Sunday, September 30, 2012

Setting the Table

Remember a while back when I tried to make a paper napkin holder and ended up with a pattern holder instead?  Well, I finally came across another fabric "basket" tute that I thought would work for napkins if I just made it bigger.  And I had just covered some new dining room chairs we bought (which were extremely dirty as they were stored outside behind the store or something) in this paisley fabric, so I made them to match!

The basket tute was on Sew Mama Sew and mentioned this contest where you upload pics of things you made for your dinner table to enter. How perfect! I already wanted to make a table cloth for the big table as well as one for the kids' table, which we break out if we are having guests over to eat who have kids.  And I thought I may as well make some cloth napkins too...... and we ALWAYS need dish

Two types of dish covers, mug rugs, and kids' and adults' napkins

I had been wanting to make the elasticized dish covers for some time and then I saw the square ones with the beads hanging from the corners (to weight it down) on the Sew Mama Sew list of table tutes, so I decided to make those too.  Unfortunately, I learned that these only work for tall bowls, otherwise the beads touch the table (which doesn't look so great, but is probably just as effective).  I should have taken a little more care in deciding which dishes needed covers....... I also saw the tutorial for the "mug rugs" and thought I'd make one of those for each of us too.  We used them the other day for a gelatin snack.  And, of course, I made 4 adult napkins and 4 kid napkins too. 

So, here is the table set for dinner:

That little rooster holding the toothpicks was a souvenir my husband brought me from Portugal several years ago.  And the Fiestaware I brought over from the U.S.

 And the kids' table:

I had to hand dye the lace I used to trim the edges of both table cloths.  That took two tries for each one.  It is very hard to match colors when dyeing!

And here is the table set for a cup of tea:

The green teapot with the flowers was a hand-painted gift from my cousin; and the red teapot was a gift from a friend.

So, there you have it.  Loads of linens to set our tables!  I think the colors are very cheerful and go nicely with our new chairs as well as our everyday dishes.  I think my husband thinks they are a bit loud and maybe don't go together as well as I think they do.  Ah, men! 

One special challenge I had making all of these things was the fact that our electricity supply has been particularly bad the past 2 weeks.  We have only had power in the middle of the night (if that).  And I cannot iron if we are using the generator.  This means, I had to FINGER PRESS both table cloths and all 8 napkins!  Man!  That was tedious and time consuming.  And my patchwork mug rugs aren't quite as neat as they might otherwise be.  Incidentally, we haven't had any power at all from the grid for over 48 hours now, so I guess I shouldn't have been complaining the past couple of weeks.......  Oh!  And it turns out that BOTH of our cameras are broken now, so I had to take all these photos with the video camera. *sigh*  See why we need such cheerful table linens now?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Minnie Me Dollies

I have a group of crafty mom friends who are forever inspiring, encouraging and supporting me!  They really are a wonderful group of women!  Without them, it would be much harder to cope with all the challenges of life in Angola.  So recently, some of them were making Waldorf type dolls for their daughters.  It all started when Steph Carton (The Eli Monster cloth diapers) made this darling doll named "Wei" for her daughter, using a doll form.  I don't know if you know this, but waldorf dolls are expensive!  They are made with all natural materials and are hand-made with care.  One way to make them a little more affordable, is to make some parts yourself, that way you can customize it too!  So, she purchased sort of a blank doll and then embroidered the face, added the gorgeous hair and made her darling outfits.

This is Wei.  Her favorite color is "rainbow".  She wears custom undies made by The Eli Monster (pattern soon to be released) and likes to bathe in the kitchen sink.

Next, Karin Baker (Domino Pads) decided to make one too!  She spun the hair herself from wool roving.  And she made the entire doll from scratch!  She started out buying a doll form but ended up wanting more details, like the more life-like eyes and the sculpted fingers and toes.  She even made her a dress to match her daughter's dress too!

Karin's daughter just got this gorgeous dollie for her birthday! Aren't they  both just adorable?! And those matching frocks (*sigh & smile*)!

Actually, Karin got bitten so badly by the doll-making bug, she started making some to sell!  They are unbelievably gorgeous!  When she takes up a new interest, she really goes for it!  She is all about the fun, the love and quality!  Here are some of the dolls she has been making:

Aren't they amazing?!  Check out her shop, Spinster's Fairytales to see more.  She even sells the yarn for the hair if you wish to make your own doll.

