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Scirocco Dress Review


So here it is... my finished Scirocco dress pattern from Figgy's.  Hooray!

I meant to follow the pattern exactly as written because I think the design is perfect as is, but it was not meant to be. First, my girl requested that I make the twisted back with contrasting fabrics, which I totally love. Then, after completing the bodice it became clear that even though I traced the pattern in a size 6/7 with a 8/9 length, it was not even close to long enough to cover my string bean's bellybutton.  Luckily I had enough black piping and blue leopard print to make a cumberbund-style addition to sew in between the bodice and the ruffled skirt. I treated the top of the back leopard fabric piece as the top ruffle, and inserted the elastic and attached it to the bodice as instructed in the pattern. The main variation I made was in adding piping to the top front leopard piece, and all around the bottom of the leopard panel before attaching the skirt ruffles. Adding piping is simple and it creates a very finished, professional look. I use a zipper foot to sew piping to my cotton fabric without any added stabilizers, but there are many different ways to go about piping a garment. If you want a full tutorial to teach you how to do it, I recommend the piping tutes over at The Cottage Home, and Make It Love It. Both present simple ways to add piping to nearly any sewing project. 

Now about the Scirocco sewing pattern... I want to start by saying that overall, I find that Figgy's Patterns are easy to follow. As is clear by the sheer number of Figgy's patterns that I choose to use, I'm a huge fan. Nevertheless, even using this photo tutorial for the bodice on this Scirocco dress, I found myself utterly confused regarding shoulder finishing on the Scirocco. I'm not sure exactly where my problem lay, but every time I tried to follow the tutorial or pattern I ended up a very frustrated pregnant lady with a seam ripper in her hand and steam coming out of her ears. After about an hour of this I let my sewing instincts take over and topstiched the neck and armholes. Luckily I like the results, and I don't think the topstitching takes away from the overall design. The rest of the dress was a breeze, and I would use the pattern again without hesitation. Maybe next time the instructions will click with my brain, who knows?

Fabric was chosen by my daughter. The shiny blue dot is a very old Alexander Henry print from my stash, and the blue leopard is Anna Maria Horner's Spotted in the Crowd in Elizabeth from her awesome LouLouthi collection. We love black and blue together. There's just something edgy about it, right? Now all this girl needs is a pair of cute shoes and she's ready to party.

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Striped Banyan T-Shirt


So my DIY Dolman T-Shirt was such a hit with my daughter, that I decided to sew up this Banyan Tee using the very same fabric as the dolman while my serger was still warm. The Banyan comes to us from Figgy's Patterns, and if you read this blog frequently, then you know that I am a huge fan of all things Figgy's. In fact, I have a Scirocco dress in the works, that I hope to show you soon!

But back to the Banyan, yes? I departed from the pattern slightly to add contrasting pink striped wings to the bottom of the navy striped body. The Banyan pattern tunic already has these high/low wings as part of the pattern. To make them in contrasting pink striped material I simple cut a triangular section of the pattern from about 1/3 of the way down from the armhole straight down to the hem of the pattern. Then I added a 1/2" seam allowance to both sides of the cut. 

After sewing the pink striped triangles to the navy striped main body pieces, I continued with the pattern as directed, using the same pink stripes for the pocket and neckline. I thought about making pink sleeves, but decided against it. I'm glad I did. I like the pink-blue balance achieved just as it is. So does my girl, who gave me the go-ahead to try something new. Scirocco dress...here I come. 



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DIY Dolman Shirt with Tutorial

So this spring I was looking forward to participating in Kids Clothing Week Challenge (KCWC) again. Unfortunately it will take place April 22-29 this year...the very week our fourth child is due to arrive. At first I was sad not to take part, as I've come to really enjoy the comraderie and motivation that KCWC provides. Then I decided to have my very own kids clothing week challenge here at home. I've piled up the patterns and the fabrics, consulted with my little people regarding what they want to wear this season, and started working. If I'm up to it I plan to enter my makings in the official KCWC Flikr pool come April 22. After all, I can't imagine that hundreds of sewing moms would mind if I bend the rules just a bit, just this once, for the birth of a babe now would they?

