Lately

There may have been a shortage of blogging last month, but certainly no shortage of things made.

Ellery’s BFF “friend Caroline” and her nothing-short-of-amazing mother, moved all the way to Colorado.  We are so sad they moved away but wish them all the best and promise to skype as much as possible!

I suggested to Ellery that we make Caroline some stationary so she can write letters to us.  It didn’t feel like *enough* though, for such a dear friend… I mean, we’re crafters, aren’t we?  So, we whipped up a little felt case (i get my felt from Ohma) in no time.  We didn’t measure anything, just cut from random pieces in my stash.  Caroline and Ellery loooove princesses, so we made a little crown for the front- stitched with gold thread, and some silver embroidery floss knots for a little bling.

Ellery sat on my lap the entire time and helped me keep my lines straight ;)… I love how this has a 4 year old touch.

On the way to Caroline’s house, we stopped and got some special twistable colored pencils (not shown)- perfect for her…she is a fabulous artiste!

I made some couch pillows….

….and some bed pillows….

…and a super quick and easy “faux” roman shade for my kitchen sink window.  (two tension rods and some fabric. done.)

Finally got around to sewing up some cloth napkins.  I’m 32.  It’s time I stopped using paper towels at every meal.

This ruffle-less Pierrot  with elastic casings in the sleeves (previous pierrots here and here) came off as quickly as it went on.

boo.

I am told that Ellery’s “back-to-school” dress, a purply corduroy jumper, will be worn “When I turn 5.”  Check back with me in 7 months…

I dunno…. maybe the mustard lining threw her off???

And finally, I got this crazy notion to spray paint my fireplace screen yellow, but when I got to Lowe’s, Avocado spoke to me.  So, there you have it… you can spray paint over spray paint, right?

Gotta say I’m a little bummed that E won’t wear my dresses…. So, for a while I’m going to concentrate on sewing for ME!

Next up…. WASHI!

-Erin

School Daze and a Gift for Haze

Please excuse me while I take a moment to come to terms with the fact that I most assuredly deleted the one and only first-day-of-Kindergarten photo that I took of my first-born child.  There was only one shot taken, candidly, because he was not in a paparazzi mood that day.  It was adorable, and now it’s gone.  I can’t believe I did that.  I thought I’d already uploaded it, and just erased it from my memory card… for good.

*Exhale*

Okay, well, here’s Avery on her first day.

I’m a terrible mother.

Back to the blog…

Holy back-to-school, blog-on-the-backburner bloggers we are!  I think after a month in, I have finally adapted to this elementary school schedule.  6:30 am used to be an ungodly hour for this night-owl gal!  Fortunately Jet and Avery were not super early risers either.  But I have to say, I am really thriving with all the morning clock watching, lunch box packing, and bus stop dashing!  It’s forcing me to be more alert and organized. (Edit-I wrote this paragraph before the above stated disaster took place.)  Of course with 5 more weeks of pregnancy to go, there is a bit of nesting going on, and conscious need for more sleep.  So, yeah, not a whole lot of sewing going on these days.  I can proudly say, however, that Jet is killin it in Kindergarten and Avery is perfectly pleased with preschool!  And for 8 hours a week, I am worshiping my free time!   Still, no sewing, but no shortage of ideas buzzing in my head, and half-finished projects lying around.  I’m sure you all know how that is!  You know you’re a crafter when corners of your house look like this:

Are those raw edges?  Yup.  Still figuring out if we can commit to yellow chevron cafe curtains.

Awe, how cute, a baby boy sweater just hanging out for months on the needles.  (Also a random paintbrush chillin on some Marthas that I just can’t let go of.)

Oh and look, there’s an acorn wreath that I swear IS GONNA HAPPEN!

Anyhoo, while those projects might actually, one day, be blogged, for now, I will have to share a finished product from over a month ago…

I have made these slip-covers, or “cozies”, for Baby Bjorns before, but was psyched when my BFF from highschool, Kelly, registered for the type of Bjorn that I do not own.  It gave me the chance to draft a pattern for Bjorn’s original style (mine is an “Active” Bjorn Carrier, which is bigger and slightly different shaped).  I snatched it off the registry immediately and got to work on my design.  Kelly’s daughter, Hazel Ellery (gotta love that name!), was born ahead of schedule, by 11 weeks or so, giving us all a good scare.  She was so teeny and fragile then, but she’s packed on a quite a few by now and is probably close to taking her first Autumn Bjorn ride!

Here is my prototype (and no, that is not Hazel, it’s a doll!) :

I really wanted to see how an all-fleece construction would work.  Even though my first pattern attempt was a little too small, the fleece was able to stretch to fit.

