Monday, June 30, 2014

Skirting the Issue; Backpack Edition!

So, umm... it looks like I'm a bit early here. When I went to look up this year's Skirting the Issue I noticed that It started on July 1st last year. Seeing as tomorrow is Canada Day around here you get a sneak peek at this wonderful sew along, before it even begins!  :)

My photo's may regress for awhile, we just moved into a basement and the lighting's so bad that my turquoise couch looks grey! I'll be experimenting in my next few posts until I find someplace new I like.

So, what exactly is Skirting the Issue? Basically it started as an internet sew-along to make skirts for back to school for little girls in foster care but it has grown to include sewing for any cause that moves you. It's run by Simple Simon and Co, you can read last years launch post here. Myself, Jess and some ladies from my church made just over 20 skirts last year. This year I'm doing it in two parts. We'll still be doing skirts for September but after talking to the donations coordinator at our local Family and Children's Services, we decided to make drawstring backpacks for the beginning of summer as well because they run summer camp type programs and many of the children have to bring their shoes or swimsuits in plastic grocery bags.

We chose a pattern with fabric straps as cording gets expensive quick! Some of them have pockets, some don't and we made three sizes, to fit kids from little kindergartner's to teenage boy sized gym shoes. I obviously haven't  put the drawstring in mine yet, I'm waiting to see how much I'll need. You can see the casing for it below:

 Want to sew along? If you're from around here, pick a skirt or backpack pattern and go for it! I'd love to add your creations to the pile :) I can't give you a link to the backpack tutorial as it was from a book someone else brought but Google or Pintrest would find you tons. For skirts it's whatever inspires you but beginners might like MADE's skirt tutorial's, found here. Not local? Be the first in your community to join! Single-handedly help change the world! Who cares if you're only one person. Jess and I made 2/3 of the skirts last year. Even if you only manage two, that's two little girls who'll have something beautiful and new to wear for back to school, maybe for the first time in their lives.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Shirts for the kids

Our family has taken up running together, Elijah takes the older two in our double jogging stroller, and I take Hunter in the single. China (our dog) usually starts with me, but pulls the whole time and ends up running nicely beside Elijah instead. When we run, we wear running shirts, and the kids decided that they needed running shirts as well. Using the basic t-shirt tutorial from MADE, I whipped up one fore each of them.

For Katie's shirt, I used swimsuit material, hoping that it will be a quick dry material and therefore closer to a real running shirt. The material wasn't as stretchy as ribbed cotton, so when I made the collar, it ended up being HUGE. the solution to my problem was to attempt a V neck kind of failed, because i had no idea what i was doing, but Katie likes it and that's all that matters.

For DJ's shirt, I resized one of Elijah's old T shirts. Yes, highway 69 is a real highway...I haven't ironed this shirt yet, but the little guy was in a hurry to put it in, since his sister already had hers. I was very pleased with this one, in person, you would never guess that it was homemade. :) 

Post Script, I have three out of six straps done on my big project, hopefully I can post the results later in the week! 

Sunday, June 22, 2014


Have patients, I am still unpacking. My house liiks like this; nothing has been made and we have no internet. I am hopeful for Friday or next Monday though :)

Monday, June 16, 2014

Preventing Electrocution With Crafting

Nothing like starting your morning off with an ambitious title!

To be fair, that is actually what I plan to do with this quilt. Our new place has the fuse box in the kids bedroom. It's behind a set of doors and near the ceiling, but still. I'm planning on putting a sliding lock right at the top and then hanging this right over the doors. With ant luck they won't even notice it's there! (In my dreams...)

Ok, so I cheated a little. This isn't actually quite finished yet, but I'm moving people and this is all I've got! It won't take me long to get those sides sewn up which is good since I want it on the wall tomorrow. 

I used this tutorial here and I really like it! You can see that I didn't even vary the colour scheme that much (It's a little bit lighter in real life.) I would have happily copied it exactly but I wanted this done pronto so I raided my stash. (Probably for the best. Seeing my sewing/craft supplies all together in boxes is a little bit frightening!)

As you can see if you look closely at these two pictures, I did end up using two slightly different balls of white. I'm not sure you would have noticed if I hadn't pointed it out though so I'm not worried. 

P.s. Pffft! Too bad for you Blogger. You decided to play your stupid "turn all the pictures sideways" game but guess what? I took pictures of squares! Haha, I win this round!

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Pink Episode

So, I happen to have a favorite colour. Somewhere, in some universe this is what my hair looks like :

Her hair <3 
(Picture found here, because sadly this is not me.)

So I have to settle for wearing pink, because I'm still in that phase with young children where just washing my hair is an accomplishment, forget about bleaching roots!

