Coordinating cousin dresses {sewing projects}

This year for Christmas I got the idea to make all of the little girls in the family (cousins on both sides – that’s 5 all together) coordinating dresses. Aren’t they ridiculously adorable? (one is not pictured if you’re wondering whether or not I know how to count)

Coordinating little girls dresses - sewing projects at Permanent Riot

I called this post “coordinating cousin dresses” but another title could very well have been “the dresses that almost weren’t” or “how to pull an all nighter the day before flying”. I don’t know why but this is always (always) the schedule when thinking up Christmas presents – about a month before I get an idea for what I might like to make. I spend a few days thinking about the idea and deciding if I do really want to make it. Next I move into research mode – googling like a crazy person looking for patterns, blog posts, ideas and inspiration. Even if it’s an idea that I’m sure I have dreamed up on my own, I still google to see if anyone else has done it (and how). This phase is the longest. I can easily waste away several weeks on blog surfing, pinning and thinking. I spend SO much time in fact that I wake up one day and realize that it’s one week before Christmas and I have done absolutely nothing. Next comes my frantic trip to the fabric store where I wander aimlessly and make a total wild guess as to how much fabric (or yarn, or other supplies as the case may be) I will need to complete the project. Because (of course) during my “planning weeks” all I really did was mindlessly click links and not actually make any decisions, so I haven’t *really* decided what exactly I’m making or how much material it will take. The rest of the week is spent frantically crafting and hoping and crossing everything that I don’t run out at the end (because obviously the last sewing is being done at 2am when more fabric cannot be acquired). Thank goodness that this one came together at the end, I would have hated to show up to our family Christmas empty handed.

Coordinating little girls dresses - sewing projects at Permanent Riot

The best part of this whole giant sewing bonanza is that all of the girls actually really liked their dresses (hooray!!). I think the fact that they’re cotton and roomy makes them super comfy (I didn’t get to try one on… obviously… but they look pretty cozy to me). Amelia has been wearing hers often, pretty much as soon as I wash and hang it up in her closet she puts it back on. That kind of reaction is definitely what I’m looking for when I start sewing and it’s what keeps me coming back for more.

Amelia’s and Edith’s dresses were the first two that I tackled and both of them followed online tutorials that I found – Amelia’s is the adorable Leah tunic from Craftiness is not Optional and Edith’s is the Black Bird tunic from Schwin and Schwin lengthened to make a dress.

Coordinating little girls dresses - sewing projects at Permanent Riot

Both of the tutorials were relatively straightforward and easy to follow, I loved that the Black Bird tunic had a printable pattern, when you’re in a hurry sometimes it’s nice to just be able to follow cutting lines rather than drafting your own pattern. If I were making it again I would probably make a few changes to the construction – somehow having the raw top edge of the skirt piece encased in the neck would be nice and I would also probably add a little facing to the armholes only because I think it looks a bit cleaner. Both of those probably would have added time to the project (which I didn’t have) and the dress as is worked well so I’m happy with how it turned out. Edith especially loves her pocket!

Coordinating little girls dresses - sewing projects at Permanent Riot

The Leah tunic isn’t a pattern but rather a tutorial on how to draft your own pattern and construct the dress from the pieces you’ve drafted. I will say that I totally (100%, I should have taken a picture of how terrible it was) botched the sleeve shape on the first go-around. Luckily I was able to save it, but it was a bit trickier than I’d imagined. Amelia loves (LOVES) this dress and I do too, it reminds me of one of the dresses that the little girls in the cozy book might wear, and I want to make her a hundred more of them. I will say that I am not a huge fan of bias binding the armholes, I’m just not very good at it and I think my dresses look cleaner when they are lined (at least on the bodice) so I might try that next time and see how it turns out. I know that it’s a cooler dress if it’s unlined (better for summer) but with my wobbly sewing I feel like the bias tape gives away the fact that I am not an expert seamstress.

