Just gonna rub it in a little bit more

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Yup a bunch of you guessed right, we’re in Florida! Mr Rae’s parents rented a house in Clearwater Beach for the whole family (parents, siblings/spouses and kids) and it’s been really fun and warm. But it’s almost over, and then next week it’s off to Seattle for Thanksgiving to spend time with MY family. I tell you we are just a bunch of jetsetters this year. I did a little mental tally: this year I have been to San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, New York, Florida, and (next week) Seattle. That’s waaay more travel than normal for me, plus the first four were long weekends without kids (woot!) But Mr Rae wins hands down with so many trips out to New York and San Francisco in the past year I’ve lost count (he’s got a tech startup). Anyway. What was I talking about again? Oh yes. Florida! We spent a lot of our time here in the sand:

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And we took a side trip to Busch Gardens on what ended up being the hottest, most humid day we had all week.

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While we did enjoy the park a bunch, I have to be honest here: with a 2- and a 4-year old, I didn’t feel it was really worth the $$$ to get in. Elliot was a little disappointed that he couldn’t go on most of the rides he picked out on the map.

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But there’s a cute little area for preschoolers called the “Sesame Street Safari of Fun” so that’s where we spent most of our time:

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And they definitely had fun. But we joked that the four times Elliot rode on the Air Grover mini-coaster costed us roughly $50 each. And then there’s the issue of Ms C’s nap-time, which happens every day, whether we like it or not:

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So that was the end of our visit. Maybe we’ll wait until they’re each old enough to ride the big coasters before we go back. It’s a really great park…I just don’t have kids who can really appreciate it yet. They’re just as happy to play in the sand.

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Hope you’ve enjoyed the pictures of our trip! Glad I have a visual reminder for next week when I’m shivering again.

Posted in travel
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Flower Garden Dress

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At the very first SE Crafter’s Meetup ever last November, Emily brought some extra knit fabric along for me to take home (woot!). One of the knits was this amazing border knit that she had found for a bargain somewhere (and now I’m forgetting again Emily, was it Hancocks?). I loved this little garden of flowers along the border, especially these snails…

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I knew with such a detailed print that I needed a very simple pattern to show it off. I’ve made quite a few skinny tees for the kids lately just based on their measurements, so I just added a skirt to Clementine’s tee pattern to make the dress. Same idea as adding a skirt to a baby one-sie, really very simple. And I’m so happy with the result!

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And how many of us played with this same Fisher Price train, I’d like to know? Ours is still holding up well, 30+ years after it was first given to me when I was her age. Love this thing!

Pink Voile Tunic, for me

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Another project started in New York at the Heather Ross workshop, made with Anna Maria Horner’s Little Folks voile (also used for this Pierrot top for Clementine) and a variation of this basic pattern, just a very simple design I came up with that I’m starting to grow very attached to.

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UPDATE: This top was a prototype for the Bianca Pattern

I wanted some little pintucks to play with the plaid a little bit (maybe this isn’t technically “plaid”…but you still get what I’m talking about?), it breaks up the pattern just enough to be interesting without being too distracting.

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I can’t think of anything else to say about this tunic. Which is odd because normally I just blather on and on until I realize I’ve been puttering away at the same post for 3 hours and have to cut myself off.

Consider this a (brief) respite.

Another Dip in the Photo Pool: Charlieeeeeeeeeeeeee!

I’m loving all the new Charlie Tunics and Dresses that have appeared in the photo pool lately. Here are just a few of my favorites! Seriously, this Minnie Mouse is killing me:

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1. charlie tunic dress, 2. Tula Pink tunic 2, 3. Evelyn as Minnie Mouse, 4. Subject Charlie Tunic

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1. sewing september 025, 2. Sz 4 Charlie Tunic ELM_6065, 3. Untitled, 4. DSC_0109.jpg

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1. Charli(z)e Tunic, 2. Charlie Tunic (3), 3. new beach clothes, 4. Gingham Charlie tunic

In other news…

NEW CHARLIE POOL! I realized that we didn’t have a dedicated Charlie photo pool yet (oops) so I thought I would remedy that situation, stat. Now you don’t have any excuses not to share your great Charlie photos! It’s here: www.flickr.com/groups/charlietunics

NEW BACKPACK PATTERN! The new version of the toddler backpack pattern is now available in the pattern shop. You can see the changes I’ve made and learn what to do if you purchased the older version of the pattern but still want the updates right here.

CHARLIE DRESS? I am just now starting on the Charlie Dress pattern pieces *looks sheepish. ducks*. Everyone who emails me about this wants to know: a) when will it be ready? and b) how much will it cost? I don’t have answers to either question yet, but I do know that it will most likely be sold as an add-on pack to the original pattern. If there were two of me it would already be available. Hope that helps?


