Monday, April 7, 2014

DIY Elsa and Anna Barbie Clothes

Try not to be too jealous--I actually got my hands on an Elsa doll, at a reasonable price, and in time for my daughter's 4th birthday!  After a few weeks of calling the Disney store and checking Amazon, this just happened to be on the shelf at Target for $25:

Luckily we didn't have an Anna doll yet either.

Problem signature sparkly Elsa dress.  But this presented a fun challenge for me!  Because I KNEW that the outfit would be an issue, I would have to make a dress for this doll myself.  And while I was at it, I might as well make Anna's outfit more like the movie too, right?

And what do you know--as soon as she opened her present, she asked if Elsa had another dress.  And then, lo and behold, she pulled the handmade one out of the bag and oohed and aaahed!  So satisfying.

Craftiness is not Optional has a great tutorial for a fancy Barbie dress that I was able to modify into Elsa's look pretty easily.  I had a too-small Cinderella dress-up costume that I could cut up (so the color isn't exactly right, but close enough) so I didn't have to buy any fabrics!
This is the exact dress--couldn't find any pictures of it out of the box!  But I used the darker blue with sparkly swirls for the bodice, and the light blue for the skirt.  One sleeve was enough for the band at the top and sleeves, and I needed both of the sheer "poofs" from the hips of the dress to make Elsa's cape.  

The modifications that I made to the tutorial are pretty simple (and obvious):

1.  When attaching the band at the shoulders, I pulled it down in the center to create the sweetheart neckline.  Then I just folded the blue fabric and stitched it down on the wrong side so that it didn't show.

2.  I made two small rectangles for sleeves.  I sewed the top of the sleeves right on to the shoulder band, then sewed them closed and turned them right side out.

3.  I made the cape in two pieces.  It's serged then sewn directly to the dress--I attached it under the arms (on the blue fabric--it doesn't actually touch the sleeves) and across to the velcro closure.

Then I sewed it down on each side of the velcro, and underneath the closure I sewed the two sides of the cape together.  I didn't have to finish the edges since I cut it from the existing Cinderella costume.

Anna's cape was really fun and SUPER easy!  Sorry I didn't take any pictures--I was in a hurry to get this all done for the girl's birthday present.  All the photos below are of the finished product.  I made it from a piece of knit jersey I had in my stash.  

1.  I cut an oval shape out of a piece of printer paper for my pattern, then pinned it to my fabric and cut it out using pinking shears (to give it some detail--the knit won't fray even if you use regular scissors).

2.  I decided where I wanted my cape to fold over; about 2" from the top of the oval, and marked both sides with pins.

3.  Using a double needle and two colors of top thread, I sewed a scalloped design around first the top part of the cape, then flipped it over and sewed the rest of the way around.  This is not necessary but it mimics the design on Anna's cape in the movie in a really easy way.

4.  Cut a piece of thin elastic so that it will reach across the top of your cape (where you marked with pins) when stretched all the way out.  Mine was about 4" long.

5.  Sew the piece of elastic on the cape so that it will be hidden by the collar when you fold it over (so, if you're looking at the right side of the cape that will hang down on Anna's back, your elastic should be on the same side as your decorative stitching that goes around the bottom of the cape.)

6.  Flip the top part of the cape so that it hides the elastic.  Stitch the cape together in the front and add a button.  It's super easy for little ones to pull the cape off and on over the doll's head without Mommy's help!

This was my first foray into Barbie dresses, and I have to say it was pretty fun.  I loved dressing my dolls up in the dresses my grandmother made, and I hope Little Sister enjoys it too!

I also have a small vent about the Disney Princess dolls.  Little Sister likes the princess dolls better than regular Barbies, since she knows their stories from the movies (I like that too.)  And while I appreciate Disney trying to make the dolls individuals, it's a little maddening that their bodies are shaped so differently.  A huge part of the fun of these dolls is dressing them up, and when the dresses don't fit all of the dolls it's frustrating for both of us!  She likes to switch their dresses and have the dolls play dress-up, but our Merida dress is totally ripped from squeezing Tiana into it.  Why can't they all be the same size?!  At least everyone can trade shoes.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The DIY Frozen Birthday

Honestly, this year with our preparations to move overseas, I was so ready to go buy licensed merchandise for a birthday party and call it a day.  HOWEVER, my daughter, like every other girl in the known universe, is obsessed with Frozen, and therefore there is no merchandise available (at regular retail prices, that is--if you want to pay quadruple markup on Amazon, you have lots of options!).  Luckily, Frozen is a pretty good theme to DIY--even in March, when all of the snowflakes and winter scenes have long been absent from the clearance shelves.

