Nelly Lou Spring/Summer 2018 - Foxes and Fossils

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I'm so happy to announce that my new spring/summer collection for Nelly Lou is live in the etsy shop! I call this one Foxes and Fossils - there are dino, foxes, and a couple of other fun prints. And of course some super cute solid colors!

Oh yeah, In addition to the usual turbans, headbands, and tees, I now also have suspender skirts! I'm so excited for these, you guys! They come in 3 solid colors, go up to a size 2/3T, and are offered 'Made To Order' just like the tees. 

I hope you love this collection as much as I do! Don't forget to follow along on Instagram (@shopnellylou) for updated info, discount codes, and other fun stuff. Psssssst- there may be a giveaway soon, so definitely make sure you're following there! 

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Handmade Wardrobe // Kyoto times two

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I mentioned the Papercut Patterns Kyoto tee in my beginners resource guide as one of my favorite beginner patterns. And here's proof how much I love it! I've made two versions so far, this medium weight matte black one, and the pink one below. And I have a short sleeve one in my queue for this summer!

Also - the overalls are from Thelma Dean and they are so perfect. 

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This next set is actually from last October, that I thought I blogged but apparently didn't #whoops. The fabric is a really lightweight french terry knit from Fabric.com. Bonus - I used the leftovers to make Penny a matching peplum tee!

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DIY Roundup

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Remember when I used to do DIYs her all the time? I've been thinking about starting back up posting some again. I mean, don't get to excited, it will only be once in awhile HA. But it's something I want to try again. 

So I thought I'd I do a little round-up of some of my past favorites! I'll link every one to their original post. 

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DIY Cat Eye Mask

I was so proud of this one! I loved making them so much, I even started making them to sell in my Etsy shop. Since Nelly Lou has started to take a different direction, I'll no longer be offering them for sale. So now is the time to re-visit the DIY and make one for yourself! 

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DIY Game Board Beach Blanket

Zach and I used to use this blanket all the time at the beach! I'm thinking I might eventually make a larger circle one with a more toddler/small child friendly game. I'm not sure what that game would be though, so if you have any suggestions let me know!

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DIY Simple Knit Bodycon Skirt

I've made a lot of these. I mean, this one pictured and the one in the DIY are both way too short for my lifestyle now, ha. But it can be made in whatever length you'd like. 

 

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DIY Shibori Dyeing

This one was a hit and one of my all time favorites! I used the left fabric in this dress, but this could also be used for pillows, tea towels, etc. 

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DIY Hand Warmers

An easy DIY for those colder months. Stick em in your pockets and then put your hands in there and you'll be toast warm!

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DIY Off The Shoulder Dress

I actually did this DIY post for Megan Nielsen and it was a HUGE hit. It's an easy garment to make because its just a few rectangles, no actual pattern required. You can check it out over at Design Diary. 

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DIY Transparent Clutch

Kind of a random one and not for everyone, but I think it turned out pretty cute! Good for heading to a stadium that only allows clear purses. 

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DIY Passport Cover

This is a real oldie, and the post isn't formatted for my current blog format. But I remember a lot of people liking this one at the time, so I wanted to include it!


Those are some of my favorites! You can find some more in the DIY category on the left. 


Handmade Wardrobe // Jumpsuit Besties

I looked and looked and looked for a jumpsuit in this shape, and I finally found one! It is a free pattern download with the purchase of Mimi G's may 2017 issue of Sew Sew Def. You can see her post here. I had to make a few adjustments to accommodate the really stretchy jersey knit that I used (pattern calls for woven), but I love how it came out! I've been obsessed with this shaped jumpsuit lately, so I'm sure I'll be making a few more of these for summer. 

P.S - fabric is from Cali Fabrics

Also, how cute is P?! I didn't originally intend to include her in these photos, but she was just too cute in her jumpsuit like Mama not to. And just before we walked out the door, I put on my sunglasses. And she looked up at me, pointed at her eyes, and pointed at herself. She wanted to wear hers too like me. I mean, seriously, this girl <3.

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My shoes: Swedish Hasbeens

baby turban: Nelly Lou (color coming soon!)

Penny's jumpsuit: thrifted

Penn'ys boots: OshKosh

Handmade Wardrobe // A Beginners Resource

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I've been getting a few requests lately to share my favorite patterns and sewing advice for someone who wants to start building a handmade wardrobe, but is a newbie to sewing. So I wanted to build this post as sort of a resource for beginners. I'm going to list my favorite places to find sewing tutorials and information, my favorite online fabric stores, my favorite places to find patterns, and some of my own personal favorite patterns - all suited for someone just starting out. 

These are just some of my personal favorites, so if you have anything you'd like to share, drop a comment below!

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Fabric

Getting familiar with fabric is really important before you get into sewing. The right fabric can make a garment, or break it if its the wrong weight and drape. Some of the biggest sewing fails comes from pairing the wrong fabric with a pattern, not necessarily from poor technique or sewing quality. So you should become familiar with the difference between knits and woven (remember, knits are stretchy like t-shirts, woven for the most part are not), as well as some of the different types of each. For example, a lightweight jersey knit is going to drape and sit completely different than a heavier weight ponte knit. So pay attention to what a pattern suggests for fabric.

