Friday, November 26, 2010

Christmastime Is Here!

I had the opportunity to design a Christmas card for a fun couple before Thanksgiving.  Jennifer has ordered some invitations from me in the past and I was excited to design her these unique Christmas photo cards!

Aren't they precious?  And the Christmas cards are so fun, too!

If you'd like your own totally customized Christmas photo card (that means that you don't just personalize it, but I make everything designed to your requests!  From the design elements to the colors to the photo placement to the font!)

Same deal as for baby announcements - for $30.00, I work with you and create a card that we can totally redo one time.  After that we can tweak certain elements within reason.  I then finish up and send you a printing ready .jpg of your photo card!

I can design them to any size specifications you wish, but standard photo cards are 5x7 and fit A7 envelopes.  We can fit 2 - 4x8 cards on one 8x10 photo sheet, and these will fit in a standard number 10 envelope.

Don't forget - I can now take your credit card!  If you want to choose that option, please email me to find out how to safely give me your card information!

Don't be shy - step right up and get your Christmas cards here!

Talkin' Turkey

Last year, for my daughter's first Thanksgiving, I made a precious little brown velveteen jumper with gold buttons and featuring a turkey applique made from her very own tiny hand print.

This year I was planning to make a new jumper in a different color and tack on her same little precious hand turkey from last year.

But I happened to meet up with a friend for dinner while at a seminar in Charlotte last week, and when I saw what her daughter was wearing, I knew I had to make her something similar.  The best part was that it was a t-shirt dress, and so ended up being about 90% less work than a dress from a pattern!

How cute is this dress?  With it's sweet double ruffle and turkey appliqued from the same print, it was perfect, perfect, perfect for the mild weather we had for Turkey Day this year.

Here is my little applique up close.  I created it on a piece of fleece so that I could simply tack it on  and remove it after Thanksgiving.  I thought the dress was too cute on it's own - plus it's still big - to wear just that one day.  But I just free-handed a little turkey body and feather on an index card and used them as my pattern.  A little yellow corduroy for the beak (and I meant to add a red rick-rack waddle, but forgot) and two mini-button eyes and you're in business!

And here's my little turkey in her turkey dress.  See what I mean about how big it is?  I modified the dress my friend's daughter was wearing.  It was so cute but without being able to look at it, I couldn't quite remember how it went.  I know hers didn't seem so long, so I'm guessing that her aunt, who made it for her, might have cut off the bottom of the tee before sewing the skirt on.  I just left the shirt completely in tact.  Hers also only had a single bottom layer, while I opted to do a double skirt.  Her turkey was also a little more free-form applique, where I went for the very structured tight zig-zag stitch edge in order accommodate having it act more like a patch.  Her dress looked a lot more boutique-y...Mine looked like ya Mama made it.  But that's ok.  I'm definitely going to get better at it, because this was too cute and easy not to try again for Christmas.

I just need the right fabric for that skirt...

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Don't be such a square

It's the Friday before Thanksgiving.  Six days until fried turkey and mashed potatoes and mac and cheese and a dessert per person (if you're at my house, that is).  It's also one week til Black Friday, and that makes me think of one thing:  CHRISTMAS SHOPPING!

So I am happy to announce this week before the onset of the official Christmas shopping season that I can now accept your credit cards thanks to a little company called "Square"!

This is going to come in *so* handy since I end up creating so much stuff that is very custom and never really makes it to the etsy site, and not everyone feels like writing a check or trying to get cash to give me.  Plus, so many people love how using a credit card helps them to keep an eye on their holiday spending and can also protect them in case of theft or damage!

So contact me today for your Christmas card or gift orders!!!  And although Hanukkah is December 1-9, I still have time to get you a gift in time for the 7th or 8th day if you order this week!! 

I am feeling the need to scratch my creative itch, so help me out by throwing me a fun project, ok?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Inspiration - Fairies

This sweet little green glitter fairy is neither pin nor ink, but she will be the inspiration for many projects in both genres over the next 8 weeks!  As hard as it is to believe, my Lilah will turn 2 at the beginning of January and due to her dedication to a fascination with Tinker Bell, I have decided to have a Tinker Bell/Fairy/Woodland Fantasy birthday party.  I'm knee deep in ideas about pixie dust and enchanted forrests and I couldn't be happier.  My husband, on the other hand, is a little irritated that she doesn't have an unhealthy attachment to Spiderman.  I assured him there is still time, but that I'm afraid she's going to be a little prissy girl and all his efforts to make her otherwise may go unappreciated.

