Apr 302014
 
My Easter isn't complete without a little knitting.  Here: a rabbit from Debbie Bliss' Toy Knits.

My Easter isn’t complete without a little knitting. Here: a rabbit from Debbie Bliss’ Toy Knits made from a remnant of beige yarn.

Making Easter outfits for my children has been one of my traditions in the last few years.

This year, my Easter outfits were inspired by a treasure trove of yarn samples. I ordered some wonderful hand-dyed yarn from Cheryl Potter this past fall during a terrific sale she was holding and was surprised to find that I was one of the lucky recipients of a free goodie bag for the first 200 orders.

Woohoo!  This was quite the goodie bag!

Woohoo! This was quite the goodie bag!

The exploded bag, full of wonderful yarns, buttons, patterns, stitch holders and crochet hooks and even a free sweater in my size!  I was blown away.  Cheryl Potter has set a new standard for goodie bags.

The exploded bag, full of wonderful yarns, buttons, patterns, stitch holders and crochet hooks and even a free sweater in my size! I was blown away. Cheryl Potter has set a new standard for goodie bags.

The free sweater!  A perfect fit!

The free sweater! A perfect fit!

So, I had all of this really cool yarn. Most of it was much nicer than the stuff I usually knit with. But the only problem was that I had just a random ball here and there to work with. Most knitting patterns need at least 4-5 balls of yarn in the same color. What to do?

Well, I decided that this yarn was just too awesome not to knit with so I decided for the girls that I would make a sort of tunic with knitted accents. Wherever the knitting ran out, I would sew the rest with scraps from my fabric stash.

Scooters

My girls are infatuated with scooter skirts (skirts with shorts attached) lately. They love to wear them alone or with leggings underneath. They add a fun, feminine touch to just about any outfit.

I considered making my own scooter skirts for the Easter outfits but then I saw these for $5 and decided to take the easy route and just buy this part of the outfit. I wanted pink for both but had to settle for one bright peach and one pink in the sizes that were available.

Nothing better than a scooter skirt on sale!

Nothing better than a scooter skirt on sale!

Floral and Lace

The first yarn to inspire me was the purple cotton yarn. It screamed Easter. I looked around for a pattern to work with and I found a free pattern on the Rowan Yarns website from Zoe Mellor that was just perfect.

Of course, I didn’t have enough to make the entire sweater but all I really wanted was the flower motif in the center.

The knitted flower detail.

The knitted flower detail.

For the finished tunic, I created an apron-style tunic, added some lace accents and a tulle hem (inspired by the H&M catalog).  I loved how feminine it came out.

For the finished tunic, I created an apron-style tunic, added some lace accents and a tulle hem (inspired by the H&M catalog). I loved how feminine it came out.

The finished look.

The finished look.

The back full of gathered lace and tied at the neck.

The back full of gathered lace and tied at the neck.

Ruffles

Working with the peach color was a bit trickier than I was expecting. I decided on the yellow cotton yarn to pair with it and was pleased to discover that the yarn had flecks of orange, purple and green in it that worked quite well with the peach.

Generally I don’t do much patterning with variegated color yarns because it doesn’t show up very well. I wasn’t sure quite what to do with this yarn until I came across this pattern.

I loved the ruffle detail and thought I had just enough yarn to make the ruffle top. I had to alter the pattern slightly for my purposes. I changed how much it ruffled and added rows of crochet on the backside to keep the yarn edges from curling the wrong way. I also made the straps cross for more stability.

The finished ruffle dress with white body, gold sequin hem and gold satin accent.

The finished ruffle dress with white body, gold sequin hem and gold satin accent.

This outfit came out a little quirky/Coachella style unintentionally but I just decided to go with it. When paired with bohemian braids, it just seemed to work.

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The tied-back braids pulled this look together.

The tied-back braids pulled this look together.

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The Vest

I was ready to call it all done at this point when it suddenly dawned on me that I have another child to think about . . . my son!

I am so used to making frilly creations for my daughters that I wasn’t sure where to even start for my son. I only had two choices from the yarn stash that weren’t pink: gray with green flecks and beige. I also didn’t think it would work to make him a combination knitted and sewn outfit like the girls.

