Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Alex and Anna Summer PJ's

I finally made a couple pairs of Alex and Anna summer pj's for the kiddo's recently. I've been holding on to several knits from The Fabric Fairy (this one and this one) that I picked out as part of a giveaway I won on Lil Blue Boo several months ago, and decided it was about time to cut into it.

I always cringe when I cut into new fabric! It's so nice and new and I'm always afraid I'll screw something up. Thankfully, Amy's patterns are always so easy to follow that I didn't have anything to worry about. As usual :)

I couldn't resist the cute Scottie dogs print for Haley. AND it had plaid, double doozie. The apple orchard and stars print was another no-brainer. They both have such a soft feel and were perfect for pj's! I used fold over elastic for the binding on both, and it was the first time I had tried using FOE. Not sure my method was correct, but It did the trick. I'm going to keep trying on other pieces though, it was super simple to use and gave both sets a nice, finished look. I also like that they have a snug fit.

Connor is a grumpasauraus when he wakes up and was in no mood for picture taking, so these were the best shots I was able to get from him without injecting him with chocolate milk and gummy bears. Haley, on the other hand, is my little cheese ball and posed without bribery.

They love their new pj's! I can tell this pattern is going to be in regular rotation around here. I also got the Alex and Anna winter pj's, so I'm sure I'll be making up a few of those when the cold weather starts!

Check out our Link Party Page to see where we link up each week!

Monday, July 29, 2013

CRAFT: High-Low Racerback Tunic

This high-low racerback tunic was featured on The Sewing Rabbit as part of our monthly contribution. Here's the full tutorial in case you missed it!

As I was browsing the fabric section of Walmart recently, I came across a small bolt of polyester knit shoved in between two others. It was pink and purple with a floral/palm tree pattern all over it. I think my exact words were, "Ew, weird," and I promptly shoved it back into the depths of the fabric shelf. After browsing some more, I couldn't get that lonely little bolt out of my head, so I pulled it back out again. On second look, I noticed that the fabric had a chevron and triangle pattern on it and my dislike turned to intrigue. Then I noticed the $1.50/yard price tag and had to have it. I quickly texted my sister-in-law and blogging counterpart, Shannon, a picture of the fabric to which she texted back, "Well, it's not terrible." I took that as a sign and snapped up the last 1 1/2 yards to make this racerback tunic - and I'm in love!

Here's what you need to make your own racerback high-low tunic just in time for summer!

SUPPLIES: 2-2 1/2 yards knit fabric (you'll want something with some stretch to it), 1/2 inch wide elastic, shirt to use as a template, disappearing ink marker, rotary cutter and mat, measuring tape, iron and ironing board, sewing machine and basic sewing supplies.

Drafting and Cutting Out Your Pattern and Pieces:


ONE: first, you'll need to make your bodice pattern. Use a pattern your already have, or draft your own by folding a shirt in half and tracing around it (make sure to add 1/2 inch for seam allowance.) Stop tracing about 4 inches under the armpit and draw a line straight across the bottom.
TWO: after I had my front bodice pattern, I modified the pattern piece to make the back bodice racerback-style, as shown in the picture above. You could also trace an existing racerback shirt for this.

THREE: to draft the bottom of my tunic, I simply matched up the edge of my front bodice piece with a piece of paper and taped it down. Then I drew an A-line from the armpit down until it reached the length I wanted (about 37 1/2 inches from shoulder to the bottom of the tunic.)
FOUR: with your fabric folded right sides together (RST) and the stretch going horizontally, place your pattern on the fold and cut with a rotary cutter to create the front of your tunic (make sure you don't cut the fold!).
FIVE: for the back, simply switch out the front bodice pattern with your back bodice pattern and tape to secure. Place pattern on fold and cut as you did for the front.
SIX: you should now have a front piece and back piece cut out.

