Did you miss me? Er, maybe I should ask, is anyone still here?! It’s been a much longer break than I anticipated, but I think things are settled enough around our house that I can jump back into blogging regularly. I have a long, long list of things to share, including tons of quilting, some new crafty pursuits and plenty of tutorials. I’m even hoping to have a few new patterns ready to release in the next several months….
Family & Friends
Miss Katie J. celebrated her 4th birthday early this month, and since she adores everything My Little Pony, she needed a pony-covered party dress! As seems usual lately, my schedule kept me hopping until the last minute, so I opted for a party dress pattern that I know well and can sew quickly – one that happens to be named for the birthday girl – the Katie J. Jumper!…
My oldest daughter and her husband moved into a new place last month. Our son-in-law is going back to school, and they were able to rent a small apartment on campus … a small apartment with giant blank white walls! Because the two of them have worked as house parents at a group home for the last few years, and they’ve not really had a place of their own, they didn’t have much in the way of home decor. So, I asked if I could drive up for a long weekend to help decorate, and they accepted! My younger daughter came along, and we had so much fun – shopping, eating, building, decorating and just enjoying each other’s company, and we put together a cozy, welcoming space, AND we did it on a really tight budget!
Happy Halloween from our family of Doctor Who fans! This is the first time in a very long time that we’ve dressed up the whole family with a theme. We had so much fun with it, though, I think we might try to keep doing it, at least for the next few years … until another one of my kiddos is all grown up.
If you’ve read this blog over the last few months, then you probably already know that we love the Doctor. One of my favorite things about how this all came together is that our teenagers chose the theme themselves and divided up all of the characters before they even came to me. I didn’t have to mediate any disagreements, I just got to help pull everything together!
We’ll go in age order since that’s the easiest for me:First up is Charlie as Rory – the Last Centurion. On our first thrift-shopping-for-Halloween excursion, we found a plastic chest plate and sword for $2.99 at Goodwill, and I knew that it would be perfect. The chest plate was the wrong color, though, and it had a big lion emblem attached.We solved that problem easily by pulling off the lion and spray-painting the shield. (This paint did start to chip off right away, so I wouldn’t use it for an application that needed to be permanent. For Charlie’s Last Centurion costume it worked just fine, though. The chipping gives it a pretty cool aged look.)For the “kilt” part of the Roman centurion uniform, I cut pieces from vinyl that I purchased at Joann’s and then used duct tape to secure them to the back of the chest plate. We also added an additional strap to the back of the plate because the original shoulder straps didn’t keep it on very securely. For the shirt and cape, I modified my Charlie Tee pattern. I replaced the original collar with a higher, wider version that folds down, and I sewed the self-drafted cape into the back and sides of the collar. I used a polyester blend interlock, also from Joann’s, primarily because it was the right color, but I love the drape that it has. It’s perfect for our little Last Centurion. (He was so cute at our church’s fall festival when he would try to explain who he was!)Next up, is Jamie as the 11th Doctor. I just adore little boys in bow ties! We found Jamie’s black skinny jeans and canvas boots at Crazy 8, and I love that he can wear them everyday. I purchased the suspenders at Amazon, and I sewed up the bow tie from red Kona cotton to match.The hardest part for Jamie’s costume was the tweed jacket. We searched every thrift shop and resale store within easy driving distance, and just couldn’t find something that didn’t require some significant alterations. Soooo …. we brought home this:It’s just a little big, isn’t it? I’ll start by saying that since this was a costume, I didn’t worry too much about making the jacket look perfect. I used my Which Way Out Jacket pattern sort of placed on top of the original jacket to get an idea what the sizing should look like, then I chopped it all up. I forgot, though, that I needed to add a seam allowance in the back because I was using two pieces, so the back is a bit narrow. I sewed the lining pieces back together, then the outer pieces, just sewing the pockets where they fell. Rather than trying to completely re-do the collar, I just cut it in half in the back, serged the edges, and stitched it back together. Then I pressed the seam allowance open and stitched down each side to keep those edges tucked under. It actually turned out pretty well for a few hours worth of work! Allen’s 10th Doctor costume was by far the easiest! He already had the Chucks, the dress shirt and the dress pants. We found the pinstriped jacket and the trench coat at local thrift stores, and he borrowed one of Ray’s ties to pull everything together. I didn’t think I would have to do anything crafty at all to his outfit … until he wore the jacket to youth group and came home with a huge rip down one of the front seams. Urgh. Boys. So, I ripped the lining open to stitch the jacket back together, and then I just slipstitched the lining back in. Maybe he felt left out of the whole creative process?
