Monthly Archives: October 2013

Big Butt Baby

Last year I purchased Rae’s Big Butt Baby pattern.  Can you tell I’m a huge Made By Rae fan?  I can’t help it.  Her patterns are fun and I love her colorful fabric choices.  Made by Rae was one of the first sewing blogs I started following (my awesome friend Trisha turned me onto it) and I never get tired of her creations!

Anyway, I was looking for a simple pattern that would make a great gift for baby boys.  I debated the purchase for awhile before I took the plunge and bought the pattern.  It’s a little more money than I usually spend on a children’s pattern but I knew I would use it to bits… and I have!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThese were the first Big Butt pants I made for my friend Jenny (for her infant son that is, not Jenny).  The fabric is Riley Blake’s Seaside line, which is to date my favorite boy themed fabric!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI paired them with simple onesies that I embellished with fabric paint and stamps (you can check out that tutorial here).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe pattern comes with a variety of add-ons; cuffs, pockets, ruffles, knee patches… I like the way the pattern gives you the freedom to use multiple fabrics.  This little pair was made from a lightweight Chambray with plaid pockets and rear panel.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALast week my sweet friend, from way back in my high-school days, had a baby shower.  She’s expecting her first child (a little boy) this winter.  I took the morning to make a matching onesie and pants.  The pants are that simple to make!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis fabric is from Moda, it’s called “Oh Deer” by MoMo.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhile I was cutting out the bird pants I took a moment to cut a pair of chambray and floral Big Butt pants for Miss P.  When I came home from the baby shower I sewed them up for her.  She’s in desperate need of warmer clothes!  The kid is growing faster than I can keep up with!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen I talk about patterns I always want to be honest about any hitches I come across while sewing them.  This pattern does have a little hitch.  The rear panel has a tendency to pucker at the crotch.  Rae wrote up a helpful tutorial about how to avoid that pucker.  I read the tutorial carefully, but it still took me sewing the pattern several more times before I was able to make a pair without a pucker.  The rear panel just takes a little fiddling.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPearly-girl likes them!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI like them too because they are super comfy and easy to put on!  She can move around in them and they’re perfect for throwing in the wash over and over.  I just need to make her about three more pair!

That’s it from the sewing room my lovelies!  Thanks for stopping by, April

 

The Week That Was

 

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis week I was a wheel that spun and spun and spun, but never got any traction.

I was the hero.

I was the villain.

I was the force that kept our little world turning.

I was the castle that crumbled with the first wave.

I was a storm cloud that loomed over the house.

I was the teller of jokes, the toe kisser, the baby soother, the old wet hen.

Cabin in the Woods

This summer we tackled two big projects.  Project 1: put in our backyard.  Project 2: have a baby.  And that was pretty much our entire summer.

We weren’t able to get away for a family vacation, so we decided to try to slip away in September.   We chose the fun, funky cabin near Pinecrest lake.  The same one we stayed in last September with our good friends.  The cabin that hasn’t changed since the 70′s, the one without cell service, no TV, a record player, and a phone with a spiral cord.  It’s starting to feel like a second home to the kiddos.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe afternoon we arrived storm clouds threatened to dump rain on our open trailer full of food and clothes.  But the weather held out until we were about 15 minutes from the cabin.  By the time we had unloaded the hail was pouring from the sky and piling up on the back porch of the cabin.  The kids squealed and jumped around; scooping up handfuls of ice.  We were cozy inside listening to the thunder rumble all around us.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALittle projects were worked on.

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Miss E used the entire downstairs as her personal dance floor.

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We did bring up our old TV and our DVD player to watch movies in the evening.  Their Daddy had secretly bought all of the Star Wars movies as a surprise for the boys.  J and G had been begging us to let them watch the series for a while now, and we felt that they were old enough to watch some of the episodes.

J was thrilled because he got to have one room all to himself.  I wish I would have taken a picture of him in his room.  I walked by and saw him tucked into the giant king-sized bed with a stack of comic books next him.  He was as happy as I can remember him being!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGrandpa and Grandma W. came up to stay with us for a night and a day.  We took a quick hike around part of Lake Pinecrest.  Last year we hiked all the way around the lake, but this year we just hiked to the damn and back.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMiss P was snug on her daddy’s back and soon dozed off.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy favorite quote of the day was when Grandma W admitted that peanuts were her favorite kind of nut.  Grandpa W teasingly remarked that peanuts were a “low class nut” (I should mention that he’s an almond farmer).  Grandma W. smiled and said, “Well  I guess peanuts are just right then; a low class nut for a low class nut!”

