Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Summer Yumming Top

 Yesterday was a rocky day for our little household.  It consisted of many tears, little sleep and a couple Mommy breakdowns.  So what does a Mommy do when she's falling apart at the seams?  She sews up different seams! 

**I wasn't planning on a pun when I started typing that, but I guess that kind of thing just naturally flows out of me.  Let's all have a good belly laugh at that awesome pun!  Hardy-har-har!**

But seriously, sewing is a kind of release for me, so when the kids went down for their naps, I booked it to the basement and whipped up the Summer Yumming Top for Riley.  I love it.  It's so bright and happy and yum.  And it has ice cream and dragonflies and polka dots.  How could it go wrong? 

Here's a close-up of the ruffles.  Love the ice cream.  It's so sweet and summery.  And it's been HOT here, so it's perfect for today.  

This top is actually so easy but is one of my favorites to make.  It's just a basic bodice with ruffles sewn on, in the style of my super ruffle skirt.  I finished this in about 1.5 hours, cutting and all.  I know because that is the entire length of time Brooks slept ALL DAY.  What was going on with that kid?! 

For the back, I made a little keyhole closure with a big brown button, to emphasize the chocolate ice cream a little more.  

Riley loves it, too, which is a huge win in this mom's book! :)  Now... I want some ice cream!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Still here!

I'm still alive and kicking!  I promise.  My husband traveled last week, which makes it a little tougher to get stuff done.  Plus, I have two bigger projects in the works.  One is curtains for my friend, Jenni, who is going to have her baby SOON!!  The other is a dress for my friend, Erin.  Actually for her-- a living, breathing adult.  I know.  I'm going out of my comfort zone.  But I'm excited.  This could be life-changing for me.  Please please please... wish me luck! :)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Why, yes... I AM Skirting the Issue!

Have you heard about Simple Simon & Co/Project Run & Play's Skirting the Issue event?  Can you say Fan-freaking-tastic?!  If you don't know what I'm talking about, check it out now.  Even if you're a beginning sew-er, you can contribute. 

I decided, after looking at the fabric explosion that is my basement, that I needed to start a little clearing out challenge for myself.
Maybe someday I'll do a series... "Cut the Scrap?"  What do you think? :)

I started brainstorming ideas of things to do with all the leftover scraps I have in my much-loved fabric stash.  Then, inspiration struck.  Skirting the Issue, meet your first sew easy being green conribution: The Scrap-tastic Hi-Low Skirt!
 I took bunches of coordinating fabric, cut them into varying sizes of rectangles, and went to town.  Really, I should call this the Up-Down Skirt because I was constantly going from floor (cutting mat) to machine to ironing board.  But I love how it turned out.  It's fully lined with a black and hot pink polka dot fabric (because I just wanted a little splash of pink!) and is truly one-of-a-kind.

Here's a close up of my favorite part.  The alternating wavy lines.  
I hope it makes some sweet girl very, VERY happy!

P.S. just realized it's REVERSIBLE! Bonus!!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Homemade granola bars

I've been trying to come up with new healthier snacks for the girls. It's been pretty fun. This morning, I let the girls watch an episode of Wonder Pets, and I whipped up these no-bake granola bars. It seriously only took the amount of time it takes a guinea pig, duckling and turtle to save a flamingo to make these. In case you don't use that kind of time comparison, this is really quick.
The only issue I ran into is that they didn't hold together all that well (see picture below).  Maybe creamy peanut butter would work better?  I think I'll add just a tad more of both the pb and honey next time.  If you try it, let me know your results!  As for my results, the girls HORSED these, even after they had just finished a snack of string cheese, crackers and hummus.  In other words: BIG SUCCESS!

Here's the recipe:
1/2 cup peanut butter (I used crunchy)
1/3 cup honey
1/2 tsp vanilla

1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup crisp rice cereal
1/4 cup raisins
2 handfuls M&Ms
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cocoa

Heat pb, honey and vanilla over medium heat until pb is melted.

Meanwhile, mix all other ingredients together in a bowl. When pb mix I'd melted, dump it over the other stuff. Mix then press into an 8x8 baking dish.

