Sunday, October 30, 2011

Tomorrow is Halloween, and things are not going so well.

As hinted, this year, I decided to make Joe a Halloween costume from scratch. (In past years, I did not. Did I mention that my firm has a Nov. 1 to Oct. 31 billable year? I am usually too busy to make it to the pumpkin patch.)

Joe loves sharks. His shark PJs are his favorite. So I figured I'd make Joe a shark costume.

Steve suggested that I attach some remora fish to the belly of the shark. You know, those fish that use their sucker-heads to grab onto a shark and travel around with them, eating their leftovers? They're awesome.

Good idea, Steve!

I procrastinated a little, partly because I don't have a pattern, and I was trying to work out how to cut this out in my head ...

So yeah, I started last night, making the tunic first, because that was easy and didn't require much brain power. I traced the general shape of one of Joe's hoodies to get the armhole and neckline right. The back of the tunic has a simple little slit to get the tunic over his big head (also, I sewed a cute stuffed dorsal fin onto the back).

Then I slept on it. The hardest part was working out how to cut out the hood and its curved pieces. Initially, I found this pretty intimidating.

But this morning I realized I could just cut some generously sized pieces in something grossly approximating the right shape, and I got to work on the hood. There were some adjustments, but basically, my guesses were pretty darn close! *Pats self on back.* Anyway, it turns out that in this case, pure trial and error can work instead of careful pattern drafting.

It turned out awesome, people. I mean, I'm just super stoked with how it looks. At this point, I was thinking to myself, "Why didn't I make a hammerhead shark costume! That would have been even cooler!"

Shark costume.
This shark has blue eyes just like my little boy.

There is an inner hood (traced from Joe's hoodie) and then I stuffed the space between the inner hood and the outer hood to give the shark some poof.

Check out those gray corduroy remora fish! Steve, you are so clever! (You too, Inder. More back patting. I cannot even stand how clever I am!)

Remora fish.
Parasites. Yum.
Joe! Let's try it on!!

He was okay with just the tunic component. He immediately started ripping fish off his belly - always fun.

Shark costume fiasco.
At this point, he was distracted by fish.
But after I tried to introduce the hood, things went downhill. I should have known.

Shark costume fiasco.
Uh, no thank you, Mama. (Mama says, ahem, see that dorsal fin in the back?)

Shark costume fiasco.
Uh, did I say no? Heck no. Take it off, please!

Shark costume fiasco.
Off! Off! (I don't care if my uncle kisses me and tells me I look great!)

Shark costume fiasco.
I am reassessing my belief that my parents really love me.
It kind of reminds me of trying to put a "Gentle Leader" harness on my pit bull. Except I feel more of an obligation to respect my child's comfort levels than my dog's (and, for that matter, I'm pretty respectful of my dog's comfort levels).


Excuse me: I'm just going to go lie down and cry now. Won't take a minute.

So. Not sure how we're going to manage to trick-or-treat tomorrow. Wish me luck.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Inder who?

On Tuesday night, Google disabled my email account (and every other Google-related account I have) and removed this blog from the internet. If you visited at that time, you would have seen a notice that stated that my blog had been removed, and that this is usually done for a violation of Google policies. Click on Google policies, and you would discover that the big ones are child porn, hate speech, spam, and copyright violations.

Remember that scene from Back to the Future where, due to disruptions in the space-time continuum caused by time travel, key characters start to slowly disappear as their actual existence is called into question?

Yep. That's how I felt. I love Google products, and I use them for everything. Email, feed reader, social networking, this blog. I have an Android phone, which links into my Google account, which even stores my phone contacts. And of course, there is the small matter of the three years of my rather mundane and pedestrian existence that is recorded in this blog (which I have never backed up). And "little" things, like my list of family recipes and Joe's now out-of-date list of words is stored in Google Documents (which I have never backed up - are you sensing a theme?).

I never backed any of these things up because (call me naive) it honestly never occurred to me that it could all be taken away, all at once. Of course, I knew that accounts could be hacked, and I could be denied access, that one of the other of these programs could be compromised, but I never thought that it could all just vanish?! Silly me.

I'm not one to indulge in conspiracy theories. I figure, I'm not important. I'm really pretty boring. I mean, this is a sewing and parenting blog. Largely, I try to avoid controversial topics and stick to my day-to-day (well, except the time I said that I don't use bleach). I do my best to avoid violating copyright laws. I don't post illegal Mp3s. I credit my sources. I'm a rule-follower.