We had a blast wearing these costumes to two different Trunk or Treating events last weekend, and we’re excited to get to wear them again tonight for some Halloween fun! We hope you and yours have a great night filled with memories and laughter and only as much scary stuff as you want to enjoy!
Our granddaughter, Katie, turned three this month, and we celebrated last weekend with a Sheriff Callie-inspired birthday party. It’s sort of a given that I’ll get to sew her party dress (YAY!), and I had so much fun with this one!Katie’s momma shared with me ahead of time that they were planning for her to wear pink boots and a pink hat, so pink was definitely the color. I took Charlie with me to shop for fabric and buttons a couple of weeks ago. I was picturing a pink gingham and chambray mix, so I was thrilled to run across this Riley Blake bias-print gingham fabric at The Quilt Place.Charlie picked out the white star buttons at Hancock Fabrics, and the chambray fabric was a Joann Fabrics purchase. (We really did drive all over town for all of the supplies! Charlie was sort of done after finding the buttons, but the promise of a cake pop and chocolate milk got us through our last stop without a tantrum. Four-year-olds need something to look forward to! Actually, we all do — I enjoyed the coffee break, too.)I used the top from my in-progress shirtdress pattern (It’s with my testers right now!), and combined it with a gathered two-layer skirt. (Adding a gathered skirt to a top is easy-peasy stuff. Just measure the width of the bottom of your top, cut your skirt about 1 1/2 times that width by whatever length you want, gather and attach it. That makes sense, right? Maybe I’ll do a tutorial later.)We all had to laugh a little because we put a lot of planning into Katie’s party last year with decorations and pretty food: Katie’s 2nd Birthday. I got a notice a few weeks ago that I’d been given a PartyPail.com award for Best Decorations!
Pretty cool, huh?
This year, our party was a little less Pinterest-worthy and a bit more let’s-just-have-fun! Of course, there’s nothing at all wrong with doing things either way. Both definitely have their advantages.
Katie’s friends enjoyed bouncing in the bounce house that was so kindly provided by a close family friend.There was a slight misunderstanding, though. Our friend thought that the party was for one of our boys, so the bounce house was a monster truck! Hahahaha! Thankfully, Katie loved it!We kept the snacks simple and served iced water with fruit to drink. (It was really, really hot, so we all drank tons of water!)Katie was thrilled with the simple printable Sheriff Callie cupcake toppers that we found at EasyPartyPrintables.And, of course, she had a blast opening presents …… and eating cake!I’d say it was a pretty successful party! Happy birthday, Katie! I pray that your next year is full of lots of love, loads of fun and plenty of new discoveries.I was planning to link up with Challenge Create: Geometric Week at Skirt Fixation, but I totally missed the deadline! Next week, I am planning ahead better so I can join in for Knit Week. You should, too! You can still pop over to Skirt Fixation and vote for your favorite contestant and your favorite sew-along entry: Challenge Create: Geometric Week. Oh, and a quick huge, “Thank you!” to all of you who voted for my winning Custom Linen Handbag last week!
Also, Kids Clothes Week starts on Monday! Are you joining in? I have a few things planned!
Finally, the last of my Christmas sewing! I have such fun designing new bags for my three nieces every Christmas. They’re building up quite the collection of bags, and I love that they use all of them. This year I went with a simple, but stylish book bag that I’ve wanted to design for ages.
The inside of the bag is generously sized for library books or school books, and the front of the bag has a nice big pocket.I made the strap super long so that the girls can wear them cross-body, or they can tie a quick knot in the center of the strap to wear them as shoulder bags.The sides wrap around to a wide strip centered on both the front and the back. I love how the sides frame the main fabric print.The bag is fairly unstructured or “slouchy”, so it’s easy to fold up and store away, but I used heavier weight fabrics so they have a good amount of substance to them. The two bags above are sewn with twill and home decor fabrics, and the bag below is sewn with fine wale corduroy. (All of the fabrics are from Joann Fabrics.)I think these practical, modern bags wrap up last year’s sewing list quite nicely, even if the finish is a bit late. Oh, and you might see this bag again as a pattern in this year’s line-up very soon!
