Sew much sewing

Oh it’s been way too long since I posted anything here, I am terribily sorry. I think I’ve been caught in so many projects and haven’t had the time to do some of the things I like best, like sharing some lovely things with you. One of the projects that has been keeping me busy these days is all the sewing I’ve been doing for my kids. I thought it would be nice to share a few of those with you today and maybe inspire you a little to try and make something!
I usually create my own patterns and creations, however I’ve been using patterns created by fellow blog friends and it has been such a fun process. Here are just a few from the past couple of weeks …

I created this bathing suit from a legging pattern, The Fancy Pant Legging. If you are looking for an easy knit project with really amazing results check out the Titchy Thread website, the leggings are really cute, comfortable and a quick sew. The instructiona are easy to follow with tips on how to sew knits and photos to acompany them. The legging pattern is great for newborn and little kids- they make great PJ bottom or even summer shorts to wear under dresses.

The Roly Poly pinafore is another wonderful pattern, and really great to learn how to sew. This can be worn as a tunic, a top or an art smock- it can be layered over t-shirts and therefore worn all year round. The best part is that it’s reversible! Check out Imagine Gnats for all the details. Can I just add I had such fun dip dyeing my fabric.

If you are more experienced sewer, then I highly recommend the bubble shorts by Elegance & Elephants. It comes with an elastic waistband or a sailor looking front flap. These shorts are just too cute and the large pocket are great for stuffing all your little toys!!! You might want to see the other patterns on the website, it’s all so cute.

And well, I could not leave the boys out (although the Fancy Pant Legging is great for boys too) — check out Blank Slate Patterns for a great variety of boys patterns. I use the Coastal Cargo pattern and modified into a short for these. And can you tell I’m slightly obssesed with dip dye? I just can’t seem to stop, soon all out clothes will go through the process!

I’d love to know if you try any of these patterns- send over some photos! If you need help, I’ll be more than happy to help. Happy sewing!

xo Celina

Easy DIY goodie bags

We just brought Ava to her creche with 14 of these cute bear goodie bags. I thought to share this with you, as they were totally easy to make! (We did it late night yesterday evening!)

Just cut the top part of a paper carrier bag, and cut out two ears from the left-over top part. Put some little presents in the bag, pin the ears to the top to help them stay in place and close the top on the sewing machine. (Or, just use glue if you don’t have a sewing machine — you can keep the ears in place with cloth pins when they’re drying.) Use white gouache to paint the eyes and snout, and when dry, use a permanent marker to add some details. Done!

xxx Esther

DIY: Simple skirts for little girls

When I was in Amsterdam with Esther last month, we sat down one evening to make some cute stripy skirts for the girls. (I should clarify – I did a bit of ironing, and Esther did everything else!!). She whipped up three skirts in one evening and I was so super impressed with how quickly you can have results! The girls were wearing their new skirts the following day! Esther explained the simple steps to me… but of course, like with anything else, you can’t fully learn how to do something unless you really sit down and do it yourself. So I was determined to come back to London, buy some cute fabric and learn by doing.

My mom is here visiting us so I figured it was the perfect timing to do so. Together we set up my sewing machine and sat down one evening for a little sewing session. It is surprisingly easy! And I must say, quite addictive!

I thought I would share the steps for how to make a super simple elastic waistband skirt (taught to me by Esther). My sewing lingo is very basic, so I’m not even sure if I can properly explain it… but I figured my basic steps might be helpful for other beginner sewers.

