Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Last of the Journal Your Christmas - Dec 25, Final Page Calendar, and Cover!

I hope you had a beautiful Christmas Day yesterday!  It was magical for us and I have to credit my kiddo for that!  It was also our third day of Christmas dinners, family get-togethers, and gifts to share.

This is my December 25 page for my Christmas journal:

I wasn't sure how I was going to tackle this day.  I had decided to end my journal on the 25th for logistical reasons [read: this book is out-growing the largest book rings I could find], so I needed these pages to be somewhat different but I still wanted to keep my page size, shape, and date location in the upper right corner.  I figured it out when I found a free printable by Hope Ink Art and Design.  You can find it by clicking here.   I used her design, scaled down to my 5-1/2" page size for the left side and used a white pen to do some of my own doodling for the right side.

I found this here:

Since this is the end of my journal date pages, I had been wanting a calendar page so I added it to the reverse side, the very, very end!  This is a calendar that was made available by Marie at A Stitch in Time.  I hand-wrote my daily schedule.  Note to self for next year:  fill it in as the days pass.  A fun thing about the calendar is that I will continue to write on it as the month unfolds!

I found this here:
For my cover, I used 6" chipboard covers that I had in my stash.  I covered them with decorative papers using Mod Podge to adhere them and a brayer to ensure that they were smooth.  I used my Crop-A-Dile to punch holes in my pages and covers.  Three-inch book rings bound it all together.  My cover design incorporated a larger size medallion and font, like the one that I had repeated on most of my pages.

My daughter finally wrote a little message about her Christmas (that I had been begging her to write) and I included that along with my own notes in a little pocket I made for the inside back cover.

  As you can see, this fella is thick.

So.... I have to say that I loved this project!  It forced me to appreciate each day-- to find something good to share each day.  We didn't do half of the activities that I had hoped we would and yet our lives were full and our season was lovely.  I did write lots of things on my journaling tags and hidden within my little envelopes and pockets that weren't always happy but were always truthful and representational.  I have faith that by including that stuff that this journal will be more meaningful in the years to come and to others aside from me.  As a keepsake, I think it makes it more poignant.

I also loved that I have so many wonderful photos of the season.  Normally, I would have a picture here or there, but for this project, I took tons of pictures daily.  I printed off many for grandparent gifts and have them all in a 2012 digital file.  This was an extra gift to me and my family!

I have previously blogged my pages one, two, and three pages at a time, but I wanted to share them bound and all together.  I intentionally made each day with different papers and different colors to associate best with the photo or theme of that day.  That is something that made the dailies take longer to complete, but made it so much more fun for me!

Links to the posts for the pages shown above:
December 1-2
December 3-4
December 5-7
December 8
December 9-10
December 11-12
December 13-15
December 16
December 17-18
December 19
December 20
December 21
December 22-24
December 25 (here!)

Thank you for checking my blog post today!  I learned a lot from this project and I know lots of things I will do differently next year.  (I hope to make this a holiday tradition!)  I am off to get my house back in shape after the holiday fun.  I hope you are continuing to make many happy holiday memories to warm your heart the rest of the winter.


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Journal Your Christmas - Dec 22, 23, 24

Merry Christmas!  My kiddo woke me up just after 4AM to see what Santa left (she's a chip off the old block for sure!), so I had a bit of time to catch up my Christmas journal.

December 22-- The first gift my daughter, Piper, received this year was a glass blowing activity from my mom.  We loved the finished ornament!

December 23--  This was our first Christmas celebration of the holiday.  Piper loves going to Nana and JT's house (and so do we).  This part of Christmas is always characterized by a presentation my father-in-law does each year where he presents the gifts he purchased in ceremony-style.  It is hilarious and everyone pretends to be be bored by his antics, when in fact, we are honored.  His gifts are always great and I always crack up at his funny commentary and silliness.  My mother-in-law keeps it casual and cozy.

December 24-- Christmas Eve

I picked these papers from my stash because they remind me of my husband's grandfather's home, where we spent Christmas meal #2 with extended family.  It gets a little crazy there, as evidenced by my husband's face.  Our little on-going joke is that we are going to celebrate Festivus (a la Seinfeld's made up December 23rd holiday) 'next year.'  (Always next year!)  No Festivus this year, and we did manage to avoid airing our grievances (one of the signature Festivus activities).  Ha!  In all truth, we love going to Great Grandpa's house (as my kiddo calls it) because it is packed with family, happy spirits, food, and laughter.  ...And speaking of Seinfeld, someone picked up a Chocolate Babka-- all the Seinfeld fans will remember that.  Apparently, Panera is selling them for the season.  Seeing it on the table made me laugh.

