Packing for Europe…capsule wardrobes for the whole family

Wanna know what I’ve been doing all week? Prepping and planning for a 3.5 week trip to Europe!! Woot! We jet out tonight and are so very excited. The main purpose is to visit some of my husband’s family but we are also doing a little family vacation in the process…We are going to visit England, Wales, Luxembourg, Germany, France, and maybe Switzerland and Belgium. It is sure to be crazy times with 2 small boys and my husband working along the way, but we love adventure and can’t wait to embark on this one.

As we are traveling with small boys and their respective car seats, we are trying to be as minimalistic as possible on the packing front. I posted the above picture on Instagram and Facebook last week and got some comments and questions on our packing methods so I thought I’d write up a quick blog post with all the details. I know, this has absolutely nothing to do with sewing, but hey it’s my blog, right? :) And actually I use this as a journal of sorts so if I write it all down here, I can remember it for next time. So I may just be talking to myself here, but I’m cool with that. Nothing out of the ordinary for me. ;)

luggage (4 of 5)First off, after much research, I decided upon this bag (no affiliate links here, just lots of amazon linkage since I’m a prime addict). It was a good price, had great reviews, and can be worn as a backpack but opens up like a suitcase- perfect for keeping things organized while traveling! I also bought a set of medium packing cubes and assorted slim packing cubes. My first experience with packing cubes and I’m loving the organization they provide.

Since I think my wardrobe is the main interest, here’s the bullet list of my bag and its contents. Again, please feel free to not read this! The key to my travel capsule wardrobe is: 4-5 tops + 2-3 bottoms + 1 sweater- all mix and matchable among each other so quite a few different outfits can be made from a few articles of clothing. And different layers of clothing to account for all possible temps!

luggage (2 of 5)Medium Packing cube (for me) (13.75×9.75″) shown above: hand for perspective

  • Shower flip flops
  • Pj pants, running leggings and running tee
  • Dress (my easter washi)
  • Scarf, grey cardigan
  • 4 tank tops (for layering)
  • Short sleeved dressy sweatshirt, casual short sleeve tee
  • 2 button down shirts (brown archer and white gap one)
  • Mint ginger jeans

luggage (1 of 5)Slim cube (medium size 10x5x2.75″): seen below as the long skinny one

  • undergarments (1 bra, sports bra, 5 undies)
  • bathing suit (just in case), 1 pair shorts
  • socks (4 pair)

Medium Packing cube (for Eliot)

  • Tees (2 short sleeve, 1 long)
  • Bottoms (2 jeans, 1 shorts, 1 bathing suit)
  • 1 sweater, 1 button down shirt
  • 1 pair pjs
  • 5 pair socks, 1 pair shoes


  • Sperrys, 2 pairs jeans, small travel fan
  • Orla Kiely Makeup bag- (contains non-liquid makeup and feminine products)
  • Small packing cube (6.5×5)- toiletries: toothbrushes x4, qtips, razors, powder laundry soap (we will do laundry every 3-4 days), deodorant x2
  • Top pocket contains my small zippered jewelry pouch
  • Inside zip top contains raincoats x3 ( for me and the boys) and gold sandals

luggage (3 of 5)

I am also bringing a regular size backpack as my personal item (shown below) and that bag has:

  • our liquid toiletries in 1 quart bag, essential oils roller balls in another, and 1 final quart bag of ez squeeze applesauce for snacking.
  • 2 small medicine bottles with adult/child ibuprofen, vitamins and supplements
  • small first aid kit
  • ipad, phone, headphones and chargers
  • Several quart bags of trip snacks: trail mix, granola bars, pull n peel licorice (my personal travel snack :) )
  • Umbrella, a few small children’s books, and my water bottle

luggage (5 of 5)

Oliver’s backpack (an 18L from REI-shown at top) has 2 small metal lunch boxes (shown below)- used as toy boxes for the boys, more snack baggies, water bottle x2, pjs x2 for the plane, child’s headphones x2, stuffed dog x2, and a few diapers and wipes for Eliot.

