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an urgent swingset tunic

swingset tunic -- probably actually

It’s been hot hot hot around here. Time for some summer clothes.

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Seeing Lucinda’s latest Swingset Tunic in all its summery, polka-dot glory got me thinking about Swingset pattern, and then in walks that awesome Abe Lincoln Swinget Tunic that only Tara could’ve come up with. And despite the fact that Lila has a closet full of Swingset Skirts (1,2,3,4,5), I had never really considered trying the top. Why?? I dunno, but there was no time to waste, because this pattern maxes out at size 5.

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I’ve been having these moments of panic lately about Lila sizing out of almost every single pattern I own, especially my Oliver + S patterns, which I’ve spent years collecting in the smaller size range. If only I could magically trade them in for the bigger sizes. I feel the need to make everything one last time, (or for the first time, as the case may be) before all is lost. Dramatic, I know.

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I chose this little floral print called Ladylike Black Tea from Pat Bravo’s Carnaby St. line (purchased here). I’m pretty much basing all of my summer fabric choices on these yellow Saltwater Sandals.

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The bodice is lined with Michael Miller Cotton Couture, in Citrus I believe.

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Speaking of the lining, the only thing I didn’t love about this pattern was how the bodice was finished inside – it wasn’t quite as neat and tidy as other Oliver + S patterns. I really like the top though – I can’t believe I waited so long and missed out on years of Swingset Tunics. Clearly Lila is in despair over it, too.

swingset tunic -- probably actually-5

The good news is that the size 5 came out pretty roomy, so maybe it’s not the end of the road for this pattern after all. Kids mostly grow up and not out at this age anyway, right?

a swingset tunic -- probably actually

Okay, that’s it for now.

I leave you with two kids in a tub of rainbow rice.

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And in other news…

Last week’s Make It Perfect pattern giveaway goes to #91, Patricia! Toni will be in contact soon to hook you up with your free pattern.

And if you’re fabric shopping this weekend, LiMa Sews has a 20% off sale going on through July 21st with the code “JULY2014″ – good stuff over there, check it out!

 

 

MIP mini poppy -- probably actually

As you may (or may not) have noticed, I have a long-time affinity for Make it Perfect Patterns. Over the past several years I’ve made the Uptown Girl Jacket, the Serendipity Coat, the Frothy Skirt, the Mini Shearwater Kaftan, the Zip-It, and now the Mini Poppy. See? I’m a fan! When Toni asked me to join her pattern parade, I knew I wanted to make the Mini Poppy – I’ve had the pattern traced and ready to sew for over a year, so this was the perfect opportunity. Of course now I had to trace the next size up, but luckily it’s just four pattern pieces!

MIP mini poppy -- probably actually-4As the “mini” suggests, this pattern is based on Toni’s Poppy Tunic pattern for women. And if I ever sewed for myself I’d make one of those, too.

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Once again I used Andover Chambray, in Navy this time. I’ve now sampled four of the 25 colors and have no plans to stop there. The contrast fabric is Sprinkles in Indigo from Dear Stella’s Oh Happy Day line, purchased at Bolt. I love those sprinkles – Lila still wears her Sprinkles Swingset skirt and I had no idea this print came in another color until I saw it on the shelf. Pretty much any fabric covered in colorful spots is right up my alley, so I had to have some.

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This is a size 5, and it’s pretty roomy, but I think it will make a nice fall dress with a shirt and leggings underneath. Unfortunately I mixed up my tracings and cut a size 4 skirt, so I moved the hems around a little to add some length, but it will certainly work as a tunic as she gets taller. Like most of Toni’s girls’ patterns, this pattern is available in two size ranges: 0-5 and 6-10.

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So I think the reason I sat on this pattern for so long is that I have a bit of an aversion to making bias tape, and there’s quite a bit to be made. It always ends up being worth the effort, but I kind of hate the whole process – I find it tedious and time consuming and it just fills me with all-around dread. Those Clover bias tape makers do expedite things, though – I have them in two different sizes, but not the size I needed for this project. So I made it the old fashioned way, with burned fingertips, and in 90 degree heat. But I really do love how it looks – it frames the yoke so nicely, and the front ties are awfully cute as well. Don’t be scared off. :)

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Would you like to try a Make it Perfect pattern? One lucky winner can choose any PDF pattern from Toni’s vast collection. To be entered in the giveaway, just leave a comment on this post (you can tell me which pattern you’d choose, or whatever). The giveaway is open through this Friday, July 11th, and I’ll pick a winner sometime next week.

