Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter.

This weekend has been busy with Easter activities. We dyed some eggs last night. (Maggie has paint on her forehead and a scrape next to her nose.)

Easter egg dyeing


What's funny about these pictures is that dyeing eggs was actually pretty stressful. Maggie kept threatening to throw eggs, drink dye, or knock everything onto my clothes. Joe tried to eat an egg, only to discover it was still runny!

Easter egg dyeing


So then we put the eggs back into boiling water to harden them up a bit, and they lost all of their color! NOOOOO! And they were still runny and inedible! Argh. At one point, they were really pretty, but this photograph is the only evidence I have of that.

Eggs.


(Also, overnight, 21-month-old Maggie has become a two-year-old. In other words, I am living with a demanding, shrieking, cranky nudist. It's a good thing she's so cute.)

Easter egg dyeing


Despite the stress and mayhem, the pictures turned out cute (and deceptively harmonious seeming). I think at one point, I said in exasperation to Steve, "just take some cute pictures so that we can get this over with!" Haha!

Easter egg dyeing


You'd never guess my kids were super cranky and I was losing my cool, would you?

This morning's Easter egg hunt was a bit more peaceful, at least until the sugar hit.

Easter morning.


I just did a simple egg hunt in our back yard. Nothing fancy, but the kids had fun.

Easter morning.


You can see that I cut the sleeves off of Maggie's Septmember Tunic. I just cut them at the length I wanted and faced them with bias tape. The fit is a lot more comfortable now that it's cap-sleeved and her chubby arms have room to move.

Easter morning.


Of course, she's not wearing pants. It's a miracle when we can get her to wear a diaper these days. She's sitting on my lap completely nude as I write this. Sigh. The days of dressing Maggie up in whatever strikes my fancy are probably over now - they grow up too fast! On the bright side, she seems to be showing some interest in the potty now. I don't even know what to make of this, since Joe didn't show any interest in potty-training until he was almost four! But Maggie is so independent and motivated to do everything just like her brother.

Joe did explain to her, "Maggie, when you feel the pee-pee in your penis, it's time to go to the potty." He's such a helpful big brother! Maggie listened attentively and seemed to appreciate this advice.


Easter morning.


Joe is wearing a Flashback Skinny t-shirt that I never got around to blogging. He wanted a rainbow shirt, so I cut strips of different rainbow colored knits I had around and serged them together to make a rainbow. He wears this shirt all the time - it's one of his favorites, as you can see by how much he's stretched out that neckline! Ha.



Easter morning.

Happy Easter! I hope you are having a wonderful holiday if you celebrate. This weekend I am trying to make a dent in my WIP/mending pile. So far, I've repaired Joe's backpack, fixed the sleeves on Maggie's tunic, and finished a couple projects that had been started and then put aside, including a gift for a friend's kid, a t-shirt for me, and some knit shorts for Joe. So you can expect more sewing posts from me soon!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Mini Me.

Sigh. I couldn't participate in KCW this time around. So busy. So, so busy. I had Planning Commission on Monday night (a relatively straight-forward meeting which had me home by 8:40 p.m. but forget about sewing at that point), City Council on Tuesday night (which went till 11:30! the only thing that happened after that was two beers in quick succession), Steve had his softball league on Wednesday night (he came home to find me in bed, asleep, holding a children's book, and two children strewn in various directions in other parts of the bed, don't ask me, I don't remember), and then ... then I was in recovery. And so was Steve. Seriously, this week couldn't end soon enough.

But last night (TGIF!!!), I decided it might be fun to cut out a Hanami Dress. Another pattern from the awesome PPP#2. Using fabric leftover from this project. Because, hey, the theme of this spring's KCW is "mini me," right?

Hanami Dress


I decided to go with the little flutter sleeves and the cross-back, which just seemed to compliment this soft Indian print. This fabric started its life as curtain panels, and I just love the combination of pastel and bold colors.

