Monthly Archives

April 2013

Explore with Me: Mills Stream


It’s time for a new series here at Adirondack Inspired…

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I live in the Adirondack Park, the largest National Park in the United States.  I feel incredibly lucky to call this place my home, and that appreciation grows each year that I live here.  Raise a family here.

My children are still young enough to not really think about where they live.  It’s just home.  My son calls any store other than our local grocery store, a ‘far-away-store.’  And, sometimes, a reeeaaalllly-far-awaystore.  This is helpful when he sees some commercial for a random toy he thinks he’d like, or when he’s asking for a snack I don’t keep in the house.  “Oh, that’s at a far-away-store.  Right, Mom?”

Soon enough they will grow up, and while they may also fall in love with their hometown, first they will have that adolescent urge to leave.  To flee their hometown, easily dismissing it in lieu of  new far-away places that hold the same allure as the far-away-stores of their childhood.

But before they do, I want to explore as much of their playground of a backyard as possible.  To take advantage of the time where home is where Mama and Daddy are, and how could it be any other way…  If it is not meant to be part of their future, I want it deeply engrained as a part of their childhood.

So, without further ado, here is our first documented exploration.  It’s a little hike called Mills Stream, fit for those from one to ninety-two.  It is a little trail along side a stream boasting water falls and swimming pools.  A trail filled with climbing rocks, fallen logs, and woodpecker hideaways.  It’s the kind of trail you could walk every day, it’s more of a roam than a hike, and perfect for small children.

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Feel-better Sewing

After spending a number of fruitless hours on my last project, I needed something to make me feel a little more productive.  So my last two hours of Kids Clothing Week was spent sewing up two pairs of leggings.

I love making these.  They take very little time, and result in a very big wearable pay-off.  I drafted my own pattern from an existing pair, and had a new pair sewn up in no time.

The knit fabrics used were among the same bunch I picked up at a garage sale, they are mystery blends.  The purple is more interlock, the turquoise a bit thinner with more stretch.

The top was a dress I made last year, and a good example of why you wash your knits.  This baby shrunk BIG time.  It was a happy accident, though, because I love the tunic length.

Kids Clothing Week was a little fruitless for me this week.  We have a few big house projects going on, and the snow finally (mostly) melted, so we’ve been outside more than in.  I should probably try to sew more after the kids go to bed, but a night owl I will never be and a wine drinker I will always be.  (hint: wine + sewing = lots of seam ripping)

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Pants…with pockets and pin-tucks (oh my!)

So, yeah…I made some pants!  With some pockets.  And pin-tucks.  A first on both accounts.   The pants were a pretty simple sew, which makes no sense why it took so long to sew them up.   I’m hoping round two goes faster, which of course, it always does.

Let’s take a look at the process (and setbacks) shall we? ** Not included will be any child related mishaps, including a toddler who is obsessed with 1.) my pedal foot 2.) anything sharp and dangerous looking.**

1.) Traced the pattern on freezer paper.  The pattern sizes are differentiated not by color, but by coded series of dots and dashes.  This made me swear.

2.) Thought I’d cut out the pattern pieces while on the phone.  It took me three times as long, and I wound up with all back legs.  Multitasking is overrated.  Hung up the phone and cut out the correct pieces in about one-fifth of the original time.

3.) Figure out how to attach pocket lining and pocket bag (I rather love that term by the way…pocket bag).  This spacial/figuring out how things go, takes me awhile.  Spatial reasoning is not my strong suit.  When lost while driving I always have a gut feeling that I know which way I should drive, and it’s always wrong.  This anti-sense of direction also applies to sewing, it seems.   Attached pocket lining to wrong side, seam rip, re-sew.

4.) On to the back pockets.  Baste and turn 1/4″ around pants pocket perimeter.  Topstitch down.  Oops…did the process so that the wrong side of the fabric will be showing.  Seam rip!

4.) Realize I have no idea what seam allowance I’m supposed to use, sift through the front of the book (Sewing Clothes Kids Love) to find that seam allowances were not included.  Huh.  Oops.  This is not going to end well, but I’m going to continue anyway.

5.) Smooth sailing for a bit…

6.) Cut out waistband, realize I was supposed to cut it on fold.  Go grab fabric (again) and re-cut waistband.  For some reason, this is extra-annoying.

7.)  Interpret waistband directions (why are their no pictures, I miss my picture laden pdf patterns).  The waistband and waist don’t match up since I have no seam allowances.  Re-sew waistband size to fit.

8.)  Tack down the sides of the waistband to make it look like a flat front.  Decide this makes the back seem too bulky, rip those seams out.

