Category Archives: sewing

holly jolly

My dad read T’was the Night Before Christmas via Skype this year.  Very exciting.  Iain bought Seraphina her own little sled and Elijah carved her a set of wooden spoons.  She’s not sure what all this fuss is about, but she sure enjoyed herself.  The big boys have been putting on a little show the last couple of years, helping the littler ones to get all of the dolls in the house dressed in festive clothing and such.  It’s really very sweet.  This year they turned the attic into Christmas town and the four of them slept up there on Christmas Eve.  They were so pleased with this arrangement that they went up quite early to do holiday Mad Libs, play games and read books.  It worked out beautifully for us.  We had a leisurely time setting everything up and then my love and I got watch a movie while eating Christmas cookies!  On Christmas Eve!  Amazing.

This year’s pajama patterns:

all of the pants were self drafted

Iain’s shirt is Kwik Sew 2530, view A minus the collar

Elijah and Galen’s shirts are Kwik Sew 3366 (now out of print I believe?)

the girl’s nightgowns are the Sally Dress pattern

I modified this pattern for Seraphina’s bonnet


a two headed princess…

I used to own a wool babywearing poncho.  It wasn’t perfect and it made me look like a mix between a weeble and a garden gnome, but it more or less did the trick. We dug it out at the beginning of the season only to discover the moths had been at it, blast their powdery little hides!  I swear those destructive tiny devils are going to be the death of me!

With several outdoor events this holiday season, mostly in the woods and always in the snow, I needed a way to safely carry her while keeping us both warm or we were in for a very long winter of being stranded at home alone.  I had less then a week between the discovery of my Swiss cheese covering and the first such event.  I ran out of time.  I also threw the timing off on my machine sewing through those thick layers.  But I did manage something warm and wearable, if not quite presentable.  Now it is entirely complete, with all the bells and whistles.

I very heavily modified this “Princess Coat” pattern by Burda.  I feel like the sleeves were much too long and bulky.  I chopped off several inches and tapered them a bit more.  Even so they are still big and puffy on me.  Otherwise I think it’s a very nice pattern. We’re keeping busy and keeping warm!



I have a lot of fabric; odds and ends leftover from various projects, overly ambitious plans that never panned out, all manner of old cast offs that I’m convinced I’ll breathe life into and repurpose one fine day.  Sometimes my Mother-in-law sends along fabric she thinks I’ll like, sourced at garage sales.  Years ago when I was making almost all of the kids clothes, I used to buy fabric in bulk, 6 or 10 yards at a pop.  Some remnants of that time still remain.  For a little while I was into fabric co-ops, until I realized that my proclivity towards believing I can do more then is humanly possible and pretty, heavily discounted fabric constantly being dangled in front of me was a bad combination.  I’ve got some fabric.  It’s nothing compared to the sorts of mega “stashes” I hear about sometimes, but if a kid comes to me looking to make, say, a pouch or a doll quilt, he/she’s got options.  The options aren’t endless, but we’re likely to find something along the lines of what they’re looking for.

I am not a hoarder or a clutter-bug.  Craft supplies are the one possible exception to this.  I rationalize this as being the exchange for having a large, creative family.  My stores are constantly being raided and it works well for us to have a lot of variety at our finger tips.  Even so, at the moment I’m craving less storage space and more room for living.  Just a bit of paring down.  I’m parting with certain things that I probably shouldn’t have held on to to begin with.  Let’s face it, by the time I start that rag rug I could probably gather 40 or 50 more pairs of holey jeans and torn corduroy pants.  But I’m also making things.  At a time when I’m hesitant to spend money, it’s a win-win situation.  Any time I feel like I’m approaching life from a feeling of lack, I go whip up a little dress or some pants and hey-presto!  Instant cure.  And a problem solved, whoever needs a garment now has one.

I’ve done an enormous amount of sewing lately.  I don’t think I’ve posted more then a quarter of what I’ve made in the last 9 months or so, if that.  Perhaps at some point I’ll try to go back and fill in the gaps.  Some projects required new fabric, but many, such as all of the dresses I made Seraphina in early autumn, were made from what I had on hand.  Due to limited amounts of most fabrics the two littlest members of the household make the most obvious recipients.

Mairi is in love with cotton velour.  Just now it is the fabric of all her favorite clothes.  I made her a pair of these leggings in the burgundy, as shown, and a second pair in navy.  For a whole week after I made this pair she refused to wear them.  She said she liked them too much and was afraid to mess them up!  Once I made the navy pair she loosened up a bit, knowing she had a back up.  Here they are topped with a Sally Dress, made of a really nice stretch twill and lined with flannel.  I think it’s going to be another season of using the same pattern again and again and I think this, my friends, is that pattern!


costumes for the girls

Life with Miss Mairi Rose is often an adventure.  For months and months she told everyone who would listen that she was going to be a mermaid for Halloween.  After a while I, seasoned parent though I may be, even believed her.  This went on for at least 6 months and I started making plans in the back of my head.  A month before Halloween she woke up one day and announced she was going to be….

a coyote.