So let's get started with my girl S. S is first approaching 8 years old, and is beginning to desire the trappings of American tweens everywhere. She oohs and ahhs over smartphones, lip gloss, and flip-flops with heels at every turn. She loves the pricey stylings of Splendid and Crewcuts, and after checking out all they have to offer this season we decided that I should give some striped tops a try.

I really wanted to make a top that actually fit my long torsoed super string-bean of a girl, so I set out make my own pattern for a shirt that would be trendy, yet simple to sew. Thus, the DIY dolman was born. The dolman sleeve is loose, comfortable, and seems to transform the simplest shirt into something current and cool. I made this shirt in a tunic length, but my DIY pattern is super easy to customize. If you want to make a dolman T for your girl, or for yourself, then check out my DIY Dolman Shirt Tutorial here. And please let me know if you give the dolman a try. I'd love to see what you think!


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Decouverte Knit Vest 



So I've been drooling over Julie Hoover's simple, modern knitting patterns on Ravelry for a long while now. Nearly all of her knit pieces appeal to me, but I chose her Decouverte Vest to start with. There are many ways to purchase Julie's patterns, and I bought mine here.

I found the pattern to be straighforward and simple to follow. I knit it without any formal assistance, but relied on this tutorial to learn how to mattress stitch the sides, and this tutorial to master picking up stitches for the collar. Overall, I think the pattern would be well suited to any advanced beginning knitter. 

As for yarn, I chose Knitpicks Comfy Fingering cotton/acrylic yarn in black, whisker and hollyberry. I purchased just enough yardage to complete the project and then colorblocked and striped it by whim as I knit. I've already machine washed and tumble dried the vest twice, and am impressed by the seeming durability of such light fingering weight yarn.

My only complaint about the Decouverte Knit Vest has nothing at all to do with the pattern really. It's just that it took me so darn long to knit! Not sure why I was surprised that this project took a while given the guage of the yarn and the size of the needles, but I was.  Next knit: worsted weight please!

*Thanks to my beautiful mom for modelling for the above photos! I didn't think the drape of the knit was don


Black and White Flying Geese Quilt (with Liberty of London back!)

So remember this wonky flying geese quilt that I started in the last week of 2012? Well, with help from Lindsay over at Eileen's Quilts, it's done!

I've always wanted to learn to use a long arm quilting machine, but with little access in my area of the country to rental machines, and a babe on the way, I decided to send this quilt off to a pro. I'm so glad I did. After a couple of short emails with Lindsay discussing motif, thread color, and batting, my quilt top and backing were off to Virginia! A few short weeks later they arrived quilted at my doorstep tied in the pink yarn you see above. And just like that I fell in love with Eileen Quilts... Just look at the close up of the quilting work and I think you will too. 

Back and binding fabrics were chosen from Liberty of London's 2012 seasonal Tana Lawn collection. The large floral print is Liberty's Seventeen in Multi, and the small scale abstract print is Liberty's Pepper in yellow and grey. I must say that though I was terrified of quilting with Liberty's Tana Lawn fabrics due to their lighter weight and hefty pricetag, I LOVE the way this quilt came out. Binding was especially easy with the lawn weight fabric wrapping so easily around my chosen 1/4" edge. Often applying such a thin binding with quilting weight cotton or linen blends can be awkward, but the lawn was a dream. I also appreciate the lightweight, year round feel of the lawn, and the drape it lends to the finished quilt. I am curious to see how it holds up to years of use and washing, but then again, when it comes to tears, holes and stains, they are really just a sign of deep quilt love right? And that's what it's all about to me - a whole lotta quilt love.

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Sew What You Love Ruffle Skirt 

So it snowed a teeny bit last night, but I still gave this spring skirt to my girl this morning for its first day of wear. It's March after all, and according to the preschoolers in this house, spring officially begins in March!

