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Have a Sunny Summer! {free teacher appreciation printable}

2015 May 22

Every year my kids are about to finish school and I am rushing around like a crazy person finishing up gifts for the teachers, kindergarten helpers, lunch ladies and bus drivers. Well not this year. This year it will NOT get the better of me because I am finished early – a whole month early! (insert silly ecstatic grin here) And, if your children finish earlier than the end of June, hopefully this post will the benefit you too.

This year everyone is getting a Sunny Glasses Case, and to make it more fun, I made a little printable card in the shape of sunglasses – because they’re just so cute! The Sunny Glasses Case is one of my most popular free tutorials, and it’s also really quick! Once they are cut out you can sew one in about 1/2 an hour. And if you are making 5 (or 9) of them assembly-line style they are even faster. – You’ll have to trust me, the tutorial is deceptively long. You’ll have it sewn before you know it!

The Sunglasses Case tutorial has 5 options – velcro, magnetic snap or button & elastic closure, add a swivel clip or make a car visor version. It works equally well for men and women, especially great for any male teacher gifts you need! Plus they use very little fabric – great for getting rid of your scraps.

The fabric for these cases are all Cotton + Steel prints from Fabric Spark (sponsored). A few of them are sold out,  since I’ve been hoarding them since last year – but don’t be disappointed – check out the rest of their amazing Cotton + Steel stock. And they still have my favorite Black and White Study Hall (pencil print).

I designed the printable in 4 color-ways, because I like choice! And the sunglasses should match your fabric, right?! There are three pre-coloured cards and one you can colour in yourself (or your kids… whatever works!). Print it out, write inside, put it in your Sunny Glasses Case and wrap it up – Done!

FREE PRINTABLE:

CLICK HERE to download the “Have a Sunny Summer Card” FREE Printable!

 Please use my patterns/tutorials for your personal projects, gifts and charitable fundraising events. Please do not sell anything made with this printable. Contact me for more information: sherri@threadridinghood.com

PRINT YOUR CARD:

Download the free printable by clicking on the link above. Select whichever colour you’d like by selecting only that page for printing. Set your printer to print on cardstock at 100% actual size (no scaling). The outer rectangle will print out at about 3 3/4″ high.

 FOLD YOUR CARD:

1) Cut along the solid line, large outer rectangle. 2) Fold the card in half length-wise, crease well. 3) Cut along the dotted lines (while folded) to shape the top of the card. 4) Write inside and you are done!

I am extra excited about some fun things planned for next week. (ahem…*giveaway!*…cough) See you again soon!  I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

Thanks for reading! Follow along to get more great tutorials and posts:

Don’t feel like sewing a Sunglasses Case yourself? Check out these Licensed Sunny Glasses Case Sellers.   Are you a seller that would like to buy a Licence to Sew and Sell the Sunny Glasses Case Pattern? If you are interested in selling sunglasses cases made with this pattern you can buy a license here and receive an instant pdf download!

Disclaimer: Fabric Spark provided the fabric I used to make these sunglasses cases for a discount. They are also a sponsor of this blog. Thanks for reading!

PSA – Inventory Clearance at Double Decker Fabric

2015 May 20

 

This is a quick post to let you know that Double Decker Fabric is clearing out their inventory. Please head over to get some great deals as they close up shop. Everything is priced to sell quickly, so don’t miss out!

If I can add in a personal request – would you please take the time to send Dorienne a message thanking her for providing a great Canadian online shop? (As she closes up, I’d love it if we could send her out with a “thank you” and warm wishes for the future. ) You can easily send a message on her contact page.

As another major Canadian online shop makes its way out, please remember that your support of online Canadian fabric shops allows them to stay open. Because they are online we rarely get to meet the owners face-to-face. I think sometimes we forget that behind every store is an amazing owner. That they love fabric and want to provide us with amazing service here in Canada – so we can get our fabric faster and without paying extra to get it from the US.

I have been a supporter of Double Decker Fabric since I was lucky to interview her for my Canadian Online Shop series. She was my second interview in the series just over 2 years ago! Dorienne is an amazing person. She has been so kind and considerate over the years. I’m lucky to have gotten to know her. She even sent me my first “surprise” fabric in the mail - a Red Riding Hood print! I so appreciate her support and sponsorship of this blog.

