Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Sewing: Dirndl Skirt with a Stitched Polka Dot Apron

Are you ready for this variation on a theme? I kind of love it! This is Tess's birthday party skirt. A Dirndl Skirt with a stitched polka dot apron.

I couldn't resist this idea when I was working on her party invitation. It looks so festive. I used the Riley Blake Designs chevron print in yellow for the skirt, and came up with a new variation on the Dirndl Skirt Apron--a flat apron (the original two versions are gathered), which makes the perfect canvas for embellishing. I added piping to the apron too for a little bit extra. 

The skirt is 72" of fabric--more than three times her little waist measurement! I love it extra full like this. I found the felt at my local Joann and from this beautiful Etsy shop.

I am adding instructions for this flat apron variation and the stitched polka dot embellishment to my Dirndl Skirt pattern, which you may find in my Etsy shop.

Birthdays are so much fun!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Design: hooray! Chevron Dot Party Invitation (Printables)

I had been planning to make a feminine version of the Chevron Dot "oh baby! oh boy!" printables since creating the originals because I had some requests and thought it would be fun. Then when I started thinking about Tess's birthday party I thought why not use it for this? So simple and graphic and colorful! A bit easier too than coming up with something from scratch.

So here we have the Chevron Dot Party Printables in shades of coral (pretty darn close to Pantone's "Tangerine Tango"), pink, yellow, grey and orange. I love this combination. So sherbet-y.

Instead of "oh baby! oh boy!" the feminine version of the baby shower invitation reads "oh baby! oh bliss!"  I love the word, and the name, "Bliss," and doesn't that describe the arrival of a new baby? The party invitation (which I'm also updating in the original aqua version) reads "hooray!" I added the "for two!" to the inside for Tess's party but the space is blank on the printable file so it would work for any age.

I was going to really simplify for this party but now I keep thinking of other fun things that could be done with this. Isn't that always how it goes?

If you are interested in the printables they can be found here in my Etsy shop.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Review: BIC Pens and Pencils for Back-to-School (Giveaway)

BIC sent me some of the new stationery products they've released for the back-to-school rush to supplies.  Ball pens in a variety of colors and styles, mechanical pencils with colorful barrels and chrome accents, and erasers with contoured grips (which are also PVC-free--great!). I couldn't help but smile when I opened the box. I always loved shopping for back-to-school.

I loved picking out the pens and pencils, selecting a notebook, wondering if I could persuade my mother to pay more for the style I really loved. Granted there weren't as many options then. I distinctly remember buying a Big Chief tablet to go to grade school. Do you remember those? I think they faded away sometime in the 1990s...but I remember them so fondly. And I believe I went to grade school with a cardboard pencil box. Pretty different from all the plastic ones filling bins in the seasonal aisles. (I found a fun tin one for Audrey.)

There are so many options now. It must be hard to pick for those of you shopping for serious supplies. My girls' list is pretty short and simple so we aren't there yet. There weren't any pens on the list for instance, and mechanical pencils (such as the colorful ones pictured above) are a bit too advanced (strange for a generation using iPads, but anyway...).

But my girls loved coloring with this bright assortment! I am going to drop them in a zippered pouch for when they need a quiet distraction. And I personally am partial to a very smooth writing instrument, so I love the BIC Velocity, which claims to be the "smoothest pen in the universe." Wow. I can't vouch for that, but it was fun to write with, especially in lime green.

I think if my girls were in the higher grades it would be great to think about different colored inks to go with different subjects. Anything to make it more interesting and help them feel better prepared. Or perhaps there could be a rainbow of these pens stashed in a Trapper Keeper notebook so they could pick a color according to mood. Do they still make Trapper Keepers? They were very cool back in my school days.