  1. Cut the length of fabric you think will be suitable for your child’s height. (I’ve made a few skirts now for Ivy and I think my favourite length began with a 46cm length of fabric. The length of the pink skirt in the photo below is longer, roughly 52cm). Remember to wash the fabric first so you know how much it is going to shrink (or allow for shrinkage if you don’t wash it first).
  2. The width of the fabric will become the waist/width of the skirt (the elastic will determine the size of the waist, determining how much fabric gets scrunched by the elastic). Widths of fabric differ – the wider the fabric, the fuller the skirt will be. (The floral Liberty print skirt pictured above has a 135cm or 54″ width.)
  3. Fold your fabric width-wise with the inside of the fabric on the outside, matching up the two outside edges. Sew a basic seam along this edge (about 1.5cm from the edge). Now you will have a loop of fabric with one seam. (You can iron the flaps of the seam down so they are flat against the fabric – this help keeps things looking tidy and also helps when sewing the hem and waistband over the seam.)
  4. Create a hem at the bottom by folding the bottom edge up (about 1cm) once and then folding again (about 2.5cm) to create a neat hem (where you don’t see any of the unfinished edge). Iron the folds, and pin the folding down so that it stays straight and in place. (You can measure while you do this to ensure the hem is straight and remains the same thickness all along the bottom). Then sew the hem in place.
  5. Create a waist band by doing roughly the same thing as the bottom hem (only it can be thinner, about half the width of the hem). I’ve been using elastic which is 9mm wide, so I just need to make sure the waistband is wide enough for the 9mm elastic to fit through easily). Iron the folds and pin down so that it stays straight when you sew it. Sew it together, leaving a small gap at the seam of the skirt for you to get the elastic band into the waist.
  6. Insert the elastic into the waistband using a safety pin pinned to the end of the elastic. Work the elastic all the way around the waistband and cinch up to your desired waist size (make sure the elastic doesn’t get twisted). Sew the elastic together so that it makes a loop within the waistband.
  7. Finish the skirt by sewing shut the gap of the waistband.

And that’s it! It’s so basic. The skirt consists of one seam, one hem and one elastic waistband. Easy peasy! I hope my instructions haven’t confused you. If you have any questions, just ask in the comments section below.

x Courtney


I totally remember tie-dying as a child — it was such fashion back then, and I remember how fun and exciting it was. You never really knew what the results were going to be like! So I picked up a packet of fabric dye from the local drugstore (there wasn’t much choice — I used Dylon dye for hand use, colour Ocean Blue), and a few simple, white cotton T-shirts for the kids (plus a onesie for Casper of course). After pre-washing the shirts, I wet the shirts (or you can just leave them wet after washing), and put the kids around the table with each a shirt to use and a bag of elastic bands. I explained some different folding techniques to them using this page, and we started! For Casper’s onesie, I made a big donut by creating a big rosette and pushing the tip back through the rubber band. For Ava’s shirt, we made a line of small rosettes which we tied together with one elastic band. Pim used the folding technique, making vertical folds and tying them at irregular intervals. As you can see he’s very pleased with the results. And Sara made random circles, bigger and small, which also gave a cool effect I think.

After tying the shirts, I prepared the dye in the kitchen sink and we submerged the shirts in the dye for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally with a big steel spoon. Then, I rinsed with cold water and let the kids untie their shirts with plastic gloves on. The excitement and surprise — they absolutely loved it! After a quick spin in the machine the shirts were ready to wear. With pride!

xxx Esther

Spring Tent DIY

My son Henrik loves to make tents and forts.  He builds one practically every day.  This year for an Easter surprise I decided to make my children a tent that they could leave up and play with all day every day.  I used the genius tutorial featured on a beautiful mess invented by Rubyellen.  I then made some of my own modifications.  I added an extra wooden piece of moulding at the bottom of both sides so that the tent won’t slide down and will stay upright on hard wood floors.

I also added a window with a roll flap that snaps open.  I lined the inside of it with a blue geometric fabric.  I trimmed the window and the outside of the tent in a solid aqua fabric bias tape that I made.  I ended up using a small black polka dot fabric for the tent.  I cut and sewed the green fabric on the bottom to look like grass and make it feel more like spring.  To make the tent more cozy I made a few floor cushions in corresponding colors (even a star pillow).

I think it’s safe to say they love the tent.

I may have also got my children two bunnies.  I couldn’t help myself.  I had bunnies growing up as a child and had so much fun with them.  Henrik named the black one hoppy and Maja named the brown one honey.

Aren’t the bow tie and bow so cute that Henrik and Maja are wearing?!  If you’re interested in some for your little ones my sweet friend makes them and you can get them here.

I hope you enjoy!


Crochet At Play

I have always wanted to learn to crochet! And I was even more inspired to learn when I spent a weekend last year with Emilie and Esther and they were both crocheting the cutest little hats and accessories. They gave me a quick tutorial and it seemed quite do-able. But of course, I came back to London and a whole year has passed and I still haven’t picked up a crochet hook!

But things are about to change! I just received Kat Goldin’s new book, Crochet at Play , and I am so inspired by all the adorable crochet patterns: the sweetest clothing, cutest accessories (a crocheted crown! little hedgehog mittens! adorable baby shoes!), and fun toys. The book offers a selection of 30 patterns with easy-to-follow instructions for making each piece, and everything is so beautifully photographed that I just want to make it all.

