Friday, December 31, 2010

Leo's Sleeping Sack

Since Leo started sleeping going to bed in his crib a couple weeks ago, he has finally gotten to use the sleep sack I made for him earlier this fall—another project from Anna Maria Horner's Handmade Beginnings. The pattern calls for a patchwork front panel, but I just used the same Michael Miller cotton (Lagoon Ring Dot Turquoise) for the whole outside. The inside is another Michael Miller print flannel (Haul It Turquoise). I didn't have enough yardage to have the print going the right direction on the front inside panels, but I wasn't too worried about that.

The pattern is made to fit 6 weeks to 3 months, so I added several inches to the bottom and two to the sides so that it might fit my big boy all winter. He is 6 months, 19 pounds and 28 inches long now.

I made two other alterations to the pattern—continued the bias tape to cover the edge of the under panel as well (piece B) with a mitered corner at the point (she just says to zigzag stitch that edge), and I used six snaps instead of velcro. Unfortunately I didn't think to add interfacing to the snap locations before I joined the outer fabric and flannel, so we have to be a little bit gentle when we unsnap it. Also, I should have put the first snap all the way up at the point. Wish the snaps were not white, but that is all they had at the store.

Much cuter than the store-bought fleece sack Louisa wore!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Favorite Presents

A wallet for me from AJ, Small Frye boots for Leo from Mimi, Toms Botas for AJ from me, and a serger for me from my parents. And for Louisa, from Saint Nicholas himself...

Friday, December 10, 2010

Weekend Away Travel Bag

Needing something to put my deodorants in when I give them as gifts, I turned to the Weekend Away Travel Bag from Heather Ross's Weekend Sewing.

The bag was fairly easy to make, and pretty enjoyable except for the final stage of sewing it together. Just about killed my little machine. I had plans of lining future versions with laminated cotton for wipe-ability... I don't think so. The upholstery weight Echino Ni-Co cotton exterior (in Magenta Sunglasses) and a basic quilting cotton lining is about all I think my machine can handle when it comes to rounded corners and 1/4-inch seams through that many layers of fabric. Hand stitching around the zipper when finishing the ends was not the most fun, but it looks nice in the end.

As other reviewers pointed out, Heather forgets to mention in the book that one-way fabrics won't work, because the print is upside down on one side of the bag. I knew this going in, but decided to use the sunglasses fabric anyway because I had some left over from a tote project from last spring, and thought it might look neat with the chunky orange zipper.

This bag is going to my dear friend Christina, mother of Louisa's best pal Dorothy. Christina's birthday is this weekend, and tomorrow their whole crew is joining us for some hot buttered rum before the Crozet Christmas Parade. Yum!

I'll definitely try making this bag again, and hopefully will have better luck with those corners. 

Homemade Deodorant

For a few years AJ and I have been on a search for non-toxic deodorant. AJ is actually really sensitive to traditional antiperspirants and deodorants, and considering I've been pregnant and/or nursing for the last three and a half years, I've been trying to minimize the number of chemicals and carcinogens I smear on my skin...

We were happy with Arm & Hammer Essentials "natural" and unscented deodorant for a while, but it was discontinued at the Crozet Great Valu and we couldn't find it anywhere else locally. Then I found Soapwalla's deodorant cream on etsy, which I still love and highly recommend (her pregnancy body oil is also fantastic). It works great, but when an old friend directed me to Amy's recipe on angry chicken, I figured it made sense to make my own.

I've been using it for several months now, and it really does work. AJ uses it too. So now I am giving it to a few special people for Christmas. I have to admit, during the hot months at our non-air conditioned house, I keep this in the fridge. Shea butter gets soft even at room temperature--but that is part of what makes this deodorant so quickly absorbable and easy to use.

To dress it up a little, I found some pretty pink generic deodorants at Dollar General, and cleaned them out for the containers. (Our trashcan still smells of "cucumber melon.")

Then I made some labels, and in a pinch, sized them down to packing-tape width, printed them out and taped them right on. Not exactly waterproof, but they'll hold up okay.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

daniela dorothy

My friend Daniela has a photography show up at The Local in Belmont right now. I made her some business cards to leave at the restaurant so people know who to contact with inquiries (or purchases!). She wanted something subtle and minimalist, but also eye-catching. I love yellow right now.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Baby in the Hood Jacket

The pattern for Leo's little jacket came from Anna Maria Horner's Handmade Beginnings. Honestly, I would have been happy to use the exact fabrics used in her photograph, but I switched it up a little bit to make blue the main color. I also used all flannel, all from her Folksy Flannels collection. It is really high quality and the prints are adorable. I would like to make a lined version of Louisa's jacket with it actually.

My little four month old Leo is already 18 pounds, so I made him the 9-12 month size. Hopefully it will fit him in the spring too.

