Monday, April 30, 2012

Design: Little Bear Inspired Party Printables

I don't often do custom designs (sewing or party printables or anything finished for that matter) because it is too difficult to find the time. I've too long a list of things to make. But occassionally I get a request I can't resist, and that's how it went with this printables set.

Somebody saw Scarlett's Woodland Picnic birthday party last year and asked if I could do a version of the printables inspired by Little Bear. I love Little Bear! And as it turned out, I'd already been playing with a yellow and white version, which happened to be her color palette. So here is the Little Bear Inspired Party Printables set. Serendipity.

The Little Bear stories are adorable and I think perfectly paired with Maurice Sendak illustrations. I love his reduced color palette--sepia tones and some green in some cases. I chose to just use Sepia and I drew my own little bear illustration with ink and watercolor. A little guy inspired by Sendak's Little Bear but original. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery but copying, not so much!

In addition to the faux bois, yellow gingham and sepia illustrations I kept the swiss dot floral and acorns from the original picnic designs. I changed the color palette a bit and I love how it all works together. Makes it seem like lazy summer already.

The printables set has all sorts of things because it's easy to get carried away with iterations of an idea. And it's very customizable.

My favorite may be the large circle tags with the little bear in the middle. Would be totally endearing on a picnic package or as a tag with a thank you note written on the reverse. I also love the merchandise tags. How fun would it be to have a packet of wildflowers as a party favor with a tag saying "plant and watch the flowers grow"?

If you are interested in this printable set you can find itlisted here in my Etsy shop.

Party planning seems to be in full swing. At least it had better be for me because here comes May!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Cooking: Strawberry Lemon Floret Birthday Cake

We had a sudden burst of summer this week--from snow flurries to eight-five degrees! It felt lazy and wonderful and got me thinking about the stream of birthday parties that are coming up. Such a fun season. Are you thinking about parties too? With the warmer weather we've been bringing home lots of strawberries and it reminded me of Tess's birthday cake from last summer--I called it the Strawberry Lemon Floret Cake. I thought I'd share the recipes and how-to in case you are looking for a cake to bake. This frosting is absolutely to die for! A small bowl of it and a spoon would make me perfectly happy. If you like strawberry you have to give it a try.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Sewing: Ruffled Chemise for Girls (Pattern)

For their Easter dresses this year Audrey and Scarlett wore girl-sized versions of the Ruffled Chemise for Baby I designed for Tess last year. Seems that inspiration and clothing so often goes the other direction--from the older girls to the younger--so it's nice that it was the other way around! Babies first with this one, but now I've got a pattern for girls: The Ruffled Chemise for Girls with sizes 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8! Phew! You should have seen the tissue I went through for drafting and grading.

This Chemise has such a classic, simple look, I really think it looks beautiful on girls of all ages. I kept the proportions the same because I love the wide ruffle and good a-line shape. Not skimping on fabric here. (My mother always used to comment on the difference in the amount of fabric used for purchased girls' dresses vs. handmade--handmade was always more generous, and her preference anyway.) The dress is fully lined for a professional finish and the pattern includes a sleeveless and a cap-sleeved version.

Oh, so many possibilities here!  I wanted to try a contrasting ruffle for Audrey's dress because the main fabric I used is a pique, with a little more stiffness (it wouldn't ruffle well), and the pattern is a bit restrained. The fabric is from my stash (hooray for using some of the stash!) and I purchased it at Joann a few years ago. I used a white cotton broadcloth for the ruffle and then found this fabulous embroidered daisy trim (also at Joann--but just a couple weeks ago) to sew down the center of the ruffle. I love that sort of serendipity--the daisies on the trim and the dress match perfectly. The right ribbon would be cute too...

With Scarlett's I totally indulged in the main fabric. The Ruffled Chemise is hard to beat with the dress and ruffle all in the same fabulous fabric (Scarlett's is made with Daisy Bouquet in Dark Blue, part of the Peas and Carrots  American Jane fabric by Sandy Klop for Moda). Maybe it's because it was my original concept.

