Friday, May 28, 2010

Last Call for kokoleo in SoCal...

I'm gearing up to do one more SoCal show and it's this one:

Sunday June 6th at The Road Less Traveled store in Santa Ana. Patchwork will always have a special crafty place in my heart because every show I've ever done has been a blast. I'm looking forward to showing all the new stuff I've been making and getting some nice one-of-a-California-kinds to take with me to Seattle.

Erik left today to start his new job and find us a house. The wheels are in motion, people! We're really gonna do it.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Stop! Pajama time.

Of course, I haven't forgotten my boy. I sometimes make things for him too. He's a little pickier though, and wants nothing to do with my sundresses. I cleaned out Sage's closet recently and realized how much he's grown this past year. Clothes he used to wear all the time are now way too small. When I noticed his belly button and ankles peeking out from his favorite skully kokoleo pajamas, I knew it was time for a some new ones. So I made him these:

It's always nice to have a good soft sturdy pair of pajamas. Coming soon! Kokoleo pajamas.

I also made him that Wacky Packages pillow in the foreground given to me by my friend Susie at this yard sale last year. It matches the poster behind him. This is our nightly view of him - comfy in bed with stacks of books around him, reading for hours if we let him (not on school nights though). Captain Underpants, Hank the Cowdog, Magic TreeHouse, Goosebumps, Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Eregon, plus books about animals and insects and oceans and the human body, and occasionally still some oldskool Dr. Suess and Shel Silverstein. He devours them.

Behind him, beside the Captain Underpants Super Diaper Baby poster, is a cross-stitch my bff since elementary school Carrie Mahle made him when he was born. In front of him is his trusty Blanken, now faded and frayed and falling apart. *sniff* My boy is growin' up!

I've been trying to take lots of pictures of these kids in this place lately, because pretty soon we'll be in a new place. It's official - we're movin' out! Adios Los Angeles... Seattle, here we come!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Dress-A-Day #7: Pocahontas Sundress

Okay, so I missed a day there. I also never got around to making her a 7th dress so I decided to let her pick out one from my rack of recently made kokoleos. She chose this Pocahontas one.

Despite my issues with Disney princesses (over-commercialization, myth-marketing, beauty standard-warping) and my issues with the company (damn outsourcers), I found a few nice bedsheets (Jasmine, Ariel, Cinderella) that were begging to become sundresses. When I found this Pocahontas pillowcase I immediately thought of this native American print fabric I have in the same color scheme.

McKenna hasn't even seen the movie Pocahontas, she just liked this dress because it reminded her of the doll she got on our vacation to Death Valley last month.

I love listening to her play with her dolls. She does all the voices and acts out all sorts of scenarios. It's the cutest thing in the world when she says, "Hey Daddy! Wanna play dolls wif me?"

... and he does.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Dress-A-Day #6: Three-tiered Butterfly Skirt

Okay, this one's not a dress, it's a skirt, and my favorite that I've done so far. Sometimes instead of getting the prototype, my kids get the cream of the kokoleo crop.

I streamlined the multi-step process that goes into making a tiered skirt and made a few more last month (coming soon). Having a well-behaved serger that does what it's supposed to do helps. Still, they take about as long to make as a sundress does since there's so much fabric involved. Lots of fabric makes for good spinability.

Happy Mother's Day! Here's hoping you get the chance to dance today.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Dress-A-Day #5: Patch Print Pillowcase

It's a bit surreal to see my daughter running around in the bedsheets I slept on when I was her age.

This wasn't mine though. I found a full sheet set in mint condition at an estate sale and got it because it reminded me of mine. This must have been the bedsheet to have in 1970-something because I know a lot of people who had them. I made another pillowcase dress and I'm currently working on sundresses from the sheets. I also have a sheet in the brown color scheme, and plan to do a fall/winter collection. I'm all about nostalgia.

I was reading my old blog posts tonight and reminded of the time when McKenna wasn't walking or talking. It seems like ages ago. Gone are bibs and cribs and bottles and diapers. Nowadays she's into dolls and dancing and things that are pink and fancy (much to her brother's dismay). She idolizes Sage though, and has been known to wield a mean sword and growl like dragon or proclaim that she's a pirate. Arrrr.

I don't think I'm a very good photographer. I look at other blogs and my photographer friends' albums and see vivid colors and good angles and lighting. I tend to photograph directly into the light. That, or out of it, which makes for weird shadows. Oh well, you can't really postpone things for perfect lighting when your kid is willing and happy to let you photograph them.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Dress-A-Day #4: Cherry-topped Cupcakes

My previous attempts at attaching skirts to shirts were not up to kokoleo standards, but I got it right this time, and then I made a bunch more (coming soon).

There's only one dress like this one though, and it's McKenna's because that's all the cupcake fabric I had. The embroidered cupcake on the top is from a Sublime Stitching pattern I stitched when I took an embroidery workshop taught by Jenny Hart at Reform School. I blogged about it here last summer.

