Category Archives: sewing

little Rose Cheeks and how need became want

This year, when I started my Christmas gift planning, I was feeling a little scattered.  Some random ideas for random people, but no real cohesive plan.  I’m sure that by now, everyone has seen that “recipe” floating around the internet for holiday gift giving for children; something to wear, something to read, something they want and something they need.  More to just straighten things out in my own head then anything else, I decided to try breaking things up that way to see if it helped.

Something to wear was easy: Christmas pajamas for all.  We had something to read covered as well.  We kind of have a standard stocking formula: a book, a new deck of playing cards, candy canes (depending on the age of the child), some B-fresh gum (again age dependent), and art supplies.  This is generally how we replenish our homeschooling and art supplies each year.

For want, we tracked down a ping pong table on Craig’s List for the older boys to share.  Carrot the Prince was made for Galen.  Dear sweet Galen who always claims that he doesn’t know what it is he wants until he receives a gift, then, as if by magic, it always turns out to be just what he wanted, he just didn’t know it before!  Màiri Rose got a new tea set, as her beloved old one was missing several key pieces at this point, like, you know, a tea pot.

For need we replaced Iain’s old watch, which was to the point of being held together with duct tape and only sometimes actually telling time.  Elijah got a new winter hat (more on that later).  Galen recieved some buckets and boxes to organize the art supplies in his room.  And Màiri, oh Màiri, well Màiri is where things got tricky…

The original plan, that was well under way, was to make her a quilt for her bed.  There came a day where it was just the two of us home alone.  I went to throw in a load of laundry before reading her a book, only to find her poking about in my craft bags.  The canvas bags that I keep tied shut at that time of year, generally each containing a gift project, to be picked up and worked on whenever that particular child is not around.  She was holding the inner head for Galen’s doll.

The conversation that followed went something like this:

“what’s this?”

“that’s none of your business”

“I think it’s a doll.  I think you are making a doll.”

And then my reassuring her repeatedly that whatever it was, it wasn’t for her.  And from that point on, it was very common for her to say in a loud, exaggerated whisper, when I was just within hearing, “Oh, I hope I get a doll for Christmas!“  Right.  Now I had thought about Galen’s getting a doll and her not and how she might react to that and decided that in the excitement of the morning she wouldn’t much mind.  But now that the expectation of the possibility was there, well, that was a whole new ball game.

And so, a week or so before Christmas, I shifted gears, the quilt was abandoned and a relatively quick little dolly whipped up instead.  When I told Steve that it would go fairly quickly because the doll wouldn’t really have a body, he looked at me in horror and said, “you’re giving our little girl a dismembered head?!?”  I tried to explain, but finally told him he’d just have to wait and see what I meant.

She named her Rose Cheeks.  And yes, many a request for “Rose Cheek stories” have been made.  Turns out she is a cousin of Carrot the Prince.  And goodness, between the two of them this mama has been kept on her toes and needing to think fast.  The children decided that it would be fair if I told one story for each, every other night.  I’m really not sure that my tired brain can pull together 365 unique stories a year!

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Carrot the Prince

Once upon a time there was a little boy named Galen who loved to hear stories.  When he was not more then 2 or 3 his mama started to tell him a story.  A story about a prince who’s true name has been long forgotten because as she began her story and introduced the hero, there was a small interruption as the little boy said, “yeah, but everybody called him Carrot”.  His mama laughed and said, “Carrot?  Alright, Carrot the Prince it is!”  And so Carrot the Prince was born and many, many a tale of his adventures have been told.  Sometimes the stories are very royal and magical indeed and sometimes they are a bit more ordinary and eerily similar to things that are happening in our own lives.  Either way Carrot the Prince, along with his father King Turnip and his mother Queen Rutabaga, are quite popular in these parts.

I’ve often thought about making Galen a Carrot the Prince doll.  As he is getting older and maturing rapidly these days, I thought this Christmas might well be my last chance to do something of that sort and have him really and truly appreciate it.  I’m so glad I did.

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christmas pajamas and other things

Waiting for the phone to ring for the annual reading of T’was the Night Before Christmas with Pop-pop.  The waiting is so hard.

But then…

Little squishy wax people are a specialty of Màiri and Galen’s.

I found a hand-carved crochet hook and some knitting needles in my stocking.  Only in this house!

Iain and Elijah made the little ones some cool bath toys.  (instructions here)

I had five kids up at 3:30 in the morning on Christmas day (5!), though I’m pretty sure I was the only one being kept up by the littlest.  Thankfully I was able to convince them to go back to sleep for another couple hours at least.

