Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sewing for the Older Boy

My son is going to turn eight years old in a week. EIGHT. This is my baby we're talking about here! He would die of mortification if he knew I referred to him as "my baby" to the world at large, but really, he is.

Sewing for him has gotten more challenging, but I refuse to give up! He outgrew the vast majority of knit prints a couple of years ago, and they just don't make enough prints for the older boy. So, I'm left with solids, stripes and embroidery. Sadly, there just aren't a lot of boyish embroidery designs out there either. My beloved European embroidery sites mostly cater to girly stuff. Urban Threads is probably the best embroidery site there is for designs that would suit an older boy.

So, I have to get creative. Here are my latest attempts (of course I made a set for him and a set for Cobblestone Park.)

This dragon shirt is made of a very soft brown and white striped cotton lycra (a score from my latest San Francisco shopping trip). After I zig zagged the dragon scribble applique onto the shirt, I thought the dragon looked a little lonely. I then spent the next 3 hours trying to find a little, boyish embroidery design to stick in the corner. NOT EASY! If I wanted flowers, hearts, bows, unicorns, etc., my life would be easy. But something boyish? ARGH! I did buy a set of mini-buttons from Janea's World which are fantastic, but I had to wait for her to email them to me after purchase and, well, I have issues with patience!

I finally came across this star freebie from Kunterbunt, and that did the trick nicely. But I still thought the shirt looked like it was missing something. I wanted an element in the lower corner......but what? I finally settled on the small zig zag frame (from Huups) and then I just used a font embedded in my machine to spell the word "dragon" inside.

I showed my son, and asked him what he thought. "AWESOME!" Phew.

Pattern: Ottobre 3/10
Embroidery: Urban Threads (dragon scribble)

This is shirt number 2. I just love how the colors work on this one. The gray stripe is hemp/organic cotton from Bamblue Fabrics. At the rate I'm going through this hemp, I'm not going to have much left to sell! But I just adore it - it's got such great texture, and the colors are fabulous.

Pattern: Ottobre 3/10
Embroidery: Tinimi

This one got an "awesome!" too, I'm happy to report!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Oh, Vida, how I love you

The Farbenmix Vida is my absolute favorite little girl's dress. This is somewhat surprising, as I'm normally not a "sew with wovens" type of gal. But the Vida! Oh, it's just perfect. No zippers for one thing - that's pretty key. But it's just so versatile! There aren't a ton of woven dress patterns that lend themselves well to embroidery, but this one was made for it. And you can tuck interesting things into all those seams, like ruffles, ribbon, or Jolitags.

This particular dress came to be as a result of a pair of pants. An online seamstress friend of mine (you folks on Sewing Mamas will know her as hershyyyy)  made some absolutely divine little boy pants not too long ago. For some reason, I just don't do pants. I mean, I do them, but I don't love it. Hers, I loved. I asked if she wouldn't mind making a pair for Skoober, and she said, "Sure! Let's swap! How about a Vida?"

So here is the Vida. This one is actually for Cobblestone Park, but I'm making her little girl an identical dress.

Pattern: Farbenmix Vida

Monday, February 21, 2011

Could I be more in love with a fabric?

No, I think not.

I placed an order with Holland Fabric House for this fabric the week before Christmas. I waited and waited and waited, none too patiently, for it to arrive. And then I waited some more. Finally, sometime in mid-January, I sent a note to Noor, who I presume is the owner of the shop. She was extremely curteous and prompt, and promised to look into it right away.

To make a long story short, I didn't get the fabric until February. Apparently, the US postal system was holding my package hostage. Once they determined my fabric and polka dot bias trim were not a threat to the US, they allowed it to be delivered. Heavy sigh.

But the contents of my package more than made up for the looooong wait. I was over the moon! I wish I had bought more! I will be placing another order with Holland Fabric House very soon (it better be soon, as who knows how long I'll have to wait next time!). And I do want to say how much I appreciate Noor's customer service. She and her store are just terrific.

Anyway, enough of that. Let's get to the pictures! My daughter's very best friend in the world had her 6th birthday party today. Of course I had to use some of my new fabric to make a gorgeous dress for the birthday girl. I did two of these: one for the girl of honor and one in the opposite colorways for my daughter. I also used my new favorite thing in the world, the Jolitag, on each of them. I mean, seriously, how could I make something without embroidery on it somewhere? Impossible!