So send any ideas you have to make my Lilah's fairy/woodland/sparkly/floral fantasy dreams come true!  I'm currently cooking up some ideas for invites, though I doubt they'll top her first birthday invites, that were fashioned after Elvis' 1970's jumpsuits...

I have one day got to learn a lesson about setting the bar so high...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Gifts for Babies

I'm in the middle of my own personal baby boom, and let me tell you, it doesn't do much to cure ye olde baby fever.  But I'm having so much fun sewing for all my sweet friends and sharing the results with you!

First up is the parcel of gifts I made for sweet Reilly - whose Mommy also received this pillow case from me!

What you see is two burp cloths (with some sweet, sweet birdie flannel), a dipe and wipe case, a monogrammed onesie and a paci protector with one of the pacifiers she registered for.  I think the best thing about this type of gift is that it is ALL useful.  These are all gifts I got myself and loved, and to be able to create them on a personalized level for my friends is so, so sweet!

The burp cloths are super simple.  Take your flannel and either cut it to fit the length of the center panel or across the bottom.  You can do appliques or monograms or anything else to embellish.  And for appliques, you don't need a special machine!  I do plenty of free-handed appliques and they are just as sweet and special as anything you can machine stitch.

I used this great pattern for the dipe and wipe carrier.  If you know someone having a baby, it really is a great quick gift and you don't have to have advanced sewing skills to complete it.  And your friend will love it.  LOVE.  This was gifted to me by another friend, but there are several free tutorials with patterns floating around that I'm sure would be just as simple.

Next is a sort of "off the hook" gift.  Very heartfelt.  Very personal.  But the machine does all the work!

One of my dear friends had her second daughter last week, and has always loved monogrammed items for her older daughter.  So I thought I'd get her started right with this sweet little pantsuit!

Annabelle Catherine is her name!  How pretty is this purple monogram?  So totally a gift full of love, but I feel a little bit like cheating because I don't do them by hand.   

Does anyone else feel a little like they cheat on something they're known for?  Use Bisquick in a lauded baked good?  Pre-shredded potatoes in your "Nana's" hashbrown casserole recipe?  Does that make them any less special, or us just a little more resourceful? 

You tell me!


I have a sweet friend who I have been meaning to make something for since forever.  I have a million project ideas for her and her kids, but this is the project that I was finally able to sit down long enough to complete in a timely manner (aka before anyone grew out of their gift.)

How cute is this Curious George set?  Another dear friend gifted me this leftover fabric when she was cleaning out her stash.  I have been hanging onto it forever, and it wasn't until my own daughter developed an unhealthy love for Curious George that I realized I had to do something with it.  And what better than this little simple "pillowcase dress?"  I used Simplicity Pattern 2383 and let me tell you:  This is the pattern to have, people.  Two pattern pieces if you go super simple.  Three if you get all "wild and crazy."  I am going to be making so many of these that you are going to get sick and tired of seeing them.  But just try not to make them!  That's how easy they are.  They practically make themselves!

But back to the George fabric.   I wanted to have the three kids (two girls and a boy) have something matching but not TOO matchy matchy.  So I decided that red would be the tie together for all the pieces!

I started first with the 4-year-old's dress.  Big print, because she's a big girl!

Next was the 2-year-old's dress.  A smaller print but with the same red accents as big sister's dress!

Finally was a little something for baby brother.  I just picked a fun picture from the biggest print to make him a little applique long sleeve onesie.  I really wanted a  red onesie or shirt to match the accents on the sister's dresses, but every red shirt in an infant size had something "special" on it already!  Boo!  But I think this turned out really great!

 And of course, my sweet little lover of Curious George also got a dress to wear.

 She calls it her "Georgie Dress."  Sweet girl.  I switched out the contrast red for a sweet little yellow dotted cotton with a yellow ribbon that features white stitching accents.  I love yellow, but I can't wear it, so I'm so glad that I have a sweet little one who can wear it on my behalf!

One of the best things about this type of dress is that it's a dress now, over a long sleeve shirt.  It's a dress in the summer over a short sleeve or alone.  And eventually, it's a little top.  This thing will last for YEARS!