It took a lot of creative thinking but eventually I stumbled across this pattern

I matched up the gray and green yarn with a few other balls of remnant yarn from my grandmother’s collection: a green cotton, navy wool and another ball of similarly shaded gray yarn. I had to alter the pattern to fit my random yarns and to resize it for a toddler. Knitting like this requires a leap of faith. I didn’t know exactly how far I was going to get with the yarn I had and had to make several impropmtu adjustments to the pattern as I went. Amazingly, it all seemed to work!

The bottom ribbing and the extent of the gray-green yarn.

The bottom ribbing and the extent of the gray-green yarn.

The coordinating gray yarn I found from my grandmother's collection.  It wasn't an exact match but in most lights it was close enough.  I though the effect was kind of like the way the stone on the Washington Monument doesn't match exactly but it coordinates.

The coordinating gray yarn I found from my grandmother’s collection. It wasn’t an exact match but in most lights it was close enough. I though the effect was kind of like the way the stone on the Washington Monument doesn’t match exactly but it coordinates.

The finished vest.

The finished vest.

Ideally, I would have made the vest a few inches longer but I just didn’t have enough yarn.

The finished vest on my son.

The finished vest on my son.

My husband I thought that the vest was perfectly cute on my son. It took some convincing to get my son to put the vest on for pictures but after he had it on for a while he stopped tugging at it to get it off. Next year with a little more planning I hope to make him another that fits better.

So, now we were all dressed up with noplace to go . . . except we did have someplace to go . . . and I’ll tell you about it in the next post!

 Posted by on April 30, 2014 General Tagged with: , , , ,
Apr 092013
 
My enthusiastic models!

My enthusiastic models!

This year’s Easter outfit designs for my daughters were inspired by a yarn sale. We were in Michael’s checking out a sale, when I saw some bright cotton Lily Sugar and Cream yarn on sale! The colors were perfect shades of pastels and pinks for Easter and just looked so cheerful. This kind of yarn is not typically used for garments but I had successfully used cotton yarn before so I thought I would give it a try. The sale was 4 skeins for $5 so I decided to pick up 4 skeins of each color and make something that used just that much yarn.

For both sweaters, I did not use any formal pattern and just started knitting, inventing the pattern as I went.

The first sweater started bottom-up, from the lower ribbing. I knit it in a circular tube until I guessed I would have just enough left to finish the neck and sleeves.

Bottom-up start.  I added the length first and then the neckline and sleeves.

Bottom-up start. I added the length first and then the neckline and sleeves.

All was going well until I had my daughter try on the garment in progress and realized that I had severely miscalculated the shaping for the neckline and sleeves. The whole sweater was really big and puffy and the armholes and neckline gaped in an all-too-revealing fashion.

Oops!  Not the fit I was looking for!

Oops! Not the fit I was looking for!

I was tempted to unpick the stitches and start again but decided to see what I could do first to remedy the problem with a little crochet.

For the neckline, I gathered it in with a decorative ruffled crochet.

I gathered in the huge neckline with an improvised crochet ruffle.

I gathered in the huge neckline with an improvised crochet ruffle.

For the sleeves, I did a simple gather in chain stitch.

Gathered armhole.

Gathered armhole.

In the end, the garment came out a little more shapeless, bubble-like and shorter than I originally planned but I ended up liking the design.

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For the second sweater, I decided to see if I could stretch the yarn out a little further to make a dress if I started at the neckline and knit downward. To make the design work, I had three skeins connected at one time for a while.

Knitting from the top down, starting at the neckline.

Knitting from the top down, starting at the neckline.

I knit it down and was thrilled to see that it seemed to be hitting my daughter just above the knee. But then she tried it on and the fit was entirely too body conscious for a 7 year old and not very flattering.

I wasn't quite going for a body-con Easter dress.

I wasn’t quite going for a body-con Easter dress.

So, I sadly had to unpick hours of stitching and start again, changing the pattern and adding more of a flare to the skirt portion. The extra stitching wasn’t too painful since I needed a distraction at that time to keep me focused on my diet and exercise routine.

Starting over -- painful but necessary!

Starting over — painful but necessary!