Of course, I couldn't resist adding a little bit of purple piping at the waist. The Hanami dress just begs for piping!

Hanami Dress


I really love that dropped waist.  It's comfortable and easy to put on (no squeezing your poor protesting toddler into this dress), and it has a wonderful 1920s-1930s vibe. Seeing this made up, I really want to make a Hanami in feedsack fabric with a white, piped, peter pan collar.

Hanami Dress


I took a risk and sewed this up in the 18-month size (Maggie is 20 months old, but on the small side), and I was pleasantly surprised that the fit is roomy, but fine! I did shorten the skirt by a couple inches, but that was the only modification I made. I expect she'll be able to wear this for a while, but it's not so big that it doesn't look good now. Score!

Hanami Dress


By now you've read everyone else's ravings about how great this pattern is. I have to concur. The instructions are excellent. Helpful, but not overkill. A good balance. And the pattern drafting is obviously spot on. Look at how perfect this little dress is!

And now, for your entertainment, a few attempts to take a photo of both of my kids together:

Attempted to photograph both of my kids.


Attempted to photograph both of my kids.


Attempts to photograph both kids together


Attempted to photograph both of my kids.



Attempts to photograph both kids together

Attempted to photograph both of my kids.


Attempted to photograph both of my kids.


Um, yeah, so much for that idea.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Perfect Pattern Parcel #2!

Perfect Pattern Parcel


By now you've heard all about Perfect Pattern Parcel #2 - it's a package of girls' patterns by independent designers - you decide how much you want to pay and how you want to allocate to the designers and to charity. Pretty sweet. And if you pay more than $24, you get a bonus pattern! Check it out! The pattern selection is awesome.

So you can imagine - when Rachael at Imagine Gnats asked me if I'd like to participate in the blog tour for PPP#2, I was like, "um, you don't have to tell me twice! sign me up!"

I wish I had time to make all of the patterns and blog a whole wardrobe, but of course I don't. So I started with two easy, fast makes - LouBee's Hosh Pants and Too Sweet's September Tunic.
 
September Tunic and Hosh Pants


Both of these patterns have been around for a while, and were on my "to-buy" list. Score! The Hosh pants are a simple slim fit pant designed for stretch wovens. I actually ended up making two pairs of these, but the first (size 2T) were too big, so I made up a second pair in the smallest size. They are still a bit baggy on Maggie, and she has room to grow. I added a couple of little red pockets to the front of these, which you can't really see with the tunic on!

September Tunic and Hosh Pants


The September Tunic has an adorable boho vibe - something about the dolman sleeves and little ruffles. For this, I used some very precious Kokko fabric printed with Scandinavian motifs (I would link to a source, but for the life of me, I can't find this stuff on the internet?!). Isn't it absolutely lovely? I practically tripped over myself getting this to the cutting table at Stone Mountain and bought way more than I will ever have any use for. But it's so me!

September Tunic and Hosh Pants


Both of these patterns would be great patterns for a beginner. The September Tunic is bound at the neckline with bias tape - an easy and professional looking finish. My only issue with the pattern is that it is really snug through the upper arms on Maggie.  Maggie is small, but her arms are deliciously chubby. So I'm afraid this tunic is not going to last very long in its current form - I will probably lop off the sleeves and make it cap-sleeved for a comfortable summer dress.  I really love the little sleeves, though, so I think I will have to make a bigger version as well! It would be easy enough to add a little more room in the sleeves - if you're making this up, I would suggest measuring your child's upper arm before cutting it out.

September Tunic and Hosh Pants


Oh, my baby Margaret Joy! Growing up so fast!

September Tunic and Hosh Pants


Murphy's law of blog photo shoots: The best shot of your kid's whole outfit will be right in front of your old, dirty Toyota 4Runner. It's just inevitable. But here's the only photo where you can see the little pockets on the front of Maggie's Hosh pants. 

