Sibling Gifts :: Fleecy Winter Wear

To round out the parade of handmade sibling gifts of the Christmas 2012 season, I have this one last post with a project I worked on with our oldest :: Fleecy Winter Wear.

Swaddled In Fleece

Have you seen the insanity that is Joann’s Fabrics when it’s time to roll out the winter fleece? I didn’t know it was possible for one store to offer such a huge variety of different fleece styles. They had it in three separate aisles, along the tops of displays, and all along the top shelves on the outer walls in the store. Crazy.

I wanted to take the eldest with me to pick out fabrics, but due to an outbreak of flu and other illnesses in our home, I had to run out last minute to grab something quick so we could at least get something made and under the tree. This was almost as last minute as you could get; we finished the last bit right before dinner and bed-time Christmas Eve.

Sock Monkey Fleece

There aren’t an enormous number of images showing how we made these. Since I significant portion of this involved the sewing machine, and I’m not very proficient and my daughter was quite out of her comfort zone, I didn’t feel like I should be snapping photos while we’re both sweating bullets.

Fleecy Supplies

But overall, The scarves were an easy project, even for us sewing machine neophytes! Pick some fleece, cut it, pin it, sew it together except for a few inches at either end, flip it inside out, top stitch on either side, then cut a fringe on the ends, and tie it in knots.

Fun Fringe

The hat was a bit more tricky, and it didn’t work quite the way I had envisioned (didn’t mean for the ugly seam to be exposed, but alas, perfection wasn’t the goal, done was!), so I’m going to spare you any attempt to explain what I did, although I will say I took a measurement of the baby’s head to use when cutting out the rectangles, and that worked well.

Fleecy Hat With Fringe

And even though it is rough around the edges and not at all finessed, the baby loves it so very dearly. Dearly enough that once I put it on her head, I can’t take it off. And since she doesn’t stand still for photos, I needed to throw it on the four year old’s head in order to get a few snaps.

So there you have it… a round-up of all the sibling created handmades under the tree this year. But wait… there’s more!

Even though the littlest one isn’t quite old enough to partake of the making, she does manage to find someone to help her purchase a few small tokens to give out, namely fun band-aids!

Fun Bandages

So there you have her contribution, and now, I swear, we’re all done!

A Pretty Kitty

Happy Birthday

A particular three year old had a birthday a few days back. Now, as she patiently explains to anyone willing to listen, we have a 7, 5, 4, and 1 year old in our family, not a 7, 5, 3, and 1 year old that her mother continually makes the mistake of blurting out when asked. I fear it will be far too soon before I’ll have to update my mental model yet again.

Four is such a magical time for my kids, one of my favorite developmental ages. They start playing together instead of side-by-side; their fine motor skills become more skilled and steady; their whole imaginative life takes off, in particular this little one who has always always been drawn to dramatic play. It has been and intense and joyful period of growth.

Birthdays in our family of six have taken on a slower, gentler pace through the years, as I suppose happens in any growing family. Not only are the daily demands different than when we only had one child, but we’ve discovered what works for our family and what doesn’t, and our needs have also decreased, since we’ve hit this age twice before and the gifts that have fit us best are still around and being loved and played with by all. So gift piles have become smaller and more thoughtful, with time spent on making and experiences over stuff.

For this year’s gift, I found this pattern for a stuffed mama cat on Craftsy that would be just about perfect for my little full-o-loving mini-mama who mothers all her toys with her big heart. Kindly remember that I am still quite a novice when it comes to sewing, so when I found the pattern a week before her birthday, I thought I would have plenty of time. And when I actually started it the day before her birthday, I thought it would only take three, maybe four hours.

Mama Kitty

I was so. very. wrong.

It took me until 4am. But… I got it done. Here she is, sitting pretty with her closed off skirt, which holds…

Mama and Babies

four little kitties; three littles and one baby, just like us. You’ll note that these little kitties are naked in this picture, because I simply ran out of steam and had to get to sleep.

Mama Bodice

She’s made out of linen, which was a little tricky for me to work with. It frayed in a few spots, but I think I figured out how to adjust the stitch size to prevent it. Also, I worked a few of the kitties on the bias, which helped significantly.

