Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Crafty mixed bag

Wow, that title sounds like I made some kind of cool bag. Except I mean it in the other sense - my post-Christmas crafting has been sort of erratic. Well, I haven't been doing a huge amount, because I wanted a break after all the pre-Christmas work. But I've made a couple of things. One was successful, and one was not at all.

The first success was that I (finally) finished the jacket for my friend Mary. This time it fits well, and she's very happy with it. So that was a good thing. And I decided that I thought the first one I made her (that was the wrong size) actually does fit me well enough to wear it, so I've been feeling fairly fashionable. I'll have to get a picture at some point.

The shirt I tried to make, on the other hand, was quite a failure! I cut it out ages ago, and I had this vision of what it should be. This was not it:

The design on the sleeves isn't quite what I had in mind, but it's okay. But the sleeves! I don't know what in the world happened there. I cut it out so long ago, I don't remember what I was thinking. My guess on the width is that I cut it with a different seam allowance than I sewed (entirely possible, since it was from a commercial pattern - I thought I'd adjusted it, but I may not have). But the length! What's up with that?? And since the design is so low on the sleeves, I can't even just chop them off and fix them. If I want to recover this shirt, I'm going to have to do some serious taking apart. That kind of depressed me when I realized it, so I just set it aside for now. I do think I have a plan - since the short sleeve part clearly needs shortening, too, I think I have a way to attach the longer sleeve on there - but still, I don't want to deal with it for now. This shirt and I clearly need a little break from one another. ;)

I'm ending 2008 on an easy successful project, though. My ironing board cover was no longer functional - every time I ironed anything, the metal pattern showed up on the fabric! So, I just whipped up a fun new ironing board cover with my beloved Kokka flowers:

Now I get to see them every day! :)

Happy New Year to everyone! I got a bunch of sewing magazines and Joann/Hancock gift certificates for Christmas, so I have many plans and inspiration for sewing and crafting in 2009!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Whew.... (And Merry Christmas!)

Since Christmas has passed, and the gifts have been opened, I can finally share the Christmas craft I've been working so hard on lately. This year was a particularly crazy Christmas craft! I made t-shirts and then freezer paper stenciled designs on them. I was busy with it right until Christmas Eve, although that's partly because I ended up having to remake one of them, because when I looked at it, I realized the pattern I'd used was clearly cracked and definitely would not fit! So, here they all are:


I only have action shots of the ones I gave to Iestyn's family, because we did Christmas with them earlier in the month. But everyone seemed to like their shirts yesterday, and hopefully they all fit. I really like the way they came out, and in that sense it was a good Christmas craft, but I think next year it might be wise to do something slightly less labor intensive. Not because it was really that bad, but because I ran out of time to make anything else! I had plans for other homemade gifts, and it just didn't happen. Oh well!

And now it's time to move on to some other projects. Like my now very late jacket. And the purse I wanted to make. And, well, any of a hundred other projects in my head, lol!

(Oh, and um, D, if you're reading this, pretend the Christmas craft is a surprise.... Actually, nothing in these pictures is for you, so in *some* sense it'll be a surprise! :) )

Friday, December 12, 2008

You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen....

But do you recall, the most famous reindeer of all?

Between Christmas crafting and a little weekend vacation (with sick children, unfortunately), I haven't done much lately that I can post about. I did take a little time to stencil some Christmas reindeer shirts for the girls and I.


Ignore the not so great picture - that was the best one of quite a series taken. A's reindeer has a smiley face, M's is singing, and mine is the grown up version. ;) It's hard to tell, but the noses are a little sparkly, too.

And the kids' reindeer bring back fond memories, because they're part of a stencil my mom used years and years ago. (They were the O in a stencil of the word Joy, but the whole thing wouldn't fit on their shirts.)

The Christmas crafting continues as well, but that won't be revealed until later!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Advent Calendar

Another one of my Christmas traditions (a new-ish one) is an Advent calendar of activities to do with the girls/as a family. Each day of Advent, I have some kind of activity for us to do. Most of them are things we'd do anyway - wear Christmas shirts, bake cookies, watch the Grinch, read holiday stories, give money to the Salvation Army, give to the toy drive at school, etc. But it's a fun way to make sure we do something Christmas-y every day, and the girls really enjoy it.


So I started this tradition last year, and of course it was already December when I decided that I needed an advent calendar. I whipped one up very quickly at the time, and it was pretty bad. (I used magic marker for the numbers!) This year I thought I'd make a new and improved version. To be honest, I didn't work on it much in advance, either, so I was busily finishing it on November 30. And this was a good example of my vision and my patience not meshing! It isn't quite what I was aiming for (in particular, the stitching around the balls just isn't all that great, and I can't quite work out how to do the numbers without hand embroidering, which kills my wrists). I was pretty disappointed in it at first, but now that it's hanging up, it's not so bad. I put the activities on cardstock, and wrote the numbers on the back. That was just a stopgap, but I actually rather like it, because they sort of look like the top bit of an ornament. So, I may still want a new one (again!) next year, but at least I can live with this one for this year. Perhaps the next one will be purchased.....

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Aprons

Mostly I've been busy working on some Christmas-y crafts lately, but before Thanksgiving I used some of my Alexander Henry birds to make the girls and I matching aprons.