The new design was far more flattering but also ended up being too short for a dress. It was more like a tunic.
After some thought, I paired the sweaters with some white leggings and they made quite a statement! The girls enjoyed wearing them and didn’t ask to take them off as soon as photos were done….a first!

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So, it wasn’t a perfect knitting experience but one thing I have realized is that age brings wisdom — not necessarily the wisdom to avoid the mistakes in the first place but the wisdom to know how to change a “mistake” into a design choice!

Do you select special Easter outfits for your children? Did you have any memorable fashion choices this year? Please share in the comments.

 Posted by on April 9, 2013 General Tagged with: ,
Mar 142013
 
Vast racks of baby clothes at the Weecycled Wardrobe Sale

Vast racks of baby clothes at the Weecycled Wardrobe Sale

Here in Fredericksburg, the buzz in the parenting community is all about the Weecycled Wardrobe sale — a large consignment sale of children’s clothing held twice a year. I have never been before but boy did I hear about the sale and all the great bargains to be had, by just about everyone.

So, this spring I decided to check it out myself. I like a REALLY good deal, so I waited to go until the evening of the last day of the sale when much of the inventory was 50% off.

The parking lot was jam packed. People were walking in with large baskets and walking out with racks full of clothes. As I walked in, the greeter advised me how to navigate the sale and lamented that there was “nothing left” and I would get a better sense of the sale if I came on the first day. She said most of what was left were baby clothes.

Still, I knew that there were still treasures to be found so off I went. The first section of the sale was clothing and it was true that all sizes for children older than 5 were thoroughly picked over. There were still some good finds but nothing that caught my eye.

It has been a learning experience for me how rapidly clothing prices increase as children grow from babies to kindergarteners and older. There are a lot of cheap baby clothes out there but not so much for older children.

In the school uniform section, I spied a cute khaki skort that I thought would work well for fall with sweaters and tights.

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Then it was on to another section of toys and baby furniture. Most of this section was gone but there were still several toy kitchens, bouncers and playmats to be had. We didn’t need any of this so we ventured on.

We got to the shoes section which was still quite stocked. I know many people are turned off by used shoes but they make a lot of sense for kids. Most kids outgrow their shoes before they wear them out. This is especially so for baby sizes. Shoes are also one of the more expensive clothing items kids need. So, I found quite a few bargains here.

Cute flowered clogs.

Cute flowered clogs.

Skechers light-up sneakers.  They will probably be last season's trend by the time my kids wear them but they will enjoy them just the same.

Skechers light-up sneakers. They will probably be last season’s trend by the time my kids wear them but they will enjoy them just the same.

A second pair of Skechers for my younger dauhter.  We'll find some cute laces to dress them up.

A second pair of Skechers for my younger dauhter. We’ll find some cute laces to dress them up.

Baby converse-like shoes.  I agree with the "cute" label on the tag.

Baby converse-like shoes. I agree with the “cute” label on the tag.

Baseball shoes!  Barely worn.

Baseball shoes! Barely worn.

Next, it was on to the toys section. I had one objective here, to find my eldest daughter’s current obsession, Littlest Pet Shop. These toys generally cost a few dollars per pet. I was hoping that someone might have outgrown their collection and I was in luck! A huge mixed bag of pets was $15 and a second set with 3 pets and an arctic scene was $4.

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We also found some little cars for my vehicle-obsessed son.

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Browsing the book table, I came across a complete set of the Paddington Bear books for $5. I had just placed these on my daughter’s wish list! We will save them for Christmas as we are already working through two book sets from last Christmas.

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When we got home, I tossed all the shoes into the washer with some soap and a little bleach. They came out looking bright and clean.

My son also helped me wash the LPS collection with soap and bleach.

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Fortunately, there were quite a few pets in the collection of “stuff.” The pets are the most important parts to my daughter.

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They also fit quite nicely into our plastic Easter eggs and will make quite a surprise for her when she finds them on Easter. There are even plenty to share with her little sister.

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There were many “accessory” toys in the bag as well and I grouped those into eggs as well.

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There is still a ton of stuff to go through in the LPS bag. I can’t quite figure out what some of the stuff is. Some of it looks like toppers for a birthday cake so we’ll stash those away until her birthday in the fall. There were some cute pet strollers and dog beds so we’ll have to figure out how to work those in. I might save some for Christmas.

