Tent. aka I Couldn’t Come Up with a Good Title

Tents and teepees for kids are all the rage these days.  They’re plastered all over Pinterest and the bloggy world in so many varieties your head may spin.  Our version has always included to bamboo poles and a thrifted sheet held on by clothespins (we’re fancy like that).  Our yard is so small that whatever we use needs to be collapsible which can also be tedious since for the greater part of the Summer I heard,”Moooooom!   __________ (insert name here) knocked the tent over again!” Oh, and there was the time my neighbor was moving and gave the kids a tent and they decided to be real live angry birds and launch themselves and their soccer balls at it until it collapsed.

One day we were at Lowe’s getting some plants for the front yard and we passed these trellises which I have seen a million times (I even own a few small ones).My kids, who can’t keep their hands off ANYTHING, pulled one of the large ones out and started crawling underneath it and, well, it was pretty obviously going to be an awesome tent.  This trellis is 20 bucks which may seem steep, but the other materials don’t really cost anything so your budget may end up being about $25 depending on what you put into it.

Photobomb.  Happens every. single. time.

I brought this thing home and went digging in my old sheets.  If I see cute ones at the thrift store, I buy them because they make great fort walls, capes, picnic blankets, and, of course, tents.  Usually they only cost a dollar or two so…winning.  If you think this is gross, a hot water wash and a little fabric softener and they’re good as new.  I promise.  The only other supplies you’ll need are some ribbon and thread.  Easy peasy.

I laid the sheet on the lawn and laid the trellis flat on top (unfolded) like so:

Then I trimmed the sheet with about an inch overhang left around the whole thing:

I then set the trellis up and laid the sheet over the top so I could mark where I wanted to attach my ribbon tie ons. I did 3 across the top, 2 down each side, and one in the middle on each side.  You can just determine yourself how secure you want it to be and how much ribbon you want to use.  Just make little dots where the ribbon will need to be stitched on to tie to the frame:

And mark where to hem it at the bottom:

I moved inside to my sewing machine and hemmed both ends of the sheet where I had marked, then stitched up the sides with a basic straight seam. If you don’t have a machine, you could use fusible (iron on) bonding tape. Any ol’ craft store will have it.  I cut the ribbon into about 8 inch lengths because I just wanted basic knots.  If you want them to tie into bows, you can cut the ribbon longer.  I stitched the lengths of ribbon in place where I had marked the dots making sure to line the ribbon up in the direction opposite each particular wood piece was going so they could tie on nicely with no twisting.  Does that make sense?  I hope so.  Again, if you don’t have a sewing machine, a simple needle and thread will get this done pretty easily.  You can pretend you’re Betsy Ross making the first flag or something.  Or you can think of something less nerdy than Betsy Ross.  I like history.

I took the sheet back to the trellis and tied it on.  I started at the top/peak and moved down each side until it was secure.  Done!

The kids helped and were ready with blankets and pillows and leftover homemade pizza so they could jump right in the second this thing was ready.  No one has knocked it over so far and they can totally set it up themselves whenever they want which is pretty much every day.

It’s a choice reading spot.

And nose picking spot.

You can make it your own a million different ways.  You could paint the frame if you want, use canvas instead of a sheet, paint a design on the fabric with fabric paint…we just hung some pompoms and an ornament from Anthro.

Sooooo, if you feel like doing a li’l project this weekend, maybe this will get your creative juices flowing.  The kids were able to help and that made it even more fun for me.  The sheet is easy to detach and wash and the whole thing just folds up and leans against the fence at night so it doesn’t get sprinklered.  The whole project cost me around $23 and the kids have spent hours in it.  Well worth it, in my humble opinion!

