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!
You may not have noticed that I’ve been missing, but I have! Was I off dealing with that cute but rather fussy baby? Well, yes and no. My computer died almost a month ago, shortly after my last post, and it’s taken me this long to get the stupid thing replaced. First there is the denial (maybe it’ll come back to life!), then the half-assed attempt to fix it myself (will the vacuum cleaner help?), then the grief, then the period of pretending I know what the little numbers in a computer description mean so I can make a wise choice in a new one, then waiting for the damned sale to start (frustration is mounting!), then realizing that the stupid thing must ship from China (Costco, you’ve never done me wrong like this before!), and finally nearly knocking the poor FedEx guy over when he finally brought it to my door all these weeks later. In retrospect I should have just gone to a store and bought a machine that was more expensive but could have been in my hands immediately following the grief stage. My mental health is worth something, right?
Anyway, I seem to be up and running now (please, go knock on wood), and here I am. In the interim I’ve made matching Christmas outfits for my kids and they are cute. I bought a cotton plaid in Christmas colors at my local fabric store that seemed soft enough to put on a baby and used it for pants for Worth, a skirt for Dorothy, and a dress with bloomers for the baby. I also bought red t-shirts for the big kids from Children’s Place and painted a tree on the front with fabric paint. They have plans to embellish my tree with fabric paint ornaments themselves but we haven’t gotten around to it yet. Which basically means that the day Mommy could handle three kids, no computer, and permanent paint all the same day had not yet arrived, because it is still warm in hell. But I digress. The trees will be embellished in due time, before the outfits get worn on Christmas. That they were not yet embellished at the time of our Christmas-card picture-taking may have secretly been part of my plan all along, because who knows what they’ll look like after the kids go at them with paint. But if I had plans for a perfect Christmas card they went awry anyway, somewhere between not being able to get five people to look at the camera in a pleasant manner at the same time and having hair that mysteriously poofed into the shape of Church Lady hair on the day we took the picture. I promise the shape of it in this photo has nothing to do with my usual hairstyle or my actual theology, and it calmed down later and fell into a more natural-looking, messy, lefty-Presbyterian style. But I’m rambling. Just so glad to be back online.
Worth’s pants are from the book Sewing for Boys, Dorothy’s pleated skirt is McCall’s Easy Stitch N Save M5909, and Daphne’s dress and bloomers are from Making Baby’s Clothes. I need to make some elastic adjustments yet on the skirt and pant waistbands so they don’t fall off and ruin Christmas, but other than that they turned out well. Though I have to admit that after finishing two whole Christmas outfits and still needing to make one whole Christmas outfit it did occur to me that I actually have three whole kids now and that that’s kind of a big deal. Like, a lot of kids. But it’ll be fine–at least I’m online again. Oy!
We’ve been on the move again. My awesome parents flew the whole family with them to Florida for some fun times at the beach. The last time we’d all been to the beach together was to celebrate my Mom’s retirement in 2010. I made Dorothy and her cousins matching dresses to wear on that trip, pictured below. They were so cute running around in their little coordinating beach gear that I knew I had to do the same thing for this trip, plus some shorts for Worth. I bought this fabric and used McCalls MP339 as a basis for the dresses and just improvised Worth’s little shorts. The pattern was simple and adorable and the sizing was right on except for the straps, which had to be shortened considerably from what the pattern called for. I added the ruffles to the top and bottom. The kids collected smiles and coos everywhere we went, and they liked their matching outfits so much they wore them for two days straight.
This was the 2010 picture, with sweet little Maggie just 3 months old and Worth only a dear hope!
