Simple Holiday Stockings

A few years ago, when my oldest had just turned 1, I made holiday stockings for myself, my son, and my husband based on a tutorial from fabricworm. They turned out great – it was such a fun project! Check it out (forgive the blurry, it’s an old photo!):

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So, now that my daughter is a year old, I’m stuck with a dilemma. Since I got laid off, our finances haven’t been fantastic, so, I was putting off the stocking situation. I’ve been out looking for fabric (while also applying for jobs), and honestly couldn’t find any that I liked that fit in with the existing stockings, which only take about a yard total between lining, cuff, and main fabric. I want something classic, but unique, something that can grow up with her.

Last spring, in a more fluid time, I picked up a couple of pre-cut stacks of Christmas fabrics from Moda’s Basic Grey line (my favorite designer); one is a stack of Honeycombs (hexagons), and one is a charm pack. I also have 2 half yards of two different shades of red Kona cotton on hand thanks to my sister’s Christmas gift a few years ago (she totally feeds my sewing habit for me! lol) So, I could make a Christmas stocking for my daughter from a bunch of hexagons of awesome Christmas fabrics. Or even a simple red Kona cotton stocking with Honeycombs for accents – maybe on the cuff, heel, and toe (and yes, that is little miss grabby-hands grabbing the stack – she loves playing with my fabric lol):

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The problem with these options is that a) I’d really like to hang onto the pre-cuts for bigger quilt projects if I can. Also b) the other 3 stockings are made from 2 different fabrics, with a trim accent, and c) I’d like to keep all four consistent, rather than having one made of lots of different fabrics, not to mention d) my son might get jealous of her (possibly) “fancier,” more elaborate, stocking.

My third option is to just go buy a cheap stocking from Target and make her one that is consistent with the other 3 later, when I can afford to be picky about fabric. What do you guys think?

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Project Completed

A project that took two years to complete…! But finally, done! =)

It is a Waldorf-style soft doll, with a cotton knit body and 100% natural wool stuffing. Hand-embroidered face, multi-colored wool yarn hair, and hand-felted & sculpted head.

The principle behind Waldorf dolls and education is simple, all-natural materials and organic (naturally-flowing – not the organic you think of regarding food), imaginative play. The simplicity of the face is so the child who adopts the doll can imagine it as expressing any emotion and being a true companion who mirrors their experiences. I just think the simple faces look so sweet! And the reason for the 100% wool stuffing is because it retains warmth, so Waldorf dolls really are excellent cuddle buddies!

Next time, I plan to use a heavier knit and pre-sew the leg- and arm-joints so they are easier to stuff; the knit fabric got holes in it rather quickly, even though I used ball point needles. I’m going to whip up a couple simple outfits for the doll next, and secure its hair more tightly to the head… Anyways. Fun project! Quite a challenge though…!

I’d like to credit Bungalow Bear’s Etsy shop, my sister Anne, & Weir Crafts for supplies. Also, Weir Crafts, Echoes of a Dream, and Meg McElwee’s awesome book, Growing Up Sew Liberated, for tutorials, patterns, and instructions. I am not sponsored by any of these companies, nor do I work for them, but they all provided excellent instruction and quality fabrics and materials. My sister Anne is the one who got me started thinking about this style of doll in the first place, so here she is!

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I just think she turned out so sweet. I love the funky, multi-colored hair too. I didn’t style it as I was making the wig, I just crocheted a wig cap from worsted-weight wool yarn, and cut lots of strands the same length, hooking them into the cap. Having the strands all the same length is what created the shaggy sort of layered look it has. It reminds me a rock star! I think it’s awesome. Next time I might try a little harder to get them all the same length, but for my first time I really just wanted to learn the technique and not worry about things like making sure all the hair strands were the same length.

Well, so she’s done! And I’m so happy. I can’t wait until the kids see her on Christmas morning! I hope they love her. 🙂

Update!

I made the overalls and shirt for this doll out of Meg McElwee’s book as well and have plans to use a lengthened version of the blouse pattern for a flannel nightgown:

 

 

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I used some denim I already had on hand for the overalls, which I really did not cut wrong, intending to have them be two-tone when I cut the fabric. ::shiftyeyes:: (mental note: always make sure you’re cutting on the correct side of the fabric…). These were a bit of a pain, as this wasn’t thin denim, this was standard, heavy bottom weight denim I had bought as a remnant, and it is just unwieldy in this scale.