A Banner for Mad

Banners are everywhere these days and I don’t care if they’re trendy.  I profess my shameless love for them. They remind me of parties, which I love, so why shouldn’t a tribute to parties and fun be hanging in every room of my house?  Hmmmm? As I wrote before, I have been working on making Miss Mad the girly room of her dreams since the poor thing has been shacking up with her crazy brothers her whole entire life.  She’s never been able to have a spot of her own and it’s all about her now.  Among the things she has requested (think $500 chandelier) a banner made the list and I can actually afford that. Phew. I have been thinking long and hard about how I wanted this thing to look because for such a simple project, there are about one million possibilities.  I got my answer and inspiration in the form of a falling apart quilt top that a friend gave to my mom (avid quilter extraordinaire) to see if she could do anything with it.  Unfortunately, it was aged to the point of no return…unless you wanted to cut it up to make an adorable banner for a certain darling freckly little girl.  I am using some little bits of red in Mad’s mostly pink and blue room so this little shabby quilt top fit right in.

I figured each of my triangles should be 6 inches (just the look I wanted) and drew a template on paper based on that.  I measured my wall, added 12 inches, and divided by 6 giving me the number of triangle pieces I needed to cut. I ended up with 18 so I cut 20 just in case.  I found some vintage lace in my stash and it just so happened to be exactly the right length so I pinned that between my quilt top pieces and my bias tape.  Adorable!

This was totally a straight stitching easy project and Mad is super happy.  I like how it brightened up the wall and added those touches of red I was looking for.  Stay tuned for more girly projects and happy bannering!

Lady Bug Remix

My precious niece Miss L turned two last month.  L is one of those special kids that lights up every room she tumbles into.  She has a magnetism that draws people from all over to her little universe.  Part of her appeal is her flaming red hair, porcelain skin, and rosy cheeks.  The rest is her natural charisma and fearlessness.  I have only gotten to spend 4 days of this little one’s life with her but it only took about 9/10′s of a second for me to be completely head over heels.

So, if you’re turning two in Nashville and Winter is approaching, what could you need more than a bright green hat and scarf knitted by your loving Auntie?  Not much, I think…well, maybe a piece of chocolate cake.

I got out my needles and decided on a simple hat and scarf that I just made up using large needles because I wanted a sort of chunky cozy knit for my little dear.  I did a simple stockingette stitch because I love the classics.  I used Stitch Nation Bamboo Ewe yarn in Sprout that is washable, key for little ones since we all know they won’t stop to say, “hey, I should be careful with this cocoa because Auntie knitted this scarf by hand.”  If your child is conscientious like that, God bless you. Mine are not.

I embellished (as always) with red crocheted flowers and lady bug buttons in the center.  I know I’ve been on a lady bug kick but with these adorable buttons I found, I can’t resist putting them in all my little girl creations of late.

I found these tags at Office Depot and they’re great for including yarn descriptions and laundering instructions on your hand made goodies. Made me feel legit somehow.

I hope Miss L stays cozy all Winter and gets a lot of mileage out of her scarf and hat.  I sure do love that little lady. Happy Birthday baby girl!

 

 

 

Making it Her Own

Like many little ladies, Miss Mad loves to accessorize.  She loves to put crazy outfits together and coordinate (or not) all the little details.  When she dresses herself,  there’s often leggings under shorts, scarves, mismatched shoes and socks, and maybe a purse.  I love to see what she comes up with.  She is a woman who is whole heartedly devoted to the tank top, but with toned ballerina arms, who wouldn’t want to show those guns off?  I think a big part of her tank love is related to the fact that her normal body temp is that of a small lava rock.  However, Fall is upon us (she laughs as the thermometer peaked at 80 something today).  Hopefully it will be upon us sometime before Christmas.  Anyway, as temperatures decrease, I like to give Mad some options for arm covering.  We picked up a plain navy blue cardigan on the clearance rack of a run of the mill children’s store.  She liked it, but we felt it needed a little pizzaz.  I had found some yoyo’s in some craft supplies of my great grandmother’s and have been waiting for just the right project to use them in. A lightbulb went on above my head in the middle of the store and I couldn’t wait to get home and get crackin’ on this little project.

