Thursday, July 23, 2015

Maggie's Birthday Hanami.

Birthday Hanami Dress


Maggie turned three years old earlier this month, so of course I had to make her a special birthday dress, and of course it had to be pink! After all, when I asked Maggie what she wanted for her birthday, she had only one word, "PINK!" Okay ...

Birthday Hanami Dress

Having recently made Maggie two Geranium dresses, I knew I wanted to do something different and a little more complex for her birthday dress. Birthday Hanamis have been a bit of a thing with a few of my bloggy friends this year. Rachel made one here, and Carolyn made one here (and an earlier birthday Hanami here). They all looked so great, I guess I just succumbed to the peer pressure! I made a cross-back Hanami dress for Maggie about a year ago, before her second birthday (sensing a trend?) and it is one of my favorite dresses I've made for her. Unfortunately, since it's not pink, Maggie won't wear it now, alas. Moving on!

Birthday Hanami Dress



Lately, I've been allowing Maggie to choose which fabric out of several she would like as a dress. That way, she gets to be involved, but since I am the one buying the fabric, it hopefully means that I also like the print! I did take her to the fabric store once, and had to say "no way" to various princess/giant cupcake fabrics (I actually said, "that won't work for a shirt" which wasn't strictly true, but really meant "I will not sew you a shirt in that").  But luckily we both like florals and geometric prints so there's still quite a bit of common ground. Maggie and I both loved this bright Scandinavian inspired tulip fabric (it's Art Gallery Geometric Bliss Vertex Tulips, here it is in a different colorway).

Birthday Hanami Dress

I opted to cut this dress out in 2T based on Maggie's chest measurement. I actually think I could have added a little bit of length to the bodice and skirt because while Maggie is small, she's taller than the average two year old, but it works.

Birthday Hanami Dress


When I first started planning this dress, I opted to use black piping on the white collar, which would have been quite dramatic and graphic. But Maggie saw the little pile I had made and ripped the black piping away, saying "I don't like black!" She then busied herself in my bins finding every pink bias tape, piping, yarn, and ribbon she could, and piled those onto the heap. Message received, thank you very much, Maggie! I was a little disappointed at first, but I switched to hot pink piping, which I made myself using some of the bias tape Maggie had pulled out of my stash. This was the first time I've made piping, and it was refreshingly easy and straightforward. It also goes a long way! A couple yards of piping was all I needed to do the waist, collar, and sleeves of this dress. Maggie, the pink piping looks great. I hate to admit that you might have been right, but ... you might have been right.

Birthday Hanami Dress


With that, it's probably obvious, but I chose the flutter sleeves, Peter Pan collar, and zipper back version of this dress. #pipeallthethings #allthepink

Birthday Hanami Dress


The invisible zipper gave me a little bit of trouble and there was some unpicking (as per usual) but it all worked out okay in the end. I wish it zipped all the way to the top, but in looking at other Hanami dresses online, I don't think I'm alone in my struggles here, and it's not that big a deal. I do love how the invisible zipper ends at the waistline so you don't have to match that up (or deal with piping there).

Birthday Hanami Dress


I think I did an okay job of matching the print horizontally across the back of the dress and along the sides. I also tried to create a vertical line of white tulips down the front of the dress. Meh. I did okay.

Birthday Hanami 
Dress

But the most important thing: Maggie loves her new dress and the pink tutus (which I made using glitter tulle and now my house and sewing machine is permanently covered in glitter and I never, ever want to speak of it again) and other pink things she got for her birthday! There's a lot of pink in my house right now! But hey, the girl asked for "PINK!", right? What can you do?

Birthday Hanami Dress


I spend a lot of time kissing these sweet pink cheeks. Happy third birthday, sweet Maggie!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

SuperJoe!

Super Joe!!


OMG, so behind on everything!!! Whew! Things have been busy around here. Maggie's third birthday was last Thursday (party on Sunday, photos to share!) and Joe's last day at Peter Pan Cooperative Nursery School was last Friday. He had an extra year there (we held him back from kindergarten a year), and now he's going to kindergarten. Of course, Maggie still has a couple more years in preschool, so we are not saying goodbye as a family yet, but seeing Joe "graduate" is still a bit emotional for me.

Super Joe!!


Super Joe!!


I really can't say enough good things about our Peter Pan community. Since Joe started attending as a three year old, I have never worried that he wasn't wholeheartedly loved and accepted, with all his quirks, strengths, and weaknessess, just the way he is. His teacher Gail (the kids call her "Gay-Gay") is just the best. I secretly wish Joe could stay there forever! Who cares about reading and mathematics, right? It has truly felt like such a blessing, and I'm so glad that Maggie gets to spend another couple years there.



Super Joe!!

