Archive for August, 2011

sick day

Today we stayed home sick. Lila had a high fever, but no other symptoms, so we just laid low.

She chose herself a nice sick day outfit of some leggings she outgrew six months ago and some mismatched socks, the partners of which she wore as “hand gloves” (is there any other kind?) – to ward of the chills, probably.

There was some of this going on today:

But we also made play dough:

I found a recipe on flickr several years ago and I’ve been using it ever since. We make it all the time at home, and we’ve used it for gifts and party favors, too. It’s the same recipe you see pop up everywhere, but I’ll post it here just in case anyone’s interested.

2 cups flour

1 cup salt

4 T cream of tartar

2 cups water

2 T vegetable oil

You mix everything together in a saucepan and cook it over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it all congeals. Then knead the dough on a piece of waxed paper and separate it into as many balls as colors you want.

I usually halve the recipe if it’s just for us, but I made a full batch this time so we can give some to Lila’s cousin for his birthday this week. Mixing the colors is the best part, so I separated the dough into 12 pieces and made the whole rainbow.

You can get super vibrant colors if you use gel food coloring. I bought a box of Wilton gel icing colors forever ago with a 40% off coupon at Joanns. It’s a lifetime supply.

Before the color goes in, you can add a few drops of scented oil to each ball (or you can add it at the cooking stage). We made some grapefuit, some anise, and some lavender. They smell pretty.

I use a toothpick to add a little gel to each piece until it’s the color I want. Be warned, though – a few of the colors will try to elude you. No matter how much black you add, the dough just keeps on looking green – it takes hours (sometimes overnight, even) before the color develops. It’s the same way with purple and red. But be patient. Good things (like black play dough, for example) come to those who wait.

Now, if you’re serious about the sport of play dough (as I think I’ve proven myself to be), you can head over to your local Bi-Mart and source out one of these little stacking compartment thingies to hold all your goods. It’s got three separate layers – I used one for the rolling pins and tools, one for the dough, and one for the shape cutters. They all stack together and snap shut.

No doubt about it, I love me some organized anything.

Now I have to figure something out for sick day #2….


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Not long after my oldest sister was born, in the days before Baby Bjorns and the like, my dad dreamed up the first (to his knowledge) front-facing baby carrier. He sketched out his design, complete with a little pocket on the strap, and my mom sewed a prototype out of denim.

Here’s the carrier in action:


She was happy facing out, and my dad was so sure the carrier would catch on that he even applied for a patent. Nothing ever came of it, much like the hundreds of other make-a-million-bucks ideas he had over the years. He was an amazing schemer, that guy.

And 38 years later, we’re still carrying our babies that way:

The Oliver + S bear carrier from Little Things to Sew appears to be a pretty similar design, right down to the pocket, and when Kristin from skirt as top posted her cute little carrier, I showed Lila the photos. She got all wide-eyed and said, “Mommy! Could you make me wunna doze for my baby RIGHT NOW?” I’d had it flagged as a Christmas gift, but so much for that plan.

It was a simple project, and now that it’s made, I really can’t believe I waited this long. Lila totes her babies around everywhere, and lately she’s been stuffing them inside her shirt so she can use her hands for other things – but there’s a lot of re-stuffing required. So this thing makes perfect sense.

Hands-free baby wearing with no slippage!

I made the carrier out of denim (it’s a lightweight chambray from Robert Kaufman) to match my dad’s 1970s original. The pocket is cut from a Japanese fairy tale print I bought locally at Cool Cottons and used to cover her duvet – there are so many cute little scenes on that fabric, including a little girl feeding her chickens.

There was a good amount of strap left over after I attached the velcro tabs – I cut off the straps a couple inches below the velcro, satin stitched the ends, and looped them back up in case I need to let out the strap and lower the velcro as she gets bigger.

And here’s a peek at the lining – it’s a scrap left over from Lila’s Oliver + S sailboat pants. She found a critter to fit in the tiny pocket, too:

She’s worn this thing non-stop since I finished it – to the park, to the pool, out to eat – and I guess it’s not everyday you see a two year old with her baby doll in a front carrier, because it’s been getting a lot of attention around town. For some reason I find it ridiculously cute on her (hence the gratuitous number of photos in this post), and I’m thrilled that she loves it as much as I do.

Now baby can participate in all sorts of activities, such as searching for the secret stash of M&Ms:

Dot art:

And collecting eggs (definitely a two-handed activity):

That’s two days worth of eggs – we forgot to check yesterday. And how about that fashion-forward footwear?

Okay, that’s it. Happy baby wearing!

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pattern testing!

When you’ve got a modest little blog with only a handful of subscribers, it’s majorly exciting when somebody famous notices you. There are those who might consider “famous” a stretch here, but if following sewing and craft blogs is your thing, you know who these people are. And they are indeed famous. So I was giddy beyond belief when Anna from Noodlehead emailed and asked me to be a pattern tester. I’m a huge fan of her blog and was so flattered that she thought of me.

Honestly, I would’ve tested any old pattern she sent me, but as luck would have it, it was her new Go Anywhere bag. Sewing for me! Not that I don’t love sewing for Lila, but I haven’t made anything for myself since this bag back in February, and I could really use something roomier. Something that closes securely. And has lots of pockets. Maybe even pockets with pleats!

