Dress um ups

That's how my daughter says dress ups.  She's been talking a lot lately about how Santa is going to bring her "pink dress um ups."  Although yesterday she was talking about purple ones.  I hope she changes her mind back to pink before Christmas, or she might be a little disappointed.  Here's what I've done so far:

No pictures of the process- it's all after bedtime work, which means pictures would be so crappy they're not even worth taking.  I snuck down to the basement this morning to take these. 

I'm so excited to give these to my girl.  She wears dress up skirts all day, every day.  And to bed.  "Look mommy, I a pin-cess!"  There will be at least one more, made of chiffon.  I'm thinking either a circle skirt or a gored one.  Something more on the long and flowy side of things that will be good for spinning.  I might do a bubble skirt, too.  Now that I've started I can't stop- there's just something so addicting about making these super easy skirts.

So, although I have no tutorial, I do have some tips.  The top skirt is costume satin- finish your edges before you gather anything!!  I didn't for the bottom layer and it was just fraying everywhere.  That satin stuff is crazy.  I zig-zagged all the rest of my raw edges before messing with them and it was a lot less messy.  One tip for the no-sew tutu: if you want it to really stick out, stick some netting in there. 


Piano bench!

It's out of the garage and in the house!  This is a big deal.  I've only ever done one other big painting project, and this turned out well (although spray paint is pretty fool-proof) and it's my practice for an even bigger project that I might just have done before the new year. 

So here's the before.  I know I posted a picture of it before, but then I realized it didn't look so bad, so I went back and took some pictures of how crappy this thing was before I took care of it.

{I suppose it wasn't that bad...from a distance.}

{The glazing or whatever that the previous owner attempted was a really ugly brown.  And they definitely didn't prime before they painted, because it was chipping off like crazy in a bunch of places.}
I had originally planned to just do a light sanding and then priming and painting, but because of the paint chippiness, I ended up pretty much taking it all off.

{I got it down to its original stain or bare wood almost everywhere.  The upped left corner in this picture is white because of sunlight.}
As I took off the paint and uncovered the original stain color, I got kind of annoyed, because the original stain looked really close to what my husband had used on the piano.

An aside:  Here's why this project even happened.  For our first anniversary, my husband got me a piano (he's awesome).  Of course, cash was tight, so he was looking forever on Craigslist for a piano that worked and was in our budget.  He found one a week before our anniversary, but it was ugly.  He bought it anyway and then worked with a friend on it, stripping it down and re-staining it.  They got the whole piano done in week, but not the bench.  He was wiped out on refinishing furniture after that week, and so when he gave it to me, told me the bench was going to be my responsibility.  I was ok with that, and now after almost 4 years later and about 3.9 years after the leftover piano stain was lost, it's DONE!

Here it is now:

I did some light distressing that you can't even see in the photo, and might later go over it was a bit of stain or possibly stencil the top, but for now I have a real place to sit when I play.  It's great.

A detail I love:
I mod-podged some fabric over the bench bottom before I nailed it back on.  I love it.  Bonus tip: When mod-podging over a large area, start in a corner and move out ward a little bit at a time, smoothing like crazy.  Worked like a charm.

I hope everyone had an excellent Thanksgiving and for those of you not in the States, I hope your Thursday was totally rad.


Appliquéd ornament pillow

I love this pillow.  You probably won't, if you really love good embroidery.  Because I'm not an embroiderer.  I know the name of like 2 stitches, and I'm not very good at either.  However, I like my very imperfect, informal style of embroidering, at least on this pillow.  Here she is:
 I used a combination of all the stitches I knew how to do and did some machine embroidering/appliquéing as well. 
{Machine zig zag around the edge, hand sewn buttons.}

{Blanket stitch around the edge plus a running stitch to attach the vintage lace.}

{All machine.}

{Running stitch}

{Running stitch plus back stitching}
I used gray flannel for the pillow body.  I had wanted to use burlap, but then realized that would be really hard to embroider on it. 

