Monday, April 28, 2014

Golden Gate Singing.

Hello, loyal readers! I have much to share with you, but haven't had much time to blog of late. For this past weekend, I have a good excuse at any rate.

Saturday was the 10th Annual Golden Gate All-Day Sacred Harp Singing! (Information about the Sacred Harp and shape-note singing here and here and an example of what it's like here. Basically, we sing mostly very old hymns with four part harmonies, using shape notes which make it easier to sight-read music. Although the hymns are unquestionably Christian in content, the community is open to anyone and wonderfully welcoming to newcomers, with and without musical experience. It's one of my favorite things in this world, and I only wish I had more time for it.)


That's me and Maggie in the center of the hollow square! I lead the song "Fairfield," otherwise known as "29 on the top," referring to its page number in The Sacred Harp hymnal. 

The singing was in Alameda, CA, at the Lutheran Trinity Church which is located on a beautiful, tree-lined street and surrounded by stately Victorian mansions. It was a really nice space for singing. The wood floors and ceiling made for really nice acoustics. The weather was sunny with a cool breeze, and the participants laid out an enormous spread of dishes for lunch. All in all, an idyllic day and wonderful singing.

All of these photographs are (c) 2014, Ron Sellers, shared with his permission (thank you Ron!).



You guys, it was wonderful. I was basically grinning from ear to ear the whole day. After I arrived, I realized it had been a full year since I had last sung. I don't want to let that happen again! While people often comment on how much sewing and cooking I manage to do despite having two children and a full time job, singing is one area that has taken a back seat since having kids. Before I had children, I rarely missed a weekly singing, and would go out of my way to attend singings out of town. But especially after Maggie, singing fell by the wayside in favor of hobbies (like sewing) which I can do at home with the children. Saturday reminded me: I would really like this part of my life back.

The great thing about my local Sacred Harp community, though, is that even though I've been gone for a year - and barely present at all for the past four years - the community is as warm and the friendships as strong as ever!


I had Maggie with me during the morning, and then Steve picked her up after lunch so that I could enjoy the afternoon session without distractions. As you can see, she clung to me while I lead a song. She was a little shy, standing in the middle of such a large group of people who were all singing at the top of their lungs, but she wasn't upset. She just snuggled and listened.
 

For my readers who generally come to this blog to read about sewing stuff, you may notice that me and Maggie are both wearing hand-sewns! I am wearing my Colette Violet, which I am happy to report still fits me despite three years and some weight gain! Now that's the sign of a great pattern, right? Making another one of these has been on my list for a while (and I even have some Liberty Tana lawn ear-marked for the project!), but I think I may want to tinker with the pattern a little - do an FBA and lower the bust dart. Maggie is wearing her Playdate Dress, of course. It's always fun to see handmades in situ, no? Proof that the things I make do get worn!

I met a lovely woman from Utah at the singing who commented on Maggie's dress, and then asked me - "Did you make your top? Is that a Colette pattern?" And I was like, "Um, yes! Can you be my next best friend?!"  Outside of my little online community, it's rare to meet anyone who sews, let alone someone who follows sewing blogs and knows about indie patterns, let alone sews, follows sewing blogs, and sings Sacred Harp! My mind was blown.

Since last posting a finished object, I have made a Plantain t-shirt for myself, a Flashback Skinny tee and knit shorts for Joe, and several gifts. I haven't photographed or blogged these projects because (a) I've been really busy; and (b) they're pretty basic and practical, and not the most interesting items I've ever made. Well, the gifts are pretty awesome but I don't want to post them and ruin the surprise. The t-shirts and shorts had been languishing in piles for a long time, and I finished them mostly to get them out of the way so that I could start some more fun projects that I am really excited to share! .

But in the meantime, Joe's fifth birthday is this coming Sunday, and we are having a big party on Saturday! 26 awesome people RSVP'd "yes" to our casual potluck, BBQ, and cake party! Eek! We have some serious straightening up and Spring cleaning to do! And I can't believe my big guy is almost five.

One last thing. Best overheard conversation of the past week - Maggie wanted to get on my lap at the same time as Joe, so Joe says to Maggie: "Everyone wants a piece of Mama." WORD.

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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