And then, Gretchen (formerly of Smox on Etsy- we have two of her art smox that we LOVE) decided to make "Astoria" for her daughter, also for a birthday present. She also used a doll form and chose beautiful aqua hair.

On the left is the doll form with the yarn laid on top.  Look how happy the little birthday girl looks!  So sweet!

So, of course, my kids needed dollies too!  I so wished I could buy a doll form (or be as quick a learner as Karin)...... but, alas!  I have to make due with what I have on hand.  I knew right away which yarn I would use for their hair.  It is hand spun wool that I got through trades from another crafty mom friend (Spindle Spun who I know from diaperswappers).  I have been trying to come up with worthy projects for a long time.

Rainbow wool for my daughter's.  Sarah hand dyed and spun the blue/green/rust wool (middle pic) for my son.  We experimented with dyes (coffee, tea & fiber reactive) on suedecloth and bamboo jersey to try to match their skin tones.  I decided to leave the blue marker off the doll's skin though.

I started with the boy doll for my son since there is no shortage of girl dolls in this house already.  I roughly followed this tutorial, but I had some batting that I decided to use for the head and then I used some stuffing for the body.  For the girl doll, I was all out of stuffing, so I unstuffed a throw pillow that I didn't need.  The boy doll turned out kind of heavy, and the girl doll much lighter (& a little smaller).

I made the eyes and mouth bigger than a usual Waldorf doll just because I was trying to make him look a little more like my son.
So, here they are, both dolls along with their current wardrobes:

Obviously, I have been making some clothing for the dolls too: Undies (girl's from The Eli Monster's pattern, boxers from my pattern).  I made some jeans, a cardigan, and a hat for the boy, and a sweater, a lacy knitted skirt, and another pair of undies for the girl. All the other clothes (the two knitted vests, the knitted dress, and all the booties) were my kids' newborn clothes.  What luck they fit their dolls!  I had been wondering what to do with those things I spent so much time making.....

My son on the left wearing the white knit vest, and in the middle wearing a hat made from the same yarn as his dolls' hair.  My daughter on the right wearing the knit dress.  Do those two babies look alike or what?!

So, I know my dolls turned out very crude, lumpy and wonky, especially in comparison to the dolls above, but my kids love them, so I am calling it a success.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

I won! I won!

So, you know how I keep talking about the Pattern Stash Contest on Pattern Review?

Pattern Stash 2012

Well, I won!  I sewed 33 different patterns in the month of July!  Woo hoo!  I really use sewing (& knitting) as a way to cope with the difficulties of living here in Angola.  As long as we have power, either from the grid or a working generator with a long extension cord, I'm usually sewing!  Sometimes I have to use a flash light to find things in my sewing storage room after dark (generator usually doesn't power those lights and there is some problem with the wiring, I guess so that light doesn't always work anyway).  And even when there isn't power by any means, there is always the planning, the pattern tracing and all that other stuff to do.  So, the bottom line is, I made a ton of stuff in July (even a few more things than those for the contest- 42 in all), and I was able to cope with all the upsets of life in a 3rd world country in the process.  So, here's all the stuff I made:

Whew!  That's a lot!  Now, I'm taking a little bit of a break and doing knitting and crocheting instead of all the sewing (well, obviously still some sewing).  For instance, I had to make a matching hoodie for my daughter:

as well as a matching pillow cover:

and a pair of jeans for my son's doll:

And of course, I am also working on a doll for my daughter, but I've run out of stuffing and haven't quite decided what to use instead...*scratching head*... I am considering un-stuffing a couch pillow with a recently "decorated" velvet covering.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

More D├ęcor.........

During the Pattern Stash Contest, I sewed some more things for around the house (i.e. non-clothing).

I swear I have been wanting to make some super cool wall thingie to measure the kids height on almost since my son was born. And I finally did it!

I just need to figure out which type of thing we will use for markers.  I am thinking worm and butterfly to start (with height and date).

And I finally made some covers for the kids' throw pillows.

I have also wanted to make one of these for a very long time.

And I finally did.  It was just in time for my son's birthday party.  All of these items were made from patterns from the book Sewing Bits & Pieces.  This book is wonderful for inspiration, but the patterns themselves and the instructions are variable.  If you aren't good at winging it, you might hate this book, I mean, unless you just want to look at the pictures.