My oldest daughter and her husband (Katie’s mom & dad) are house parents at a children’s home here in Florida. Right now, their house is home to ten teenage girls. I know many of you just took a deep breath at that thought, but I have to tell you that these two LOVE their job and can’t imagine doing anything else. The girls that they live with are just like other teen girls. They’re beautiful. They’re funny. They’re caring. (They adore Katie!) Some love sports. Some love video games. Some love art. They’re all amazing girls with bright futures ahead of them. Like every person in this world, though, they need to know that people care about them. I think that their house parents, along with the rest of the staff at the children’s home, do an amazing job of that, but I’ve had this idea for a while that maybe I could sew something for each one.
All of you who sew know that when you sew a gift with love for someone, that finished gift reminds the receiver of how much you care about them each time they use it. I really wanted to do that for these girls. Like many of you, though, my schedule is crazy busy. I’d put this on the back burner until a few weeks ago when I was reading about Simple Simon & Company’s Skirting the Issue project. I saw that they were sewing pillowcases to give and thought, “Pillowcases! That is perfect!” I can personalize them for each girl, she can use her pillowcase for as long as she wants, and she can take it with her wherever she goes! So, I called my daughter, and we put this plan in motion!Each girl shared her favorite colors or animal or character or sports team or whatever she wanted me to know about her likes, and I used those to choose the fabrics. All of the fabrics came from Joann Fabrics locally, and I used my own 9 1/2 Minute Pillowcase Tutorial to sew them up.
Once I had all the pillowcases done, I thought they needed fun packaging . . . and chocolate. I folded each one and slid it into a clear zippered bag with a few goodies, and I added some ribbon to make it pretty.Then I added each girl’s name on a washi tape label. (I did use the girls’ real names on the finished packaging — these are not their real names.) Much more fun than just the pillowcase, right?Now they’re all ready to deliver to their new owners! I hope that these amazing girls enjoy them, and that they provide a little reminder that someone cares about them and is praying for them wherever life might take them in the years ahead.
A quick post for my family nestled in here among those about sewing and crafting — Our sweet Samantha was baptized this morning, and our extended family wasn’t able to join us. My prayer is that these pictures will make each of you feel as if you were there with us on this overwhelmingly beautiful day at the beach! Lots of love to each of you! (Of course, my dear blog followers are very welcome to enjoy this celebration with us, too. I feel like many of you are family!)
We’ve been doing some work around the outside of our house the last few weeks. I think the appearance of the outside of a home really sets a tone for visitors, and I want ours to be warm and pretty and welcoming, but still simple and uncluttered. We have this great front porch area that we weren’t using at all, and I loved the idea of putting rocking chairs out there. I didn’t have a huge budget for this project, though, and rocking chairs can be expensive. I searched Pinterest for ideas and ran across several photos of front porches adorned with mismatched rocking chairs that were painted to match. I LOVED the look! With that idea in mind, I set out on a hunt at our local thrift shops and on Craigslist for well-priced wood rocking chairs that I could paint to match.Rocking chair #1 is a Craigslist find. It was listed at $25, but I only had two $20 bills and the owner had no change, so it went home with me for $20! Score! I found rocking chair #2 in one of my favorite thrift shops, but it was priced at $75 . . . definitely more than I was willing to spend. As I was walking out of the store, though, I noticed that the day’s sales included a 50% discount on all furniture making this chair only $37.50. Woo-hoo!Both chairs had a similar wood stain, but I thought it looked dated, and since they’ll be outside, they needed some protection from the elements. This Rust-Oleum enamel spray paint looked like a good choice since it’s designed for use on wood or metal and for indoor or outdoor use. It was a bit windy the day that I set aside to do this project, so we pulled the van out of the garage, and my husband set up a tarp for me just inside. Things seemed to be going well until I realized that the bottoms of my bare feet were starting to stick to the tarp. Then I stepped off of the tarp and left a lovely black footprint on the garage floor! Eeek! I called for help and someone brought me an old pair of socks so that I could walk through the house to the kitchen sink. When none of my attempts to wash off the paint worked, my wonderful husband Googled a solution for me, but not until after he grabbed my phone and snapped a few pictures of me sitting on the kitchen counter with my black feet in the sink.Sweet, huh? In case you’re wondering, olive oil is what did the trick. Even better than my temporarily painted feet, though, is my permanently painted garage floor. This definitely falls in the “What were we thinking?!” category. The over-spray from the spray paint coupled with the breeze coming in through the garage door sent a fine mist of paint through the entire garage. The only space that isn’t slightly gray now is the area where I had the tarp. Feel free to learn from my mistakes.I did eventually end up with two beautifully updated black rocking chairs for my front porch! (I’m thinking, though, that my plan to add a few more may not ever happen!)We added a few potted plants for a nice finishing touch, and our simply decorated porch is ready to welcome all of our guests. What do you think? Are you working on any outdoor projects this summer?