I’ve been going through some photographs from the last couple months and I found these two that I’d taken this spring but not yet blogged about. This one above is a picture of our “toothpick lunch.” Dorothy and Worth are not the pickiest eaters I’ve encountered, but they aren’t exactly omnivorous when it comes to food either. One of the strategies I find very useful for feeding them at lunchtime when I know we may not have their favorite foods on hand is to declare that we will have a “surprise lunch,” and that they must play away from the kitchen while I fix it. For some reason the pleasure of having the table set with food laid out on their plates (like a restaurant!) is so compelling to them that they may eat food they would otherwise not have selected. One day I really couldn’t come up with much that looked like lunch in a just-bef0re-grocery-time refrigerator and pantry. I had some cheese sticks the kids rejected because they weren’t the right color (the horror of yellow cheese when one prefers white!), some crackers they didn’t like, some fruit. For some reason the line from the original Fancy Nancy book, about sandwiches tasting better with frilly toothpicks popped into my head. I sliced some fruit, cut up the despised crackers and smeared them with a little hummus, cubed the rejected cheese sticks, located a few other bite-sized goodies and arranged them on a breakable platter I wouldn’t ordinarily use for the kids, then I got down our cocktail toothpicks and set out an assortment of colors. The kids totally bought the “toothpick lunch” idea. They loved the colored toothpick frills, they giggled, and they ate every single thing on the platter. The color of the cheese or the substance of the cracker was never even mentioned. I’m absolutely going to use this idea again.
Finally, Dorothy has been into puppet shows lately. We have a small store-bought puppet theater but the game would be just as fun with a cut-out cardboard box. I’ve printed some scripts for her from a website I use as a resource to our homeschooling. She’s had a blast coloring simple paper doll forms into the characters for each script, gluing them to popsicle sticks, and then putting on performances. She can spend a long time doing this on her own, and I’ve also divvied up characters with her and participated in her performances. I love that she always dresses her narrator characters in black–how did she know? In this photo she’s holding Red Riding Hood and the Wolf.
Well, the red camper is gone. It rolled on off behind a young couple who is going to take it to Bonnaroo. I think they’ll all have a great time. It did feel a little strange to see my favorite project headed away from me, but I’m very excited about finding the right next camper for my family. Selling it felt a a tad sudden, but on our last camping trip the sleeping arrangements just felt too crowded. I’d always pictured the kids tent camping next to us as they got too big to share our red camper, but I don’t think I realized how much time would pass between outgrowing our sleeping capacity and the threshold for being able to sleep alone in a tent. Since our last trip I’ve found myself strangely drawn to the Craig’s List classifieds, and it seemed like a smart idea to go ahead and list mine so I could actually move on the right thing for us when I found it. I truly didn’t think I’d sell it so fast–right before we have camping reservations with friends this weekend! We decided to go on and tent camp and have a nice laugh over my haste, but this morning found Dorothy with a stomach bug so we’re staying home anyway. I do have a day trip planned to look at a potential camper one day this coming week so wish me luck! The lady who sold me my Fleetwing told me it would be my “starter camper” and I didn’t believe her. I guess the joke was on me! Maybe vintage trailers are like potato chips…
We gave the gift of spring t-shirts to our mothers for Mother’s Day a couple weeks ago. Dorothy drew and colored a charming flower, I scanned it and used Photoshop to remove the background, then I uploaded the image to Cafe Press and ordered the shirts. It would have been so much faster and cheaper to use printer transfer paper, but the shirts from Cafe Press make much nicer gifts. Unlike the transfer paper shirts they have no special washing instructions, they hold up over time very well, and you never accidentally sandwich pet hair between the shirt and the transfer when you’re ironing it on (past experience speaks). Both grandmothers have been wearing their shirts proudly.
I’ve also been at my sewing machine a lot lately. I’ve made three more versions of my favorite skirt pattern, including the one pictured. Dorothy loved the print of this skirt so much that I let her talk me into making a matching one for her. I didn’t use a pattern for hers but I wish I’d kept a paper version of what I cut out for it because it turned out so well. We’ve enjoyed running around town together being matchy. I know her enthusiasm for this won’t last forever, so I really do savor the strangers’ smiles and her enjoyment of our matching outfits.