If you don’t have ready made yoyo’s in hand (chuckle here), there are a million online tutorials like this one by Heather Bailey.  Yoyos are really good handwork to keep around when you’re watching t.v., riding in the car (holidays are coming which means extended periods of time in the car!), or waiting at the doctor, dentist, or masseuse (chuckle again). I chose to use them to make flowers which is as simple as placing the yoyo where you want it, putting a button in the center, and stitching it in place by sewing the button to the fabric, in this case, the sweater.  This went together in about 20 minutes since I didn’t have to make my own yoyos.  Mad was excited about the cardigan because it had just enough shnazz to appeal to her and she could use it to dress up an outfit on a chilly day. She threw the sweater on immediately and wore it to church.  She sure knows how to make Mom happy!

 

The Pouf’s New Clothes

I made this pouf for the living room a couple of years ago.  It’s an Amy Butler Gumdrop Pillow.  I had used decorator weight fabric for the original assembly, but after a few years of being used as a trampoline, dodge ball, and it’s originally intended job of footstool, the life had sort of gone out the poor thing and it needed a bit of a facelift.  I didn’t want to drop a ton of money on new fabric so I decided to take a trip with my little guy over to Ikea and see what they had there.  Say what you want about Ikea, but they have tons of ultra durable heavy duty fabric in fun prints for 7-9 dollars a yard.  You cut it yourself which is not hard at all and actually kind of fun except for the world’s dullest self serve scissors they have for you to use.  The most challenging part is getting the spelling of the whack a doo pattern names right on your check out ticket.  I found two complimentary navy blue (a color I am really loving right now) fabrics, cut, paid, and was on my way home.

I had made this pattern before so I had it all finished from start to finish in under two hours.  It’s truly that easy. The trickiest part is after you stuff it and have to hand stitch the last little opening closed but even that isn’t advanced stitchery or anything.  I used the stuffing out of the existing pouf and I love how clean and fresh it looks.  The pattern comes with a little hexagon applique pattern that you can use on the top but I decided a little crocheted flower in a complimentary bright orange is what I was feeling. The chair the pouf sits next to is a weathered brown leather and I am really happy with how the blue looks next to the brown.

If you’re looking for a super useful little something to compliment your living room but don’t want to spend big money, this little gumdrop pillow is perfect.  The pattern comes with two size options and if I had more living room space, I would make a few of the smaller ones for the kids to lounge on too.  Maybe some day…

 

 

Knitting for New People

My friend Amber is preggers.  I am ecstatic for her.  You know when you meet someone that has a boy and you have a boy, and then they are pregnant with a girl, and your second was a girl and you just feel like maybe you’re sisters?  No? Too much crazy?  Well, Amber has a baby boy and is having a girl any time now and I just feel connected to her.  I was having this experience 5  (nearly 6 now) years ago and when I think of pregnant Amber lugging around the love of her life having a hard time imagining loving anyone as much as him, let alone a GIRL, I just get it and I smile.  I think, “sister, your life is about to change in the best possible way and I CAN’T WAIT!!”

I picked up my knitting needles (hadn’t really put them down, but baby girl lady was bumped to the top of my list) as soon as I had the baby shower date.  I wanted to make her something sweet but not pink.  I love me some pink but I knew from experience that the pink would be flowing like Pepto on Taco Tuesday.  I wanted something a little different, but still adorable for a very special baby girl.  I chose Stitch Nation  Bamboo Ewe yarn in Geranium which is a cheery red and washable, which is key for a baby sweater.  I made Jonah’s Hoodie from Lion Brand Yarn.  It’s a simple pattern but went awry while I was watching a movie and it ended up looking like it was made for the world’s skinniest and tallest 12 month old.  I had to rip it out and start over which was ok because, again, the pattern was really simple. I used ladybug buttons and was pleased with the results.  I think Amber liked it too and I hope for many pictures of her sweet daughter enjoying tummy time, watching her brother sled in our token SoCal patch of snow, and shopping for Christmas trees in her cozy hoodie.  Congratulations Amber!  You have a big job ahead of you but your little lady is lucky to have you to teach her the ins and outs of being an amazing woman.