Ok – my speech is over! Head over to Double Decker Fabric and get those deals!

5 Life Changes and 1 Goal {“Be Intentional” Follow-Up}

2015 May 18

Free Printable available! {click here}

I can’t be ready for these life posts, they have to just be written as they flow out of my brain.

When I write about me and what I’m feeling I have to pretend you are not there or I will feel self-conscious and just stop! I’m banking on the fact that most of you feel the same way as me. That’s at least what I’m telling myself so I keep typing.

Our houses are not perfect. Laundry and dishes list a LONG way down the “To Do’s” of daily life – somewhere way below Sew, Craft and  Quilt!

“Even if you fall on your face, you’re still moving forward.” ~ Victor Kiam

I have been thinking about this post for 2 months now. March was 6-months since the “Be Intentional” post I wrote last September when both of my kids started back to school full-time. Jody commented that I should re-visit the post and do an update. I thought that was a great idea and I put it in my calendar. Problem was, when March came around I wasn’t ready to write it yet.

“What screws us up most in life is the picture in our head of how it is supposed to be.” ~ Unknown

Truth is, I’m not sure if I want to write it. Part of me wants to hold back and pretend to be amazing. Have you believe that the carefully set-up photo-shoots are my real life. That sounds nice and safe… but I’m sure (or I hope so anyhow!) you know that reality is NOT the case.

“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.” ~ J.K. Rowling

I’ve realized lately that being “safe” is not my goal, I want to share my mistakes more often. (Though I will not likely show many messy photos. They’re just not pretty!) I’m not sure I’ve come very far since my “Be Intentional” pep talk. Though, it’s possible I’ve come farther than I think.

Here are a few things that have changed and my goal to work on for the next 6 months.

Change #1: I spent a month deep-tidying almost every corner and closet in our house.Result: It’s easier to find things, and put them away. Helps us to be cleaner, faster, and helps me stay sane.

We got rid of so many things (literally our SUV full + lots more to the curb) and I find it is freeing to know where something goes when I need to put it away. I can tidy our main floor in 15 minutes – without a random box of things going “out to the garage” or “hiding in the laundry room” before company arrives like it did before! #reallife Amazingly, we have tons of storage space – I just needed to get rid of about half of our stored things to find it!

Change #2: I try to remember to “Be Us” when  planning something. ~ Result: A reality-based beginning to a plan gives us a fighting chance when we try to carry them out!

Instead of (unfairly) comparing us to my impression of everything good I think we should be, I try to remember to plan our life around how we really are. Here is a list of some practical things we have done to help.  (As I read through the list I realize we sound super lazy and petty – but, honestly, these things have really made a difference.)

  • We are really not morning people – so we have put all of the kid dishes and breakfast things in a lower cupboard and taught them to get ready by themselves. Once they are both ready, they watch TV while they eat. Usually only about 15-20 minutes before school. Now they are ready before we wake up! #incentives are everything.
  • We hate doing the dishes, so we have “paper plate night” once a week. I know it’s not environmentally sound, but it helps us to deal with doing them the other 6 days. (We do try to buy the biodegradable plates.)
  • We don’t like opening doors around our house to put things away, so large piles sit by said doors for weeks. I know it sounds crazy, but it’s true! Now that we’ve removed the “offending”basement and laundry room doors, things get tidied up a lot faster. I’m working on making the front hall closet tidy so I can do it next.
  • We didn’t put our food away in the cold cellar because there were 3 doors in the way. (Again, being honest!) So I moved all of our food storage into another cupboard – newly found space from Change #1! It’s still in the basement, but there aren’t any doors in the way.
  • The kitchen cupboards were really messy and things were constantly lost and unorganized. I took everything out and re-worked all of the cupboards. In the process I realized that we had 2 large boxes of things in there that we didn’t need. And to save more space we now store more of our pantry items in our new “not through a door” super easy-access basement cupboard area.

Change #3: I’ve taken extra time to intentionally teach my kids to clean up. ~ Result: Less work for me and my husband, and less arguing plus a nicer space for them!

