Sunday, October 31, 2010

Introducing Wall-E and the Rock Star (or the year I decided I’m done making Halloween costumes, maybe…)

I am very sentimental about certain things in life.  I LOVE for my kids to have homemade Halloween costumes, Christmas outfits, Easter outfits, gifts to give their teachers, etc.  I just have this certainty that some things require me slaving over or they won’t be right.  And yes, that often means I end up staying up late or thinking bad thoughts as I spend time with my seam ripper, and yet, I can’t convince myself to go store bought.  This year’s Halloween costume experience may have helped me come to my senses.  It’s not that either of my children’s costumes were at all difficult this year, in all reality, I got off light.  It’s that my daughter is getting stronger and stronger opinions as she gets older and she no longer is okay with Momma making all the choices.  The nerve of her…  ;)  I'll just say, we had some differences in creative opinions this year.  I am realizing that arguing and agonizing over Halloween costumes may not the best use of our time and maybe buying a costume (as painful as it is for me) might soothe some tension and free up a BUNCH of time for me to do projects that I have total creative freedom over.
  As the title suggests, Oren wanted to be Wall-E from the Disney movie this year.  We went through a rather long Wall-E phase a year or so ago and he still loves it.  I found some really great directions for a Wall-E costume online and went for it.  It’s far from perfect, but he LOVED it and he got so many compliments on it.  Who knew you could be so cute in a cardboard box and safety goggles??

  Emma wanted to be a rock star.  She had very specific ideas for her outfit and the final result is a large compromise from both of us.  We bought tulle and a few shirts originally.  I was thinking of a tutu, but she drew out what she wanted for me and it was obvious she wanted a pettiskirt.  Well, I tried…but tulle in a pettiskirt just didn’t work.  Honestly, I tried, but unless she wanted to go as a “grungy, I don’t care about my appearance and bump you for thinking I do rock star”, she was not leaving the house in that thing.  So, I told her it wouldn’t work and she agreed to the tutu.  Luckily, I could cut it apart and salvage almost all of it for the tutu.  I spent hours gathering that thing up, only to spend about 1 cutting it apart and reassembling it as a tutu.  Then I ironed on some rhinestone gems just because I had them and I thought it would be really cute to add to it. 

   She said all along that she wanted to use a white t-shirt and spray paint black on to it and then I’d appliqué a guitar on the front.  Well, Saturday morning (yes, I was finishing it hours before she was supposed to wear it) when I showed her what the paint would look like on it (using a old shirt of Chris’ for practice) she decided that she just wanted polka dots above and below the guitar.  So, I made a black satin (since I’d bought it for the pettiskirt) guitar and used some purple and blue scraps to match the tutu.  Then I showed it to her on the shirt and she changed her mind again and said she wanted the spray painted look.  I got the shirt all ready to paint and she said really all along she’d wanted a black shirt (which I’d tried to get her to go with from the beginning and been denied).  So, in the end we put the black guitar on the black shirt and when Chris said you couldn’t really see it I told him to hush before I started crying from the stress this easy costume was bringing me!!!!
  In the end, she was so cute.  I’d gotten little press-on nails and some hair spray paint and we glammed her up rather nicely.  We’d made some shoes together recently (our cheap-o version of Twinkle Toes that I refuse to pay $40 for) and she threw those on to.
One of Emma's oldest friends--they were born 3 weeks apart! 
   Final result--both kids were happy with their costume and I was proud for them to show off what we created together.  They looked absolutely precious and we had a great time with some good friends.  We have trick or treated with the same family since the girls were very little and we always enjoy it.  The Halloween Carnival was a lot of fun with bounce houses, games and (lucky me) even a new goldfish as a prize.

Notice the tutu and all glamour nails are was a fun night of playing!
So my life lesson here is that while I may love the end result of homemade, there comes a time when I may have to admit that store bought is at least an option, if not the best route to take.  Someone remind me of this lesson next October, huh???

  We've got one more opportunity to wear the costumes.  Chris' high school is having a trick or treat at the school on Tuesday and we'll attend that as well.  I'll try and get some closeup pictures to add here when I can...come back on Wednesday or Thursday to see those!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Fall with Family

Last Thursday my family headed down to Orlando to meet my parents and catch a plane to St. Louis, MO.  My grandparents live about 2 hours northeast of there in a small town in Illinois.  This is the second year we've gone for a long weekend just to see them and enjoy some fall weather.  Well, Saturday the high was 80, so we didn't really get fall temps, but the leaves were beautiful, the company was great, and the relaxing was nice too!

