This tote bag was inspired by the fabric, which I saw recently at my local Hobby Lobby and had to buy on the spot. When I saw it I knew I had to buy it, and that it needed to become a tote bag. The print has the shapes of all the states and their capitals and some cute little picture associated with each state. Kentucky, appropriately enough, has a horse. I didn’t use a pattern but cut the shape similar to one I saw in a book recently. I attached the straps like tank-top straps instead of tote bag straps, so the bag kind of scrunches up when I carry it. I thought this would be a fun tote for our summer journeys, whether or not we actually leave our own state. It seems like warm weather always sees me throwing water bottles, sunhats, and a snack or two in a bag and heading out the door. Of course I had to incorporate my new embroidery machine toy into the project somehow, so I put my initials on the front pocket.
I lined the bag with a thrift-store sheet for added body and durability, and put a pocket inside and made a little button tab closure to keep all our goodies from spilling out. Now I just need some more warm, pretty days like today to use it! There is something very satisfying, when one is pregnant, about buying or making something that will not be outgrown over the course of the next few months.
Last year I made boo-boo ice packs for my kids. This is an old photo of Worth using his. They are just little 7-inch square pillowcases made out of flannel. When one of my kids needs first aid for some physical pain they believe they have suffered, supplying then with an ice pack stops the crying. I put some ice cubes in a quart-size zipper-lock bag then slip the baggie inside the pillowcase. When the pack has worked its magic I dump out the ice and dry out the zipper lock bag over my knife rack so I can reuse it next time. Worth’s pack is made out of monkey fabric and Dorothy’s is made from Hello Kitty, thus we call the packs “boo-boo monkey” and “boo-boo kitty.” They work miracles. Whether or not they are medically indicated is not really the point.
For Mother’s Day this year my family bought me a starter embroidery machine. I’m still playing with it and learning to use it right now. It’s an inexpensive and simple setup as far as embroidery machines go, but I think I will really enjoy it. One of my first projects to try out the new machine was to make a boo-boo ice pack for a little friend of ours. I got the caterpillar embroidery file free from Brother’s website. My kids, of course, call this project the “boo-boo caterpillar.” I don’t always think embroidered kids’ things are cute, partly because they are often done in a style I don’t care for, and also because personalizing something really cuts down on its ability to be reused, but I have no qualms about turning a 7-inch square of flannel into something that will be destined to serve an important purpose for only one small little person. If Kenny gets as many ice-worthy injuries as my kids (or at least believes he does), he will wear this little item out.
And I made more new pillows, again. I feel like I blog about pillows a lot! But I love to change out the slips on my sofa pillows seasonally. I’d made these green and white ikat slips last spring, but added the smaller ones this year. We just replaced our sofa (don’t laugh, I know it looks very similar to the old one, but I loved the old one and it was getting holes all over it!) and I thought with this new configuration we’d need more throw pillows to really get comfy. I love these fluffy, soft down pillow forms from fabric.com. They aren’t the firm, perky kind you’d buy to always look perfect–they are squishy and soft and wonderful for molding just the right way when you’re reading on the sofa. Now that I’ve added the new ones I get to indulge in a whole year’s worth of new pillow-slip-making to keep them covered and seasonal! This is the fabric on the green pillows, and this is what’s on the new ones.
I thought my Belle needed to have some new accessories for spring. I made her a collar from scraps of Dorothy’s new dress. These collars are easy to make because I don’t make them adjustable, I just make them the right size to fit my particular dog. I stitch fabric onto 1 inch webbing, sew on a reinforced D-ring, and put parachute clasps at each end.
On the second collar I tried something new. Sometimes it is difficult to get Belle’s metal tags off the thick D-rings on these collars. I had a half-sheet of iron-on transfer paper for dark fabrics sitting around, so I printed Belle’s name and address (some of which I rubbed out in the photo) several times onto the sheet, clipped them out, and ironed one on to this second new collar. Now all her pertinent information is right there on the collar instead of dangling below. This will be the perfect collar for walks in the woods because she won’t get her tag snagged on sticks, and it will make changing collars easier because it can go right on without my having to change over her metal tag. I saved the other printed addresses for future collars.
