Bendy dolls

My doll -- front -- she is 2.5" tall

I bought some dolls from Princess Nimble Thimble’s fabulous shop as Christmas gifts for the nieces/nephew (and one for me! how can you resist?).  I shared them with one of my crafty friends who attends the monthly crafting night that I host, and she was enamored!  I actually had a few bendy dolls in progress from months and months ago that I had created soon after purchasing the book, Felt Wee Folk.  So, using the instructions and base patterns in that book, and gazing in adoration at Princess Nimble-Thimble’s creations on Flickr, we made some dolls at our Saturday crafty night last weekend!  I absolutely love them.  I did not expect them to turn out so wonderfully as a first attempt.  Now I need to make more!

My doll -- back

My Star Wars-obsessed 7yo thinks I should make one like Ventress.  Hmm….and my 5yo thinks a “soldier who guards the gates of the castle” would be cool.  Then the 5yo was looking through my Felt Wee Folk book tonight, and started flagging pages he liked with Post-It notes.  I see more bendy dolls in my future!

My friend's doll -- who is a bit bigger -- maybe 3.5"

Thanks to Dannielle at Princess Nimble-Thimble for the wonderful inspiration (oooh…she has ballerinas in stock!).  Her creations are amazing.  Seeing how long it took me to make just one, and how imperfect it is, I’m in awe of her talent!  She also has a photo tutorial for the dolls on Flickr.

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Christmas Gifts – Fabric Baskets

I came across the Alexander Henry Good Earth fabric a few months ago, and *knew* that I needed to make something with it for J’s Montessori teachers.  The little children in costumes from around the world are adorable (called “You and Me”).  So I showed it to my friend, and we came up with a plan to make fabric baskets.  After searching around through many tutorials, we decided to use the tutorial from Pink Penguin.  It’s for a patchwork basket, but I just modified it to remove that step, and I enlarged the pattern as I wanted mine to be bigger.  Her tutorial was great and I didn’t have any problems at all.

Before I cut into the expensive Good Earth fabric, I decided to make a prototype which I gave to my friend as a little Christmas surprise.  My friend has these beautiful chickens that my boys adore, which is why I chose the chicken fabric from my stash.  It’s a home dec weight.  The top part of the basket (the red dots, which I’m almost certain is an old Michael Miller print) is just normal quilting cotton.

For the chicken applique, I cut out chickens from the bottom fabric, attached them with Heat and Bond Lite, and then did some “sketchy stitching” around the chickens (using some stabilizer underneath).  I loved how it turned out!  I wanted to keep it, LOL!

Side 1

Side 2

I increased Pink Penguin’s pattern by 25% to make this basket.  I also pieced the bottom since the fabric was directional and I didn’t want the chickens to be upside down on one side.  So, assuming that Pink Penguin’s basket is a “small” size, this would be a “medium” size.

Bottom piece (chicken) = 8″ x 12.5″ (finished size, if your fabric is directional, take this into account, I cut two pieces 4.25″ x 12.5″ and sewed them together with 1/4″ seam)
2 x Top pieces (red dot) = 4.5″ x 12.5″
Lining (also red dot) = 12.5″ x 16″
Handles (two different fabrics) = 2.75″ x 12″
* Use 2″ for the box corners in those steps

So, the chicken basket was lovely, but my friend and I decided that we wanted our Good Earth baskets for the teachers to be a bit bigger, so I enlarged the pattern again by 25% to a “Large” size.  We actually didn’t quite use these measurements in our “world kids” basket because I wanted to fussy cut the children so that you didn’t have half a head on there.  However, I did test out the original sizes by making a basket for my MIL for Christmas which I don’t seem to have a picture of.  I’ll have to remedy that.

<<EDIT>> Took a picture!  I used fabric from my stash for this, and these are from Sandi Henderson’s Ginger Blossom collection.  The bottom red stripe is the Denyse Schmidt County Fair.

