Thursday, August 29, 2013

Copycat! A dress inspired by Garnet Hill's Shoelace Dress


A few weeks ago, I got Garnet Hill Kids' fall catalogs and fell in love with several adorable outfits, including this super-cute knit peasant dress with a big, fat shoelace bow! Of course, I'm not one to spend $48 on something I can easily make myself, so I got to work making a copycat version.

I pinned this under "fall sewing inspiration" on my sewing Pinterest board and got a ton of repins by other sewing types, so I figure there are lots of people out there whipping this one up.  If you want to make one of these dresses without reinventing the wheel, here's a basic outline of how I did it. These measurements would work for a size 2T-4T dress (I know that is a big range, but it's a stretchy knit peasant dress... it even fits me as a top!)

(It was actually my first knit sewing project, and I'm wondering what on earth took me so long! It was not hard at all.)

The first thing I did was get a pair of wide, "skater-style" shoelaces. I'm sure you can find these things at places like Hot Topic or Journeys, but those places frighten me, so I ordered mine on Amazon. ;-) Then I got to work with some deep purple interlock knit fabric I already had in my stash.

Make sure the stretch is horizontal, rather than vertical, across the pieces, and cut:

two sleeve pieces, 15" wide by 14.5-16" long*
two bodice pieces, 20" wide by 24" long



On a piece of paper, draw a shape like the above, 3" wide and 4.25" long, and cut it out.  The curve doesn't have to be the same as mine; it's not an exact science. 


For each of your bodice pieces AND each of your sleeve pieces, fold in half, and use the scoop shape template you made to cut pieces out of all the top corners.

There are about 45,000 different tutorials for constructing a peasant dress online, so I'm not going to go through every step! Here, I will just say, "assemble your arm and bodice pieces, and stitch up the sides." If you need a refresher, here's a good one.




I used my serger, which made it fast and easy, but if you don't have one, you could just sew it normally with a ball-point needle. Since knits don't fray, you wouldn't even need to worry about pinking the edges.





Now make 1/2" casings around the neckline and sleeves. You could also use your ball-point needle to sew the casings. I wanted to try something different, so I pulled out my never-before-used double needle and threaded my machine for two spools. I wasn't sure if it would work to stick a spool on the bobbin winder, but it worked fine!

(I did make my casings a bit wider to accommodate for the extra width of the stitch itself, and to give me some wiggle room since I had to stitch on the right side of the fabric and couldn't see the edge. So my casings were 3/4".)





Doesn't it look nice and neat with the double row of stitching made by the twin needle? I will have to remember the double needle trick!

Cut your 1/4" wide elastic to the length you desire for your neckline and wrists, and insert. For a 2/3T, I would suggest 17.5" for the neck and 7" or 7.5" for the wrists.

Now hem the dress to your desired length. Garnet Hill's dress hits above the knee; I chose to make mine hit below. Now I kind of wish I had made it a bit shorter. Having it below the knee makes it just a teeeeeeny bit nightgowny.

Deep, 2" hem.


 Now comes the hardest part: tying that bow! I tried about a million different methods, but ended up cutting about a foot off each end of the shoelace, sewing them together, (liberally applying fray check because those things fray like crazy), and tying it that way. It worked well.

From the reviews on Garnet Hill's website, it looks like there is a chance of the aglets coming off the shoelace bow in the wash, so you might want to make your bow removable. Right now, this bow is pinned on, but of course, I can't let a 2-year-old walk around with a safety pin in an easily accessible part of her clothing, so I will probably just tack it on with thread and snip it out between washes. Kind of a pain, but better than ruining the bow!


I wasn't actually going to make H be my model today, but she wanted to try on the dress as soon as she saw it. A good sign, I think!

This is her sad, waifish model look. Maybe she's auditioning for the part of Quinoa's new protegee!

OMG, she has got this modeling thing down. 

That's my kid!