September Tunic and Hosh Pants


And then your kid will point out something "yucky" that's right in front of where you are kneeling. You'll worry that you might be kneeling in dog poop, but thankfully, it turned out to be just a stick. My kids are great poop-spotters; good to know Maggie has my back! Haha.

I hope you are having a wonderful weekend! It is a gorgeous day in Oakland, so we are off to the nursery to shop for "baby plants," as Joe calls them. Time to play in the dirt!

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Monday, March 31, 2014

Everday basics.

Everyday Skirt

I'm constantly sewing stuff for my kids, and the thought does cross my mind: Why don't I have more skirts and pants with an elastic waist? I mean, seriously!

So. Um. Look guys! I made myself a basic blue skirt! Yep, you guessed it - it's Liesl's Everyday Skirt - a simple gathered skirt with a flat-front waistband and elastic back.


Everyday Skirt



So I have to admit, I'm seriously struggling to come up with anything clever to say about this skirt. It's kind of basic! But luckily for me, Carolyn pretty much wrote today's post for me here. Let me summarize: Sometimes "a little boring" equals "a cute work-appropriate item I will wear all the time!" That is the case with the Everday Skirt. It is comfortable and fits perfectly into my day-to-day life.


Everyday Skirt

Let's see ... sewing details ... this was an easy sew. The instructions are so very Liesl. If you sew a lot of Oliver + s patterns you know what I mean. The pockets and side panels on this skirt reminded me of the Afterschool Pants, and the back elastic treatment reminded me of the Sailboat Skirt. It was all explained extremely well, and the finishings are very nice. It felt very familiar and comfortable, sewing up this skirt.

While this skirt was designed to sit on the lower waist, I opted to wear it on my natural waist, so I could belt it. It looks great with most of my belts, by the way. Based on what I read on other blogs, I decided to sew it up in a smaller size than my measurements. This is a medium, and I'm happy with the fit - I'm glad I didn't go with a larger size. If you are wondering about what size you should cut in this pattern, I definitely suggest comparing the "extended waist" actual measurements that Liesl provides to your hip measurement. My waist measurement calls for an XL but my hips are on the narrower side, so the M works fine. This is a really adjustable waistline, and you'd be better off erring on the small side, I think. There is a good amount of ease built into this pattern.

Everyday Dress


 The fabric I used is a rayon/cotton blend twill that I found at my local independently owned fabric shop, Piedmont Fabrics. Such a lovely weight and perfectly drapey. I was hoping that it wouldn't be too wrinkly, but, after washing it ... um, er ... I think it's pretty wrinkly. Luckily, I like the rumply look. The color isn't quite navy - it's a lovely gray-blue, just the color I can never seem to get enough of.

Being an "Everyday Skirt," of course it has pockets. Deep, useful pockets.


Everyday Skirt


Which, naturally, I lined in a scrap of voile from the stash. It's hard for me to resist any opportunity to spice up a garment (and use scraps) with a little special touch.

Everyday Dress


So that's the Everyday Skirt! Truly an everyday basic that I will get a lot of wear from. With elastic, baby. So comfortable!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Linen and calico.

Still trying to justify those new Oliver + s patterns which are currently on their way to my house! Working through my o+s stash - this time I sewed up the Playdate Dress (not to be confused with the Playtime Dress and Leggings).

Playdate Dress


This is a lovely, vintage-inspired dress with a little bib, flat bias piping, and little pleats on the sleeves and center-front. It is so old-fashioned and darling - right up my alley!

Playdate Dress



My choice of fabrics - mustard yellow linen with a sepia/blue calico for the bib - were strongly inspired by this beautiful linen version and this pretty yellow dress with floral print bib. I used storebought ivory bias tape for the flat piping around the bib. Sewing on that bib is a bit tricky, to be sure (that's how this pattern earns its 3 scissors rating), but I followed Nicole's wonderful tutorial and I have to say, it came together quickly!