The Ruffle Chemise buttons down the back. As much as this design is all about the ruffle in the front, I still love the detail of those buttons, especially when they pop a bit, such as these in bright white.

These were so fun to sew, and I kept thinking of other ideas...I may need to make one to fit Tess this summer.

Fun to sew, and the girls liked wearing them too.

If you have some girls to sew for and would like to try the Ruffled Chemise you can find the pattern in my Etsy shop right here.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Head-Over-Heels in Crochet Interview: Delia Creates

Today I am sharing an interview with one of my favorite Bloggers, and creative women, Delia of Delia Creates. I was able to meet her in person earlier this year and can tell you she is every bit as lovely as you would imagine! Below she indulges me by answering a few questions about crochet. This interview is part of my ongoing Head-Over-Heels in Crochet series.

ANNELIESE: I remember one of the first times I visited your blog and it was in hunting down your adorable crochet bow ties! I love those. Have you crocheted many things for your boys? It seems there’s always an abundance of things to make for girls but not so much for boys…

DELIA: Yes! So true. It does take a bit more work to sift through all the girl patterns to find some boy ones, but I feel like I've found some pretty great patterns. You can see some of the hats I've made here, and my favorite boy pattern to date is this loafer slipper pattern found here. Amigurumi stuffed animal patterns are lots of fun too.

ANNELIESE: Ooohh, Amigurumi--I've been so tempted but it never seems to get to the top of my list. Seems I'm always working on layette instead. Which begs the question, now that you have a baby girl(!) do you find yourself even more inspired to crochet? What’s on your list to make for sweet Natalie?

DELIA: Oh, of course. I'm so used to overlooking all the girl stuff, so now it's a lot of fun to appreciate and shop for girl patterns. I can't wait to make some cute shoes and sandals for Natalie. I made a couple pairs of baby booties, but I think I will wait to make more when she gets a little older and starts walking. I'm especially in love with the patterns from this post.

ANNELIESE: When did you start crocheting? Was it something you picked up semi-recently, and how did you learn?

DELIA: My grandmother is an amazing crocheter. She enjoyed lace work and intricate patterns until she lost her sight a couple of years ago. She taught me how to chain and I think single crochet when I was in middle school/high school. I dropped it and picked it up again here and there, learning a few more basic stitches as I went. I didn't really hone my crocheting skills though until after I had children. After my second son, Reid, was born, I made more of a commitment to learn. I feel like I improve and learn something new with every pattern. It can get addicting. :) One of my favorite things that I've made since then, is a pair of slippers for my grandmother. It felt so fulfilling to give her one of the fruits of the the talent she planted in my heart years ago, especially now that she is unable to crochet for herself. We've come full circle. I feel it a blessing that she was the one to teach me and pass on a legacy of creating with my hands.

ANNELIESE: I love the handmade legacy! I too had grandmothers who knit and crocheted and made many beautiful handmade things. I know you have many creative interests and make all sorts of things. When do you find the time to crochet? Does it have a certain “slot” in your routine or do you have a project sitting by for the right timing?

DELIA: Nah...I just do it when I feel like it or when there's a need. Necessity is often the catalyst for many of my projects. My boys needed new slippers since they wore through their old ones. So, I hunted down a cool pattern and I made some them news ones for Christmas. Other times, I just stumble on fun patterns on Etsy or Pinterest and it gets me itching to crochet again, if I haven't for a while.

I always like to have some kind of project, or several, in progress. Whether it be sewing, trying a new recipe, gardening, photography, or crocheting. As long as I'm creating with my hands I'm happy. Crocheting is just one of my creative tools.

ANNELIESE: What do you like to have when you are crocheting? Do you multi-task while you’re working? Do you have a specific crochet routine? Any tools or accessories (besides the yarn and hook) that you keep nearby?

DELIA: Nothing new, nothing fancy...a basket to hold my yarn and my current project, a comfy couch... I like to watch TV while I crochet, except when it's a more difficult pattern that requires a lot of counting. My husband hates it when I'm working on one of those patterns because he can't talk to me or he'll get chewed out for interrupting my count! :) As for tools, I like to have a sharp, metal yarn needle for weaving in ends, as opposed to the blunt tipped plastic ones. I also like to use paper clips as stitch markers.

