Friday, December 30, 2011

My Project Run and Play Remix of The Junebug Dress!

If you haven't checked out Project Run and Play, hop over there and become a follower. They have a great competition among bloggers for making kids clothing! As part of the fun, they are inviting anyone who wants to "sew-along" and compete for a $25 gift card to So I figured, why not give it a shot?
The first week is to do a remix of The Junebug Dress.
This dress is adorable, with its flap on the front with three buttons attaching it on the sides. It also has sweet puffed sleeves. For my remix, I decided to turn it into a corduroy overalls jumper! I removed the puff sleeve to make it a jumper, then instead of attaching a gathered skirt, I made pants with an extremely tall waist and gathered them to fit the bodice. I completed the "look" with covered buttons, an applique on one leg, and lined it with the fabric I used on the front flap. LJ loves it and didn't want to take it off!

("Modeling" with her hands on her hip, sorta...)

Who me? Require chocolate in exchange for photos?

Dragonfly Designs

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Kindle Case

A while back I found out that my friend Ali has the same Kindle I do. So I hunted around on the internet until I found a good tutorial (no use reinventing the wheel!) I think it turned out great, and it was so easy! It was a gift I handmade as part of my Great Christmas Challenge.

Check out the tutorial here at Chica and Jo.
The finished case, closed up all safe and cozy!

All propped up on its little hands-free stand.

Opened up and ready to read!

Thanks for the great tutorial Chica and Jo!

***Please become a follower- when I reach my current goal I will draw a random number to win a prize handmade by me! Send your friends over as well!***

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Upcoming GIVEAWAY!

I really want to try and get more followers on my blog. So if you like any projects you see, please become a follower! Also, please share the blog with your friends who might be interested in sewing, crafts, and cooking.
Once I get to 30 followers, I am going to have a randomly chosen winner. The winner will get something handmade by me!

(A recent portrait taken by my daughter. Eight months pregnant is so attractive, right?)

Friday, December 23, 2011

Some gifts from my Christmas Challenge!

Well, I had Christmas last Saturday with my side of the family, so I can share what I made for my mom and sister now.
I LOVE the pattern I used, in fact, I have used it about 6 times now. It is Amy Butler's Birdie Sling.

I used home-dec weight fabric and omitted the interfacing (yay, saves a step and supplies!) If you use regular cotton, or silk, I would definitely do the interfacing.

For my mom, I chose a blue dot pattern with a tweed-ish contrast fabric. I really liked how this was modern looking without being too trendy for my mom's style.

She really liked the size of the bag, and plans to use it to carry around her crochet stuff. The big pockets are great for keeping her organized.

For my sister, I wasn't sure what to use since i Had a lot of good options so I texted her a picture of a few fabrics without telling her what it was for. I was tempted to go with an awesome laminated cotton I have, but she really surprised me and chose a rich dark green fabric that looked very traditional. I loved the sheen, and happened to have some silk in a tan color that looked great with it and also of course had a sheen. I think it looks great together!

She immediately started using hers as a purse, because she likes to carry around a ton of stuff (like most of us moms!)

I really liked how these two turned out. They are definitely more wintery than the others I have made. My friend Kristin got one for her birthday out of a heavy linen fabric, then I appliqued a vintage embroidered doily on the front which looked awesome. Why didn't I take a picture??? I do that so often- give something away before I take good pictures. Maybe I will learn one of these days :)

This is a great EASY pattern, and now that I've made a few I can say it takes me about 3 hours total (depending on how many times I have to start and stop!) Amy Butler always has great instructions including illustrations, so her patterns are great. She even features some free patterns on her site for quilts and accessories!

the Polkadot Chair

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Silk Christmas Dress

I had some beautiful silk fabric given to me and I knew just what to do with it- a Christmas dress for LJ! The bodice and sash are a rich jewel-tone pink, and the bottom is cream with a circle pattern embroidered on featuring greens, pinks, and reds. While not completely traditional holiday colors, I think it works because of the quality of the fabric, and of course pink is in the red family.