Pillow Talk

I know it's been awhile since I posted.  It's because I've been sewing.  And learning about natural childbirth for my upcoming Lamaze training.  And sewing.  And scrubbing my house top to bottom to beat Christmas at it's own game.  Did I mention sewing?  Expect a bevy of blog posts in the next few hours, because I've finally gotten some things finished and photographed and gifted and now I can share!!!

This post, however, I am dedicating to the wonder that is a pillowcase.  You saw in my previous post that you can turn one into a dress/tunic/top.  But did you also know that you could turn them into bedding for your favorite little girl's baby doll?

I didn't either, until someone recently asked me to do just that!

The sweet lady who got my job at the university after I quit to have Lilah contacted me recently about sewing up some baby bedding for her one-year-old granddaughter's baby crib.  The fabric she had chosen?  Real, live pillowcases!  It makes sense, right?  I mean, it is bedding, afterall!  And I think the results were just great!

Out of two pillowcases, I was able to make a pillow, a top sheet and a little "mattress cover" for a piece of foam that fills that role.

And of course, how can you resist a little monogram on the pillow for the custom-made bedding??  You can't.  That's how.

I made the pillowcase and mattress cover in the same style as you would a sham:   by having overlapping flaps in back so that it would be nice and neat when full but could be easily opened and taken off to wash if necessary.  I cut the "top sheet" from the open end of the pillow so it would have that nice finished top edge; the other three raw edges were just hemmed.  I then added a little row of the eyelet below the pretty finished edge of the top sheet, et voila!  Custom baby bedding for your princess's princess!!

NOTE:  Be sure if you're using a piece of foam for your mattress and pillow that you cut your fabric slightly larger than the dimensions of the bed; you'll have to have enough room for them to slide in and over the thickness of the foam.  You have a little more wiggle room if you're going to use fiberfill for the stuffing, but you will need to remember that to wash your bedding, you'll have to wash the whole thing, and that can take a while to dry and can get bunchy!!

Keeping with the baby theme, I'm happy to share the next usage of a pillowcase:  Semi-Birth Announcement!

With a little embroidery and a cute ruffled eyelet, this pillowcase becomes a gift for mom to take with her to the hospital (or birth center, or to keep at home!) so that everyone knows what's going on in her room!

I first saw this in some hospital photos of a friend when she had her baby 3 years ago.  I thought it was such a cute idea and was so SO cute in photos.  They had not yet decided on the baby's name, so it just had the "It's a girl!" part, but was still just so fun.  I decided I wanted to gift my own version to a friend who is due with her first baby in just a couple of weeks!   Imagine a pic of newborn Reilly longways on this pillow!!  How cute could that be?

Now I will say that the option without the name has it's own fun; my friend passed the pillow to her sister when she had her daughter earlier this summer, and then used it again when her second daughter was born last week!  Such a sweet gift to share with a sister or sister-in-law or any family member or friend to whom you are close!

You could even do them for friends who've decided not to find out the gender, with a sweet message of "Welcome Baby ______" on a neutral-colored pillow!

They aren't in the etsy shop, but if anyone is interested in a pillowcase for a gift or for themselves, please send me an email at  I'd be happy to make one up in any color combination I can find!!  Price is $18.00 plus $5.00 s&h (or pick-up in the greateer Greenville, SC area; cotton sateen pillowcases available for $25.00 plus s&h.)

So much to do with a pillowcase!  Do you have a favorite project that starts with a pillowcase you can share?  I'm always looking for new ideas (like I don't have enough to do!)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sew Busy!

With Halloween finally here, I have a quick break between now and the rest of the 90 million things I'm sewing before Christmas to update what's been going on around here.

I only sewed two things for Halloween this year, but it took the majority of the week and a half leading up to this past Friday to get everything finished.  Sounds last minute, but I was honestly just glad not to be hurriedly sewing on Saturday afternoon to finish the girl's costume.

So what did I come up with?  First was this adoraBOOle pillowcase dress I saw over at Sugar Bee.

The only way this could have been easier would be if you painted the face on with fabric paint rather than sewing it as applique.

I taught her to say "Boo" to everyone when they asked what a ghost says.  She was so cute!  She got compliments everywhere we went on Friday!

For her costume, I figured that - since she's a super opinionated 21-month-old - this would be my last year to have a say in the costume choice.  So I decided to dress her as one of my childhood favorites:  Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz.

