Sewing for little hands: Build a Softie

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This spring I had the great joy of teaching a few Saturday sewing classes to some great girls and one of my favorite classes was our Build a Softie day. Last Sunday was Sew a Softie day around the world and while I’m a little late to the game I wanted to share this fun activity we did in our class. This is a great designing and sewing activity to fill these last, crazy hot days of summer before school starts up again.

First up, you will need to gather some supplies:
cotton fabric and felt scraps
trim, ribbon, ric rac etc
polyfill stuffing
scissors
chenille #22 needle
thread (I recommend either thin crochet thread or cotton perle embroidery floss size 5)
a needle threader (I highly recommend Loran needle threaders)
buttons for eyes
directions for making your pattern buildasoftie

How to Build a Softie:

Build a Softie Class

Using your Design a Softie sheet, first figure out what shape body you want your softie to have. Using a sheet of printer paper, draw out the shape of the body (make sure to draw it a little bigger than you want it to be. This is called adding a seam allowance – that’s the little bit of fabric that is in the inside where you sewed the two pieces together) Repeat this process for the legs, wings, arms and the rest of the body parts you want to include. Remembering ever time to draw your pattern pieces a little bigger than you want them to be. Cut out your paper pattern.

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Taking your fabric scraps and your paper pattern, cut out the pieces of your softie. Make sure you cut out 2 body parts (a front and a back), two wings, two arms/legs etc. For the ears I recommend using felt because it’s a bit stiffer and the ears will stand up by themselves.

Build a Softie Class
Build a Softie Class

Now decide if you want to add some trim to separate the head from the body. You can use ribbon, ric rac or even a strip of fabric. Pin this down to the front of your softie and take it to your sewing machine. If you know how to sew with a zig zag stitch, go ahead and sew this down with a wide zig zag straight down the middle of your trim piece. Repeat on the back of your softie (if you want).

Next up, decide what sort of face you want for your softie. Add some eyes, a nose or a beak and using a whipstitch or a running stitch sew these onto the front of your softie.

Now you need to sew your legs and arms. Match each leg up with it’s front and back with right sides facing (this means the backside of the fabric is showing). Sew a straight stitch on your sewing machine all the way around the sides – leave the top open. Check to make sure you don’t have any holes and once you’ve sewn all of them, flip them right side out. You might need to use a chopstick or a seam ripper to help you pull out all the edges.

Build a Softie Class

Now take your arms and legs and pin them in place to the right side of the front piece of your softie. They should each be laying inside. Put the back piece on top – with right sides facing – and pin it to the top.

Build a Softie Class

Sewing really slowly on your machine, sew a seam all around the outside of your softie. Make sure you leave an opening in the side for stuffing. I like to leave my hole on the side between the arm and the leg. Before you flip your softie right sides out, stick your hand in the hole and take out all the pins.

Build a Softie Class

Then flip him right side out and your arms and legs should flip out! Go ahead and start stuffing. And stuff and stuff and stuff!

Build a Softie Class

Sew up the hole with a whipstitch.

Build a Softie Class

And give your new little friend a big hug!

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Journal: Cultivating a presence

I started this blog as a way to journal, write and share what I was making when my nearly 10 year old daughter was an infant.
I wasn’t writing for comments.
I wasn’t writing because I wanted to link up.
I wasn’t posting because I wanted to get shared all over social media (social media wasn’t even a thing back then).
I just wrote because I needed to and I wanted to.

But then I started selling on Etsy and I started getting hits and the world of blogging exploded. It became a way to frame my day in order to be noticed. And I’ve got a thing with being noticed. That drive to be discovered soon overrode any other drive I had. I realized that I needed to start using my blog platform to help sell the things I was making. And eventually all I was doing was advertising. I upgraded my website, changed my logo a million times and tried to figure out how to use this space less as a journal and a space for me to frame my words and more as a space for me to show off my wares.
The words stopped flowing and as my space here sort of fell apart so did my life.

The last eighteen months has a story that isn’t quite ready to be shared, but these months have totally reframed my life and the idea of presence.

I have spent so much time grieving the past and trying to control the future so much that I have become exhausted with today.

And many of my today’s have worn me down.
But they have worn me down because I’ve been trying to cultivate something that isn’t me. I’ve been neglecting the margins in my life and I’ve been putting aside and ignoring all those things that used to give me space. I’ve jumped from one course to another thinking that it was going to be the thing that would make sense of everything and honestly nothing makes sense right now.

So I am doing the one thing that has always made sense – I’m picking up the scrambled words in my head and trying to lay them down.

To begin with bringing margin into my life, my Etsy shop is changing a little bit for the time being. I’m taking an extended break from any custom embroideries and embroidered shoe orders. It’s a pretty scary move for a lot of reasons, but I feel like it’s the right move. The shop will stay open, but for now it will only have downloadable embroidery patterns and finished hoop art that is ready to ship. I’m also taking a break from teaching sewing classes beyond a couple of adult Saturday classes (one in the Fall and one in the Spring).

