Monthly Archives: January 2016

Winter Sewing

Winter Sewing | In An Orchard

After a full month of Christmas sewing I was eager to clean out the sewing room and start making a few things for the girls.  While I was at Joann’s looking for flannel for Miss E’s nightgown, I ran across the perfect bird print, it screamed “April! I’m perfect! Take me home and sew lots of little dresses with me!”  So I did.

I made two Geranium dresses.  A tiny one for a friend who just gave birth to a sweet baby girl, and one for Miss P.   I swear, every time I make a new dress for her I think, “This looks so long and big; it isn’t going to fit her.”  But it always does; proof that she is growing faster than I care to believe. Winter Sewing | In An Orchard

Look at the look on her face.  ”Mom… again with the picture taking.”

I bribed her with “fart putty” so she would stay in one place long enough to take a few pictures.Winter Sewing | In An Orchard

Since the weather is still cold I’ve been putting the dress over her t-shirts and jeans.  When things start to warm up she’ll be able to wear it with just a pair of Saltwater sandals.
Winter Sewing | In An Orchard


I was catching up on some blog reading a few weekends ago, when I came across this post from one of my favorite sewing blogs Made by Rae.  Rae was showing some of the things she had made for her son Hugo (who is just a little bit younger than Miss P) and I fell in love with the pair of yellow pants she made for him.  She used her own Parsley Pants pattern but I decided to use a pattern I already owned, one that I made for Miss E when she was just a little thing.

Winter Sewing | In An Orchard

I used the Basic Pocket Pant pattern from Meg McElwee’s book Growing up Sew Liberated.  Growing Up Sew Liberated is a must-have sewing book (in my humble opinion).  If you have little people in your house and you like to sew, then you need it in your library.

Winter Sewing | In An Orchard

There is nothing I don’t like about these pants.  It’s a simple pattern made special by all the little details that are added.  The contrasting cuffs and waistband and the bias-tape pockets are a winning combination.  So many ways to stylize this pattern.  I used two different fabrics.  The main fabric is a Heather Bailey print for Free Spirit, called Primrose.  The contrasting fabric is a Robert Kaufman chambray.  The chambray is extremely light-weight, and I hesitated to use if for the cuffs and waistband, but I added some medium weight interfacing to those pieces and it worked out just fine.Winter Sewing | In An Orchard

I love, LOVE those pockets!Winter Sewing | In An Orchard

Because we’re still in the middle of winter, I decided to line the pants with fleece.  I had some green fleece in my fabric stash, so I used it to line the inside of the pants.  There’s the right way to line pants, and then there’s the way I line pants.

Winter Sewing | In An Orchard

Before I started to sew the pattern pieces together, I cut out a separate pair of fleece pant legs. Then, I carefully pinned the fleece pieces to the wrong side of the main pant leg pieces.  Next, I very carefully surged the fleece to the main fabric.  I took my time and made sure that both fabrics were perfectly smooth, so there wouldn’t be any puckers or ripples in the pants once I started sewing them together.  Once I had sewn the fleece to the wrong side of the main fabric, I simply assembled the pants using the pattern instructions.  All in all it worked out really well!  There’s a little extra bulk in the crotch seam but they’re loose fitting pants so it’s not really noticeable.
Winter Sewing | In An Orchard

I finished the pants just in time to test them out on a day trip to San Francisco.  We took the children to the Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park over a three day weekend.Winter Sewing | In An Orchard

They kept her warm and comfy all day!  That’s what I love about Meg’s patterns; she understands that children are constantly in motion and their clothing should reflect that, and not inhibit them.Winter Sewing | In An Orchard

Winter Sewing | In An Orchard

I think I need to make her at least one more pair, maybe two if I can find the time.Winter Sewing | In An Orchard

Just for the fun of it, I thought I’d show you the original pair of Basic Pocket Pants I made for Miss E, when she was little.Winter Sewing | In An Orchard

These tiny pants are one of my favorite things I’ve made for Miss E.  Hindsight; I wish I’d have bought 4 yards of that floral print.  I used every last scrap of it, and when I went back to Joanne’s to get more it was sold out…heartbreaking.  I still have those pants out in the storage shed but they’re a size 3T, and they’re still a little too big for Miss P.Winter Sewing | In An Orchard

Next up on my sewing list is a few circle skirts for Miss E.  She’s been begging me for some new circle skirts to twirl around in, and I certainly don’t mind obliging her.

