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Saturday, March 30, 2013

Darling Cabinet Re-do

Creative storage is key in our house, as I've mentioned before in my Sewing Cabinet post, so when I saw this little.....dresser? nightstand? bedside...dresser? on craigslist, I knew it would help us in the storage department in our bedroom.  It's about 30" tall, and only 16" wide and 14" deep, but the drawers are surprisingly roomy.  Perfect!  Oh yeah, other than the yucky green paint and ugly brass pulls.....

So.....I enlisted the help of my big boy, who was thrilled to take on the task of redoing this little number.  Big boy painting requires stripping down to undies in our house, so I added some clothes on him, lol.  See that horrible 70s armoire in the background? That's coming out of the room.  We have way too much big furniture in there.  It might need a redo down the road if we have a bigger room to put it in, we'll see.  Anyway, back to the big boy...he primed the whole thing basically by himself!

The knobs had a pretty basic shape to them, so I stuck them through some cardboard (yeah, blueberry Eggos!) and spray painted them....first with a primer, then with a few coats of a metallic silver, and then finally a clear poly coat.  That should make them pretty durable!

Then a shiny coat of oil based white paint, hardware re-installed, and Viola! Darling little cabinet that is begging to be filled with our stuff.  There's a plug right behind it, so I'm brainstorming a charging station for all of our devices and gadgets to sit on top.  Stay tuned!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Violet's Easter Dress

Oh my sweet Violet, my little doll.  I love sewing for her.  I've had some material in mind to make her a dress, and it was the perfect choice for Easter.  Tiny, hexagonal violet flowers on it! So darling.

I've had bunches of ideas floating around in my mind for a while now, and I ended up meshing a few of them together to get the final design.  First, I want to stress the importance of having a good bodice pattern.  When I made Violet's Heart Dress, I purchased Burda 9752 with sizes from 1-12 months.  I've learned the hard way that pattern sizing can be WAYYY off, so I made sure to take Violet's measurements and compare them against the Burda size chart.  I ended up making a 6 month size bodice.  (So crazy, she's almost 16 months old!).

My two most favorite inspirations were a darling bubble dress and one with a heart cut out in the back.  Both of these started out as online tutorials with downloadable free patterns, but both have transitioned into selling their patterns.  Sigh.  I waited too long.   However!  I just KNEW I could figure out how to make this darn thing!

I started with the Burda bodice.  I took the back piece and drew a heart on it, and cut it out.  Sewed right sides together and flipped it around (after major clipping around the curves).  As for the bubble skirt, the outer skirt piece is a big rectangle, the width of the fabric (44") x the finished length plus 2" to wrap under and create the bubble, plus seam allowances at top and bottom.  The skirt lining is curved at the top and bottom, ensuring that the circumference of the skirt at the waist matches the bodice circumference. I also made the tiniest tulle petticoat and inserted it inside the bubble skirt, so it holds its shape really well, and is super poofy! Sorry, I didn't take pictures of everything...I was in major sewing mode and just put it all together so quickly!

For the sash, I sewed two pieces of ribbon together (I couldn't decide on the color so used both!).

 Then, I attached snaps to the underside of the ribbon at the side seams, back seam, and front under the bow so that it would stay in place.  A bigger snap closes up the sash.  I wanted the bow to just be a clean silhouette, since the flowers are so geometric.  (I wanted the sash removable for washing)

I love how it turned out!  I also found a tiny darling button shaped like a heart to close the neck...the perfect touch!

See? Doll.  Wearing her dress-up Easter hat my mom got her.  She doesn't want to take it off (or the dress, apparently, I learned soon after this try-on)

Don't you just want to plant a kiss in the middle of that heart? I do! 

Happy Easter! 

Friday, March 22, 2013

Drake's Clothes Map

Ah, mornings.  School day mornings.  Sigh.  Things are crazy on a regular, stay home morning, but add in trying to get two kiddos up, dressed, fed and all of their belongings gathered for their school day, and out of the house on time, and it can veer off into a full-on whirlwind of super crazy.

Oh, and I have a very opinionated 4 year old.  (Aren't they all?)

For a long time, I struggled every morning with getting him dressed.  He didn't like what I picked out for him to wear.  He didn't like anything in the drawer to pick out himself.  I'd give him two choices, he wouldn't choose either.  What he wanted to wear was dirty.  He wanted to wear shorts and short-sleeves when it was 20 degrees.  All of these things were usually accompanied by screaming, kicking, running away and hiding.  SUCH a nightmare.

So I invented the "Clothes Map" (name coined by Drake).

On Sundays, we sit down together, and draw up a plan for what to wear for the entire week.  It started off with me drawing the whole thing, but he has taken over for the most part and can do it all by himself.  It's a great lesson on planning, decision making, practicing letters, drawing, and coloring.  That makes it win-win-win-win-win, right?

Here's an example of one of our first maps.  Drake drew faces and hair on them all, and told me all of their expressions, so I added those captions to the bottom of each person.   The map is taped to the wall in his room.

We try to do all of our laundry on Sundays as well, so all of these choices are clean for the week. However, sometimes something is accidentally dirty.  We solved this by letting Drake modify the map on Friday.  