Making Bias Tape:

Before we move on to the assembly, I want to give a quick lesson on how to make your own bias tape, which you'll use to conceal the raw edges of your fabric. You could always fold over and sew the raw edges of your fabric, but I like the finished look of using bias tape.

ONE: (see steps below that explain how to get the measurements for your bias tape.) Once you have your measurements, cut out strips of fabric on the bias (learn more about that here) 2 inches wide. You should have 3 strips of fabric: one for your neckline, and one piece for each of your arm holes.
TWO: either fold each side of your strips over to meet in the middle and iron or, if you have a bias tape maker like I do (and if not, go get one at your local hobby store!), run it through your bias tape maker and iron.
THREE: finally, fold the strip in half long ways and iron. Done!


ONE: place your  back piece on the floor with the right side (pattern side) facing up. Place your front piece face down on top and pin one of the shoulders.
TWO: sew the one pinned shoulder to join and open your tunic up.

THREE: use your tape measure to measure the length of your neckline from shoulder to shoulder, then use the instructions on how to make bias tape above to make bias tape for your neckline. Encase the raw edges of your neckline in the bias tape you just made. Pin all along the top neckline and topstitch, being sure to catch the other side of your bias tape as you sew.
FOUR: fold your tunic with the front and back facing again and match up the other shoulder of your tunic. Sew to join the other shoulder as you did above. Open your tunic back up, then measure each arm hole and cut bias tape for each. Encase the raw edges of each armhole in bias tape. Pin and sew.
FIVE: with the front and back pieces RST, match up the sides of your tunic and pin from the armholes down. Sew the sides to join and turn right side out.

Making Your Tunic High-Low:

ONE: rotate your side seams so that they are matched up in the middle of your tunic. The front of your tunic will be facing left, and the back of your tunic will be facing the right (see picture above.) Place the tunic on your rotary mat and cut from front to back in a kind of "s" shape as shown along the white guideline in the picture above.
TWO: when you unfold your tunic, it should have the high-low effect. If you need to make any adjustments to the high-low hemline, match up the side seams in the middle again and cut again until you're happy with the outcome. Hem the bottom or leave raw, up to you!

Cinch The Waistline:

You could just stop here if you like your tunic, but I wanted to add some elastic at the waist to make it more flattering.

ONE: try the tunic on and mark right above where your bellybutton is (mine was about 16 inches down from the shoulder.) Turn the tunic inside out, and use your disappearing ink marker to draw a straight line on both the front and back of your tunic to act as a guideline for your elastic.
TWO: measure your waist and subtract an inch, then cut this amount of elastic out (I have a 30-inch waist, so I cut my elastic to be 29 inches long.) Use a zig-zag stitch to join the edges together.
THREE: with your tunic inside out, pin your elastic to either side of your tunic along the guideline you drew.
FOUR: start at one side of your tunic and use a zig-zag stitch to secure the elastic to your tunic along the line you drew, stretching the elastic as you go. Hold the back of the elastic with one hand and pull the other side of the elastic with your other hand as you sew. Turn inside out, and done!

Throw on a pair of leggings and wear your new tunic proudly! In an ideal situation, I would have lined up the front and back to make the pattern continuous, but since I was barely working with 1 1/2 yards, I made do. With such a busy pattern, you don't really notice. At least that's what I tell myself :)

Check out our Link Party Page to see where we link up each week!

Friday, July 26, 2013

We Are Loving Right Now - Volume 12 - Boredom Busters

Having the kids at home during the summer can be a huge challenge. They're always begging for something to do, and who has the patience - or money for that matter! - to keep them constantly entertained? Here are a few brilliant, affordable ideas to keep the kiddos occupied this summer (and help you hang onto your sanity!)

