Thursday, April 26, 2012

Tutorial: Personalized Kid Pants

This week is Kids Clothes Week Challenge over at Elsie Marley's blog.   So what is KCWC?  It's an open challenge to her readers to sew one hour a day, each day for 7 days.  The end result should be new clothes for the kiddies. 


This week has been super busy for me so I don't really have too much to show for...  except some fabulous pants for my little man.

Here's how I did it: 

First I cut out two sides of the pants in denim fabric.  There's a ton of tutorials and patterns on how to sew pants.  Just search on "tutorial toddler pants" and you'll find a ton.  I find that it's hard to fit my son with store bought pants becuase he has a baby budha tummy and a baby budha bum.  Pants that fit his belly/bum are way too big for the rest of him.   I traced a pattern from a pair of pants that fit him well.

I printed out the letter "M" off of my computer and matched the size to the pants.  Then I ironed on some interfacing to the wrong side of the applique fabric.  I traced the "M", cut it out, and glued it onto the pants leg approx 2.5" from the bottom fold.  I appliqued using brown thread. 

Then of course I had to put a label on it:

Here's my little guy at Indigo/Chapters

I love how the applique matches his shoes

Too bad the Government of Canada doesn't host something like KCWC.  Maybe I'd file early!!

Happy Sewing!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Vote Now: Spring Top Week!

I am beyond excited right now!  

Last week before my iron broke, I sewed a top and entered it into Made by Rae's Spring Top Sewalong.  I just wanted to do a little selfish sewing since I haven't made anything for myself in about 2 years.  

So... I made this Wiksten Tank:

Blogged about it here and submitted this picture:

And didn't except anything until I got an email from the amazing Rae herself 30 min ago.  My top was chosen to go to the next round of voting!  Yippee!!!!

So, if you would like to vote for my top (me me me :o)) or another lovely top, please visit Rae's site here.  Voting is open from now (April 25 to Friday April 27th at 12pm EST).  My tank is "The Wiksten" or letter "M".


I would really like to win for bragging rights.  When I modeled the tank for my lovely family, hubby told me not to wear it in public, 3 year old said "ew", and 1 yeard old said "no no!".  I need to prove them wrong!!!


Happy sewing!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Happy 1st Anniversary!

Today is my 1 year anniversary for my ETSY shop.   Wow does time fly by fast!
I can remember putting up 5 items for sale and then jumping for joy when I got my first order.   When I got my 100th sale in December, I think I jumped up and down too!

I started selling toy leashes and over time, I began to add  new items to my shop:  stroller bag, mini wallet, toddler backpack, wrist wallet, and nursing covers.  Everything I design has been inspired by my two little ones, tested by myself, friends, and my kids.

Along the way, I learned a lot.  I was featured in some blogs, been in Chatelaine two times, and was interviewed by a radio station in Calgary (still awaiting the air date).  I met some very nice people through ETSY and Blogging.  I started a Facebook page for fun, got confused by Twitter, and got addicted to Pinterest.

I started this blog as a way to document my time at home with the boys and it turned into the mish mash that it is today:  stuff about the kids, stuff that I make for fun, and stuff I make for my shop.  

I have to give kudos to my super awesome hubby.  He listens to me go on and on about my shop, designed all my graphics, and is my sounding board.  Here are some of the things he designed:

He made me this banner to encourage me to apply for a craft show.

He also designed my product labels

All in all, it's been a lot of fun!

For those of you who are thinking of opening an ETSY shop or currently have one, here are some tips that worked for me:

