The “Unicorn” Pillow

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Remember all the hullabaloo about which top I should make with the pink ponies silk for K’s birthday? Well, when 11pm rolled around the night before her 10th b-day and the fabric hadn’t even been ironed, I knew that I was in trouble.

And then I remembered that Shelley had left a brilliant comment about embroidering a unicorn horn, an idea with which I became obsessed. She also suggested wings, but that was beyond my mental and embroidery capabilities at the literal 11th hour. So I came up with plan B and foraged for some silver embroidery thread because I knew I was out of gold and went to work.

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When I gave her the 14″ x 14″ pillow the next morning, I hinted that a special unicorn was hiding amid the pink ponies and it actually took her a lot longer than I expected to find it. Then again, it was fairly dark in the room. The pillow required all of 15 minutes to sew including embroidering the horn. I broke all manners of sewing rules and didn’t care one whit that the edges weren’t totally straight and didn’t even consider creating French seams. It almost felt sacrilegious to overlock the raw edges of the fine fabric, but I’d say the time saved was well worth the sacrilege. I always make pillow covers with an envelope closure, so K can freely drool on it if she so chooses and freshness is just a washing machine away.

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Can you find the unicorn? The most rewarding part is that she LOVES loves loves the pillow. I actually think that making something that she won’t outgrow was the smarter choice here, and the unicorn horn made all the difference in elevating this simple project into a magical one. Thank you, Shelley!! You’re a genius.

And oh, her birthday was awesome — filled with swimming, her favorite restaurant (the xiao long dumplings are to die for) and a sleepover. Ten-years-old!!!! I can’t believe it. I almost forgot! She also got a curling iron for her birthday with strict instructions of never using it on her own, and she loves it even more than the pillow. We’d been using a makeshift wooden spoon + flat iron Macgyvering maneuver to occasionally curl her hair, but it was…not fun. Behold my curls-bedecked tween:

k-curlsP.S. That’s a garage sale dress that a friend gave her a while ago and is not handmade. She was practically hyperventilating from happiness on her birthday. So so sweet.

Good-bye Little Girl Room

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Poor M pulled a muscle in his back on Friday, so we figured teepee camping was probably not the best idea. Since the camp site is so close and the rate was on the economical side, we didn’t feel too guilty about canceling and had a quiet, at-home fête of three.

But K had been looking forward to the teepee and was a bit bummed out (I suspect what she really wanted was the s’mores). Partly to assuage her and partly because we’ve been talking about it forever, K and I hit IKEA to finally update her room from pink and purple sparkle-ness to something a little more grown-up. I was rather impressed by her decisiveness when it came to selecting the rug, bedding, and curtains. As you can see, she went with a subdued palette. That swivel-chair was her favorite purchase, fyi. I was surprised that she chose black because it comes in cute colors like green, pink, blue, light grey…

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The Nordis sheer curtains were too long, so I shortened them, which was the highlight of my sewing over the weekend though I am working on my secret sewing project for M (spoiler: it’s not going well – if you saw my sneak peek on Instagram, that is by far the best-looking part of the project).

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This. This curtain rod and double brackets had me pulling out my hair, proving, yet again, that I am so not handy. “Mama, there’s an awful lot of ‘ow!’, ‘oops!’, ‘AAAAAGH’s going on,” K commented, as I tried to wrangle the power drill to tame the uncooperative screws. The curtain brackets are from IKEA as well and a monkey could have easily installed them, but I am obviously not as dextrous as a monkey.

Because K’s room is east-facing, it’s like a broiler in there during the summer months, but her original curtain rod had broken and we’d been trying to shield the sun with foam boards that I happened to have on hand. Not a classy look, let me tell you. I’ve known for a long time that I should put up blackout curtains, but laziness kept winning out, and I was willing to live with the shanty-town look.

But it’s my girl’s 10th birthday in five days and she deserves better. Clearly sheer curtains weren’t going to cut it. Hence the double curtain rods and blackout curtains. I’m quite proud that I finally got everything measured, screwed in and acceptably installed. The curtain rod with the glass finial is from Amazon as is the grey-ish white blackout curtains — they were a good deal! They initially looked really cheap, but I have to say that I’m pleasantly surprised by  how put-together it all seems.