Handmade Christmas

Handmade Christmas | Inanorchard

I had a lot of fun making a few extra Christmas gifts this year.  I always make a little something for each of the children, a small handmade gift from mamma under the tree, but this year I carved out a some extra time and make a few things for my nieces and nephews too.

But I’ll start with the some gifts that came from the kitchen; not the sewing room.  We wanted to deliver cookie plates to our neighbors and friends this year, so I spent a few weeks mixing up and freezing cookie dough. I got up early one Saturday and started an assembly line of cookie baking.  By a little after lunch we had 10 cookie plates ready to deliver later that evening.
Handmade Christmas | In An Orchard

Justin spent the morning roasting a huge batch of coffee, because the only thing better than cookies; is cookies with a nice cup of freshly roasted coffee!  Handmade Christmas | In An Orchard

We had such a fun night making deliveries and being invited into the homes of our neighbors.  We had intended to just drop the coffee and cookies off, but each and every person invited us in to sit and chat.  It was a truly memorable night!

When I wasn’t elbows deep in flour and sugar, I was in the sewing room working on my small list of Christmas presents.

For my nieces I decided to make monogrammed tote bags.  I enjoy making making tote bags.  They are such a quick and satisfying project, and I was pretty pleased with the way the monogrammed letters turned out!
Handmade Christmas | In An Orchard

I filled the bags with art supplies and chap stick (because every little girl loves chap stick).Handmade Christmas | In An Orchard

For my young nephews I decided to make reversible hooded capes.  I used a black and silver polyester satin fabric to give the cape a dramatic, sweeping look.  I wanted it to look like a Jedi cloak or a Medieval cape.  It’s always a little risky making a handmade gifts.  There’s a fine line between being the cool Aunt who makes unique gifts, and being the crazy Aunt who makes embarrassing gifts that you hide in the back of your closet.  Handmade Christmas | In An OrchardBut both the boys seemed genuinely excited about their capes, and I was delighted to see pictures of them in the following weeks wearing their capes to the beach, over their pjs, and even to Disneyland!

I also painted up a few small snowmen and Christmas trees to tuck into stockings and other gifts.

Handmade Christmas | In An Orchard

I  purchased several gifts from some other wonderfully talented women I know.  For each of my sister-in-laws I bought these wonderful crocheted face scrubs, and a bar of lemon poppy seed soap, from and Etsy shop called The Green Daisy.  I love this lemon poppy seed soap!  I’ve been using it myself for the last 6 months and I was excited to give them as gifts.
Handmade Christmas | In An Orchard

For Miss P I made a new set of peg people.  Last Christmas I made her a set of animal peg dolls and this year I wanted to make her a set of family peg dolls.  I tried to get them to look as much like our family as I could.  She loves playing with them!  I ordered all my unfinished peg dolls, trees, and snowmen from this Etsy seller.Handmade Christmas | In An Orchard

Miss P loves wearing “fancy” things, so I also made her a hand-painted wooden bead necklace.Handmade Christmas | In An Orchard

I threaded the beads onto some leather cording and knotted it tightly at the top.  When it was finished I liked it so much I was tempted to keep it myself!

Handmade Christmas | In An Orchard

I also bought Miss P this darling roll-up crayon holder from Justin’s Aunt Doris.  She is such a talented woman who makes beautiful things!

