Iris Turns 3 - and a Scooby Doo Birthday Party

Right now my kids are big-time fans of Scooby Doo.  Whenever we have a movie night, they always choose to watch Scooby.  Every time.  Iris is particularly obsessed.  She's at that age where she has the most incredible imagination and it makes everything pretty magical.  This summer when we dropped the kids off at summer school, we didn't drive our mini-van.  Nope, it was the Mystery Machine.  And when we left the school, we always had to be sure that each member of the Scooby gang was buckled in.  Iris would ask : "Are you buckled in, Freddy?" and so on.  (Thankfully, her invisible friends buckled up quickly, unlike three year old Jude's invisible pal 'Jude' who took f o r e v e r.)

So the kids thought it would be a great idea to have a Scooby Doo party for Iris' birthday.   Not just any party, though, a Scooby costume party.

iris' bday iris' bday 

The brainstorming continued and they decided that we must also decorate our house to make it like a Scooby Doo haunted house.  We don't like to do anything too creepy so we stuck with cobwebs and spiders.

iris' bday iris' bday

It worked out great with Halloween right around the corner.  They'll wear the costumes again then and we'll also leave up all those decorations, too.  Dual-purpose.  I like it!

iris' party iris' party iris' party

I didn't make any of their costumes this year.  I went all out last year, so I took this year off.  :) These costumes all came from Amazon.

Iris took her role as Scooby veeery seriously.

iris' party iris' party 

Dan's brother, Josh, was in Texas on a business trip.  He rented a car and drove two hours out of his way to see us!  Not only was he game for dressing up as a Scooby character, but he also jumped right in to help with the party.  He made hamburgers and grilled with Dan.  He played pin the tag on Scooby with the kids as well as Hide-and-Seek.  He let Iris stamp him with her Scooby stamps.  He talked legos and model airplanes with Jude.  He's an engineer and has his pilot's license.  Not only can he fly planes but he has even built one!  Jude was totally in awe of him.

iris' bday

We all enjoyed seeing Josh so much!  He is such a great person and it's so fun to see Dan and him together.  They're both so witty - I think I was laughing most of the time!

iris' bday

The kids and I have a tradition of frosting the cake right before we sing Happy Birthday.  The birthday kid and I make the frosting together.  It's something they really love and look forward to, even though it's such a small thing.  It ended up getting late on Iris' birthday so we asked if she wanted to do her cake the next day.  Which, of course meant the party would continue for one more day.  She liked that idea.

iris' party 

 The next day she wore her Scooby costume the entire day.  It was so cute.

iris' bday

Then we finally frosted that cake.

iris' bday iris' bday

(Those are graham cracker Scooby snacks.) 

 While we were making the frosting, Iris accidentally spilled vanilla on her Scooby costume, so she put on a sparkly headband and called it good.

Iris' bday 

 Of course, we did have to wash the costume immediately so she could wear it again the following day.

iris' bday 

 While I took this photo of Iris, Indigo put her mustache on Hazel.  It reminded me of this.

iris' bday

Oh, I've got my hands full with these guys, all right!  But my heart's full, too.  ;)


Celebrating Baby {Free} Newborn Gown Pattern and Tutorial

Well, guys, I finally finished it - my newborn gown pattern!  I hope you like it as much as I do!  I believe that babies should be celebrated.  So I created this pattern to help you celebrate your baby - or your friends' babies - with a newborn gown!

You'll need:
-the pattern (at the bottom of this post)
-1 yard of medium weight knit fabric
-Ball point needle
-16 inches of 1/2" elastic
-100% polyester thread or stretch thread

You will need to cut several binding strips.  Be sure to cut them in the direction of the stretch.
I would recommend a thinner knit (instead of a heavier ribbing) for these strips.  I often like to use the same knit as my main fabric.  If you'd like more info on cutting binding strips for knits, check out this post.

-One 1.5" long x 9.5"wide strip of knit fabric for the front binding
-One 1.5" long x 9 inch wide strip of knit fabric for the back binding

If you would like to use bias binding on the sleeves you will also need:
-Two 1.5" long x 6.5" wide strips

Or you can hem the sleeves.

Double needle
Stretch Thread
(Rae wrote a fantastic post about stretch thread here.)

A few things, before getting started:

-After you print the pattern, be sure that the 1 inch box on page one measures at 1 inch.

-Tape the pattern together so the lines at the top and bottom of each page overlap.  Trim away the paper above or below the line.

-If using a double needle with stretch thread I would recommend using a size 4,0/80 not a 2,0/80.  I had a lot of trouble with my thread getting tangled using the 2,0/80.  I like to use this double stretch needle.

-Using a double needle is actually very simple.  Here's a great tutorial on how to do it.