Playdate Dress


Ah, I love sewing with linen. I know the wrinkles bother some people, but I love the rumpled look, and it is incredibly durable stuff. And like chambray and pinwale corduroy - everything just looks wonderful made up in linen. It does require a couple tricks, however. To avoid the loose weave shifting around too much during the construction process, I handle the pieces as little as possible. I staystitched the neckline of this dress pretty much as soon as I cut it out, because I knew it would want to warp and stretch and fray all over the place. And I have to confess, even with serging, the inside of this dress is a bit of a mess. Well, that's linen for you. It looks so beautiful on the outside, we'll forgive its minor faults.


I also crank my iron up to the highest setting and use lots of steam in pressing. But here's the thing - if you iron the linen directly on the right side of the fabric, it has a tendency to get shiny. So I press from the inside, or use a pressing cloth. And by "pressing cloth," I mean "random scrap of quilting cotton grabbed from my scrap box."

Playdate Dress


I opted to keep the bib simple, and skipped the little ruffles. There was enough going on with this dress without them. I hemmed the bottom and hem by hand to add to the old-fashioned vibe. I wasn't sure I would love the fullness of the sleeves, but oh, I really do! The little pleats are to die for.

Playdate Dress


Messy pigtails! So cute. And I really can't ever seem to get enough of mustard yellow. Such a luscious, rich shade.

Playdate Dress


And she's off! Maggie is such a busy girl! This may end up being Maggie's Easter dress, although I realize a lot of people would find the colors more autumnal than vernal ... we'll see if I make anything even more Easter-y between now and then.

I am taking Monday off as a furlough day, and I have big plans for this long weekend. As part of "Operation: Take Control of My Life," a.k.a. "Something's better than nothing," I have plans to revamp our bedroom, which all four of us are currently sleeping in (long story, partly a choice and partly a housemates sleeping in all of our bedrooms thing), upgrade Joe to a "big boy bed" (he's almost five!), move the furniture around to improve function, and generally spruce it up. It's not going to be Better Homes and Gardens, but hey, something is better than nothing, right?

What are your plans for the next week, sewing or otherwise?




Sunday, March 16, 2014

Wherein I attempt to justify buying more patterns ...

... by sewing up some of my stashed patterns!

2+2 Blouse and Skirt


I really want to buy some (or all) of the new Oliver + s patterns. But in order to justify that purchase, I decided I really needed to sew up a couple of the nine (or ten? eek) o+s patterns in my stash which I haven't tried yet. First up, I decided to try the 2+2 blouse and skirt. I have wanted to make this blouse forever. I don't know why I took so long - too many projects and not enough time!

2+2 Blouse and Skirt


I dug deep into the stash and found this adorable brown and orange print. Man, I have a ton of this fabric. It's a little hard to choose projects for because of the stripey nature of the print. I cut this blouse out on the cross grain so that the stripes would go vertically instead of horizontally, which I like a little better.  I also happened to find a matching brown solid in my "toss" pile - it's a poly/cotton blend, which makes it no good for quilting, and I didn't think I had enough for anything else, but I had plenty for some bias strips and the little patch. Yay for stash sewing!

I decided to bind the short sleeves in bias instead of folding the bias entirely to the inside, and I'm so glad I did.

I squeezed the skirt out of less than a half yard of chambray, using my very last scraps of this much-used piece. It's crazy - everything looks beautiful done up in chambray! It's like a basic law of sewing or something. As you can see in the photo above, I snuck a little more of the orange print into the little side placket. I still need to sew the snaps on the placket to keep it shut while Maggie is moving around.

2+2 Blouse and Skirt


Maggie looks so good in brown, doesn't she? I know these are not colors you would ordinarily expect to see on a toddler, which is one reason I love sewing with them so much.

