When I’m not crafting…

…I’m probably gardening. My frequent long gaps in blogging this spring have been mostly due to me taking advantage of every scrap of nice weather to get outside, clear land, hoe, weed, lay a brick border, plant, and then tend to said plants. We had a couple of areas alongside our driveway that, according to the landlord, had been gardens at one time, but they were completely overgrown with grass and weeds. I dug all that out.

It only took me and Mr. Gren about 15 tries to get that arch to stay up. Sugar pumpkins planted at the base of the far side and cantaloupes (transplanted from my compost pile) planted at the near base. Also in these beds on either side of the walkway: zucchini, cucumber, nasturtiums, marigolds, tomatoes, and basil.

It only took me and Mr. Gren about 15 tries to get that arch to stay up. Sugar pumpkins planted at the base of the far side and cantaloupes (transplanted from my compost pile) planted at the near base. Also in the beds on the right side of the walkway: zucchini, nasturtiums, and marigolds.

To the left of the walkway are cucumbers, tomatoes, basil, and marigolds.

To the left of the walkway are cucumbers, tomatoes, basil, and marigolds.

Continuing down the driveway, four pots of cherry tomatoes

Continuing down the driveway, four pots of cherry tomatoes. There actually are plants in there, but they’re puny.

Another arch for field pumpkins at the upper end of the driveway.

Another arch for field pumpkins at the upper end of the driveway.

To the left of my field pumpkin arch: lettuce, rainbow carrots, finger carrots, beets, cabbage, onions, a variety of herbs (few of which have come up; I'll to try again), and nasturtiums.

To the left of my field pumpkin arch: lettuce, rainbow carrots, finger carrots, beets, cabbage, onions, a variety of herbs (few of which have come up; I’ll have to try again), and nasturtiums. Also, a mole hole. Also, also, please excuse my ugly assortment of boards and newspapers — I was killing weeds.

There was another little bed in the backyard that had been aggressively taken over by periwinkles and weeds. As nice as periwinkles are, they had to go before they encroached any further on the backyard. I dug each one of those out by hand, hand-tilled the dirt, and let the kids plant some flower seeds there.

Lots of little flower sprouts. I can't wait to see it in bloom!

Lots of little flower sprouts. I can’t wait to see it in bloom!

I cleared and dug out another small patch below our oak tree for peas and radishes that don’t mind the shade.

I was worried about the squirrels digging up this plot, but instead it has been the moles!

I was worried about the squirrels digging up this plot, but instead it has been the moles!

And I planted lots of flowers, both in pots and in established beds around the yard.

Some flowers in pots (none blooming yet), plus four more containers for pear tomatoes.

Some flowers in pots (none blooming yet), plus four more containers for pear tomatoes.

These were getting scorched on the front steps, so they got moved to the back deck. Represented are alyssum, freesia, impatiens, English daisies, and some others I'm forgetting.

These were getting scorched on the front steps, so they got moved to the back deck. Represented are alyssum, freesia, impatiens, English daisies, and some others I’m forgetting.

My success has been mixed. The squirrels found it great fun to dig up the bulbs and seeds in the pots on the steps or, finding nothing to their liking, just knocking over the entire little pot in a cascade of dirt. Moles are churning up my main flower bed where I had daffodils, freesias, and a mix of shade-tolerant flowers to the point where I’m not sure if anything is going to live long enough to bloom there. The moles have also come up through the radishes, in the middle of the yard, and over in my main garden amongst the cabbages and beets. It’s maddening.

Ok, moles, now it's getting personal.

Ok, moles, now it’s getting personal.

But enough about the varmints. I hope that in a few weeks, I’ll be able to post some “after” pictures with more flowers blooming and more vegetables beginning to grow. if I’m silent on here, you know where I am…

IMG_7725

Sweet alyssum

Another jam session

Summer is upon us in the Pacific Northwest! Actually, we’ve had an unusually nice June (kinda makes me wonder when the other shoe is going to drop) and the girls ditched their fleece jammies weeks ago. The problem was, they have outgrown the spring nightgowns that I made them. That was four years ago, so I suppose some growing is acceptable. {sigh} Kids. If they’re not messing up clothes, they’re growing out of them. Whatchagonnado?

Sew new pajamas, that’s what! I found this pattern from 1982 at a thrift store some time ago and snapped it up for Just Such An Occasion. After considering her options, Rana chose the babydoll set with the little top and bloomers.

