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Haven Acres Mini Collection and Photographing Kids & Animals Safely

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You those patterns that the moment you see them you know you must not only own but sew immediately? It is love at first sewing sight. The Haven Acres Mini Collection (20% off no coupon needed through 2/15) from Jennuine Design was such a pattern for me. Most animals Boston is pretty timid around, but horses are a different story entirely with them she is at total peace and relaxation. You might say she is a bit horse crazy, in her defense it is in her blood.
Recently, Boston celebrated her 3rd birthday and I wanted to do a photo shoot to celebrate her fun personality and this interest of hers. I choose to photograph her at my Grandma's & Grandpa's ranch, it is because of them we learned how to ride and always had horses to use.
PS. If you are wanting to jump to quick tips about Photographing Kids & Animals Safely please click here, scroll to the bottom of the page or you could look at all the cute pictures of Boston in her cute new outfit on your way down.
First up is the Haven Acres Blouse. I have to admit this one was probably the one I was least excited about because Boston is a bit of a knit top girl but then after stitching it up I really came to adore it. And Boston must have as well because she was very committed to leaving it on all day (something we rarely see around these parts any more). I love these sleeves they have great movement for busy little ones and the wrist is gathered but loose enough to be very comfortable. And as the weather continues to approach spring I can see adding at least one short sleeve version to Boston's wardrobe.
I really love the placket on the baby sizes. I am tempted to stitch one up for Silly Sally in the near future because they really are So Darling!
The neckline bias is explained well through very clear diagrams that would make it clear, and perfect for a confident beginner even if you had never used bias tape to finish a neckline before. The keyhole facing gives beautiful results each time. I love that the elastic waistband is completely enclosed so it won't rub on your little ones stomach. It is really a quick sew for those delicious light weight wovens you have in your stash. I think it would be a such a cute top to take to a baby shower, it really would stand out against all the traditional bodysuits.
For Boston's top I made the size 3T, I didn't add any additional height but I did do my hem at 1/2" instead of the 1" in the pattern. 
15 sizes on Haven Acres Blouse Pattern newborn-12Y (reg. price $.54 per size - sale price $.42 per size) = $8 reg./$6.40 sale until 2/15
She loves dressing up and playing pretend with her brother, the Sweet Pea Cap is darling without being too costumey. I am a rookie of hats I was so pleased with myself when I finished my final cap with how professional it looked. I used the facing piece in the rim of my hat and I love the stability this gives the hat. My hat is a size Medium, but I probably would have been safe with a Small. I just wanted to make sure that no matter how I did her hair it would fit without any fusing (she has a tendency to be a bit of a threenager from time to time). I knew it was a successful sew when her older girl cousins both already requested matching hats for their birthdays.
5 sizes on Sweet Pea Cap 3M-7Y+ (Head circ. from 17-21) (reg. price is $1 per size - $.80 per size)= $5 reg./$4 sale until 2/15
The Dressage Leggings are my personal favorite of the Haven Acres Collection. I have tried and owned other leggings patterns but after sewing several versions of the Dressage Leggings I can safely say not all leggings patterns are created equal. I love that Jenn has put in both a high rise on sizes newborn through 3T for cloth diapers & a regular rise for sizes 2T-12. In addition to the dressage style she has also added in a basic legging pattern. I am grateful for this additional pattern pieces because after making this pattern I would have a hard time using any other legging pattern. I love the use of flat felt seam on the dressage line. It makes it very comfortable for your little one to wear.
I loved watching Jenn's commitment to getting this pattern perfect as we as testers went through 10 versions of the leggings together (the other patterns had several versions but not even close to the amount of tweaking she had to do to get the perfect legging pattern, her patience and critiquing these pieces was astounding). For Boston's leggings I did a mix of a 2T width and 3T length, since her waist is in the 2T measurements and she is a 3T height. The way the pattern is nested this is not difficult to do even on the dressage version.
17 sizes on Dressage Leggings newborn-12Y (reg. price $.52 per size - sale price $.42 per size)=$9 reg. price/$7.20 sale until 2/15
Each one of these patterns comes with professional diagrams & print by size options (something that makes me want to jump up and down with glee each time I use a pattern that has this).

