Saturday, August 27, 2011

Girly alert

Can I just say how much I LOVE that Bailey is completely into dresses right now? She's always been a bit of a tomboy, rough and tumble kind of gal, which suits me just fine. Now she's rockin' that same spirit but in cute dresses!

Awhile back I purchased Carefree Clothes for Girls by Junko Okawa because the style is just so simple and lovely. I have the English translation of the Japanese book and so far it seems pretty straightforward and easy to understand. I've made two dresses based on patterns in the book (though I always seem to make changes and put my own spin on things as I go along).

This is the first:

A sweet little sundress with a light green cotton shirting and some awesome Happy Mochi Yum Yum. The pattern calls for the skirt to be gathered but I decided to put in two pleats on the front of the skirt and one larger pleat in the back.

The other dress is made from a striped jersey knit with a lining of very thin poly/cotton fabric ($2.50 a yard, thank you Fabric depot outdoor sale). We'll see how this one does after a few washes since the lining is left with a raw edge. The neck and arm openings were supposed to be finished with bias binding but I was loving the look of the serged edges so left them like that instead.

There were no complaints and Bailey even said this dress felt as comfy as jammies. Good news since I have fabric for at least two more of these!

Love my girly girl!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A bee block for Annabel

For her month's theme in Cocorico, Annabel wanted blocks made with an orchard theme. After thinking about the theme for awhile and coming up with a couple of different possibilities, I settled on making a bee.

I love bees. I also have an allergic reaction to their sting so I have to be careful! But I really think they're amazing - their highly organized social structure and their efficiency at caring for their hive, working together, and making delicious honey. Of course, they also play a very important part in the life of an orchard because they pollinate the tree blossoms to help make yummy fruit for us to enjoy.

My inspiration illustration is above right. From that picture I made a larger more simplified drawing of the bee on graph paper. Once I worked on the drawing for awhile,I realized a few things:

If I tried to paper piece the legs I would probably go insane.

I needed to slightly shorten the body of the bee so it would look less like a wasp.

This was going to be hard.

Thanks to a PMQG all day sew, I had a lot of uninterrupted time to work on this block and this is what I have so far! Instead of piecing in the legs I'll be thread sketching them with black thread. And I'll embroider the antennae on as well. I'm completely nervous that I'll screw this part up and ruin the work I've already done!

This is just a more detailed look at the bee. There are a few "oops" moments but overall I'm really happy with how this block turned out. I'm especially fond of the beehive print on the bee's body!

Annabel wants to make placemats with her blocks, so I hope no one minds eating their meal with a giant insect on their mat!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Camp JAM

We're back from our adventures at Camp JAM! This is the Arthritis Foundation's yearly camp for kids with juvenile arthritis and their families. And it was a blast!

Owen is doing really well and we are able to manage his arthritis with minimal medication. For that we are extremely grateful. We met many families dealing with challenges far beyond what we face and my heart goes out to them.

This year the theme was western so we quickly dubbed it Cowboy Camp. Now that he's five, Owen is developing a greater understanding of his disease - what it means and how it makes him different. But for the most part, he's just a happy five year old boy who happens to have a serious crush on the bouncy house.

We tried some new things at camp this year including fishing in the trout pond. They're nice enough to clean the fish and bag them up for campers to freeze and then take home.

Both Owen and Bailey loved wearing their cowboy/cowgirl outfits. One night after campfire, they wanted to put on a little show so we let them play around on the stage for awhile. They didn't seem to mind that the microphone wasn't on and the audience consisted only of mommy and daddy. They are such goofballs!

Camp JAM (Juvenile Arthritis Matters) is a wonderful program and we feel so fortunate to get to be a part of it. Over 46 million people have arthritis and 300,000 of them are children. There is no cure. We remain hopeful that Owen will continue to do well and that research will someday find a way to eliminate this painful disease.

Monday, August 15, 2011


These were too fun to not share!

Picked up these great little sandwich shape cutters the other day and they are a huge hit.

The selection included dinosaurs and hearts, so we were set. We have used large cookie cutters in the past to cut our lunch sandwiches into cute shapes but there was always quite a bit of waste. These cutters, since they're made for sandwiches, are able to neatly eliminate the crusts without wasting too much of the actual bread and filling.

Here's the heart one in action.