It was fun to make this.  I'm no hand sewing expert, so it was just kind of fun to try whatever and just kind of mess around on this pillow.  All the unevenness adds charm, right?


Let the Christmas crafts commence- Ornament trees

I haven't done anything original in awhile, so it's about time.  I thought of doing something like this last year, but was too sick/busy finishing this to make it happen.  So this year, when I saw these mini ornaments at Walmart, I decided it was time.

They were about $3.50 each.  Not bad, but I'm going to check out the dollar store (that was my original plan, but by the time I got out last night, it was closed) next time.  I started by hot gluing some ornaments in a ring about 6-7 inches in diameter.  Then I just kept building up, ring on ring, leaving the middle empty so I could get maximum tree out of the ornaments I had.
See?  It's hollow.
I like it.  It's going to be perfect on the mantle in a week or so, with Christmas lights all around it and reflected by it.  Mmmmm.  I'm going to make a few more, I think, in different metallics.  It's about a foot tall, but I might put it up on a candle stick or something.. 
Here's to the beginning of Christmas crafting!


Big plans

I have a few things I want to make for gifts this Christmas.  The picture above is my plan for a play mat for the little one (from Santa).  I'm going to make it in four sections. 

The first section, the red oval, is going to just be a mirror (one of those child safe ones) propped up on a triangle pillow that will attach to the mat with velcro.  When I say "propped up" I actually mean permanently attached to the triangle pillow.  The reason it will be attached to the mat with velcro is so the mat can be washable.  I'll also put some fabric loops where I can attach toys with those rings you get at the store. 

The second section, with the blue rectangles, will be little flaps that cover pictures that I can remove.  I'm going to make some kind of pocket with clear vinyl so I can just slide them in and out.  This idea, to have pictures of family on the play mat, is pretty much what's driving me to finish it, because I'm pretty sure it'll be a big pain and I'll regret not just buying one.  I'll probably be clinging pretty hard to how cool it will be that the mat is customized with our pictures. 

The third section, the pink square, will be kind of a fabric touch book.  Burlap, fur, minky, fake leather, etc.  I'm not sure if it will be a book, I'll have to see what works.  Whatever happens, that quadrant will be about the sense of touch.

I'm unsure about the green circles right now.  It will be about the sense of sound.  A squeaker, a bell, crinkle flaps, more fabric loops to attach things that will make noise, etc. 

I'm putting the plans up now for a few reasons.  I'm just excited is a big one.  I also want to share with anybody who might be making something similar, and I want to give myself time to incorporate any advice that I might get.  So if you have any, all you have to do is click on "comments." 

ONE WEEK UNTIL THANKSGIVING!! WHAT?!  I wish luck to any of you that are making any of your gifts to give!


Thrifted sweater to baby sweater dress

For this, I used this tutorial.  I swear, there's nothing at Make It and Love It that I don't want to make.  And all her tutorials are so easy to find, too! 

I got the sweater at a local thrift shop.  I used one of her little dresses as a pattern and put it together, as per the instructions on Make It and Love It.  The neckline on mine went a little funny because I didn't leave myself enough width to bind it like I had planned.  Good thing this baby has 3 chins and no one will ever see it.

{See the furry pillow behind her?  I've gotten started on my winter pillow making!}
I love sweater dresses on my girls.  I'll probably make several more before it gets warm again.  And the little one can wear them with these little booties.  I'll probably make several more pairs of those, too.

I think I might unpick a bit of the side seams on the dress and sew in a ribbon or some kind of tie to put a bow in the front.
{Sorry she's flipping you off.}


Coming soon...

Last Saturday I got to start sanding it, hopefully I'll get to finish sanding and start painting tomorrow.  I'm using one of the Krylon paints that's for plastic, so we'll see what happens.  Also, will it be weird that the bench won't match the piano?  Seeing as having it match the piano is not an option, I hope not.

