Monday, December 31, 2012

Christmas pajamas

Pattern:  New Look 6861 Child Pajamas
Size:  Pants size 6 with added length; Shirt size 7
Age: 8
Cost: ~ $11.00
Fabric: JoAnn
Buttons: Walmart variety pack


Trying to keep true to my self-inflicted tradition of home-made Christmas Eve pajamas, I bought this folky Christmas fabric at JoAnn during one of their 50% off sales.  The intention was to pull off two piece sets this year, but I made it about half way.  My middle son, got a new pair of flannel pajamas for a dance recital so I gave myself a pass on that one, and by the time I got to the little one on Christmas Eve, I only had enough steam for the pants.  But Monkey Pants turned out the privileged one once again.

I really liked this pattern for the traditional details.  Also because there is a girl and a boy version of the top with both short and long sleeves.  I would have made the long sleeve for her but I had a bit of confusion from the time I bought the fabric and when I went to make it.  I think I bought extra for the pants thinking they would require more than the 45" width and I bought the red snowflake fabric for the trim and maybe a camisole-type top.  When I went to cut it, I decided to use last year's size 6 pattern so I could save time on tracing out a new one, subsequently I had just enough fabric for the top with short sleeves, I used every last bit.  I even had to join two pieces for the inside facing and use a the trim color for the sleeve bands.  But I thought it turned out pretty cute.

And here is my littlest guy showing off his pajama pants.  The trim at the bottom is not part of the pattern but very easy to add.  I made my own instead of using piping trim.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Santa's workshop

My sewing studio is now Santa's workshop.  Look, I'm even wearing a green sweater. Which is totally coincidental. I'm really not trying to look like an elf.

I was forced to put the door back on my sewing room, which I had previously taken out as it just got in the way, and so that I could keep a better eye on the kids.  Unfortunately, it has no handle, so I've covered up the hole with a bag.  I know.  Really efficient.  It's more stressful this way, every time I think the kids are coming and they might discover everything I'm making.  If I had a knob with a lock, it would just be too easy.

This is a trunk my dad made for me when I was in high school. It was covered with some old Victorian-looking upholstery fabric which was totally OK at the time.  We stripped it all off and I'm re-inventing it as a treasure chest for the kids for Christmas.  There's been decoupaging (for the first time), power-stapling (for the first time), elastic ruching (for the first time), and last-minute stressing which is just par for the course.  Hope to have time to post more finished projects after the holidays.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Lalaloopsy birthday party

For Monkey Pants eighth birthday, I did a smallish party.  I'm not much for all out theme parties, but I like to have a general idea to motivate the cake design and colors.  I decided on Lalaoopsy

Keeping the cake simple is always a goal these days. I used a couple of ideas from Pintrest like the rainbow colored fruit ca bobs and I couldn't resist the milk bottle drinks with ridiculously expensive paper straws. I couldn't resist OK!

[Tip: Novelty milk bottles are ridiculously priced. I used a coupon and bought Starbucks coffee in these glass bottles for a lot cheaper. My husband didn't mind drinking all the coffee. I'm more of a tea person.  The labels came off easily.  I used these contact paper chalk board labels for names, which also come off with no residue].

For lunch, I made pigs in blanket with croissants (I don't know why they're not on that orange tray), sweet potato fries in individual containers, and some assorted sweets like microwave carmeled popcorn.  Strawberry flavored milk was a big treat for my kids, if not for the guests.

By the time I went to cut the cake, I thought my cake had started to fall apart. Come to find out, certain little monkey fingers had been picking fondant buttons, sugar pearls, and even stripes off the cake and eating them!  Fondant cake is her first knowledge of cakes.  I still have to explain to her that the candles are not edible.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Paperback Writer Pants

Fabric: Green Corduroy (less than a yard, JoAnn Fabrics 50% off)
Fabric Price: ~$4.00
Notions: 1 snap, 2 rivets, 1 recycled zipper
Size: 92cm with length of 98cm
Child's Age: 5
[Shirt: Tea Collection, Shoes: Simple]
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With the success of the Funky Boy Jeans, I was eager to make some more pants for my growing little boy's fall/winter wardrobe.  He's forgotten all about the existence of pants after wearing shorts all summer.  This one didn't go as smoothly as the jeans.  Not because they were harder. I guess, I was feeling over-confident and was only running my brain on partial power.  I sewed the zipper before the center back/front seams, then the fronts didn't line up with the zipper closed. But no matter, I fixed it all and they are darling!  I think this is the last year I can say that about his clothes.  I really love the green.  What a breath of fresh air. And finally he has something that goes with these darn shoes!  They went with nothing he had in his closet before.

I also decided to get some of this belt material while notions were on sale at JoAnn's to make him a belt. The home-made pants are a transition from the store-bought pants with the hidden, adjustable, elastic waist, and the faux leather belt I bought him is really bulky on his slender frame.  It was pretty easy to make, just two D-rings and finishing off the ends of the belt.