-Be sure to prewash and machine dry your knit fabric before use.  Knit fabric shrinks quite a lot, so don't skip this step!

-When sewing with knits using a straight stitch (with stretch thread) or a double needle, I like to increase my stitch length to between 3.2-3.8.

-I start sewing about 1/4"-1/2" away from the fabric edge and then backstitch to the edge, otherwise I find that my machine eats my knit fabric, pulling it down into the needle plate.  

-I like to use polyester thread for all of my seams (the side seams and the sleeve seams) and stretch thread for the bindings and the hem.  If you only have polyester thread, that's fine too!  I've made six with polyester thread only, without any problems.  100% cotton thread is more prone to breakage.

All seam allowances are 1/4" unless otherwise noted.


We'll start by sewing on all of the bindings, both to the front and back necklines and the sleeves (if you are using the bindings on the sleeves).  If you plan to hem the sleeves, you'll do that at the end.  :)

Pin the right side of the binding strip to the wrong side of  fabric, once at each end and once in the middle.  Add additional pins as needed.

Then sew with a 1/4" seam allowance.

Press the binding strip up.

Turn to the right side and fold the raw edge by 3/8".  Press.

Fold the pressed edge over, covering your stitching line.  Edgestitch.

(Since I was using stretch thread, I sewed the bindings on with a longish (3.2) straight stitch.  The truth is, though, I have made 6 of these gowns without using stretch thread and have used a longer straight stitch on all of them without any problems after two months of wear.  Technically speaking, though, you would use a double needle for this step.)

Place the back gown piece on top of the front gown piece, overlapping the two pieces between the lines you marked, as indicated on the pattern pieces.  Pin and then baste.

Fold the gown onto itself to find the center point at the shoulder.  Mark this point.

Match the center point of your sleeve to the center point on the shoulder.  If you forgot to mark the center point, just fold the sleeve in half to find it.  Pin, right sides together, at the center and the two ends first.  Then add more pins as needed.

Sew on the sleeve.  Repeat with the other sleeve.

After your sleeves are sewn on you will sew your gown sleeve and side seams.  Turn the gown onto itself, right sides together.  Pin, matching sleeve bindings, if applicable, and side seams.  (Sometimes knit fabric will shift a little during cutting and the gown might be slightly off at the bottom edge.  If this happens, just trim the edge so it's even.)

Then sew the seam in one fell swoop, from the sleeve edge all the way down to the bottom edge.  I use a stretch stitch for this step.  A narrow zigzag stitch (.5 mm in width and 2.5-3.0 in length is often suggested) would work, too.

If your seam gets wavy at this step (or ever) just press it really well with a hot iron and that should take care of it!

Press the bottom edge of gown up 1" to form a hem casing.  Since knits do not fray, I choose not to finish my raw edge.  The double needle (or zigzag stitch) gives it a finished looked.

Stitch using a straight stitch with a double needle, a stretch stitch or a zig zag stitch, using a 6/8" seam allowance.   Leave 1-2" open to insert the elastic.

When not using stretch thread, I found my hem broke once when sewn with a double needle, but not when sewn with a zigzag stitch.  When sewing the hem with a zigzag stitch, I stretched the fabric slightly as I went.  Given the hem casing is gathered by elastic, I felt the zigzag stitch still resulted in a nice finish.  I would recommend this method, if not using stretch thread.

Thread your 16" piece of elastic through the casing.  Stitch the elastic together securely.  Then stitch the opening on the hem casing closed.

If you are choosing to hem your sleeves, do so now.  Press the sleeve edges to the wrong side by 1/2".  Then hem them use a 3/8" seam allowance using your preferred method.

And there you have it!  Your finished newborn gown!

When printing the pattern make sure your page size is set to 'Letter' and that 'Fit to Page' is NOT checked.


Hazel is Two Months Old!

Last weekend Hazel turned 2 months old.

hazel - two months old

I am still loving the Boba wrap.  This thing is worth its weight in gold.  I use it all the time.  The key is to wrap it really tight before you put the baby in, so the baby stays high and secure.

wrapped in love :) 
(flower from Tia )

We own a bouncy seat and a baby swing and both are basically collecting dust because this girl is always in arms.  Not only mine, but also those of her siblings.  She might very well be the most doted on baby around.


It's a curious thing how easily the kids have adapted to having a new baby in the house.  I can tell you when Indigo was a baby, this was so not the case for Jude.  He did not approve.  Baby Indigo would be sitting up playing with a block or two and he'd walk by and give her small shove, just enough to knock her off kilter.  She'd teeter from side to side before finally toppling over... kind of like a bowling pin.  Now those two are the best of friends and Jude even complains about being 'lonely' if the girls are gone for an hour or two.


