Friday, September 28, 2012

Sewing: Prairie Blouse and Pants for Tess (Pattern soon...)

(Update: Pattern information here.)

We are enjoying some gorgeous Fall color right now and I love being outside in it. The change of seasons is always a bit heady, isn't it? I have so many ideas... Including new things to sew. Such as Fall blouses...

I bought some fun fabric a few weeks ago with Fall wardrobes in mind for my girls. I got really excited about fine wale corduroy, especially in prints. And I found some cotton prints to go with. I had a few specifics in mind, but before I got to them, I pulled some out to make this Prairie Blouse and Prairie Pants for Tess because it seemed like the Robert Kaufmann corduroy (Cool Cords Mini Dot in Coral) would be soft and warm for Fall, and keep the look a bit casual. I think this Riley Blake print (Woodland Tails Friends in Green) looks great with the corduroy. Reminds me of some of the Japanese import fabrics I love.

And what's with the "Prairie" stuff? Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I am reading Little House in the Big Woods to Audrey and Scarlett, but that actually came after Scarlett said she wanted a "cowboy" birthday party this year and I decided to give it a prairie spin.

When I was thinking about an outfit for Scarlett to wear to her party I kept thinking about the prairie trend in the 80s. Remember? Lots of ruffles... I was also thinking about the practicality of some pants (such as culottes or gauchos) for horsewomen, such as my birthday girl. So I'm working on an ensemble much like this for Scarlett, but decided to try it in pint size first.

I think it works.

I know the ruffle pants have been done and done and done, and to be honest I was feeling really tired of them, but the prairie look seemed to beg for them and I decided I like them with that country (rather than boutique) slant. These pants have a comfortable cut and a nice flare to them but it isn't super exaggerated. I think I'm actually going to make Tess another pair!

There are a few other prairie-inspired designs in the works. I'm feeling very compulsive and want to keep drafting and finish up the patterns but I'd better get to the actual birthday to-do list! So this is a bit of a tease. Birthday outfit and favors first; patterns in a little bit.

Oh, and I'm trying to squeeze in a lot of time outdoors. It's so much fun to have a couple mornings a week when it's just little Tess and me. She's a great hiking buddy (weight). I hope you are enjoying this time of year where you are.

Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing Winner

I'm head-down this week working on some sewing, new patterns, party prep, etc.. I feel a bit frantic. Is it the change of seasons? Or just me and my compulsion to try and shove more things in a given timeframe?
Perhaps I should slow down (after the next birthday party!) and curl up with Gertie's book. We all agree that Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing is chock full of great tips and patterns. I wish I had more copies to giveaway! I announced a winner on my Facebook page Monday, so check there if you entered. And has selected one for your comments on the review post:

Comment #119 was Peanut, who said...

"This looks incredible! I think the section on sewing retro 101 would be the neatest to read - I love retro clothes and could always learn more about sewing!"

Congratulations, Peanut! Please send me an email (Anneliese [at] Aesthetic Nest [dot] com) with your mailing address and we'll get the book out to you.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Sewing: Pillow Covers with Invisible Zippers (Tutorial)

I am not really sure about invisible zippers. The fact that they require so much instruction is a bit off-putting, don't you think?! Seems the invisible zipper foot may be the answer but I haven't tried that yet. But I did sew a bunch of pillow covers this past week using invisible zippers, completely ignoring all that stuff about ironing the coils (teeth), and they worked fabulously! I love how discreet they are while still allowing me the practicality of a cover I can pull off and wash.

The pillows were part of a list of things I tried to pull off last week. I created a deadline for myself to get a few things spiffed up in our family room by hosting a dinner party. I know the spiffing-up wasn't really necessary but having a deadline in mind works for me. I mean if I'm intending to do it anyway why not get it done by last Friday? Do you do that too?

Well, it worked for the most part! I'll share some of the room updates in a future post, but as for these pillows, they are 26"x26" floor pillows. Generously sized. I made two with some grey fabric that is a pretty boucle or maybe you'd call it chenille--lots of tiny loops--and then two with the medallion print that seems to be a nod to Ikat because of the jagged edges in the pattern but it is a heavy woven fabric. Both were found at local "to the public" designer textile shops.  These new covers are replacing some dingy off-white ones that have been around longer than we've been a Mr. and Mrs.. It was time!