I measured Maggie before cutting and I'm glad I did. She measures 6-12 months in the chest, and 18-24 months in length. I ended up making these in 12-18 months with a little extra length (only an inch or so) in the blouse. Maggie is such a tiny peanut. It's funny - Joe was a giant hulking baby and he's still a pretty big guy. He weighed more than Maggie does at 20 months when he was 8 months old! Maggie, on the other hand, is less than tenth percentile for weight (but she's still chubby, so we're not at all concerned that she's not well nourished). Both of these kids have the same parents, and both of them drank from the same breasts. Joe has always eaten like a bird, whereas Maggie eats everything in sight. What happened? Genetics are so fascinating.

The advantage to having a tiny little baby like Maggie is that she takes a long time to grow out of my lovingly made homemade garments. The disadvantage is that her drawer is already full of clothes, and I don't have an excuse to make more!

This is an excellent pattern, of course. I expect nothing less from Oliver + s. Going in, I figured it would be dead simple, but there is a pleasing amount of complexity to the construction of both the skirt and blouse. That's not to say it's difficult - it is clever. I learned some things. The way the gathers in the front are folded into a little seam on the outside, and then covered with the front patch is so genius! Too bad I didn't read the instructions carefully enough and kind of messed it up. Oops! Next time I will follow Nicole's excellent tutorial and it will look much neater inside. Take it from me, folks: It pays to actually read the instructions.

2+2 Blouse and Skirt


Sweet buttons down the back.

A pleated skirt is probably not the most practical garment for a 20 month old who is constantly running and climbing and jumping on big wheels, but the little combination is blindingly cute, right? I made the hem deep and the elastic on the loose side - I am hoping she will be able to grow into it a bit.

Again, the skirt seems so simple, but that little side placket is adorable and just challenging enough to construct to keep the process interesting. This is a great skirt for an older girl - I am looking forward to trying it for my little niece Helen.

2+2 Blouse and Skirt


Maggie loves to sit up on the kitchen counter while we work. Of course, we adults are nervous the entire time that she might fall, but Maggie is absolutely delighted. Here she is saying "No!" when asked whether she wanted to get down.

She's saying "NO! I don't want to get down!"


"No!" is Maggie's favorite word, but it's certainly not her only word. She's learning more words every day, it seems. Lately, she's saying up, down, milk, Joey, duck, doggy, "moo," "meow," yummy, poo-poo and pee-pee (ha!), and baby. And lots of others I'm not remembering right now. It is not possible to witness Maggie calling her doll "baby" without absolutely melting with the cute.

2+2 Blouse and Skirt

Oh, Miss Margaret. You are such a delight.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Pattern hoarding.

So, are the new Oliver + s patterns gorgeous or what? I want them. YESTERDAY.

But then I remember all of the o+s patterns I have in my stash that I haven't so much as cracked open.* Shall we review?

  1. Roller Skate Dress
  2. Book Report Dress
  3. Croquet Dress
  4. Apple Picking Dress
  5. Family Reunion Dress
  6. 2+2 Blouse and Skirt
  7. Playdate Dress
  8. Sunday Brunch Jacket and Skirt
  9. School Days Coat
And that's not even talking about the many Oliver + s patterns where I have made only one of the separates.

And it's not like I don't collect patterns from other indie childrens' designers as well. And patterns for myself.

I have a serious, serious problem. Well, I'm suffering from a bad case of "my eyes are bigger than my capacity to sew things," anyway.

So, okay, I'm going to hold off on the new patterns, until I've sewn up at least two of my untouched patterns. Since spring is here and I have approximately one million cute dress patterns, I'm thinking some dresses for Maggie.


* In all fairness to myself, the list of Oliver + s patterns that I have used and loved, some many times, is equally long. In particular, I would like to note that I have made every single pants pattern that Liesl has designed to date (not including PJ pants), most more than once, and some countless times. Keep those gender neutral and boy patterns coming, Liesl! I should change the name of my blog to "Inder Loves to Sew Pants."