After I adjusted the pattern a bit, and found some adorable Hazel-colored fabric, I went for it, with fleece only on the inside for warmth.

Perfecto!  I even had the opportunity to meet sweet baby Haze in her Boston NICU apartment last month!   I just had to be there for that shower, and to encourage her mom and dad, who are such special friends of mine, to keep up their fierce parenting.  Its been a long road, but she will be home soon!  And she will also be a cutie-pie girlfriend for my future little man!

As for my Bjorn cozies, I still have romantic visions of an Etsy store full of them.  One day people, one day.

~Caroline

We have mice!

My Mom made one these for each of her 6 grandkids.  Isn’t it the cutest?

I’m imagining a nice little stash of these with all different little critters inside.

Perfect to keep in your bag for those what-was-i-thinking-taking-my-kids-to-a-restaurant moments.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering…. my Mom has curiously strong minty breath these days. 🙂

-Erin

The Rookie Seamstress (a guest post and tutorial)

I never thought I’d see the day. Our sister Erika, dubbed “the uncrafty one”, learned to sew! And get this, after only two hours at the sewing machine, she is here to offer you a tutorial! Seriously guys, this is how big sisters roll.  They also declare things like, “Watch me dominate the sewing machine,” and “Sweet! What What!”, as they go.

Erika and her adorable one year old, Sean, are visiting from Chicago for a few weeks, staying at our parent’s house. Since a terrible storm last week has left us (the Chang 4) without power, we’ve been squatting at casa de parentals too. 6 days and counting, people!

Anyway, I came back here with the kids after a pool day, and found Erika in our mom’s sewing studio, completed project in hand, looking oh-so satisfied…

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 My jaw dropped. What just happened?
I will let E take it from here.
-Caroline

I admit that crafting isn’t my thing. It takes too long, gets boring, requires lots of clean-up, and I just don’t have a head full of creative ideas. However, I always admire the things my sisters and mother make and think, “Well I can do that too.”

Here is my first sewing project: Bibs!

Choose your fabrics. For this bib I chose a red gingham and a Dick and Jane print. I also used a piece of flannel fabric in the middle to give the bib some additional structure. However, the flannel is optional. I made some bibs without it and they turned out just as well.

The first step is to iron your fabric. Apparently this is the key to sewing, according to both my mom and mother-in-law. Did they have the same Home Ec. teacher??

Next, trace your pattern onto your fabric. (Who knew they make fabric markers that disappear when you iron it?! Love it!! I’m a gadget girl and I’ll buy anything that makes life easier and more convenient so this marker was right up my alley.) Make sure you trace on the wrong side of the fabric and make sure the flannel fabric is on the bottom, not sandwiched in the middle. I made the mistake of putting it in the middle and after I finished sewing and went to turn it right side out, I realized my error. This led me to my next “first”….the seam ripper. My sister and mother assured me they make mistakes all the time and have to take out stitches. Yeah right.

Start by tracing your favorite bib onto some card stock or heavy paper.

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Place your fabrics on top of each other and pin together.  They should be inside out.   Trace around your bib pattern on one of the outside fabrics.

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Don’t cut out the shape yet. Sew it first, then cut it out. Trust me. It’s much easier!

Sew along the line you traced on the fabric. Remember to leave an opening (2-3 inches) so you can turn your fabric right side out later.

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Once it is sewn, cut out the shape staying about 1/4 inch from the thread.

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Turn the bib right side out. Then use a tool like a chopstick to push out all the edges from inside the bib.

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Iron your bib making sure to iron a nice seam at the opening.

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Sew the opening shut.

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Optional step- I went back and added a top stitch after I was done. I did it because I made a mistake sewing up the opening. Apparently, this is an “advanced” sewing technique

😉 Actually, it made the bib look more finished and I really liked it. It was easy with the aid of a quilting 1/4 edge foot in place.

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Add a snap.

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Hardest part- trying to fix my many mistakes: retreading the bobbin, switching feet, threading the needle, trying not to sew too fast, remembering all the steps.

All in all, not too tough and I’ll admit, pretty fun.  I plan on making more of these bibs to give as gifts to friends.  But this one, is for my little guy, Sean!

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Thanks for having me!

Erika

Birthday Flags Tutorial

“Baby Sean” turns one in a couple weeks.  And, when our sister Erika said she was going to buy birthday flags on Etsy for $35, I volunteered to whip her up a set at cost. I’m all for supporting Etsy and everything (check out our mom’s new shop!), but when it comes to something this simple, ya might as well make your own. Image

This tutorial is for the beginner seam-sters out there.  Just a few years ago, this was one of my first sewing projects.  It’s a great skill builder, and allows for you to make use of bit pieces of favorite fabric.  Also, if your kids are like mine, they will feel super special each year when their birthday (or week) is recognized with a sweet family tradition.

