Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Sewing: Liberty of London Skirts


I have long loved Liberty of London fabric but this has to be the cutest print I've ever seen! It probably helps that it was the fabric used for a little dress Audrey received when she was a baby. As I mentioned in this post, I recently found some to buy and it's a key part of Tess' first birthday plans.

First up: little skirts for Tess and Scarlett to wear to the birthday party. Just simple gathered skirts, but very full, which is so beautiful with this lightweight cotton lawn. I was hoping to make a dress for Audrey out of this too but decided it makes more sense to save that project for next Spring, when she'll get more use out of it. And, well, as usual I've got a bunch of other things in the works so I have to prioritize.


I had some tiny crochet shell trim in mind, but couldn't find exactly what I was picturing (always happens), but I did find this cute flower trim at Joann. It's by Simplicity. I wasn't sure if I wanted to use the pink or the aqua so I decided on pink for Tess and Aqua for Scarlett. I love these simple skirts, but the best part is how they work with these t-shirts!


I bought these adorable shirts almost a year ago, shortly after Tess was born. They are from Pears and Bears and I can't imagine anything cuter. I am such a sucker for this retro, sentimental embroidery. These shirts were a major part of my inspiration for Tess's first birthday party. I'm having such fun with the concept!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sewing: Hooded Bath Towels


My great friend, and neighbor, JoAnn, gave my girls some darling embroidered bath towels earlier this summer. She got them from Land's End. So cute! Some had matching hand towels and I had been thinking I needed to make new hooded towels for my girls' bathtime so the project practically landed in my lap. The best part of finishing these was not the delight on my girls' faces, though that is always a big payoff, but rather the clear space in my sewing room where the pile of towels had been sitting!That was totally worth it!


I had a hooded bath towel Audrey received as a gift that I used as a guide for this. The hood has deep darts/pleats to create a more voluminous shape. I didn't do a tutorial for this but I Googled and found several online. Lots of different ways to make the hood from half a hand towel.


I aded some coordinating ribbon and jumbo rick rack I had on hand. Always great to find a purpose for those notions lying around.


I thought Audrey would want the towel with the ladybug, because red seems one of her colors, but she wanted the dragon fly. And Scarlett was more than pleased with the lady bug. Phew! That leaves Tess with the fuschia flowers. Towels all around! Now if only we had a logical place for towel hooks in the bathroom! I love hooks. So much more functional than bars, don't you think?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Sewing: Calico Napkins and Pom-Pom Napkin Rings (Tutorial)


Though I haven't yet shared all the details of Audrey's birthday party, I am on to Tess's! It's just how it's working out this year. I will catch up on Audrey's (but I've had some file mishaps slowing me down, as in I lost the file...) and then it's going to be party-party-party for the next few months, and that can't be all bad. It's hard to find something more fun than planning and throwing a birthday party!


So here's a little peek at the progress for Tess's first birthday party. I'm using a collection of vintage-looking fabrics for napkins, which I made by cutting 18" squares and sewing with a tight mitered corner hem.  It was so much fun to pick these fabrics, all of which coordinate with the gorgeous Liberty of London "Tana Lawn Nancy Ann" print shown in the first and last photos in this post (such a great story! Audrey received a Papo d'Anjo dress made of this fabric when she was a baby and I just found the same print here to order!). The other fabrics are Michael Miller "Honey Bee Honey Swirl Honey," Feedsack VI "Tulips Blue," and Antique Treasures "Tulips Red."


I decided I wanted pom-pom napkin rings. So youthful, so little girl. So I made some and will share how. Super easy project.


Click to read the quick tutorial. More party things on the way!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Sewing: Quilt Culottes (Tutorial)


I don't know what it is, but I just love a challenge! When Susan of Living with Punks invited me to participate in her Scrap Your Stash series earlier this summer my mind went blank. I certainly had a large enough pile of scraps to do something with but I don't often sew that way. I have quilted a bit in the past, but hadn't for quite some time.


So, no idea in the wings, not really my bailiwick, busy summer, sounded just perfect! I appreciated Susan's encouragement to get out of my comfort zone.


I did however stick with something I love: children's apparel. I rarely work on something one of my little girls can't wear. So I came up with Quilt Culottes.


Easy to wear. Not to bad to make. And fun to remember all the clothing that produced these scraps.


If you'd like to see how I made these culottes click to read more.


Thanks again, Susan, for a fun summer series!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Sewing: Blue Zebra Lovey Boy and Luxe Blanket


We went to a couples baby shower this past weekend. Is there anything more exciting than a new baby? No. Really, nothing compares. It's nice that people keep having them! I love it when they are having girls because I feel I have so much to share in that department--experience and things! But on the other hand, a boy is such a wonder to me with my house of girls. It has been fun to to think and look for, "boy!" 