((Giveaway is now closed!))

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For lots of great Make it Perfect pattern inspiration, check out the rest of the tour, which is going on through the month of July.

MIP Pattern Parade Button

The Make It Perfect Pattern Parade Virtual Catwalk introduces…

 

Did you sew along last week?

abutton

I’ve had my copy of Happy Homemade: Sew Chic Kids (the English version of Happy Homemade, Vol.2) since Christmas, but despite the translation, I’ve been too chicken to try anything. The hoodie was number one on my list, and as with every new pattern I make, a thorough inspiration-seeking Flickr image search was performed. I discovered through some comments that the neck facing had tripped a few people up, so I emailed Shelley of Bartacks and Singletracks for some pointers. She kindly passed along all her helpful notes, and then a week or so later, Cherie and Meg announced they’d be hosting a Happy Homemade Kids sew-along with that very pattern. And so, no more excuses, here I am.

I actually sewed a little bit each day, right along with their schedule. It’s rare I sew that way, but I really enjoyed pacing myself.

a happy homemade hoodie.jpg

I wasn’t sure I could sell Lila on this pattern, so I made the hoodie for the less opinionated of the two.

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The fabric is from Dear Stella’s Sunburst Stripes collection. I really like these stripes – the range of colors is great, and basics like this are so useful. Mine came from LiMa Sews, where you can find four of the colors – I used Smoke.

Both Meg and Cherie added kangaroo pockets to their hoodies, and they obviously know what’s up, so I did the same.

happy homemade hoodie -- probably actually-5

I cut the pocket with the stripes going in the opposite direction, but it’s not very noticeable since they’re so thin. Please go ahead and notice it, though, because the whole thing came out a little plain in my opinion.

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The hood didn’t end up being all that functional – it doesn’t come forward far enough to fit properly, and it pulls at the back of the parka when it’s up. Meg angled hers forward for more coverage, which I’d recommend if you want it to serve as an actual hood. I don’t so much mind a decorative hood, though – it looks pretty cute just hanging there.

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I probably would’ve lined my hood had I used some other fabric, but I couldn’t come up with a good match for the stripes. Plus, I finally got my serger going (another Christmas gift that went too long unused), so at least the inside is properly finished.

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The patterns in this book are made for kids aged 3-9, but the smallest size (2) fits Oscar, who’s an over-sized 19 month-old, relatively well – it’s definitely on the big side, but totally wearable.

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I love the designs in this and other Japanese pattern books, but I have to say, I’m not a huge fan trying to make sense of sparse directions – I’m pretty sure Liesl has completely ruined me for sewing with Japanese patterns! And I’m still waiting for someone to explain to me why any pattern wouldn’t include seam allowances. So yeah, I’d have to be really motivated by a great design (of which there are many, admittedly) for this type of sewing to become a regular thing. Or maybe I’ll just join in on another sew-along – hopefully there are more to come!

happy homemade hoodie -- probably actually-2

Anyway, thanks to Cherie and Meg for walking me through my very first Japanese pattern! Check out the Happy Homemade Kids sew-along if you’re like me and don’t want to bumble through these cool patterns on your own – it was really helpful and fun to join in!

rainbow hide-and-seek

Lila graduated from preschool yesterday.

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It seemed like a pretty big deal, so I made her a new dress.

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It’s her second Oliver + S Hide-and-Seek dress – we’re both really fond of the first one, which has been in heavy rotation since March. This is very much that same dress – chambray, size 4 (this time I added a 1/2 inch in length), short sleeves, no notch – it all seemed to work last time, so I didn’t want to risk it by making too many changes.

rainbow hide-and-seek -- probably actually-15The fun thing about this pattern, though, (besides the genius welt pockets) is that you can do something special with yoke, which is framed so nicely by the side panels and skirt. The yoke on this dress was pieced from a striped shot cotton (Kaffe Fassett’s¬†Broad Stripe in Bliss), which I purchased at Bolt a few months ago with this very dress in mind. Rather than cutting the front yoke piece on the fold, I cut two pieces on the bias (with an added 1/4 inch seam allowance on either side) and pieced them together to form the V.

