Thursday, May 27, 2010

It Takes Longer to Unmake Them...

Just ask me...because I know!

I have a rule that I never sew anything important when I'm tired. At 10:00 pm, my brain turns to mush. I can, and do, sew A LOT after 10, but only things for my own children and never anything on a deadline. So tonight when I sat down at 8pm to begin making Belle's birthday outfit for her party this weekend, I thought I was in the clear. Surely I could whip up a pair of ruffled capris and a refashioned tee in under 2 hours, and maybe still have time for a headband before I turned into a pumpkin. Right???

Well...let's just say there's now a second clause to that rule. Never sew anything important (or time-sensitive) when STRESSED! I guess I didn't mention earlier, that not only is Belle celebrating her 3rd birthday (where did the time go???) with a backyard full of preschoolers, but Bee is being baptized, and 3 far-flung families will be in town for the festivities. Oh...and did I forget to tell you that my MIL is getting married next the beach...and I'm in charge of the rehearsal dinner and the flower girl?

There is more than one pesky detail bouncing off the walls of my over-taxed brain right now, but there I sat at 8pm, completely convinced that this project would go off without a hitch. Huh!

About 3/4 of the way into the capris, I realized that something just wasn't quite matching up. I've used this pattern many times with much success, but tonight it was wonky. The curves were out of sync, and the seams were making this funny pucker when I tried to force them together. Low and behold, I discovered that I had sewn the fronts upside down onto the backs. It just so happened that when I shortened the pattern to make capris, the inseam turned out to be exactly the same length as the crotch seam. I had flipped them without even knowing.

Now if I hadn't been using my favorite fabric...which just happens to be OOP, I probably would have junked the pants and started over. But I do love Darcy, and she is hard to find, and...well, I couldn't do it. I pulled out the seam ripper and set to work. And now, I can testify to the fact that it does take longer to UNMAKE a pair of pants than it does to MAKE them.

Oh, and that tee and headband...they went just about as well as the pants, but we're finally ready for Saturday (and I'm ready for bed!). I'll share pics of the entire outfit (and maybe a tee refashion tutorial) after the party...just don't look too closely, ok?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Patchwork Pants

First of all, let me just say that I have a new favorite fabric store...Above All Fabric ( This shop is amazing! The selection is out of this world, the prices are great (you should see some of the sales) and there is a rewards program that gives you money back toward your next order. Right now she is running a Go Pink sale that benefits Breast Cancer. Be sure to enter GOPINK at check-out. You get 10% off and another 10% is donated.

A couple of weeks ago I ordered the pattern for these amazingly cute little patchwork pants (see below) from Above All Fabric. As soon as it arrived, I broke out a charm pack that I had in my stash and put together the multi-colored pair for Belle (please excuse the wrinkles...I didn't think to take a pic before she had been wearing them all day, and after the day I've had, I am not about to iron them!). Of course, I had to order more fabric to finish them didn't think I would complete an entire project just from my stash did you? After a successful trial run, I decided to incorporate these pants into my summer seeersucker stuff. Aren't they adorable?

Next to create a tee to match...I'm thinking white tee with red ruffle at the bottom and maybe a detachable fabric bow on the chest, but haven't quite decided. If you have any ideas, please share!

And, "the day I've had," for those of you who don't know me personally, involved my first a thunderstorm and mud almost up to my knees! But I finished...and with a much better time than I had anticipated:)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Mystery Quilt Buying Guide

Ok Mystery are your shopping instructions. If you have any questions don't hesitate to ask. I've built a little bit of excess in to the yardage for any little boo-boos that might happen. If you are a first timer, I do NOT recommend that you buy $10/yd fabric. A nice soft $4-$6/yd will do just fine.

You are going to need 2 colors (light and dark) for this quilt. The more the two fabrics contrast the better the final effect will be. I recommend that you purchase either solid color fabric or something with a very tiny print. We are going to be cutting everything into pretty small pieces, so if you have a large print you will lose it in the cutting. If you are new to purchasing quilting fabric...head to the big wall fabrics in your local fabric store. These are going to be the quilting fabrics.

You will need:
1.5 yards of dark fabric
2 yards of light fabric
2.5 yards of fabric for the backing and binding***

***Backing and Binding Fabric Note: You can use either of the two fabrics that you have selected (light or dark)....OR, if you're feeling adventurous you can select a print that matches your two fabrics. This would technically take you out of the realm of a "two-color quilt," but if you love it...who cares???

