Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Treasure Pocket Pants

For my first Celebrate the BOY 2013 project I made a pair of Treasure Pocket Pants from Sewing for Boys. I know I say this frequently, but I've been wanting to make a pair of TP Pants for quite some time - since my sweet husband bought me the book after we learned Eli was a boy (this is more indicative of how many future projects I have swimming in my head than of my own procrastination - I'm certain I'm not alone here). The limiting factor with these pants was that the pattern starts at 12-18 months, so I had to be a bit patient. Now that our boy is officially a toddler (and toddling all over the house to prove it) I thought it was the perfect project to kick off these two weeks.

At some point along the road to motherhood I inherited a pair of size one maternity jeans. Elastic cinch-waisted, size one, stretch maternity jeans, to be exact. Now don't get me wrong - a well-fitting, comfortable pair of maternity jeans should be cherished, lived in, then passed on and on to other mamas, because we all know how hard they are to come by. But size one, cinch waist maternity jeans? In my opinion, 'size one' and 'maternity' should never be used in the same sentence, let alone in a pair of jeans. So I had no qualms at all about sacrificing (ahem, transforming) this pair into a new pair of pants for my boy.

For the contrasting fabric I used Oh Deer! by MoMo for Moda Fabrics. My sweet and exceedingly patient (at times) children helped me pick this one out at Crafty Planet, perhaps the best fabric store ever. It is a bit of a drive from our house and as we pulled up I realized I had forgotten the Ergo back at home. Perusing fabrics with a 1 and 3 year old is not usually the kind of torture I would ever wish upon anyone, especially without a baby carrier. So I was grateful for that baggie of cheese (local raw milk gouda for my tiniest of cheese snobs) I had tucked away in my pocket, which I used to lure my son back towards me every time he tried to lunge in a kamikaze dive out of my grip. Somehow we actually made it out with several cute fabrics in tow and without any major tantrums.

While I was working on this project I felt they were taking a long time, especially for a pair of toddler pants. This made me laugh at how much more instantly gratifying sewing is compared to knitting, in which projects can take months to complete. But they are seriously well made. I particularly love the faux-fly and the contrasting fabric hems, which make them look cute and finished whether they are rolled or unrolled. And, of course, I love the pockets, which are true to their name - really perfect for storing little treasures and easy for little hands to access with their elastic openings. In the future I might opt to make them just a little bit deeper.

This project was not without it's problems. Firstly, I didn't go online to download the errata for the pattern prior to cutting out my pieces and was quite puzzled when one of the side panels just didn't seem to be the right size. This was easily remedied when I downloaded a pdf of the revised pattern for that piece. Also, the hem facings in the pattern did not even closely fit my pant legs. I am still confused as to whether this was my mistake or a mistake in the pattern, but I had to remeasure and cut my own hem facings to fit the pants. Again, not a huge deal, but another waste of time and fabric. Has anyone else encountered this? 

And finally, there's the size issue. These pants are HUGE on my boy. I made the 12-18 month size and my 13 month old will probably wear them by the time he goes to college. True, he's just a tad on the smaller size, but really? Again, has me scratching my head wondering where I made a mistake. 

All in all, the pants (assuming Eli grows big enough to wear them at some point) turned out well and are so very cute. I would use the pattern again once I've had some distance from it and my frustrations with it. For now, I'm looking forward to getting started on my next project for Celebrate the BOY!

Thursday, February 21, 2013


I have been excited to try out Rae's Geranium Dress pattern since she released it last December. I finally found myself without a sewing project in progress last week and decided I couldn't wait any longer. This fabric has been sitting in my stash since the end of last year and, while I loved the print, I wasn't sure what I was going to do with it. The Geranium Dress seemed like a perfect opportunity to use it. Most of the way through cutting it out I realized I wasn't going to have enough fabric for the lining, so I searched through my remnants and found a neutral linen fabric that would work well enough. When you're impulsive you have to improvise. The main fabric of the bodice is a quilting cotton and the skirt is a lightweight corduroy. I acquired both at the crazy pre-Christmas Joanne's sale. The combo feels very fall to me, but you know how difficult it is to stop yourself when you get inspired to make something. She'll wear it in the fall, eventually.

I love that the Geranium Dress pattern offers so many different style options - and endless combinations of those options. I kept things relatively simple, omitting the notch collar, and opting for the faux-cap sleeves. I chose to make a gathered skirt rather than one with pleats and used a kit to cover the buttons in the bodice fabric.

You know your project is a success when your girl asks if she can wear her dress right now. No matter that today is one of those 7 degree days. "Well, I'll just wear it over my warm clothes." Music to a sewing mama's ears. And for this girl who has apparently come down with a bit of pneumonia (she hides it well in the pictures, no?), how could I possibly say no? She has also already informed me that she will be wearing it to Lola's birthday party - in April. The girl likes to plan ahead.

This pattern was so easy and such a pleasure to work with I'm tempted to start another - I already have some fabric lined up and ready. But it will have to wait a bit longer as I turn my attention to our boy. Rae from Made-By-Rae and Dana from MADE will be hosting Celebrate the BOY starting next week, a two week long event featuring sewing for boys. 

