Thursday, December 30, 2010

More of my favorite things

I so wish I had been there to see my sister open her gift.  She knew that I was making slippers for my mom and my sister in law.  So, I think she was expecting to get a pair too.  I hoped she was hoping too.  So I wrapped her present in a big long thin box.  It was the perfect size for the fleece slipper boots I had chosen for her and my other sister in law, Kait. Mom said it worked perfectly to throw her off the scent.  And I hear that she loves them and only takes them off when her feet just get too warm from the two layers of fleece.  Perfect for upstate New York I would say.
The beautiful Kait trying on her pair.

The other thing I wish I had been able to see her open were the bibs that I made for tough little Sean Thomas, my littlest nephew.  He looks like a little man with a baby's body, so I thought these would be perfect.  And I was right they are hysterical on him.  

Isn't he a dapper little guy?

A matched set.

 As I mentioned before, my other favorite part of Christmas this year was watching Isaac and the excitement he had in giving gifts he made for everyone.  The three aunts were lucky enough to receive necklaces that Isaac sewed himself.  He chose the fabrics well and I think they were well liked.  Aunt Tracie wore hers to dinner that night, Aunt Kait to church the next day, and Aunt Cheryl wore hers to the spa and got a compliment on it.  A chip off the old block.
The three aunts' necklaces.

He made ornaments for his cousins, and a helicopter ornament for Papa.  He made nesting Santa boxes for Grandma V who loves nesting dolls and Santas.  All great gifts, but I don't have pictures of them.  I do, however, have a pic of the ornament he made for Grandma J who loves snowmen. And of course, it made her cry.  I was so proud of him this year.  He really got the giving spirit. 

Such a sweet boy.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A few of my favorite things...

Now that I am an adult, my favorite part of Christmas is watching people open the things I have made for them.  Actually, I loved that when I was a kid too.  Maybe that's where Isaac gets it from.  So this year, my favorite gifts to give were the ones I spent precious time on. But, I was also super excited to watch Isaac give the gifts he had painstakingly made too.

Having made shoes for Em, I thought, I could make slippers for big people too.  You've seen the ones I made for my mom.  But, the original idea to make them started with my sister in law Tracie who is a self professed shoe-aholic.  I thought she needed something pretty for lounging around the house.  So she ended up with these little numbers. Suede sole, navy blue wool upper (cause blue's her favorite color), cream fleece lining and a pretty flower.  I can just imagine her cats chasing her feet around.

My feet already miss them...

And that will have to be all for now, as my children who should be napping, aren't.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Merry Christmas to me...

Sometimes when I am sewing I get a little distracted by the scraps laying around begging to be made into something instead of being tossed like so much trash.  Such was the case a couple of days ago. I think I may keep this one for myself...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A gift given

I've been busy busy busy making Christmas presents, which obviously, I can't post about.  What if they see?  But, we had an early Christmas with my folks in Cleveland this past weekend so these are no longer a secret. 

For years and years I remember the hunt for black Isotoner slippers for my mom.  She wears them everyday so by December she's in need of new ones.  Having recently tackled baby shoes and thoroughly enjoying them, I thought, how perfect would it be to make slippers for my mom this year?

There were, however, two attempts.  The pattern I used didn't call for elastic at all, but when I got one done I thought it absolutely needed some to ensure a good fit.  But, I had used what little I had left of a special purple fabric my mom had given to me from her own stash years ago.  I was sad to have lost that fabric, but once I got the second pair done, I realized that I could use the inserts from the first pair for a pop of color.

Like Mom, classic on the outside, wild on the inside.

Cozy, comfy and stylish.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Leaf It to Me

I admit, that was cheesy. But, I have leaves on the brain right now. Cutting out a whole bunch of them will do that to you. I had to take the Halloween and birthday decorations down today, and I guess I had gotten used to having them up, because the whole room looked so plain.  I'm not ready to do winter or Christmas yet.  I have big plans for that.  But, Thanksgiving is first and so, what to do for that?

For the mantel

I love those letters and am having so much fun finding other times to use them beyond birthdays.  And I really like the understated leaves.  I copied pages from a dear old book of my Mom's onto cardstock for some of them. And I used some muted gold poster board that we had from another project. 

  I hung some from the windows flanking the fireplace too. I'm very happy with them and the gentle reminder they give.


Friday, October 29, 2010

Birthday Bash!

My sweet Monkey Boy turned two this week.  How did the baby that I prayed so long for get so big so fast?  If you've ever met Jonas you understand the nickname.  He's mischievous and silly and sweet and climbs every thing.  Given that, we of course had to go ape for his birthday.