How's that for repurposing Rapunzel's wig from Halloween?

Here are the elements we used to put together a really fun party--I'll go through them for inspiration for anyone else out there trying to put something like this together without spending an arm and a leg or too many hours of their lives!

I almost forgot to include the invitation--I was so proud of it!  I was able to put it together using PicMonkey--I love this photo-editing site so much.  Then I had them printed at Costco (5x7's are something like 30 cents each) and put them in our leftover Christmas card envelopes.  For the ice castle background I used a free download of desktop wallpaper that I found online.

I got some hilarious feedback on the invitation--some girls displayed them in their rooms, some sisters were even fighting over who got to keep it!  Little Sister has hers pinned to the wall by her bed.

Decor:  Primarily, we used snowflakes.  The kids cut out some, and I cut out lots (what can I say; I'm faster!  And I actually love cutting out snowflakes.)

We used them to decorate our main snack table/focal point:

Background is a light blue plastic dollar tree tablecloth.  It was really see-through, but once the snowflakes were on it wasn't too distracting.  I also cut a piece off that was just the right size to cover our kitchen table, where we put the grown up drinks.

Some of the snowflakes were decorated with free printable Frozen images (free printable party kit available for download from Homeketeers)--I printed them on computer paper and the kids glued them down.  We used printables from this kit for other elements of the party too.

We added some tulle (an 8-yard roll from Dollar Tree, I only used a little) and more snowflakes to our dining room light, and strung some snowflakes in the window of our front door too, to add to the atmosphere:

I thought I'd find more uses for the tulle, but this was about it.

Gift Bags:  We also used snowflakes to turn our plain colored party bags (10-pack from Dollar Tree) into Frozen theme bags--Snowflake + picture of a character (or two) + name I printed out from the computer.

Carrots = Olaf's nose.  Ice cream is frozen, so that works too, right?

Our gift bags included ice-cream shaped bubbles (3/$1 at Dollar Tree), a carrot straw (5/$1 at Dollar Tree--easter seasonal stuff, or a snowman's nose?  You decide.), some glittery snowflake stickers ($2 for 30 stickers on Amazon, each kid got 6 stickers, so 40 cents per kid), a little tiara (59 cents at Party City) and a sucker that reminded me of an icicle (3/$1 at Party City, we attached the Frozen tag). The boys got a sparkly pencil (10/$1 at Dollar Tree) with a Frozen label instead of the tiara.  Oh, I also didn't buy enough of the ice cream bubbles and then they ran out, so I supplemented with bubbles in a carrot-shaped bottle--inspired by Olaf's nose.

Sparkly pencil with printable straw flag

Prizes for the games (all from Dollar Tree)

Food:  The main course was an ice cream cake from Baskin Robbins:

The birthday girl got to sample flavors and she chose chocolate chip mint with chocolate cake, which was yummy.  I was totally impressed with their decorations!  We provided the snowflake sprinkles and the paper Elsa and Anna, which I printed and cut from this website.  The assembly was pretty painstaking--I don't know that I would have done it in hindsight, but they did turn out cool and they were dramatic on the cake.  I stood them on bamboo skewers--make sure not to put them too close to the candle!

For our other snacks, we had

Snowman Noses (baby carrots) and Snowflake Apples (sliced into circles then cut with a cookie cutter--this was the one snack that was more labor-intensive than it should have been, but they were a big hit).

Reindeer Chow (some sort of trail-mixy stuff from Costco) and Icicle Sticks (pretzel sticks coated in white chocolate bark)

And Snowball Snacks (Pirate's Booty)

Didn't anyone ever tell us not to eat yellow snow?

We labeled the water bottles "Melted Ice" and our juice boxes were "Arendelle Punch."  I used the free printable straw tags from this free Frozen Printable Party Pack and wrote the kids' names on them to keep boxes from getting mixed up.

I made labels for all of the foods using images I found online--the kids got a kick out of looking at all the pictures.

And finally, our activities:

I printed out a bunch of Frozen coloring pages for the kids to do as everyone was arriving--the girls were totally into it.  Don't know how that would have gone over at a boy party, but MY boy was into it.  At least the pictures of Olaf.  And I don't know what I was thinking printing out equal numbers of both Anna and Elsa--I had to print extra Elsas twice to keep the peace.  Coloring happened again at the end of the party as people were leaving.

We played Pin the Nose on Olaf (pretty self-explanatory):

an Icecube balancing game (each kid had a partner and a spoon, I gave one partner an ice cube and they had to walk it to their partner, transfer it, and the partner came back the other way.)

