PR&P season 3 reunion: nanook of the northwest

two years ago, i was a contestant in season 3 of project run & play (sort of project runway for kids clothes…and online). it was an intense but creative season, and a bunch of us really bonded with each other (some during but behind the scenes, some after the competition was all over).  so when Jess contacted us to do a virtual Season 3 reunion, I was definitely on board!

since i’m super pregnant, i wasn’t planning on sewing anything for the reunion – this was to be more of a reflective post on my experience.  buuuuut then my seasonmates started showing previews on instagram, and i just couldn’t resist the temptation to join them again – plus i got stuck at home for a few days due to a rare Portland snowstorm, so i actually had time!  inspiration hit – i’d redo the Outerwear Challenge because i love sewing outerwear but haven’t for a while, and i’d of course stay true to my signature style.

and here it is…my little Nanook of the Northwest (because what’s a PR&P project without a catchy title??).

polka dot sherpa coat

i decided to make a super cozy coat for Em with special details –  fun to wear but still practical, feminine but not frilly, stylish but understated, with plays on color…my signature style.  it’ll keep her warm on the playground but will catch attention too!

polka dot sherpa coat

when i sewed for PR&P, i always started with a sketch and shared that in my weekly posts.  sketching seems to be how my brain generate new ideas, guides my process, and it’s also very satisfying to see it turn into reality.

polka dot sherpa coat

i had been wanting to make a sherpa-lined hoodie for O, actually, so that jumpstarted my idea.  i looked through my stash to find this great dot dot Echino canvas in the perfect outerwear weight (i scored it on sale at Bolt, you can find it online here) sherpa from JoAnn, and faux fur left over from Sam’s hat to trim it out.

polka dot sherpa coat

it closes with brass snaps – after seeing Kelly’s amazing Minoru in real life, i’ve become obsessed and think they add a really nice touch – plus there was NO way i was forcing buttonholes into that sherpa!

polka dot sherpa coat

the hood is the Red Riding Hood Cape hood from Little Things to Sew (affiliate link) – I cut a large but had to trim 1.5” off the front and curve the bottom a bit, and it’s still pretty big.  i’m sure the medium would’ve worked.  i love that it’s so oversized though, and Em likes to snuggle into it, which is pretty cute.

polka dot sherpa coat

i used the pocket template from the Playtime Tunic for the side seam pockets, cut down to 12-18 month size.

polka dot sherpa coat

for the body, i used the same pattern i made for little red and my suzy coat – it’s an Oliver + S Sunday Brunch Jacket yoke with shortened sleeves, but extended to full length (this time with a hi-low hemline) and fully lined (the body and hood with sherpa, the sleeves with some voile for easier on/off).  one of the most important rules of project run & play is that patterns can be used but they must be heavily altered, so i gave myself the same constraints for this challenge.

polka dot sherpa coat

test fits were seeming a little snug on Em due to the thicker lining, so i added a snap strip on one side to extend it and add a bit of a more professional finish, which worked really nicely.  i’m praying it’s big enough that she can still wear it this coming fall/winter.

polka dot sherpa coat

one major difference between my skill level during PR&P and now – i conceived of and sewed this coat in one afternoon/evening, and photographed it the next morning!  I was much slower two years ago – one look took me a whole week to accomplish and i was learning so much as i went (collages, photo editing, pattern alteration, etc.).  all the practice from film petit helps, i’m sure.  and hey, film petit wouldn’t even be here without PR&P (since it was inspired by the Season 4 movie challenge) so that’s another nice tie in!

polka dot sherpa coat polka dot sherpa coat

i was going to make leggings to go with it, but just as i finished the coat, the power went out because of freezing rain on the lines!  i took it as a sign and skipped the leggings, layering shorts i’d already made with some fun blue tights to complete the look.

polka dot sherpa coat

Em had such a good time during this photoshoot – crunching through the layer of ice to the powdery snow below.

polka dot sherpa coat

and i was happy to get outside of the house for the first time in 3 days!  sewing is fun, but fresh air is better.

polka dot sherpa coat

project run & play was a really game changing experience for me, causing me think of myself as a “creative person” for the first time ever.  it was also really difficult, and made me seriously gut check myself and my style, why i blog, etc.  i think i wasn’t quite “ready” as a sewist or a blogger to be in a competition like that at that time, but it definitely shoved me forward at a pace i never would’ve had on my own.