So she could play a joke on the neighbors and scare them (in a playful way).

Okay.  I’m flexible.

That lasted for a week or so until she heard of a different, better joke.  One that she could play on a lot of people.  She decided that she was going to tie a rope around her waist with the ends kind of picked apart a bit.  When people guessed what she was she would say, “I’m afraid not!” (a- frayed-knot).  She greatly enjoyed using that line for about a week.

“Guess what I’m going to be for Halloween!”

“Abraham Lincoln?”

“I’m afraid not!” she would glibly reply with great enthusiasm and much emphasis.

Elijah was aghast.  A chance for a homemade costume and that was what she was going with?!?  Several of her siblings tried to talk her out of it, but she stood her ground.  She was being a frayed knot.

One afternoon shortly before Halloween, when no one else was around, she quietly cuddled up to me and in a very little voice said, “Mommy, is it too late to change my costume?”

And so we came full circle, back to a mermaid…

A modest mermaid costume is a tricky thing to pull off.  I made the dress from some cotton velour I had about.  You know how I love my double duty Halloween costumes (Galen got a new pair of winter pants this year) and she is in need of cool weather clothing.

I strung a seashell necklace, she strung a seashell bracelet.  The starfish was needle felted with the beads sewn on after it was formed.  The tulle skirt is supposed to be the ocean.  I’m not sure if that’s clear, especially in pictures since you can’t really see the layered colors and wavy texture too well.

The tail snaps on and off so that the skirt can be used separately.  She’s forever looking for new costumes for the little shows she puts on and I thought it might be useful.

Our littlest love, as you well know, was a lamb. I knitted roving to form the bonnet, needle felting the ears.  The tights (see this tutorial) turned out so adorable and fit so well that I think I’ll have to make several more pairs.  The shape of the body was based on the Sis Boom Carly Baby Bubble, greatly modified to suit our needs.  I made it out of batting.

    She was born right in the midst of lambing season here.  Two of the lambs up the road share her birthday, with the others mostly being a day or two to either side.  For the first few days after she was born she didn’t cry, but made these tiny little bleating noises that made her sound rather like a baby lamb herself.  It seemed fitting.


costumes for the boys

We made wee pumpkins to package up treats in.  I traced a cake pan to get circles of orange tissue paper and twisted it all up with some green floral tape.  We made a couple of sizes to hold various things.  These are the tiny ones.

Legolas Greenleaf

He bought the wig and pin and sewed, gathered or constructed the rest.  We went to the fabric store and he picked out what he wanted, down to elastic (which he ended up not using) and thread without so much as consulting me.  Back at home and he started cutting and stitching.  I worried a bit about the many things that he might not take into consideration as a novice sewer, but bit my tongue and stayed out of the way and as you can see he clearly had it all well in hand.  The only thing he asked my advice on was the making of the gauntlets.  I talked him through drafting a simple pattern based on his measurements and he executed it perfectly.  I had absolutely no concerns about his ability to make his own accessories (a.k.a. weapons), which he carved and burned designs into.

The Jockey

Holy-moly.  This one almost put me in an early grave.  This boy and his ideas I tell ya!  Whenever I mentioned his costume plans to people, they always commented on how easy it would be, because surely he must have most of the gear already?  Nope.  You see, jockeys do not wear black britches, they wear white.  A plain riding helmet?  Completely unacceptable.  I was handed a sketch, which I then had to transform into a workable, wearable pattern…and then redesign when he opted for an entirely different fabric.  He did all of the sewing himself, down to the hand embroidered horse (amazing right?), with me talking him through each step.  It really was quite the undertaking.  But through it all I kept thinking, how often will I be able to help one of my boys with a dream sewing project?  I mean really now.

And our dear little Robin Hood.

Goodness he’s adorable!  But, eek, don’t tell him I said so!  I would be in an awful lot of trouble you know.  While making his costume, I took the opportunity to start teaching him a bit about using my machine.  While I did the majority of it, he did sew a couple of the straight seams himself.  He was mightily pleased with himself and is pushing for a new project that he can do all on his own.

Iain made the bow, quiver and arrows for him.  Actually he sold them to him for a very reasonable price.  There was a catalog and order form and everything, even a three cent shipping charge for carrying them downstairs.


wee autumn wardrobe, part 4

I picked up Sherlock Holmes again, and am back to knitting Iain’s sweater along with other bits and pieces throughout the day.

