Monday, May 31, 2010

pippi by mail

I recently had tremendous fun making a Pippi Longstocking doll. I boxed it up and sent it along with the Lauren Child illustrated edition as a gift for a little girl I know who turned five.

I tried to make the doll have the same messy, sketchy look as the Pippi in the book, and I'm happy with the way she turned out. I used linen for her face, hands and legs. Cottons for her dress and stockings. Her braids are made of strips of felt. I toyed with the idea of including some kind of bendable wire inside the braids to make them stick out, but gave it up as too dangerous.

I thought I'd be smart this time and embroider the face before it was all sewn together, but that was a mistake. Stuffing really changes the expression, and the eyes ended up slanted in the opposite direction that I had intended. So I picked them out and redid them after it was stuffed. Lesson learned.

Somehow I had managed to come through my childhood having never read the book or seen the movie, so last year my eldest and I read this version out loud together. We really loved it. I especially love Lauren Child's illustrations of the characters with all her trademark textiles and wild typography. It's a beautifully designed book, and makes a great gift.

Since the book was so enjoyable for us, we also rented the classic 1969 movie. Mistake. I'm so sorry to those of you who love it. Maybe it is because it holds no childhood nostalgia for me since that was the first time I saw it. Thing 1 and I kept exchanging very puzzled looks. She also kept asking me questions like, "Mommy, why is Pippi the only one in weird clothes? Why is her green underwear always showing? Why don't any of these things happen in the book?" Maybe the movie gets better if it is viewed on MST3K.

But the book is delightful. See?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Simplicity 3835, embroidery follow up

Remember this dress? I couldn't leave well enough alone and a few weeks ago I went ahead with the embroidery around the neck and pockets. I do like it, it adds a certain something.

I keep thinking the pockets needed a bigger punch though, like rosettes or huge colorful flowers or something. But then I kept wondering if calling that much attention to my hips was a good thing.

I have more plans for Simplicity 3835, oh, yes. I'm going to make a peasant blouse and a dress with the peasant neckline from some IKEA yardage I have.

I've also been industriously wacking up my bootcut jeans, which I suddenly feel weird wearing. I remember thinking I'd always feel wonderful in them no matter where the trends went. I guess I am, in fact, a mindless slave to the whims of fashion. I'm making some into straight jeans and some into capris or shorts for the summer.

Monday, May 24, 2010

friend performs fly by

I'm given things like this when Robyn comes here.
Come back, Robyn.

Bosom friend and crafter extraordinaire Robyn and her sweet kids came for a whirlwind visit a few days ago. We even got a cameo by her lovely mom, so it was a great time.

We ate good food, lazed around on the screened porch in our pajamas and watched the kids play outside. We also managed a group trip to IKEA and also a great thrift store near me. Robyn scored all kinds of coolness at the thrift store including a great red print vintage dress. I got some odds and ends and some books for the kids (the stack of Magic Treehouse books have already been devoured, so thanks for the tip, Robyn).

And you guys knew I bought some fabric at IKEA. Right? sigh. I don't need it. But. I can't not get it. Right?

As usual, Robyn came bearing many thoughtful (and yummy) gifts. Among other things, what you see above for my birthday girl, who was thrilled. How does she find such cool things? I'm a little jealous of the coloring book. Then, the most PERFECT t-shirt for my...erm...frugal husband (If Life Gives You Lemons, Keep Them. Because, Hey, Free Lemons).

And this book. Robyn, I'm already really loving the vintage goodness. So. Many. Diagrams. It has everything. Just the embroidery alone. So many methods and stitches I've never even seen or heard of. Also I'm especially jazzed about the knitting and crochet sections. As you have seen, my embroidery needs help. And crochet is proving difficult to master. And knitting is a complete uncharted mystery.

Thanks again for the visit, Bob! Hugs to you.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

birthday making, continued

Modkid Nina, View A

Hey, everybody. May's Make-Merry Madness is finally winding down. So, as I was saying...

The birthday outfit seen earlier for Thing 2 was sewn from this pattern by Modkid. The fabric is AMH Garden Party fabric I scored on super sale at ($3.50 a yard!) and also some polka dot fabric whose name and designer escape me. The bias binding was some 100% cotton Michael Miller pindot I bought on clearance eons ago that just happened to blend. (I still can't write or say 'blend' without hearing Marisa Tomei's voice in my head.)

the outfit in action

The pattern was super simple to sew, with clear instructions. After eyeballing the top pattern pieces I decided that it was scaled too big for my six year old, so I used the 5T size. Even so the armholes were enormous, so that I had to tie the shoulders almost flush together to keep it from looking too big on her. Mental note: I'll definitely reduce the depth of the armholes next time.

