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The toy library February 8, 2012

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I was losing my mind.  The toys, there were so. many. toys!  The babes actually don’t have THAT many toys, but I always feel like we are just drowning in toys.  And this was even after I had organized all of their toys into nice little baskets.  Although the baskets made the playroom look better, it also hid the toys, so the babes sort of forgot about many of their toys. At least I’m assuming that’s what happened since I noticed that many of the toys weren’t being used.  

Anyway, so a few weeks ago I decided to try a new idea: create a toy store where the babes could “buy” toys and then trade them in for other toys. The babes thought it was a pretty good idea, but then they suggested making it more like a library, where they have library cards and can check out toys. That sounded good to me, so we got to organizing the toys. The first step was to go through the toys and get rid of stuff that was never used. We agreed to give the toys away to people who didn’t have any or many toys.

Once the toys were separated into “give away”

and “keep” piles, we set to organizing the “keep” toy by category.

We then made boxes for each category and labeled them.

They are now stashed away in DH’s office where the babes will be able to check out one box at a time. Once they are ready for something else, they bring the box back and get a new box. I should mention that there are still plenty of toys in their playroom. All of their kitchen stuff is out, as well as the legos, blocks, trains, puzzles and books. The library toys are just a supplement to the everyday toys.

We’ll see how it works out.

The Pinterest reviews – all things sewing January 29, 2012

Posted by Judy in Sewing projects.
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I am a self-taught seamstress, and a large portion of my knowledge came from online tutorials. I’m sort of addicted to finding great tutes, especially if it’s fun stuff to make for the kids. Here are some things I’ve tried recently.

Engineer hats

Source: aestheticnest.com via Judy on Pinterest

I made these for the babes for Christmas. The directions were pretty good and the finished product turned out well. My only issue is that sizing is not really accurate. I based my sizing on the measurement of their heads . . . .DD’s turned out too small, even though I chose the size that was closer to her measurement. So, if in doubt, make the bigger one. I’m dreading having to take it apart to fix it!

The Christmas jacket

Source: tinyurl.com via Judy on Pinterest

This isn’t so much a tutorial as it was inspiration. I really liked the collarless look and the overlapped front, so I made something similar for DD for Christmas. I’ll probably do a post later about the jacket, but here is a little pic.

Faux placket

Source: thedillspiel.blogspot.com via Judy on Pinterest

Petal sleeves

Source: thedillspiel.blogspot.com via Judy on Pinterest

Both of these came from the same blog, no big dill, and I used both ideas in DD’s birthday dress. You can find more photos of the dress as well as the cape below in this post.

The Audrey cape

Source: projectrunandplay.blogspot.com via Judy on Pinterest


DIY kid-sized dress form

Source: woolfoodmama.typepad.com via Judy on Pinterest

The birthday dress: maxing myself out November 27, 2011

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Our DD turned 3 about two months ago, and I decided to make her a dress. I figured it would be a good way to practice my newly found pattern drafting using a sloper skills. After lots of internet browsing, I had all of my idea put together and I was ready to start creating. Really, I bit off almost more than I could chew. I had too many ideas lumped into one garmet. Not that the ideas were bad or incompatible, I just had to do ALOT of thinking and staring in order to get everything to work out. All of this translated into MANY hours being put into the dress. DD, being 3, was totally unimpressed with the unveiling of the dress, not exactly the reaction I’d hoped for. But by the time Sabbath rolled around, she was all ready to get dolled up in her new hat (which I bought at a yard sale and was the inspiration for the dress), dress and cape. It was a beautiful fall day, so we had a lovely little outdoors photo shoot.

The cape and dress from the front. I made the cape from this pattern. It was sort of an afterthought. I had some extra fabric and thought it would be a cute addition.

The front of the dress has an inverted box pleat, which would’ve worked better on different fabric. This fabric was a little stiff, so it hangs kinda funny.

The trickiest part of the entire dress was figuring out how to do the keyhole opening with piping. Mega brain strain, but it couldn’t have turned out better!

I saw these petal sleeves on another dress and thought they were a super easy way to perk up the sleeves without having to add ruffles. (I’m only about 90% opposed to ruffles, but they really wouldn’t have worked with this fabric.)

I don’t have a picture of this, because it’s on the inside, and well, she’s wearing the dress in the pics. But, the bodice is lined with super soft satin. Lining the bodice was another tricky step, but again, it turned out beautifully.

The back of the dress is actually my favorite. I did a faux placket with faux buttons. The placket is a piece of fabric that got folded into thirds and then sewn down. The buttons are a trim that I folded into quarters and sewed on. Honestly, it was probably more work than doing a real placket with buttons, but it was a fun little addition.

And the whole ensemble, including her new tights and Sabbath shoes.

