Daphne was not only unwilling to sit still to model this dress, she also happened to be in the ugliest room in the house when it occurred me to to photograph her before she smashed some sort of dark-colored fruit all over the front of herself at next snack or mealtime. So please overlook the peach bathroom I’ve complained about before (ignoring it is what I try to do, until I learn to lay tile which is SO HAPPENING in summer 2015) and instead enjoy the cuteness of my little fall-colored wiggle worm in her new tunic. When I ran across this Dear Stella Woodland Deer print a few weeks ago I just had to have it. The coloring and general look of my baby just fit exactly right with this print. I wanted to buy a zillion yards and stockpile it and make her wear it to prom and her wedding too, but that seemed unreasonable so I bought a yard and made her a tunic instead. I based it on a pattern from the book Making Baby’s Clothes, which I should get a commission on because I’ve never heard anyone else talk about it but I recommend it all the time. It’s loose enough she can wear it over a long-sleeve bodysuit all winter, and she will, because (unlike for prom) I am still the one choosing her clothes now.
This was a project a long time in the making! My husband bought this pretty Jelli Beenz yarn for my birthday in July 2013, when I was seven months pregnant with Daphne. He went to a local yarn store and asked the clerk to help him buy something that could make a project for his wife or any or all of our children. She set him up with four balls of this pretty multi-colored yarn, and I decided to make hats. I made Worth and Dorothy’s last fall and they wore them all winter. My own went onto the needles right after, but infant Daphne didn’t feel like I really needed to be doing much knitting, so that’s where things stayed for about a year. Now as fall is peeking at us around the corner again, I resumed work on my own hat, finished it, and worked up Daphne’s little bitty one in short order. Hers needed to be last anyway because her head size changes faster than anyone else’s! I’m hoping that having three mobile children in matching hats makes it easier to keep track of everyone on field trips or at the park. Can’t hurt, right? Daphne got irritated with her hat immediately and ripped it off as soon as I put it on. But magically, after she saw me put on my hat, then watched as the other kids clambered to show off theirs, she allowed us to put hers back on and she laughed out loud when she realized she was included in this new matching hat game. It’s good, clean baby fun, folks. 🙂
My beat-up overnight bag needed retirement, so I bought a cute new blue polka-dot one one sale recently. But of course a new store-bought bag needs some handmade upgrades, and I was on it. I made a zippered pouch to hold toiletries and a cute luggage tag to make it mine, inspired by one I found on Pinterest. I have to say that I was a little late to the Pinterest party–I didn’t really get what I could use it for. But now that I’ve figured out how to make it work for me (I want to sew a new luggage tag, I will type “luggage tag DIY” into the search field and browse photos while I nurse my baby to sleep) I’m glad to have it as a tool.
I’ve been enjoying playing with the new chalkboard fonts I downloaded after reading this blog post recently. I made Daphne’s invitation, which I shared earlier, and then I made these little bookmark/card thingies for my sweet nieces on the occasion of their baptisms. My own handwriting
kind of sucks is not very pretty, so I’m enjoying this little technology-enabled back door into the chalkboard writing craze.
Unbelievably, it is time to get ready for a first birthday party. Wasn’t I just waiting impatiently for her, getting all those tiny little newborn handmades ready? But here she is, a big, sturdy, almost-toddler who moves of her own locomotion, calls me by name, and incessantly tries to eat the dog’s food. I’m planning a little apple-themed party for our family and a couple homeschool friends with toddlers who I think she can safely count as friends.
I crocheted this sweet hat for her from this free pattern by Kay Meadors but made a little leaf from felt instead of crocheting one. I also made a little garland of felt apples to function as a party decoration, photo prop, and fall decoration in our kitchen.
Daphne wasn’t feeling particularly smile-y when it was time to take her picture, and she’s too little to bribe with M&M’s so I settled on this sweet but semi-serious pose for the back of her invitation.
Then I designed the front of her invitation in Photoshop with the help of the instructions on this blog.
Now we’re ready to party, except for this Mama trying to remember to not waste Daphne’s 11th month being nostalgic for the first 10. I won’t have more babies and I’m actually happy with that choice, but I do wish I could just keep one in the closet to snuggle on or sniff or nurse just when I want to. There is nothing like snuggling on your own sweet baby. I’ve been a lucky mama. And now I’ll focus on how lucky I am to hold her hand when she takes her wobbly steps; enjoy Worth as he takes in the world all new, amazed that everything around him is Covered in Words!; and be amazed at the poised and accomplished girl my big one is turning out to be. Lucky indeed.
