Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Sophie Dress

So named in honor of the Bug's friend whose favorite color is yellow.
Without whose influence I am certain the Bug would not have worn a dress void of pink or purple.
Thank you Sophie. From the bottom of my heart.
The dress was inspired by the Daisy Maisy dress from Sewing In No Man's Land (which was inspired by a dress at Shabby Apple, so I guess that makes this a knock off of a knock off).  I wasn't able to use her pattern because the sizing was too small so I used a bodice pattern I already had and just "winged it" for the rest.
The day Kelly posted the dress I had just received this nice chambray in the mail from Fabric.com and I knew this dress had to be made. When I paired it with this Heather Bailey Pop Garden Paisley from my stash it was love. I have been hoarding this fabric for just the right thing. I think I found it.
I fastened things up in back with a few mismatched buttons.  That yellow scroll-y number is the last of my all time favorite buttons from grandma's button jar.
Just perfect for a day of family photos, wading and playing around with cousins.

~Lindsay

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Ruffled Streamers

I don’t know how many of you subscribe to a lot of crafting/sewing blogs, but my sister and I are a little blog-obsessed.  My sister and I follow a lot of the same blogs, so when I saw two rolls of streamers sitting on her countertop – I said “Are you going to RUFFLE them?” (If you don’t pick up my reference check out the recent tutorial on Dana Made It for Ruffle Streamers – to kick off the Color My Summer series by Delia Creates and KoJo Designs.)  Mind you this is the MORNING of the party that I am asking her – and my sister was working on the Mermaid Cake.  So needless to say her hands were full – she looked at me with a sparkle in her eye and said “I wanted to” but with an undertone of  - but there won’t be time.
I took the hint – and the streamers – and headed up the stairs to my sisters sewing room – taking a brief detour to re-read the tutorial.
streamers 5
The project couldn’t have been easier.  Though I did have to refill the bobbin three times to get through one roll of streamers, so be aware you might as well fill the bobbin as full as you can.
I am glad I re-read the tutorial, because Dana did a great job of giving tips to make the process smoother, especially the tip about pulling them off straight instead of pulling them up in a spiral.  Putting the streamer roll on the ground to pull them straight worked just fine for the blue roll, but the pink roll was a bit more stubborn.  It wasn’t a perfect circle, and I was working on carpet, so every time I would pull at the pink roll, it would flop onto its side and start pulling off in a spiral.  So I came up with this solution:
streamers 2
I put a skewer in the center of both rolls and then propped them up on some bins my sister had in her sewing room that were high enough for the streamers to spin off the roll freely.
streamers 4
After that minor adjustment – it was SMOOTH sailing.  I got them done in plenty of time.  And the two streamers sewn together were enough to put up by the food table:
streamers 14
I like this shot because looking through them to my grandpa, makes them feel like sea weed to me.
And we hung some above the present area:
streamers 7jpg
I love this picture because the Bug is dancing there on the side.
And there was still more, so we decided to hang some in the door way:
streamers 13
How adorable is it that the Bug ran out to greet every friend that stopped by!
Can you believe some thought we went over the top?  One parent was overheard telling her daughter not to expect something like this for her birthday.  :)
When I compare it to the parties I see on all the blogs out there – it seems normal, perhaps even tame compared to some, but perhaps to those less blog-obsessed than my sister and I, it may be a little over the top to take time to sew streamers together.
But then again you only turn 4 once!
~Michelle

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The (7) Little Mermaid(s)

