Thursday, May 30, 2013

Sewing: Stripey Bateau Neck Top for Spain

I wanted to sew a new wardrobe for our trip to Spain (yes! I went to Spain!), but all I had time for was this one shirt. Kind of like those bad t-shirts about "...went to Spain...and all I got was this t-shirt." Given the way the weeks leading up to the trip went, I was pretty thrilled to have finished at least one thing actually. Maybe I'll make the other tops and skirts for this summer. And maybe not... I'm learning... We'll have to see which priority rises to the top.

I will have to share some of the highlights of this trip without kids later. Wish I had beautiful pictures of my girls in front of the fields of poppies and this beautiful Costa Brava coast. But they weren't there. So you've got me. In my striped shirt. The picture thing is pretty funny vacationing as two. There's one with me, and then him, and then occassionally the two of us thanks to some fellow tourist. I'm sure you can relate. I prefer to take pictures of our girls.

But I do like the way this shirt turned out. It's the grown up version of The Bateau Neck Top I've been working on. Not too wide at the neck (I don't like things peeking out) and a bit of a curve at the waist but basically the same mid-hip, 3/4-length sleeve idea.

Right at home on the coast. Comfortable too. I found the sweatshirt-weight knit fabric in this Etsy shop. It's a really soft cotton with a great stretch and the perfect weight for those in-between days.

Now I'm trying to adjust to real life again. Makes me think I need a vacation!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Sewing: Birch Fabrics "Grove" Potholders (Tutorial & Giveaway)

Today I am sharing a collaboration with Birch Organic Fabric for their new, first ever certified organic line of canvas home decor fabrics. It's called "Grove" and you can see the line here.

This fabric would be great in a bag, or child's footstool, or my favorite: tablecloths and place mats (always the "what to do" when I find a great fabric but can't decorate a room in it). But we came up with another idea--potholders, or "hot pads" if you prefer.

Who can't use a new potholder? I know I can. And one that is nice to look at? Such a luxury! These would make great gifts for your girlfriends, or next Mother's Day, or Father's Day for that matter. These fabrics are beautiful, and one of my favorites is the Poppies print, but there are several that wouldn't be described as girly.

If you are a quilter, think of these as mini-quilts. A potholder is a nice size for experimenting. And if you aren't much of a quilter, don't be scared away because these are really very simple. In fact, you don't need to quilt at all. And, they work! I've included a lining fabric that reflects heat.

Want to learn to make a potholder? Click through for the tutorial.

Just wish you could have a new set of potholders? Then enter the giveaway! Birch Fabrics is giving away a pair of these potholders (sewn by me) to two winners? To enter see the instructions at the end of the tutorial.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Party: Arcade Birthday Favor Bags (Printables)

We celebrated Audrey's birthday this year by inviting a handful of her friends to a "fun center." It had batting cages, bumper boats, mini golf, go-karts and an indoor arcade. Not a lot of room for my own creative overlay, but then it wasn't my party, so... It turned out to be OK--I've learned May is a really busy month to celebrate a birthday so I was actually feeling grateful to have a shorter list of things to do. But I wanted to do a couple creative things so I designed the invitation and the favor bags with a retro arcade theme in mind. 

I happened to have these cotton muslin bags left over from Audrey's birthday party last year and decided add a "Game Bag" graphic with heat transfer paper. Just a simple thing but it was really fun to do and gave it the personalized touch I was looking for.

I used Avery t-shirt transfer paper (finding an inkjet printer was a bit tricky) and followed the directions. It worked without a hitch. Since I have a bunch of paper leftover I'm thinking I better do some summer t-shirts with this stuff!

Who knows if the party goers noticed the bag, but they did like the contents--a couple old fashioned twos, a big lollipop and some of my favorite candies (in the appropriate colors and loud graphics), Zotz.

If you would like to make some Game Bags, I've got a PDF file with the printable (it's a mirror image) here for you to download. (You'll need to get some transfer paper and follow the directions provided by the manufacturer.)

Friday, May 17, 2013

Review: So Pretty! Felt by Amy Palanjian (Book Giveaway)

Chronicle Books (one of my favorite publishing houses for children's books and art books!) sent me a preview of Amy Palanjian's new book, "So Pretty! Felt," which, as you may imagine, includes pretty things you can make with felt. I am such a fan of felt! I had to pull out a stash I've collected to see what colors might work for one of these projects (but I didn't get to the actual project yet given my very crazy month of May...).

I love 100% wool felt (and boiled wool too)--there is just something about it's natural feel, texture, weight and no fraying! The density is so cozy. And it seems Northern European to me (I may have to check this), which has big appeal. It's a bit hard to find, however. Luckily this book includes some resources for wool felt,  and a great blend (which is what I have stacked here), as well as everything else you'll need to make pretty things with this material.

This book is beautifully photographed and the projects are explained clearly so it seems truly possible to make something simple, such as embroidered pennants to top cupcakes, or something more complex, such as a pieced pin cushion. I really need a pin cushion. But I may have to make myself a felt Carnation Corsage first.

In addition to the fun projects, I love the introductions Amy has included for each of the artists contributing them--such a beautiful glimpse into their creative minds. The whole package is inspiring.

Would you like a copy of "So Pretty! Felt"? Chronicle Books is giving away a copy to one of my readers. To enter simply leave a comment on this post. One entry per person.
  • Tell me why you love felt, or what you have recently made with felt, or what you have been dreaming of making?
This giveaway is open until midnight May 24th. Then I'll pick a random winner. Good luck!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Invites: Audrey's Arcade Birthday Party Invitation (Printable)

You know I love a good birthday party. And one of the best parts is coming up with the concept, which thus far has involved a set of carefully edited suggestions offered to the birthday girl so that she is excited about it and I am too.

The most important reason for having the party is of course to spend time with friends and family. But I like the little details too. It's a good excuse to get my creative wheels turning. That may be more of a challenge in the future, or at least less of a big deal, as my girl's come up with their own ideas. This year Audrey passed on a few ideas to land on "remote control car" party. Hmmm... I was working on it--it could be really fun--but then she decided she wanted to go and drive go-karts. "I think they have their own tablecloths, Mom," she said. What?!

So we are on our way to a fun center this year. Can you believe it?! There are fewer opportunities for me to create, but lots of opportunities for a group of kids to have fun, and that's what counts. Whether any of them is actually tall enough or brave enough to drive the go-karts is another story... Maybe we'll all play mini golf instead.

Turns out this simpler approach to her party comes at a good time as it feels like the busiest time of the year. But I still insisted on making invitations. I found these cute "speedway" pocket pinball games here at TinToyArcade (they have a lot of fun stuff), designed a simple two sided card and taped the game to the front. I made some customized labels for the envelope, which we hand delivered, but I think they would mail just fine in a padded envelope.

The pocket game is pretty irresistible! The recipients all ripped it off the card and starting playing with it immediately. Which is probably nothing compared to the wide eyes we'll get when they see the arcade at the fun center. Wish me luck!

Here is the PDF printable if you'd like to make similar invitations (it can be edited with your party information).

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