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Friday, December 5, 2014

Soother Leash Hack

Here I am out of the blue with possibly the lamest post in the history of ever, but someone commented the other day on my quick fix for Dash's soother. I had purchased a few styles of soothers to figure out what he preferred, and I had also picked up some soother leashes that were supposed to be universal. Unfortunately when he settled on his favs and I went to attach them to the universal soother leash, the attached plastic bit didn't fit onto the soother! I was on the run out the door and didn't have time for shenanigans, and so I just took the hairband off my wrist and used that. It worked great - especially with the thicker elastic, it fits snugly and has never given me any problems. I know this is totally not some dramatic problem, mothers all over the continent rolling about in anguish because the soother leash they bought didn't work out, but hey. I figure if it saves another person or two from tossing some cute soother leashes in the back of the drawer to (never) return or loosing precious soothers (WHERE ARE THEY?! WHERE DID THEY ALL GO? BABIES ARE NOT EXACTLY WALKING OFF AND SHOVING THEM DOWN REGISTER VENTS!) then yay.


 


And for the record, my laptop has been busted for ages, and not even taping it is helping, and my software is not on my hubby's computer. Since I was busy with a new baby, I wasn't in too much of a hurry to get a new computer and go through the long and dramatic getting-to-know-you phase that entails. But soon, my loves, soon! Meanwhile you can get lots of doses of my delicious fatty fat baby and my exciting (that's a nice word for WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE) older children on Instagram!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Beyond Naps : How do you sew with kids around?

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I, like many others, got into sewing as a hobby when my first daughter was a baby. She was one of those majestical creatures who napped daily well into her threes. However, the days of pure unadulterated nap time are far behind me now, and it’s rare to have time during the day when everyone is sleeping.

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my now nearly 7 year old in the first thing I ever sewed her during naps

If you’re just entering this phase in life, or if your kids are home from school for the summer, you might be wondering how on earth to get any sewing done while maintaining some semblance of control. I’m not going to pretend that my house is always pristine with a 5-star dinner in the oven on really productive sewing days. If you aren’t already aware, I’m in the final month or so of pregnancy with three kids at home – on unproductive sewing days it’s rare (like how unicorns are rare) for my house to be pristine with a 5-star dinner in the oven at the moment. However, I can share with you a couple of tips on how to sneak in some sewing.

1) Food Prep

Wait, don’t leave! I love you! I promise I’m not hijacking you! I’m dead serious here. If you follow me on instagram you already know I’m a big fan of this. Whether it’s meals or snacks, I like food prep. Well, I like the results of food prep. Whether you go full on freezer meal mania like I tend to, dump some stuff in the slow cooker, or simply slice apples or pop some popcorn before getting to business, having some sort of a plan as to what to feed the munchkins can do wonders.

2) Simple Activities

You can search Pinterest for ideas, but some of the best ones are the classic things your kids already gravitate towards. Playdough, colouring books (yes, enjoy my Canadian spelling), sorting buttons, putting stickers on paper. Choose things that your kids will do for longer than it takes you to set up and clean up, this is always a stipulation for me on the ‘worth it’ scale. Upon occasion I’ll do something that takes me an hour to their 15 minutes of fun but only if it makes them think I fart glitter and burp rainbows, and I get to watch them enjoy it. For sewing time, stick to what you know your kids love so you can know in advance how long you’ve likely bought yourself.


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3) Take it Outside

This is one I haven’t done myself this year, but if you’re blessed with a backyard and have a table available, consider parking it outside. You can do your cutting/prep, your hand stitching, or even haul out an extension cord and your sewing machine.

4) Do What You Can, When You Can

I have a child that I love and adore with all my heart, and I don’t trust her as far as I can throw her. She has on and off days (today she got into nail polish and motor oil both by 9am, and once stuffed our Jack Russell Terrier into the front loading washer and tried to turn it on.) and while she’s getting old enough now that I can upon occasion take my eyes off her, I’ve spent a lot of the last 3.5 years trying to maintain eye contact. So, sometimes I pull my sewing machine to the kitchen table to sew, but I’m not hauling up that and my serger and all my other tools too, so often I just do all my prep work. In fact, my giant cutting mat is stored behind our living room couch, not in my craftroom, and my good rotary cutter is kept in a special little high-up cupboard in the kitchen. I work with pdf patterns a lot, and as many of you know sometimes only 20% of the project is actually done at the sewing machine. I’ll get my pattern pieces together and cut my fabric and have everything ready to go when bedtime rolls around.