I liked it, and it was really cute to see the concentration on the kids' faces, but it wasn't the kid favorite.  Maybe with an outdoor party this would have worked better, but it was really rainy and soggy here that day.

And Cold Snowball, our version of Hot Potato.

Down to the final four

What worked out really well was that we were using the Frozen soundtrack for the music (obviously), and as kids got "out" of the game, they joined a sing/dance-along to the music while the other kids finished the game.  We ended up adding another round of JUST sing and dance-along at the end.

I also had a bunch of white balloons that I was planning to blow up to play "keep your snowball off the ground" in the backyard, but it was too muddy.  Particularly when the guest of honor had this outfit to keep clean:

Her auntie bought it before Christmas!  Lucky thing, since they've been sold out for months I guess.  Pretty fantastic birthday present.

We had so much fun, and Little Sister was totally delighted when the girls called her Elsa when she arrived at school this week.  None of the preparation I did felt like too much to me--it was all pretty simple and affordable, and I was having fun doing it, and the kids enjoyed it, so it was a win.  I know they would have enjoyed themselves even without the food labels and theme activities etc, but I get a kick out of coming up with that stuff in a manageable way, so we went for it.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Make It Work Mini-Cowl

This is sort of my default signature style piece, because it is totally the kind of thing I always like to wear and make, but I didn't set out to make it for Signature Style Week (that's the link you can follow to vote for me starting Friday!) Well, I sort of did, but I planned on making a whole outfit and really doing it right, and things just didn't happen that way.  But I did finish the top, and I do love it, and here's why it's a signature piece for me:

-I like to buy fabric that grabs my attention, without really knowing what I might use it for.  I loved this printed knit when I saw it online at Girl Charlee, but I'm really bad at interpreting the information they give about knits, so I didn't really know what the fabric would be like.  I also never remember to pay attention to print scale when ordering online, so that was a guess too.  Since I didn't know what I was going to use it for, I only ordered a yard, thinking I'd probably do something for the girl.  But I really loved this soft, slinky knit when it arrived, and I wanted to keep it all for myself.

Ah, yes.  How I love to gaze out the window and ruminate.

-I decided that what I really wanted to make was a long-sleeved cowl neck top.  But I only had a yard of this fabric, and I didn't like the idea of adding in any solid fabrics.  I am really picky about length--I like my tops to be longer than average, and my sleeves as well.  I drafted my pattern and cut the bodice and sleeves out first (verrry verrrry carefully to maximize the fabric).  I cut the sleeves short on purpose to leave some bigger pieces for the cowl, and made wide cuffs from scraps to get the length I wanted. I thought I'd figure out how big I could make my cowl when I knew how much I'd have left over.

I thought the slight v in the back of the cowl was cool, but looking at it here
it seems maybe a bit strange?
Well, it turned out I had barely any scraps left for the cowl.  This skinny little baby cowl is pieced together from literally 5 scraps of fabric.  You really can't tell unless you are looking for it, because I was very tricky in hiding my seams on the underside, but it was definitely a puzzle.  And I ended up doing some sort of impromptu french seams when attaching the cowl (can I even call it that?  It barely folds over...) because I wasn't sure where the seams would show when everything flopped around a bit.

One little yard, you guys!
-So, the style of this top is really me.  A fun print in my favorite colors, a comfortable knit with some special details, and with extra length in the bodice and sleeves.

And bonus points that I can wear it with my favorite cardigan!

I didn't make the cardi.  I have tried to recreate it to no avail.
I'm not gonna lie, there are some really amazing sew-along submissions this week in the Signature Style category.  If you want to go ahead and vote for me anyway because you love me, that would be cool (I'm #50), or you can vote for someone else who went all out!  But I do have to let you know, I came in tied for 4th last week, only away from 1st place by 6 you could make the difference!

Also, if you haven't been following along, you should definitely check out the final week of the REAL Project Sewn competition--voting for the remaining three talented ladies ends on Thursday, I believe!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Best Excuse for Shoe Shopping!

I knew that I'd eventually write about our family's upcoming adventure on my blog, but I didn't think it would come about in such a roundabout way.  But I can't think of any other way to write about the outfit I made for "Inspired by Shoes" week on Project Sewn other than to tell you why my shoe collection is in major overhaul right now.

I love shoes, but I have a hard time investing in the good quality shoes that are going to last me a while and be comfortable AND stylish.  So I usually end up buying lots and lots of cheap, cute, disposable shoes...except that I then hang onto them even when they are worn out and gross.  

Not even all of them.

