Frozen Elsa Cape

Frozen Elsa Cape
My friend asked if I could make her daughter an Elsa cape from the Disney movie, Frozen. Apparently, Elsa costumes are sold out everywhere. I thought the oliver+s “little things to sew” red riding hood cape pattern would be perfect, so I agreed. Besides, I’m participating in Lightning McStitch’s cover to cover challenge and I’ve been wanting to make another lovely project from the book.

Froo wanted one too, of course. I asked if she would prefer an Anna cape–being the nicer, warmer, happier, and care-free younger sister (ahem), but she was insistent. We also went to a Frozen-themed birthday party for Froo’s BFF, so I thought I would make her one as well. Yup, that’s right, a total of 3 capes! I don’t even like princess dress-up clothes! Seriously. But I loved the movie and I love winter capes even more–so I was determined to make my own version of the Elsa cape and make it right.
Frozen Elsa Cape
I made one small cape and 2 large capes. I lengthened each cape by 10 inches to give it a dramatic princess look. We had to outfit Boo and his bunny to get some photos of all 3 capes.
Frozen Elsa Cape
Frozen Elsa Cape Frozen Elsa Cape
I purchased all of the fabric from Jo-Ann. I scored the polyester shantung in the redtag clearance section for $3/yrd, after an additional 50% discount. It is the PERFECT colour with an amazing flowy drape. Cutting & sewing it, however, was a nightmare. It’s shifty and slippery. I’m pretty sure I started with some skewed pieces (the fabric had to be completely flat before cutting), but the shantung didn’t always match up after sewing it together, whereas, the lining did.

The great thing about making a winter cape in March–the lining fabric was also on clearance. The drawback: there wasn’t quite enough. I used a super cute aqua flannel with white snowflakes for 2 capes and a subtle tone-on-tone white snowflake quilting cotton for Froo’s. There wasn’t enough of that one either, so the hood is self-lined.
Frozen Elsa Cape
The overlay is really quite spectacular. I found a sheer, stretchy fabric with glittery silver sparkle swirls that looks amazing, with even the slightest movement. However, the shimmer comes at an annoying cost: it sheds pixie dust everywhere. The good news–no finishing required! I was going to trim the edges with sequins, but I thought it would weigh down the fabric and seriously, I’m not that crazy. Maybe just a little.
Frozen Elsa Cape
Frozen Elsa Cape
My favourite part of this cape is the fur lined hood! There are iridescent tinsel “hairs” dispersed within the fake fur, giving it a subtle sparkle. Love it. The hood is embellished with snowflake crystals and buttons stitched at random.
Frozen Elsa Cape
I used a big rhinestone aqua button as a closure. I like the bright pop of colour it adds to the cape.
Frozen Elsa Cape
Finally, I bought a couple of bead and rhinestone appliques from Britex Fabrics to make hair clips. There were so many beautiful ones to choose from, but finally, I chose one that resembles a snowflake. I used E6000 glue to attach an alligator clip to the applique.
Frozen Elsa Cape
So my thoughts? The red riding hood cape pattern is amazing. It really is. The shape is circular, while accounting for the curves at the shoulders, with clever arm openings–the design is brilliant! The hubs even said, “that is the best thing you’ve ever made.” I was completely surprised. I mean, I’ve made oodles of things, to which the hubs either says, “that’s nice” or on rare occasions, “that’s very nice”, but this one definitely has that wow factor. An hour later, he scowled at me after vacuuming up all the pixie dust. Hee hee. I should have made the overlay detachable, maybe?

I took some photos of Froo wearing the Elsa cape with her winter wonderland tutu and my wedding shoes. The girl would not stop twirling.
Frozen Elsa Cape Frozen Elsa CapeFrozen Elsa Cape Frozen Elsa Cape
Frozen Elsa Cape
My final thoughts? I sincerely hope Disney does not come out with a new princess movie for a long time. I’m hoping this cape will hold enough magic to last until Halloween! Although, now Froo is asking for an Anna cape and I might be crazy enough to make one…

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A Special Baby Quilt

A Special Baby Quilt
The best man at our wedding welcomed his first child, a baby girl into his family on February 10! I am incredibly happy for the new parents and I can’t wait to meet their precious daughter, the next time we are back in Vancouver to visit.