The ruffle skirt is a based on a pattern from Tanya Whelan's Sew What You Love book, and I really do "love" it because, like many of the items in Tanya's book, it requires no actual pattern tracing. Instead you cut your fabric based solely on your child's measurements. This makes for a perfect fit every time, and is especially great for girls like mine who do not fit easily into regularly sized clothing! The skirt has cutting options for one, two, or three ruffles, and I think it leaves lots of room for personalization. I chose to go with two ruffles, and instead of hemming the ruffles I finished them with some bright orange polka dotted bias tape cut from the roll at Purl Soho. Fabric is Anna Maria Horner's LouLouThi Summer Totem in strudel

It's a little disappointing that this skirt first exited the house with legwarmers and boots bellow, but I think lots of wear in the hot sun this summer should make up for that. Here's looking at you March. I'm so glad you're here. 

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Simpatico Modern Flying Geese Quilt



Simpatico quilt finished! I meant to blog photos and notes about this quilt as I made it, but alas, our computer ate nearly all photographs taken during December and January, making that impossible. So here I am in February, proudly showing off this finished quilt instead. Forgive me.

The pattern is a modern flying geese motif inspired mostly by Denyse Schmidt's Flock of Triangles quilt from her book 30 Colorful Quilt and Patchwork Projects, and this amazing Flying Geese and Swan Quilt that I first spotted on Pinterest. To create the quilt I cut 12 1/2" squares of all fabrics. Then I cut the squares into triangles once for the main larger triangles, and then again to create smaller side triangles for the ends of the rows. Some large triangles are pieced from 3 smaller triangles for interest and fun. This is the first quilt top that I have made entirely from simple triangles, and once I stopped worrying about perfect corners it was a lot of fun to arrange and piece!

Fabric is a mix of Simpatico from Cloud 9 Organics, Robert Kaufman's Essex Linen in light blue and steel, prints from the Timber and Leaf Collection by Sarah Watts, and Mod Basics from Birch Organics. The fabrics came together in a rather organic way. I started with the fat quarter stack of Simpatico prints, matched what I had in my stash, and then on a visit to Purl Soho (during a snowstorm!) I added the Timber and Leaf florals and the rustic Essex Linen to soften the ultra modern look a bit. The back is mostly Birch Organic's Mod Basics solid grey, with leftover scraps to add width and interest on the right side. Quilt binding is Simpatico Straws print in mint.

I machine quilted this quilt with simple grey organic cotton thread and a nod to the long lasting chevron trend. However, in an effort to make it a bit different from the classic chevron, I quilted my zigs and zags vertically, rather than horizontally. I like the texture created on the quilt back by closely quilted lines, alternated with some empty space, so I quilted inch by inch until I felt I had achieved the right balance. This meant more time than I had planned quilting, but I like the overall effect. 

What do you think? 


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Spring Blankets and Bib Batch

So it's obviously not spring outside yet here in the Norteastern United States, but inside my sewing room it is. I've been sewing up a storm pre-baby and post-holiday sales to get some items finished both for my Etsy shop, and The Craft Lounge. This group of blankets is less of a collection than prior groups that I've sold, but I like to think there is a little something for every mod baby on the block here.

When all is said and done there is now a group of 25 blankets and as many bibs out there for sale now. Obviously I like all of them, but here are the prints that I favor the most right now. 

For soft and gender neutral I'm loving the Ed Emberley Happy Drawing Too sheep above. Leave it to a master children's illustrator like Emberley to create a print both whimsical and soothing (who wasn't told to count sheep at one time in their life?) at the same time. Plus, it's loaded with grey which coordinates with all things baby all the time.

I also adore this Circa 52 print from Birch Organic Fabrics. I made a custom appliqued blanket set for twins a while back with it, and have been saving this last yard in my stash ever since. Then I thought - what exactly am I waiting for...and the scissors came out. Paired with Michael Miller organic fleece I think it has universal appeal. 

For bolder babes and their families may I suggest the bright and cheery selections bellow? I really love all things made with Amy Butler's now classic Lotus collection, and this floral is no exception. It's feminine, but not pink, and I like that. 

Last but not least is this Bright Balloons print from Robert Kaufman. Tell me this does not make you smile and I won't believe you. Framed in barber pole stripes it looks like candy to me. 

Ok. I'm done writing on and on about how much I like my new blankets and bibs. Now go check them out for yourselves. 