We kept the celebration small.  My kids alternate big party years, and this year was big brother's turn.  But, it still has to be special, right?  Since my little monkey ripped our other birthday banners it gave me a perfect excuse to make one that was more graphic.  Inspired by the banner over at Life in the Fun Lane, I wanted something we could all use.

I started by color copying pages from an old book from my mother's childhood.  Got the aged look without having to tea stain.  Then I used those pages to print the large black letters.  I backed them with card stock circles and sandwiched black crepe paper between them, trimming them down to a more masculine size.  My final trick was that I glued a card stock loop on back so that I could thread them onto ribbon or twine, making them reusable.

Then, of course he needed a birthday hat, so I threw this together:

For dinner, he wanted his two favorites, pancakes and hotdogs. So, of course, that got the monkey treatment too...

Normally, I create a cake in the shape of whatever my kids are into at the time.  But, with the monkey theme, I couldn't resist making these insanely delicious looking Banana Caramel Cupcakes from Bakers Royale.  But, this was a party for a two year old, and that seemed quite sophisticated.  So, I made up a little bunting with a happy little monkey swinging from it, tied it to two skewers and viola!

Guess which one went to the birthday boy.  Birthday was a smashing success as is evidenced here:

I love you Monkey Boy!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Go Vote!

Okay, I know we have a very important election day coming up on the 2nd.  Seriously, go vote that day. 

But, that's not what this is about.  One of my designs made the top 15 in the Shabby Apple Dresses contest.  Woo! I'm flattered to have placed.  #12 is totally going to beat, well, everyone.  I knew she would win before they posted the finalists.  I follow her blog and she's very talented.  That being said, she doesn't really need your votes, so if you could throw some love my way and vote for me, I would appreciate it. 

Click here to see the finalists and read the rules for voting.  But, the link they provided isn't currently working properly, so if it still won't work you can come back and click here to vote. My dress is number 8.  Thank You!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Little Orphan Boot

Aren't I pretty?

With the colder weather I have been anxious to make Emeline a pair of boots.  Something warmer.  Something neutral.  Something modern romantic.  I found the perfect pattern to start with at Sewingwithme1 on Etsy.  I actually got to start making them yesterday.  Knowing that the 0-3 month Mary Janes I made her are becoming too small, I went up not one but two pattern sizes.  I lovingly created one perfect boot and tried it on her.  Heartbreak!  Too small.  Her feet are so long, and the wool I used to line them is pretty thick, so maybe that is what went wrong.

Still, it's such a lovely little thing I would hate to see it languish in my work room, never to see the light of day.  So I am looking for someone to adopt it and it's yet to be made twin.  If you know anyone who has a tiny little thing needing a stylish pair of boots for a mere $15, do let me know. 

Wool lining, leather sole, velcro closure

sweet sophistication

Monday, October 18, 2010

A little Fall Decorating,

In spite of the fact that my mother always decorated for every holiday in some way shape or form, I have never really done the decorating for Halloween bit.  I'm not really into grisly, ghastly or gruesome.  But, ever since I had an October baby two years ago, I find myself getting much more festive this time of year. Waiting for him to be born those few weeks that October with my Mom and my sister and her boys all here together is one of my most special memories.  And, of course, both ladies were aghast that I had no Halloween decorations.  I think we had even gone a year or two without a pumpkin.  No way were they going to let us get away with that again.  It was such a wonderful time, the cousins trick or treating together, the baby I had prayed for finally in my arms while I doled out candy to neighborhood children, my son wearing the awesome Wall-E costume that we had made together before little brother's arrival.  It was just so special. 

My little pumpkin...

I think my Mom and Sis would be proud.  We've already bought not one, but four pumpkins this year.  And the slightly spooky handmade decorations are slowly but surely going up.  Now, you will never find skeletons half buried in my yard, or witches face first in any of my trees.  But, you will see a tasteful nod or two to All Hallows Eve adorning my front room.  And very soon, the Happy Birthday sign will be going up.

A nod to Mr Poe, a must.

Going batty

I love those letters up top, one of my favorite Country Living Fair purchases, and I love Isaac's pumpkin on the bottom. 

Two pilots, my grandpa and my dad fit right in with the winged creatures.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Daring to Design for Shabby Apple Dresses, again

Well, now.  After agonizing over just one design for this contest for Shabby Apple Dresses, I find out today, deadline day, that more than one entry is permissible. So I do hope you will indulge me, but I would like to submit two more designs that I love.  (I mean, seriously, it was like choosing between my three children.) 

Okay, now the runner up from my first post was this one:

 I have always loved this design in strapless.  I first designed it when I was in college and we had to do a collection inspired by Dior's New Look.  It was a modern take, and I loved its simple clean lines. But, making it pale gray and the addition of the gauzy white sleeves makes it practical enough that perhaps I will finally make it for myself to actually wear.  Both fabrics would be cotton (so easy to launder), breezy sheer cotton for the sleeves and something with more body for the body of the dress.  And then a delicate raspberry colored ribbon at the waist.  The deep box pleats give the skirt fullness without a pesky crinoline underneath. 

