Tag Archive | sewing

Gifts for cold and creative kids

Every year I make something for the kids (and sometimes more people) and this year I was inspired by the fact that they tie blankets onto and around themselves, with various levels of “success” to be part of their games.  I read ages ago that giving kids things that can be used in games rather then specific use objects is better for their imaginations.  I posted about this a few weeks ago when I had just finished #1 and said I was excited to see how they liked them.  I also got an email asking how they liked them so here is the answer 🙂

(If you don’t recall or don’t want to click over, they are capes made from blankets that have a hood and a built-in tie/scarf.  They also have pockets for either hands or stuff.)

I knew when I made 3 identical capes they would be used in very not identical ways and I was not wrong.  In the crush of Christmas they were overlooked a little, but, I was rewarded when we got home when Zoe and Fiona were using them in an elaborate game.

Zoe was a bird in the game and she was using the hand pockets to make wings and loved running around the house.

Fiona was a hunter and tied her hood tight and wrapped the scarf around her whole body to make it a coat and she was trying to hide her sword (bird catching sword) when I made them pose for the picture.

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Niamh actually started using hers instead of a jacket and has worn it out to walk the dog more than once.  She ties a bow in a third perfectly valid, and very sweet, way to wear the cloak.img_4837

We also live in a cold state and our house is pretty tight but there are still cold spots and a wearable warm thing is a good idea so I made myself one too.  I find myself wearing it in the evening for reading time to give extra snuggle time while also keeping my phone safe in the pocket as we transition into bedtime.  So many of my outfits lack pockets…

If anyone wants the how-to on this let me know.  I used $3 blankets and they took me under 20min to make.  I have never seen this particular pattern online but it also isn’t all that unique a design so I may have just missed it.

I have used up my computer time for now so I must get back to the list of things to do (that may or may not include reading the book I finally got to start….)

 

 

 

 

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Suddenly Christmas is in 2 weeks

How does this happen to me every year?  I feel like there is ages to go and then suddenly it is crunch time.

I got the Christmas cards created, printed, address updated and printed, stamps and all in the mail.  I must say that Avery templates have gotten really good.  I used them to make super cute return address labels and they printed out so much easier than using the mail merge.

We have completed our holiday craft item.  I’m experimenting with essential oil sprays and settled on 2 – one full of anti bug stuff to repel anything crawly, and, the other is just good smelling and with the high alcohol content it is really good at taking the smell out of non-washable things.  We did a very scientific test – we took Lars’s riding gloves that are full of years worth of hand sweat and sprayed one and not the other and then got everyone who came over to do a sniff test.  I think we actually did it because while the experimental glove never exactly got to smell ‘good’ it no longer smelled bad and the control was found every time.  More credit to Avery for their printable templates.  I buy the labels and go online and super easily create the perfect size graphics.  I got the kids to do the drawings and I uploaded and tweaked them to fit and I’m happy with the results.

I’m in the middle of the sewing project for the kids.  This year I’m inspired by the fact that they constantly steal all the living room blankets and find ways to tie them onto themselves as capes or dresses or disguises…  I decided to make each of them a cloak with a hood out of a blanket BUT they have built-in scarf/tie to make them easy to keep on AND little hand pockets on the edge that can either be for better wing shape, or, putting things into.  I wish I had a loner kid to test the design, I can’t wait to give it to them!

 

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modeled by Good Girl Puppy who is about the same size as Fiona’s head and torso.  Note the paw pocket on the right. 

 

Decorations are on the scant side this year.  We put a bunch of them into storage and I don’t know where they are.  The 2 boxes we kept out did have some of the most important ornaments and there is enough to look festive overall.  It did hower prompt a Dad-joke.

Lars – “look there is a bare spot”

Me – “where, I thought we found enough to look pretty good”

Lars – “right here” lol

Me – eye roll and laugh, I do love a good bad joke.