These were a pair of cotton pants, now capris. I love the colour and how lightweight they are but the calf part was to big and the waistband too small. So problem number one was solved. Now I just have to decide if I want to a) stick these in my little bag of pre-Deacon clothes that still don't quite fit or b) take off the waistband and turn them into maternity pants. I can't decide because both options are a gamble. Is it more likely that I will be my pre-Deacon weight someday or that I will be pregnant in the summer again? Or should I replace the waistband with another fabric and hope it doesn't look too weird? Hmm... any thoughts?

These pants are the softest, light pink jeans you will ever find; with a waist that fit just right. (A recurring issue since having Deacon.) I found them for 4$ at a thrift store and for that price I was willing to work around the fact that they were basically Mom Jeans from the hip down. Using about 800 pins an trying not to stab myself while pulling them on inside-out, I came up with the seams that gave me this:

Not actually being the sort of person who knows anything about fashion, I consulted the internet and came to the conclusion that the wrinkles mean they're too tight. They weren't an issue when I was pinning so I must have not been careful enough with my seam allowances. So technically another pair that isn't quite finished but I wanted to share them because to me this is more about learning than just looking like I create perfect, picture worthy things. Why would someone choose to do this alteration and not that one? I'm having this problem with a garment, what does that mean and how do I fix it? What's worth fixing and what goes in the donation bin?

I'll leave you on a lighter not after those profoundly deep thoughts of mine... :P

Sophie picked up some cotton candy coloured hair dye in the drug store the other day and convinced me to buy it for her. (It wasn't a harsh chemical brand so the convincing was about whether she would sit still for the extra rinsing.) It was such a light colour that you can only see it when the light hits her hair just right. This is the closest I could get with the camera. I've promised her another try with a darker shade of pink because she was so extremely patient and careful this time. In a perfect world I would have done that this week and had round two pictures to show you as well, but this is life not Pinterest . The real world said I had better move, find furniture for our new apartment, walk across town to the vet with a bunny in my scarf, stick anything that would fit into my washing machine and actually care for my children; not just colour their hair to match my blog posts. :P

Monday, June 9, 2014

Doily Curtains

Since we will be moving this week my hands have been itching to make things for our new apartment :)
It's freshly painted in perfectly livable (but unexciting) neutral colours, which means that painting would be a waste of time and money at this point. Especially when I can add some personality the diy/cheap way.

I've seen different versions of these floating around pintrest, this being my favorite. So off to the thrift store I go only to discover that their doilies are 1$ a piece. Not ridiculous unless you want a stack of them. Thankfully we had an epic garage sale-ing trip the next day where a nice lady gave me a bag stuffed with 23 of them for 4$. Because really, 23$ curtains were not happening. Especially considering that the windows already have brand new blinds on them and these are just for decoration.

So these are obviously not rocket science; acquire doilies, lay them flat and arrange them until you're happy, pin with safety pins, then sew. 

They do make me happy though. I can't help but wonder how many of them were handmade? I have a few vintage lace books and some of them have patterns for entire tablecloths worth of dainty lace. I have serious respect for people who can do things like that. I'm more a quick and easy project type of girl. My head is full of too many ideas and if I don't finish something soon I run out of steam and drop it for the next project. (My UFO basket is starting to overflow again, if you're wondering where that train of thought came from!)

Friday, June 6, 2014

A Totoro Birthday Party!

So the Little Miss turned 4 recently and picked her favorite movie as her party theme :)

I am pretty sure that she was the only kid there who understood any of the movie references, but everyone had fun. I of course took this opportunity to make as many impractical Totoro themed things as time would allow. (The soot sprites were made by holding 3 strands of yarn, an eyelash yarn, a feather-y yarn and some regular black worsted, together and crocheting a ball.)

Sophie asking for a Totoro dress was probably the high lite for me though. I had a sketch book page full of adorable options for her to choose from, and she picked the simplest one on the page, which is so her. "Green, Mommy." was the other condition.

So the applique is just jersey knit and some fabric markers. (Not loving the Crayola ones. May have to invest in another type.) It's all (badly) hand stitched but cute from wearing distance.

I modified the dress pattern from the donut shirt, mostly just making it thinner since this was obviously made from a t-shirt and using the existing neck opening. The original drawing was sleeveless but this dress needed something to save it from being deathly boring. It's actually too big for her and if I could just cut it at chest level, take a chunk out of the middle, gather it and re-sew it to the bodice it would be cute and fit. I don't think cutting her birthday dress in half would go over well though...

For our final performance, allow me to introduce you to the Catbus! There are hypothetically nice pictures of this out in the sunlight on party day, minus the sidewalk chalk makeover but none of them are on my camera seeing as I was busy actually hosting the party. So you get the post-party Catbus.

