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Barbie clothes

I loved Barbie as a kid, and I currently have a niece who also loves her. Although I am generally really bad at making small, fiddly things (exhibit A), I found some tutorials online that made it look fairly easy. Despite the warning voice in my head, I decided to go ahead and give it a try, starting with a very basic skirt. I went through my stash of fabric scraps and chose ones with small prints that might appeal to a little girl, then followed these instructions for my skirt. It came out a bit boxier than I wanted, so I tried shaping it a bit. Unfortunately, the result was a bit too small for Barbie.

Don't take it personally, Barbie. You look great.

Don’t take it personally, Barbie. We’ve all been there.

Defeated, I gave up for the day and decided Barbie couture was not for me. The next day, however, I returned to my sewing machine with renewed purpose and made two skirts that actually fit. They were seriously basic–just tubes of fabric with elastic–but good enough for me.

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Although the instructions suggest serging the raw edges, I really didn’t feel like breaking out the serger for Barbie clothes. Instead I hemmed all the edges and used tiny French seams where appropriate.

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Feeling more confident, I attempted this shirt. I did decided to use the serger on this, which made things much easier. This was fairly complicated and didn’t come out quite as well as the inspiration image, but it is passable.

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At this point, I thought I should probably give up and be happy with three decent pieces in a row. But I really, really wanted to try this cute dress. Oh, and I wanted to make it in satin. You know, so Barbie would have something to wear to prom. I really did not have high hopes for this project, but I forged ahead, fearing that I was flying too close to the sun.

The result?

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I am so pleased with how this turned out. It looks a bit better in person–the flash makes it look like it is bunching at the hem and for some reason the bodice looks a little lumpy. It actually fits really well. I generally followed the directions closely, though I lengthened the skirt by an inch to make it seem a bit more formal and skipped the topstitching where the skirt meets the bodice. I also sewed up most of the skirt in the back, leaving enough of an opening for Barbie to get into the dress.

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The little matching bag is just a folded rectangle of fabric with a tiny ribbon loop for carrying. And with this, I am retiring from Barbie couture for the time being so as to preserve my sanity and give my seam ripper a rest.

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Baby hats

I love making baby stuff, especially out of fleece. It is so forgiving, not to mention super soft and cute. Since I have two baby showers this month, I made two little fleece hats using McCall’s M4682. I used this pattern several years ago to make a hat for my niece and it turned out surprisingly well. The first shower was for a baby girl. Since the registry had mostly items in neutral colors, I chose ivory fleece for the hat and decided to make it monochrome with ivory flowers.

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The pattern said to use purchased flowers, but really, flowers are pretty easy to make. I freehanded them and attached them at the center with pale pink embroidery thread.

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I have to admit, this is a pretty cute hat. In fact, I could only think of one thing that would make it cuter.

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Oh yes–ears. I drew a simple ear shape and sewed the ears into the seams. I think they are a tiny bit too far apart, but overall not bad. This one is for the first grandchild of an awesome friend. I wanted to line it with ivory fleece, which I used for the ears, but there wasn’t enough. Instead I chose a blue, ivory, and brown print that is a decent, if not perfect, match.

I meant this to be a shower gift, but the baby was just born so I need to get this in the mail soon!

These hats were lots of fun to make and the pattern is really easy to customize. They do seem a bit large, though, so I think the recipients will need to grow into them.

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Tiny books

We are settling into our new home, but we are definitely lacking some furnishings. In preparation for the move, most of our furniture and a good portion of our other stuff went to Goodwill, consignment, friends, family, and neighbors. Not only did we not want to move things 1000 miles across the country, but a lot of things that looked great in our 1910 bungalow did not fit the style or constricted floor plan of our new 1950s ranch. In a quest to find stuff for our house at affordable prices, we have started going to estate sales. This has become a problem. Not only have we not found anything I envisioned (I had dreams of finding a midcentury coffee table, a starburst mirror, or a record player console), but we have accumulated completely unnecessary (but awesome!) stuff, such as a concrete bust of Apollo and this, our most recent purchase:

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Yes, a dollhouse. I don’t remember how much we paid for this thing–I do know it was 25% off and, no joke, the women running the estate sale applauded when we bought it. i am a sucker for anything miniature, and I just had to have it.

The dollhouse came with some furnishings, but I thought it would be lots of fun to make my own. I quickly found that there are lots of people out there who take dollhouse miniatures very seriously. After bookmarking a ton of sites, I decided to try my hand at these miniature books. They didn’t look so difficult, and I had all the materials at hand.