This was Kentucky Derby weekend here in Louisville, a special day of big hats and pretty dresses…and rain. We did not go to the races but I did finish this new dress just in time to wear it to watch the race in the indoor comfort of a party. I used a pattern from the book Handmade Beginnings: 24 Sewing Projects to Welcome Baby by Anna Marie Horner. I read several blog reviews of this Mariposa dress/tunic pattern before I cut into my fabric, so I took some online advice and cut the skirt longer and the front modesty panel a little higher, and was glad I did both of those things.
We’re just talking about the dress in this post, not how the rain hates my hair, or how every weekend I say that NEXT weekend I’m going to re-paint our porch wrought iron.
I made the size S/M of this pattern, also based on the recommendations of other online crafters, whereas without that advice I probably would have made the M/L for myself. The top of this size fits me perfectly, but I’m concerned the skirt will not continue to fit later in my pregnancy. The column skirt is not one of my favorite styles on me anyway–I like a skirt with a little flare–and I think that having a flouncier style on the bottom might have helped me get longer use out of this dress, but that’s just personal preference. If I were to make it again I think I’d draft my own A-line skirt.
If I were going to add my own advice to the internet wisdom surrounding this pattern, I’d say that I went back and added some loops in the empire seam under the arms to hold up the sash. Otherwise it was drooping around the back of me in an unflattering way. I guess then the loops might show if you were going to wear the ties tied in the front instead, but I will never, ever, ever, ever, ever do that, because I object to tying goofy bows over the top of my pregnant belly. I don’t necessarily think it looks awful on other people (or in the pattern) but I just won’t do it myself. Ever. We all have to have our own standards, right?
I’m finally back at the sewing machine! I’m now sixteen weeks pregnant and feeling much better. Just this last week I’ve been branching out beyond the necessary household duties to also do some fulfilling creative stuff too. I made the first project from a book I’ve been enjoying browsing through, Girl’s World. This dress is called Mary’s Favorite Sash Dress. It’s a pretty simple pattern with no zippers or closures at all. That makes it a bit wide in the shoulders for my narrow-shouldered girl, but it’s still a cute look. I tied the sash in the front, but she informs me that she intends to wear it with the bow in the back. Whatever… (grin)
I used this Bella Blossom Aqua/Orange quilting fabric from Fabric.com. It’s a thick weight for apparel sewing, but I think it works well for a dress like this that wants to have a little fullness and substance. One of my favorite things about this pattern was the cute way of using bias tape to finish off the bodice. I used a contrasting orange and it’s sweet. I finished off the skirt hem the same way, but with wider tape. I was going to use more of the contrast for the sash but ran out of fabric. Oops. I’ll definitely be making more patterns from this book. The sizing seemed to be right on and the instructions were clear. I especially like that the sizes go all the way up through bigger girls. If this new babe is a girl I’ll be able to get several years of “matching” big girl/little girl patterns from this book. We find out May 28!
I’ve been neglecting to post about some camera bags I’ve made recently because I wanted more pics, but I don’t have any so here goes anyway. I made the camera bag in the picture for my mom, and I made another with a pretty chevron print for my sister-in-law. Both are basic fabric bags made from sturdy home decorator fabric, but lined with a soft pad on the bottom and then snaked inside with a long strip of padded fabric to move around and adjust to perfectly cushion the camera and accessories. I was initially hesitant to construct a camera bag because of the necessity of good padding, but I think the long cushy strip works pretty well. For my sister-in-law’s bag I used a purse pattern from a book; for this one I cut side panels the size of standard copy paper, snipped and sewed triangular slits in the corners to give it some shape, then attached them with a long side panel strip of fabric 6 inches wide. For the top sewed a zipper to two strips, then cut the zipper panel to be six inches wide as well. The boxy shape seems particularly handy for accessing the contents. Mom wanted a neutral fabric that wouldn’t shame my father when it was his turn to carry it around, so I chose the map print appropriate to all their retirement travels.