ANNELIESE: Paperclips! I love it. I use safety pins a lot myself. It seems there are so many resources online for knitting, and fabulous examples of beautiful knitting, but it takes a bit more diligence to find beautiful examples of crochet. I am guessing many more people knit. What is your perspective? Do you think crochet is under-appreciated? Where do you find crochet inspiration?

DELIA: I can see why people like knitting. It's classy, classic, and produces a beautiful range of textures. I hope to learn one day and add it to my list of creative outlets, but for now I am more than happy to stick with my hook.

I think that most of the projects we associate with crochet are very grandmotherly, out of date, and even tacky. I have really enjoyed seeing crochet pattern makers modernize the look of crochet in recent years. There is a lot of great stuff out there to choose from now. All you have to do is do a search for crochet on Pinterest and you'll be wanting to pick up a hook and learn.

ANNELIESE: What draws you to crochet? What do you like about it?

DELIA: I like that it's really versatile. You can crochet in the round, in rows, in blocks, make edgings... It amazes me that one little hook can create so many possibilities. I have yet to try all the varieties of crochet stitches there are. I have a couple of crochet stitch books on my Christmas list for this year (see here and here).

I like that I can take it with me almost the car, in the waiting room, to the park. I can't do that with most of my sewing projects.

I also never get tired of seeing a ball of yarn being turned into something functional and beautiful. It's!

ANNELIESE: What was the last thing you crocheted? Why did you choose it? Did it go as you had planned?

DELIA: I made a baby hat for Natalie. It was a free pattern I found online. Simple, yet feminine and pretty. It turned out beautifully. The only draw back is that it's a little too big for her and will be off season when it will fit. She was born smaller than I anticipated. Luckily it doesn't take much yarn or much time, so I'll just make a new one for her this Fall. The pattern is so pretty and comes together so quick, that it will probably be one of my go to "gift" patterns.

ANNELIESE: I love that little Bow Beanie. Babies' heads are so unpredictable, aren't they? I've tried to make little hats while expecting and often they've been too big or small--bummer! But you're right, at least they're not too much of a time or yarn investment. Where do you look for patterns? Are you inventing more of your own?

DELIA: Pinterest, Etsy. I never thought I would make my own patterns, but the more I crochet, the easier it is becoming for me to visualize how to create one myself. It's kind of fun. I still have a lot to learn, but I look forward to it. :)

ANNELIESE: Well, I am looking forward to more patterns from you too! Finally, I’m wondering if you could share a crochet tip with us? I always find I learn something new when I watch someone else crochet. What’s one of your favorite tips or tricks or piece of advice?

DELIA: Hmmm...well maybe this is common knowledge. I'm not sure because I am no expert... But I like to weave my ends in with a sharp metal needle so that I can weave it through the middle of other yarn strands. That way I'm sure that it won't come undone and that my ends are nice and secure. It also disguises the ends better. Just be sure you're ready to weave your ends in, because you won't be able to go back and unravel it without making a mess.

So, that's it... Thanks for having me be apart of your series. :) delia

Thank you, Delia, for sharing a bit about what inspires you to crochet.

How-to tutorials, patterns, giveaways, reviews and interviews to make certain you are smitten.
Click on the "HOH in Crochet" label or button to view all the content in this series.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Sewing: Kangaroo Pocket Sweat Skirt, Part II

I loved reading all your comments on my Kangaroo Pocket Sweat Skirt. Loved the empathy about projects we make for ourselves that don't quite turn out. And loved the optimism in the suggestions to try it short, or to just go for it with confidence!

I decided what I loved about the skirt was the long line, and that shorter wouldn't necessarily work better on me. So I gave it away to a friend of mine (pictured here, with my girls) whom I thought could pull it off. And she wears it so well! It was a nice save for this one. Don't you think? Just switch the model so it works!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Sewing: Easter Dresses, 2012

All three girls in their Easter dresses! I was so happy to have them finished for them to wear Sunday, even if a week late. They are still "Easter" dresses to me. White tights, white shoes, and all.

