Maud Humphrey

Maud Humphrey

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Portabellopixie "Claire" Pattern

This is such a cute and easy pattern. I made it last year, for my two-year-old, and get so many compliments every time she wears it. Tomorrow, there is a baby shower at our church for a precious, new, baby girl, and so I decided to make this pattern again. I cut out the smallest size, 6-12 months.
This is truly a simple pattern. There are no buttons or zippers. Once the pieces are cut out, it takes less than an hour to sew together. Really! I like that it has elastic gathering in the neckline and sleeves, making it an easy fit that can grow a bit with the child. It can look quite whimsical and "boutique" depending on which fabrics you put together. Picking out the fabrics is my favorite part! I used some sweet, 1930's prints, and a vintage linen for the attached apron--all from my immense fabric stash.
Simple ties gather in the fullness. There is a deep, 2" doubled hem. I love deep makes the garment hang nicer and just look better, I think. I wish I had a little girl small enough to model this, as it looks so much sweeter on a chubby baby than hanging on a hanger. I guess I'll just have to wait until the recipient is big enough to wear it. Welcome, baby Grace!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Eloise Wilkin

It's no secret that I love books. All kinds. But some of my very favorites are children's books. The books above are all illustrated by Eloise Wilkin, one of my favorite illustrators. If you have ever looked at one of her books, you'll know why.
The children in her illustrations are all depicted as cherubic and chubby-faced.
And I never noticed until after we got a beagle, that many of the dogs in her books are beagles. I wonder if she had one, also?
The stories are wholesome, and depict everyday life in a more vintage setting. Children play with simple toys, like dolls and blocks and pets. They are kind and obedient. Just look at the picture above...what I wouldn't give for a grand fireplace like that in my bedroom!
Her babies are adorable. I just want to eat them up.
Really, how cute is this???
Eloise Wilkin was born in 1904, and illustrated many books in her lifetime, 47 of which were Little Golden Books. I hunt for them whenever I go thrifting, hope to add another title to my collection. My little ones must love them as much as I do, because right now I have a couple of books missing from the top picture. One of them is my absolute favorite, and it is called "Baby Dear". Sophie loves this book. I suspect she has it hidden away somewhere for safe-keeping.
In the 1960's, the Vogue doll company made a doll based on the baby doll in Eloise's book, "Baby Dear". It came in several sizes, but the 12" cutie shown above (currently for sale on Ebay) is the harder to find version. I am determined to add this doll to my collection someday, but one in good condition is not cheap. I just think she is so sweet. If I had her, I'm sure I'd have to watch her like a hawk, since I wouldn't be surprised if Sophie made off with her, also!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Snowfall and Doll Tights

On Tuesday night we braced for a snowstorm. The weathermen were predicting inches, if not at least a foot of the stuff. So we got excited. The closet where we keep our winter clothes had it's doors thrown open and contents emptied. There was a flurry of activity as people claimed their snow pants, jackets, and hats. Small arguments ensued over whose mittens were whose. The snow began falling steadily after dark. Progress reports were made every few minutes until bedtime by eager faces pressed up against windows. It felt like torture having to go to bed and wait until morning, but that's what had to happen. (I'm such a mean mom, you know, not letting my kids go sledding after 11 pm!)
And then, morning. Yes, there was snow. But there was also rain. A lot of it. Somewhere in the wee hours of the morning, the much anticipated, fluffy, white stuff transitioned over to the liquid sunshine we get on a regular basis. At least in our area. So the few inches of snow we got didn't last very long. But snowsuits were put on and a snowman was made. We listened with jealousy about people living in our same county who got hammered with snow. My father lives only 28 miles away and he got almost two feet. Snow envy, that's what we had. Sigh. Maybe next time.
The rain didn't deter anyone from building a snowman or throwing snowballs, though. That's the great thing about kids...they focused on the positive (the snow), ignored the negative (the rain), and just had fun, regardless. Perhaps there's a lesson here to be learned.
So while people were occupied with the rain/snow situation, I tackled a project I've been wanting to try for awhile. Doll tights. Yeah, I know, what's so interesting about doll tights? Well, not that much, I suppose, except I got it into my head how cute it would be to make tights to go along with the doll outfits I make. And I got this idea one day as I was browsing the thrift store and noticing all the knit shirts in pretty patterns. So I bought a few shirts (okay, more like 10, but they were half-off, so that's a deal, right?) and set to work trying to figure out a pattern. I scoured the internet for patterns, but couldn't find any. What??? You mean nobody has made a pattern for American Girl sized doll tights? So I was on my own. After about three tries, this is what I came up with.
I used a 100% cotton knit shirt which stretched horizontally only. I tried to get the tights as form-fitting as possible. I added an elastic into the waistband. For the most part, I'm pretty happy with how they turned out. The bottom of the foot still kind of bugs me, because I want them to lay perfectly flat. I will try these again, next time with a two-way stretch fabric. Maybe that will make a difference in how they fit.
Many thanks to Nellie, my American Girl doll, for modeling. She was not too happy about the lack of clothing, but bravely put on a smile anyway!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Simplicity 9570