I don’t know what this space will look like, but I am hoping to use it as a way to bring my focus back on today and life at hand.

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Wardrobe Architect 2: Defining a Core Style Part Two

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When it comes to defining a core style, the first task was to take a look at style icons I might have. This proved to be a bit challenging, but I pulled something together.  This second part of Defining a Core Style is all about actually putting together vision boards for different categories of my wardrobe. This wasn’t quite as hard.  Even though I’m only at the beginning of this whole wardrobe project, I can already tell how it’s making me really process the clothes I have, the clothes I’m drawn to and the ones that I think I want to buy (or the patterns I want to buy).

I have started a board over on Pinterest that has lots of clothing styles, patterns and more that I am drawn to so head on over and check that out for more visuals.

 

pjs

 

When it comes to pajamas and loungewear I like things loose. But if I’m being completely honest, I have a soon to be teenage boy in the house, so I’ve reached this point where I truly have to be conscious of what I’m wearing to bed. When it comes to pajamas, I’m not really a robe wearer, so I need to have at least some sort of tee that I can wear to cover up any sort of tank or something that I’m wearing to sleep in. I’ve never been a fancy pajama wearing gal, but I do like a nice, soft pair of pjs. No silk or satin for this chick. When it comes to activewear, I’m sort of in transition. If there’s one area of my wardrobe that is seriously in dire straights it’s this part. I recently cleaned out all my old, old tanks I was wearing to exercise in along with some old yoga pants. I don’t really do much more than going for good brisk walks and some yoga at home, so it’s not an area of my closet I need to spend tons of money on (oh…Lululemon I wish I could) so I’m really trying to be intentional about what I’m buying in regards to activewear. I prefer some loose fitting knit shorts, versus tight bike shorts and while I do like my pair of running tights, I wouldn’t say I’m totally comfortable in them.

 

casual

Next up is casual outfits. I’ve been a work at home mom for a while now and I do think that’s one reason why my wardrobe has suffered so greatly. The need for a great closet just hasn’t been there. But as I begin to realize that I’ve got few things to wear for church on Sundays and the realization that I’ll be doing some more formal teaching next year outside of my house, I need to really start building this area back up again. I love layers and could have a whole closet full of light cardigans. I like a loose flowing top and I’m just now starting to relax with the whole tunics and leggings thing (which means that people will probably stop wearing them). I used to be a big lover of wide leg pants, but I’m not sure if I still am or not. Colorwise, I’m pretty neutral. I’ve got auburn hair which makes creams, browns, blacks etc work best for me. While I like purple, it’s one of those colors I buy and then never wear. Grassy green is probably hands down my favorite.

 

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If I think that my casual closet is lacking, oh man. It’s the dressy closet that is almost nonexistant. It truly is the one area I really need to do the most planning and buying. I love a flowy long skirt, but I also love the 40-50s dresses too. I love the idea of these layered dresses, but honestly I don’t know if I could truly pull it off. Colorwise, I’m still pretty neutral.

 

outerwear copy

 

When it comes to outerwear, I really don’t wear that much. While I live in the South, the winter here can get chilly but not for months and months at a time. A good cozy coat is good enough. I pretty much live in my puffy vest in the Fall (layers!) and a good raincoat is pretty necessary too. As much as I think I like a good hoodie, that’s just not my gig really. Now, when it comes to color, this is an area I’m not all that neutral. I’ve currently got a bright blue winter coat and a very red raincoat. Not neutral at all.

 

So there it is. My core style. Next up I will be working through Exploring Shapes.

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Wardrobe Architect 2: Defining a Core Style Part One

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DEFINING A CORE STYLE

The next part of the Wardrobe Architect series is Defining your Core Style. I think this one was the hardest one for me to figure out. Even though I do enjoy sewing clothes, I’ve never been one to be enamored with fashion. I mean, I know what styles appeal to me, I’m figuring out what styles I might like but look horrible on me, but overall I’m not one of those girls that loves putting together outfits and accessories.

As I’ve pondered this next phase of this project though and sat with it more and more, I can definitely see where my style has changed as I’ve gotten older and how I’ve really begun to realize what enhances my body type and makes me feel good. I love this quote from Christine Haynes:

If you feel beautiful, you will look beautiful. If you feel confident, you will look confident. If you feel comfortable, you will look comfortable. It’s right there and so obvious, but somehow we often miss this basic lesson.

One of the first tasks with this part was to too think about your style icons. Honestly I had such a blank with this. Just like I’m not a big fashion person, I’m really not a big superstar lurker either. After searching Pinterest for a few days I finally narrowed down a few people that I’m always drawn to. Here’s my short list: Meg Ryan and Lauren Graham. Although it’s hard to figure out if I’m drawn more to their personalities (or rather those they play) or to their actual wardrobes. But ultimately I’ve always been drawn to the somewhat tom-boyish look, comfortable, not necessarily tailored sort of clothes. I love, love a good t-shirt more than anything and will pair it with as much as I can. But when it does come down to it, I do love a good,flowing skirt and a pretty dress.

style icons

The biggest question I’ve started to ask myself when I do see a style or pattern than I’m drawn to is: will I feel comfortable in that? I might be drawn to an actual line of something, but when I really look at the construction of the garment I know that there are certain ones that are super cute, but once I put them on I’ll ultimately feel blech.