(Sorry for the poor photo quality, my nice camera is at my mom's so this is from my BlackBerry!)

I used "The Party Dress" tutorial from The Cottage Mama. I modified it slightly by leaving off the bottom band of fabric and making it shorter. I also constructed the bodice in a slower way because of using that slippery silk- I sewed the skirt onto the outside bodice piece first to make sure it all was perfect from the outside. Then I pinned the lining over it to sandwich the skirt between and "stitched in the ditch" to attach the lining. It took longer, but looked perfect. (This part is under the sash, so it doesn't matter really though, haha!)

My only other suggestion is to make the sash piece wider- in her picture the sash looked really wide, but on my finished dress it was much more narrow. It still looks pretty, but I would have preferred the wider look. I should have noticed when cutting it out but oh well!

Here is the back:

I LOVE the covered buttons- it is a must I think for the more formal look. If you are doing a casual version of the dress then you could pass, but it really looks beautiful and professional.

I highly recommend this pattern- be sure to check out her other tutorials. She also recently started selling patterns too.

I wish I had a picture of her wearing it to show you, but every time I ask her she says "No, I fine." I don't want to wrestle her into the silk and end up with a wrinkled up snot-covered mess, haha!

("Oooh, pretty buttons Mama!")

Merry Christmas to you and your families, and if you don't celebrate Christmas, Merry Winter!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Jammies and Homemade Wrapping Paper!

Well, despite being in the third trimester I have kept so busy getting ready for Christmas! (But I am WORN out!)
I kept thinking December 25th was my goal, but my side of the family celebrates on the 17th, so I am scrambling to finish some sewing projects, as well as my homemade wrapping paper!

(We also squeezed in some cookie baking, and my daughter decided the dough looked good. Thank goodness we use local organic eggs, so at least its not quite as bad...or that's what I told myself!)

For all the kids, I wanted to make some Jammies. Instead of choosing Christmas fabric, I went with flannel prints they could wear all winter. The tops are much more time-consuming and I just couldn't do it, so I bought plain t's and added an applique that matched the flannel. The boys got a penguin and the girls got a heart. I free-handed these, but you can do a Google image search to find ideas or outlines to use. The boys got plain pants, and the girls got some ruffle action as well as a tiny satin bow at the center of the waist.

Now to the wrapping paper...
I am so lucky that my husband got a goodie for me from his office. He was astounded that I actually wanted this item, and even more astounded that I wanted it all. What was it? A GINORMOUS roll of paper- I'm talking big. They apparently got sent the wrong size for one of their machines, so voila! It's mine!
I immediately knew what I would make with it, which is the wrapping paper. I did make some fancy kind at my craft night where we cut a romaine lettuce heart and used it as a stamp. While it looked cool, it involved paint. Paint has to dry and did I mention I have been running behind??? So I used crayons!!!
This was perfect since my daughter didn't want to nap. Here are some of the designs. Can you guess which one my 2 year old contributed to?

(For this one, I wrote "Joy to the World" and made some messy stars.)

(For the plaid, I held 2 crayons together to make each row of stripes. I used a few different color combos.)

(This one is my favorite- I used 2 reds and 2 greens to each make a word. "Joy", "Peace", "Love", and "Hope". It looks really cool!)

Here is a gift all wrapped up with Christmas fabric scraps and cute gift tags that I made using a printable from My Sparkle.

Do you have any other ideas for homemade wrapping paper? I've got so much more of this paper left, so send your ideas my way!!!

the Polkadot Chair

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Chicken Noodle Soup

It's that time of the year- comfort food. So here is my Chicken Noodle Soup recipe. Easy, and perfect for this season. (And good medicine for my sinus infection too!) I promise more sewing tutorials to come, but I don't want to spoil any Christmas surprises!