I was kind of experimenting on mine, and I don't love the tie method I used, but all in all, they're pretty cute. So we baked pies for Thanksgiving in our matching aprons. :) I think it's funny that I've gotten all into aprons lately, but they're handy, and it is nice to be able to look at some of my fun fabrics while I'm cooking!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

My present, part 2

I finally got to play with my coverstitch machine last night, and it's the COOLEST thing EVER! I'm so excited. I made a quick shirt, and it looks so professional. (Well, except for the part where I hemmed one of the sleeves backwards, so it's inside out. Good thing it was just a test shirt for pajamas!) I love my new machine!

Although it's got to be said, my three machine command center (so to speak) is hilarious:


I think some rearranging might be in order. Hee-hee.

Christmas traditions

I was thinking yesterday about one of my personal Christmas traditions, known in my household as the "crazy Christmas craft". (Slogan: It's not Christmas unless you're frantically crafting on December 23!) Every year I pick a craft, and I give it to pretty much everyone. Sometimes it's a little insane, but for some reason I enjoy it. Well, most of the time! :)

Anyway, I was sitting in the car yesterday while M took an unexpected car nap, so I compiled a list of all the Christmas crafts I could remember. I've been doing this for a long time now!

The oldest one I can remember is pottery in 1997 or 1998. Lots of mugs and vases and candleholders and things like that.
I don't think I did anything in 1999.
2000 - scented gel candles
2001 - checkerboards - I painted the squares on a stone tile, and the pieces were stones we collected in Greece on our big European trip. That was an awfully heavy box to mail home!
2002 - ??
2003 - I made books with a take off I wrote of Green Eggs and Ham (about A's tendency not to nap), illustrated with photos of A.
2004 - polymer clay animal ornaments - I still like these, but they were a lot of work!
2005 - ??
2006 - fleece hats with appliques
2007 - purses
2008 is still a surprise ;)

One year the craft was quilling - I assume that was either 2002 or 2005. That was hands down my worst Christmas craft ever, which actually wasn't even a proper Christmas craft, since I think I only ended up giving two of them. I still think quilling is really pretty, but it's also worth every penny it costs to not have to make them myself. (And as a die hard DIYer, that's not something you hear me say very often!)

Sewing has rather taken over the Christmas craft of late, which isn't much of a surprise, I suppose, given my sewing obsession. I wonder what this year's craft will be.... ;)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I got the best present!

As I've mentioned before, I love my serger. All these t-shirts really made me lust after a coverstitch machine, though. And so my beloved husband gave me one as an early Christmas present! It wasn't actually a surprise, since I was the one to order it, but I'm very excited. (In return, he's ordered himself some car parts as his Christmas gift. This isn't how we normally do presents, but we're both happy with it this year. Although clearly I got the better end of the bargain. Of course, I'm sure he thinks the same thing, lol!)

Anyway, it came yesterday. I haven't had a chance to do anything but look at the manual yet. Apparently it's very complicated to thread - they devoted half the manual to the process. I'm a little scared.... Although the serger doesn't frighten me at all anymore, so I can't imagine it's *that* hard to figure out. I'm looking forward to playing with it tonight. AND I'm looking forward to how much easier it's going to make my Christmas crafting. Hooray!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Busy, busy

I haven't been blogging much lately, but I've done a lot of crafting. I was super busy during the 2 weeks after Halloween.
In that time I:
made my jewelry trade jacket (and learned it didn't fit)
stenciled an elephant on a shirt for M (to match her elephant pants)
stenciled a tree on a shirt for myself
turned my ill-fitting hedgehog shirt into a shirt for A
made myself another hedgehog shirt
made my Flirty Skirty apron (then decided I didn't like the fit, unfortunately. But my friend Diane is happy with it)
And last but definitely not least, I made myself a new traveling bag:

View under the flap:
My previous bigger purse was an early effort, and the strap wasn't attached quite as well as it ought to have been, so it's beginning to fall apart. Plus I wanted plenty of space for lots of books/puzzles/etc to entertain myself on the flight. (Which was good, considering how long it ended up taking!) I had this beautiful Marimekko stretch twill waiting for a good project plus some plain black twill on hand, and I put them together to make this bag. It's perfect for flying - big enough to pack lots of entertainment, food and water, with a big slip pocket on the back, and a divided pocket in the front for a cell phone and other stuff. Plus a zipper pocket inside just in case. I'm quite pleased with it. Plus it's so pretty! :)

I'm glad I got a walking foot for my sewing machine, though, as I think the stretchy twill would be have been a real pain otherwise. And while I'm at it, a quick shout out for The Fabric Fairy, since that's where I found an affordable version of my beloved Marimekko print! Plus they have great customer service.

I haven't actually done much of anything since I got back from my trip, but it's about time to get back into crafty mode. Christmas isn't all that far away, and I have lots to do!

I'll close with a picture of M in her elephant outfit, because it makes me happy:

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A moment of silence

I flew to Colorado this weekend, and the flight out here was a mess. First we were delayed, then loaded onto a plane, then taken off that plane, then eventually on another plane.

In the process, I lost my beautiful brown coat. :( I realized it was still on the first plane, but when the attendant went to look for it, it was gone. So I guess *someone* has my brown coat, but it isn't me.

So, a moment of silence for my beloved coat.