So it was a bit disorienting to have my entire internet identity disappear without any stated reason. Everything was working fine, and I went to give Joe a bath. When I came back, I had been locked out of pretty much all of the technology that I regularly use.

I didn't even have the means to let people know that I couldn't read my emails and that I had lost their contacts on my phone, because I didn't have my email/phone contacts.

Some complaints were filed. (Did you know you need to have an active - that is, not disabled - Google account to appeal the removal of your blog from Blogger? Who came up with that rule?)

Tears were shed.

Brain was racked trying to think of a possible  "violation of policy" I may have inadvertently committed, but I'm pretty sure I've never engaged in any kind of child porn or hate speech. If I've ever inadvertently violated copyright, I hope someone would ask me to remove the offending item, and I would gladly do so.

Attempts by family to comfort me were rudely pushed away.

Joe said, "Mama SAD!" (At which point I tried to buck up a bit.)

Cobbler was eaten.

At this point, I'm pretty sure that part of my right arm and the left side of my face became somewhat transparent, as the space-time continuum was breached, and I started to cease to exist.

Without Google, what am I?

More tears were shed.

More complaints filed.

And then, a few hours later, magically, my account was restored and I was let back in. No sign of any hacking, no sign of any unusual activity, no sign of any policy violation. No written response to any of my complaints or desperate pleas for help. Restoration of my accounts, and silence.

Whew. Thank heavens.

But I'm still a bit jumpy. I don't know why my account was disabled and my blog removed, and I don't know why it was restored. What I do know is that I will be backing up my blog from now on. And my child-like faith in Google is definitely a little shaken. I am reconsidering the way I have been entrusting one company with every last bit of my personal information. I mean, I still think Google is cool, don't get me wrong, but ohmygosh maybe I should export my contacts, hello.

What Google gives, Google can take away (pursuant to their policies, with or without reason, and with or without notice).

Got it.

I'm a lawyer. I understand that policy. I don't think it's an unfair policy (or more to the point, I understand why a "fair" policy here would not be legally prudent). I understand why it's necessary.

I just didn't think it would be applied towards little old me.

Famous last words, huh?

So anyway, readers! If you've made it this far, thanks for listening.

(One strange side effect of all of this is that the past three weeks of posts are being repeated in your Feed Reader if that's how you view this blog - sorry about that!)

Might be time to think about getting my own URL.

Monday, October 24, 2011


Joe will be two and a half next week, and he is now well into the age of symbolic pretend play. This is really fun. And, at times, a little surreal.

For example, Joe has decided that my cheap brown leather belt with gold studs is a "snake." A snake that likes to slither all over the house, through the "cities" that Joe builds with his blocks, and occasionally knock buildings down with its gold buckle head.

"Mama! Snake boom crash city!"

"Oh, the snake knocked over your city and made it go boom, Joe?"

"Snake. City. Big tower! Boom crash!"

You'd think the idea of a giant snake that takes down whole cities would be terrifying to a small child, right? Think again: Joe is the power behind the scary snake. It's all about agency, folks.

So, needless to say, when I tried to put the "snake" on and wear the "snake" to work over a cute tunic last week, all hell broke loose.

"NO SNAKE, MAMA!! NOOOO SNAAAAAKE!!!" (Joe's still working on terms like "mine" but he gets the idea across as well as any 2.5 year old.)

I gave in, of course. It was clear to me that the snake's value to Joe as a prop for imaginative play far exceeds its value as an accessory. Simple parental math.

Train World

Joe loves to build things with blocks, so there have been lots of "cities" lately. Here's one I helped him build around his train tracks. Plain ol' train tracks are bor-ing, didn't you know? It's way cooler if the train has to go through "tunnels!" and "cities!" although, watch out, because things do go "boom crash!" (He may have learned the boom crash thing from Thomas & Friends. You could make a really fun drinking game out of that show - if you chugged a shot every time a train derails into a ditch or lake and the narrator says, "Luckily, no one was hurt," you would not last through a whole episode.)

Trains and blocks

Since Joe is speech-delayed, this recent intensification of symbolic play is more than just amusing and fun (and surreal, what with the cities and towers and leather snakes). There is scientific evidence that symbolic play is closely linked with language development in children, and the two usually develop side-by-side (with late talking children engaging in pretend play later than other children). It has something to do with the way the brain learns to process symbols: children seem to learn symbolic play around the same time that they start learning symbolic language.