1. Select your fabrics.  Go crazy!

2. Fold your fabric pieces in half, right sides together, and press.Image

3. Draw and cut an isosceles triangle (2 sides equal length, middle school math anyone?) out of cardboard.  Or, if you have a random, giant, see-through, plastic triangle like mine, by all means use it.  Where did I get this thing?  It just turned up one day and I use it all the time.  Quilters probably have buckets of these. Image

4. Trace your triangle onto your folded fabric, however it fits nicely.  I decided to cut two triangles out of each piece, for an extra set of bunting (now I have a ready-made gift stashed away for future giving).

5. Tip from Mom: Do not cut your triangle out yet. SEW FIRST!  Luckily my mom stopped by while I was starting this project.  This tip was crucial.  I didn’t have to worry about my pointy flag tip getting sucked under like a toga party on an escalator!  Sew along the two equal sides, reinforcing stitches at the tip. Don’t bother sewing across the top of your triangle, as that is where you will turn your fabric. Image

6. Cut out your triangles, about 1/4 of an inch around the stitching. Cut closer to stitching as you near the point. Image

7. Turn your triangles right side out.  Use a knitting needle or chopstick to get at your point.  Children may enjoy helping with this task!

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8. I forgot to tell you, buy some coordinating double-fold bias tape.  Or make your own, you do not need to cut your fabric on the bias.

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9.  Press your flags, trim the tops so that they are nice and straight and matched up.

10. Order your triangles how you like. Lay them out to see how they will fit along the bias tape. I used 12 flags per 3 yard bias tape.

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11. Open up your bias tape and shove the open end of your triangle to the top of the main fold.  You are welcome to use pins, but I think it is best to just go one flag at a time, holding it in there a bit as you run it through the machine, about 1/8″ from the bottom edge of the tape.

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12. Tidy up your project as necessary.  I added some jute rope to my ends for tying up.  Ribbon would be lovely too.  Voila you are done.  Enjoy inside…

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or out!

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~ Caroline

Feature: The Beaded Ladies

Warning: photo heavy post!  For a while now I’ve wanted to show off my mother-in-law, Arlene’s beautiful beading work.  Last visit out there, I remembered to snap some photos, but regretted that I’d left my nice camera back in Virginia.  Anyhow, these are (a few of) “The Beaded Ladies”…

For years these women, and others, have been meeting in the park daily (seven mornings a week!) for slow-tai-chi exercises.  On Mondays a group of them gathers afterwards in the Santa Anita Mall food-court for beading and socializing.  We see them every time we visit, and they are the cutest ladies EVER. Often, one of them has returned from Taiwan with orders of Swarovski beads fulfilled for her friends.  It’s all cheaper in Taiwan!

When I first met my husband, 7+ years ago, his mother and her friends were mainly beading little figurines and simple jewelry.  Now they are focused on jewelry.  New patterns arrive from Taiwan every year.   The ladies have the inventory for a mean Etsy shop.   But no, they do not sell any of it!  As we crafters know, it is almost impossible to put a price tag on our hard work and time spent.  Arlene’s work is either on display in her dedicated beading room, or gifted (most often to me!).   Here are some of my faves:

First, the old stuff:

And the newer products:

Oscar night anyone? If I had fancier places to go, these would all get much more wear!  They really are statement pieces, aren’t they?  I love the new beaded cuff-style bracelets.  Avery loves to play with the less fragile pieces.  She says , “pees-cay-pay-yith-yo-jewry-box-m0m?” as if it were one really long word.  During our last visit, she spent hours with “Nai Nai” in her beading room.  All those colors! I can totally see her rockin’ this bling to elementary school in the future!

An oldie but a goodie.

Thank you Arlene, we love you, and cherish your gifts!

~Caroline

 

Shirt to skirt

I may have mentioned before that my adorable mother-in-law, Arlene, is a bit of a shop-aholic.  Like everyone, she loves a great bargain, and like most grandmothers, she loves to spoil her grandchildren.  Every few months a package arrives that is packed with kids clothing.  Awesome, I know!  We can typically expect lots of graphic tee-shirts for Jet, and for Avery its girly-girl to the max!  I think it is fair to say that Arlene’s taste is sparkalicious.  In fact, she crafts in sparkles every day (I plan on featuring her work with Swarovski crystals in an upcoming post, look out.).   We love that her hairstyle is different every time we visit, often shades of purple!  You get it, she rocks.  Here she is with my hubby.