(Now I'm going to have to make two more, because the black version I made for my jewelry trade didn't actually fit. I'm going to be such an expert at this coat! But what a very sad way to get the expertise.....)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Halloween

I love Halloween. You get to dress up, be crafty and get candy; what could be better? So here are some Halloween pictures.

This year the girls decided to be ghosts. That was easy-peasy - some muslin from Joann's, quick armhole sewing, and some eyes and a mouth. I did add a headband on the inside of A's to keep the eyes in place, although I'm not sure how effective it was. M wore hers in the costume parade at school, but since she absolutely refused to let me try it on her, the eye holes really weren't in the right place. She had to be led by the hand to make it through the parade, lol. She looked cute, though! (If you look closely at this picture, you can see how much the eye holes moved...)

A was much more willing to wear her costume (although much crankier during the evening).

The *real* craftiness came in my costume. The kids thought I should dress up, so somehow I ended up as an alien with purple hair. This was the outcome:
I sewed the shirt, then freezer paper stenciled the writing. Then I attached a layered skirt with wire in the hems to hold the tiers out. It worked pretty well to get the effect I was going for, although I think thicker wire might have held its shape better. I really enjoyed the purple hair, though - I might have to do that for real sometime!

We had a lot of fun. We were joined by my mom, sister, brother in law, nephew, and in-laws for the trick or treating, then afterwards we went to the neighborhood party in our cul de sac. My in-laws are visiting for the weekend, so I got to actually talk to adults at the party. Bonus! My MIL dressed up for the trick or treating, too, so here's a shot of all the costumed ones (except my nephew):
Happy day after Halloween!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Fall Fun

Me and my girls:
Well, you can see one of them, anyway! :)

It finally feels like fall here, and over the weekend we went up to the mountains to enjoy it. It was a wonderful, busy day - first we did a corn maze, then "panned" for gemstones, then hit the pumpkin farm. The weather was gorgeous, and everyone had fun. What a great day!

The corn maze was actually quite big, and it had a card with a series of punches you could do while wandering through it. M got cranky after a while, so she and I bailed to have a snack while A and Iestyn finished up all the punches. Here's a picture of her examining the map:

(Which was surprisingly unhelpful for getting around the maze, if you ask me. Once you're in the middle of all that corn, all directions look pretty much the same!)

The panning for gems was very popular with both girls. They each had a bucket of rocks/dirt, which we rinsed and put through a sieve, and you were supposed to find the gemstones. Of course, the girls both ended up deciding about half of their bucket was "pretty", so we have a LOT of little rocks in our house now... ;)

They did each get a few nice quartzes and some other things like that, but mostly it was just fun to play with rocks and water.

After that it was time for the pumpkin farm. We went to Burt's Pumpkin Farm, which we've visited many times before, but never when it was this crowded. It was totally nuts! But the lines (for what we wanted, anyway) were actually pretty short, and we got a bunch of pumpkins for a reasonable price - sugar pumpkins for cooking, some small ones for drawing faces on, some bigger ones for carving.

Here's A getting a wheelbarrow ride before we picked out any of the pumpkins:


And M picking out one of her " two perfect pumpkins".

It was really a lovely day. Time with my family doing fun activities in beautiful weather. Just exactly what I wanted. :)

Pony. HRTS. Pony.

A, who is in kindergarten, has been learning a lot about reading and spelling since she started school. Naturally, she practices these things at home, which has led to M also practicing them. Even though she has no idea how to spell anything except her name. I got a video, and I had to share, because it's about the cutest thing ever:

video

Friday, October 17, 2008

The barter system

My friend Mary is a metalsmith/artisan jewelry maker. She makes all sorts of really lovely things, and is the source of much of my jewelry. :) I was visiting her the other day to get my sister a birthday gift, and I took along the corduroy coat that I made. (She's always very excited to see my stuff.) And she loved it - so much that she wanted her own in black! Meanwhile, I'd been looking at her stock, and there was a necklace that I really liked a lot. It's a little different than her usual stuff, but really striking. So we ended up doing a deal - she gave me this really cool necklace, and I'm going to make her a jacket. I got to take my necklace home with me, so I guess I better get moving on the jacket!

(Oh, I'd include a picture of the necklace, but the ones I've taken this evening have been horrible - I'll have to wait until daytime.)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Fun birdie dress!

In my to do list post, I mentioned an outfit for A. I haven't done the pants yet, but the birdie dress is done, and it's SO CUTE! I'm really very pleased with the way this one turned out. Look for yourself:
And a close-up on the birdies:
I cut them out of knit (the pants will be the same knit, as are the collar and cuffs), ironed them on, then embroidered them. Embroidery still isn't my thing (my stitches are very uneven! Plus it still makes my wrists hurt, same as the cross stitch I had to give up), but I do really like the look.

Hopefully it'll fit A correctly - it looks huge to me. Ah well, I can always re-hem it if I need to. I'm sure the top part is fine, since I based it off a pattern I know fits her. The outfit is a surprise, but I showed her the birds to get her reaction. She said "Awww..." in the cheesiest voice you can imagine. (Somehow we have an extremely cheesy child. I don't know where that comes from!) So, I'm thinking the outfit will be a hit - yay! Now I just have to do the pants.... And maybe start on some of the rest of the list....

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

To Do List

I feel like I have a million projects in my head lately, so I thought I'd write them down.