 If you're able to go to a fabric store in person and touch and feel the different kinds of fabrics, its a quick way to learn. Otherwise, some online fabric shops offer swatches for a few dollars each so you can feel for yourself before committing to a lot of yardage. 

Speaking of online fabric shopping, these are some of my favorites! I know there more out there, so if you have another go-to, don't forget to tell me in a comment below!:

Another note on fabric - when building a handmade wardrobe, you'll want to keep in mind your personal style. You want your handmade pieces to fit flawlessly into your closet/wardrobe. It can be easy, when fabric shopping, to get sucked into really fun and flashy prints or other fabrics. But stop and think if it really fits in with the rest of your wardrobe. Maybe that is your style - colorful and lots of prints! Hey, thats cool! But does your wardrobe contain mostly muted solid colors? Or just subtle florals? Is that bright yellow cat print really going to work with your other garments, or do you only attracted to the fabric because its cute and stands out? Just keep it in mind! I still struggle with this every time I buy fabric. I'm drawn to those quirky fabrics, even though its not actually my personal style anymore. 

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Patterns

Same as with fabric, there are soooo many great pattern companies out there, both big name and indie. You seriously could spend forever looking for the perfect patterns (I know because I still do all the time). Here are some brands I love:

So, when ordering most indie patterns online, they will offer you a choice in receiving a paper pattern in the mail, or an instant download PDF pattern (usually for a cheaper price). With PDF patterns, you can either print it yourself on a home machine - printing out on multiple 8x10 pieces of printer paper and then taping them together (I did a how-to post for Megan Nielsen here), OR you can get it all printed at once as a large format A0 or 36x48 print - either at a copy shop like Staples, or through a PDF printing website. I use the site PDF plotting and it's so much easier than taping a million papers together! You just choose how many pages are in your PDF file, how many copies you want, and then upload the file. Its delivered to you in a few days, and then you only have to worry about cutting or tracing just like with any other pattern. 

My Favorites - Very Easy

When looking for beginner patterns, most indie designers will have a difficulty ranking system. Look for something like 1/5, beginner, easy, super easy, etc. Even the big 4 will have text on the front of some of their patterns that say Super Easy! or Learn to Sew! 

This first set is some that I consider super easy. Very beginner. In other words - start here! lol. These are patterns that don't have any frou frou details, no difficult closures, and no need to perfect fit. They're all either loose fitting or stretchy - no darts required. 

My favorite absolute beginner go-to patterns are easy, no-fuss knit pieces. And Megan's Axel skirt fits the bill. Its quick, simple, but stylish. And when you use heavier stable knits like I did in all threes examples above, you don't even need to hem. So super simple!

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Another simple design to start out with is a t-shirt dress. Again, its a simple construction. I've kinda perfected my own pattern over time, but this one is pretty close. 

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-Don't want to invest in actual patterns yet? Try a DIY! I made this off the shoulder tutorial a few years ago, and its been a hit! No pattern required. 

-The kimono in the second photo is also a no-pattern DIY. Literally just a few rectangles sewn together. I made it using these two tutorials  - one and two

-Another easy Megan Nielsen pattern - the Eucalypt tank/dress. A basic closet staple that you can do so much with - like add patch pockets and a faux collar like above!. I've made quite a few of these. 

- A recent favorite Papercut Patterns Kyoto tee/sweater. Its very on trend right now with the ruffle on the sleeve, but there is no crazy construction required. A gathered ruffle is very basic sewing!

- I also love this Simplicity pattern 8335. Again, trendy with those details, but they're easy details, I promise. 

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A few more:

-I made this BurdaStyle 6663 right after I had Penny, I just can't find the photos. No fancy closures or facings, so suuuuper easy. And really cute with the ties at the shoulder. 

- Megan Nielsen Virginia leggings. Basic leggings with elastic waist and a few variations!

- One of the easiest beginner things to make is a basic skirt. Like the knit pull on skirts I talked about earlier, a drawstring (or elastic waist) skirt is so so easy and therefore usually someones first garment (it was mine!) This BurdaStyle 6416 is super cute. 

My Favorites - Level 2 Easy

These next ones I would still classify as easy, but one step up. They include detail such as zippers, plackets, buttons, etc. So they probably wouldn't be your very first sewing project. Bt once you have a couple of super easy ones under your belt, these would be your next step. 

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I have made soooooooo many Darling Ranges dresses. So many. And I have another one in my queue. I love it that much. The placket/buttons and pockets in this pattern may be a bit intimidating, and move it up into this next category, but it is so satisfying and rewarding to make. And p.s - I helped create the sewalong for this pattern if you need help with construction!

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This one is Vogue 9075. Its a simple staple design, but involves pleats and a zipper, and princess seams, so definitely next level easy. But honestly one of my favorites. There is a dress version and jumpsuit version, and can be made in wovens or knits. 