Our sweet granddaughter, Katie, turned 2 on the 4th of July, and we got to host her second birthday party right here on Saturday! We kept it small and simple, but fun and pretty. (Two-year-olds don’t really remember their parties, but they will love seeing the pictures someday!)I took on the responsibility of baking the cupcakes and sewing Katie’s party dress, and true to my wait-to-the-last-minute-to-do-everything nature, I didn’t start on either until after dinner on Friday night. Only a few minutes into mixing together the cupcake batter, I reached up into the cabinet above my work space and knocked out a glass jar. In the instant following, I chose to save my darling six-year-old who was standing in the chair next to me, and I sacrificed my favorite vintage yellow Pyrex mixing bowl. (Yes, one of the mixing bowls that I was so worried about in our move: Settling In.)By the time the mess was cleaned up (Pyrex shards fly a long, long way!), and I was putting a new batch of cupcake batter into the oven, it was 8:00! And, I hadn’t even decided what exactly I was sewing! Thankfully, once I had a picture of what I wanted, it all came together quickly and beautifully.Morgan had asked for a polka-dotted tank-style dress in the colors that she’d picked out for the party decorations (colors which were chosen from Katie’s favorite cartoon, Dora the Explorer). A quick trip to Joanns on Friday morning turned up the three fabrics in the skirt and the trim pieces, and the buttons which look like they were made to go with the flower fabric! The fabrics in the knit bodice are those Riley Blake jerseys that I’m loving working with. I’m calling it the retro-modern Dora-ish party dress.As for the food, we served yummy, but not too unhealthy treats. I used this recipe for the cupcakes: Chocolate Gluten-Free Cupcakes, substituting coconut oil for the canola oil and whole husk psyllium for the xanthan gum. For the frosting, I made a standard butter-cream, and added natural pink food coloring using boiled raspberries! The raspberry flavor gave the frosting an amazing sweet-tart taste. Yum!We sprinkled a few mini-chocolate chips on the top of the frosting just for fun, and then left the almost-full bag of chocolate chips too close to a certain birthday girl.Other party fare included Unreal Unjunked candy-coated chocolates served in cute little snack cups, sliced strawberries, chocolate cookies, pink pomegranate chips and lemonade.I also baked up a couple of loaves of Honey & Oat Gluten Free Bread which we sliced and served with honey butter (softened butter whipped with raw honey) and blackberry cream cheese (softened cream cheese whipped with no-sugar-added seedless blackberry jam).The kids all had a great time playing in the backyard on the swing and playground and blowing bubbles. Katie’s big brother, Austin, kept himself busy wiggling a tooth that wasn’t quite ready to come all the way out!Uncle Charlie got caught trying to open the presents and was not happy at all that I was taking his picture! (You can tell from this picture that the inside part of the party ended up taking place in my sewing studio. It was just the most convenient place since the sliding glass door to the backyard is right there.)Katie loved having everyone sing, “Happy Birthday” to her . . . . . . but she couldn’t quite figure out how to blow out the candles by herself! It was okay, though, because Uncle Jamie jumped right in to help!