 My husband’s backpack (Kelty Redwing 50L) has everything else:

  • Oliver’s packing cube: exactly the same size and contents as Eliot’s.
  • His clothes (2 ss tees, 2 ls tees, jeans, shorts, button down, raincoat, sweatshirt)
  • Slim Packing cube (long 14×5)- for his boxers and socks
  • umbrella, hair dryer, chargers and European adaptors, small travel fan, mesh bags for laundry, Ergo, Flip Flops, enough diapers and wipes for a few days (vacuum packed)

And if you made it that far, you deserve a medal! Hope that info helps any of you contemplating a trip with kids. In case you weren’t counting that brings our luggage count to 3 carry-on backpacks and 1 small backpack as personal item….no checked bags except for the car seats! Oh and an umbrella stroller we will check at the gate.

I have been heavily influenced by Tsh at the Art of Simple and The Art of Simple Travel, Un-Fancy, the Budget-minded traveler podcast, and Entre Family Travels. They all have great posts on capsule wardrobes and minimalist packing that I have found very helpful throughout my planning. Wish us luck and find me on IG for updates along the way! (@oliversfancy).

Superhero Summer Pjs

superhero pjs (5 of 9)This is my little add-on to the end of Kid’s Clothes Week. I actually finished the shorts during the week but didn’t get the tanks done until after the week was up. A while back on a rare visit to our local big box fabric store, Oliver saw some superhero fabric and asked to get some. So I told him that I would let him come back and pick some out. When I realized he only had one pair of summer pjs, I thought that would be the perfect time for him to go get his fabric. He decided on the Batman and Star Wars fabric. While we were in there, Eliot fell in love with the “ninja” fabric and so I decided to get him some too. Even though he has plenty of pjs, I hate for him to miss out on all the fun. Plus these ended up costing me $3.50 per shorts so for once, sewing was actually the frugal option. :)

superhero pjs (2 of 9)I used Dana’s Kid Shorts Made pattern for the bottoms. Eliot’s shorts are 2T and Oliver’s are 4. Oliver’s fit pretty perfectly with enough room to grow over the summer. And Eliot’s fit great with the disposables he wears to bed but are a little snug with the cloth diapers that he wears during the day. Since he’ll be wearing these to bed, that’s not a big deal, but it’s something to keep in mind if I make him any for day wear.

superhero pjs (4 of 9)

The tops are the Flashback Skinny Tees. I looked up the tanks I made for the boys last summer (blogged here) and used the same mods. To sum it up- I cut 3/4″ off the arm holes and deepened the neckline in the front and back a bit. I cut the neck and armhole binding 1.5″ wide instead of 2″ like the pattern recommends. Oliver’s is a 4 with a little length and width added to make sure it fits through the summer. Eliot’s is a 2 with just a little extra length.

superhero pjs (1 of 9)

superhero pjs (9 of 9)All three of the tanks are made from Robert Kaufman’s Laguna jersey. I love having this on stock for last minute tees. The orange is from and the blues are from Imagine Gnats. I had some fabric scraps left from the shorts and appliquéd them to the tanks for a little fun addition.

superhero pjs (8 of 9)superhero pjs (7 of 9)

Once I was finished with these tanks, I realized that I actually own the Titchy Threads twisted tank pattern so I am looking forward to trying that one out later this summer on some other projects I have in mind and comparing that version with my FBST hacked version. But with this, I’m done with pjs for now! The boys should be set through the end of the summer. On to non-nightime related projects.superhero pjs (3 of 9)

Oh and this crazy photoshoot…yeah, still working on getting pictures of the boys together that are even remotely decent…so just embrace the wild, crazy, and little bit fuzziness about it. Just know they really love these pajamas. K, thanks. :)

superhero pjs (6 of 9)

kcw spring 2015: stormtrooper birthday tee

stormtrooper fb tee (6 of 6)Oliver turned 4 today….sigh. On the one hand, it feels like I’ve been a mom forever, but on the other hand, it feels like just yesterday he was a teeny little baby. Four is just such a big kid age! And while I really am excited to get to enjoy all the fun that comes with the big kid stage, I’m mourning just a bit the loss of my little toddler. Okay, enough sentimentality, on to some crazy cute pictures of this kid. Can you tell Daddy was around to take pictures today? Yeah, maybe one day I’ll have his photog skills.

