Indigo Dyed Tote Bag

Indigo Tote Bag with Leather handles | a happy stitchI am a natural skeptic, so I must admit I was slow to embrace the indigo dying trend.  It seemed like everyone was doing it and I pshawed. Of course, sometimes you have to (embarassingly) admit that what you first dismissed as a ‘trend’ is a hundreds of hundreds years old technique born out of pure awesome and you were being kind of a heel. Or, maybe that only happens to me. Anyway, what I’m getting at is that indigo dying is awesome! It’s a living plant, guys, and the whole process of dying with indigo is really unexpected and fun.  It’s like tie-dye (on steroids) for (artist-oriented) grown ups. If you are at all interested, don’t overthink it…definitely try it out.  I am so glad that my husband bought me a class in indigo dying at the Brooklyn Craft Company so I could get over my self and dive into it already.  I brought along a bunch of plain fabric including some canvas and basically had the time of my life.  Two of the pieces I dyed I turned into this Indigo Dyed Tote bag.

Canvas Tote Indigo Dyed | a happy stitch

Using pieces of suede leather from a thrift store leather jacket, I added simple straps. I use this tote all the time, it’s basically my new favorite.  By the way, leather is really expensive to buy but a huge men’s leather jacket from a thrift store runs for about $20 and yields a million projects worth of leather pieces.  It’s the way to go!

Indigo Tote Bag | a happy stitch

Indigo Dyed Tote | a happy stitch

The thing about Indigo dying is that you fold the fabric in different ways and don’t really know how it will turn out.  You dip into a vat of indigo and after a while it comes out neon green.  Once it oxidizes it turns the indigo blue. It’s just messy and great. I found that I enjoyed trying out lots of different folding techniques to see what I liked. For these pieces, I was initially disappointed this fabric didn’t turn out to have more blue in it but I love the way the blue at the bottom forms a good base for the tote and love how the stripes almost line up.

Indigo Bag | a happy stitch

Indigo Striped Bag | a happy stitch

I bought my own indigo-dye kit so I can play more at home, I can’t wait to use it.  I had to search around for true Indigo dye…there seem to be lots of kits claiming to use indigo but really using Rit dye. Watch out. The real thing is way more fun and science-y.  I’m so inspired by the things my friend Anna Joyce is making. I mean, her swimsuits! Wowza!

By the way, the pattern for this particular tote bag is an adaptation of my pattern, the beginner super tote. Except I didn’t line it and instead stitched french seams and I attached the straps independently to the outside. Not that you need a pattern for this, really.

Sorbetto Sundress :: 30 Days of Sundresses

Sundress_Sorbetto Top into a Dress | a happy stitch

It’s around this time of year that I lose all tolerance for annoying things like jeans or tight-fitting dresses. I want to either be wearing grub-wear in the garden or a dress I can throw on over a swimsuit. I also have pretty nit-picky criteria for sundresses…they should be so easy and comfortable you can wear them all day in the sun and also feel free to stop in at the ice cream shop or indulge in a boardwalk funnel cake without shame/discomfort.  You should be able to sweat freely, no pools of sweat that collect at a tight waistband.  They should allow enough length for sitting but not so much that the breeze can’t dry any sweat behind the knees. They should never, ever involve anything that even stands a chance of scraping or itching such as a zipper.  Save all that other stuff for the fancy dresses!   I’m a delicate flower in the hot sun of summer and my tolerance for irritation plummets to all time lows.  I really don’t think I’m the only one.  Let’s be honest, summer days meander with uncertainty and a sundress should be ready for all of it. (more…)

Boredom Busters Kit :: Making Summer Rad

Boredom Buster Kit_color the rainbow_a happy stitch

Every summer I make the same mistake.  I think to myself, “I don’t need any help or planned activities for the kids this summer! School is so structured and scripted, they need summertime freedom! They need a chance to get bored and make something up!” And then the boys spend the first few weeks of summer begging me to watch TV or play games on the computer.  Eventually I cave and they end up watchings screens way more than I would like. Or I spend my evenings scrolling Pinterest and then scrambling to find random supplies so they have an activity to draw them away from those magnetic and brain-draining screens.

Well, I’m not repeating that mistake this summer! I teamed up with Andrea from Andrea’s Notebook and nearly a dozen other talented bloggers to create a Boredom Busters Kit. The kit includes 10 different projects and bonus printables like a calendar and coloring page.  Each project just needs to be printed out and it’s ready to go. The thing I like the most about these activities is that kids can do them independently and they are designed to lead to free-form, creative play.  It’s all the stuff I like…unstructured, independent, free-choice, imaginative…the projects provide a nudge and get the ball rolling.  And, most of the time, that is all it takes! My kids will play happily for a long time once they get going on a fun activity and  without any grown-up intervention they will launch one project into a whole new direction.

Boredom Buster Kit
Buy Now!

My other favorite thing is the awesome range of activities. Without really planning to, we each created activities that are useful in a range of circumstances.  There are doodle pages perfect for waiting in a restaurant; quiet indoor activities like story-telling and a family journal; tons of outdoor activities like nature journals and more boisterous indoor activities such as cooking and science.  I’m planning to print them out and allow the boys to pick an activity, an invitation of sorts, that they can do independently.

I created a project called Color The Rainbow.  It’s a rainbow with 23 different outdoor activities. Kids color in each section after they complete an outdoor activity. The activities themselves are pretty simple and most of them are completely independent. (Some, like strawberry picking, require a drive but most of them don’t).  My kids have already started to fill in their rainbows and LOVE IT!  It makes me so happy because my childhood summers were spent outside for hours and hours and that time forms some of my fondest memories.  I really want to encourage my kids to have that un-supervised, free-wheeling, making it all up kind of summer experience.  I believe that is where a love of nature begins.  Once they fill in the whole rainbow, there is a certificate they receive which is also included in the kit.