This one is the birthday girl's (with my newly bespectacled daughter modeling):

And this one is my daughter's:

Pattern: Portobello Pixies Analise
Embroidery: Jolitags from Huups

Sorry for all the pictures, but really, I cannot get enough of these colors! Sadly, I don't have enough of this fabric to make one for Cobblestone Park.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Giraffes and picture woes

I bought this design on Urban Threads ages ago. I love it, and everytime I make a shirt for Skoober, I think I should finally use it. But there it sat, lonely and neglected in my computer's embroidery folder, for over a year.

Until now.

My cousin's wife had a baby on Christmas Eve, and of course the new addition to the family needed a new shirt! I decided this would be the perfect opportunity to use my cleverly disguised giraffe design. But I can't just stop at one shirt...noooo....that would be too easy! I made the exact same shirt for Cobblestone Park, and naturally, one for Skoober too.

Pattern: Ottobre 2/05
Embroidery: Urban Threads
Fabric: Cotton Lycra from Bamblue Fabrics (of course!)

On a related note, I just cannot stand my pictures. I look at Etsy and there is a clear divide between those who have good pictures and those who have terrible pictures. Obviously, the former are the ones getting all the sales. But I have a couple of things working against me: 1) I live in a house that is totally shaded by trees. Natural light does not exist in this house, particularly on gray, drizzly days like today. 2) I am not a photographer, nor do I have a fancy camera. 3) I think pictures on real live kids look the best, but the models at my disposal (my kiddos) do not like to model.  So what to do? Enroll in a photography class? That would help one problem, but not the others.

I'm still pondering this. Suggestions? How does everyone else get such professional looking pictures on Etsy?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

It's spring! No, wait - it's still winter!

We have had some seriously odd weather this winter. 70 degree days in the middle of January? Not totally unheard of for northern California, but I haven't seen it in a long time. Especially an "early spring" that goes on for weeks! It was fabulous. The kids were wearing shorts and begging to go to the pool (uh, no. My minimum temperature for pool-going is 85 degrees), all the flowers bloomed, and, just like some ancient springtime ritual, Shane's allergies kicked in and he started sneezing messily and miserably every 30 seconds. But like all good things, it had to come to an end. Winter has decided to reassert its authority this week (heavy sigh). It's pouring down rain today and it's so cold, I thought for sure the rain was going to turn to snow.

With all of this gray and gloom, I was quite happy to finish up these girly dragon outfits (one for my daughter and one for Cobblestone Park). Just looking at the colors puts me in a much better mood! I can *almost* feel that sunshine on my face.

This outfit puts me in a good mood for two other reasons: 1) I have a new favorite skirt pattern, Farbenmix Emely, and 2) I have a new favorite embroidered thingy, Jolitags from Huups.

Shirt: Farbenmix Lore
Skirt: Farbenmix Emely
Dragon Embroidery:
All other Embroidery: Huups

That's the Jolitag there on the pocket. So cute! I just can't get over it.

Here's the back of the shirt.

Now, I am in my happy place. I get to plan my next move, sewing wise. I love that part of sewing - having a totally blank slate, and tons of ideas floating around in my head. Not to mention a boatload of new trim and embroidery designs to work with (um, I've been kind of bad lately. Shhhh...don't tell my husband! He doesn't read my blog, does he?)

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Tale of Two Monsters

I got an email a few days ago from my sister, asking if I could make a baby boy's t-shirt for a friend who had just adopted a baby after a very long wait. The friend makes these adorable crocheted monsters, so a cute monster theme was requested. I scoured my monster embroidery files (a have A LOT! I love monsters), and my sister chose a couple favorites.

Well, I just couldn't decide which one to use, or which fabric, so I made two. Whichever one Sandi doesn't choose will go up on Cobblestone Park. So here you go, Sandi - let me know which one you'd like!

Option #1:

Embroidery: Urban Threads
Fabric: Hemp stripe from Bamblue Fabrics
Size: 6-9 months
Hat Pattern: NCBE

I made one of these, a short-sleeve version, for my little monster too.

Option #2:

Same pattern as above, just different UT embroidery and fabric.

It's a grey, rainy day here in Northern California, so my pictures are not the greatest. This shirt is much brighter in real life!

