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Winter Wonderland Birthday

Someone recently celebrated their 7th birthday!  Wow, can’t believe we have a seven year old in the house.  While I am mourning the end of my “little” girl, I am so proud of the girl she is becoming.  Always inquisitive, curious, observant, sensitive and sweet- that is my Isabel!  This year for her birthday she wanted a simple tea party with a handful of girlfriends at our house.  Didn’t quite turn out that way- we came up with a winter wonderland theme (that became more and more elaborate!) and ended up with over a dozen little girls as guests.  Crazy fun.

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To begin preparing for the decorations the girls and I made dozens of paper snowflakes to decorate the windows, mirrors and walls.  Next came the shopping!  Thinking this would be the easiest part proved me to be foolish- even though winter is in full swing around here trying to find snowflake or winter themed decorations was very difficult- apparently I should have been shopping for this a few months ago…stores are already focused on spring!  We basically bought any snowflake themed item we could find and kept our colors to white and a frosty light blue/silver theme.

Now that the decorations and theme were set I got to sewing.  Every Snowflake princess/ballerina needs a beautiful skirt right?  I designed and sewed coordinating tutu skirts for the girls, with layers and layers of tulle and a glittery snowflake tulle overlay with a silver satin ribbon at the waist and ties in the back or around to the front.

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With Isabel’s I chose to handpleat each layer of tulle, sew them onto a scrap fabric waist and then sew the ribbon at the waist- very, very time consuming project!  I simplified Eleanor’s (aka learned my lesson and took a shortcut!) and just gathered the tulle layers and sewed them directly to the ribbon.  I think both of them turned out beautifully!  Bonus- the girls have been dancing around the house with them on all week.  The ability to tie the ribbon will also allow them to grow with them, and should fit for years to come.

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Another simple project that seemed to take over my life for a week before the party was the craft- making snowglobes.  I picked up these great plain canning jars at the Dollar Tree, a small container of glycerin (from Joanns), various glitters, distilled water and the figurines.   Any plastic or ceramic figurine would work- but this proved to be the hardest part!  I originally planned on putting in dancing ballerina figures- remember the type that used to be everywhere as cupcake toppers- apparently not sold anywhere anymore?  Ugh…so I had to be creative.  I picked up a few arctic animal toobs from the craft store.  Too small.  When placed in the jar they barely reached the top of the lid.  So, I found myself digging around my basement and came across an old box of light blue ceramic tiles…and I had an idea!   I broke up a number of the tiles with a hammer and glued them to look like ice/snow and glued the figure on the top!  Problem solved.  I prepared ahead and had the figures glued to the stacks, glued to the lids before the party.  I used the most toxic smelling glue- E600, to ensure they would be waterproof and let them set for about 36 hours before the party.

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When we were ready at the party the girls chose what figure they wanted and we poured the distilled water into the jars and added a few drops of glycerin and the girls got to work adding al of their glitter and little snowflake confetti and we screwed on the lids to shake them up.  Plenty of screwing and unscrewing came as girls added more and more glitter!  In the end they turned out great, and who doesn’t like to shake up a glittery snow globe!

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Queen City Market- Crayon wallets

What is the one tried and true trick for keeping kids entertained while out at a restaurant, doctors office or long car ride?  Well, besides the iPad or tablet?  Pen, paper, crayons or any other type of drawing equipment for them to scribble their little masterpieces.  I have been so desperate as to hand my girls a pen and a receipt from the bottom of my purse to give them something to do- any parent knows what I am talking about!

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Well, here is something cuter and much more functional!  In the past I have sold crayon rolls, and crayon bags but this year I am making even simpler to grab something on the go…a crayon wallet.  Inside is everything you need to keep them occupied- a few crayons, markers or little pencils, and a small pad of paper all tucked in a little wallet.

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I will be making a few with less kid-like prints as well…so we don’t have to be embarrassed when we pull them out of our purse to use them for ourselves.  I know I will be putting one in my bag for notes/lists.  I NEVER have paper or a pen when I need it.  These will sell for $8 each or I might bundle them for 3/$20-perfect for stocking stuffers (the paper notepad and crayons are included).  I had better get to sewing more,  my girls have already staked their claim on a few!

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Queen City Market- Hot Water Bottles and Covers

I am so excited about this next item I am selling at the Queen City Market this year…hot water bottles and covers.  Might not sound that exciting to you, but if you have ever snuggled up to one  or used one for pain relief or warmth you know just how awesome they are.  They may seem like an antiquated notion- filling a rubber bag with hot water and using it for comfort seems all too basic to really work- but it does!  I purchased my first hot water bottle online a few years ago after not being able to find any nearby and I instantly fell in love.  But a naked hot water bottle isn’t the most attractive thing is it?