1 rainbow hide-and-seek -- probably actually

Now, I’m no quilter, and while I suppose point matching isn’t rocket science, I did manage to butcher my entire 1/2 yard trying to get those stripes to line up just right. My first attempts were laughably off, and even when I got the pieces cut out correctly, they didn’t especially want to match up – shot cotton has some stretch even on the grain, so it wasn’t terribly cooperative on the bias. But I tried, tried again, and it all came together well enough in the end.

rainbow hide-and-seek -- probably actually-9And happily I was able to use the few remaining scraps to eke out some striped pockets.

rainbow hide-and-seek -- probably actually-5

I used the same Andover chambray as the last dress, this time in Denim. There’s so much to love about this fabric – the weight, the drape, the texture – it’s great for clothing and I pretty much want to use it to sew all the things. Luckily it comes in so many great colors that maybe nobody would notice if I did? The thought has crossed my mind.

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So that’s it. Lila’s career as a preschooler is officially over. We went from this, her first day of preschool two years ago:

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To this, her very last day:

last day -- probably actually

She had such a happy year at school, and is so ready for Kindergarten, whether I’m ready for it or not. And no graduation is complete without a cheesy senior portrait to commemorate it all. It would’ve been better had she been peeking out from behind the tree (or maybe side lying with a tuba), but this one will have to do…

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As you may have heard, Rae‘s lovely new line for Cloud 9 Fabrics, Lotus Pond, is now available in all its glory!

LotusPond-600-wideThe prints and colors are so happy and summery, and I had (and still have!) so many ideas for what to make. But in the end I couldn’t get the bucket hats out of my head. I mean, picture a kid down by the pond on a summer day, catching butterflies and snails and frogs, and try to tell me you don’t see a bucket hat on that kid’s head. Right? Anyway, there was that, and the fact that both of my kids happened to need new summer hats. So there you go.

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The weight and feel of this fabric is perfect, and Cloud 9 prints on organic cotton which makes me feel all happy inside. I chose two of the larger scale prints, which I like for hats because you don’t have to worry about anything matching up at the side seams or the print looking straight along the curved brim. And I love those blues together.

There are some fabulous boy-friendly prints in this line. I went with Lily Pond for Oscar.

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And Lila’s is Meadow Blossoms in Blue.

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The pattern comes from Liesl Gibson’s Little Things to Sew book, but it’s also available as a free download on the Oliver + S website. I’ve made it year after year (Lila’s hat from two years ago still fits, but a new one was in order) – it’s quick and easy and fits well. I widened the brim on Lila’s, same as last time, by one inch all around – inspired by none other than Jessica of A Little Gray. More sun coverage and more big sunhat floppiness. And I’m a big fan of avoiding hand sewing whenever possible, so I used the “look, no hand stitching!” technique (Jessica again!) to construct both hats. A pleasure to sew, even two in a row!

lotus pond bucket hats -- probably actually-12

Another nice thing about the pattern is its reversible-ness. Lila’s hat reverses to Andover chambray in Mustard (same stuff I used for her Hide-and-Seek dress), and Oscar’s to good old Essex yard-dyed in Denim. I love that you get two hats in one with this pattern – one fun print, and one neutral solid.

lotus pond bucket hats -- probably actually-5

lotus pond bucket hats -- probably actually

And Oscar is wearing Lila’s first pair of Sailboat pants – finally a usable hand-me-down!

Okay, visit Made by Rae this week for lots of Lotus Pond inspiration – there’s a Lotus Pond Extravaganza in the works! Thanks to Rae and Cloud 9 for having me along!

 

Today is my stop on the Willow & Co. Glamping Tour!

hawthorn sweatshirt -- probably actually-5

Laura (of Craftstorming and Titchy Threads) kindly invited me along, and anything she’s involved in is automatically legit in my book. I’ve been so impressed with her patterns (Small Fry Skinny Jeans!), and I figured she’d only take part in the most awesome of pattern collectives. And once I read more about Willow & Co. and looked through the collection, my assumption was confirmed.

