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Ready for Spring

This winter is dragging on, and on.  It’s now mid-February and Spring is around the corner on the calendar but in Buffalo we know we’ve got at least a few months left of frigid temps.  We are in a crazy cold and snow spell- it is -6 degrees out right now, there is a travel advisory and we are hunkering down indoors.  Of course this is a time where I am on vacation for president’s day week and I actually have time to sew but my fabric stash is running low!  Thinking I’m not crazy enough to venture out just to buy fabric I decided to get a little creative with what I’ve got  I had purchased two yards of this pretty Kelly Green peach skin fabric from Girl Charlee a few months back with the idea of making a Staple dress for the spring or summer but thought it might make a great top…so I got to work.  Please excuse the pics…obviously too cold to take pics outside and these were taken by a short photographer- my 8 year old daughter!  Bad angle and pretty blurry.  Oh well.

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I adapted the pattern to be a boxy, simple top by chopping off about 6 inches from the length.  I kept the pockets but did not add the shirring- I wanted to keep it simple and thought that given the shorter length and the busy pattern it would be more flattering without it.  I am so happy with it!  The fit is perfect, so comfortable yet still form fitting.  I can see wearing this with jeans or leggings (as pictured) and would look equally good with a cardigan…because remember- it is 6 degrees below zero outside!  This little project was just enough to get my sewing mojo back on and I look forward to the weather thawing just a bit so that I can make it back out to shop for more fabric.  Or, maybe I should do a little online shopping to hold me over!

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Sewing for Isabel: a new favorite pattern

There is nothing more satisfying than sewing multiples of the same pattern.   All of the normal grunt work of preparing the pattern is what I look forward to least- determining the size,  cutting the pattern out pieces out, refolding those tissue paper sheets, the overly complicated directions etc.  Once you have struggled through all of that and sewn up your first item using the pattern it is such a relief!  You know what you are doing, what fits, how to put the pieces together and how it all works.  I always find the second, third, sometimes tenth (skater dress?) try at a pattern goes super quick.  In other words, when i find a pattern that works I get ALOT of use out of it and turn to it again and again.  Is it because I like the pattern, or because I am too lazy to start from the beginning and cut out another style…hmm.

Anways, my new favorite for Isabel is McCalls 6785.  Why all of the McCall’s patterns lately?  A very good sale at Joann’s where they were each like $1 or something- can’t beat that!  Ok…so this is the pattern.  Very versatile- includes two legging styles, and several top/tunic versions including hoods, pockets, ties or a cowl neck.

MC_6785_CCEI bought two copies of the pattern- in a smaller range for eleanor, and a larger range for Isabel.  I started sewing without measuring either one and chose the largest size of the smaller range- a 6 figuring it was bound to fit one of them since it was right in the middle of each of their true sizes.  It fit Isabel…and was actually a bit large on her so I will have to save that larger pattern for a bit!  For this first dress I chose view C, a long sleeve cowl neck dress.  The pink/purple houndstooth is a great substantial knit I picked up on clearance at Joann’s.  It was great to work with, much easier than the lighter weight non-stretch knits I have been purchasing from girl charlee lately.

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Since she loved it so much I made another!  This time I used this fox knit fabric I have been hoarding since i ordered it from girl charlee.  Love the print, but the fabric itself isn’t my favorite- it barely has any stretch and feels like it has alot of poly in it- but Isabel still loves it.  I can see this becoming a real favorite around here…she kept hugging me and dancing around in it.  I have to admit I almost cried, it feels good to see her that happy!

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I’d better get busy sewing something for Eleanor before jealousy sets in…

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Kids Clothes Week…finally

Realistic expectations.  I am too busy now to particpate in an online sewing challenge.  I don’t have it in me; in energy, time or motivation.  I am Ok with that.  Rather than being upset about how little time I had for myself this week to do what I love, I am trying to focus on the chunks of time I WAS able to carve out for sewing over the weekend.  So, even if I wasn’t able to sew for an hour every day this week like the challenge proposes, I was able to sew for 4-5 hours this weekend and knocked out a few tops and a dress for the girls- yay.  The most exciting part is that I finally got to use my Oliver & S Sailboat top pattern I have had printed out for MONTHS.  Woo hoo.  Most of my time was spent learning the pattern, but once I made the first top it was smooth sailing.  There is something really satisfying about assembly line style sewing- when you repeat a pattern it goes so much faster.