I spent a great deal of my youth on horses and around farm animals of all shapes or sizes. I thought it might be fun to come up with some quick tips for photographing kids & animals safely. I will mostly be directing my advice to specifically to horses but many of the tips can be used with other animals as well.
5 Quick tips for Photographing Kids & Animals Safely:
1. Know the personality of the animal you will be photographing.
Some animals are stunningly beautiful but due to personality or breading they might not make the best candidate for a photo shoot. If you don't know the animal personally you will want to ask these questions of the owner: Are they high spirited? Do they scare easily? Are their situations that make them uneasy?
An example of this is in my youth, I had a horse that was very good natured and a joy to ride she would run for hours, her gate was smooth and while on her you felt as though you were flying. She was very obedient and took commands easily. For all her strengths she was very afraid of arenas and shyed quite easily with loud noises or crowd; even though she was the fastest, prettiest horse I ever owned I was not able to use her in riding club or other public events. This was for both of our safety and enjoyment. You will want to get a feel for the spirit of the animal long before the photo shoot and if possible have the child spend time with the animal before the camera is going to make sure their personalities work well together.
The animal I used for this photo shoot is named Pet, she is a miniature horse not pony (I personally don't prefer the temperaments of ponies I find them much to stubborn). Pet has a very calm and easy disposition. I liked the idea of using her over a full sized horse because she is not large and she does not make large movements. Boston has been on full sized horses before and never had a problem but this has been with two adults on either side, I knew that I wanted my photo shoot to be more interactive and less scripted than what it would have had to been with a larger animal. With an older kid easily a larger horse would have worked with a similar photoshoot, again taking into account the disposition of the horse.
2. Clear your schedule on the day of the photo shoot. 
A popular quote in the horse world (but I feel like it applies to most small children as well) from Monty Roberts is, "If you act like you've only got fifteen minutes, it will take all day. Act like you've got all day, it will take fifteen minutes." You really need to keep a zen calmness to your photo shoot for everyone's safety. The animals and the children will be able to feel your tension if you are trying to push a deadline. This uneasiness at best could ruin your pictures but at worst could put the safety of the child or animal at risk.
This is an example of Pet and Boston getting to know each other. See how up in Boston's space Pet gets, she is getting a sense of weather she is friend or foe. While this was happening we were coaching Boston on what Pet was saying by sniffing her.
Don't worry if you have to take a few minutes to let the animal and the kid get acquainted, horses get their sense about people by smelling so have the child put their hand flat near the nose of horse, then let the horse be the one to come smell. After this you might encourage the child to blow softly into the nostrils of the horse (only do this if your child is comfortable with it), this gentle blowing is very similar to horse to horse to communication and is a great way to put the horse at ease. You will want to talk to the owner about this before doing it because some horses are a little nimbly and you don't want your little one getting nimbled at.
I really didn't stylize my pictures I just let the two of them do their thing with a little directed movement on locations in the pasture. I had my mom help me get them to the right position in the pasture so I could make the pictures. I don't think it took me more than 20 minutes to photograph this session and 15 minutes might be a better estimate.

3. Have a knowledgeable assistant(s) to help you keep everything calm. 
I am usually one to do photo shoots with just me and my kids while the hubby is at work, sometimes this is a little crazy. But I knew going into this photo shoot to be safe it was not one that I was going to do alone.
My mom has grown up around horses and without her help this photo shoot wouldn't have been possible. She helped me prepare the horse for photo shoot and was just outside of the frame (in the riding pictures she was the one hold the lead rope) whole time to keep Boston safe. If Boston held the rope wrong where Pet could have dragged her, Mom quickly corrected the problem. If for a second we would have noticed Pet get uneasy she would have been there to swoop her to safety. Jo helped watch Ryder so that he wasn't adding distraction to the session, which takes me to my next point.
4. Minimize distractions. 
Other animals or people could be distracting to the safety photo shoot. We moved Pet into an empty pasture with no other animals, often times animals can get each other rowdy (much like little kids at a play place). You are more likely to monitor their behavior if they are on their own. A good sign of how the horse is feeling is the direction their ears are facing. If they are frontward facing they are usually at ease, if there ears are pinned back they are very stressed and if they are moving front to back quickly they are uneasy. It would be very easy to miss these subtle signs if there were distractions.

5. Be mindful of weather conditions.
Animals moods are greatly effected by the weather. I have seen this especially true with horses and wind. Horses frequently will run with large gusts of wind. Your kid will probably apperciate nice weather as well!

Hope you enjoyed the Haven Acres Mini Collection pictures as much as Boston enjoyed doing this photo shoot. I would say it was her favorite location photo shoot ever!


  1. What great tips! You can see Boston and Pet are getting along famously. Thank you for all your help in testing this collextion!

  2. You did a great job sewing these up! I am loving those leggings. They look so professional!

  3. Great tips! I love these pictures with a mini horse- so fun!

  4. Your leggings turned out so awesomely! Can you tell us what kind of fabric you used? Is it denim? Thanks!

  5. Those are some cute pictures! Boston looks like she is having a whole lot of fun! I like the fabrics you used. =)


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