The last non-clothing item I made in July was this little pouch on a belt for my son.
Pattern is Simplicity 9080
 He can use it to collect rocks & leaves or to carry tools or Bakugans.  I mean, pockets alone just aren't enough!  Plus he can use this on clothing without pockets............. you know, like underpants!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Some Things to Keep the Kids Warm....

It is winter here right now in the southern hemisphere, and although it doesn't get real cold in Angola, we feel cold sometimes.  We even have to use a sheet or blanket to cover up in bed lately! *Gasp* 

So, I decided to make the kids each a pair of warm, fuzzy, fleece pants.
The black ones I made using a Kwik Sew pattern, and they turned out great.  The blue ones I used a Butterick pattern for, and their sizing is ludicrous.  My daughter calls these her "big, blue, monster pants".

Then I realized that she really just needs lots of little knit pants or leggings to wear under all her dresses, so I whipped up a few.

For the aqua ones I used French terry with lycra and the Riviera leggings pattern from Sewing Clothes Kids Love, and added a little ruffle.  The navy and purple ones were made from the Lil Blue Boo leggings pattern using a cotton/lycra jersey.  They all fit great; and I know she will get a lot of use out of them. I don't know why I ever buy leggings.  They are so easy to make.  I guess it's because good knits are a bit hard to find.

But then, I thought they needed a new long-sleeved top each, and they love hoods.
I made these using the Imke pattern from Sewing Clothes Kids Love.  I used a really thin cotton jersey for these since I don't want them to sweat too much.

And then, lastly, I decided to make one more little warm thing the night before the Pattern Stash Contest was over.  My daughter never seems to have the right color of sweater.  So I made her this (because she has a lot of dark pink stuff).
This shrug pattern is also from Sewing Clothes Kids Love.  I used an old Gap sweater of mine that I loved but accidentally shrunk and felted a little.  I used part of the belt as the binding around the shrug and then I decided to add some cut in half as a little tie so it doesn't fall off her shoulders.

I have been considering knitting everyone some socks or slippers (because I feel the need to knit lately for sanity), but I just don't think I could tolerate how quickly they would be ruined and/or worn out.  Our socks don't last long at all here, so I just can't bring myself to hand-knit something that will be used up in a short amount of time.  Oh well.  It looks like I'll have to knit more doll clothes and wash cloths.....

Thursday, August 2, 2012

A Few Things for Me

In addition to the Japanese pattern flops and the brown, scrunchie tank top, I made myself a few other things in July.

I made another French terry tank top, this time in dark purple.
Pattern is Kwik Sew 3467.  Great pattern!
I am pretty happy with this one, and I think I will make some more of them when the weather warms back up.  Also, I just can't say enough good things about this French terry fabric.  I don't know why I horded it for so long.  I think I've used it all up now, and I want more!  It's such a stable knit, with plenty of softness and just enough stretch. 

And I made myself a little, purple, knit skirt.

Pattern from Ottobre 2/2010.
It's a little bit too little though, so I am thinking of adding something to the bottom, like maybe a ruffle.  This is a thinner, stretchier knit, obviously with some lycra in it.  I can't remember if it's cotton or bamboo.

And I made myself another knit item, a navy blue sleeveless dress.
Also from Ottobre 2/2010
This one is also a little short.  I haven't decided if I should add to the bottom, shorten it to a tunic, or just wear it as a nightgown......  It's lovely and soft though and I think I will make more of these.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Hooray, Hats & Headbands!

While sewing for the Pattern Stash Contest, and also sewing away the crazy, I made a bunch of hats and headbands.  I made these two hats for my son:

Let's Go Fishing Hat from Sewing for Boys- A great pattern and a great book!

McCall's M58118.  A green, twill cowboy hat with little rope buttons  holding up the sides of the brim.  I expect him to wear this while lassoing.....

I also made two hats for my daughter:

New Look 6193.  This hat wasn't supposed to look like a pirate scarf.  It had 13 pieces and turned out HUGE!

Bananafana Lollipop Beanie pattern.  There is a darling strip-work dress in this pattern as well, which I intend to make eventually.

And I also made a bunch of headbands:

Braided t-shirt headband.  I had been wanting to make some of these for a while!  Now I have (others not shown)!  She and I can both wear them!

JCasa's "Aflutter" headband  and PatchworKids velcro headband.

Okay, so now that our heads are tamed, we can get back to not worrying about the fact that our water tank is nearly empty and there is still no water coming in from the grid........