My daughter is so creative in making her own accessories and toys for the LPS collection that I don’t want these toys to dampen her creativity. So, we may dribble the pets and accessories out little by little.

My daughter, the LPS enthusiast and one of many LPS creations she has made.  Using shoeboxes and paper, she made everything from a house with a swing, a shower and even a computer!

My daughter, the LPS enthusiast and one of many LPS creations she has made. Using shoeboxes and paper, she made everything from a house with a swing, a shower and even a computer!

Overall, I am very happy with my purchases and think I scored some great deals. I’m not sure I would go earlier next time. My shopping expertise tends to be more about finding hidden gems rather than battling for the few best treasures.

How do you feel about consignment sale shopping? What shopping strategies do you employ? Please share in the comments.

*I am not affiliated with the Weecycled Wardrobe sale.

 Posted by on March 14, 2013 General Tagged with: , ,
Apr 112012
 


For the past several Easters, my tradition has been to make Easter dresses from the stockpile of material and yarn I have lying around. You can see my work from 2011 here. This year, I modified the tradition slightly by purchasing material.

We were shopping at our local Wal-Mart a few months back and I noticed they re-opened a crafting/fabric section that had previously been closed. There was a large table with $5 bolts of fabric on it. Most of them were outdoor types of fabrics. I didn’t really need outdoor fabric but I peeked through the stack anyway and came across a beautiful, shimmery material in a bluish grayish tint. I wasn’t sure what type of fabric it was and the label only indicated it was “various blends.” “This is a gorgeous color!” I thought. “It would make a great dress.” Thus, the idea was born.

Originally, I wanted to make Christmas dresses but Christmas was just too busy for sewing. In a rush, though, I did manage to squeak out the skirt portion of the dresses. My daughters wore the skirts to the Nutcracker along with their leotards, tights and wrap sweater warm-up tops. It was perfect for the ballet.

When Easter rolled around, I was again short on time so I needed a way to quickly finish the dresses, preferably in a way that didn’t involve sewing buttons or zippers. I invented a quick halter-style pattern with long ties and they finished in just a few hours. I added on a little bling from a small piece of beaded trim, again from Wal-Mart!

My daughters tried them on and thought they were fun but had to add their own style to them too!

“Where is the flower?” my older daughter asked.

I explained that there wasn’t a flower. It just had the sparkly trim.

“It needs a flower,” she informed me. Then she found a hair clip her chic aunt sent her that is made out of a Tab soda pop can. She clipped it onto the neckline of her dress and it was fantastic! Plus, the fact that it just clipped on instead of pinned on meant that it didn’t poke any holes in the fabric.

Then my younger daughter wanted one too so we found another flower hair clip sent from another wonderful aunt.

Voila! The finished dresses, which remind me a little of Betty Draper from Mad Men.

My son had an outfit too that I didn’t make but purchased. His outfit will be featured in an upcoming post.

While my design suffers a bit in the fit department, I am pleased with the overall look and for about $5 a dress in materials, it’s great for the pocketbook too!

Any Easter fashions or fashion tips to share? Please let loose in the comments.

*I have no affiliation with Wal-Mart other than being an avid shopper.

 Posted by on April 11, 2012 General Tagged with: ,
Mar 162012
 

Green donuts for St. Patrick's Day. Life is sweet!

This month’s investing theme is certainly about bringing more green into your life. As a reminder that green is sometimes about money but more often about the people we love, I wanted to share these pictures from our early St. Patrick’s Day celebration (following the preschool calendar).

A great day to be a strawberry blonde.

...or a blonde with hints of red.

Green eyes. The best green to wear on St. Patrick's Day.

Green boots and green legs.

An impish grin.

A lucky smile.

And a great time to be "green" at life too.


 

 Sláinte!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

 
**As a side note relating this to organizing, I have written before about my shopping weakness for holiday outfits for my children.  I am happy to report that I was able to restrain myself and spend only $4.50 on St. Patrick’s Day attire (two $1 hair bows and a clearance pair of striped socks at $2.50). All the rest was scavenged from our existing closets.

 

 Posted by on March 16, 2012 General Tagged with: , , ,