21 March 2013

ellie's nursery

While I was pregnant, most of my nesting instincts went straight into putting together a nursery for Ellie. I may have gone overboard, as I generally do, but it was such a fun way to keep busy during the final months of my pregnancy and collaborate with Matt. And even though in the first weeks of her life, we barely used this room and the daily concerns of caring for a newborn eclipsed all thoughts of cute decor, now that she's almost three months old I think she's actually beginning to notice and appreciate her surroundings. I so hope it will be a happy and cozy place for her to spend the first few years of her life.

The starting point for this nursery was the vintage curtains that Matt found at a consignment shop. They're actually identical to a set my grandmother had and I can remember sleeping on those sheets as a child. I couldn't resist them and they set the palette for the whole room--bright pops of coral, aqua, yellow, and spring green. This is actually the largest bedroom in our house, perhaps a little large for a nursery, but it adjoins our bedroom so it gives us easy access at night. It was already painted a lovely gray color, so at least we didn't have to repaint! The previous owners also used this room as a nursery and had painted the boarded-up fireplace with chalkboard paint for an improvised drawing space.

We tried to re-use and re-purpose as many things as we could, and the only new furniture we bought for the room was the crib, which we got at IKEA. The window seat (also from IKEA) was stolen from our sunroom. The pennant garland was from our wedding.

We re-purposed an old dresser from our guest room to use as a changing table and painted it a bright cheerful yellow. The turquoise ceramic knobs on the dresser came from Anthropologie.

We got the glider from the same consignment shop where we got the curtains. I recovered it in a nubby gray fabric with yellow piping. The tall dresser was inherited from my grandmother, and is the perfect size for tiny onesies and other pint-sized clothes. The wall art is a hodge podge of items, most notably the beautiful embroidered "E" made by Twin using the pattern in Alicia Paulson's Embroidery Companion and the fawn wall clock by DecoyLab (I saved up my pennies for that clock!). On top of the dresser, you can also see the beautiful keepsake box our friend Sara made for us to store all the little mementos of Ellie's childhood.

The beautiful gray wool blankie was made by my mother. It's the Brooklyn Tweed Shale Baby Blanket. I spent so many nights nursing and rocking Ellie with that warm blanket like a shawl over my shoulders. It really was like having a warm and reassuring snuggle from my own mama. Mom also made the blanket hanging from the Moses basket. It's inspired by the Hudson Bay blanket on the Purl Bee but done in our nursery colors. She used such a lovely soft wool that's been great for keeping Ellie warm this winter.

Ellie will have no shortage of little chairs when she starts toddling around.The rattan one and the straight wooden one are from my childhood, and the awesome yellow rocker is from Matt's. One of Matt's uncles got us the giraffe, who stands guard over the room very handsomely. Abby was terrified of the giraffe at first, but has now established a wary truce with it.

The cushion on the window seat has five dresden plates that I put together with fabrics from my stash. I'd never made dresden plates before--they are a lot of fun! I just appliqued them on with my sewing machine and did very minimal quilting. Not sure how practical the white fabric will be, but the cover does come off for washing (if I can pry it off--I always make my pillow covers too tight!).

Twin and I made the mobile using stuffed farm animals and veggies from IKEA. We just carefully hung each from embroidery thread and arranged them around two embroidery hoops. Ellie has just now (at about 10 weeks) begun noticing her mobile and she really does love looking up at it as she falls asleep. The crib is also guarded over by Shanna Murray's Lamb Family wall decal. And a peace sign, because our little girl is sure to have some hippie in her.

I got this little green lamp a couple years ago at an antiques store and rewired it myself (I had no idea rewiring a lamp was so easy!). I covered the shade with a scrap of Heather Ross's bicycle print. I don't know if that fabric is still in print, but I probably bought it about 7 years ago and have been hoarding it just in case I ever had a little girl. And now I do! I still have some in my stash, hopefully enough to make a little dress for her soon. The teddy bear I made a couple years ago from Hillary's book, more about it here. You may have also spied Space Boy and Olive, who now have a home in the nursery.

Just a few weeks before Ellie was born, we found the little scooter at an antiques shop downtown and we couldn't resist bringing it home. This teddy bear is from my own childhood, ready for a new generation of love.

I took all these pictures just before Ellie was born, and this one makes me laugh. It could be captioned "Ready and Waiting." We were all so ready to welcome that baby. The dogs didn't know exactly what they were in for, but they definitely knew something was up.

And we need a picture of the star of all this cute decor. Here's Ellie at 10 weeks!

13 May 2012

baby trousers and man trousers

A few months ago, I sewed up these baby pants as a gift for my cousin's new little baby girl. They're the Quick Change Trousers from Anna Maria Horner's Handmade Beginnings. They're reversible, so I put a soft flannel on one side and some cheerful cotton prints on the other. Matt was quite taken with them and asked if I could make a pair for him. Yes. I married the most delightful man in the entire world. 

So Matt got his very own Quick Change Trousers. I used the pattern pieces from Simplicity 2290, but followed Anna Maria's instructions so they'd be reversible. 

