Monday, September 30, 2013

FYI: Posting for Sew Ready to Play


Have you seen the "Sew Ready to Play" series hosted by I'm Feelin' Crafty? It's such a great concept: bloggers are invited to sew something inspired by a favorite children's game. There have been some great posts inspired by classic games and some that are new to me. 

I am participating today with a tutorial for a Little Piggy Pouch inspired by the "This Little Piggy" rhyme. I used the beautiful Nursery Versery fabric by Heather Ross for Kokka and came up with a pouch that seems consistent with the character of the fabric and illustrations--a bit of batting and some raw edges to add texture. You can view the full post here. Oh, and I made Tess a little outfit to match, of course...

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Back-to-School Bateaux: Cirque du Bebe


The amazing image transfer on this Bateau gives it away right? Of course this is Sophie of Cirque du Bebe! She is next on the Back-to-School Bateau tour.

Sophie has amazing style and manages to sew for herself in addition to her kiddos. I love what she did for Project Sewn last season, especially her Chevron Love finale. Her version of the Lady Skater Dress convinced me to finally buy that pattern, though I haven't sewn it yet and know I won't wear it as well! She has a great talent for knits evidenced by this darling outfit as well, not to mention a bombshell bathing suit (bathing suit!). Sophie makes sewing look so up-to-date--there's nothing "homemade" about her handiwork.

So I'm flattered she has applied her fresh take to The Bateau Neck Top. You can see more of it here.



Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Back-to-School Bateaux: luvinthemommyhood


This pretty in neon pink creation is the work of none other than Shannon, of luvinthemommyhood.

Shannon has created such a great community on her blog! She has a talent for gathering creative women together and cheering them to get to work. Her KALs (Knit-A-Longs) are packed with motivation, inspiration and great technique tutorials. Shannon has a wealth of sewing tutorials too. I love this Wellen Tank--so sweet! She does a roundup like nobody's business (check out this amazing doily craft roundup), and she just has a fabulous eye. Her pattern shop at Very Shannon is full of knitting and sewing projects, all with unique twists (I love the oversized skirt pockets on her new Sally Dress). And she is a die hard perfectionist so you can be sure things are beautifully laid out and clearly explained.

All of which is to say I feel lucky Shannon is sharing a Bateau Neck Top she made today. You can see more if it right here.



Monday, September 23, 2013

Craft: Ribbon and Flower Crowns (Tutorial)


We celebrated Tess's birthday a couple weeks ago with a lot of pinks and golden yellows and flowers. I'll share all the details soon but wanted to share what was for me the creative apogee: ribbon and flower crowns. A flower crown for the birthday girl and ribbon crowns for her guests. So fun!


I had been thinking about making some crowns such as these for some time. What else could make a little girl feel so special? And when else would she have the excuse to wear one? And her mom take pictures of her wearing one?! 



I wasn't quite sure how to make them until late one night I came up with the perfect supplies! The crowns had to be flexible enough to be comfortable but stiff enough to hold a nice round shape, and I wanted to sew flowers on them, besides.


These took less time than I thought and I love the way they turned out. I share all the details below.  Though I made these myself prior to the party, this would be a great craft for girls five and up to make at a party!
Please click through for the tutorial.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Back-to-School Bateaux: Lemon Squeezy Home


Christie from Lemon Squeezy Home is on the tour today with such a great take on the Bateau Neck Top!

I'm not sure Christie remembers, but when I decided to make this blog public with this post in 2010 Christie found it and was my first follower! I so appreciated her comment and having her as a follower. Her enthusiasm and support says so much about her genuine caring for the people she comes in contact with, as does her blog, where she frequently shares what matters most to her. Seems she is always doing something interesting and fun with her kids (dry ice bubble experiment anyone?), and I loved all the cute projects she posted getting ready for her most recent, sweet Ruby, such as this chevron knit blanket (hmmm, she seems to have a chevron thing going...) and these bunting gifts. Christie has a knack for clever design (washi magnetic bookmarks! and this great idea) and styles herself as well as her projects!