The final dress!  This one is clearly a picnic dress.  It even has sleeves like a gingham tablecloth and cherries for tea.  I did a plain hem for the sleeves on it and I’m glad I did because all of the long-sleeved dresses are already getting too small and unlike the other ones there is no elastic to get tight higher up on her arm.

The sweater is MOMO in a green tea colored cotton yarn from Knitpicks. Both hats are older projects.  Details for the Apple Green Pilot Cap can be found here and the Newborn Blackberry Beret here.  The beret fit her as a newborn, but looked completely ridiculous on her wee little head!  Thankfully it still fits.  Now that it’s more proportionate, I think it’s quite charming.
Frontier Dreams KCCO


wee autumn wardrobe, part 3

Last year

and this year….

More into the leaf play this year for sure, though not quite up to the crazy antics of her siblings!  She does enjoying sitting and watching them.  They make her giggle like mad!

If the first dress was the simple one and the second one the whimsical one, this one, with it’s reproduction kitten fabric and vintage notions, must surely be the retro one.

This newborn bonnet I made was too small from day one.  I thought I would alter the pattern to make one that actually fit.  I can’t decide if it’s goofy or cute or both!  This is a strange pattern, giant needles for a tiny hat!  I couldn’t find the recommended size 19 needles anywhere.  Finally the boys made me a set out of dowels.


Wee Autumn Wardrobe (part 2)

The first dress I made on its own, just as a trial to make sure it fit and all of that.  The next 3 I made in rapid succession, assembly line style.  As I was sewing the ruffle on this one (the ruffle is my favorite part!) I was thinking that it’s rather whimsical and romantic, like if it were a decorating style it might be classed as French Country.  The bow came last and I questioned it up until the very end and after.  I couldn’t decide if it was too silly or too over the top, but I have to confess, more then any other dress, this is the one that makes me smile as I’m putting away laundry.


dream come true…

Remember?  Before we left for our trip, I determined that our Sweet Wild Violet was in need of some clothing, and quick!  I’ve been wanting to detail the making of her wee fall wardrobe, but it’s quite beyond my abilities at the moment to sit here for long enough to do so.  A little here and a little there will have to do.  This bitty dress is the first in a set of four.  As I needed something quick and easy, all of them were based off of the Anna Maria Horner Peice-a-Bake Baby Dress, size 12 months.  I tried to do something a little different for each so that they all had a personality of their own.  This one is simple and sweet.  The most basic of basics. 

And yes, there is a bit of a color theme going on.  I’m like a scratched record with colors, I often get stuck.

Pattern: Baby Scarf by Liesl Gibson

I believe one of the yarns is some O-Wool in ‘Oatmeal’, the other is the yarn leftover from Mairi’s mittens.


in the beginning…

Some scenes from our first week of school, that have taken me a full month to post!  Every year has a different feel, with different priorities.  I can’t quite explain why, but this year it seemed really important to start the school year off working all together before we broke off into separate age-appropriate groups.  This is tricky with kids kindergarten up through high school!  I knew we would be visiting the art museum, so I basically made that our focus for the first couple of weeks.  There are actually some really nice lesson plans in the teachers resources section of their site.  I utilized a couple of them and everyone worked at their own level.  There was one on geometry and quilts.  I made it easier for some and harder for others and adapted the whole thing to our life style…meaning we didn’t stop at paper quilts, but broke out fabric and needles as well.  I’ve been re-working our homeschooling room and decided that I’m sick of the poster of hatchling turtles.  It’s feeling old and tired.  What better way to kick off the new year then with a project that instructs while beautifying our space?

I started every morning by arranging large sheets of paper on the floor, with art supplies in the center.  I had them all lay on their stomachs.  Each day I would choose a different piece of classical music to play and they were to draw how it made them feel or anything that they thought of as they listened, the idea being less to create a perfect picture and more to get used to conveying emotion.  I have no idea where this idea came from, it is not my own, I believe I read about it many years ago.  Afterwards we would go around and anyone who wanted to share would talk about what they drew and why.  Elijah, who thinks in horses the way that I think in yarn, complained about the mood changing.  Of Rhapsody in Blue he said, “At first it was like a lipizzaner doing dressage, but then it suddenly became a herd of mustangs racing full speed in a cloud of dust.”  I would then pull the big boys aside for a bit to talk about the composer, the time period and significance of each piece.

The butterflies!  We listened to a free Sparkle Story where the children surprised their homeschooling parents by decorating with butterflies as a teacher gift to start the new year.  Mairi was inspired to start making butterflies out of coffee filters that she found in the craft drawer.  Iain and Elijah picked up on her idea and started making intricate paper cut ones while referencing a field guide with actual pictures of butterflies to copy.