Happy Veteran's Day!


Little princess cape

My daughter loves dress ups.  So when I saw this dress in a bag of clothes my sister-in-law gave me, I immediately thought of a cape.
(This picture was in my October of 2010 folder.)

The dress is that stretchy velour/velvety stuff, so there was no way I could work with it on my machine.  Ahem.  My old machine (technically my mom's, but whatever).  I finally got to it yesterday in my cutting frenzy.

First thing, I measured my daughter from shoulder to floor and then cut that length plus a couple inches off the bottom of the dress.  The couple of inches was because I wanted it to still be long on her in a few years.  Then I opened up one of the side seams on the dress.  It was pretty much a big rectangle.  I didn't cut any of the width off because I wanted it to be nice and full.

For the cape/cloak hood, I used the top part of the dress.  I found a hood template online and then just eyeballed it.  I made it much taller than my daughter would need because I wanted it to be all droopy and loose.  Like this:

So here's my hood pattern piece:
 I ended up cutting of that little tab to the left of the red line, so go ahead and ignore that. 

Then you put your two hood pieces wrong sides together and sew along the curve (the green line in the picture).

And that's the only picture I took of the process.  Nice.  I didn't get to sewing until after dark, so I didn't even bother taking pictures because I knew how poorly they would turn out.  I am not a good tutorial-izer.

Then I took my cape piece and sewed a basting stitch along the top, about a quarter inch down.  I gathered it until it was the same length as the bottom part of the hood, then pinned wrong sides together and sewed.  Maybe this picture will help:

Then I hemmed up one side, up and over the hood, and down the other. No bottom hem needed because I used the existing one on the dress. Done.

Here's the finished product on my little uncooperative model:

 Then she started to get into it a little.
 She was pretty sold when she found out it was good for twirling.

It's a good addition to her dress-ups, I think.  Even though right now it's definitely in second place to either of her princess skirts, I'm betting it will get a lot of use over the coming years.  I know I would have loved a cloak like that when I was little.  My husband said he probably would have thought it was pretty cool, too.  


I'm so excited.

Look at what UPS dropped off for me yesterday:

IT'S MY NEW SEWING MACHINE!  It's the Brother XR-7700.  I've had a little envelope in my sock drawer for about a year now where I've been squirreling away money for a sewing machine.  I wanted a Bernina or a Pfaff, but at the rate I was going it was going to take about a million (or at least 5) years to have enough for one. My mother-in-law sent me a link to this machine on the Costco website and I got it the next day. 

I don't anticipate it lasting me the rest of my life, but for $150, I don't mind.  And now I have a decent machine to work with while I start saving again for my dream machine. 

All weekend I was obsessively watching the tracking website, refreshing every hour or so.  Whenever it was scanned somewhere new I would announce it to my husband, who thought I was being silly but was still happy for me. 

So, here's the biggest reason I was so excited:
This is the machine I was using.  It's my mom's backup one.  Very sturdy (it's old and all the parts are metal), but also very basic.  And very finicky.  The tension has been crazy since I got it, as has the stitch length.  Lately the bobbin has been tangling and stalling the machine almost every time I start sewing.  Needless to say, I haven't been sewing much lately.  I did these and this at my mom's house, on her lovely Bernina. 

So here's my new little beauty:
I finally got to try it out last night and so far it's been awesome.  It came with 10 feet, including a free motion foot and a walking foot!!  I can do my own quilting now!! 

There are also 70 stitch options, which is fun.  I'm mostly excited by all the feet, though.  I've never used a buttonhole foot and now I just want to make things with rows and rows of buttons on them. 

I can't wait to sew knit things, either.  Doing that was almost always a disaster with my old machine.  But now... The possibilities are endless. I'm going to make leggings!  And refashion shirts! 