What were your favorite school supplies? What do you love to purchase for your school-going children today? Leave me a comment and let me know and you'll be entered to win a a set of colorful BIC supplies for your school goers--or you! (U.S. residents only) BIC will be sending one reader:

  • BIC Velocity® Bold Fashion Ball Pen, 8-Pack
  • BIC Cristal® Bold Fashion Ball Pen, 10-pack
  • BU3 Grip Fashion Ball Pen, 8-pack
  • BIC Erasers, 4-pack
  • BIC Atlantis® Fashion Mechanical Pencil, 4-pack
  • BIC Clic Matic® Mechanical Pencil in Fashion Colors, 4-pack

To enter please leave me a comment below (multiple entries possible):

  1. Tell me which school supplies make you feel sentimental. Which do you remember being excited about? What do you enjoy purchasing for your children?
  2. Which of these fun new BIC colors would you choose to write with?
  3. Follow/Subscribe to Aesthetic Nest and let me know.
  4. Like Aesthetic Nest on Facebook (here) and let me know.
This giveaway is open for entries until midnight, Tuesday, August 28th and then I'll pick a random winner. Good luck!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Sewing: Angel Sleeve Blouse and Skirt in Liberty of London

I think my Scarlett is looking a bit like the southern belle at this moment: sun-drenched and gazing out from a columned porch. The light has been especially golden lately. I am loving all the ocher tones. Summer leaning towards Fall...

And I love this easy, pretty ensemble. The Angel Sleeve Blouse may be my favorite option in the Angel Sleeve Dress pattern! It's so perfect with a simple gathered skirt. And I think it's a great look for a more grown up girl. 

I made this blouse with a Liberty of London print I love--"Nancy Ann" in Tana Lawn. I can't get enough of the tiny strawberries and flower bunches in all the right colors, including a great chartreuse-y green. The skirt is one I made Scarlett to wear to Tess's birthday party last year. (I don't include a full tutorial for the skirt in my Angel Sleeve Dress and Blouse pattern because it is so basic, but I do include a brief run down of how to figure the measurements for cutting and how to sew it, just in case.)

If only I could sew faster! I would love to make a lot more of these, but not at the expense of the other things on my list! It's so difficult to prioritize sometimes, but I'm working on it...

If your children are off to school this week I wish you luck, and if you've got more time, I hope it's well-spent. We have one more week of summer field trips before it's back-to-school, and I'm looking forward to both!

(The post introducing this Angel Sleeve Dress and Blouse, including the contrasting panel version Tess is wearing above, can be found here. And the pattern can be found here in my Etsy shop.)

Friday, August 17, 2012

Design: White Flowers

Just when I needed a break from the heat, my great friend, JoAnn, invites me over to play flower shop with some of her wedding flower leftovers. I love it when she does that! She is a great floral designer and when she is busy with weddings I often benefit--at a minimum by being able to see what beautiful things she is creating. Sometimes I'm also able to create my own arrangements with the extra. That is the best!

This latest wedding was all-white. I love monochromatic palettes. My own wedding flowers were white and a bit of green. It was beautiful. So I am enjoying these fresh, cool blooms inside with a lot of air conditioning. I need to soak it up before we head outdoors again. We've been on lots of field trips this week trying to make the most of the remaining unstructured days.

You too? Trying to fit it all in before school starts? I hope you are making the most of it.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Sewing: Angel Sleeve Dress and Blouse (Pattern)

Sometimes the simplest things can take me a while. I don't know why exactly, but I do know what it is...I get distracted by other projects. Remember the yellow daisy Angel Sleeve Dress I made for Tess to wear at Easter? I can't believe it was way back in April.

And the version with rickrack I made for Audrey to wear to high tea? Also months ago. I was planning to have the pattern finished sometime in May and here it is August already! Well, better late than never.

So, it's finally here: the Angel Sleeve Dress pattern. The Angel Sleeve Dress is the simplest of dresses with lots of gathering at the neck, a gentle a-line and a fluttery short sleeve. Though I have had the sizing done for a while now I wanted to do a version with contrasting panels. So now the simple Angel Sleeve Dress has a couple variations--the option to make it with contrasting panels, and the option to make it as an Angel Sleeve Blouse (it's simply shorter--pictures are coming). I also included instructions for the rickrack sleeves.

I made Tess this little Angel Sleeve dress to wear to her sister's upcoming birthday party. (Hard to believe, but I'm way ahead of schedule on that!) It's a western theme and I thought these two fabrics, a feminine plaid and a sweet calico with blossoms and birds, had a bit of that western, or maybe more prairie, vibe. They are Tanya Whelan "Sugar Hill" Plaid and Birdy in Blue, and I purchased them here.

Speaking of getting distracted by projects, I was thinking this was the last summer fling before moving onto Fall sewing...but I'd love to make a few more of these in dress and blouse lengths. I've got a bunch of voile stashed, which would be perfect for this paneled version.

