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A Look Back: On Track Fabrics


On Track Hat

This is part of a little series looking back on events that I always wanted to tell you about, but never did.

Towards the end of last year, I had the opportunity to sew a few items for my neighbor, Jill McDonald, a very successful and talented children’s illustrator and designer. Her blog and website are full of all the adorable products and designs she has created. (Can you believe I live right next to her? I know!) Jill’s designs can be found on products at Land of Nod, Oopsy Daisy, and Barefoot Books. She also has her own product line which is sold at Babies R Us, Buy Buy Baby, and boutiques across the country. I first noticed Jill’s artwork when I worked with her mom as a para-educator in her classroom 7 years ago. (Small world…). Jill’s posters caught my eye because they brought so much color and fun onto the otherwise blah, brick walls.

We collaborated on some items to be sewn using her On Track fabrics. It’s a great fabric line for boys, of course, but as you can see by the cute little girl’s dress it is versatile.


Girl’s Dress:

Fabric- Drive Brite in white, pink duckcloth

Pattern- Ellie Mae Designs Kwik Sew K3940


Fabric Bin:

Fabric- Drive Brite in white, Crosshatch-back in black, Metrogeometry in red

Pattern- Ellie Mae Designs Kwik Sew K0107 Stash Basket (medium) with modified handles



Fabric- Hustle and Bustle in blue, Metrogeometry in blue, Out of This World Circles in black (out of print)

Pattern- Betz White Isabella Tote (larger size)

Lucas' Hat


Fabric- Crosshatch-back in white

Pattern- Eddie Cap Tutorial by Mushroom Villagers

He isn’t always so serious, I promise! I think he was thrown off by the camera. I haven’t used the dSLR in awhile. I need to remember to get it out more. My iPhone is convenient and takes good pictures, but not great. Oh yeah, my phone is also easier to use “secretly.” If Lucas thinks you are taking a photo or video, he will either a)stop the cute thing he is doing and ask to see the picture or b)refuse to have his picture taken.

As part of my collaboration with Jill, I also did a pair of pants for Lucas using The Right Direction fabric in black. They are super cute, but still a little big on him. I made the 2-3T size because I wanted them to fit for more than a few months, but he is a little guy (the shorts in the picture are size 18-24 months and I’m pretty sure he could still fit into some of his 12 month shorts which he wore last summer). Look for pictures of the pants in the fall!


A Look Back: Kid’s Clothes Week


little lucas wave

This is part of a little series looking back on events that I always wanted to tell you about, but never did.

Have you heard of Kid’s Clothes Week? It is a challenge started by Meg of Elsie Marley to sew for your kid(s) for one hour every day for a week, and it now happens four times a year. It is going on right now, in fact. Sadly, this time around I had too much going on, but I did participate in the fall of 2012 and I never showed off what I made. You know, there were the holidays and hunting for a house and buying a new house and moving and selling our old house and then some life and some more holidays.

I made Lucas some skinny jeans using the e cord pattern from Jessica at Running With Scissors and a pair of Scott’s worn out pants. From what I remember, they weren’t too difficult and I even tried out adjustable waistband elastic for the first time. It’s usually a necessity for my skinny boy, but it was nice to be able to adjust it when he would wear cloth diapers. Since I used an old pair of Scott’s pants, I cut the pattern pieces to include the original hems on the cuffs and pockets.

KCW pants for Lucas

As I was hunting for pictures of the pants I made Lucas, I realized I only had photos from one day of him wearing them. <tear> How cute is that face up there, by the way? Baby hair, tiny hand, and lips that collapse upon barely-there teeth. Looking through the photos was a lot of fun. He had a different toy in his hands in every photo as he practiced walking around the room, bending down, and picking up.

close up lucas pants

My opinion: “skinny pants” on a skinny kid are “normal pants.”

lucas in pants


A Look Back: Halloween 2013



This is the first part of a little series looking back on events that I always wanted to tell you about, but never did.

Back in 2012, I saw this picture of a little boy dressed up as a runner in Parent’s Magazine. I had already decided Lucas would be a chicken that year, but thought I might use that idea in the future. I love to use Lucas’ Halloween costume as a creative outlet instead of buying one. Even though this is the first year I didn’t make anything for the costume, I did have fun rounding up some clothing Lucas already owned and a runner’s bib number from a race I did. I purchased the leggings, socks, and shoes from Target, but they are all very functional (even the girl’s leggings–shh, don’t tell–have been great for layering under jeans for spending time outside on a cold day).