My sister, by the way, is quite the crafty lady herself. Knitting, crocheting, beading, weaving, sewing, probably some I've never heard of name the craft, she can do it, and do it spectacularly well. You can find out more about her many, many creative talents here.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Sneak Preview!

I've been working on some Farbenmix Lore tops over the last few days. I had been seeing such cute ones on Flickr lately (wanna see? look here, here, and here) and was dying to do one myself. I ordered the pattern directly from Farbenmix, which, for my non-European readers, could not be simpler. They have great customer service, the pricing is fine, and the shipping really is pretty quick. I highly recommend it!

Anyway, I decided to embroider my Lore tops with some dragons from I told my daughter I'd be making her a dragon shirt, and she exclaimed, "FINALLY! You're making me something BOYish!" I didn't have the heart to explain to her that this particular dragon was going to be pink, and there would be flowers and bows all over the place.

I made one for my daughter and one for Cobblestone Park. The tops will eventually be paired with a Farbenmix Emely skirt; I just won that pattern on eBay and am waiting very impatiently for it to arrive!

In the meantime, here is the top:

The skirt is going to be green and orange, with pink trim and, of course, some embroidery thrown in there for good measure.

But since I don't have the pattern yet, my next order of business is to make my first custom order! Hooray! Well, it's for my sister, but it counts. It will be a baby boy's long-sleeved monster shirt, and I'll put an identical one up on Cobblestone Park. The vision in my mind of this is adorable; let's hope I can pull it off. I'll be using some of Bamblue Fabric's hemp stripe, which turned quite soft when washed up. Good stuff.

Successful shopping spree!

Well, that was just what the doctor ordered. Nothing like a little retail splurge to cure all that ails you! I went up to San Francisco today to a few of my favorite fabric stores. I had two goals: purchase as much trim as I could carry to use on Cobblestone Park stuff, and to buy fabulous prints to carry on Bamblue Fabrics. I succeeded on both counts.

Here is what I purchased for Cobblestone Park:

The orange ruffly gingham on the top is elastic - I am embarassed to tell you how excited I was to find that. If someone else had been holding it, I would have snatched it out of their hands and run. And it was only....what, 80 cents a yard or something like that? Oh, that just made my day. I love my red gingham eyelet trim, too. Actually, not all of this will be used for Cobblestone Park. That black on the bottom is an absolutely TDF sweater knit that is incredibly soft and a little bit lacey. If I can ever find a sweater coat pattern I like (any suggestions?) that is what it will become. Maybe I'll just use my trusted Mamu Lena pattern, but I already have a couple - how many of these can one person have? And in going to the Mamu site to grab the link, I see that she has some new patterns out. Oh dear. I'm in trouble.

And this is what I got for Bamblue:

Finally, some prints to add to the store! A few of them, I was only able to grab a yard or two, and I was very, very tempted to keep them. But oddly enough, I'm finding it very hard to find time to sew for ME these days! Go figure! I also got a few great new cotton lycra colors and some stripes. All were priced at rather, ahem, bargain basement type prices, so I'm passing along the savings. How nice of me!

I took my daughter with me, and you should have seen her racing along the fabric aisles and pulling out fabric to oooh and ahhh over. "Fabric gets me all riled up, mom!" I know the feeling, sweetheart.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Sewing, motherhood and business

I've been officially open for business for only a few weeks, and already I'm feeling the stresses of being a  stay-at-home mom and a small business owner at the same time. I very happily spent an hour last night helping my daughter put together her Valentine's Day cards for her school party today. Which was a lovely way to pass the time, except that the party was YESTERDAY. And then as I marched Skoober up to his preschool class today, proudly showing off his adorable new monkey shirt (the twin of which I have for sale on Etsy) I saw another kid wearing his pj's. @#$%!! I had forgotten it was pj day at his school today.

And then my oldest son had forgotten his homework folder at school yesterday, so couldn't do his homework. That was not my fault at all, of course, but he was incredibly upset about it, and since I was already feeling guilty about everything else, I decided to heap that on the plate too.