I’m still bored with the usual red and green Christmas pajamas.  I went with robin’s egg blue instead.  The boys were made from the same old (now out of print I believe) Kwik Sew long john pattern that I’ve made at least 20 times now.  It required quite a bit of altering for Iain who outgrew that pattern long ago.  Elijah’s in the largest size now.  Finding sewing patterns for pre-teen/teenage boys is not easy.  Màiri’s leggings were made by tracing another pair to use as the pattern.  Her nightie is Kwik Sew 3105, view A, modified for length and without the bottom edge ruffle.  The bonnet is the Angry Chicken one, only with no brim and a chin strap and button instead of ribbon tie.  The stretch fabric made it lay a little funny in the front.

Back in November the Wee Girl asked if I has started making the Christmas pajamas yet.  When I replied that I had picked out the fabric, but hadn’t started sewing yet, she told me that I better get to it because Christmas was actually really quite soon.  Then she proceeded to inform me that she required a new nightgown, since she had grown out of her one from last year, and a new sleep cap and something for her legs “like the boys get”.  Yup, that’s my low maintenance girl.

Iain and Elijah seem to have appointed themselves as heads of the holiday cheer committee.  Despite the fact that they are well past the doll play stage, all of the dolls find their way back out and get dressed up for the occasion and special decorations show up for all of the toy people.  All to make things festive for the little ones or maybe to pretend, just for a day or two that they are little ones again?  It’s very sweet.

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a very gathered skirt and a very cranky pregnant lady…

I found this tutorial for an adorable skirt.  I love that it’s meant to be worn both during and after pregnancy.  I have such an aversion to sewing something that can only be worn for a few months.  And being a skirt, it’s nursing friendly as well, which is something that I haven’t been taking into consideration these last several years, making my postpartum wardrobe limited.  Though probably not as limited as my current maternity wardrobe, which can only be described as completely pathetic.

She looks cute as can be.  I look like that girl in ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ that blows up all huge and blue and ends up getting rolled out on her side.  meh.  Some women pull off pregnancy well.  I just look lumpy and frumpy and well fat.  Remember when I used to have an actual waist?  I do not think I appreciated that time enough.

When I first tried it on, the kids laughed and laughed and laughed.  It does look at least a bit better now that it’s hemmed.

I thought maybe a cardigan would help…

It didn’t really.

Clearly, I should have heeded her advice on cutting w-a-y back on fabric when working with cotton.

 Hey look, there I am!  In the front anyway…

Perhaps I should just walk around with one arm wrapped about my belly and one tucked under my behind so that people can tell where all the fabric ends and I begin?

Is it strange to say that even though I think it’s terribly unflattering, I still kind of like it?  It’s very comfortable and certainly quite feminine.  The pockets make me happy.  And when I look down, I like the way the gathers lay over my belly.  Not owning a full-length mirror probably helps a great deal too.

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domestic scenes

A bit of sewing, a bit of knitting, a little nature, some kid art (the wood-burned horse above was a gift from Iain), a simple experiment and some apple pie.  Oh, and that funny somewhat cryptic looking letter above?  It’s code doncha know.  The latest craze around our house involved various people writing messages in code to be broken by others.  With letters just randomly appearing where ever the intended recipient is most likely to find it.

I just finished reading Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui: Free Yourself from Physical, Mental, Emotional and Spiritual Clutter Forever by Karen Kingston, as highly recommended by a friend.  A bit of a mouthful that title!  I’m in the midst of a HUGE decluttering kick.  Call it nesting if you like.  It was a nice little motivator to be reading while working through things.  Anyone have any other simplifying/decluttering book recommendations?  There’s still a lot to be done here!  There are so many things in life, that I have absolutely no control over, that are so very painfully complicated.  This I have control over.  I don’t want my home and caring for it to be complicated.  Less is more.

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more gathering in

I meant to include this in my last post, but got all caught up in the garden goodness and overlooked it.  Because of course it is not just vegetables coming in these days.  Lots of things are being packed away for the season, sheltered in the basement, under the house, on the porch.  As we enter into this season of fires, the wood that was stacked to cure in the summer is slowly being brought up under the house, where it will be stacked again, ready to be carried in as needed.

Iain, Elijah and I made this wood carrier as a gift for Steve quite a while ago now.  I did most of the sewing, while they harvested, carved and polished the handles.  It’s been rather useful I think, and so far it’s holding up well.  There are several tutorials on-line for similar ones, but none were quite what I wanted, so I took the features that I liked from each and put them all together into one carrier.