I've been cutting stuff out all weekend to sew, and I think I'm in for some more of that today.  In fact, I think I'll get to that right now.


More leaf art

Here's my fall mantle:

See the empty frame?  My plan was to get a print of some fall leaves for it.  That didn't work out, because as it turns out, my Costco photo account had been cancelled because I hadn't ordered any pictures for a year (whoops).  So I emailed them and they emailed back saying it would be 2-3 weeks before my account was reinstated (really?).  So I came up with something else.

I did these last year and I still really like them.  My idea for the mantle frame was similar and first involved going on a walk with my girls to collect leaves.  It was fun.  Then I pressed them.  Then I glued them to a 5x7 sheet of paper (I actually used the paper that came in the frame):
I did a few layers and made sure the paper was covered entirely.

Then I trimmed the edges:

Then I put it in the frame:
I love it- simple, natural, and it adds a bit of color to my kind of bland mantle:


Spiderweb Soup

A little late for a Halloween-type post, but whatever.

Two years ago I was watching Rachael Ray and she did a black bean soup with sour cream that looked awesome.  The thing that really caught my eye was how she did the sour cream- she had it in a squeezy bottle and did a swirl on top of the soup, then used a toothpick to pull from the center to the outside edge in a bunch of places, like the spokes on a wheel.  Then and there (two years ago) I decided that I wanted that to be my family's traditional Halloween meal.  I also decided right then that I would call it "Spiderweb Soup" and be the coolest mom in the world.

I finally made it this year, although I'm not certain the recipe I found here is the same as the one I saw on her show.  I seem to remember that one being darker than the one that resulted from this recipe.  I made it on Wednesday but next year I am DETERMINED (all caps-it must be true) to actually have it on Halloween.  I will also make the sour cream lines thicker, so you can the "web" better.

Woot for new traditions!


Baby booties!

This last week was full of sewing for me- I did the baby's costume as well as a few little things I was making by hand for our family pictures.  One of those things was some baby booties.  I had initially planned on crocheting some, but then abandoned that plan when I realized we only had a week until pictures and I still hadn't bought a pattern.  Luckily, I saw this pin on one of my sister-in-law's boards.  The pattern is from her other sister-in-law's Etsy shop.  I bought it almost immediately, because I can't crochet baby boots in a week, but I can definitely sew some in that same amount of time. 

No tutorial, since the pattern isn't my original to share, but here's how they turned out:

I used a brown faux velvet for the outside uppers and wool felt for the lining.  I love how they kind of look like spats.  You can see a bunch more fabric combinations here, at my sister-in-law's sister-in-law's blog. 

My unsolicited opinion of the pattern:  It was great.  There was one pdf with just that pattern pieces and another with step by step instructions with lots of pictures.  I will definitely be making more of these for my little one.

Here's how many pictures I tried to take of them on my littlest's feet:
Two month olds are so wiggly. 


My new favorite headbands

My "tutorial:"
Buy a half yard of crocheted lace.  Tie some ribbon around either end.  Put it on your head. 

Seriously, I love these.  They go with everything. 


Do-do-do dodododo do-do-do-do-do-do-do-do-do

If you couldn't tell, the title of this post is the Mario theme song.
So, most of these costumes are a repeat from 2 years ago.  (This was last year, if you're wondering.)  I knew I wouldn't get around to making new costumes for everyone this time around, what with the new baby and all.  Elle's is new- all I did was make a little turtle shell that strapped onto her back and some booties.  Mim's is improved- I cut off the flat foam bottom and did a gathering stitch around the bottom edge.  I also improved my costume- lace on my gloves, a Princess Daisy hair style, and earrings that I made with buttons and nail polish that I forgot to wear.  I didn't let Mike grow his mustache out for this year since we got our family pictures done on Saturday and he looks like a creeper when he has one.  We also forgot to draw one on him, like we did for our family party on Friday.  Ahwell.

Hope you all had a safe and candy-filled Halloween!