Dear Santa: PLEASE don’t come to our house!

Mommy, I CAN’T like Santa.

Not, I don’t or I won’t…..I CAN’T. Sienna says it is okay for the Reindeer to stop by though….but DEFINITELY not Santa.

With Santa in 2007:

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With Santa in 2008:

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With the Easter Bunny in 2008 (just had to include it):

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And this year. My friend had Santa come to her house….I thought that might help but as soon as he came in the door Sienna ran and hid. I finally made her accept her gift and she wouldn’t even acknowledge that he was there….

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Santa scored a few points when she learned he plays with princess castles….

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……but not enough to LIKE him. Oh well…..better luck next year.

If vanities could talk…..

When my grandparents passed away a few years ago, I inherited my grandmother’s beautiful mahogany vanity. I use it for 2 years and then when we moved out west I gave it to my sister. My sister was the first to remove the drawers in say, FOREVER, because she found these playing cards stuffed in the back (click them to view larger):
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They are a little tattered but of course I love them even more because of their age. I printed them out on iron-on transfer paper for a few projects….here is the queen of hearts made into a patch applique for a little knit dress.

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You can find my tutorial on making the patches here.

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Feel free to use the graphics if you like…just save them to your computer. I think the “pinup” gals would look cute on a t-shirt or even on a little coin purse.

milyA Memorable Christmas Gift

Are you struggling for a gift idea for your parents or grandparents or brothers and sisters? My brother, sister and I collaborated on this book last year for our parents. My mother takes it everywhere with her and even reads it to my dad on road trips. When I was back at my sister’s wedding I photographed a few pages of it (sorry the photo quality isn’t that great)… mom showed me the tear drops she had left on the pages.
All three of us wrote a letter to my parents about how much we appreciated them and with it included a few pages of our most vivid memories of children. It was so amazing reading each other’s memories as well. Some were good, some bad and most hilarious. We each ended up with about 10 full pages of memories….the book is about 50 pages.
I printed the pages out on cardstock and added in photos here and there. The front page was a photo of my parents on their wedding day and I covered it with a piece of vellum with a letter of introduction on it. I took the book to Kinko’s and had them spiral bind it and add a clear vinyl cover and sturdy back to it.
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The memory portions were sometimes as stories and sometimes as lists. I even put some sad things in like when my grandmother died and my parents forgot to tell me until they asked me to get dressed for the funeral….long story.
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Memories of the restaurant we used to eat at a few times a week and how I used to trick my parents into thinking I was sick so I could stay with my grandmother and watch the Twilight Zone instead of going to church:
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My brother is hilarious and made his entire memory section resemble a computer accessing data from a hard drive:
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The last section of the book was a compilation of memories and photos from the last big family trip we took to Ireland/Scotland/England in 1997. My husband and I had just started dating and I wrote him between 2-3 postcards a day to keep myself sane….he kept them and I typed them all up with exactly what we did each day. I was really bratty at the time and we drove the entire perimeter of Ireland in a mini van so there were some funny stories.
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I think this book was even more special to my brother and sister and I because it became almost a mini-memoir of our childhood. It was nothing fancy and very simple.
Another idea for grandparents (and yourself) is a yearly compilation of a child’s artwork, photos and memories. I’ve made one the past two years and of course I’ll make one this year. I use the Mac iPhoto software but it you don’t have a Mac check out my other post and it has some other links to similar products.
Below are some excerpts from the 2008 book. I couldn’t post the whole thing because it was just too large a file. I hope it will give you some ideas for your own book. I included excerpts from my journals as a narrative.
I can’t believe how little she was just not long ago….she doesn’t even look like the same child! If you have trouble viewing the book click the link below:
Excerpts From Sienna 2008 Book






Snowdrift Dress – Tutorial

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This was runner up for my submission for this coming week’s snow theme over at SYTYC. I made two “crafts” but this was the one that didn’t quite make the Lil Blue Boo cut so here it is! You can use this technique to make any print you like….I just chose snowflakes because of the holiday season! Use it on t-shirts or pants too! A very simple reverse freezer paper stencil technique:

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Materials needed:
Solid color fabric (white or another light color works best)
Dyn-A-Flow Silk Paint* (I only needed a 2.25 oz jar)
Spray bottle
Freezer paper
Scrapbook Punch

*Not typically available at your local craft supply store….I got mine from Dharma Trading.

Step 1: Cut out the pieces of your clothing pattern.

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Step 2: Cut your shapes from freezer paper using a scrapbook punch.

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Step 3:
Starting at the bottom of your pattern pieces start to iron on each shape (or snowflake in this example). I overlapped the pieces to resemble accumulating snow at the bottom.

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Step 4: Mix your Dyn-A-Flow Silk Paint into a spray bottle: 1 part water to 1 part paint. I did the entire dress with one small jar of paint. This paint is really thin but strong (resembles a dye)….which leaves your fabric really soft unlike other paints.