And here we have dress design number one beside dress design number three.  Since we've already discussed dress number one, let's talk about number three.

Poor number three, nobody voted for her, but I still love her.  All white cotton, with the exception of raspberry stripes at the waist.  Sweet little eyelet trim on the puff sleeves and at the top of the collar.  Off centered button closures again and a feminine bow.  She makes me think of stylized old movies with lots of singing and dancing and the like.  She's sweet and ladylike and just a little bit out of the ordinary.

Okay, that's all I promise.  I'll keep you posted...

Dress Design for Shabby Apple Dresses

In case you were wondering, the winner from my first post was this little number:

I love it.  I can see my grandmother heading to her job at the Pentagon in it.  The design is for Shabby Apple Dresses.  If you haven't found them yet, you should definitely stop by.  They have beautiful designs, with a nod to days gone by.  And you are guaranteed that no neckline will be too low and no hemline will be too high.  That's hard to come by these days.

Now, on this dress, the most important feature is the sleeves.  A slight puff at the shoulder seam, then carefully pleated into a wide band above the elbow. The body of the bodice would be cut on the bias for a flattering fit, with an off center closure.  A simple stand collar with a bow for a final touch of femininity.  Given there is so much going on up top, the bottom would be a super simple, and sexy, pencil skirt. As it would be all one piece, there would be a side zipper, hidden so as not to spoil the two piece illusion.   I'm loving it in navy blue and white.  It should be a nice crisp cotton fabric.  Though I think I would want to find something with a slight sheen to it for the top.

So there you have it.  Wish me luck!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

What was that?

Man, I have been on an absolute tear lately, getting this house ship shape. Having had two babies in less than two years, things have gotten a little chaotic around here. It was visually overwhelming and gave me a sense of claustrophobia. Now that baby girl is a few months old, I have started to feel a need to shed more than just the postpartum pounds. Things have been flying out of here left and right.  And while there are big projects we would love to tackle, finances (two babies in two years) prohibit.

However, there have been little things we've been able to do that have made a big difference around here. We inherited a very brown family room, and had to move our brown couch in there.  So, I have been trying to imbue color and make it somehow warmer.  I plan to paint, paint, paint, I promise.  But, somehow in three years we haven't been able to get to it.

Well, how about a couple of these for some added color?

I love, love, love some of the fabrics in these pillows...

Ah, Missouri, where it all began...
Last year my mom and I were able to go to the Country Living Festival.  So much fun.  While there, I found this lovely pillow.  I bought Missouri and Alabama.  They make me smile every time I see them.  I love quilts for a couple of reasons.  For one thing I am a sucker for patterns.  And for another, I am a sucker for history.  Quilts have tons of both.  They exude comfort and warmth, what more could I want for our family room.  So this year, at the CL Fair, I headed straight for that booth, intent on buying more pillows.  But, then while I was looking at them, and their price tags, I thought, I could totally do this myself. (Something I say to myself a lot at places like that.) Well, low and behold at another favorite booth, what should be there but the top of an old quilt.  The fabrics were so reminiscent of my grandparents era.  They were in mostly good condition too, and the fact that it was already detached from the rest of itself was perfect since that way I wouldn't feel so guilty cutting it up. I think they add the perfect touch of color and comfort to our antique daybed, which admittedly was not the most comfortable seat in the house. 

So what's next?  Remember the old door I had my hubby drag out of the trash?  Well, upon closer inspection, it may have been a window.  It's an odd size so I am not sure what it was, but I still love the look of it.  This weekend I removed a portion of the screen, leaving 2/3 of it in place because I like the look of it.  Here's a before pic. See any potential? Yesterday I placed it on the wall over the couch.  I'm living with it, playing around with it and seeing what strikes my fancy.  But, I will give you a peek at it on the wall so you can believe that it belongs up there and not back in the trash heap...

Friday, October 1, 2010

Here She Is...

This is too much fun.  I finally got Em's dresser done, and it is now up in her, turning-ever-girlie-er room.  I may need to reign myself in.  But, not yet.

 So here is the dresser "before" for those of you who have never seen it.  It worked very well in Isaac's cowboy room. But it was a little too rustic for what I am going for in Em's room. So I asked someone who knows about these things, thank you, Melissa, and she thought I could definitely make something out of it with a little paint. So picture me giddily scouring Etsy for some incredible vintage hardware, which I found for about four dollars a pull.  Yay! This is by far the most dramatic change I have ever set about making to a piece of furniture.  We've painted Justin's old dresser a couple of times for the boys to use, and the diaper changing station has seen a few coats of paint.  Also the $35 bed I got from Craigslist got a coat of black paint before it went into Isaac's room.  But, this required a total personality change. (For the dresser, just to be clear.)