I cut the size 6 out for the skirt and it was fine. As simple as it gets, but the contrast band at the bottom really ramps up the cute factor. I really like how the whole outfit turned out. Birthday Girl loved it and promptly put it on when she woke the morning of her party. She felt very special, so that made the late night worth it. (What? Of course I sewed it the night before. As if.)

I'd like to eventually make the other views also, either in long or short sleeve. I plan to make Thing 1 the same pattern for her birthday party in August, in a different colorway of the Garden Party fabric.

Birthday Kid also got her very own soundtrack to mark the day. I put together a mix tape for her of upbeat songs she loves (as well as some that were new to her) and burned the CD, which has been on constant play since then. Good news is I dig it too, so I don't feel like jabbing a fork in my ears after the 10th loop. I had a lot of fun putting that together for her and watching her face as each song came on. I think I smell the start of a tradition.

I also finally made two party buntings for my kitchen and mantel. I usually print them in paper, custom designed to the name, age and color scheme of choice. That is becoming too time-consuming and ridiculously complex. Also wasteful. These simple felt ones are cheerful and multi-occasion-appropriate, and made entirely from my embarrassingly large felt stash.

No hemming or turning required. I just cut some felt triangles and straight stitched them to the back side of a ribbon. I didn't pin or assemble them beforehand, I just had a length of ribbon and a stack of triangles ready at the sewing machine. I fed one triangle in, then counted the stitches in between each subsequent triangle to make them evenly spaced. If I thought about it I'd probably fold over the ribbon in half toward the back and sew it again. So I won't think about it.

Thing 2 surrounded by loving grandparents, from l to r, my mom Jackie, and parents-in-law Paula and Harold.

Also making this birthday special was the presence of my (elusive) lovely and delightful mother, Jackie, who has not been able to come and stay with me for longer than a weekend since Thing 2 was born six years ago! She was here with us for two blessed, fun-filled weeks, including Mother's Day. All of which was made possible by my sweet husband, who drove both ways to Alabama in one day to bring her here, defying gale force winds, rain and also a murderous construction barrel run amok. So my sweet girl had almost all her grandparents present for the party as well.

I kept getting on facebook and taunting my sisters that I finally had Mom all to myself and may not bring her back. Nyah. Spoken like a true fifth child.

So presents were opened (Legos have now been discovered), cake consumed, and her height was marked on our school room wall. Happy sixth birthday to my little stinker monkey. Oy. Remind me to do a better job on cutting her bangs in future.

Monday, May 10, 2010

pip and pop

"C'mon, sweetie. Smile! Whew, look at that droopy lip. Please? Just one picture?"

(changing tactics)
"Ok, I changed my mind. Don't laugh whatever you do."

"Wait, you're losin it. Be very serious. I DON'T want you to laugh."

"Tryin to take a picture here. NO laughing! Don't laugh! Look mad. Frown for me."

"Aw, man! You laughed."

My youngest's sixth birthday was celebrated in style over the weekend with plenty of pizza, ice cream cake and family. I managed to finish her birthday outfit and her Pip and Pop otter softies in time for the festivities. More about the pattern for her outfit in another post.

Pip and Pop came together fairly easily after a trial run with a cheap piece of terry cloth I had laying around. I had to make some adjustments for the impossible (luxurious) thickness of the purple towel I was using for the final products. It was so thick I couldn't turn the arms or legs so I had to interlock them on the edges, but with the purple thread and the fuzzy terry cloth you really can't tell.

I have several handmade things lined up that I'd like to share, but I'm still in the middle of May's Special Occasion Landslide, so this week is packed. I'll have to wait until next week sometime to get back in the blog saddle.

Thanks so much for your sweet comments checking on me and my back! Physical therapy is going really well, and making a huge difference. I'm doing great, and so thankful to God.

Monday, May 3, 2010

make for mom, from the archives

While I'm still searching for something 1) useful 2) cheap 3) stunning to make for my sisters that I haven't made them already, here are some handmade gift ideas for you from the hallowed annals of mmmcrafts:

kinder, gentler headband cover tutorial

love you bookmarks -- they are not just for Valentines anymore.

And you still have time to whip up a messenger bag for mom, tutorial here. May I suggest a flower on the flap? Perhaps a really big one of these? They look so lush. You will need to sew it on after the bag is finished, not before.