pillows galore

We’ve been in serious need of some throw pillows in the living room for quite some time now. I finally pulled my act together and made a few. Back in September, while the boys were on their vacation, I whipped up these simple little envelope pillow cases from a few fat quarters and a little piece of embroidery that I made ages ago. Honestly the embroidery has been sitting in my stash bin for almost two years, I bet.

simple envelope pillow cases
alphabet embroidery
the striped fabric reminded me of lined paper...
envelope pillows
envelope back

I bet the pair of cases took less than an hour start to finish. And that, my friends, is all I accomplished during a week home alone. Sad, right? Plus it took two months to post about it. Hm.

Now these little cuties are a great kids project. I saw the idea on pinksuedeshoe.

leaf pillows
placemat to pillow

Took a few seconds to open the seam, 10 minutes for the boys to get bored cramming fiberfill into a tiny opening and five minutes more for me finish stuffing and resew the seam by hand. Total cost: $9 ($3 for each placemat) + $4 for a bag of fiberfill = $13.

two inches of hand sewing and viola

There’s one more pillow in progress. Isn’t the smocking at 52crafts52weeks divine? This pillow top was made following learningtofly’s tutorial and using canvas and dark blue embroidery floss.

honeycomb smocking
honeycomb smocking...love

I made a marking guide with a length of grid lined poster board and a tiny hole punch. Then used a disappearing fabric pen to mark the dots on the canvas.

grid lined poster board
grid lined poster board guide

Even thought the smocking has been finished for months, the pillow still needs a back. Soon. Soon.

Wow. A kid-free post. Can you believe it?

and the winner is…

Viking Kellan!

mommy and the winner
mommy and the winner

Just received a call from the South Carolina Aquarium. Our viking won 3rd prize in the under 3 Halloween costume competition! Who’s the proud mommy?

As if my inclination to decorate the boys for public appearances needed any encouragement…


I mean Rooooaaaar…

liam gregor
the dragon unicorn in action

and arrrgh!

kellan robert
our viking on the move

Hope everyone had a super fun Halloween. You know we did. Liam was the boss of Halloween this year. We made lots and lots of “Halloween Projects”, such as:

cheese cloth ghost
foam spider and cheesecloth web
foam pumpkin and grapevine wreath


mr. scarecrow

Liam also picked our costumes. He, obviously, was to be a dragon unicorn. Originally just a plain old dragon, but then he saw our neighbor in her unicorn costume and became obsessed with unicorns. No way mommy was making two costumes, so a dragon unicorn was conceived. The costume is a modified version of McCall’s 6185. My review is on PatternReview.com. It was a solid 11 or 12 hours of sewing, but well worth it i think. The boy really loves it.

liam gregor
check out my tail
liam gregor

Kellan was originally slated to be a butterfly, but I made a last minute executive management decision. So, with only minutes of effort on my part, namely sewing a little fur vest, our viking was good to go.

kellan robert
my candy!
kellan robert
seriously! my candy!

You’ll note that mommy and daddy seem a bit random alongside our dragon/viking combo…

mommy, liam and kellan
had to catch more than just butterflies

It was decreed that mommy would be the butterfly catcher to Kellan’s overruled butterfly.

feather butterflies
who doesn't love butterflies?

And daddy would be a giant chipmunk, natch.

what a glam chippie

It was a big time. And we’ll be eating candy for months.

bubble romper

The sweet potato had some home-made duds for the wedding too.

kellan robert
that's a lot of drool

Kellan is modeling a pleated bubble romper in handkerchief linen. The pattern is Creations by Michie 102 (here’s my pattern review)and probably the only “heirloom” sewing I’ll get to do. It may be for the best that we don’t have girls. I’d never leave the sewing machine if we did. I followed the pattern to the “T” up to the last step. Foolishly, I decided to leave the leg elastic longer than recommended. Big mistake. The legs were too loose and the romper fell over K’s knees and hampered his crawling.

kellan robert
my crawling is hampered

He was not pleased.

kellan robert
i am not pleased.