It’s been a work in progress, but 3 months later I’m excited that they are getting pretty good at it. And “good” is definitly not perfect, but I do get comments like “Ok, fine – lets get it over with” instead of 15 minutes of arguing and complaining. I also found out that they like it when their space is clean. And that they are learning how to clean, instead of standing in the middle of a messy space looking frustrated. Now we “put similar things together in piles”, then put each pile away where it goes.

Change #4: When my kids come home from school I stop working. ~ Result: Happier kids and a less frustrated me.

This was (and still is) not always the case. But I’m getting better! I really want to be intentional about spending time with them. Once I decided that was the goal and the plan for each weeknight it became much easier to actually make it happen each day. Of course there are many, many days when I invite them up to our (very full, tiny) office to draw or craft something while I finish a project. And there is at least one night a week we call “Screen Night” where the kids are allowed to have whatever screen they’d like (tv, computer, tablet) until dinner. Thankfully they don’t watch too much on other nights, so I don’t feel so bad about it!

Change #5: I’m trying to get more sleep. ~ Hopeful Result: Happier, more realistic, less stressed home.

This change is really in progress. I LOVE staying up late, and I’m having a very had time quitting when I know I should sleep.  I still find myself running up to deadlines with very late nights, but those days are becoming less. Now when I stay up late I am generally not working, instead I’m taking time to play – read a book or watch TV with my husband.

“Do something today that your future self will thank you for.” ~ Unknown  

The GOAL! Being realistic, and implementing my “Be Us” policy – I’ve only given myself one goal for the next 6 (to 9) months before the next update. It sounds crazy-difficult to me and I’m going to have to work super hard to find ways to work on it.

Goal #1: Be less frustrated and demote stressful things. I have realized that a lot of my frustration is due to my not knowing a good way to deal with stress. I put whatever is stressing me way up on my priority list – it needs to be demoted (perhaps fired?), if I can continue the analogy. Too many times I get unfairly angry at a family member because I’m frustrated with myself. And I want to loosen the hold on my need to be in control of everything. I think some of the changes are helping, but I’ve got a long way to go.

Mad Hatter: “Have I gone mad?” Alice: “I’m afraid so. You’re entirely bonkers. But I’ll tell you a secret. All the best people are.” ~ Tim Burton, Alice in Wonderland

Love that quote! Reminds me that I’m not sure how to conclude this post since there is no ending to this journey – we just continue this craziness and try to get better as we go along. I’ll see you at the next update!

I’d love to know are you doing? I’d love to know what you think – and any helpful things you’ve done to keep your home happier and less stressful!

P.S. Just in case you didn’t know, I’ve dyed my hair purple – feeling a bit crazy walking around like this helped me to finally write this post! Check it out on Instagram.

Photos are random from last year’s summer vacation so you can take mini breaks from all the text!

a dress fit for a Queen.

2015 May 13

How are you doing this week? Good I hope? I’m well – and feeling a tad behind – but my list is my own, so maybe I should not try to be so productive?!  I’m excited to be working on more than one  secret project right now. And that means I get to show you other things I’ve made in the past month! I love having a backlog of projects to post about, it makes me feel like I’m actually on top of things.

Oooh! And can I talk about how much I LOVE this fabric? 16th Century Selfie is part of Tula Pink’s latest collection – Elizabeth. It’s amazing, super intricate and Tula Pink has somehow managed to get the facial expression perfect – as usual. She even stares at you while you are sewing! I’ve polled quite a few people and apparently it’s a love-it or hate-it kind of fabric – what do you think?

I love Fabric Spark’s description of Tula Pink’s latest collection “Elizabeth – Daryl writes:

“I’d use {these fabrics} everywhere, for bedding/quilts, drapes, chair cushions, pajamas, the lot. But do it with a sense of humour – why be a princess when you can be a queen.”

So true – a Queen it is! My smallest princess loves her “fancy lady” dress! (and I love the vintage buttons on the back!) This is another Creativ Festival project that I made for Fabric Spark to display in their booth. I used my favorite easy/fast/cute pattern – the First Day Dress from MADE. I have used this pattern to make dresses so many times (listed at the bottom of this post) – and I made a couple of peplum tops you haven’t seen yet too!