This coming cool-weather season has a little bittersweet sense to it for me. In all likelihood, this is the last season I can dress the baby without her input. If she’s anything like her older sister, she’ll be nudging her own little self into the closet by the time her age approaches 2 and then my days of selecting her outfits are over. (You pick your battles, right?) So my hope is to buy her staples like leggings and solid-color bodysuits, then slip sweet little handmade items over them for me to enjoy while she’s still small and has amiable tastes. This dress was the kickoff of what I hope is a cluster of over-dress projects for this winter.
I used the Mandarin Dress pattern from the book Fabric-by-Fabric One Yard Wonders. I made a size 2 but cut an inch or so off the hem.
I love the elastic loop and button closure on this pattern, but my little green buttons don’t show up all that well against this busy print. If I make again I’ll choose a tamer print and brighter buttons. It’s a sweet pattern so I’ll probably do just that.
And here’s another project of my oldest daughter’s, because she loves it when I show off her goodies on my blog. She made matching superhero capes for herself and her two siblings. She tells me the “DS” stands for “DeWees Superhero.” Love it!
I’ve been having some fun with some waterproof fabrics. I bought several yards of this cute apple oil cloth (which is actually vinyl, not oiled cotton like old school oil cloth) and have been having all sorts of fun with it. First I used it to cover the surface of my basement craft table and make a easy-clean surface under the kids’ easel, then I made this little pouch to attach to the outside of our homeschool bin. We have a few papers we need to access quickly or regularly, such as our agenda and our teacher/taught homeschool contract, so this pouch is for the storage and quick retrieval of those documents.
Then I made some zippered bags. Two are gifts for friends, and one got a grommet in the corner and is hanging by an S-hook to my homeschool pouch (above) to hold sticky notes and favorite pens.
And since those little bags went together so easily and turned out so nicely, I got inspired to make this bigger waterproof bag to keep in my car door. It’s supplied with my waterproof zip-up rain hoodie, a grocery sack just in case we need it, and a small towel for the same reason. The contents won’t get wet if I open my car door in the rain, and it keeps all those sundries together in a handy and attractive way.
I also recovered my kitchen chairs. These were covered in black and white polka-dot oil cloth (again, vinyl), but it didn’t wear well. The oil cloth split and got very worn around the edges after not all that much time. This time I covered the chair pads in laminated cotton, like I did for my dining chairs a couple years ago. I’ve had a great experience with the laminated cotton as chair seat upholstery fabric. It is comfortable, it wipes clean, it wears well, and it is easy to work with. I’m enjoying the pop of blue this new fabric is bringing to the room, too, in place of the black and white.
This room has appeared on my blog a few times in the almost four years since we moved here. There was the time I made the futon and pillow covers, and the time I painted the sun on the floor (now painted over, due to water damage). We don’t use this basement space as our primary homeschool spot anymore. It has evolved and changed, and I work on it periodically–sometimes because I want to and sometimes because it floods (or did? Supposedly that’s fixed now). This summer I made some more changes to it to continue to meet our studio and play space needs. It’s just a basement room with a low ceiling and a concrete floor; it’s never destined for Better Homes and Gardens or to be the room we spend the most time in, but it is good space. It’s a place to put the bulky things that aren’t in the kids’ rooms or our shared living space. It’s the kids’ art spot, the dress-up spot, the home for games and toys. It’s the only spot in our home with a television. It’s the room where my fabric is stored, and is a cool place in summer and made cozy in winter with a fire in the fireplace. Some day it’s going to get a chair that doesn’t have an arm that falls off occasionally, a bigger and better rug, and I’m sure it will continue to evolve in other ways, but here are some scenes from this creative space right now. This summer I bought new storage furniture so the kids can easily access all the treasures.
I set up a desk area dedicated to their crafty needs. Colored paper, art books, clay, melt beads, yarn and assorted other supplies are organized and at the ready. The labels are serving the dual purpose of reminding my little artists to clean up after themselves and helping Worth learn to read.
I saved coffee syrup bottles, washed them out, and filled them with tempera paints. A color-mixing chart hung over the supply table helps the small artists mix their choice of hues. There is a bin under the table with clean, empty yogurt and applesauce containers we save. The older kids know how to wash the brushes out themselves so they are able to paint independently, without me dragging out supplies or cleaning up their messes. I hope to fill two more bottles with black and white paint, but first I have to drink more vanilla lattes.
This is the easel, a half-turn from the paint-mixing spot. Bright oilcloth protects the floor, the canvas aprons protect the kids, and just out of the scope of the photo is a cord with clips for the kids to hang their masterpieces when they are done.