*I cut mine 12" long. This was too short. As you can see, the sleeves hit H just below the elbow, rather than being a true 3/4 length.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Handmade dresses for our OCC shoeboxes




Do you pack shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child? It is definitely one of the highlights of the Christmas season for me every year. I love picking out the gifts and thinking about the kiddos who will receive them. Last year, for the first time, I used the "track my boxes" option, and learned that our boxes ended up in Mexico and Indonesia. I usually get all teary-eyed at least once while cramming little toys and goodies into each available square centimeter of the box, thinking about how we have so much and others so little, when we have done nothing to deserve it. The OCC project and Samaritan's Purse in general are very close to my heart.

At some point over the past year, I started following OCC on Facebook, which I highly recommend doing. All throughout the year, they post wonderful photos of kids opening their boxes, anecdotes about children who were providentially matched with the exact thing they needed, brief testimonials from shoebox packers talking about how much it means to them to send out their boxes each year, stories of people who get notes of thanks back from the children who received the boxes... you get the idea. It's just really wonderful.

One day, OCC posted a story about ladies who sew dresses for their boxes, and gave some other ideas for handmade items to include. My jaw nearly hit the floor. I had never, ever even considered that handmade items would be accepted or welcomed. Of course, I could not stop thinking about making little dresses to go in my boxes this year. I got so excited about the idea, I went ahead and made three of them.  And then went ahead and bought all the rest of the items, and packed three boxes. Three months early! Well, now that these are done, I'm sure I'll decide to pack some others closer to the November deadline.



I've used lots of different peasant dress patterns, but happened to use this one for this colorful number. Isn't that fabric crazy fun? I've had it forever. The orange polka dot is from a different line, but I thought it went really well. (It's possible I also had to make H a matching top out of the leftovers.)


You may recognize this fabric from my ill-fated Sorbetto sewing attempt. (I have sewn tops for myself several times recently, only to end up hating them and cutting them up for scraps. I wonder if I will ever get it right?!) I'm not quite sure why I originally bought so much of this. It looks much better as a pretty pillowcase dress anyway. 


For both of these, I used the wonderful Little Dresses for Africa tutorial. I may have liked this one best of all, even though the pictures don't really do it justice. I just thought the salmon and yellow were so pretty. 



I bought some toddler panties and flip-flops for the boxes, too. I just like the idea of a little girl getting a whole new set of clothes in her box! I also intend to make some coordinating hair clippies next time I have the hot glue gun heated up.



And, of course, had lots of fun at the Dollar Tree finding toys and hygiene items and candies and doodads to fill it the rest of the way. While putting this post together, I just ran across the fact that 10-14-year-old boys are the most needed category for shoeboxes, so maybe I'll try to put some of those together before November. I wonder if I could do anything handmade for those... that's trickier! What is your favorite thing to pack in your shoeboxes?



Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Monday, August 19, 2013

Guest Post: Easy Tips for Family Trips



I’m excited to share Sleeping is for Sissies’ first guest post! Kendra Thornton is a former Orbitz Director of Communications and travel expert who has been to 28 countries in 6 continents.  (Wow!) She is also a wife and mom of three.

So who better to share some tips on traveling with kiddos – and perfect timing for anyone planning a last-minute getaway before school starts back up! Thanks, Kendra!



Easy Tips for Family Trips
a guest post by Kendra Thornton


It may be late in the season, but there is still time to plan a fun-filled family vacation! In order for your trip to be relaxing and enjoyable for all the family, there must be strategic planning ahead of time.  Take the time to prepare yourself and your whole family for the trip, and it will pay off in leaps and bounds in the end.


Tip #1: Happy Little Travelers


It may sound crazy, but a road trip with the kids can be fun, especially if the destinations are exciting!  I know traveling with little ones can be difficult, but there are ways to sooth them and make the time fly!  As the hours of travel start to build up, make sure you have things to do to keep your children occupied.  Consider investing in a portable DVD player and bring some favorite movies along for the trip.  Also, try out something different by purchasing an audiobook for your kids to listen to.


Tip #2: Get Directional!


If your kids are old enough to read a map, scope out the route before you leave.  Use highlighters on maps to emphasize the roads to travel during your trip.  This is very educational, and a tremendous tool for your kids to learn.  It is easy to just listen to the GPS tell us where to go, but actually looking at a map and understanding where you are traveling is a unique, fun thing to teach your children.