Coordinating little girls dresses - sewing projects at Permanent Riot

Once I got done with the first two dresses I realized that I really didn’t have time to mess around finding and following more patterns, as cute as they may be, so the last ones were just simple lined bodices with a split back and button closure, with pleated full skirts. No pattern, just tracing of t-shirts in the correct sizes and a big rectangle for the skirt. Not having a 15 month old to model for me, I definitely underestimated the length of the littlest dress (it’s much more of a tunic) but aside from that slip-up I think they turned out just as well as I could have hoped for. And all done in time to open for Christmas. Hooray! I consider it a sewing success.

Coordinating cousin dresses {sewing projects}

Happy (belated) Halloween

I meant to post this on Halloween – but then life happened. So instead it’s a happy belated Halloween! I hope you had fun with your loved ones. This year was a record for me – all of the kids’ costumes done more than an entire day before Halloween. I tend to be a last minute deadline sewer – up til all hours of the night the night before. I was pretty excited to be done a whole day in advance. Who knows how early I’ll be done next year, an entire week? Just imagine the free time…

The kids are somehow obsessed with Star Wars even though they’ve never seen it. Paul really wanted to be Darth Vader, until he found out that he was a bad guy, at which point he said he only wanted to be someone nice. I had an idea of how to put together an easy Ewok costume and that was a pretty easy sell for both him and Edith. Cute and fuzzy? Check! Amelia of course wanted to be stubborn and choose something else, she was all about the Yoda costume and that was pretty easy to throw together as well. I’m not sure we’ll be able to talk everyone into coordinating costumes again next year but I figure making it to five years old is pretty good, right?

Homemade Star Wars costumes - Permanent Riot blog

Despite his face in the first shot, Paul was actually super excited to be an Ewok….

Homemade Star Wars halloween costumes - Permanent Riot blog

Happy Halloween!

Happy (belated) Halloween

A quilt for baby S.D.

One of my best friends from college is expecting her very first baby in just a few months. She also happens to be a quilter and made a quilt for Paul and Amelia when they were babies. She had a baby shower just last week and if that doesn’t scream “occasion to make a quilt” then I don’t know what does!

I wanted to make (yet another) scrap quilt because no matter how many of these I make I always seem to have enough left in my stash for at least one more. Is that a sign that I have a fabric problem? The mystifying thing is that I don’t just go out and buy fabric willy-nilly. Somehow over the years it’s just built up. I think I was in denial about just how much of it there was. In any case, I really like the process of sifting through the fabrics and finding ones that sort of work together as a color scheme – I sometimes drive myself crazy adjusting the final layout, attempting to make a random pattern that’s not actually random is strangely satisfying – like a giant game of Sudoku. I only bought one fabric for this quilt, which was the flannel on the backing. Every time I make a new quilt I promise myself that this will be the time I just use a whole cloth backing, but then I put it up against the quilt top and I start to feel sorry for the poor old plain back… so off I go to piece together yet another backing. I really need to just factor in the time it takes to do that step into every quilt making process. I just love the look too much to go without.

I haven’t been able to label this quilt yet because baby’s name is top secret (hence the initials) but that just gives me an excuse to go and see her once she makes her entrance. Baby girl I cannot wait to meet you! Enjoy your new quilt!

A quilt for baby S.D. - quilting projects on Permanent RiotA quilt for baby S.D. - quilting projects on Permanent Riot

A quilt for baby S.D.

A quilt for Cataleia

I am getting SO close to being caught up on all of the quilts on my “to sew” list! I made my very first quilt ever for my niece Charlotte, who is now almost 4. She was my first niece and I was SO excited for Paul and Amelia to have a cousin. And when you set that kind gift precedent I feel like you should really follow through. Charlotte’s quilt was done by her baby shower (how I was so on top of things back when Paul and Amelia were a year old is kind of a mystery to me) but subsequent quilts haven’t been quite as timely. Cataleia is almost 6 months old now, so let’s just call this her half birthday gift? I still owe Raylan a quilt too, but once I finish that (oh, well, and Edith’s baby clothes quilt as well) I will be caught up. At least until I have another new niece or nephew.