Let it sit till cooled.

Devour! :)

We're Gonna Need a Bigger Boat

This is sweet Riley, in all her sprinkler-hair, leftover-snack glory:
 And when I call her sweet, I mean it.  She has a beautiful and sensitive heart.  And her favorite animal is the shark.  Specifically, THIS shark:
 As we read through her shark book (specifically chosen, by her, for a birthday present), this is the shark she picked as her favorite.  This from the girl who tells her sister, "Don't smush that ant, Noelle!  God made him, too!"  Of course she likes the terrifying sea creature who, in the words of this page, "wait[s] for the right time to attack..."
All this to say, I had to make her a shark skirt.  I know what you're thinking-- "Whoa!  What a realistic portrayal of that shark!  You are a genuine artist!"  Thanks.  I do what I can.  And really, that's all I can do.  :)

Here he is, in fabric form.  Again, don't be scared.  This isn't the real thing, even though he does have 3-D teeth!

See!?  I mean, I learned that sharks can have thousands of teeth in their lifetimes, so I may as well emphasize those "toophers", right?   And for a little added interest, I used knit for the shark and corduroy for his pupil, so we've got some varying textures going on.

After all that, you may be wondering why Noelle is modeling the shark skirt.  When I enthusiastically unveiled it to Riley, she said, "No, I don't want that."  

Monday, June 18, 2012

Hi, My Name is Heather...

... and I'm a Pick Your Plum addict.

Have you discovered Pick Your Plum yet?  Oh my word, I love it.  So much crafty goodness at such great prices! 

Over the past couple weeks, I've ordered ribbon and fabric flowers.  And since Riley is growing her bangs out, I've busted out my bow-making skills (which are a little rusty; you'll see) to create clips to pull those bangs back.  By the way, in case you're wondering: growing toddler bangs out is the exact same amount of fun as growing adult bangs out-- zero.  Zero amounts of fun. 

Anyway, here's my entirely Pick Your Plum clip collection, so far. :)

 Check out Noelle's sweet grimace smile.  And this pic also showcases my rusty skills-- I made an extra loop on one side.  Uh... I'm going for an asymmetrical marvel?

In other words, you should check out Pick Your Plum.  You won't go back. :)

Friday, June 15, 2012

Machine Recs??

I need help. 

I mean, I need help in lots of ways, but let's just focus on one issue at a time shall we?

I sew everyday.  I do it to stave off the insanity and to hold onto something that's just mine in a SAHM world of diapers, My Little Ponies, and fighting over one toy when we have a BAZILLION and WHY CAN'T WE JUST ALL GET ALONG?!? 


Anyway, the point is that I sew a lot, and I love it.  And I've really loved designing my own clothing for the kiddos. 

But lately, I've had to stay away from anything with buttonholes because my machine is refusing to make them.  And I realized that a sewing machine is just like any other machine, right?  You work it hard, and eventually it's going to break down or not work as well or whatever.  So I'm starting to think that a new machine will be my "big ticket item" on my Christmas list this year.  So I could use your help.  What machines to you lovely folks have?  What do you love about them?  What cool features could I really learn to dig? 

Any feedback would be so very welcome! 

(And do I even think about a machine that could embroider?  That may put it way out of my price range...)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Is That Another Bubble Dress? A tutorial

Why, yes... Yes, it is.

Even while I was making the tutorial for the Bubble it Up Dress, I wanted to design a different bubble dress, but I felt like I had to get the tutorial for the original one up, too.  So, yep yep yep, here's the second version!
 Since it's the second version, I called it the double bubble... not because there are two bubbles.  Don't get confused.  It does have a super cute crossover back, though!

And look at that fabric!! I've been saving it because I love it so much, and then it hit me-- balloons are perfect for a bubble dress! And Riley loves that there are little bunnies holding onto some of the balloons. And I quote: "Bunnies?! Holding balloons? That's silly!!" :)

Whatcha Need:

front piece and back piece patterns (why I couldn't save them as one file?  dunno.) in size 4T
about 1.25 yards main fabric (more for larger than 3T/4T)
about .75 yard lining fabric
5 coordinating buttons
general sewing stuff

Cut out your pattern pieces: 2 of front piece (one main and one lining), 4 of back pieces (2 main, 2 lining), and skirt pieces.