Let's see:
Outfit for A - dress with (embroidered) applique birdies plus pants to match
Outfit for M - long sleeve shirt with applique/stencil (maybe a pig?) plus pants to match
Halloween t-shirt (me) - white ringer tee with black ribbing with Halloween stencil - maybe a witch hat?
Long sleeve raglan tee for me - still trying to figure out the sleeve pattern, so I think this will require some experimenting
Flirty Skirty apron - I want to use my purple/green Kokka flowers for this, but I need something for the contrast fabric
New purse for me - the fabric for this has just been sitting there for ages, but I need to figure out the new design and I've been putting it off
AB Barcelona skirt from some pretty fabric I already have
Purse for my MIL (much figuring to do with that, too.)
I'd like to try again on the hot pads. I think I know what I did wrong now....
Various other shirts that I have patterns and fabric for (for me), although most of them are more spring/summery, so I may wait a bit on those
I kind of want to make a big picnic blanket (like an extremely simplistic quilt), but that's not a top priority. Probably means I'll do it next, lol!

Plus, of course, loads of Christmas presents, which probably belong near the top of this list, but I don't want to write them down here, just in case. So, I'll be sewing constantly for the next year, if this list is anything to go by. :)

ETA: Oops - I almost forgot the two ghost costumes I need to make!

Edited again: (see what I mean about my list?) And also some more bags for wrapping Christmas presents in, since I've mostly given up wrapping paper. And I want to make fabric sandwich type bags for packing snacks. I have a tutorial for those somewhere.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Cloth balls

I seem to be in the middle of a little baby boom at the moment. Well, not ME, but a lot of people around me. So I wanted to share a couple of pictures of one my new favorite baby gifts. I found this tutorial for cloth balls a while back, and they're a fun way to use scraps and make a baby/toddler gift all at once. Plus, when the toddler decides to throw the ball, it's fabric, so no one will get hurt. Bonus! Anyway, here are some pictures:


Fun, no?

I love my jacket!

Last fall, I kept searching for a cute dark brown corduroy jacket, and I just couldn't find one that I liked. This fall, after an added year of sewing under my belt, it occurred to me that I could probably make myself a jacket. And I did!!

I used this Vogue pattern, view B, to make an unlined cord jacket. I was a little paranoid about it, since I've always heard Vogue patterns were complicated, but since it claimed to be "Very Easy Vogue" (and it was the only pattern I found that really looked at all like what I wanted), I decided to try anyway. I did warn my mom I might be calling, though. ;) As it turned out, it actually was a pretty easy to follow pattern. I'm not sure I'd do it as a total beginner (which is what "very easy" implies to me!), but I found it mostly straightforward. And this is the result:


(Please ignore my lack of a head. I looked a little crazy in the only picture that really showed off the coat.)

There are a couple of things that I might change - I definitely need to shorten the sleeves a bit, and I think I'd make it slightly longer if I were to do it again - but on the whole I love it. It's a great weight for our current bizarre October weather; I found some adorable sunflower buttons which make me quite happy; and I feel both proud and cute when I wear it. What's not to like?

And I was pleased to discover in my fabric stash that I have some olive cord that I could use to make another jacket if I want. It's very thin, though, so I think it would need to be lined, so that may take some thought. I'm loving the feeling that I can make it if I want to, though!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

2 hour trousers

I have approximately a million different ideas of things to sew (and plenty of fabric) - honestly, it got to the point last week where I was feeling completely overwhelmed by my entire craft space. So over the weekend I decided to do a quick project just to have something easily checked off my list!

I've used Petchy's 10 minute trousers tutorial a bunch of times now to make pj pants for the girls. It takes me longer than 10 minutes (mostly because of finishing things things nicely) but they're certainly a quick project to whip out. Anyway, I used the same method to make myself some cute owl-y comfy pants last night.

Close-up of the flannel:

They're very soft and cosy. The waistline isn't quite as nice as the pair they're based off of, but I think they'll be lovely once it's actually cool enough to wear them. I think there's enough left to make some pjs for one or both of the girls, too.

I've also been working on a brown corduroy jacket which is just lacking buttons at this point - stay tuned for a post about that. Between those two things, I'm feeling better about my giant list of ideas, so hopefully now I can concentrate on working through it, rather than feeling stressed by it!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Sometimes things don't go as planned.....

So, I love the Sew Mama Sew blog - I always find interesting projects and tutorials there. So, I was poking around on there, and I found a tutorial on making my own hot pads. (Which, of course, I can't find anymore.) So, I thought that sounded cool. That looks straightforward and easy! What a fun Christmas craft!

Bwa-ha-ha! It turns out that I have no idea what I'm doing when it comes to quilting things. All those layers mess me up! I didn't have too much trouble with the sewing the fabric together part, but after that I'm a mess. As are these hot pads.....