This is a journaling card in the pocket.
Because that time from bedtime Christmas Eve to wide-eyed excitement Christmas morning takes on a time zone all its own, I added pages for this time.  It is after my Dec 24 page and I still have my Dec 25 page to go, which will be placed after this.

The last of our Christmas meals with family happens tonight at my mom's house.  I am sure that will be the subject of my Dec 25 page... and I still have to create a cover and bind this journal.

I hope you are having a fantastic Christmas!  And as we were reminded in mass yesterday, the Christmas season continues beyond the 25th, although my journal will be ending then out of necessity since it is so incredibly thick!


Monday, December 24, 2012

My Secret Sewing: American Girl Dress Collection Gift

I have been living a secret sewing life this month, stealing away time making doll clothes for my daughter again this year.

The inspiration for this gift was a $68 holiday doll outfit from the American Girl catalog that my daughter requested-- that I thought would be easy to re-create with stuff I already had.  My daughter has tons of casual, trendy, and sporty doll clothes that I sewed from the fantastic Liberty Jane Patterns last year, but she really started pining for dresses for her dolls.  After taking a design class last winter from Cinnamon Miles of Liberty Jane, and sewing so many knits, I wanted to make fitted woven dresses this time around.

If you have ever sewn for dolls, you know that finding a good fit is really hard -- especially for patterns engineered to be sewn with wovens.  Additionally, the major pattern companies (like McCall's and Simplicity) tend to simply shrink patterns down instead of altering their designs and instructions for the small scale.  Because of this, you will find tiny facings and illogical construction directions for such tiny garments.  The easiest way to overcome this is to use independent doll clothes pattern manufacturers-- or to draft your own.

I had a few patterns from last year's doll clothes-making obsession that I had never used and so I started there.  Last year, I discovered Kotton Candy, a company that sells PDF pattern downloads on Etsy.   The designer behind this company is Kristin Cornell.  Her dresses have a perfect fit and are made for sweet cotton prints.  I also used her patterns for silk dupioni and taffeta dresses.  This is the first dress I made from her "Perfect Party Dress" pattern.

I will say that with the tight gathering, I found that the skirt was a bit too short.  I added a little eyelet trim to the bottom to gain a little length.  I added double-fold bias tape to the top ruffle (pattern piece: skirt A) to keep the two layers from blending with the busy prints I was using.

I found a great source for headband blanks to make matching headbands for the outfits!  To see my post on making those, along with a link to my source for the blanks, check out a previous post here on my blog:  click here.

This is the same pattern.  This time, I added 1" to the bottom skirt (pattern piece: skrit B) and piping to the top and bottom edges of the waistband.

I also made the dress with only a single skirt (pattern piece: B only) . I found some old Martha Stewart felt flower kits and added them to the dress and headband.

Also in my pattern stash was another pattern from Kotton Candy, the "Pleated Top, Tunic, and Sundress" pattern.  I loved, loved, loved this pattern.  It was so fast and easy!  Such a dream to sew!  I loved this dress in silk dupioni!  Both the "Perfect Party Dress" and the "Pleated Sundress" featured lined bodices, Velcro back closures, and offer perfect fit for American Girl dolls.  

The simple lines of the "Pleated Sundress" pattern allowed for fun details, like piping and rickrack (classic doll dress trimmings that are often shunned by the trendy pros but I couldn't help myself!).  These were perfect for accessories, like another Martha Stewart flower on a matching headband and a handmade necklace.

I used a hand-made clay pendant, freshwater pearls, and glass and metal beads for the necklace.  I placed it on a card I made from a tag on Cricut Holiday Frames and Tags to make it a little more special.

While I was procrastinating instead of making the copy of the American Girl dress, I made a couple casual outfits too...

This one was made with a Liberty Jane jeans pattern, the free Liberty Jane T-shirt pattern, and the Heritage Doll Fashions wrap jacket.  These were all so easy-- I have made the jeans and t-shirt patterns dozens of times and they always give great results.  I added a few of my own details.  It was the first time I had sewn the jacket pattern and I think the jacket would have been cuter in a solid; the pattern I chose hid the tie feature.

The jacket was a slinky knit.  The key to me for using knits for doll clothes is a product called Steam-A-Seam.  Using knits is an easy way to achieve great fit!