Chicken Noodle Soup

3-4 organic chicken breasts- or 2 regular ones (boiled and shredded or cut into chunks)

4 carrots, peeled and diced (real carrots, not baby)

3 celery stalks, diced

1 generous handful of fresh parsley, chopped

1 onion, chopped

2 cups dry egg noodles

1-2 boxes of organic chicken stock or broth (I prefer stock)Use as much as you want depending on how much liquid you like in your soup.

Directions: Place broth and vegetables into the pot and bring to a boil. Then simmer for about 30-45 minutes at least. Add in the egg noodles, parsley, and chicken. Simmer until noodles are soft. Then serve!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Newborn baby Christmas Outfit

My newest niece was born this past week, and I wanted to give her something homemade.  I needed it to be something I could whip up quickly, as she came a couple weeks early!  I made her older sister a Sunbonnet girl quilt (family tradition) and will make her one too eventually.  So, with Christmas coming up I made her a little pair of lined pants and embellished long sleeved onesie.  The pants are similar to the Colts baby pants I made a few weeks ago. (That post has more instructions related to the lining).

I used a pair of LJ's old baby pants as a template and cut the pieces out of the striped cotton and the flannel lining fabric.  I shortened the striped layer by a couple of inches to allow for the ruffle.  In the dotted Christmas fabric I cut about 4 inch strips then folded in half and used a ruffle stitch to gather.  Then before sewing the leg seams together I added the ruffle to the bottom and topstitched.  This is the only way to add ruffles to such tiny pants! 

I added a big bow at the waist.  I basically sewed two rectangles together leaving a hole to turn right side out.  Then I kept the hole and seam in the back and twisted the bow and sewed across the center to hold the twist.  Then I stitched onto the pants with green embroidery thread.

For the onesie I made three bows to stitch to the neck.  For these I took a rectangle and hemmed the two long sides.  Then with wrong sides together I sewed along the shorter side.  After turning right side out, I twisted and sewed across the center to hold.  When I attached them to the onesie, I wrapped some of the embroidery thread around the center a few times to look pretty then attached securely.

So, that's it!  I know I will make her more complicated stuff in the future, but for now at least she has her own handmade Christmas outfit to get in the spirit.  A plus? That clownish striped fabric will be great at hiding baby poop blowouts.

As a side note...check out this great giveaway from Leanne Barlow's Elle Apparel- love her blog!!!

Friday, November 18, 2011

How to host a Christmas Craft Night!

Tonight will be my second year to host a Christmas Craft Night at my house for some friends.  I have a few tips if you want to try this yourself!!!

1.  Plan to do only 3-4 simple projects.  (example...fabric Christmas bows, stamping onto butcher paper to make wrapping paper, ornaments...)

2. Try to use supplies that are cheap or free- it will add up fast!  I found some projects that I could use fabric scraps for, and my husband happens to have access to huge rolls of paper from his office if they order the wrong wrapping paper is on the agenda tonight!

3.  Keep the guest list to less than 15.  Or even 10.  I've got 13 coming tonight and I'm a little nervous about it.  Thank goodness a few are pretty crafty so they can help I hope!  That's another thing- I like to have a mixture of people, so maybe some will get into crafting that never have before!

4.  Have your guests pitch something in.  I assign one supply item per person- usually something less than $3.  Everyone is scrapped for cash this time of year, so I keep it cheap.  Sometimes this means you have to not do a craft you fall in love with, but its worth it for there to be no financial pressure at all.  Examples of items this year- 1 pack of sequins, a plain posterboard, a small bottle of acrylic paint...

5.  Snacks and Booze are always good :)  I am having some Christmas-ey apps and desserts to help set the mood.  And speaking of the mood...

6.  Play some Christmas music!  Now, I am one of those who refuses to decorate for Christmas one bit until Thanksgiving is over.  Poor Thanksgiving, always being looked over!  So I will get out a Christmas tablecloth and play music, but that's about it since it's the week before Thanksgiving.