You can see more of this great project of hers here. I love that rickrack trim peeking out of the Pleated Bateau Neck Top!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Back-to-School Bateaux: Delia Creates


You likely recognize this cute and energetic little girl...she and the great sewing are the work of Delia at Delia Creates. She is next up on the pattern tour.

Delia's is one of the few "blogger friends" I have met in person and she is a total pleasure--just like her blog. One of those generous individuals from whom one can learn a lot. She is always pushing herself to innovate and improve and share what she has discovered. I was thinking the other day that I really could benefit from studying her self portrait tips. Can you believe what she accomplishes with a camera remote? Or with yarn (love this blanket), or long summer days, or even scraps? Let alone the amazing things she sews for her boys (suits!) and little girl (my favorite, "First Baby" dress!)

She made a Bateau Neck Elastic Waist dress in a cute grey dotted knit that seems to work perfectly for run-around days. You can see more here.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Back-to-School Bateaux: KoJo Designs


Look at this perfect Fall number from KoJo Designs! Kirstin is next on the Back-to-School Bateaux pattern tour.

Kirstin is one of the boldest DIY-ers around! I am always impressed by scale and success of the projects she tackles. Whoa. And lucky for us she is happy to share. She produces amazing gatherings (I loved this Farmer's Market party--so perfect for kids!--and entirely different Sprinkled party) with all sorts of handmade details. She is not intimidated by electrical projects like these amazing copper lights. I need to make a stack of these vintage sheet cocktail napkins. And when I get business cards I need to gild the edges like this. She and Delia have been hosting Color Your Summer for a few years now, which is chock full of great home, wardrobe and entertaining ideas. She seems to be the friend with a solution for whatever you need!

I love what Kirstin did with the Bateau Neck A-Line Dress. Do you see that glimmer of sequins on the pocket? And paired with the boots. Check out more of her back-to-school look here.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Craft: Papered Clipboard (Tutorial and Template)



Who doesn't love a mini clipboard? I remember loving the chance to use clipboards as a child--made me feel so "official"--and the mini size is perfectly child-sized. (Actually it's great for adults too. I can just imagine an organization strategy leveraging a suite of these....) These make a great party favor (I used them for Scarlett's Woodland Picnic Party a couple years ago), but they are also a great party activity.


For a Back-to-School Party I hosted with a friend recently, we gathered supplies for these clipboards and had girls ages 7 through 11 make some to use for a friendship game we played.  We set out templates, patterned papers, scissors, glue and the clipboards. They loved this craft! It was great fun for them to select papers that suited their own personalities and further customize these with colored ribbons and different mechanical pencils. And then they had a great tool to play our "Fast Friends" game. (See this post for some party photos and the free game template.)

Do you have a papered clipboard in your future? This would be great for a baby shower game or even a game night! It's pretty simple to make, but a bit of a pain to trace the shape around the clip to create a template, so I've got a tutorial and template here for you (click for the details).

Friday, September 13, 2013

Giveaway: Euro Girls Boutique Organic Knit Fabric

It's Friday the 13th and it's your lucky day because I have a great giveaway to share! In the spirit of all of this sewing with knits, Euro Girls Boutique is giving away a great bundle of their new European organic knits to one of you readers!


I have ordered a whole bunch of their fabric to sew Bateau Neck Tops. They have such a fun selection of graphic prints: wide and narrow stripes, such as these Berry stripes, and big polka dots like those in some of the first Bateau Neck Tops I shared.



They have little polka dots too, such as these Blackberry and Sunny Yellow I used for the Faux Layered Sleeve Bateau.



Plus they have chevrons, star prints, and cute characters (I just snagged some of this darling pink "Hedgy" knit).



The knit fabric from Euro Girls Boutique feels wonderful and has a great 4-way stretch. It has been a breeze to sew with (especially with a "stretch" or ballpoint needle). And it's 60" wide--so you can get a lot more out of it than you would think!

So I am excited they are giving away a bundle of their newest organic knits to one of my readers. If you win, you will receive 1/2 yard of each of these 5 fabrics pictured below. That's a bit more than a $50 value--so great!