Color The Rainbow _Boredom Buster_a happy stitch

We posted their rainbows on the wall in the dining room and they are completely independently filling it in.  The trick about it is, once the boys get outside they tend to stay there. They go out to do the “rainbow” activity and then end up playing knights or soccer or just running around.  It’s great! More sewing time for me and a richer summer for them!

Hello win, meet win.

Boredom Buster Kit _ a happy stitch

I think we hit on some summer magic here.  If you want to buy the kit, too (and I sincerely recommend it) you can get it here or through the buy now button up above.

These are affiliate links and I honestly thank you for your support. We all worked super hard on these. It was my first time using Illustrator! It will not be my last. I have some fun ideas for other easy printables and I’ll be sharing them soon.

Have a rocking summer, friends! Also, if you have any favorite summertime outdoor activities for kids, please share them with me. Definitely let me know if you do the Color The Rainbow Activity! I’m thinking it would be fun to email something extra to kids who complete it! Or even make some pins to mail out? Hmm..this could be fun.

Kindergarten Chair Pockets Take 2

You know that thing that happens when the world finds out that you sew? You are flooded with requests to sew things.  Bless them, right? Everyone means well. Remember those kindergarten chair pockets I made for my son’s class last year? Well, you can probably guess where this is going…at least a little bit.  About halfway into this school year J’s first grade teacher approached me about sewing chair pockets for his classroom, just like the ones from last year (link includes my tutorial on how to make them, btw).  chair pockets perfect for kindergarten classrooms | a happy stitch

Much as I loved making chair pockets for his classroom last year, it is time-consuming, monotonous and costly (it takes A LOT of fabric).  Plus, it seemed inequitable to me.  If classrooms need chair pockets is it fair that the only classrooms who get them have my kid in them? Not really.  So, I suggested that the school identify how many classrooms need chair pockets and write a grant to cover the cost of store-bought chair pockets.  J’s teacher came back and suggested that the ones I make are sturdier than the mass-produced kind.  I was terribly flattered.   I agreed I could make them and quoted her a price per classroom (at 25 chair pockets per classroom) that paid for my time and supplies.  She submitted the grant and it was only after the grant was accepted that I found out that nearly the entire school needed chair pockets, 300 to be exact. Turns out every first grade and kindergarten classroom except for two needed chair pockets….one of those two classroom has special chairs and the other has the pockets I made last year.  Ha! I was totally overwhelmed.  (more…)

Together…a mini (thought) quilt

Umbrella Prints Trimming - Together Quilt | a happy stitch

I have got this funny little fear of quilting.  Really, I break into a sweat standing next to an un-quilted quilt top. I like making the quilt top but it’s the whole putting it all together that makes me a basket case.  The actual quilting.  It seems an extra cruel final step, the quilting.  You work so hard on a quilt top and then every. single. thing. can mess up when you go to quilt it!  Ah, the pressure is insane.  I’d so much rather make a complicated jacket.

The problem is, I really, really want to make quilts.  Specifically mini quilts.  I love that a mini quilt can explore an idea or an aesthetic in a way that is creatively energizing far beyond garment sewing.  At the beginning of the year, I quietly decided I would make mini quilts.  Just for fun, as little breaks for myself. But, I haven’t followed through on that..until now.   (more…)

Write A Book :: Mini Makers Summer Fun Series

Write A Book! Mini Make's Summer Fun Series |a happy stitch

When my friend Carla from Small + Friendly asked me to join her Mini Maker’s Summer Fun series, she described it as ‘simple projects to combat the inevitable “I’m bored” syndrome’.  I jumped on board and immediately started to think of really elaborate projects that required lots of adult assistance. Yep.  Somehow missing the simple message.  And also forgetting parents want things kids can do on their own, for hours at a time.  After running through lots of very-involved ideas (ooh, what about…dried glue and tie-dye on a t-shirt! Or, windsocks made out of fabric scraps, paint and toilet rolls!).  I decided to run some of these ideas by C, who happened to be sitting happily on the porch writing a book. He looked up when I asked him, “what kind of activity do you think other kids like you want to do so they don’t get bored?” and before I could regale him with my ideas he said, “write books!”  It was so obvious and simple and easy and perfect!  So, this post is brought to you by my ever-astoundingly clever son.  Here is how to write your own story, provide hours of quiet fun, nurture creativity, build writing skills, drawing skills, and inspire a life-long love of books…all without any parent involvement! Can I get a Woot Woot!? (more…)

Project Sew it :: Adelia Dress

Project Sew It :: Adelia Dress | a happy stitch

Technically, Celina Bailey’s lovely effort, Project Sew It, involves one sewing project a month but I checked with the sewing goddesses and they have allowed me a little pass for missing March.  In that way, this Adelia Dress counts for both my May and April sewing.  But friends, I do not call lightly on the sewing goddesses, it’s just that this dress deserves it.  I am really excited about it because I drafted the pattern myself. (more…)

Quilt Market Samples for Cloud 9 Fabrics

Cloud 9 Knits

I am not at Quilt Market but it’s roaring along right now in Salt Lake City and shots from this massive quilting fabric market are clogging my IG feed.  I have such mixed feelings about Quilt Market, part of me would love to attend but the smart part of me realizes that I would hate it.  Big crowds, tons of things to see.  It’s the worst kind of sensory overload for an introvert of my stripe. Either way, I get really jealous of everyone attending every time it comes around.   I am consoled by the fact that I usually have some of my stitches in attendance.  The lovely people at Cloud 9 Fabric have their office about a half an hour from my house and I’m so honored that they frequently hire me to sew samples for them. (more…)

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