Monthly Archives: September 2015

A skirt for my horse-lover

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Sewing for my tiniest girl is easy, because thus far she’s never refused to wear anything I made for her, and because toddler clothes are all cute. Sewing for my tween is a little trickier. In addition to taking into account her numerous preferences I feel pressure to sew things for her that are appropriate to her specific age, which is in itself a tricky thing. She’s tween in truth–neither a child (though often childish) nor a full-fledged teenager (though she often acts like that too). She’s big and little, she’s responsible and flighty, she’s wise and naive, she’s precious and difficult, she wears pigtails and ratty friendship anklets until they fray and fall off. She’s into horses, so when I saw the Michael Miller Wee Wander Summer Ride fabric I thought of her. If you zoom in on the fabric you can see that it has an image of a girl with long, dark hair riding bare-backed, fast and free. It’s the perfect tween fantasy fabric–sweet and feminine, but with a strong, independent subject. Once I had the fabric in my stash and a girl who felt excited about it, I wasn’t sure what to do next. After some searching, I found this tutorial online for a piped-pocket skirt. Again, it’s a good tween pattern. It is twirly and fun, but it has sophisticated little piped pockets. Perfect! My daughter wears the same size as the model child in the tutorial, so I followed her instructions almost exactly. It’s in centimeters, so I had to drag out a tape to convert everything to inches, because none of my cutting rules show metric measurements! But it came together nicely, and most importantly, Dorothy loves it. She decided her pink hair extension coordinated with it better than any of her other hair extension color options. Who am I to say it doesn’t?

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Feather and Arrows Dress

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feather-dress feather-dress2I’ve already confessed a fondness for the current feathers/arrows trend. I know it’ll look as tired as pink and turquoise owls with chevrons in a couple years (yawn), but I really think it’s cute now. This is based on a pattern from the bargain book Cute Clothes for Kids. I added a pocket with this embroidery from an Etsy seller, and orange trim all around. It’s a wee big on her, but hopefully that means it can be a dress this year (over long sleeves) and a tunic after that.

An emerald sweater for me

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Every year on our anniversary in June my husband gives me a gift according to some list he has regarding traditional anniversary gifts. So on our first anniversary, he got me something made of paper (a book), year two was cotton, etc. This June we were up to number 12, so my gift was to include silk. After a dozen years of marriage I’ve learned to be very helpful where anniversary gifts are concerned, so several weeks before our anniversary I sent him a list of silk blend yarns that would make a nice gift for me, with hints for color and yardage. Just trying to be a helpful wife, you know! He took the hint and bought me a box of KnitPicks’ Gloss DK yarn in Jade. I was wanting a short-sleeve sweater that could go on its own in the fall or layered under long sleeves all winter. I chose this Summer Violet pattern by DROPS Design. The pattern was great, and I’m surprised I got the sweater done as quickly as I did given how little knitting I felt like I did all summer. I did add two inches to the length and a few extra repeats with decreases to the yoke. The silk/merino blend is very comfortable and I can’t wait to wear it this winter. I just need to come up with some sort of plan for staying away from my constantly-yogurt-covered toddler when I’m wearing it, because I’m pretty sure my handwash-only sweater and my yogurt-covered-toddler might have trouble getting along.

Crocheted washcloths

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washclothes2 washclothsI made a set of crocheted washcloths for my brother as a birthday gift. Each year at Christmas I make him a big batch of lye soap to use for the year, and occasionally I have knitted or crocheted washcloths for him to go with the soap.  Crocheted washcloths are so nice. The nubbly texture is great for your skin in the shower, and the cotton yarn has such a nice feel after it’s been washed. I hope my brother doesn’t every start to think my shower-related gifts are commentary on his need for greater hygiene. 🙂

Autumn goodies

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Now that my family room has a new color scheme I needed to change up some of my seasonal accents too. My old fall pillows weren’t going to look right in the new space with all the bright green. Actually, I wasn’t sure what kind of autumn fabric was going to look right so I decided to improvise. I bought bright orange home dec fabric of a similar intensity to the green in my curtains and I cut a tree and leaves out of freezer paper. I free-handed the cutting with my X-acto knife, but was using several images I’d printed from the internet as inspiration. I just searched for “fall tree graphic” to get ideas.

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If you’ve not used freezer paper stencils, it’s very easy. You cut out the image you want, press one sheet of uncut freezer paper (always shiny side down) to the BACK of your fabric with a hot iron to stabilize it, then press your stencil to the front. Then just dab Martha Stewart Craft Paint (or some other fabric paint) into the cut areas of your design and let it dry.

