Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Skirt Sew Along

With only 2 days to spare, I finished my skirt for the Monkey Foot Designs and Stacy Sews Skirt Sew-Along. I actually had already made a skirt for the Sew-Along a week or so ago using the Angry Chicken's 5 minute skirt tute. Unfortunately, I used a skirt that did not really fit well as a pattern. I had also used a lightweight silky leopard print for fabric - all I could find to use from my fabric stash in a pinch that I knew would be held up by FOE (Fold Over Elastic). If FOE is foreign to you (as it was to me a short 2 months ago) picture the stretchy band holding up your underwear... you can see why I needed the fabric to be lightweight. Although the FOE did its job and the leopard print was surprisingly cute, the skirt itself ran a bit small. While I tried to make it work by wearing larger and larger black shirts over/above it, I've now given up and may be gifting it to my littlest sister. Lauren, don't be surprised if you find a little silky leopard number coming your way soon.

The Sew-Along deadline of July 31 still loomed over me so I was on to plan B. I have had the Sew What Skirts book for awhile, but have been too intimidated to draft a pattern. It involved some math and actually writing down my waist and hip measurements. Neither things were something I was looking forward to - though the math bothered me less than owning up to the fact that my waist and chest measurements seem to have swapped places since having children. But fashion can be painful, so I pressed onward. Turns out it took all of about 6 minutes to measure, compute and draw and another 2 minutes to cut out an A-Line skirt pattern that fit PERFECT. I know - Sew What? (hee hee - don't mind me, I'm laughing aloud at my witty punny self.) Personally, I've not been much of a skirt girl lately, maybe years of living in a pleated polyester one during high school burned me out. BUT now that I was able to make a skirt with a waist where I wanted it (dropped extra low) and a length short enough to work well for my gangly 5'2.75" self (hits right at the knee), I am a convert. I could wear this every day AND it only took about an hour to put together after drafting the pattern. I'm especially proud of the side zipper - only my second one that actually works!! Bonus!

Brooke took a picture for me to post (notice she handed off Vada to me?)... how lucky am I to have professional help in the photo department?? I was so hoping she could shave a few pounds off for me ... and while she could not shave off a few calf inches, she does seem to do wonders with my kids dirty mugs and mitts when she shoots them.

Oh - and one more quick thought outside the sewing realm. If you've noticed, my "latest read" section on the left side here has grown a bit. Recently, I read the House of Night series as well as the latest Artemis Fowl book. I debated adding these to my book list, since the target audience for all 4 books is probably somewhere between 12 and 17 years old, but decided what the heck... they were all great books. I highly recommend all 4 - to you or your closest teenage family members!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Wee Woods & Totes (complete!!)

We had Brooke's little ones over on Friday - it took all of 2 minutes for me to fall totally in love with Miss Vada. She is a dolly - and a perfect child. I have been smitten with Cashen for a while, but his dimples won me over even more after hanging out with him for a few hours. (Note - Griffin was home as well, but you won't see him in the pictures below. He was not very thrilled to share his toys or have his sister take care of (read "Pay attention to") other kids. I am pretty sure during the times that these photos were taken he was spending some quality time in the time out chair...)

Here are the girls hanging out. Rowan was so excited to hold Vada. Vada makes Rowan look a bit ghostly, huh?

Here is Cash giving me the winning grin - dimples and all.

Maybe she didn't want me to take any more pictures?

Almost smiling - I promise she did give me some true smiles :)

Last, I just wanted to post photo proof that I finished the final SMS totes I had started for my girlfriends Jen and Kim awhile back. These were made from the fabric that I ran out to buy after seeing this tute on the Sew Mama Sew site. I was in a hurry... Why? What was the hurry? I would have stated at the time that it was to make the bags as quick as possible. I was so excited to find the PERFECT tote bag pattern after searching and searching. I guess, that is not a very valid excuse now, due to the fact that I just finished them today. OK, where was I? OH, I was in a hurry, so I ran to Hancocks. Not my normal fabric stomping ground... that is my only excuse, I guess. I honestly didn't even look at the price - just found "home decorator weight" fabric and ran to the cutting station. I learned my lesson - 4 yards and $100 later I fled to my car with an open, gaping mouth and a rubbery wallet. I could see paying some serious ching for this or this, but not for a kinda cute fabric (cutest of the not so cute) to be used for grocery bags or hauling library books. Oh well - lesson learned - at least I was able to gift them and not feel guilty about keeping all the fabric to myself. I'll be making my next batch of these bags out of the clearanced tablecloths I picked up at a Target endcap last week. I'm sure that will help balance out the fabric budget I've allotted myself.