This product is available in 1/4" and 1/2".  It is slightly tacky so it stays put until you press it.  It has holes in it, allowing steam to penetrate and melt it.  Unlike disappointing products like Stitch Witchery, this stuff actually works.  The package claims that it can be washed or dry cleaned without stitching, but for items to be washed, I always stitch so I am not sure of that claim!  It really does hold though, and I have used it without stitching on doll clothes with great success!  The other benefit is that it works as a stabilizer so that hemming t-shirt bottoms yields great results- none of that puckering that happens when topstitching on a cross-stretch!

I used it on the wrap jacket's long neck-to-tie edge and it was perfect!  So much smoother than pinning and using it here stabilized it for stitching!

I also noticed a skirt that repeated over and over in the American Girl catalog:  it was a slight a-line with a smooth front and elastic casing.  I couldn't find a similar pattern in my stash, on Liberty Jane's site, or on Etsy so I made my own pattern.  For fun, I made an Ultrasuede skirt.  This turned out to be such a quick and easy garment!

I had gotten so off track from my original dress that I wanted to copy... so I had to pull myself back to get the dress done for the gift.  I went back to the Kotton Candy "Perfect Party Dress", using only the bottom skirt (pattern piece:  skirt B).  I didn't add to the length but I did remove 8" from the side to reduce the fullness.  I used my Clotilde pleating board to pleat up a piece of fabric before cutting the waistband from it.  I placed a piece of fusible interfacing behind it after removing from the pleating board and pressed it with my iron to keep the pleats in place.  The pleating board wasn't quite long enough, but pretty close.  This pattern instructs the user to cut two waistband pieces, essentially creating a nice, lined bodice finish.  This is another detail of this pattern that I really like.

I added piping to the neck and bottom waistband seam.  I used satin ribbon for the bow detail.  The original dress featured a velvet jacket and bow, but I was using my stash and used the satin I had.

I loved the details on this little dress-- and so easy to achieve with a few simple changes to the basic pattern!

The ensemble in the catalog included opaque, black tights.  I recently found a tutorial for making doll tights from a knee sock, but I haven't worn knee socks since high school!  Click here for the tutorial using a sock.  I ended up cannibalizing an old pair of microfiber tights from my drawer.

I used George brand (Walmart) microfiber tights.  I cut off the toe.  I found that cutting a 10" length worked perfectly!!  I didn't turn it inside out; they are the same on both sides of the fabric.  They also don't run!!!  (I suppose that is because I used microfiber ones???)  I was able to keep the top unfinished.  They naturally have a slight roll and that could easily enough be stitched in place using a stretch stitch, but I didn't.  Just like the sock tutorial, I measured 3" from the top and pinned to mark the place.  I cut up the center to the pin to create the two legs.  I sewed the bottoms and up each inside leg and turned it inside-out so the seams were inside.  That was it!!  Instant doll tights.  Now, I will say that these were Queen size tights that I started with.  If you are a skinny mom raiding your stocking drawer, you might try it to see if your size will work!  This size, cut into 10" tubes will yield 4 pairs of tights.

With the dress and tights done, I tackled the jacket.  I drafted my own jacket pattern and used pleated ribbon to mimic the pleated ruffle from the catalog garment.  The pleated trim was so easy to work with!  I was so happy at how it turned the curves of my jacket.  The tricky part was how the ruffle tapers off at the bottom front-- that is, the hard part was making sure the left and right sides match where it tapers!

I cut the jacket twice so that I could self-line.  Doing this allowed me to have a nice, finished front/neck seam and a perfect lower hem.  I added piping to the bottom hem of the sleeves to have a smooth sleeve hem finish.  This went together so fast and easy.  I had been procrastinating for nothing!

I just wrapped my gift, tucking in tons of doll hangers.

Quick links:
Thank you for checking my blog post today.  I did not get to do the historical garments that I had planned to, although they are cut out... I guess there's always New Years!  Honestly, I could do this all day, every day, but at some point-- and for me that was Christmas Eve morning-- you just have to stop and wrap it up!

To see many of my previous projects, check My Project Gallery!  
To see last year's doll clothes post, including using Yudu Cardshop and glitter to screen doll t-shirts and Knifty Knitter to make doll bedding, and links to the patterns and doll shoes I used, click here.

It's Christmas Eve!!

But wait! There's more! Click 'older posts' above!

But wait!  There's more!  Click 'older posts' above!