Hmmm…well I guess there weren’t that many setbacks, although I’m sure I’m forgetting a couple.  But the first time I sew anything, I swear it takes three hours where one should do.  Looking forward to sewing these up again, in a much faster fashion.  Although, after using a pants pattern, I’m not sure it is more appealing than just drafting my own pants pattern from some well-fitting pants.  Especially for an elastic waist pair.  Although I was happy to learn the technique for a set-on waistband, as well as pockets.  And for learning the term ‘pocket bag.’

I went ahead with a little photo shoot, even knowing these pants won’t see the light of day.  A pretty blog post, but not much else.  And I’m all for full-disclosure, so these pants do not fit.  Wah waaaah.  They are really roomy through the leg, but the hips are tight and she busted a seam while wearing them just for photos.  I think I’ll try them on her younger brother, to see if they would fit someone that age a little better, or if the proportions are just all screwed up.   I still love how they look, with the linen and striped cotton accent fabric…

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 I love the contrasting fabric for the pockets lining.  I’m not sure how I feel about the pin-tucks, I just wanted to try them.  My husband called them ’70’s pants.’  In a good way, I think.

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The back pocket placement was a little odd…  Although I probably should probably try to re-sew the pattern properly before I make too many judgements.

Aww, look, she’s sad they don’t fit.

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Okay, she’s just sad that I made her take her shoes off in order to put the pants on.  Taking shoes off is the worst. thing. everrrrr.

Oooh, look pockets!  She did like this part…

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seven (Large)And I’ll end it with a smile, although smiling is not what I was doing at the end of this.

Has anyone else tried this pattern?  I did like learning a bit about pocket construction, and it is always a learning process, but in the end, I just prefer the free elastic waist pants pattern over at MADE.

If anyone out there have a simple pants pattern recommend, I’d love to try it!

**Linking up to Make-it-wear-it on The Train to Crazy**

Rain Pants (with a tutorial!)

This week is the week.  The Kids Clothes Week, a seasonal sewing challenge!  It’s a time to sew for the kids, setting aside an hour a day, for one week.  Easy enough, I’m IN!

Let’s begin…

The snow is finally giving up it’s hold on us, and the outside play results in a good bit of inside mud.  And a fair amount of extra laundry, too,  since when one pair of pants gets too wet or muddy, they are discarded on the porch and on goes the next pair.  So my first project was simple, rain pants for everyone!

First, draft a pattern!  Use your kids snowpants, since that will be sure to make them extra roomy enough to fit over any pants they are wearing.  I actually made mine extra-extra big so that they can have them for a few years, so big that I may have to take in the bottom leg on my daughter’s pair.  But, in general, you want them big and roomy, with an elastic waist and elastic cuffs, all of which makes them incredibly easy and forgiving to make.  Oh, and you want to use nylon or ripstop nylon fabric (water resistant yet breathable), heavy duty thread, and a heavy duty needle for this project!

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Next, place the straight leg of the pattern piece along the fold of the fabric.  Cut out two of these–and here are your pants!  Next, take some fold over elastic (FOE) for the cuffs.  Don’t bother measuring, using pins or anything remotely fancy, just take your entire roll of elastic, start a couple of stitches to get it going, put the needle in the down position to keep its place, then grab the elastic from the front and back to streeeettttch it out and sew it on, using the triple zig-zag stitch.  Stop at the end of the fabric and trim off excess elastic.

Here is a photo of the fold over elastic.  It is kind of like elastic single fold bias tape, you just sandwich the fabric in-between the crease and sew it up.

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After this step, your cuffs should look like this

DSC_0341 (Large)Next, put your fabric right sides together and pin and sew the crotch seams.  Then, line up those seams in the center, and pin and sew up one leg and down the other…

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legseams (Large)The final step is to add some fold over elastic around the waist.  Measure the waist, subtract two inches, and then add one back in to account for the seam allowance when you sew the elastic into a circle.  Then mark the elastic waistband and waist of the pants in fourth and pin together.  Sew the elastic waistband on by stretching out the elastic to match the width of the waist of the pants.

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When you go to sew, there will be slack like this…

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Now stretch it tight, as you sew between pins, like this…

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Here’s a shot of how to hold the elastic as you sew, stretching it in the front and back…

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And you’re done, try on your new rain pants and jump for joy.

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Now go out and enjoy a little Adirondack Spring-type weather, which looks a little like this at the moment…

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**Linking up to Make-it-wear-it on The Train to Crazy**

Spring, Adirondack Style

Spring in the Adirondacks is an unusual form of torture.  Those who move to the beautiful and reclusive Adirondack Park, only to find they can’t hack it, don’t leave because of our unusual proximity to dentists office and shopping malls.  They leave because no one told them that they would have to give up Spring.  (It’s in the contract.  Fine print.)

