Maud Humphrey

Maud Humphrey

Friday, April 27, 2012

Racketty-Packetty House--A Book Cover

I have been busily cleaning and organizing my sewing room over the past couple of days.  I have been ruthless!  Things are being tossed left and right.  It feels so good to get control over the chaos again.  There is still more left to do before I'm totally satisfied with my space (like organizing all my laces and other trims), but I decided to take a small break this morning and tackle a little project I've had on my mind.

I recently purchased this old children's book by one of my favorite authors, Frances Hodgson Burnett.  It is "Racketty Packetty House".  I have wanted to add this book to my collection for quite a while, but it can be quite expensive in good condition.  Luckily, this one came up on Ebay a short while ago, and because it had been well-loved, it only cost $14.99.  The pages are all intact, but the spine cover had completely ripped off (I glued it back on).  Other than that, it is in fairly decent shape.  It's a sweet little children's book, about the inhabitants of a dollhouse, and has a 1906 copyright.  There are delightful, colorful illustrations throughout, along with the one on the front cover.  Because I want to be able to read this book without doing it further damage, I decided to make it a book cover.

Remember those brown paper grocery bag covers we made for our school books back in the day?  Do kids still do that?  Anyway, that is NOT what I wanted for this little book.  I definitely didn't want to hide the illustration on the front cover.  So I got the idea to COPY it.  I used my Epson Scanner/Printer to copy the front cover onto a fabric sheet made for ink jet printers.  The picture above shows the color copy, bordered with 2" strips of fabric.

Next, I added another piece of fabric to the left hand side to make the back cover, and then I basted a lining piece using the same fabric across the entire piece.  I don't have exact measurements for you, since I just kind of made it up as I went along.  But the front cover of this little book measures 5"x 6 1/2", and I just cut everything a little bigger so that I would end up with a 1/2" seam allowance.

The photo above shows how I made the interior flaps.  I wanted their finished width to be about 3" wide, so I cut them 7" wide, folded them in half lengthwise, and then attached them right sides together with the front cover, stitching along the raw edges.

Next, I sewed along the top and bottom edges of the flaps, and then I zig-zagged the raw edges all the way around.  I also cut across the corners diagonally so that they would have nice points when turned right-side out.  (I shoved the white piece of paper into the left flap, so it would be easier (hopefully!) to see.)

The last step was to hand stitch a small hem at the top and bottom of the inside cover, the part that is in between the flaps.  My needle kind of blends into the fabric, but hopefully, you get the idea.

Here is the book, neatly inserted into the cover...

...and here is the completed project!  I am so pleased with how this turned out.  Now I can handle this book without being afraid of doing more damage to the spine and cover, yet the illustration is still visible on the front.  The fabric, by the way, is a 1900's reproduction fabric by Blue Hills Fabric called "Samantha".  I thought this was appropriate, since the book was printed in 1906.

Hope you enjoyed this little project.  I really just wanted to show how one can go about protecting an old book (or even a new one, for that matter) and not lose any of the visual charm.  Now, go read a book!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The "Tangled" Top

So here's the little top I worked on while I could have (should have?) been weeding yesterday.  It took me awhile to decide exactly what I wanted to do, but in the end I went for simple.  Sophie likes to dress herself, sometimes numerous times a day, so I wanted something that would be easy for her to take off and on.  No zipper, no buttons.  I ended up using the Portabello Pixie "Claire" dress pattern that I blogged about awhile back, only I left off the apron and shortened the skirt.
The sun was shining so brightly when I took this picture...but we're not complaining!

I wasn't sure at first if I liked all the "poofy-ness", but Sophie loves it!  And the longer she wore it, the more I loved it, too.   She put it on first thing this morning and kept it on all day.  A few minutes ago I suggested that we take it off so she could change into jammies, but she promptly rejected that idea.  I think she thinks she's going to sleep in it.

She wore this to church today, and got so many compliments.  I must admit, it did turn out pretty darn cute.  I think this top would look so sweet with little capris, too.

Now I'm thinking that I need to make matching tops for the other two skirts I've made her.  Oh, if only there were more hours in the day!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

What a difference a month makes!

Here's where we were, just one, short month ago...

 ...and now look!

The sun has finally decided to make an appearance.  And it's supposed to stick around for another day or two.