I’ll certainly make her more clothing in the future, but I’m not sure that I’ll make anything this complicated, at least not until she’s a little older and is able to offer input throughout the process=)

The trouble with fall October 18, 2011

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The trouble with fall is that there are leaves.  Lots and lots of leaves.  Now, if you are blessed enough to have evergreens, then you don’t have this issues (although I DID notice that my neighbors yard was buried in brown pine needles, which might be worse.)  We have GOBS of trees in our yard, which translates in the leaves, leaves and more leaves.  I could rake in the morning, and the yard would be filled by afternoon.  We’ve already filled up about 20 lawn bags, and the trees don’t even look bare!

On the plus side, giant piles of leaves make instant playgrounds for the little ones.  But in the end, they still need to get bagged.

But, I suppose if I get to look at this for a few weeks,

even if it isn’t in my yard, I’ll happily rake away.

The day of alterations October 9, 2011

Posted by Judy in Sewing projects.
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I’ve been a really terrible blogger for the past few weeks, even worse than usual. It’s not that I haven’t had ideas and thoughts to share, I’ve just been spending every spare moment in my sewing studio. The time has been equally split between learning how to draft patterns and R&D stuff for my soon-to-open etsy shop. The former has actually been pretty enjoyable. It’s been a long time since I’ve had to really concentrate and open up my brain so that I could actually learn something. Drafting patterns and slopers is something with which I’ve not had much experience, so it’s sometimes brain strain. But I’m keeping at it because the slopers are going to be so useful.

A brief little digression, here. Slopers or blocks or second skins or whatever you want to call them are your basic patterns made exactly to your dimensions without seam allowances. So you take like a jillion measurements, then make up a muslin (practice garment) with those dimensions. When you try it on, it basically should fit you like a glove. You can then use that to confidently draft any other piece of clothing, knowing that it will likely fit perfectly.

I’m trying my hand at doing slopers for the babes, in the hopes that it will make it easier to make stuff that actually fits, rather than having this happen again. At this point, it’s a TON of work. Partly because I have no idea what I’m doing. (Fortunately, LiEr over at ikat bag has a fantastic drafting series.) And partly, because it is a PAIN to take measurements on a wiggly almost 3 year old!

Anyway, it’s been a fun process, and it is actually paying off. A few days ago, I spent most of my sewing time working on alterations, mostly for DD. It was sooo nice to have a sloper that I could look at and say “okay, chop here and here, sew here, add this much length” and voila! I could get the alterations done without having to call DD in every 15 minutes to have her try something on. Hooray!

So the first thing I fixed was a little gauzy tunic.

I picked it up at a yard sale, thinking DD would wear it next fall. She had other ideas. She grabbed it and was wearing it around the house. Sadly, it was like 2 sizes too big, and it was turning her into an exhibitionist at a VERY young age. So, I pinched up about 2 inches at her shoulders, skinnied up the sleeves, and it was good to go. I showed it to her and she said, “I like it! Now my boo boos are covered up!” Heh!

Next up, two onesies got chopped up into regular shirts. We don’t really use onesies around here, and DD would probably find them supremely annoying anyway, what with all of the snaps she’d have to do and undo for pottying purposes. Anyway, here there are after having the bottom chopped off.

I salvaged a bit of the binding from the leg portion and used that at the end of the sleeve, which got lengthened since it’s fall, after all. And, here there are with their colorful sleeves added in. DH pointed out that one of the sleeves got sewn with the stretch going down the length of the arm rather than the width. Oh well, they still fit!

Another garage sale find was this polo shirt. It was strangely long, which meant that it would be great as a dress for DD. Pretend that the sleeves haven’t been chopped in this pic. I forgot to take a true before pic.

I grabbed my sloper, made a few cuts, added sleeves, and the dress was good to go. She has yet to try it on, but thanks to my sloper, I know it will fit.

DD wasn’t the only one to benefit from the alteration mania. I got these footie jammies last year and started to cut them up.

Life got in the way and they got dumped in the “to be fixed” drawer, where they were promptly forgotten until this week. I added a waistband to the pants and a band to the shirt for added length and VOILA . . .. new jammies!

I have to say, after several weeks of not actually producing anything usable, it was nice to churn out a few revised garments in one afternoon.

But now, it’s back to the salt mines!

Recycled wool longies, revisited October 8, 2011

Posted by Judy in Sewing projects.
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Three years ago, I made my first pair of wool longies. I used a pattern I’d found online, and they were a flop! So I decided to draft my own pattern, and I came up with these.

I thought they were cute and quite functional. I DID notice that DS1 walked kinda funny in them and seem to stumble alot at the beginning, but I figured he was just getting used to having a giant cloth diaper butt. After a few months, I realized that it wasn’t DS1, rather, it was the longies, whose inseam was just all wrong. So I redid my tutorial and found a better way to do the longies. Rather than fix the original ones, I just made new ones.