This couple holds a very special place in my heart because they adopted our first baby… a yellow labrador retriever named George. It was a difficult decision to find George a new home, but it was the right one and we are thrilled that he was adopted by friends. Friends who love the outdoors and take George out on nature-filled adventures.
George
George
When I first spotted the Fort Firefly fabric collection by Teagan White, I knew it would be perfect for the new baby. I think her parents would appreciate that it’s not too girlie and the colours are varying shades of earth tones, with a vintage feel. The fabric is also 100% organic cotton, which is perfect for newborn babies. Besides, there are woodland creatures, fireflies and tents!
A Special Baby Quilt
A Special Baby Quilt
Froo & Boo use the quilts that I made for them every night, but they also use them regularly to build forts. We use their kitchen chairs with some extra-large binder clips to keep the quilts “pitched” to the chairs and furniture. (Froo’s quilt is blogged here; Boo’s quilt is blogged here.)
A Special Baby Quilt
These photos were taken last summer:
Quilt Fort
I chose the Firefly Hexi Patch print as the top of the quilt. I love that the hexi print already takes on the look of a patchwork quilt, so all I had to do was quilt on the existing lines with matching thread.
A Special Baby Quilt
The Tree Fort print was used for the backing of the quilt. The print is busy, with animal friends having all sorts of fun in the tree forts. As the baby grows up, I think this print will provide her with oodles of visual stimulation.
A Special Baby Quilt
I used Warm & Natural cotton batting in between the two layers of fabric. The quilt measures 35″ x 35″. I chose this size because I only had to purchase one yard of each print. There was a tiny amount of shrinkage in the wash and after squaring up the fabric, those were the final dimensions.

The binding is from Denise Schmidt’s Flea Market Fancy fabric collection, that I’ve had for quite some time. The brown coordinates with the quilt and the posies add a pop of colour to the binding. I machine stitched the binding onto the quilt for a quick finish.
A Special Baby Quilt
I had 2 skinny pieces of fabric leftover, measuring 6″ x 36″. Not really useful for anything else, besides juggling balls! I figured it could be something that the baby could play together with George, since February 10 is also George’s birthday. I’m not even making this up–Happy 7th birthday, old buddy! Hopefully, he’ll know not to rip these ones apart. I placed a small rattle inside each ball, to add auditory stimulation to the development of fine motor skills.
A Special Baby Quilt
Having a baby is an incredible miracle of life. While looking through the photos of George, I found this one. It’s my favourite of the bunch. The mother-daughter bond is a strong one that keeps growing stronger.
Mommy & Froo
Congratulations to the new parents and welcome to the world, baby girl! The Froo & Boo family is celebrating with you. xoxo.
A Special Baby Quilt

Some sewing happened in 2013

I feel like it’s really late for a year-end review. It’s not even the full list, just a partial selection of sewing projects by the pattern co. oliver+s, designed by Liesl Gibson. Every time I use an oliver+s pattern, I learn something new: a sewing technique, a better way to do things, elements of style and functional design–all things that make me a better sewist (sewer, seamstress, home-sewing enthusiast??). It’s one thing to churn out handmade clothing, but to thoughtfully grasp the meaning behind the process–this is what I am striving for.

I’ve always thought the term “self-taught” was a complete misnomer. It discounts the significance of teachers in all forms: bloggers who write/photograph online tutorials, authors of how-to books, pattern designers, mentors, and the list goes on. As a former teacher, I used to spend hours creating lesson plans to teach students computer software skills that they could pick up rather quickly on their own. My goal was to put together a framework for those skills to be used in a meaningful way–that there is a purpose behind everything. That way, new skills can build upon previously learned skills, opening up possibilities for incredible and original work.

I think a better term would be “self-learned” or even more specific, “self-motivated learner”. It somehow implies that the learning never stops. Even though my basic sewing skills were learned in my home ec. class over 20 years ago, I have learned from countless sewing blogs, YouTube videos, online courses, books, patterns and my mom. This blog helps me document what I’ve learned and also, to give back to the sewing community, from which I have gained so much. (Although, most of my sewing is virtual and only happens in my mind as I scroll through Pinterest…)

For me, improving as a sewist and learning new skills means that I can take my own designs and actually create them into wearable garments. I find this incredibly exciting! On January 13th, I will be sharing my original designs on the Project Run & Play website. I am still amazed at this opportunity. I have gained so much confidence from my continual effort to keep on sewing new things. Receiving positive feedback from this blog is immensely rewarding and gives me that extra “oomph” of motivation.