I spotted this blue zebra minky, or maybe it's velboa--a bit silkier and lighter than minky, by David Textiles, a month or so ago and thought it would be so fun for my future nephew. There are a few things I'd like to make for him and a minky blanket is one of them--every baby needs one! Maybe I need one! I used my own tutorial for the Lovey Boy and Satin Luxe Blanket and combined this blue zebra with a white minky dot for the blanket and a chocolate brown minky dot for two Lovey Boys.


I had two identical Loveys for Tess--so nice in case one goes missing or you'd like to keep one in the car seat and one in the crib. So I made two for this little boy. I hope he like them.

I bound it all with "Neon Blue" (though it's not in my opinion) Wright's Satin Blanket Binding. It is an unbelievable match with the zebra! And I paired the blanket and loveys with one of my favorite things for babies--a Kissy Kissy Premier footed layette. I love babies in white and these are so so soft.


I can't wait to meet this little guy!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Cooking: Blood Orange Sorbet (Recipe)


Friends of ours have a great annual tradition in the summer: an ice cream bowl. They invite a bunch of friends to come to a BBQ with a homemade ice cream entry in hand. My husband and I have actually won the competition a few years (here is one of our winners) and last year participated as judges--the real prize!

This summer we were back in the fray. We made two ice creams, a chocolate malted (we added chopped up whoppers), and a "Blood Orange Agave Sorbet." The sorbet was an afterthought but took third place! And, it was so easy, tonight I repeated it and invited our family over for a casual dinner and homemade ice cream.

Using agave syrup may have some health benefits (requires a bit less compared to sugar) but it also means you don't have to heat the mixture to dissolve the sugar crystals--so the whole process is much quicker.

Here's the recipe I developed after some quick research about the proportions.

2 1/2 cups fresh squeezed orange juice (the better the oj, the better the sorbet!)
1 1/2 cup pomegranate juice (such as Pom)
3/4 c. Agave syrup
12 drops food coloring

Mix all the ingredients together and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour. You could also put the mixture in the freezer for 30 minutes or so.

Pour into your ice cream maker and follow the maker's instructions for sorbet. We use a Cuisinart and it advises that the consistency of sorbet is a bit slushy, but pre-chilling the mixture helped firm it up a bit, and you can also transfer it to your freezer to harden it further.

If you'd like you can add the fancy garnish I came up with ("presentation" has been part of the competition in the past)--would you guess those mysterious sugared white disks are actually jelly beans I sliced? I just wanted a little something edible and white and round. Jelly beans. I actually love the white ones. The presentation challenge was also a good excuse to use these little Origo cups I bought years ago at Dean&Deluca. Egg cups turned sorbet cups.

Give it a try, or try some other fresh juice--I think lemon is next on our list! So easy!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Sewing: Vintage Zoo Dirndl Skirt (Tutorial for a Time...Pattern Always)


I have been in the habit of making coordinating outfits for my girls' birthday parties. It's pretty fun to pull the theme through their wardrobes, but with three girls and three parties, I may have to scale it back! This year, for Audrey's fifth birthday Tess was aced out--the party was during her naptime so she wore something comfortable to bed. But lucky Scarlett got to skip her nap, wear a new skirt, have lunch with the older girls, and go along to the zoo!



This Vintage Zoo Dirndl Skirt is another version of the Dirndl Skirt I made for Scarlett earlier this year. This time I made the apron rounded, trimmed it with rickrack and rounded the bottom of the pockets too. I love it. Less traditional "dirndl" certainly but all the more retro. Fun, I think.


What I love about this skirt: It has a wide waistband, integrated apron--so you don't have to worry about it falling off, but still legitimate apron ties, which make a nice wide bow. And the potential looks are endless. With this version, I mixed two patterned fabrics, the same I used for Audrey's Vintage Zoo Dress (fabric details here), and I think the look would be really different (and equally fun) had I used the polka dot for the apron and the zoo print for the skirt. The first Dirndl Skirt I made this spring uses a bold blue and pink floral and a solid pink apron. A striped skirt would be darling. A couple bold florals would also be cute.


This skirt is twice as full as Scarlett's waist for a generous, but not too heavy, look. I actually made the first Dirndl Skirt three times as full as her waist, which looks darling, but is a bit heavy with the apron on a little girl.


I think these Dirndl Skirts are the perfect thing for back-to-school (scary but true that it's right around the corner). They would be a fun way to dress up a plain t-shirt, or one with crocheted posies perhaps, and would work perfectly with peter pan collared blouses and mary janes for a more timeless look. If you like the idea of the integrated apron, but aren't a fan of retying the bow in back you could also leave off the ties. I designed the back with a cute ruffled casing that looks great on its own.