Since I’ve already written a lot about the First Day dress in previous posts, I’ll refrain from too much gushing here – suffice is to say that if you like quick projects the First Day Dress pattern is for you. I think my favorite part is the fact that a circle skirt doesn’t require any gathering and still gives the girls’ dresses their required twirl factor.

It’s an amazing base pattern with sleeves (or not) an a-line top/dress and peplum top and circle skirt dress, + lined or partially lined with an attached or unattached lining. Enough already! If this pattern had set-in sleeves it would be 120% perfect.

Spring Bloom Giveaway Winner!

I realized earlier this week that I had not yet let you know that the winner of the Spring Bloom Fat Quarter set was: Mary L! She just received her bundle this past Monday and emailed to let me know. I can’t wait to see what she will make with it!

You can find the Elizabeth “16th Century Selfie” fabric I used for the dress bodice at Fabric Spark in two colourways: Sky or Tart, or check out Fabric Spark’s stock of Tula Pink’s Elizabeth Collection. The lining is a solid from Fabric Spark’s Free Spirit collection.  {The skirt fabric is Elizabeth “Chain Mail” in the Sky colourway and is unfortunately sold out at Fabric Spark.}

Other First Day Dress posts: 

Disclaimer: I received the fabric for this dress at no cost in exchange for this post and its use at the Fabric Spark booth during Creativ Festival. All of my opinions are my own and I won’t  take on projects I don’t believe in. Thanks for reading!

Girls in White Dresses…. {made from curtains!}

2015 May 6

I feel like a re-run of The Sound of Music. Mixing one of my favorite scenes (The Favorite Things Song) with the “play-clothes made from curtains” scene! I didn’t realize until recently that it’s the 50th Anniversary of the movie. Such a good (and slightly terrifying when you are a kid) movie! Julie Andrews is still one of my favorite actresses. (I dare you not to sing the song for the rest of today!)

It’s been clothing central over here for a while now! Seems I’m on a garment kick – though I’ve got other project happening, these seem to be making their way in more often lately. It’s not likely to stop any time soon, Made by Me May (#madebymemay15 #mmm15) is happening and I’m trying to wear a handmade item every day this month. (Follow along on Instagram!)

Wearing handmade has me realizing just how little I’ve made that isn’t a dress or skirt. Not so practical for my everyday life that consists of mostly jeans and tops. So I’ve got sewing on the brain and I’ve got in mind to actually sew the many, many tops I’ve had planned (some from years ago!).

What does that have to do with girls in white dresses? Nothing, really I suppose – except that they get to finally be posted today! These are the girls’ Easter dresses and the photos have been waiting patiently for weeks now. And these are made from free fabric that has a really fun back story!

A while ago I got a box of fabric from my friend. It was full of older Christmas fabric, extra cuts of random knits and wool. The most interesting thing was that about 60% of the box was full of high end curtain and upholstery swatchesand yardage. I don’t remember much about the original owner, my friend was given the box from someone who had gotten it from someone… and so on. I kept what I could use, and my sewing group went through it and now someone at the thrift store is likely having some fun of their own!

These dresses are the Violette Field Threads Annabelle pattern (again!made from Laura Ashley curtain fabric. It’s very light and see-through with embroidered flowers and polka dots. These pattern pieces were cut from everything between 5 yard to 14″ swatch squares. I felt so useful cutting the chevron skirt pieces from the small pieces. I even made the little polka dots line up like buttons on the bodice!

I changed two things for this version. First, I added a lining to the skirt. Because of the light fabric, it needed one to be modest. I merged the skirt pattern pieces into 8 un-pieced panels and cut them from white broadcloth. I combined the 3 pieced chevrons on the outer skirt into 1, which saved a lot of time.Because of course I was working up to the last minute as usual!

 I really love this pattern. Though the skirt is time intensive – the sleeves and bodice come together really quickly. I think I’m going to have to make at least one more for my youngest, since she’s asked already. I’ve got a few ideas for how to use the pattern to make something “non-clothing” as well – gonna add that to my list!

Enough photos? I suppose it’s obvious that I had a hard time narrowing this set down! Until next time…

Reader Feedback: Are you participating in Made by Me May? I’d love to see what you are wearing!