IMG_7697

Simplicity 5949 from 1982

It was a cute pattern to work up and nothing overly tricky. The best part of all was that I had fabric in my stash that perfectly suited this little pajama set. It’s a white lightweight cotton with pastel stripes — another thrift store find that I’ve been hanging onto for years. In the pattern, the yoke of the babydoll top is cut on the same grain as the rest of the outfit. I didn’t feel like trying to match up all those skinny little stripes and have them still come out just off enough to make your eyes buggy. My solution was to cut the yoke on the cross-grain instead which sends the stripes running parallel. No matching involved and no buggy eyes. Win-win!

Ribbon shoulder ties and a sweet little ribbon rose below the yoke

Ribbon shoulder ties and a sweet little ribbon rose below the yoke

By sheer luck, the stripes on the little bloomers met just right and make me look like a genius. Thanks, stripes!

Of course I did that on purpose

Of course I did that on purpose!

On the inside of the bloomers, I sewed a little ribbon tag so that Rana could tell front from back. You can also see my French seam which I did on both garments. Rana tends to have some sensory issues when it comes to clothing and anything I can do to smooth things out and make it more comfortable is worth not having to listen to her cry and complain and eventually wear said clothing inside-out. Even though I’ve used French seams in many articles of clothing, I still have a momentary freakout when I begin sewing pieces right sides out, like I’m about to monumentally screw things up. I get a little neurotic about that.

Ooh la la

Ooh la la

And here is the full babydoll set, sans girl inside because, internet pervs.

Soft and cool for summer nights

Soft and cool for summer nights

Granota has told me that she prefers the full-length nightgown. I was hoping to make another stash bust for her, too, but I’m having trouble finding suitable fabric. I may have to break down and go buy something, but I hope not! We shall see…

Another picture afghan

Earlier this year, I mentioned having a couple of “commission” projects that I needed to get done before I could truly start on any of my own things. The first was making a Roman shade for a friend out of some sunflower fabric she had been hanging onto for years. It was my first go at making a window dressing more complicated than a rod pocket or tab-top curtain. I spent a lot of time reading tutorials and pondering the logistics of it. So that was January. When I finished up the shade (which I did not photograph, sorry), I immediately began working on an afghan for a friend whose canine companion of 14 years had just died right around Christmas. This wasn’t so much a commission as an idea for which I managed to convince some other friends to help fund me (not that they took much convincing — we were all heartbroken for our sweet friend, S, and wanted to do something to help lift her spirits). I presented my idea to them and the photograph I would use to make the afghan — a picture of S’s dog wearing a birthday party hat that she had posted on Facebook a few years ago. What a fun way to remember her little dog! I worked on this afghan everyday and felt like I couldn’t (shouldn’t) work on anything personal until it was done because I had a whole bunch of people counting on me, plus, I just wanted to get it to S as soon as possible.

I used a J Tunisian/afghan hook and Caron Simply Soft yarn; I like it for the sheen and the softness. Here are some “work in progress” pictures with the grand finale at the end.

A little weird and abstract at the beginning

A little weird and abstract at the beginning

Now it looks like a dog! 2/3 of the way done.

Now it looks like a dog! 2/3 of the way done with the picture.

All done and with a border on it!

All done and with a border on it!

I finished it late one night at the beginning of April and mailed it off the very next day. One of the other ladies contacted S’s husband to let him know that “a package” was coming and when it was to arrive so that he could grab it off the porch before S got home from work. He had agreed to video her opening it and then, with her permission, post it for all of us to see since we’re scattered all over the country. S had no idea that we had been doing any of this, so it was all a huge surprise. She was speechless! But she and her family loved the blanket and that totally made my day. I’m so glad I was able to make something so special for her.

Since then, I’ve been working like a maniac in the garden. Or rather, I made gardens out of overgrown patches of land along our driveway and cleared out another overgrown flower bed. I’ve just about got everything planted and I’m really feeling the itch to sew again, so there should be more consistency (I say. ha ha ha) coming up!

Blastoff to good dreams!

It’s cold in the basement at night and I always worry about Sprinkaan staying warm enough, even in his fleece footie pajamas. He had grown out of his infant sleepsack and I don’t like putting blankets on babies while they’re sleeping. Time for a new sleepsack!

The zippers I have for the infant sleepsacks aren’t long enough to go around the outside edge of the sack in a larger size, so I had to go with a center-zip design. I used a toddler’s jumper pattern for the top part of the sleepsack and the basic flared shape, just continuing then in a straight line to a couple inches past the length of the zipper. Like all my sleepsacks (some of which are for sale in my newly reopened etsy store), quilt batting is sandwiched between the print fabric and a white lining fabric. None of the zipper edges are exposed and all seams are encased.

IMG_6107

Putting in the lining takes a bit of thinking where everything is inside-out and twisted for awhile.

I found a super cute rocket ship fabric and bought just over a yard of it.