The *really* sad part is that the extremely wonky one on the left is actually the last one I did. They just keep getting worse! I don't have a picture of my first one, but it's actually relatively straight..... I think I need to have fewer layers of batting, or more insul-bright or something, but somehow I do not think that hot pads will be the Christmas craft of the year. Ah well. At least I have plenty of time to come up with a new one! :)

Isn't the fabric pretty, though? Farmer's Market by Sandi Henderson - such a cute line!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Media Center Mom

I forgot to post about my volunteer job at A's school. Every other week for 2 hours (well, really an hour and fifteen minutes, since I have to pick M up) I work in the library. It's so much fun! The first day I had a total high when I left - it was fun, I was busy the whole time, and I felt so competent! Okay, that last bit sounds silly, but really, being a mom doesn't involve much in the way of measurable outcomes. Checking out library books and shelving is so clear and straightforward - it's great! So I'm really glad I volunteered for this gig. Actually, it makes me a little sad that I quit the library science program, although I'm pretty sure it's more fun to be an occasional volunteer than to be an actual employee. And also I never intended to work in a school media center. But still, maybe one day I'll return to it. Or at least volunteer a little more often! ;)

Today wasn't actually as much fun as the first time, but that's because the library was full of stuff for (the last day of) book fair. Therefore, they didn't have very many students, so almost no one was checking out books. On the plus side, though, apparently as a "media center mom" (that phrase cracks me up) I got a coupon for free paperback books totaling less than $9.99. So that worked. I got a Diego early reader and one from a series by Cynthia Rylant. (We love her - the Mr. Putter and Tabby books are so darn sweet! And we love Henry and Mudge, too. I just learned that she has some Newberry/Caldecott award books - I'm going to have to look for them.) So that kind of made up for not having enough to do, and I'm sure the next time I'll be busier. All in all, I'd recommend the library gig, though!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A new one


I had to show off the shirt I made Friday night. I didn't do quite as good a job on the stenciling this time (too much paint is a bad plan!), but it's still pretty cute. :)

Now I need to work on some other projects that I have in my head, but I'm pretty sure I'll be returning to these shirts - they're so fun!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

I'm ridiculously pleased with myself

I'm just absurdly excited about this. :) I just finished a shirt I've been pondering in my head for a while, and it turned out quite well. Yay! So, as previously mentioned, I've been experimenting with baseball style shirts. I made one that fit better, using an old shirt as a guide. I haven't remembered to take a picture of it, though. Anyway, so once I had a better idea about fit, I chopped up the shirt pictured in my last post, and put it back together with a much nicer fit. I also did a birdie freezer paper stencil on it. This is the end result:

Isn't it cute? I'm very excited, because it's just what I was picturing in my head. I still need to work on my ribbing on the sleeves (they feel a little funny), but all in all, I'm quite happy.

Oh, and freezer paper stenciling was really easy! I had no idea. I've always been really bad at regular stenciling, so I'm glad to learn that this method works better for me. Well, aside from the really complicated design I picked. ;) Here's a useful tute on the subject: http://madebypetchy.blogspot.com/2008/05/tutorial-freezer-paper-stencilling.html, if anyone's interested.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

I love my serger.

I bought a serger quite a while back (last spring, maybe?). It's a Brother 1034D, and it's about the simplest (and cheapest) serger around. I got it off of Amazon, which is really funny to me for some reason. But I just think it's the greatest thing since sliced bread! Like I said, it's pretty simple, which is actually nice, because sergers are pretty terrifying when you first see them. We kept calling it the devil before I learned how to thread it. Luckily, this version has color coded visual aids that make the threading fairly clear, although I still had to read the manual a LOT of times before I could actually do it. But anyway, I am amazed that even though I've had it for about six months, I'm still struck every time I use it how utterly COOL it is. I have no idea at all how it works (not that I really understand my sewing machine, either), but I think the complicated stitches that it does are just amazing. And plus, I can use it to sew knits, which frankly I was never very good at before. And for some reason sewing knits seems so much more professional than quilting cottons do. I feel like I'm making "real clothes". Plus I can finish off the seams of non-knits much more nicely, too. Anyway, that ramble is because I've been using my serger a lot the last couple of days, and I just think it's cool! :)

Here are some newly serged items:
A baseball-style shirt for me:
I like the idea of this shirt, but I think the actual sizing needs some work. Next one I'm going to have to make some alterations.
Shirt for M:
Pajamas (these are for A, but M has a pair, too):

Actually, I've made a couple of other pairs of pajamas, too, and I have more planned. (No pictures, though.) It's hard to find good soft cotton PJs for any reasonable price when you get to be A's size, so I'm glad I can make them myself!

So I've been having lots of fun with my serger. My only complaint is that I want to be able to do a coverstitch, but I hear it's easier just to have another machine for that anyway. I just haven't gotten around to that yet.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

M is 3!


Well, I'm a little late with this post, but this wonderful girl turned 3 yesterday. My baby girl isn't such a baby anymore. She's such a fun, funny, bright, beautiful, silly girl. She's a total ham - if it makes someone laugh, she's sure to do it again. (I'm expecting future teacher notes about the class clown....) And she makes me laugh. She loves to play imaginary games - and her imagination is so good that when she doesn't have any toys to do it with, she'll just go ahead and "play fingers" - make her fingers be a family that talk to each other. She likes to dance (although she looks kind of like me, poor child - hopefully she'll grow more graceful as she gets older!) She loves music - she sings all kinds of songs. She's constantly making up new songs about whatever she happens to be doing at the time. ("I'm a cowboy riding in the forest...") She likes to play together, but she's content playing alone, too. She likes to have some alone time, certainly more than her sister does. We've read about a million books in the last three years, but she's always up for more. She can count pretty well - she says the numbers almost to 20, but she can actually count items correctly up to five or so. And I'm amazed at how many numbers and letters she knows - one day this summer, we were driving along, and she said "That sign has 2 and 5" - that would be the speed limit of 25 miles an hour. And she likes to "write" her name - one of the letters looks like it should, anyway. ;)

I love you so much, my girl. Happy Birthday!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Picture of my skirt

I just remembered that I needed to post a picture of the skirt I mentioned in an earlier post. Here it is:


It's kind of wrinkly from being sat in for quite a long time before this picture was taken - it's not really all wonky in the front. And it's pretty comfy, too!