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In case you thought I was kidding about the motor oil

5) Give Up

What?! Yes. Sometimes. Sometimes, especially during summer holidays, the best thing you can do is give up and go to the park, the splash pad, the beach, or grandma’s house. If it’s just not happening, you’re getting frustrated and the kids are getting into trouble, go have fun with them instead. Wear them right out and come back the next day and your kids might just be in a quieter mood. They’re only going to be little for so long, and if the project is important and has a deadline then you may just have to either hire a sitter or burn the midnight oil, because you committed to them long before you likely committed to that project, and I’m willing to bet they give better hugs.

I would love to hear your tips and tricks for sewing (or getting things done period) with kids around! Please share in the comments below, and if I get enough I’ll do a follow-up post with your tricks. Also please share if you have any tips for removing nail polish or motor oil from clothing.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Nicole’s Bohemian Babydoll Top

I had the pleasure of pattern testing the Bohemian Babydoll Top (6m-9yr) for Elegance and Elephants a few weeks ago, and wound up making a top for Nicole. It wound up being part 2 of a coordinated set of pretty tops for my girls that they wore on Easter.

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Nicole thinks its a very pretty top. She does ‘feel naked’ in it, which makes me laugh, because lately it seems if it’s not a jersey knit tshirt, she “feels naked.” So she wears a tank top under it so she feels covered – this one she feels naked with because it’s loose and flowy and after a long cold winter of tshirts and sweaters that feels strange to her.

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As you can see here, the armscythe was a bit generous in this version but it has been modified since then. As to a general quick review of this pattern, here goes:

I found it a relatively quick sew for the most part. It is a loose fitting top with a lined bodice and no buttons or anything, it just slips over the head. I found attaching the little sleeve ruffle fairly easy, although I did find sewing together the lining and bodice at the armholes a bit finicky and time consuming compared to the rest of the pattern. I wouldn’t say it was hard, I would still rate this as an easy pattern. Just that one bit was a little fussy to press and sew, but not challenging to understand. I want to try this method by Colette Patterns blog for a clean finished lined armhole next time I do it. It’s a similar principle done differently. Everything else is pretty much long easy lines and smooth sailing. I like that the pattern is faced instead of hemmed; it’s the second top/dress pattern with a facing instead of a hem that I’ve tested recently and I love the clean and fast finish that facing provides. It also means you can eke just that much more out of a precious fabric.

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Much like the name suggests, this top is fun and fancy-free. I can definitely see myself sewing more of this top in the future for my girls, I’m sure once it hits 30 degrees Celsius my darling daughter will find a sudden appreciation for clothes that make her feel naked, ha. As an added bonus, these cute little ruffle sleeves make this top fall under Approved Dress Code for her school, without being stifling. I think it would be fun to do the sleeve ruffle in a lace or sheer as well, perhaps a lace sleeve with a bit of lace on the bodice seam? Or with pompoms in between the facing and main fabric at the hem? There are plenty of playful summery possibilities here. I bet it would pair beautifully with another favourite E&E pattern, the Bubble Pocket Shorts which I sewed up last year for Olivia and blogged here. It is high up on my summer sewing to-do list to make some more of those!

Monday, February 17, 2014

$5 Off Sewing Patterns

Hey guys! Things have been a bit hectic around here since my hubby broke his finger, and I haven’t found any sewing time, but I’ve been living vicariously through others and planning my next projects. I was just browing over at Go To Patterns (affiliate link) and saw that for the month of February, you can get $5 off of a $40+ purchase by using the code FEBRUARY5 at checkout. If you use bundles especially you can get a really good haul that way! If you’re curious what exactly I was looking at, it was the new patterns, especially the purses. I’ve been considering giving that a go. If you do purse/bag sewing, let me know your recommendations for an intermediate sewist who is a bag beginner!

