big kid backpack.

margot started 'school' this year. it's only a half day, four days a week, but to her, it's the greatest thing ever. classmates, coloring pages, new songs, snack time and a big kid playground. all the things she loves. and since she needed a full sized backpack to bring home all of those coloring pages, i thought it was a good chance to make my second toddler backpack.

once again, i used made by rae's toddler backpack pattern, which is truly a magical thing to sew. it really does make you feel like a sewing ninja to make a backpack! i used the instructions for the school sized version, adding a couple of inches to the original backpack's width and height.

the main fabric is this + that from cotton + steel's printshop collection. i'm pretty sure cotton + steel can do no wrong. i originally bought the fabric to line a jacket a made for margot (which is next on my to blog about list...once it gets to be jacket wearing temperatures) and i had just enough left to eek out the front and side panels for this.

for the rest of the backpack i got creative mixing and matching fabrics from my stash. i think, in total, i used no fewer than seven different fabrics. this gingham on the back is one of my favorites. it was from a stash of vintage fabrics i inherited from my grandmother, and has shown up several times around here, like on this little zippy top and this baby doll bedding. sadly, i think i'm out now.

for the straps, bottom and piping i used this faux leather i got from jo ann's. it made the bag a total beast to sew, caused me to break two needles, and led to more than a little swearing, but it was totally worth it in the end. it really makes the bag, i think.

i also added two side pockets and an inside pocket. my favorite is the stretchy side pocket that can hold a drink bottle. ridiculous.
like the last one i made, i also did a sandwich style lining with bias bound seams. fun fact, the gingham on the lining is actually a different fabric, and i still didn't have enough, so polka dot pairing it was! with all of the layers and faux leather, the bias binding was a total pain. i actually ended up hand stitching down the second side of the bias tape. it's not very pretty if you look close, but it photographs well :)

this name tag holder is another one of my favorite parts (ok...so it's maybe all my favorite). i was really pleased when i realized i could use the plastic-y cover from a pack of twist up crayons to make the holder. upcycle for the win!

my only disappointment is that the shape along the edges is a bit wonky. i used super heavy, sew in interfacing, but i undercut it slightly to not have any more bulk in the seams. i'm not sure this was the best choice (i think it says sew in for a reason...), but it definitely has more structure than the last one i made, which i think is necessary for the bigger size.

margot is a huge fan too. she loves wearing it to school each day, and hanging it up in her room when she gets home.

i think in these pictures she's posing like a super hero...not totally sure though... with three year olds and photo shoots, you take what you can get.

it looks totally ridiculous and adorable on her. gosh, when did she get so big.


my first sewn swimsuit.

i made a swimsuit, folks! an itty bitty teeny weeny popsicle suit. and i'm pretty excited about it.

spoonflower was recently running a special on their sport lycra fabric, especially well *suited* for swimwear, and i couldn't pass it up. especially with this popsicle fabric by the little arrow design company. it just screams summer fun.

*margot's new favorite thing is to 'pose' for pictures. she's great at it 

i drafted the pattern myself from margot's swimsuit from last summer that still fit. i then read and re-read every online kid's swimsuit sewing tutorial ever written and sewed it in my head over and over again before working up the courage to cut into the fabric (that's normal, right...).  i found the awesomely detailed tutorials from creative chicks' blog the most helpful, especially the leg opening and continuous bias strap tutorials. i love that fantastically talented people share their knowledge online. thanks for being awesome!

all in all, it was a pretty straightforward sew. the only thing that almost drove me crazy was that my double needle wouldn't work with the spoonflower sports lycra. no idea why. it would sew a single line, but not the second. it worked just fine with the black fabric, which is from joann's, but a similar weight, stretch and sheen. i spent way too much time trying to figure it out, to no avail. i ended up just using a zigzag stitch around the legholes. but if anyone has any suggestions, i'd love to hear them. i did read that there's such a thing as a stretch double needle, so maybe that'd work.

i did realize after the fact that with the way i attached the elastic (per creative chicks' tutorial), i didn't need to add seam allowances to the arms and neckline, so the neckline is a little higher and wider than i needed it to be. next time.

i'm really happy with the finished product. it really looks like something store bought. the spoonflower fabric is a dream to work with. it's stretchy, but fairly heavy weight, so it doesn't curl or deform while sewing. it also has a 54" printed width, so one yard of fabric would probably make four or five toddler sized swimsuits.