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All this talk of curtains and bedding is well and good, but the most important part of her room is directly across from her bunk bed: the studio. This is where my musical child practices her instruments and composes songs and generally blows me away. She recently recorded a song with her piano/guitar/voice instructor (yes, one teacher for all three) and I couldn’t believe it was K when I heard it in the recording studio. I tried to upload the MP3, but it says the size exceeds the limit for WordPress…oh technology! At any rate, it’s pretty awesome to watch the blossoming of a talent through perseverance.

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And then, of course, there are the signs of approaching teenage-hood on her door.

Alright, all that drilling and redecorating wiped me out! Hope you all had a fabulous weekend!

Potential Birthday Tops for a 10-Year-Old

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July is teeming with birthdays in our cozy circle of family and friends, and it feels like we’re celebrating every other day. But the two that matter the most in our household are coming up this weekend and next. This Saturday is M’s special day and we’ve got a teepee booked. He loves those teepees, and I hope we can slumber without any moose scares.

And then the following Saturday, K turns 10!!! A while ago, I found this amazing silk fabric with pink horses and nothing was going to stop me from getting it for K even though a) it’s silk, which is an impractical textile option for a kid and b) it wasn’t, as I’d initially thought, pink unicorns. K is going through a humongo unicorn phase right now.

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I know that she’ll adore it though.

I’ve been so scattered lately. It wasn’t until yesterday that it dawned on me that I have less than two weeks until her birthday and I’ve done so little planning. I’ve totally dropped the ball on this one. If nothing else, I’m determined to sew her a sweet top because she noticed that I’ve been sewing for myself again and said, “No fair! I want you to sew for me!!”

Because the fabric was a bit spendy, I only got a yard and a quarter, which limits what I can make. I’ve narrowed my choices down to the following:

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From this book.

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From this book.

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From this book.

I’m leaning towards that last one. The silk would flow so prettily and I might be able to reduce the width a bit to squeeze the pattern pieces out of the small amount I have. What do you think? Which one would you go with? Or do you know of other tween-worthy patterns that could be made from 1.25 yards? I suppose I could combine it with some lawn fabric I have (which is what I might have to do with the very top option with the lace inset), but I don’t know…this one deserves to shine on its own.

I better get crackin’. There’s a sewing project I want to try for M as well, but that one is fairly ambitious so I highly doubt I’ll be able to complete it in time. You know me, always biting off more than I can chew — what would be the sewing equivalent of that? Threading more than the eye of the needle can hold? Cutting more fabric than the pattern requires? My brain is not cooperating…More later!

Endless Summer Tunics

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Good morning! Looky here — I sewed something! In fact, I sewed two somethings:

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This is the Endless Summer Tunic pattern by A Verb For Keeping Warm (have you seen the IG feed? Stunning). How is it that I didn’t know about this pattern?

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I made the grey linen one first — complete with pockets — and used the same fabric as this top for the yoke facing and pocket linings. I should mention that I’ve long since donated that polka dot button down because I felt sloppy and frumpola in it every time I tried it on. No regrets! Marie Kondo would be proud of me.

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Here you can see what it looks like on the inside. It’s an interesting pattern. At first glance it seems super easy and quick but in fact, I timed myself and it took me six hours to make this grey version of the tunic. Most of that was due to hand sewing the armhole bindings and facings, which is recommended though they can easily be machine-stitched. The hand sewing results in a sleeker finish, but man, I’m slow when it comes to stitching by hand. Both the front and back pieces are cut as two pieces instead of on the fold because the center line is slightly curved to provide subtle shaping. I found that this created a flattering silhouette.

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I’m a fan of the gathered detailing on the shoulders and back, though I’m finding more and more that these types of back gathers tend to render me hunch-backed in appearance. Maybe it’s the way I stand?

There was much hemming and hawing over which fabric to use for the pattern, and I’m so glad I started with the linen. I LOVE this tunic. Though I completed it four days ago, I’ve already worn it twice and have gotten quite a few compliments on it!

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Spurred by this newfound sewing mojo, I proceeded to cut out this tutti-frutti-fun-fetti looking fabric I got from here. I can’t find it on their site anymore, but it’s German lightweight cotton according to my receipt as there’s no selvage info on the fabric itself.