Bundle Up! Violette Field Threads – Ginger {pattern review}

2015 May 4

I’m so excited to be part of another Bundle Up Tour. Pattern Revolution has put together a Women’s Bundle Up grouping this time and these brand new patterns cover everything from jeans to bathing suits, with dresses and tops in-between! When I was trying to decide which pattern to make as part of this tour, I went a bit out of my comfort zone and chose to make another Violette Field Threads pattern – Ginger, in the Misses Version.

Originally I was going to make the peplum top version, but, honestly – if you are going to do something out of the ordinary you may as well go all out, right? So I chose a crazy multi-coloured floral, cut into my hoarded teal chambray scraps and sewed myself a proper party dress! Now all I need is a party to wear it too… or a fancy summer date with my husband!

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

I’m generally intimidated by fitted patterns, but I am trying to learn how to tailor patterns to fit properly, so I forged ahead. I would really recommend this pattern as a good place to start making some simple alterations. Since the proper fit is created using two darts on bottom of the front bodice, it is simpler to move them around without causing extra trouble!

When I made my bodice muslin, I found that there was quite a bit of extra space all around, due to my needing a size 2 at the top and size 8 at the waist! The darts were a bit off as well – so I put the muslin on inside out and pinned in the extra fabric so it fit properly. I found taking in an inch on the centre front also moved the darts in so they pointed in the correct direction – perfect!

Thoughts on the pattern:

  • PDF pattern, easy to print, put together, and reprint when necessary.
  • If you choose to make the peplum top you can save quite a bit of paper by choosing to print only the peplum skirt pieces. Super helpful!
  • Violette Field Threads cannot be faulted in their instructions in any way. The steps are well photographed and explained.
  • There are good size and alteration tips to help you along.

Here are a few things I love about it:

  • They rigged the circle skirt to take the fullness out of the hip area. Thank you VFT!
  • Pockets. Pockets! LOVE the pockets. It’s so comfortable to be able to have a pocket to hold a few things. Or a place to put your hand in photographs!
  • Despite it using quite a bit of fabric, it comes together quickly once you start sewing.
  • It’s cute and out of the ordinary! (and, did I mention it has pockets?!)
  • Two versions – you can also make a peplum top.
  • If you are small-busted it works quite well as a strapless top. You don’t even need to add the halter portion!
  • The circle skirt adds fullness without gathers! (Gathers are not my favorite.)
Thoughts on the fit:
  • A woven fabric garment does not generally fit without any alterations. However, everything was properly placed and true to the measurements. My body just doesn’t agree with “average” sizing!
  • It includes sizes 0-16 – quite a good range.
  • There are 3 length options – super helpful.
Things I changed from the original pattern:
  • There is supposed to be an exposed zipper on the back. Since I couldn’t find one, I opted for another super matchy invisible zipper. I installed it using my favorite invisible-zip instructions from the Oliver and S Fairy Tale Dress pattern.

Things I might change next time:

  • I might take a bit of the fullness of the skirt out of the pattern, since it requires a lot of yardage and if there is any kind of wind at all you are left grasping for many, many yards of fabric in order to stay modest!

Don’t miss out on the Bundle – it’s only here for a limited time! Check out the other stops on the blog tour for more real-life inspiration.

Disclosure: I have used my own fabric and supplies to make this dress. However, I was given the Violette Field Threads, Ginger pattern for free as part of the Bundle Up blog tour. My opinions are always my own. Thanks for reading!

Creativ Festival ~ Spring 2015

2015 May 1

I got to meet so many amazing people at this year’s Creativ Festival. I was so much more involved this year – and I met a ton of new creative people and shops! Instead of featuring each shop individually like I have in the past, I’ve assembled photos from quite a few and linked them to their shop. So, if you are looking for something you can find it! (If there isn’t a corresponding website, I’ve captioned the photo with the shop name.)

The spring Creativ Festival is definitely smaller than the Fall show. There are less booths in a smaller overall space – however, I think that the modern fabric presence was only slightly less than the last Fall show. Many traditional shops are buying more modern fabrics, so there is generally something I want to pick up from each shop. Dangerous, yes?!