And the actual birthday pants! My boy wanted a “vroom vroom” birthday. I made his pants out of a medium-weight blue stripe with the side panels and waistband made from this Boys Toys Cars Blue fabric. This is the same pattern as the pants in my last post, from the book Sewing for Boys. I made a simple applique for the blue t-shirt by cutting out an oval patch from the car fabric, fusing it on, then zig-zagging around it.
This picture shows the cute waistband, as well as the adorable dinosaur headdress and mitts his Aunt Molly made for him.
Here’s the birthday boy with his vroom vroom cake, baked and iced by my mom. He loved it. He’s trying to show us that he’s three, but he can’t get his cute little pinky finger to stay down! Now, a couple weeks out, he’s learned to hold that finger down while he’s giving us his age visual. Sweet boy.
So after all that energetic blogging I was doing this winter I’ve now taken an almost month-long break. I’ve felt lousy and been laying on the sofa sick, and I’m still not feeling great, but I’m up on the sofa right now, so I guess I’ll give this being upright at the computer thing a try again. Worth has had this third birthday in the interim, and I made him some special pants for his big day. These pants are the birthday pants prototypes–a muslin of sorts to try out this cute pattern before I cut into his very special fabric chosen for the birthday. These pants are made out of brown scraps and some puppy print sheets I found at a thrift store. The fabric is a bit lightweight for this pattern, but still turned out cute.
Here’s a side view of the pants. They have a “treasure pocket” built into the side panel. Of course that is his favorite feature; he feels like it is made to hold matchbox cards, which I guess it sort of is. This pattern came from this book Sewing for Boys. It’s the first pattern I made from the book and I’m excited by how much I like it. The fit is perfect, the pants are comfy, the directions made sense, and my boy loves the final product. Next time I’m up on the sofa I’ll post pics of the final birthday pants themselves!
I made this little jacket for the new baby of a friend. It’s from a pattern in the book One Yard Wonders, which I think I’ve mentioned lately. I got to see it modeled on the new little guy himself last week–very sweet! This was a good baby gift for a friend who knits herself, and thus already has supplied her little one well with booties.
This is our basement playroom. This is also the room with the old fireplace insert and all my fabric on shelves. We bought an IKEA futon when we moved in and I would haphazardly cover it with quilts to try and combat our cat hair issue, since our cranky old cats have staked out this room as their particular habitat. I had a cheap butterfly chair in the corner and we tossed toys into plastic bins. It was fine, blah, a basement playroom. Last year we did most of our homeschool lessons down there, but this year we’re more likely to camp out with our stack of books and manipulatives in whichever part of the house seems most appealing on a given morning, so this room is really used exclusively for playing and crafting. Unfortunately this room also used to flood in heavy rains, which meant that our train table (not pictured) had yogurt cups around the legs, we couldn’t have a rug, and all the storage and furniture had to be made of water-resistant materials. Ugh. This fall, however, we had our basement waterproofed and I decided to improve on our newly dried-out space. I found a sweet vintage toy box to store the dress-up things, an old comfy rocking chair, and an inexpensive rug. I recovered the seat on the rocker and I sewed a new cover and pillows for the futon out of sturdy indoor/outdoor fabric that stands up nicely to the cat wear. A set of old wooden shelves became easy toy storage.
The pillow covers have overlapping back panels so they stay on well but also come off easily for washing.
The old rocker now beckons you to the basement to “reboot” and relax. (Freezer paper stencil and fabric paint.)
I dressed up more old kitty litter tubs with scrapbook paper covered with contact paper to store small toys such as balls, matchbox cars, and little people. Now the whole family gets more (and more pleasant) use of our playroom space. It has a cozy cabin feel with the fireplace and the old pine walls. We appreciated it fully earlier this week when we spent part of the night down there, listening to tornado sirens howl outside!