If you’re interested in becoming an affiliate for Go-To Patterns & Co yourself, click here.



Saturday, February 8, 2014

Pinky Swear

It’s been a weird week. On Monday, my husband slipped and fell while working on his crane truck, and while falling is never a good time, he unfortunately wound up having his pinkie catch somehow as he fell and basically just destroyed it. He was fortunate enough that he didn’t actually lose it – a moment while we all feel queasy – but he ripped it open, chipping one bone badly and just shattering the tip, losing a hunk of skin and muscle in the process.

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Obviously he went straight to the ER. At the moment he has stitches and is on antibiotics, but next week he’ll be going in for surgery so they can see what they can do with it. Finger breaks are always tricky, since they’re such small bones and pretty impossible to cast. We’ve been keeping an eye on it and worrying a bit, changing dressings and all that, and our schedules have been really weird. The whole thing is a bit surreal and out of nowhere.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Bond, Jackson Bond

 

I’m always excited when I get invited to play with a new pattern, whether it’s testing or pattern tours or just trying it out. And I adore Stacey for her dry humour and luscious eyebrows, and her boy-centric sewing always inspires. But for some reason I hesitated a moment – just a brief moment – when she invited me to the Bond pattern tour. The Bond really struck me as a reflection of Stacey’s fresh, modern style, and I wasn’t sure I was could do it justice. I mean we all know I am hip with the times, lol to my homies and all that, but I wasn’t sure if I could keep up to the pack. But I decided to go for it anyways, and try make it Jackson-flavoured, and man in the end it was more Jackson-y than I could have imagined.

Bond. Jackson Bond.

I was very excited to sew my first garment for Jackson since the wee shorts I made when he was too small to fit in most store-bought clothes. I decided to go with a warm brownish-grey Riley Blake diagonal plaid pirate themed fabric paired with a dark brown tissue knit. I wouldn’t really recommend tissue knit if you’re not super comfortable with knits, I am and I still cringe a bit because if you mess up or the sewing machine starts to gobble it up, kiss that ish goodbye and start over. After I was finished I found an almost identical thicker brown knit on my desk and had words with myself about cleaning my craft room.

Beatnik Kids sewing pattern Bond Top sewn by www.onthelaundryline.com

So at the beginning of January I had my fabrics picked out, I printed out my pattern, taped it, cut it. Then the closer and closer I got to the placket, the more freaked out I became. You see, when I was a newbie sewest sewer when I was a sewing baby, I did not know what was supposed to be scary. I’ve used knits from day one because I didn’t find out they were hard until after I’d already been using them for ages. I’d added a collar onto a shirt that was absolutely terrible but the collar turned out just fine, no problemo. I always assumed it wasn’t them, it was me, when I had difficulties, so I just kept trying. But I never got a chance to try a placket before I got wise enough to taste fear. And taste it I did. I sampled and nibbled and procrastinated actually sewing this top until two days before the blog post was due. Thus effectively not giving myself very much time to start over if I did mess up. Clever.

 Beatnik Kids sewing pattern Bond Top sewn by www.onthelaundryline.com

Early this week I read and re-read the instructions for the placket, then went and read a few other placket tutorials I dug up on the internet. When I had read enough of them that they started to make sense and I could see the steps coming together and a bit of the what and why, I was ready to try. Later. So on Tuesday, I went to my sewing machine and iron, put on some Katy Perry, and Roared.

Beatnik Kids sewing pattern Bond Top sewn by www.onthelaundryline.com

And here’s a secret. It wasn’t so bad. I’m a huge baby. And I wish I’d tried one before. I feel like trying this pattern will open a whole new world of placket-y goodness for me, which is totally awesome, because I absolutely adore a good placket. I instantly instagrammed my placket, and my IG sewing friends rejoiced with me. Then I went and showed my husband my placket, and he glanced at it for half a second and grunted acknowledgement. I was taken aback.

“No, dear, it’s a placket,” I gently explained. “It’s awesome. I did an awesome thing. Look at my placket.” He did not look at my placket, involved as he was watching a Disney Princess movie with our girls. I decided to forgive him and maybe eat crackers on his side of the bed.