The last time I blogged I was up to my elbows in ladder stitching.  To be honest I wasn’t sure the dolls were all going to get done in time – but after a couple late nights, a couple skipped evening events and a two hour car ride to my sister’s house – I was able to put the finishing stitches in these 7 little mermaids the night before the party.
Did you guys guess that the dolls I was working on were going to be mermaids?  Did you know the party theme would be Ariel?
The Bug is a girl after my own heart.  My sister can attest The Little Mermaid was by FAR my favorite princess growing up.  I was two years older than the Bug is now – my sister 6 years older than that – when the movie came out (that is a round about way of not reveling my age – hopefully you aren’t good at math or don’t know when the movie came out.) I never watched the movie silently – I would sing along with every song – always wondering why Disney hadn’t asked me to voice Ariel!  Again I am sure my sister will affirm that my singing was every bit as good as that of Jodi Benson's. Right Lindsay??? RIGHT???
But presumably you aren’t checking our blog to hear about the cruelty the world dealt me at such a young age.
Suffice it to say when I learned the theme I was on board (did you catch the pun? – it is a bit of a stretch.)
My sister had come across the mermaid doll in Hillary Lang’s Wee Wonderfuls.  I thought I might try winging it – but lets be honest – my sister is the free styling sister – I am the one that needs a pattern to follow!  So I took a tour of the Barnes and Nobles in my area – luckily there are three within 15 minutes of where I live because it wasn’t until the third store that I found the book.
mermaid 1
I am so glad I got the book – at $30  I thought it was a bit pricey – but I am SO very glad to have had it to follow.  It was so much more than just the pattern and instructions – there was a great glossary/sewing technique section in the back.  You already know that I am indebted to the book for the re-introduction to the ladder stitch, but more than that, there are some useful instructions specific to doll making and to embroidering stitches.  Plus have you seen the pattern for the inch worm in this book?  SO CUTE!
That being said, the project wasn’t all rainbow fish and seashells.  Not going to lie a couple nights I had to just walk away from the project out of pure frustration.  Probably the most frustrating part was the hair piece.  The pattern calls for corduroy or velvet for the hair – I used wool felt.  I think the difference in thickness caused a little more issues when trying to reverse the pieces – specifically the bang piece.  Then once the hair got attached it felt more like a toupee to me.  But then I added the ric-rac flower piece in her hair – and the whole thing came together.
So when I finally finished the first mermaid I was so happy/relieved that even though it was late I wanted to send a picture to my sister.  I was a little delirious maybe – but I saw some blue fabric and before I knew it the stage was set.
2011-05-17_22-21-32_238
This is the pic text I sent my sister.  I won’t mention the eye roll my husband gave me when he saw this – he had no idea how creative I could be, clearly.
mermaid 5
Even given the frustrations - I really do like how the mermaid turned out.  The body is stuffed tightly the fin stuffed loosely, allowing the fin to bend and move giving the illusion that the mermaid is swimming. 
lily & aunt shell
And then when I overheard the Bug tell her friends – with the pride overflowing – that her Aunt Shell made the mermaids – all the frustrations were washed far away!  I am SO happy to have contributed a piece of the day that made one not so little four year old SO happy – especially after all the joy she brings me.
Project mermaid – S*U*C*C*E*S*S!
~Michelle

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Mermaid Party

The big party has come and gone. The dust has settled. The decorations have come down. And I'm beginning to recover.
It all began with this sweet invitation, designed by my friend Ally.
It looks wonky because I used my mad (non-existent) Photoshop skills to "erase" the pertinent personal info.  Not that I don't want y'all calling or visiting. . . but . . . 
The Bug wanted to be The Mermaid for a day. 
I searched and searched for mermaid tail making ideas online and finally came across this one from Heather Bailey which was my inspiration.
I found both of the main fabrics on clearance at JoAnn's. Major score! The skirt is a slightly fuzzy knit with sequins sewn throughout. It shines and glitters just like water as she moves.
The tail is a sparkly satin.  I put a layer of batting in between to give it some dimension.

It's a simple gathered skirt with a yoga style fold over waist band so it should fit for a long time.
 I used green rick rack to hang little satin fish all the way around. You know, to make it feel more like water.
The favor bags included a few sea shells, some bubbles, a wand, a few snacks and this super adorable mermaid doll.

My sister is my hero.
I really wanted to make a doll for each girl but I knew I wasn't going to have time.  She came though and made seven of the cutest little mermaids you ever did see. Each one with hair and eye color to match the girl it was going home with.

I don't need to tell you these little dolls were the hit of the party do I?
Decorations were also assigned to Aunt Michelle.
She ruffled the streamers.
Yes.She.Did.
She's a sucker for an over the top party too, don't let her fool you.

And she has promised to blog about the process for both the mermaids and the streamers, so you have that to look forward to.
And here is the spread of food.
No, I did not invite an army. I just planned for one.
The table cloth is one I've been eyeing for a long time and finally bit the bullet. I love it. And I love that it's a special little thing we can pull out every year as we celebrate.
We had blue Jello in cups with little Swedish fish and this blue punch.
One little girl thought the bubbles were soap. That made me laugh.
Just sherbet Sweetie! I promise no soap.
I found some great ideas on-line at Family Fun. This little banana octopus was one of them. And the fruit in waffle cones was a Pinterest find. I thought the cones looked like shells. Is that a stretch? 

I also made a whole lot of fruity candy popcorn in pink and blue. And I do mean a whole lot.
There were shells and water drops (glass beads) scattered all over the table.
The fish dish was on Clearance at Hobby Lobby.  I almost bought them all but then reason won out. This one little guy was great for holding some Swedish fish.