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Downton Abbey Knit Along - Finished!

So here it is...my finished project for the Downton Abbey Knit Along. It's a Penelope Garter Stitch Vest from Lovely Knits for Little Girls. Yarn is Blue Sky Alpaca's worsted cotton in tomato embellished with a 1" turquiose grossgrain ribbon tie. Overall, I really enjoyed this very quick easy knit. Finished it fits my slender seven year old perfectly, and the ruffle in the back looks great. However, my girl is very slim, so I think that if you were knitting this item for the average 7-9 year old, it would be a bit snug. Especially when layered over other clothes as I imagine it is meant to be worn. For this particular child on this particular chilly January day however, it provides the perfect punch of color and flair over her school clothes. So thanks to Shanon aver at Luv in the Mommyhood for sponsoring the knit along! And check out what others are making on Flikr and Ravelry. I know I am.

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Downton Abbey Knit Along

So I was minding my own business in the blogosphere last week when I came accross the Downton Abbey Knit Along over at Luv in the Mommyhood and signed up. If you're a Downton Abbey fan like myself, then you know that the third season begins in America this Sunday, Jaunary 6. I know I'll be knitting while I watch, so I figured I may as well join my very first knit along and share the experience with other craft loving Abbey watchers. The goal of the knit along is to complete a project with a "downton abbey-ish" feel to it by the end of the third season. Photos of finished knits can be posted in the Luv in The Mommyhood Ravelry Group and Flikr Page. Sounds fun right? But what exactly is a "downton abbey-ish" knit? Well that's up to you of course, but I think every single project in the beautiful book Lovely Knits for Little Girls qualify (and a child sized knit is just about what I think I can handle within the Abbey season). The problem was which one to choose... 

I decided on the simplest of the three designs I had tagged in the book: the Penelope Garter Stitch Vest. It's a straightforward garter stitch vest with a ruffle at the back and a ribbon-tied front. The design is definitely donwton abbey-ish, but perhaps not my daughter's color choice! Instead of a muted tone, she went with Blue Sky Worsted Cotton in Ladybug. A bold pick for a bold girl. I think we're going to love how it turns out.

Runners up for the knit along were the amazing Laura Frost Flower Poncho,

and Zoe Fan Stitch Jacket. The jacket is by far the most difficult of the three projects I selected, so I think I'll work up to it. Now that I have another girl on the way I know that feminine knitting projects will go to good use! There is nothing quite like handmaking an item and watching it get worn and handed down among those you love. 

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More Handwarmers & A New Hat 

Happy New Year everyone! I don't know about you, but I've been busy making resolutions. Knitting and sewing resolutions that is. My list is long and varied, but many projects have to do with what will be the main event for me in 2013 - the birth of our fourth child! 

Of course I have a quilt in my head, with crib sheets, blankets, some clothing and baby extras on the list. But before I dive in and get sewing for baby I have fixed and finished a few smaller projects in these last days of 2012. My favorite are the new handwarmers and hat that I made myself. I know - more handwarmers...I admit to being obsessed with handwarmers right now, but I think I know why. 

You know how some ladies find themselve buying new shoes during pregnancy because shoes make them feel pretty while not showing them how large they have become? Well handwarmers are my version of new shoes. They come in pairs, I can wear them like an accessory with any outfit I choose, and they fit no matter what the scale says. 

While I love the colorblock handwarmers that I made last month on double pointed needles, I was intrigued by the simplicity of this Work + Shelter design. Using straight needles in a size 5 and comfy worsted yarn from Knit Picks in Hawk, these knit up quickly and easily to match my slouchy version of the simple seed stitch hat pattern free from Lion brand.  To make this simple hat slouchy I cast on the smallest number of stitches, but knit the maximum number of rows called for in the pattern. Oh, and instead of two colors of yarn, I used three. Knit picks comfy worsted in Whisker, Seraphim, and Hawk (in order from top down). I like the fashionable ombre effect of the three yarns together. 