Other Necessities:
Sewing machine - don't have one??? You could still make this quilt, but you would need alternate directions...and a whole lot more time
Thread - I recommend Coats and Clark Hand Quilting thread - yes, I know we are machine quilting, but this is still my favorite thread because it doesn't tangle as easily. Get something that matches your light fabric.
Scissors - good fabric scissors will make your life easier
Ruler - a basic one will work, but see optional materials list for alternatives
Pins - I love the long ones with the yellow heads that come in a plastic box, but amy straight pins will do.

Optional Things That Will Make Your Life Easier:
Rotary Cutter - looks like a pizza cutter
3.5 inch square ruler - You can find these in the quilting section at the fabric shop, or you could use a larger one if you already own a bigger size (I'll probably be using my 6.5" square)
Rotary Cutting Mat

Some Color Combo Suggestions: DO NOT THINK YOU HAVE TO FOLLOW THESE. I just thought it might help to spark some ideas. Obviously, the easy answer is white/ivory with something else.

Light Blue/Navy
Light/Dark Pink
White/Black (very graphic)
Ivory/Navy (very traditional)
White/Orange (funky)
Light Pink/Brown
Bright Pink/Navy
Light Blue/Red (nautical)

When you've finished your shopping, come back and comment to tell us what you've picked...personally, I'm having a lot of trouble deciding!

Strawberry Goodness!

Strawberry season is just about over here, and I am hoping to get one more flat of my favorite berries before the fields close. If you're anything like me, you always pick more than you can eat, so here is a super simple and super delicious recipe for preserves. [And as I type this...Belle's face is pretty much covered in these very preserves...she's a big fan!]

Easy Strawberry Preserves
3 qts. berries, hulled and sliced (though I never actually hull them and they always turn out fine)
3/4 cup sugar
2 T. lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in a large pot. Cook over medium high heat until boiling, then reduce heat and simmer, stirring occassionally, for 45 minutes or until thickened.

The preserves will last 1 month in the refrigerator.

Enjoy...and you if make any, please share!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Bee's Britches!!!

HAVE MERCY! Bee's Britches are the cutest thing I have ever seen!

I'm especially proud of these because I created the pattern myself. Bee has a pair of the sweetest little baggies that I put her in as soon as they come out of the dryer every time. I just love them, but since they came with a pretty hefty price tag, they are the only pair that I am willing to buy. When this Darcy fabric by Anna Griffin arrived in the mail a few days ago, I knew instantly what my first project would be.

I pulled Bee's baggies out (from the dirty laundry basket, of course) and began work on creating the pattern. It took me 3 prototype trials to get the proportion of the leg correct, but eventually I had a pair of scratchy, remnant-bin, blue seersucker baggies. As soon as the prototype was finished, I started cutting on the Darcy fabric. It took me two evenings to get them put together (and those pockets gave me a run for my money), but the result is PRECIOUS!

And, I've already cut out the next pair...

You Have to See This!

There isn't much time left to enter the various Sew Mama Sew had better hurry to the link below!

Oh, I really want MORE people to be entering to win this one??? Oh well, I guess I must share the good news anyway!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Sometimes You Just Get Lucky:)

I was determined to put Belle's sweet little fingerprint caterpillar on a tee for this summer! I scoured the shelves of 4 different mass-market stores looking for plain white tees in size 3T. Just 3 weeks ago, they were everywhere, but I didn't need them 3 weeks ago! I was just about to give up and order them (and spend a whole lot more money!), when I saw a small stack of white tees on the bottom shelf at a store more than 30 minutes from my house. WHAT LUCK! I needed 4 white tees (for the caterpillar and various other projects and orders) and there were exactly 4 white tees in size 3T in that little stack! I was feeling like I had won the lottery when I turned around and spotted these super-cute plaid shorts. My luck just doubled! Could you dream up a more perfect pairing than the tiny caterpillar and this vivid plaid??? So...sometimes you just get lucky!

So how'd I do it? The caterpillar that is.

This project is perfect for the non-sewers out long as you have some basic computer knowledge and a color printer. I do recommend that you do a couple of test runs before jumping in to the final project.

