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Pumpkins One, Two, and Three (and Me)

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Entries in sewing (27)



I am pretty shocked--but very tickled--that my little sewing adventure made it as one of the Top 60 spring tops in Made by Rae's sewing contest.  Actually, shocked is putting it lightly.  The reaction was more like:


Stand up. 

Brush, brush, brush.

If you haven't been voting during Spring Top week, here's the low down.  Each day this week, 12 tops go up for voting.  Voting lasts for 24 hours and the winner of each day moves on to the final vote over the weekend. 

My top is one of the 12 tops up for voting for Day 5 (which is today!)--so please head over to Made by Rae to check it out.  And if you are so inclined, please consider voting for my top.  But only if you like it (scroll down to find the button for 'ruffled tie-neck top by Sandra' on the right sidebar).  And yes, I now sort of regret bashing it on my previous post.  Sorry, spring top.  But I did make it up to you, right?  By wearing you beyond the bathroom photo shoot...I took you to the lake, remember?

And we sure did have fun that day, didn't we?  A dinner playdate with friends, complete with grilled pizza and build your own sundaes (thanks Kris!) and a gorgeous weather walk so the kidlets could feed fish... 

And I promise to make you a friend very soon...maybe that will be my Mother's Day present to myself.  I'm certainly inspired to try out some things from the flickr pool.  Happy Friday everyone!

xoxo, Sandra


Spring top.

I told myself I would sew a top and enter the Spring Top Challenge hosted by the wonderful Made by Rae.  Well, at 10 o'clock last night, I figured it was now or never because entries were due by today.  I wish I hadn't waited until the last minute--when I don't have time to plan out a sewing project, it always ends up so slap-dash.  But in the interest of 'keeping it real', here's what I whipped up.  

I made all sorts of mistakes.  First, I only have cotton in my stash.  This particular cotton doesn't really drape so this top could hang tons better.  Or, you know, at all, instead of poofing out and adding a solid inch of circumference girth.  I didn't have a pattern so I just winged it and went with a simple circle neck--but to make it a little different, I added a few pleats to give it a slight ruffle.  I also wanted a tie-neck because my intent is to mostly wear this as a shell under cardis.

So am I entering it?  Yes.  Even though I'm a little sheepish about doing so--have you seen some of those tops??  Swoon.  But I'm doing it because a) it was a goal, and b) I believe part of the spirit of the challenge was to motivate some of us who semi-regularly sew to actually sew for ourselves (I think many crafters craft for others).  And you know what?  After this, I may indeed have a bit of the "selfish sewing" bug.  Also, I think I will wear this top--it's not so home-ec that I'm too embarrassed to, so that's good.  But I'm ordering Cal Patch's book asap.  And I think a dress form just got bumped to the top of my wish list.

Here it is under a cardigan...I like it styled this way best.

And because I think nothing screams high-fashion like a photo shoot in the bathroom without a stitch of makeup or your hair brushed--but hey, there's better light--I feel compelled to leave you with these.  I'm sorry.

Happy sewing and happy Friday!




Reverse applique, birthday shirts.

I finished the boys' birthday shirts today.  I used some coordinating tees and went with reverse applique.  I've previously posted on how I sometimes use phonebook paper for more detailed appliques when I'm too lazy or rushed to cut out detailed shapes.  But with simple shapes and numbers, here's how I do it.

First, I head to my computer and use a word processing program to pick a font that has nice clean lines (so it won't be fussy to sew around).  I scale it to the size I want by playing with the font size and bold option.  I print it and cut out the number.

Next, I turn the t-shirt inside out and pin my contrast fabric to the area I plan to embellish.  I then just tape the number down to hold it in place.  

I sew a smidge outside the paper template...


...then trim and cut the t-shirt fabric away from the top to reveal the applique. 

I then repeat two more times because Charlie has not yet taken over dressing the boys to "man" things up a bit.  I think I have a few years before that happens.  Or roughly three more outfits where I use turqoise--whichever comes first. 

I think the boys will look nice in their special bday tees at their no-themed-party party*.  I'll try to get some action shots.  Because let's face it.  I do these primarily for the photo op.  Happy Friday!




*Incidentally, I just might be sneaking a wee bit of a theme into the no-themed-party party.  And I am well aware that this will shock exactly no one.   


Sundress to apron refashion.

After I made the apron for the auction, I was pretty gung-ho to make one for my very own.  Until I faced my carefully curated stash, that is.  Because then I plain out froze.  Deciding which fabric combos to cut into may take some time--I've hoarded some of these prints for years and I love them.  And, yes, I do mean love/love, not just like/love.  So until I decide, I thought I'd do a quickie upcycled version.      

