Friday, May 28, 2010

Project: Special Robot Dress for the Robot Party (and free pattern)

I bought the fabric and trim for this dress long before I had any idea that I was going to throw a robot party extravaganza. But since it takes me months to get around to any of my sewing projects, the robot party was a fresh idea when I was putting it together and it just seemed right to do some applique. The fabric is a white dotted swiss with yellow dots that I just adore.

The pattern is a vintage Simplicity pattern 6241 from 1974 (a great year, I must say). It was an absolute breeze to put together and it fits really well. As with most crew neck patterns, I had to take the collar down about 1". I also straightened out the curved lines at the side seams to make it more A-line.

The robot applique is my own design based loosely on the robots I was sewing for my Etsy shop back in 2006. I pasted the pattern below. You can read my applique tutorial in detail here. The embroidery is mostly a backstitch. I included the legs but as you can see, I used ric rack instead and it gives a really nice feel to the piece.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Project: Robot bib . applique tutorial

In the spirit of going absolutely crazy on the details for this party, I made a bib even better than last year's. I wanted something to fit in with the robot theme but I also wanted it to be a "2." I downloaded a bunch of cool fonts and then finally went with this one.

First, print out the number that best represents your kid's age. Make sure it's a good size to fit your bib (or shirt or whatever). Also iron some Wonder Under 805 to the back of your fabric. At the bottom of this post, I included a pattern for the shape I ended up using to make my number. What is pictured got manipulated to the point of no return so I traced it and scanned it in for anyone to use. It should be about 2" wide when printed.

Cut your shapes out. If you're using corduroy, make sure the nap is going in the right direction so that when you're wiping all that food off of it, it won't be too much of a mess. I like my nap downward pettable if that makes any sense.

Iron your shapes down so that they make your number. If you need some direction, take a look at your microwave, DVR, alarm clock, or just play around with it until it works.

If you iron really well with a really hot iron on both sides, your applique will probably last a year until you need a new one or it's so gross you throw it out anyway.

If you want a bib to last longer, use the zig zag stitch on your machine to tack all of the edges down. I go into great detail on this process in a tutorial you can read here. I highly recommend that you do a few practice runs to get the length and width of your stitches figured out.

Enjoy with cake! More on the dress soon. Unfortunately it was freezing outside so we had to pair her cute robot dress with a long-sleeved t-shirt and leggings.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Project: Robot Pinata Tutorial and Subsequent Bashing

I don't feel that any party can be truly complete without a pinata. There is nothing more fun than beating the crap out of something that fits in with your theme. And who doesn't like large quantities of candy and junk food falling from a gaping wound? Here's how to make this gorgeous hunk of metal-inspired tissue paper and cardboard:

1. Since robots are usually squarish, use a thin box as the base. Tape up any seams so that it will be easier to cover but then use an X-acto knife to put large slits up the front and back so that it will have a convenient weakness during the beating.

Supplies for the foundation: box, 1 cup flour (or wallpaper paste), 1 cup water, strips of newspaper, 2 tbls. school glue

2. Use only one coat of the papier mache. Do one side then wait for it to dry before starting the back. Leave a huge hole in the top so that there will be a place to dump the loot.

3. Cut wide strips of silver tissue paper then cut 1/2" ruffles in all of the pieces. Use a brush to apply the adhesive so you don't get goop all over your hands.

Supplies: silver tissue paper, scissors, matte medium (or mod podge or school glue), older paintbrush

4. When all 4 sides are covered, cut tiny holes in the top of the box to insert wire for hanging.

Supplies: X-acto knife, wire

5. Thread the wire (about 12" for each piece) through the holes and wrap them very well. Put the loot in the pinata. Big Lots has great loot. Be careful not to put too much stuff in it or it will be too heavy.