Because Joe was speech delayed, we are getting Joe assessed by the school district to see if he might benefit from additional services in kindergarten in the fall. I've shared some of Joe's journey here on the blog - Joe was a late talker and is a shy and reserved child with a quirky "Joe logic." He's also a fantastic builder and engineer and shows natural aptitude for spatial reasoning tasks and puzzles (and having fun). We are hoping to learn more about what makes him tick and what we can do to support him in school. Of course, no matter what we learn from these assessments, Joe will always be our Joe, and he'll continue to delight us with his unique humor and logic. Joe was pretty much a superstar for the testing sessions, and actually seemed to enjoy the intellectual challenge!

Super Joe!!


He's funny, he's understated, he's kind and smart as a whip. He's SuperJoe!!!

Super Joe!!


Wait. What's this awesome cape, you ask?

Super Joe!!


Well, that's Joe's new Superman cape, which he specifically commissioned from me and helped to make. Joe requested a "Superman Cape" from me a while back, and then he helped me pick out this lovely (but tricky) red poly satin at Stonemountain. Although it's polyester, I must say it has a really nice feel and isn't too statc-y or grabby on the fingernails, if you know what I mean. Still, I was a little alarmed at the prospect of having Joe helping me sew something so slippery.

Super Joe!!


I ended up using a friend's kid's cape to cut a pattern from, which was awesome. I do a monthly "craft night" with some mama-friends, and one of them just so happened to have a kid's cape laying around. I used that as the starting point for the shape of this cape.

Super Joe!!


I decided to use some fleece to make a Superman logo. I had to get a little creative with the coloring, because the old Superman comics show a plain red cape, with a blue shirt with the logo (in red). Joe is a stickler for authenticity, so he insisted on a red cape like the original comics, but then wanted the logo on the cape. So I decided to play with the colors and do a yellow "S" on a blue field. Not perfectly authentic, but looks good.

My mom was in town while I was working on this project and she and my brother gave me invaluable editorial assistance on the logo. I printed out the Superman logo and then, since I didn't have a copy machine around, enlarged it by eye. They helped me adjust the proportions until it looked right. I used double-sided fusible web to stick the blue onto the red satin (I'll tell you right out it was only going to hold temporarily to this slippery satin and furry fleece, it was not a strong attachment), and then I sewed around the shape with embroidery thread in a simple running stitch. The fleece holds to fleece pretty well, so I just used embroidery thread on the yellow fleece and didn't need the web (which probably wouldn't have adhered to two layers of furry fleece very well, anyway).

Super Joe!!

After I sewed on the logo, Joe help me sew up the sides of the cape outside and lining (pillow case-style). As I've mentioned before, Joe is great with my old knee-lever Singer 99 and goes nice and slow! I handled the curvy edges but he turned the corners just fine all by himself. We turned the cape right side out, and I topstitched the edges. Although this fabric is slippery and shifty, Joe went slowly and it turned out great!
 
Which brings us to the topic I know you're all thinking about ... this cape does not fasten around the neck, but has backpack-pack like straps instead ... what's with that?

Super Joe!!


Well, of course, there's a story. My first version of this cape had a velcro closure at the neck. After I finished sewing the velcro on, I excitedly handed it to Joe. He put on his new cape and jubilantly ran around like Superman for about 30 seconds before his hands went to his throat and tried to adjust the neck and then a couple minutes later, he wanted to take it off and went to go pout on the couch. I was so disappointed, it was such a great cape! Yet another promising make that Joe refuses to wear. I must have looked dejected, because Joe said, "Mama, I know I'm making you sad."

At that, of course, I bucked up a bit. "No, no! It's not comfortable! I'll fix it. I can fix it. Will you let me try to fix it?" Historically, once Joe gets his mind made up about a garment, it can be so hard to change it, and all subsequent efforts may be in vain. But he said, "I don't like the neck!" "Okay! I can fix that!" So he gave me a chance.

Super Joe!!


I thought about different solutions (ties that cross over the chest and tie or velcro behind the back?) and decided that simple "backpack straps" were the simplest, most elegant solution. I added little extensions to the existing neck ties, which required only minimal seam ripping, and then I folded the edge of the extensions down and sewed them securely to the cape under the arms.

Super Joe!!


And it worked!! He loves it now! Huge sigh of relief on my part! It does fall off the shoulders a little bit, but it doesn't bug his neck anymore, and that's the big thing. (As we know, I hate turtlenecks with the passion of a billion burning suns, so I am familiar with "bugs my neck.")

Super Joe!!


While I don't think I'd ever want to do "costume" or dress-up sewing all the time, it is a really fun way to connect with my kids right now, and I'm pretty proud of this cape! Look at Joe! It really makes him feel "Super," which he is, in every way that could possibly matter, of course. I love to see him full of confidence and power!