My crafty storage area got a few upgrades too. I’m not very handy with tools but I knew just enough to drill holes in an old scrap board, insert some dowels, apply some paint, and enjoy my much-needed new ribbon organizer. For several years I’ve been buying ribbon every time I see it on sale because I can never find it when I need it. Now I see clearly that the problem was my storage method–not my lack of ribbon!
And I used a Pinterest idea to transform some recycled glass jars into cute, quirky storage with the addition of one tube of little plastic animals and some spray paint. The work table beneath this supply counter is covered with the same apple oilcloth that is under the easel for an easy-clean, cheerful work surface. I sew upstairs in our living room, but this table houses all projects involving glue, paper, glitter, or general happy mess. (It is also housing me at my laptop right now, while my kids play in the room behind me!)
As I’ve been glancing back over our summer photographs, I noticed a couple projects I’d like to share. Here is Belle in another of her handmade collars. I make these periodically, whenever I think she needs a cute new one, or I have a pretty scrap that would like nice against her fur. I bought buckles and webbing in bulk because it was so cheap and it really only takes a few minutes to make a one-size collar. She got into the chevron trend with this one.
And in this photo, taken by our pretty Ohio River last spring, I am wearing a skirt made from a pattern in The Colette Sewing Handbook. It’s the only pattern from the book I’ve made so far. I loved the way the scallops turned out, and the inside of the skirt looks just as tidy as the outside, thanks to her careful instructions. My only complaint is that I did measure carefully before cutting the pattern but mine was still too large. I think I may try it again in a fall print in a smaller size.
These towels were a just-for-fun summer project. I get tired of our standard, Costco cotton towels. I love things that look old, rumply, beautiful and real, like vintage linen hand towels. So I bought a yard of stonewashed white linen and had fun making eight new towels with a vintage look. They come out of the dryer just as they are pictured–rumpled but not wadded. They are very absorbent and dry quickly. I used my embroidery machine to embellish four to match my upstairs bathroom, and another four for down. (I don’t think they all showed up for the photos.) I don’t do laundry quite often enough for these to be our only hand-towels, but they are all in frequent use and it makes something as ordinary as washing my hands into a nicer experience. Why not?
We took a family vacation to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, this summer. I put together matching outfits for the kids. Matching outfits on vacation serve the dual purpose of looking cute (in real time and in photographs) and helping me keep track of everyone more easily! I used fabrics from the Michael Miller Shore Thing collection. Dorothy’s dress was a little halter pattern from Girl’s World, and Worth’s was the cute pattern from Sewing for Boys I had also used on his fox shirt last winter. I think Dorothy’s pattern would have been more flattering on a less willowy girl–I had to add some ruching under the best to give it a little shape.
Daphne’s dress is just a simple little halter with ties over the shoulders, and she got matching bloomers from the plaid. The outfits were breezy and comfortable for the kids, and were so fun for me to see in action!
I took this babywearing selfie, since I’m often not in the pictures. This carrier came off my sewing machine just over a year ago, and it has gotten almost constant use! I love the mei tai style carrier.
I made myself several new bags for our trip. I often find that we take evening beach walks to find shells or get ice cream, and while I need to carry my wallet, room key, and sunglasses, I do not want to tote my beach bag or even my purse. I sewed this small pouch with a long strap to throw over my shoulder and carry just the essentials. It was handy for the beach and has gotten quite a bit of use back at home too.
I had quite a bit of laminated cotton left over from a project of recovering my kitchen chair seats. I decided it would be good fabric for a new beach bag. I needed a new one anyway, now that we had grown to a family of five beach-towel users! I lined the bag and made pockets out of a brightly-colored striped sheet, then made a little zippered pouch to match. I downloaded the embroidery file for the monogram from the JoyfulStitchesEtsy shop and have loved it so much I’ve been stitching it onto everything! I thought laminated cotton worked well for the bag in that sand and water could be easily brushed off, but not as well in that it wrinkles badly in a hot car.
I wish I had a better photo of this project, but this one will do. I found this adorable mermaid-printed cotton last winter when I was looking for something else, and I bought it not knowing what on earth I’d use it for. I made the girls matching bermuda-style shorts and they’ve worn them together all summer. Love it when my girls dress alike! I found their matching green tops at Children’s Place. I used their other shorts as a pattern, sewed on decorative lavender drawstrings, and made a leg-band facing out of the lavender. There was just enough of the mermaid fabric left from the project that I got a little mermaid coin purse to carry my quarters in to the beach laundry-mat!