6. Finish the top with 3 or 4 layers of the tissue paper and glue so that it will hold up to repeated beating.

7. Finally cut some slits in the sides and thread a slinky through each one. It may be easier to do this before you put all the loot inside and seal it up. Or you can just glue some arms to the sides or have no arms at all.

Then to decorate to maximum cuteness, you can use toilet paper rolls wrapped in plastic Christmas paper for the legs and use hot glue to attach some feet. Zadie helped me with the face and the belt.

Supplies: Slinkies from Target's dollar bins, random bits for features

8. Hit the pinata with a large stick until it busts open and the kids fly into a frenzy of grabbing treats. My brother suggested we put a blanket on the ground to catch the loot. That was a good idea. Mr. Lemon wrapped the end of the stick with a rag and duct tape. I guess he thought it would lessen the blow if the stick happened upon the head of another child. Luckily that did not happen. But check out how in this very shot the leg of the poor robot is flying through the air.

9. Gather the loot. Enjoy!

If you are sufficiently inspired, please let me know. I started a flickr pool for robot party ideas.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Robot Dance Party

The best part of Zadie's 2nd Birthday Party Robot Extravaganza was the Robot Dance Party. I grabbed a couple of boxes from work and covered them with wrapping paper from Christmas. As you can see, I cut out holes for his arms, taped on some pipe cleaners, and went to town with the hot glue.

All those stickers on the front were placed by me and Zadie. We spent almost an hour in front of the box. She would put a sticker on the right side and I'd do the exact same thing on the left. It gave us something to do, it was fun, and she really felt like she made the robot.

Add one hilarious teenage nephew and you're good to go.

The hardest part was choosing the songs. I spent a couple of hours searching but came up with a good 20 minutes. Here's the best of the playlist:

Everybody Dance Now (I had heard this story on NPR by this guy who said all children went nuts when they heard this song. I thought I'd do the same experiment. Different results and not very roboty but oh well).

Most of the Yo Gabba Gabba CD.

The only bad thing was that the power went out at exactly the same time the party was to start! Luckily it came back on just as we finished the cake.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Project: Robot Party

A full week of non-stop Robot Party action.

Day 1: Robot Dance Party. A little info on how to make the costume and a great robot dance mix.

Day 2: Robot Pinata. Tutorial and beating.

Day 3: Robot bib . applique and tutorial.

Day 4: Robot dress . applique (and free pattern)

Day 5: Robot goodness . like cake and popcorn and party favors:

Popcorn making robot

Vegan robot cake with special powers

The army of robot gift bags

Friday, May 14, 2010

Project: kids clothes week day 5

I finished up my little cross-stitch gator today. I messed it up in a few places. What was I thinking trying to do teeny tiny sewing while Zadie was hosting a tea party? I pulled out a few rows of stitches and made do with the rest. It looks like a gator and she loves it so that's all that counts in my book (apologies to the designer). I'm going to run the same purple piping around the edges of the pocket but I think I'll have to line it first. You can see gators through the holes in the fabric. I had never stitched on that kind of cloth before but I really liked it.

Zadie and I also spent some time this morning picking out fabric for another pair of pants. I love this stuff. It is Riley Blake.

In other news, Project: Project is going to be the favorite blog all week over at We All Sew! It's a huge honor to me. Just check out the great company I'm in.

So that's it for kids clothes week. I had high hopes but I did finish one heck of a cute dress, one pair of amazing pants, and am loaded with inspiration from checking out the flickr pool.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Project: Yellow Elephant Pants (kids clothes week day 4)

This morning I had the finished elephant pants out on the chair for Zadie to wear. As soon as she saw them she started demanding, "I want my effin pants! I want my effin pants!" It was pretty hilarious (to me). I used the Sailor Pants pattern from Dans La Lune on Etsy. I didn't have any problems printing out the pattern or putting it together. It was very straightforward. In fact, all of the directions were easy to understand and follow. The pictures showed what they needed to show. Well done.