For the first top I made a size 6 Sailboat top using an owl print sweatshirt knit and jersey striped facings.  I love how the black and cream striped facings peak out from the neck and bottom…such a nice feature to have a surprise of a contrasting fabric.  I added one large black button at each shoulder.

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For the second top I used a stretchy grey/pink rose sweatshirt fabric, with hot pink jersey facings.  After realizing both of my girls fit into the size 6 I kept the size the same but lengthened the sleeves about an inch to get more wear out of it for Isabel.  So, for now the pink owl print is for Eleanor but they are almost interchangeable.  Isabel picked light pink vintage buttons for the shoulders, and I used 2 per shoulder.  Using a sweatshirt fabric for this top worked out perfectly.  My girs are not sweatshirt kinda girls, neither one has one in their closet and they refuse to wear anything “athletic” or “boy”.  The refined shape with the contrast stitching and button shoulders fits their style, yet still has the cozy and warm feeling of a sweatshirt.  Perfect.

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I don’t know whether to be excited that Isabel likes the top this much, or horrified at how she has started to love to “model”.  Just be glad I didn’t post the pics where she posed at the piano- hilarious.  Both of the sweatshirt fabrics were purchased from girlcharlee.com…but I don’t see that either one are available anymore.  I’ve had them in my stash for a bit since I picked them up for just a few dollars on sale but never knew what to use them for- I couldn’t be happier with how they turned out!

I couldn’t stop at just two tops, and spent time today adapting this pattern into a dress- to be posted later!

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Kids Clothes Week- Winter Challenge

Sooo, today is officially Day 3 of the Winter Kids Clothes Week challenge- a seasonal challenge I have participated in for the last few seasons (since I started this blog) and have really enjoyed and used as an inspiration to get sewing and spend time doing what I love.  The challenge is to spend an hour a day sewing or preparing to sew kids clothes.  I say preparing to sew because that is about all I have done so far this week…nothing has been sewn yet.  ugh.  I blame the full time job, the fact that the kids have been on snow days, and I am just too damn exhausted once I get home from work/do dinner/ bedtime for the girls etc.  Lame.

Anyways, I am determined to participate in this challenge at some point this week and blog about it and post my items to the KCW website– but this may not happen until the weekend…baby steps around here.  Until then I will peruse my patterns and books for inspiration and stare at this pile of fabric I just got delivered and plan what I will sew when I get the energy!

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A big fat pile of knits from Girl Charlee including some for me.  That fox fabric should be motivation enough to get to work.  Hey- I did prewash the fabric already so that counts for something right?

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‘Tis the season for knitting hats

Living in WNY for my entire life, I am used to winter temps.  Wind chills, lake effect snow, and inches of accumulation are a regular part of the daily weather forecast around here  this time of year.  But, for some reason this winter seems worse than most.  Being spoiled for the last few years of mild temperatures has made us all weak!  It is 8 degrees out right now, with a wind chill close to zero.  What is there to do when the weather gets this cold?  Stay inside and knit a few hats of course!

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As mentioned in a previous post, I used the Barley pattern from Tin Can Knits...a super simple garter and stockinette stitch hat.  To up the cute factor and give it a bit of a retro vibe I attached a super sized pom pom to the top- I love it!

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The blue hat is made with what seems like a never ending skein of Eco+ yarn I picked up from Purl Soho a few years back, and the red is in a cotton blend (thick and thin) whose name I can’t remember!  Pictured together they bring a nice dose of color to a dreary winter day!  Even if the day is simply spent at home in your pajamas!

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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- 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!