I used Simplicity Pattern 4024

I think it turned out very picture-like, don't you?

 The only trouble I had was in getting my STUPID basting stitch to work; the bobbin stitch was looped so huge that the gathers fell out of the neck as I stitched the band on, and I was NOT taking that neck band off to possibly have the same problem happen again.  So it was a little funny looking in front, but I kind of felt like no one was going to notice but me.  I love it when I'm right.

Here is little miss Too Cool for Halloween in her "Dorty Dress" and "Sbockly Shews."  (Please note the upside down sunglasses.  She put them on herself.) Unfortunately, although I have watched the Wizard of Oz movie with her, she only knows Dorothy as Elmo's goldfish friend, and probably wonders when she's going to see that fish in a blue gingham dress.

In all, a very successful Halloween sewing season.  But I'm nowhere near finished yet.  I have so many projects to do in the next six weeks that I wonder if I'm going to have to start taking crystal meth to finish it all.  I hope not, though, because I really like my teeth.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Home is Where the Heart is.

I never imagined I'd live outside of the state of Alabama.  Not even for a little while.  I vaguely daydreamed of living in other countries one day, but my primary residence would always be Sweet Home Alabama.

While I will always have a place in my heart for Alabama the Beautiful, I am not sorry I moved to South Carolina to be closer to my (then) boyfriend so that we could date more "regularly."   In the six years I've lived here, I've come to really love this state, and in particular Greenville, more than I could have ever imagined.  I know part of that comes from seeing how much my husband loved and appreciated his hometown and home state, but for me, being here with him just felt like home.  So I couldn't be more pleased to offer other people the opportunity to give a playful shout out to their hometowns - by birth or adoption - via this new scarf, now available at the etsy store.

How precious is this?!?!  I imagine doing these to represent school pride - orange and purple with a tiger paw button over Clemson?  Garnet and Black with a rooster button over Columbia?  The possibilities are absolutely endless!!!

And how precious is this little heart?  I know pink isn't for everyone, so I'm hoping to get some more colors when I can, but for a gal, I just knew I couldn't go wrong with this one! 

And not wanting to leave the guys out, I'll gladly send it plain so you can show your whole state pride, until I can find some more manly heart buttons. :-)

Don't forget - Any state, any color combo (that I can find) and any city.  Get yours today for just $25.00 plus shipping!!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Let it snow!!

I have been trying to figure out a way to do some fun reverse applique stuff for sale in the etsy shop; I love, love, love my celebretees, but I'm so out of touch with pop culture that I don't even know who I should try to put on a shirt right now.  Then I had the idea to do a scarf for the winter...and of course the most iconic image I could think of for winter was a snowflake.

I set off on the task of designing my own snowflake.  This is much harder than it sounds.  First of all, when you have limited design skills, it takes forever to do something that I'm sure a better designer could do in a minute.  But I did it and have my own, original snowflake design to sell on the scarves.

This one is the prototype and as such has some flaws here and there.  I've learned a lot about doing this process with fleece and some other possible directions I can go with it, so I'm hoping the next ones are even more awesome than this.  But for a first try, I'm definitely pleased.  It will be on sale by tomorrow at the Etsy store for $18; the future incarnations will be $25.

Do you have a flag?

A couple weekends ago,  a friend contacted me to help her out with a wedding shower she's throwing for her sister-in-law and SIL's fiance.  Since this blog is seriously lacking in "Ink" posts, and I needed a fun graphic project to distract me from life, I jumped at the chance to help her by making some supercute cupcake toppers for the tower she's constructing.

The theme of the shower is a tailgating/stock-the-bar shower, so I felt that school pennants were in high order to decorate the cuppycakes.

Ok, not only do I love, love, love the way the pennants turned out, but can I just say that if you have an iPhone, please go spend $1.99 and download the "Hipstamatic" camera ap rightnow?!?!  It is SO SO SO much fun; you can spend extra money to buy new "films" and "lenses" and "flashes" and if you have the iPhone 4, then it is probably even MORE awesome, but even on my old fashioned phone it has been a joy to play with.  I do have a great love for photography and wish I were more learned in the technicalities of taking photos.  But maybe it's a good thing that I'm not a great photographer, because then the blog would just have to be bigger and include more, because then I'd want to include food, so I could share things like the apple butter I made on Friday.   But I think that maybe it would be a little overboard to have a blog called "With Pen and Ink and Lens and Food."  Yes?

