Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Lyla's Swingset Skirt

 I've been wanting to try out the Swingset Skirt pattern by Oliver and S for a while now. It looked like it might be a nice wardrobe staple for Lyla and maybe even a possibility for Maggie. When I heard about the sew-along this week, I decided it would be a fun time to give it a try. 

This skirt came together so quickly, save for a couple of errors on my end. Lyla is a teeny little thing, so when choosing a pattern size, I decided to go with the 18-24 month for width and the 3T for height/length. I thought I took this into account when I marked the buttonholes, but they ended up too close to the top of the skirt. I was a little bummed, because you can't exactly remove buttonholes that have already been cut open. But, I just forged ahead and sewed another set in the right location, and it's not even noticeable. As it turned out, the drawstring I made turned out too bulky so I decided to omit it and just added a faux tie on the side.

I love the shape of this skirt so much! All of the skirts I've sewn for my girls have been the simple, sewn from a big rectangle type. The curved hem on this pattern adds so much to the skirt - it is more playful and twirly. I'm a convert!

The outer fabric on the skirt is a Nani Iro cotton lawn that I scored from the Imagine Gnats remnants sale. It's a bit different than other lawns I've worked with. It has a unique texture (described here) and a little less drape but is still very lovely! I was worried it would be a bit too stiff for this skirt, so I lined it with a double cloth gingham (this one by Robert Kaufman) to give it a bit more weight. I used the same gingham for the side tie.

I love the end result! It has a nice flounce to it. The combination of fabrics is so playful and I think the skirt has a bit of a vintage appeal.

Of course, Lyla styled it up with her present uniform of accessories - a giant floral headband, necklace and rain boots. I have to say, I'm embracing this age of opinions way more the third time around. Some days we're a dinosaur, some days we're the girliest of girls, and a good deal of the time we're running around outside in a leotard with no shoes on. Today she twirled and giggled down the street in her new skirt!  

Friday, November 6, 2015

Meadow Quilt

Do you remember this quilt? I love where it started from. A pretty stack of fabric that started to come to life after a trip to Duke Gardens one Spring Sunday. And, I love where it ended (over a year later), with a special lady, who loves flowers and color, and was a wonderful neighbor in the 12 years we lived at our old home. It wasn't until I knew where this quilt should end up that I actually felt motivated to finish it.

All of the details for the quilt can be found in this post. I made 12 quilt-as-you-go log cabin blocks and framed them with a bright green solid. It finished at about 42" x 54". Several people asked me how I would go about finishing up this quilt (attaching the back), so I thought I'd share what I did. Once the top was done, I simply basted the quilt top to the backing, and quilted a zig-zag stitch along the major block and border seams to secure the layers. I chose to use a zig-zag stitch because I thought it might help flatten and secure the seam. It was quick and easy method and one I've seen used by many people. But I will be honest, I didn't love the feel of the finished quilt. The seams were very noticeable and felt quite bulky. And, overall, the quilt just didn't feel quite as cozy and cohesive as a quilt finished in a traditional manner. I love the quilt-as-you-go method for small items like pillows or bags, but I don't think I'll use it again on a quilt. 

Anyway, all's well that ends well...Donna said she wanted to hang it on her wall, which is perfect! As I was finishing it up, I remembered that she helped me thread my very first sewing machine about 9 years ago. We were sitting at my kitchen table. I was pregnant with my first child. All I remember were the contractions I was having, and sure enough Maggie arrived the next day. She (and her husband) were so good to us over the years, so it was wonderful to thank her with the gift of this quilt.     

Tuesday, October 27, 2015


It was kind of a dream of a weekend. We arrived on Friday to discover a quiet campground blanketed in crunchy Fall leaves and glowing with sunshine and warmth. It was 80 degrees! We set up our tent, explored, and headed out for a short hike. 

We have hiked up this hill many times...before having kids, as a family of four, and today as a family of five. Near the top is a very distinct and unusual tree growing out of a rocky outcrop. It's a special spot with a beautiful view. Mark and I sat here many years ago with our dog Dulcie when we first discovered this place we love so much. Near the bottom, we always find a group of cows the kids have named over the years. And, two beautiful trees near the entrance of the campground. 