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I’m glad the major projects are winding down and the decorations are all up (rather than in totes around the house waiting) so the house can get back to a mostly clean status.  I was reluctant to put up the tree given the ornament situation and that we are always away for actual Christmas.  However, all three kids have remarked on how much they love it and how magical it is that I’m glad we did it.  One bonus to not having our decorations – we had to go get new lights and we finally found a solution to our White v Color lights situation.  Target had lights that are BOTH!  and also LED so I don’t feel bad leaving them on for maximum magical moments.  Even being woken up by a 2am nosebleed is more magical when gently lit by a Christmas tree.

 

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color

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white

 

This is my last full week in MN for the year – next week is my birthday and then we take off for the holiday to return sometime near newyears (not totally planned).  I hope to do the gift rationalization where I go investigate my hidden stashes and see what I need to finish up.  That is my plan for the rest of today before kid time, just wanted to hop online to see how the blog world is doing.

Dress for cheap = cheap

We have all seen the super inexpensive sites with cute dresses or coats for unbelievable prices.  You know there is a catch.  There is always a catch….

When I saw this one though I was hooked.  It was the A-line, it was the cool top, and the real reason I forked over the price of 3 coffees was the fabric.  I wanted it for Christmas and it has been ages since I got a dress for an occasion so I took the risk.

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Note!  I have done some research on this topic, I’m not the first person to take a risk and so I learned from others that the sizes are very very very different.  I zoomed in on the size chart and found myself ordering an XL as that best correlated to my 6-8 American size.

I also know that shipping is slow but since I was seeing this two weeks before Thanksgiving I crossed my fingers and hoped it would arrive before Christmas travel.

  • It arrived yesterday, about a month later but in plenty of time
  • Right out of the package it needed an iron but otherwise, construction was decent.  Finished seams and the zipper worked.
  • Fabric was as cute as I hoped, very pleased with the print.

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The real test was fit.  I tried it on and it was both too big and too small at the same time.

I absolutely had to do some tailoring on the sides so I didn’t even bother taking a picture of it on me before I took out 2 inches on each side because instead of the hourglass shape in the model picture, mine was more of a cylinder with a pleated skirt.  Trimming in the sides did  make it better, I solved the ‘too big’ issue in just a few seams.

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black lines are where I pulled it in.

So here you see it.  It isn’t ‘bad’ but it sure isn’t good.img_4744

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Do you see where my hands are? They are on my natural waist, about where the skirt should be…  it isn’t.  It is two inches or more off and it makes the proportions of the top look wrong to me (and to the other people who saw it on me).  It looks frumpy and even if I carved out another inch or so to make it actually tight I can’t fix the length of my top.

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The second odd situation is the bust area.  I like the way the structure looks (still needs an iron) but it too high for my chest.  Ironically if I pull it down to be in the right spot for my chest then the waist is closer to correct but it is impossible to actually make it stay like that.  Maybe the shoulders are wrong?  If I added length to the shoulder then the armhole would be so big you could see my entire bra.  The armhole is actually the only thing that is about perfect.

I think the only way to salvage is to chop the top off and have a cute skirt with adorable fabric.  This is a test shot with the top folded down.  While I’m at it, I might shorten it a touch to be knee length instead of tea length but I’ll see about that later.  Since I’m cutting and sewing already I’ll probably add pockets.

In the end, I’ll end up with a skirt I can probably wear more frequently than once a year for Christmas but I’ll also have put in the time to make it happen.  I do like that it already has a zipper, that is my least favorite part and if someone said that they would do the zipper on a skirt for me for the price of 3 coffees I would absolutely do that.

I think I learned my lesson on internet cheap dresses.  Unless I’m looking at it for the fabric, it is not worth the price regardless how low it is.

Jasmine!

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This year with all the extra work I’m doing I can’t handcraft each costume so step one was the thrift store for all 3 girls.  We scored on 2 (Amazon took care of 3) and here is my incredibly easy Jasmine costume.