This bread is the larger, more rectangular bread (we call it grown-up bread in our house) so you can see that there is a little more waste than you would get with a regular more square loaf. We've tried the cutters with pb&j as well as ham, turkey, and cheese - all with great results.

Lunch is served!

These are also fun for morning toast and hot sandwiches like grilled cheese. Best of all, the kids love them and clean their plates!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Getting ready for school

Got some snack and sandwich bags made the other day, in preparation for the upcoming school year. I can't believe our summer break is coming to an end!

For construction, I use this awesome (and funny) tutorial. I cut the snack bags at 6.5" x 13" and the sandwich bags at 7.5" x 15". In the past I've made them from a single layer of cotton fabric, a double layer of cotton fabric (one for the outer bag and one for the lining), with and without velcro closures. This time I made them without velcro and the lining is nylon.

I was a little worried about slipperiness when sewing with the nylon but it was no big deal. I'm hoping that making this change to the lining will help keep more moisture in things like bread, which could sometimes start to get a little bit dry. I love that they can still be tossed into the washing machine and the nylon should help keep the food fresher longer.

After giving these a test drive this afternoon, I'm very pleased with the results and will definitely be making more. Next on the agenda - making lunch bags for the kids!

How about you - have you started on any back-to-school projects?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Crafting for others

The quilting/sewing/crafting community is among the most generous I have ever encountered. It's more than just sharing advice and encouragement. It's more than the wealth of information available via free patterns and tutorials. It's more than the time and effort spent making swap items and sending extra goodies to your partner.

Susan Beal is a local crafter/mama/activist powerhouse! I feel so fortunate to have met and worked with her via the Portland Modern Quilt Guild. Susan and her friend Daniela have created Quilts for Quake Survivors in an effort to help the people of Japan so devastated by the earthquakes and tsunami.

I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to finish two quilts that are destined for QFQS! Many people have gathered and donated fabric and time to piece quilt tops. When Susan came to our last guild meeting looking for volunteers to make these quilt tops into finished quilts, I was more than happy to help.

It seems such a small thing in the face of so much tragedy but I hope that this will help in some way. And it all started because a compassionate crafter wanted to do something to help. Susan is a total rock star!

On a completely different note, I was able to sew up some floor pillow covers for Bailey's preschool! It was a pretty fun project and it gave me the chance to tackle piping as a pillow edging. Tricky stuff that piping! The corners took some real effort but I think they turned out okay.

Isn't that fabric cute? It's from Joann's, called mod floral or something like that. The colors will be great in the newly spiffed up preschool space!

Monday, August 8, 2011


We got our craft on the other day by making some terrariums!

Bailey looks a bit skeptical of the whole thing, but it does involve dirt so she's willing to try.

Owen thought pouring the gravel into the big jars was pretty cool but also kind of loud.

Bailey was happy about the dirt. She loooooves dirt.

I didn't get any pictures of the actual planting because by then I was in the thick of things and pretty dirty myself. But you can see how proud they are of their final creations. Owen decorated his terrarium with dinosaurs.

And Bailey put a butterfly and ladybug in hers.

The terrariums are now in their rooms and they drive the cat crazy. It's kind of awesome.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


I know I've been doing a lot of "family" vs. "crafty" posts but what can I say? It's summer!

My husband and I recently celebrated our seventh wedding anniversary. Our wedding was relatively small with about 50 guests and we did pretty much everything ourselves. The ceremony was held at my church and the reception was at our house. We kept things very simple.

For our honeymoon we spent a week traveling around Oregon, spending time along the coast, Crater Lake, and the Columbia Gorge. It was a wonderful trip that we both often remember as our best ever.

Each year since, we've taken a trip to the coast for our anniversary and this year was no exception. The trip is quite different with a 3-year old and 5-year old sharing the car ride, meals, and hotel room! But we love it and the kids have a blast.

Along with all of the memories of our honeymoon and life BC (before children), we enjoy making new memories with our young family. This year we tackled the sand dunes at Cape Kiwanda.

It. Was. Awesome!

I'm not sure how we ALL made it to the top, but we did. There were loads of kids but not many as little as ours - I was a proud mama!

We had a lovely trip, ate some great seafood, got really sunburned, and generally had a fantastic time.

And yes, there will be more crafting. Promise!