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Step 4: Lay out your fabric on a protective covering and lightly spray the entire surface. Do not spray too much or the dye will seep under the freezer paper shapes.

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Step 5: As each layer dries, spray another layer……continue until you reach the desired color and coverage.

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Step 6: Press each pattern piece with a hot iron to set the dye. You can wash your pieces before sewing if you prefer.

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Finished! Boring old white fabric made into a vibrant custom print! Click here to see other projects and tutorials with freezer paper stenciling.

Screen Printing 101 – Photo Emulsion Tutorial

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This is a new little Matroyska screen print that I designed for some dresses. I just love her! I took some photos of the process I used because I think it is so easy and efficient and I know you all would love doing it. This would be a great way to make Christmas presents for the whole family! I’m making t-shirts for gifts! Also many of you often ask me where I get the cute t-shirts I use for dresses….I often make them and you can too….

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I used this Speedball Screenprinting kit from Dharma Trading which included almost everything I needed. There are several methods included in the kit: screen filler method, drawing fluid method, and photo emulsion.

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The photo emulsion method usually scares people off but it produces the most amazing results because you can do such detailed images (thin lines, small text, etc.). I’ve tried to break it down here into the most basic of steps and without the fancy lingo:

Just a quick simple explanation of how the the photo emulsion process works: Basically I think of it as film. You use light to expose an image onto the screen to make a stencil. The photo emulsion hardens where light hits it and will wash away where light doesn’t hit it (leaving an image behind). Note: I use natural sunlight for my light source. It is best to wait until the sun is high in the sky (i.e. around noon).

The only other materials you’ll need (besides the kit) are:
:: A piece of glass the size of your screen (I bought an 11″ x 14″ frame glass from the craft store)
:: 4 pushpins
:: A piece of black fabric
:: Screenprinting ink (if you want colors other than the ones included in the kit)
:: A sturdy board or piece of cardboard/foamboard

Step 1: Creating an Image
I designed my little Matryoshka doll in Powerpoint of all things (I don’t have a graphics program) using basic shapes and dingbat fonts….just overlapping white and black shapes. I’ve included a few images at the bottom of the post and I’ll be designing a few more just for you over the next few weeks.

Step 2: Printing A Transparency
Print 2-3 copies of your image to a transparency. I don’t have the best printer so I save my image to a disk and take it to Kinko’s and have them print the transparency for me…..the transparencies run about 75 cents a piece…..they are also much crisper printed from a commercial laser printer! Stack each of the transparencies on top of each other to create a complete “blackout” of the image….I use a little tape on the corners to keep them together.

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Step 3: Mixing the Photo Emulsion

The kit has a large bottle of photo emulsion and a small bottle of sensitizer. Follow the directions but basically you add water to the sensitizer and mix it up. This process is a little tedious because the residue in the bottle is coagulated at the bottom….I used a small clean paint brush to mix it so I could “swish” the residue off the bottom.

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Mix the sensitizer (black liquid) into the photo emulsion bottle (bluish liquid) until the mixed liquid becomes a slime green color:

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Step 4: Prepare the Screen
The bottom of your screen is the non-recessed part (i.e. the screen is flush with the bottom of the frame). Turn your screen so the bottom part is facing up and insert a pushpin into each corner. This will help with the next step of spreading the emulsion (and provide little “legs” for your screen to sit on while it dries).

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Step 5: Applying Photo Emulsion to the Screen
You will want to do this step in a fairly dim room since the photo emulsion reacts to light. Spread a small amount of the photo emulsion on one side of the screen bottom……

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…..and use the squeegee from your kit to spread a thin layer of the emulsion across the screen. Flip the screen over and repeat on the other side…..

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….and keep spreading and flipping until you have a thin even layer across the entire screen.

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Place your finished screen right side up (the pushpins will serve as little legs) in a cool dark place for a few hours or overnight to let it dry. I carefully placed mine back in the original box bottom to protect it.

Step 5
: Preparing the Screen for Exposure
Once your screen is dry you are ready for the “exposure” part. As soon as you are ready to go (with no distractions), take your screen out of its cool dark place (but still in a dim area) and remove the pushpins. Assemble what I call the “screen sandwich” which is a sturdy piece of cardboard (so you can carry the screen into the sun easily), followed by a piece of black fabric to reduce reflection, the prepared wood screen (bottom side up), the transparencies (face down), and finally a piece of glass to hold your image in place against the screen.

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Step 6: Exposing the Screen

Note: I use natural sunlight for my light source. It is best to wait until the sun is high in the sky (i.e. around noon) so the light is direct. See the bottom of the post for links using artificial light.