If you'd like the tutorial for making some of these with invisible zippers click to read more. They are simple! Probably a 30 minute project...

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Crochet: Skinny Scarf in Mustard and Grey

I love this time of year, when Fall is creeping in but it is still warm. We have cool mornings and cool evenings but it's still shorts weather during the day. Makes me excited for the really cool weather and all the layering. I love sweaters and jackets and wool and scarves... Speaking of scarves, in anticipation of the change of seasons I decided a new Fall scarf was in order.

A few weeks ago I was shopping for something else and picked up some Vanna's Choice yarn in Silver Grey and Mustard. Not the fanciest of fibers but such a great range of colors and perfect for an impulse buy on my way out of town! We headed to Ketchum, Idaho for Labor Day and the weekend was the perfect way to lean toward Fall. I love that part of the country. It's so beautiful, especially when the seasons are changing, and it seems it's always a few weeks ahead of where we live so we get a sneak peek.

I started, and nearly finished this Skinny Scarf on the way there so it was ready to wear for the cooler evenings. We stayed near a river so I could imagine A River Runs Through It, but since we don't fly fish we skipped rocks instead. Pretty fun in its own right.

One of our "neighbors" had a Labradoodle, Daisy, who became our friend for our visit. She was pretty cute. No suprise that Audrey enjoyed her but Scarlett and Tess really loved her too.

Poor Daisy. I think she kept hoping the rocks would become balls she could retrieve...

Are you leaning towards Fall? Ready for a change of pace? I have a few things going before I can relax a bit but what I'd really like to do is drop everything and pick up some yarn! Soon...

(You can find the Skinny Scarf pattern for women and girls here in my Etsy shop.)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Sewing: Dog Appliqued T-Shirt (Tutorial and Template)

I often stock up on plain t-shirts with the idea that I'm going to embellish them for the girls, but most of them are still sitting, unembellished. So I have to give a little cheer when I actually make one! I bought this plain white polo shirt for Audrey during the back-to-school sales with the idea of sewing on a dog applique. Anything "dog" works for Audrey.

So she approved the "sitting dog" design and the fabrics and I went to work.

It was so much fun that I decided to make one for Scarlett too.

Two doggy t-shirts.

I love the appliqued t-shirts by Mini-Boden and after making some of my own I admire them even more! It's no easy thing to pick the right combination of fabrics and prints and scale of the prints and maintain the integrity of the image you are trying to represent! I think next time I will use more solids...

Want to make one? I've got the template and the tutorial for you. Click to read more...

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Sewing: Quick Mitered Table Runner (Tutorial)

Another party, another table runner... At least that seems to be how it goes around here. This striped one is for one more gathering before it's truly Fall. I suppose it's an improvement over sewing a new tablecloth, or placemats and napkins for every party. I have done that certainly, but then I settled on my white pleated tablecloths for everything and add something on top. Usually: a table runner.

They are so easy, so why not? I love that a few yards of fabric and about thirty minutes produces a new look and the perfect way to set the theme for a gathering. I used a chevron table runner for Tess's Chevron Dot party and a green oversized gingham one for Scarlett's Modern Farm birthday, and a red gingham one for Scarlett's Woodland Picnic party, and I'm sure there will be more!

I always make them the same way, single-layered (though it would be nice if they were reversible or lined, but that's more fabric, cutting, etc.) with mitered corners. It's pretty simple sewing, but I thought I'd share a quick tutorial in case you haven't tried it before.

For the tutorial, click to read more.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Facebook Giveaway: Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing

Hi Friends. I have another copy of Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing to giveaway! This time it's a Facebook giveaway. So to enter, go to my Facebook page and leave a comment letting me know what you love about the idea of a copy of this book for your very own! (You have to "Like" my Facebook page to leave a comment...).  This giveaway will also close Thursday, 9/20. Good luck! Two chances to win!

Review: Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing (Giveaway)

Do you follow Gertie's New Blog for Better Sewing? Undoubtedly you've heard of it. Well now there is a book! I received a copy I've been able to thumb through and there's one to giveaway to you too!