Cataleia’s quilt might be my favorite strip quilt to date. I decided to finally start using some of my infinite scrap pile instead of buying all new fabrics, and I’m excited about how well some of them went together, even though I might not have chosen them if I were standing in the store. Ben likes to make fun of me for going out to buy big long yards of fabric only to cut them up and reconfigure them again… so here you go. An honest to goodness QUILT in the spirit of original quiliting – using up all the scraps to make something larger and more beautiful. I also couldn’t bear to leave the back as a whole cloth so I decided to add a bit of scrap in the middle and a blank strip so I could test out my newest idea – a painted label. I am much more confident at painting than I am at embroidery, so I figured I might as well give it a shot. I’m happy with how it turned out! This is also my second attempt at a pillowcase finish. I love quilting but I do not love making bias binding. I also really, really don’t like store bought binding. Pillowcase finishing is letting me skip my least favorite step and as a bonus I think it’s actually an attractive and more modern finish (at least I tell myself it’s that and not just laziness, what do you think? Yay or nay on pillowcase finishing?)

So without further ado – a quilt for Cataleia! Fresh from the dryer and so cozy! You really can’t beat a brand new quilt…

A quilt for Cataleia - quilting projects on Permanent Riot

I realized as I was typing this up that I never shared Abe or Natalie’s quilts either… time to dig those up from the archive for more quilt sharing!

A quilt for Cataleia

Ombre watercolor quotation painting tutorial

Ombre watercolor quote tutorial - Permanent Riot

Have you seen the feature on our home over on design mom? It was posted yesterday and it’s been such a treat to be featured over there. I love her blog and I have always been particularly fond of the living with kids series. It has been fun answering questions from her readers about where we got things in our home, and a few people have asked about the “home is wherever I’m with you” quote that we have in our bedroom.

Ombre watercolor quote tutorial - Permanent Riot

I’ve been a bit obsessed with watercolor lately, ever since Amelia started wanting to paint pictures of her own. It had been years since I painted and I had forgotten how fun and relaxing it can be. Once I had the idea for these song lyric quote paintings I just couldn’t seem to stop making them. I’ve been meaning to put together a tutorial on how I painted them, but really it’s SO simple all you need is a quick intro. Dear readers, I’d like you to meet masking fluid. It’s used in landscape painting for preserving small details, like a white cap on an ocean, but I have been using it to mask out words under a big swath of color.

All you need for this project is a few simple supplies.

Ombre watercolor quote tutorial - Permanent Riot

I use tinted masking fluid, it makes it easier to see where you’ve painted and work on your design. I always freehand my designs, but I have had a lot of practice with hand lettering (I hand addressed each of our wedding invites in calligraphy, I’m a bit crazy sometimes). If you’re less sure of yourself you might like to sketch the placement of the letters very lightly with a pencil first. Make sure that you cover all of the pencil markings when you apply your masking fluid, as you won’t be able to erase them if they get covered in watercolor, and they might show through the paint. When applying the masking fluid, I always use a thin line as a first pass and then go back and add a bit of variation in line thickness to give a little more character. Once the masking fluid is entirely dry, go back with a wide brush and apply the watercolor. I am taken with ombre (it’s everywhere, isn’t it) so I’ve been painting gradients. I start at the end I want to be darkest (usually the bottom) and work my way up in side to side strokes, as you drag the brush upwards it naturally becomes lighter. Easy peasy.

Ombre watercolor quote tutorial - Permanent RiotOmbre watercolor quote tutorial - Permanent Riot

Once the watercolor is all the way dry, just rub at the masking fluid with a fingertip and it should start to come right off. If you used pencil as a guide, you’ll want to use a clean eraser at this point to remove the markings. And that’s it, so simple! The hardest part for me is always waiting for the paint to dry to so I can see the finished product. I’m so impatient!

Ombre watercolor quote tutorial - Permanent Riot

I actually have several paintings like this scattered throughout our house (did you spot them in the tour?) – the “E is for Edith” in her room was done with the same technique

Ombre watercolor quote tutorial - Permanent Riot

Let me know if you try this out, I’d love to see what you come up with!