I found a decent looking sundress at the thrift store for only $4 (my favorite thrift store has a 50% off sale fairly regularly, which is when I try to load up on refashioning materials).  The cut and size of the dress fit me well enough but I don't think it's essential considering how much is eventually cut off.  And as I didn't even like/love the hibiscus print, it was the perfect piece to experiment with.

I cut off the straps and the side seams to create a front panel...  

...then straightened up the sides into an A-line shape.  I left the bodice top at the full width because I knew I wanted to ruffle it.

Next, I cut up some cotton lining remnants from my stash for the sashing/ties.  Unfortunately, I didn't have long enough pieces so some patch-work was necessary (which made the entire project more fiddly than I expected)...

The construction and sewing process was completely done on the fly.  I wouldn't call it terribly efficient--working from a pattern turned out to be easier.  But this was definitely faster.     

The end result?  A definite meh.  It's just okay.  I don't love it but do think some cute pockets would really help, so on they will go.  Someday.  The biggest hassle was the side sashing done without the benefit of a pattern.  Should I attempt this again, I'll just do a simple, continuous, sash at the waist and ties that attach to the top.  

But all in all, it is still a lot prettier than the other aprons currently hanging in the pantry.  Those were accumulated mostly by way of freebie promos, so you can imagine.  And I also keep reminding myself that it'll be covered in marinara sauce or brownie batter splatters within 24 hours.

I was happy to have a reason to test out my new tripod.  I will work on lighting next, promise.  Leo was absolutely fascinated with the auto shoot process.  And he couldn't resist sneaking in for a little smooch.  My goodness, does he ever have my heart in such a special way.  Leo is my love bug. 





Bookmarked craft--ruffled scarf.

My list of 'must-try' craft tutorials bookmarked on my computer is getting ridiculous.  Let's just say that if I were going old-school with a paper pile, I'd get flattened if ever the stack should topple.  And because even virtual lists need some checkmark love, I've declared 2010 the year to tackle at least some of the crafts.  First up, an upcycled T-shirt to ruffled scarf I first saw on Vermillion Rules.

What I did:

I used the remainder of a white t-shirt (left over from the hoodie project) and cut it into 6 inch wide strips...

sewed them together, end to end, to make one long piece...

then sewed basting stitches (about an inch and a half in) on both edges.  I set the stitch length to the longest and upped the tension to create the ruffles...

I then set my sewing machine back to its normal settings and sewed down the ruffles--I did it on the front and back then removed the basting stitches. 

So easy, so quick.  And free!  Just enough trendy ruffles to add a feminine touch to my everyday uniform of a basic t-shirt and jeans.

*note to self--figure out a more inspiring place for self-photos.  Or--at the very least--clean the jammy handprints off the mirror before taking the photos. 



UFOs*, done.

*UFOs=unfinished objects, but you probably knew that.

I finally found time to cross off some overdue projects from my to-sew list.  A few of them are donations for a silent auction that two friends are organizing to benefit cystic fibrosis research.  And I also put together some things for a friend to gift to a new baby in her extended family. 

The baby is named Maxwell and I made him a set of personalized burpers and a matching boutique-style chenille blanket.  I was not making these items when our Maxwell was a newborn so it was fun seeing his name stitched onto a set....

I also put together a set for the auction--I kept it blank and will do the personalization per the winning bidder's choice.  I tried to select a print that would work for either a baby boy or girl...

Next up was a 'mommy and me' apron set for the auction.  For the mommy version, I used Amy Butler's Domestic Goddess apron pattern.  Overall, I liked the pattern but felt that the bottom portion needed a lining (the pattern does not call for one).  I thought of this after-the-fact, so had to retrofit the lining--and it was a complete pain.  Next time, I'll cut out two body pieces and double up during the construction process. 

Below are some pictures.  Now, I mostly sew at night, after the kids are in bed, so I apologize for the poor lighting.  And also for my oh-so-casual posing I tried to pull off...though it does make me laugh.

I didn't have a pattern for the mommy's helper apron, so I just made it up as I went along, using whatever was left from the full apron. 

I lined it as well...

Surprisingly, I did not make one of the older boys model it.  Okay, I tried but it was a no go--they saw the bow and hard-wired, I swear.  It turns out it can also make a cute craft apron on a grownup...