Mama Detail

The apron and dress were made with some japanese cotton linen blends; the matroyshka print is discontinued and I can’t find any more bits of it which makes me sad because I really found it so dear. There a bit of funkiness you’ll see going on with the bodice which is completely due to my inexperience and the time of morning when I tried to decipher the instructions. I knew I was doing something wrong, but I couldn’t figure it out so I sewed together what I had and the next day (after three coffees and a few hours of rest) I wrote to Dorie, the creator of the pattern, and the writer of the equally fabulous tumblingblocks blog, hoping that she might be able to decipher what I did wrong. Not only did she respond within two hours, she took the time to walk me through making the bodice, step-by-step with kindness and incredible grace. Then, to top it off, she also updated her blog with an extra little bodice tutorial for us sad and confused newbies. Needless-to-say, after her lovely email I read through the instructions again, and everything was clear as day. It really was my inexperience getting the best of me.

Anyway, the bodice needs a bit of fixing. Luckily I have just enough fabric left to remake it (there was some rather unfortunate cutting which prevents me from reusing the pieces in the one I already sewed… eek!) and that’s on the list to finish up before the week is over.

Baby Kitties Dressed Up

After the older two went to school and the baby went down for her nap, my husband took the newly minted four year old out for a little Daddy-Daughter time, and I had just enough time to attempt to make the kitties some clothes. Being as tired as I was, I decided to forgo extra time in front of the machine, and grabbed some felt I had lying around to cut and tack together a few pieces. Worked like a charm! I wish I had used some decorative stitching or rick-rack, but there’s time for that after the holidays. For now these work perfectly. Plus, I don’t have any rick-rack lying around. I did, however, have 1/4″ bias tape that I believe I purchased in 2002. Let me say that the most difficult and nerve wracking part of sewing for me was attaching that 1/4″ bias tape. It was ripped out many, many times. Next time I’m using 1/2″.

Super Secret Skirt

She played with that cat (Hey look! A secret POCKET!) for a good ten minutes while I took pictures. She was so excited when I told her that I made it. I can’t imagine it will be too much longer before mama-mades no longer elicit such emotion, so I am reveling in it for as long as I can.

Baby Kitty With Pants

Of course, Mama Cat and her Three Little Kittens were forgotten (as well as every other gift provided by her loving grandparents and aunts and uncles) as soon as the playmobile set was unwrapped.

As I said earlier, experience taught us what they love… and gives us the knowledge to have her open that gift last 😉

 

:: Linking to These Fabulous Sites ::
Under the Table and Dreaming

 

 

Pajamas for KCWC

I did it. I did it, I did it, I did it, I DID IT!!

I made PJ’s! Two sets for two kids, and I’ve kept up with the at least one hour a week of sewing everyday for the challenge. Woo HOO!

Two Sets of PJs

OK, fine, I didn’t sew the tops, but I did embellish them and I say that counts.

Orange Top

Blue Square

And look!! Look at the cuffs!! I did something fancy!

Two Cuffs

Too Many Toes

I made them take their socks off because I found the socks too distracting… so I took mine off in solidarity!

Fuschia Top and Bottom

Blue Top and Bottom

I can’t really do much, but it turns out that I can make things (and decorate them!) with what I do know how to do.

Details Details Details

I won’t mention that the blue pants already have a hole in them, because, well, because I just did and I’m still so thrilled that I managed to make PJs, that I don’t really care all that much. I can sew it back together!!

I’m sewing!! Yay!!

Kids Clothes Week Challenge

Remember this particular sewing disaster in the not-so-distant past? Well, I’m trying to move beyond it.  So, here goes… I’m going to join the blogging mini-revolution and hop on Elsie Marley’s Kids Clothes Week Challenge wagon. And I’ve invited one more lovely blogging lady to join in on the fun. Alex of the newly redesigned and uberly fabulous North Story blog has agreed to come along for the seven day sew-for-one-hour-a-day challenge. She’s as scared as I am (her sewing machine is still in the box) so we should have a great week of at least one or two disastrous, err, I mean entertaining stories. Alex, no backing out now… I’ve publicly called you out, so you hafta do it! Anyone else want to come along for the ride?