Friday morning, my Granddad took the kids and Chris out on the combine.  He had about 15-20 acres in corn left and the kids LOVE to ride with him and watch the combine "eat up all that corn" as Oren said last year.  Chris had never been out with them, so it was new for him.  Then he and Emma rode with Granddad to the grain mill, so Emma has now seen corn go from the field to the mill.  She also got a lollipop from some guy there, and I think she enjoyed that most of all!

After a long walk across Grandma and Granddad's property (well, the kids, Chris and my Dad walked, I took a much needed nap), we took some family pictures on a whim up on the hill that we use for sledding at Christmas time if there's any snow, but what my Granddad uses for farming the rest of the year!  Then we had a wiener roast.  Grandma thought the kids would enjoy it, and it turns out, we all did.  Oren ended up getting so worn out by the time the dogs were ready, he got sick and then passed out asleep in my lap, but I managed to eat a Smore anyway before putting him to bed.

On Saturday, Grandma let me look through a bunch of old fabrics that she and my Great Grandma had left over that were just sitting around waiting to be created with!  I ended up bringing home a full mini-suitcase full!   I left all of the double knits and polyesters she tried to pawn off on me,  ;)  but got a ton of vintage cottons, trims, laces, and ric rac!  Thank Goodness Mom had that extra suitcase, because otherwise, I'd would have had to wait till Christmas when we drive up to bring them home.  I'm not sure what I'm going to do with all the fabrics, yet, but they're going in the washer today and then we'll see what they want to become.  Grandma joked that Chris won't let me come back anymore since she's always trying to pawn off her junk on me and he told her that he wouldn't even notice once it got mixed in with everything I already have.  But since I'm the proud owner of all this fabric that I know my Grandma and Great Grandma used to make things for people they love, I let his comment slide...

   The kids played outside most of Saturday since it was so beautiful outside.  I'll take temperatures of 75-80 that feel like that any day.  It was so much cooler there than at hom, it's not even funny!  Saturday evening, Chris drove over to Jacksonville where 3 of his former students now attend college and play football.  It's a small world when kids from a small town in Florida can end up living 18 hours away from home and still be an hour from a former teacher's family!  He was glad to see they are doing well and I think they were glad to see someone from home, plus the cookies we sent over and the free meal didn't hurt, I think!

We flew home yesterday morning, tired but peaceful.  When we got home, I had a package waiting on me from my bag swap partner, Trudy.  And this is what was inside!  Lucky me, huh?  I had so much fun with this swap and was rewarded with a new friend and a beautiful bag to tote around. 

All in all, it was a wonderful weekend.  My cup runneth over, as my Mom always says.  God has blessed me with a wonderful family, great friends, hobbies that I love and a country to live in that provides me freedom to enjoy all of these things.  What makes your cup runneth over?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Swap Out

Near the beginning of this month, Sew Mama Sew said they'd host a bag swap.  They'd pair you with someone with similar tastes in bag size and style and you'd make a bag for your partner while she made one for you.  I thought about it for about 10 minutes and decided I was in.  I've been looking to get into some swaps after seeing all the fun people are having on their blogs and on flickr.  I was paired with a really sweet girl named Trudy and we talked through email a few times to get an idea of what we were looking for in a bag.  We had very similar tastes, so I have to give the girls at SMS credit there, but both of us were very open to being surprised too.  Our only requests--make it BIG enough to carry all of our kiddos stuff and make it colorful.

Well, after some fierce internal debate, I chose to use the Weekender Tote from Sew Spoiled (I bought my pattern at but decided to scale it down just a bit.  I wanted to give her plenty of room, but I didn't want her to feel she was carrying luggage around the grocery store either, you know.  So, in my infinite wisdom and math skills, I decided to just take 1 3/4 inches off one side and the top of each pattern piece.  Don't ask just seemed like a good amount to whack off!  Then it was fabric choice time.  I had this absolutely lovely Alexander Henry fabric that I'd bought on a whim to whip into a skirt for myself that just felt like it fit--bright colors, large florals, lovely for fall, and I chose to use it, pulling the coordinating red, yellow and aqua for the other colors.

