Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Sewing: Tie-Dye Tissue Hem Skirt (Tutorial)

Where has the summer gone? I can't believe we're at the end of July already! At the same time, seeing all the back-to-school supplies stocking the aisles gives me a little flutter. I love the back-to-school season! I was wondering what happend to June because it seems a bit of a blur, and then I remembered it was packed pretty full with guest posting! So fun! If you didn't see my guest post for Delia Creates during her Color Your Summer II series (I made this Rainbow Wrap Skirt for the series last year but was hosted by Kojo Designs) I wanted to share it with you here. It's not too late to tie-dye a fun outfit for summer...

I had been happily anticipating this series for all the creativity that comes with it. It's so much fun to see what all these talented women produce to add some color to the summer. I personally cannot believe all Delia and Kirstin and contributing themselves--wow!

For me, nothing says summer like a saturated tie-dye. So relaxed, so carefree, so whither-thou-mayest. I love the classic randomly tied pattern. The result looks like sun circles or the patterns sunlight makes on water.

My girls, especially Audrey, love wearing tie-dye too. And purple, or violet, just happens to be a favorite color in our household. Not too difficult to pick that color in the ROYGBIV rainbow.

So to color our summer, we tie-dyed some cotton t-shirts and some knit cotton fabric out of which I stitched a matching tissue hem skirt.

A nice, soft outfit for lounging, or twirling, or complementing the cast Scarlett just acquired after a bit too much bouncing this summer (she thankfully had it removed a few weeks ago!).

The skirt is essentially a circle skirt without the hem cut circular. Instead the square is left intact for the "tissue" effect. I created two layers this way and stacked them so the corners of one line up with the sides of the other for more interest.

I'm sharing a tutorial for tie-dying the fabric and t-shirts and sewing the skirt. Maybe you could use a bit of color saturation and twirly-ness. Here's to summer!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Sewing: Frayed Flower Applique T-Shirt (Tutorial)

I love the look of appliqued t-shirts for kids. It must be the obvious handmade quality--so much work. Mini Boden does an especially good job I think, but the past few years as I've perused their catalogs I have thought, "I could make something like that." So instead of buying their darling t-shirts I stocked up on plain colored ones thinking I'd embellish them. It hasn't been happening. When you get right down to it, it's quite a lot of work. And if you care about the exact combination of fabrics, it could also mean extra purchases for a few scraps. I never seemed to have exactly the right selection among my leftovers. So I've gone ahead and purchased a few Mini Boden ones--love them! But I've also managed to make a few of my own: there was this first dalmatian-appliqued t-shirt (not my favorite but it scored points with Audrey at the time; she never ever wore the skirt I made with it by the way....), and the more successful dinosaur t-shirt for Audrey's birthday, and now this "Frayed Flower" for Tess.

I just happened to have all the right fabrics on hand! And it was pretty quick work too. If you'd like to make one I've got a quick tutorial and the flower template you can download free.

Click to view the tutorial.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Sewing: The Summer Set (Pattern)

Ah, summer. Long days and lazy heat and fruit ripening. I love all the iconic things of summer. Children out of school and running around. Bathing suits hung to dry. Popsicle-sticky fingers.

The other evening I went with my girls around the corner to pick some of the apricots that are falling off our neighbors giant, old tree. It's apricot jam underneath and my girls were grabbing them out of the bucket almost as quickly as we were loading it. Yum! One of the simple pleasures of summer.

My mother's favorite thing to dress her three girls in at summertime when they were young was a simple gathered dress with a high yoke and shoulder straps that tied. I still have one of them hanging in the closet. I remember her showing me the pattern when I was much older and trying to decide which of her patterns to keep. I don't think I was very interested, but kept it anyway, and now that I have three girls of my own I understand the charm of the simple summer dress.

So I've been working on my own version--The Summer Set--for couple years now. It started with some strawberry bloomer and then a patriotic bloomer and top set  for Audrey, and then I sewed striped bloomers a capri-length version for Audrey's last birthday.

And then the top--the Flutter Top--reminiscent of my mother's favorite summer dress for girls. This one for Scarlett is sewn in Riley Blake medium Chevron in Orange. Full and breezy and gathered in a high, square yoke. It has ruffles to shade sensitive shoulders and add a bit more fun (it's really cute without the ruffles too). But the back is my favorite part: it crosses over with two buttons for punch.

I designed it as this hip-length top and a just-below-the-knee dress as well. Tess is wearing a dress sewn with a JoAnn exclusive cotton dobby voile. So perfectly lightweight.

And, despite the amount she moves around, the right amount of coverage. The bloomers underneath barely peek through.

Little Tess. She loves her dress! And her apricots.

The Summer Set PDF pattern is available in my Etsy shop.  It includes sizes 18 months/2 through 8 with a printable hand-drafted pattern for the Bloomers and Capris and detailed instructions for cutting the pieces needed for the Flutter Top and Flutter Dress (it's all rectangles) with or without shoulder ruffle.

I hope you're enjoying the simple pleasures of summer too.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Cooking: Italian Chopped Spinach Salad (Recipe)

I love this chopped salad--so many great flavors and textures. And with the chicken it works as a main course. Or leave the chicken out and serve it with something else. It was inspired by a salad I ordered in an Italian restaurant years ago and my sisters and I have been making it ever since. It's got lots of the things I love (seems they keep cropping up in the recipes I share) like spinach and orzo pasta and chicken. But there are capers and sun dried tomatoes and pine nuts too.

Click to read the recipe.