I bribed him to wear the sweatband for just one picture. No wonder he didn’t want to wear it… his eyebrows almost met in the middle with it on. Do you recognize those two buddies in the middle?

little runner costume

That extremely large pumpkin made it’s way to Kansas City from northern Illinois safely buckled in Grandma Lois’ car. She grew it in her garden. Lucas had fun helping us scoop it out and he picked out the shapes for the face, as well. Lucas loved going to neighbors’ houses and loved getting candy even more, but he did get shy every time we wanted him to say, “Trick or Treat” or “Thank you.” Maybe next year.


Baby in the Hood Jacket


lucas' jacket

My most recent sewing project was this jacket from Anna Maria Horner’s book Handmade Beginnings. I had been wanting to make this for Lucas for about a year, but this time last year is when we started looking seriously for a house. That meant getting ours ready to put on the market. Which meant no sewing mess laying around. And no time for hobbies. Finally, in September I planned a sewing night with friends so we could all have an excuse to work on projects that only occupied a passing thought.

I used a grey-ish brown suiting fabric from JoAnn Fabrics that gives it a nice structure and is impossible to wrinkle. For the lining, I used the blue plaid from Carina Gardner’s Baby Safari line. And for the accent, a yellow Kona cotton. The pattern called for the button placket to be cut from the accent fabric as well, but I realized before I cut it that I had been envisioning the plaid peeking out from behind the buttons. With some creative pattern placement, I had just enough of the plaid.

Lucas is two years old, but he is a little guy. I hoped he would be able to wear the 18-24 month size as a fall and spring jacket, but I don’t think it will fit next spring. I rolled the sleeves for the pictures, but he needs the length when he raises his arms. As I was cutting pattern pieces, Lucas was asleep and, frankly, I was in The Zone and didn’t even think to compare the pieces to clothes that fit him now. Seeing it on him, I wish I had added a couple inches in length to the body. A quick search of others who have sewn this for toddlers and blogged about it shows many of them made that adjustment. Overall, I love the jacket. It’s a great pattern, and it came together pretty quickly. I found the hardest part to be sewing the curve of the neckline. I love that there are no visible seams since it is fully lined.

 I took many photos of Lucas wearing the jacket, but didn’t have room for all of them here. You can see the cutest ones here.

jacket details


Halloween Costume


As you may have guessed from this sneak peek, Lucas was a chicken for Halloween. I got the idea from this year’s October issue of Parents Magazine. It seemed easy enough to make/assemble. (And this little guy has the cutest chicken legs.) I purchased the long-sleeved onesie which he can wear this winter as a layer under t-shirts. I cut out a “comb” from red felt leftover from last year and sewed it on a plain white hat I bought at Hobby Lobby. The yellow leggings I made by tracing around some slim fitting pajama pants he had. Lucas wore the hat for the Halloween party in the park, but on Halloween he was not interested in wearing any of it, so we didn’t take him to any neighbors’ houses. Maybe next year. Scott took these pictures a few days later.

A few of you have asked about pictures from the Mustache Dash. My friend Valerie and I had fun with it. Another friend, Chelsey, came to cheer us on and take pictures. Unusual for a 5k, we even received mustache-shaped finisher’s medals. Lucas even tried on a mustache for about an eighth of a second.


Sailboat Party


I started thinking about Lucas’s first birthday party about 2 months in advance. I found inspiration in a photo of a cake that had a paper bunting (triangle flags) topper. Somehow that led me to “sailboat” and I ran with it.  I figured this may be the only birthday where Lucas has no preferred theme. I had so much fun creating many of the decorations for this party. It was my creative outlet for awhile. Some items I bought from a couple different craft stores, but most of the handmade decorations were ideas I saw on Pinterest. I also had a lot of help once we arrived in Illinois.

In Peoria, my mom had many of my requests on hand and helped me assemble some of the decorations, as did my sister-in-law, Stephanie. In Belvidere, Aunt Carol brought some blue punch with frothy, ice cream waves. My mother-in-law, Lois, made a lot of the food (specifically the deviled eggs which we turned into sailboats). Allison helped with the watermelon shark whale. Everyone had a hand in the cute life preserver “thank you” cookies (making the dough, cutting them out, baking, frosting, bagging). And a special thanks goes to the two cake bakers. That’s a birthday party’s main decoration! Lindsey made a delicious coconut cake for my little Sculpey sailboat topper, which I plan to turn into a Christmas ornament. And, in keeping with tradition, Grandma Cannell made a very special sailboat shaped cake complete with foil wrapped coins scattered throughout.