In his favour, he did admire the finished shirt, even if he thought it was for Olivia. In his defense, though, she did declare it hers the next morning, and then insist that I immediately make her an identical one when I put it on her brother anyways and pointed out the sizing.

Beatnik Kids sewing pattern Bond Top sewn by www.onthelaundryline.com

In the end, I am so so glad I said yes to the dress. I mean, to the pattern. It is so completely perfect for Jackson. This shirt, like Jackson, looks Serious Stuff but is in reality playful and fun. He took a hissy fit when I shoved it on and buttoned it up, then stared solemnly at me for a moment after he was fully dressed. After deciding I wasn’t going to change my mind and let him be naked and free, he jumped onto the bed to roll and tumble and play with his dad in his new cute but very tumble-friendly shirt.

Beatnik Kids sewing pattern Bond Top sewn by www.onthelaundryline.com

I do have to hem it yet – I put it on him to check and wasn’t able to take it off. I also made a few tiny mistakes, including topstitching the collar upside-down, which wouldn’t have been so bad if I hadn’t had white bobbin thread. D’oh. And initially I put the placket in facing the GIRL way, and almost left it, but it was a super duper simple fix and considering how particular I had been thus far, really worth fixing. (And then the white topstitching on just the collar. Again, d’oh! I will probably pick that out and redo when I manage to pry the shirt off of him.) But I’m even happy with it as it is, and keep swooning over it and its perfect match to my playful sweetheart with the serious packaging.

Beatnik Kids sewing pattern Bond Top sewn by www.onthelaundryline.com

Be sure to check out Sabra of Sew A Straight Line’s version of the Bond Top (and she is a way more experienced boy-sewperson than I am so do check hers out!), as well as the rest of the tour. If you hadn’t heard already, in honour of Kids Clothes Week and the pattern tour, you can use the code BONDTOP here to get $2 off this $8 pattern. Whether your style is fresh and modern, fun and funky, or a bit more subdued like Jackson’s here, the Bond Top is probably right for you. It’s definitely an advanced beginner / intermediate pattern, so if you are just starting on kids clothes I could probably suggest a few other places to start. But then again if nobody tells you this is hard, you might just try it, and it might take two tries to get something you’re delighted with, but you could totally do it. Just go for it!

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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

See us tomorrow!

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Come by tomorrow to see what I sewed up for my sweet, serious little handsome. And even some pictures of him smiling, instead of just his default “you are sketchy” face!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

If you ain’t dutch … Anise Koek

If you know what I’m talking about, fistbumps / secret Dutch handshake (which I imagine would be a regular handshake but taller and with blue eyes.) (I’m 5’6” – 6’5” was a typo lol -with peasoup greenish/hazel eyes, for the record.) You probably don’t need this recipe. In fact, you’re probably still off baking right now after your New Years overindulgence on Olliebollen.

Otherwise, if you aren’t Dutch, you probably have no idea what Anise Koek is, or even refers to. You might be familiar with anise, it’s a spice/seed with a liquorice flavour. Its flavour is sweet on it’s own, and if you enjoy black jellybeans then you’re a fan. Alcohol-wise, it’s used in Jagermeister and Sambuca, and herbally it can be used to treat menstrual cramping.

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Now “koek” (pronounced kook) is quite simply ‘cake’ in Dutch. The koeks of my childhood have all been heavy moist loaves, well buttered and often served on Sundays in between church services, or if you were lucky you had a slice buttered and cut in half, buttered sides together, in your lunch box. I went to a private school where about 90% of the students were dutch and if you brought a bag of dropjes (salty Dutch liquorice) to school you were instantly popular and/or mobbed.

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Anise koek is a moist, heavy, chewy loaf. Warm it is served with or without butter, cool it is generally cut into slices, buttered, and often will be served with those slices cut in half again. It is sweet but not cloyingly so, and accompanies a good strong cup of coffee quite well. When it comes out of the oven the crust is crispy and the rest is soft, and then when it has been left covered overnight the crust will soften up, becoming slightly sticky and quite chewy, and unlike regular breads I have many childhood memories of koek crusts being fought over.