I will say this for having a speech-delayed child: It has made me so much more aware and appreciative of the processes by which we learn language. Basically, human brains are complex and amazing.

Trains and blocks 

Joe's speech is still behind that of his peers, but he is learning so quickly, it's hard to feel too worried about him these days.  His vocabulary is so big I lost track of his "word list" months ago. Joe's vocabulary now includes loads of nouns ("tower" "city" "train" "tracks"), a good number of useful verbs ("go" "fly" "walk" "sleep"), lots of adjectives ("wet" "yellow" "big"), and a few comic book exclamations ("boom" "crash" "whoa") for emphasis. He says "shoot!" when he's upset, with disturbing clarity (yes, could be worse).

And sure enough, with this larger vocabulary comes a greater imaginative world, where trains and snakes travel through cities of blocks, with "tall towers" and "big tunnels." It's hard to know which came first, the talking or the play - just like the scholarly articles say, I think they are developing side by side.

Train world

"Mama, snake boom! Fix big tunnel! Fix city!"

It's pretty cool.

Sunday, October 23, 2011


I turned 35 this past Wednesday. That's an age that seemed solidly in the "grown-up" camp when I was a child (heck, even when I was 20), so it's funny to hit it and realize, I'm still a total goofball. Granted, a total goofball with a husband, child, mortgage, and increasing number of "smile lines," but nonetheless a goofball.

Wednesday birthdays are not too exciting at the best of times, and this one fell during some of the busiest and craziest days of my legal career to date (even my boss, who has been at this for 30 years, was amazed at the progression of legal disasters this past week). But I still managed to squeeze in dinner and a margarita (okay, two margaritas), so all is well.

Of course, I had to get myself a couple of birthday presents. That's how things work around here. So I finally purchased Sewing For Boys, which has been on my wish-list for a while now. It looks awesome, people. Jam-packed with well-designed patterns. These ladies have really stepped the sewing-book genre up a notch.

I also spent a pretty penny on custom-printed organic cotton knit from Spoonflower! I can't wait for that package to arrive.

But before I make even more clothes for Joe, who is rolling in hand-me-downs and really doesn't need clothing (besides, he'd rather be naked anyway), I think I will make something for myself. First up, Colette's Peony, in a navy blue ikat. I was not planning on making the cummerbund, as I like the lines of the dress as-is. We'll see whether I can squeeze the longer sleeves out of my fabric, as I was possibly a bit too stingy in purchasing yardage. But pockets, of course, are non-negotiable.

This project will involve a couple new skills ... I was planning to line it, and it calls for an invisible zipper. Eek! I'm sure you'll be hearing all about that!

Now, if I could just get some of that grown-up patience and wisdom that folks promised would come in my 30s ...

Monday, October 17, 2011

KCWC Day 7 - Prairie Blouse.

I finished off KCWC with something completely different. This is the Prairie Blouse, from Anna Maria Horner's Seams To Me.  It's a (very) late birthday present for a friend's daughter. She's a size 5/6, which is outside of the range of my Oliver + s patterns, so I decided to try something new.

Prairie Blouse

Prairie Blouse

Because I didn't have the opportunity to fit this to its intended recipient, there was some guess-work involved, so I dearly hope that it fits! Or if it doesn't fit, I hope it's too large, rather than too small! But such is the nature of sewing presents for children you haven't seen in a few months. Fingers crossed.

I am really happy with the fabric choices, though. The tan linen is soft and drapes beautifully, and you may recognize the blue print from the last Ice Cream Dress I made. I almost went with a shabby-chic  rose print that was a more traditional match against the tan fabric, but I'm glad I didn't: the blue and pink floral really pops, giving this super romantic top a little bit more modern pizzazz. I hope the recipient likes it!

As far as construction, this top could not be simpler, and yet, it is a bit fiddly. It took me the better part of a day to cut and sew it. I flat-felled the seams so the inside is really nice and clean. Attaching all of that binding and stringing elastic through it was time-consuming. But the end result is simple and pretty. (Full disclosure: I pretty much ignored the instructions in the book, and put this together the way I thought it should go together, so I can't really weigh in on their clarity.)