Ombre watercolor quotation painting tutorial

Valentine’s day & crepe paper streamer lettering

Happy Valentine's day from Permanent RiotHappy Valentine’s day! I hope your day was full of lots of love and sweet treats!

I don’t know about you but I was never all that into decorating for Valentine’s day or making a production about it before I had kids. I like to tell my husband that I love him every day, not just on designated days where flowers cost twice the usual going rate. All that aside, as soon as kids came into the picture it seems like holidays took on a whole new meaning. I remember waking up as a kid on Valentine’s day and my mom had decorated the whole kitchen and set the table with a red table cloth and a small treat for each of the kids at our seats. Those kinds of overnight transformations were always so magical. Being a kid is awesome – anything can happen while you’re sleeping.

I didn’t have huge plans for Valentine’s day this year but after we got the kids in bed I decided that it might be fun to fill the kitchen floor with red balloons. I really wanted to get heart shaped balloons but I guess maybe I should have thought of it sooner than the day before? I sent Ben out on a mission to buy some balloons and while he was gone I started hanging up some streamers and making more recycled mail decorations to go with the hearts that Amelia and I had made earlier in the week. Then I remembered that I had a bunch of small colored hearts already cut out from several years ago when I took the twins’ first Valentine’s day photo. I started hanging them up in the doorway – and, well, I think you can see where this is going. I got a little carried away. It was totally worth it to see the look on the kids’ faces when they woke up. They loved everything (especially the balloons).

Valentine's day - Permanent RiotMy very favorite part of all of the decorating we did was the giant “I love you so” scrawled in cursive along the top of one of the walls. It was actually Ben’s idea and I am absolutely sure we will be repeating this concept in the future – it’s so easy! Crepe paper streamers are the perfect medium for this kind of project – they’re stretchy and not likely to break, they keep their shape when they’re creased and are very lightweight so they stay up with just the tiniest bit of tape. I freehanded my letters as I went, but I’m sure you could sketch out your pattern on the wall ahead of time if you’re worried about getting it just so. If you’ve ever used the pen tool in Adobe Illustrator or drawn a spline in a CAD program, this lettering is the same idea. You only need to tack down the letters at “anchor points” where the streamer is curving or changing direction, not along the entire length. I actually used very little tape for this project, considering the final effect. The whole thing probably cost us around fifty cents. (as a nerdy side note, if you have some free time on your hands, check out the shipbuilding origins of the computer spline)

Valentine's day decor - Permanent RiotThe day went by in a blur of crafting and chaos (as they tend to do) – and we even managed to make some cards for the kids to take to the “friendship party” that they had at preschool this morning. I really wanted them to be a part of making the valentines so I asked them to paint with watercolors on sheets of white paper. After the paint was all dried they cut out circles from their drawings with my hole punch and wrote their names on the back. By the time they finished writing their names on every paper they were pretty burnt out of crafting so I finished them up on my own – but it would be pretty impressive if they could write in cursive, wouldn’t it?

Preschool valentines cards - Permanent RiotOverall I’d say the day was a smashing success. Once the kids were in bed, Ben and I cooked up some amazing mini chocolate souffles (I had no idea they were so easy to make – I’ll be making them again soon for sure!) and watched a terrible cheesy romantic comedy. I hope your Valentine’s day was just as much fun!

Valentine’s day & crepe paper streamer lettering

Easy last-minute valentine’s day decor – mail hearts

Ridiculously easy DIY valentine's day decor - repurpose junk mail into art - Permanent RiotI don’t know about you but I can’t stand junk mail. CAN’T STAND IT. I have signed up on a few lists and websites that promise to cut down on the amount of trash mailing you’ll recieve but so far I haven’t noticed any difference. It breaks my heart to go to the mailbox and pull out a mountain of paper, only to dump 90% of it directly into the recycling bin. Sure, recycling is better than trashing, but in the old “reduce, reuse, recycle” slogan, recycle is a last resort if you can’t reduce or reuse. Lately I’ve been making it my mission to reuse things that come into our house before I throw them out, and this morning I had an idea for what to do with just a small handfull of that dreaded junk mail.