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This is the mess you will have after all the cutting.

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Then after the paint has dried, carefully peel off the freezer paper. Usually the stencil can be reused a couple times.

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This is what my new pillows look like on the sofa. The stencil turned out well and the colors are perfect, bringing in fall without trying to overthrow my punchy bright green.

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I also cut leaves out of scrapbook paper and made a leaf bunting for windows on each side of the room and one to go over the fireplace.

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To cut the leaves I just printed some leaf templates off the internet and used them as cutting guides. It didn’t take long.

After I got my pillows and my leaf swags done I lit a pumpkin pie candle and then felt sort of pissed off that the weather was still very summery! I’m not one to rush the seasons, but my shorts just weren’t working for me after I cut out all those leaves. Fortunately, Mother Nature seems to be cooperating with my seasonal decorating scheme now and has cooled things off a bit. Then I dug out my pie spice from the back of the cabinet and made spiced applesauce muffins and everything felt just fine.

A family room refresh

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I made and hung brazen, bold and beautiful family room curtains about five years ago. You can see them in this photo from 2011. They were from Robert Allen’s Kiki Pinata fabric and they set the stage for my family room, which was bold and cozy at the same time. Here are some other pictures of the room as it was, in an old post. I loved it, but I was getting tired of it. For one thing, it’s just  a really bold fabric, and one nice thing about homemade curtains is that it’s okay to change them in five years if you’re a little tired of the print. For another, I thought I would like the coziness that the bright yet dark colors would bring to the room, but instead it was starting to feel too dark. In the winters it gets dark so early; lighting a fire at 3:30 and settling into our family room was so great, but sometimes by 9:00 I just wanted a break. So this summer I gave my family room a lightening-up. I’m not posting pictures of the whole room yet because the final touch is going to be a makeover of our fireplace and that requires my brother’s DIY skills instead of mine, but here’s what I’ve got so far, before he comes and finishes the job for me. I made a sign for our homeschool, complete with our new logo (read more here). I designed the sign on the computer and had it printed on canvas.ornaments

Then I picked out new, white things for my mantle. I spray-painted branches for a tall vase, then crocheted and stiffened medallions out of cotton thread to make colorful ornaments. Instead of making new curtains, I ended up buying some ready-made ones that were such a good deal they were cheaper than sewing new ones myself. The white lets in so much light, and really brightens up this room.dust-covers

My sewing area got a little lift too, with new dust covers for my machines and some new white storage containers for supplies.dog-bed

Of course Belle was not left out; her new bed fits the new scheme!coasters

And new coasters from the dog bed scraps!cart

And I have been using a cart next to our sofa to coral some of the school things we need close at hand. I made it a tablecloth to keep it from getting beat up (it was my Grandma’s) while tying in all the green stuff I’ve added to the room. I’ve also painted some furniture and I’m gathering up the courage (and funds!) to buy a rug, but I’ll save all that for the post after the fireplace is done. I’m really enjoying the room’s new vibe. It’s still cozy and lively, but now the daylight seems to go much farther in here.

Neck adornment

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I hope my sister-in-law doesn’t mind her gift sharing a post with a dog collar! Both of today’s items go around necks that are dear to me. Giggle. This is a crocheted necklace I made as a birthday gift. I got this idea from Pinterest, and it originated on Craftsy. I used Gloss lace-weight yarn from Knitpicks because I already had some, then put it on a black metal chain. I felt like it needed to hold its shape so I soaked it in some Stiffy (why oh why is it called that?) that was a little watered down, and now it’s just right. It holds its shape without looking…stiff. Now that I’ve made this and given it away, I sort of feel like making another one for myself. I could just make sure not to wear it where Molly is, right?

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I got some new embroidery software for my birthday. My embroidery machine is a simple, inexpensive model (the Brother PE 500), but it does basically all I think I’d want in an embroidery machine. I’ve considered upgrading to a bigger or more complicated model, but I like things that are simple and straightfoward, and I really appreciate owning things I can afford to replace if a rowdy child “accidentally” knocks it across the room. One thing I wished my machine had was more fonts, and the ability to lay out more than one line of text at a time. So for my birthday I got this Letter It! software. It’s great, and it makes me feel like I can now get even more out of my little machine. It works basically like a word processing program. It comes with a nice variety of fonts, and you can purchase and import more if you want. Then you lay out your text just the way you want it to look on your final product–with multiple lines, mixed fonts, and distortions like curves if you wish–and then just save it as a file that you send over to your machine. I tried it out on this collar for my dog Belle. I liked being able to line up her name and my phone number just the way I wanted it, and she likes not having a dangling metal tag.