I think I’ll start with the little crown. Stay tuned for results.

xx Courtney

Photo from Kat Goldin’s blog, Slugs on the Refrigerator. And you can also watch this video trailer for the book, made by Kat Molesworth.

Happy Easter!

Is it snowing for you outside as well? If you’re stuck inside like us, here are some last minute Easter craft ideas. Happy Easter!

xxx Courtney, Emilie and Esther

Bunny Masks

Bunny Egg Warmers

Chick Sugar Cookies

PomPom Easter chicks

Newspaper Easter eggs

Last year we had some friends over for Easter with us at home. It was an especially rainy one, so we did some crafts.  We loved doing this ones with newspaper.

Great fun we had! And quite easy and cheap!!! ;-)

- Maria

Miko Design

Mikodesign is a small Dutch label owned by the lovely Erika Harberts. Erika lives in Rotterdam with her husband and two darling daughters (who have inherited 100% of their mother’s good taste and creativity!), in a beautifully decorated flat with a little studio space in which she creates all of her amazing dolls, DIY kits, and other cute accessories.

Erika is one of the most creative women I have ever met. She designs and screen prints her own fabrics (look at this gorgeous onesie she made for Casper — it has an Amsterdam skyline on it; bakfiets included!), she keeps a beautiful and extremely inspiring blog, even designed and made an adorable play house in the garden a few years ago. The birthday parties she organises for her two girls are simply AMAZING — I think my favourite must be the Magritte detective party, but this Frida party is fantastic as well (and evolved in a line of beautiful Frida dolls and DIY kits). What an amazing, creative woman! (Who also happens to be super kind and sweet and pretty!)

You can buy Erika’s designs from the Mikodesign webshop or her Etsy shop, and follow her on Instagram here.
xxx Esther

LOVE letters!

A cardboard box, some spray paint or gouache, and voila!

Happy Valentines Day!

xxx Esther

DIY: customize a blazer

I have recently been asked by French kids brand Du Pareil au Meme, to customize one blazer of their collection. This is the result of it!

I really enjoyed changing the look of the jacket and I had loads of fun. Nico loves the moustache so we are both happy. It also opened a new whole world in front of me, so now I am always thinking of things to add to Nico’s clothes!!! It can be a bit addictive ;-).

– Maria

Leg Warmers

I have decided that the cold winter of 2013 is the right time for my girls to challenge their inner Flashdance and start wearing leg warmers. Leg warmers are actually a highly underrated clothing item, don’t you think? As there is a strong preference for dresses and tights in our house, a pair of legwarmers is actually just the right thing to keep the girls’ legs cozy and warm.

So, as I could only find nasty acrylic leg warmers in the shops, I tried to knit some myself. They actually turned out quite well and where super easy to knit. (BTW I have noticed that everything I knit is a variation of a square for example the snood or the hat; I have no idea how to increase and decrease stitches!)

I used knitting needles size 8 European size and cast on 30 stitches and knitted a rectangle in rib stitch (2 pearl/ 2knit) that was 20 cm in height (great size for Violette who is now 4 years old). I then sewed together the sides to make the rectangle into a tube and repeated the whole process for the second leg warmer.

I got so excited about my new found knitting skill that I also knitted a pair of leg warmers for baby Marlow. Hilariously I forgot that 2-month-old babies are not the same size as a 4-year-olds. Funny how impossible it is to remember how small a tiny baby really is!

- Emilie

How to knit a snood!

As you might remember snoods are an essential part of a Parisian pre-school child’s wardrobe. As four-year-olds have quite a talent for losing any accessorize at any given moment, we have already misplaced one or two snoods this winter. No doubt they will turn up again, but in the meantime I actually have started knitting my own! (BTW Violette only wore her snood under duress, until the day the principle showed Violette’s class her snood as an example of what they should all wear. Now she wears it like a badge of honour…)

I use soft, thick wool – simply because it goes faster. In the case of the snood on the photo above I used European needles size 8, which I believe is a US 11.

The instructions are actually very, very simple: To knit the snood, I casted on 60 stitches and knitted a band that was 17 cm high. I then stitched  together the sides to make a snood.

For my most successful model up to date, I alternated between 2 rows of purl stitches and 2 rows of knit stitches. (I hope this makes sense- this is the first time I have ever noted down knitting instructions and it not as simple as it seems!)

- Emilie

Last minute Christmas decoration: a heart of light

This is a very easy DIY perfect for a last-minute decoration. I made it with some wire, wool, and christmas lights.