Tip #3: Create a Travel Pack


When traveling for extended periods of time, issues may arise where certain items may be needed at a moment’s notice.  This can be true for serious items like a child’s medication or a new diaper, and for less serious issues like snacks or a change of clothes.  I like to include other items like wetnaps, a favorite toy, and a phone charger.  Bring whatever items you deem fit for your travel pack.


Tip #4: Picking a Hotel


When traveling with the whole family, it can be tempting to simply choose the hotel with the lowest price tag.  However, picking out a family friendly hotel that has all the amenities you want will more than pay for itself.  So what constitutes “family friendly”?  Read user reviews to see if the staff is helpful and if there are quiet hours at night.  Look online to find out if there are kid’s menus in the hotel restaurant, if the pool has a shallow end, if the hotel offers rollaway beds to the rooms free of charge, and anything else you might be interested in.  Gogobot is an online hotel review site, and I have used it when traveling to Disney World to stay at a family friendly hotel in or near Disney.  Check out different options until finding a viable one for your family.


Tip #5: Speed Through the Airport


The airport can be a drawn out, difficult experience if you show up unprepared.  While some unexpected circumstances can still put a damper on things, showing up prepared can minimize the effects.  Print your tickets out two nights in advance (don’t do this too early to avoid misplacing them), and make all the kids wear slip on shoes or sandals.  Going through security, everyone will have to take off his or her shoes, so make the process a bit quicker in this regard.  Also, always double check what can and can’t be brought through airport security in your carry-on luggage.


Your family vacation can be awesome this summer, but it will take some planning ahead!  Take some of these tips into consideration, and remember that being prepared always pays off!


______


I love these tips, especially the one about teaching your kiddos some basic map skills while involving them in the trip planning process. Brilliant! You can follow Kendra on Twitter @KendraThornton.

And if you are planning to take young kids on a trip in the near future, you may want to check out my traveling-with-tots packing checklist and maybe even make a handy-dandy nap mat to bring along for the ride! (We have used ours in many a hotel.) Happy traveling!



Saturday, August 17, 2013

My Buttoned Version of the CINO Reversible Wrap Top




A few weeks ago, Jess from Craftiness is Not Optional (aka CINO) and Birch Fabrics got together to share Jess's pattern and tutorial for this adorable reversible wrap top. As soon as I spotted it, I knew I would be making it as soon as I could find some time.  I certainly have a soft spot for anything reversible!

Last night I finally found the time to get started, and it came together SO fast and easy! I LOVE this pattern and will definitely be making a few more. The pattern is perfect, and Jess's directions and photos are fantastic, as always.

I couldn't decide what I wanted to use for the tie closures, and after going back and forth a LOT, I decided to just tweak the top a bit to make it close with buttons instead of ties. It was SO easy to make the adjustment.



If you want to make the button version of the top, here's how you do it... I didn't take pictures as I went, but there wouldn't be much to photograph anyway. All you have to do is to completely skip the parts of the directions that deal with the ties, and stitch the shirt together -- all except for topstitching the bottom of the shirt closed. Figure out where you want your buttonhole in each breast flap, sew/cut your buttonhole and use a washable marking pencil to mark where your buttons will go. Then sew on your buttons, but --  here's where it's important that the bottom of the shirt isn't closed yet -- instead of sewing all the way through, sew it so that the stitching on the back of the button is between layers. Otherwise, the stitching for one side's button would show on the other side. And if your back-of-button stitching is as messy as mine, you certainly don't want that!






Once your buttons and buttonholes are done, you can close it up with topstitching as the directions indicate. I also top-stitched the entire shirt all the way around. I always find that makes garments, especially reversible ones, look a bit more polished and need a lot less ironing!

I love the way this shirt turned out, and I extra-double-love how fast and easy it was. Lalala!



Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Open house party

After a full four months in our new house, we decided to set a date and have an open house party for the dual purposes of "warming" our home and forcing us into a finishing decorating and settling in under a deadline. :-)

After a few crazy weeks of last-minute unpacking, organizing, touch-up painting, and other projects, we had the big day on Sunday, and it was a great day!