Friday, July 20, 2012

FYI: Posting at TipJunkie with a Knitting Pattern

If you are a knitter, I wanted to let you know Tip Junkie asked me to create a tutorial for some new Red Heart yarn called, "Ribbons." It has a really unique texture and knits up into something that is hard to believe came off your needles. 

As you've likely heard me mention before, I really don't enjoy seaming a project, so I created the scarf in the round--I'm calling it a "Lei Scarf" and it's available free here and as a printable PDF as well. 

Click over if you are interested and have a good weekend!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Sewing: Me...Jane Safari Shorts and Shirt (Tutorial)

Earlier this summer Katy of No Big Dill hosted the third installment in her Once Upon a Thread series and invited me to participate, and I was thrilled because hers is one of the blogs I type directly into my browser. It's always so inspiring--on multiple levels.

I also particularly love her Once Upon a Thread series because I love the challenge of sewing an outfit based on a children's book, especially since part of the challenge for me ends up picking just one book! This time I decided on a relatively new read: Me...Jane by Patrick McDonnell. I'm not the only one who thinks this book is fabulous--it received the American Library Association's 2012 Caldecott Honor for most distinguished American picture book for children. If you crack open the cover you will quickly see why. But not only is the art inspiring, the story is too. I'm going to share it with you here today.

Me...Jane is about a little girl named Jane who had a stuffed toy chimpanzee, named Jubilee. Though Jane is pictured in the book wearing a sweet and traditional little girl's outfit (maybe a schoolgirl uniform?) of blue checked skirt and cardigan sweater, her interests aren't necessarily traditional.

She takes Jubilee on adventures, exlporing the natural world around them.

She is a curious little girl and loves studying animals and plants she finds in her backyard.

And she loves reading books about Tarzan of the Apes, which tell the story of a girl named Jane who lives in the jungles of Africa.

Though Jane is a girl, and girls in her time did not typically pursue such adventures, Jane dreams of going to Africa herself. With her mother's encouragement Jane grows up to become...

...Jane Goodall, primatologist, environmentalist, humanitarian, and United Nations messenger of Peace.

What an inspiring story to read to girls! At the young age of 26 Jane went to Africa and studied chimpanzees in Tanzania. And that was just the start of so many amazing things! A factual dream-come-true. Whether their dreams are big or small I hope my girls, Audrey, Scarlett and Tess, will be confident enough to pursue them.

Me...Jane inspired me to make my most animal-loving girl a set of safari shorts and shirt.

The shirt is styled like a henley, the casual shirt that was first worn by English rowers, because Jane is from England and because it seems the shirt has been worn casually on many a British expedition (even if was only a cinema costume).

The shorts are a traditional Bermuda cut, another British tradition, which suits summer and our own backyard adventures. They include pleated patchwork pockets on the back for collecting specimens.

I chose this linen and cotton "Quiet Ground" Echino for Kokka fabric (it was actually a gift from Dana) because of its beautiful collage of African animals and plant illustrations. Its a bit similar to Jane's own illustrations and the ornamental engravings included in Me...Jane.

This fabric is so beautiful with no other decoration, but since the print is a larger scale and gets a bit cut up on the shorts, I decided to add more "cuts" to increase the mix of patterns with belt loops...

...and pockets constructed from three separate pieces with a pleat to give them more definition.

I added plenty of contrasting top stitching too. 

The shirt is a modification of a simple Target t-shirt to which I addeed a faux placket (Katy has been known to use these fabulously, and she inspired my first take on a contrasting placket with this dress) and burnt orange buttons.

I also bound the short sleeves in more of the Echino fabric.

I had a bit more than a half-yard to start with and only a few scraps left when I finished!

Need a  Me...Jane set for your little explorer? I've got a pocket tutorial to add to your favorite shorts or pants pattern and a few explanations about the t-shirt. Click to read more...

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Sewing: Kangaroo Pocket Skirt for Girls (Tutorial)

I have such fond memories of my mother sewing for me. I loved going to the fabric store with her to pick out patterns and material. I certainly learned from her example and show my love for my own girls by sewing for them. Every girl deserves to have something sewn for her, so I think the Skirting the Issue campaign from Simple Simon and Co. is just perfect! Are you participating? I hope a hundred or more girls feel the love coming to them when they pull on their new skirts.

When I sew for my girls I seem to choose more complicated projects. I've loved sewing skirts with fun classic details, or interesting construction, or yards and yards of fabric, but this time I decided the skirt needed to be quick. I wanted to come up with something that could be done in about an hour so that those of you participating in this effort could make a few. And I wanted to be able to pull off a set of three for my own girls in time for the Independence Day holiday. And it worked!

I call this a Kangaroo Pocket Skirt, and it's something I experimented with for myself, though not as successfully as I would have liked! I love that it's a skirt-meets-hoodie, in comfortable, stretchy knit cotton and replete with drawstring and...kangaroo pocket. I even left the hem "raw." For my sporty girls I think it can take the place of shorts or jeans or even go to the beach over a swimsuit! It's nice to have plenty of stretch on these busy bodies.

I couldn't resist lining them up on the 4th of July in this fun red, white and blue against a bright red fire engine, and eating ice cream to top it off. Pretty Americana, I'd say!

My tutorial shows you how to make this in "girl" sizes 2-8. This is a nearly straight skirt so it hugs and would do best with a modification for older girls and women with hips--you could easily throw in a curve from waist to hip or use an existing slightly flared skirt as a pattern.

Ready to play?

Here we go... (click to Read More)

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