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Category Archives: sewing

stitching up a magic hat

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A little friend of Pia’s had a birthday party this weekend to celebrate turning 6. Since it was to be a magic-themed party, complete with a magic show, Pia thought we should make a magic hat for him. We used some thick, black foam that Jim had left over from a work project which I hand-stitched together using black yarn. The inside is red velour with a secret hole near the top of the hat, where a young magician could hide any number of things during a show. The outside of the hat seemed a bit dull, so I added an oversized black flower and some velvet trim. We included one other prop, a white scarf to pull out of the hat, which turns colors the more one pulls on it. Simple, but fun.


little green riding hood

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A friend asked me to make a cape for her daughter who was cast as Little Green Riding Hood in a play at school. The only criteria were that it had to be green and that it had to have some sort of closures on the front in order to hide the “Wildlife Defender” t-shirt that is to be worn underneath (or at least hidden until the appropriate point in the play, I presume). Using this pattern at Fleece Fun, I substituted jersey knit for the fleece (because I had it on hand) and used basic quilting cotton for the lining. I also sandwiched a layer of felt in the hood to make it less droopy. Now I just need to find out the details of the play. I’m guessing it is this one, where the wolf is a vegetarian and the grandma is a rabbit hunter. Very funny, indeed.

a carrier for lamby

Pia was hiding her beloved ‘Lamby’ (a stuffed animal lamb) in the closet where I had chosen to store all the Christmas presents and I panicked a bit. “Lamby!” I cried, “you can’t go in there! Your Christmas presents and Pia’s Christmas presents are in there!” At which point Pia looked at me with those big, wonder-filled eyes that kids get when something they had never thought of before occurs to them. “Lamby gets presents?” she asked in amazement. Until that point I had no intention of giving Lamby a present, but the moment was too cute and I decided to go with it. “Of course Lamby gets presents, she’s Lamby after all.” (Lamby had been by Pia’s side at school during her tear-filled first two months of kindergarten… she is far and away Pia’s favorite stuffed animal.)

As luck would have it, the always-inspiring light blue grey had posted about a doggy bag she had made for her daughter’s stuffed dog just earlier this month. So with that in mind, I made this for Lamby:

which she fits in perfectly:

And, yes, I have now moved all the Christmas presents to a different hiding spot.

Sewing Club, week 1 results

Tonight is our second week of sewing club, so I figured it was time to post about the results of week one (if only to show that sewing club involves more than just drinking wine). The project for week one was inspired by these ornaments from anthropologie. To make them I used old felted sweaters and layers of quilt batting. I made a paper template that I pinned to a sandwich of sweater + batting + sweater. I stitched around the paper template and then cut away the excess sweater and batting after it was all stitched. This made them nice and pillow-y (stuffing the ornaments would have been difficult as they are skinny and the results would have been lumpy). After trimming I used embroidery floss to whip stitch around the edges for a nice finish. The separate letters led me to think about what would happen if I combined letters in one template and before I knew it I was making the annual ornament for the Underground Knitters (the UK, for short).

The UK began in 2005 and I’ve tried to make an ornament commemorating each year of knitting happiness. I can do this because our knitting circle is only four people. And most years I neglect to make one for myself, so I end up only making three ornaments. Which is why I only have an ornament from 2009 and now, 2011, to display on my tree. Perhaps I could go back and recreate some of the earlier ornaments. Hmmm. That seems like cheating. Anyway. Back to sewing club…

Tonight we’ll be making yarn wrapped letters and bottles, neither of which require any sewing. Odd. Very odd.

Sewing for the Season

The holiday season is upon us and I have high hopes for all the things I want to sew and craft before Christmas rolls around. This happens every year and then the 24th rolls around and I’m frantically trying to finish things up and I find myself wondering what I have done with my time. But not this year (she says with completely misled optimism)! Enter the November/December Sewing Club to the rescue!! I am scheduling one project per Wednesday sewing club. I am hoping that by scheduling the projects in advance and the knowledge that other club members might be joining in the fun, I won’t be so quick to dismiss my evening plans and curl up on the couch with my laptop and Glee. So here it is, the holiday schedule:

November 16th: Anthropologie-inspired Letter Ornaments. Great for hanging on the tree or adorning gifts. If you are attending sewing club this week I have lots of sweater scraps for this project, but if you have a specific fabric/felted sweater you want to use, bring it along! Also, if you want to make sweater mittens or a sweater bag (like the picture above) I can help you with that project as well.

