Friday, August 26, 2011

Summer Bounty

Some photos from a recent trip to our local famer's market.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Preschool Grocery Shopping List

Grocery shopping is not the dreaded chore in the Warren household that it is for some other folks. Somehow, I have been blessed with a little girl who likes making the week's menu, then selecting the food each meal requires. But now that there are two little girls in the cart, and one's attention span is about 30 seconds long, our shopping trips have become a little more riotous.

Hannah's greatest ambition is to write all over my shopping list. Since the list is in my weekly planner, this is not a good option. I provided her with a notebook of her own, but scribbling in this, muttering "hot dogs, ice cream, cucumber, 'picy meat..." only lasted about five minutes.

So I created this pictorial shopping list, gave Hannah a multi-colored pen, and set off down the aisles. In the list are some of the things Hannah likes to eat, in the order we find them at our local store.

It was a hit! As each item went into the cart, Hannah studiously colored it. She reminded me when we forgot to go down the cereal aisle. And by the end of the shopping trip, everyone was happy and smiling...even Lydia!

Here's a PDF of the shopping list, if you're interested in printing it for your own little shoppers. Or make your own, using clipart and the foods that you like to buy.

Shopping Color Sheet

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Day 5: Jeans Dress for Hannah

Here's Hannah's half of the sister's denim dresses. This pattern is also from Rob Merrett's Making Baby's Clothes.

It buttons in the back, which I think is a really nice detail.

The original pattern called for a fully lined dress, with the second (in my case, red) ruffle attached to the lining. I just couldn't see lining a denim dress with another layer of denim - especially for a little girl. So I just added the second ruffle into the hem.

My favorite moment of these outfits? When we wore these to the library, the librarian asked where did I find such cute matching dresses.

"I made them."

"You did?"


"Oh. Wow."

Yeah...that's one of the reasons we sew, isn't it?

Day 4: Jeans Dress for Lydia

Hannah calls denim "jeans." So a denim dress is a "jeans dress." We recently went to the fabric store, and Hannah got to pick out some fabric for look-alike dresses for her and Lydia. She immediately found this denim with red embroidered butterflies. I added some red corduroy for accent.

The patterns are from Rob Merrett's book Making Baby's Clothes, which has lots of really cute outfits in it.

And a note about the family photos: after everything else in our garden withered and died (and we watered it faithfully, too!), the sunflowers kept on. This was our first bloom, which was a huge event! We all went out to take our picture with the flower. But being a sunflower, in order to stand in front of it, we had to look directly into the morning sun. Not good for the eyes. Add a grouchy 2 year old, and that makes for pouty, squinty pictures.

But none of that matters, because you're really here to see the girl's cute matching dresses, right?
Here's Lydia's little dress. It's so sweet. The pattern called for bias binding. I decided to make my own out of the red corduroy. Not a good idea! It was so hard to press and turned out all wonky.

So even though I'm not a perfectionist, this is the only close-up shot you'll get, because I do have a little bit of pride. These are vintage buttons from my grandma's stash.

Tomorrow: details from Hannah's dress.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Day 3: T-Shirt Pocket Dress and Tutorial

I know there are a thousand tutorials about turning a T-shirt into a girl's dress, but maybe you've never seen one with pockets before...

Here's one of Jonathan's souvenir T-shirts from a trip we took to Disneyland. It didn't fit him anymore, but I couldn't bear to get rid of anything with Mickey Mouse on it, so I decided to make it into a dress from Hannah.

I started by tracing the bodice from an existing dress that Hannah likes. Part of the charm of this blue dress is that it has really big pockets. As in, you can fit a bag of goldfish crackers in the pocket. She loves them. So I decided that the new dress must have pockets as well.

Anyway, here's the bodice. Part of the beauty of a T-shirt dress is that you can use a lot of the existing hems and seams. In this case, you can keep the existing neck. Did you realize that a man's T-shirt opening is only sightly bigger than that in a 2T shirt? Kids really do have big heads...

Here's the cut bodice...

...that is still attached at the shoulder seams.

Next, I cut the top of the shirt just under the armpits, and at the bottom to make it the same length as my pattern dress.

Finally, I cut two rectangles to make the pockets. Here are all the pieces.

Next, I sewed them all together. At this point, I started talking on the phone, and forgot to take pictures of the sewing process...oops! But this is what I did:

  1. Sew the side openings of the bodice. You could sew them without finishing the edges because knit doesn't unravel, but I have a new serger (did I mention that?) so I did it just because I can.

  2. Sew the sides of the skirt.

  3. Gather the top of the skirt so that it fits with the bodice. Attach the skirt to the bodice.

  4. Hem, then attache the pockets. I cut the pockets from the sleeves, using the hemmed bottom edge of the sleeve for the opening of the pocket. Attach to skirt. I put these right across the side seam, just like my pattern dress.

In true non-perfectionist style, I left the armholes and bottom hem unfinished for that cut-off-T-shirt rolled up look. Maybe it's because the shirt is grey, but Hanna went around looking a little like a scrawny teenage wrestler in a cut-off T-shirt trying to show off muscles he doesn't have. But she loved that her new dress has Mickey on it, and loves even more that it's made from Daddy's shirt.