I was actually planning on painting a refrigerator box and cutting out a few windows but it turns out those things are tricky to find! This was the result of last-minute, night before the party improvisation. I cut the shapes out of that thick styrofoam in the middle poster board from the dollar store and stuck the whole thing together with about a roll and a half of packing tape.

I also threw a few movie inspired props like Mei's hat and flowers and some giant leaves (that they planted in the garden lol!) and drew a slightly creepy looking Totoro on her cake. (No regrets that I don't have a picture of that yet!) She was so excited to have a Totoro party and the other kids just had fun playing, the reason certain things were out doesn't really concern the under 5 set.

P.S. Why it's a miracle that I manage to take photos at all, even mediocre ones:

Deacon likes to stomp or sit on anything I lay out on the floor. This time he also stole it, then ran away and hid. Good thing he's so cute! (And a bad hider! lol)

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Awesome shorts to wear under a dress

My daughter is a very rough and tough little girl. When i get her to wear a dress, it's usually accompanied by leggings so that her undies don't show. Now that the weather is getting warmer, I started looking for short leggings for her to wear under them. I was having a hard time finding little girl bicycle shorts, and since I had fabric left over from making DJ's toddler boxer briefs, i decided to make my own...
I started by drafting a pattern. I turned a pair of Katie's leggings inside out and traces one half. I added a half inch for a seam allowance, because I like to use french seams on just about everything.

Blogger is being dumb and has decided to turn my pictures...

 They ended up being a little loose, because I was being dumb when I drafted my pattern, and added my seam allowance on top of the original one. They're also a little longer than I would have liked.

Despite them being a little baggy, Katie adores them. I have four more pairs to make, which will be a little tighter and shorter. Since the fabric was from my stash, all I had to buy was elastic. Total cost for five pairs of fantastic hide-Katie's-underwear-while-she-wears-dresses shorts : 2.50$ 

Post Script: My apologies for not posting very often, but in my defense, Since Hunter's arrival two months ago, we have sold our house in Alberta and bought a house a Ontario. It's been busy and will continue to be busy for the rest of the summer, but I do have a few ongoing projects to post about in the future.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Fancy Bellydance Top

Take a look at that! Does that look like something you'd be proud to wear or what?

So here's the deal with this beauty. We ordered a ready made 2 piece costume off of e-bay for our June recital. E-bay is a wonderful place to order cheap costumes, they just happen to come in one size. A size that fits the beautiful, slim, vertically challenged models (who are presumably Chinese given the locations the costumes are shipped from). I won't even attempt to claim that I've been too tall for anything, ever. Nursing babies and some leftover baby weight however have left me with a bra size that in no way resembles that of a tiny Asian model. I pulled this top out of the parcel and couldn't even hold it to me well enough to guess what it would look like! Add to that the fact that this costume has more sequins than I've voluntarily gone near in my entire life and it made for a fairly bleak picture ;)

Take a good look at this photo. Notice three different parts; the pleats along the top, the sequined cup and the beaded embellishment along the side. Now look again with this in mind: the edges of the sequined cup were the original edges of the bra. Almost everything I added to this was actually done to cover the larger bra I sewed this to!

So this is how that works. You take your too small decorative bra and take out the under wire. You get a properly fitting bra (hypothetically in the same colour, unless you plan on making unnecessary work for yourself like me). Line the cups up on the bottom front and sew on. Fill in the extra space. Some lace or fancy trim all around usually does just fine, but in this case I had huge gaps to fill and had to get creative.  Careful sewing the band though, it still needs to stretch when you're done!

You can actually see pretty clearly on this side where the original bra ends if you're up close like this. The sleeves drape down quite far when it's on and cover most of this though, so the main thing was to make sure that it all sparkles. Flat, not shiny pieces on the costume would be far more obvious from the audience than differently shaped sequins.

What beautiful flowers... Oh, you didn't notice that was covering the fact that the original bra didn't make it around my torso? Bet you didn't notice that you haven't seen a clasp yet either. I wouldn't recommend asking me about the wisdom of sewing a bra with a back clasp onto one that does up in the front. I don't find it to be amusing while I'm trying to wiggle into it. (Life lesson: sequins are sharp!)

I also added some extra rows of beading hanging down and sewed some cute little flowers on top. I swear it lies flatter when the top is on but there was no way that sort of photo was going to be floating around the internet!

Lets take a look at it all together again. Doesn't it look sweet and pretty? I try to add some beauty and personality to a costume I'm altering. Otherwise it's easy to fall into bad mindsets, especially when you order every single costume with the knowledge that you are going to be too big for it. I can't imagine anything more depressing than having a costume that's clearly different because you've had to expand it. I want to have the costume that's different because it's so beautiful :)