Anyhoo, following her annual trip to Taiwan, we never know what we’ll find in the package that arrives.  We get a kick out of the ruffles and bows on everything, and the odd little phrases that appear on many of the garments like, “happy lifes come around…” or “can you see the little ones?”

Sometimes there are outta-the-ballpark hits like an Angry Birds jacket for Jet, or this little get-up:

And then there are the misses:

I actually really like these pants, they are lined with microfleece on the inside.  Avery is clearly not a fan.

There was a gender ambiguous tee-shirt in the box this time, I think meant for Jet, judging by the size.  But he wanted nothing to do with it.  It was just begging to be turned into a hip little mini skirt for a sweet baby girl I know of.  I think the fabric must be interlock jersey (I am learning from Rea’s Kniterview series) because it is very sturdy with a nice stretch to it.  Below is the already severed shirt, I forgot to take a “before” photo.

The simple pockets are made from the one missing sleeve, using the hem as the pocket top.  She can “keep her weed in there” (I’m sorry I had to.  It’s funny because this is for a baby.) .  I included a tag for a more signature look.

I was imagining this skirt would fit a 6 month old, but I suppose I was a little off, seeing how easily Avery slipped into it.  Maybe more like 12-18 month size.

I picked a white onesie out of my stash, and made a little embellishment out of the leftover jersey.

I think this outfit will be worth waiting a year for, don’t you?

And now, since he doesn’t get much bloggy-love, a photo of the Jet-man with his buddy Sam.  Next project is for you kiddo!

~Caroline

Super Soft Ear Warmer

When Erin recently linked me to a blog post by Delia Creates, I immediately bookmarked it with mulitple stars.  I knew I would get back to it when I had the chance.  When Mary Wade (my first-ever-Mom-friend) had a birthday, the lightbulb when off (on?), and I whipped up a little something for her.

Pei’s old, semi-girly, cashmere sweater was begging to be upcycled into something seriously girly! I followed Delia’s tutorial as I got started, and then I went off on my own a bit.  The underside is a fun fleece from Joann’s, purchased 2 years ago I think (wasn’t there last time I checked).

 Though I attempted other options, the flower wound up being my own whimsical success.  Working with a long length of the cashmere (20 inches by 4 inches or so), I folded the piece in half and began to hand gather and twist until it looked cool. Then, I just stitched it until it stayed put, and later attached it to the headband.

Another mini-victory was that I happened to have a button on hand that matched perfectly!  Choosing to go with a button closure gave me some good ol’ button-holeing practice on the machine too.  A valuable skill indeed! 

And without further ado…Mary!

Work it girl!  That little guy there is “Baby Bobby”, Mary’s third baby, who is also decked in Hungie Gungie gear (a bib from Erin, and a bjorn cozy from me).

Forget it boys, she’s married (and the mother of 3, so…). 

A look from behind:

 Ah, I love it!  I have a feeling I will be stuck on making these for a while.  You don’t mind do you?

~Caroline

Baby Bibs

I stopped by a friend’s house last week with some baby-warming goodies… some post-natal comfort food for her and her family, and some homemade bibs for her new boy, Cole.  These bibs are a cinch to make and are actually the very first things I learned to sew… (the pattern is from Amy Karol’s book, Bend-the-Rules Sewing).  The back of the bib is made with soft cotton flannel.

I wanted to use fabric suitable for a boy of course, but that didn’t look babyish.  The owl fabric is one of my favorites.  I got it from an upholstry fabric store (U-fab here in C’ville) and I’ve used it to make Grant a pair of overalls, a pillow for our living room, and a tote (you’ll see another version of the owl in the last picture).  You can’t really see it here, but once I appliquéd the owl, I used gold thread and stitched all around the square- it really made it look cool. 

These cute bugs have crazy bugged-out eyes!  Love them!  The fabric was a great clearance buy from Fabric.com.   It’s by Jay McCarroll for Free Spirit.  I love his designs, and have used his garden bunnies for Ellery and my niece Avery’s Easter Dresses.  His kooky alien-bird is on the appliqué below:

For the appliqué, I cut a rough shape with my desired image in the center.  I then ironed on some lightweight interfacing to the back of the image.  Then, I cut my shape out into a clean square (or oval) and placed it on the bib.  I ironed it again and then pinned it in the center.  Stitched around the border with a straight stitch, and then using my gold thread, zig-zagged all around it to add some bling. 

So, if you’re like me and have lots of friends makin’ babies these days, give these a shot.  They are quick and unique and stay nice through many washes- my kids have been wearing the same ones for a year and a half and they still look pretty darn cute (the bibs too!).  🙂 

-Erin