Handmade Christmas | In An Orchard

For the boys I decided to make a homemade checker board. Justin helped me out with the boys gift by making the checker pieces with his 3D printer.Handmade Christmas | In An Orchard

Not only did he made extra large checker pieces but he even monogrammed them!  I love the way they turned out!Handmade Christmas | In An Orchard

The boys have already used their checker board dozens of times.  J even brought it to school to share with his friends on a rainy school day.  I love seeing them use and enjoy something that I have made.Handmade Christmas | In An Orchard

For Miss E I made a very traditional Christmas gift; a long flannel nightgown.  I’ve wanted to make her one for years and I finally got around to it.  I have my own plaid flannel nightgown that I get out on those very cold winter nights, and whenever I wear it she says, “Oh mamma that is such a beautiful nightgown!  You look so pretty in that!”  I was absolutely determined to make her a nightgown of her own.  I’ve never made anything like a nightgown so I was a little nervous but it went together very smoothly.  I found this darling flannel print at Joanne’s Fabric, it’s from their Snuggle Flannel line (very reasonably priced).Handmade Christmas | In An Orchard

My one regret was not taking a little more time to get the gathers around the neck more even.  Sometimes the gown hangs a little funky, but Miss E doesn’t mind a bit.
Handmade Christmas | In An Orchard

She loves the pink lace around the neck.Handmade Christmas | In An Orchard


And that’s all for this year’s handmade Christmas!  It was so much fun to make all those little gifts and to imagine them being enjoyed, and worn, and played with… I love the whole process, from beginning to end.

Thanks again for stopping by!  I hope you enjoyed my little handmade Christmas tour and maybe you’ve even gotten a little inspired to try making a few of your own Christmas gifts next year.

See you again soon!  ~April

Our Christmas~

In our 10 years of raising a family we’ve never had to deal with illness over Christmas.  I’ve spent my share of New Year’s Eve, and Valentines Days nursing sick kiddos… but never Christmas.  This year changed all that; we pretty much spent all of Christmas break taking turns being sick.  I was the last and the hardest to fall.  Truthfully I’m still not fully recovered but I’m slowly (much too slowly) starting to feel more like myself.

Christmas 2015

Despite all the fevers, and stomach bugs we did have some sweet times together.  Christmas 2015 | Inanorchard

Decorating the GIANT Christmas tree Justin and the boys brought home.  They love getting out the ornament box every year.  They each have favorites that they look forward to putting on the tree; which can be the source of a few squabbles.Christmas 2015 | Inanorchard

Christmas 2015 | Inanorchard

Christmas 2015 | Inanorchard

We did our annual Christmas cookie baking and decorating day.  They consumed ridiculous amounts of sugar, my sanity barely held, and a week later I’m still sweeping up red and green sprinkles.  Christmas 2015 | Inanorchard

This girl… she was in sugar heaven.  She couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t let her eat sprinkles straight from the bottle.Christmas 2015 | Inanorchard

Christmas 2015 | Inanorchard

Between the winter storms we found time to get some fresh air.  A little walk down the canal and though the orchard.Christmas 2015 | Inanorchard

Evenings were spent being cozy near the fire.Christmas 2015 | Inanorchard

Justin kept the Miss P occupied one morning while I did Christmas baking.  She loves making block towers.
Christmas 2015 | Inanorchard

Christmas 2015 | Inanorchard

The kiddos went ice skating for the very first time and loved it.  Miss E met the challenge with her usual dogged determination.Christmas 2015 | Inanorchard

J has his own set of roller-blades, so he was speeding across the rink in no time.Christmas 2015 | Inanorchard

Even G enjoyed skating.  He’s my guy who’s usually apprehensive to try something new.  I was pleasantly surprised when he lace up and headed out onto the ice without any coaxing on my part,  I was so proud of him!Christmas 2015 | Inanorchard

Christmas morning was a little unusual.  Justin had been up early with J who had thrown up during the night.  J managed to open his gifts but climbed into bed as soon as all the presents were opened and slept most of the day.Christmas 2015 | Inanorchard

G loved the trapper cap I got him and the boys played many, many rounds of checkers with their new checker board.Christmas 2015 | Inanorchard

This guy also celebrated his 9th Birthday!  He was such a good sport.  We had planned a fun birthday outing  to The Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, but we ended up having to delay it because I came down with the flu.  Poor guy!  He enjoyed his presents, pizza and chocolate cake nonetheless.  Christmas 2015 | InanorchardAnd suddenly, just like that, it’s a new year!

I’ve got some fun Christmas projects that I’m excited to show you all, hopefully soon!

Hope your Christmas was wonderful and much less germ-riddled than ours :)