November 23rd: No Sewing Club, Thanksgiving

November 30th: Yarn wrapped beer bottles and yarn wrapped letters. I’ve got bottles and yarn, but if you want a specific color of yarn, bring it along!

December 7th: Tree cookie letter magnets. I’m thinking I’ll do sight words instead of letters. Be sure to let me know if you’ll be attending this club meeting so I can have enough ‘cookies’ cut.

December 14th: Braided scarf and t-shirt scrap scarf. I have some jersey fabric, but if you want to feature a fun t-shirt of your own bring it along! 

December 21st: Drawstring gift bags, to put all your finished homemade goodies in!

Let the holiday fun begin!!

My kids are suckers for Japanese cartoon characters

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I started sewing Tea’s Halloween costume a full 11 hours before he needed to put it on.  It was admittedly not overly complicated, but I had no anxiety or fear about not getting it done on time.  Is that a sign of climbing closer to the apex of procrastination greatness or of slipping further into the pit of procrastination insanity?  I’m proud of Tea’s ears – I finagled an interior 3D foam frame that makes them more likely to be standing upright at any given moment of running around.  Not bad for flying by the seat of my pants.

I had nothing to do with their costume choices this year.  They each put in their requests last May and have been emphatic about their decision, repeatedly reminding me in case I’d forgotten.

Tea is the magical Japanese forest creature Totoro from one of his favorite movies, My Neighbor Totoro.  Pea is Doraemon, a “robot cat from the future”.  He’s not aware there’s a Japanese cartoon featuring the character – Pea came home from Thailand last year with a stuffed Doraemon that he’d had in his foster family.  It is his most prized possession.  He snuggles his “Mon” every night.  As far is Pea is concerned, he’s dressed as his favorite stuffed animal for Halloween.

Obviously these are not mainstream choices, so people assume the boys are dressed as an odd clawed-rabbit and an earless cat.  This hasn’t bothered the boys.   Curiously, one woman thought Pea was a turtle, though.  A turtle?  He’s blue.  With whiskers.  Um?

making Totoro noises

not a turtle

This is the first year I’ve sewn their costumes and I’m happy with how they turned out.  There wasn’t much too them, which in my book, makes them perfect.

a true Totoro would not be without his acorns

Trick-or-treat at the farmer’s market this morning was the perfect trial run for the real thing.  They dumped out their loot afterwards and we discussed their results and future strategy.  “This is chocolate, right Mama?  You like this kind?” “Oh yes, always pick those over suckers if you have the option.”  “And I like these.  What’s this called again?”  “Smartees.  I agree – those are great, too.  Definitely better than the Laffy Taffy.  But hide them from your father.”  Gotta have a plan.  For the kids, you understand.

talking trick-or-treat strategy

flower girl photo shoot

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This summer my friend’s sister got married, and, being from a big family, she asked all 10 of her nieces to be flower girls. Three girls were told to wear pink, three yellow, and four green… in any style dress they wanted. Somehow I convinced my friend to let me make dresses for 3 of the 4 green girls. We conducted an expedition to the fabric store, chose a couple patterns that we liked elements from, and found some awesome glitter-y green fabric. I told the girls I would make their dresses only if they agreed to a photo shoot of the dresses once they were done. So, three months after the wedding, on a gorgeous fall weekend, we finally headed out for a photo shoot.


Pia wasn’t a flower girl in the wedding, but I had enough fabric left over that I made her a simpler version of the dresses I made for the other girls. K and J (below, on swings), cousins who are also very good friends, wanted matching dresses… and ruffles. I wasn’t entirely sure how to do ruffles, but figured it out as I went along. I went the bubble ruffle route, which allowed me to fold under a big hem on each tier and attach it to the bottom skirt. That way I didn’t have to mess with a fussy hem, because each seam was hidden under the next ruffle up. I now think all skirts should be bubble skirts.


E, the older cousin/sister went with a more streamlined look. I used McCalls pattern 5574, but true to my hack sewing skills, this dress needed the most modifications. I seem to be pattern-challenged, and do better when I can just wing it.  I love the look of the simple belt ‘buckle’. After spending much too much time trying to find the perfect belt buckle online, I ended up making a buckle by wrapping fabric around 3 of Pia’s thin, cheap, metal, dress-up bracelets. Love it when a simple solution like that can work.

My favorite shot of the girls is this last one. I call it the Greg Erzen shot (a boy in high school we all had a crush on… one day we saw him leaning up against the side of the school, one leg up, letter jacket draped over one shoulder… the image was forever burned in my memory). I told them to look bored and sullen. Pia nailed the look.