I don’t plan on going all out on the decorations every year, but the first year birthday is extra special. Just remind me of this in about 10 months when I get that glassy-eyed look while perusing Pinterest.


Whale Art


Back when I was pregnant with Lucas, I received a baby shower gift in a really cute gift bag (great job, Kansas City!). It inspired me to make a piece of art for the nursery which can be seen unfinished here. I completed the painted part of it before Lucas was born, but I wanted to wait to add the splash in blues and greens for a boy or shades of pink for a girl. I finished it last winter, but just remembered to photograph them together a couple days ago.

I thought a wood background would be more visually interesting than white, so I found a square piece at a craft big box store. It was already the perfect size. I traced the image from the bag and transferred it to the wood using a method similar to this. I made some slight changes in the shape of the whale, the whale’s eye, and tail. Then I painted the image using acrylic paints. I wanted the whale to be grey since our nursery colors were grey, yellow, and white. After Lucas was born, I found a nice mix of blue, green and yellow scrapbook papers, cut out the splash shapes and applied them with Mod Podge.

(If I remember right, thanks to Uncle Kevin, Aunt Julie and family for the inspiring gift bag.)



Skirt Week Update


Wow, I’m so excited to be a finalist in the Crafterhours Skirt Week 2012 Contest! If you like my Chambray High-Waist Skirt the best, please vote for it before 10pm Eastern. I’m up against some tough competition. There are some great entries this year (and some of my favorites didn’t make the cut). Only one vote per person, please. And thanks to my awesome husband, Scott, for taking the photo. In my opinion, that’s half of the contest.

UPDATE:  Thanks to everyone who voted for me!  While I didn’t get the most votes, I did come in fourth place.  And really, I’m just flattered that the judges picked my skirt as one of the top ten!


Maternity Skirt


If you haven’t seen me in awhile… no, I’m not 7 months pregnant again. This is another entry for Skirt Week. I made this skirt last summer (when I was pregnant) and I always wanted to do a post about it. I even promised one when I first talked about the fabric I used hereAgain, deadlines + prizes = motivation. I used the Lingering Layers pattern from Anna Maria Horner’s book Handmade Beginnings.

Because of my time crunch (I actually wanted to wear it while I was pregnant), I did not make a muslin to test the fit first and just went by the measurements in the book. It ended up being a bit too big in the hips which affected the way the belly panel fit. The adjustment probably wouldn’t be a hard one to make, just taking it in on each side. This was my first experience cutting on the bias. It was difficult for me since I typically love to scrunch as many pattern pieces out of one cut of fabric as possible. It left the remaining fabric looking like swiss cheese with no useable scraps, but I think it really makes the finished garment more polished. I ended up eliminating pattern piece C and re-cutting a front and back piece joining pattern pieces C and D. I just could not sew such a tight curve without it puckering. Anna Maria mentions in the book how tricky that curve can be and gives tips for sewing it.

My absolute favorite part of this skirt is the ruffle. I found a pearly, sheer fabric as the book suggested, and I love the look of the topstitching around the bottom. I like that the Mama Panel can be replaced with a Top Yoke piece, so it can be worn after the baby is born, although I have not altered mine yet. Overall, I love this skirt and I always received compliments when I wore it.

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Skirt Week 2012


What better motivation for me to make the skirt I’ve been thinking about than a contest (deadlines and prizes are definitely motivators for this procrastinator)! Last summer I saw a young woman at the City Market wearing this really cute dress (or skirt and top). It looked a lot like this:I think this one is from Wet Seal, but I’m too scared to try to find out how long ago it was available for purchase. Here in the midwest, trends take awhile to trickle in from the coasts. I still see chambray in the stores, so it’s not that out of style yet, right? Anyway, the one I saw at the farmer’s market had a striped tank which I liked. I immediately thought, “That wouldn’t be too hard… just buy a cheapie tank top and attach it to a simple chambray skirt.” So that idea sat in my head for about 10 months. Well, the contest along with not wanting to commit to what top I could wear with it (and also maybe a slight fear of sewing a knit to a woven) was enough for me to kick it into gear and make a skirt that gives the look of an empire waist dress.

With the chambray I found at JoAnn’s, I ended up liking the lighter color of the “wrong” side better. I used French seams on the inside since I don’t have a surger. To attach the 2-inch black elastic waistband to the chambray, I used a loose blind hem stitch so it would be tacked into place without visible stitches, while also having enough give and stretch. I’m really happy with the results and I think this will be a summer staple!