Celebrating Valentine's Day

February 7, 2013

I think that Valentine's Day is a pretty fun holiday - especially if you've got a house full of little girls (which I do).  Let's see... hearts, pink and red, sparkles, chocolate... yep that's right up our alley.

Here's what we've done to celebrate Valentine's Day so far:

Heart Themed Crafts

We've been doing lots of colouring of hearts - tracing them, painting them and colouring them in.


I pulled out my Valentine's decorations from last year, and still like them.  I posted a picture of the felt heart wreath last year here, and the heart garland is made from felt heart shapes and ribbon.  The picture is of the Calgary Temple, taken by my lovely friend Laura.  And those snowy branches are from my sister's wedding reception last year.

Making Valentine's
My oldest is a planner.  Before February even hit, she was eager to start making Valentine's cards for her classmates.  I convinced her to make some to mail first, so we could wait for the list that the teacher sends home.  (There are a lot of names in her Kindergarten classroom with many spelling options).  I printed off these Cute As A Button cards.  My two year old had fun gluing on buttons, and my five year old, got much more creative.  For her classmates, M picked out these cards, and is drawing a picture on the back of each.  

Valentine's Party
As a reward for awesome behaviour, my five year old, earned a Valentine's party.  She got to invite four friends.  Oh, this party was the most talked about thing in our house for weeks!  On the menu we had mini heart shaped pizzas, strawberries, watermelon, veggies, and chocolate cupcakes.  We played some games, did a craft, and even had a wishing well, with a prize for each guest.  I gave M $5 to spend at the dollarstore and she had so fun fun picking out what she needed, and planning all of the activities.  The day of the party, my two year old was recovering from being sick, and things got a little crazy, so the camera only came out one time.  I can assure you the party was a good success, despite the lack of documentation.

I still have a few more Valentine's activities planned: heart shaped pancakes are a must, and we will also make a great Valentine for Daddy. 
How are you celebrating Valentine's Day?

Wooly Winter Hats

January 28, 2013

A couple of months ago I pulled out the bin full of mittens, hats, and scarfs to see what would fit my kids this winter.  It turns out that both the boys have the same size head, so they needed new hats to keep warm this winter.  There are actually lots of free patterns and tutorials for kids winter hats, and I have to say the collective wisdom of the internet is awesome.  I used this free pattern from Martha Stewart that I've sewn up a few times before.  The hats are made of felted sweaters (I actually like my sweaters to still be a little stretchy, so I don't felt them quite as much as some) and lined with soft cotton velour.   

Now that they boys are old enough to have strong opinions about what they wear, I let them make most of the decisions about what their hats would look like.  Kid 2 picked out this dark blue knit and requested a light blue dinosaur.  Easy.  Kid 1 is going through a phase where he LOVES red, and his original idea was to have red and green stripes all throughout.  I couldn't find a sweater like that at my thrift store, and I didn't want to sew stripes together, so I settled for this.  He also drew this robot for me to add to the outside.  I had to make a few modifications, but it's pretty much exactly his design.  As much as it can be tricky to fill their requests, I like that they are getting more involved with the making process. 

The third hat was actually a gift for a friend.  He is the kind of kid that is always taking things apart, his favourite toy is his circuit board, and I wanted to make something that reflected his personality.  It occurred to me that an 'idea' or 'light bulb' hat would be perfect.  I felt like a genius for this.  Maybe I should make myself an 'idea' hat too!       

Wool Tote Bag

January 25, 2013

This may be my last late Christmas present post, and I wanted to get this sewn and posted before the end of January.  While January is excusable, February is getting ridiculous.

This tote bag is for my sister-in-law.  She mentioned needing a tote style bag for church, and this is what I ended up making.  Mr. Carlee helped me choose the fabric from my stash (since it was for his sister after all).  The grey wool suiting was bought years ago at Savers (thrift store).  I've had good luck buying wool suiting at this particular thrift store.  The black and white corduroy hounds-tooth was another inherited piece from my friend who recently moved to South Carolina.  She said that it was left-over from a pair of pants she made in the 70's.  Wow.  I would have loved to see those pants.  I find the print kind of dizzying as the inside of the bag, and I can only imagine women's pants made out of it.  

The finished bag is 15" tall and 14" wide (with 20.5" long straps).  It's big enough for a binder, and a few books, but not so big that you feel like you are toting around a suitcase. 