You could combine a couple of these prints and make a "hotchpotch" style Bateau Neck Top, or use one to add faux layered sleeves under a short-sleeved Bateau Neck Dress, or make a complete top in one of these fabrics for a size 18m to 3 year old child. Or make something else. Leggings? A pull-on skirt? So many possibilities.


Multiple entries are welcome. Giveaway is open until midnight September 20 and I'll announce the winner at the end of the month. Good luck!

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Sewing: Faux Layered Sleeve Bateau (Tutorial)



I love the layered t-shirt look for Fall. Such a cute look on kids. My sister-in-law was talking about how a few long-sleeved shirts are going to stretch my nephew's summer t-shirt wardrobe through the Winter. Smart.


But I also love the layered t-shirt look accomplished by a child pulling only one shirt over her head. Easy. And no adjustments such as tugging at the underlayer to get it right.


Which brings me to the Faux Layered Sleeve Bateau. This is a short-sleeved version of my Bateau Neck Top with long sleeves attached. And there you have it. A whole other set of possibilities for your knit tops. I'm dying to do a dress like this!


I've got a tutorial to show you how to do this with The Bateau Neck Top pattern--but it would also work with another t-shirt pattern, or even a refashion! Click through for all the details.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Back-to-School Bateaux: {lbg studio}


On the Back-to-School Bateaux tour today is Vanessa of {lbg studio}. And she sewed not one, but two Bateaux, which is super impressive given her daughter's new school routine!

I became totally smitten with Vanessa's work when I saw this dress she made for Vintage May. I was looking at it again this week and thinking how much I love it--everything about it. I have a yellow-thing going right now so I also love her Belgian Style dress and wrap sweater and this ensemble she sewed for Project Run and Play--another fantastic use of yellow! Vanessa has such a great eye, which is evidenced in her beautiful work as well as her amazing photography. She possesses the perfect package of technical skill and creativity (makes sense given her background), which makes her tutorials (such as this Comfy Knit Dress) a total pleasure. We have Germany in common, and several moves in our formative years, and both of us struggle a bit in the mornings. I would love to discuss all of this with her over lunch (not breakfast!) someday.

Vanessa sewed a Bateau Neck Top Elastic Waist Dress--I love those wide horizontal stripes! And she made a Classic Bateau Neck Top too. She's got such a knack for knits (been sewing a lot of them lately); you can see her take on these on her blog here.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Party: Fast Friends Back-to-School Open House (Free Game Printable)


In our neighborhood is a large group of grade school-aged girls who go to different schools and different churches and therefore don't know each other. So my friend, Kari, and I decided to introduce them to each other and help them become friends with a "Fast Friends Open House." This idea would work equally well to help a new school class of girls gel!


The idea was to make it easy for the organizers, and comfortable for the girls, and include a few activities to break the ice. Moms were invited too so they could get to know each other and lessen any potential anxiety in their girls. I pulled out some party decor from my fortieth birthday and we sliced a bunch of watermelon and put out some ice water on a table where our guests could grab a name tag. We also had a clipboard with a signup sheet where all the girls could share their information so we could distribute a contact list afterwards--hoping they'll use it to  arrange play dates or another neighborhood party.

As the girls and their moms arrived we made certain to personally introduce everyone and then we got them immediately engaged in an activity:

Activity #1: A "What am I?" game. When the girls arrived we had them put name tags on the front of their shirts and we put a second tag on their backs with a word ("marshmallow" or "puppy" or "pencil eraser" for instance) they needed to guess by asking questions of the party guests. This activity required a bit of facilitation but the girls ended up asking questions such as "is it a person place or thing?" or "do you see one here?" or "is it something to eat?" to correctly guess what was written on their back. That broke a few smiles and giggles.


Activity #2: Cupcake decorating. What could be easier? I bought "naked" cupcakes from the local store, made a big bowl of buttercream frosting (recipe here but with vanilla flavoring), and set it out with a bunch of sprinkles, colored sugars, and colored frosting tubes for the girls to decorate with. I think you either need food or an activity to get people interacting and this leveraged both. Perfect.