A couple of my Project Run & Play designs were inspired by the designs of oliver+s. They have my style stamped on them, but were only made possible by the skills I have learned in the past year, from using the patterns. Thank you so very much, Liesl!

For all the sewing tutorial writers out there, keep doing what you do. Chances are, I’ve been to your blog, but haven’t left a comment thanking you for your time and effort. 2014 will be a new year for me to try my best to leave thank-you notes, in the form of warm fuzzy comments. If a retroactive thank you counts, a HUGE “thank you!” for teaching me on my journey to learning new things!

Mittens, mittens, mittens!

Waterproof Fleece-lined Mittens
Yup, another (7th!) project from the oliver + s “little things to sew” book. Three pairs of mittens for Froo & Boo’s friends, who will be spending Christmas at our home this year. Even though we are a little sad that this will be our first Christmas without our extended families, we are happy to have good friends to celebrate with!

I changed the patten to make the mittens waterproof and fleece-lined! I made sizes S, M & L in different colours, with matching fleece. I love how they turned out! Our friends will be joining us for ice skating lessons, so warm waterproof mittens are definitely needed.
Waterproof Fleece-lined Mittens
The navy blue fabric is quite unique, purchased a couple of years ago at Fabricana. It’s similar to ripstop nylon, but much smoother, with a hint of sheen and stretch to it. I had a bit leftover from a waterproof cover that I made for the Ergo carrier. I used my friend’s cover as a template to make a mini sleeping bag-like hooded cover for Boo. I can’t believe he was ever this tiny:
Cover for Ergo Carrier
For the girls’ mittens, I used waterproof PUL (Polyurethane Laminate) fabric that is intended for washable diapers! I found a small 3-pack sampler at Jo-Ann. Since mittens take up such little fabric, it’s the perfect solution for cute, waterproof mittens. Although PUL is generally used to keep liquids from leaking out (ewww), I’m sure it’ll work at keeping little hands warm & dry.
Waterproof Fleece-lined Mittens
Waterproof Fleece-lined Mittens
Waterproof Fleece-lined Mittens
Technically, the mittens are reversible, but there really isn’t a use for the fleece to be on the outside. Unless to wipe a snotty nose, of course. It was pretty easy to do. I sewed up each outer layer with a 1/4″ seam allowance and the inside fleece layer with a 3/8″ seam allowance. I inserted the fleece layer, wrong side out, sewed them together to create a tube for self-encased elastic, folded the edges in and topstitched them together. Et voilà!
Waterproof Fleece-lined Mittens
I didn’t make any mittens for Froo & Boo. They each have a pair of mittens we bought for them when we went up to Whistler last year. Although, these new ones are much easier to put on. I have such a hard time getting Boo’s chubby and sweaty thumb into his current mittens. I asked Froo & Boo to model the gifts for their friends. Even though the pink ones fit perfectly on Boo, he refused to wear them, choosing to wear the big navy ones instead:
Waterproof Fleece-lined Mittens
Boo cracked his head against the fireplace yesterday, after rolling around on my new exercise ball. Luckily, he’s as solid as a rock and only suffered a minor scratch. The bump on his forehead is more apparent from a side-profile angle. That is my official reason for not sending out photo Christmas cards this year. My unofficial reason might have something to do with Project Run & Play
Waterproof Fleece-lined Mittens
As advent is coming to an end, Christmas is fast approaching! Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas! xoxo.

Busy Placemat for Boo (with tutorial)

Boo loves construction trucks, rescue vehicles, trains, airplanes and tools. I used to cringe at the sight of fabric with dump trucks printed all over it. Now I welcome it with excitement for my Boo. His joy cannot be contained at the immediate recognition of the aforementioned objects of his love. I never thought I would know the difference between a backhoe, excavator and grapple skidder.
Busy Placemat for Boo
Anyhoo, one morning, Boo & I were enjoying orange juice and coffee at Peet’s Coffee. To keep Boo from squirming off his chair, I drew him a picture of a neighbourhood, so he could play with his little firetruck on the page and put out the fires I drew. I even drew him a cat in a tree, but really, don’t firemen have better things to do?? It kept him busy for a long time, so I knew I would need to make him one that’s more permanent.