ANYWAY - Back to the cupcake flags:

Here is a photo of all the different options guests can choose from when they pick of up their cupcake of choice.

Although I do not currently have any pre-designed cupcake flags on my etsy shop, I will be happy to create some custom orders for you if you want to request them via the "alchemy" link on etsy.  At least I think that's how it's done.  So if you have a party coming up and are planning to go the cupcake with flags route, but don't find what you're looking for anywhere else, let me know and let's work something out!  I was able to put together this order of 30 toppers for just $25 plus shipping. 

Hm.  Now I want a cupcake.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Fall is here, so that means one thing...

Time to get some Christmas shopping started - or, if you are like my more "with it" friends, finished!

I've got a little something brewing that I'm going to have up soon (fingers crossed next weekend) in the etsy shop.

Here's a little tease...

Stop to smell the flowers

So the day finally arrived where I got to showcase my "handiwork" as it were with my daughter's flowergirl dress!  The bride's aunt made the sash with the rosette; she is a seamstress by trade and expressed a desire to have control over that element, and since I was worried that I would even get my zipper to stay put, I was more than happy to hand over that little element of the project!  I think the final collaboration turned out aces!!
Don't you just love her rosette crown?

 She was - without a doubt - the hit of the wedding party.  The bride looked like a supermodel who walked straight out of Bride's Magazine, but she said everyone's first comments to her at the reception were, "You sure do win the prize for having the cutest flower girl ever!"

I am BEYOND tickled.  I mean, Lilah is my best craft yet, so for people to enjoy her as much as I do is awesome!

The whole ensemble
This isn't the best photo, but you can see the whole dress and shoes together.  The slippers worked PERFECTLY.  I'm sure she was the most comfortable guest at the wedding.

In all, making the dress was relatively easy.  The pattern was very simple.  The directions were easy to follow.  The fabric wasn't as hard to work with as I had feared.  But the zipper...

I'm going to need a zipper insertion intervention.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Zip it!

I got my sewing machine back from the repairman on Thursday with the promise that it is GOOD now.  I love it when a repairman looks at your problem and declares that they have no earthly idea what could have possibly happened to make the problem occur.  My husband swears I have some sort of machinery breaking abilities.  I told him to keep it on the DL, because I might have X-Men-like powers and would soon be recruited by the government as a super weapon.

I decided to test out the machine and get Lilah's flower girl dress finally FINISHED.  Well, it needs a good pressing and some stray threads clipped, but it has exceeded my seamstress abilities and I am just calling it done, though it is far, far from perfect.

The main problem I had with the dress is the D@mn zipper!!!!  Why?  Why is it so hard to install a zipper????  I read the directions.  I even watched and read a couple of tutorials (this one was especially easy to follow) and I STILL couldn't get it in right.  The little overlaps totally are hanging way above the neckline, and the zipper area itself is far from perfect, since many places along the zipper didn't get caught in the sewing so it could come right apart at any second.

But she's only got to wear it for a couple of hours.  The parts that are so messy will likely be hidden by her sash, and the neckline...well, I'll just try to neaten that up as much as I can.

One day, maybe I'll know how to sew and sew well, but for now, I'm just glad to get my first attempt at a "formal" dress done.

The wedding is next saturday, so I'll save a picture post for the full dress/sash cute child combo :-)

Now, onto trying to finish MY dress...which also has a zipper.

If at first you don't succeed, try, try again??

Monday, September 13, 2010

Fall is in the air!

I just stepped outside to let the dog out and was pleasantly smacked with a cool breeze and the smell of Fall around the corner. Don't get me wrong; summer has it's place with it's sexy, sweaty, skinny-dip inducing heat, but nothing does it for me quite like 65 degrees on a porch swing snuggled under a blanket with your beau. Too bad about my not having a porch swing.

Anyway, with my machine BACK to the repairman, I decided to cut out some of my Christmas projects and get things prepped and ready for the coming weeks of "Rachael sews her a$$ off". These are just a few of the fun fleece fabrics I am working with. Don't you adore them?

Kittens and mushrooms and puppies, Oh my!
I know you can't wait to see what they become, but I once heard that patience is a virtue, so I'm testing the theory.