In the background there are goldfish crackers with a blue dip that I made up on the fly so, no you can't have the recipe because I don't know the recipe.  But it was gone by the end of the night so it must have been good!
I tried to pick foods that the Bug likes, especially on the veggie tray.
Yes, my four year old likes radishes. At least in theory. These were a bit too peppery for her.
And finally, the Pièce de résistance! 
The Hubs put on every last one of those mermaid scales (M & M's). You rock Babe!

I am not a cake decorator but I was pretty pleased with the results of this. And the Bug was giddy excited when she saw it. Though I did catch some flack that the hair was blonde and not red.  She did request an ARIEL cake after all.
After we all ate, it was present time.
We bought the Bug a bike about a month ago and that was supposed to be her early Birthday gift.
But I couldn't resist attempting to make her an Ariel princess dress.
She's been asking for one for ages.

It's a little big and a little "off". I debated even sharing it here because I don't love it. As you can see, I don't even have any good pictures of it.  But, the Bug was absolutely tickled to finally have her Ariel dress.  And now we have two possible Halloween options, right?

Except that she announced prior to her party that Jasmine is now her favorite princess.
I see Harem pants in my future.

~Lindsay

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Diversion

Michelle mentioned my over the top party planning, yes?
I'm never sure how I suck myself in to so many little projects for something like this.  It nearly drives me insane but I am all about the details.
And so, what do I do when I'm stressing the little things?

I avoid the issue at hand and I sew something totally random.
It helps if it's an itty bitty baby thing.
Because then I can ooh and ahh and dream about snuggly baby cuddles. And what is more stress relieving than that?
First, the bow tie onesie which is so cute on it's own really it would have been enough.
 But when have you ever known me to leave well enough alone?
Really? Like never, right?

See, last time Michelle was visiting she was in the middle of making some of these adorable baby booties and I was smitten.  
The pattern was from free baby shoe pattern mecca, Homespun Threads. I downloaded every single pattern, but landed on these little slip ons.

And wow! Working with something so small was a challenge! I ended up doing that zig zag stitch around the top just to make sure everything caught. I don't love it but it's growing on me. I'm telling myself that it's that "deconstructed" look that's so popular. (Is that still a trend? Please don't tell me if it isn't)

The outside is a vintage piece I had in my stash (stolen from my mom's stash years ago--Thanks Mom!) and the inside is the softest red fuzzy knit. I have no idea where it came from but it called out to me for this project.

I used the illustrious ladder stitch to finish these off. Just thought I'd give a little shout out to my sis for bringing it to my attention.  It's funny the simple things you forget after years and years.
So here is the finished gift, for the mom of a preemie boy.
In my mind, I think I should make a little pair of shorts or something, right?
But I have to be done.
I have a big party to get ready for. And a certain princess' dress need some significant alteration.

~Lindsay

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Of Birthday Parties and Ladder Stitching

The prodigal blogging sister has returned from her time away. Can you believe it? My 7th tax season is over - I hope I don't always count my life in tax seasons - and I am slowly coming back to the land of the sewing. I have been working on a few things here and there - and I hope to finish something soon, ha!

Those of you who have been following our blog for over a year or who know one of us personally, know that a week ago the most precious little (not so little) girl in our lives turned 4! Of course this calls for a PARTY - a party which had to be postponed a whole week because of a silly aunt's scheduling conflicts! Can you believe the nerve? But I am oh so glad I don't have to miss the big day!

The party is set for this Saturday - it will be the Bug's first official birthday with just her friends. This is causing my sister some panic - I wouldn't want to have to entertain and coral seven 4ish year olds, would you?

 Anyway - I don't want to give anything away before the big day - but the Bug picked a theme and my sister in her true fun mom style is going crazy (in a good way) with that theme. She bit off a lot with this one - and I am sure she will have some great "after" blogs about the Bug's big day outfits (yes plural.) Anyway - I volunteered my services for the cause and was assigned to the take home favors for the event. Before you start thinking I got off easy with candy, goldfish, a punching balloon and some bubbles - please note that these favors are a bit more than your normal favors (or at least more than I ever got in a favor bag.) Did I mention the theme is exploding on this one - my sister had a pattern in mind for a theme appropriate doll for each little friend plus the Bug of course.