stormtrooper fb tee (2 of 6)

The birthday shirt is a tradition around here. And like all good traditions, it’s always made the night before the birth day itself. ;) In the past, I’ve done mostly traditional number shirts. You can see my previous ones here (three, two, one), but this year I wanted to do something different. Something that would mesh into his every day wardrobe a little easier. So I consulted Oliver, of course. He picked out this navy and red striped knit from my stash for the fabric. (bought on a recent trip to Charleston where I stopped in at Five-Eigths Seams and raided their knit stash. Unknown substrate info except it’s a lightweight jersey knit that feels like mostly cotton with maybe a little bit of spandex).

stormtrooper fb tee (4 of 6)I searched the internets for birthday number tee ideas until I came up with several options for O to choose from. He, of course, wanted all the options so we decided to combine the superhero shirt with the stormtrooper. I used a free stormtrooper printable (found here) and added Superman’s logo to the chest along with the 4. It might not be super obvious that it is a Superman logo, but Oliver gets a kick out it so that’s what counts.

stormtrooper fb tee (5 of 6) The stormtrooper is freezer paper stenciled onto the shirt. Cutting out all those pieces was a bit tedious but I really like the end result. Note on freezer paper stenciling: less is more. I put my paint on a little too thick and the stencil didn’t come off very neatly, so I had to go back with a small brush and touch up a bunch of spots. Ended up being fixable but wouldn’t have been an issue if I had used thinner layers to begin with.

stormtrooper fb tee (3 of 6)

Pattern is the flashback tee in a modified size 4. I wanted it to be a little looser fit so I added about 1/4″ to the width on both sides when I was cutting it out. I wasn’t thinking and cut off some of the bottom hem to even out the stripes and ended up cutting off too much and making it too short. So I used the same rib knit that I bound the neckline and armholes with and made a binding for the bottom hem. It’s not my fave hem but at least it’s not too short! I must admit to being pretty happy with how well the stripes matched up on the sides and the sleeves!

stormtrooper fb tee (1 of 6)The entire shirt was sewn with my serger so it was a pretty quick sew- made up for the time-consuming stencil. And that wraps up a pretty successful Kid’s Clothes Week. I don’t always get to whole heartedly participate anymore, but I really enjoyed getting into my sewing groove this week and cranking out a bunch of stuff. I’ve got a few more things to show you next week after I put the finishing touches on them.

kid's clothes week

kcw spring 2015: rhino jammies

rhino version (2 of 9)I’m back with another pair of pjs for Oliver. This pair is basically the exact same at the previous pair except for different fabric and the rhino addition. I bought this jersey knit from Imagine Gnats at the same time I bought the deer fabric. She has a great selection of stripes, and I had Oliver look through and decide which stripes were his favorite. I would not have picked the red and grey for him but he loves it.

rhino version (6 of 9)

Again, flashback skinny tee in a 4T for the top. Coordinating grey ribbing for the neck and sleeve bands. I have yet to hem this version either. My husband just asked me why I never hem the knit tees….ummm, because I’m lazy? lol.

rhino version (3 of 9)I wanted to have some fun with the “wild things” theme for kid’s clothes week so Oliver and I brainstormed different animals until we decided upon a rhino for his shirt. I decided to keep the rhino understated so I just freezer paper stenciled the outline in black fabric paint. I can always go back and fill in the outline if I decide it needs more substance. What do you think? Is it good as-is?

rhino version (7 of 9)

Pants are the fancy pants leggings, yet again. 4t. I used 1.25″ elastic in the waistband this time, and it fit perfectly and gives the waistband some nice structure. For added fun, I rotated the stripes in the bum panel.

rhino version (5 of 9)Oliver’s first comment when trying these pjs on was “these are so cozy”. Score! I think the extra cozy factor is due to the rayon in the jersey. I normally just use cotton/spandex blend jersey but went out on a limb to try the rayon blend this time. It’s a little more slippery to sew with and quite drapey, but once sewn together I was pretty happy with it.

rhino version (1 of 9)