Changing times....


That is a picture of my big girl going off on the bus to kindergarten yesterday, for her very first day. Kindergarten. My kid's in kindergarten. She spends almost 8 hours a day away from home, including bus time. (Seems like such a long day for a five year old, doesn't it?) And now, instead of having a clear picture of what she's doing with her time (or knowing *exactly*, because I'm there), I have to rely on the memory and whim of a five year old to have any idea what's going on! Okay, it won't be quite that bad in a few weeks, once I'm allowed to help out at the school and go eat lunch with her, but still, it's a big change. She was in preschool, of course, but it was a shorter amount of time, and I went in and talked to her teachers every day. I guess I didn't know exactly what she was doing, but this feels much bigger. You're more distanced once they go to real school. Plus I miss my girl!! I'm okay in the mornings, because we're used to that, but by about 2:00 I want her home! (Although as a side note, apparently she takes a lot more energy than her sister, because I've accomplished a lot since she started!)

On the plus side, so far she loves it. She was tremendously nervous about the bus, and the second thing she said to me yesterday afternoon was "I love the bus!!" And she says her teacher is really nice, and of course she's already made friends. And she loves learning things, so she's having a ball. Not to mention, they can earn "dollars" by being good, and they can use the "dollars" to get prizes at the end of the week. At the end of the first day, she already had six bucks! Her teacher must've slowed the rate down today, though, because it sounds like she only got one today. ;)

It's funny - they gave us a copy of her schedule, but I didn't quite understand all of it, I don't think. She said today that they had Spanish class. Who knew? I guess that must be part of "specials", since I had no idea what that meant. I'm looking forward to being more involved in things in a few weeks, so that I have more of an idea of what's happening. But even then, I'll never really have the same clear picture of her activities. It's normal (and honestly, we're happier when she has some school), but it still makes me a little sad. Plus I'm afraid of what she's going to hear about at school. (At camp this summer, she came home and was wondering who Hannah Montana was *and* was told that "Thomas was for babies". We were able to convince her that one was ridiculous, anyway. Of course, this is the camp that thought Open Season - rated PG - was an appropriate movie for 5 year olds. Hmph.)

This was M at our dropoff yesterday:


She tried to follow A onto the bus! Ies had to catch her... To be honest, she's actually been fine during the day, but I think she'll be glad once her school starts. And boy, are they happy to see one another when A gets off the bus! The big smile on A's face and the giant hugs for both of us are just lovely.

So, kindergarten. My babies are growing up!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Renewed creativity

Our vacation was a week on Amelia Island, FL, and it was absolutely lovely. We really liked the island - nice beaches, lots of things to do in addition to the beach, and it was a friendly little town. Plus there were lots of yummy restaurants. Even though we ended up eating at the same Mexican restaurants twice and the same pizza place twice... :) (I highly recommend Moon River Pizza and Pablo's Mexican restaurant - the chicken fingers at Pablo's were highly rated, which is useful when you love Mexican food and your children won't eat it. Plus the churros were delicious!) And the condo on the beach was really nice, despite the renewing right in front of our condo. (Our view was blocked by bulldozers the first few days. But they moved surprisingly quickly.) It was a great vacation, and I feel all inspired since we got back.

First of all, I've drawn out lots more little round animals, so look for those in coming weeks. (And Ies and I both wonder why my craftiness inevitably returns to round animals - this is at least the third medium that I've made them in!)

Secondly, I got a lot of inspiration from some sewing books I read while I was gone. I read Sew What Skirts, which is a quick and easy read. For some reason I have trouble directly following patterns for myself - I'm always making minor changes. But sometimes they don't work out so well ;), so the information in this book was great. I have a bunch of skirts planned now. So far I've completed one - a straight skirt in some Amy Butler Nigella fabric I had in my stash. I'm more or less happy with it, although clearly I need to work some more on the curving on the sides. But it's cute, and certainly wearable. I'll have to post a picture later.

I also read Sew U Home Stretch, all about sewing with knits, and that was really inspiring as well. It renewed my love for my serger, especially since I think I've figured out my issues with ribbing. So I bought a bunch of knits at Joann's big sale last weekend, and I have shirts for me and jammies for the kids planned out. Now I just need to get to work on them. My to-do stack is huge, as always! But I have been productive the last few days - a skirt for me, first day of school dress for A (kindergarten! sob!), and a baby gift for a friend. So if I keep this rate up, I might actually get through some of my list before the weather's too cold to wear any of them!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Fishies!

Well, I should be packing and getting ready for our beach vacation tomorrow, so what did I do this evening? Make some car toys, of course! ;) I'd been thinking about making little round animals for a while, but I hadn't gotten around to it. So tonight I put together these fish:

They're kind of hard to see in this picture, but I made cloth balls and then added fish parts. I'll post better pictures sometime later - I can't seem to get good ones right now. They turned out awfully cute, though!

And as cheesy a bad pun it is, I'm very amused by my cat-fish. Hee-hee....