Last week, I started to feel things slip a little. I totally, utterly forgot about Skoober's dentist appointment. I didn't even think about it until I got a passive aggressive postcard from the dentist saying, "We're sorry to have missed you! Please call us right away to reschedule."  I also completely forgot to help my daughter with her reading journal homework. Realizing that my brain was completely overflowing with all the random bits of information that mothers for centuries have had to keep track of, I turned to my husband for help. I told him that I cannot possibly be the only one who keeps on top of the homework, the school activities, the playdates, the social events, the housework, oh, and TWO brand new businesses all by myself. I asked him if he could help by being the homework backup; ie, could he also keep track of when important things were due, etc., etc.? This was not greeted with much enthusiasm. In fact, he looked downright put upon. Which is why, this week, Valentine's Day parties were missed and PJ day was overlooked.

Plus, I'm the only one in the darn house who will clean out the litterbox. I mean, really. It's just not fair.

But on a brighter note, I am heading up to San Francisco to do some fabric shopping. One of my favorite stores in the world has agreed to be a wholesale supplier for Bamblue Fabrics, so I'll hopefully be buying tons of new mama-knits and spending a busy weekend getting them all up on the site. I can't wait!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Cobblestone Park is open for business!

Yesterday was another momentous day in my life! I opened up my clothing store on Etsy, Cobblestone Park. I had originally intended to wait until I had a few more goodies sewn up, but, well, I'm not the most patient person in the world.

Now that the first batch is up and running, I'm trying to figure out what to do next. I keep seeing gorgeous spring skirts on the German blogs and Flickr (Emily and Connor's version is an absolute favorite, but check out Sewing Room By Mynata's breathtaking work as well). Honestly, how can anybody look at these pictures and not drop everything and run to their sewing machines?

I would do exactly that except that I'm bone weary. The last couple of days have been really emotionally draining. You would think that slapping up an Etsy store isn't that big of a deal, but really, it is. To me, at least. All of these heavily embroidered items that I make represent an enormous amount of my energy. It's not just the actual sewing and embroidering time; it's the time I lay awake at night thinking of details to add. It's the time I spend laying out my fabrics and my trim and pouring through embroidery sites and blogs to come up with inspiration. I get pretty emotionally invested in everything I make, which sounds kind of silly now that I see it in writing, but it's true.

All of this sounds like drudgery, I suppose, but I don't mean it that way. If I didn't love it, I wouldn't do it.

But another reason I'm a bit drained today is that my five year old daughter had an eye appointment. Sounds pretty innocuous, right? A few weeks ago, we got a letter in the mail from the school district, saying that her routine eye exam showed her vision to be quite weak in one eye. I didn't think too much of it, but obediently scheduled an appointment with a pediatric opthamalogist. After the full eye exam, the doctor casually asked me if lazy eye runs in the family. What? Turns out that is what she has. If left untreated, her eye could very well start to wander. If she went for her driver's license today, she would fail the vision test. The way her eyes are now, no glasses or contacts or laser surgery could correct her vision.

The first step is to get glasses, of course. But that isn't all. She also has to wear a patch. That was the part that made my mouth run dry. My daughter is incredibly sweet and sensitive and kids, let's face it, can be cruel. But the doctor assured me she only has to wear the patch for a few hours a day - not during school hours. So, when we got home today, I went directly to Ortopad and bought some very girly, fairy-and-ladybug-bedecked eye patches. DD actually got a little excited about them when I described them to her!

She has definite misgivings about the glasses part, though, which I understand. I got glasses myself when I was just a few years older than her, and I steadfastly refused to wear them. AT ALL. For about six years. Until I was old enough for contact lenses. By which time, of course, my eyes had gotten so bad, I could barely see my schoolwork unless I held it right in front of my face.

So, anyway, quite the draining day. And with that, I'm off to collapse in bed.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Progress, at last!

Let me tell you, I don't think I want to do another Antonia for awhile. I've done 7 of them in the last 8 days - one more left to finish up and then it's time to move onto something else. I mean, I love the pattern, I have tons of fun picking out the fabric and embroideries to go with them, but by the 6th one, I'm anxious to do something else!

At some point, I realize that I can't keep making one item for Cobblestone Park and an identical one for my kid. It is just too time consuming! Each one of these shirts takes about 3 hours to make, sometimes longer if the embroidery is really complicated. It's just that as soon as I see the fabric together, I cannot bear to sell it without making one that will live with us!

Anyway, here are the shirts that will be for sale on my Etsy store, Cobblestone Park, probably at the end of next week.