And so ends KCWC! I completed three garments this week, which isn't half-bad considering I had to work around a toddler and a day-job. And I only really started to burn out yesterday, on Day 7 of the challenge, and only after the third hour or so, which just goes to show - I really enjoy sewing!

The best part of the challenge for me was seeing the amazing things that the other participants made this week, reading all about it, and discovering new blogs/bloggers. I also loved getting comments from some new readers, I hope you'll stick around! Seriously: the online sewing community is awesome. It reminds me of the sewing-camaraderie I used to feel when I worked in a fabric store, except it's even better.

I'm looking forward to doing this again  ... after I've had a chance to recover from this round, that is.

So now I think I'll take a little time off of sewing and focus on playing with Joe for a few days. Whew.


Saturday, October 15, 2011

KCWC Days 4-6: Sailboat Top.

Day 4

After Day 3, wherein I stayed up late sewing after a seriously long day at work, I am tired. And clumsy. And possibly, a little bit stupid. Which would explain why things do not go so well in the construction of the Sailboat Top.  Everything went pretty well until it was time to put buttonholes in. Then I realized that this part-synthetic knit is really grabby and snaggy, and has a greater-than-average tendency to snag on the feed-dogs and get sucked into the machine.

Here's what I learned:

1) Putting buttonholes in snaggy grabby knit fabrics is hard.

2) There is a limit to the number of times you can rip a buttonhole out and redo it before your fabric starts to look like a hot mess.

Crappy buttonholes.

OMG, go to bed!

Day 5

It's Friday, and I am feeling somewhat refreshed. So I finished off the top, deciding to leave crappy-enough alone on the buttonholes.

Here's what I learned:

3) It doesn't matter how ugly your buttonholes are if you keep them buttoned up. Especially if you use distractingly cute red buttons.

So we'll be keeping this top buttoned up!

Sailboat Top.

Buttons detail

Day 6

I haven't actually sewn anything today. I'm a bit at a loss, having sewn up the two items I had planned for the week, but I'm sure I'll come up with something to work on later tonight.

But meanwhile, it's a gorgeous day (really, too warm for such an autumnal outfit), so I took Joe outside for a photo shoot.

Autumn outfit

Hey, it looks great! I'm pretty pleased with Joe's new outfit.

As you know, Joe loves birds. He also loves blue and yellow (he is obsessed with identifying all of the colors right now, but blue, yellow, and green are his favorites). Well, our neighbor has a yellow and blue parrot! Joe loves to walk down our block to say hi to the "yellow boo buhdy." Here, you can finally get a better idea of the color of the rust brown cord.

Autumn outfit

Autumn outfit

Here's a so-so shot of the bird on his outdoor perch (where he spends part of most days). He's pretty awesome. He says "hello!"

Autumn outfit

Thursday, October 13, 2011

KCWC Day 3: Cord Pants!

Yesterday was Day 3 of my week-long kids' clothes sewing challenge. It was a long day at work, topped off by a planning commission meeting. As predicted, I got home around 9:40 p.m. and went straight from the front door to the fridge for a cold beer.

But here's the crazy part. After I cracked open my beer, I finished Joe's cord Sketchbook pants. I don't think it was an hour of work, but it was close! And you know what, I don't think I'll be doing that after every planning commission meeting, but it was actually pretty fun, and helped me wind down after my intense day.

Wow, go me!

Of course, this morning, Joe woke up at 6 a.m. So now I am not feeling so gung-ho.

Anyway. Pants! These turned out awesome, if I may say so myself. I practically squealed with delight when I finished them. The cut is so classic, the finish on the inside is nice and clean, and they are cuh-uute. (I figure one of the main purposes of KCWC is bragging rights and, as you can see, I am not holding back.)

Brown cords

While sewing these, I added extra room in all directions, and I was concerned that they would end up way too big. Clearly, I needn't have worried. They fit perfectly. (Translation: He will grow out of them in approximately five minutes.) Seriously, this child is growing like a weed right now. Like bamboo. He may have grown a half inch since I cut these pants out. It's hard to keep up. He's turning from a baby into a little boy right before my eyes, and it's amazing, and yes, a little bittersweet!

By the way, you may remember Joe's t-shirt from here. It is getting more use these days now that the weather is cooling down.