Fast forward 3 years and DS2 is now ready to wear the same longies. I couldn’t very well put him in the original longies knowing that they had a funny fit. But, I did so like the patterns and colors, soooo, I revamped them. I spent some quality time with my seam ripper, then pieced together some more wool, and came up with new and improved longies. They fit soooo much better!

While I was at it, I decided to make a new pair for him. I’m totally fine with handing clothing down from one child to the next, it just makes economical sense. But, I DO think it’s nice for each child to get something that was new just for them each season. For DS2, it was a new pair of longies. I decided to partially line them with some impossibly soft and cozy merino wool. (DS1 hated anything scratchy, and he always complained when I put the longies on. DS2 doesn’t so much care, cuz, you know, he’s the mellow one!) I totally LOVE how these turned out! I love them so much, in fact, that they will be part of the merchandise available in my etsy store this Christmas! Now I have all of these ideas for embellishing the pants to make them even more stylish.

The expensive plaid September 21, 2011

Posted by Judy in Sewing projects.

A few weeks ago, I agreed to test out a pattern for a 2T dress for Toni over at Sugar Tart Crafts. Since DD is so tall, I decided not to use my nice fabric to test out the pattern, just in case it was a total flop. So I used some plaid patchwork pants that I had found at a freesale. Frankly, the print was totally horrifying as a pair of pants, but it turned out super cute as a dress.

Imagine my surprise when I saw this dress at Saks Fifth Avenue.

Who knew that fabric was worth 100 bucks? So I guess my “not so nice” fabric turned out to be spot on in style=)

In other news, I seriously need to get a better camera!

Optimization August 12, 2011

Posted by Judy in Sewing projects.

For about a year now, I’ve been telling myself that I was going to start up a little business on Etsy selling stuff for kids.  It was originally going to be just baby carriers, but I keep getting ideas for other stuff to make and sell.  I have yet to open up my shop, but I’m hoping to have it partly stocked by Christmastime.

In an effort to actually realize my goal, I thought I should organize my sewing room in such a way that would allow me to be as efficient as possible.  Part of this organization involved acquiring several more machines, [ Okay, so truth be told, I got the machines because, well, I’m a sucker for free vintage machines=) Once I had the machines, then I figured I needed to find a way to justify having all of them!] and then assigning a task to each machine.  Sure, I could do most of my sewing on one or two of the machines, but it is sooo much more efficient to have each machine set up to do a different task.  So yes, I do us all seven of my sewing machines.  Yep, you read that right  . . .  S-E-V-E-N.  Seem excessive?  Maybe.  How about let’s take a peek into my sewing room and then you can decide/see for yourself. (For some reason the pics look really blurry. If you click on them they are bigger and much clearer.)

The south wall

Singer 201-2

I don’t really have a main machine, but I DO think that this one is my favorite.  It just looks cool and will sew they basically anything you throw at it.   It’s a straight stitch only machine and is super consistent, so I use this one when I have to sew long seams (blankets, baby carrier straps, pants seams, etc.)

Kenmore 1570

I learned to sew on this machine. There’s nothing particularly spectacular about it, but I keep it around because it has some nice stretch stitches on it as well as a triple step zigzag, which is useful for sewing with elastic.

Singer 237

This is another “will sew anything you throw at it” machine. I once sewed through a little more than half an inch of wool, it didn’t so much as hiccup. But the real strength of this machine is it’s satin stitch. Sooo very consistent and problem free. I use this one to sew my labels onto the clothing/bags/etc.

The north wall

Necchi Supernova Ultra

One of my newly acquired machines, it is quickly becoming one of my favorites. I daresay that if this had been my first machine, I don’t think I would have gotten anything else. But it wasn’t my first so it isn’t my only machine. This machine has a HUGE variety of fancy/decorative stitches. The options are almost limitless. So I will be using this to spice up the stuff I make. (See the linen shorts in this post.)

Necchi Lelia 515

This is the latest addition to my sewing room. It’s your basic sewing machine, no fancy stitches, just straight and zigzag. It lives right next to the serger and I use it to do a quick zigzag stitch to secure the ends of the serger seams.

Macy’s Own Brand Herald

Here is your basic Singer clone. I think it’s a class 15 clone. Anyway, it’s sole purpose is to pink. My vintage pinking attachment permanently lives on this machine. (I am thinking about getting rid of this one and finding a cheap Singer 201 or 15-91 to replace it because the pinking attachment isn’t a perfect fit. Close, just not perfect.)

Singer 14u13

My one and only serger, which I love! I use this to give a professional and finished look to the raw edges.