I now plan to make myself some aprons, so in actuality I did not net much of a shorter to-sew list.  I cannot believe I've never made an apron before these.  They are so fun!  If you are a new sewer, aprons are a great place to start.  I'm not sure why I didn't thank of that way back when.  I think my first project when I was a newbie getting back into sewing was Max's nursery set, including a quilt, crib bumper, crib skirt, mattress sheets, changing cover, and full-length, fully lined, pleated curtains.  All done in pricey of-the-moment French toile yardage that made me vex and worry every time I cut into it.  Not recommended.


Lil Blue Boo & Dharma Trading Co. design challenge, part 2.

I know the challenge is officially over, but I couldn't resist trying to get a few pictures of the hoodie in daylight.  And I was wrong when I said no one here could squeeze into the size I made--William could.  Technically.  But he wasn't happy about it.

One of the things I love most about Ashley's hoodie pattern is the use of contrasting pieces--it really ups the look but isn't hard at all.  And it is so versatile.  Plus, she gives you lots of hints on pattern placement to optimize reusing existing hems on the t-shirts you're upcyling.  This saves tons of time.


As I mentioned, I added a lining to the hoodie, using a star print I made with freezer paper stencils.  This technique is so addictive.  I did a lot (and I mean A LOT) of freezer stencil projects last year, but then put it away for a bit as I moved onto other things.  Doing it again really reminded me how great it is--I think that's exactly why I chose to try the challenge, to get the creative juices going.  Check out Ashley's tutorial on the process if you've never done it.

There are several ways you can line a hood.  But instead of hiding all the seams, I chose to showcase them in the lining.  Again, because I love the contrast as a design element.

The hood itself fits really well on the nognog.  When I cut it out, I thought I must have cut on the wrong line because it looked huge.  But take it from me, trust the pattern.

I will be sorting through the closets for more knits to upcycle.  Sir William wants one that fits.  Here he is  rushing the camera while trying to take off the hoodie by yanking straight up on the hood (reinforce those seams!).  It's his classic "we're done here" move.

I cannot wait to check out some of the entries.  And I'm the lookout for more challenges like this--not because I think I have a shot at the competition, please--it just really worked to motivate me.  And it's also nice to be a part of it.  Like a modern day sewing circle.

 ETA:  If you'd like to print out your own baby to-do list, I just added a pdf you can download on the original post.


Lil Blue Boo & Dharma Trading Co. design challenge.

I'm sure many of you fellow crafters out there follow Lil Blue Boo--I sure do.  And I was very excited when Ashley announced her Dharma Trading design challenge.  Of course she gave us tons of time to try to put something together, so did I use that time wisely?  Of course not.  Go ahead and review the "if you wait until the last minute it only takes a minute post".  But in my defense, it's been hard to get anything done these days as the three munchkins have been out of school/preschool for over a week (but I'm not going to talk about the snow any more.  I just Can't). 

Nevertheless, because I already had the hoodie pattern (and had an idea for a fun applique), I thought I'd make something today.  Yes, today...the last day of the challenge.  So during Will's nap, and after bedtime, I whipped up a little 6m-12m hoodie.  I LOVE this pattern!  It is so great to work with.  And--obviously--it takes no time at all.

I was able to take one of Charlie's old tees...

and one of my ill-fitting plain white tees, embellished with freezer stenciled stars (to make a lining for the hood, which is something I added in)...

and a baby's 'to do' patch I printed onto cotton, then appliqued on...

to create this fun hoodie.

I really wish I had better pictures.  You can hardly see the red top-stitching or star lining in the hood, but trust me it's all there and I think it's darling.  If I had planned ahead, I could have found a suitable model as no one here can squeeze into this size.  But I wanted to do the 6m-12m sizing this go because of the applique.  In case you cannot read it, here's the image I made up in my photo editing software then printed onto cotton (a thrifted blue sheet). 

(ETA:  Here is a pdf you can download if you'd like to applique your own baby to-do list.  If you're more comfortable working in word, try right clicking the above image, save it to your computer, open a word document, and click 'insert picture'--you should be able to resize the image by dragging a corner of the image.  Let me know if you need help.)

I plan to give this hoodie to a friend who just had her second baby.  I'll tuck in a laundry marker so she can just jot down the date of some milestones as the hoodie gets worn by her newest makes me smile.  Plus, I really could have used something like this for babies no. 2 and 3--poor things, I was very bad in recording important dates by then.  And I have a thing for lists so it's right up my alley.

There will be lots more hoodies in this house for sure--ones that fit my kidlets.  I cannot endorse this pattern enough.  Again, I just adore it.

ETA:  p.s. check out this post if you're looking for more pictures and/or info on how I liked the pattern.

if you're looking for more pictures and/or info on how I liked the pattern.


Fabric flower embellishment tutorial.