Brown cords

Here you can see the cross-grain waistband and a little bit of the pockets (which are roomy enough for Joe's chubby hands!). I like the way that detail turned out, although it's not that noticeable while Joe is wearing the pants. (For more details on the little changes I made to the Oliver + s pattern, see my last post.)

Silly boy.

My son is a goofball and I love him so.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

KCWC - Days 1 & 2

Since making a wishy-washy semi-commitment, I have indeed been spending an hour (actually more!) sewing clothes for Joe the past two evenings.

Day 1

Last night, I cut out some corduroy pants for Joe, using the Oliver + s Sketchbook Shorts pattern. I've made pants from this pattern before - for whatever reason, this pattern is one of the few that really fits Joe well and isn't chronically falling off of his bottom. This time, I sized up to 3T and added some length, as his green pair is already getting short! Unbelievable! If they are too long, I may cuff them and then take them down later.

The brown cord doesn't photograph very well, but it's lovely. I found it on sale at my local independent fabric store a few weeks ago, when my mom and I went shopping with the sole purpose of spending some of my Etsy shop proceeds (mad money! so fun!). It's shiny, lustrous, and has a wonderful professor's-blazer-with-elbow-pads vibe. I can never get enough of that kind of thing. I think it will make very cozy traditional pleated pants for Joe.

KCWC - Cord pants

That was easy, so in a fit of optimism, I decided to cut out a striped knit Sailboat Top as well. The teal striped knit is a mystery fabric given to my friend Lise. She says it was given to her at a quilt swap. She's not sure of the fabric content, but I'm thinking wool/synthetic? Or just synthetic? (It did wash suspiciously well.) Hard to say. But in any event, cute and warm, perfect for a little sweater for Joe.

KCWC - Sailboat Top

I have made several versions of the Sailboat Pants from this pattern (and even adapted it for shorts), but I've never made the top, despite loving the cut. I know it's not technically intended for knits, but Sascha at Piccoli Pisselli has done it and it looks amazing. Joe is such an active boy, I rarely dress him in woven tops anyway (they just don't seem as comfortable), so hopefully this will work out.

Day 2

Today is less interesting. This morning I finished cutting and marking (i.e., putting a few pins where buttonholes should be) the pieces while Joe watched YouTube videos of trains. This evening, I started sewing the pants. They don't really look like it, but they are almost done - they just need a waistband and a hem now.  Beyond lengthening these from shorts to pants, I made several other small changes - I cut the pocket lining on the cross grain (also the waistband), and I deepened the pockets, since Joe loves pockets, but the pockets in this pattern are a little too tight for his chubby dimpled hands to reach into. I think these are going to work out well.

KCWC - Cord pants

Hm. There's probably a reason I don't post regular updates on the state of my sewing projects. It's really boring, huh? Hopefully next time I'll have photos of cute boys wearing cute clothes, and it will be a little bit less work-in-progress.

So that's it for now, folks! Stay tuned ...

Monday, October 10, 2011

Half-hearted KCWC?

If you hang out in the kids-clothing-sewing-blogosphere (what? you don't? who are you?), you know that this week is the Kids Clothing Week Challenge. The challenge is to sew kid's clothes for an hour each day for a week, and then post photos/blog about it/brag to your friends.

Over the years I've had both a kid and a blog, I've watched these come and go, and drooled over all the amazing things that people make, but never participated. Why? Because an hour a night of sewing, after my day job, sounds more like a job than a hobby, and you know how careful I am to keep crafting as a hobby.

And this year, I figured it was just totally impossible anyway, because I actually have to attend a planning commission on Wednesday night (I'm a municipal lawyer, don't you know), and I can tell you right now I will not be driving home at 10 p.m. excited about staying up and sewing for an hour! (At that point, I know from experience that a cold beer will my first only priority.)

So why am I even posting about this? Well, I dunno, I got kind of caught up in all the KCWC fever, and saw all the awesome things people are planning, and sort of wanted to participate ... and Joe does need some warmer autumn clothes (this is true despite the fact that I am still in denial of the changing seasons), and ... I love the online sewing community! ... and surely you will forgive me skipping one evening ... and, er ...

This is total crazy talk!! (Did I mention that my firm has a November 1 to October 31 billable year, and so on top of regular business I have to get my hours in for the year this month? Crazy talk!)

So. Um. We'll see how this goes. If you set your expectations nice and low, you might be pleasantly surprised.

What the heck, I'm going to go cut out some corduroy pants for Joe ...