Until 2013...Wishing you all of the best for you and yours, 


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Wonky Flying Geese Quilt Top

So in this very last week of 2012 and I have decided that it's time to play. That's why, after wrapping my last handmade gifts I ignored all patterns and guidelines, all wants and desires of others, and threw something fun and modern up on my design wall. This is what it looked like.

I sewed these squares and I liked them all. Then a little winter light came in through the window and I saw a quilt. It was a large scale wonky flying geese pattern in black and shades of white made from rectangular blocks much like my block above top left. 

To make my quilt a reality I pieced 40 rectangles 6 1/2" x 12 1/2", sewing them together in a grid to make a quilt top approximately 50" x 60". Fabric is Robert Kaufman's Kona cotton solids in black, white, bone, and natural. I try to have a stash of black and whites around for moments like these. :)

Inspired by this quilt by Noodlehead, I plan to back the quilt in a brightly colored floral pattern (perhaps a classic Liberty of London print). Binding may be a second bright floral in a contrasting color. I'm not sure yet. My plan in to head in to Manhattan and hit my favorite fabric stores soon. I have a happy feeling that I'll know my back and binding fabric when I see them. Then the question will be how, oh how, to quilt this baby. While holding the quilt top up for the photo bellow my Mr. suggested I use a brightly colored thread to quilt it with. I think he may be on to something... What do you think?

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Handmade Holidays - Day 8 - Echo Pillow

So it's the last day of Hanukkah, and I've made it seven straight days sewing and blogging. I must admit that I'm kind of exhausted, so please don't get upset when I climb into bed on this last post to show you the pillow that I gave to my husband for the holidays. 

I really wanted one nice long pillow to go with my Echo quilt. I like the modern look of a single accent pillow, it doesn't get lost on our king sized bed, and it's easy to find on the floor in the morning. So here it is - our singular pillow. The top is pieced with Lotta Jansdotter Echo fabric triangles and then quilted for sturdiness with a lightweight cotton batting and unbleached cotton muslim. The back is home dec weight striped IKEA fabric, with a nifty invisible zipper (I dare you to try to find it in the photo bellow). 

When I first handed my husband the pillow wrapped in white paper with little blue snowflakes he proclaimed, "A pillow, I love it!" Then he left it on the bed, wrapped, for 2 days. It looked like a pillow, gave a satisfying crunch when we laid on it at night, and just generally made us laugh. I should have taken a picture of it then, but sure enough the kids unwrapped it. Now when I see it on the bed I think of it all wrapped up, and I love that - it's a great holiday memory that will always make me smile.





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Handmade Holidays - Day 7 - Toddler Made Gift Card Holders

So this is by far the most basic handmade item that I am gifting this year, but in many ways, the most charming. It's a gift card holder that my toddler and I made out of his artwork. The process is very simple and the product is very hadmade looking, but what makes a better gift for an early child educator then something that chubby little fingers made (mostly) by themselves? Add a couple of handmade lavender sachets and some chocolate, and you have a cute little gift pack. 

(This particular gift is meant for a super crafty educator who knits and loves owls. Obviously we love her.)

To make your own gift card holder with your toddler all you need is a piece of your child's art (the heavier the paper the better), an exacto knife or sharp scissor, and a pencil. It's so simple that instead of telling you how we did it, I'm just going to show you with a series of photos.

There! Got it? Just sign your child's name, pop it in a little gift bag alone, or with a couple of small goodies like we did, and you are good to go. I guarantee that your child's teacher will appreciate it!


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Handmade Holidays - Day 6 - Figure 8 Scarf

So last year, around this time, I made myself one of Anna Maria Horner's Figuring the 8 scarves and proceeded to wear it nearly every day right through the spring. I really love this scarf, and my mom does too, so yesterday I gave her one of of her very own.

Now given the number of blog posts regarding this scarf, and the hundreds of images that come up if you search "anna maria horner figure 8 scarf" on Flikr, I'd say that it's pretty universally understood among crafty folks that this item is fast and fabulous to sew. If you don't have the time or inclination to cut your own fabric, you can order a project kit for adults or children (I made my daughter a mini figure 8 this fall) in Anna Maria's online shop. You won't be sorry. 