The zipper is 36″ long which makes the sleepsack pretty generous, lengthwise. I put two sets of snaps on the shoulder straps to accommodate future growth.

Snaps, zipper, and a fabric tab to keep the zipper pull from poking the baby in the neck.

Snaps, zipper, and a fabric tab to keep the zipper pull from poking the baby in the neck.

I’m seeing Sprinkaan using this to at least 3 years old, by which time he’ll be able to keep his covers on without suffocating himself.

IMG_6119Back when I made this (and took the pictures) Sprinkaan was not yet walking. He does walk now and, while I don’t put him in his sleepsack until he is in bed, he does toddle around his crib in it a bit. It pulls at his shoulders a little when he tries to walk in it, but doesn’t seem to trip him up too badly. When he gets older, he’ll learn how to put his feet in the corners and walk in it like his siblings do in their sleeping bags.

IMG_6120

Before his curls started growing, so this was around his first birthday in November.

IMG_6118

Konik’s gray sweater

After my last sweater attempt for Konik that turned out too small, I told him I would make him another sweater. I didn’t have the funds to go buy the fancy yarn I had used for the too-small sweater, but I was able to get some soft gray yarn for a different pattern that I thought might be easier to keep true to size. I made the smallest size written and… poor little Konik could swim in it.

It's going to be a few years before he can wear this

It’s going to be a few years before he can wear this

Looks pretty good flat

Looks pretty good flat

At the neckline there will eventually be large metal snaps. I haven't bought those yet and obviously there's no rush

At the neckline there will eventually be large metal snaps. I haven’t bought those yet and obviously there’s no rush

He's a good sport and still cute, even swimming in yarn.

He’s a good sport and still cute, even swimming in yarn.

Baby Easter romper

When Konik was Sprinkaan’s age, I made him a little suit coat and pants in blue and white seersucker and it was adorable. I looked at that pattern this year for Sprinkaan and I just wasn’t feeling it. Aside from the waistband on those little overall pants being a pain to put together I thought, soon enough and my baby will be wearing “big boy clothes” so why rush it? That’s why I chose to dress him in a baby outfit this year. Our babies stay babies for only so long.

This pattern (Simplicity 4243) was my go-to when friends had babies and I wanted to send a gift. Although it has been several years since I’ve used it, it was still somewhat familiar territory. I chose a robin’s egg blue poly-linen blend for the fabric. There is a zipper down the back and snaps around the inside of the legs. I chose the bear applique because Sprinkaan’s nickname is Little Bear and it’s a shape he recognizes. He probably would have preferred a car because that’s his Absolute Favorite Thing in the World, but alas, the applique selection was rather paltry. I didn’t get many good photos of him wearing his little one-piece suit because he was melting down after church.

IMG_7036

IMG_7105

He has changed a lot since last Easter!

Princess dresses

Last year, the girls were not overly happy at the pattern I had chosen for their Easter dresses. With no defined waistline, they said it felt like wearing a baby dress. They’re probably right. So in an effort to redeem myself, I let them choose their pattern and fabric this year. On the plus side, they were both happy. The downside is my girls have expensive tastes. Even after I reined them in a bit! Next year I’m going to have to tighten up the parameters a bit. The pattern was Butterick 3351 — definitely a flower girl dress. The girls chose different bodice views, in which the only real difference was the straps. The pattern itself was actually quite simple to sew. Nothing tricky or unusual, just a very basic dress. It’s the fabric that sets this one apart. Each of the dresses has a sheer overlay on the skirt. In the case of Granota’s dress, it’s a lace, whereas Rana’s is just a sheer fabric with sparkles (we can always tell where she has been when she wears this dress; the trail of sparkles attests to her presence).

IMG_7028  IMG_7029 IMG_7022 IMG_7024 You may notice that Granota’s skirt is a bit fuller. She requested a “foof” to go underneath it. That’s a petticoat to the rest of us. I don’t have pictures of just the petticoat, but I used Sugardale’s tutorial and a soft nylon mesh. Rana didn’t like the idea of a foof, so I didn’t make her one. Since it is still a bit chilly here in the Pacific Northwest at Eastertime, the girls were concerned that they would be cold in their sleeveless dresses, and wearing a big coat over them just wouldn’t be right. I suggested little shawls because I am a glutton for punishment care about my children’s comfort. So in addition to sewing four Easter outfits, I was also crocheting two shrugs.

IMG_7030 IMG_7031 IMG_7025 IMG_7027 Granota’s shawl was from a book I have here at home. Rana’s was from a pattern I found online that I am too lazy to find again (I think it was off of the Red Heart site). Two more happy kids at Easter!