You can't even imagine the excitement around here, what with new swim suits and sprinklers!

Our darling Daisy...well, most of the time.  She made sure to steer clear of the sprinklers and excitement happening on the other side of the yard.

 I'm hoping that while eveyone is outside, enjoying the sun, I might sneak away inside and finish up a cute, little top for Sophia that coordinates with her "Tangled" skirt.    I really should be weeding my garden beds, and getting them ready for planting.  I even bought a new hand trowel, since my other ones have all mysteriously "disappeared".   It's clean and shiny, and ergonomically correct.  I'm excited to think how my raised beds will look when they're all weed-free.  Hmmm.  It is supposed to be sunny tomorrow, too...why put off sewing today when weeding can be done tomorrow?!?  Hope the sun is shining wherever you live, too!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Yet another twirl skirt....

I couldn't help myself. I bought some fabric last week, even though I've been trying to only use up what I have.
But that's what happens when you have time to kill and decide to "just look" while on an errand at the fabric store to pick up ONLY buttons.
Sometimes, JoAnn's surprises me with their fabric. Lately, I've been very disappointed in their fabric selection. Most of their quilter's cotton is cheap and inferior quality, yet they charge as much for it as the good cottons in the quilt stores. But just when I've given up on finding any decent fabric on the premises, I round a corner and there it is. Something cute. Something adorable. Something that has to come home with me.
This is the fabric that made me break my vow not to buy any more new fabric. It is a buttery, soft corduroy featuring Rapunzel, the character from Disney's popular movie, "Tangled". This just happens to be my little one's favorite movie right now. She has many of the phrases and songs memorized.
She squealed with delight when she saw the fabric. She's been asking everyday for the past week when I was going to make her "Tangled" skirt. Today was the day.
I love it, just like the other two I've made. It's a wonderful, froofy, poofy, girlie-girl skirt. Now I'm seriously contemplating getting another yard of the stuff to possibly make a matching top. Wouldn't that be adorable?

Friday, April 13, 2012

Feliz Party Dress

I bought this book over a year ago, for the sole purpose of making the dress that is featured on the front cover--The Feliz Party Dress. I had seen many beautiful versions of this dress all over the internet, and I just had to make one myself! Unfortunately, the pattern was no longer available on it's own, but it was included in this lovely book that I bought from Amazon.

This pattern is NOT for the inexperienced seamstress. It isn't hard to construct, but the directions in the book are vague. I found several tutorials online that explained the construction step-by-step, and these were much more helpful than the book. This dress consists of an underdress and an overdress which are sewn together at the top. Side ties and back elastic hold in the fullness--no zipper or buttons needed!

My favorite part about this dress is the ruffles! They are so cute, and remind me of the old-fashioned bustle dresses that women and girls used to wear in the 1880's. This dress can be made without the ruffles, for a simpler look, and in just one color, if desired. But we love colorful, ruffly dresses around fact, the fuller and rufflier (is that a word?) the better!

Because this is a European pattern, it comes without seam allowances. You have to add them on yourself when you trace the pattern.

The center panel is fabric that I've had in my stash for ages. It is such a pretty yellow, with the cutest little children all over it. I have saved it all these years, not ever knowing quite what I wanted to do with it. The other fabrics all coordinate beautifully with the colors in the yellow print.

This dress has "twirl-a-bility"!

I had read that this pattern runs a bit small, so I made the size 3-4, thinking it would fit my 3 year old perfectly. And it did fit well everywhere, except the length was a bit long. Next time I make this (I'm picturing it in pale pink and white!) I will take this into consideration and shorten the skirts an inch or two. But Sophie loves it this length...she calls it her "princess" dress!

We put a shirt under it because the weather is still cool around here. But it can be worn as a sundress, also, when the sun finally decides to stick around for awhile.

The pattern comes in sizes 18mos-12 years. I encourage anyone with a girlie-girl in their life to make it. She will love it, and you won't be able to stop smiling every time you see her in it!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Two New Projects

Son #2 is in Afghanistan right now, serving with the US Army. I am super-proud of him, but not a day goes by that I don't feel a little anxious for his safety. We get to talk to him maybe twice a week, and it's just so wonderful to hear his voice. The last time we spoke, he requested I send him a pillowcase in his next care package, and this is what I came up with. Of course, I couldn't just go out and buy a ready-made one...what fun would that be? So I exhausted a little bit more of my fabric stash and whipped up this cute case. The Mickey print is flannel; the other two fabrics are quilter's cottons. I hope it brings a smile to his face and a sweet dreams when he sleeps.