It would've been nice to know this back when Jude thought we had ruined his life.  :)

my laundry companion
my laundry folding companion

After we adopted Tia, Indigo also had some bouts of jealousy, but it was a much easier transition than it had been going from 1 to 2.  I'd say each transition has been easier than the last.


This time, the kids are like,"The more the merrier!".  Heck, I'm pretty sure they see Hazel as their very own (live) baby doll.

little buddy

Sometimes I even have to remind Iris to be a little less, shall we say 'enthusiastic' in her demonstrative affections toward her new baby sister.


For awhile now I had been wanting to get a photo of Hazel's hairstyle a la Dr Seuss.

hazey's dr seuss hair

I just love it so much, but was having a hard time capturing it on camera.  Finally, Dan did it for me.

hazel - two months

Oh I can't tell you how thankful I am to have our Hazel.

hazel - two months

We've had easy days.


And we've had our harder ones (and not always just with Hazel). :)

baking gone bad

Through it all, I'm overwhelmed with gratitude for the gift that she is to all of us.  Really, there's not a day that goes by that I don't feel that.  When Hazel smiles back at me with her big toothless grin or stares at me with those saucer eyes, my heart nearly bursts.


I'm so thankful for all of them.



Two Hemlock Tops and a Magnolia Skirt

Prior to a year or so ago, I was hugely intimidated by sewing with knits.  I had some not so great experiences with some not so great fabrics so for years I shied away from them.  My close friend, Heather, would tell me about her latest knit creations which were always amazing.  She'd encourage me to give them another try.  I would gently remind her that I don't sew knits.

handmade nest

It wasn't until I couldn't find leggings in the colors and stripes that I wanted that I decided to give knits another go.  I started with the Sunki leggings pattern - a very good place to start, to quote The Sound of Music.  I slowly worked up the courage to try a few more things.   Now, I'm hooked.


Knits are relatively simple to work with, actually.  They don't fray, so there's no need to finish the seams and you don't have to worry about back closures like zippers or buttons.  I've been having really great luck with stretch thread.   So far, no broken hems.  This time I decided to really live on the edge and not use my double needle, to test if stretch thread is stretchy enough to handle hemming with a single needle and straight stitch.  I'll report back on that!

sisterly love 

I have to admit, while I have tried sewing t-shirts, in the end I just couldn't get jazzed enough about them to move them to the top of my sewing priority list.  But when Heidi of Elegance and Elephants sent me her patterns for her pattern tour, I couldn't wait to try the Hemlock Top.

crazy kids

I love the ruffled sleeve and I particularly like the look of this top when sewed so it looks like there's a t-shirt underneath.

hemlock top 

This pattern was easy to sew and came together in a naptime - not a long one, either!  You can't argue with that!

tia's hemlock t

The pattern neckband was too short for the knits I was using.  If the neckband is too short, you will have to pull it so it's very tight in order to make it fit and that causes the neckband to gather the shirt fabric.  I re-cut the neckband so it was 1 1/2 inches shorter than the shirt neckline.  That seemed about right.


 Based on the girls' measurements, I cut a size 6 for Indigo (who's 7 1/2) but added the length of the size 9.  On the sleeves I add the size 9 length plus one inch and it was perfect.

indigo's moves 

For Tia I cut the size 4 and I wish I would have added a little more length to the sleeves, but otherwise, it seems like a good fit.

indigo's moves 

For Indigo's top I used this fabric.  I'm so excited about all of the awesome, quality knit fabrics coming out lately.

hemlock top/magnolia skirt

For Tia's I tried this bamboo rayon.  It was kind of silky and really smooshy and I like it but I have this feeling it might run.  I'm not sure.  I'll report back on that, too.  Call me a one-trick pony, but I couldn't resist sewing up another white with black dots + mustard combo (my previous ones are here and here).

hemlock top

Even Indigo informed me that three was enough.  I'm becoming a little too predictable, apparently.

Iris and Tia 

So about that rayon.  I sewed a Magnolia skirt for Tia in a tealish rayon and the drape of the rayon was not working.  It reminded me of an 80's prom dress.  The 80's may be back, but this most certainly was not.  Also Tia was swimming in it.  Well, you win some, you lose some.  So Tia's wearing some linen pants I made here.

I feel ya, T!
I don't know either, T!  :)

For Indigo's skirt, I sewed a size 9 length and size 5 width and I think it changed the shape of the skirt somewhat?  This is more of a tulip shape, which Indigo really loved, but just an FYI that I don't know if it was supposed to look like this exactly.

magnolia skirt/hemlock top

I had planned to take photos of just Tia and Indigo but I had a bunch of photobombers this evening.


But, in the words of Pete the Cat, It's all good!


They're all for one for all and all for one, these guys.