HANDMADE CHARLOTTE AT ANTHRO: I’m so excited for my friend Rachel at Handmade Charlotte! We met in person a few weeks ago at the Weekend Sewing Workshop in NY and she is a supercool individual and so much fun in person. Anthropologie is currently selling her mini-collection of children’s garments and it is super-cute (pictured above and below). LOVE that peacock coat. Anyone who has ever made handmade garments to sell knows how completely amazing this is. Congratulations Rachel!!!

Posted in charlie
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Moon coat for Elliot

One of the projects I worked on at the Weekend Sewing workshop a couple weeks ago was an Oliver+S Schooldays Jacket for Elliot. The moon fabric is from the Far Far Away II collection by Heather Ross, and the flannel inside is by Robert Kaufman.

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When Elliot is riding in the car he gets really excited when he sees the moon. He’ll point out the window and yell, “there’s the MOON!!!” It’s cute. What really kills me is that when we turn a corner and he sees the moon again a few minutes later he’ll yell, “ANOTHER MOON!” It’s as if, in his little universe, there are more moons around every corner. And of course this fabric just confirms the unlimited nature of the moon.

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This pattern (like all Oliver+S patterns) is really great! Even though sewing this coat is a somewhat involved/lengthy process, I like that Liesl breaks it down into really easy-to-follow steps, and the outcome is a really professional-looking finished garment. I made the coat exactly as specified by the pattern, with the exception of the button tabs, which come out of the side of the center panel rather than across it. I honestly liked the idea of using horn buttons for a duffle-coat effect better but then got too lazy to go out and find them and just settled for it this way because it seemed easier. I used magnetic snaps for the inside fasteners, and I like that it’s easy for him to put the coat on by himself as a result.

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He really just can’t help hamming for the camera.

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New backpack for Clementine!

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Toddler Backpack Sewing Pattern – $8
BUY NOW

Tonight I’m winding up the “Back to School Wardrobe” course I have been teaching over the last couple of months with Karen LePage at Blue House in Ann Arbor. We’re having a “show and tell” at a local restaurant and I cannot WAIT it’s going to be so much fun. We had a fantastic group of women who have been sewing up a storm and have been so much fun to hang out with. There were five projects over five sessions (a basic pant, Tee for Two knit tee, Charlie Tunic woven top, the Toddler Backpack, and the Reversible Jacket from Sewing for Boys), so as you can imagine it was a rather ambitious curriculum. One of the fun things about teaching classes with your own patterns is that you get to revisit them again, and every week in preparation for our class Karen and I would make a few samples to use as demonstration and make sure we knew what we were doing. This little backpack was used as a sample for the class, but now it’s finished so Miss Clementine has been proudly carrying it around.

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These prints are from the Far Far Away II line by Heather Ross . The cotton/linen canvas with the girls and the horses is (I’m not sure, can see this in the pictures?) a pale grey with orange and coordinates with the lighter-weight orange floral linen blend from that line so well. A half yard of each fabric is really plenty for one backpack, so I think the backpack is a nice way to feature the print. I ordered a yard and am terribly conflicted now with what to do with the rest of it. So many ideas, ack!!! A few of my sponsors still currently carry all or part of this line, so I would love it if you would shop with them (they’re linked from my sidebar) if you decide you need some.

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The Toddler Backpack was the very first pattern I digitized and began to sell back in 2009 at the prodding of readers, and as I combed through it again I realized it needed a facelift. So Elli (my seester and design-software-extraordinaire) and I are currently re-working the pattern a little bit: improving the section on the larger (school-aged) version of the backpack, which is very easy to make but needed some clarity in the instructions, changing the type-Os and adding a section on lining the backpack, something I have always wanted to do. I lined this version and found it to be quite easy to do. Here’s a little peek at the lining, which I found harder to photograph than expected:

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We’ll be putting up the new and improved version of the pattern soon so I wanted to put the word out on the street that the current version of the pattern will only be available for a little while longer at its current price ($6). The new version of the pattern will include (in addition to the original pattern pieces and updated instructions), a new printable summary sheet, improved instructions for making the larger school-aged version of the backpack (to fit a binder and letter-sized papers), and a new section on lining the backpack and will be sold for $8.

UPDATED: The new version is available now in the pattern shop; you can also read more about the updates here.

If you’re interested, Karen and I are thinking we might offer the kids’ wardrobe course again next winter, maybe in January or February. Let us know if you’re thinking about this as it definitely helps to know how many people might be interested.

And speaking of Heather Ross, did you see that she is offering the always-awesome Blueberry Hill workshops again next summer? AND a new Fabric Design workshop in New York next spring? I don’t know which will be more fun, but I do know they sell out fast!!!

Finally, we’re having another one of our Crafty Meetups here in Michigan on Thursday night at Makerworks — it’s rollicking good fun so if you can join us, let us know on our Facebook page or November Meetup page (more information there as well). If you don’t “do Facebook,” just send me an email (click on the contact nav button, above). If you can’t make it this week, our next meetup will be Thursday, December 1. Hope you can join us!