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The recipe I’m sharing with you today comes from a church community cookbook, adapted a bit, and makes two loaves. You can eat one hot and one cold, you can freeze one for later, or you can give one to a friend. I suppose you could always cut the recipe in half, but what’s the fun in that? Lately I’ve been lining my loaf pans in parchment paper, which makes for easy removal, makes it hard to burn, and also means I don’t have to replace my crummy loaf pans.

Anise Koek

6 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3 tsp baking soda
3 tsp baking powder
3 tsp anise seed (found in the spice section) or ground anise (never used it)
1 cup syrup (originally likely corn syrup, I use a pure maple syrup, but really any syrup will do)
2 cups strong coffee
(optional: 1 cup raisins, depending on whether you think raisins in baking are a treat or a false promise of chocolate)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl, then add the coffee and syrup and mix again. I will often stir my anise seed into the coffee while it is cooling. I also like to let it sit for a while, covered, to let the anise soak in to the dough, and then give it another quick mix. Pour equally in to two prepared loaf pans (either greased or lined with parchment paper.)

The recipes I’ve looked at all call for baking at 350 for an hour, but I actually like to bake at 350 for about half an hour, and then turn it down to 300 and finish the baking, keeping an eye out for doneness rather than counting on the timer. The finished loaf is dark and has a firm top, and an inserted knife comes out clean. If you make other loaf cakes, like banana loaves, then you should have a basic idea of what they need in your own oven. Baking times can vary by oven a bit, but if you’re not comfortable with playing around feel free to just leave the oven at 350 for exactly one hour.

My carb-loving middle child loves this, my picky-pie eldest won’t even eat it without raisins, and my youngest eats all the things. Obviously my husband and I are both fans.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

2013 DIY Roundup Video

I briefly considered rounding up my projects from 2013 into a regular blog post. The thing is, many of my favourite projects are yet unblogged, as awful as that is, because I never got or made an opportunity to take photos I felt justified them. Instead I opted to create a quick round up video to share.

 

Some of my favorite but unblogged projects are the topsy turvy quilt I created for Olivia, the Penelope Peplum Top I tested for See Kate Sew (my husband and I rarely seem to be in the same place at the same time during the limited daylight hours Winnipeg has in winter, but I am bound and determined to blog that yet, even if I have to use my dress form.) and the quilt (and matching set of gifts) I made for my little Heart Warrior buddy Maverick (the fabric bundle I used for that pictured below.) For knitting, there was Shannon’s Dreiecke Hat and Mallory Cowl – which is pictured partway through, I never even photographed it finished on my iPhone. Pfft.  Not to mention my girls matching winter dresses! It seems like the only time I actually get a photographed blog post up of a sewing project is when it’s for a guest post or blog tour, partly because I don’t want to be shmuck and partly because I have a deadline. I need to treat my own stuff like it’s deadlined! I am still hoping to blog all of those things, if nothing else.

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This, my friends, is what prevents me from even aspiring to be a Big Blogger. I’m so unprofessional. Maybe in my 30’s I’ll be a grown up. Don’t tell my kids I’m not. They probably suspect it already, I’ve missed a birthday party and a school deadline for Nicole in the last three days alone. But we also had family time, and ballet, and I helped out a friend for a day, and got baby snuggles. I try not to let myself get too wound up in the balls I’ve dropped, there are so many and it’s not possible to keep them all in the air all the time, especially if I’m too busy bemoaning what I’ve messed up when I should be keeping things flying as best I can. All I can do is try, and I can change the future but not what’s already done!

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I have a pretty big project in the works right now and I’m definitely dropping a few balls because of it… but it will totally be worth it when Baby V #4 arrives in August! I’m feeling back in good form again already so I’m hoping to get caught back up on home and blog front! Nobody reads blogs anymore at Christmas time anyways, right?

Friday, December 6, 2013

Gifts for my Sewmies

Where my sewmies at? Hollaaaaa!