I made things a bit easier on us by doing a simple cold buffet spread so I could just mingle with the guests and not worry about heating or serving or refilling anything. I used blackboard cloth to make a table runner so I could easily label everything. It turned out really cute!


One of the biggest hits of the party was pimiento cheese sandwiches. I didn't make my own filling, though, because you can't improve on greatness. ;-) (You can buy pimiento by the mason jar at Jack Allen's.)



I turned the chalkboard thing into something of a theme with signage throughout the house.


I had intended to make cucumber sandwiches but realized it wouldn't be possible to do them the day of the party without skipping church, which we didn't want to do.  So I decided to improvise a little filling with cream cheese, peanut butter, honey, and a bit of confectioner's sugar, with the justification that there would be lots of small kids there.  I thought these may have ended up being the yummiest thing there!


Three kinds of muffins. I wish I had made more of these Rachael Ray cheddar-bacon cornbread muffins. They were a big hit! But I didn't realize until too late that the recipe makes a pretty small batch. I managed to make a huge quantity of the zucchini-raisin ones, which is great -- they're back in the freezer and will take H's breakfasts for days! 



I had never made a cheese ball before, but used this recipe for the ball in the middle of my cheese tray. I thought it turned out well, which is good, because the recipe makes four balls and so I still have three in the freezer!


I used cheddar popcorn and chalkboard-style labels I found online to make little party favor bags that read "thanks for popping in." I didn't keep count as I made them and ended up with about double what I needed so... if anyone wants some tiny bags of popcorn...


I had new personal contact cards made up with our new address as well as other personal contact information, for our guests to take home.


N made a really cool backyard Jenga game! I don't know how much use it got at the party because it was too hot to stand around... but it'll keep.


These cute dispensers worked great, didn't leak, and meant I didn't have to refill a thing! 



Coffee station. Yeah, that was a big hit on a 100+ degree day. I think one cup was drunk, and that was out of politeness. ;-)


So, that's about it! The best thing about the party was that, even though there was a lot of work leading up to it, once the party started, we were done and got to relax and enjoy our guests!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Copycat! A dress inspired by Garnet Hill's Shoelace Dress


A few weeks ago, I got Garnet Hill Kids' fall catalogs and fell in love with several adorable outfits, including this super-cute knit peasant dress with a big, fat shoelace bow! Of course, I'm not one to spend $48 on something I can easily make myself, so I got to work making a copycat version.

I pinned this under "fall sewing inspiration" on my sewing Pinterest board and got a ton of repins by other sewing types, so I figure there are lots of people out there whipping this one up.  If you want to make one of these dresses without reinventing the wheel, here's a basic outline of how I did it. These measurements would work for a size 2T-4T dress (I know that is a big range, but it's a stretchy knit peasant dress... it even fits me as a top!)

(It was actually my first knit sewing project, and I'm wondering what on earth took me so long! It was not hard at all.)

The first thing I did was get a pair of wide, "skater-style" shoelaces. I'm sure you can find these things at places like Hot Topic or Journeys, but those places frighten me, so I ordered mine on Amazon. ;-) Then I got to work with some deep purple interlock knit fabric I already had in my stash.

Make sure the stretch is horizontal, rather than vertical, across the pieces, and cut:

two sleeve pieces, 15" wide by 14.5-16" long*
two bodice pieces, 20" wide by 24" long



On a piece of paper, draw a shape like the above, 3" wide and 4.25" long, and cut it out.  The curve doesn't have to be the same as mine; it's not an exact science. 


For each of your bodice pieces AND each of your sleeve pieces, fold in half, and use the scoop shape template you made to cut pieces out of all the top corners.

There are about 45,000 different tutorials for constructing a peasant dress online, so I'm not going to go through every step! Here, I will just say, "assemble your arm and bodice pieces, and stitch up the sides." If you need a refresher, here's a good one.




I used my serger, which made it fast and easy, but if you don't have one, you could just sew it normally with a ball-point needle. Since knits don't fray, you wouldn't even need to worry about pinking the edges.