Day 2: Dolly Goes from Rags to Riches

Even though Dolly got a new knit dress, she still needed a red shirt to match her skirt. Then I stumbled across the fantastic Liberty Jane line of patterns. These are meant for American Girls dolls, but I figured that with some modification, they'd do for our Bitty Baby. I was right. The shirt is a little snug, but isn't it a huge improvement over Dolly's other red shirt? It even clothes with Velcro along the back: Hannah can put it on!!

This pattern was free, but I can't wait to make their jeans. Even if they don't fit Dolly, I have my own American Girls dolls, waiting for my girls to grow a little older, and they can definitely use some jeans. They're currently dressed only in period costume (back in my day, American Dolls were only period; none of this modern clothing stuff). Did I mention that my mom sewed doll clothes? She made clothes for Kristen too.

Well, Hannah was very excited about Dolly's new red shirt, so she dressed in a matching outfit and posed along side Dolly. Awww....

Day 1: A Dress for Dolly

You've seen Dolly before. She's named after Dollywood, not Dolly Parton. Or is that the same thing? She's Hannah's new companion, and is almost as much loved (in good ways and bad) as Lydia is. Well, here's a little history of Dolly's wardrobe.

I can't believe I'm posting this picture, but take a good look at the quality shirt I whipped up for Dolly one morning. (Yes, I am cringing with embarrassment.) I have freely admitted that I am not a perfectionist, and really, I'm not even very detail-oriented. Funny then, that I should take up sewing as a hobby. Tragic that I should attempted to sew doll clothes.

The truth is, Dolly really needed some clothes that Hannah could put on by herself. Taking the clothes off seems to be no problem, but putting them on again is another story. I whipped up a simple, elastic-waist skirt in no time, and even finished the edges with an overlock stitch, pre-serger. Then Dolly went around naked, or shirtless for as long as I could stand it.

I remembered when I was a little girl, watching in awe as my mom sewed clothes for my Barbies.
(Now there's someone who's detail-oriented! Barbie clothes!) So I thought Hannah could sit in similar awe while I made Dolly a shirt. Haha! I must have been about 7. Hannah's 2. What was I thinking?

I even gave Hannah her own fabric to cut. "Doing fabric," she calls it, as in "Mama, are you doing fabric? Can I do some fabric too?"

Well, you can see how far I got on the project! So Dolly schlepped around for several embarrassing weeks with this "shirt" with a neck hole big enough for her waist to fit through, and the unfinished edges getting stringier and more tattered by the day. Hannah, on the other hand, was delighted that Dolly had a red shirt that she could (almost) put on my herself.

One day, I couldn't take it anymore. I dug out a book of Cabbage Patch Doll patterns my mom gave me. Yes, my mom sewed clothes for my Cabbage Patch Dolls too. Isn't she awesome? I pulled out some very stretchy knit fabric, and went to work making a T-shirt. Since Cabbage Patch dolls are significantly bigger than Bitty Babies, it turned into a knee-length thing, which I cleverly added a ruffle to, making it a dress.

The neck opening is quite wide, giving Dolly some kind of mock-turtleneck-gone-wrong look, but it turns out to be advantageous because the wide neck makes it easier for Hannah's little fingers to put the dress on by herself.

So I threw that pile of red rags in the trash, and now I can look at Dolly without hanging my head in shame.

Up All Night: 5 Dresses in 5 Nights

I have never been a Simpsons fanatic, but I remember a couple of episodes very clearly. One of them is the when Marge buys a fancy suit at the outlet mall. (I think I remember it because the suit is pink, and I LOVE pink.) Because of her clothes, an acquaintance thinks Marge is wealthier than she really is, and invites her the the country club. Marge sits up all night before each meeting with her friend, making over the dress. She fools no one, and in the end, decides that the Simpsons are not country club kind of people. Even if she is, in my opinion, a wonderful seamstress to make over the same dress again and again.

Here's a quote I found on a Simpson's trivia site:
Marge: I have to alter my suit so it looks different for tomorrow.
Homer: Just slap some bumper stickers on it and come to bed, will you, Marge?

I'm with Homer, even though I admire Marge. But contrary to my usual "bumper sticker" personality, I've been doing a lot of sewing this week. I have some theories of why:

  1. I finally got my new serger out the box, and its fast, neat looking seams have inspired me to DO something.

  2. A combination of a newborn and a really large chocolate cake I made last Monday have induced some major insomnia, which has given me lots of sewing time.

  3. I bought a whole bunch of fabric, then felt guilty about spending the money, so felt like I should use it to justify the expense.

  4. My girls get cuter every day, and I want to take their pictures every minute (although I don't because they get annoyed).

  5. I'm secretly hoping that in their homemade (although with professional-looking, serged seams) dresses, we'll be invited to join the country club. Not really, but there's my Simpson's joke of the decade.

I've actually made five dresses during the last week, and I want to share them with you. I even did a tutorial, but it's a "bumper sticker" tutorial because it's a Dad's-T-shirt-to-Girl's-Dress, and every sewing blogger on the Internet has made one of those. But I took lots of pictures, so I'll share them anyway!

Get out your best pink suit and join me this week for five days and five dresses.

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