See, I love decorating for holidays, but always get a twinge of guilt at using up perfectly good, brand new materials to make my projects that I know won’t last… or even worse, going out to buy supplies to make a project that I know won’t last. So why not use something I’ve got a lot of lying around (paper) and make it into something better? This project was so easy even a child could do it – in fact, my four year old did. Amelia cut out almost every one of the hearts. She’s a crafting machine. They don’t have to be perfect, they don’t even have to be close. In fact it’s the randomness and texture that makes this so neat, don’t you think?

Ridiculously easy DIY valentine's day decor - repurpose junk mail into art - Permanent RiotMy kids loved doing this project with me and they also loved the final effect. The kept saying that the hearts looked like birds flying off the wall, which is quite lovely, don’t you agree? I used these hearts for a backdrop for the kids’ valentine photo but that’s going to stay under wraps for just a few more days – you’ll see it on Thursday, promise!

Easy last-minute valentine’s day decor – mail hearts

Quirky cute DIY scratch-off valentines

Valentine’s day is just around the corner (how is it February already?!) and I love a good reason to make something new and crafty. I have been looking for an excuse to try out making scratch-off paint ever since I read a tutorial on DIY scratch-off cards last year, and valentines seemed like a perfect match. Who doesn’t like a little surprise in their valentine??

Being on a bit of a drawing and hand-lettering kick I decided to draw something out rather than design on the computer. I always feel so much more free with a piece of paper and pen in front of me, don’t you? I had the idea for the sheep first but once I started I just couldn’t stop coming up with new phrase and animal combos. I’m a sucker for a good pun. Once I had all of my ideas sketched out, into the computer they went to get cleaned up and neatly arranged, all ready to be printed out on cardstock and turned into your super awesome valentines. If you love them and want to make a few (or a hundred) for yourself, just go download the PDF file, then follow along with this easy tutorial and you’ll be sending out scratchable love notes in no time!

First up – what you’ll need:

scratch-off-valentine-tutorial-4
Once you’ve printed out the PDF onto a sheet of cardstock and assembled all of your supplies, start by cutting a small square of contact paper and tracing the hearts onto the contact paper. Make sure to trace onto the shiny surface on the front and NOT onto the paper on the back. The pen may bubble up a bit, but that’s ok, because you will want to cut to the inside of your line anyway. Since the hearts are all hand-drawn they aren’t entirely symmetrical and tracing on the paper side of the contact paper would produce a mirror image, which we don’t want. Once your hearts are traced and cut, peel off the paper backing and smooth them down onto the cards. I like to use the back of a pair of scissors to make sure that all the bumps and bubbles are out.

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After all the hearts are prepared it’s time to mix the paint. This is not an exact science but you want to use about two parts paint to one part dish soap – I used one part red, one part white paint to make a bright pink. When applying the paint to the hearts I like to go a bit outside the contact paper and onto the cardstock. That way if your recipient gets carried away with the scratching you know there will still be an outline of the heart left around the edge that they won’t be able to take off. It’s best to apply the paint in thin, even layers. You’ll probably need a few coats (between three and four depending on what color you use), so make sure to let them dry thoroughly before moving on to the next

scratch-off-valentine-tutorial-2
Once the first coat is on, go and grab a quick coffee and admire your work so far – looking good isn’t it? Make sure not to move on until the paint is fully dry to the touch or it will take longer for the next coats to dry as well.

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Once you’ve finished all the coats of paint and everything is dried, it’s time to cut apart your cards. Scissors will work just fine but I prefer to use an exacto blade and straight edge for an extra clean look.

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And that’s it! You’re done! That was easy, wasn’t it? The hardest part is resisting the urge to scratch all of the cards yourself before you hand out your valentines.