I started with the drawstring bag from the oliver + s book, “little things to sew“. I wanted to make a bag that would be big enough for a placemat, all of the fun pieces and some of Boo’s favourite trucks. As always, this pattern does not disappoint!
Busy Placemat for Boo
A peek inside:
Busy Placemat for Boo
The outside fabric is organic cotton called Shipyard, by Timeless Treasure. The hubs picked it out for Boo in the clearance section, the time we went to Hart’s Fabric in Santa Cruz. The lining fabric is quilting cotton from Jo-Ann.

I made Boo a tool belt with the same fabric a couple of month ago, after I saw him trying to shove some of his tools down his pants. My little handyman won’t stay still for a photo:
Boo's Toolbelt
The placemat is double-sided, one for a grassy green landscape, the other, a construction site surrounded by dirt. I fused the 2 pieces of felt together with Pellon Wonder-Under, which is sort of like double-sided tape. I added an orange triple-stitch around the edges to match the stitching on the drawstring bag.
Busy Placemat for Boo
The rest of the project is made up of felt pieces. All of the pieces have at least 2 layers, fused together with the Wonder-Under. I did this to make the pieces more durable–some of the pieces from Froo’s quiet book are starting to rip and wear down. Also, the double-stick webbing makes the pieces nice and smooth, while still soft, which would not happen if I used glue. I put them in a clear Ziploc bag, making it easy to spot pieces.
Busy Placemat for Boo
Let’s build a little neighbourhood–starting with some roads:
Busy Placemat for Boo
Busy Placemat for Boo
Oh no! There’s a fire at the house! Wee-wOO-WeE-WoO.
Busy Placemat for Boo
I think I’ll need to make a mailbox for one of Boo’s favourite trucks:
Busy Placemat for Boo
Ok, time to build something. Off to the construction site!
Busy Placemat for Boo
Boo loves playing with these decorative marbles. He uses the front loader to scoop them into the dump truck.
Busy Placemat for Boo
Here’s a quick photo tutorial of how to put the felt pieces together. Uh, please learn from my mistakes–I’m not sure how I’m going to clean my iron. Also, it’s a good idea to keep your desk clean, unlike mine, since the felt pieces are small and quick to disappear.
Tutorial: Busy Placemat for Boo
I think this Christmas gift for Boo will be a hit! Nevermind that the perspective is way off, nothing is to scale and my felt pieces are lacking in detail. I think this placemat will keep him busy at a restaurant, which will make going out to eat all the better. Last night, Boo was not happy with his dinner, so he got up and walked to the door saying, “I’m going to drive daddy’s car and go to a restaurant. All. By. Myself.” My not-yet-3-year-old already sounds like a teenager. We got him to finish his dinner after threatening a lump of coal in his stocking.

Some of the presents under the tree had already been “accidentally opened”, so this one will be hidden until the 25th. I’m hoping to get one last handmade gift done before Christmas!
Bartacks and Singletrack : want to go all the way with me?
p.s. The amazing Lightning McStitch of Bartacks and Singletrack, is hosting a challenge to complete all 21 projects from the book! I’ve sewn up 5 projects from the book so far, this being my 6th. I love seeing all of the unique interpretations and the faces of little ones enjoying their handmade goodies. The flickr group is full of wonderful creations from the book!

little things…

I made some balls. Balls for Froo, balls for Boo. Fabric juggling balls from the Oliver + S book, “little things to sew“. They were a request from Froo. She said she wanted “stuffing balls” and tried to make one by clumping stuffing together, as one would make a snowball by gathering snow. I told her we could make fabric balls to put the stuffing into instead.

Froo picked some fabric scraps to make her own patterns:
little things to sew: juggling balls
little things to sew: juggling balls
Froo also picked some fabric for Boo since he was napping. Boo says his favourite colour is blue, but we both know that his “real” favourite colour is orange.
little things to sew: juggling balls
little things to sew: juggling balls
These balls were quick to make and they take up very little fabric. As much as I love fabric, I actually have a tiny fabric stash. I could fit all of my fabric in 3 large tote bins divided equally into 3 categories: quilting, apparel and knit fabric. My fabric scraps fit in 2 shoebox-sized tote bins: one for quilting fabric, the other for everything else. I save even the tiniest scraps! The other scraps get used up in small projects, like a door draft pillow.