Construction went well, although a few times I was a little confused on the directions and just winged it.  I chose not to add interfacing to the lining, I was afraid it would be too stiff.  I'm not sure if that was a good idea or not, let's hope it's okay with Trudy!  The inside has a large pocket to cover most on one side and I sewed down the middle to split it into 2 pockets.  I like knowing exactly where my phone and keys are when I reach into my purse and by splitting the pockets, it makes it a little easier, I hope.  I was a little unhappy that the top wasn't wider and easier to get into, but that may just be me....or my math skills!

I also added a small zipper bag with some of the scraps.  I threw some lip gloss and gum in there just because.  Trudy and I agreed that one thing we always have with us is lip gloss.  And, I try to always have gum or mints handy.  You or someone you are in close contact with may need them one day!  Then I couldn't help myself and made a little flower with some aqua/light blue fabrics and pinned it to the front center.  Trudy, feel free to take it off if you don't like it!  I thought it added something, my husband did not...

So, the bag is not perfect, but then, neither is the maker...I'm sending it off to Trudy today with a few other goodies tucked in just for fun.  Hope it gets there quickly.  I have to admit the thought crossed my mind to keep this one and start over on a different one.  I mean, it fit so well under my arm and everything.  But, then I remembered that she's making something for me, and how many bags does one girl need, right?  (don't ask how many I already have, please!!)

If all swaps are like this, then I will definitely be signing up for more.  It was a lot of fun and something different.  It was a fun challenge to make something for someone else without really knowing them.  Trudy, I really hope you like it and get much use from it!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The boy makes an appearance...

  Okay, finally a boy craft…well, only because it involves my boy, but at least I'm getting around to including him on here!  When Emma was 3, we decorated her room from baby room to big girl room and one thing I did was to cover letters to spell her name with silk flowers that I glued flat to the letters.  I wanted to put Oren’s name up in his room, too, but I didn’t think that same method would go over well with either him or Daddy.  His room has a Gators theme.  We are huge Florida Gator fans as Chris and I both went there, and it’s actually where we met.  Oren’s room is a dark blue from a chair-rail length down and then has a Gator border along the top of it.  His artwork is mostly sports related; including 2 clocks that Chris’ dad made for him as a teenager, but also has a few space-themed pieces since that was a recent phase…and I happened to find great artwork that was in mostly blues, oranges and greens!  YES!  And yes, we have been asked what we will do if he chooses to go somewhere else for college and Chris jokes that as long as he has a full ride, he can go wherever he wants! 
Well, I bought letters to hang his name a LONG time ago and just never got around to covering them with anything. Bad Momma, I know.  So, while looking for something else the other day, I came across these, pulled them out of the cabinet and decided “I’m not putting them away again—they can sit and stare at me until I get them made and hung up!!”
It only took me another week or so before I got around to them.  Does anyone else suffer from having so many ideas that you have a hard time picking one to get started on??  Okay, so directions for doing this are all over the internet, I basically just painted them to cover the white base and then mod-podged the paper down to cover the letters.  But I took a few pictures along the way, just in case you’re slower than me at catching on to trends!
I actually let the kiddos paint the letters for me and then just went around making sure they’d covered everywhere.

There's my sweet boy working with his sister in the sweat shop I set up for them!
When they were dry, I traced them face down onto the back of the paper I’d chosen.
Then I cut out the letters and mod-podged them down.  Because I can’t help myself when it comes to inking the edges of things for a “vintage” look I broke out my trusty Martha Stewart ink pads and inked the edges of the letters.  But that wasn’t enough either for this girl…no, I mixed a little tan paint with mod podge and water and painted a thin coat on each letter to seal them and then wiped some back off to keep the color light. 
   And, to hang them, I just stuck some of that sticky stuff that you use when you rent or are in college to stick stuff to the walls to the back of each letter and presto chango…the boy has his name on the walls! 

   And don't you just love his decorating.  That display on top of his toybox is totally his own doing.  I don't know why I didn't think of throwing a boot into one of my displays only to see where it landed.  I left that there in an effort at full disclosure here...  ;)  I think it's funny sometimes to let them arrange their room how they want it, and then walk around to see what's important to them or just wonder at what goes through their minds.  Like in this case...his favorite airplane toy, his teeball trophy, a boot thrown up on top of a book and one of his rocket pictures that is still waiting on a frame.  Okay--all his loves in one place, I guess!