Anyways - back to the totes. They ate about 8 needles in the making - but after a quick lesson from the Viking sewing ladies (impromptu and hilarious, BTW) and learning to slow down a bit with the "driving" of my machine (OK, slowing down a lot), they are finally finished. Not perfect, but I think they'll make fine beach bags though the girls only have a month or so of summer left for beach time here in the arctic tundra we call Minnesota. Enjoy them while you can! I guess they could carry snowmoble helmets in the offseason??

Friday, July 18, 2008

lots of lavender

I did not mean to post these pics together - it looks like I'm a pastelly/lavender type of girl, when truly I am not. Just happen to have 2 projects I wanted to blog on that used the same fabric. I found the fabric at my favorite fabric outlet, and instantly thought of my daughter who likes all things girly. Later,when looking for enough fabric to try a new patter, I realized I had enough of it to try and would not be "wasting" anything I loved. So, the top was made last week. Today, after breaking 3 needles trying to finish the 4 cut out SMS totes I have to make, I needed a quick success, so used the rest of the fabric for a Smocket for Rowan.

First up- Smocket. Found this site with a free pattern for a smock with a pocket (get it? Smocket?) I changed it up a bit: Since the pattern was a 2T, I played with it a bit to make it a 5 for Rowan. This went well except I had a bit too much fabric in the collar/neck. I made it reversible, sewing pockets to the two layers before sewing them together. Instead of tying the shoulders, I stitched buttons on both sides permanently closing them. It cris crosses in the back and is pretty open-very summery and cute. (Why is she by the guitar? Don't know - hard to understand the inner working of the mind of a 5 year old.)

Second, the top. I have been meaning to make my littlest sister a top. She liked the Lotus tunic I made, so I was looking for something similar, but easier (Ok - read "less time consuming"). I opted to use this fabric to try for a muslin of Simplicity 2962. This one, I'm not so happy with, and am glad I tried on this lavender fabric first. I don't think quilting cotton was the best fabric option for this top. I tried it on and even with the tie in the back, I looked pregnant and odd. Next, I had a friend with a much larger chest try it for me, and while she looked better, the front portion puffed from her chest too and was not very flattering. I think jersey would be a better fabric for this one - or I could give it to a pregnant friend :)

Friday, July 11, 2008

freezer paper stencils

I've seen this craft on a gazillion crafty blogs and knew I wanted to do it with the kids someday. I picked up some freezer paper, fabric paints and a couple of T's for the wee ones a while back. I think it was over a month ago. Tonight, I found my exacto (sp??) knife (didn't know I had one, actually) and decided it was time to build these. Griffin was not interested in participating (busy watching Indiana Jones), but Rowan drew 3 of the 4 stencils for me. The 4th was just a stencil "G" that I had in an alphabet set. Rowan chose her paint colors - which explains the metallic paint on both her shirts. She also did some of the painting for her T's though I'm a terrible perfectionist and jumped in when she was done to fill in the holes and gaps...

Both of us were thrilled with this project. It was fun and easy - with some pretty quick gratification. You really just cut out the stencil on the papery side of the freezer paper, iron it onto your t shirt (I ironed another piece behind so that the paint didn't run through), and then paint with fabric paint. Easy peasy! Now I'm excited to go through both kids' closets looking for thing with stains (shouldn't be that hard to find) to cover with our new stencil technique!

Here are the first two - Rowan designed her own house stencil, and we did a "G" for Grif. He says it is for Gryffindor house in Harry Potter. OK... sure it is, if that makes him wear it.

Here is a close up of Rowan's house - see the glitter paint? (how could you not with the glare on my pic?) She was so proud of the chimney smoke and the stairs.

Rowan drew this monster for Griffin's shirt, and a similar one for her own. Before...

Here is the drawing on the shirt - After!

2 little monsters seems appropriate stencils for my monsters!

SMS totebag & swap

Just finished this tote from the Sew Mama Sew blog site. Great pattern/tutorial! It was my first attempt at french seams... they went well. (Note- that does not mean that I don't want/need a serger though....) I had a bit of difficulty with the weight of the fabric and top stitching the top hem with the handles. After double folding the hem and tri-folding the handles, I think I was trying to get through 9 layers of fabric. Had to actually hand sew portions of it, after breaking about 4 needles and hearing my sewing machine "groan". I'm not a fan of handsewing (since my stitches look so terrible), so I even pulled out my old machine that I was never so careful/cautious with (see the capri sun purse for proof of my blatant disregard for the machine), and it would not go through all those layers either! In the future, I'll use a bit lighter weight fabric - but I've got 4 more of the bags cut from these fabrics ready to go, so I may be adjusting the pattern a bit when sewing and hemming the top. Any ideas out there?