So, when we decided that we would be moving our family to Tokyo this spring for 1-2 years (how's that for a lot of fanfare for such an announcement?), I knew that I would need to make some big changes in my shoe wardrobe.  I wear a size 9 (sometimes 9.5), which can be hard to find in Japan, so I wanted to get the basics that I would need while I was still in the states, and I wanted to get good stuff.  Which meant getting rid of 15 pairs of worn-out shoes, and buying (so far) 4 new pairs.  Which brings me to my outfit!  

My outfit was inspired by this pair of shoes:

Image from, where I bought my pair

Burgundy, with a print (well, sort of) and an open back, and it can be dressed up or down.

Gotta watch my posture--looking a little maternity here!
I knew I wanted to make a casual skirt, because it would go well with the style of the shoe and also show the shoes off.  I made mine out of a much larger skirt that I found at goodwill--a nice, thick mini-striped interlock--and used Adrianna's tutorial from Crafterhours on making a fitted knit pencil skirt.  

This went really quickly, because I made the pattern a while back for my Mad Men-inspired skirt for last season's Project Sewn Era challenge.  I did a hidden elastic waistband this time though and (gasp!!) skipped the pockets for a more streamlined look.

To go with it, I made a top that I had been wanting to make for a while.  I saw this tutorial from Jess at Me Sew Crazy for an open-back knit tunic top, and thought it was so cute!  

Perfect with the pencil skirt or a pair of skinny jeans.  The burgundy and black bird print knit that I bought from Girl Charlee tied in the color of the shoe nicely, and of course the open back of the shirt mimics the slingback of the shoe.

The back looks pretty low, but I can actually wear a regular bra with this.
I made my sleeves more fitted and longer, and I lined the bottom part of the tunic as well as the bodice because the bird print knit was so thin, and I didn't want it to be see-through. I made the lining a tad longer so it would show at the bottom, but I left the sleeves unlined.

To top it off, I had a wrap dress that my friend passed into my upcycling pile that happened to be the same color as the shoes, so I made an open cardigan to tie the outfit together.  It was so simple--I saw the idea here, and adapted mine to my liking by curving the bottom edges and adding an elastic band to the back at the waistline.

I love the way the pieces work together, and that they are so versatile in other outfits!  And they go great with my new shoes!  Think this outfit will work for a mom-on-the-go in Tokyo?

And yes, there will be voting!  Starting Friday and running through Sunday, you can find my image along with all of the other sew-along submissions at the bottom of this page, where you can VOTE FOR ME (I'm lucky number 13)!!

My assistant did a great job of staying out of the photos until I was done :)

Silly girls!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Crossover Hoodie Dress

If I were three, this is what I would want to wear every day.

It's made from a lightweight sweatshirt fleece.  It has a cozy lined hood.  The neckline is easy to pull on yet covered up due to a wide crossover coming together at an empire waist.  It's got fun  mixed prints (black and white owls with chevron accents in the hood lining, pocket lining, and cuffs--all from Girl Charlee), a splash of my (and my girl's) favorite color, purple (upcycled from a jersey sheet, trimming the pockets and cuffs)--and of COURSE it's got pockets!

After the initial wear, I did end up trimming the length a little bit to make sure it steers clear of her back bike tire.  She's not too disappointed despite her love of long dresses, so that's good.

Here's a closer look at the bodice:

It's hard for me to photograph details on a white garment--can you see what's happening here?
I love the way it came out so much!  I want to recreate it for myself in a different print.  I drafted the pattern after looking longingly at this tutorial for a similar little baby sweatshirt by Made by Me and Shared with You, which is way too small for both of my kiddos.

The hood (and crossover neckline) is lined in the same chevron as the cuffs, as I mentioned--here's how that looks:

I straightened out the hem a bit when I shortened it :)
She has been requesting this dress when it's not in the wash, so that's a good sign.  It is spending more time in the wash than I would like--I guess that's what you get when you make a 3-year-old a white dress!

How many more pictures?
The pocket is a detail I loved.  I had pinned the tutorial for this pocket from anu*miki ages ago and this seemed like the perfect dress to try it on.  The tutorial is in Dutch, but between Google Translate and the photos it was no problem to follow.

Side seam pockets with purple accent and chevron pocket lining
Since this dress has a little bit of all of the things that I and Little Sister love, it seemed like a good submission for Signature Style week on Project Run & Play.  I have been sewing, but it seems like it's been harder and harder to get my projects posted here lately.  So thanks for the inspiration and motivation, Project Run & Play!  I hope to join in for at least a few of the Project Sewn themes as well!

Hope to see you again soon, Blogland!