So, let’s take a look at what that means, shall we?

An Adirondack Morning, April 14, 2013

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Embroidered Toddler Tunic

I was all set not to do a lot of sewing this week.  To concentrate on some major de-cluttering/Spring cleaning instead.  And then the post-vacation blues set in, and I did 17 consecutive loads of laundry, and we’re still buried under a foot of snow, aaaand back to the sewing machine I went.  Somewhere in there was also a visit to Pinterest and visions of linen, and a memory of this post over at Purlbee.  And finally, although I wasn’t intending on sewing along with this week’s Project Run and Play challenge of all in the details, it just kind of all came together and had to happen.

I followed the gist of the tutorial over at Purlbee and made a simple rectangle tunic, but with dimensions to try to fit my almost-two-year-old.  I cut three rectangles, one for the bodice, and two for the skirt.

I used a little method I just learned for making sure I was cutting on-grain.  I tried to just tear the fabric, but it wouldn’t tear, so I pulled a string and–voila!  Perfect straight long.  I got a strange amount of thrill from this (obviously).  Behold…

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 Then I cut a toddler-head sized opening in one folded-over rectangle.  Except I really cut a hole fit for a six-year old.  Ugh…part of the appeal to this project was the simplicity pull-over-the head-no-closures feature.  But…I’m kind of wondering if that really exists.  Does anyone out there know a good method for achieving this?  Or a shirt/dress pattern (for wovens) that they love?  Share the love…

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The tutorial I was following hand sewed most of this tunic, which adds to the charm.  I was trying to whip it up a bit faster than that, but wound up spending a lot of quality time (again) with the seam ripper.  I got a little overconfident and wound up sewing right side to wrong side more than once.  There was a lot of dramatic sighing this night…

But once it was all together, I was pretty happy with it.  The actual shape isn’t great for a toddler shape.  I think the narrow-ish tunic would work better for the longer body of my four-year old.  And while I always knew I liked linen, I realized on this project that I actually love it.  I love that it is simple and earthy and quite Adirondack Inspired.

And once the tunic was complete, it was time for the details.  This is only my third embroidery attempt, but I’m very drawn to it.  My Mom used to do detailed cross-stitching when I was younger, and I think it left it’s mark on me.  I used a running stitch in blues and yellows for the top (I was dreaming of sunny skies…) and some scattered french knots on the bottom.

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She kept trying to pick them off…

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The original neck was huge, so I did little box pleats at the ‘sleeves’ (there are no real sleeves, it’s just a rectangle, remember).  This was the happiest accident I’ve had to date, I love this sweet effect!

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And here is where you can see the boxy effect on my petite girl.  I may make this again, but as a top.

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And that’s it…I’m off to search Pinterest for embroidery tutorials….oh the possibilities!

**linking up to Make It Wear It Thursdays on The Train to Crazy**

March Moments

A gathering of moments throughout the month of March.  The life that goes on around the sewing…

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How to Draft a Peter Pan Collar (for any pattern!)

So, it’s no secret that I love the Geranium Dress.  But lately I have been loving the vintage style little girl dresses.  The ones that hit mid-thigh and require little bloomers.  I love the silhouette because, well, it’s adorable.  Also, because the short length makes it easy for little girls to run, jump, and climb.  My youngest needs clothing that lets her keep up with her older siblings.

I also love peter pan collars.  For babies, toddlers, little girls, adults…they are pretty spectacular as far as collars go.  I did some googling to try to figure out how to do go about this.  Lucky for me, I found a fantastic tutorial by Gertie’s New Blog for Better Sewing (here!!).  It’s the jackpot of tutorials because it’s a three series video tutorial that walks you through how to draft a peter pan collar for your existing pattern.

I took photos along the way, but this is simply me following the basic gist of Gertie’s New Blog for Better Sewing methodology (except less precise).

First, take your pattern and line up the front and back pieces, making sure to account for the seam allowance at the shoulder seam.  The pencil lines are the seam allowances on the pattern.

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Next,  I marked out the width of the collar.  For my 18-24 month pattern, I made the collar about 1 1/4 inches.  I also marked where the buttonholes were on the pattern, and made sure I ended my collar before them, so they wouldn’t overlap back there.  So in this step, I have the width mapped out, the seam allowance for the stop, and the start and stop of the length of the collar.


The final step was to draw in my curve for the front and back of the pater pan collar, and add in then add in the seam allowance.  I free-handed it, but wish I had a french curve for this part of the process.   The finished proportions of the collar are shades, and the seam allowances are dashed.