"Large" size

Original “Large” sizes

Bottom piece  = 10″ x 15.75″
2 x Top pieces = 5.75″ x 15.75″
Lining = 15-3/8″ x 20″
Handles (two different fabrics) = 4″ x 15″
* Use 2.5″ for the box corners in those steps

Modified “Large” sizes for “world kids” fabric

Bottom piece  = 11.5″ x 15.75″
2 x Top pieces = 5″ x 15.75″
Lining = 15-3/8″ x 20″
Handles (two different fabrics) = 4″ x 15″
* Use 2.5″ for the box corners in those steps

We made two “world kid” baskets.  One in a red/pink tone and one in a blue tone.  J had definite ideas as to which of his teachers should get the red and which should get the blue, and he was right!  I had a hard time buying the children fabric because I couldn’t really tell what the colors were online and if one fabric at one store was either the same or different than the same fabric from another store.  So, I ended up buying yardage from two different stores.  It turns out that they were different!  One of them definitely had a blue tone to it (the children’s clothing) and the other was definitely more “pink-y”.  (They also make the fabric with a blue background, so there is a total of three different colors.)  We used home dec weight fabric from my stash for the bottom – from my Denyse Schmidt County Fair score a few months ago.  It worked perfectly!  I love it when that happens.

For the inside, we paired up “Around the World” fabric in Blue with the blue basket, and used the map fabric (in Brite) with the red/pink basket.  The handles on the blue basket are the “Hello” fabric in Blue, and the handles on the red/pink basket are “Goodies” in Brite.  Because these baskets were larger than the original pattern, and I was using just quilting weight cotton for the top, I also added a layer of medium weight interfacing to the lining to give the basket more structure.

The baskets were a huge hit!  I also filled them with my homemade blueberry jam and homemade pickles.  J’s teacher said the pickles reminded her of her mom.  Ahh…that is so sweet.

Christmas Eve Pajamas

Christmas Eve Pajamas

I put little gifts and things in the Advent calendar each day until the 24th. However, the 24th is always my special gift of handmade pajamas. Last year, I made Yoda pajamas that the boys loved. This year, I went more traditional, and made pajamas out of blue snowmen. I don’t use a commercial pattern. I take a pair of pajama pants that fit well, fold them, and copy them onto a sheet of freezer paper. Add about 1/2 inch for seam allowance, and add about 2.5 inches at the top for the waistband, and another 1.5 inches at the bottom for the hem. About.  As you can maybe see in the picture below, the long straight side of the pattern is where you fold the fabric.  Then you cut around the pattern, and make two of these.

Pajama pants pattern

When you sew up the pants, you put the two unfolded pieces together, right sides facing, and sew just along the line from crotch to waist for the front and back.  I always use a triple stitch in the crotch/bum area to provide reinforcement.  Then you open it up and you sew from the bottom of one leg, up through the crotch area, and down to the bottom of the other leg.  Then, fold over your casing at the top for the elastic, sew around leaving a 2 inch opening to thread through the elastic, and then finish sewing up the waist after you thread through the elastic.  I like to use 3/4 inch underwear/pajama elastic, and try to make the elastic casing so it just fits the elastic.  If the casing is too large, then the elastic will roll within the casing when you wash them.  I measured the boys’ waists, and then deducted about 5 inches and this is the piece of elastic that I cut.  Then finish them off by hemming the legs.

I also added a little tag in the back with the size.  I did this for two reasons, 1) they are exactly the same and this will make it easier to put them away in the drawers, and 2) it tells the boys which side is the back so they don’t put them on backwards.  I used some 1/2 inch twill tape, wrote the size number on it with a fabric marker, and then sewed it on the back.  You can see the stitches through the fabric in the back where I sewed on the tape, but I don’t particularly care.  They are pajamas after all.

I bought long sleeved white t-shirts, and embellished them with the snowmen from the flannel fabric that I used to make the pants. I appliqued these on the front using these steps:
1) Iron a piece of Heat and Bond Lite onto a small square of fabric larger than the picture that you will cut out.
2) Cut around the picture, leaving about a 1/4 inch all the way around.
3) Peel off the backing paper, place on your shirt, and iron onto your shirt using the instructions for the Heat and Bond.
4) Change the needle in your machine to a ball point needle if you are sewing the applique onto a knit fabric.
5) Place a piece of tear-away/wash-away stabilizer behind the applique and begin stitching around the outside of the picture using a tight zig-zag stitch.  The stabilizer helps the fabric from puckering.
6) Tear away the stabilizer when you are done!