As I was searching through Sophie's dresser looking for a pretty top to go along with her new Edith Twirl Skirt, I realized that she didn't have anything other than casual shirts. And because I wanted something a little more dressy for her to wear to church, I decided I should probably just make her something. So out came this pattern for a cute little dress or cropped top, which I picked up at a local thrift store a while back. The pattern is part of Simplicity's "It's So EASY!" line, and let me tell you, it really was.
Please excuse the look of my pouting model. We had just returned home from church and she didn't want her picture taken.
But because she's two, it only took her a split second to change her mind, and suddenly she bacame a willing participant!
The pattern is made up of three pieces--a front, a back, and a sleeve. I went for a length in between the dress and the cropped top by hacking off about 10" from the hem. The only real change I made was by adding an underbust casing to the bodice. Elastic gathers this area, along with the neckline and sleeves. There is no zipper or button placket--the whole thing simply slips over the head. I think it took me longer to cut out the pattern than it did to sew it! The fabric is 100% sheer cotton, probably a voile, but I can't remember exactly. I added a pretty lace along the hem, and the whole blouse just flows and drapes so nicely.
Success! I got lots of compliments at church about how darling her outfit was, so I'm seriously considering making at least one more skirt and blouse combination. Heaven knows I have enough fabric!

Sunday, January 15, 2012


Fifteen years ago today, at 10:19 am, my first daughter entered the world. All 8 lbs, 7 oz. of her. After three boys, I wasn't going to believe it until I saw it. In fact, I even took a boy outfit along with me to the hospital, because I wasn't willing to totally believe the ultrasound. Afterall, they make mistakes, don't they? But then, there she was. The nurses cleaned her up and presented her to me, and she had a little, pink bow in her hair. I'll never forget that. PINK. I could hardly believe it. Here was the little girl I had always dreamed of.
Needless to say, she was treated like a little princess. Her brothers loved her (at least until she got older and started getting into their stuff!) I sewed before she came along, but once she was here, my sewing really kicked into high gear. Frilly dresses, ruffles and lace. This was also when I learned how to smock. I discovered a magazine called "Sew Beautiful", which is full of heirloom smocking and sewing projects for children. I was hooked. I HAD to learn how to smock. So I taught myself. My very first smocking project for her was an Easter bonnet. The stitching was far from perfect. But oh, how proud I was of that bonnet. I made a matching coat, too, all out of light pink corduroy. I sewed a lot pink that first year! I sewed for my boys also, but there just isn't as much you can do for them. They did get a lot of flannel pajamas, though.
This must be the "new" fifteen. I can honestly tell you, I never looked this good when I was that age. I was a "late bloomer", awkward and gangly. I didn't have a clue about fashion, or how to make my hair look cute. I was horse-crazy, so I'm sure I cared more about how my horse looked than how I was dressed.
This girl has style, poise, and confidence. Not sure where she got that from, 'cause it didn't come from me. It took me a long time to acquire those attributes, and I'm still not 100% sure of myself!