Using the worksheet from Colette, here’s My Core Style.

When you are wearing your favorite clothing, how do you feel?
I feel confident, like I don’t even have to think about myself and relaxed and pretty.

When you’re wearing something that is not quite right, how do you feel? What are the feelings you want to avoid about the clothes you wear?
I feel awkward and all I want to do is get home and put something else on – and usually that means pajamas!
I feel generally uncomfortable and it often ruins the focus of what I’m doing because all I can think about is how awkward I feel.

Who do you consider to be your style icons? What is about them that appeals to you?
I love Meg Ryan and Lauren Graham and how simple their style is. It’s not all about crazy prints and patterns, but just simple fabrics and simple lines.
I also love Japanese sewing patterns and the look they create with layers of aprons, tunics and leggings and just everything about it.

What are some words that describe styles that you like in theory, but are not quite you?
As much as I’m drawn to the tom-boyish/boyfriend style, it’s not really who I am anymore. When I was in high school and college that was definitely more my style and what I felt good in. But as I’ve gotten older I’ve realized that I’ve really outgrown that. I like to think I’m traditional and preppy, but honestly I can’t stand a tailored skirt or styles like that actually on me.

Look over your answers from the first worksheet and list words that you associate with your answers.
Classy, easy, comfortable, layers, modest, tailored, loose, boyish, copycat, not independent, active, work at home mom, mom.

Are their other words you would like to add to this list?
Individualistic, calm, subdued, natural.

Look over the answers to all the questions above. If you had to narrow your list to only 3-5 words to describe you, which words would you use?
easy, modest, subdued, casual, natural

Next up a visual exercise. I’m working on collecting images that represent these words to me and hope to get that next post up soon.  If you are following along go ahead and create a pinterest board, a folder on your computer, a moodboard, or a collage with styles that speak to you. Be creative and have fun!

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Sewing: Part Review – Part Tutorial

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So my girl child has started swimming and she has been needing a good swim bag desperately. I looked around for something to buy and then I started looking into bag patterns. I found a tutorial that I thought would work and even better it had a built in “wet bag” so I went for it. I ordered some canvas cotton material and this past weekend I got to work.

This is the tutorial that I used. Now, the tutorial does mention that this bag is big. But honestly – this bag was big. Think Ikea bag. It was too much and I was so frustrated. I checked the dimensions on my cutting mat and it seemed like a good size, but really it was too large. I spent the next few days taking the bag back apart and today I shrunk it down and finished it up. I made a few modifications along the way so I thought I would share them.

This is the original bag. It’s really hard to tell how big it is, but there is a giant bag of fabric sitting inside of it – like a trashbag size bag. I’m telling you this bag was super big.

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REVIEWS AND CHANGES

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For fabric, I used a cotton canvas for the print and instead of using a nylon I used PUL fabric, which is mostly used for cloth diaper covers. I wanted to use something that was more waterproof than just nylon so I splurged and spent a little more money for that. The wet bag, the lining sides and the lining bottom are all with the PUL.

First off, here’s my dimensions:

front/back panels 20×18
side panels 18×7
bottom panel – after quilting cut 20×7

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For the bottom, I actually left it the original size from the first bag and decided to quilt it to make it a little more hefty on the bottom. I sandwiched a thin piece of batting between two layers of the canvas and just quilted lines about a half inch apart.

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I am super glad that I did this extra step because it gives the bag a good shape for the bottom. I kind of wish I would have quilted the sides too, but I’m not about to take this bag apart again!

Construction wise, the biggest change was how I did the bottom compared to the instructions.  The instructions tell you to stitch up the 4 panels and then sew the bottom on and then sew the last side together at the end. I tried that the first go round and it ended up super wonky. The second time, I sewed all the sides together, leaving me with a rectangular box shape and then sewed the bottom on starting with one of the short sides.

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I added a pocket on the other inside with sections. I decided to make a larger pocket with divided sections for her glasses, goggles and hair ties etc versus just one pocket.

So there we go. Honestly it was a great lesson in what I just wrote about for Seamwork Magazine. It was crazy how confident and powerful I felt after taking this thing apart that I’d super failed at and piecing it back together successfully. It was a great way to cap off the day.

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Embroidery: Custom Family Portrait

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I love stitching these little portraits, but the ones I love the most are the ones I get to stitch of people I know. This one is super special as it’s one of my closest friends. It’s always fun to figure out how to stitch hair, what sorts of clothes to put on them and just all the little details. In the end, it’s crazy to see what you can do with just needle and thread.

The whole crew:

The Flory Family 2016

The youngest kiddos:

The Flory Family 2016

The eldest kiddos:

The Flory Family 2016

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