Hanami #2 (We Should Probably Just Start A Running Tally)

You didn't think that I would make just one Raccoon Hanami, did you?  Oh no!  Each girl has to have her own, of course.  So allow me to introduce you to Raccoon Hanami #2 - worn by C at her second birthday party.

In cutting out these two dresses I had a realization as to why I end up making the girls so many matching items - you need much less fabric to make two dresses out of the same fabric than you do out of two different fabrics because if you cut them out at the same time you can squeeze in the little pattern pieces here and there and save a bunch of fabric.  And I'm all for saving a bunch of fabric.

There is a downside to this, however, and that would be that if you don't label your  pieces correctly you could end up cutting out too many size four bodices and not enough size two bodices and then you might end up lining your size two bodice with a size four lining (after all your piping is sewn in and your seam allowances are trimmed) and then you might wonder why your lining isn't fitting properly.  And then, once you figure out what went wrong, you might slap yourself and realize that you're an idiot that apparently can't count correctly.  This is all just hypothetically speaking of course.

So, yes, the front lining of this dress is a bit bumpy and lumpy inside, but you can't tell from the outside so I'm going to pretend that that problem doesn't exist.  Denial, people.  Embrace it.  It's your friend.

So for this version of the Hanami I decided to leave off the optional collar and sleeves and to instead add piping to every seam in sight.  One of the things that I really love about this dress is that it's really easy to add piping to the waist without worrying that it'll interfere with the zipper because of the placement of the zipper.  Unfortunately I still worried about this in adding piping to the neck and because of all my hand wringing I cut one side of my piping too short.  Oops.  We'll just keep C's hair nice and long so nobody sees that mistake.

And I don't know what it is about piping, but it just makes everything better.

Oddly enough, I feel the same way about butter.

And here's one of my favorite things about this version of the dress - the contrast back panels.  I should probably admit that this was born out of necessity since I mixed up how many size four and two pieces I needed out of each fabric and by the time I realized my mistake I had run out of fabric but the contrast back is actually one of my favorite things about this dress.  Well, that and the piping of course, but that's a given, right?

The pattern is one of five patterns (with a bonus 6th pattern if you pay $24 or more) offered as part of the Perfect Pattern Parcel, but don't forget that it's only offered for a limited amount of time so go check it out!


September Tunic

I have to admit that I rarely buy clothes for my kids.  Not because I'm some sewing badass that has handmade their entire wardrobe but because we have been the lucky recipients of many hand-me-downs from family and friends.  And because I rarely purchase any clothes for my kids there's not a whole lot of though about how I would like my to dress my them, but in case you were ever wondering,  this is how I would like to dress my kids.

Comfy but cool.  Stylish but still age appropriate.  Unique but something that she won't refuse to wear (because girlfriend's definitely got some opinions when it comes to what she will and won't wear).

The top is the September Tunic (that can also be made into a dress) and it's currently available as part of the Perfect Pattern Parcel.  The fabric is a swiss dot fabric that is leftover from my most recent Tova Top.  Based on the pattern recommendations I made a straight size five for my almost five year old and the fit seems to be right on.  The front has a pretty high neckline and as I was making it I wondered if that would drive her crazy but I'm happy to report that it doesn't seem to bother her at all.

The pattern calls for binding to finish the neckline but since I'm not a big fan of store-bought binding I ended up using some leftover binding from this project.  I find making binding to be kind of a pain in the butt so I always try to keep leftovers in the hope that I can avoid making binding for some other project.  The pattern construction is pretty straight forward so there are no real surprises in putting it together.  The pattern recommends finishing the hems with a blind hem and considering how I spoke of my love of blind hems just the other day you might find it ironic that I just finished all the hems on this top with top stitching.  I figured that there was already some top stitching down the back for the button plackets so some additional top stitching would fit in perfectly.  Oh yeah, the button plackets.

Bam!  Look at that!  Buttons down the back!  I love that detail!

And I love the look of yellow and green together. 

And I love O in this shirt.

So much love, so little time.

Perfect Pattern Parcel #2

Be sure to check out the other bloggers who are part of the Perfect Pattern Parcel tour!