I think my focus and view on fabric has changed as well – slowly over time – to involve more types of fabrics and more lines. Not so much “all modern, all the time” and now more “use the fabric that’s right for the job”. Apparel fabric for apparel, quilting cotton for quilting (and kids clothes!).

In the vein of trying not to be “all modern, all the time”, I was so happy to find a lovely use of batik fabric that surprised me! The amazing quilt pattern (above, ) from Border Creek Station Pattern Company, incorporates a lot of white for a modern look and the colour is added with batiks. It gives it a lovely watery look that I really love – softer than the solids against white.

I also found an online Canadian source for shot cotton that I’ll be taking full advantage of. I’ve got lots of apparel projects lined up in the next few months and it’s a lovely summery option to work with. I’ve got Flare Fabrics to thank for that! You should see all the colours she stocks!

It was interesting to see a change in the way each booth decided to show their products. Many sellers are not bringing all of their bolts. Instead they are replacing them with 2 yard cuts and some bolts, and lots of fat quarters and 1/2 metre cuts. Even some super cute scrappy bundles. The jars from Country Clothesline below were so cute!

One of the things I really love is to see all of the projects shop owners have created. I got a chance to work on a few projects this year, and it was fun to see a lot of others too. The feather quilt below that Daryl from Fabric Spark made from Echino fabrics is AMAZING! So, so gorgeous, and my favorite piece at the show. The added texture in the Echino lends so much more depth to the colours.

Seems quite a few of the online shops are now also stocking Aurifil as well. I was happy to find that and some knits at the show! Lovely Monaluna knits from Fabric Please. They feel amazing and my youngest has claimed the yard I bought for herself. I think I’ll have some left over, to use for a yoke on something for me. I hope!

Hopefully this post didn’t sound too sales-driven. It’s tricky writing a review without sounding like a sales person, especially when you are writing about lots of shops! I talked to a few new stores as well and am hoping to be able to team up with lots of them to bring you more Canadian online shop interviews and giveaways – yippee! Maybe we’ll see you at the Fall show?

Ruby Pearl Quilts

A “Wee” Little Quilt

2015 April 28

I’m tired y’all! I had an amazing weekend at Creativ Festival – but I think the amount of time and energy I put into getting everything ready is now showing – I haven’t even unpacked or pre-washed any stash yet! I’m going to post a review of the weekend, but first I’ve got a quilt for you. (And, if you are expecting an email from me about the weekend I’ll hopefully get it out tomorrow!)

This is one of the projects I made in collaboration with my sponsor, Fabric Spark - for use at Creativ Festival. It’s a blanket/play mat made using the Wee Gallery collection from Dear Stella. I’d already fallen in love with the front “Dress Me” fabric when Daryl suggested making this quilt for the show. (I’ve got a yard stashed away from when Daryl first listed it!)

After I got the kit I was totally smitten with the backing fabricWild – Alphabet! Would you believe it’s even got a “N is for Narwhal” on there? (If you are looking for the “Dress Me” fabric, this little quilt did its job and now Fabric Spark is sold out of the “Dress Me” print. You can still get Wild – Alphabet here. *EDIT: Apparently Daryl is all sold out of the Alphabet as well.)

The quilt is made using the free “Dress Me Up!” Tutorial by Modern Handcraft on the Dear Stella blog. It’s such a cute idea! The only thing I changed is to use coloured thread for the quilting. In an effort to make it unisex, I used pink, blue, orange, yellow, gray and cream – generally matching the colours on the Alphabet backing – but lighter. I had a false start with a few quilted lines in bright pink and darkish blue that “showed up” too much for my liking.

Using wool felt for the character’s clothing is such a great idea. My oldest has already been designing clothes for them with the left-over felt. I’ve never used wool felt before, and I was so pleased with the quality and feel of the pieces provided in the kit. You can get wool felt from Fabric Spark as well – they have wonderful names like “Pea Soup”, “Vanilla Latte”, “Fresh Linen” and “Bluer than Blue”!

I learned a good lesson from this quilt as well – a quilt does not have to be hard, or even pieced! This whole-cloth quilt was so simple to make – and the end result is so cute! My favorite part is the coloured quilting. I didn’t even use any fancy quilting thread.