Our new pajamas!

We had a fun Christmas Eve!  The hubby made paella for dinner.  Yum!  We like to have lobster for Christmas Eve dinner, but we decide to switch it up with the paella (no worries, there were 2 lobsters in there!).

Then we watched a little NORAD Santa-tracking on the computer, went outside to spread around some reindeer food, and went to bed to wait for Santa.  Another lovely Christmas Eve!

Roasted cabbage soup

Carmelizing the onions and leeks, cabbage is roasting in the oven

I combined two of my favorite Christmas gifts into this yummy pot of soup the other day.  The recipe was from the book  Love Soup.  It was so incredibly stellar.  I’m not sure why I chose that soup to make first with my new book, but it seemed to call to me.  I’m not normally fond of cooked cabbage, but roasting the cabbage first made a huge difference.  I can’t wait to try more soup recipes from this book!  We are looking to eat less meat and more fish and vegetable dishes, and I thought soup would be a good way to do this.  The soup plus a loaf of the hubby’s homemade bread made a great dinner.  Unfortunately, the kids don’t really like soup, but I’ll keep giving it to them and hopefully their taste buds will develop.  I’m impressed by the progress my 7yo has made with trying new food (he says his favorite foods are “pink fish” i.e., salmon, shrimp, and “critters”, i.e., mussels) in the last year, so maybe soup will be next!

I also got hubby some vital wheat gluten and diastatic malt powder for Christmas and he added them to his standard “almost no knead” bread recipe (that we cook in a preheated dutch oven).  Check out the rise on that baby!  The addition of the vital wheat gluten made a huge difference.  He says he’s a convert!

Loaf without "stuff" is on the right

Happy New Year curtains

Happy New Year!  It’s been a crazy last couple of weeks, not only trying to finish up my Christmas crafting and holiday activities, preparing for guests, etc., but also crazy-busy with work and trying to finish 3 different reports within the first three weeks of December.  Quite unpleasant.  However, those were done by 4pm on Christmas Eve, and all my Christmas crafting was also done on time!  Woo-hoo!  Even got my Christmas cards out on time.  So, now I’ve been laying low since Christmas, hanging out with the fam, and doing some laid back crafting.  I will be highlighting my fun Christmas creations in the next week or so.  I was really happy with how everything turned out.  But for now, here are my New Year’s Eve curtains!  Yes, we are boring, stayed home and watched football instead of going to a party, and I made these curtains for my office!

Office curtains

We are having major winter storm over the next 3 days, so we went grocery shopping and stocked up, and made plans for some fun food, and I went shopping for fabric!

I got the fabric at my favorite discount salvage store for $2.99/yard.  It is Joel Dewberry Chestnut Hill – Chestnuts (JD10) in Deep Water.  It’s good that it was only $3/yd because you need a lot of yardage for curtains!  I took everything that they had which was 7.25 yards.  And they are fully lined which is a bit of a pain, but worth it in terms of how the fabric drapes, how it looks from the outside, insulation-factor, and all of that.  Actually the biggest pain is that they are so large that they are really hard to sew!  I’m happy with how it’s turned out so far though and I still need to hem them.  I’m trying to decide if I want it threaded across the rod (as shown), or if I would rather attach the curtains with rings/clips.

Close-up of fabric

We did a lot of work on my office this summer.  We took out the ugly institutional-grade berber carpet and replaced it with wood floors to match the other rooms in the house.  Then, we created a closet in the unused nook where the chimney is, and painted the room yellow.  Hubby has taken advantage of his week off for the holidays to make me a new desk(!), he installed wire shelving in the closet, and made a built in desk in a little nook in the corner of the room that the boys are going to use as their computer desk.  Now I have curtains!  I still need to do some cleaning up and organizing.  I want to make some fabric boxes in the shape of a in/out box for my desk top.  I think I am going to use the J.Caroline tutorial, and modify it for the size that I want.  I also have some posters from the Common Ground Fair that I want to hang, and I need a rug at some point.  We also have a guest bed in here (twin with trundle), and I’d like to make a new quilt to match the curtains, maybe make some pillows to match.  I bought a few coordinating fabrics from Chestnut Hill, so we’ll see what I come up with.

Kid's desk nook - still needs work but functional for now