I'll see you there next week!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Hearts, Flowers and Chocolate

Some say Valentine's Day is a contrived holiday, one not worth acknowledging. But give me any reason to celebrate, especially in the middle of February (one of the toughest months of the year for me) and I will gladly take it. And when we are celebrating the people we love the most, celebrating love itself, how can you complain? Especially when the holiday specifically calls for eating chocolate.
Yes, there were hearts. Many of them. I'm certain with more time we could have cut out even more hearts and found creative ways to hang them throughout our house. But we did the best we could. As Ava was going to sleep the night before Valentine's Day she said, "perhaps tomorrow we can hang more hearts...." That's my girl. You can never have too many hearts on Valentine's Day. 

Yes, there was chocolate. Lots of chocolate. If you've never realized how easy it is to make truffles, I warn you not to look at the recipe; you may never stop eating them. Making truffles has become something of a Valentine's Day tradition for me, so I was already planning on whipping up a batch. Then as I was looking through my dessert recipe stash I found one for whoopie pies adapted from Zingerman's Bakehouse in Ann Arbor. I felt I had to make them too as a way to incorporate our beloved old town into our Minneapolis Valentine's celebration. 

Will actually got a bit miffed when he found out I was making both truffles and whoopie pies for dessert. In his defense, he was tired, hungry and dinner was running a tad late because I was busy adding sticks of butter by the half tablespoonful to the buttercream filling, whipping it constantly as I prepared our feast (yes, I say "sticks" of butter - I won't dare tell how many went into the whoopie pies). I assure you, I heard no complaints while he was eating them. 
And, of course, there was Valentine's Day crafting. I found these irresistible heart barrettes from Purl Soho. A perfect project to use up all of those felt scraps leftover from cutting out hearts.

We had a love-filled, admittedly a bit hectic, Valentine's Day. Not all of us made it through to the end of the night - the boy has had quite a cough and was not in the mood for exclaiming "whoopie" at his dessert along with the rest of us. But amidst the fatigue and crankiness, the coughing and sniffles, the rushed dinner, the abundant cards and gifts, Will and I reminded ourselves that some Valentine's Day in the future (perhaps 30 years from now) we may find ourselves sitting at a quiet table feeling just slightly bored. And while today there is some small part inside of us that longs for a reminder of what it actually feels like to be bored, I know when it comes we will be thinking back to these days of abundance as precious fleeting times. So today we celebrate and rejoice in the fullness of our home, our family, our lives, our loves.

I hope you all had a sweet, love-filled Valentine's Day.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Winter Warm

Last winter in Minnesota failed to impress us with its lack of snow and any significant cold. I was beginning to think Minnesotans merely exaggerate when recalling their chilly winters. After recent weeks of bundling the kids in layer upon layer of down and wool before leaving the house, when my fingers start to burn after being without gloves for only as long as it takes to buckle a car seat, when the air is so dry my knuckles crack and my breathes leaves my lips without a trace in the cold, cold air, when our trusty Subaru whines at me as I coax it to start, when I finally look at the thermometer and it matter-of-factly stares back at me with a -8 degrees Fahrenheit - well, I get it. 

I remember thinking, on a day the temperature got down to around -20 degrees, that I'd better go outside and feel what -20 feels like. I mean, I've always lived in climates with cold winters. Michigan winter is nothing to scoff at. But -20 degrees, nope, I've never experienced that kind of cold before. After a quick jaunt outside I decided that once it gets cold - I mean really cold - it doesn't actually feel much colder than when it's just plain cold. But here's the difference - any bit of exposed skin almost immediately starts to scream in protest and you feel a sharp, deep burn. This cold is no joke, my friends. 

I realized how cold it has been when the temperature hit 16 degrees and it actually felt warm outside. I know this sounds ridiculous - really, if I had read this a year ago I would have thought I was being downright silly. But after a string of temps below zero, 16 actually feels pretty comfy. Yesterday it hit 30. Downright balmy. Minnesotans are a hardy folk. I suppose Minnesota winters will do that to you.

In all this frigidness, I have been extra careful about keeping the little appendages in the household warm. I decided they needed to have a extra layer on the bottom - that regular pants and jeans just don't do the trick. Since wearing snow pants all the time is not a convenient option (especially when I'm the one having to put them on and take them off those squirmy bodies multiple times a day), I made a couple versions of Dana's Basic Kid Pants lined with comfy extra layers for added warmth. For these I used a grey corduroy lined with yummy warm fleece. I added some pockets - cause you know how kids love their pockets. Dana offers instructions for lining the basic pants here, and for adding two kinds of pockets here. So comfy and warm.

Glancing at the forecast I see that temperatures may climb into the mid 30s this weekend. I imagine that will feel just like spring. And not a moment too soon, as I find myself already dreaming of those warm summer days when getting out of the house means nothing more than opening the back door and stepping right outside - free of sweaters, coats, hats, boots, mittens, scarves and all the rest of the winter paraphernalia piled high in our entryway like the mounds of snow that lounge around our stoop. Winter, I love you. But I feel a song of spring stirring deep inside me. She will come soon enough.