For some reason, the pockets I cut were bigger than the width shown by the pocket placement markings on the back side of the pants. I checked and couldn't find that I made a mistake.  Not sure if this was a pattern error. So, I did raise the position of the back pockets on these about a centimeter or two.  And I'm glad I did.

I added a rivet to either side of the front pockets.  Just a little detail to polish them off.

I originally bought this back issue because I loved and wanted to make the wool, boys' peacoat.  But I've been pleasantly surprised to find how many other things I want to make from the magazines now.  At the same time, I'm a little disappointed to see how many patterns seem to be repeated.  In the last issue, there is a pair of green cords almost identical to the ones I had just completed!  Albeit, I understand, sometimes there is a difference in fit.  The ones here from the 6/2010 issue are quite fitted.  I think the ones (#17) in the 6/2012 issue may be more roomy with a straight leg. 

[from 6/2012 #17]

Friday, November 2, 2012

Funky Boy Jeans

Pattern: Ottobre 4/20102 Funky Boy Jeans #21
Fabric:  Grey stretch denim (less than a yard)
Fabric Price: ~$6.40
Size: 92cm with length of 98cm
Child's Age: 5
[Shirt: Gap]
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I'm really loving these jeans! This is the second pair of pants I've made from Ottobre for my little boy.  I loved the spread in the magazine, even if I wasn't entirely convinced by the huge and low hanging back pockets. 


He's a skinny and little guy for his age, so the store-bought jeans he has, I have to cinch up the elastic-pulls on the inside of the waistband to the max. Then they are all gathered and puckered up at the waist and baggy throughout. Not very comfortable either. These fit perfect with only a litlle bit of slack in the waist.  And don't they look fabulous with these red sneackers his Tio Pedro gave him for his birthday.  It's almost like I did it on purpose.

For some reason, they were a cinch to sew.  I must have been following the instructions quite diligently.  Everything lined up.  There was no un-picking of seams.  I didn't line the pockets with cotton as the denim was pretty thin anyway and he's skinny enough that a bit of bulk is better than no bulk.  I did mess up a little: I pressed the inseams to the back instead of the front but not a big deal, and I forgot to top-stitch the front crotch. My bar tacking is a little skiwampus. I can't seem to get a grip for where it's going to start and where it's going to stop but still, I'm loving these pants.

Love the front pockets with the binding on the edges. Although, I did buy a double needle in anticipation of the double top-stitching, I didn't even use it.  It didn't occur to me I would need two spools of the same color thread. Duh.  But really, I was just too lazy at the thought of having to change the needle back and forth, so I just eye-balled it.

I would really like to make the jacket pictured above but the local fabric stores are not cooperating.  Really? Why can't they sell sweatshirt fleece and ribbing in the same colors?  Is that just too much to ask.  I'm going out on a more extensive search right now after a run to the library three cities away.  I better load up on some food and coffee or something to help me get through it.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Barbarian Warrior

Pattern: Simplicity 5520
Size: 3
Total fabric cost: ~ $15.00
Shoes: Walmart mud boots $15.00
[Pattern does not include pants, sparkly black leggings size 4-5 girls, Walmart $4.97]

This year's Halloween costumes were pretty much decided on in the spring when I made a Renaissance princess costume for Monkey Pants school festival. The pattern I bought, Simplicity 5520, had a costume for a knight and a warrior, which I figured would work out just great for the two little brothers. I even bought all the fabrics for the other two costumes and they've been waiting for me to make them all this time. However, last month, I was at Costco and they had a slew of pretty fantastic costumes for about $24. There were two different knight costumes and I folded and bought one for my older son. I was planning for his birthday at the time, and this seemed like an excellently intelligent choice which would save my time, energy and sanity. Right? Ok, maybe not save my money, though.
I was quite surprised by these totally non-directed poses from my 2 1/2 y.o.  Normally, he just shuts his eyes or looks away when I try to take a picture.  There were even more menacing grimaces and stances but the knock-knees weren't as intimidating in those shots.

Still, there was the warrior costume to be made for the little guy. I was not looking forward to it too much. It seemed pretty involved. I traced and cut the pattern out Thursday night, started cutting out the fabric Saturday and figured on tackling it a little bit at a time each night until Halloween. Then my friend calls me and tells me she's having a Halloween party Saturday night. Scratch the leisurely sewing plans. I worked on it pretty much all day Friday. Why does it have to be like this? That's OK, it got done and it turned out fabulous. The only sad thing is that he'll only be able to wear it this year as the size 3 unexpectedly turned out to be quite snug on my, uh what is he? --32-month-old. I would have liked to have gotten more mileage out of it.
Immediately goes for the de-capitation axe swing. This boy doesn't even know what an axe is.  I guess some boys are just born barbarians.

Ok, this costume, compared to the queen costume, much more time consuming. But it was so different, that I didn't mind it.  I didn't use the silver lame fabric for the chest plate the pattern calls for. I used a stretchy metallic instead.  It worked just fine. The fabrics were fun. I will say, I think this pattern fit too tight. The helmet goes on top of another head piece which was way small on him and couldn't fasten with velcro around the bottom of his chin.  I left it hanging and it's not a big deal.  Luckily, the helmet fit OK as the pattern combines sizes three and four for that.  I wasn't able to put velcro on the back of the armour and had to use small hooks instead.  My son is not large or too rotund for his age, so I didn't expect this. I also omitted the buckle on the belt part just because I thought it looked better without it.