Summer Sewing

We have a couple of major events coming up in the next couple of weeks.  We’re flying to New Hampshire for my brother’s wedding festivities, Miss Mad is going to kindergarten, and James is headed to 2nd grade just after Labor Day (one day after we return from New Hampshire). Both of these have required a lot of running around town getting necessities and time spent hunched over the sewing machine or with a simple needle and thread in hand.

I didn’t realize my kids were going to be IN the wedding until recently and I had already made a fancy dress for Mad that is not exactly complimentary to the the navy blue dresses and red shoes the bridesmaids will be wearing. My brother said my kids could wear whatever we had already lined up for them but, please, I have standards.  I don’t want to be the crazy family from California that shows up with the tattoos and the wild children who didn’t get the memo about the wedding colors! Mad’s dress is purple, pink, and orange so I promptly ordered two yards of navy blue taffeta and it’s back to the drawing board for me. I can’t guarantee James won’t do ninja shenanigans with the ring pillow or Mad won’t skip her way down the aisle or that Liam will participate at all (I can hear his clenched jaw mumble now: “I don’ wanna”), but I can guarantee they’re going to look awesome (at least for 10-15 minutes until Liam removes his tie because it “keeps floating” when he runs).  I will just control what I can and not worry about the rest. My little darlings will be darling, that’s all I know for sure.

I wanted to share Mad’s original dress with you.  I really love it and it was fun to work on something together.  She has specific color requirements and needs (“mom, make sure it’s a tank top”). That girl hasn’t worn sleeves on a garment in a year.  We chose some fabric from Anna Maria Horner’s Drawing Room line and it’s a really nice cotton with a lot of body to the bodice has a nice structure and the skirt looks very neat.  I used a very simple pinafore dress pattern and made my own accents to make it interesting. I love using either really old patterns (I inherited all my mom’s patterns from the 70′s) or very simple ones and using modern fabric and adding little details.  It makes me feel like the garment is really mine and even though I’m not a master pattern maker, I can make awesome one of a kind dresses for my little girl this way (or crazy pants for the son who wouldn’t wear conventional pants for two years).  You can find inspiration from other sources too.  If you like Janie and Jack dresses but don’t have that kind of cash, start with a simple dress pattern, learn how to embroider a little, and  use really nice fabrics.  You’ll be able to come up with your own versions and people will be asking you over and over where you bought them. You can find the pattern I used here, or use one you like. I also recommend this book.  It’s good for little project ideas, but also gives instructions on how to make all kinds of flowers and appliques that are nice for embellishing your sewing projects. For your embroidery needs, go see Jenny at Sublime Stitching.  She’s a modern embroidery genius and will get you started.  Plus, I met her at the Renegade Craft Fair (shameless name dropping, forgive me) and she is so nice and just wants to make stitching cool again and fun for the current generation.  She was really excited to see my kids there and gave them a free embroidery pattern and instruction sheet.

Ok, back to the dress.  I had the main dress body all done and decided to make a wide sash and put a flower on it at the waist for interest.  A sash is the easiest thing to make.  It just has straight seams and goes together in minutes.  For the flower, I just folded a strip of fabric in half, basted the raw edges and pulled the strings to gather the fabric and shape it into a round.  I stitched it to the sash and attached a button to the middle. Tadahhhhhh!  This project was so fun and it ended up that Miss Mad had a date with Daddy last Friday night to see Broadway’s Mary Poppins while it was in town.  I finished the dress that afternoon and she was able to wear it out.  Her only complaint was that the voluminous skirt made it hard for her to buckle her car seat.  Fashion and car safety are not, apparently, compatible.

 

*velvet ribbons from puglypixel.com -Thank you!