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Success!

It's done!!



Well, for all my complaining in the previous post, my carrier really didn't take all that long to make. A couple of hours for cutting, and a day for actually putting it together. The padding of the straps was a huge pain in the neck, and I spent quite a long time trying to figure out how to attach the waistband to the body of the carrier. (I'm apparently a visual learner for sewing. Written instructions puzzle me.) And I should've ordered my webbing and buckles, since the stuff from REI isn't really quite right (heavy duty enough, but not right). Oh, and I broke one needle, but that's actually pretty good considering the number of layers I was sewing through. My machine actually did a lot better than I expected.

I haven't really had a chance to test it too much, but I can put M up in it, and it's like a real carrier. And it's pretty. :) I might even make another one, with some changes to make it more comfy. I'll have to try the new one out a bit more to figure out what exactly I'll need, but all in all I'm pleased. And as you can see, so is M.

Baby carriers

When M was a baby/young toddler, I was really into babywearing and baby carriers. Bought a lot, sold a lot, owned a lot. ;) Our babywearing isn't as frequent anymore, but she does still ride on my back sometimes. ("I want to go in a carrier." A two year old saying carrier is *so cute*!) Anyway, in all that time of intense baby carrier addiction, I never really got into making the carriers myself. I made a pathetically bad mei tai (way too floppy, because at the time I had no idea what I was doing), and a tremendously uncomfortable pouch (still don't quite know what happened there). Lately, though, I've been admiring all the pretty DIY carriers on thebabywearer.com, and then I saw a free SSC (soft structured carrier) pattern on there. (Here's a link: http://www.lulu.com/content/2302753 .) So I decided to take the plunge.

And wow, I think the carrier makers deserve every penny that they charge! What a pain!

I think it's going to be a pretty carrier, assuming it's actually successful, but it certainly is a lot of work. I was just padding the straps (which are curved), and getting the fleece to lie flat is SO irritating! It'd be easier if I'd gone for straight straps, but I think the curved ones might help with my main problem with our current carrier. I guess I'll see how it goes, though. I hope it turns out okay, but at the moment I'm not entirely sure it will! Perhaps pictures will come sometime... :)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Rainbows, part 2

I'm all about the part twos lately, huh? :)

After much, much procrastinating, I finally finished M's patchwork rainbow kitty dress. Here's a picture:
Instead of a button type bodice, I did a more empire style bodice on M's dress, and I think it looks better that way. It's also super poofy because the first tier was so wide (and they just went out from there). I had 6 rainbow fabrics, so each tier is a multiple of 6, starting with 12 squares on the first layer. Each layer after that was whichever multiple of 6 was closest to 1.5 times the previous layer. Anyway, I'm pleased. As usual, I kind of prefer my second attempt at a dress, although in this case it's mostly because I like the kitties better than the butterflies on the bodice of A's dress.

The girls wore their dresses to a birthday party yesterday, and a woman there (I didn't know her previously) kept going on and on about how I should make them for sale in a boutique. It's always a nice ego boost, although frankly, these were a massive pain to make, so even if that was a direction I was going, I don't think I'd make these for sale! Although the patchworking part was fun - it's just the circle skirt part that's a pain. All that gathering!

And, just because this picture amused me, here they are in their matching dresses, riding on the cart at Home Depot.

We're making great progress on the bathroom renovations. Actually, it's not too far off being done. The shower is usable, yay! That was just done, so I haven't had a chance to try it out yet, but I'm very excited!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

470 inches (or 39.16 feet)


That's how long the tiers of this patchwork circle skirted dress would be, if you stretched them all out next to one another. Almost 40 feet! The ruffle alone was 131/2 feet.

I'm all into patchwork skirts at the moment. I had made a patchwork circle skirt for her a while back. (Seen below in it's full circle-ness...)

She loves it, and I started playing around with the idea of a rainbow one for M. Which, of course, meant that I had to make one for A as well, and somehow hers got done first. I'm not sure how that happened.

Anyway, I quite like the effect of the patchwork, and who doesn't like a nice twirly skirt, but wow, it was a pain at the end. Gathering the 13ish feet of ruffle took some doing. (Although elastic tape is the greatest invention ever for gathering. It doesn't look quite as good as properly gathering the fabric, in my opinion, but it's SO much easier.) And of course, I had to go buy extra fabric for the patchwork, since I really only had enough for M's dress in the first place, and A is so tall that it had to be longer than I was expecting.

The thing that took the most time was the bodice, since I radically changed a bodice pattern that I had, and it didn't go quite as smoothly as I would have liked. It ended up working out fine - it's cute, and pretty much what I was aiming for - but there was quite a bit of seam ripping and re-sewing involved.

But hey, she's happy, and she looks pretty darn cute in it, so it all worked out. Now I have to get up the energy to do M's!!

Monday, June 30, 2008

My baby's growing up, sniff, sniff


My five year old lost her first tooth today. I can't believe how big she's getting! It was a little earlier than I think it would have naturally been, due to some loosening in an unfortunate jumping out of a tree incident earlier in the year (ah, 4 year olds...). But it's gone, and it looks as though the permanent tooth is growing right in. And she starts kindergarten in the fall. She's starting to read, and she wants to write things all the time (in her own sometimes hard to decipher version of English), and she's become such a good swimmer. And she's just so big and brave now - she went right off to half day camp without a backward look, and she wants to play with any kid her age that she finds, stranger or not. It's all so amazing to me.