Do you have some ideas? Are you ready to try a Dirndl Skirt? I hope so, because I am giving away this new pattern via download until August 21st. And, after the 21st you can find it in my shop. The pattern includes detailed instructions for the Dirndl Skirt with the squared or rounded aprons with plenty of photos and diagrams. It also walks you through taking measurements to make this custom fitted garment--this skirt works for girls of all ages! Because it is custom-fitted (similar to my Couture Skirt) there are no pattern pieces to print and tape together. You just measure and cut.

If you make one I would love to see pictures. I hope you'll share them in my Flickr group or leave me a comment with a link.


Happy sewing! Oh, and the Zoo Party wrap up post is coming soon....

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Design: Pool Party Printables


What?! August already! I can't believe it. There is still time for a pool party however, so I am giving away these new Pool Party Printables for the month of August. (After that you can find them in my shop.)
In the midst of my wedding sewing, my sister, Sarah, called to ask about some ideas for her son's birthday party. She was looking for cupcake wrappers in red, yellow and blue. Of course I cannot resist party concepting, and she is so enthusiastic about parties (remember this one we did together?), so I told her I would quickly do some printables. I made her wait a few days but once I got started one idea led to another--I think I sent her four different files--and now I have a whole suite of things for a pool party, or any party in red, yellow and blue.


Sarah used these for her son's fith birthday: a pool party at their home. But, I think these printables would be fabulous for just about any age, and even without the pool. I love the primary colored polka dots.


Our deal was that Sarah would send me some photos of the party. She is such a fabulous stylist! I think she may have spent way too much time on this, which makes her my sister! I love how she used round paper pinwheels with a the cupcake toppers in the middle (tutorials here and here--just tape or glue the topper). Would look great with star shaped pinwheels too (tutorial for making them here). Or in the center of paper bunting triangles, which Sarah also used.

The gumball filled vases are great too. We did something similar at this party. The "ribbon" around the vases is strips of the patterned paper included with the printables.


Of course she used the cupcake toppers on top of cupcakes too.



Squirt guns make the perfect party favor! These were tied with "thank you" tags and piled in a big bucket. Simple and cute.


It's no coincidence that the printables coordinate with the standard beach ball. Sarah filled her pool with them. Would be cute dangling from the ceiling too, or even deflated as part of the invitation.

I love how Sarah incorporates wood trays and shelves, like this one above which held pool-side snacks: goldfish crackers. It's amazing what you can find on hand if you look at things differently!


My invitation design wasn't in time for Sarah's party, but I've got it in two versions for you--with and without the pool reference. I've also included a thank you card for those who hold to this old-fashioned tradition (is there anything cuter than receiving a thank you note from a child?). I'm happy it isn't a completely lost art, though I have to say I could do better!


Happy 5th birthday to my nephew!

If you are interested in the Pool Party printables, the PDF file comes with numbers 1-10 so it works for any child's party--or even two children of different ages.The invitation file can be easily customized by typing your party information into fields in the PDF, or you can print it and write in the information. The file also includes templates for cupcake wrappers and hot dog trays, multiple cupcake toppers in two sizes (2.5" and 3") to use with standard circle punches (some of the toppers can be customized as well!), as well as a set of polka dot patterns papers to use in a variety of ways (line trays, cut up for "ribbon", make pendants or flags, cut out wrappers and trays...).


This suite of printables is a free download through the month of August! After September 1, it will only be available in my shop.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Design: Flower Refashion


The night before the wedding, my in-laws hosted a beautiful dinner for the wedding guests. The room had concrete floors spread with oriental carpets, high tin ceilings, lots of windows, and one large table covered in white linen and bedecked with some incredible flowers done by my friend, JoAnn.  I had the fun of going along with JoAnn and my mother-in-law to the wholesaler a couple weeks before the event to look at flowers.We picked some great corals, with red, orange and bright green accents. We guessed that these rich arrangements would give the room the punch of color we were looking for. The were so perfect! Nice echo of the carpets too. And so different from the unique flowers and other details in store for the wedding day.

In addition to having great Italian food, and a wonderful time with friends and family of the celebrated couple, I was given one of the arrangements to take home. There is nothing more luxurious than having fresh flowers in the house, don't you think! Such a treat.


I was sad to see the flowers finally drooping but as I went to throw them out today I realized some of the "filler" was still fresh looking. So I found a much smaller vessel and filled it. Wouldn't this be a great arrangement for Christmas? I think these intense colors are really great together. The red is cockscomb but I don't know the names of the two green species. Any ideas? One is mounded in shape and looks feathery but is pretty sturdy. The other looks like a cross between a fern and an evergreen--pretty wiry feeling. Well, names or no, I like them! I'd love four or five down the middle of a holiday buffet, if I were having one!

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