My new motto more often needs to be “Simplify Your Projects” and “Done is better than Perfect”!

Your Turn! What is your favorite sewing motto?

Disclaimer: I received this quilt kit at no cost in exchange for it’s use at the Fabric Spark booth during Creativ Festival. All of my opinions are my own and I won’t  take on projects I don’t believe in. Thanks for reading!

Spring Bloom Blog Hop {+ giveaway}

2015 April 25

I’m super excited to be part of the Spring Bloom Blog Hop today! When Amanda from Bella Caronia sent me a photo of her fabrics early last month to see if I’d like to be one of the #springbloommakers it took me all of 30 seconds to reply back – “Yes, please!” Spring Bloom is Amanda’s first collection with Windham Fabrics and I am honored that she has let me play with it! (P.S. Scroll down for the giveaway so you can play with it too! Thanks Windham!)

This Bella Caronia collection seemed to me like I should create a project where several prints were mixed. A quilt would have been great, but since it’s not my strong suit I went with dresses. Dresses with lots of bright pretty colours and mix-matchy prints all in one place – just like a garden!

I decided to make the Ruffled Plaid Madness dress I drafted a few years back – only not in plaid this time. I’ve always wanted to make this dress again and I’m so pleased with how they show off Amanda’s collection! Thankfully our semi-rainy day photoshoot turned out ok too. Just like in spring, flowers bloom with the rainy weather – and apparently flowery fabric too!

Windham Fabrics kindly offered to send me whatever yardage I’d need for this project, but when I sat down to choose I got a bit stuck – so many options! So I let the girls choose their favorites (which happen to be in their favorite colours) and I think they did a great job. It also ensures that they extra-love the finished product. Though, thinking back, I don’t think I’d have a hard time selling layers of ruffles, puffed sleeves and a super-twirly skirt to these girls!

Making this dress turned out to be an exercise in “not forgetting something” that involved this crazy chart and lots of highlighting. With so many ruffles, each skirt front requires 4 or 5 tiers, each one with a ruffle and an under layer to hold it all together. That means lots of pieces, and LOTS of tiny 1/8″ rolled hems. I have never been more grateful that my Janome came with a rolled hem foot. And now I really, really know how to use it. Practice = Perfect – or at least very close!

Since I am a glutton for punishment I made my design based on looks, not “ease of creation“! These dresses curve down to the centre on the back bodice and up on the front bodice I remember going a bit cray-cray drafting the front ruffle the first time. Thankfully everything was already drafted so I could stitch the eight curves per dress so much faster this time around!

These dresses needed to be fully lined, so I also got to work with the new-to-me collection from Marsha Derse called Palette. I love her previous fabrics and the “not-so-solid” batik-like look of these fabrics really soften the colours.

Can I just say that I am super proud and a bit ecstatic over the invisible zipper fabric matching! When I cut matching fabric for the backs of the dresses I was super nervous I couldn’t match it properly – especially with the zipper right in the middle of the back seam! I felt a tad like MacGyver and with some “fabric, a glue stick and an iron” I managed to match it so amazingly well. It’s even a really simple process – really. I know you probably don’t believe me, so I’ll be writing a tutorial about it for sure! (Hint: It’s all in the glue stick!)

A huge shout-out and congratulations to Bella Caronia on their first collection! And thanks so much to Amanda and Windham for including me on this hop. I’m sew lucky! (pun intended!) There’s still a week of amazing projects in this blog hop! Check out the schedule below:

April 20 Windham Fabrics Snip-itsBella Caronia Blog ~ April 21 Leah and Bea Koch – Wintergreen and the Bee ~ April 22 Nell Timmer – Nell’s Notions ~ April 23 Jessica Darling ~ April 24 Kristy Daum – St. Louis Folk Victorian ~ April 25 Sherri Sylvester – Thread Riding Hood ~ April 26 Cindy Wiens – Live a Colorful Life ~ April 27 Krista Hennebury – Poppyprint ~ April 28 Felicity Ronaghan – Felicity Quilts ~ April 29 Casey York – The Studiolo ~ April 30 Janice Ryan – Better Off Thread ~ May 1 Deborah Moebes – Whipstitch ~ May 2 Bella Caronia Blog That’s a Wrap