Ironically, now I really want to make the knight costume, but have no need or reason to except that I already have all the fabric.  This is NOT a good money-saving strategy.

Knight costume from Costco, Renaissance princess and Warrior sewn from Simplicity 5520.

We added some jewelry, a scepter, and a crown, to step it up from princess to queen for Monkey Pants costume.  I wish the crown was gold, but no such luck this time. We didn't have time for make up, but we might do some fake eyelashes and a little sparkle for Halloween.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Marinara Sauce

Two years ago, I decided to make a small square foot gardening area in our back yard.  (If only I could find the pictures).  We're not huge lovers of vegetables, but we try.  This was our second year of tomatoes, and this time, I planted less and decided I would try to can them instead of trying to eat them all once they were ripe.  It was the year of canning, I guess.  I ended up canning apricot jam from my mom's back yard (also hurt my back for a month after picking those), apple sauce from my mom's back yard, and marina sauce from our tiny garden.  It was a hot process.  Next year, maybe I'll try freezing instead.

Time for involved things like this is scarce.  It usually comes down to, "Oh no, the tomatoes we picked last week are going to go bad.  We need to do this today!" So, I found a simple recipe online. You put the following ingredients: tomatoes, onions, garlic, basil, salt and pepper in the oven and then blend them. (That was mostly so I wouldn't have to peel them).

My sauce turned out kind of an orange color rather than a deep red.  I think it's because I put the tomatoes in the oven instead of in a pot over the stove.  But the taste was surprisingly good.  Simple and very fresh tomato-y.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Velma Vintage Skirt

Fabric: Heather Bailey, Nicey Jane, Picnic Bouquet - lagoon (less than a yard)
Fabric Price: ~$10.00
Size: Oops, I don't remember
Child's Age: 7
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This was a pretty simple skirt to make.  A large floral pattern is a must. It still calls for a hidden zipper, but other than that, the construction was quite fun, I think mostly do to the rick rack.  I don't use that very often, and of course on this pattern, it really makes the skirt.  It was tough deciding what color to use.
Monkey Pants used to be a skirts only girl, then a leggings only girl, and now a shorts only girl.  But she will make an exception here and there.  This pose was quite unexpected.

I didn't make the top so we had to make do with this plain, boring white t-shirt for the photos.  I also didn't have the yardage called for the width of skirt and didn't want to cut into a whole new yard of the fabric so it is slightly less full than it should be. I didn't want to have side seams interrupting the floral print either.  This is probably the "cutest" thing in her wardrobe right now.

Loved this when she wore it to a symphony in the park with the cabled taupe sweater.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Super B-day Party

Now that I'm a mom of three young kids, my enthusiasm for attempting to make 3D cakes, planning birthday parties, and waking up in general, has gone out the window.  I've been trying to keep it kind of low-key lately on these things.  However, my food-allergies-son turned five and now that he has outgrown some of his food allergies such as milk, soy and eggs, I can no longer hide behind the excuse for not making him a cake.  So this was to be his big I-can-now-eat-cake celebration.  I obliged him with a real cake and a real party.

I always get a bit nervous about birthday parties no matter how "simple" I tell myself I'm going to make it.  My son has been feeding me his birthday party expectations ideas since the moment his fourth birthday party was over. Expectations Ideas, I couldn't possibly meet.  The problem is, he has an incredible memory and I knew he would remember each and every one of his requests.  A few days before his birthday, he drew me a picture of him with his birthday cake.  It was a 3-tier cake!  The day before, he offered to help me by writing a to-do list. I told him I would have a nervous breakdown if he did any such thing.  He really, really wanted to help though, so I told him he could put a total of one item on the list.  He wrote, "Mom make cak".

Yup that's him.  That's my boy.  He can strike a pose. No problem in that department.
(There were fuscia capes too for the girly-girls).

My inspiration was a visit to the library a couple months ago, where he and his 7-year-old sister discovered a bunch of capes on hooks for dress up and imaginative play.  They varied from kings, queens, and knights, to superheroes, to vampire and much more.  They couldn't get enough of them.  I thought this would be a great sewing project and gift idea for Christmas. Then I saw these from Kiwi Crate.  Then I dug up this mental pin (I can't get around to ever using Pinterest) for an invitation card from shim + sons that I had thought was so cute and non-obnoxious for a superhero themed party.  I tied it all together and came up with a superhero party where the kids got to put together their own capes using sticky felt cut-outs.  I sewed the capes and cut out some basic shapes and put them in styrofoam food containers (I have a lot of them) with a sticker with each kid's name. It was a success. Yay! The capes came in under $5.00/ea.

A week later, they were invited to an Avenger's party. They were all set to go with their capes.  Monkey Pants even thought it would be a good idea to wear it to get her flu shot.  The cape would give her the power of courage not to cry when she got the shot. So cute.