The pattern is very thorough in its instructions and the pattern pieces themselves are printed on heavy paper, which was nice. I pre-washed the linen and dried it, just as with Liam’s suit and starched it like crazy before cutting the pieces. How did I not know the joy of starch before these projects? My 1/4″ foot got a work out as many of the seams are french.

1/4" foot
straight stitch is so easy with the right foot

Overall the romper turned out well. I had some confusion about the collar detail in the back, but eventually worked it out.

center back collar
center back collar detail

Also, despite my best efforts, the collar had a slight overlap, but I can live with it.


Perhaps most importantly, both boys had lightweight clothes for the lovely (and hot!) outdoor wedding.

liam and kellan
dastardly duo

ring bearer for hire

I know I’m biased, but come on. How cute is this guy?

liam gregor

He’s a good sport too. Happily wore his “southern gentleman” costume – no complaints all night.

liam gregor
too much? it's too much, isn't it?

What a little dude. He performed his duties with aplomb. Liam marched up the aisle all by himself, wiped out and went flying then hopped up, grabbed his pillow and his hat and continued to his spot at the front. No fear. Nada.

one of the guys

There are many, many times that I wonder, “Who is this kid?” Seriously, he’s got his own thing going on. We are just taking up space in his world.

liam gregor
too cool for school

On to the details…

The hat is a re-blocked girl’s straw hat that I picked up at a thrift store. Aside: I snagged some hat blocks on Ebay. You know, ’cause I need a new hobby. I pulled off all the ribbon and trim, soaked the straw until it softened then stretched over the 19″ oval and sailor brim. Once dry, I sewed some bias tape around the brim (did a terrible job, but what can you do?) and sewed ribbon trim to the outside and folded ribbon as a hatband on the inside. Voila!

liam gregor
the hat kills me

The suit is made from medium weight linen purchased at Hancock’s following Burda 9781 (here’s my pattern review). This was far and away the most challenging sewing project I’ve tackled to date. It’s a miniature European cut suit. The jacket had over 30 pieces. Yikes! The pattern pieces were perfect and the instructions were ok. Burda assumes you’ll work out some of the basics and so skips some steps, such as sewing the jacket center back seam. I was a nervous wreck sewing this thing so freaked out over every skipped step. I made a few modifications, specifically changing the pants to cuffed shorts, omitting the lining in favor of hong kong finishing and replacing the jacket pocket flaps with double welts. I’d probably have lost my marbles and given up on the whole thing if not for my Singer Tailoring book.

liam gregor
double welt pockets

Overall I’m really pleased with the results. I think the sleeves are a little short, but our fitting sessions were limited to about 45 seconds so… Linen is a joy to sew. I pre-washed it twice in hot water and hot air dryed it to prevent (hopefully) any future shrinkage then ironed it with lots of spray starch before cutting out the pattern pieces. I LOVE STARCH! The fabric was so crisp and easy to work with. Plus, when sewing it had the perfect amount of stretch to make any eased seams painless.

The jacket’s hong kong finish looks pretty good, though I wish I’d decided on it earlier in the game. I couldn’t decide whether to line it or not and so did all the finishing after the whole jacket was constructed. Made for a lot of extra hand sewing. Speaking (typing) of hand sewing. The jacket has a hand finished blind hem (on the sleeves too). That was yet another first for me. It was not nearly as tedious as feared, was actually pretty calming.

I love the shorts. Something about shorts and a jacket is just too cute. I messed up the waistband somehow. The buttonhole side extends much to far past the center front, but I just couldn’t bring myself to redo it. I didn’t like the pattern instructions for the center back seam. Instructions had you attach the waistband then sew the CB seam, leaving a big, bulky exposed seam. It really bugged me, so I ripped it out and seamed the  CB first, then folded the waistband down to enclose the seam. Little tweak, big difference in appearance that no one but I will ever notice.

liam gregor
back view

The bow tie and suspenders really make this for me. They were so quick to make – like less that an hour total and looked fantastic. I followed the instructions for the David Bow Tie, but cut it a little smaller. The finished width is about 2″ instead of the standard men’s 2-1/2″, but the collar width is the same as a full sized tie, so the standard hardware fits.  The suspenders are just 2-1/2″ strips sewed into tubes using 1/4″ seam allowance, turned and pressed to 1″ wide and criss-crossed in back. Hancock’s had suspender clips and bow tie hardware, but no 1″ strap adjusters, so I just fit the suspenders and left extra length in the back to and an adjuster later.