Shawnta Sews // P comme Plimplim // CailaMade // While she was sleeping // YoSaMi // stitched together // Sew Like My Mom // Marina Bebe // lexi.made // sewVery // Call Ajaire // I Married Superman // Girl like the sea // Stitched // Compagnie M. // Buzzmills // floating world // fake it while you make it // Sewing Mama RaeAnna // Our Chez Nous // NeurosesGalore // Behind the Hedgerow // Needle and Ted // Kadiddlehopper // 2 little hooligans // Max-California.com // Siestas & Sewing // So Cal Sewing Mom // lauren dahl // La gang à Nat // Frances Suzanne // Radiant Home Studio // Modern Handmade // A Jennuine Life // It's Always Autumn // lea & lars // I Seam Stressed // So, Zo... What do you know? // Andrea's Notebook // Steph Skardal // Nutta! // Sewpony Made With Moxie // imagine gnats // Inder Loves Folk Art // Pienkel


My First - But Definitely Not My Last - Hanami

Remember back in March when the Perfect Pattern Parcel offered a package of women's patterns from indie designers? Well, now it's the girl's turn! And I have to say that I was beyond excited to see what was included in this bundle. Now I should probably warn you that because I was a bit overly excited about the included patterns I made not one, not two, but three items from the bundle.  But rest easy, folks, because I'm only talking about one of them today - a Hanami dress that I made for O.

You've no doubt seen many versions of the Hanami dress floating around the internet (many of my favorite versions are made by Rachel) but what you probably don't know - unless you've already purchased the pattern - is that this is a fantastic pattern.  Yes, yes, the dress is gorgeous, but the really clear and well-written instructions are equally awe-inspiring as is the fact that there are a couple customizable options included in the pattern.  Excuse me while I give a big fist bump to An who is the lady responsible for writing such a fantastic pattern. 

** Fist bump **

Now let's talk about fabric selection for a little bit because while making this dress I realized that as much as I want to be the gal who has a simple, minimalist aesthetic I am so not that gal.  I mean look at this fabric?

It has raccoons all over it!  Racoons!  What four year old doesn't want a dress covered in raccoons (and what grown woman doesn't want to sew a dress covered in raccoons?).  I debated on what version of the dress I wanted to make but in the end I chose to include the peter pan collar and at the very, very last minute I decided to also include the flutter sleeves.  It was so last minute in fact that those were actually cut out for C's version of the dress so those are actually a size 2 sleeve stuck on a size 4 dress but I think it worked out just fine. 

I tried to cut the collar and sleeves so that they would have little raccoon eyes or faces on them and as a result O is now basically surrounded by little raccoons.  Fortunately, I happen to know that she loves this because I  often find her lifting up her arms and kissing the raccoon faces on her sleeves.

The bodice of the dress is just made out of a coordinating cotton quilting fabric and the lining of the bodice and collar is made from Anna Maria Horner voile left over from this project.

When I first started sewing I thought that hand sewing was the devil and I went out of  my way at every turn to avoid sewing anything by hand, but over the past year or so I've come to appreciate - if not love - some aspects of hand sewing, especially when it comes to making a blind hem on a dress like I did on this one.  Ah, blind hems, you do make me smile.

Want to make your own Hanami dress and pick up the other great patterns included in the Perfect Pattern Parcel or just find out more about this venture that includes a component of "pay what you choose" and donating to charity?  Check out the site - but just remember that the bundle is only available for a limited time.  And remember that if you pay at least $24 for the patterns you get a bonus pattern for free.  Woo-hoo!

Perfect Pattern Parcel #2


Two Types Of Garments

You know how sometimes you make something that is absolutely fabulous, but then you stop and ask yourself "where the hell will I ever wear this thing?"

And sometimes you make something that is decidedly less fabulous, but you realize that you'll most likely wear it once a week, every week, until the end of time.

Well, this top falls firmly in the latter category.  It's a Tova top that has been sewn up by just about every sewist under the sun so it's less than thrilling to see yet another version, but given how much wear my first Tova still gets I'm guessing that this one will similarly get a ton of use.  The fit is a bit better on this one since I went down a size to compensate for my now nonexistent chest (thanks, kids!) and I also happen to like love this color a lot more.  I'll take some really bright great fabric any day!  The fabric is a fairly lightweight swiss dot cotton that I bought ages ago at Fashion Fabrics Club.  It was about time that I finally got around to sewing it into something.  Plus, this top is kind of perfect for spring.  Now if only we could get some spring-like weather.  Any day now...


Victoria BC (AKA What I Learned On Our Three Day Vacation)

- That a lifetime with Ben means a lifetime of running for ferry boats.

- That while Victoria may promote itself as having a temperate climate let's remember that that's compared to the rest of Canada.  I'm going to go on the record as saying that it is not warm there in March!

- That we are physically incapable of eating a meal at a restaurant without spilling at least one drink all over the table.

- That it is impossible to pack light when each child sleeps with a doll, a blanket, and a lovey.

- That afternoon tea is possibly the best - and most delicious - creation ever.  And O sipping tea with her pinky in the air is possibly the cutest thing ever.

- That I love my child's bedhead and I refuse to get rid of it.