   When Chris got home from school and saw them, he said “How did you attach them to the wall?”  He has such little faith in me when it comes to tools.  He’s the woodworker/handyman of our duo.  But this time I outsmarted him by not hurting myself or the surfaces of our house!  Ha—showed him, didn’t I?  Plus, this way when I change my mind or Oren throws something that hits them and knocks them down (like a boot!), we’ll be able to quickly move on with life…

   Okay, one more shot of my happy boy with his very messy toy box, I mean letters.  You can see a little bit of the border and paint color in this one.  And look, since it's Saturday, he's wearing his blue and orange plaid shorts and his Gator Kid shirt I embroidered for him.  Completely coincidental, but this kid does love his Gators!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Pop, pop, popover

  My girl has always been a skirt and dress kind of girl.  A girly girl, if you will.  But the kind of girly girl who will also hang upside down from the monkey bars and run you down in a race.  I mention this to show why I love to make her dresses, but that these dresses must be recess and PE appropriate, because she won't just sit out and watch!  For school this year, I decided to make her a couple of new dresses, well, skirts too, but I still haven't gotten that far...  And, I promise, I do make things for my son, but has anyone else found that it is much easier to find things for girls…  He'd rather just have me make cookies with him anyway.  Faster and much tastier than clothes!  ;) 
  Anyway, back to the point, for this dress I used the free Popover Dress pattern from Oliver + S.  I completely LOVE her patterns!!  This one is a pillow-case style dress, but with a cute “yoke” piece along the top.  I used a dark denim I found on sale at JoAnn’s one day (actually bought for me, but I sacrifice once in awhile) and wanted to pair it with something bright and cheerful.  I laid out a few fabric choices, and let Emma choose.  I knew before I showed her what she would pick.  The rainbow-striped fabric just jumped out next to the denim and I knew she’d pick it right away!

Notice there is no denim in this picture...oops, well it was there at one time!

I know I have a tendency to mention how easy things are, please take that as a sign that I pick easy projects and not how great of a seamstress I am.  But, honestly, I had this baby whipped up in a day from picking fabrics to Emma wearing it.  Leisel's patterns are so detailed and user-friendly, you couldn't ask for better directions.  I chose to add pockets because I thought it would be really cute, and who doesn't love pockets, so I used Rae’s pleated pocket tutorial from Made by Rae.  And then, since I had the cute bias strip stripes along the arms and straps, I went for a bias-bound hem.  I thought it would help pull the dress together and add one more punch of color.  I had originally planned to just finish the hem with the bias strip on the inside, but then when I saw what it would add to the dress, I listened to my husband and left it showing.  Sometimes, it turns out, he is right about things!  ;)
   I am really pleased with how this dress came out.  When Chris saw Emma in it, he said “That’s your first day of school outfit, right there!” 

What a model...she loves to pose!!
   Oh, and I forgot to mention that I also finished the edges with Hong Kong seams.  I know it wasn’t necessary, I could have just zigzagged them or actually gotten my serger out of hiding to finish them  (haha--that's a whole other subject...), but I thought it would be that added little “I love you” every time she wears it.  I showed the seams to her and said I wanted the inside to be just as pretty as the outside.  That’s what we always tell her, that she God made her just as beautiful on the inside as the outside.  

  Here’s a few pictures from the first day of school.  They are not great as we were running a little late, imagine that, and I didn’t want to take a bunch at school.  Look at the joy on her face.  My girl was one pumped first grader!
One looks a little nervous and one looks a little irritated with the camera, no?  You decide which is which...

She was so very excited!  My sweet girl LOVES school and has a great teacher this year!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

My favorite thing I've made (so far...)

Hey, today I thought I'd show you something I made over the summer.  Last summer (2009) when my daughter Emma turned 5, she decided she wanted to have an Under the Sea themed birthday party—not with Arial, but just a general ocean-themed party.  We have a pool, and it would be a swimming party and that literal water theme appealed to her.  Well, Mendocino by Heather Ross appealed to me, so I bought a fat quarter set in the 3 color ways and made goodie bags for the little girls out of some of it. 
     I promised Emma that I would make her a quilt with the rest of it to commemorate her birthday.  Her only design request was that there be a big 5 somewhere on it.  But as the summer wore on, I realized I was stalling…yes, I am a big procrastinator and that was some of it, but it was more than that.  I had cutter's fear!  I love these fabrics so much and they're expensive and I was afraid to cut into them, and realize I'd messed up.  I needed a pattern I was really happy with and sure of before I just went for it. 
   Okay, now fast forward till this June…a year later.   After I decided on a planned quilt that looked totally random (random doesn't work for me with prized fabrics like this!) I realized I didn't have enough fabric to make a quilt the size I wanted, so I was on to plan 2, and I will admit that I like this better anyway!  I searched flickr for Mendocino fabric quilts and this baby popped up:  

