Monday, November 17, 2014

Getting a Holiday Head Start with One Thimble!

Hi there! I'm still here, in case you were worried. It's been a hectic month with Halloween and Miss P's 5th birthday in the same week, and all of the usual life-with-little-kids stuff that seems to leave little time and energy at the end of the day. And now, here come the holidays! We celebrate Chanukah in our family, and thankfully it's not super early this year so I've got a little time to plan.

Look who's freshly 5!
As I started making lists of things I wanted to sew for gifts this year, I was invited to review the latest edition of One Thimble, a sewing e-zine based in Australia. SO exciting for me! Have you read OT before? It is seriously amazing, chock full of not just patterns (and there are many printable PDFs included) but also articles and notes with tons of helpful tips and tools for home sewists. There are even some great tips for things to consider if you're selling your sewn goods. This issue (which is Vol. 5) has a great article with helpful notes for shirring and even tips that are based on WHAT TYPE OF MACHINE YOU HAVE. None of that generic "give this a try and it's so easy!" stuff here, which I really appreciated since I've been a consistent failure in the shirring department. I'm feeling pretty motivated to give it a try again now, armed with some of these tools.

I also really loved Serger Pepper's comprehensive guide to cleaning and oiling your serger. It was clear and concise yet very detailed - I liked how easy to follow and well-illustrated the article was, too. I'm not one who's known for keeping a nice clean sewing area (ahem) but I do at least dust off my serger with some frequency. The other steps that Irene outlined for cleaning and oiling my machine definitely look manageable, and as soon as my machine oil arrives in the mail (yep, just ordered it after reading this) I will be spending some more time on this for sure. 

And the patterns? Oh my goodness there are so many - and so many that I knew right away that I would use - that I didn't know where to start. I had Miss P take a look at the pics with me and see if there was anything that caught her eye. Not surprisingly, she went right for the Art Caddy. 

Superhero girls + craft supplies = fun combo.
The pattern has a cutting chart with all of the dimensions for the outer and inner fabrics as well as the pockets, binding strip (which you'll see on the inside), and the straps. I ended up deciding to use twill tape for my straps because a) I really loathe making straps in general and b) I have tons of twill tape on hand and not enough uses for it. I used resin KAM snaps (size 20) for the closures, which worked well.
Inside view, paper and crayon pockets.

Alternate inside view, pencil pockets and sticker pocket.

The final product came together easily - the most time consuming part was stitching all of the lines for the pencil and crayon pockets, but as this pattern is well organized and full of straight lines, it was a one-evening project and the pockets were loaded and ready for Miss P to wake the next morning. Her reaction did not disappoint - she was soooo excited for this! It's the perfect size (about 9" x 16" when open/laying flat) as it holds a lot of supplies but is still nice and lightweight and easy to tote around. We actually went to the library that morning for little brother's storytime, and Miss P brought the art caddy with her and set to sketching a bit while she waited for him.

There are two sets of pockets on each side of the caddy's inside, and while one layer holds the writing/drawing implements, the other is well sized to hold a small pad of paper, some stickers, or other small craft supplies like child scissors or decorative tape. The snap closures are easy for P to open and close herself, and I appreciated the extra snaps that are used at the corners, as they helped keep all of the crafty goodness tucked in tight. Clearly P has appropriated this one, but I'll be making more of these as gifts for sure - they'd make a great gift for kids of various ages, and I'll probably add a coloring book into the package when I gift them too.

Isn't that backdrop cool? It's actually the tabletop in the children's room at our local library. So yummy.
The other pattern that I chose to work with was the Miss Miranda applique. I love doing applique for the kids' shirts and things, but I don't usually do designs that are this big or intricate. And I'll confess that I nearly chickened out of the hand embroidery and machine stitched her face, but I'm glad I didn't.

A little wonky, but she's all mine. The kid and the applique. ;)
Here on the east coast of the USA, winter is fast approaching and we're not feeling terribly summery these days. Miss Miranda's adorable summery dress and pineapple embroidery are super cute, but I wanted to dress her up in something less seasonal. P asked me if I could make a ballerina for her, so we decided to give it a try.

For the dress itself, I used the Mallory dress pattern from Love Notions patterns. I've blogged before about how I altered the pattern to make a skater-style dress (tutorial is here) and I decided that would work well for this applique too. I ended up lengthening the bodice about an inch and shortening the skirt a tad, as well as adding sleeve cuffs and a mini-mock turtleneck. I wanted to make this a minidress that was clearly the ballerina/skater style. And because it's all knit (cotton/lycra), it's very soft and comfy, too.

For the applique, I used all quilting cottons and topstitched them onto the bodice with a short straight stitch. The edges will fray a little in the wash, but I personally like that look so I'm ok with it. I added the pink bow per Miss P's request (that's how she wears her hair to ballet), and freehanded the little ballet slippers to layer on top of the feet. The main addition to the pattern was the little tutu, which is made from nylon chiffon (I got mine from

I cut a piece of chiffon that was 8" wide by 4" long, and the folded it lengthwise so the folded edge would make the "hem" of the skirtb (leaving me with a folded strip that was 8" wide by 2" long). I gathered the raw edges until it fit the waist of Miss Miranda, and used a zig-zag stitch to attach it to her dress. I stitched a small piece of ribbon on top to cover the zig-zag stitches and neaten the waistband - if you do this, make sure to heat seal the ends of the ribbon so it won't fray. I used a small piece of wash-away Wonder Tape (possibly my most favorite sewing item ever) to hold it in place while I stitched it down, and added a button for a little extra cute (and because I never know when to stop).

Nighttime phone pic, but you get the idea.
Miss P gasped when she saw it, and then shrieked a little for good measure.

And then, true story, she very sweetly asked where the rest of the face was. Oops.

I mentioned earlier that I nearly chickened out when it came to the hand embroidery, but when I summoned up the guts to set to work on it, it was super late and I just couldn't get it done. I stitched and un-stitched those eyelashes a thousand times (ok, so it was three or four times) to get them lined up just right, and I was zonked. So it took me longer to finish that cute little face (which to be fair, is actually quite simple) than to do the rest of the entire piece, P's dress included.

Totally worth the effort, and so sweet.
Miss P begged to take photos immediately so she could wear the dress to school the next day, so we grabbed the last sliver of daylight and danced around our yard for a bit. I love the look of the applique on the dress, and I think it would look so cute on a little tote bag, too.

This issue of One Thimble did not disappoint when it comes to gift ideas; I'll be making the Art Caddy and Miss Miranda applique again, but I'll also be trying out some of the other patterns in the coming weeks for sure. There are lots of exclusive coupon codes in the magazine too for some really great deals. Make sure you check out all of the other stops on the blog tour to see what the other ladies have sewn up, and enter the Rafflecopter here for your chance to win the complete issue! Thanks for joining us!

Saturday 11/15: Handmade Boy
Sunday 11/16: Mimi's MomRebekah Sews
Wednesday 11/19: Made by SaraBee Quilted Beauties

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1 comment:

  1. Hi Rachel, thank you so much for trying out my little Miss Miranda! You did such a beautiful job with the applique and her embroidered face is lovely! I'm particularly smitten with the tutu aswell. Such a cute idea! I get what you mean about adding the button, because you don't know when to stop. That's usually me with bows! And it was so heartwarming to read about your daughter's reaction. Because at the end of the day, that's what it's all about, hey? Lauren x