Handmade Holidays - Day 5 - Fabric Covered Journal/Sketchbook

So on this, the 5th evening of Hanukkah, I will be gifting two fabric covered books to two very different people. I made both book covers using the basic instructions included Stitched in Color's great covered journal tutorial. They are very similar to the collection of patchwork covered notebooks that I made for sale this holiday season. 

For our 7 year old daughter, the reader, I made a book journal. Instead of patching up a bunch of fabric scraps, I used a solid piece of the same Melody Miller typewriter fabric that I used for her chair pad many months back. I also made couple of silly padded bookmarks to go with the book journal using scraps of fabric, batting and riboon. 

For my twin sister, the artist, I made a fabric covered sketchbook.  Instead of a lined composition pad I choose a finer quality grid paper pad to use as filler. I also ordered this handmade pastel set smartphone cover from Crafic on Etsy. I think it's clever - and I know my sis will too. 

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Handmade Holidays - Day 4 - DIY Kids Craft/Project Kits

So I really enjoy giving people gifts that we can do together. For my parents, sister or husband that may mean theatre tickets, a museum membership, gift certificate to a restaurant we want to try, or sometimes just a good bottle of wine. For our kids it almost always involves an art or craft project. This year instead of buying pre-packaged art packs or ordering kits online, I made my own. 

First I thought about the ages of our children (7, almost 5, 2 2/2) and what activities would be enjoyed by all of them. Then I thought about their interests. Lastly, I considered projects that could be undertaken with recycled or otherwise easily attainable, inexpensive items that are not too precious. This is what I came up with.  


Art Pack #1: Make your own play dough - an oldie but goodie. Strongly desired by my pre-K and toddler aged kiddos, and fun in the kitchen to boot. I plan to present it like a science project to my 7 year old and employ her in the actual making of the dough, then concentrate on imaginary play ang guided activities with the younger boys.

Pinterest has loads of boards dedicated to handmade play dough recipes and play dough activities. After a bit of research I decided to start with the simple play dough recipe from Artnest, printing it out and tying in onto the outside of the large paper bag I selected to stuff with supplies. I also downloaded some counting mats fromPreKinders, and made a load of other activity mats with a sharpie and a sheet of blank paper. I play to press the activity sheets between two pieces of clear contact paper to make them reusable. Another good activity for my 7 year old! Pressing paper, fabric scraps, flowers, leaves etc... between contact paper and cutting it into bookmarks or ornaments for this time of year never seems to get old.

Art Pack #2: Bookmaking! Last summer we tried our hands are bookmaking with scrap paper and bookbinding tape. We went a little wild and ended up with a stack of blank books perfect for story writing and long holiday card/books. Now that our stash is gone, I thought we could try out Creme de la Craft's DIY Mini Notebooks Made From a Cereal Box. These books require handsewing, which is a great new skill for the two older kids to try, but I plan to revert to bookbiding tape for our toddler. The kit I put together includes flattened cereal boxes, fancy paper for binding, embroidery thread, dull embroidery needles, buttons, paper, and bookbinding tape. I also printed out Creme de la Craft's tutorial for easy reference. 

Art Pack #3: Now if you're really observant (and I know that you are), then you noticed the made by Joel Dressy Cats Holiday Set printables peeking out under the pile of bookmaking supplies pictured above. If you have not heard of Made by Joel then I think you're missing out. Joel's free coloring pages and printable templates are always awesome, and these holiday dressy cats are no exception. They include backgrounds, both in color and black and white, for Hanukkah and Christmas, and a cast of cat finger puppets (there are more dressy cats and cat accesories available for download here) to use with the background. I packed these up with markers, glitter, glue, scissors, and fabric scraps for embelishment where desired. Perfect for hours of open ended play!  

If you have read this far in to this post, then you may be interested in checking my Pinterest board for some of the other projects I have planned for our holiday vacation. And tell me... What are you doing with the kids while they are home for the holidays this year? 

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Handmade Holidays - Day 3 - Superhero Pants and Mask Sets

So today I am sharing the superhero pant and mask sets I gave to my two boys yesterday for Hanukkah. 