So I followed this tutorial, of course changing out the fabric choices for what I had and the number of squares in a row/total number of rows to fit my amount of fabric, and I LOVE the final result!  The tutorial was easy to follow and this quilt really was easy to make.  Even if you're a beginner, if you want to make something to impress people—try this one out. 
See the little hands at the top...thanks for the help kiddos!
Here's the back, disregard the puckering in the lower right don't really see it, you just think you do!  ;)
   For the back, I decided to go with solids so as not to compete with the front, but I am a big fan of pieced backs, so I went with three colors that matched the front.  I matched up the colors with that section of the quilt, so the pink top is the same size as the pink zig zags, the yellow section matches the peachy zig zags, etc.  For the requisite 5, I originally drew a 5 on fusible interfacing and bonded different scraps from the leftover fabrics to the 5 and was going to appliqué it down in the middle of the back, but…I for some reason basted the quilt together before doing so and then quilting really messed it up, so instead, I just free-motioned a 5 with different colored threads onto some of my favorite scraps and added that to the back instead.  Don't look too closely at the binding on the back side, the backing got a little short in some places and I had to pull the binding all the way around, but overall, I'm very happy with this quilt.  I mentioned that it was far from perfect and my daughter said "Mama, did you try your best and make it with love?"  I said of course and she replied "Then that's what matters.  I love it and am so glad to have it!"  And isn't that why we all do this stuff anyway?  That always makes it worthwhile, doesn't it?

Label closeup

  I just running stitched the label on with the edges loose so that over time it'll be soft and cuddly to cover up with.  Plus, I was just really ready to be done by then and didn't have a turned-edge applique in me.  Does anyone else ever get project fatigue????

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Cheer for my cheerleader

While I’m feeling my way into the blogging world, I thought I’d start out with some posts about favorite things I’ve made recently.  It’s never too hard to talk about things you’re proud of, right? of the things I’ve made most recently were hairbows for my little girl and her best friend.  They are cheering this fall for the local youth football team and I wanted to give them something special to wear besides the super cute uniform, of course!  Of course, when I went to make these, my sewing machine went crazy and had to take a trip to the repair shop, but I managed to get the embroidery part done (badly, but done) before that, so while my Futura was being fixed, I was busy twisting ribbons! 

    The megaphone was made on my embroidery machine and can be used with a clip as a barrette or attached to a ponytail holder.  I chose to take matters into my own hands and add it to some ribbons and then attach all of that to a clip that can be worn above a ponytail.  I first asked Emma what she thought about it, though, because these things are important in the world of 6-year-olds, you know. We decided that Mama's idea was really the best one and I proceded with my plan.
     I bought the pattern from and it’s from Pickle Pie Designs.  If you have an embroidery machine and haven’t visited SWAK yet, you should.  They have some really cute designs over there and they’re reasonably priced as well. 
   Both girls seemed to really like their bows and, although neither megaphone is perfect since my machine was a little (and by a little I really mean a lot—like the bobbin case jumping out of it’s home) jumpy, I don’t think they noticed!  ;)
  Here’s a shot of my girl in action…oh, did I mention that she’d been sick for 3 days before the game and we weren’t sure she’d make it at all, much less through the whole game.  She’s looking pretty proud of herself to be as sick as she was!  I love that girl!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Jump in. Jump out. Introduce Yourself!

  Hey everyone and welcome to my blog, Small Town Stitcher.  I’ve thought about starting my own blog for sometime, but never felt like I make enough stuff to show off or had enough to talk about, especially compared to all the great bloggers out there that I keep up with and steal ideas from, I mean get inspiration from!  But the more I thought about it, I realized that blogs aren’t made for competing or for only the best of the best.  If I find something really great or easy or special, there just might be someone else who likes it too.  So this is my journey into blogging, hop on and go for the ride with me if you’d like.  I’ll be showing off crafty things I’ve made, ideas I’ve found, recipes that my family loves and cute pictures of my kids when nothing else comes to mind!  ;)

  I'm still working on the layout of the blog and getting the header a little more me and a little less blogger template, but we'll get there.  For now, I'll leave you with what the header will be when I get a little more blogger savvy...  I've got some projects lined up to show off, and I'd love it if you'd come back and check them out!