Next up:  finishing the flower girl dress and the odd green Japanese floral dress!!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Lock Blocked

For years, I coveted my friend Callie's "Baby Lock Ellure Plus" sewing/embroidery machine, because I love to sew personalized projects.  She was always making such cute things, and I had friends with cute kids for whom I wanted to make cute things, and then I was going to have my own cute baby for whom I wanted to make cute things, so every year at Christmas it was what I hoped for under the tree.

The problem was not that the husband wasn't hearing my requests or wanting to fulfill my dream, but this machine is about a million and five dollars, give or take, and it just was never financially feasible for him to run right out and make my dream come true.

Until this last Christmas.

On Christmas morning - the first for our daughter - I opened up all my lovely gifts and was happy with all I had given and received.  But my husband had a surprise for more present was still upstairs, and would I just run up there and get it?

It was the biggest box I had ever seen and I knew right away what it was!!!  I was *so* excited I could hardly stand it.  And when I opened it, I was the most overwhelmed and excited that I had been since our daughter was born.  Because this thing has bajillions of stitches and accessories and how would I ever learn to use it?!

But slowly and surely, I started using it for my new year's projects and I was in heaven.  Until one day when it started making a "kachunk" noise as I stitched.   Oh no - I have BROKEN IT!  IT IS BROKEN!!!  I thought as I took it down to be worked on.  First time it was simply a matter of having the bobbin casing slip out of place and it was fixed with a little dab of oil and knowledgeable hand to replace the casing.

Then, while sewing on a hem, I ran over a pin.

And this is where it all goes downhill.

Because apparently, running over that pin messed up the timing.  And when I took it in and had the timing fixed, they didn't QUITE get it right enough so that even though it was sewing ok, it wouldn't work during the embroidery function.  So when I took it back AGAIN, and that was fixed, I thought I was in business and wasn't expecting to make the 30 minute long trip back to the store again until it was time to get my machine serviced.

But a few days ago, I broke a needle while I was sewing.  It's ok.  It happens.  I just replaced the needle and went about my business and thought nothing of it.

Until two days ago.  I was creating a basting stitch along the bottom part of my green dress I'm working on and KACHUNK - all of a sudden, the needle started catching on top of the fabric and not descending into the bobbin chamber and all the alarms of the machine were going off and - you got it - it is now acting like the timing is off.  Again.  About 6 weeks after it got off track the first time.

Now, I don't know a lot about sewing machines.  But I know a  lot about expensive things, and the thing I know most about expensive things is that THEY SHOULD F'ING WORK!!!!!!!!!

I'm totally convinced at this point that there is something more fundamentally wrong with this machine than meets the eye, because having the timing go out, and even having needles unexplicably break, just isn't what happens in the course of normal usage.  And believe me - I am way within the realm of normal usage.  I don't sew crazy things.  I'm sewing run of the mill items on run of the mill fabrics here.  BUT for a squillion dollars, if I wanted to sew sharkskin onto diamond-embedded velvet, the machine should run like the luxury item that it is.

I need help.  Certainly, at less than a year old, there is some warranty on the thing that will allow me to trade it in for a non-lemon.  Because I can't afford a $25 repair every 6 weeks.  Not when I'm going to need to up my usage of said machine in order to help me make a living.  It is not just a hobby machine for me, I need it to be reliable so that I can make ends meet.

So.  I guess tomorrow, I get to go BACK to the store and ask what my options are. I do not want to do this, but by god, I've got a flower girl dress that I have *GOT* to finish in the next week (was hoping to get it done this week while I had my husband around and not out of town.  Oh well) and I can't do it without a machine.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Mama needs a new dress

I ran out of thread while I was working on the flower girl dress, so I decided to jump right into making a dress for myself! Better that than waste time, right?

I'd had this dress cut out for at least 4 years, and since I'm in need of a new dress, I figured now would be a good time to finally get this one together!

I picked the pattern many moons ago because one of my best friends used it for her "going away" dress after her wedding. She did hers out of a really pretty light weight white cotton, because it was summer, and paired it with vintage red jewelry and some fabulous red shoes and looked totally stunning.