Denim is great, don’t get me wrong. I have never been fond of it for sewing, or for anything besides jeans (and I really don’t like stiff jeans at all), however, and this just confirmed it for me. This particular denim was very thick and stiff, not really conducive to maneuvering into tiny turned straps, as once i had more than two layers to sew through, my machine fought me every step of the way (even on the heavyweight woven setting!). As a result, I did not enjoy working with it for this, and kind of wish I’d gone less “authentic” and used a lightweight chambray – so keep that in mind if you decide to make your own dolly overalls – get a thinner denim, and make sure you can manipulate the fabric easily when you’re looking at it in the store.

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As you may be able to see from these photos, the blouse has a sweet little pleat detail in the front that really adds a nice touch to the simplicity of the pattern. I really didn’t think the blouse would turn out as lovely as it did in this blue floral, which I have literally had stashed in my fat quarter bin since I first started quilting. So, yes, this fabric is vintage early-2000s, and I give myself a HUGE pat on the back for finally using it with such great results. Go me!

I also used this tutorial and pattern from ruthplustwo to make a simple peasant dress:

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The dress’s raglan-style neckline was a little big as designed, but I shortened the elastic. It was a little too big around also, so I tied a simple satin ribbon around the waist to hold it on the doll. As a 1-year-old will be playing with her as well as a 5-year-old, I need to figure out how to keep the ribbon on, but I’ll get there at some point.

I also didn’t have the correct width of bias tape handy, so I just sewed it onto the back side of the neckline to create the elastic casing, instead of following the bound look the original tutorial uses. It turned out sooo darling, so thanks much to RuthPlusTwo (and Pinterest, which is where I ran across the pattern!)!

Have you finished any old projects recently? Share in the comments!! I love to hear project stories!

Tutorial time!!

So, I’m trying to keep myself occupied between resume submissions and job applications, so I think its time to get the ball rolling on a tutorial! How can I be a self-respecting sewist with a blog, yet never have any tutorials?

Of course a tutorial will have to wait until after Halloween – I have costumes to finish, after all! But, I would like some input!

I don’t know about you, but the Holidays are coming up, which puts me in a celebratory mood! So I’m thinking something festive, or autumnal.

Some of my ideas are:

Cloth napkins
Apron
Placemats
Quilt demo
Christmas Stockings

So, what do you want to know more about making?? Let me know!

Current sewing project queue:

Steampunk Rogue bustled skirt
Red Riding Hood cape
Hiccup shoe covers
O+S Class Picnic Blouse
O+S Music Class Blouse
O+S Music Box Jumper*
O+S Sleepover Pajamas
BurdaStyle Military Jacket
Kennedy Bag by SewSweetness
Colette Moneta (Sewalong Here)
Thread Theory Finlayson Sweater
Colette Dahlia
Christmas Stocking for A

Recently Completed:
O+S School Photo Dress
Twirly Skirts x2
Leggings x2
Quilted Vest Material

*unpriority

Which The LEGO Movie Character Are You??

Lately, there has been an onslaught of quirky, fun, and sometimes plain bizarre quizzes and BuzzFeed articles circulating through my Facebook feed. From “Which Disney Princess Are YOU? (Belle, hello! ALWAYS CHOOSE THE LIBRARY, LADIES!)” to “How Long Will YOU Survive the Zombie Apocalypse? (6 months, tops, apparently. Man I’m screwed…)”

After a particularly stressful post-mortem of an interview for a job that I think I would be pretty great at, I had an epiphany to rival any pop (ha, see what I did there?) quiz results.

I. Am. Benny.

The iconic, 1980s-era astronaut, whose helmet ALWAYS broke in the same spot. The same Benny who helped save the day in The LEGO Movie… after several disappointing, nay, heart-rending instances of his friends side-eyeing his (frankly AMAZING AND WAY COOL) spaceship creations, forcing him to despondently, then angrily, then resignedly, dismantle them with one nudge of his little yellow claw hand…

Ahh, Benny. I FEEL YOUR PAIN.

If spaceships were certifications and educational videos, I am Benny the 1980s Spaceman. Any excuse to build a spaceship take a class and get Certified (yes, with a capital C), I’m there.