i’m also so grateful for the relationships i built during PR&P.  i feel really lucky to call my former competitors friends, and truly admire and am inspired by all of them.  it’s fun to get to cheer each other on when you’re not in a competition, ya know?

polka dot sherpa coat

thanks for following along – i know a few of you have been with me since the PR&P days or before, and i really appreciate you so much!!  when you’re in a competition like that, it’s amazing how much you need that encouragement and support from people that “get” you.  and i hope that everyone that’s found me since then now has a bit more of my story – without PR&P, you probably wouldn’t know my blog – it really sort of put me on the kid sewing blog map.

and now i’d love it if you’d please go check out the reunion posts from my fellow Season 3-ers that i’m so happy to call friends!

click on the bubbles below and it’ll take you to each post…


and thanks so much once again to Jess for organizing this reunion!!

P.S. did you know that 1922’s Nanook of the North is considered to be the first full-length documentary?  i just can’t avoid being inspired by film!  

sweet tartan dress tutorial and pattern

as promised, here is the tutorial for my sweet tartan dress from the first week of project run & play!  i made the original in a woven plaid, but didn’t take any photos along the way.  so i remade it this time in a pink gingham with green sash, since my daughter is currently obsessed with strawberries and this reminded me of strawberry shortcake dolls i used to play with!

if you’ll remember, the challenge was to remix the adorable junebug dress by  jess of craftiness is not optional.  i honored my scottish heritage by choosing a tartan and made a dress inspired by alexander mcqueen (more on that here).  i flipped the buttoned bodice to the back, drafted a wrap front bodice, omitted the sleeves, and added the gathered overskirt.  the whole dress is lined, so i’ll also show you how to make a lined bodice.  and i got permisson from jess from CINO to offer my 2/3T pattern pieces as a free downloadable file for you – thank you jess!  if you’re drafting your own pattern in a different size, follow her instructions here, and then come back to learn how to adapt it.  otherwise, i’ve done a lot of the pattern work for you!

okay, let’s get on with the tutorial.

Continue reading

PR&P week 6: old, new, borrowed & PURPLE

here we go again, i’m back one more time with my “signature” look for project run & play season 3! the look evolved from a beachy dress to what is actually a mini wedding dress! i know i know, special occasion week was week 5. but my little gal had a large hand in how this look turned out.

my sister had the great idea to go to the beach for photos if i made it through to the finale as a unique photoshoot idea, so i first designed an ombré dip dyed easy breezy beach dress in bright green to allude to the verdant pacific northwest, in my casual but feminine style, etc. see?

but after i was eliminated…i really didn’t want to buy any more fabric or supplies! i only had fuchsia and navy dye on hand and my largest piece of solid fabric was a super soft old white bedsheet. so i mixed the dyes in a big tub and dip dyed the bedsheet to make this little dress. it turned out a lovely shade of purple!

purple is Em’s second favorite color (she is adamant about her favorite colors and wishes all of her clothing was either pink or purple). it’s got a full circle skirt for twirling, and it’s comfortable and soft. i didn’t plan on making a “fancy dress,” per se, but when i tried it on her she immediately danced and exclaimed “IT’S MY WEDDING DRESS!!”

it actually took me a little while to remember that she has always told us that “when she gets bigger” she wants to wear a purple wedding dress and marry her best buddy, N, who she has known since she was 3 months old. once it dawned on me that i had inadvertently designed the wedding dress of her dreams, i decided to go with the “colorful wedding” theme full tilt.

as the saying goes, she is wearing something old (the bedsheet and a piece of lace my grandma left me in a box of notions when she passed), something new (the plaid sash is an H&M scarf that reminds Em of “elmer the patchwork elephant” and i made her a ring out of a sparkly pink button and a gold pipe cleaner), something borrowed (the necklace my husband gave me on our wedding day which she was beyond thrilled to wear), and something blue…er purple (the dress!). actually, there is blue ribbon on her felt flower bouquet, so it’s all good. 🙂

i had way too much fun making her bouquet out of felt, floral wire, ribbon, and hot glue. i think using saturated colors is another part of my signature style, so i enjoyed incorporating lots of color here. i also made her a felt rose hairpiece (we live in the rose city, and i wanted my look to reference portland somehow).