I originally cut out a size too big, so at first they were swimming on him. The phrase "clown pants" might have been used. But Matt never lost faith in the pants, and after I adjusted the side seams and tightened the elastic waist, they fit him perfectly. 


And here's the reverse side. Yes, this man will wear polka dots on his butt. And if you needed further proof that I married the most delightful man in the world: when asked what he wants for our upcoming second anniversary, his answers have included "rent a bouncy house" and "unicycle."

01 May 2012

the veil

Early in the wedding planning, Jennie was undecided on whether or not she wanted to wear a veil. On the one hand, it seemed really formal and traditional but on the other, it's romantic and so very bridal. And, it's like a poofy dress--when else are you going to get the chance to wear one? 

I may or may not have made some unseemly comments in the bridal salon about the price of veils. This may be the greatest scam in the bridal industry. It's just tulle!! On a comb! Tulle on a comb! Sheesh. So I told Jennie I wanted to make her a most beautiful veil with lace trim and it would be exactly as she wanted.

Mom ordered the illusion netting from her favorite fabric store and got the beautiful maline lace edging online. Jennie and I experimented with the shape of the tulle until we liked the way it hung on her head. (We settled on a bullet shape, with the arc wider in the front than the back. I still don't understand exactly why this worked. But it did.) I was prepared to hand-sew the lace onto the tulle, but ended up being able to machine-sew it because we didn't mind the line of stitching at the border of the lace. And then I sewed it on a comb. Done!

It was pretty. She was gorgeous. Stunning, in fact.

28 April 2012

for her trousseau

Over a year ago, Jennie and I saw a nightie in Anthropologie that she loved--it was soft coral pink with antique-y looking lace insertion. So when Jennie got engaged, I decided to try to make a similar nightgown for her. I used the Colette pattern Cinnamon, which I really enjoyed sewing. It's not a hard pattern to put together, and the shape of the gown is really attractive. It's cut on the bias and almost all of the seams are zig-zagged, so even though it hugs the body pretty closely, it's still comfortably stretchy.

I searched high and low for a coral pink voile that I liked, but never found the right color. My mom had been making table runners for the wedding from voile that she bought from Dharma Trading and dyed gray, so she suggested we buy some of that voile and dye it the color we wanted. Bingo! I bought the 52" Silky Cotton Voile and a little pot of their coral pink dye, which ended up being so much less expensive than the fabrics I'd been looking at.

I got some maline lace insertion to go along the neckline. I'd never inserted lace before but it's surprisingly easy. I was very happy that my lace lined up in the center!

Along the bottom hem, I attached lace that was leftover from her veil (more on that next post), which is the same "tulip" pattern of maline lace.

One note about the Cinnamon pattern: Sarai recommends that small-busted people make an adjustment to the bust and I will second that! I made a muslin straight from the pattern and it was quite baggy on me. So if you're A or B cup, a small-bust adjustment is definitely necessary. For the final nightgown, I followed Gertie's tutorial. I pinched a good third of the fullness out of the bust pattern pieces, and I probably could have taken out a bit more. So fair warning to ye of wee busts!

Here's the nightie all packaged up for the bride-to-be. The rose is one of my Morning Magic roses, which we planted to grow up our new arbor two years ago. They are growing and blooming like crazy and I think I've only fertilized them twice since planting them. Three cheers for hardy roses!

24 April 2012

my first foray into maternity sewing

This is one of our dearest and oldest friends who is expecting a little boy in two weeks! Doesn't she look beautiful?! This is because: a) she's just an absolutely beautiful person inside and out, b) she's glowing with happiness, and c) she's totally rocking this bridesmaid dress I made for her!

Suzanne was nervous about finding a maternity dress for the wedding that would fit her 8-month baby bump and be both comfortable and pretty. My mom and I boldly offered to make her a dress, which I ended up making because Mom took on so many other projects (you think I try to DIY a lot of stuff, I can't hold a candle to my mom!) I was a wee bit nervous as I've never sewn anything maternity and am still learning my way around my serger. Overall it went well, though, and the only mini-crisis was about a week before the wedding when my serger cut a giant hole in the bodice. ACK. Luckily, it all worked out in the end and she really looked amazing.

We used Burda 7630 which was a fairly simple pattern to work with and Mom and Suzanne picked out a lovely gray jersey from Joann's. It draped beautifully and we knew it would be a comfortable choice. And although the pattern called for both a zipper and a skirt lining, I was able to leave both out thanks to the stretchy fabric.

I made a practice dress which Suzanne tried on a few weeks before the wedding. We made some adjustments to the bodice at that point (the lining of the bodice was strangely small and made the entire bust fit much too tightly, so in the final version I just cut two of the regular bodice pieces to use for both outside and lining). We also decided to make the dress floor-length to hide ankles and feet which are now, toward the end of her pregnancy, swelling uncomfortably by the end of the day. I think the longer length made it look so elegant!

Jennie let each of us bridesmaids pick any gray dress we liked, so we got to show a bit of our own style. The gray made us all look like bridesmaids and it all looked coherent, but we didn't look like crazy bridesmaid clones all in the same dress. I don't know why they do that to bridesmaids! No one likes to be a crazy bridesmaid clone!