It took me forever to get started on them because I was overwhelmed by all the buttonholes. But after having learned how to make them on my machine I'm all about them now. It's really not that bad. The only thing that I had problems with is the opening at the back for the buttonhole elastic. There was a marking on the pattern so I used that (it is probably a grain line). I didn't look at the photograph. So it's in the wrong place and there is a weird gap and I'm really not sure how I'm going to fix it. I could cut another hole or move the buttons.

Either way, the pants are adorable and a great fit. I didn't have enough fabric to make them as long as the pattern but they are perfect. When she gets taller, they'll be even cuter as capris. Lovely.

Today I spent my hour doing cross stitch. In my inspiration hunting late last night, I found some cute pocket ideas in Bend the Rules Sewing for aprons. I got started on the crocodile and will make a pocket out of that. It was nice to just do something mindless for a while.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Project: kids clothes week day 3

Today I was actually able to finish the pants. They are super cute on and a great fit but I think they will work better with a disposable diaper. The hem was a breeze.

I played around with my alligator cross-stitch and still am not sure what to do with it. I will put it away for a few days and go back to it fresh.

I had also wanted to start a little peasant blouse but I couldn't figure out how to make the pattern so I spent some time looking through some other sewing books for inspiration and suddenly it was 9:30.

Such is my life. I think I spend more time thinking about what the heck to do than actually doing it. And I don't want to even think about how much time I spend ripping out mistakes and fixing the stuff I screw up.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Project: kids clothes week day 2

I did more than an hour of sewing today because it was Election Day and I didn't have to work. We had a little family outing of going to the tasty bread store, the library, the quilt shop for buttons (just me), and the polling place. I made a reasonably informed vote and feel good about my decisions.

Last night I finished up the bias trim around the gator dress but did not think of a solution for that seam at the neck. Any ideas? I have a crocodile cross-stitch pattern that I was going to add to a pocket. Maybe I can work it in up there? I don't know.

Today I started on the yellow elephant pants. They are almost done. I have to sew the buttons on and hem them up. I made a weird mistake as you can see in the picture. I put the buttonholes too far over so the little flap that I was supposed to sew the buttons to would not have been big enough. I had to add 3/4" to the width of the flap pattern so I went with a different fabric and I like it much better with the buttons I chose. The pants seemed to fit well even over the chunky cloth diaper so I think they'll be great for now and later when we are diaper free. I was too lazy to fold over the edge of my elastic and stitch it up so I just used nail polish to seal the ends. Wow. Who does that? Now it's drying so they'll be ready to go tomorrow when I get home from work.

But I totally felt like a rock star blasting out my buttonholes like I had been doing them my whole life.

Project: Applique Tutorial

Check out my guest post over at Come and See the Seitz today. I give away all of my applique secrets one by one.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Project: kids clothes week day 1

I was thinking that this week would be Robot Week and that I would feature all the goodness that was Zadie's 2nd birthday party. But I am really stressed out. What I need right now is to just sew and not have to do anything that requires a great amount of effort. I hope that's okay.

A while back I signed up for kids clothes week over on Elsie Marley. It seemed like a big challenge at the time but now it seems like what I need: I just want to sew. And the deal with kids clothes week is that you just sew -- for one hour every day.

I'm starting today by finishing this cool crocogator dress. It's top secret for now but you'll hear about it soon enough. That seam on the bias tape right at the neckline is really bothering me. I'm going to do something about that.