Happy Birthday, Natalie. Your family loves you. Jesus loves you. I'm looking forward to seeing what the next fifteen years hold for you.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Walk to the Thrift Store

We celebrated the beautiful, sunny (but cold!) weather today by running through a park. Hey, at least it wasn't raining. That's cause for celebration enough around these parts!
We also took a walk around the neighborhood, which led us to our neighborhood thrift store. I LOVE thrift stores...especially this one. Most of the items are not individually priced. It's the kind of store where you just bring everything you want to buy up to the front counter, and they say "how about $10?" Which is what I spent for everything in the above picture. This includes a name brand hoodie and a tee-shirt for my oldest daughter, a pretty, white shirt for the two-year old, a large, framed picture, a Ravensburger puzzle, a vintage china plate made in England, a vintage vase made in Japan, lots of kid books (because we love to read), and last but not least, a three yard piece of beautiful fabric by Robyn Pandolph for Moda Fabrics. I am really trying not to bring much new fabric home this year, as I want to use up what I have. But I just couldn't pass this up. It's a very, high-quality quilter's cotton that runs about $12 a yard at the fabric store. And I paid, I don't know, maybe 50 cents for it?
Son #4 on this cool spinny thing at the park. It's so much fun. You jump on, grabbing hold of the pole, and the g-forces whip you around like crazy. I didn't go on it this time. But I have experienced it, and let's just say, I'm not as good at handling spinning as I used to be when I
The tomboy, the princess, and the sweetheart.
Can't go to the park without a swing picture, right? Sophia loved it. But she kept complaining that her fingers were "feezing". (She can't say her "r's" very well yet) I tried to get her to keep on her mittens, hat and coat, but, well, she's two. Enough said.
And here she is, doing "canon balls" off the slide. She is my risk taker/daredevil. I guess that happens when you're the youngest of eight and need to keep up with everybody else.
Son #5, my sweetheart. Sometimes, I could just eat him up, he's so sweet. Apparently, the fever he had yesterday was nowhere to be found today.
Here's wishing you all a beautiful, winter's day!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Good-bye, Ratty Blue Comfortor

My sweet little Jackson did a lot of this today. He woke up with a fever, and spent most of the day curled up in his quilt in front of the woodstove.
After much "persuasion", Sophie decided to take her nap on the living room couch. Yes, I know she's almost three and still has a pacifier. We're working on that.
So while both my little ones were dreaming sweet dreams, I was able to finish the "great comfortor rehabilitation" that I started a couple of nights ago. I wish I had a "before" picture of my daughter's old comfortor. Let's just say that after eight years of heavy use, it was ready for the rag box. But my daughter didn't want to let it go. She LOVED that comfortor. It was flannel and oh, so cozy. But it had definitely seen better days. Kids had puked on it and the puppy had chewed holes in it. I finally decided she needed something new. After thinking about it (and pricing the cost of batting) I decided to just use the old comfortor as the filling and get new fabrics to cover it. So off we went to our favorite fabric store (Fabric Depot, of course!) and I let her pick out new fabrics. She is a teenager, and very into the popular color combination of teal and brown, so that's what we ended up with. The back side is a cozy, brown flannel with teal dots.
The front is made up of two, coordinating prints. I sandwiched the three layers together (front, old comfortor, and flannel back), and machine quilted them with simple, diagonal lines. I added a binding around the outside edge, just like I do when I make quilts. However, instead of sewing the binding to the front side, turning it to the back and then handstitching it in place, I opted to sew it to the backside first, then turn it to the front and machine stitch it with a zig-zag stitch. This was much faster, and I was really ready to be done with this project!
And here it is on my daughter's bed, with the coordinating throw pillows she made a while back to go along with the comfortor. A note about the pillows: After pricing pillow forms at JoAnn's (and getting sticker shock) I got the bright idea to buy regular, old, throw pillows from our neighborhood thriftstore for just fifty cents a piece! Can't beat that. They go straight into a hot water wash, and then the drier, just in case there are any bugs or germs. Once they get new covers, no one is any wiser where the pillow forms once came from. I love the way the comfortor turned out. So does my daughter. So do all the kids, unfortunately. Because now they're ALL asking for me to recover THEIR comfortors. Oh no, what have I started?!?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Edith Twirl Skirt, and a Onesie conversion