  1. Create a business plan - even a loosely defined business plan will help keep you on track
  2. Know your audience - Who do you intend to sell to?  I make products that appeal to parents who want handmade and unique items that are functional AND stylish.
  3. Pricing - do the math based on your expenses and see what similar items may be selling for in the marketplace.  Make sure you know who your competition is.  In the handmade market, it's not the big box stores.
  4. Customer service - be on top of your orders and communicate communicate with your customers.  If your order is going to be late, tell them. 
  5. Create continuity in your brand image.  When you sell on ETSY, it's easy to open up a shop but creating and maintaining consistent look for all of your branding is important.  This means consistency with your web banner, marketing graphics, facebook/twitter/social media pages, physical packaging, etc.... the list goes on an on.  
  6. Know your limitations - I can't work on my shop full time as I have 2 kiddies under 3.5 years old.  I could work on my shop during their naptimes but not without burning out myself.  I keep a small number of items in my shop (30) instead of shooting for 100.  I also have a ton of products I could add to the shop but have chosen to focus on a small few.
  7. Support Team - you can't always do it alone so enlist help.  Hubby is my shop "helper" but family helps too by watching my kids once in a while, or by purchasing fabric for me when they are out shopping.
  8. Take care of the business end - not just the crafting end.  This means, keep your receipts, track $ going in and $ going out.   
  9. Know your SEO - it's inevitable... you need to use words to describe your product in a way that moves you up in search engine results.  After all your hard work, you want your SEO words to bring your shop to the first page of a google search, not the 20th page.
  10. Enjoy it - it's hard work but have a good time doing it.  This is your chance to get a small taste of running your own business so learn what you can!

Happy Sewing... back tomorrow!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Thrift Store Finds

On my way to get my new iron, the kids and I stopped off at the Salvation Army to check out the goods.   They were pretty amused by some of the tackier things but I was hoping to find a chair to upholster (yes... I know I still have to start/finish the other one...).   As I was walking in, I thought I had found it but the guy carrying it wasn't an employee - he just bought it.

No matter, we had fun looking around.  We found some vintage sewing machines and the one at the bottom left looks just like the one I grew up with.

I also saw these two dress forms.   Fred Flinstone is sitting on the couch.

Hubby zoned in on this hairdryer.  Looks like all of our moms had one of these in the 70s? 

Last but not least, check out this bolt of jersey.  I didn't measure what was on it but for $24, you get a brand new bolt of grey jersey.  I have no idea how much fabric was wrapped up but I'm guessing that it's more than 24m.  What a steal!

I left empty handed... resisted the urge to sanitize my kids... and went on to buy my new iron.  I'll have to come back again for the chair -  maybe after I'm done with the one I already have.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

No Iron = No Sewing = Breaktime!

This week my iron broke right after I completed this top for Made by Rae's 2012 Spring Top Sewalong.   This is the second iron that I have "broken" and I have no idea how I did it.   I think it may have been overused??   After I got over the shock of not having an iron to use, I decided to take a break from sewing.   A five day break.  That's the longest I've been without my sewing machine!!

So what did I do?

1.  Tried to do my taxes (bang head on table...)

2.  Went to Fabricland with my mom.   I love shopping for fabric.  It's very calming for me - except when I get hyper because I find things I really like.   Fabricland was having an anniversary sale so I stocked up on basic necessities like fabric pens, thread, zippers, piping, interfacing, etc.  I also purchased some fabric for the chair that is currently sitting in my basement, waiting to be refinished.   Earlier this month, I was having problems deciding between 2 fabrics to use but in the end, I decided to go with the white. 

Here it is draped over the chair.  Messy messy room!

 3.  Enjoyed the nice weather outdoors with the kiddies

4.  Visit a flower shop to get some flowers

5.  Start AND Finish the Hunger Games Trilogy.   I can now see why people are so obsessed with the books.  I actually re-read the Hunger Games because I enjoyed it so much. 
And that's pretty much it!  It was a nice break... got my new iron on Saturday!  Break time is over!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Spring Top Week

Update April 25, 2012:  My top was chosen as one of the round 4 tops!!!!  If you have a moment to vote, please do so here!



Every year I follow Made by Rae's Spring Top Week to get some inspiration for some spring/summer sewing.  This year, I decided to actually make something for me. The last time I sewed clothes for myself was in 2009.  I was on my first maternity leave and I made a ruffle top using this tutorial.  I have no idea what happened to that top but I do remember how much fun it was to make.