And yet to me, it doesn't seem that long ago that she looked like this:
It's hard to believe.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Zucchini Part II

The zucchini pictured below weren't even the biggest of the crazy zucchini growing in our garden. So, I've been baking a lot of zucchini bread. As mentioned below, I was doing some experimenting to make it a little more healthy. I think I've got a pretty good recipe now - it's still not super fab for you, probably, but it isn't too bad.

And in the last batch, I learned you can add food processed carrots and spinach to zucchini bread, and no one will notice! A good lesson. The previous batch I learned that even if you accidentally substitute Chinese 5 spice powder for cinnamon, your children will still eat it. But if you're me, you won't think it smells very good. :)

So, in case anyone is interested, here's the current recipe:
Ingredients:
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp cinnamon
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup applesauce
1 cup sugar
1/2 blended banana
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
2 cups grated zucchini
1 cup blended/food processed carrots and spinach in whatever proportion you want (I was guessing with this - I think you could add a little more if you wanted to, but it might be more noticeable)
1 cup chopped walnuts (I love it with these, but my kids won't eat it, so mostly I leave them out)

Directions:
1. Grease and flour two 8x4 inch pans. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2. Sift together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon.
3. Beat eggs, oil, applesauce, vanilla, sugar and banana together in a large bowl. Add the flour mixture and beat well. Stir in the zucchini, other vegetables, and nuts until well mixed. Pour into the pans.
4. Bake 50-55 minutes, until tester in center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool.
5. Enjoy!

Note: I had to edit this recipe a bit. Although the original version tasted fine, it got really gross after a couple of days. I just tried a new version tonight, and I think it's better.

Bathrooms

For the past couple of years, ever since we moved into this house, we've had trouble with water leaking behind the tiles in our shower. We kept recaulking it, but it finally got so bad that water leaked down into the kitchen below. Uh-oh. So, we decided that we needed to repair or replace the tiles. But once Ies looked behind the tiles and underneath the flooring, we realized that repairing wasn't going to be an option. This was going to be a complete renovation of the bathroom.

So, we started the renovations this weekend. He and I spent Saturday tearing everything out of the bathroom, down to the studs on one wall, and including about half of the floor. The process mostly went pretty smoothly, aside from when Ies had to cut a small hole in our hallway in order to access the pipes to get the bathtub out. Grr, stupid speed demon crappy 1980's builders....

So this is what a bathroom looks like without anything in it:
Today, Ies put down the floor, so there's no rotten wood anymore. Yay! And we worked out stripping off the ugly wallpaper that "decorated" the bathroom and our bedroom. Sadly, it was NOT the wallpaper that comes off in big strips. I think removing the wallpaper is going to take the same amount of time as removing everything else did! We're going to have to hire someone to do it in our bedroom - the amount of time it would take us is just depressing. So, that's not quite done - maybe tomorrow.

However, we did do a fantastic thing, which is pick out a lovely, comfy looking, deep soaking tub. So I'll be able to take long baths with a book and some lush bath bombs - my favorite! :) I'm really looking forward to that - the old tub was insanely uncomfortable, so it's been a while since that's been fun.

And the process of doing this is kick-starting us into finally doing some more decorating of the rest of the house, which is also A Good Thing. So, more pictures will come eventually, once the putting back together part starts.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Zucchini

I used to love baking. Breads, cookies, rolls, whatever - I just enjoyed it. I've fallen mostly out of the habit lately (except for my random need to make cookies in the winter when it's cold and rainy out). Maybe it's just as well for my waistline. But, my lovely husband is growing a crop of enormous zucchini in our backyard garden - take a look:


That's one whole and one half - HALF! - next to my TIVO remote. They're crazy. And there are more coming. So, today the girls and I baked some zucchini bread. I have this great recipe I got off of Allrecipes.com years ago (found here: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Moms-Zucchini-Bread/Detail.aspx). I left the walnuts out of one loaf, since the kids don't like chunks in their breads, and it was a huge hit. M said "It's a good thing it doesn't have zucchini in it". I think maybe she missed the point.... ;) So, I think I'm going to try to alter the recipe so that it's a wee bit healthier, but still tasty, and then bake a whole lot more zucchini bread to use up some of our crop. Good thing it freezes!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Dolly Clothes

So, for her 5th birthday, my older daughter decided she wanted an "American doll". Well, actually, she wanted the Target version. Anyway, we got her the dolly, and I thought that Emily Samantha (as she's now named) needed some additional clothes. Happily, I had some fabric leftover from some earlier projects, so Emily can match my daughter with a ballerina dress and some lovely pajamas:


Sorry, I don't have any shots of the PJs.

I'm loving the doll clothes, though. They're super quick and easy. I have a Simplicity pattern that I based them off of, and then I can just zip them through the serger. And the finishing can be as lazy as you want, because they're only going to be worn by a doll. I think Emily's going to end up with a lot more clothes after I get through some other projects!

Welcome to the Blogosphere!

Actually, I hate the word blogosphere. It's completely goofy. But, hey, I'm finally giving in and starting a blog, so I guess I'm now a part of it. (First Facebook, now a blog - I'm busily joining the collective...)

Anyway, welcome to my ramblings about my crafts, my kids, and my life in general!