Personally, I would love to play a huge lawn version of Bananagrams with my family! If you're not a Bananagrams fan, what about a giant Scrabble game instead? I'd probably lose though, my MIL and SIL are masters at word games.
Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

(Shan) WEARs: LBD with a Flash of Neon

This LBD (long black dress) is one of those things that's been sitting in my closet for years, and I decided to finally put it to use again.  It's so comfy that I felt like I was wearing a nightgown to work.  Most maxi dresses are too long for me to feel comfortable in... this one just happens to be the perfect length.  I bought this dress so long ago, though, that I don't even think dresses this length are sold anymore.  (Perhaps Jen could muster up a sweet little calf-length maxi pattern for us...?  **wink wink**)   

Dress - Kenneth Cole
Denim Jacket - Charlotte Russe (about 12 years ago!)
Peep Toes - Tahari
Belt - Ann Taylor
Timepiece - Vince Camuto via Nordstrom
Bracelets - No idea!
Necklace - Freedom by Topshop via Nordstrom
Lipstick - Party Proof Matte Lipstick by Model Co in Peony
Nails - Ciate Corrupted Neon Manicure in Electronica

Monday, July 22, 2013

CRAFT: Easy Flip Flop Fix (Just Add Straps!)

My four-year-old daughter unfortunately inherited my balance...or lack thereof. We both have problems walking on flat surfaces, and during the summer Haley's knees are covered with band-aids most of the time because of trips and falls. Throw flip flops in the mix, and it's pretty much a disaster!

Haley was given a couple adorable pairs of princess flip flops from a friend for her birthday but after wearing them only once, she was tripping all over the place because they didn't stay on her already unsteady feet. She loves the flip flops and was pretty heartbroken because she couldn't wear them, but then it hit me: straps! All she needed was a couple straps to help her little feet stay in the shoes, so I grabbed some pink elastic and came up with this quick fix.

SUPPLIES: flip flops, elastic, lighter, needle and thread. That's it!

First, cut out 2 pieces of elastic. I can't give you exact measurements because each child's feet are different, but for my daughter's size 11 feet (I know, she has giant feet for being only 4!) I cut about 8 1/2 inches of elastic each. Next, use a lighter to carefully singe each edge to avoid fraying.

Fold your elastic around your shoe strap. Double up your thread, then thread your needle and sew a row or two of stitches close to the edge of your elastic. Repeat for the other side.

Done! Couldn't be easier, and now my daughter can wear her flip flops that would have never gotten worn otherwise. Yay for quick fixes and saved flip flops!

**After I finished this project and post, what do you know, Andrea from The Train to Crazy posted a link on Facebook to the exact same project by Delia on Delia Creates from 2010! I guess we both have clumsy children in need of souped up flip flops :)**

Check out our Link Party Page to see where we link up each week!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Tips: Keep Bugs Out of Your Sandbox

This summer is the first time we've gotten our kids a sandbox and it was an instant hit. The first day we set it up, we couldn't drag them away from it. After we were done playing, we covered the sandbox with a lid and went to bed. The next day when we went outside, the sandbox was full of bugs! Let me tell you, it's no fun to dig a bunch of itty bitty bugs out of a sandbox with a tiny shovel. I'm sure many of you have the same problem if you have a sandbox, and no one wants to spend every day digging bugs out of the sand. Luckily, I have a fun little trick that works wonders for bug-filled sandboxes, AND you probably already have it in your pantry....


You may be skeptical, but trust me it works! On top of having numerous health benefits like reducing LDL cholesterol levels, cinnamon is also a natural bug repellent. Just sprinkle liberally (and I mean very liberally) into the sand and mix and no more bugs!

 On top of getting rid of all the pests, it leaves the sandbox (and your little ones' toes) smelling amazing. I won't promise that it'll keep every bug out of your sandbox, but we've seen a huge improvement since we started sprinkling in cinnamon.

You can buy large bottles of cinnamon at Sam's Club pretty inexpensively. Better yet, check your local Dollar Store. I hope this little tip helps you as much as it did for me! Here are a few other unexpected uses for cinnamon.

Check out our Link Party Page to see where we link up each week!
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