Now that Froo is in Kindergarten in the morning, we have the afternoons together while Boo naps. Froo was content to sort through the scraps, then fold and stack them back in the box. She helped me stuff all of the balls as well. Inside each ball, I added a tiny beanbag filled with poly-pellets to give them a weighted feel. It makes them roll funny, which is all part of the fun.
little things to sew: juggling balls
It makes me happy to make toys for Froo & Boo from remnants of previous handmade goodies, especially since Froo & Boo love their new juggling balls! For real. They both sleep with at least one ball each. They play with them in the car. They make up games with the balls, marking off areas on the carpet with washi tape as targets. I have no idea where Froo gets her ideas–I simply observe with wonder at how small and simple toys can stimulate such imaginative play.

Can you tell that I love rearranging the little decorations on the fireplace mantle? The hubs and I used to collect wooden dolls on our travels. We bought the Team Canada (1998 Nagano Olympics) nesting dolls in Prague. The wooden girls are from Japan. Tintin (not wooden) is from Paris. The San Francisco print on wood was purchased at the Renegade Craft Fair last year.
little things to sew: juggling balls
Sometimes the little things give the big things their significance. Boo found the smallest scrap with construction trucks and held onto it tightly, asking me to use it in a ball. That fabric was used to make his drooly bibs ages ago! I didn’t blog that one because it went missing and I later found it with a bunch of others in a suitcase. This small scrap brought me back to a time when Boo was a newborn–all the angst, love and care focussed on keeping this precious new baby alive. I still worry about keeping Boo alive–not from my negligence, but his own boyish and crazed adventure-seeking carefree nature.

Here’s a round-up of some of the projects from which the smallest of scraps originated:

To view details on any of these projects, click on the Photo Index link above.

To view details on any of these projects, click on the Photo Index link above.

As for the book “little things to sew”, the more I sew from it, the more genius I think it is. It is the perfect combination of useful, cute and child-appropriate fun–with the addition of excellent instruction for basic to advanced sewing techniques. I’ve learned oodles from this book, giving me the confidence to try more challenging sewing projects.

This morning, I put the explorer vests on Froo & Boo to see if they still fit. They have been well-worn, keeping the kids warm in the mornings, although they haven’t been worn this summer–I think we’ve finally acclimated to the weather here. Froo & Boo have really grown in a year:
little things to sew: explorer vests
There are oodles of happy little things going on right now. I made some balls. I’m pretty happy with that.

Happy Grey & Canada Day!

Boo’s best buddy’s name is Grey. Today is his 3rd birthday, which happens to land on Canada day–happy birthday to both boy and country!
Grey's 3rd Birthday
Yesterday, we celebrated Grey’s birthday with his family. Lots of fun! This was the birthday gift I made for him:
Fox backpack from Oliver + S "little things to sew"
I knew I wanted to make the birthday boy something grey, so I searched my sewing books and the Internet for some ideas. I decided on using the Oliver + S backpack pattern from the book, “little things to sew“–using a grey fox instead of a penguin. I think foxes are adorable.

Normally, I would shy away from a time-consuming, detailed project like this, but after I had decided on a grey fox backpack, I was determined. The instructions were many, but well-written and easy to follow–I was able to get a little bit done at a time, over the span of a week. I’m glad I made this cute backpack–I love how it turned out!