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter our hike we parked our folding chairs by the lake while the guys fished a little.  The water was a little cold, and as the afternoon wore on a cool breeze picked up.  We were all looking forward to the warn cabin by the end of the day.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The day after the grandparents left the boys rose early and got ready for a day-hike up to Sonora Peak.  Miss E was battling a bad head cold so the girls stayed put.  We spent the day putting together puzzles and watching musicals.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAll of the pictures of the hike were taken by my husband.  I made him promise to take lots of pictures.  The hail storm that greeted us our first day had also left a light layer of snow on the peaks, so the boys ran into a little snow on their hike.  Just enough left to scoop up some snowballs and toss at each other.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen they got back to the cabin later that afternoon, Daddy took a book and headed to the hammock for a little relaxation.  Very soon he was joined by a wiggly, giggly little girl.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHe didn’t seem to mind at all.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe stayed at the cabin for 4 days and 4 nights.  On the last day Daddy took the three oldest kiddos out fishing while I started to clean the cabin.  They had gone fishing several times during our vacation, but the boys had yet to catch a fish of their own.

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IMG_20130925_125910On the very last day they both caught their very own lake trout!  Nothing gives a boy fishing fever like catching his own fish.  As we drove down the mountain towards home they were already planning their next fishing trip.

IMG_20130925_131556We brought the trout home and cooked them up with a little lemon, butter, and seasoning.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATurns out catching fish is more fun than eating fish.  Neither of the boys really relished the taste of their trout :)

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One last memory I want to write down so I won’t forget…

On the last day, as I was cleaning and packing up the very last of our things, I look up to see Miss E with her head bent and shoulders shaking.  She looks up at me with giants tears streaking down her face and says in between sobs, “I don’t want to leave the cabin!  I’m just going to miss it SO much!  I don’t want to leave!!”.  As I’m doing my best to console her I look across the room and see G, sitting on the couch with tears pouring out of his eyes too!  For the first 10 miles of the ride home both of them cried until they wore themselves out.  That night when I tucked G into his own bed and kissed him, he smiled and said, “It’s so nice to be home mom!”.

What love looks like

I know Baby Girl.  That sister of yours; sometimes she’s a little bit crazy.  She doesn’t really understand your needs right now.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAShe’s kind of loud.  Too “in-your-face”.  Literally.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThroughout everyday your big sis tries to find dozens of ways to say “I love you”, and all of them are clumsy, and slightly inappropriate.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhat can I say?  She loves hard that one.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHer help is rarely helpful but always enthusiastic.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABut let me tell you a secret about love Baby Girl.  The people who love us don’t always love us the way we think they should.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThey love us with everything they have, and we just have to have the eyes to see it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABelieve me.  Someday you’re going to be glad you have her in your corner.

Love, Momma

Ode to a Simple Skirt

Over the last 3 years I’ve sewn a lot of things for Miss E.  While she happily wears pretty much anything I make her, there is one pattern that gets worn more than any other.  It’s not really a pattern, it’s Dana’s Simple Skirt tutorial.  Her skirt tutorial is one of my all-time favorites!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I’ve made nine simple skirts for Miss E over the last few years.  She loves them.  They’re comfy, colorful, easy to put on, and given the choice they are what she will wear on any given day.  In the summer she wears them with t-shirts and Salt Water sandals.  In the winter she wears them with leggings, sweaters, or long-sleeved shirts.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThey are so easy to make, easy to embellish, and they require very little fabric.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe simplicity of the pattern allows you to add little details and make variations to the basic pattern.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis patchwork version of the Simple Skirt is Miss E’s favorite among favorites.  I made it on a lark at the beginning of the summer.  I had a bunch of scraps leftover from some projects I had completed and I decided to patch them together to make her a skirt.  It ended up being a little shorter than I wanted, so I finished the hem with bias tape.  It was a happy accident because I like the bias tape even better than a plain hemline.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis skirt was washed and worn every week for the entire summer.  It seemed like a good time to make her another.  While I was at it, I thought I would write up a quick tutorial for turning a Simple Skirt into a Patchwork Simple Skirt.