One of my favorite presents to give to little girls--whether they're celebrating a birthday or their new big sister status--are fun hair clippies.  I use bits of felt, ribbon, buttons or brads to make up a flower of sorts.  Sometimes I use my embroidery machine to monogram a bloom.  I then affix the embellishment to a ribbon covered alligator clip.  Easy peasy...


I also like to use little cards filled with them as gift toppers.  Once I clipped a good dozen or so around the ribbon I used to decorate a diaper cake for a neighborhood baby shower.  And my dear friends are kind enough to let me foist these confections upon their daughters--it satisfies my need to create something frilly.

So imagine how my ears perked up when my best friend from high school, Kristin, informed me that her sweet daughter could no longer wear the clippies I've made her (cllippies aren't working with her current hairstyle)--ack!  But evidently she sometimes wears headbands.  That's all I needed to hear...

Here's how I did it.

Cut a piece of scrap fabric.  Mine was about 1 1/2 inches wide x 14 inches long and I chose to pink one edge.

Next, ruffle your strip by sewing a straight line near the non-pinked edge.  Set your stitch length to the longest setting and make sure to leave a long tail at the start and end of your stitching.  Also, do not backstitch as you'll need to gently pull one thread to gather the fabric, thus creating the ruffle.  Go slowly as you don't want to break the thread. 

ETA:  You're supposed to do two rows in case the thread breaks but I don't bother with these scraps (again, because I'm a lazy bones--see below).  Also, I received a couple of emails asking why I don't use my machine to ruffle (to do that, you set your stitch length to the longest setting and your tension to the highest setting).  I answered that I usually do that if I'm sewing big pieces (and always if I'm working with knit fabric).  But I'm always interrupted while crafting and have found I also always forget to set my tension back--so I just don't bother with these quickie projects.  But you guys should go for it if it helps you ruffle! 

Make another coordinating scrappy strip--on this one, instead of pinking, I pulled a few threads out to gently fray the edge.  Note**next time I do this, I won't be such a lazy bones and not switch out my mismatched bobbin thread.  I found out later it's a bother to hide.


Stack the strips with right sides facing down--they'll be curly and unwieldy which is why I don't have a shot of it, sorry--and wind them around a finger.  Slide it off and adjust the bloom to your liking.

Take a threaded needle and secure your bloom by sewing this way and that, hiding your stitches amongst the ruffles.  I wanted another pop of color so I glued a fun blue brad to the center, but I don't think it's vital.

I then added some scrappy green leaves with pinked edges.  I slightly pinched the leaves on the end I was attaching to the flower, to make them stand up a bit, and securely hand stitched them to the back.


I hand stitched the entire embellishment onto a handmade headband (the headband is just a strip of white t-shirt jersey folded in half, sewn along the long edge, flipped right-side out, and sewn end to end to make a loop).  I tested for fit on the closest kid-sized head.  I won't name names because that was part of the deal.  That, and a slice of freshly baked cranberry-white-chocolate blondie.

I think it could also make a pretty broach.  And even though I've never been too much of a broach-wearing sort of person, I do think it would look pretty on a couple spring-weight jackets I recently bought.  So I think more are in my future.  And can you tell by the colors who's thinking spring?


ETA:  I'm linking up to DIY day at A Soft Place to Land.


More burpers and laptime sewing.

More burpers for a sweet baby Charlotte:

I have several more sets to make--one for a charity auction that close friends are organizing, and two more sets for friends.  I'm thinking about switching from embellishing cloth diapers to constructing the entire burper myself.  I have a ton of fabric odds and ends that would make cute patchwork burpers.

Whenever I use my machine to embroider, Will is fascinated as the machine whirrs and stitches, seemingly, by magic.  He insists on crawling up on the chair for a better looksee/grabsee, so I have to pull it away from the table.  Which makes him screech and makes it loads of fun.  To appease him, and because I'm a big ole softie whenever I see tears on his chubber cheeks, I decided to see what I could make with him on my lap.  Results?  Lopsided scrappy heart hangtags for Valentine's Day packages--we decorate cookies every year.  The cards were inspired by Dana over at Made.  Hers are so lovely.  I think I'll try this again without a 22-month old on my lap.  Though I did get a sweet hug from Will during our crafting.  Until it was over, that is, and the protest by screeching resumed.

Since Charlie is still working up a storm, I have more time than normal in the evening for crafting.  I look forward to Craft Hope opening up for donations again as I'd like to donate something.  Be sure to check out their site and read about their amazing efforts--and also shop the Craft Hope Etsy shop (all items are donated by crafters and 100% of the proceeds go to Doctors Without Borders).