7.  Schedule it early in the season- last year I had it a couple weeks before Christmas and the weather was horrible, less people RSVP'd, and it didn't leave much time to finish up any lingering projects.  So this year I scheduled it early to make it more of a jump start to the holidays. 

I will post some photos of the party soon!
Here are a few links to some projects that work well for this type of party.  Always try out your projects ahead of time- I tried a yarn-wrapped wreath last year and it takes waaaaaaaaay too long for a party.  Things need to come together quickly!

"Loopy" tree - original tute uses paper, but we will use fabric scraps

Fabric Christmas bows again, using Christmas fabric scraps

Romaine lettuce stamped wrapping paper (from Martha Stewart- they used it as a flower Valentine's card, but I think it looks like a poinsettia!)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Smocked Peasant top and Ruffle Pants mini-tutorial

I wanted to make LJ a special outfit for her birthday.  At first, I was going to go the "typical" route and make her a dress.  Then I decided that she is a little bit of a tomboy too, so I settled on this adorable smocked peasant top and ruffle pants.
Her party theme is  "Dinos and Dollies" so I chose the cute Michael Miller Children at Play series Doll fabric.
I didn't have a pattern that I wanted to use, so for the top I did the following to draft my own pattern.

1. Find a pattern with a bodice you like.  Cut out the back piece and its lining like normal.  On the front part, add about 3 inches in the middle.  Then cut out the lining WITHOUT adding the extra inches.  This will allow extra fabric for the smocking on the front only.

2.  Before you sew the front and back bodice, you will need to cut the big poofy sleeves!  Work with the fabric folded- the fold is the top part of the sleeve.  Using the bodice pattern, trace onto your fabric the armhole opening.  This will ensure they match up when you sew.  Leave a few extra inches up top so you can gather the top part with elastic.  This creates the poofiness at the shoulder!  Make your sleeves about 3 inches longer than you think you need.  This will allow for elastic casing and poof factor.

3.  Now use a gathering stitch on the front bodice piece.  Do 6 rows of stitches along the front.  Start and end going straight down from the neck.  This helps keep it centered.  I marked it with a pin.  Gather it up until the bodice piece matches up in width with its lining.  Then, using a decorative honeycomb stitch you can stitch three rows between the gathering stitches.  Then remove your gather stitches.  EASY!!! (If you want to hand-smock, be my guest, it would look beautiful!)

4.  Before sewing the sleeves onto the bodice, you need to add the shoulder elastic.  (photo below)
Just use a zig-zag or serge on the edge to prevent fraying.  Then fold over just enough to make a casing for your 1/4" elastic.  This piece should make it small enough to fit over your little one's shoulders.  Use an existing shirt for reference (remember to account for seam allowance!)  Add in your elastic and sew it down well on either end.
5.  Sew your sleeves up the bottom seam then attach the sleeves onto the front and back bodice pieces.  Carefully line up the elastic on either side!
6.  Add in your lining, being sure to leave the bottom open.
7.  Cut a panel on the fold that is about twice as wide as the bodice.  You can make the length longer to be a dress, or tunic length like I did.  Sew it up the back, then do a gathering stitch along the top.  Gather it up until it will fit the bodice.  Sew it to the front of the bodice.
8.  Fold under the bodice lining to cover the seam allowance from the skirt/front bodice.  Then pin a LOT and stitch in the ditch on the front to attach.  Flip over to be sure that the lining is all attached!
9.  Hem the bottom as normal, or add a decorative stitch like I did.  You could also add elastic at the bottom if you want to make a bubble shirt!
10.  Zig-zag stitch or serge along the edge of the sleeves.  Then fold over to make a casing for 1/4" elastic.  The elastic should fit just right around the wrist of your little one.  Add in the elastic, and you're done!!!