There is plenty to love about this book. Similar to her blog, it is chock-full of sewing techniques. I will definitely be curling up with this book to learn better approaches to hand sewing, buttonholes (I love bound buttonholes!) and other tailoring techniques. For instance, she includes three different methods for securing darts so that the points lay as flat as possible--who knew?!  I feel like I can construct most things but I love the idea of the inside of a garment being every bit as beautiful as the outside. That's the difference in quality clothing--don't you think?

Another thing to love: the book comes with printed patterns for a wardrobe of vintage-inspired clothing including:
  • The Pencil Skirt
  • The Portrait Blouse
  • The Sultry Sheath
  • The Scalloped-Waist Skirt
  • The Bow-Tied Blouse
  • The Sweetheart Sundress
  • The Wiggle Dress
  • The Shirtwaist Dress
  • The Suit Jacket
  • The Coat Dress
Aren't you inspired already? I have really been wanting to do some sewing for myself and I'm not sure I can go another season without a pencil skirt! Gertie's version looks especially flattering with its high curved waistband. It would be great in a classic grey. Or a print.

And how great is this wiggle dress? I love the short-sleeved version. Wouldn't it be fun in this bold butterfly print? I bought the fabric this summer not quite sure what I would do with it, but a dress for myself would be pretty fabulous.

Each of Gertie's designs come with full instructions, which reference her techniques section. So smart! And they each include some variations, which means more possibilities, but also more confidence as she walks you through how to make alterations to the original patterns.

Oh, and the book itself it beautiful to look at. I love the photos of Gertie modeling her designs. It also includes great instructional photos and illustrations, as well as beautiful vintage-inspired illustrations throughout.

Would you like a book?

**To enter (just one entry each this time) leave me a comment and let me know what appeals to you most about Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing. All the skills you could acquire? A particular pattern? What would you sew? **

Giveaway closes Thursday the 20th and then I'll pick a random winner! Good luck!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Party: Coral Chevron Dot Birthday for Tess

Seems like we just celebrated Tess's first birthday, but here we are: she is two already! And quite the advanced two at that. I think she is trying to keep up with her sisters so our days involve a lot of acrobatics!

To celebrate, we had family over for a summer evening dinner, which I set up with a Chevron Dot theme. This was the feminine version of the theme I put together for a baby boy shower last year and it was so much fun to indulge a new palette of coral, pink, orange, grey, yellow and white.

Along with some new colors, I added a few new ideas, such as the yarn pom pom bouquets on the dining tables and felted wool bead bracelets as party favors.

I redid the chevron paper-covered mini composition books as party favors too because I think they are too cute and work for any guest! Found coordinating mechanical pencils at Target. I love lining trays and wrapping vessels with the chevron patterned paper. It's such an easy way to add some extra color.

Speaking of color, that is really the point of large vases filled with gumballs though my nephews and nieces enjoyed filling their cheeks with them too.

Tess wore a wool bead necklace to match the polka dot bunting I stitched on her Dirndl Skirt apron. It turned out to be a great and practical party outfit. The apron stayed tied (because it is integrated), the necklace was comfortable and fun for her to wear, and I didn't mind if she stained the basic white t-shirt! I love this super-full skirt on her short little legs!

For dinner we served a romaine salad with yellow and red cherry tomatoes, feta and a lemon-garlic dressing; chicken tenderloins marinated in coconut milk, peanut butter and jalapeno; couscous; grilled asparagus; peaches, raspberries and blueberries; Izze sodas (mostly because they are so fun to look at!), and water.

Oh, and of course: birthday cake! I wasn't sure what kind I was making until a day or two before, but I fell back to one of my favorite lemon buttermilk cake recipes but made the buttercream frosting vanilla flavored. I had been thinking about some ways to use the Chevron Dot theme on the cake but decided to let those go instead of trying to learn some new skills. So I piped dots of sorts using a pastry tube with no tip.

It was a perfect evening despite a summer storm, which drove us indoors. The storm was a nice little finale for our celebration. There is nothing better than a party with family and friends and a good reason to celebrate! I think it's important to enjoy these high points, store them up, so I tried to soak it all up.

Happy birthday to Tess!

(If you are interested in some party printables with this theme you can find them here in my Etsy shop. I've included materials for a baby shower or a birthday with multiple versions of the edit-able invitation.)

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