Activity #3: Papered clipboard craft (tutorial here). I made mini papered clipboards as a favor for this party a couple years ago but this time we set out the supplies for the girls to make their own. We gathered some different patterned papers and let the girls select one to decorate the back of their clipboard. They used a template I'd prepared (get it here) to cut out the shape and glue to adhere it. We also supplied ribbon and mechanical pencils (leftover from this party) to tie to their clipboards so they'd be ready for the final activity....


Activity #4: The Fast Friends game. My friend went to a church activity that used this game to help the women in the congregation learn more about each other, and we adapted it for the girls. (It must have been inspired by the speed-dating concept.) We had them line up in two rows of facing chairs and then take turns interviewing each other. We had a short list of "getting to know you" questions pre-printed for them to use with their clipboards and mechanical pencils. The idea was for them to quickly conduct an interview with the person across from them and then rotate so that each girl had a chance to interview every other girl. It's a fun way to force everyone to spend a few minutes chatting with everyone else. And it scripts some great party small talk! It wasn't as quick as we had imagined (I forgot that they wouldn't be able to scribble the answers as quickly as adults!) but it worked great! They loved playing the interviewer and offering details about themselves when it was their turn to answer the questions. 


When all the interviewing was finished we wrapped it up by asking the group if they could remember some of the details about each other, such as "who remembers what sport Audrey plays?" and we tossed a small piece of candy to those with the right answers.



It was fun! It was great to partner with someone on this effort, nice to dip into my stash of leftover party supplies and put them to good use, and really satisfying to help some cute girls make new friends. Maybe these ideas will help you plan a similar activity for new friends!


If you are interested in using our Fast Friends game sheet for a party you're planning I've got a printable PDF (this can't be edited) and a Word doc you can download, edit and use. (You'll need to download the free font "FFF Tusj" for this file to display the way it was designed.) These are designed to be cut out and clipped onto a mini (6"x9") clipboard. Or you can make your own! It's simple.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Back-to-School Bateaux: No Big Dill


I love that each of the talented women sewing Bateaux for the tour has such identifiable styles. Can't you guess who's who by the photos? This beauty is of course the work of Katy at No Big Dill. (The black and white stripes give it away!)

It's hard to know where to begin about Katy... She is so inventive. But if I could only describe her with one sentence I would probably say, "she is the child of artists." And for her, life is an art, and a gift she appreciates. Whether it be her amazing sewing (each work an original), or the way she designs and re-designs her home, or how she captures life with her beautiful family (love her inspiring Instagram stream), or, most importantly, her perspective on life and parenting. She is artful. And the things she creates are always beautiful. I've been so flattered to participate in her Once Upon a Thread series and have been gushing over her Alphabet Week sewing. Don't know which letter was my favorite last time... maybe "V." Can't believe her "B" for "Sew All 26" is a Bateau! Thank you, Katy. Wish I could get organized enough to sew all 26 myself but I'm going to love watching!

I love the way Katy cinched up the arms on her version of the Classic Bateau Neck Top with a strip of studded and grommetted leather. She's included such a fun tutorial for a bow necklace, too, to go along with "Bateau" and "B," of course! You can see it all here.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Back-to-School Bateaux: My Sparkle



It's so great to have Danielle, from My Sparkle, on the Back-to-School Bateaux Tour!

I don't remember how I came across her blog... maybe it was this darling Baby Jane Sun Bonnet pattern (which I bought immediately, and dang it, never sewed!), but I know I definitely leaned into my computer screen when I saw what she was sewing for Project Run and Play. She was the winner of Season Three and I loved everything she created! She has an incredible talent for putting together different fabrics and trims, but the thing that blows me away is her detailed handwork. Embroidery, embellishments, little extra touches that turn a garment into a work of art. Her daughter must have a closet full of heirlooms!

Danielle's version of the Pleated Bateau Neck Top is a great example of her unique style. I love that trim! Such a unique and perfect detail with the basic black. What little girl wouldn't enjoy this chic back-to-school look? You can see more on her blog here.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Sewing: Look 5 from Five and Ten Designs (eBook Review)



Scarlett was so excited about this dress she could hardly hold still while I sewed on the buttons. She wanted to go out and dance around in it right away!