liam gregor
bow tie and suspenders
liam gregor
suspender back

More fashion news tomorrow…

summer lovin’

Not much new here. Unless you count the fact that Kellan is 11 months old and standing unassisted and signing “more” and clapping and working on his 8th tooth and stuff. Otherwise, same old, same old. I mean, the fat boy is dropping most of his daytime feeds and, sure, mommy hasn’t pumped in weeks, but that’s not news. 

Well, there are the dragon raids… I guess that’s something.

daddy, liam, and kellan
my boys
liam and kellan
liam and kellan
liam and kellan
liam gregor
kellan robert
liam gregor
kellan robert

and the ever-present dragons, naturally.

liam gregor

The dragon tail (Liam’s “pikey tail”) is made loosely following Running with Scissors’ instructions. I used old tee shirts, didn’t measure anything and stuffed the spikes. The wings are from the same red tee that made the spikes and some girls knee-high socks, minus the feet, with some elastic across the back. Quick and dirty, but better than nothing. The poor kid had been running around with a towel over his head and a rubber snake down the back of his diaper whenever he played dragons. Bad mommy.

seemed like a good idea at the time

So, the big boy likes to throw things. A lot. In the house. Big things, little things, hard things, soft things. You get the idea. In efforts to minimize destruction and hold on to what little sanity I have left, I figured I should give him something appropriate for indoor tossing. Specifically, bean bags.

These would be easy and quick with stash fabric, but I took an even easier route and bought a cute charm pack from Walmart. No cutting! Just slap two 5″ charms right sides together and sew around the perimeter, leaving an inch gap for turning. Turn right side out forming a bag. Fill each bag with some small dried beans using a funnel or paper cone. I used dried split peas, because they were the cheapest, two 16oz bags of peas filled 8 bags. Top stitch the perimeter, as close to the edge as you can, closing the opening. I used the straight stretch stitch, for added durability. The simple straight stitch just looked a little weak (see the pic below).

This really works best (read: fastest) when completed in assembly line fashion. Sew all the pairs together, then turn and fill them, then topstitch each, closing the opening. Done.

bean bag
seam (1/4") around perimeter, leaving opening for turning
bean bag
turn right-side out
bean bag
add dried beans
bean bag
fill to about 2/3 full
bean bag
clean up spilt beans
bean bag
sew around perimeter, closing opening
bean bag
bean bag
full o' beans

There are probably 1,000 prettier tutorials on the web for this. It’s so easy. I finished 8 bags in under 2 hours. Probably in an hour, I wasn’t paying attention.

Well now we have these so we can redirect the boy – “Don’t throw that in the house. Throw your bean bags.” And that’s cool. But (and you experienced parents saw this a mile away, I’m sure) now we need to figure out how to get him to throw them at an appropriate target. Strangely, a bean bag to the side of the head can be startling. Sigh.

In summary, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

still pregnant

Hard to believe, but true. We had our last ultrasound almost 2 weeks ago and finally got some size info. According to the fancy-schmancy ultrasound software, NB measured above the 95th percentile in every measurement and was estimated to weigh…wait for it…8lbs-12oz. That’s 8lbs-12oz two weeks ago.

new baby

We still don’t know the gender of NB, but I’m pretty sure I just ensured us another boy. See I’ve been crazy about the ruffles and the pink and the bonnets and the booties and basically all things girlie. So I finally scratched the itch and hit the sewing machine hard.

seersucker layette

Is it too much? It’s too much, isn’t it? It all started with the bonnet…

Simplicity 3840 baby bonnet  simplicity 3840 baby bonnet  simplicity 3840 baby bonnet