So here's my plan:
this crocogator dress (fabric by boosterseat)
those yellow elephant pants (pattern by danslalune)
bubble romper (maybe)
a little zippered tote so zadie will have something for her doll accessories
maybe some doll clothes for her new baby

I might not even get to all this but I'm not going to worry about it. Oh, and I know that doll clothes and tote bags aren't kids clothes but that's okay. You should check out the Elsie Marley site. She has some amazing inspiration. I love the bunny rabbit pocket detail she features. Cuteness overload.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Project: 2

newborn baby

at one year


Someone just turned 2 today. Wow. I have no words. We are having a party with family this weekend. Robot Pinata, Robot Dance Party, and Robot Popcorn Machine. Next week will be Robot Week.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Project: Buttonhole! (and should I buy a new machine)

the mess of the tests

Today, I made a buttonhole. In fact, I made three of them: one to test and two for the show (the Oliver + S Playsuit show, that is). I have been afraid to try buttonholes because they seem so daunting. So I popped in the quilt shop with Senior Husky and we got to work. The setup for this particular model is different from all of the other Husqvarna machines that they carry so it was a bit of a challenge to figure out but it's so easy now that I know how.

But it's dangerous being in the quilt shop because of all the beautiful brand new fancypants sewing machines they have lined up ready to go at the front of the store. . .

I bought my Huskystar 224 used from my local quilt shop almost 10 years ago. It's been good to me. It's been a pain in the ass (mostly me not knowing what I'm doing). But lately I've been wanting to upgrade. Senior is a top-of-the-line beginner machine and I just need to move on. I need more control and I need a stitch that is shaped like little VW campervans. That's all there is to it. I think I'm going to buy an Emerald 183. It's an upgrade but it's not crazy. It's on sale. It's calling to me. It has fonts but it's not an embroidery machine. (I can use my mom's if she ever takes it out of the box). I am going Husqvarna because I want to support a local business plus they teach me stuff I don't know when I need to learn it and they do all well-child visits in house and most repairs. That means it won't get shipped around needlessly if something does go wrong.

So what do you think? Should I go for it?

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Earth Week: Roundup

Project: Earth Week. An introduction.

Cloth Diaper Report. Part three. Follow the links to the older posts.

Cloth Wipes Tutorial and Recipe. Click here. Solution recipe at bottom.

Earth Week partner in crime: Sabra of Sew a Straight Line. All of her posts in one spot.

Real Food guest post by Amanda of the everyday palate.

Links to some excellent green resources, information, shops, and shopping tools.

Sponsor: Natural Home Essentials.

Sponsor: Monkey Travel Club.

Project: Plants in your yard

I’ve never had much of a green thumb. If I can get something to live, I can usually keep it alive for years and years. If something dies, I know never to buy it again (although that doesn't always stop me). That philosophy has pretty much worked for outside stuff as well. When we moved into our house we lucked into some pretty amazing bushes, and some pretty hideous bushes. We promptly got rid of what we didn’t like, a yew hedge full of dog hair and a rose bush in the middle of a very tiny herb garden (we kept the herb garden, just not the messy roses). That Fall I set to work planting some bulbs (muscari, or grape hyacinths, are my favorite flowers because elves must live among them). Every other Fall or so, I prune the bushes that we kept: a gorgeous azalea, this white bush (below) that I think is a spirea, a massive forsythia, and an even bigger lilac.

Later, we bought some blueberry bushes to go where the yew had been. We were excited that first summer to have buckets full of black raspberries from the vines left by the previous owners. We took a chance the next year and moved some of the little suckers from one part of the yard to the other and they have also done very well. Basically, we try it with just a little bit and if it works, we keep at it. The same thing worked for the peonies that were fighting for space among the black raspberries. One year I moved a few to against our neighbor’s fence. They came up so I tried it again. I'll do it again this year to clean out that bed and I’ll have the entire length of the fence full of peonies within two years.

People think some of these things are hard to grow but that is not the case. It’s just all about what’s meant to be there. My advice for growing pretty stuff is to take a look around your neighborhood. What do you like? What’s growing in the most places? And better yet, what’s growing around the poorly maintained rental properties? Because if it can grow where no one is tending to it, then you can grow it too (just as long as you don’t pay too much attention to it). But don’t let that stop you from trying new things too. Last year I bought this crazy plant from Lowe’s because I thought it looked like an alien plant that would grow on Mars. It has yet to return (it was a perennial) but I’ll try it again.