I'm also wondering if I could talk Audrey into wearing an Angel Sleeve blouse back to school this fall. Maybe with some corduroy Bloomers

We'll have to see how it all plays out. In the meantime we've been having fun playing at a local farm. Anything involving fresh air and live animals works for my girls. Maybe I need to get Tess her own cowboy boots. She's always trying on her sisters'.

Need an Angel Sleeve Dress or Blouse? The pattern can be found here in my Etsy shop.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Sewing: Faux Drawsting Shorts

These popsicle-printed shorts are one of the things I've been wanting to squeeze in this summer. Audrey actually picked the fabric herself ("HS Popsy" by Home Seasons--it's a home decor fabric) when we were at Joann and I love sewing something she is excited about and will hopefully wear a lot. Fingers crossed. She wore them to the pool the morning after they were finished, so we're off to a good start. (She is holding her Oilcloth School Bag from preschool. Makes a great swim bag.)

I used the Flat Front Kid Pants pattern from MADE, which I like a lot, and has been a great fit for Audrey, cut them shorter, and added some patch pockets from my Convertible Cargo pants of last year (I skipped the pocket flaps on the back though).

But I wanted a little something... So I created a faux drawstring front.

It is as easy as making two vertical button holes, about two inches apart and centered, through the front waistband. (Mind you these are the flat-front version of the pants, so there is no elastic in the front to make this more complicated.) I did this after the waistband was completely finished, but you could also do it before turning down the waistband, as I did with this Kangaroo Pocket Skirt. Then I opened the buttonholes and just threaded through some cotton twill tape, which I had finished by turning under the ends twice and zig-zagging.

Love it! It gives these shorts a little pop. (Pun intended.)

Monday, August 6, 2012

Sewing: The Summer Set in Blue


I am still making The Summer Set. I can't resist it! I feel a bit as if I should be thinking back-to-school but I'm in a panic about the fact that it's August and there were more things I wanted to fit in before school starts. I suppose I should get used to this--I'm guessing it's going to be an annual thing. Am I right? In any event, I'm trying to stretch out the summer!


We'll see how it goes, but I have a couple parties I'm trying to squeeze in, and a few field trips, not to mention one or two other sewing projects. But I don't want to be so busy that I don't have time to just enjoy these cute girls, because how much longer will I have to do that? They seem to be growing up so quickly already.


And so it goes... I was warned.

So here we have two of the three: Audrey in The Summer Set Bloomers and Flutter Top (this time without the ruffle) in a classically summer-y blue and white gingham, and Tess in The Summer Set Capris and a t-shirt I appliqued for her last week (view the Frayed Flower Applique tutorial here).


Tess is so petite these Capris turned out longer on her than I'd planned, but they're still cute, and she now has room to grown into them. I love this fabric, which coincidentally is from the Waverly Modern Essentials line I gave away a few months ago. This is "Tailspin" in "Americana," which I purchased at Joann.  I actually purchased it for Audrey, but she turned up her nose at it, so Tess wins!

The fabric is a medium weight twill and is perfect for Bloomers or Capris. With a little t-shirt I think it makes a pretty cute playset! I should make a long sleeved appliqued tee for her to wear with these Capris when it gets cooler. Maybe I'll add that to the list...

So here we are, soaking up the last carefree month of these bright, blown-out, summer days.

I'm trying to prioritize so we don't miss the best of it.


And, the girls just want to play, as they should.


I hope things are sunny with you. What's on your list for August?


(You can find The Summer Set sewing pattern in my Etsy shop, here.)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Cooking: Plum Apricot Kuchen (Recipe)

Nothing I've made lately has flooded me with memories as dramatically as this Plum Apricot Kuchen. I took one warm bit and thought, "ohhhh, just like my mom used to make!" 

I thought this recipe was lost to me, but my sister found a couple handwritten cards in one of my mother's recipe boxes. There were two versions of the ingredient list, but no instructions. I looked online but couldn't find the version I remembered: baked rather thin with a simple, but rich, butter crumb crust. So I gave it a go based on what I remembered. And it worked! I love it! 

You have to try it. My mother made a plum kuchen but I couldn't resist using some apricots too. (Some of these lasted long enough!) Click to view the recipe and tutorial.

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