Do you sew costumes or dress-up clothes?

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Testing: Titchy's Safari Raglan.

Hello again and happy July! I'm working my way through a backlog of sewing in an attempt to catch the blog up with my recent output. Miss Margaret Joy, soon to be three years old (on July 9th! verklempt!) has been the recipient of several recent sewing projects that have yet to be blogged. Today I'm sharing a dress I made as a pattern tester for the lovely Laura of Craftstorming a.k.a. Titchy Threads Patterns. I present the recently released Safari Raglan!

Safari Raglan

The Safari Raglan is a unisex t-shirt pattern with short or long sleeves, with a dress option. I made the raglan dress option for Mags in size 18-24 months. After I made this shirt for Joe, Maggie requested "a shirt with a pink pocket" but a pure copy of Joe's shirt didn't sound that interesting to me (variety is the spice of life and I'm a fickle seamstress) and I was postponing that ... until this project came around and I thought ... I could make a raglan dress with PINK pockets! Yes! Funny how that works, right?

Safari Raglan

I don't do much pattern testing these days, mostly because I really don't need any more obligatory sewing/deadlines in my life. But I will make exceptions for a few of my favorite indie pattern-makers. Laura fits solidly in this camp. In addition to being cute (and mostly unisex!), her patterns are extremely well drafted and precise. One example of the precision - Laura gives specific measurements for children who are one size in width and a different size in length. In an email exchange, I told her "You obviously have the mathy/spatial reasoning brain." (Can you tell I don't? Haha! Cuz "mathy" is totally a word, right?) Anyway, she responded, "I have a maths degree and used to be an actuary, haha. It was such a great moment for me when I realised how mathematical pattern drafting is!" I believe it.

Safari Raglan


This is such a versatile pattern, and the dress version is just the sort of thing that girls love to wear - a simple, comfortable, knit dress. There is also the option of puppet sleeves for a fun detail! It doesn't get much more practical and wearable than this - Maggie has worn this dress frequently since I made it.

Safari Raglan


The fabric for this dress came from the stash - Riley Blake stripes and a basic cotton lycra in pink, with some lovely purple ribbing (with lycra and good recovery!) I bought from Stone Mountain recently. This pattern is a great basic, and a great stash buster. I bought some pink striped Riley Blake and I think I might make another of these (as well as some leggings) for more practical summer wear.

Maggie is almost three now, and I think she's pretty much decided she is three (I base this on the severity of her recent tantrums - it is my opinion that anyone who complains about the terrible twos just hasn't had a three year old yet).  She is talking all the time, and in full and complex sentences, which is very unlike her older brother, who was barely talking at all at her age. Her answer to "what would you like for your birthday?" is "PINK! I want PINK!" Um, okay. Also very unlike her brother, Maggie has been potty trained for several months now! And by that I mean, undies all the time, zero accidents. Lest this sound like a brag, let me remind you that Joe only finally pottytrained when he was almost four, so clearly Maggie's aptitude in this area has nothing to do with our parenting. If anything, I was so traumatized by Joe that I was willing and happy to just change diapers rather than deal with potty struggles again! But Maggie had her own plans, and pottytrained herself with very little help from us. It just goes to show: Every child is different, and they all figure this stuff out on their own schedule! When they are ready, they do it!

With the second kid, I feel like, wow, parents are way less important than I used to think. Not that they aren't important at all - they obviously are. But we do not mold our young nearly as much as I imagined parents do; rather, their personalities and temperaments are pretty well set from the beginning. This is both slightly alarming and a huge relief.

Safari Raglan


During this photo shoot, my brother Harpal came out to join us and have a beer. Maggie and Harpal have a special bond. Harpal was here when Maggie came home from the hospital, and he held and carried her as a tiny newborn. Harpal and Joe are pretty close and tight too, but I see his bond with Maggie as special and unique. They just adore each other.

Safari Raglan

It's especially special for me to see this because my brother Harpal was 13 years younger than me, and I cared for him as a baby and just adored him in a similar way. I still do! This will probably embarrass him, poor guy, but he'll always be my baby brother who I showered with kisses as a baby. He was the cutest baby. Seriously - red ringlets! And he's grown up to be a strapping, handsome lad who is kind and fun to hang out with, even if he does beat me at Hive almost every single time.

Safari Raglan

Not every child likes being tickled. I did not, and neither does Joe. I hated it, in fact. But Maggie loves it - she begs for more!

Safari Raglan

Safari Raglan

Could they be any cuter? I think it has been really great that my kids have grown up around their Uncle Harpal; he's a pretty fun uncle! He's always down to spin the kids around, rough house, or help with Legos. And his knowledge of Star Wars and Batman is nothing less than expansive!