Friday, November 30, 2012

quick sew

My Christmas sewing is all done, even though my sewing time has been replaced by Christmas wrapping/shopping/decorating/preparation lately. So today, since we had some down time, I opted out of cleaning my upstairs and cut out a few things instead. I didn't count on having time to sew them, but after cutting, my kids were happily occupied and I got to sit down and whip up a skirt! In the middle of the day! Rare.

I'm really happy with it. I picked up this knit and this pattern at the same sale at JoAnn recently. The stars aligned and matched fabric to pattern and it turned out just how I'd pictured it.
The pattern is McCall's 6654, which has several lengths of both straight skirts and flared skirts, all for knits. I used the pieces for the flared skirt, but I narrowed them quite a bit (though it's not as straight as the straight version) out of neccessity because I didn't have enough fabric. I'm glad I did, though, because I didn't want it super A-line, but I didn't want it totally straight either, so it worked out. It's perfect! I'm wearing it to dinner with my parents tonight; we're gonna go eat Mexican and listen to the live Mariachi band. The kids love it :)

I hope the nautical stripes/maxi skirt trend sticks around at least through next Summer!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Every year since '08 (wow!) I have made fabric ornaments to include with Christmas gifts. It's become a well-loved tradition! The first year, I think I made 6, the next 10 and last year I made 25! Although, I had a couple leftovers, so I've decided to cap it at 20. This year I wanted to avoid the turning and stuffing part and just try something different, so after much searching and waffling, I decided on these beautiful origami butterflies!

This is the half I have done, the others are waiting for their antennae and ribbons :) I used a combination of mostly Heather Bailey fabrics and Denise Schmidt fabrics that I already had scraps of in my stash. I used this tutorial, but since I needed mine bigger I cut my rectangles 4x6" and interfaced one side. I then hand tacked the antennae (which are cut from a "bridal spray" I found at Hobby Lobby) on with clear thread. I am very happy with how they're turning out, they look so pretty!

Here is a running list of my past handmade ornaments! Enjoy :)






I already have lots of ideas for future ornaments! The choosing is the hardest part ;)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

family self-portraits

We have gotten pretty used to taking our own family portraits. We like to do it here at our house, because it's where we like to be :) and because we are lucky enough to have some pretty spots right here in our own yard and because we can't seem to get it together enough to schedule a shoot around the weather, goose-eggs and holidays, ha! This year was made easier by the fact that my new camera works with the remote shutter my husband got me for Christmas a couple years ago, but that did not work with my old camera!

I am super happy with how they turned out and I ordered a bunch to include with family Christmas gifts yesterday!

 This next one is the one we ordered for gifts and cards, I love it!!

Another favorite:

Here are my self-portrait tips:
  • Scope out poses that you like online or on Pinterest. Here is my "photo inspiration" board if you want to check it out. 
  • If you're using a self-timer, know that you're going to need to get up and set it several times per pose--therefore, tell the kids to stay put! They usually want to see it right away and it only takes longer if everyone gets up and runs to the camera. 
  • Use the kids--my 5-year-old took the above photo of Casey and I. I got the settings right and she snapped away. I took the time recently to teach her how to focus on the right things and now she does awesome. (Just always be sure the child is wearing the camera's neck strap. Just in case ;)
  • Sitting poses are almost always better (I think this goes for all family portraits) because heads can be closer together and they're just more interesting. They also allow for better use of backdrops. A fence can be a cool backdrop, for example, but not if there's an ugly shed behind it, right where your heads are. Squat down, though, and all you see is fence. 
  • Teach your kids to smile. Ha! That sounds funny, but my kids had a tendency to smile weird for pictures, so we practiced before we took them this time. I also sometimes tell them to just laugh and that brings out a more natural smile too. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

we've gone vinyl

With some of my birthday money, I bought a record player. It's also a cassette, CD, MP3 player and radio, but what I really wanted was the record player! I've been wanting one for years because I have a few records from my childhood that I would love for the kids to love too.  I recently bought one from a friend's garage sale, but it didn't work. So, when I saw this one in the Target ad at an awesome sale price, I got super excited. Casey scoffed. He did not see the appeal. UNTIL.... today we were at Unique Thrift because we had some time to kill was Natalie was in ballet and he happened upon the 99 cent vinyl record shelf. Annnnnd went nuts. We got a bunch of records, Christmas, classical (Casey is crazy about classical music) and kids. Even some Scott Joplin and some Raffi Christmas! Awesome old-school stuff that yes, we could probably get on iTunes, but that are so much cooler on a record player!

I'm so happy, we've been listening to them all afternoon. So far, "The SwingleBells" are my favorite (okay, I just looked that up on Amazon to link it and it's $125)! What a find. And Casey conceded and told me "good call on the record player".

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Summer to Fall to Winter

I love turning my sewn Summer garments into outfits that work for Fall and Winter. The key is just to add layers. I may actually love certain pieces more when I discover I can switch them around and get more mileage out of them! Here are a few ways I've done this recently.