Today I finally got around to making this darling skirt for my two-year-old. I don't know what took me so long. It is the Edith Twirl Skirt pattern by Jona G. There are no pattern pieces to cut out--just measurements depending on the size you are making. It is very easy and suitable for a beginner. The most time consuming part is gathering and attaching the ruffle. I recently bought a ruffler attachment for my sewing machine, but I haven't got up the nerve yet to figure out how to use it. Anyway, I didn't really need this pattern to make this skirt, however, I am a sucker for cute patterns, and I wanted to support an independent pattern designer. I followed the pattern exactly, except I cut the underskirt the same width as the overskirt, and I added and lengthened the ruffles strips so that the skirt would be extra poofy. We like our skirts puffy, twirly, and fluffy around here!Here's the finished product. And my little model is always willing to pose for me, except when she's in a mood, but we won't talk about that right now.
Thankfully, she was in rare form this morning. All I had to say was "show me your pose", and there she went!
The shirt she is wearing started out as a onesie that I found in the back of her drawer. She no longer wears these, since she is potty trained. Yay! But since it still fit her, and the pale green color matched her new skirt, I decided to turn it into a regular t-shirt. I began by hacking off the bottom portion.
Next, I added some stretchy, elastic lace that has been in my stash for who knows how long. (Lace and fabric are right sides together)
Final step was turning the seam allowance to the back side and topstitching. I am a beginner when it comes to sewing with knits. I still haven't got it all figured out. But this seemed to turn out okay, so I am fairly pleased.
It's hard to tell from the pictures, but the main fabric for the overskirt is a buttery-soft corduroy that I purchased from JoAnn's a few months back. It has darling, woodland animals scattered across it. So cute. I was pleased when I found it, because JoAnn's has been seriously disappointing me in their fabric department lately. Usually when I need (want!) new fabric for a project, I head over to Fabric Depot, the most wonderful fabric store around. It claims to be the largest fabric store in America, covering 1 1/2 acres. It is HUGE. It is like Disneyland for us seamstresses. And they have an awesome sale once a month that I always make sure to hit. That said, I still hold out hope that I can find something cute at my nearby JoAnn's. So when I found this cute corduroy fabric, I snapped it up. Now that I think about it, there were more cute prints in this line...hmmm...I'm thinking I may have to make a quick trip to JoAnn's and see if there's any left...

Saturday, January 7, 2012

About Me, and a Totebag

Well, here I am, finally starting a blog. Here's to a brand new year and new
adventures! A little about me...I'm the crafty type (at least that's what my
friends say). I love to sew. I taught myself to smock when I had my first
daughter after three boys. I can knit (a little) and embroider (a lot). I
absolutely LOVE dolls. Just about every type, although antiques are my
favorites. People always ask how many dolls I have, and I have to say, I don't
know. I suppose I should count them. Catagorize them, or something. Maybe that
will be future post. I'm sure there are at least a hundred, especially if I add
in all the dolls that I bought for my daughters, but have reclaimed as my own! I
like photography. I have a great, expensive, slr camera that can probably do a
million things, but I usually just leave it on the "program" button and let it
choose all the settings. Boring, I know. But I am so electronically challenged,
it's not even funny. I think my two-year old can operate the tv remote better
than I can. What can I mind just doesn't work that way. Now...tell me
to pick out coordinating fabrics for a quilt or outfit, and I'm in my element! I
used to scrapbook--a lot--but I've seriously let things fall behind in the past
several years. I had an album going for each child, plus a family album, but the
last three kids have nothing. Nada. Zip. Well, that's not entirely true. They do
have photos, neatly and chronologically arranged in shoe boxes, but that's where
they sit. I'm not one to make New Year's resolutions, but I do like to write
down certain goals. And one of my goals this year is to get caught up on my
albums. The other is to complete at least one sewing project each week.
Unrealistic? Maybe. But I'm going to try. I figure that by starting this blog, I
will have a place to post my projects and hold myself a little more accountable.
My husband and I have eight children, six of which still live at home. Yes, we
know what causes that! And no, we are not Mormon or Catholic. Just evangelical
Christians that believe children are blessings from God. I homeschool. My number
two son is married, so I also have a wonderful daughter-in-law. This same child
is in the army, getting ready to deploy for Afghanistan, so this mama is
worried. How can my baby be old enough to fight in a war? My number three son
wants to join the Navy this year when he turns 18, and my 23 year old is also
tossing around ideas of the military to help pay for schooling. Really? Are
these kids trying to worry their poor mother into a coma, or ??? This is really
when my faith comes in handy. My favorite bible verse is Phillipians 4:6-7: "Do
not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with
thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all
understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." I tell
you, I repeat this verse a lot. A LOT. And it really does bring me peace. I
guess that's enough about me for now. I have to save something for the next
post, right? And since every post needs at least one picture, here's one of the totebag I made for my daughter-in-law this Christmas, using my
son's army fatigues. Pretty cute, huh? She loved it. I think I need one for