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What makes a hot water bottle even better?  A cute cover!  I will be selling my hot water bottles with a soft flannel and fleece cover that is removable, washable and makes your bottle something you want to cozy up with.  I will be selling each hot water bottle with cover for $20.  I also plan on having extra covers for sale for $5 in case you want to change things up or have a spare.

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I have used mine to comfort the girls when they are sick or putting it in their bed under their covers to keep them toasty warm.  They work great for an earache, cramps, neck pain or a toothache.  There have been times where I have been sick with a cold or flu and I instinctively reach for my hot water bottle before anything else.  I swear- you really need to try one!  If for nothing else than to put under your covers (or in the baby’s crib or child’s bed) before bed so that when you climb in your feet are nice and toasty!  Best part they require no electricity, no microwave- just hot water from your tap.  Simple, easy and effective.  Isabel has been sleeping with ours for the past few nights, ever since I made her this special mermaid cover!

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What is cozier than warm fleece and flannel? Winter IS coming…be prepared!

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Queen City Market- Chalk Cloth Banners

I am so excited to participate in this years Queen City Market– for the third year in a row!  I have been selling in this market since it started, and am so happy I was chosen to continue on this year.

This means I had better get to sewing!  Now that my new sewing space is finished- almost, I can get to work.  I plan on featuring two items a week on this blog that I will be selling at the market…or hoping to at least.  The first of which are these sweet Chalk Cloth Banners.

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One side of the banner is made of chalk cloth- which is just like a soft chalkboard you can write on, erase, wash off, and repeat.  Great for decorating a child’s room, for holidays or parties.  The banner is double sided, with the back being a cotton fabric print or solid.  They can be hung either way, I have taken a picture of two of the banners to show you the front and back.  They are around 6 feet long and feature 10 flags (around 5 1/2 inches across each).

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I plan on using one on my display for my shop name at the sale, and the girls are already claiming some for their rooms.  I love the idea of hanging one and sharing little messages to each other every day…and I am sure the girls will soon fill theirs with all sorts of doodles- hearts, faces and names.

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Need a custom order let me know- I am open to adding more flags, doing a custom fabric backing or extending the length.  Or come check me out on December 7th at the Queen City Market where I will be selling these for $20.  I will also be adding all of these items to etsy after posting on this blog…check out my page at smallseams.etsy.com.

Here’s a little hint about what I will be featuring next…anyone know what this is?

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Simple Summer Sewing Series

Simple Summer Sewing Series Day 3: Drawstring Bags

How is it that I have been sewing for over 5 years and I have never made a simple drawstring bag?  Until now.  I think I have gone a bit crazy over these bags- but I am sure I will find uses for them…toys, knitting supplies, travel etc.  I’ve got plans to make several more, let me show you the basic directions on how to make one!

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The easiest tutorial ever:

What you need:

Two pieces of fabric in your desired size- (mine pictured is large 17x20inches, Sarah Jane for Michael Miller Children at Play- Parade)

Nylon cording, ribbon, rope, whatever you want your drawstrings to be made of. (I use a knit flat braid cord)

Coordinating thread

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How to:

  1. We will be using french seams for this project- if you’ve never done this don’t worry it is super easy and will keep your inside seams nice and clean since we are not lining these bags.  Line up your fabric wrong sides together and sew the sides and bottom with a 1/4 inch seam  (to keep room for your casings start and finish 2 inches from top of each side)DSCN4165
  2. Turn inside out and sew around the sides and bottom again (still keeping 2 inches from top), but with 1/2 inch seam allowance.
  3. Fold over 1/4 inch on each side (where you left your 1 1/2 inches open) and press.  Fold top down 1/4 inch and press, and again 1/2 inch down and sew your seam across.  This creates your casing for your drawstring.DSCN4167
  4. Attache a safety pin to your cord or ribbon and pull it through the drawstring channel on one side of the bag and then back around the other side so that you have both ends of the ribbon on one side.  Repeat on the opposite side with the other cord or ribbon.DSCN4169
  5. Knot your ends together and cut off excess.  Fill ’em up with your stuff and you are done!DSCN4173
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RetroBuffalo…my new etsy shop! Fun Vintage treasures!

