a bunting across the front and back of the invitation, and a stitched area for the address on the front of the envelope. I'm thinking of some good handmade texture for this baby shower.

If you like these invitations and have a shower in the works yourself, I am putting them in my Etsy shop. And stay tuned for more baby boy projects!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Cooking: Orzo Pasta with Tarragon, Chicken, Artichoke Hearts and Parmesan

I love that the day after Tess's birthday party I had leftover Tarragon Chicken in my refrigerator. I usually just eat it cold the next day or warm it, but the day after her party I came up with an even better plan--pasta salad! You know how I love a good pasta salad, and I think I came up with a good one with the party leftovers! It has a really fresh taste, thanks to the spinach, and a bit of a tang, thanks to the mustard, and is a one-bowl meal thanks to the chicken. I'm so happy to have another thing to do with this chicken recipe. Now I'll always make more than enough so I can follow up with this pasta salad.

I know it seems like I should be sharing some sort of stew given the month of October, but we've been having summer like weather, so here you go! Click for the recipe.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Giveaway Winners: Three Apron Wrap Dress Patterns

Thank you so much for all the great feedback about this pattern! One of my favorite things about this blog is connecting with others who share a similar aesthetic. So fun to get excited together about fabric or a pattern or a fun DIY.

Well, I am so happy to giveaway this pattern to three of you who commented on my Woodsy Apron Wrap Dress post. Courtesy of, our winners are:

Monday, October 17, 2011

Party: Tess's Vintage Book First Birthday (Printables)

Somebody asked me how long I spend planning a party. It depends..., mostly on how much notice I have as the ideas tend to fill the available time! This first birthday party for Tess has been bouncing around in my head for many many months. I wanted it to be extra special--she certainly is!

I had so much fun with the Golden Books Baby Shower that for Tess I wanted to do another spin on vintage books. I wanted it to be more feminine and I wanted to use the idyllic illustrations that characterize the vintage books I love: puppies and kittens and flowers and other sweet and domestic things.

I realized this style of illustration also characterizes embroidery patterns from the same era. I have a few kitchen towels my grandmother made--I'm sure you've seen the days of the week or nursery rhymes. I love them, and I decided to incorporate vintage embroidery along with vintage books, my own illustrations, pom poms, and calico with a vintage feel. All things genuinely sweetness and light for my little Tess.

So at summer's end, tables were set with runners, which I appliqued with vintage embroidery panels and trimmed with pom poms. I created the embroidery panels from old and new embroidered flour sack kitchen towels I purchased from Etsy and eBay. Maybe I'll repurpose them again and turn them into a quilt--wouldn't that be so sweet?!

Click to read all the details...

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Sewing: Woodsy Apron Wrap Dress (Pattern & Givewaway)

I love this Apron Wrap Dress! I have made it in just about every size from 12 months to 8 now, and in all sorts of combinations: patchwork madras for the end of summer, pink and green paisley for the beach, and now a "woodsy" japanese import print with red gingham on the reverse for Scarlett's Woodland Picnic birthday. I'm not sure which is my favorite, but I think layering this dress for Fall is perfect for our change of seasons.

The simple, linear shaping of this dress is a really fun foil to the full ruffler blouse. I love the way it frames Scarlett's face. A turtleneck would be fun too. Is that so throwback?!

The reverse of this dress is great faux bois fabric from Joel Dewberry: Woodgrain fabric. I love faux bois.

I think the it looks terrific with the red gingham. But Scarlett prefers to wear the yellow "critter" side out. (It's another Cosmo Textiles japese import print, which I purchased well over a year ago and can't find online currently.) And Audrey said of the faux bois, "it is a little weird, Mom." I love her honesty!

Well, I would wear the faux bois side out but Scarlett can make the pick for her party.

So this means the birthday party outfits (and balloons) are ready to go (thank you KCWC for the extra push!). Tess isn't getting something new. She may wear this little critter dress from Scarlett's first party. Or perhaps something warmer. We'll see what the weather does. Seems like it was just summer!

This also means the Apron Wrap Dress pattern is finished an available in my Etsy Shop! So happy to cross it off my list! It is designed for sizes 1 year to 8 years! I am offering it at 30% off through October 21st with the coupon code: INTRO30. And, if you leave me a comment here, I'll pick three random winners Tuesday, October 18th to receive the pattern free.

Have a great weekend! Isn't it Friday yet?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Sewing: Little Deer Wrap Skirt

In the midst of my fun with the apron wrap dresses (I'm almost finished with the pattern) I decided to try a skirt. I love it! I have to say this is an example of "necessity is the mother of invention" as Audrey wanted a wrap dress out of this Cosmo Textiles little deer fabric but I didn't have enough yardage for the dress. I was able to squeeze out a skirt however.

Same a-line as the dress and I added some belt loops and a pocket. The loops help keep the tie from riding up and the whole thing from falling apart on those little girl hips! The pocket is just for fun. I like the opportunity for additional top stitching.

This is reversible, and on the reverse is more red gingham. The same I used on the Ruffler Blouses for Audrey and Scarlett.

I like both sides of this skirt and Audrey does too. I was working on a different ensemble for her to wear but I think I'll suggest this skirt deer-side-out for Scarlett's Woodland Picnic party. It's a lot of pattern but I think she can pull it off!

Another sewing project finished for KCWC. This means there is another pattern in the works just when I thought I was catching up. I may need to try one in my size too. Something for me...that would be different!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Winner: Waverly Modern Essentials Fabric Giveaway

And, we have a winner! To pick a winner for the Waverly Modern Essentials Fabric Giveaway I used to pick a number between 1 and 277, the total of the comments on this post, and this service picked:

Comment #38!

I scrolled through all your comments and #38, in a rare coincidence, has a name very similar to mine! I promise there was no funny business here. It's legitimate: our lucky winner is Annelies (guessing she pronounces it "Ah-na-lise", while mine has an additional syllable, "Ah-na-li-sa").

So now Annelies has the fun task of picking a combination of ten yards of this gorgeous fabric. I see from her profile that she is a quilting teacher so I can only imagine what she'll come up with for it!

Congratulations, Annelies! Thank you, Waverly.

I wish there could be more winners! I just learned about another great giveaway, so if you like this type of randomness, look for something towards the end of the month.


Sewing: Red Gingham Ruffler Blouses

It is nice that Kids Clothes Week Challenge coincides with my need to crank out some sewing! I love the little boost of a challenge. Just dare me. I seem to do it! I have birthday outfits to sew, but I am so excited about this red gingham that I have Christmas outfits in the works too. How would it be to have them finished before November? Blissful is how it would be. So I'm going to give it a shot.

But a little back and forth, and so back to the birthday outfits. As you may know from the invitation, I've got a "Woodland Picnic" in the works for Miss Scarlett and it is going to have its fair share of gingham! Why not? I love the graphic look of this red and white check and nothing else is more classic "picnic." So the birthday outfits start with gingham Ruffler Blouses. (Here's the link to the store selling this pattern but it appears it is closed--not sure for how long...)

I love the simple lines, elbow length sleeves, and ruffled neck on this pattern from Whole Grain Baby. In fact, I used the same pattern for a dress for Audrey, and a very similar one for Scarlett, on Scarlett's first birthday. Funny how I repeat myself sometimes.

I was able to finish these two blouses in a day an a half with a little help from my mother-in-law. So nice to be able to work steadily on something for a bit. There is definitely a nip of Fall in the air so we'll see what happens with the picnic plans! Weather or not, the girls seem to be having fun with the gingham!
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