Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Lions at the Class Picnic

After a little sewing break, I started on something for ME! But then I royally screwed it up and it's now waiting for a date with my seam ripper. So then I decided to make something for Elsie, since she only got one little ol' dress out of the whole PR&P deal. I was very glad to just follow a pattern- no drafting, altering or major design decisions involved. It's the Class Picnic blouse and shorts pattern from Oliver & S. This pattern is making the rounds lately, especially the shorts. It's easy to see why, because no matter what fabric you make them in, they are undoubtedly the cutest shorts ever.

For the shorts I just used Robert K's indigo denim from Sewn. It's so nice to sew with. I wanted these to be basic and go with everything, but next time I'll try a fun contrasting fabric on the trim, or even Cindy's awesome ruffle variation. (See, I can get down with some ruffles!) Don't know why the shorts look puckered on the right here. They aren't, promise.

The top is Ed Emberly's Lions from Cloud 9, which I got here. Apparently, they only have 133 yards of it left, so act fast! I might have to go back and get those dragons soon too. I used a contrasting green front yoke with white piping underneath.

The blouse is perfect for our Elsie, who growls like an animal ALL DAY LONG. It's weird. And precious.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Purse Palooza 2012

Just popping in on this hot and beautiful holiday to tell you guys about a big blog event coming up. Should be loads of fun. Also, I'd like to say THANK YOU so much for all your sweet words about my Nanny and the PR&P win. I wasn't able to reply to each one like I wanted to, but you have no idea how much it meant to me! My grandfather and parents enjoyed reading through the comments as well. Thank you again!

Announcing Purse Palooza 2012!!
This is a fun event, which I will be guest posting for in June over at Sew Sweetness to get you sewing a purse for the summer! Here's how it works:

 1. Every weekday in June, there will be 2 amazing guest bloggers scheduled to share with you a purse sewing pattern review. The review will contain detailed information about what they thought about the sewing pattern, modifications they made, what kind of interfacing they used, and more! Get inspired!

 2. Even more exciting...THERE WILL BE A GIVEAWAY EVERY WEEKDAY IN JUNE! That's right, 20 GIVEAWAYS! Your Giveaway Fairy Godmother is Kim from My Go-Go Life - she has some unbelievable giveaways planned.

3. At the end of the event, you will get a chance to show off your purse in order to win some amazing prizes!

My free tutorial: The Underwater Stripes Bag
Contest Rules

1. Check out all the purse pattern reviews throughout the month and get inspired to sew up a purse of your own!

2. Join the Purse Palooza 2012 Flickr Group.

 3. Link up your completed purse to the Flickr Group BETWEEN JUNE 4th and JULY 11th. Your purse must be created and photographed between those dates; purses made prior to June 4, 2012 will be disqualified. The purse may be of your own design, or made from a sewing pattern.

 4. You may link up to 2 views of the same purse. More than 2 photos of the same purse will be removed from the group.

 5. There is no limit to how many purses you may enter, as long as they were made between June 4th and July 11th, 2012.

My free tutorial: The Urban Jungle Bag

The Prizes First off, there will be a team of lovely judges that will choose 1st through 6th place. ALSO, 3 randomly chosen winners will be picked out of EVERYONE who completes a bag! Some great chances to win!!

  1st Prize
* $50 gift certificate from Fat Quarter Shop         
* 3-pack of books from Martingale Publishing * $50 gift certificate to Zipit * $70 Pellon gift pack * fat quarter bundle and sewing pattern from Art Gallery Fabrics

2nd Prize
* fat quarter bundle and sewing pattern from Art Gallery Fabrics * 3-pack of books from Martingale Publishing * fabric bundle from Sew Fresh Fabrics * $30 gift certificate to Spoonflower 

  3rd Prize
* fat quarter bundle from Art Gallery Fabrics * 2-pack of books from Lark Crafts Publishing * $20 gift certificate to The Quilted Castle 

  4th Prize
* fat quarter bundle from Art Gallery Fabrics 

  3 Randomly Chosen Winners
Pink Chalk Fabrics 
$20 gift certificate to Pink Chalk Fabrics 

Aren't those prizes amazing? You know you want a new summer bag anyway. Or three to five new summer bags. Check out this post for more info on the great guest bloggers and the patterns being reviewed.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

I Work In a Pretty Place

You heard me talk a lot about Sewn Studio during the contest, but I don't think I've ever shown you much of it. (You'll have to excuse the sorry iPhone pictures, which don't really do it justice.) They were just so supportive of me, it reminded me how blessed I am to work with people who really get the whole sewing obsession.

 Isn't that a pretty apron Rachael made?

Reading lounge 

Solids corner- a personal favorite as far as corners go. 