There were a lot of very curved seams, so lots of patient pinning was required (especially in attaching the sleeves). And it does take time to make a fully-lined jacket, because as other sewers have said, you are basically making two jackets. I like how the button placket worked out, and I enjoyed not having to finish seams (although all the top-stitching sort of makes up for time saved leaving seams raw).

I got the wooden buttons on etsy. A great place to shop for buttons, by the way. I love the variety.

I'll have to reschedule a proper photoshoot.

Ready to go play in the leaves!

Friday, October 22, 2010

T Towel Tea Towel

Guess what came today? My t towel tea towel! I've been kind of obsessed with these ever since my friend Erin showed me a prototype last March. I think the concept is ingenious, the execution is impeccable, the look is hip, and, overall—it's just so darn clever. Comes in blue or red.

Only problem is, I don't want to dirty it. However, to not use it is to deny it some of its cleverness. For if it is just a "T" typography screen print that I hang on my wall, the pun is dead. And I love the pun. But I also love the design, so—my chocolate-milk-fingered kitchen, this tea towel shall not dry.

Maybe it will make an appearance at my next tea party, however.

How do you like your T?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sunday Brunch Jacket

I finished Louisa's fall jacket a few weeks ago but she's just starting to wear it now. I used my first Oliver + S pattern: the Sunday Brunch Jacket.

I had high expectations for this pattern considering all its rave reviews, and of course, the fabulous instructions and diagrams made even this fancy jacket a breeze to make. The seam binding tape on the inside really makes the jacket look professional.

The fabric is upholstery weight, ("dry clean only,"which I chose to ignore. It seems fine and I've washed it a few times now). A nice cotton that I found at Valley Fabrics in Stuarts Draft. I think it was $6.50/yard. The wooden buttons and bias tape were a few dollars and the pattern was $16, so the jacket cost me less than $30. And when I make the pattern again, it will be a fabulous deal for such a stylish little jacket. She gets compliments every time she wears it. I might make it with just two larger buttons (like they did on the purlbee) next time because buttoning (and unbuttoning) all four is kind of a chore.

I would like one in my size.

Next up, Leo's jacket! Just sewed the buttons on last night.

Update: Here she is wearing it a couple months later on New Year's.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Beach Party Dress

For Louisa's birthday, back in May, I made two versions of the Beach Party Dress by fiddlehead (a free pattern download!). I made the 24-month size and made a couple alterations the second go around.

Louisa's Birthday Dress

The first version I made in Blue Wings from the Storybrook collection by Alexander Henry (bought on sale from with some yellow checked gingham for the lining (a fat quarter from Ben Franklin). It turned out a little big in the top and too short in the length, so when I made the final party-dress version I took it in an inch or so around the bodice and made the skirt two inches longer.

Beach Party Dress
Back of Beach Party Dress

I also added a panel of the lining fabric to the elastic section in back, which wasn't necessary, but I like the look of it. I used two different prints from Heather Ross's Far Far Away line. It's a very nice double guaze that I also bought at Purl Soho when I was in New York visiting Meredith for my birthday. I store bought pink bias tape which was much easier (and cheaper) than making my own, especially since I was using such fancy fabric. Also I hate making bias tape.

Here's Louisa's dress from her first birthday. It was made from some simple cotton from Ben Franklin using Heather Ross's Smocked Sundress pattern from Weekend Sewing. 12 month size. Super easy, even for my first time sewing with elastic thread.

Heather Ross Smocked Sundress

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Garden Expansion

Now that we know we are not moving til (at the earliest) next August, we are making our garden twice as big this year. Ordered all organic seeds from Seeds of Change and Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. Planted lettuce last weekend and finally got the peas in the ground today. Started basil inside last week.

AJ hand tilled and cleared the new part of the plot while I cleaned up the existing area and planted the lettuce on March 7.

The basil seeds I started inside on 3/8 look like this on 3/16.

The finished expansion with posts in the ground and the pea trellis up. AJ did that work this weekend while I was in New York and I planted the peas today with compost from his parent's farm.

The onions and garlic in the foreground are from last summer and the parsley in the middle of the plot is coming back from last year too.

My bulbs emerging on March 6.

How they look today, ten days later.

Tete a tetes are blooming! One of my favorites.

Martha Stewart Multi-Grain Bread

From the February 2010 issue. Yum! I have to admit I had never made my own sandwich bread before. Turned out well, and even with organic ingredients it is much cheaper than the local organic bread I usually (and will most likely continue to) buy at the store.

Yoga Mat Bag

I was excited to make something to hold the fancy new Manduka yoga mat my sister gave me for Christmas. So, my sewing project for the January blizzard became Amy Butler's Nigella Yoga Mat (free PDF pattern here on her site).

I used Full Bloom in coral from her August Fields line. The fabric is home decor weight, and I lined it with a pale pink heavy weight cotton so it is sturdy without any interfacing.

The pockets are just big enough to hold my eye pillow and some extra hair clips.