Children’s Books (literally!)

My girls and I have started working through Playful Learning , which is a wonderful book full of fun educational activities for children ages 4-8. My daughters are 5 and 3, but my three year old is enjoying the activities just as much, and I am having a blast seeing what those two can do!

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We made books the other day, one of the activities in the young authors’ section. I used this tutorial by Dana from Made, and then I just let them have a go. I was very impressed by the lovely stories they drew/wrote.

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My five-year-old wrote a book called “The Lemonade Stand,” full of creativity and wit! We are reading it at night before going to bed and she could not be more pleased. I loved working on this project together!

Linking at

I can Teach my Child!

Finally, the Hand-smocked dresses

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I began work on these dresses back in March of last year. Then I got pregnant, and morning sickness hit. It has been such a busy time for us that I had not even been able to take pictures of them, but I finally managed to finish both of them. If not for one year’s Easter, for next year’s, right? 😉

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I had always dreamed of smocking a dress, but with nobody to teach me it seemed like a lost cause. And then I came across a fantastic book by Gail Doane called Sew Cute Couture and I knew that maybe, just maybe, I could have a chance. So I bought it.

The book was a dream. It walks you step by step through many beautiful smocked creations, and I was smitten by many of them. Two problems, however: the bishop dress pattern only came up to three years old, and one of my daughters was already four and way past that size. Problem number two: I did not own a pleater.

What was a girl to do?

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Well, I decided that my eldest did not need to have a bishop, after all. I do like them to match, though, when I make their clothes, so I adapted one of the designs in the book to match the design of my two-year-old’s bishop. Problem solved!

Now, what about the pleating?

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Unable to find anyone locally who would do the pleating for me (and if anybody knows of anyone who does pleat for a fee, please let me know), I set out to pleat on my own. (I will have a separate post on pleating–it deserves its own separate treatment, for sure!)

It was a lot of work–not hard work, just long, especially because I was making two dresses–but I am do happy with the way these turned out! And, the best part, the girls loved them, too.

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The first dress only has pleating on the bodice. The collar features the same buttons as the bishop, with some stitching (this design was supposed to go on the collar of the bishop’s matching jacket that I never made).

This is what the back looks like.

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For a while, when I was in a hurry, I debated whether I should work on that belt detail or just add some ribbon to adjust the dress. Conclusion?: the belt is worth it. It makes this look!

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And here is my darling bishop!

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I love this dress, and I love it on my child. She still looks do much like her playful self in this dress, and it is hilarious to see the traditional/mischievous together.

Here is a look at the back:

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And here are some close up shots of the collar/embroidery of both dresses:

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If you have ever wanted to smock a dress and were daunted before you even began, please consider it again. It is fun and it is not hard; it is just long work, but it is easy if you are shown how. I highly recommend Gail Doane’s book. If I could do it, anyone can do it!

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Oliver + S Explorer Vest

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Back at the beginning of last fall I made a present for a friend who was turning five. He is a super cute boy who loves to dress well and to dress-up, so Oliver + S’ Explorer Vest seemed to be a perfect match. The project comes from Liesl Gibson’s Little Things to Sew , and it was a great project to work on: challenging enough for me to keep things interesting without it being overwhelming.

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The pattern has an option for pockets with or without bellows. I thought the bellows looked more explorer-like, so I went with those, but it was hard for me to figure out exactly how to make them!

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Still, I prevailed! And the vest did look adorable. Once I had that part figured out, the rest of the vest came together pretty quickly.

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The fabric is a canvas weight from Jo-Ann. To add interest, I added topstitching in contrasting brown. I need more practice, as you can see 😉

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I also used contrasting bias tape to finish the armholes.

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My least favorite part was the argyle pattern I used as lining. I loved the color palette, and it was the most boyish fabric I could find at the moment, but I am not convinced it was the right fit for this pattern. Despite that, I was pleased with how it turned out, and our friend was happy with it too.

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Here are a couple of shots of how we wrapped it. We rolled it up and covered it in tissue paper, like a candy roll. Then I drew a picture of the birthday boy for my daughter to color, and voilà!

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It was a fun present to work on, and a fun pattern. If anybody needs any guidance on working with the bellows pocket, I took step-by-step shots while I was sewing and I could put them together in a post.

Linking at:
Nap time crafters

Sew Country Chick

The Train to Crazy

Mid-week’s fun links

These are some of the web sites I have been looking through this week (or: these are the windows open on my Safari right now):

Baby cardigan tutorials from Delia Creates . I have to try this soon.

Gluten-free breakfast cookies from Simply Gluten-free. I just received my shipment of dried fruit, only to realize I am out of bananas and can’t make this for breakfast. Oh well!

Baby-led weaning at Simple Bites . I never followed this approach before, but it sounds interesting.

Stitch Savvy blog hop . I really want this book, it looks amazing!

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Finally, my daughter is learning how to read. This is her first book, ever, that she just finished reading on Monday. I am so proud of her and all the effort she has put into this new adventure! I can’t believe that my baby is almost 5 and reading! Mothering is, sometimes, such hard, challenging work, but it is so worth all the effort:

“The trick is to enjoy life. Don’t wish away your days, waiting for better ones ahead. The grand and the simple, they are equally wonderful.”

“As you create a home, don’t get distracted with a lot of things that have no meaning for you or your family. Don’t dwell on your failures, but think of your successes. Have joy in your home. Have joy in your children. Have joy in your husband. Be grateful for the journey.”
(Marjorie Hinckley)

Hope you are having a good week!