All you need to do is click on the above link and leave a comment on Elsie’s post saying you’re in (although, really, if you don’t want to do that, no one’s going to knock you) and commit to sewing for one hour per day. One hour per day. I can do that! You know why I know that I can do that? Because I know it only take 30 seconds to sew a seam with too tight a gauge that will need at least one hour to remove all the stitches. You wanna know how I know that? Because I finally finished a pair of pants for one of the young-ins. Looky here ::

Holy Pants Batman

Pants! I made PANTS! Pants that fit!! I can’t believe I did it!! And it only took me a week… seven days of sewing for at least one hour a day. At least. Turns out the sewing is the least difficult and the least time-consuming part of sewing. It takes a while to read or draft a pattern, pick the fabric, wash it, iron it, then do crazy things like draw on it with a marker, stick pins in it, and cut it. Also, it could take longer to cut it than you originally thought because you cut four of the same pattern side, hypothetically of course, instead of two each of the two sides (front and back, in case you were wondering). And then after all the correct pieces were cut, you might sew the first seam together and realize that you should really try to align the pattern, which causes you to cut yet another pair of front and backs, after one hour of trying to align and pin the pattern as precisely as possible. Also, once it’s cut and sewn, you might realize you sewed the wrong pieces together, take an hour to remove all the stitches, and sew the exact same incorrect seam again. I could go on, well, if I remembered how many steps I completely botched, but really, you get the picture. So here’s another ::

The Back of the PANTS

And another ::

Another Back of the PANTS

I made pants!! And they’re even lined!

The Pants Are LINED

So here’s a few things I’m realizing about this challenge ::
• One hour a day can equal less than one seam
• It doesn’t matter if you think you’ve cut all the threads everywhere, when you go to take photos, you’ll find a few more
• Sewing takes very little time; the prep is where the money’s at
• Little kids love it when you make them things. They’ll even wear it multiple times before it gets to the wash by grabbing it out of the dirty laundry basket
• All that stuff you do wrong, all the time you spend looking at fabric, turning the iron off and on, heck looking for the iron, that all counts toward your one hour per day
• Sewing is much more forgiving that knitting; it take less time to notice and correct your mistake, even if you’re a complete and total noob and have no idea what you’re doing
• Sewing is way easier than baking
• Putting the box out in the sunlight and staring at it for 59 minutes counts! (Hi Alex!)
• It doesn’t matter if you have man-thumbs… no one will see it when they’re looking at your fabulous pants

So… or should it be… Sew… Why don’t you join in on the fun? I mean, what’s the worst that could possibly happen?

Oh, I should also note that I made these pants from this tutorial on the lovely Made by Dana. You’ll notice the fabric is exactly the same. It wasn’t intentional, but those pants must’ve made quite an impression, because one year after looking up that tutorial, that’s the fabric I came home with. Whaddaya gonna do? Give the lady her props, of course! She’s fab, I love her style, and I’m going with the adage imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Pants. Kids Clothes Week Challenge. Fun time. LET’S DO THIS!

Sunday Follies

Today, after many years of promising myself I would, I finally overcame my rather intense intimidation of my sewing machine.

I wanted to make my kids some pants.

Pants Pattern

After finding a few tutorials like this from Dana at Made, or this one from Anneliese at Aesthetic Nest, and taking a few years , erHEM, to collect a few scraps of fabric, AND after our emergency Christmas Eve Sewing Machine purchase, I felt like it was time to get over the proverbial hump and get some pants made.

So I spent a bit of time drafting up a pattern, picking out a few fabrics, and by George, I jumped in and did some cutting.

Pocket Pattern

As you can see, I started making a pair of pants for the three-year old. Most of her clothes were handed down from her sister, so I figured even if they didn’t look so great, I could at least get some excitement out of it.

After a little bit, or maybe even after a few hours, I did it! I made a complete pair of pants! Look!

Pants

I can’t believe it! They don’t even have any holes or anything! I didn’t sew my finger, I only have two burns from the iron, the kids only had to watch one movie, (maybe a few Backyardigan episodes too) and I even made dinner!

Here’s a few things I’m excited that I managed to do ::

Cute pockets with a flat panel front!The Pocket

Contrast Topstiching!!Another Pocket Detail

The pants are fully lined and have a reversed cuff!!!Cute Cuffs

Elasticized back with TWO LITTLE BACK POCKETS!!!!
Back Pockets

Crazy, right?

You want to know the best part? When I called the three year old over to try them on, guess what she said..

“Mama, why do they get stuck here?” And by here, she specifically meant her knees. Yes, you read that correctly, her knees.

blink. blink blink.

Cute as can be, but won’t fit a 3T. Good thing my sense of humor remained intact. It was, after all, my first time drafting a pattern. Some things were bound to go wrong. So what if they don’t fit the three year old… I can roll the cuff up a bit further and throw them on the one year old who could always use another pair of pants to mash bananas into. But before she’d get the chance to smoosh anything on the new mama-mades, pictures needed to be taken. So with the light fading, I threw her into a cute onesie, a nice sweater, and went to pull up the pants… which got no further than her little booty.

