bunny at the door!

April 15th, 2014

bunny at the door! a tutorial by elsie marley


We don’t have many easter decorations: a few eggs, some bunnies here and there, maybe some flowers, but that’s it really. We needed something easter-y…and fast, because easter is this weekend! I came up with this giant easter bunny peaking in your front door. It’s like Kilroy Was Here got together with Donnie Darko and made an adorable bunny.  You can make one too–in the next 10 minutes even!



  • white poster board
  • crayons or markers
  • tape


1. Sketch out a bunny shape lightly, trying to use the whole sheet of poster board.

bunny at the door! a tutorial by elsie marley

2. Color in the nose, eyes, and the middle of the ears.

bunny at the door! a tutorial by elsie marley

3. Flip it over and color the other side (if you plan to put it in a window)

4. Cut out little paws from the poster board scraps and color them in.

bunny at the door! a tutorial by elsie marley


5. Tape it to the door and your done!

bunny at the door! a tutorial by elsie marley

My daughter said, “Look  Mama, the easter bunny has jazz hands!” Who doesn’t want a dancing bunny at their front door? Now, go on, make one!

creativity and an assignment

April 14th, 2014


I’ve been thinking of writing more about creativity on the blog. I’m not quite sure how to start. Even though (god help me) I have a degree in philosophy, I feel rather silly saying, “And now we will discuss the nature of creativity!” But at the same time, that is what I need–someone telling me what to do, a place to start. There is so much to talk about and creativity is so hard to pin down.

People think creativity is a thing you have or your don’t have, like blue eyes or curly hair. There is even this trend to say you are part of the creative class or that you are “a creative.” Oh barf. I think simply being a human being means you have to be creative: to stay alive, to raise your kids, to like your job, to get dinner on the table every night. But recognizing your creativity, understanding how it works, and accessing it is difficult. It’s like a muscle and muscles get weak when we don’t use them. 

creative assignment: egg

So I might wax poetic (ha!) about creativity in a few posts, but I’d also like to hand out creative assignments, to get your creative muscles working. Think of me as your creative trainer. We’re not going to do the equivalent of some hard-core, sweaty workout. We’re just going to remind ourselves we still have the [creative] muscles. Ok enough of the gym metaphor, it’s making me feeling guilty for not working out.


The assignment is pretty simple: we are going to turn a picture into an egg. Go to your pinterest page and click on your pins (if you don’t have an account you can use mine). You shouldn’t be on a specific board, just the place where all your most recent pins are. Mine is pictured below. Now go to the 12th pin.

creative assignment: egg

It’s not super clear what order the photos are in but it doesn’t matter, just count to 12 however and stop. My 12th pin was this one:

carnival outfit by eva maria

An awesome carnival outfit made by Eva Maria. Now take the photo you got and decorate an egg inspired by it. You can decorate an actual egg or drawn one or sew one or… Whatever! Be creative! Now this is an assignment, so it has to have a due date. Let’s say Thursday (April 17th). Let’s give it a hashtag too:


Post a picture of your egg on Instagram, on the Elsie Marley Facebook page, on your Facebook page, your blog. Whatever. The point of these exercises is to do a little something and then  put it out there.  Got it? Okay, go!


kcw spring 2014: outfit #3

April 10th, 2014

spring kcw: outfit #3 on elsie marley

For this outfit the inspiration pic doesn’t really look like it did much to inspire me. originally the plan was to do khaki jeans and a grid check shirt just like the very stylish lady is wearing, but then the grid print looked better on my youngest’s ensemble. So I switched out the grid print for a large scale gingham (or do you call it buffalo plaid? I don’t know).

spring kcw: outfit #3 on elsie marley

I love how the shirt turned out. It is, again, the Johnny B. Good pattern from Shwin Designs. I think it’s my new favorite pattern.

handmade gingham shirt on elsie marley

Both times I made it, I added a curved bit to the bottom. In the pattern the hem goes straight across, but regular button up (or handsome shirts as we call them) have that curve in the front and back. My first draft was not very successful, but this one I like. It’s even a little longer in the back. Hi-low hem for boys, hey it might be the new thing!

orange pants on elsie marley

Ok, so the pants were supposed to be khaki and I even had some super nice organic canvas in my stash. But ugh, khaki is so boring! And he has to wear khakis for his school uniform, so I knew he wouldn’t be very excited about them. Into the dye bath they went (and out went the organic-ness, I suppose). I mixed tangerine and tan RIT dye to come up with this burnt orange. I don’t know what I am doing dye-wise so they are a bit splotchy, but not as bad I thought it’d be. The trick was leaving the fabric in the dye bath for a whole week!

spring kcw: outfit #3 on elsie marley

I thought this tie from a few Easters ago would work with the outfit, but he looks like an extra on Anchorman! I’m going to use my KCW hours this weekend to sew up some ties for the boys that match my daughters dress. I don’t know how much Motif Madness fabric I have left–there might need to be some strategic piecing going on. But I can’t resist the matchy matchy!