1. Open the Paint program. Scan your child's art to Paint. Size it as appropriate.
2. Then you need to mirror image your pic. Under the Image menu, select Rotate, then Flip Horizontal. Save your mirror image.
3. Now you have a choice...Do you have other things that you want to create transfers of? [poor grammar...I know!]
NO 4. Put the transfer paper in the printer and print.
YES 4. Follow the same process for every image you want to transfer. Then create a Word document with all the mirror-image pics that you want to print. Put the transfer paper in the printer and print.
5. Cut out the image. Be sure to cut close to your pic.
6. Follow the transfer directions to iron the image to your garment.

NOTE - If you are planning to transfer to a dark fabric, be sure to purchase transfer paper made for dark won't need to mirror-image your pics with this kind of paper.

Monday, May 17, 2010


It's Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Day! Luv it, luv it, luv it!

Find the link to Sew Mama Sew down and to the right....keep going...yep, there it is!
There are over 250 giveaways on blogs across the world and they all end on Thursday.

I have my eye on the mermaid beach towel at So CUTE! And with Belle's current Ariel obsession it's a must-try-to-win!

Be sure to comment below on the best of the best that you have found!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Children's Mystery Quilt Challenge - BEGINNER!

This one is for my quilting buddies...we've been scattered by jobs, marriages, and kids over the last few years, but I still love you all! AND in honor of G's bundle of joy arriving in October, what better way to celebrate than a kid-sized mystery quilt!

This mystery quilt will be completed in 3 steps (one per month June, July, August). The directions are SUPER SIMPLE, and this is considered a BEGINNER quilt. You won't know what the completed project will look like until the third month...that's the MYSTERY. Here's the shocker...this quilt is pieced on the MACHINE! Those of you who know me know that I think machine quilting is akin to burning the Mona Lisa, but since I have yet to convert the rest of the human race to hand-quilting, I will relent on this one. The bonus to machine piecing this project is that each step is not only simple, but also FAST. This quilt is not an all-consuming, time-intensive project.

So who should sign up???
* first time quilters with basic sewing machine knowledge
* busy mamas who want to quilt but are strapped for time
* expectant moms looking to create a hand-made gift for their baby while they still have the time
* experienced quilters looking for an easy breezy summer project
* my mom simply because she loves me:)...and don't forget my other mother because she only pieces on the machine!
* my much-loved quilting buddies (it's like an online reunion...and we should have dinner together to show off our finished projects!)
* all my teacher friends who are going to get bored this summer (you really don't want to have to turn to unit-planning by the end of June, just because you're bored to tears!)
* parents looking to introduce their child to machine sewing...yes even kids can do this one (as long as you are supervising their machine time)!
* ANYONE looking for a fun way to spend a few hours this summer

Are you considering signing up for the challenge??? Then here are the specifics:
* finished quilt size approximately 45"x60" - the perfect size for babies and children (or as a lap quilt if you want to keep it for yourself)
* 2 color quilt (the entire project will be made from 2 contrasting fabrics)
* machine pieced, so you'll need access to a sewing machine

To join the challenge, please comment below and let me know that you are in. I will post buying info toward the end of May, so that you will have plenty of time to buy fabric before the first installment in June. [And I know most of you will want to send me an email instead of commenting here, but please take the time to post here so we'll all know whose along for the ride! Thanks!]

Friday, May 14, 2010

Fingerprint Fun!

Belle and I have been doing lots of "projects" together this week. Our most recent adventure was into the world of fingerprint art. We started with WASHABLE stamp pads (left over from my former life as a teacher) and some plain white paper. I fold several paper towels into a square pad and got it really wet. We used the paper towels to clean our fingers off before we switched colors. Belle had fun dotting fingerprints all over her paper. Then we decided to try putting some dots together to make critters. Belle stamped the dots and I added to embellishments. I even managed to get a new logo for Belle + Bee out of the project.

Nest step - iron-ons! I've never used printable iron-on transfers before, but I thought this was worth a shot. My plan is to create an iron-on of Belle's caterpillar and transfer it to a tee for her. And if that works, Belle + Bee designs may even begin featuring a bee logo on each item...