 *fist bump with dad, aka the toddler wrangler during poolside photoshoot

margot is also a big fan. i finished it late one evening, and she insisted on wearing it around the house. and the next day she nonstop asked to go swimming with her new popsicles.

*we named the floaty animal thing (margot says it's a duck...) steve. margot now regularly asks for steve

she likes it even better in the pool. i'm pretty sure this kid is part fish.

anyone else sewing any swimsuits? anyone else fall victim to the spoonflower sport lycra sale? anyone up for a fabric swap? i'm not sure how many years i can make margot a popsicle suit from all the leftover yardage.


watercolor family portrait.

i don't really like pictures of myself. nor do i like portrait studio style photo sessions. i think i still have nightmares about childhood family photo shoots (as does my mom probably)--trying to get five kids to smile simultaneously all while wearing matching denim, color coordinating turtle necks or glitter glue decorated christmas sweaters, all before the advent of digital photography---shudder.  because of this, there are very few sharp family portraits. so, with my recently rekindled love of drawing (thanks to #cbdrawaday) and a newly found false confidence with watercolors, i have made what is probably the first official sharp family portrait.

it still makes me smile every time i see it, which is often because we decided to hang it up right by the front door.

this is maybe my new favorite spot in the house. except for the top of the cabinet is rarely this tidy, as it serves as the landing spot for keys, wallets, mail and the like. alas...

i had a really fun time documenting the process over on instagram. i was really late in the game with joining up, but i've really been enjoying the community of creatives over there.

and the super fun part about this all was that i made some digital copies of it before painting to play around with color options, so now i have a 'sharp family coloring page' that margot really enjoys. she has probably asked for me to print one out three times since putting up the picture last week :)

i think it'd be fun to make a new one every couple of years, working up to having a small watercolor portrait gallery wall. and a 'our family through the years' coloring book. what about you? what's your favorite way to document your family?


little zippy top.

hmmm...apparently it's been a while since i've been around these parts. no worries, i've been making stuff, just not taking the time to blog about it. i blame instagram. it's so much easier. so, if you're missing me, head on over and follow me. be prepared to be bombarded by margot cuteness though. you've been warned.

this post is also going to be full of margot cuteness. with spring upon us, margot is in need of some comfy, easy breezy clothes. goodbye endless layers. hello shorts, flip flops and tees.

this is my first little zippy top by see kate sew. i actually bought this pattern in the adult size too, hoping to finally break through my fear of sewing me sized things. i choose to think of this mini version as my trial run.

it's a pretty great top. it sews up quickly, fits great (i made the 3T size), and is basic enough that i can imagine making a million different variations. and that zipper!

it was definitely the selling point. i was actually playing around with self drafting a shirt just like this when i came across the pattern. and after pinterest stalking all of the adorable zippy tops around blog land, i was sold. and the pattern goes up to size ten! so it's totally worth it.

i love how simple this pattern was, but i didn't really love how the zipper was sewn in, so i changed it up, sandwiching the zipper between the two facing pieces, rather than just sewing it into the inside. this, i think, makes for a neater finished product. i'm still not totally happy with how i did it, so if you have any suggestions on how to sew a zipper like this, i'd love to hear them.

i can say with certainty that i'll be making more of these for margot this summer. and hopefully even one for me. what's on your list for warm weather sewing?


valentine printables.

it's february, so there's no ignoring the heart shaped, chocolate covered elephant in the room...valentines day.

i'll admit, i'm not much a fan of valentines day, and we don't really do anything special for it (except for the couple of times jon has tricked me into celebrating...). i am a sucker for a cute card, though, so i thought i'd make a few free printable designs to share with you all. all three of the design below can be downloaded here!

first up, hot dogs. because nothing quite conveys the adorable side of love (or like) like a couple of frankfurters!

and if hot dogs aren't your thing, then how about legos? they're currently a fav around our house, with margot asking almost every evening to 'play with daddy's legos' (because yes, most of the legos bought in our house are for jon, not our kid...).

these two cards are both bi-fold style, so you can add your own sappy valentines message to the inside. to make, simply print off your card of choice, score along the left hand side of the card with an exacto knife (all the way across the paper makes it easiest), and then fold along the score and cut along the remaining three sides (cutting through both layers). easy peasy.