I made this Vogue dress last Spring. I liked it a lot when standing, but that interesting skirt yolk was not flattering at all when I sat down. Having had three babies, I do not need clothes that emphasize my lower belly, if ya know what I mean. (For the record, I do not do Spanx. In my opinion, if it's too tight to wear without suck-in-all-in undies, it's just too tight). Thus, I never wore it. UNTIL... I pulled it out and thought about what I could do to make it wearable because I really love the rayon knit and the print. I simply cut that lower yolk off and sewed the skirt back on. And loved it :) By that time, though, it was already Fall and too chilly to wear it as is. So last week, I grabbed a blue wrap cardigan I recently finished (never blogged, but it's the same pattern as this pink one I made) and layered the two.
 The following week, I grabbed a simple blue rayon sundress (also never blogged, whoops) that I made at the end of Summer. I layered it with a white sweater and tights and boots cause it was really snowy and cold on Sunday. Then, after church, I ditched the tights and put skinny jeans under it instead. I was really comfy all day.
I'm inspired to find more ways to stretch my wardrobe! I find that cardigans are invaluable for this concept, which is why I've made a few this season and just bought two yesterday at Target, because they're on sale for $15 this week, FYI! I got a gray one and a cute polka-dot green one. How do you adapt your handmade things?

Friday, November 9, 2012

making friends...

...with my new camera!! That's right, I recently bought a used Nikon D90 (on Amazon), several steps up from the D50 I've been using for several years. It's very exciting, especially since I've been taking a LOT of photos lately and the D50 had some limitations that I'd been subconsciously frustrated with for quite awhile. We are doing our new church directory in-house and I am taking all the pictures and also because I've been taking family pics for friends who want Christmas pictures, etc... I am learning SO much. Seriously, after each photo shoot I feel like I learned something new about the camera, about light, or about posing. And about people. Seeing people interact with the families and spouses truly shows me a delightful new side of people that I've gone to church with for years.

Anyway, I wanted to share a few of my favorites plus a few that I've taken that just really show off what awesome things this camera can do!!!

 Good ol' Colorado in the Fall ;) I was playing with the sun and water droplets. Cool!
 Yesterday I had a chance to play around with the camera's "picture control" settings. SUCH a cool feature. I can really customize how I want the camera to process the photos. I feel like getting this setting right will reduce post-editing quite a bit. This one was practically perfect right out of the camera after settling on the right picture controls, I did very little editing.

One of the coolest features of the Nikon D90 specifically is that it handles low-light situations way better than most. This one of Kelby and his new nightlight is good proof of that, look how little digital noise there is! My ISO was cranked and the shutter speed was sloooow. I CAN'T WAIT to take Christmas tree photos this year!!! :)
 Another great low-light shot. I turned 31 last weekend and Casey whisked me away to a hotel downtown, where we asked for the highest floor with a mountain view. Gorgeous. Sigh, I'm gonna miss Denver sooooo much.
If you're considering a DSLR, here are my suggestions.
  • First don't be afraid to buy used. I saved about a thousand dollars (for realz!) buying a used camera. 
  • Second, buy on Amazon, not on Craigslist. Amazon has a safe buying guarantee. If you never receive it, if it doesn't work, or if it breaks, Amazon handles that. Plus, most Amazon vendors offer warranties. If you buy it on Craigslist, get it home and find out something's wrong, you just flushed a chunk of money down the toilet and the seller really doesn't have to work with you. 
  • Third, invest in a nice lens. My nice 50mm fixed lens made my old camera take much better photos than it would have with the manufacturer's lens. Lenses can make a huge difference, so if money is limited, go for a slighter lower priced body and invest in a nice lens. 
  • Lastly, if you get a DSLR, learn to use the manual settings!!!! If that's not your thing, don't spend the money because the most expensive camera out there, set on auto, just won't get your money's worth for you. 

There are my tips! But I'm no pro. If anyone wants to add to that in the comments, feel free :)

Monday, November 5, 2012

One skirt, many ways

You may remember another post with this same title in recent months. I'm getting so much wear out of that yellow cord skirt, that I wanted to make another equally versatile skirt. I've had Cynthia Rowley's skirt pattern, Simplicity 2512, for at least a year, but was hesitant to try it because I didn't know how this silhouette would look on me. Due to some recent wadders, I went ahead and whipped up a quick muslin (gasp! I never make muslins) and was pleasantly surprised! I went ahead and cut it out in this purplish fabric someone gave me a few years ago. I love the texture in this fabric, it's a perfect weight for a skirt and I think it turned out great!

Here it is, worn four ways.

I didn't bother with shoes and my photos could have been better, but it's all I could do to document four changes of clothes, so it'll have to do!

I love that this skirt can be casual or classy. And the cute waistband shape and binding make it unique. Very happy with how it turned out!!