Now make 1/2" casings around the neckline and sleeves. You could also use your ball-point needle to sew the casings. I wanted to try something different, so I pulled out my never-before-used double needle and threaded my machine for two spools. I wasn't sure if it would work to stick a spool on the bobbin winder, but it worked fine!

(I did make my casings a bit wider to accommodate for the extra width of the stitch itself, and to give me some wiggle room since I had to stitch on the right side of the fabric and couldn't see the edge. So my casings were 3/4".)





Doesn't it look nice and neat with the double row of stitching made by the twin needle? I will have to remember the double needle trick!

Cut your 1/4" wide elastic to the length you desire for your neckline and wrists, and insert. For a 2/3T, I would suggest 17.5" for the neck and 7" or 7.5" for the wrists.

Now hem the dress to your desired length. Garnet Hill's dress hits above the knee; I chose to make mine hit below. Now I kind of wish I had made it a bit shorter. Having it below the knee makes it just a teeeeeeny bit nightgowny.

Deep, 2" hem.


 Now comes the hardest part: tying that bow! I tried about a million different methods, but ended up cutting about a foot off each end of the shoelace, sewing them together, (liberally applying fray check because those things fray like crazy), and tying it that way. It worked well.

From the reviews on Garnet Hill's website, it looks like there is a chance of the aglets coming off the shoelace bow in the wash, so you might want to make your bow removable. Right now, this bow is pinned on, but of course, I can't let a 2-year-old walk around with a safety pin in an easily accessible part of her clothing, so I will probably just tack it on with thread and snip it out between washes. Kind of a pain, but better than ruining the bow!


I wasn't actually going to make H be my model today, but she wanted to try on the dress as soon as she saw it. A good sign, I think!

This is her sad, waifish model look. Maybe she's auditioning for the part of Quinoa's new protegee!

OMG, she has got this modeling thing down. 

That's my kid!

*I cut mine 12" long. This was too short. As you can see, the sleeves hit H just below the elbow, rather than being a true 3/4 length.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Handmade dresses for our OCC shoeboxes




Do you pack shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child? It is definitely one of the highlights of the Christmas season for me every year. I love picking out the gifts and thinking about the kiddos who will receive them. Last year, for the first time, I used the "track my boxes" option, and learned that our boxes ended up in Mexico and Indonesia. I usually get all teary-eyed at least once while cramming little toys and goodies into each available square centimeter of the box, thinking about how we have so much and others so little, when we have done nothing to deserve it. The OCC project and Samaritan's Purse in general are very close to my heart.

At some point over the past year, I started following OCC on Facebook, which I highly recommend doing. All throughout the year, they post wonderful photos of kids opening their boxes, anecdotes about children who were providentially matched with the exact thing they needed, brief testimonials from shoebox packers talking about how much it means to them to send out their boxes each year, stories of people who get notes of thanks back from the children who received the boxes... you get the idea. It's just really wonderful.

One day, OCC posted a story about ladies who sew dresses for their boxes, and gave some other ideas for handmade items to include. My jaw nearly hit the floor. I had never, ever even considered that handmade items would be accepted or welcomed. Of course, I could not stop thinking about making little dresses to go in my boxes this year. I got so excited about the idea, I went ahead and made three of them.  And then went ahead and bought all the rest of the items, and packed three boxes. Three months early! Well, now that these are done, I'm sure I'll decide to pack some others closer to the November deadline.



I've used lots of different peasant dress patterns, but happened to use this one for this colorful number. Isn't that fabric crazy fun? I've had it forever. The orange polka dot is from a different line, but I thought it went really well. (It's possible I also had to make H a matching top out of the leftovers.)


You may recognize this fabric from my ill-fated Sorbetto sewing attempt. (I have sewn tops for myself several times recently, only to end up hating them and cutting them up for scraps. I wonder if I will ever get it right?!) I'm not quite sure why I originally bought so much of this. It looks much better as a pretty pillowcase dress anyway. 


For both of these, I used the wonderful Little Dresses for Africa tutorial. I may have liked this one best of all, even though the pictures don't really do it justice. I just thought the salmon and yellow were so pretty. 