In case you haven’t noticed, we are going super simple on the photo shoots this week. KCW is all about sewing, and that means less time for shoots, so hope the less-than-stellar photography doesn’t bother anyone. Plus, photo shoot with pjs need to involve comfy couches and doggie pillows, right?

rhino version (8 of 9)

Hope your kcw sewing is going well. I’m loving all the “wild things” I’ve seen so far and am excited we still have 3 more days to go. Next up on my list are some more pjs- but this time summer versions with tank tops and woven shorts…so I am switching things up just a bit. ;) Can’t wait to show you the fun fabric the boys picked out for these!

rhino version (9 of 9)

kid's clothes week

kcw spring 2015: hello bear pajamas

hello bear version (2 of 7)

So far I am on a roll this kcw! Eliot has been taking good naps and Oliver is actually spending an hour all by himself for his quiet time! Whew. I have no idea how long this will last so I’m taking full advantage of the sewing time while I can!hello bear version (1 of 7)

Today’s project was one of several pairs of pjs I have planned for Oliver. These pjs are made with some Art Gallery Knit (Hello Bear by Bonnie Christine) that I picked up during Imagine Gnat’s spring break sale. I had Oliver go through the shop’s knit selection and pick out a few prints that he would like for pjs- again, part of my plan to make sure my handmades get worn! I was able to squeeze of these garments from one yard of fabric- love sewing with wide knits. Even with the bit extra priciness of AGF knits, this comes out as a pretty thrifty outfit.

hello bear version (6 of 7)

Tee pattern is the good ol’ Flashback Skinny Tee from Made by Rae. I made a 4T and it fits pretty perfectly. I just realized only have one more size till I size out of my pattern. Going to have to get the larger sizes one soon. Hard to believe my little baby is getting that big. Wah! Oh also, I was going to hem this but I used my serger for the entire construction and was too lazy to change my sewing machine needles and thread for hemming so we’re sticking with the un-hemmed look for now. It’s in, right?

hello bear version (5 of 7)

Bottoms are the fancy pants leggings from Laura at Titchy Threads. I thought about trying to find another legging pattern for the bottoms since I didn’t necessarily need the bum panel for these pants, but I already own this pattern and had the 4t size traced and ready to go so I just went with them. Even without using contrast fabric, I do think that bum panel is pretty cute. My ribbing is pretty thin and doesn’t have great recovery so I inserted some 1″ wide elastic in the waistband to help the pants stay up.

hello bear version (7 of 7)

Oliver requested taking pictures with his daddy’s new Star Wars lego mini fighters. The boys and I picked them out for daddy’s birthday last week and we are all enjoying them. The mini AT-AT is so stinking cute, I might steal it for myself.

hello bear version (3 of 7)

Anyway, these pjs might be a bit of the easy way to fit into the wild things theme for this week, but hey, Oliver picked the fabric himself so can’t blame me. I’m hoping to have some fun with fabric paint and wild things on another pair of pjs later this week. Fingers crossed for continued good sewing time!hello bear version (4 of 7)

kid's clothes week

kcw spring 2015: sunny day shorts

oliver beach bum version (4 of 6)

I am so excited that it’s Kid’s Clothes Week time again! I’ve got a pile of things to finish for Oliver and am hoping to get them all done this week. Mostly basics- the kid only has one pair of summer pjs! But since I know how easy it is to make pjs, I just can’t bring myself to buy him any. I let him pick out some fabric for new ones and plan to get them whipped up over the next few days.

oliver beach bum version (1 of 6)

First off, some new shorts! I have yet to have much success with getting Oliver to wear shorts this spring. He loves to wear his jeans every day- so I’m introducing him to the “jean” (aka chambray) shorts. Chambray used is the Kaufman Union Stretch Shirting– bought from a while back. This is a super lightweight chambray so it’s perfect for summer shorts. The pattern is the free Oliver+S Sunny Day Shorts.

oliver beach bum version (2 of 6)