Cover your “screen sandwich” with a piece of cardboard or paper and carefully carry it outside into the direct sunlight. This is the tricky part because if you expose the screen for too long it will burn the image into place and it won’t wash away…..and if you don’t expose it long enough areas of the image might wash away. Here is how I gauge the exposure: the emulsion is a slime green color and as it exposes it begins to turn to a dark gray/green. Once you see it darken considerably it has been exposed….it should only take 2-3 minutes depending on how strong the sun it. If it is overcast it may take a few more minutes.

Carry the “screen sandwich” back inside quickly and remove the glass and transparency and take the screen directly to the sink. Your image should still be a slime green color and the rest of the screen will be the dark gray/green.

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Step 7:
Washing the Screen
Using a sprayer or hose apply a forceful stream of water to the screen. After a few
minutes the screen will start to open up and the image areas will start washing away leaving your “stencil.” If the areas do not wash away you may have overexposed the screen….and you will need to use the “emulsion remover” from the kit to clean the screen and start the process over……exposing it for much less time.

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Step 8:
Hold your dry screen up to the light to see if there are any holes……and use the screen filler included in your kit to touch them up. Use painting tape to cover all the inside edges of your screen to prevent any ink from leaking through.

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Cover your work area and get your ink and squeegee ready.

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Place your screen flat onto the fabric that you are preparing to print (if it is a t-shirt make sure to place a piece of cardboard inside to prevent ink from soaking to the other side). Apply a small glob of ink at the top of side of the image…..

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….and pull the ink down the screen with the squeegee. You might have missed some areas so I like to go over it a few times carefully. Do a test run to get the hang of it before printing on your nice t-shirt!

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Carefully remove the screen and admire your image!

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Step 9: Heat Setting the Ink
Allow the image to dry and then heat set according to your ink directions (usually just ironing on a high setting for several minutes).

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Feel free to email me with questions!

Here are some other links you might find useful:
How to use artificial light for exposure (instead of sunlight)
Excerpts from the Kit Manual

Tutorial Sneak Peek

Not ready yet, but it will be tonight or tomorrow! So I thought I’d give you a sneak peek! Perfect for making multiple Christmas presents! If you want to go ahead and order the materials so you are ready to go… is what you’ll need:

:: Speedball Screenprinting kit
:: A piece of glass the size of your screen (I bought an 11″ x 14″ frame glass from the craft store)
:: 4 pushpins
:: A piece of black fabric
:: Screenprinting ink (if you want colors other than the ones included in the kit)

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Aren’t they cute?!

Linen Snow White (Updated)

Do you have a fabric that you leave untouched just because you can’t bear to cut it? That was this Snow White themed linen I bought from Lisa at This and That from Japan (check out her linen themed fabrics….bananas). I love it so much I just wanted to keep it on the shelf to look at….but I made myself cut it last night. I made this cute little Snow White skirt and matching shirt for Sienna.

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I love the magenta and green colors of the Snow White theme on this linen. It might be my favorite fabric ever.

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The skirt has some dainty lace on the underside so it peeks out just enough.

Update: The skirt was made using Jona’s Evelyn Skirt Pattern (which is my favorite skirt pattern ever)…..I just left off the contrasting band because I couldn’t find any other fabric that was nice enough to pair with the linen!

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The shirt was made using a freezer paper stencil and applique using the same techniques I used for the Tinkerbell skirt I made here. The tiny linen leaves and the Snow White are applique and the tree was hand stenciled using these fabric paints.

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Modern Bustle Skirt

This was my entry last week into the SYTYC contest. Once again I was totally upstaged by my friend Dana over at Made who also did a skirt. She is WAY too talented. My entry was the Ruffle Bustle Skirt. I’m thinking of making this one of my new patterns after the holidays. It would be really cute with some different knit fabrics.

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I used pieces of old t-shirts to create a modern Victorian bustle underneath the back of this knit skirt. The result is a ruffled, flirty full skirt that every little girl would love to wear!

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If you are wondering……the theme last week was “Turkey.” The colors (maroon, red, purple, brown, charcoal/white stripes) and angles of the ruffled t-shirt pieces were inspired by a plume of turkey feathers.

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Sienna tested the skirt at our local playground and it was a huge hit…..

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…..especially when it was discovered that the full bustle creates a padded “seat” for the swings and slides!

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The SYTYC Contest is on a break this week. I’ve survived last week so I’ll let you know when the new entries are up this next week!

Christmas Dresses

I’ve been sewing up a few Christmas dresses for my Lil Blue Boo etsy shop. I tend to sew mostly 3T/4T for one reason…..sometimes I secretly hope they don’t sell so Sienna can wear them for the Christmas holiday (don’t tell my husband)! I think the “I’m not short I’m elf size” is the cutest t-shirt find ever… was an adult size but much cuter for kiddos! If you are looking for other dress sizes make sure to let me know!

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Not much else to share right now….I’m working on a few projects and tutorials for next week so stay tuned! Hope everyone had a great holiday!

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