All dots. (and my chevron pinwheel quilt, the kits for which have sold out thanks to a recent Pinterest bump. Sent to Canada even!)

Can o' laminates

All the Oliver & S patterns, neatly tempting me from one place.

And right now you can see all my PR&P creations on display in the window! It's really cool to see it there in my own neighborhood when I drive by the shop all the time. I should really add "have a window display of my work" to some sort of life list or something so that I can retro-actively cross it off :)

Have a great Memorial Day weekend everyone!

Monday, May 21, 2012


This is a little bit unbelievable to me... Or a lot unbelievable. The big news is that I'm the WINNER of the 4th season of Project Run & Play! Can you believe it? Well, no, because it's a pretty low level of believability, which we've already been over :)


The last time I won something based on merit was in first grade. It was the fire prevention poster contest and I drew a picture of my middle school brother and his friend burning down the woods (really happened) and captioned it, "Don't play with matches." Straight and to the point. I got to pick out any bike I wanted from Kmart for my prize. It was pretty much the raddest.

But how often do you get an opportunity to win something like this as an adult? The whole competition has been crazy, stressful, and fun. But most of all, it's given me more confidence in what I can do than I've had since I was a kid. And that would have been true even if I didn't win it.

Even so, the VERY best thing about this experience has been the ginormous amounts of love and support I've felt from my friends (both in-the-flesh and intewebs) and family. It's crazy how much you guys wanted me to win this thing... I can think of a couple of you that were even more obsessed with checking the votes than me!

And my fellow designers were so talented and worked very hard, which is what made competing so much fun. I was always so excited to see what they had come up with each week. I know I could definitely learn a ton from KikiChelise, and the Sew Together girls!


When Liz and Elizabeth first asked me to be in this season, maybe back in February, I honestly thought they had emailed the wrong person by mistake. I had to read it like 13 times to figure out they were really talking about me. I still felt like a major rookie at making kid's clothing, especially girl stuff and I could think of at least 2 dozen other bloggers who would be better. Plus, my sewing focus had really been on quilting since last summer. I was completely intimidated, but my husband and mom really encouraged me to do it. I said yes of course, totally thinking I'd be one of the early outs but it might be fun to challenge myself creatively a little.

Before the competition got started, I considered backing out for various reasons, but someone always did something amazing and supportive to get rid of all my excuses. Nathan offered his superior camera skills and he and Edie let me use their beautiful daughter as a model. My boss offered to sponsor me with whatever materials I needed from the shop, which was a HUGE blessing. Rachael very graciously gave me a giant bag full of materials from her own stash, PLUS a gift card to another fabric store. My husband started taking the kids out of the house for me to have extra sewing time without ever complaining. Kristin offered to be a sounding board when I needed to vent or obsess about details. My parents were a huge help in numerous ways, and my friend Julie made it her mission in life to see me succeed. I really have all of you guys to thank for making this happen!


Ok, now I'm totally going to copy Danielle from last season and give you a list of fun tomfoolery from behind the scenes:

  • I never sketched out my designs, and I almost never stuck to my original plans for each challenge. I would always think of something completely different to do at the last minute.
  • After the first two challenges, I was sewing week to week and taking the photos on Thursday mornings, turning in my posts past due on Thursday nights.  
  • The most stressful part was always getting good photos in time. In the chevron skirt shoot, Lily was actually sick with chicken pox. Huh? Yes, those. 
  • I'm a pretty slow sewer for someone who isn't a beginner. Especially when I would let myself watch TV or drink wine while sewing :)
  • Both of my kids and my husband had their birthdays over the course of the contest. As you might guess, poor Elsie's first birthday party was not quite as spectacular as her brother's
  • I tried to keep up with feeding my kids decent food, but my own diet was horrible the whole time. Once I just had chocolate chips for dinner. I have some poundage to lose now!
  • Somehow the elastic casing on Hendrix's Drive jeans never got sewn up. Still hasn't...
  • I made a muslin or practice version of almost every garment. 
  • Hendrix HATED doing fittings for the clothes. I had to bribe him with a lot of candy, but then afterward I would forget to give it to him and he would go back to his new babysitter: the TV. 
  • I am extremely unorganized and didn't really take time to clean up my sewing space(s) between projects. This resulted in ridiculous amounts of time wasted just looking for things. Guess I should get started on that mess today...

If you will indulge me, I have one more thing to share with you. This is my grandmother, my "Nanny," Connie McTaggart. She passed away the Thursday morning before last from complications with breast cancer. I live in Ohio, away from all my family in Florida and the last time I saw her was in January, right after she had a mastectomy. She was doing so well, just so strong and we all thought for sure that she would be around a lot longer. 