- That I will never get tired of seeing my girls hug and kiss each other.

On a less positive note, I did purchase two pieces of fabric while up in Canada but I purchased them at possibly the least friendly fabric store that I've ever been in.  Granted, my children were little hellions in the store, but perhaps if someone had offered some assistance I would have been able to get my little hellions out of there a bit quicker.  I'm just sayin'. 

Okay, rant over.  Back to focusing on my love of this sweet and scenic city.

And the biggest piece of fried salmon that you ever did see.


A Birthday Invitation Is Born

You know what I love?  User-friendly graphic programs because while I bought Photoshop Elements about two years ago I've never managed to find the time or brain power to sit down and learn all the ins and outs of the program.  Basically, I've just abandoned it in favor of iPhoto and Picmonkey because I'm super-lazy like that.  Feel free to judge away.

So when I found Piktochart, a free user-friendly program that allows you to design your own infographics, I think I may have done a little happy dance.  And after completing said happy dance I sat my butt down and designed a little infographic for C's upcoming 2nd birthday.  After fiddling with it for a couple hours, tweaking little things here and there, I realized that I had no idea where to print something like this.  Turns out that you can do it at Costco (because, really, what can't you do/get at Costco?).  So I stuck the infographic on the front and a little picture of C on the back and ta-da!  A birthday card was born.

Considering that I was in labor with C for a whopping two and a half hours, I may have spent more time making this card than actually birthing this nugget.  How's that for perspective?

* And yes, that's not actually C's name on the invitation.  What can I say?  We love a good alias around here.


Ikat Blazer (How's That For a Creative Title?)

Well, I'm still trying to sew from my stash when I can, but what can I say?  Sometimes a girl's gotta buy a little fabric (especially when said fabric is 20% off) and that's just what I did a couple weeks ago. I've been meaning to try out the blazer pattern from Simplicity 2250 for a couple months now but I wanted to be able to pick out the fabric for it in person to make sure that the weight would be right and with life being crazy right now it took a while to find time to make it to a real fabric store.  But I'm so glad that I waited because I love this fabric with the design of the blazer.  The fabric is a cotton twill with a little bit a stretch to it so it'll be easy to wash (something that I always appreciate) without looking overly casual.

When I told Ben what I was planning on making with the fabric he looked at me like that was the worst idea that he's ever heard.  It's possible that he just didn't like the fabric, but it's more likely that he was thinking of all the things that can go wrong in sewing a blazer.  Fortunately this is the simplest jacket/blazer you can image.  There is a facing for the front panels so that it looks nice when open but the rest of the jacket is unlined.

Because it's unlined I got all fancy and did french seams on the inside seams that aren't covered by the facing and I eliminated the back seam, but that was mostly because I didn't want anything breaking up the ikat pattern on the back.

As for the size, I cut out a straight size 10 but I slimmed the waist line a tiny bit to give the blazer a bit more definition in the waistline.  I also sewed all the bias binding on by hand to give the jacket a cleaner finish (plus, I kind of suck at sewing binding on with the machine).  I have to say that the length of this blazer is perfect (which is a miracle since I was super-lazy and I didn't make a muslin) but I wish that I had made the sleeves full length rather than 3/4 length.  Oh well.  Perhaps having my wrists cold will just motivate me to make another one of these suckers!


Elephants on Parade

In case you haven't noticed allow me to point out that there's been a distinct lack of sewing for me around here lately.  Why?  It's pretty simple actually - most of the things that I've attempted to sew for myself lately have ended up being little disasters.

First there were the leggings that I made out of fabric that was too thin for the job and when I put them on I discovered that they show off every lump and bump I own (and my undies).  No bueno.

Then there was the dress that I drafted and made in an attempt to copy a store-bought dress that I own.  I tried to make it out of a really lovely cotton/lycra knit but it ended up being way too tight.  Not a little bit too tight, mind you.  Like "sausage casing" tight.  Not attractive.  And also no bueno.

So after those two projects I was a bit put off of sewing for myself for a while.  It's pretty disheartening when hours of work and yards of fabric end up looking like crap.  But if there's one thing that I've learned from my statistics class this quarter it's that the probably of a project failing three times in a row is only 12.5 percent.  See, math can be fun.

I was thinking of making a tried and true Tova top in an attempt to get at least one success under my belt, but then I became enamored with the idea of sewing up this fantastic batik fabric into a peplum top.  I mean, who doesn't want a peplum that looks like a bunch of elephants on parade?

The fabric is part of a bundle that my mom gave me a couple years ago in an attempt to clean out her ridiculously old stash of fabric.  It's a batik that she bought back when she lived in Indonesia almost forty years ago.  I'd say that it was about time that it got made into something.