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A few more:

-The True Bias Ogden came and Lodo dress are such classic shapes and closet staples. The only reason I include them in this category instead of the super easy one, is because they have facings/linings. Still not hard at all, though!

-This BurdaStyle 6401 dress is pretty cute. It's loose fitting - so you don't have to worry about darts are seams and getting the right fit, it just has a zipper back closure.

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Another option for patterns - vintage! I found both of the above on Etsy. Just pay attention to the measurements on the back pf the patterns, because vintage sizing can be a lot different than modern sizing. 

Sewing Tips and Tutorials

I know sometimes, as a beginner, even an easy pattern can breeze over something that leaves you confused. If you are brand new to sewing, and you need help understanding some techniques and termonology, there are so many resources online to help!

- Search Youtube for video tutorials! 

- Craftsy offers tutorials and online sewing workshops. Check out their blog under the sewing fundamentals or sewing techniques categories for a whole bunch of tips. Or sign up for one of their online classes. 

- Most of the indie pattern companies have blogs where they include specific sewalongs for each of their patterns, as well as tips and tutorial posts. Tilly and Buttons has a great 'learn to sew' section that I love, with posts ranging from marking and cutting fabric, to how to set up your machine, to how to make buttonholes.

- I also love See Kate Sew's post about fabric grain

- Megan Nielsen has a bunch of these types of posts on Design Diary, a lot of which I've written! Some that I think are useful for beginners:


Again, everything here is just some of my personal favorites, and just ones I would consider easy, beginner, or next level beginner. I could do a whole other post on intermediate and advanced patterns and information!

I'm also thinking about doing a separate post talking about sewing for babies/toddler/kids, and how to find free patterns for them. Any interest?


Peabody Essex Museum, Salem MA

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Our heads and hearts are already gearing up fro spring, but mother nature has had other ideas. With one nor'easter after another pummeling us with snow, we've had to find ways to keep busy indoors still. Zach's coworker told him about the fun interactive exhibits at the Peabody Essex Museum, and it was such a perfect snowy saturday trip!

Penny could probably live in that balloon room, and I don't blame her. 

P.S - locals, the fun XYZT exhibit runs through April 22nd, and the Play exhibit (with the balloon room) runs through May 6th!

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handmade wardrobe // Ruffle Rowan

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This Megan Nielsen Rowan bodysuit has been sitting in my to-do pile since the beginning of fall. Why has it taken me this long to put on a bodysuit?! I definitely need more of these in my closet. You can officially count me as bodysuit obsessed. 

I made this one in a really soft and stretchy sweater knit, and added my own sweet ruffle detail to the turtleneck version. Perfectly me <3

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Ice Castles 2018 (and tips for visiting yourself)

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We made our annual trip up to NH to see the Ice Castle this past weekend. I get so excited for this trip every year! P was really little when we went last year, but she was able to understand and enjoy it more this year which was so ridiculously cute. She loves snow, and the little mini ice slides were a hit!

Every year when I post our pictures (see 2015-2017 here), I get a few questions about it. So I thought I'd share a few tips if anyone else decides to visit for themselves! I think there may only be a couple weeks left in the season for NH, but you could always plan ahead for next year, too!

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The ice castle we visit is in Lincoln NH, but there are other locations in Utah, Minnesota, Colorado, and Canada (visit there website for info). Our experience is only at the NH location, but I'm sure a lot of my tips apply to the others, as well. 

The biggest thing, that is pretty deceiving from all of my photos, is that it actually gets VERY busy and crowded. SO...

  • Buy your tickets online ahead of time. Standby tickets aren't always available. 
  • Try to get your tickets for the earliest timeslot of the day (this year on a Saturday it was 11am). AND get there early. We were 20 min early and lucked out because they opened the gate early. This is how I get most of the good pictures. We try to be some of the first people in there and get most of the picture taking out of the way before the wave of people start pouring in.
  • UNLESS you want to see it lit up at night, which is a whole other experience. We never do this so I don't really have any tips. #sorryguys
  • If you're a stickler like me about not wanting a million people in your photos, you just got to have a lot of patience. It takes a lot of strategic framing and cropping, waiting your turn for the most photogenic spots, and a little photoshop to remove the random strangers ;) 
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  • Wear good boots. The ground is all snow and can be a little difficult to walk on without proper footwear.
  • Dress the kids in full snowsuits/snowpants. And warm gloves. They'll want to crawl through the tunnels and go down the ice slides and sit on the ice throwns!
  • Speaking of kids, don't bring a stroller. You'll never make it on the snowy ground. Bring a sled with a string to pull them around. And wear small babies in carriers. 
  • I think they may list appearances on the website, or you may just get lucky and be there when Elsa and Anna and Olaf make a visit!
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  • This isn't about the ice castle itself, but every year we head to lunch at Gypsy Cafe after we're done there. It's our favorite spot! Try the grilled cheese fondue and cranberry mac and cheese. 

P.S - this is not sponsored at all. I just love this place and thought I'd share what I've learned over the years! Now scroll and enjoy some more photos. I think this year's photos may rival 2015 as my favorite set.

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