I wanted to keep things simple, but still make it special.  I added a little D-ring on a black patent leather strip to the inside (for keys).  I think the yellow piping keeps things from being too serious. 

Mr. Carlee suggested adding the leather monogram to the front.  We both agree that the letters ended up a little bigger than what might be ideal, but we didn't realize this out until the entire bag was finished.  Next time.

Over the last five years that I've sewn with leather, I've learned that when you are sewing two layers together, it's best to cut out the second layer AFTER you sew them together.  This is particularly true if one of more of your pieces is stretchy.  Leather is always a little stretchy, but some is crazy, like the yellow, for instance. 

The finished bag is 15" tall and 14" wide (with 20.5" long straps).  It's big enough for a binder, and a few books, but not so big that you feel like you are toting around a suitcase. 

As an aside, if you are interested in making bags, and want to learn more about how they are contructed, Ikat Bag is doing an awesome series right now.  I have made lots of bags over the years, and I've learned quite a few new things after reading her posts so far. 

Christmas Mittens (Take III)

You may remember how I tried to make some leather mitts for Mr. Carlee for his birthday last year.  That was actually take two on that particular pair, and this year I was bold enough to go for a third try.  Not by Christmas, mind you, but in the second week of January.  No worries though, January is still plenty cold in New England, perfect for wearing mittens.

After last year's attempt and failure, I cut a big hole where the thumb should go, and drafted a new thumb piece.  I have come to love using paper towel for this type of job.  It drapes similarly to leather (or fabric), and it's cheap and readily available.  Sometimes when I'm making a pattern for shoes/slippers, I'll use paper towel and staple it together to give myself a sense of how it will sew up. 

I wouldn't say that these mittens are a perfect fit nor the sleekest of mittens.  But they do stay on, don't squish his thumb, and I think I'm calling it good.  I don't think I can really fix the problems without starting completely over again, and after making several pairs of mocs from the same leather, I am pretty much out.

Thankfully Mr. Carlee values me for more than my leather mitten making skills, and he has worn them in spite of their imperfections.  This has two possible explanations; first because he loves me and is a good man, and second, his other leather gloves went missing this year - complete coincidence I promise. 

January Christmas Sewing

January 17, 2013

Hello again friends.  I trust all of you had a very happy holiday and are well on your way to a lovely new year as well.  Now that our Christmas tree has finally come down, I'm really buckling down to getting some present finished for Christmas.  I wish I could say they were for 2013, but I am not that kind of lady.  2012 it is.  Better late than never, right?

In our family we exchange gifts with one set of cousins, and this year my kids 'gave' to Emily's girls.  The boys had minimal involvement other than affirming that matching pink skirts sounded like a good present.  Emily's girls approved the fabric choices and I like them too.  The pink striped fabric is actually a really nice linen that I inherited from a friend that recently moved to Charleston, SC.  She passed on a big box of really nice linen, wool, and courdoroy, and I have some projects in mind for a few of the other pieces.  

I actually intended on just making two skirts, but the first smaller sized skirt ended up much too short for Emily's Kid 2.  No problem, I'll just keep it for my Baby Girl.  Now if they ever see each other they can all be matching.  Photoshop might be our only hope of making that picture a reality.

I didn't use a specific pattern or tutorial for the skirts, but the bottom was finished using some home made bias tape and the technique from the Lazy Day Skirt by Oliver + S.  Although it takes a little longer, I like making skirts with a flat front and an elastic in the back.  And enclosing all the edges of course!  I'm a little obsessed with the finishing details, and this helps me sleep better at night.

Next up is a tree skirt for our brother (although it's really for his wife).  We spent Christmas with them in Ottawa (Canada) and they didn't have one.  I had this really nice green wool (also from the box of fabric treasure) and we looked at lots of different tree skirts to figure out what she might like.  In the end she decided that she wanted something simple and classy, and thought I would know what she would like.  I hope I'm right.

I bound the edges with a bottom weight linen blend from Joann's and made the tree appliques out of the same fabric.

Initially I tried two more complicated techniques using interfacing (first this, and then I tried cutting out the shape from interfacing and ironing down the seam allowance all around the edges).  They both looked puckered and took forever.  Mr. Carlee mentioned that his mum always used a zig-zag stitch around things, and in the end that was the right thing to do. 

I have plans for at least two more gifts, and then realistically I should probably get started for next year! 

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