spring kcw: outfit #3 on elsie marley

There you have it! Three outfits for KCW: one, two, and three (this one, silly). I did of course do my hour a day the last few weeks instead of this week (hey! I gots to run this KCW show too). But the point of KCW is to get behind your sewing machine and get your creative juices flowing. You know what? I kind of fell in love with sewing again.

kcw spring 2014: outfit #2

April 9th, 2014

spring kcw: outfit #2 on elsie marley

I am particularly excited about this dress. Mostly because I drafted the whole thing myself (pretty much on the fly) and it turned out even better than I imagined. The satisfaction of dreaming something up, struggling with it, and then making it work is like no other. And it is why I love sewing.

triangle dress on elsie marley

The inspiration for my daughter’s Easter dress was this amazing Marimekko dress.  You know those pictures that you keep returning to again and again (on pinterest or in magazines or wherever it is you find your inspiration)? Where each time you see them you fall in love with them all over again. The picture of that dress was like that for me.

triangle dress on elsie marley

It’s simple, but quietly stunning; playful, but still super stylish; clever, but not show-offy. I wanted to make it in gray, but what little girl wants a gray Easter dress? That’s rather depressing. Then I thought I could use a narrow stripe–maybe have the stripe go one way on the bodice and another way on the triangle bit. I almost went with the stripe, but then I remembered Rashida’s fabric collection, Tsuru, and the gorgeous triangle print in it called Motif Madness.

triangle dress on elsie marley

I ordered 2 yards of it and thank goodness I did because I only had a handful of scraps when I was done. You should probably draft your pattern and then cut it out, instead of trying to do both simultaneously :) I also did a bit of fussy cutting (that triangle at the top of the pocket) which took up a bunch of fabric.  I was worried that the triangle pocket would get lost in all that print, so I added some orange trim. I wanted to use piping, but I couldn’t get the piping to be pointy at the top. So I bound it like a quilt! A little odd, but it worked.

triangle dress on elsie marley

For the back I used an invisible zipper and a hook & eye closure. It might have even looked professional, had I matched the print. Whatever, the zipper works and doesn’t look like hell. I’ll take it. The whole dress is even lined! The fabric was pretty thin and see-through, so a lining was necessary.

triangle dress on elsie marley

I couldn’t be happier with this dress. And as an added bonus, she loves it too!

kcw spring 2014: outfit #1

April 8th, 2014

kcw theme: mini me

Sorry I’ve been away from this space for a while. Preparing for KCW and entertaining my children during spring break ate up all my time. But haHA! I started my sewing early this KCW, so I’ve got outfit #1 all sewn up and ready. But why are there 3 stylish ladies up there? For this KCW, Dorie and I decided that we should have a theme: MINI ME. The theme is optional, of course, and you can interpret it however you like.

I looked in my closet for inspiration and found none. My clothes are rather basic: gray, gray, gray, and sometimes navy. But I like to dream about wearing stylish clothes, so I looked to my pinterest clothes board for inspiration. I picked these three images: a Merimekko dress, a J. Crew (I think) ensemble, and a Madwell outfit. The dress is inspiration for my daughter’s easter dress and the other two outfits I mixed and matched for my sons’ easter outfits.

spring kcw: outfit #1 on elsie marley

This is my youngest’s outfit. Originally I was going to sew the shirt with  black and white gingham just like the picture, but then I liked the grid print (like in the Madwell outfit) with this outfit better.

spring kcw: outfit #1 on elsie marley

I used the Johnny B. Good pattern from Shwin Designs and I absolutely loved it.

spring kcw: outfit #1 on elsie marley

It was my first time doing sleeve placket and cuffs and I have to say,  I’m pretty proud of them. Shauna’s instructions are great. She doesn’t coddle you, she trusts you. This means a little more thinking on my part, which in turn means I really understand the construction of the garment.

spring kcw: outfit #1 on elsie marley

I was going to make a proper tie. Then it got all nice and springy here and I couldn’t stand to go down in my basement studio and sew. I’ve used the little boy’s tie tutorial on Purl Bee before (here and here) and cannot recommend it enough. It takes more fabric then you think a tie would need (a whole yard!) and a fair amount of ironing, but in the end you have a beautiful tie. I used this quick skinny tie tutorial and it worked ok, but it’s really meant for a toddler. I did lengthen it. Still it was a bit too short for my 4 year old.

spring kcw: outfit #1 on elsie marley

I could not find any mint stretch denim anywhere, so I went with this sort of dark sea foam green stretch twill. The material is great for spring and for the pattern–Small Fry Skinny Jeans. I had a great time sewing these pants, but I think the rise is a bit too high for my kids. I noticed it last time, but though I just sewed a size too big. These come up to his belly button, but the fit is great everywhere else. I think if I take an inch off the yoke and maybe an inch off the front they will be perfect.

spring kcw: outfit #1 on elsie marley


Still not bad for an easter outfit. Pretty stylin’ even. What do you think?