  1. We got lucky at the store to find a women’s skirt in the right color and with gorgeous Indian beading.  I was really just looking for a skirt in the correct color and gauzy fabric so I think that even if you don’t find something beaded you can find something ‘right’img_4236.jpg I took some ribbon and stitched it onto the top to make two straps.  We were lucky that the fit was pretty good otherwise but my plan was to make a few tucks if it was too big.  The extra perk is that the length lets us get away with normal leggings, not poofy pants, and, since it is so pretty she doesn’t notice that it isn’t the belly showing style that Jasmine actually wears.  This works much better for a 5 year old.

2.  For the iconic hair, I got a simple black wig and some foldover elastic in the right color. It was easy to tie 3 spots to make just the right hairdo for Jasmine.  Foldover elastic is easier than ribbon since it won’t slip.

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3. The key to costumes is getting some details right and for Jasmine, the headband with the jewel is the most memorable.  I used Sculpey clay and got a pack of ‘gems’ that had a big one in the right blue.  The only trick I did was in order of operations;

  • make the round piece of clay and press the jewel into it to make an imprint.  Remove jewel and poke 4 holes in the imprint like buttonholes
  • bake Sculpey clay
  • sew the gold onto a length of foldover elastic, just like a button
  • glue gem into its spot, covering the sewing
  • position the headband onto the wig and pin/sewimg_4295

We tried to make the gold necklace and hoop earrings also out of Sculpey clay.  The earrings worked but I’m not sure they are worth it since the hair covers her ears and the clips hurt her after 10 min.  The necklace was a failure, broke in 5 min so we scratched that and just used the pretty chunky necklace in the right color (also a thrift find).

This entire thing had about 10min of hand sewing, some creative shopping, preschool level sculpting, and hot glue.  I won’t be winning any cosplay prizes but I think she captures the spirit of the princess and she loves it.  It cost about $15 total and I think she will actually wear the dress again and NOT look like a costume.

 

Hello April!

It has been a week and quite a week it has been.  Busy days seem to go faster so the past week has been light speed.img_2342

Last week I had an ‘unplanned’ Friday.  There were things to do but nothing HAD to get done that day until a 3:30 start at school for a major setup and I was ready for a great day of finishing things.  I was still considering my copious options when the phone rang and that was the end of unplanned.  Thus is the life of multi-home ownership, sometimes the washer just dies and because friends live there I moved heaven and earth to get them a washer that day.  Technically I just moved a washer up and down a set of stairs (with help) but in between was a bunch of calls to find a washer and the drive to go get it.  The set up for the carnival went well but ate up the evening and I did finally get a call into my dad to celebrate his 26th birthday.

 

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he is over 6’…

The weekend was a social blur with the school carnival, great weather, friends stopping over, an impromptu backyard fire where we burned the Christmas tree is spectacular 12 ft flames (only for about 2 minutes).  General peace and happiness for all.

 

 

Monday the kids had off for no apparent reason.  So, we did things around the house but none of the things I needed to get done.  On the other hand, Niamh exercised her creative side with a sewing machine gifted to us by a friend who appreciates little kids learning to sew.  I was amazed that she really could do it.  I know, I personally taught her and she

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has seen me do it, but her fingers and brain just worked together and she really really did the sewing herself this time.  I have grand visions of her sewing with me now, hopefully getting things done faster.

Tuesday with only one child was still a dervish of activity.  We had our vent hood put in and that went really really well.  We were lucky that there was nothing structural in the way (besides the roof).  There was a crazy moment of fire when the drop cloth used to protect the brand new stove kinda caught on fire because the installer was leaning against the burner dials.  It was seen promptly and nobody was hurt and everyone laughed including the installer.  I also had the over-scheduled day that included a conference for Fiona (she is doing very well), swim lessons for Fiona (also doing well and can even swim somewhat and can actually float on her back!), swim lessons for Niamh and Zoe (they have been good for a while, this is refinement) and finally home for dinner where I tag Lars who has an aerobic class at 6:45.  Quite a day.