Liberty Scarf

Thanks for all of the great suggestions on machines and ideas for sewing with Elliot on the last post! It’s so fun to hear about your own experiences and what you’ve done with your own kids. That could be a whole new blog theme, for goodness sake.

I have been sewing so much this week that I’ve really been slacking on the blogging, sorry about that (it’s always a tricky balance). I have a couple of projects that I just finished that were started in New York for Heather Ross’ Weekend Sewing Workshop that I want to show you that I’ll blog about next week. I also bought some new fabric in NYC and had to make this as soon as I came home:

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When I was at Purl Soho a couple weeks ago I couldn’t resist picking up a little Liberty lawn. It’s rather pricey stuff but when you see it in person you start to understand why. The prints are quite delicate and beautiful and the fabric itself is lightweight and silky. Liberty lawn reminds me quite a bit texture-wise of the Anna Maria Horner voiles; they’re all really wonderful fabrics to work with.

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I bought just a half yard of this modern striped one (it’s here on the Purl website, third to last row), I decided to make it into a loop scarf along with some natural linen/tencel blend. Anna Maria Horner had actually demonstrated in person how to make her “Figure 8 Scarf” at the Weekend Sewing Workshop (instructions are here on her blog). It was great to see her talk it through because when I first read her blog post on it I had gotten a little confused and thought it had a twist built into it, but it turns out it’s just a big loop, no twists, but you twist it to wear it, if that makes sense. Unfortunately I also only half-listening/half-working at the workshop (sensing a theme here, Spacey Mc Spaceman? OK and does that remind anyone else of 30 Rock?), I also missed the fact that the cuts for the scarf are 18″ by 72″ so my scarf (18″x54″) is a little shorter than it should be. It’s definitely big enough to fit over my head…it’s not strangling me or anything. Just do yourself a favor and cut the recommended length (or buy one of AMH’s kits here — Christmas gift anyone??) if you decide to make this for yourself.

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I like it. It’s very striking! And such a quick easy project, really fun. I have other plans for my other Liberty fabrics, so stay tuned!

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The 4 year old can operate my sewing machine.

I am like a proud mother hen. Do you know what this is?

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It’s the first bit of sewing Elliot’s ever done completely on his own. He doesn’t nap anymore in the afternoon so after his quiet time is over he wanders upstairs and (go figure) I’m almost always in the sewing room. Often I keep him busy while Clementine finishes her nap with games on the tablet or coloring or cutting or we play a (real) game. The other day he told me he wants to “sew something.” I gave him this scrap of fabric and put the pedal on a box so he could reach it with his foot and this was the result.

He did it all himself. There isn’t a bit of this that I helped him with. Here’s a little video so you can see for yourself:

If the embedded video isn’t working, click here: http://vimeo.com/30909143

I have to admit that as a mother of two young children, I usually feel a bit envious when other bloggers show off crafts they do with their kids. The craftiest I ever get with my kids is painting or play-dough. Wait, I think last winter we dyed noodles. Somehow though the creativity I feel when it comes to my own sewing never seems to translate into crafty activities with my children. So let me walk you through our process so you can see if this is something you think you might do with your own children. And if you’ve had success sewing with your little ones, please share!

It started with him sitting in my lap while I sewed, probably as early as two years ago. He has always been fascinated by the needle going up and down and after I put the proper amount of fear in him regarding the needle, he would watch and we’d talk about what the machine was doing. The next step was me I guiding scraps of fabric under the needle while he pushed the pedal with his foot. This always elicited much giggling and excitement as he learned what happened when he pushed the pedal down really hard or not so much. We made a simple two-layer blanket together a couple weeks ago, and I let him lift and lower the presser foot. I let him cut the thread with the little thread cutter or a kiddy scissors. And then last week he made this, all by himself.

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I’m a bit frustrated at the prospect of trying to buy him his own machine. If this interest continues there’s going to be a wait at the sewing machine unless I can find him one that he can have all to himself. How annoyed am I though that the only truly functional “kid” sewing machine (i.e. one that is not a toy) that is on the market right now is the Hello Kitty one? When I showed a picture of it online to Elliot he thought it was really cool, but it irks me enough on principle that the Hello Kitty and flowers are meant to be girly that I really can’t get behind it. Sewing in and of itself is not girly. So why can’t we make simple beginner machines for girls and boys? We have plenty of stickers here if bling really is the issue. There’s also the issue of getting a machine that can handle a little abuse. Most beginner machines aren’t built very well; I don’t want him to get frustrated if the thread starts jamming up all the time. Ironically he’s probably better off just using my Bernina.

Anyway, now that he can pretty much sew a line, I think he could sew something more practical and fun. He gets a little bored with the cutting out part of sewing, so it think it will have to be something small and simple. Any ideas?

Posted in at home
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