Start by reading Dana’s Simple Skirt tutorial.  She does and excellent job of explaining how to draft a pattern and construct the skirt.  Before you begin, use Dana’s formula to figure out the length and the width of your skirt.  This tutorial will simply show you how to assemble the patchwork part of the skirt.

Next, go through your scrap fabric and choose a handful of fabrics that look good together.  I’m using 14 different fabrics but you can use as few as 7. Using 7 fabrics will mean that you will have to use each type of fabric twice, maybe more depending on the size of the skirt.   As you can see, I chose a wide variety of patterns in green, orange, and purple hues. With one pop of turquoise, because turquoise is always a good idea.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn addition to the fabric you will need a sewing machine (obviously), a cutting mat, with a cutting ruler, a rotary cutter, 3/4 inch elastic, bias tape, and pins.

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Start by ironing all of your fabric.  While this might seem obvious, it’s actually an important step.  When cutting with a mat and rotary blade, it’s important to have smooth, crisp fabric.  Otherwise your lines will be wobbly.  Wobble lines = not good.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALay the fold of your fabric along one of the horizontal lines on your mat.  Using your ruler and rotary blade, trim the edge of the fabric so that it is straight and perpendicular to the folded edge.  You’re just getting a straight edge so you can begin to cut your fabric into 3.5 inch strips.  After you’ve trimmed the vertical edge of your fabric, move your ruler 3.5 inches to the left (line you ruler grid up with the grid of the mat) and cut.  Continue to cut 3.5 inch strips with the rest of your fabric.   We aren’t going to worry about cutting the length of each strip at this point.  Just be sure that each individual strip is several inches longer than you want  your skirt length to be.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf you want to know how many pieces you need to cut, just take the waist measurement, double it, then divide that number by 3.  That will give you approximately the number of strips needed for your skirt.

Miss E’s waist is 19 inches, double that and I get 38 inches.  Divide 38 by 3 which (when I round up) means I need to cut 13 strips.

This is what your fabric will look like once you are done cutting.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANext I lay them out in the order I want them to be sewn.  Right now we are only working on making the width of the skirt.  I’m not going to cut the length of the skirt, until all of the strips are sewn together.  By waiting to cut the top and bottom edges of the skirt, it will give me a more accurate rectangle.

I begin by sewing the strips from left to right.  I take the two strips that are on the far left, I pin them right sides together, and sew along one edge of the strips using a 1/4 inch seam allowance.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI use my serger to sew the fabric together.  A regular sewing machine works just fine but be sure to zig-zag the edges of the fabric before you sew them together, to prevent fraying when the skirt is washed.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Once the fabric strips are sewn together, press them gently open.  Don’t be too aggressive with your pressing or you will warp you strips.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAContinue to take the next strip to the right and pin (right sides together) to the raw edge of the last strip you sewed.  Be sure to press each strip as it is added before adding another. Keep adding strips until you have reached the length you need for your skirt.  As you can see from the picture, when I pin the strips together I try to keep the top edges of the strips sort of even.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is what it will look like.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFrom the picture above you can see that the top edge of the strips are sort of even but the bottom edge is very uneven.  That’s okay.  We’re going to straighten out the top and bottom edges next.

Now you want to fold your skirt in half right along one of the seam lines. Line that seam up with one of the horizontal lines on the cutting mat as shown (at the back) below.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALining up your cutting ruler edge with one of the vertical lines on the mat, trim up the edges, making them even.  Be sure to get all of the edges.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Now your ready to cut the length of the skirt.  Cut the left side of the rectangle to the length of your skirt.  Using Dana’s formula, I know that I want Miss E’s finished skirt to be 13 inches long.  So I add 1.5 inches for the elastic waist band which means that the width of my skirt will be 14.5 inches.  So I measure 14.5 inches to the left, line up my ruler and cut.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is what the finished rectangle will look like.  Use the rest of Dana’s tutorial to assemble the skirt.  Last, add the bias tape around the bottom of the hem.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd here’s the finished product.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMaking the patchwork version is more work, but I think it’s worth it.  Miss E certainly thinks it’s worth the work :)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOf course you could always turn a polka dot into a daisy.  Miss E thought it was a pretty neat addition.