I bought some toddler panties and flip-flops for the boxes, too. I just like the idea of a little girl getting a whole new set of clothes in her box! I also intend to make some coordinating hair clippies next time I have the hot glue gun heated up.



And, of course, had lots of fun at the Dollar Tree finding toys and hygiene items and candies and doodads to fill it the rest of the way. While putting this post together, I just ran across the fact that 10-14-year-old boys are the most needed category for shoeboxes, so maybe I'll try to put some of those together before November. I wonder if I could do anything handmade for those... that's trickier! What is your favorite thing to pack in your shoeboxes?



Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Monday, August 19, 2013

Guest Post: Easy Tips for Family Trips



I’m excited to share Sleeping is for Sissies’ first guest post! Kendra Thornton is a former Orbitz Director of Communications and travel expert who has been to 28 countries in 6 continents.  (Wow!) She is also a wife and mom of three.

So who better to share some tips on traveling with kiddos – and perfect timing for anyone planning a last-minute getaway before school starts back up! Thanks, Kendra!



Easy Tips for Family Trips
a guest post by Kendra Thornton


It may be late in the season, but there is still time to plan a fun-filled family vacation! In order for your trip to be relaxing and enjoyable for all the family, there must be strategic planning ahead of time.  Take the time to prepare yourself and your whole family for the trip, and it will pay off in leaps and bounds in the end.


Tip #1: Happy Little Travelers


It may sound crazy, but a road trip with the kids can be fun, especially if the destinations are exciting!  I know traveling with little ones can be difficult, but there are ways to sooth them and make the time fly!  As the hours of travel start to build up, make sure you have things to do to keep your children occupied.  Consider investing in a portable DVD player and bring some favorite movies along for the trip.  Also, try out something different by purchasing an audiobook for your kids to listen to.


Tip #2: Get Directional!


If your kids are old enough to read a map, scope out the route before you leave.  Use highlighters on maps to emphasize the roads to travel during your trip.  This is very educational, and a tremendous tool for your kids to learn.  It is easy to just listen to the GPS tell us where to go, but actually looking at a map and understanding where you are traveling is a unique, fun thing to teach your children.


Tip #3: Create a Travel Pack


When traveling for extended periods of time, issues may arise where certain items may be needed at a moment’s notice.  This can be true for serious items like a child’s medication or a new diaper, and for less serious issues like snacks or a change of clothes.  I like to include other items like wetnaps, a favorite toy, and a phone charger.  Bring whatever items you deem fit for your travel pack.


Tip #4: Picking a Hotel


When traveling with the whole family, it can be tempting to simply choose the hotel with the lowest price tag.  However, picking out a family friendly hotel that has all the amenities you want will more than pay for itself.  So what constitutes “family friendly”?  Read user reviews to see if the staff is helpful and if there are quiet hours at night.  Look online to find out if there are kid’s menus in the hotel restaurant, if the pool has a shallow end, if the hotel offers rollaway beds to the rooms free of charge, and anything else you might be interested in.  Gogobot is an online hotel review site, and I have used it when traveling to Disney World to stay at a family friendly hotel in or near Disney.  Check out different options until finding a viable one for your family.


Tip #5: Speed Through the Airport


The airport can be a drawn out, difficult experience if you show up unprepared.  While some unexpected circumstances can still put a damper on things, showing up prepared can minimize the effects.  Print your tickets out two nights in advance (don’t do this too early to avoid misplacing them), and make all the kids wear slip on shoes or sandals.  Going through security, everyone will have to take off his or her shoes, so make the process a bit quicker in this regard.  Also, always double check what can and can’t be brought through airport security in your carry-on luggage.


Your family vacation can be awesome this summer, but it will take some planning ahead!  Take some of these tips into consideration, and remember that being prepared always pays off!


______


I love these tips, especially the one about teaching your kiddos some basic map skills while involving them in the trip planning process. Brilliant! You can follow Kendra on Twitter @KendraThornton.

And if you are planning to take young kids on a trip in the near future, you may want to check out my traveling-with-tots packing checklist and maybe even make a handy-dandy nap mat to bring along for the ride! (We have used ours in many a hotel.) Happy traveling!