Would. Not. Budge. Does not fit. There isn’t a person in the house who can wear these pants. that I spent All. Day. Sewing. April Fool’s Day joke on Mama.

They look cute up on the wall though. Think that’s where they’ll stay for a while.

A First Birthday :: The Birthday Shirt

It wouldn’t quite be an official birthday ’round here without the siblings’-made special birthday shirt, now would it? And we might have made it in the last possible second, but it did get done!

Birthday Shirt All Done!

 

Another Shot of the Shirt

As a matter of fact, everyone joined in the fun and wore their own very special birthday shirts!

Everybody's Birthday Shirts

One of them you’ve seen before, and here’s the four year old’s shirt’s debut ::

Birthday Shirt for a 4 Year Old

And the six year old’s shirt’s picture ::

Birthday Shirt for a 6 Year Old

You can see in the 6 year old’s shirt why I stopped using Sharpies; after one wash the orange bled all over the place, front and back of the shirt. After so much effort from us all, it was pretty heartbreaking to see the mess that came out of the laundry, but I was the only one who seemed to mind so instead of making a new one as I planned, I grit my teeth and let it go. The bleed has faded a good deal after several more washings, but it still looks sloppy.

I gathered the kids up the night before the littlest one’s birthday and we stayed up a little past everyone’s bed time to get the drawing completed… I did the sewing and made a total mess of it not once but twice which caused me to go to bed right around 2.30, way past my bed time too. Metallic embroidery floss is not my favorite; although it’s shiny and sparkly it kept tangling, breaking, and it was rather kinky. I think I’m going to throw the rest of it out so I’m never tempted again.

How to BeginThe First ArtistThe Second ArtistCompleted PatternBig Number 1Cutting Out the 1The Cut Out 1Pinning the 1All Sewn On

It took a few steps, but it’s really not that hard. First I cut out a nice sized square, trimmed so the final number wouldn’t be larger than the area on the shirt front it was going to be sewn to. Then I taped it down with clear packing tape to stabilize it for the kids to draw on. You could also do this by ironing freezer paper with the plastic side to the back of the square and then taping it down, but I was running short on time. Next I taped off two areas for the older kids to draw on, and let the three year old do her drawing first. We used Marvy Opaque Fabric Pens in silver and gold glitter, and pink. The four year old worked above her after I removed the protective tape from his section, and the six year old above him after the same. Once the drawing was done, I quickly sketched out a big fat “1” on a blank piece of paper and cut it out so I could trace it using the silver glitter pen directly on top of the patterned drawing the kids made. You could also do this by printing out a big, bold, blown up number “1” in your favorite font, but I didn’t want anything fancy (and again with the whole running out of time thing!) this time around. Once the tracing was complete, I cut out the “1” and then placed it on the shirt. I would like to tell you that I then pinned it in place and began sewing it to the shirt using a simple running stitch, but that wouldn’t be honest. I started sewing, realized it had gotten completely wonky while doing that, then went back and ripped out all my work, and then repeating it all again before I was smart enough to go grab some pins. I’m sure there are people who would also recommend using some sort of stabilizer on the back of the shirt and securing it all with an embroidery hoop, but honestly, I couldn’t be bothered. The fact that it took me three attempts and way too many episodes of Iron Chef might mean that you want to ask someone who is much better at this than I am for better advice. Sometimes winging it works out just fine for me, but I wouldn’t want to lead you along my faulty path… without proper warning anyway.

So, let’s see how that all comes together in the end?

How It Comes Together

Let’s face it; the shirt is cute, but it’s nothing compared to those cheeks!

The Birthday Shirt Tradition

A few, erm, years ago, our littlest babe turned one, and to celebrate the bigger kids made her a birthday shirt. Since then, the making of the shirts has become a family ritual we all look forward to. We may have missed a birthday or two with all our crazy adventures in the past two years, but now that some of our kids are older, I am reminded several weeks in advance that it is time to make the new shirts; it’s a bit of pestering that I really don’t mind.

This year, as our third child turned three at the beginning of December, it was starting to look like we might not be able to pull it all together, what with all the Christmas preparations and a special surprise birthday that required a quick trip back to my childhood home. But in the end and even though it was completed in the last few possible minutes, it was done, and I’m glad I had all my helpers pushing me to finish.

It’s sometimes hard to tell who loves these shirts the most, the givers or the receiver!