I keep finding her wearing it, which is great, but not ideal at the moment, because we're saving it for her to wear to Tess's birthday party. It's just that there's been a lot of painting and cooking and the usual stuff going on... and it would be a shame for it to look too well-loved before the official debut. 


It's no wonder she loves wearing it--it looks so fun (I love yellow and pink together!) and the fabric (Anna Maria Horner Little Folks Voile Coloring Garden) feels amazing. I have been keeping it in my stash for the right thing and Delia's "Look 5" dress from the new Five and Ten Designs ebook is perfect.


I'm sure you've seen some of the beautiful stuff being sewn from this ebook. So many great looks! I really love the way Delia designed the bodice on this dress with the half-moon piecework to match the contrasting side panel in the skirt. And the construction was so much fun. Makes me think again about quilting, or at least doing more piecing. 


So many great possibilities depending on the fabrics you choose. You can "up" the contrast or not. In addition to the original dress by Delia, I love the versions sewn by Jess and Stef. They each look so unique, don't they?


This ebook from Five and Ten Designs is such a great concept: a basic bodice pattern with tutorials from 5 different designers for 10 different looks. I loved seeing their different design personalities play out in the patterns, and learning about their preferences for different dress construction options. You can always learn something new by watching someone else, and this ebook gives you that times five! Plus it's a great little tutorial on how to alter a basic pattern piece. You can read all about it right here.


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Back-to-School Bateaux: MADE



I'm thrilled to have Dana, of MADE, (but who really needs no introduction!) on the Back-to-School Bateaux tour today.


I have Dana to thank for pushing me from tutorials to patterns! A few years ago she saw my Couture Skirt and said, "you should really make a pattern for that," so I did. Dana inspires so many other bloggers and sewers. Whether it is her amazing patterns (I love her new Kid Shorts pattern and just sewed from her Beach Robe pattern again), her practical yet beautiful sewing tutorials (I love her techniques category--no one does it better), her recipes (my Tess just requested her Chocolate Marshmallow Cake--it's a family favorite), or her home design (she's building a new one!). So much to love. But my favorite thing about MADE is the bright, beautiful photography, and all those happy faces. It's an amazing place to enjoy whenever Dana shares a post.

These two teaser shots are perfect illustrations of her creativity. I love her sleeveless version of The Bateau Neck Top--with that bow! And the Classic Bateau Neck Top with the polka dot pocket is pure pop. They just make me smile. Head over to see more here. (Dana is sharing a tutorial for that darling bow too!)

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Sewing: Bateau Neck Top and Bateau Neck Dress in Stripes



If we were lucky enough to have our three girls, and a boy besides, this is what it might look like...


This is Tess and her cousin, and during a vacation at the end of the summer I got to pretend they were siblings. These two are a riot together. Sometimes loving, and sometimes hitting--usually one trying to hug and one trying to hit! Copying each other. Stealing each other's toys. You know, the typical toddler stuff.


I can't seem to help myself from making coordinating outfits for my girls (got some in the works right now in fact) and I can only imagine what it might be like if I had a boy in the mix too. So much fun!


Luckily there are a few boys in the extended family.


Since we were headed to the beach together I squeezed in this little project for my nephew before leaving: The Classic Bateau Neck Top in a navy and off-white stripe. It's the perfect seaside shirt in my opinion.


The fabric is a really great soft sweatshirt jersey I purchased here (it's the navy version of the fabric I used for this top). And for Tess to coordinate, I sewed a Bateau Neck Elastic Waist Dress (using my new pattern extension) with a contrasting ruffled neck and faux tie.


I love this little dress! I know I seem to fall in love with everything I make (if not, it really wouldn't be worth it, right?) but this is really fun I think. Maybe it's the stripes. And the classic three-quarter length sleeves.


I'm a sucker for the nautical look. But it also seems like the perfect dress for back-to-school. Such an easy way to pull it together in the morning in one step and get out the door looking, well, pulled together. That's a lot for a mother of little kids.


It's comfy too. Perfect for a field trip (with classmates or siblings.)

Now that Labor Day has come and gone I guess it's time to get a bit more serious. Hope your return to the more structured life is going well! I'm getting ready to learn a lot--seems like every year brings a new curve!

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