With not a lot of time to design my own pattern, I purchased a PDF download from Wiksten.   It was really easy to print out the PDF and tape it all together.  I just needed to keep the kids away from it long it enough to cut it out to my size.  (Note:  Follow the size recommendation.  I resisted the urge to cut a Medium and went with XS.  I am not an XS but this top fits!)

For my first try, I used an old men's shirt for the fabric.  I didn't want to use up any "good" fabric if the pattern didn't work out.  There was a wee stain on the shirt so I used the back of the shirt for the front and the front for the back.  I strayed from the instructions and used a grey bias tape to bind it all up.  The original shirt was so boring and this added a little pop of colour.  I also changed the pocket and pocket placement.   Not bad but this shirt wouldn't stay unwrinkled, even after steam ironing it.  The fit was good... it's nice to make a flowy top that doesn't make you look pregnant.

For my second try, I went to my stash and chose the Ginger Blossom line by Sandi Henderson from Michael Miller.

Although the pattern calls for more fabric, I was able to get away with using 1M of fabric and making my own bias strips.

I decided not to do a pocket since I would never use one.    This is what it looks like finished.  Maybe it's a little loud, but underneath a cardigan, it's just the right splash of colour for spring.

Happy Sewing,

Thursday, April 12, 2012

My New Dress Form

Here's a pic of my new dress form (thanks Mom!).  It's really more of a decorative piece than a functioning dress form.   I don't care though... I love it!!  I'm sure hubby was thrilled to see me smuggle this into my trunk and bring it home. 

Looks very stylin' with a scarf

Sigh... must hide dress form from curious toddler.  

Off to start sewing something for moi!!!

Sunday, April 08, 2012

The Hunt is On!!

Hope everyone is having a nice Easter.  This is the first year that we could actually do a proper Easter egg hunt.  The kids were too little last year to really enjoy it, but this year, we had a full on egg hunt.   My sister organized a really big one at my mom's house yesterday.  The kids were so excited that they were up until 10pm at night.  Best of all, they came home with goodies so they decided they wanted to hide the eggs again today at our house.

After we played Easter egg hunt all over the house, we went outside and did it all over again.  This time, the kids took turn hiding the eggs.

Enjoy the rest of Easter Weekend!

Friday, April 06, 2012

Happy Easter Cookies

Easter Cookies! Well, maybe they are just "spring" cookies. The kids and I made these this week to get ready for our Easter Weekend. Baking and Icing cookies with a pre-schooler and toddler was way more involved than I thought it would be. Joshie and I baked together all the time but it was just the two of us. No one tugging on my pants yelling "mine" or demanding to touch everything. The addition of baby bunny to our baking party meant lots of flour and stuff on the floor.

We made the cookies using this sugar cookie recipe.   I doubled all of the ingredients so we would have enough cookies to share.  Whenever I am short on time, I go back to this recipe because it's easy (all the ingredients are always in my pantry) and mixing the dough takes about 5 minutes.

So easy!

Here are the cookies READY to be iced.  Baby Bunny knows some words but it's funny how he's figured out very quickly to say "one coogie" and "just one". 

Now to the fun part... which is decorating the cookies with Royal Icing (recipe adapted from

1.5 TBSP Meringue Powder
2 Cups Icing Sugar
3 TBSP warm water
Food colouring

1.  Beat all ingredients until peaks form (approx 10 min)
2.  Separate into individual batches and add 1-2 drops food colouring

I always test it first on the back of a spoon.  If it hardens within an hour, then I know I did it right.

Joshie was patiently waiting for his turn to stir the icing.  Meanwhile, Baby Bunny was running around the house with sugar on his face!

Remember, don't add too much food colouring at once.  Try it one drop at a time.

Ready to start icing!!

We made all kinds of shapes.  The eggs were the most popular followed by the bunnies.  Unfortunately I made the blue icing too runny so our bunny's have masks over their eyes.  Next time I will forgo the icing.  The kids loved the cookies when they were un-iced but the minute the icing sugar came out, they just wanted to lick the cookie.

Now to get ready for our easter egg hunt!

Happy Easter!