I'll be sure to share a pic if the tee comes out well!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Tank Dress Tutorial

The main idea with these dresses is that you can repurpose tanks and tees that are too short, have a stain, etc. With the version in this tutorial, you can even make use of that extra 1/4 of a yard of fabric you have left over from some other project. Did I do that? Of course not:) I ordered fun fabric, scoured the town for just the right tank, and picked out the perfect complementary fabric. But, the point COULD do it the greener more frugal way!

Now on to the tutorial...

If you are one of those people who needs a pattern piece to trace and exact measurements before you start cutting, you can just stop reading right now. That's not the way I operate, and it surely isn't the way this tutorial is written...Sorry! But, if you can roll with it and are comfortable with ball-park measurements, then read on for a super-simple outline of how to create your own cutie-pie dress. Basic sewing knowledge is helpful with this tutorial. I didn't write out every minute detail. If you've never sewn before and want more details just let me know and I will be happy to create a more detailed tutorial with pics:)

1. Select your tank/tee. Try it on!!!! Then mark where you want the skirt to be attached. You can have it high like an empire waist, at the natural waist, or even low like a drop waist...totally up to you. Add 1/2 an inch to the length of the tee for seam allowance, draw a line across the tee, and cut off the bottom.

2. Try it on again. Measure from the bottom of the tee to the point where you want the skirt to hit on your leg (or your child's leg). If you're planning to add a ruffle, then measure to where you want the main section of the skirt to hit (about 3 inches above the bottom of the skirt). Add 1 inch to the measurement for seam allowances. This new number will be the length of skirt you need to cut. Let's pretend you want the skirt to be 14 inches long plus a 3 inch ruffle. Add an inch to the 14 and you will need to cut 15 inches of fabric for the skirt.

3. You will use pretty much the entire width of the fabric for kid-sized skirts regardless of size. Cut the length you measured in step 2. Our pretend skirt is now 15 inches long by 44 inches wide (you used the entire width of fabric, remember?). At this point you can adjust how puffy the skirt will be by trimming the width of the skirt. If you want it to really puff out then use the full 44 inches. Want it a little less puffy? Cut a few inches off. I cut about 3 inches off the width of the cow fabric for the skirt in the picture. [Adult-size skirts may need to be wider than 44'll need to cut two pieces and combine them to get the flounce you want.]

4. Fold the skirt in half with right sides together. Sew the short ends together and reinforce with a tight zigzag stitch to prevent fraying. You now have a giant tube. If you are not adding a ruffle, then you will need to hem the bottom of the skirt at this point.

5. Ruffle - Cut two strips of fabric that are 44 inches long by 3.5 inches wide. Sew the ends of the two strips right sides together to create another giant tube of fabric. Hem the ruffle.

6. Gathering - Using the longest stitch length on your machine, sew around the top of the skirt. Then sew around the top of the ruffle. DO NOT BACKSTITCH OR OVERLAP STITCHES. Pull the top thread of the ruffle to gather it. You want to make it the same size as the bottom of your skirt. Do not gather the skirt yet!

7. Sew the top edge of the ruffle to the bottom edge of the skirt with right sides together. Reinforce raw edges with tight zagzag stitch. (If you own a serger, I am assuming you aren't still reading this tutorial, but obviously you could serge all these raw edges too.)

8. Gather the top edge of the skirt until it is the same size as the bottom edge of the tank/tee. Sew the skirt to the tee with right sides together. Finish raw edges with a tight zigzag stitch.

9. Top-Stitching - I like to topstitch my ruffles so they lay better. To do this, flip the ruffle down and run a straight seam on the top side of the skirt, approximately 1/8 inch above the skirt/ruffle seam. Do not do this on the tank or you will have stretch problems when you try to put it on.

A NOTE ABOUT GENERAL MEASUREMENTS: The skirt is about twice as wide as the tank/tee. The ruffle is about twice as wide as the skirt. That's how you get the flounce. Adjust the ratio for more or less flounce.

Happy Mother's Day to Me:)

I NEVER sew for myself. NEVER! Who has time when you have 2 adorable little girls to make things for??? But I made an exception just this one time...

AND I LOVE IT! Of course, I used insanely cheap fabric. I don't bat an eye at buying $10/yd. fabric for my girls, but couldn't dream of doing the same for myself. The $2.99 stuff will just have to do:)

Tutorial for these super simple dresses coming soon...