The process has changed in the few years since we began this little tradition of ours. I still tape a scrap of an old tshirt to a piece of cardboard to stabilize it, but now instead of having at it with sharpies, we’ve purchased a few fabric markers that don’t bleed. The peace of mind I have when I throw the shirt into the washing machine knowing that it won’t ruin any other clothes is totally worth the extra expense in my mind!

As the kids get older, the designs become more elaborate, which makes a bit more work for me in sewing it all together. Where I used to stitch the pieces in place using reverse applique, I now just use a running stitch to attach it to the top. That’s one extra step saved! And unsurprisingly, the only one who noticed or cared was myself.

We have another special first birthday to celebrate in a few short weeks, a last first birthday for our last and littlest babe. I can’t wait to see what the kids come up with!

Another Birthday Shirt

A few short weeks ago, we celebrated another birthday for a very special little boy. And to commemorate the event, this birthday shirt was created.

It is quickly becoming a birthday tradition. The kids enjoy making them, and this boy especially loves wearing it. It is in the wash at least twice each week, although it’s increasingly difficult to get it off of him.

We’re already planning the next shirt for the four year old’s upcoming birthday in June. She’s making sure that we’re all planning well in advance.

Warm & Fuzzy Navel Gazing

Hello? Is this thing on? Do I have any readers left?

Friends, it has been a rough few months for us here at It’s Two AM. Without whining on and on forever, I will state this: Packing, Moving, Selling, Buying, Leaving Behind, and Starting Anew are, on their own, difficult tasks. But when combined together in various combinations and in a short amount of time they tend to make life a bit tiring, and of course, stressful. We are slowly starting to find our footing, and I am beginning to recover my composure. At least I hope I’m not misreading the signs or recovery.

One of those signs is the willingness to jump into new interests, as evidenced by this pile-up resting on the arm of the couch, waiting for some attention.

A few loose skeins of hand-dyed yarn, and a number of yards of fabric. Dyeing yarn is something I’ve been meaning to try for quite some time, and once I started, it was quite difficult to stop. Any protein fiber lying around that wasn’t already a lovely shade of something-or-another didn’t make it through unscathed, I’m afraid. What a fun, magical, and utterly surprising creative form dyeing is. I never suspected how addicting it could be. I’ve already succumbed to ordering more wool; just what I need right now hanging around here collecting dust and waiting to be packed up and moved to our as-yet-to-be-found new home… more wool.

At least I’m not the only one who has found the colors a little too hard to resist!

As for the fabric, well, I am slowly building up my fabric stash for the eventual glut of sewing I am sure to start any day now. I have big plans, but I’m also suffering from a big bout of intimidation. Any tips for getting over it?

It has been during this time away from the blog, and away from my creative endeavors that I have come to realize how important making is to my health and well being. These past months since leaving our home and beloved friends behind have been devoted to finding our way around the new town and finding our new family home. The process has been slow, all-consuming, and has left us with little to show but for stacks and stacks and stacks of paper. I have felt ungrounded and unlevel, and we have all suffered because of  it.

And then I made bread.

It was a simple act; not much work required, it is made of humble ingredients and given time. The process is best left to develop on its own, undisturbed.

The metaphor seems so obvious now, but then, on that day, when I needed it most, the measuring, the kneading, the proofing and baking, there was little thinking and abstraction. There were my hands, there were materials, there was motion, and memory… I was once again caught up in the act of making.

It was  simple act, but really, it was the perfect reminder.

Take time to make.

Firsts

Today was the day we celebrated a major milestone… our youngest babe’s first birthday.  The older two are now of the age that they understand birthdays mean cake and presents, and they were both so very excited to prepare something for their little baby sister. How could I resist? I put them both to work on a few white t-shirt sleeves with “Mama’s Very Special Markers.” One was for our babe, and the other sleeve is for our baby cousin, who turns one next week.

Once the artwork was complete, I pinned it under a lovely little baby doll top, traced out a big number one, ran a running stitch around the outline, then cut out the interior of the number for a reverse applique a la Alabama Chanin.

Excuse the rather sloppy photos, as I’m still getting used to my new camera and didn’t remember to reset my settings from a previous experiment.

It really didn’t take too much time at all and since I had a few practice shirts over Thanksgiving (details coming soon) I was pretty confident that I could get it completed in time.

All done! For her number one!! I am so excited that we found a way to bring the other kids into the preparations this year. Not only did they help make the shirt, but the oldest helped bake the cupcakes, and the middle guy helped Daddy put together her wooden walker.

What a wonderful, meaningful day full of  joy.

Happy birthday, little one. You are so very loved.