I used Pellon Wonder Under to applique the face onto the front pocket and secured it with a triple stitch. The ears and nose are a polka dot print on flannel. The fabric is a bottom-weight fabric, similar to denim, with a silver metallic sheen to it.
Fox backpack from Oliver + S "little things to sew"
I added fusible fleece to the back panel of the backpack, to provide comfort with the extra padding. I also added fusible fleece to the straps and modified them because I could only find 1″ strap adjusters. I copied the straps on Froo’s backpack–shortening the straps in half and attaching a bit of 1″ navy cotton webbing to loop around the strap adjusters. I sewed longer cotton webbing to the bottom of the backpack, looped it through the adjusters and sewed the edges down.
Fox backpack from Oliver + S "little things to sew"
Fox backpack from Oliver + S "little things to sew"
The lining is very cute–grey, aqua and white woodland animals. There are foxes printed on it! Both the outside & inside fabrics are from Jo-Ann. The divided pocket is Kona Aqua, leftover from Froo’s open wide zipper pouches.
Fox backpack from Oliver + S "little things to sew"
To save time, and my sanity, I decided to machine stitch the lining to the zipper tape using my zipper foot. I tried to get the lining as close to the first set of stitching as possible, but there are a few wobbly spots. I’m pretty sure a 3 year old boy won’t mind!
Fox backpack from Oliver + S "little things to sew"
Here’s the “real” birthday present, hidden inside the backpack:
Fox backpack from Oliver + S "little things to sew"
Even though Froo & Boo love electronic gadgets, sometimes it’s the old-school toys–like the View Master–that keep them entertained at a restaurant, or waiting room. One of Grey’s favourite movies is Despicable Me. I was surprisingly touched by the movie and have already made plans with Grey’s mommy to watch Despicable Me 2 altogether!

During Boo’s nap, Froo was busy making a card and gift wrapping. Not too shabby for a dressed up Safeway paper bag using cardstock, scrapbook paper, punches, stamps and old ribbon:
Fox backpack from Oliver + S "little things to sew"
Finally, here are some photos of Grey with his birthday present:
Fox backpack from Oliver + S "little things to sew" Fox backpack from Oliver + S "little things to sew" Grey's 3rd Birthday
Happy happy birthday, Grey! We hope you fill your backpack with meaningful things that will give you a life full of adventure and happiness!

My budding artists

Froo loves to do arts & crafts. Boo still eats crayons. My mom told me that I should get Boo to do more sit-down activities to focus his attention and to develop his fine motor skills. (What she really said: “Train him to use crayons so he won’t have ADHD in school.”)

We found these cute birdhouses in the $1 bin at Jo-Ann the last time we went. I think they look lovely in their natural state. Froo insisted that we paint them and put them in the backyard beside the birdbaths (bowls filled with water and leaves) that she put outside. So I told her we could paint them as soon as I made some art smocks. She’s been waiting patiently and now they are done.

The art smock pattern comes out of the “oliver + s little things to sew” book by Liesl Gibson. It is my favourite sewing book.

I’ve only made the explorer vests so far and they are worn almost everyday by Froo & Boo. I used fabric from the Sarah Jane “Children at Play” collection and lined the vests with fleece to make them nice and cozy. This next picture was taken in March 2012, in our old Burnaby home. I miss our floors.

The mornings in the Bay Area are quite chilly, so Froo & Boo wear the vests until they get dressed for the day.

The finished art smocks. It is surprisingly detailed for what seems a simple project. The seams are all encased French seams and everything is professionally finished. For both art smocks, I pulled out fabric from my clear tote bins and I had all the notions on hand. I think this means I have too much fabric.

The raglan sleeves were made with a Japanese Lecien print that was on sale at superbuzzy. I only bought half a yard of each colour, thinking I would use them in a future project. The next time I buy cute fabric to save for later, I think a minimum of 1 yard is required. I didn’t have quite enough for Froo’s pockets, so they were made from leftover fabric from her fly a kite quilt.

I still had second thoughts about using this fabric because I didn’t have quite enough for Froo’s sleeves, so the direction of the print on her smock is vertical, rather than horizontal, as on Boo’s. I don’t think Froo noticed, yet. That girl notices everything.

Boo’s art smock was made from a herringbone fabric that I used to make a Wiksten Tova dress. It is 100% cotton and much heavier than quilting fabric. It has a bit of sheen to it, adding texture and depth.

Froo’s fabric is from Moda Cross Weave. I bought a remnant at Peapod Fabrics in San Francisco after a day of exploring the California Academy of Sciences. Since it is woven with two colours, the fabric has almost an iridescent quality and it’s super soft.

I used leftover double-folded bias tape from the explorer vests for the neckline of the art smocks.

I made Boo’s in size small and Froo’s in size medium. They fit perfectly. Boo seemed to be really focused.

Froo was really happy to finally paint her birdhouse.

I think the focused concentration lasted for almost 5 minutes. Woo hoo! It can be done.