I began with the rather ambitious goal of making about a dozen little books for my dollhouse bookshelf, but, to make a long story short, I’ve discovered that I suck at miniature things. The first book wasn’t too bad–I used heavy paper for the cover and cut the pages out of an old booklet, so they were already glued together. However, you can see that my X-Acto blade wasn’t quite sharp enough so the page edges are a bit jagged.

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When I tried a beautiful cloth-bound book like the one in the tutorial, though, things didn’t go as smoothly. My fabric, coated with glue, stuck to everything, so I resorted to covering it with waxed paper and bending it into shape with a ruler.

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It still looked like it might come out okay, but when it dried and I peeled it from the paper, the corners were frayed and the binding was far from crisp. Yuck. Also, since I didn’t have any white glue, I used wood glue, which didn’t dry clear.

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My fingers looked a bit worse for wear at the end of the project, too.

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I gave up after just two books. So much for my little dollhouse library–books are pretty passé anyway, no?

 

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T-shirt quilt: Part 1

We are doing some spring cleaning, which includes going through all the boxes in our closets and basement with the goal of having an epic yard sale and getting rid of lots of junk. I am a big-time clothes hoarder, with boxes of clothes that I hang on to either because I hope to fit into them again one day (not likely to happen anytime soon) or because I am emotionally attached to them. I have recycled some of these old clothes into new ones or into other projects, but for the most part they just take up space. Although T-shirt quilts are maybe a bit cheesy, making one seemed like a good use of all the T-shirts I will never wear again. I collected a big pile of these: shirts from schools where I taught, my high school graduation shirt, a couple of band shirts, and some other old favorites. Jared pitched in a few as well. There are many tutorials for T-shirt quilts online, but they pretty much start the same way: cut away the sleeves and separate front from back, iron on fusible interfacing for stability, decide on a size, and cut. Pretty simple. I saved the unused side and sleeves of each shirt for rags.

I bought 6 yards of lightweight fusible interfacing at 99 cents a yard. This should have given me 12 18-inch lengths of interfacing, but since I didn’t measure very carefully, I ended up with only 11. I also had more T-shirts than I thought, so I’ll need to buy more. After ironing on the interfacing, I measured the largest designs and decided to cut 15-inch squares. With a half-inch seam allowance, they will measure 14 inches square in the final quilt. I made a template of newspaper and checked the placement carefully, trying to center the design. This wasn’t always possible, as many of the designs were too close to the neck opening to work, but I did the best I could.

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At the end of the night, I had 11 squares ready; the rest of my pile will have to wait until I buy more interfacing.

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Here are a few of my favorites, including the anarchy shirt that I loved in high school (I thought I was such a badass), my high school graduation shirt signed by everyone in the class, a school tie-dye shirt from my elementary teaching days, and my beloved Tripping Daisy shirt.

A couple of the shirts were too small to fill out the square so I will have to find some way of filling them in or framing them with another material. I will also have to decide on a layout and choose whether or not to add sashing between the panels. Should be fun!

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More baby things

Just in time for my sister-in-law’s baby shower, I made a few more gifts to go with my fleece baby washcloths. I noticed that her gift registry included burp cloths, so I made her three of them using fabric left over from other projects. The blue seersucker is from a dress I made for my niece and the owls are from a skirt for my sister. The pink striped cotton is from an old pair of pajamas. I just cut 9 X 18-inch rectangles for these–so easy!

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I also made a little pair of fleece booties using this pattern. I used fleece instead of felt and machine-stitched them with the seams on the inside. It took three tries to make these look decent. Even though fleece is very forgiving, it is difficult to keep the right shape while sewing tiny pieces. Furthermore, the fleece has to be sturdy enough to stand up a bit.

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These were great projects for using up scraps and they were quite fun to make.

 

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Quinoa sprouts!

After successfully sprouting the lentils, my interest in sprouting was renewed and I decided to give quinoa a try. I read that quinoa is quick and easy to sprout, and it is definitely true. It takes two days, tops, to get lovely sprouts. I used organic tricolor quinoa from the supermarket bulk section. The sprouts are so good.

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So far I have only tried them in salads. Their subtle, nutty flavor goes beautifully with a Greek salad, one of my favorites. This version of the Greek salad contains cucumber, tomato, feta, onion, spinach, olives, and a handful of quinoa sprouts topped with olive oil and black pepper.

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Tonight I tried something a little different: spinach salad with raspberries, dried cranberries, slivered almonds, blue cheese, and quinoa sprouts with pomegranate balsamic vinegar and lemon olive oil. This was fantastic.

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It’s like a dessert salad!

I went a little crazy with the quinoa and now have a sprouts that need to be eaten in a couple of days, so I’ll probably be eating a lot of these salads. But what to sprout next?