To get the measurements for your skirt pieces, you want to decide how long you want it.  Add 3 inches to that length for the length of your main piece.  Cut 2 pieces that length x 30 inches wide.  For lining, cut length minus 3 inches x width of fabric (selvage to selvage).  My main is 16 inches long, my lining is 10.

Let's start with the bodice.  Sew shoulders of your main front piece and main back pieces (I used the same fabric for main and lining).  Do the same with your lining.

 Sew main piece to lining piece, around the neckline and the armholes, but DO NOT sew the side seams.  Clip the curves.  Turn.

Place sides together, lining up the seam, right sides together.  Sew up the sides.

Turn right side out and press.  Then topstitch around the neckline and arms. 

Place your bodice flat and overlap the back pieces, so they are the same width as the front piece.  Baste them in place.  Now you can set that aside while we focus on the bubble!

Sew the side seams of your main fabric, right sides together.  Sew lining fabric into a loop (note: I actually used an old t-shirt for my lining!  It's comfy and free!  If you do this, cut it so this skirt is roughly 40 inches wide). 

Run a gathering stitch along the bottom of your main piece and gather it till it's the width of your lining piece.

Place right sides together and sew up the bottom.  It'll look like this (from the inside) after you turn it.

Run a gathering stitch through the top of the main and lining pieces.  Gather them up until they're BOTH the width of your bodice.

Place the bodice inside the skirt, right sides together, lining up all your side seams.  Sew them all together then finish with a zig-zag stitch.  

Grab your five buttons and sew them along the neckline.  Sorry it's hard to see.  It was SUNNY out!!

There you have it!  The double bubble!

Oh yeah, you can make a sash, too.  I'm into sashes these days, it seems.

I love bubble dresses! :)

Sneak Peak

Here's a little sneak peak of my next tutorial, which should be up today or tomorrow!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Stripey Stripes Sundress

I heart stripes.  They're so nice and clean.  They can be used to make other fun shapes (Chevron, anyone?!).  They're just so darn stripey and wonderful. 

That's why I just ordered some stellar striped knit fabric from  I'm pretty pumped for it to get here.  But while I'm anxiously awaiting its arrival, I thought I'd use this mustard and white striped fabric that I got on sale some time ago.
Lest you think Riley's working it a little too much, here's the conversation that was going on while this pose was happening:
Me-- Stand up, Boo!
Riley-- Okay.  (Puts hands over face)
Me-- Alright, put your hands down.  Uh... can you put your hand on your hip?
Riley-- Huh. (Pause)  This is what you do when you're mad.

Clearly, it was time to change the subject and pull out a book.

Oh, okay... we'll sass it up a little more.

Me-- Smile!
Riley-- (grimaces)
Me-- Smile, Riley-girl!
Riley-- The sun's in my eyes!
Me-- Okay... that'll do.

And on another note, here's what I put my 2.5-year-old today.  Should I be embarrassed?  It was just too cute and, sure, it's probably more fitting for a baby, but the pintucks and embroidery... and collar?!  And those little legs!  I couldn't help myself.  Am I ensuring her a lifetime of therapy? :) 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Bubble it Up Dress/Top Tutorial

A NOTE ON THIS TUTORIAL: I've made this in both dress and top form now.  I recommend the dress (or a longer top) because as a top, it gets pretty darn puffy.  This is why I added the sash.   But the sash kind of messes with the line of the keyhole-esque back.

Also, if you don't like gathering, run for the hills!  There's lots of that going on here. :)  


It's been quite some time since I made my first version of the bubble dress. It (by happy accident) turned out cuter than expected. But it was kind of a PAIN to make, mostly because blind-stitching and I, well, we're not the best of buds.

So I tried a second way... And it was a flop. It was just too much bubble and not enough flattering. Fail.

