Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Finishing Touches on the Christmas Stockings

I finished knitting Christmas stockings for my daughter and her fiancé in July but I still wanted to add their names somehow. I ruled out knitting the name but considered embroidering or sewing something. After mulling it over awhile, I decided to do some sort of hanging name label. I originally pictured oval but ended up with a rectangle. This is what I came up with:

Sewing Details:
I embroidered their names on some white cotton. I basted ribbons, sewed the top to an interfaced white cotton back and turned right side out. After pressing, I basted the opening closed and then I used my Bernina to do a decorative stitch around the edges to simulate hand applique. (Click on the photo to zoom in and see the detail.) To attach to the stocking, I simply pulled the ends of the ribbons through the stocking (back to front) and tied with a bell.

The stockings will be given along with a "First Christmas Together" ornament (stamped copper) that I purchased from an Etsy vendor (Charms of Faith). It hasn't arrived yet (hopefully today!) but the seller sent me the following photo.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

My new favorite gadget

I found the most awesome tool for us bloggers! It's called a Gorillapod - it's a mini bendable tripod that can grip almost any surface. I saw the "contraption" (dontcha love that word?!) in photos on Kyle's blog and googled until I figured out what it was called. It's sold by many vendors but I purchased mine for only $14 with free shipping from Amazon. It comes in a lot of colors (red, blue, yellow, green, grey) but I bought the adorable pink one shown above.

I've already used it a few times to take photos of myself and also a few of my fiancé and me when we were on vacation recently. Handy when you don't have a spare body close by to take a photo!

If you like to take photos of yourself modeling your creations, I highly recommend!

Family Cookbook

Fortunately, my family ignores the fact that I have a blog so I can post about family presents and they'll never see!

I mentioned in the previous apron post that I made a family cookbook. I've had the idea to do this for a long, long time but could never decide how to go about it. I considered one of the compilation style cookbooks with the plastic or wire comb binding that many publishers offered but I wanted to include photos and generally speaking, photos aren't an option. I thought a better way to go was with a photobook offered by various vendors (Snapfish, Shutterfly, Picaboo, etc.) Here is what I came up with (I took photos of the cookbook and created a collage with Picasa):

You can click on the photo and enlarge it several times if you want to see details.

If you're interested in the details of how to make one, continue reading! Otherwise, click to the next blog.

The books can get rather pricey - the version I purchased starts at $25 for 20 pages but in July, Snapfish came out with a buy one get TWO free deal. After shipping and tax, the total was $40 for 3 ($13 each). I want to make 9 to give to various family members but the offer was limited to 3. However, lo and behold, they offered the deal again two weeks ago so I bought 3 more! Hopefully, they'll have the deal again before the holidays so I can get the final 3.

It took some time to pull together but part of that was learning Snapfish's editing process. Everything that will be uploaded must be a jpg file. There may be a better way to do it but I started with a Word document for each recipe, printed to pdf and then used an online service to convert from pdf to jpg.

Snapfish has tons of page layouts - anything from one large jpg file per page to 12 or more jpg files. Some layouts have text boxes. So I varied the pages and figured out how to fit approx 25 recipes on the pages along with family photos, food photos plus a cover page and dedication page. Originally, I tried to crop the jpg's to fit the photo box but realized that is not necessary - it works better to do the cropping in Snapfish. Now that the book is a saved project, I can order more from Snapfish whenever I want.

I love all the options available. Different cover styles (I picked my favorite color in a linen cover); different "themes" for the pages (again purple!) and of course all the page layouts, photo sizes, fonts, etc.

It was a fun project and I'm happy with the results. I hope my daughter likes her cooking themed present! I'm finishing up another project for her tonight that I'll post about later in the week.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Shower Gift - Emmeline Apron

I made a cookbook via Snapfish to give to my daughter at her shower next week. I used favorite family recipes and included lots of photos of not just the food but also photos of the family members who like the recipes.

I decided to also make an apron to go with it. Ages ago, I spotted the following apron on a site called Aprons Boutique only it had hot pink/white polka dot trim instead of red. I LOVED the color / pattern combination.

I had always planned on making something similar for myself but other projects always trumped it. I know my daughter will love the color combo so I made the above apron for her instead. (Plus, if she doesn't like it / wear it, I will steal it back from her!) I really wanted to use striped fabric but couldn't find a woven black/white at JoAnns or Hancocks so I opted for the stripe-like print on one side and a black/white paisley on the other. I don't like the bow trim on the neck strap so I am removing that.

I used the Emmeline Apron pattern that it completely reversible. I used it once before for a Valentine-themed version for my friend Jen but never posted a photo of it. I didn't realize until I was writing this entry that I had used a black/white paisley for that version, too. I guess I like that pattern! Here is the Valentine version:

Monday, September 19, 2011

Wedding Shower Dress - M6243

My daughter's wedding shower is in a couple weeks so I decided to make something new to wear. I picked McCalls 6243, view C and made it from a ponteroma knit from Hancock's (zinnia is the name of the color and I love it!) I added some black piping for zip and love how it turned out. The pattern calls for an exposed zipper in the back. I didn't want that look so I planned on inserting a side zipper instead. Well, after I basted it together for the first fit, I realized I didn't need a zipper at all so I omitted it.

This is one of those pieces of clothing that I love when I look in the mirror but when I see the photo of me, I don't love so much. (Does that happen to anyone else?) I'm choosing to ignore the photo and continue believing this looks good. LOL. Any time I take a photo with an uphill angle, it's bad news.

About the pattern - LOVED it! Couldn't be easier, especially with the zipper omitted! View C without piping trim should probably take less than an hour to sew. The only thing that takes any time is the narrow hems at the sleeves and neck. It took me considerably longer but that's because I kept screwing up the piping - I had to baste three times but I blame the wine I was drinking at the time. :-)

Love, love the ponteroma fabric from Hancocks. Although the bridesmaids are hosting, the shower is at my house and I'm doing the food so this dress will be nice and comfy to wear while I'm scurrying around getting food / drinks ready.

Mother of the Bride "muslin"

My daughter is getting married on 11/11/11. Because I will have nothing else to do, I decided to make the MOB dress (seemed like a good idea six months ago, now.... not so much, but I digress.)

I have always loved the Cynthia Rowley design in Simplicity 2497, View C. Simple but figure flattering and the oversized ruffle is fun and a little different.

Close up of neck ruffle.

I made the muslin from some cheapy poly from JoAnn's. The bodice was too large so I had to take in the shoulders and the side seams a bit. I'm still not 100% comfortable with how the bodice is fitting but I'm going to play around with some more samples to get the perfect fit. I like the fit at hips and waist although I might take in half an inch or so.

Feedback requested: what do you think about the length? I definitely don't want a gown length and I usually prefer a hem that hits just above the knee. Does it look ok for this dress?

My final version will be made from the purple stretch taffeta shown below, purchased at Rainbow Fabrics in Chicago. I will also be trying out a little bolero style jacket to wear over top.