As you may have gathered from Tess's Easter Dress, I have a bit of a daisy thing going on this Easter. Daisies in yellow, white and blue--periwinkle to be specific. I haven't done much sewing with blue until this Spring it seems (these skirts for instance) and I love it! Blue and white was my mother's favorite combination, and not just for clothing, and I can see why. It's so crisp and fresh and pretty.

I thought these dresses would look just perfect against a backdrop of green and blooming bulbs (it's been one of the prettiest Springs I can remember), but our weather has been moody the last few days and my photo window opened and closed with rainy skies. So indoors it was. A bit of a bummer. Especially since a few hours later it was sunny and clear again, albeit chilly. I tried to suggest putting on the dresses and tights and shoes again but there were no takers! Sometimes it is difficult...times three.

I decided to add a couple more daisies to Tess's dress with the appliques on the front. They look a bit like oversized buttons, which would be cute too. I felt she needed a something more after making her older sisters' dresses, which have more interest. But of course Tess holds her own.

Audrey's and Scarlett's dresses are a new pattern: the Ruffled Chemise for Girls. It's a reprise of the Ruffled Chemise for Babies from last Easter. I've been wanting to make it in larger sizes for some time now. But as it seems to go with me, a lot of ideas and not as much time to implement them all so this pattern isn't quite ready. Really soon though... Same for the Angel Sleeve Dress. (UPDATE: patterns are ready! Click on the links in this paragraph.)

There are just a few things complicating matters. Three to be exact! Sometimes I think, "three?!" I never thought I'd be so lucky!

Happy Easter!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Merchant & Mills Sewing Notions Set Winner

So many of you loved this notions set! I loved reading your comments about all the ways you would use it and what you would enjoy "upgrading" the most. Wish there were more to give away but how happy for the winner!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Sewing: Angel Sleeve Tea Party Dress

Well, sometimes I can squeeze in a bunch of impulse projects before getting to the real project due, and still pull it off by the deadline. I think I've done it more times than not. But this time it didn't work. I had Tess's Easter dress finished well in advance and thought I could still finish the other two Easter dresses in a few days even if it required a very late night. But I didn't. I gave up late Saturday night half way through Audrey's dress with one more to go.

We did a lot of other really fun things last week instead. We had an Easter egg hunt in the neighborhood, saw lots of family, and went to high tea at a beautiful hotel to celebrate some cousins' twelth birthdays. Audrey wore this dress for the tea party. I made it last week while working on the pattern for the Angel Sleeve dress. I made something for Scarlett to wear too. A bit of a sewing streak but not so much for Easter.

As it turned out it was Audrey's dress to wear on Easter. I love this fabric. So classic. I also love that my friend, Margie, gave it to me a few years ago out of her stash. It's a silky cotton that reminds me of Liberty prints but the selvedge says Kesslers for Andover Fabrics. I added a bit of rickrack peeking out from the sleeve edge. I like that bit of added interest.

So this week I'm still working on the "Easter dresses." It will be fun to see all the girls ear them when they're finished. And I'm also making progress on the Angel Sleeve Dress pattern. Progress is good, even if it's on a slightly different time schedule, right?

Monday, April 9, 2012

FYI: Easter Hosannas

We've been teased with Spring weather for the past couple weeks but shocked now and again by snow and grey so I've been anxiously looking around the garden for true signs that Spring is here. I have been eyeing the hydrangeas I planted last Fall to see if they were going to make it and I've been a bit discouraged. Looked like nothing but dead twigs sticking out of the ground. I had really wanted them to live. But, I tiptoed closer the other day and when I got nearly next to the branches I saw them! The tiniest of leaf buds in a few places. Amazing! These plants looked as dead as any I've seen, but on many of them I now see life!

Spring is so amazing that way. One day it's nothing but cold and grey and the next there is green pushing out of the ground. Can you believe what a few warm days can do in the garden?