 

Bring On the Sun

A while back I picked up the Oliver + S project book Little Things to Sew by Liesl Gibson.  I love sewing for the kids and have been making them things for so long that they think I can make anything.  This is very sweet, but they now also believe I can forge metal, mold plastic, and James seems to think I have hidden blacksmith skills somewhere.  If only…

I love the projects in this book because they’re simple and sweet and ever so useful for the kiddies.  There are costume items, bags and backpacks, lunch bags, toys, and a host of other sweet things for your kids.  Each one is a classic and if you take the time to make them, your kids will have them forever.  There will be conversations in their adulthood about that awesome puppet theater mom made or the ballet tutu that was worn every single day for 2 years. Mad was most excited about this book.  We looked at it together and settled on the Reversible Bucket Hat.  It’s a simple pattern and I had a lot of bits and pieces in my fabric stash to whip one up.

I made the large size (my kids have never had small heads…ever) and it fit her well.  The brim came out just enough to shade her eyes without blocking her vision which is very important since she spends half her day on her bike.

 

I threw some trim on there for fun and that seemed to go over well.  Mad sure loves trim when she can get it. After all was said and done, little dude wanted to get in on the hat action so I sewed up a hat for him too.  I couldn’t get his picture in it because he was zipping around so fast and generally not cooperating with my photography efforts.  I wrangled the hat out of his hand for a second and was able to snap a quick picture of the hat sans Liam.

 

 

His had a few mistakes because I was rushing.  I made it the second he said,”Mom, can you make me one of doze?” and didn’t have quite the time I needed to be careful in my stitching.  He was happy with the thing and that’s all that matters to me, really…well, mostly (my inner perfectionist is twitching like crazy right now).  I guess the point is I could have posted a picture strategically hiding those accidental gathers in the front but I’m just trying to keep it real here at Three Little Freckles.  Happy sewing! 

 

 

 

Knitty Bitty Beanie

Miss Mad loves to wear hats and with her cute short hair, they look mighty nice on her. On my Summer project list was a wee beanie for her not so wee head (it’s always been in, like, the 80th percentile).  I had seen a lot of patterns online and sort of made this one up because it needed to be smaller than an adult sized one.  If you’re interested in a really simple free pattern, you can find it here.  As far as hats go, this was really easy because it  can be sort of “off” and it still looks fine.  I chose a deep blue color because it makes Mad’s baby blues look downright striking. I also made sure the yarn was machine washable and dryer safe because hats often inadvertently end up in our laundry and go through both washer and dryer and come our looking about the right size for Mad’s baby dolls.  That’s always a sad event for a knitter.  We were both pleased with the way the hat turned out. Here’s some pictures of the hat in action…or maybe I just want to show off my cute daughter…either way, I hope you enjoy!

 

 

Knitty Knitty Bang Bang

July and August are mega birthday months in my family.  Seven of us have Summer birthdays. Seven!  I have been working like a busy bee and can pretty much guarantee no one is going to get their presents on time.  However, everyone will get something, and hopefully it will have been made with my hands.  I wanted to share a little something that I made for my sweet niece Lucy’s first birthday (I haven’t mailed it yet but I’m pretty sure she doesn’t read my blog so I should be okay).  It’s a little sweater vest made of alpaca to keep her warm through the Fall and Winter months (I did a lot of poolside knitting while yelling, “Don’t splash me! Don’t you know this is alpaca?!”  My children have gotten a crash course in fibers this Summer).  I got the pattern from a knitting blog I LOVE called Pickles and you can find it here, if you please. It is an ideal pattern if you haven’t knitted beyond hats and scarves yet.  It went together so easily and l love the end product.  I may need to make a few more for my own little ones.  The pattern is free for the smallest size and for larger versions, the pattern can be purchased on their site. I chose little daisy buttons to brighten up those Fall and Winter days and I just loved the way the purple, yellow, and white went together.