See, folks – I loved school. I love learning new things, and even better – I love having PROOF that I learned them! When confronted with a video to watch and a “Quiz to Follow,” I am a happy Sandy, where some would, at the least, roll their eyes and sigh, at most, throw their computer across the room because “TEST? No one told me there was a test!!!!”

But. There is, honestly, nothing I like more than learning new things and collecting certifications. Learning and education doesn’t bore me, and never has. I live and thrive from that challenge, and it makes my brain happy.

From Destination Specialist in Travel Business Management at Hamilton (now Kaplan – well, there’s a reason that certificate is not on my resume <cough>) to Lynda.com – Adobe PhotoShop and Adobe Illustrator. Plunk me down in front of an informative video and I’m happy. Add a quiz afterwards so I can see what I learned – and you have MADE MY DAY.

Certificate?? Certificate!! CERTIFICATE!!!!!! (papers fly through the air at 9 parsecs)

This may be a weak or silly connection to draw, but in my life, I have always had highs and lows like Benny. The high of achieving something, built with my sweat and tears; being able to present physical proof that yes, I AM CAPABLE OF THIS (despite my flaws). Followed by the low, the “Oh, well, that’s nice, but we really were hoping for this…” and by my inner demons questioning, “Why didn’t I foresee that? Why didn’t I take that path instead of this one? WHAT IS WRONG WITH MY SPACESHIP?”

Ahh, Benny. My kindred spirit. Your spaceship is awesome. Your fashion sense a uniquely-YOU balance of retro and futuristic, with a dash of un-ironic hipster. You and I both need to find the perfect situation to use our spaceships, that’s all… and hey, retro/futuristic hipster? Always, always chic.

Here goes nothing!

Those of you who have known me for awhile know that my oldest sister is the one with all the papercrafty and scrapbookery things. She is always blowing us away with her creative layouts and especially her digital pages and books. Her passion for the craft and for photography as well as creative documentation shine through in every project.

Normally, when I get creative, I’m sewing, but after years of frustration with myself for not making photo books, not assembling even a photo album or even printing photos (to the extent that we have maybe 4 framed photos of W. in the house, and 1 of them is from daycare), I’m going to be doing Project Life in Rain, with a mini Baby for Her Kit and the mini Holiday Kit where appropriate. Keeping it SIMPLE, just photos + captions/journaling. But I’m kinda freaking out/excited nonetheless, and hoping I can get it to work for me so my kids (kids, plural- ack!) will have photo albums to look back on… Wish me luck, i might need it! Remembering my camera for stuff is going to be important from now on! My iPhone is great but doesn’t necessarily cut it… 🙂

Bright Up My Life

I am a frustrated writer/editor. I love to sew. My job involves neither of those activities so, sadly, I’m on my own if I want to stay sane.

I have a son who is 2 1/2 and a husband who is amazingly supportive, even if sometimes my hours at work mean he is a ‘single’ dad sometimes!

I am starting this blog after several false starts on a previous blog (i may migrate those entries if this blog goes well), and my realization that I’m tired of letting myself get bogged down in the drudgery, and I’m being ridiculous if I just shrug off my discontent and don’t do what I can to resolve it. Which is why I titled this blog the way I did; Bright Up My Life seems rather cheesy and maybe it is but I like it and after all, I’m doing this for me. If someone else can glean a bit of enlightenment, awesome and I’m glad I helped! But, mostly, I just want to write again.

So, with introductions out of the way, let’s talk about sewing. Finally!! This feels really good, people!

I have several projects going right now, but the two main ones are a Waldorf doll for my son, W. and a Czech-style folk costume, also known as kroje. Ahh, diversity! They are at entirely different ends of the spectrum, no? And I am equally excited about both. So for now, my next entry will involve one of those projects, including photos hopefully. I’m honestly not sure what my hosting capacity is but hopefully I’ll be able to get at least a few photos up!

So, thanks for checking this out, sorry for the lack of content, but stay tuned if you’re interested, and don’t troll the comments, because I have no tolerance for shenanigans!! And I have a two-year-old, so I know how to handle immaturity and temper tantrums! You have been warned! If you’re not interested in what I have to say, move on gracefully, please.

For those who are actually interested in what I have to say, welcome! I hope you won’t be disappointed in my self-centered ramblings!

Thanks for stopping by!