I shortened this version by 4 inches, omitted pockets and used a pretty dusty pink/rose cotton gauze for the armhole binding and yoke facing. For this shorter tunic, I didn’t bother with interfacing the back yoke. Maybe it’s because of that and the stretchiness of the gauze, but the armholes are huge!

endless-summer-tunic7I cut the 41″ finished bust size and the fit is spot on for the grey version, but I feel like I should have gone down one size for tutti-frutti-fun-fetti. Fingers crossed that this will shrink some in the wash, because there’s some embarrassing gaping that happens around the armholes and this might have to be a swimsuit cover. I guess I can always wear a tank top underneath, but the point of a summer tunic is to stay cool and not layer up, right?

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Still, it’s cute enough and I like that it’s a departure from my usual color scheme (or is it? It does have pink and navy and mint, which are all high on my list of preferred colors).

The first Endless Summer Tunic I stitched up is probably going to get a lot more wear. Linen. Grey. Loose, long, comfy yet stylish. Pockets. Easily mistaken for maternity wear. It’s got everything I look for in a garment.

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Have you tried this pattern? What do you think of it? Would it be too much if I made a third one out of dark denim shirting? I would lengthen it by a few inches so I could wear it as a full-on dress. Mmmmm…I just might do it.

 

Investing in Quality

linen-pillows1Good morning! I’ve always appreciated the finer things in life — some might call it “expensive taste” (“some” is actually my husband). But I also have a cheapskate side, or maybe it’s this sense that I don’t actually deserve certain high quality items yet.

One of those someday-when-I-feel-deserving items is linen bedding. We have a small closet at the edge of our upstairs landing where I keep all our sheets and pillowcases, but most of them are from Target. I’m pretty sure that the fiber content is indestructible synthetic that will float out into the galaxies completely unscathed should our planet ever combust. I’ve salivated over the thought of drifting off to dreamland nestled upon 100% flax linen sheets and pillowcases since I was a little girl. I was an odd kid, what can I say?

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So, today is my birthday and I thought it was high time I treated myself to some linen bedding. I’ve had a linen duvet cover for a while now, but I finally bit the bullet and ordered this linen sheet set last week. Once it arrived, it was a beautiful expanse of white on my bed, but I felt an urge to add a little extra…grey.

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Using the instructions for the most basic pillowcase from this tutorial, I whipped up a couple of grey linen versions and it was so fast and so easy and so satisfying, I couldn’t believe I’d never made simple pillowcases for my bed before. The only modification I made to the tutorial was to fold the pillow edge 3″ instead of 4″ since I wanted the insert to be completely covered. The French seams are tres luxe. I’d like to try this Purl Soho tutorial with the envelope edge next. I’m already starting to iron other neutral-toned linen. Highly addictive and beautiful to boot. Love.

The gorgeous peonies were a birthday gift from a friend. My adoration of pink flowers is well-documented on Instagram and these make me so very happy.

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I’ve been thinking a lot about investing in quality. I’m no stranger to bargain-hunting and a good deal is always worthy of celebration, because cost doesn’t necessarily dictate quality. Yet sometimes paying top dollar is totally worth it. After reading this book and a slew of other minimalism books, I’ve been reevaluating how I approach everything in my home and my notions of taste and style and quality. I’ve been guilty of wanting pricey, brand-name stuff in the past because of course it’s a way to impress others and it was an easy way to feel better about myself even if it wasn’t altogether healthy. There’s also a kind of safety in established brands. A particular logo may say: “Look, I have good taste.” And though I’m well aware that filling life with expensive things isn’t all that meaningful in the end, it wasn’t until I stopped buying clothes four years ago that I started to examine what was meaningful. I discovered that without the crutch of trends and my go-to stores, I didn’t know what my style was at all, and this wasn’t limited to apparel.

I’m still exploring what “investing in quality” looks like for me. I guess there are certain elements like my love of linen and neutrals that have been unchanging over the years, but I’m still forging my own style and learning what my personal tastes are (and yes, they will continue to evolve). You would think that after living over 40 years, it would be a no-brainer, but no. Maybe I’ll never know for sure, but it helps to shrug off the little voices in my head that blather on saying things like, “you should look like this at this age,” or “you should own these things because ‘successful’ people have them,” or…anything with “should”.

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Hm. I’m almost always surprised at what I start typing when I create these blog posts. My plan was just to mention the linen pillows, but I suppose I’m feeling contemplative on this 13th day of June, now that I’m 45. It feels like a significant age somehow, and I’m excited to see what will unfold.

P.S. The winner of the giveaway is Dora, congrats!