Which brings me to the subject of this post - this pattern introduced me (or re-introduced me, I very well may have learned this over 10 years a go in 4-H) to the ladder stitch - and at the risk of sounding over dramatic - I will never be the same!
Are you familiar with this little hole closing genius of a stitch? More than likely you are, but if you are like me and you are not, let me explain...you know when you are sewing two pieces together wrong sides facing, and then you leave a little hole to turn the thing right side out - then your left with a little hole to close - like when you are making a pillow? Over the last couple of years when I have had to closed a seam, and couldn't get away with edge stitching the project, I have used something more akin to the whip stitch.
Please forgive me this my biggest sewing sin! The whip stitch is NOT an attractive way to close a seam - let me tell you - especially when you have little patience for hand sewing. I was never happy with the way it looked - and how unfinished the whole project became because of this one little stitch. Enter Ladder Stitch!
See that closed hole? You don't? That's the point! Isn't she lovely?!? Now even though this seam is eventually going to be covered - the ladder stitch adds a nice clean finished look to the base of the doll.
And that makes this doll happy! (Actually the fact that I embroidered a smile on her face makes her happy, hehehe, sorry I couldn't help myself!)

The ladder stitch is all over this pattern - not just in closing the body of the doll - and I'd like to think I am slowly mastering it. If nothing else it is a good stitch to add to my arsenal (that sentence amuses me.) Anyway - I completed the first doll last night - only 6 more to go by Saturday - Wish me luck!
~Michelle

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Hawaiian Dress

A Hawaiian dress?
Yep, that was the request. It was needed for a Hawaiian themed preschool graduation.

Themed requests can be so difficult. I've spent enough time watching Project Runway that I know not to be too "literal" in conveying the theme. And I want this to be a dress she can wear again and again, not just to graduation.
We found this floral fabric that was just perfect.  It says "Hawaii" and "Aloha" in a nice script around the flowers but it doesn't scream at you like a Hawaiian shirt.  It's the prettiest shade of purpley-pink too. So I ordered a yard.

And nearly cried when it came.
It was heavier than I expected. Not canvas weight, but definitely heavier than a normal quilting cotton. I obviously did not read the listing closely enough.

Inspired once again by PR, I had a "make it work" moment.
And make it work, I did.
This Oliver & S Popover Sundress pattern works well with the more structured fabric because of the simple lines.  There aren't many seams so there isn't a lot of bulk or extra weight.
I added the embroidered eyelet to make it a bit more girly and soft. And it reminded me of those embroidered Hawaiian shirts.
My favorite part is this little bodice strip. I love the embroidery. I love the mini pom pom trim. I love the crisp white.  The white fabric was very light and airy in comparison to the floral so I added a bit of interfacing to the bodice so it was more crisp. 

I really, really like the finished project and can't wait to see this sweet, big girl in it!

~Lindsay

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Happy Birthday Firecracker!

Don't tell, but this sweet thing is one of my favorite models.
And she's turning TWO this week!
Say it ain't so! I remember the day she was born like it was yesterday.
This momentous occasion required commemorating with a very special birthday dress.
I think she likes it, what do you think?
 
The specs? Well, it's the apron knot dress pattern from LLK.
I love this one and can whip it up quick which allows me the freedom to spend a little extra time adding details like this waistband, the hem ruffle and
POM POM FRINGE!!
Love.It.
And so does Firecracker.
Most of the fabric was found at JoAnn's. The apron and apron border were from my stash and the pom pom trim was a vintage find at my favorite thrift store ever. Ever. Ever.
Happy Birthday precious girl.
May you continue to grow in beauty and in spunk. 
I love you!
~"Auntie" Lindsay

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Crafting Hope

Our little sewing group met again last week.
We had a different crowd this time, which was exciting! Word is getting out!
I love how perfect the library meeting room is for this. We have room for several more sewing machines so if you are local and have interest let me know and I'll see that you get a June invite.
As my lovely friend Jessica is showing us, this time we made bibs and burp cloths (not pictured here) for young moms.

And yes, I know I am probably asking for trouble by posting this photo on the world wide web. 
But how cute is she? How cute is that bib? How could I not?
You see my dilemma?
We used the library's portable die cut machine to cut out our appliqué pieces. This was a huge time saver. I am a big fan of the die cut machine.
And here are a few of the finished burp cloths.
And the bibs.

Somehow I managed to not get a single picture of the beautiful machine embroidered bibs and burp cloths one very generous over-achiever brought already made that night.  What a sweet heart.

I just know some young mommas are going to feel very blessed.

The patterns we used were from the book "Craft Hope".
The next time we meet, I think we will be making clothes for friends to take with them to Haiti. Perhaps some shorts for the boys and maybe more pillowcase dresses for the girls? We shall see!

~Lindsay