 

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it needs trim, I’m working on that…

 

Wednesday I have no blog excuse except I spent all day working on work and my computer was being a pain.  So were many other programs and I was just done with the computer by the time I got the things done for people who pay me.

Today I did 3 under dresses and the end is in sight for the 3 over dresses – hand sewing only that I like to do while I watch TV.  I ‘wasted’ some time chilling with Fiona in bed because she really needed a nap.  I got a nap at least and in the end, she did too, so I’m stealing some time here to document how not working can end up being very very busy.

The weather is totally helping things not feel too crazy because we can go outside and the kids play after dinner.  It might not do great things for our schedule but they are less cranky overall and while they play I can do things.

Tomorrow is Niamh’s birthday so all the while we have been counting down.  We have done shopping, there are plenty of gifts even though 9 is a really hard age to shop for.  Breakfast is planned and tonight after my school board meeting I’ll be getting the traditional balloons ready for breakfast.  The day will have to be shared with a road trip because we are off to an event for the weekend.  In her honor, we got a fun hotel with a pool with slides and there is a plan for cake by the pool at 9 pm CST (parents and sisters note for calling in)

Now I have just a few minutes before they come home and we need to scoot to a friends house for a final fitting and then to my ‘date’ core conditioning class.  If I want to add pictures and maybe spell check I need to leave things here semi unfinished (just like my life!)

Nerd + Crafting

My dear husband, who I promise is an adult and contributing member of society, loves to play D&D with his guy friends.  It is his ‘guys night’ and a bunch of his friends go off and have very creative adventures in the comfort of the livingroom **major bonus of being an adult, they don’t have to be banished to the basement**.  I’ve played occasionally and it is fun enough, but I prefer to have the nice solo night at home where I get to eat a quiet dinner and watch whatever I like on tv.

Anyway, like all hobbies, there are tons of things marketed directly at them.  There are the books and stuff, but then there are the extras and we are the proud owners of a very nice set of spell templates.  They are nicely done truly – you put them on the playing board to show how far your fire ball or ice stream goes.  They came on a giant piece of thin plastic so my first contribution to this was my ability to cut very nicely.

 

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spell sheet from Arc Knight – check them out, they are a great small business

 

The issue becomes how to carry all these bits…  For scale, that Capt America/Iron Man box is the length of a pencil (and is full of guess what; pencils!).  Some of the spells are wide, some are long, some are very very small…. How to keep them all safe?

I happened to have a yard of super hero fabric and my machines were all set up so instead of folding laundry last night I made this;

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Not just a bag!  Imagine how big a fail it would be just put them all in a tote.  The tiny ones would be gone, the long ones would be bent, and one can’t let an opportunity to make tiny pockets pass by.

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First of all, I made the side and half the bottom open for easy access.  Husband has big bear paws and if the chaos he leaves looking for a spatula in the drawer is any indication, he needs the ability to see all the pockets.  There are snaps up the side of the bag and velcro on the bottom (wraps up and around so there is a more secure bottom).  The pocket on the left is for the long thing things, across the bottom are all the large triangles and circles, and the wee little pocket on the top are for the little bits.  There is also room for the dice and pencil box and probably a book or 3.

Do you notice more snaps?  I decided that based on the variety of sizes,  small things would get lost in each pocket and to indulge more crafting energy; all the pockets open up for easy access

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So other than an oddly unfortunate fabric placement that makes all the small spells seem to be stored in The Hulks armpit, and, it isn’t lined, I’m very happy with it and more importantly so is he.

This took less that a yard and if I was starting again I would integrate the velcro better by just making the back longer than the front so it could fold up neatly.  I thought of the velcro after when snaps were not really making it on the bottom once he asked to store more things.