Remember the little doll bonnet I crocheted a short while ago? Well, this is the matching dress! Unfortunately, that bonnet was too big to fit this doll, and this dress was too small to fit the other doll that modeled the bonnet! Oh, well. I am mainly doing these little doll projects so that I can get more proficient at crochet. But didn't it turn out cute? It actually made up pretty quickly, and only took me a couple of afternoons.
The back closes with two, tiny buttons. The neckline turned out a little wider than I would have liked for this doll, so if I try it again, I will adjust that. But for the most part, I am very happy with how this turned out. There are matching panties for this outfit...I may try those tonight, and maybe try to make a smaller bonnet, too.

I have a dress almost completed for my youngest--I just need to attach the shoulder straps and side ties. So hopefully, that will be my next post. But my little model has been under-the-weather for the past couple of days, so I'll need to wait until she's ready to try it on for me. Dresses always look better on a real, live child than hanging on a hanger. And all the beautiful sun we had over Easter weekend? GONE. So we may end up taking pictures indoors (not my first choice), unless we get a good break in the rain. Ah, the joys of living in the Pacific Northwest!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter/Resurrection Day!

HAPPY EASTER! Or Resurrection Day, as many Christians are now calling it.

Because we don't have church services until the afternoon, we were able to enjoy a leisurely morning, finally coloring the eggs that were waiting for us. The colors just make me smile.

I know that some Christians prefer not to associate Easter with eggs and candy and bunnies, but I have such fond memories of all these things from when I was growing up, and I always knew the real reason behind our traditions.

Oldest daughter's nickname, since the day we brought her home from the hospital and I proclaimed how "itty bitty" she looked in her car seat.
Just the other day, one of my little ones asked me what eggs and bunnies had to do with Easter. I was so proud that they were thinking about it. "Well, nothing", I answered. "But eggs and baby animals remind us of new birth, and that's what we get when we trust Jesus to be our savior".

We have an egg hunt planned soon, church service, and then the rest of the day spent visiting my oldest son. He and his girlfriend are making us dinner! And the sun is out. On EASTER. It couldn't really get much better. Hope you're having a wonderful Easter Sunday with your family, too. Jesus lives!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Dolls on Ebay and "Journey Girls" Review

I finally got on the ball this evening and listed a bunch of things on Ebay that I've been stockpiling. I like to go to the thrift stores and collect things here and there that I think might net me a little profit. Especially dolls. They are usually naked when I bring them home, so I fix their hair, remove any marks, and make them a new outfit. I think this helps them sell much better. These two little sweeties are 18" dolls from the Journey Girls collection. They have similar bodies to the American Girls, except that they also have a vinyl shoulder plate, which makes them nicer to dress in clothing that might show their upper backs/chests. Instead of a dress (which I usually make), I decided to create an outfit with capris and a top. The pants are made of baby wale corduroy, with cuffs that coordinate with the tops. The tops are basically a sundress pattern cut short. On one doll, the ties are cut extra long so that they can wrap around and tie in front. The tops close in back with Velcro. Rick-rack trims the cuffs and dress hem. All fabric was from my never-ending stash!
This is Alana. Isn't she pretty? I almost didn't list her. She's been sitting in my sewing/doll room for the past several weeks, and I'm still not tired of looking at her. I know I will be sad when she's gone.
And this is Dana. She is pretty too, but I'm not as attached to her as I am to Alana. In my opinion, Journey Girls are one of the nicer quality play dolls in the 18" range. I believe they are made by Toys R Us. They have nice, rooted hair and bodies that hold a pose. Not to mention the shoulder plates. I wish the American Girls had shoulder plates as well. I think that these run about $40 brand new, making them a nice alternative to the American Girl dolls. Of course, they don't have all the books and accessories that the AG dolls have, but they are very nice in their own right. These are listed on Ebay right now, so hop on over if you want to take a peek. My seller name is "dotsydoodle".
I am currently working on a dress for my little one, and I've also been crocheting a new doll dress. So stay tuned...good things are coming!