I used Kristin’s tutorial to add pockets and a drawstring waistband to the shorts. If these look familiar, I made almost the same exact pair for him last year. (blogged here) That pair is too short for him now so he needed another pair. I made the 4T but added 1.5″ to the length because I think they run a bit on the short side. These are now a bit long but at the rate he’s growing, I’d like to give him a little length so hopefully they will fit all summer!oliver beach bum version (3 of 6)

oliver beach bum version (6 of 6)So theme for Spring 2015 KCW is Wild Things…You may think that this has nothing to do with wild animals. Think again. :) I let Oliver pick out the lining fabric (my new trick for getting him to wear his handmades) and he picked out this Dr. Seuss menagerie print- from the Celebrate Seuss line- it has a mix of all the animals and creatures from a bunch of his books. Definitely fits the wild things label!oliver beach bum version (5 of 6)

And a happy dance for new shorts! Here’s hoping for a productive KCW! What about you?What’s on your sewing list this week? Can’t wait to peruse the site’s community pool and see all the fun outfits pop up!

kid's clothes week

Washi XP Easter Dress in Cotton + Steel

easter dress (3 of 8)I’m back to share with you my Easter dress! I don’t know how the rest of you are, but at times half my “sewing” time is spent searching for inspiration. I’m a visual person, and normally I have to see an idea of something before I get inspired and create something of my own. I was searching for weeks for the perfect pattern for an Easter dress and just couldn’t nail down something that I liked that would also be flattering on me.easter dress (1 of 8)

While I was searching for patterns, Pink Castle ran a 40% off apparel fabric sale, (seriously, how awesome is that and why did I not buy more? ;) ) and I picked up several Cotton+Steel prints that I’d been admiring: some Ephemera double gauze and Mochi floral lawn. I had intended for the double gauze to be my Easter dress, but changed my mind after I saw the lawn in person. This lawn is my new favorite fabric. It is so lightweight, airy, and silky-smooth without feeling sticky or clingy.

easter dress (5 of 8)

I only bought two yards of the lawn so that narrowed down my dress options immensely. I decided to try out the Washi dress again, this time using the extension pack options. I have loved my previous washis (blogged here, here, and here) but they didn’t get much use during the pregnancy/nursing stages that I’ve been going through the past few years. Now that I’m not nursing anymore and my *ahem* bust is back to a normal size, I have been excited to add them back into my rotation.

easter dress (4 of 8)

I’ve been meaning to try out that Peter Pan collar option with the Washi XP ever since Rae released it but never managed to get around to it. Now was the perfect time to try some fun options! I made size M of version C from the expansion pack: sleeveless, fully lined bodice, pleated front, the elastic casing in the back, and the pointed collar. The one change I made was to piece the front bodice (similar to view A) in order to squeeze this dress out of my 2 yards. I also added some length to the back elastic due to being wide waisted.

t.easter dress (7 of 8)

I love, love, love how this turned out. It is so very comfy and perfect for hot summer days- did I mention pockets?! The collar is made from some Essex linen in Aqua that I picked up several years back from Pink Castle fabrics (she’s out of that color but has several other colors in stock still.) Such a happy accident that it matched my dress so well!

easter dress (2 of 8)Because the lawn is fairly sheer, I ended up lining the entire dress with a lightweight cotton batiste. The bodice lining instructions are included in the washi xp pattern, and I just gathered a rectangle of fabric and attached it to the bodice/elastic casing seams for the skirt lining. Quite easy but it does take some of the give out of the elastic so you have to take a little more time getting the dress off and on. I loved making the lined bodice- so much nicer looking than facings in my opinion. And Rae is so good about walking you through techniques like this. Another reason to love Made by Rae patterns!

easter dress2 (1 of 1)As I mentioned earlier, I had to piece the front bodice due to limited fabric, and it ended up being a little too noticeable for my taste- you can see how it made some pulling across the bust. So I decided to add some buttons to the bodice, and I’m so glad I did because it totally completed the look of the dress. You can also see some wrinkling at the bottom of the bodice that showed up after I attached the lining. Sooo…. guess I still need to work on my lining skills a bit still. easter dress (6 of 8)All little imperfections aside, I really do love this dress and foresee it getting lots of wear this summer as it is so easy to throw on and so crazy comfy to wear! Lawn is definitely going to be my go-to summer sewing fabric from now on- might even beat out my love of double gauze for a bit!