Windham Fabrics is generously giving away the above amazing fat quarter bundle of Bella Caronia’s Spring Bloom Collection! This giveaway will run from April 25 – May 1, 2015. Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter – and if you don’t have Facebook to sign in with, just use your name and email address. There’s a “click to enter” no social media login entry too!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: Windham Fabrics sent me this fabric free of charge in exchange for this blog post. I always give you my own, uninfluenced opinion, and would not accept a project I didn’t love! Thanks for reading.

the Swansea bag {pattern review + giveaway}

2015 April 23

Today I get to be part of the “Time to Travel eBook Blog Tour” put together by Sewing with Boys. And yes – I know, I don’t have any boys! I was surprised to get an email from them last month asking if me (with my 2 girls) wanted to be part of this tour. Though their eBook is written with boys in mind, it’s totally appropriate for girls too. I can see them using each of the patterns included in this just-released book. (Scroll down for your chance to enter to win some great prizes!)

As part of the tour I was given a copy of the Swansea Bag pattern written by Stitch Blue Designs. It’s one of the 4 full patterns included in the eBook, along with lots of tips and printables you can use when traveling with kids. The design is modeled after a military-style round duffle bag. And let me tell you – you need this bag! (As usual, despite getting the pattern for free in exchange for this review, my opinion is my always honest and my own. Thanks for reading!)

The girls just started their pre-summer swimming lessons and use a great wet bag for my youngest every week. However, when I saw this pattern I thought it would be perfect to use as a wet bag for my oldest so they could both have their own. Never mind that beach/pool weather is coming soon (I hope!) and we’ll need a carry-all then as well.

The finished Swansea turned out even more perfect than I could have asked for, and it’s huge! We almost don’t need a second bag since the child sized version I made holds both kids’ pajamas, shampoo/soap/hairbrush, large water bottle, snack AND two beach-sized towels. Whew!

Here are a few things I love about it:

  • It’s really large – we’re going to use it SO much this summer.
  • French seams throughout (and the instructions for them are very well explained). This allows the bag to be made super-quickly because it is completely finished inside without the need for a lining!
  • The optional pocket is just the right size for so many things! And I love how it looks with the pocket flap.

Alterations to the original pattern:

  • Added a french-seamed clear plastic liner to make it semi-waterproof.
  • Used two lengths of natural clothesline instead of 1.
  • Buttonholes instead of grommets. Because it’s a wet-bag I didn’t know what the metal would do if continually exposed to water.
  • Dark-coloured contrasting bottom band – because my daughter fell in love with the white-background fabric and I could see it getting instantly dirty!

Thoughts on the pattern:

  • Clearly written, illustrated instructions.
  • Confident beginner friendly pattern.
  • Variations: Two sizes: Child and Youth/Adult. Two closure options. Optional outer pocket.
  • Printed pattern pieces for all pieces – even the large rectangle needed for the body of the bag. That means no measuring and squaring up!

Things I might change next time:

  • I would definitely use a lighter gauge plastic if I lined it again. Making french seams in plastic is not easy on my machine and a lighter gauge would be just as waterproof.
  • I’d love to try one with grommets. It would make a great Christmas gift for my nephews.
I’m so happy I got to be a part of this Sewing with Boys tour. Even if I don’t have any boys! I truly love the Swansea bag, and its quick construction makes it even better. I can see making a lot more of these!

The Time to Travel eBook is on sale until the end of this blog tour (May 1) for only $9.95 – The Swansea bag alone is well worth that cost! Check out the official Sewing with Boys Tour Page for more information, blog tour daily links and to see each of the other patterns in action.

Grand prize: $50 gift certificate to FabricWorm and a copy of Time to Travel* ~ 2nd Prize: 1 yard of fabric from Mabel Madison and a copy of Time to Travel* ~ 3rd Prize: a copy of Time to Travel* ~ But that’s not all! If you buy the eBook during the tour, you’ll be automatically entered to win a $30 gift certificate to Fat Quarter Shop!

Enter this giveaway through the Raffelcopter widget below. If you buy the eBook and win the giveaway, Sewing with Boys will either refund your money, or send the copy on to a friend of your choice.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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