Okay yes, I can’t really pull that off, but I like to breeze merrily past Pulls Things Off and go straight for Clearly Beyond Help. But that aside, today’s round up is gifts for those who like to sew. We’ll go ahead and just call this my wish list, if you like, although if you’re really looking to get me gifts I should ask for Kobo gift cards because my hubby got me Kobo e reader as our one real black friday purchase even though he thinks ereaders are stupid and so he got me one that also functions as a tablet and I am stubbornly using it as just an ereader because we are both just goats in love. Did I mention I sent him the email I got that they were $50 off and he said no, e readers are stupid, use my tablet, and I may have said his tablet was stupid. Then he came home with the e reader and I was both sheepish and gleeful. And I won’t tell you the reading hours I logged this past week while sick because they are insane.

So anyways, clearly I’m not getting anything else for Christmas so this list is for all my sewmies out there. 

We’ll actually start back at the e reader thing. I do totally recommend an e reader or tablet if you have a sewing or knitting person who is most beloved to your heart, because it’s a great place to put instructions for all those pdf sewing and knitting patterns, which is 50% of the reason I was keen on one. I like the Kobo for black and white and the Kobo Arc, which is what I have, for colour. It’s more of a tablet and its an android, which I normally like to screech at like a Macaw, but for some reason I’m having very little trouble with it. (Possibly related to barely venturing out of the Library section.)

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And speaking of pdf patterns, one of my favourite pattern sites is (affiliate link) Go To Patterns. Right now you can use the code DECEMBER10 for 10% off your purchase, or DECEMBER15 for 15%. Now, if you sew yourself, then you know that nobody, NOBODY will appreciate the time and effort that you put into a sewn gift than one of your sewmies. So first of all, you can buy patterns and make some gifts. For example, the Commuter Cowl pattern (pictured above, and is anyone else thinking they need to knock off that tshirt sleeve??) is less than $4 even before any discount code, and would make a great gift for anyone (and bonus gift to yourself, keeping the pattern.) However on the less time-spendy side of things, you can get a gift card for your sewmie in the Sale section. (And if I’m your sewmie then yes, please.)

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Or if your sewmie is more into the books (and who isn’t, my real touchable book collection is almost exclusively sewing books) a really intriguing looking book that is both the learning and the fun sewing time that I would love to get my own hands on is Sew Retro. I’ll link to it on amazon (affiliate) for both the Canadian amazon.ca and American amazon.com sites, because I feel your feels when you have to find something yourself because you get the wrong link.

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Now this one is for the boys who want to be men. Listen up, fellas. If you know a sewmie and you’d like to woo your way into her heart, or perhaps you’re married to one of my sewmies and you’d really like to lower her presser foot, so to speak, then get your girl some Gingher dressmaker shears. If you’re a man then you may understand why if I explain that those orange-handled scissors she threatens to stab you with if you use them on paper, they are a nice little Sunfire. But the Gingher shears, they, my friend, are a Porsche. Yes, you feel me. Here you go, stud, follow the link to amazon.com or amazon.ca (and for the record my goodness does my local fabric store charge A LOT MORE than the amazon sites for these things, so you’re welcome) and get ready to have your muscles felt up a whole lot. And don’t worry, Gingher cares for her too, and will sharpen her scissors for her for a small fee when they’ve been used and abused. Her love for them, and you, will go on.

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Coming back around to sewing patterns and things you can buy me your sewmie, meet the Esme Pattern from Sew Liberated. This looks so cute, and so flattering, and I just love it so much. It’s a bit of a splurge, which is exactly why it’s a fantastic gift idea, and the paper pattern comes with instructions and a code to unlock a full video tutorial, how fantastic is that? I for one could see myself making this in a few different fabrics and sleeve variations.

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And lastly, here’s an absolutely charming little necklace I found on etsy that would be sure to delight any sewmie who found it in her stocking. I’m not always a fan of gold tone charms but it is just perfect paired with the vintage sewing machine, and totally reminds me of my own vintage Singer!

Sew, there’s a few gift ideas for your favourite sewmie. I’ve marked the ones that are affiliate links, and I truly adore every one of them. (I actually have the commuter cowl pattern, but haven’t made it yet and may just have to bust into it for Christmas gifts.) And thus concludes today’s edition of the somewhat-spotty-attendance Friday Favourites!

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