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lace bolero




I had such a hard time finding photos of my gown that didn’t really show the other accessories that I haven’t revealed yet!  Yes, it’s true, we’re not even close to the end of the projects yet.  Well, maybe close-ish?  This was a quick little one to add a bit more modesty and elegance to my gown for the ceremony.  I used the same Alençon lace that I used on the over skirt of my gown.  I do so love lace.

All the photos above are by the lovely and talented Dawn Joseph.

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my gown








Oh my, this was an undertaking.  There is a reason why it isn’t odd for these things to cost thousands of dollars and it has very little to do with the cost of the materials.  I had just under 2 months to design and make my gown.  I could have used at least 10 extra sets of hands.  The experience…gosh, what to say?  It was frustrating at times.  Close your eyes for a moment and imagine trying to cut HUGE swaths of ivory fabric, on the floor, during mud season, with four kids constantly running in and out.  I think that’s the highest my blood pressure has ever been in my life.  I learned very quickly that my monitor is not to be trusted when is comes to fabric shades.  The caramel colored silk taffeta that I ordered for the bodice turned out to actually be salmon.  I ended up layering several layers and types of sheer fabric over it to mute the color to the nude/palest blush pink you see here.  I didn’t like the contrast between the new color and the ivory skirt so I ordered some “Pale Apricot” tulle….when I took the bright bubble gum pink bolt out of the package, I laughed so hard that Steve knocked on the door to make sure I was ok.   Yet more layering was the solution.  I used well over 100 yards of tulle.

Sometimes it was amazing.  Elijah took an odd interest in the process, at times taking on the role of my assistant.  I’d come down from putting the littles to bed and he’d be laying out fabric swatches for consideration on the futon with a baseball game on in the background.  For his eleventh birthday he learned to lace up a corset back dress.

The whole thing was done in secret.  Steve wanted it to be a surprise.  I tacked up a sheet over the playroom doorway and only worked on it when he wasn’t around.  The picture above, of him looking so handsome in his waistcoat, was his first time he saw my dress as I walked down the aisle towards him.

I lined the bodice with old work shirt of Steve’s and used buttons from my grandmother’s button jar for the bustle, because I’m ridiculously sentimental like that.

The last photo, on the stairs, shows the full train.  It’s bustled in the other photographs, which dramatically altered the shape of the gown, giving it kind of a trumpet flair around the bottom.

Suzannah from Adventures in Dressmaking’s blog was invaluable to me, especially the posts on how she made her beautiful gown.  Reading her story made me feel just a little bit less crazy for even attempting this.

All the photos above are by the lovely and talented Dawn Joseph.

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clutches


Another little project, with very limited pictures.  I wasn’t even going to bother to post this on, but I’m trying to get back in the habit of posting more often and frankly, because of the lack of pictures and the fact that there is not much to say on the subject, it was a quick and easy post!

I made some simple clutches for my sisters, my mother and my dear friend (who was lovely enough to come and do my make-up and hair).  I completely overlooked taking pictures of them before giving them away.  The photos above are incidental, snapped by the photographer just after they were gifted.  If you look closely, everyone in the top picture is holding one.

They were all made from different fabrics.  I tried to somewhat coordinate them with their dresses, which was rather difficult to do from afar!  Each one had a hand-embroidered vintage handkerchief inside and a vintage button clasp.

All the photos above are by the lovely and talented Dawn Joseph.

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doily table runner and other pretty things

There were candles everywhere.  I emptied out my cabinets and the pantry of jars in every shape and size and filled them all with ivory candles.  Jam jars, honey jars, canning jars, vases, whatever I could get my hands on.

The candle holders on the table were made in the style of faux  mercury glass, only in gold instead of silver.   Steve sprayed the insides a bit with plain water, then a coat of metallic gold spray paint and left them upside down to dry.  It gives a neat, uneven crackly sort of effect.  With a candle lit inside it creates such a wonderful warm glow.  He also spray painted all of the cream colored vases that show up in various pictures.  All of the spray painted items were five to twenty cent yard sale finds.

I wish I had more photos of the table runner.  I guess I could actually go and takes some, but that seems like an awful lot of trouble.  The contrast of the shades of white, cream and ecru over the dark cherry finish of my sewing table was just lovely.  I started from the middle and worked my way out because I had a particular piece that I wanted to be the center.  I pinned on a few at a time, overlapping them a bit and sewing them on the machine with a straight stitch and matching thread.  Normally when you sew lace you used a zig-zag stitch because it blends better, but for whatever reason the straight stitch worked much better for this.   For stability I tried to make sure that each doily was connected at least two points.  It was a very quick, fun, free-form sort of project.

All the photos above are by the lovely and talented Dawn Joseph.

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