the dress itself has a gathered rectangle bodice encased by a hand-dyed purple band at the top, flutter sleeves sandwiched between purple shoulder straps (i stitched 1/8″ from the edges but will let them fray a bit), encased elastic at the back for comfort and ease of wear, and a long, full circle skirt which i dip dyed for a gradient look, a technique i’d been wanting to try forever. i thought a maxi-dress on a three year old would be pretty rad, and i believe i was right. it’s so dramatic!

so another funny thing is that my plan was to take photos just in her bedroom, sort of ho hum but whatever, this is just for fun, right? i wasn’t making the trek to the unpredictable oregon coast at this time of year unless there were potential prizes involved. 😉 but then a friend suggested that i take the photos in front of the red doors of a church nearby. as soon as she mentioned it, i knew i had to do it. nevermind the fact that it wasn’t nearly warm enough outside for this dress…Em was a trooper and we made it quick, with a cozy sweater waiting in the wings. i love the purple dress with that beautiful red door. i think the plaid sash adds some great color too, and i dressed her in stripey tights because i like to play a bit with my styling and wanted to keep it fun, you know?

oh, and does it twirl? you betcha.

so there it is, my final look for project run & play season 3! thanks for encouraging me to make it! i felt freer to try new things (the dye and maxi-length) and also include some elements i might have avoided if i was designing it for a competition (plaid and circle skirts for the third time), so that was nice.

i don’t feel right entering this dress into the sewalong competition since i was an “official” contestant and i don’t quite have the stomach for more public voting/judging at the moment, but i will encourage you to head over to project run & play to vote this weekend for your favorite “signature look” from the flickr pool! as always, i’m so excited to see what everyone has made! being inspired by everyone’s creativity is probably my favorite part of all of this.

and one last time…

one day i’m in, and the next day…

…i’m out.

well, it was a good run you guys. i was the casualty of the double elimination on project run & play this week, and i’m pretty bummed to be out SO CLOSE to the finale, to be completely honest. but i also had a really fun time, and i truly appreciate you sticking with me and offering your encouragement, comments, and votes all throughout (and a special welcome to the new followers that found me for the first time through PR&P!). i’m so glad simple simon asked me to participate this season!

week 1: junebug remix

a bunch of random thoughts i wanted to mention…

  • i can draft patterns now, and without fear! i had done that only a couple times before project run and play (the junebug remix was a great first challenge for that reason). this opens a whole new world of possibilities. i almost feel like i don’t need patterns at all, but i will definitely still use them. they do make things WAY easier, and sewing is mainly a relaxing hobby for me, so easier is good.
  • my sewing skills improved exponentially in just a couple months! pretty cool to just FEEL my learning curve shooting up under such intense sewing pressure. i think i was just on the edge of having enough skill to participate going into it, and so i definitely surprised myself each time things worked out, sewing-wise. i kept thinking it was luck. 😉

week 2: boy week

  • i feel more creative than i ever have, and i’m very proud of what i made. i suddenly have the freedom of drawing whatever i can dream up and then i know i can probably make it happen. when i had the idea to make my art deco flapper dress, i was literally shaking with excitement and an urge to make it come to life. i’m most proud of that dress.

week 3: sewing through the decades

  • i like to compete (i knew this already, i’ve played sports since i was little). i loved the creative challenges, and i’m fine with being judged by “experts” like katy, dana, and shannon (plus a guest). however, the public voting was always really hard for me to watch (but i couldn’t look away!). i would have rather just had someone tell me what to sew and had no one go home, but i probably did my best work by trying to stretch as far as possible while remaining true to my own aesthetic so that i WOULDN’T go home! i wanted to win, and i tried my hardest every week.
  • friends are good, and i really enjoyed emailing my real life friends and a few of my competitors through the competition as a support system. we said more than once that we wished we were all in one room together, sewing away and chatting, like project runway. i’m excited to see what danielle, jess, and stef sew for the finale, and i can’t wait for friday! i’ll try to let you know when voting is open so you can see what they came up with too.
  • i learned some new things about blogging, mostly how to make my own collages (rather than using an online service). i have an apple computer, but no photoshop. wanna know how to do it? you drag and drop photos from iphoto into pages (the word processing program), resize and arrange them, then add a text box over the top. if you lower the transparency of the background color to 30% it adds a nice effect, and then use the skitch app to take a screen capture. drag and drop that back into iphoto and you’ve got yourself a fancy-looking collage! felt like that helped make me look “official” like the big bloggers. 😉

week 4: outerwear

  • i thought i was a big procrastinator, but in dealing with such major time constraints (working 4 days a week from 8-5pm, and primarily sewing while the kids were sleeping), i knew i had to be very organized and sew ahead. i made the handy dandy work process chart below, and had the first two weeks’ looks sewn before the competition even started. that definitely helped as it came down to the end and the competition got more fierce. i had the luxury of scrapping two looks that weren’t working and starting new, and i only caught up to “real time” in week 5. that’s my tip for any future PR&P contestants that may be reading! 🙂