Anyone who knows me knows how much I Love, Love, Love to thrift shop.  A bit obsessed I would say.  I am a bit embarrassed when I walk into my local Amvets and the cashier recognizes me or my girls.  Luckily my girls love it too, and get a big thrill out of checking out old toys, or helping me hunt out treasures.  I stop in at least once a week, usually on the hunt for vintage sewing supplies- sewing patterns, fabric and such.  Most of the time I walk out with a bag of unrelated items; clothes for the girls, random toys or books or all of the above.

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I am a sucker for retro children’s illustrations in hardcover books from the past, dainty aprons from the 1950’s, old board games, retro barware.  The list goes on and on.  This passion for sewing and vintage sewing supplies has developed into a love of Vintage domesticity as a whole.  As discussed in this post, the history of a woman’s sewing box or supplies has great meaning to me, and this can be applied to any “old-fashioned” domestic item.  Simpler times, before our culture was so disposable, and things were treasured, protected, mended and appreciated.  The items I have been collecting can fit into this category of “domesticity”.  Everyday items in a woman’s life, that for some reason seem more “beautiful” than what is made today.

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I am so excited to announce my new etsy shop- RetroBuffalo.  I have just started adding items (at the time of this post I have less than 10 up so far!), but please check it out and stop back within the next few weeks as the collection grows.  I will be adding a few special half aprons, vintage sewing patterns, more games and children’s items and more.

Check it out!  www.retrobuffalo.etsy.com

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The New Baby

Not my new baby, maybe I need to clarify.  My bestest friend Jen just had a new baby.  A little baby girl, to join the long list of little girls born into our family of friends.  How is it that me, my sister and my closest female friends have each given birth to two girls.  Wow.   This just means more dresses to sew, cute little baby gowns, blankets and the most adorable baby snugglers!  I really wish I had the sewing experience I have now when my girls were born, I have gotten so much better over the last 6 years.  Had I known about this pattern, or had the talent to sew it back then I am sure my little Isabel would have been snuggled up in about a dozen of these.  For now however I am happy to sew them up for the new baby (who I can’t wait to meet!).  Hopefully I will get up to Toronto before she outgrows the swaddling phase…or as you can see in these pictures these might become baby doll snugglers for her big sister. 

Since I don’t have access to a little baby for the purpose of this post; please let me introduce you to Elise. 

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Elise is Isabel’s “baby”, an all too realistic human baby sized doll she “adopted” from the nursery at FAO Schwartz two years ago when we visited NYC.    Although I find it a bit creepy to pose a doll and photograph it, I wanted to make sure this pattern would work, and she is closest thing I’ve got!  The pattern I used is Lotta Jansdotter’s Snuggler pattern, available in print in her book “Simple Sewing for Baby“, or for free online through Make: Craft for a Craft pattern podcast here.

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I would totally recommend her book, if you have a little one at home you are sure to make several patterns in the book.  I actually wish I owned it, but my girls are now too old for most of the patterns.  When I was a public Librarian I checked it out of the library several times! 

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There are some problems with the downloadable pattern linked to above, or just how it was printed- but I did have to scale it up to match the dimensions given.  Reading the comments on the Make:Craft post it seems I wasn’t the only one, so be aware. 

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I decided to line both of mine with a soft flannel fabric rather than something heavier given the baby was born in the summer, and I used a cotton Paul Frank pattern for the outer of one, and a sweet hot air balloon flannel for the other.  Love how they both turned out! 

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Now that I see the baby doll all snuggled up I think I will size this down for a few special baby dolls in this house.   I love what Probably Actually has done, and will have to give it a go- so sweet!  

I also have a new tutorial coming up on sewing for baby dolls, now that my baby is turning 4 next week (and there are no more babies in my future) I will be breathing some new life into old baby/toddler clothes by turning them into outfits for Eleanor’s babies.  Super cute, super fast and free!

To round out the baby gift I picked up a copy of Mercer Mayer’s The New Baby, being a child of the 80’s (and late seventies-ugh) you’ve gotta love Little Critter!  mercer_mayer

 

*hoping Jen is still in the fog of having a newborn at home, and not actually reading this blog or the cat’s out of the bag!

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Chalk Mat Tutorial

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I have yet to meet a little person who didn’t love to draw.  Crayons, markers, paint and CHALK!  I have been making crayon rolls and bags for a few years now, and they have been great at restaurants and car trips.  Awesome as a birthday party gift for classmates, filled with crayons and a few doodle books or coloring books and they are sure to please even the kid who has every toy imaginable!  Don’t you find it impossible to pick out gifts for school friends- you never know what they already have, are allowed to play with, or will think is “cool”.  Again, every kid likes to draw!