Something like this:

Here’s the back of the bag, with a big pocket that closes with a magnetic snap:

The bag has so many pockets and linings that choosing fabrics was really fun – and extra challenging of course, since I have a tendency to treat fabric selection as the biggest decision of my life.

So after a great deal of agonizing, I went with Kaufman Carolina Chambray in black (which ends up looking like a textured gray) for the outer pockets and interior lining. I lined the outer pockets with a turquoise stripe from Moda’s Just Wing It collection, which was leftover from Lila’s Playdate dress. Same fabric for the inner slip pocket, too.

I don’t normally carry that piggy around with me, by the way. Just some filler for the photos. But check out that little pen compartment! And you can customize the slip pocket for whatever you want to hold in there.

The print is Michael Miller’s Spa Scallops in coral. Since it’s quilting weight, I basted canvas to the main bag pieces like Anna suggested, which gave the bag a good, sturdy shape. I added piping to the outer pockets and top stitched everything in aqua.

I made some silly, sleep-deprived mistakes along the way, such as attaching my straps all wrong the first time, and somehow managing to sew my two lining pieces completely shut around the top – not sure how I thought I was going to access the contents of the bag that way.  But nothing a little seam ripping couldn’t undo. And I’d never used magnetic snaps before, so of course I buggered that up and ended up with two little slits in the lining where they didn’t belong. Luckily they’re pretty easy to ignore, being on the inside and all. I’ll do better next time, and there will be a next time!

And there’s a pocket where baby girl can lounge while I make her a special little carrier of her own (next post!)….

I have to say, I’m pretty smitten with my new bag. The size is great – not too big, not too small – I’ve been using it all week for swimming lessons and managed to fit everything we needed in there, all neat and organized and snapped shut!

And I couldn’t get a decent shot of myself wearing it, but there are lots of photos of the bag in use over at Noodlehead, along with some seriously gorgeous versions that Anna’s made. It’s up for sale today, so go check it out and be tempted!

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and shoes to match

A while back I pinned these cute little booties, and when I followed the link to I Think Sew there were patterns for over 30 different baby shoes. I still love that sneaker pair, but I made these Mary Janes to go with the Storybook Woods bonnet.

I used the same wool and lining fabric as the bonnet, and added some matching embroidery instead of the fabric flower from the pattern.

The straps fasten with sew-on snaps, so the little shell buttons are just for show.

It was a good pattern, but I will admit that these were a little tedious to sew, as sewing tiny things can be. I found it helpful to draw my sewing lines directly on the fabric before pinning, giving me a visible line to follow around the curves as I sewed. They don’t tell you to do this in the directions, but the photos show it that way, and it kept the shoes from ending up all wonky-shaped. Not to say there aren’t still a few wonky spots, but it really did help.

I also made this matching crinkle teething/clutching toy.

I bought a three pack of wooden rings from an Etsy shop that sells teethers and playsilks and stuff. The rings are perfect for this sort of project, but don’t order from there if you’re in a hurry – it took them 15 days to ship my order! Anyway, I just enclosed a Smarties wrapper inside my rectangle (the back is organic flannel) to make it crinkle. And I added a snap where it straps to the ring so that the fabric part can be removed and washed in the machine. Just in case it happens to gets covered in baby slime…

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storybook woods

Lila and her dad have been “waterfalling” (as they like to call it) on Sundays. It sounds like a good time, and part of me would love to join in the fun, but you know what else sounds pretty great? Four hours to myself.

Here are the photos they sent me during my special alone time:

hiking at oneonta falls

lunch at horsetail falls

Most of my morning was spent listening to Cat Power and working on a little wool bonnet. I’ve been daydreaming about fall sewing since early July – probably because Lila is maxed out on summer clothes and the weather has barely been nice enough to wear them. It seems wrong to sew for fall now that the sun is finally shining, but my neighbor is expecting a baby girl mid-October and the shower is in a couple weeks. So, in keeping with the Posie theme, I made Alicia Paulson’s Storybook Woods Baby Bonnet – a cozy little hat for a fall baby.

The gray is a lightweight wool suiting from Joann’s. At first I balked at the price ($26.99/yard), but after doing some quick math I figured out that 3/8ths of a yard at 40% off comes out to pretty much nothing. Plus, there’s enough left over to cut two more bonnets. It would take a lot of mini marshmallows to get Lila into one of these, but I think it’d be awfully cute. We’ll see.

The lining is Moda Painted Flowers from the Sugar Pop collection. The ferns on the lining kind of mimic the embroidery, which is what sold me on the fabric.

The bonnet is reversible, too – a feature I always appreciate in a pattern. And the wool is so soft, I think it really could be worn either way.

I also like how the pattern has you sew down the seam allowances where the bonnet’s sides join the gusset – the top stitching on either side of those seams is a nice detail, I think:

The whole thing came together without a hitch, and I even learned some new embroidery in the process – the fly stitch (it’s the green fern-ish looking one).  It was my first time sewing with wool, too, which was a pleasure. Now that I’ve started sewing for fall, there may be no turning back….

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