And here is the result. You could do diferent shapes with the wire. Maybe a star or a christmas tree, or you could even spell out words. I didnt have much time to do this, so I chose the heart, as it is the easiest thing to do ;-). After doing the shape you just twine the christmas lights and the wool in the end to cover the cord.

Hope you like it and give it a try. Christmas is just around the corner!

- Maria

Sewing Christmas Cards

Today I would like to share the Christmas Cards we made at home this year which I posted in eb&m this week. With craft paper and a sewing machine we made the envelopes, and the cards.

With a snowflake punch I  garnished the cards a little bit.

And then Nico painted them!! Now we have to do some more, and we are waiting for the day to send them. I love receiving Christmas Cards in the mailbox. Don’t  you?

Many people asked me about sewing paper. If  the paper has enough weight you have no problem and it sews just perfectly!

- Maria Cañal

Knitting Christmas balls

This year I have a new obsession: I’m knitting Christmas balls! My husband gave me the book ’55 Christmas Balls to Knit’ by Arne & Carlos for my birthday, and after initial scepticism about the exercise (I mean — knitting Christmas balls??), I have now finished my first ball and totally got the hang of it. So I immediately started the second one, with the eventual aim to knit four balls, one for each of my kids. Maybe I can make them a ball each year, so they can grow a Christmas ornament collection of their own…

xxx Esther

Cute Casper, wearing a knitted ‘hood hat’

Oh my goodness, I just had to share this cute photo of darling Casper wearing the little knitted hood hat I knit for him. Isn’t he adorable?  Esther just posted it on her Instagram feed, and it made me so excited to see the little hat ‘in action’ that I just had to share it with you.

xx Courtney

p.s. The knitting pattern for the hat is here.
p.p.s. Esther is coming to London in a couple weeks with baby Casper and I am so excited to introduce baby Marlow to sweet baby Casper. (We’re already planning their future marriage!) hehe…

Pink Flamingo Halloween Costume

This post is not about our favourite take away pizza restaurant here in Paris called Pink Flamingo, but about a Halloween costume!

As you might remember, I am a huge fan of the HM/ Unicef collection that is available at the moment, especially as Halloween is around the corner. The costumes are super cute and Coco wants to dress up as a pink flamingo this year. I thought that was a great choice until we realized a quite important thing: to be a flamingo, you need wings…

With a little bit of internet research, we came across this great little wing pattern on a blog called Llevo el invierno. It was exactly what we needed, relatively easy to put together for me and very easy for Coco to flap her arms around with, pretending to be a pink flamingo. (more…)

DIY: Personalise your party glasses

Last weekend we celebrated my son’s birthday.  Today I would like to share the glasses I made for the day. It is a simple idea that helps the kids keep track of their own glasses!!!

I got the milkshake glasses in “La Fiesta de Olivia“. They are are so nice, remind me of some “old movies”!!.  I just added a band of chalk paint to each of them.

And wrote the names of the guests!! It also works well in glass, but in glass the paint will go as soon as you wash it, which is good so you can use it just for the day of the party!!

- Maria

Apple stamping and tote bag making!

Last May it was Sara’s 7th birthday, and she wished for a ‘sewing’ party with her girlfriends. I suspect this has to do with the craft night I organise with a few of my girlfriends every 2 weeks on Monday night, which involves tea and homemade cake and lots of chit-chat. Sara loves the idea of it — she always lies awake in her bed, waiting until my friends are here and secretly joins us for a bit of cake and some knitting before I put her to bed for a second time.

For her birthday party, I decided to apple-stamp tote bags with Sara and her girlfriends. I prepared the bag linings beforehand (up to step 4 below), and cut and ironed the outside of the bags in preparation as well. At the party, we let the girls stamp their own name and apple design first. When the outside of the bags were drying (see photo) we played games and had cake. Afterwards, we let the girls sew the sides of the bags using Sara’s sewing machine (step 6 below). Nothing but two straight lines, but except for Sara, none of the girls had ever touched a sewing machine before, so this was a big success! I quickly sewed the lining to the outside of the bags so all the girls could take their personal tote bag home. It was such fun to see all the tote bags the next day at school — used as gym, book or lunch bags!

As for the making of — here is a quick how-to. I used this twenty-minute-tote-tutorial from the PurlBee for the basic idea. And in the meantime, I have been making more of these bags for personalised baby presents. Fun!


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