Irresistible, right? It’s Simplicity 3840 and I had to. I rarely buy Simplicity patterns as the few I’ve tried haven’t come together well. But, well, look how cute! This is view F. It’s made with some pink and white striped seersucker that I had laying around (I have no idea why I had pink and white seersucker in my stash.) and some newly purchased white seersucker. The white fabric was fused to the pink and then raw edge appliquéd using the blanket stitch setting on Curvy.  Though the pattern didn’t call for it, I edge-stitched the assembled bonnet (while still flat) using the stretch stitch. The ties are fabric rather than the ribbon called for in the pattern and the buttons were made with a Dritz Cover Button kit.

bitty bootiesAlas, even the sticky cuteness of the bonnet wasn’t enough, so I moved on to booties. Heather Bailey’s Bitty Booties, to be exact.  These were made with 2 layers of seersucker rather than the called for wool felt. They require more hand sewing than machine and once again, the buttons were made with a Dritz Cover Button kit. The button loop is a hair elastic. Those things are sooo useful. And the trim at the top is whip-stitched perle cotton.

frayed ruffle buttBut what about ruffles? Who doesn’t love ruffles? On to the ruffle butt onsie… This was to be the pièce de résistance. The pinnacle of baby girl fashion. Foot after foot of 1-1/2 inch seersucker marched through my ruffler, set at 1 pleat per stitch and a stitch length of 4.

Aside: I now recognize that my life before the ruffler was empty and meaningless.

9 (or maybe 10) rows of ruffles were then attached to the butt of the onsie as shown in Fireflies and Jellybeans tutorial. The edges of the ruffles were left raw, for some fraying. I loved this onsie…then I put it through the wash. Funny thing about seersucker, it gets super crinkly and tightens up A LOT, despite having been pre-washed and dried. So, the ruffles shrunk up and looked awful and the world was a bleak and gray place.

Then I spent 20 minutes ironing the business end of a onsie, ruffle by ruffle, which is totally going to happen every time the onsie is washed. It looks ok now, but learn from my mistake – don’t use seersucker for little ruffles.

Anyway, since the ruffle butt was a complete catastrophe (good thing pregnancy hormones aren’t making me melodramatic), I needed another piece to complete the set. Enter the skirted onsie.

skirted onsie  waistband detail

Basically, I ran a wide piece of seersucker folded in half through the ruffler and attached a waistband then sewed the top of the waisband to the onsie. Here’s the step-by-step.

  1. Waistband – Cut a 3″ wide strip of fabric long enough to encircle the onsie plus 1/2″ seam allowance and sew short edges together to form a tube.
  2. Skirt – Cut a strip a strip of fabric twice the desired length of the skirt and the full width of your fabric.
  3. Fold the fabric in half, right sides together and ruffle. Be sure to leave long threads for adjusting the gather.
  4. Tweak the gathering until the ruffle length matches the waistband, plus 1/2″ seam allowance.
  5. Open the edges of the ruffle about an inch and sew into a tube. Adjust the gather at the seam.
  6. Match the skirt seam and the waistband seam and sew the skirt to the waistband. The right side of the waistband should be facing the inside of the skirt.
  7. Fold the waistband in half and fold in the remaining edge. Then attach to the front of the skirt using a decorative machine stitch.
  8. Finally, attach the top of the waistband to the onsie.

Loose instructions, I know. Best I can do though, ’cause I winged the whole thing.

Sheesh, what a chatty post. Enjoy your day.

school daze

My big boy’s first full day of “school” is today. I’m a wreck. According to the lady at daycare, whom I just called for reassurance, he’s doing fine. Still a little shy, but calmly working on his art project for the day.

We did a few hour test run on Friday and I had to watch him cry when I left. The most horrible 5 minutes of my life, thank you very much. But he was happily eating his snack with the other kids when I returned to pick him up. It actually took us 30 minutes to leave. He saw me come in, waved, and turned back to finish his snack. No grand reunion. No running into my arms. No drama whatsoever. Just a little wave, then back to the cookies and crackers.

Thankfully, I will rarely have to handle the drop off. Poor B, he’s got that job. I get to be the rescuer.

Anyway, Liam only needs a few supplies to keep at school: diapers, wipes, sippy cup, extra change of clothes (just in case), and a blanket and pillow for naptime. Gasp! I sent my sweet love monkey to school without a pillow on Friday. The horror. Fortunately Children’s Services was not called in. This time.