I'm in the mood to look for signs so I am especially happy this Spring to see how nature reminds us with her renewal and rebirth. We want that too, don't we? The more I am taught by this life the more impatient I feel about the resurrection. What will be more glorious than that, the great reunion? But I don't mean to get ahead of myself. As tragic as loss can be in this life, as much as it makes me wish for the great resolution to it all, the more tragic thing I've told myself lately is not living it well! Not taking advantage of all the opportunities to do and see and love and lift and share.

There is so much beauty around us. So many little faces to love. So many great relationships to grow. I am trying to focus on those things more deliberately this Spring. My own little rebirth. If you celebrate Easter, or Passover, or if you celebrate Spring in other ways, don't you agree this time of year makes one want to shout, "Hosanna!" I hope you are loving it. Happy Easter. Happy Spring.

My "FYI" posts share news or a perspective about something that's been on my mind. You can read them all here.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Sewing: Blue Gingham Skirts

Do you know how it is when you get a fabulous fabric in your head and then you go searching never to find it? Happens to me all the time. Well, this fabric is an example of the opposite! I was trying to fall asleep one night last week and thought I really needed a cobalt blue gingham fabric--the foil to all of the red gingham I was using last year (this, and this, and this for instance). It's the perfect print for Spring, don't you think? The next day I stopped by the store where I'd purchase the red gingham and there was one bolt of the perfect blue gingham! No other gingham in sight. It was as if it were waiting there for me. I was so excited. Granted it's a fiarly common pattern, but still... I bought five yards. I want to make all sorts of things out of it. But I started with these simple gathered skirts.

They are three times the waist measurement and have a hefty two inch hem. I wanted them to go along with something I'm making for the girls for this coming Fall. Can you believe it? Thinking ahead a season. Well, actually I was planning to have them for this past Winter but I'm shifting my thinking instead! I'm ahead, not behind. With a few things actually. Which means I need to learn the discipline of setting something aside to work on some higher priorities (Easter dresses, etc.) and then actually come back to them and finish for the Fall. We'll see. It's a new thing I'm trying.

Running to catch up...!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Sewing: Angel Sleeve Dress for Easter

Ahhh, Spring! More than ever this year I am happy it's here. I am madly sewing, and some of it is for Easter. All of it should be, but I've been distracted (again) by playing around with this pattern. My Angel Sleeve Dress. Some tweaking. Multiple sizes. Variations just for fun. It is so quick and easy it seems I can crank one out and still have time for whatever is truly pressing. We'll see! Two more Easter dresses to go, and I've already spent (squandered?) one day reorganizing closets. I think it's a sign my energy is back. I'm so glad.

My sister called today and asked, "aren't you sewing some Easter dresses?" in a nice way of getting to the fact that she was a bit bored with my postings of late. I know. It's been a lot of crochet and it probably isn't for everyone. But it's been a good kind of posting for me. Very functional. A bit more left-brained. It was something I'd been intending to do for some time and the timing was just right even though it wasn't the most seasonal of topics. Required less energy. I have learned this year that there is a limit to my physical and emotional energy and I had to put the good stuff into the people who needed it. The more creative projects had to wait. Times and seasons. Patience. All those good lessons.

The crochet series will continue though not as solidly as it's been going. I've got lots of other stuff to share now that the sewing flurry has started.  I don't have the pattern for this Angel Sleeve Dress ready yet but I'll have it a bit after Easter if you're interested. It's the simplest of dresses and there's a blouse version too.  I added daisy appliques to the hem of this one. It's all daisies for us this Easter. Assuming I get to the other two that is. I've got a few more days!

This fabric is She Loves Me Not in Floral Yellow by A.E. Nathan. So sweet and vintage looking. Tess loves it even though she gave me much of her typical scowl while trying it on for me. It's just her way of acting more "two" than her true eighteen months.

I hope your Spring is off to a good start reorganizing closets, or sewing, or swinging outside. Regardless it's nice to have the fresh air and sunshine.

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