This is where my FIRST tutorial comes in.  I wanted to branch out of the crayon bags and rolls and try a portable chalk board using chalk cloth.  Until now this elusive fabric has only been seen on Pinterest for me, I have never seen it in person.  After a quick google search I found that Joann’s carries it and I was psyched.  Chalk cloth has to be the coolest thing ever.  I ran to Joann’s yesterday looking for it and waited for almost 1/2 hour while two different sales ladies searched high and low to find it for me after I insisted the website said they had it in stock…a bit annoying since I had Eleanor with me and shopping for fabric with a three year old is already pretty tought but they were so sweet and helpful and finally found it- yay!  I guess normally it should be in the Utility fabric section, with the vinyl’s and reusable shopping bag fabrics.  I believe they sell it for 4.99 a yard, but with a coupon on my smartphone I scored 5 yards at 50% off- woo  hoo!  Be very careful once they cut this for you that you do not fold it, roll it instead so that it does not crease.    The fabric is also rolled up with a sheet of printed instructions behind it stating how to care for it.  Basics are priming and cleaning with a damp cloth and priming again.  Priming is just rubbing chalk over the entire cloth and erasing.  Rub the stick of chalk on its side, not on the tip.  I didn’t find all of this “priming” to be necessary…I jumped ahead and drew directly on it before priming because I was so excited to try it out and it still wrote and erased just fine.  Just to be sure though, I would recommend you follow the instructions provided.

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Ok, so for this tutorial I want to show you how to make a small, portable chalk mat.  The perfect size to stick in a little backpack for the school bus ride, take to the doctors office, to restaurants or leave in the car.  The basic idea can be easily sized up and would be great in a larger placemat size as well.

Supplies needed:

Chalk cloth (amount needed for this approx. 1/2 yard but you will have enough to make a few!)

Cotton Fabric of your choice for the back

Double fold bias tape (around 40 inches, again you can make a few with one package)

Coordinating thread

3/4 inch elastic

Optional- colored elastic or pony tail elastic

The dimensions of mine are 10x10inches.  Start by cutting your chalk cloth to this size.  You do not need special scissors for this, I used my normal sewing shears.  Cut your cotton print (for the back) to the same dimensions.

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I chose to round the corners not only because I think they look cute, but it is also easier to bind it with the bias tape- not mitered corners!  To round the corners, simply trace around a glass and cut off the corners.  I went ahead and traced it with my chalk since it was so easy to just wipe it off after.  Repeat this on the cotton print.  To be sure they are the same size you may want to trace the chalk cloth on top of the cotton print.

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Once the two fabrics are cut to size you will need to cut your bias tape.  I used double fold bias tape and cut it to around 40 inches to ensure it would be enough to go around, because you rounded your corners you will have a bit extra.  If you are enlarging this pattern be sure you have enough bias tape by adding up all of your four sides and cutting this amount (add a bit for overlap at the end).  You will also cut your elastic to hold your chalk.

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This mat holds one piece of chalk with 3/4 inch elastic cut to around 1 1/2 inches.  You will also cut elastic to sew at the opposite end to hold your mat together when you roll it up.  You can either cut the same elastic to to 5 inches or use a simple pony tail elastic (in green shown below).  I like the green elastic the best, but didn’t think of it until I was on my second mat…this is why you see it pictured both ways!

Ok, so you have your fabric and supplies ready.  Now, line your fabrics up with wrong sides facing.  You will not be pinning this so take your time and make sure the two fabrics line up.  Fold your elastic and baste them on the chalk cloth as shown.

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One will go on each side.  I placed the chalk elastic facing in on the chalk cloth side, and the other elastic facing out on the printed cotton side.

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Once these are basted, sandwich the bias tape around the two fabrics and sew around the entire perimeter.  If you have never used bias tape before you might want to check out an online tutorial.  I recommend the one at Made.  I have to admit though, that I do the cheater method she mentions…not the easiest with the small tape I used.   If you are a beginner (or  a perfectionist) I would recommend a thicker bias tape and the traditional method.  Take your time!  You want to make sure both layers are sandwiched in the bias tape.  I have found the “cheater” method easier using a zig zag stitch, and it also looks really cute.  You may want to fold over the end of the bias tape when you overlap the edge to where you started.

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Sewing is done!!!  Now,  if you haven’t already you can prime your chalk cloth and erase it and your are DONE!

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Just know that it won’t stay clean for long, I walked away from mine to start dinner and found it looking like this just 5 minutes later.  I guess it means she likes it.  I wouldn’t recommend the sidewalk chalk on it though…man, do those produce some crazy dust!

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