Saturday, August 17, 2013

My Buttoned Version of the CINO Reversible Wrap Top




A few weeks ago, Jess from Craftiness is Not Optional (aka CINO) and Birch Fabrics got together to share Jess's pattern and tutorial for this adorable reversible wrap top. As soon as I spotted it, I knew I would be making it as soon as I could find some time.  I certainly have a soft spot for anything reversible!

Last night I finally found the time to get started, and it came together SO fast and easy! I LOVE this pattern and will definitely be making a few more. The pattern is perfect, and Jess's directions and photos are fantastic, as always.

I couldn't decide what I wanted to use for the tie closures, and after going back and forth a LOT, I decided to just tweak the top a bit to make it close with buttons instead of ties. It was SO easy to make the adjustment.



If you want to make the button version of the top, here's how you do it... I didn't take pictures as I went, but there wouldn't be much to photograph anyway. All you have to do is to completely skip the parts of the directions that deal with the ties, and stitch the shirt together -- all except for topstitching the bottom of the shirt closed. Figure out where you want your buttonhole in each breast flap, sew/cut your buttonhole and use a washable marking pencil to mark where your buttons will go. Then sew on your buttons, but --  here's where it's important that the bottom of the shirt isn't closed yet -- instead of sewing all the way through, sew it so that the stitching on the back of the button is between layers. Otherwise, the stitching for one side's button would show on the other side. And if your back-of-button stitching is as messy as mine, you certainly don't want that!






Once your buttons and buttonholes are done, you can close it up with topstitching as the directions indicate. I also top-stitched the entire shirt all the way around. I always find that makes garments, especially reversible ones, look a bit more polished and need a lot less ironing!

I love the way this shirt turned out, and I extra-double-love how fast and easy it was. Lalala!



Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Open house party

After a full four months in our new house, we decided to set a date and have an open house party for the dual purposes of "warming" our home and forcing us into a finishing decorating and settling in under a deadline. :-)

After a few crazy weeks of last-minute unpacking, organizing, touch-up painting, and other projects, we had the big day on Sunday, and it was a great day!



I made things a bit easier on us by doing a simple cold buffet spread so I could just mingle with the guests and not worry about heating or serving or refilling anything. I used blackboard cloth to make a table runner so I could easily label everything. It turned out really cute!


One of the biggest hits of the party was pimiento cheese sandwiches. I didn't make my own filling, though, because you can't improve on greatness. ;-) (You can buy pimiento by the mason jar at Jack Allen's.)



I turned the chalkboard thing into something of a theme with signage throughout the house.


I had intended to make cucumber sandwiches but realized it wouldn't be possible to do them the day of the party without skipping church, which we didn't want to do.  So I decided to improvise a little filling with cream cheese, peanut butter, honey, and a bit of confectioner's sugar, with the justification that there would be lots of small kids there.  I thought these may have ended up being the yummiest thing there!


Three kinds of muffins. I wish I had made more of these Rachael Ray cheddar-bacon cornbread muffins. They were a big hit! But I didn't realize until too late that the recipe makes a pretty small batch. I managed to make a huge quantity of the zucchini-raisin ones, which is great -- they're back in the freezer and will take H's breakfasts for days! 



I had never made a cheese ball before, but used this recipe for the ball in the middle of my cheese tray. I thought it turned out well, which is good, because the recipe makes four balls and so I still have three in the freezer!


I used cheddar popcorn and chalkboard-style labels I found online to make little party favor bags that read "thanks for popping in." I didn't keep count as I made them and ended up with about double what I needed so... if anyone wants some tiny bags of popcorn...


I had new personal contact cards made up with our new address as well as other personal contact information, for our guests to take home.


N made a really cool backyard Jenga game! I don't know how much use it got at the party because it was too hot to stand around... but it'll keep.


These cute dispensers worked great, didn't leak, and meant I didn't have to refill a thing! 



Coffee station. Yeah, that was a big hit on a 100+ degree day. I think one cup was drunk, and that was out of politeness. ;-)


So, that's about it! The best thing about the party was that, even though there was a lot of work leading up to it, once the party started, we were done and got to relax and enjoy our guests!