For a pattern I used Vogue 8815 which I've actually made before but I was breastfeeding the first time around and now I'm not which means that my chest has shrunk about two sizes since the first time I made the top so I ended up having to make a muslin once again.  I cut out a size 8 but took in the sides a bit around my underarms and let them out a bit around my waist.  I also sewed the peplum on with a 3/8 seam allowance rather than a 5/8 to get the pepulm to hit at my natural waist and I lengthened the peplum portion of the top by about a 1/2 an inch.  I finished the neckline and armholes with homemade bias tape and since I ended up making my bias tape too very narrow I trimmed a 1/2 an inch off of the armholes before attaching the bias tape.  I also ended up lowering the neckline since I discovered that a really high neckline doesn't look so good on me.  When all was said and done I was pretty happy with the entire top except for one thing - there was a bunch of excess fabric around the chest area that I somehow didn't notice when I made the muslin.  I would attribute the excess fabric to the fact that I have a teeny-tiny chest but I remember also having some excess fabric on the top the first time I made the pattern so I'm thinking that the issue may be with the pattern and not my tiny chest.  In any case, while complaining to my husband about the gaping neckline I was hit with a moment of inspiration and decided to make two tiny pleats in the top to take out the excess fabric - and what do you know?  It worked! 

These two little pleats are like two little magicians, turning a top that I kind of liked into a top that I kind of love. 

On a totally unrelated note, allow me to tell you how much I love this cake and caramel sauce.  I made it recently for Ben's birthday and I have to say that it far exceeded my expectations (actually I believe my exact words were "I want to bathe in this sauce").  If you make it you'll either thank me or curse me as you're eating your third piece (or as I like to call it "the piece I'm going to regret").


Two and a Half Yards

Well in case you were ever wondering, here's what you can make out of two and a half yards of luscious Valori Wells knit fabric?

One cardigan.

Two waistbands.

And one dress.

Sadly, I think that this is the last thing that I'll be able to make out of this fabric since I've used up just about every remaining scrap of it.  That's probably a good thing though since I'm guessing that you're kind of sick of seeing this fabric.

The dress is the ever lovely Oliver and S Hopscotch Dress which I happen to think is kind of perfect for everyday wear.  It's made out of knit fabric so it's incredibly comfortable plus it's long sleeved so it's a bit warmer than most dresses.  Those are both big pluses in my book.  The only downside of the pattern is that O is on the verge of outgrowing the sizes that I own so this version is actually a size four with some added length.  Fortunately, O is a bit of a string bean so this actually worked perfectly for her.  I love it when things actually work out  - like unintentional pattern matching at the seams.  Glorious, I tell you!

The neck binding is just leftover brown organic jersey from the same cardigan and harem pants.  I happen to have a tiny bit of this fabric left so you may have to put up with seeing it in at least one more project.

And lest you think that O is happy all the time, here's the face that she gives her little sister to let her know that she is not pleased.


Hats For Bats. Keep Bats Warm.*

I realize that the rest of the county has been buried under snow for the past couple of months but would you all hate me if I told you that we've had a fairly mild winter around here?  Sure it was really cold (at least for us) for a while, but we've had no real snow to speak of.  Well, except for last Sunday.  I didn't even realize snow was in the forecast so imagine my surprise when I woke up to a blanket of it (albeit, a very thin blanket).  We spent what felt like 45 minutes bundling the kids up to go outside and then we hit our local park for some sledding. 

In an effort to tie this in to knitting, allow me to point out the kids' hats.  I made them!  They're actually really simple beanies made from this pattern.  For O's I tried to make it super-slouchy so I added a couple inches to the length of the hat.  The benefit of this is that the hat also now fits my head so I can wear it in a hat emergency (should that ever arise).  The yarn for her hat is an Art Yarns super merino that I purchased six years ago for some long forgotten project.

For C's hat I used a wool-silk blend from Tactile Fiber Arts Studio that is dyed with all-natural dyes.  When O was a baby I attempted to make a tiny baby sweater out of this yarn but I ran out of yarn (and motivation) 3/4 of the way through and the half-knit baby sweater sat in an unfinished pile for the next four years.  I finally got around to ripping it out and while you're technically supposed to wet ripped out yarn and hang it to dry to get rid of the crimp, I decided "screw it" and I just knit it right from the ripped out sweater.  I mean, it's just a kid's hat, right?

So there you go.  Two hats and two happy kids.

Oh, and if you find yourself out in the snow and you're super-lazy like me, just make your kids take a picture in front of a snowman that someone else built.  No one will ever know the difference (unless you write it on your blog, of course). 

*Awesome 1980's movie reference, anyone?  Anyone?
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