and of course all of this card making got me nostalgic for the good ole days of elementary school, where your biggest valentine's woe concerned who to give the cardboard card from the back of the box to (or was that just me...). so out of pining for the 'good ole days' i also made school style lego valentines. these print four to a sheet, and have the classic TO: and FROM: spots, perfect for sharing with classmates. they kind of make me wish i was back in elementary school...

so, whether you want to express your true love through meat or building blocks, or if you just want something cool to send to school with your kids, go get some free printables. or if you know a friend who just needs to have one of these, share the link!


a sewn fox pillow.

thanks to winter storm jonas, and living in southern virginia where snow removal infrastructure investment is not a top priority, i just had a pretty swell snow week. it involved a lot of hot chocolate drinking, fire sitting, bounding around in the snow with a tireless toddler, soup making, soup eating, and even some sewing, including this guy. he's my new favorite thing.

he's so fluffy!!

i bought the amazing mauvy (??) faux fur awhile ago, and wasn't really sure what i was going to do with it. it was too amazing to pass up though. seriously, it's the softest fabric ever.

when i finally decided on making a fox pillow, it all came together fairly quickly (and adorably). i was pleasantly surprised at how easy the fabric was to sew with (less easy to cut and much less easy to clean up after...) and am super excited about how it turned out.

the little details are always my favorite. the ear fabric is a floral print from and old blouse. and those rosy cheeks really put him over the top in the cuteness arena.

margot thinks it's her fox pillow. i'm pretty sure he's mine though. i just love him. so soft and the perfect spoonable size. don't tell margot...

i'm thinking about making some more and posting them for sale. if you're interested, let me know!


sewn baby doll bedding.

for jon's birthday in december we got a margot free day (thanks mee mee and papa), and we spent part of it exploring all of the floors of lou's antique mall in danville, a feat we've not been able to complete with the margot in tow. there, we found an unplanned christmas gift, this super awesome baby doll bed. since i just got around to finishing the bedding for it, i thought it was fair to share now, even though it's almost the end of january.

the tiny kitty quilt i made a while ago, before we even got the bed. i wanted to practice this cat quilt block from mer mag, because i was (and still am) debating using it in a larger quilt. i also made it with hopes of having a back up for margot's inseparable tiny quilt that she naps and sleeps with daily. that part was unsuccessful, but in a happy accident it turned out to fit this tiny bed perfectly.

and every good baby bed needs baby pillows, especially a sleepy cloud pillow. i stopped short of making a tiny pillowcase for the tiny pillow, but it may happen in the future. making small doll accessories is way too fun, not to mention super quick.

the mattress may be my favorite part. i used this tutorial for inspiration, and quilted the layers together with x's before sewing up the fourth side. this probably looked ridiculous while i was doing it, because i'm crazy and wanted both sides to be the same. this meant i had to reach inside the layers to pass the needle back and forth. the final look was totally worth it, though. a little vintage and little modern. 

margot really enjoys having a place to put the ladies to bed. 'night, night stella.' 'night, night louise.' man, she's my favorite (margot, that is).

after a good night's sleep (meaning twenty seconds in pretend play-land), louise wakes up first and tells stella to get up.

i'm pretty sure that this bed will get a lot of play. not too bad for an unexpected christmas gift found on a relaxing day out. did anyone else find any exciting, not on the list but must buy gifts? did any of your christmas makes get pushed into the new year? am i still allowed to ask christmas questions?


2016 calendar printables.

happy new year! a day late still counts, i think. and since i'm not one for big resolutions or giant to do lists, i thought i'd start this year off with some free calendar printables.

i think i'm going to make 2016 the year of printables. it's just so much fun. and once i make designs, i find it hard to not just put them on everything.

so go and grab your own copies here. i've only made january through march so far. i'll update throughout the year with the next ones (consider that a resolution!). so be sure to stop back when you start running out of calendar.

they're probably not the most practical of calendars, as there's not a lot of room to write stuff, but they're pretty, and that's what's really important.

i like mine hung simply with washi tape (apparently beside an embroidery hoop with some unintentionally similar fabric). i think they'd also look cute as a part of a wall mounted clipboard display (which i really want to do) or even on the fridge or taped inside of a notebook.

link pictures if you use it! i'd love to see it. and if you have any other ideas for printables, let me know!