When we woke up Saturday morning, it was a little chilly, drizzling, and the forest was blanketed in fog. It's amazing how stunning Fall can be even on the moodiest of days. The colors were so brilliant. It felt like we had our own private enchanted forest.  

It is so hard in this day and age to truly disconnect. I've found it's even harder for our children with all of the demands and distractions they face. As it turns out, it was probably one of the best things we've done for them in a long while...taking them somewhere without screens or agendas for their days, giving them space and time to explore. There was hiking and reading and roasting and painting and resting and talking. And much smiling.   

Little Lyla did pretty darn good. After waking up just a tad too early on Sunday morning **yawn**, Mark announced that it was time to go home and she responded by screaming out..."No, go home...go hiking!". 

I have to say, this weekend did me a lot of good too. It's a beautiful, amazing world out there. I truly love this place and I love that it is so special to us. Until next time, Rocky Knob.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Favorites: Springtime Bandit

I've been knitting quite a lot this year. It's become kind of therapeutic for me. It's my main creative outlet right now, while I feel like my life is just not as conducive to spend time sewing. I started this shawl last Spring, and finished it up in June just before we moved. Thinking back, I have no idea how on earth I found time to knit while we were preparing to move, but I suppose it helped keep me sane. 

This shawl is one of my favorite things ever. This lovely yarn had been sitting in my very small basket of stash yarn for quite a while. I picked it up before a road trip, went on Ravelry to search for a possible pattern, and voila, the Springtime Bandit, a free pattern by Kelbourne Woolens, popped up in my search. One of the harder parts of knitting for me is pairing my own yarn and pattern, as opposed to getting help at a local yarn store or using the yarn a pattern suggests. I got lucky on this one!  

Although I've been knitting for almost 9 years, I feel like I've just started to really make sense of it, to see and understand patterns more clearly. This pattern was my first experience reading a knitting chart and successfully knitting a lace pattern. I wanted my shawl to be a little bigger, so I added a repeat (or 2, maybe?). Unfortunately, as I was doing the final edge pattern, I started to worry I would run out of yarn before finishing, so I bound off the shawl a few rows short. But, I don't think it's noticeable or affects the appearance of the shawl too much.

What I love most about this shawl is how unbelievably cozy it is. The alpaca/wool blend yarn is so perfectly drapey and soft. I also adore the color. I have a slight obsessions with this chartreusse-y, bright yellow. It seems to play well in all seasons.

I'm looking forward to lots more knitting this year!

Ravelry link here.

Thursday, October 1, 2015


It felt so good to welcome October today. Even better to drop all three kids off at school for the first time in months and enjoy a quiet morning to myself. This morning I sat in my kitchen knitting, baking muffins, listening to music and watching the drizzle outside. Thinking about the new routine that comes when the kids track back into school, the seasons change, the days get shorter, and the air gets cooler. Dreaming of all the things I want to do this Fall - more baking, more soup making (this one is definitely going on my menu for next week), more walks in the woods, and campfires with the fam. Wishing all days could be this good...

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Favorites: Poolside Tote

I sewed up this Poolside Tote last Spring while I was at Sew South and it's hands down one of my favorite handmade items. I love everything about it - the roominess of the bag, the shape, design, and how purposeful it is. I use it quite a lot but also love just hanging it in an open spot in our house, because I think it brightens up any space. 

I've been stashing fabric less this year, and instead searching out some unique pieces that I really love - fabric that I know will be put to use instead of lingering on my shelf. It's a crazy concept, right? Well, its something I'm working on anyway. I picked up this cotton/linen blend print used on the outside of the bag from Miss Matatabi. So, yeah, I paid a bit more for it, but I used it up and it really makes me happy. It's a fun mix with the striped denim I used for the inside of the bag and handles.

Since all of the fabric I used were midweight, I applied Shapeflex 101 interfacing to all of my pattern pieces. I wanted a bag with some structure, but not too firm. I love the finished weight and feel of this bag.

I'm quite certain there will be another Poolside Tote in my future. It's not just a great bag, but such fun to sew too!