She took kind of quick turn for the worse and my parents called that morning saying it didn't look good. I bought a plane ticket out of Cincinnati right away and left for the airport 30 minutes later. She died when I was on my way. I got on that plane with Elsie, me a complete mess and her with some kind of stomach bug. After taking me to the airport, Nick immediately took the Drive pictures of Hendrix and spent the afternoon editing them and uploading them for me. I was in FL mourning with my family, and he was making sure that I could go on in the competition, which was amazing. He then made the 17 hour drive down with Hendrix to join us on Sunday, and he sang at her funeral on Monday. 

All weekend I was thinking I would just drop out. I had nothing sewn, no time to do it, and it didn't seem to be all that important anymore. But at my grandparent's church on Sunday and at the funeral, a couple of different friends of hers came up to me and told me how much she had been bragging on me and my creative sewing. They said she was so proud of me. 

She was an amazingly crafty woman. She was a lot like some of us bloggers, always learning a new craft, moving onto the next project, cranking out beautiful things. In the past, she sold her creations to pay for her kid's college educations and things like that. But in the last few years, she only sewed for charity. She made quilt after quilt after quilt just to give away to people in need. She was always encouraging me to do more of that. She read my blog religiously and would sometimes comment or email me about it. She was rooting for me in the competition. 

So, after the four of us drove back up together, 20 hours (car trouble this time) on Tuesday, I got up on Wednesday morning and started my signature looks, with just one day to finish them. I was very tired, and very doubtful as to whether they were even going to turn out well or not. But I thought a lot about Nanny and the rest of my family rooting for me. She was a beautiful and inspirational person, with a quick tongue and the best giggle ever. I'm glad to know she was proud of me, and would be proud today.

...Geez Louise, did I make you guys cry or what? 

Well if you are new here, I hope the sappy doesn't scare you off and you'll stick around- I feel like I have a lot more ideas to share now! 

Thank you so much everyone for this amazing experience!

Friday, May 18, 2012

PR&P Week 6- Small Town Summer

Well hi. I have so many feelings right now that I don't even know how to begin this post... so I'll just quit the melodrama and explain that this is the very last week of Project Run and Play- the finale! I will say that I feel like I'm at the end of a mini pregnancy or something- In some ways it flew by, but mostly I feel like I just climbed a mountain for 6 weeks to get here. Now my baby's coming and I'm nervous as heck :)

I don't think I knew what my signature look was before competing in Project Run & Play. I kinda knew what I liked, and I definitely knew what I didn't like, but I never thought of myself as being a designer that had my very own defined style. Nothing like 6 intense weeks of eating, sleeping, and breathing children's clothing to help you figure that out...

 First and foremost, my style is wearable. It's real, easy, comfortable and practical clothing. Nothing fussy or over the top, just clothes for running and playing in.  Second, my designs are bold and stylish. I take a lot of inspiration from pop culture and the world of grown-up fashion. But it still looks like it belongs on a child. To me, it's a wonderful challenge to translate modern trends into something that is perfectly sweet and young. Using unexpected combinations of fabrics and design elements is probably my favorite part of designing.

Lastly, my style is crafty. I feel like that word can have negative connotations when it comes to fashion, but there is really no other way to put it. I like using details that take a lot of extra care and time. Whether it's piecing fabric together, painting on it, manipulating it in a new way, or carefully hand stitching on it, it's important to me that my craftsmanship really shows when you take a closer look.

So this week I created two looks which I think embody all those things. The first is a simple bright dress using bits of a great new fabric line called Summersville by Lu Summers. I used a layer cake from Sewn Studio. It has a patchwork yoke, which I pieced into a point in the front and a curve around the back, joined by red buttons at the shoulders. The teal bodice Moda Bella Horizon Blue from Sewn, and  is gathered under the yoke and then twirls out to a full circle skirt in beautiful textured linen. (The black Essex linen is some of my favorite fabric ever- backordered at Sewn, but should be in soon!) 

 I added appliqu├ęs of small town scenes from the prints in that same line all the way around the hem, and echoed the doodle-y feel of the designs in my red stitching around each one. You can follow the squiggly red line all the way around the sweet little town. 

Of course, I had to sew for my boy Hendrix as well this week, because that's kinda my thing too. I just love making boy clothes! I made him a comfy knit muscle tee in heather red and gray, with a pocket I hand stitched on in black perle cotton. The shorts are made from a super-hip vintage sheet that I was elated to find. (Got it at this awesome shop.) The triangle design and bold colors are just too perfect, and I'm pretty happy with how I matched up the large print at the seams to keep it looking continuous all the way around the shorts. 

It's funny how even after all this, I'm still much more comfortable making boy clothes. I guess it's because that's what got me started. But I also like the challenge of it because I feel like you have to be more creative to think of ways to make it special. 