So here's my third attempt at a tutorial...
 I threw a sash on this one... because as a top, it was very, well, bubbly.

 But hey!  Look at that!  It still works when it's sash-less, too!

Without further ado...

Materials: (my measurements are for a 2T top, but the only thing you really need to change for different sizes is the length!)
About 1 yard main fabric
1/2 yard lining fabric
Scrap of coordinating fabric for ruffle
Basic sewing accoutrement

Determine the length you want your dress or top.  Subtract 2 from it.  I want mine to be about 14 inches, so I ended up with 12. (**look above for my notes on the length I used on this one**)

Take that number and subtract 4.  This is the length you will cut your lining piece.  Cut from selvage to selvage.  (mine is 8" x width of fabric).

Add 4 to your original number to get the length of your main fabric (mine: 16").  Cut two pieces, that length by 30 inches.

Sew the short ends of your main fabric together and your lining fabric into a loop.  No need to finish the edges as they'll all be hidden!  Find what will be the front center of your lining (directly opposite the seam).

 You're going to make underarm cut-outs now, so fols both pieces over so the sides are lined up.  Line lining up with the seam of your main piece.

On the top, make a mark 2.5 inches.  Also make a mark 2 inches down on the side.

Connect them with a curve, like so:

Cut through all the layers, and you'll get this.  Run gathering stitches along the top (straight) edges of the front and back of both main and lining pieces.

Gather fronts to a measurement of six inches.  Gather backs to 9 inches.  Tie gathering threads together when you get to these lengths, so they stay that length.


But two strips of coordinating fabric (I used two different ones), 2 inches by 12 inches.  Sew together, leaving one long side open.

Flip right side out, press and topstitch.

Gather this along the bottom to about 5.5 inches (disregard my ruler in the pic.  I had to gather it a little more).

Cut out two long strips of fabric, 3 inches by 30 inches.  Fold in half and stitch up three sides, leaving one small side open.  Turn right side out, press and topstitch.

Now pin everything together, the front in the following order, from outside in:
main fabric, right side to the inside
little ruffle (edges of it should be in a little from the edge of the main fabric for seam allowance)
straps (lined up with edge of ruffle)
lining, right side together to main piece

It will look like this when it's all pinned.

Sew them all together, making sure your seam butts up right to the edge of the ruffle and straps.

Turn right side out.  It'll be pretty blobby. :)  Press.


Welcome to the rockiest part.  Run a gathering stitch along the bottom of the main piece.  Gather it up till it matches the bottom of the lining.

I didn't take a picture of this, but you need to stitch these pieces together.  I'll try to explain what I did!  Whew... here we go. 

DO NOT just put the right sides together by folding them up over the top of your dress.  If you do it this way, when you try to flip it right side out, you'll just get a loop.  Instead, you have to work to the SIDE of the dress.  Here are some pictures I tried to take to better illustrate.  The owl fabric is the main fabric.  The orange polka dots is the lining.

Just folding them over at the bottom (NOT all the way over the top), pin right sides together.

It'll look a little something like this, so as you sew, you'll have to keep shifting your fabric and making sure you don't snag anything.

The nice thing is that, since these stitches won't be seen, you can pull your fabric out whenever (after backstitching), regroup, and then keep stitching.  By the end, you'll get to the point where you can't fit your needle in between the fabric anymore.  

You'll be left with a little opening through which you can turn it right side out.  Now blindstitch that closed.  

Make buttonholes at the top outside corners of the back.  

When I put it on Noelle, it was really bubbly.  If I do another one, I'll definitely make it longer.  For my sash, I cut two pieces of fabric, selvage to selvage, and 4.5 inches wides.  I sewed them together then folded in half, right sides together, sewed it up, leaving a hole to turn it through.  Turned it right sides out, pressed and topstitched!

Here's the issue with the sash and this back... it gets kind of crumply.

Without the sash, it opens up like so.  Either way, it's cute, but I'd recommend the dress over the top... or at least make it a longer top!

Still, it could be worse than this, right!? :)