So, I loved the slats and grooves on the side, but didn't want to keep the ones on the drawers. Enter wood filler. That was quite a process and I was nowhere near as precise or careful as I could/should have been.  But, given this thing is supposed to look banged up and shabby, it luckily works.  Next came paint.  I primed with a cream colored spray paint in a couple of coats.  Then rolled on more of a white shade.  After all of that I was somewhat pained by the idea of taking sandpaper to it and purposefully "messing up" all that hard work.  But, looking at it, I decided it really did need a little something.  After all, the hardware I'd bought had chippy black paint.  It would be silly to put those on a pristine paint job.  And in actuality it turned out to be the most fun part of the whole project.  Feeling like an artist.  After a couple of coats of varnish, my wonderful husband put on the handles and we finally got it into the room last night.  It only took two months start to finish. Ha!  But, it was worth it.  I love it and I didn't have to sell the dresser that my mom and I shopped so long for. Ah, memories.

                                              At any rate, she isn't perfect, but here she is.

My hubby says he loves that the handles look like butterflies.
This has always been one of my favorite parts of this thing.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Lend Me Your Sleeves

And I will make pants.  My daughter needs a lot of them with the cooler weather coming and all.  And, now having three children to clothe, I needed inexpensive.  Well, it doesn't get more inexpensive than free.

So today I found the time to do a fun, quick and easy project and the result was that my daughter now has a lovely little pair of cream colored silk pants. Made from the sleeves of an old sweater.  And now that I have the basics all sorted out, I see lots more of these in the future.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Holy Cats

That's a saying my best friend coined, and for some reason, whenever anything remarkable happens, that's what pops into my head now.  And something remarkable did happen today.  Somehow, I was able to carve out a couple of hours and sew.  I find that even though the kids go to bed relatively early, by the time they are down, I am just too wiped out to go downstairs and do any of the incredible things I imagined that day.  My mind is just too worn out to think as hard as it would need too.  And my body just wants to sit and do nothing after all the up, down and all around that raising three young ones demands.  So, if I can't get it done during the day, it usually doesn't happen. 

But, today it did!  And I was able to get these lovely darlings sewn up. 

Sweet little baby shoes for Emeline.  The red was from one of her dad's old sweaters.  The floral was a little perk I got in an Etsy purchase I made a while ago, bonus fabric used as packaging.  I love it.  And I love the look of the shoes.  Sadly, when I got them on the model I noticed they're too big in some places.  She has long skinny feet.  So, maybe tonight I'll get back down there to tweak them.  If I'm not too tired, that is...

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

What a Weekend

Well, perhaps I didn't get as much done this weekend as I would have liked, but, thanks to my wonderful hubby, I was able to get a little done.  I did manage to get my daughter's dresser partially painted.  It still needs another coat or two and then the verathane and then the hardware.  Ah, me.  It will get done eventually, right?

Another on the must do before it gets cold list, brought to mind by the cooler weather recently, is make shoes for my daughter.  I could buy them, but I just can't bring myself to do so.  Since I made Jonas his first pair, I really want her first pair to be homemade.  Here's a pic of Jo's, which he graciously let Emmy wear Sunday.

I have been cleaning and throwing out tons of stuff.  I am tired of the constant clutter.  However, on Sunday I did have Justin pull something out of someone else's pile of trash and bring it home.  I am super excited about it though.  It's an old screen door.  I love it's chippy black frame.  I had hoped to use it as art over Em's dresser with a mirror in one part, cork board in another and art in the last.  But, on closer inspection, her room doesn't have the wall space I would need for it.  So, now I think that I will use it over our blue couch.  Stay tuned for the results...

And for some inspiration, instead of looking online or in magazines, I am looking around my home, focusing on the things I have that make me smile every time I see them.  Here's one of them.  I love these pictures of my grandparents.  My grandma looks so beautiful, and my grandfather, so dashing.  The one of him in the tree reading and smoking his pipe is so him.  I remember him reading three books at a time.  My grandparents played a huge role in my childhood, and I am pretty sure they are why I love all things vintage.  Anything that comes from their era, I am a sucker for.  And seeing their wedding picture reminds me of the Thanksgiving that my grandmother was in the hospital, and my grandfather was pacing whenever he wasn't with her.  It reminds me of the playful way they acted together at their 50th wedding anniversary.  And it reminds me of the incredible last moment they shared together just before he passed away.  I am so glad to have found a love like that myself, and am so thankful for their example in my life.