For the two and half year old obsessed with bathman and spiderman, I made a black felt batman mask and a pair of reversible quick change trousers with Camelot Fabrics' Marvel Retro Comic line of cotton prints. Then, going with a Thor theme for our almost five year old, I made a grey and red felt mask and a pair of treasure pocket pants (from Sewing for Boys). For the treasure pocket pants I chose Timeless Treasure's organic cotton Viking Map fabric, some grey stretch fine whale corduroy from Joann's, and a bit of brown binding for the accent on the pockets. After all, Thor was a Viking warrior! 

Both masks are inspired by these free printable superhero mask templates for kids. I say inspired because though I used the templates as a base, I changed the shapes to make them more or less like the superheroes I was trying to represent. The Thor mask is very similar to template number 4, but a bit smaller in scale. To complete the masks I simply stitched a piece of 1/2" elastic about 8" in length to either side of the felt mask front. I figure that after a few hours of use I can adjust the size with a simple snip with the scissors and some new stitiches to make them fit each boy perfectly. Noone likes a disguise that falls off mid air!

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Handmade Holidays - Day 2 - Sunday Morning Gift Pack (Vegan)

So here we are, getting ready for the second night of Hanukkah, and I am wrapping up a Sunday morning gift pack for my husband. My husband has many many skills, but I do not generally count cooking among them. However, he is an expert pancake maker, and many Saturday and Sunday mornings are spent in the kitchen with him at the griddle. The only problem (in my mind) is that his pancakes are quite predictable. Being from Maine, they are always, and I mean always, blueberry pancakes. Don't get me wrong, blueberry pancakes are great, but sometimes you just have to break out of the box, right? So this year I made him vegan pancake mixes of different flavors. The ones pictured bellow are chocolate chip and tropical (papaya, banana, coconut). If you are interested in trying some vegan pancakes yourself, then check out our familiy's basic vegan pancake recipe here. They are yummy with some pure Maine maple syrup!

After making up the mixes I packaged them in quart sized ball jars with a 5 1/2" square of fabric tied around the top for some color. On the back of the gift tags I wrote the recipe for the pancakes. Then I added some pancake molds, and a pancake pen (both purchased at William Sonoma) to complete the gift pack. After seeing Martha Stewart's spider web pancakes around Halloween I have had it in my head that we need this pancake pen. Drawing webs and letters in pancake batter? Yes, please. I think a Sunday newpaper or favorite magazine subscription would be a great addition to this gift pack, but I'm keeping this one as is for now. I hope Mr. T likes it!



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Handmade Holidays - Day 1 - Tote Bags

So we celebrate Hanukkah in our home. That means that we have a mini-celebration with dinner, candle lighting, and gifts for eight nights. This year I made myself a goal of giving at least one hadmade gift each night, and I plan to share them with you right here. 

Tonight, the first night of Hannukah, I am giving handmade tote bags filled with little goodies. My kids love bags. They appropriate paper gift bags, knitting project bags, and old school bags and fill them with stuff. Entire imaginary worlds and personas are built around the random contents of a bag. Find a bag packed days before with a pretend stethoscope, plastic alligator, and rocket ship? Perfect. Now you can be the first ever four year old doctor who travels the universe seeking out sick baby alligators to rescue. Or a rocket scientist with a pet alligator training to be a pediatrician who has a bucket of lolipops on his desk at all times. The possibilities are endless, and so are the uses for these bags.

For the simple unlined totes lined up bellow I used mostly IKEA fabric (you may recognize some of it from these pillows), and the free 20 Minute Tote Tutorial over at The Purl Bee. I added an exterior pocket to many of them, because why not? Pockets are great. 

In addition to a stack of 20 Minute Totes, I tried one lined 40 Minute Tote, also from The Purl Bee. I changed the pattern slightly, attaching the pocket to the outside of the tote instead of the lining because I like the look of the horizontal striped pocket on the vertical striped exterior. I think this tote, with its gusseted bottom, lining, and depth would make a great knitting bag, library bag, or general summer carry-all. I hope the people receiving these totes like them as much as I do! 

What are you making this year? 



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