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If you’re feeling extra crafty you might even whip up a few little envelopes to stash your valentines inside. You could even include a penny and a little hint that the heart is scratchable. So cute!

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Happy valentine’s day, and happy crafting!

Quirky cute DIY scratch-off valentines

Easter dresses and bowtie {sewing projects}

Easter was in April – which was about 6 months ago. Yikes. I meant to post these quite a while ago – sewing the kids matching outfits was #25 on my 30 by 30 list. I turned 30 in August and actually checked off quite a few more of the list items, I just haven’t gotten around to writing about them… I really want to do a recap also.

In any case I did manage to get this one done on time and I even had big dreams of making a post about how I sewed these dresses – I whipped them up in about a day without a pattern and (aside from the miscalculation on the length of Edith’s dress… it’s a bit short) was pretty pleased with myself about how well they came out. I want to make them more dresses like this (maybe with a few tweaks or alterations to the technique) and if I do I am hoping I’ll get it together enough to document the process for a tutorial.

Here are a few pictures of the outfits in action –

easter-outfits

The dresses had a simple split back lined bodice – Amelia’s closes with little adorable yellow round buttons and Edith’s closes with pearl snaps (hard to get a baby to hold still long enough for buttons). The skirt is just a basic gathered skirt and the sash is sewed on the sides and ties with a bow in back. I actually used leftover fabric from their second birthday party – the same stuff that I made Amelia and Paul’s Easter outfits from the year before out of. The chick/egg design is a repeat as well – that’s what happens when you ask a 3 1/2 year old what they want on the dress – they say they want just what they had last time. Oh well. I still think it’s adorable. Paul’s bowtie was made using this tutorial from say yes to hoboken… super quick and easy!

One more item crossed off the list. Phew!

Easter dresses and bowtie {sewing projects}

19. finish and donate a blanket to project Linus {30 by 30 list}

This one has been on my to-do list for ages. Since about September of 2008 to be exact. Project Linus is a charity that collects blankets from volunteers (they can be crochet, knit, quilted… pretty much if you can make it they will take it) and distributes them to children in need of some love and comfort. From the Project Linus website :

As Charles Schulz’s Linus character from the PEANUTS® comic strip was comforted by his blanket, Project Linus strives to do the same and more for children who are seriously ill, traumatized, or otherwise in need. The blankets our nearly 400 chapter coordinators collect from thousands of “blanketeers” (volunteers) across the United States and then distributed to these children provide love, a sense of security, warmth, and comfort.

When Paul and Amelia were born they spent 2 weeks in the NICU. The first week and a half of that was spent in isolettes, little plastic baby bubbles where they wore only diapers and were hooked up to all sorts of beeping, buzzing, glowing machines. Once they reached a certain size and were able to take their food by mouth rather than tube they were moved into an open crib. When we walked into the NICU to find them in open cribs it was pretty much the happiest moment of my life. They finally looked like they were snuggly and cozy, just as babies are meant to be. Part of it was that they weren’t in their isolettes anymore, but a lot of it was that they were also covered up by beautiful handmade blankets given to them by Project Linus.

Ever since that day I have had blanket making on my to-do list. It made me feel so comforted and loved to know that someone out there took the time and effort to make blankets for my babies. I knew I needed to do the same for someone else who was going through a rough time. Paul and Amelia actually still sleep with their Project Linus blankets every single night.

I started this blanket sometime in 2010 and have had it mostly finished for almost a year now. I was just dragging my feet on weaving in the ends (I don’t like that part) and getting it mailed off, but I’m proud to say it’s on its way as of this morning. Hooray! I finally finished my blanket! Now to make a second one…

projectlinus5

For those curious about the how-to on this blanket… it’s pretty much the easiest crochet project on the planet. All you need to know is chain, single crochet and double crochet. I believe it’s actually this shell stitch pattern from the Project Linus website, but almost all the shell stitch patterns I found were basically the same idea. Three cheers for finishing a project!

One more item checked off my 30 by 30 list, hooray!

19. finish and donate a blanket to project Linus {30 by 30 list}