Why I picked this sea green Japanese looking fabric I can't tell you. The color is not great on me, but I think it'll be a really pretty dress in the end, so that's all that matters. And maybe I'll surprise myself and work that seafoam Japanese dress like nobody's business!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Shoe fetish

I realized the other day that Lilah was kinda/sorta going to need some shoes to wear with her little flower girl dress - unless she wanted to look like some sort of hippie at the wedding -  so I set off on a little online window shopping adventure that left me feeling quite depressed about the cost of children's shoes.  This wasn't a surprise to me, I just try to avoid it all by buying shoes either at consignment sales or on a supersale at the store.  I just can't get behind paying as much or MORE for a pair of shoes for a child who is going to outgrow the shoe within 6 weeks of buying it than a shoe I would buy for myself, when I can wear them for YEARS.  And in seeking the perfect little ivory colored shoe for Lilah, all I could find was shoes that cost $20 - $50 which is definitely NOT in our budget, not even for a wedding.

I even thought of trying to get little ivory ballet slippers, because the bride herself is wearing ballet flats and I thought it would be cute if Lilah mimicked that aspect of the bride's attire.  But the "perfect" shoes - in both price and look - didn't happen to come in Lilah's size.

Not ready to be defeated by the children's shoe racket, I decided that maybe I could score a pair of cheapie shoes at the thrift store and cover them with some of the remaining fabric from the dress I was making.  But looking online for directions, none of the shoes had a really pretty finished look to them, and so I quickly decided that covering wouldn't really work for me.

Then I thought, hey - maybe I would just make the whole shoe myself.

I admit that I've always been a big fan of Robeez shoes.  The "slip on/slip off" type of shoe fits right in with my lazy nature, making it the perfect shoe to throw into your purse last second as you are running out the door to get wherever it was that you were supposed to be 10 minutes ago.

But I've always seen them as a casual shoe, something that is fun and cute with shorts or jeans but not something you can wear to a more formal occasion - even if you're under 2 (since we know the true etiquette of fashion doesn't actually kick in until at least age 4).

Cute, but not very formal!

But when I found a great tutorial online at the Tacky Living blog for how to make the shoes, I knew that this would be the answer to my problems.

I present to you:  Dupioni silk baby shoes!

Aren't they awesome???  They fit and look just like a little pair of Robeez, but these shoes cost me only $1.99 to make, because except for a leather needle, I had everything else I needed at home already.

These are going to look perfect with her little dress, and if she never wears them again, I'm only out the two dollars and a few hours of my time.

The bottoms are a white/ivory leather that Ben had in his crafting supplies from when he used to make his Native American dancing costumes for Scouts.  It was so soft and easy to to work with!  I did deviate from the directions a little; I ended up putting the elastic channel on the inside of the shoe instead of the outside, and I basted the leather sole to the felt liner instead of heat bonding the two.  But I think that the final result is just fabulous, and I can see all types of uses for this pattern in the future - Can you imagine if you did a little monogram on the shoe upper and used them as baby christening shoes?  What about an embroidered cross with the christening date beneath?  So sweet, so easy!  And for babies who don't walk, you can make the whole thing out of fabric, saving yourself the need to buy a leather needle at all.

I lined these with ivory colored canvas, so they are sturdy and though I doubt Lilah will ever wear them again, I don't think I have to worry about them falling apart!

This definitely turned out to be a much easier project than I expected, and I know I'm going to want to make these in the future - probably to match the little pillowcase dresses and things I make as baby gifts! 

Oh, the ideas...I need to put them on a shelf so I can get finished with the projects at hand!  Next up:  The flower girl dress.  Wish me luck!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Flower Girl

Recently, Lilah was asked to be a flower girl in a wedding at the end of this month.  The bride is really laid back, and said just to get her any old cute dress and it would be fine, but when there was extra fabric leftover from the bridesmaids' tops, we knew we had to try and make Lilah's dress to match.

Luckily for me, I already had the perfect pattern:  New Look 6448

 I had purchased this pattern about five years ago when Ben and I first got engaged and were discussing wedding plans.  I knew that I wanted a friend's twin daughters to be our flower girls, and I knew their mother sewed like a champ, so I wanted to go ahead and have the pattern picked out so I could save the time later on.  And of course, as it happened, we had such a small wedding that there was no flower girl and so this pattern has just been sitting in my pattern box since 2005.

Until now! 

I'm choosing the view shown above by the sleeveless pink floral dress with the dark pink sash and, the greatest thing about the pattern is that for this view, there are literally six pieces.  That's it!  Six pattern pieces!!  Six pieces is right up my alley!