This is the latest map.  Lots of the same choices week to week, lol.  He did this one entirely by himself, and was so proud (except for a few additions to the t-shirts by me)

The beauty of this plan? We lay out the clothes on a school night on the rug.  (Mr Owl always gets to be the head!)

We set an alarm clock.  Drake gets up on his own, gets dressed on his own, and the first thing I see in the morning is this smiling face, no nightmare mornings anymore!!!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Cross-Stitch Transporter Truck Pattern Tutorial

Ahh, I love my little boy.  Oops, I mean big boy, he's 4 and all now!

Have you looked in stores lately? It's soooo hard to find cute clothes for boys.  Especially when they are in toddler sizes.  I mean, really....Drake has his whole life to wear skateboard t-shirts and basketball shorts.  Don't get me wrong, he has his fair share of play clothes, but when it comes time for dressy occasions, it's just hard to find cute boy stuff.  Soon enough, he'll be wearing khaki pants and button downs, right? 

My boy is into TRUCKS.  CARS.  Anything that rolls.  So when I saw a smocked outfit with a transporter truck on it, I was in love.  I knew he would adore it:

At this point I hadn't done any smocking, so I decided to create a cross-stitch panel that I could stitch onto the front of a shirt.  Most of my projects start with some planning in the computer, so  I turned to Excel to plan out a pattern.  I started a new file, pasted this picture in, and then resized the columns and rows.  The easiest way to do this is to right click on the column/row labels (A,B,C, etc) and choose Column Width/Row Height.  I resized these to:  Column width=0.75, Row width=8

After resizing the cells, I started putting an "x" in them to create the truck.  I changed the font colors to figure out what thread to use where.  For the car wheels, I also used slashes (/ and \) to make the wheels look round.  (and stitched just half a cross-stitch in those).

From there I got to stitching...counting and re-counting to make sure I stitched in the right spots.  (I stitched on cross-stitch fabric called Aida.  You can find it at Amazon here. And if you want to cross-stitch your very own transporter truck, here you go....a PDF of the pattern.)

I bought a shirt that buttons up the back, and turned the edges of the Aida under and stitched the cross-stitch onto the shirt.  

Here he is, my handsome boy.  This is Easter 2012.  He has requested to wear it again this year, so I'm adding a yellow band to the bottom to extend the length, matching the yellow piping at the collar. 

Stay tuned for Violet's Easter dress post! (I'd better get to work!)

Friday, March 8, 2013

My Sewing Cabinet

We have a little house.  At least little for 4 people.  10 years ago we bought out house, and 1500 square feet was perfect for the two of us.  Enter two kiddos with all their toys and stuff.  Creative storage is key to our sanity! 

I dream of the day that I can have an entire room dedicated to sewing and crafting supplies, a nice wide, open space to spread out and leave a project out to finish the next day....however leaving things out for tiny fingers to find is not ideal.

While browsing craigslist one day, I found an armoire that housed a home office-type setup.  It had a yucky white-ish wood finish on it, but I definitely knew this was the piece of furniture to organize my sewing.  A few coats of shiny white paint later, and here she is:

The interior was black, so it was really dark on the inside (you can see the bottom part is black).  I had some paint left over from Drake's bedroom, so I painted most of the inside walls this lovely color, which brightened it up immensely.  It makes me smile every time I open it!  On the left door, I have a shoe organizer stuffed with every color of felt (for projects like Drake's Name Book), and some embroidery blanks like bibs in the bottom pocket. The bottom left shelf holds projects to be completed and my iron.

This was the perfect spot for my serger.  I hung a thread organizer on the back.  It keeps all my thread visible, and I love to glance over and see all the different colors of thread.  They are organized by color families, which makes the engineer/slightly OCD side of me very happy!  The upper shelf has embroidery thread, and a wood organizer from IKEA that I painted with the same blue.  This holds elastics, buttons, embroidery floss, sewing machine needles, etc.  A few beautiful books, and a glass vase that holds zippers and marking pencils.  My clear ruler is hung on a nail on the left wall, and the little white bin is for trash...threads, clippings, etc.  Since this is an office armoire, there are holes for all the cords to be threaded through to the back!

A shot behind the fold down sewing maching fits perfectly on this shelf, and I slip a small, tabletop ironing board back there as well.

Fold the table down and Viola! Instant work station!  You can see I store the sewing machine pedal on the bottom shelf so I just have to pull it out and put it on the floor.

Office armoire, remember? So yay! Keyboard tray! This slides forward and I have all of my pins, scissors, seam gauges, etc etc etc in there for easy access. 

The machine slides out easily into place, and now I have an "L" shaped work station.  I can sit in my chair and swivel to each side to use the serger and machine.  I have a small OTT light that really helps brighten the area.

Under the table is a hanging file drawer.  I use this for patterns.  It's nice to separate them by type, makes it really easy to find things.  More books and machine manuals are on the shelves.

This is in my dining room, so I just borrow a chair and get to work! Also bonus, I can use the dining table for cutting and fits my huge cutting mat, which I slide behind the armoire to store. 

I just love that everything can be put back into place, the doors closed up, and this is what I'm left with...ahhhhh.