You know those old Reese's Cup commercials where someone with chocolate stumbles into someone with peanut butter and they realize it was meant to be? That's kind of what it was like last month when I found that cupcake I embroidered... I instantly thought of this new cupcake fabric I got... and then all the cherries reminded me of this tiny pom pom trim I have... and that's the same color of this shirt I saved for just the right project... and before I knew it I was at the part where I sew in the label. That's the best part.

She found these underneath the Japanese plum tree in our yard. She said, "Look! These look like these!" They really do.

She loves this swing. But she hates going slow. She wants to go "Fast!" and "High!" and "Higher!" and "Way up into the sky!" It gets tiring pushing her sometimes. The next 3 pictures are for the grandparents who live on the other side of the country.

If you scroll up and down over and over, it's kind of like you're in our yard pushing her.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Dress-A-Day #3: Patchwork Easter Sundress

I forgot to show the first sundress I made for McKenna last month. While shopping for an Easter dress, I remembered that I can make dresses for little girls - I should make one for my own daughter. So I did. Here she is with her brother Easter morn before church:

Yeah, I said it, church. After 15 years away from it, I finally found one I like - St. Mike's Episcopal in Studio City. We've been going there for over a year now and the kids actually look forward to it every week. It helps that there's a group of fun boys Sage's age and a few girls McKenna's age and an awesome playground and good food at coffee hour. Beyond that, it's nice to be a part of a community that does good things for the community. I'm so happy I found it. It renewed my faith (literally) in organized religion.

But I digress. Back to the dress. My mom had visited the week before and bought me this vintage spiderweb pattern quilt top at a quilt show we attended. I went back and forth between having her make it into a quilt (she's good at that) or making it into sundresses and other things. It was a little difficult (emotionally, morally) cutting into someone else's hand-stitched handiwork, but damn if it doesn't make for an adorable dress that looks way more difficult to make than it really was.
My mom made that quilt.

It's hard to see in those pictures, but I embroidered a heart in the middle hexagon. It's open at the bottom though, so it's also an M, for McKenna.

These shots are from our photo shoot afternoon last week. It's been worn and washed twice since Easter.

I strive to make my sundresses sturdy.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Dress-A-Day #2: Blue Smocked Sundress

I have an uncanny ability to remember where I got almost every fabric, notion, and embellishment in my studio. When I pull something out, I'm instantly transported to the time and place I first picked it up and thought, I should get this. . . some day I'll make something with it. I love those days when I finally do. I need to do it more often. Lord knows I have enough stuff.

I found 2 yards of this elastic smocked blue fabric at an estate sale and instantly saw sundresses. I may have instantly seen them, but it took me a year to make them.

The elastic straps are from another estate sale a few years ago. I remember standing in this (dead) lady's closet full of 1970s and 80s casual wear and finding a box of multicolored elastic belts that shared an interchangeable buckle. As a belt, it was dorky, I would never wear it. I almost set it down but then I thought, how often do I see brightly colored decorative elastic? They're perfect for sundress straps.

I don't remember where I got the striped fabric I used for the pockets, but I've used it for lots of letters in my banners and pillows.

On second thought, I think I got it at JoAnn Fabrics. No wonder I don't remember it. I prefer shopping in people's houses over that place.

Luckily, McKenna likes these photo shoots. I just follow her around and let her do her thing. Sage always hated modeling my kokoleo clothes. He did recently ask for a new pair of pajama pants though, because he's almost grown out of the ones I made him years ago.

I made this slightly smaller one, but I gave it to our plumber.

For his daughter, I mean. My friend Kathy had been over and seen the dress in my studio and wanted to buy it. I asked if her husband, a plumber, would accept it, along with a t-shirt for her boys, in exchange for extracting an entire sippy cup from our garbage disposal. He was able to do in a matter of minutes what we had been sweating over for two days. Yay! Long live the barter system.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Dress-A-Day #1: Pillowcase Daisies

Last month I went on a little sewing spree. It was long overdue. I forgot how much I loved it. I missed those nights when I'd stay up until the wee hours with fabric flying and bobbins tangling around my ankles as I moved from machine to machine. Did you know that if you read the manuals to your sewing machines you can learn how to use them better? It's amazing. Consequently, I've been trying our new techniques and making new patterns and I'm loving the results. I've also been ruthlessly using fabric and embellishments I've been holding on to for years. What good are they doing just sitting on shelves and in drawers? I need to send them back out into the world to dance around.

So I started by making some new sundresses for McKenna. She gets all the prototypes of my new line of kokoleos (coming soon). Thankfully, she loves everything I make for her (my cooking is another story). She even asks me when I'm in my studio, "You gonna make me something?" How can I resist? I didn't make her anything for 6 months, so last month I made her 6 new outfits.

The first one I made was a pillowcase dress. I've seen them before and always wanted to make one so I figured out my own way to do it. Afterward, I made 4 more (coming soon). Now I'm on a mission to find more pillowcases.

Here's our photoshoot for that dress. It got a little messy, but that's okay because it's hers.

We had another photo shoot the next day where she modeled the rest of them. I'm going to try to show you a new one every day. Maybe I'll even make one more to make it an even 7.


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