What is not up my alley is the fact that I have to put in a zipper and the super delicate silk of which there is not enough for second chances.  So I have to be so, sew careful!  Do you feel the pressure???  I have also decided - in my infinite wisdom and propensity to create projects where I need none - that I am going to sew a little pair of slippers out of the scrap fabric so I don't have to buy a pair of ivory shoes that she will likely wear just this one time and then grow out of before warmer weather and other dresses that would match them.

But - as long as I don't totally mess it up - it is going to be STUNNING.  It is ivory dupioni, and the sash and matching jacket (which she'll only wear if it's cold) is going to be a pale, peachy/coraly satin.  It is going to be lined with a simple ivory colored batiste.  It is going to be amazing.

*If I don't mess it up.*

Currently, Google is my best friend as I look up tips and tricks for sewing on dupioni. 

Anyone have any tips for sewing on delicate fabrics?  "The Google" says I'll want to be sure I use a supersharp needle and make extra reinforced seams. 

I have a feeling I'll be ok, right up til I get to that zipper. 

*shakes fist at sky*

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Catch-up, it's not just for hotdogs anymore

Well, so it seems that September is National Sewing Month, which I'm sure has something to do with how close we are beginning to get to the winter gift giving holidays.  Well, for people with good sense and better sewing skills than I have, obviously.  I mean, let's face it - if you're me, you had big plans for being finished with all your holiday crafts by October as you purchased supplies and made lists and bought patterns at the beginning of the year and September as a jump off to the 900,000,000,000 things you need to get finished ASAP  (Darn all these new babies this year.  They have messed me up.) just isn't feasible in the craftiest of crafters for what I try to accomplish.

It also seems as good a time as any to start making this fortune I got a couple of weeks ago come to fruition -

See, in addition to ALL the sewing I need to do for Christmas, I also have the GIANT BOX OF PROJECTS (futhermore to be known as GBoP) from when my previous sewing machine stopped working reliably and I gave up on sewing for a little while.  And that means some people will get birthday gifts this year that were intended for last year (or before) and so on.

But it's all good as long as they're getting done and moved out of my house before I crack and buy even more patterns and fabrics and create more projects, right?

My husband isn't in the same state with me right now, but I can hear him cracking up at that last part.  I swear, honey, I'm working on it!

Here's proof:

This "mystery" gift has been cut out - partially - for nearly TWO YEARS.  That is so shameful.  Although I will say now that making it at this point means it has turned out way, way, way more awesome than I had at first imagined it.  So the receiver will have the benefit of my fancy new sewing machine AND my sewbilities that have strengthened since I initially decided to make the object.

Oh, what's that?  A little black, a little white, a little hot pink??

Since the person who will be receiving this MIGHT see this entry, I'm only going to show you some little teases of the finished product.  But have no fear, as soon as it is opened, I'll post the final photos that I am taking tomorrow.

Here's to a productive National Sewing Month!!!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

An Easy Sew

Well, today I am irritated because my sewing machine continues to give me trouble when I use the embroidery carriage on it. For some reason that I can't seem to determine, my topstitches aren't grabbing the bobbin thread and so the needle bounces up and down, poking holes but depositing no thread - except occasionally - and then usually ends up fraying and breaking if I don't stop it while cussing it out like I'm an old sailor.

So I thought that because I'm so troubled by my super expensive machine, I'd post about happier times and a pattern I found to be super easy to sew together in a hurry.

Let me tell you - for kid's clothes, I LOVE a New Look pattern.  For one thing, they are always cheap - usually $2.44 - $3.96.  Unless you happen on a McCall's or Simplicity for 99 cents day at either Hobby Lobby or Hancock Fabric (around here), then you are usually stuck paying between $5.50 - $8.00, and when you pay that much for a pattern, why not just go buy something cute already made, right?

I've only made this pattern once, but I really liked it.  I did the dress that is pictured on the model, but I left off the pockets.  I just didn't want to deal with them.

I used a navy plisse for the top and bottom trim and a fabric that I got on clearance for the main dress body.  Some people might think that floral looks like something you'd find on your memaw's couch, but I love it.  I even made a little swing top out of it using navy and white gingham accents and it is probably my favorite thing I've ever made.  Maybe I'll get a picture of that up at some point!