I thought I should show you a brief reminder of my past looks, because you really can't get an idea of my style without all of them. Here are some more things I notice about what I've made:

  • I like to use black/white/grays paired with bright colors. 
  • I apparently have an affinity for my buttonhole foot. 
  • I've made one item in knits for every single look but the first. You just can't make the very comfiest kid clothes until you embrace the knits.
  • I like making separates and different types of garments. This week's dress is only the second I've made in the whole competition.
  • Most of these outfits could be translated into a stylish adult version. (Or were meant to be that in the first place.)
  • I'm not big on accessories. My goal was always to make clothes that speak for themselves. 
  • I freakin love that scorpion jacket. Favorite thing I've ever made ever. 
  • I like upcycling when it serves my purpose. I did it several times outside of the earth day challenge.
  • I do take a lot of inspiration from vintage styles, but not the ultra-sweet and florally kind of vintage. I like a mod feel, with graphic elements and bold colors that are a bit mid-century. 
  • I used my quilting skills a few times, but not in ways that look too "quilty," if you know what I mean.
  • I did not use one ever-loving ruffle. 
  • Did I mention how much I love that jacket?

I mentioned that I like to look at adult fashion for inspiration. Which is funny because I do not dress fashionable AT ALL. During the competition, I didn't really look at children's clothing sites, but I did read a lot of TLO. I've always read it religiously, but it was so fun to think of it more as a source for pieces to the fashion puzzle. You should read it- entertaining, educational, and hilarious.

That's all for now about me and my style, though I'm sure I'll more to tell you about behind the scenes shenanigans after this is all over. I can't tell you how encouraging so many of you have been to me. It's an incredible feeling and I'll always be grateful for how much you and this experience have helped me grow creatively. I'm SO relieved, but also a little sad the competitive making is over.

Enough talk, go VOTE! This is for all the marbles my friends!

Friday, May 11, 2012

PR&P Week 5: Drive Inspired

Here's the thing about me and movies: I'm like a guy when it comes to movies. I like intense movies with good plot twists and fast car chases and even a tasteful amount of gunfire. I also enjoy a little Ryan Gosling, so in that way I suppose I'm all girl. Recently my husband and I rented a movie that was the perfect cocktail of all these elements called "Drive." It's fantastic. The maniacal gangsters, the speeding cars, the weird eighties synth soundtrack, the romantic tension on an elevator, and of course the Gosling element. And OH, the scorpion jacket. I had other ideas for what to make this week, things from movies you might feel a little more nostalgic about... but I kept coming back to this quilted satin driving jacket with a stinkin gold scorpion on the back. I NEEDED to make this jacket.

When you hear "quilted satin jacket" cool is not the first thing that comes to mind. In fact, a quilted jacket is normally something I would probably make fun of a little. But come on, this thing is just badass. I've never sewn anything with satin before, but after shopping in the prom fabrics section for my 3yo boy for this stuff, there was no going back. It snags and frays really easily, so I just had to be careful of that. I cut out my jacket pattern pieces first, out of the satin and Pellon fleece lining from Sewn Studio. I quilted those two layers together with a diamond grid on each piece, then put them all together, adding black piping around the sleeve seams. I made a lining in black cotton from the same pattern and connected it to the jacket when I added all the black ribbing. The basic pattern I started with was the 2-in-1 jacket from the book Sewing For Boys, also available at Sewn. (I love that book!)

The scorpion is just acrylic paint. I made a freezer paper stencil of the original with an exacto knife so I could get the exact shape and placement right on the jacket. Then I went back in and added shading in some areas with a darker shade of gold. In person, the brush strokes almost give the illusion of thick embroidery stitches.

My husband obviously thinks this is the coolest thing I have ever created. I would have a hard time arguing with him. Did you notice Hendrix's hair is a bit more Gosling-esque? He has always had longish curly hair. I keep it trimmed myself regularly, but he has never has a real short boy haircut. I convinced Nick to get it cut for our photoshoot and I love it! So handsome and ready for sweaty summer. Nick was so helpful this week and very enthusiastic about recreating the feel of the movie in the photoshoot, which he totally did. (You know, minus blood splatters all over the jacket!)

The t-shirt I made by cutting from an old shirt of mine that happened to have that perfect button neckline, just like what he wears in the movie. I also made slim 5-pocket jeans from dark wash Robert Kaufman denim from Sewn. That is the nicest denim EVER to sew with.

I'm so happy with this thing, and really excited that I got to sew for my boy again in the competition. I need to go watch some Drive right about now. Ok, I'll probably wait for naptime, I'm NOT that neglectful of a parent- even during Project Run & Play :)

You can go vote right here!