1. I used the kid pants pattern from MADE- it's free!  For fabric I used a corduroy with no stripes- its more like velvet!  Then I used a plain pink and the same Michael Miller fabric for the ruffles.
2.  To make into ruffle pants, simply cut off the pattern about 6.5" from the bottom.  Sew the pants on the outside seam only for now.
3. Make strips of fabric (on the fold) that will be about 3x the width of your pants.  The bottom color should be about 5.5" (11" total, since cutting on fold).  The top one should be about 4.5".
4.  Sew the top and bottom ruffles together with a ruffle stitch.  Gather up to fit the pants, then sew onto the bottom hem of the pants.  (This is much easier than sewing on completed pants since it lays flat.
5.  Very carefully line up the ruffles and pin before sewing the inside seam of the pants.
6.  Then sew the crotch seam, make the casing on the top, and insert elastic.
All done!!!

Now all you have to do is chase your toddler around and try to get a good picture!!!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Dirty Laundry

How do you wash your laundry?  I have found that this is a controversial topic for some.  We choose to go the non-scented, fewest additives possible route at our house.  No fabric softener here!  We also have special needs because we use cloth diapers.  I do keep bleach up high in a cabinet for those times you just need it, but we use it rarely.  Here is a run-down of my laundry essentials.

1. Stain Removal
I know some love their Oxyclean, etc., but we rely on the good old fashioned Fels-Naptha bar.  My Grandma has always kept this handy, as well as my mom.  Now I do!  I just get the stain wet and rub the bar directly on it, but sometimes you need an old toothbrush to really work it in there.  Then wash, and voila!  My friend Kristin uses Fels-Naptha to make her own laundry detergent, but I am too lazy to do that, haha!  Here is a tutorial if you want to try it.
2. Cloth Diapers
For cloth diapers, it is important to use a soap that will not irritate your baby's skin, will not leave residue in the cloth, will rinse out really well, will not react with urine, etc.  There are several options out there and I have tried a lot of them.  We LOVE Rockin' Green.  They offer three types- one for hard water, one for soft water, and one in between called "Classic Rock".  We use Classic Rock and occasionally their "Funk Rock" as a refresher for our diapers.  I have tried a ton of detergents for cloth diapers, and this is hands down the best.  No wonder they have a cult following!  It's also okay for regular laundry, but we just use it on our diapers.
3. Delicates- lingerie, wool, cashmere, etc.
For my delicate laundry, I use Charlie's Soap. This soap is also okay for cloth diapers.  I like it for hand washing and it doesn't leave a scent or anything.  It's an old fashioned recipe too!
4. Regular Laundry
For my regular laundry (including baby clothing) I use an environmentally friendly detergent from COSTCO!!! Yes, they carry an in-house brand that is basically the same as the Seventh Generation detergent.  I love it, it's unscented and perfect for baby laundry too.  I just wash all our laundry together and this makes everyone happy.
And that's it!  Enjoy doing your laundry today :)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

NFL themed baby outfit

I got a "commissioned" job recently- my dad's office manager needed something cute for a baby shower and asked me to make this Colts themed outfit for a baby boy.  She wanted his initials incorporated, so they are on one of the burp cloths and will be on the onesie I have yet to make.

It was all pretty easy but I did custom design the pants.  I used an old pair of LJ's 3-6 month pants as a guide to be sure the size was right, and they turned out great!  I lined them in a super soft flannel so they would be comfy and warm.  It's really easy- just make another identical pair of pants out of your lining, but turn them inside out.  Then attach at the waist and bottom hem and create the waistband and hem the pants as usual.  Voila, lined baby pants!

