One of the great pleasures of writing Little Things to Sew was that I had built-in inspiration and testing.
When I started developing ideas for projects to include, I wanted to be sure that every single one would be interesting, exciting to make, and unique. There are so many sewing books in the market these days, why would you want to buy a book with the same projects as all the other books? Looking back at the book now, I think I succeeded in this goal. I’ll be eager to see what you think, too.
I thought it might be fun to introduce you to some of the book’s projects that have become favorites at our house over the period that the book has been in development. Some of the photos below are shots from the book, others are extras that didn’t make it into the book (we had a lot of terrific photos from which to choose), and still more are snapshots that I’ve taken over the past three years as we’ve made samples, tested patterns, and tried out the projects.
So, without further ado….
Every little girl needs a tutu, right?
I first made this tutu for S in 2008. It’s constructed a bit differently than other tutus I’ve seen, and it was inspired by classical ballets like Swan Lake and La Sylphide. S has worn hers for dress-up, for Halloween, and around town. Last year she wore it when we met Heather Ross at the Metropolitan Museum to do some sketching, and last weekend she wore it to the butcher and the green grocer. So it’s good for lots more than just dancing.
Cozy Bear Hood
Is there anything cuter than a hat with ears?
This project was entirely inspired by our much-loved knitted bear hat, which was worn and adored until it just plain fell apart. Here is the original hat. (Note, please, how well a hat with ears coordinates with the aforementioned tutu.)
S loves to look like her best friend, Bear. I wanted to make a similar soft hood with ears from woven fabric, and the resulting project has been loved as much as the original. People here in New York seem to like it, too. We get amused looks and comments everywhere we go. It must be the ears.
The hood continues to be a popular cold-weather and dress-up item for S. (And these two bears still go everywhere together, as you can see below.) Here is the Cozy Bear Hood as worn last week between our two recent snow storms.
The pattern comes in multiple sizes, as do many projects in the book. So you can customize each project to the size of the child for whom you’re making it, or you can make the project in increasing larger sizes as the child grows, which is what we’re doing at our house.
The Penguin Backpack
If you’re wearing a hat with ears, you’ll probably want a backpack with wings, won’t you?
This project was originally inspired by S’s Paris backpack, which I made when she and Todd took a trip to Paris just as I was about to launch Oliver + S and needed some extra work time. While they were in Paris they pretended to use the map printed on the fabric to navigate the city.
Here is the final project on its way to school last year. This penguin has seen a lot of the city from S’s back, and we’re especially attached to it because of my Dad’s work in Antarctica where, just last week, he visited a real penguin colony. (He reported back to S that penguin colonies smell awful, and she was ecstatic to report this to her class, where they are studying penguins.) You can also make the backpack without the penguin features, as seen in the first photo above. And this penguin is delightfully scent free.
The mittens are another popular item at our house.
Here they are last year, getting a thorough wear testing after a big snowfall.
Of course they are getting lots of use this winter, too, with all the snow we’ve had.
The pattern and construction are a unique design that allows easy movement, so they mittens are great for making and throwing snowballs, constructing snowmen and igloos, and the like. If you make them from soft felted wool you’ll be amazed at all the colors that are available (we’ve given some sources in the back of the book), and they’re warm and cozy for little hands. They can also be made from polar fleece if you’re so inclined.
And here is one last project we’ve been enjoying a lot.
The Tea Party Doll Dress
Because every girl needs a matching dress for her doll.
American Girl dolls are an obsession at our house. It’s almost ridiculous, actually. Samantha is our doll of choice, and she’s almost as beloved as Bear. I thought it would be fun to include a dress pattern for dolls like Samantha in the book, so this project is based on one of our very first sewing patterns, the Tea Party Sundress, which has also been one of our best selling patterns. If you have already sewn a Tea Party dress for your daughter or granddaughter, you’ll now be able to make a matching dress for her favorite doll.
We’ve personally tried and tested every pattern in the book at our house, and these are some of the projects that S has been especially attached to. I’ll show you a few more of the projects in greater depth soon.