  • i think i have a different style than others, and that’s why i started sewing in the first place. i thought of things i wanted my toddler daughter to wear, but couldn’t find them in stores. i’m not a fan of super frilly, but i like feminine. i love color and balance. my style is understated, and i care a lot about craftsmanship and little details. my garments seem to have a sense of place (i had no idea how much i was influenced by where i live until this competition). this design simplicity might be why i didn’t ever win a challenge or make it to the finale, but i’m glad i stuck to my guns and made what i love. as i was compared to others, my “signature style” emerged.

week 5: special occasion/party wear

  • and finally, the most important lesson i learned is who i sew for: my kids, myself, my family, my friends, and my blog readers, probably in that order. in the end, i made things that Em and O could wear once this was all over, and they have been! red riding hood coat is her current go-to, and she loves hiding in the giant hood. she wore her elephant jacket to the zoo last weekend to go see the elephants, while holding her stuffed elephant, and also wearing her elephant dress. he wears his pants and sweater often. since i was putting in a lot of time and energy, i’m glad these things are getting used!

so once again, i love you guys! you really get me! thanks for sticking with me and thanks for voting all these weeks to keep me in the running. for a tiny little blog (i have just a fraction of some of the other designers’ readership), i’m so excited to have made it this far. i’m a little giddy with the freedom of what to make next, and i have a rush of ideas. i do want to do a sweet tartan dress tutorial in the future for sure, and i’m also hoping to do a dora backpack tutorial…any other tutorials you’d like to see? i can’t promise i’ll get to them right away, but i’ll try to eventually!

thanks again, all. it’s been a pretty darn cool experience, but an all-consuming one. i know my husband has missed me! even if i’ve been around, i know i’ve mentally been in “PR&P-land.”

glad to be back!

japanese tea party: the outtakes

i was realizing that in my sleep-deprived state leading up my japanese tea party post, i neglected to include as many of the photos from our super fun photoshoot as i wanted to.  everyone cool with a few more?  hope so!

(voting over at project run & play is open until sunday evening, by the way, and remember it’s a double-elimination round! – vote here – **Voting is now closed.**)

the indoor photos:

i hung pom poms from my kids’ rooms (i originally made them for Em’s first birthday party) and the pink bunting banner that i made for race for the cure last fall.  i wanted the background of the photos to be light and soft, to complement the petal top and tutu skirt.

gail provided the felt tea party goodies.  Em provided the elephants.

there was also some book-reading, of course (it is a reading nook, after all!)

the nook has the most amazing light even in poor weather, which is why i asked if we could take pictures there.  turns out we got a beautifully sunny day (almost TOO sunny at times, once we got outside)!

i was sure to take advantage of the light to get a few detail shots of the kimono coat and that blind-stitched binding that i’m so proud of, and a big reason behind my late sewing night…

the outdoor photos:

after i got the photos i needed inside, we went outside to “feed the chickens.”  well…that was what got Em outside so i could take my kimono jacket photos!  Em loves feeding the chickens (yes, people keep chickens in their backyards here…it’s actually a pretty common occurrence!).

more jacket photos here.  to Em’s delight, she and lila then got to feed the chickens (see how versatile this party outfit is?  it’s great for tea parties AND farmwork!).

while gail, wearing her lovely wiksten tova top that she made, held O for me so i could snap snap snap away.

all in all, it was my favorite photoshoot of the competition so far – great friends, great setting, great pictures.  i hope to return the favor someday, though my house isn’t nearly as cool!

have you made it over to project run & play to vote yet?  mine is the first entry you see this week so it’s pretty easy to find (though it is not first in the votes at the moment!).  VOTE HERE through sunday evening!  thanks for indulging my photo bombardment!  i just couldn’t not post them.  🙂

**Voting is now closed.**