In the middle

Singer 403

Please excuse the disastrous pressing and cutting tables in the background, we were mid project when I took these pics.

Out of all of my machines, this one gets used the least. I use it to do twin needle stitching or when I want a particular fancy stitch (it has 15 or 16 options).

So now that my sewing room is optimized, I guess I don’t really have a good excuse for NOT starting up a business. Oh, wait, there’s the whole “where will I find the time” thing. Hmmm . . . . better go find a solution to that conundrum!

Shorts August 10, 2011

Posted by Judy in Sewing projects.

All of the babes got their dad’s genes: tall and skinny. This is fine by me, but it sure makes it difficult to find shorts for them. Pretty much, everything falls off. And if you cinch down the waist, well, it just looks dumb because it is SOOO cinched down. It’s even harder to find stuff for DD. I’m probably old-fashioned, but I’m just not interested in having my 2 year olds butt hanging out of the bottom of her shorts. When summer started, and I realized the dilemma, I just decided to make her a bunch of shorts. You know, the kind that would be modest, cute and would actually fit.

The first pair I made was too tight (whoops, so much for modesty!) Those very quickly because play shorts. I fixed the pattern after that, and churned out about 4 pairs of shorts, so she has been pretty well set for the summer. I have no idea why I don’t just make all of their pants. Kids pants are super easy to make and require very little fabric. Note to self: must make more pants!

And this post would be useless without pics. Sooo, here they are.

This is the first pair I made, well, after the too tight pair, so technically, they are the 2nd pair.

I practiced my “binding around corners” technique with this pair. Alas, the binding I used was apparently old, as it’s starting to fray and fall apart in the wash.

This is my favorite pair, even though I messed up and put the pockets on the back!  I played around with one of the fancy stitches on my new vintage Necchi.

I had fun using lace to make fake pockets with this pair.

Surviving Disney August 7, 2011

Posted by Judy in babywearing, Diaper bag, Musings.
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It’s quite possible that we are the only people crazy enough to take 3 children, all under the age of 4, to Disney World on vacation. In fact, I’m quite sure of it, given that we saw very few people with small, small children. There were a fair number of infants (under 12 months of age), and quite a few 5-12 year old, just not much inbetween. Given that information, you’d think the number of strollers would be limited. Well, you’d be wrong. I couldn’t believe how many strollers there were! There was a combination of strollers that people owned as well as a plethora of the rental strollers offerend by Disney. The really surprising thing was the number of big kids that were riding around in the strollers. When I say big, I don’t mean 4 to 6 year olds. In a place like Disney, little legs can get quite tired. I’m talking kids that were 8, 9, 10, sometimes older. It was pretty silly seeing these kids smooshed into the strollers, and even sillier to see their parents struggling to push the heavy load! Ha!

Anyway, we were not among the masses that had a stroller. I suppose there were times when it might have come in handy, as in, it might have been nice to have a place to set out stuff. But most of the time, it was so much easier to not have to keep track of a stroller, especially having to park it and retrieve it before and after every attraction. I just don’t have the patience for that.

So, I bet you are wondering how we managed to transport all three children (yes, all three got transported as the 4 year old suddenly decided that it was “too faaaaarr!” to walk even 10 feet) plus a diaper bag and water, etc. I bet some of you have already guess it . . . . . . .. baby carriers. We took a little stash. DH took his favorite preschool-sized mei tai (MT) for the older two and the infant-sized MT for the 12 month old. I had more, I don’t like to be limited to just one or two, what can I say. I took along a soft structured carrier (SSC), two wraps and then two water wraps. Let me tell you, all of the carriers got a workout. At any given time, I had at least one babe on me, and DH was almost always wearing one babe on his back and carrying the other babe in arms in the front. We got a good workout that week, especially DH!

“But wait!” you say. “What about your stuff? Where did that go?”

Well, the first day, since we weren’t sure how it was going to go, we had wayy too much stuff. We had the two toddler backpacks, which seemed like a great idea, until the 2 and 4 year olds decided that walking was overrated. So then DH was stuck carrying their backpacks, PLUS his own backpack which was filled with books, water and other entertainment for the babes in case they got bored. So yeah, the first day wasn’t so good. Thereafter, we just stuffed what we needed for the older two into one of the toddler backpacks, and DH would carry that. I carried the stuff for myself and for the infant in my tricked out babywearing diaper bag. I stayed up until 4am the night before leaving on vacation making it. My mom, being the rockstar that she is, stayed up with me. (Thanks, mom!) It was totally worth it, though. It was really nice to be able to have a diaper bag that didn’t get in the way of wearing the babes.

Sooo, there you have it, that’s how we survived Disney: a small stash of baby carriers, a toddler backpack, and a tricked out diaper bag. Would I do it again? Hmmmmm . . . the jury is still out on that one!