Choosing from all the patterns wasn’t easy, but I thought Oscar would look pretty cute in the Hawthorn Zip-up Sweatshirt.

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The Hawthorn jumped out at me as being both practical and stylish, and that it happened to be Laura’s pattern was the icing on the cake.

hawthorn sweatshirt -- probably actually-14It’s a perfect little collared sweatshirt that can be made in a full or half zip, with options for side seam pockets or a split side-seam with lower back hem. A basic, well-designed zip-up sweatshirt is such a useful pattern to have in your collection. The fit is great, the details are professional, and what kid wouldn’t want to wear it? This one is a total crowd pleaser.

hawthorn sweatshirt -- probably actually-7

And back to those details – Laura does them so well. I’m somewhat of a zipper novice, and I really appreciated the directions for inserting the zip – the Wonder Tape (I used this stuff) really did work wonders, and the interfacing kept everything hanging straight.

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I did the full-zip version with the pockets, and used a soft, lightweight french terry (smooth on one side, loopy on the other) from a men’s Target sweatshirt.

hawthorn sweatshirt -- probably actually-3

I have such trouble finding good knits locally, and I hate ordering online without seeing and feeling the fabric first. I always check Target and Old Navy for pieces to re-purpose, but I’ve noticed lately that a lot their sweatshirt and jersey knits are cotton/polyester blends. You really have to search for the 100% cotton stuff, but that’s what I prefer to use when I sew for kids. This one fit the bill – the quality was surprisingly good, and I liked the minty-jade color. For the pockets and facings I cut up an old hoodie of Lila’s from Old Navy.

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One nice thing about using a ready made sweatshirt is that the existing ribbing could be re-purposed for the cuffs – and it all matches. That’s my other gripe about knits – every variation of every hue is available when I shop for woven solids, but when I’m pairing up knit fabrics, I usually feel pretty lucky if I find a random contrast color that doesn’t totally clash.

((Oh hi, Lila. How’d your dress get so short?))

hawthorn sweatshirt -- probably actually-12

Anyway. Can we talk about “glamping” for a moment? That’s glamorous camping for those like me who were not in the know. I am not in the know about 7/8ths of all pop culture references, so it was no big surprise that I had to turn to the Google for guidance. I must say though, I can get behind glamping. I grew up in an Indoor Family. We read books and played Boggle and we were all proficient with rubber stamps, but we did not camp. Roughing it is definitely not in my blood. I did marry a camping enthusiast though, and we recently acquired a pop-top camping van. Sleeping inside this hunk of German engineering has to be more glamorous than the hard ground in a tent, right? Now that we’ve got the van AND proper glamping attire for the boy, I think we’re set for the summer. See, Oscar says, “Let me in! Let me glamp!”

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Okay, enough already. Go check out Willow & Co. if you haven’t already. The lookbook is overflowing with Vanessa‘s beautiful photography, and it’s sure to inspire you. So many patterns, so little time. The Fawn Lily dress and the Senna Tote are next on my list.

And for even more inspiration (just a few days in, and so much gorgeous stuff already!), here’s the full tour schedule:

glamping tour

Happy sewing, happy glamping, and thanks to Laura for having me along!

little cotton rabbits

For my next installment of “things I didn’t knit” I’d like to introduce you to the bunnies my mom made for this year’s Easter baskets.

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They’re pretty cute on their own, but they also have tiny bunny wardrobes, which of course takes things to a new level.

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We take dressing up our little friends pretty seriously around here, and we’re having so much fun playing with these.

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I’m definitely including myself in that “we” – technically there was one bunny for each kid, but you know how it goes.

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The patterns come from Julie Williams of Little Cotton Rabbits. There’s all sorts of adorableness to be seen on her blog and in her Flickr stream (the rabbits! the elephants! the miniature dresses and sweaters!) – I’m in awe of this woman. Her knitted animal and dress patterns can be found in her Etsy shop. And she occasionally sells her own creations in the shop, too.

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That’s all. I’ve got my eye on the robin dress next – stay tuned for expanding bunny wardrobes!

little cotton rabbits -- probably actually

 

 

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