Here is the set so far:

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Tweed Toddler "suit"

I have been making up for lost time in my sewing room.  Must be the nice sewing chair my husband bought me for my birthday- it is so comfy!
LJ's 2 year old photo shoot is coming up, and I wanted her to have a really cute outfit.  So when I saw this tutorial I was inspired!  I wanted to make "The Audrey Cape" in a heavier fabric, but let LJ pick it out.  She picked out a really pretty tweed with some gold flecks in it. There is also a hint of red and mustard.
So here is her cape, fully lined in off-white so the wooly fabric isn't itchy.  Also so it looks more professional!  I made my collar a little tiny- maybe should have made it a bit larger but it looks cute as is.

So then to make it an outfit or "suit" if you will, I made her a skirt.  At first I was thinking pleated, but then I was like, that's a lot of tweed!  So I made an elastic waist A-line skirt and broke up the tweed with a bit of Fall-colors floral canvas I had.  The canvas part is important- you don't want to combine a lightweight cotton with a heavy fabric or it won't lay right.  I also lined the skirt.

For hemming the bottom and making the elastic casing, I used a pink hemming ribbon.  This helps with bulkier fabrics so that you don't have to roll it over twice to get rid of a raw edge.  You could use a serger if you want but I like the ribbon.
 And because LJ has not warmed up to modeling the outfit yet, I made David put it on (sadly, the skirt did not fit him)  He was trying to convince her but it was a warm day and she didn't want to wear a cape!  Little stinker.
So here is the outfit together.  Hopefully she will wear it for her photo shoot, otherwise she will be in a shirt and tights only, haha!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Easy-ish and Healthier Chicken and Dumplings!

I love Chicken and Dumplings.  My husband, who is from Tennessee, loves "Chicken and Dumplin's".  Trust me, there is a difference!  I grew up eating my Granny's version, with big round balls of the biscuit dough.  He grew up with the dough rolled out and cut up into strips (like the kind at Cracker Barrel).  Also, mine was a little more like a thick soup, wheras in the South is is always a thicker gravy type sauce.  The picture below is more like my type (I ate all of my recent batch before taking a picture, oops!)
So, here is my easy and healthier recipe- I use a big sized crock pot!

You will need:
3-4 organic chicken breasts (the non-organic ones are huge, so if using those probably 2)
2 large boxes of organic chicken stock
large onion
herbs de provence
1.5 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1/4 cup milk (approx)
1 tsp baking powder

In crock pot on high, place chicken breasts, one box of stock, carrots, onion, and celery.  Stir in some herbes de provence and salt and pepper.  Let this cook on high for about 3 hours then shred chicken with two forks.
Add in the other box of stock and keep crock pot on high.  While this heats up, make your dumplings.

For dumplings:
Place flour, baking powder, and 1/2 tsp salt in a bowl, and add in the COLD butter in tiny cubes.  Use a pastry blender or two forks to blend until the butter is rice-sized.  Then add milk a little at a time until it is a nice dough.  You might not need all that milk.  Knead the dough then tear it into little balls, roll in your hands, and drop in the crock pot.

Clean your chard well and tear into pieces.  Then drop this in the crock pot too.  The chard adds some good vitamins!
Allow to simmer on high in crock pot until dumplings are cooked, usually at least an hour.  Then serve!  YUM!!!
(If you want to make it pretty, you can garnish with parsley like in the picture)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Vintage Portcard decor idea

This is a great EASY project that anyone can do!  And the best part is that you can use this all year long, depending on what postcards you can find.

You will need:
-A multiple photo frame (mine is three) to fit 3x5 photos.
-Vintage postcards to fill the frame (again mine needs three)

I find my postcards at antique shops, usually for about $1-$2 a postcard. Some people ask as much as $5, which I laugh and pass up.  There are a TON out there for  reasonable prices, and its fun to always look through them and find a new favorite.

Just grab your three favorite, tape them into the correct spot, then put your frame back together and hang.  No craft abilities required!  Just remember the change it out for each season- I am guilty of having Easter postcards in at Christmastime- oops!  I have postcards for Easter, Valentine's Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.  Sometimes you can find Halloween but I have yet to find three I like.

Have fun with this, its so cute!