Three guesses what I did this weekend.

Using fabric scraps left over from Liam’s quilt and an adorable orange fat quarter from Walmart, I whipped up this 14″ square pillow in about 5 hours. I’m slow, normal people would likely have finished something this simple in 3.

liam's pillow

The one piece envelope pillowcase is removable and made similarly to this.

Liam's pillow  Liam's pillow

Basically, I made a 32″x15″ rectagle quilt then folded it and sewed the side seams. The process was as follows. First layer the quilt sandwich batting, pieced top face up, and quilt back face down. Sew the 15″ seams and turn the quilt right sides out, so that the 15″ edges are finished. Next do your quilting. I did simple straight lines at 1/2″ spacing. I did a single line of straight stretch stitch 1/2″ from the finished edges and regular straight stitch for the rest. I really like the heavy look of the straight stretch, but it seemed like a crazy waste of thread and time (took at least twice as long as the regular).

Liam's pillow  Liam's pillow

I also took the opportunity to play with the alphabet stitches on my Curvy.

Liam's pillow

Hope the cuteness of the pillow makes up for my negligence last week. Cheers!

belated project quilting pillow

So, there’s this cool quilt blog contest going on, it’s Project Quilting at Kim’s Crafty Apple. The gist is that every other week a new challenge is posted. You have one week to complete a project and post photos of the finished work. Judges and the general public then vote for their favorite.

I tried to enter for Challenge 1, but it took me three weeks to complete. So, obviously, I missed the deadline. I’m pleased with the finished pillow though and really enjoyed using the challenge constraints to kick-start some creative thinking.

project quilting season 1 challenge 1

The project requirements were to use 50 3″x5″ rectangles and a maximum of two 1/2-yard cuts of fabric to make the entire quilt.

The rectangles were all cut from stash scraps, two of 24 fabrics and two singles, and the quilt back 1/2-yard was some stash muslin. I bought the white background fabric at Walmart.

project quilting season 1 challenge 1

The pillow top pattern was inspired by the Joseph’s Coat Quilt Along at Don’t look now! Seriously, how amazing is that quilt? Even I know that I could never tackle a full-sized quilt right now, so I made a single block. Actually, I guess that’s two blocks with two extra connecting pieces,but all of the pieces are directly sewn to one 18″x18″ square of fabric. My rings are also smaller than those in the tutorial, I set my compass to a 4″ radius. When was the last time you used a compass?

project quilting season 1 challenge 1

Rather than sewing the applique by hand, I machine zigzagged 1/8″ from the edge, to allow for fraying. This technique was chosen out of fear. Fear that the points wouldn’t meet and fear that hand work would “take too long”. The rag edge definitely hides the mismatched points and gives a softer look to the finished top.

The front was quilted with the hand-quilting stitch on my sewing machine. Of course, I didn’t have my manual handy and totally guessed at settings. Used the wrong foot for most and struggled upping and upping the tensions and making a general mess of the back.  When I finally changed to a normal foot and reset the tension, the stitching was great. Finally found the manual, long after completing the pillow top and it turns out that I should have used transparent thread in the needle to make it really look hand quilting. Live and learn.

project quilting season 1 challenge 1

The back used the tiny scraps leftover from the oval pattern pieces and 1-1/2″x5″ strips. The strips were quilted in the ditch and the scraps were stitched down with random lines of quilting in normal straight stitch.

project quilting season 1 challenge 1

The seam line between the stripes and scraps was emphasized with a narrow machine stem stitch. I love the look and probably would have appliqued with it had I found it sooner.

project quilting season 1 challenge 1

The back is in two pieces, so the pillow form is removable. I suspect a white throw pillow will need a few washes… Um, please ignore the nasty, chipped polish.

project quilting season 1 project 1

Finally, the binding is double fold using most of the remaining rectangles, halved into 2-1/2″ squares and sewed into a long strip. I originally meant to round the corners of the pillow, but forgot about that idea until after I had already turned the first corner. No going back at that point. This was my first mitered binding and I even hand sewed the back, which is really surprising.

This is the first crafty thing I’ve finished in a while. Hopefully there will be more FOs appearing on the blog soon…