Cut it out…and…voila, you have a peter pan collar pattern piece.  Hold it up to your pattern to see if it looks about right…

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The next steps aren’t photographed, but I cut out two of these pattern pieces for the two upper collars, then two slightly smaller for the under collars.  The gist here is that making the under collar a bit smaller than the upper collar will hide the seam.  I cut out some lightweight fusible interfacing to attach to the wrong side of the upper collars and then matched the lower seams up and sewed wrong sides together.  I turned them right side out, and pressed, and sandwiched the collar between the bodice and lining when it came time to sew them together per pattern directions.  Make sense?

The only other alteration to the pattern at this point, is I used one piece for the skirt, the full bolt width of fabric with one seam down the back.  I eyeballed the length to hit pretty short as I was going for that vintage vibe.

Oh–and the fabric!  It’s more fabric that I bought at a little fabric store while out of town.  I was thinking Easter dresses, and wanted to mix and match color or pattern a little bit.  I was drawn to this section of stripes and chevrons.  I love that the stripes aren’t uniform, they look a little like wood grain.  And who doesn’t love chevron right now?  Lucky for me, it is also this week’s theme at Project Run & Play, which gave me a little extra motivation to finish it this week, in the middle of packing, unpacking, and re-packing for our little Spring Break overnights.

I took photos early the next day, and since the dress was for my runs-from-the-camera toddler, I tried to ‘trick’ her by posing in a different room.  But I eventually propped her up in front of the chalkboard with a couple of crackers in hand.  Daddy helped.  So without further ado, here’s my take on the most addictive pattern to date…

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I love the silhouette of the dress, it’s shown perfectly below.  The collar is standing out a bit, which it doesn’t in real life, although I may tack it down with little stitches.  This is my first experience with peter pan collars, so I’m not sure if that is an actual thing people do, or if there is some other way to make sure it lays nicely.  Helpful tips are always (always!) appreciated in the comments, so fire away.L4 (Large)

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In the summer, this will be paired with little bloomers, but since it was in the 20’s with a windchill much lower than that, we paired it with jeans.  Versatility, check!

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And that’s it.  This was my favorite project to date, simply because of the thrill of drafting that little collar.  I don’t see myself as being much of a pattern drafter, I much prefer to use the patterns offered up by all the talented ladies out there, but it is nice to be able to add little touches like these when the desire hits.

The payoff is in the cute.

Want to see more cute ideas?  Follow me on Bloglovin!  Thanks!!

Aden & Anais Swaddling Blanket Refashion

In the exploding realm of baby ‘essentials’, there were new must-haves with each of my children.  I have three, and I had them in under a four-year span, so you wouldn’t think there would have been that much to come out in-between.  Of all the hot gear (bumbos! bouncy seats! miracle blankets!), I didn’t come across one of my most favorite items until pregnancy number three.

I read about the Aden & Anais muslin blankets somewhere within those last nine months, and at first I was skeptical.  They seemed a bit pricey for blankets, and didn’t I have dozens already?  What could be so special about these?  But the cute prints and positive comments won out, and I plunked down my credit card number one late night, probably while distracting myself from heartburn or some such thing.

And I’m so happy I did.  They are the perfect blanket.  Gauzy, softer with each wash, and generously sized, they have so many uses.  Swaddling (even in the summer)…check.  Impromptu burp cloth…check.  Nursing cover the baby won’t rip down…check.  I used them during an unbearably hot spell last summer for blankets for the older kids, when they were too hot for a blanket, but still want to be covered up.

I bought mine in a pack of four, but with all the laundry you do in the baby stage, I really didn’t have a need for all four of them.  As it turns out, my friend Amy agrees with me on this point, and asked if I could turn one of the blankets into burp cloths.  She also asked me to applique a heart on one of the corners, a la Delia Creates (check it out here).

So off to the sewing machine I went.  I wasn’t sure how to cut up the blanket, but the folding lines seemed to make good-sized burp cloths, so I just cut along those.  I didn’t measure or even cut all that carefully, I wanted this project to be quick and dirty so I could get them back to her asap.  Also: they are  burp cloths.

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I measured after cutting, and this very scientific method makes approximately 10″x20″ burp cloths.

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Some of the edges were already finished, but the ones that weren’t, I simply rolled over while sewing down.  Who needs pins?

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They make pretty thin little burp cloths, so this method works fine if you don’t have much of a spitter on your hands.  I sewed two of them together to make a thicker one, and I would use this method if your precious little spitter-upper needs extra absorbancy.  Here’s the finished stack–so gratifying!

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For the next little project,  I cut out a little fleece heart to applique on the corner of one blanket, so that when swaddled fully, the heart should be sweetly visible (like here).

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And so, the point of the story is that one night after dinner, you can use your magical sewing machine and speshul skillz to make a friend think you’re entirely more talented than you actually are.