I was greeted on my doorstep with a package slip from the post office on Wednesday -and just got to the post office today. Hooray for my swap partner's fantastic placements and napkins! Red with white polka dots, aqua and brown strips and red pom poms - I am in LOVE with them. I set them up in the picture below in the kitchen to show how cute they look with my eclectic decor - they are perfect! Then, since I don't want R and G to destroy them, I set them up with my teal chargers in the more formal (ha ha) dining room and they are wonderful there too. Thank you Lynette!

Monday, July 7, 2008

how we celebrated the 4th...

Our plan for the 4th of July went a but awry this year, but we still had a great weekend. (OK, if you've read below, I was busy reading most of the time, but I did take some breaks to be family oriented every now and then). Our "normal" holiday for the past few years has included watching the parade in Forest Lake at my girlfriend Brooke's parents, then finding some local fireworks to watch at night. This is always a blast - the kids have so much fun at "Grandma Mona's" with their friends and the great parade, and we are close enough to have them in bed shortly after the fireworks. Having the 4th on a Friday gave us a bit more freedom than normal - neither Dave or I had to work the day after - and we didn't know what to totally do with it. We knew we wanted to head north to my Mom's for the weekend, and I thought spending the morning of the 4th watching the parade at Brooke's mom's would fit into the plan perfectly -it is on the way north and then we could spend Thursday night getting situated.

Then we remembered that we have 2 dogs. Yes - how did we forget? Like I said, or normal plan does not dictate the entire weekend, so I was not thinking properly. The dogs normally travel north in the back of Dave's pickup. And, before you call animal control on me, there is a topper on it so they are perfectly save. Well, our dog Shiloh has recently turned into a Houdini and had found out how to escape from the back of the truck when the windows are open while it is parked (not while Dave is driving it). Somehow she wedges her porky body (not little mind you - 70 lbs of fluffy Australian Shepherd) out of the side window. Parking a mile from the parade and leaving them for over an hour was obviously not an option for us with little Miss Escape artists involved Shiloh has also had some, shall we say "socialization issues" in the past, so bringing her to the parade was not an option either. I was still undecided on how we could do both things I wanted to, and was at the point of having 2 vehicles travel north at different times, when Dave got a 1/2 day off on Thursday. That sealed the deal (for him, anyways) and we headed north on Thursday night. We did get to see a parade (though not the same as what we are used to..) and the kids still got the candy that they "needed" and were excited to watch the parade with their cousins and Gouma and Bumpa. We watched the fireworks both Friday and Saturday night off the pontoon and/or dock and had plenty of campfires to sit around and gab.

Here are our holiday pics - first off is Bree in her new top with Rowie, Ollie and Chloe. Cute on her, huh?

This picture is the only proof of our failed tubing mission. Rowan got a bit of a scare when she went under, so she was not willing to try that again this weekend. We'll get her up again soon!

Griff and Dad at the parade.

My cute boy, looking both smiley and sleepy. I made the kids all "treat bags" for the parade out of the same fabric as G's shorts.

This is before we left. We opted to remove the bandannas because the boys looked a bit too much like Willie Nelson and Tupac Shakur. You guess which is which.

Griff waiting for fireworks on the pontoon...

Elizabeth (neighbor at the lake), Rowan and Chloe getting ready for the pontoon cruise to watch the fireworks.

sewing links....

Besides the numerous links I've posted on the left sidebar of blogs I love to visit and peruse, I a constantly checking their links to find other and new places to visit. I found this one today and it is too cute not to mention...Ice Cream Social Frock Giveaway!!!! Found this cute site that has all sorts of sewing giveaways and sewing advice/patterns. This dress is TO DIE FOR. Too cute.

twilight series

OK - so I'm sure most crafty/family type bloggers will blog about their 4th of July celebrations this week. Since I spent most of mine indoors with 3 books, I can't help but blog about them. I felt after all the energy I spent on placemats and napkins (yes - in the mail and for much less than $200), I deserved a reading holiday. So, first a few disclaimers. The books I read have been out for awhile and apparently have a large following. Huge following - and the first movie is already in production. Admittedly, the following I'm referring to is more the "young adult" crowd, but I'm counting myself in that category as well. I did not see an age range for the categorization of "young adult".

What am I talking/babbling about, you are probably wondering -or have you become immune to my babbling? I read 3 of the 4 books in Stephenie Meyer's Twilight saga this weekend. Twilight, New Moon and Eclipse. LOVED LOVED LOVED them. Couldn't put them down, honestly. I read them back to back to back. I'm not sure what my kids and hubby did this holiday - I was a terrible mum and became totally absorbed in Bella and Edwards unorthodox romance. Love me a good romance. Especially when there are vampires and werewolves involved. (I did not totally ignore the chitlins - and will post pics of the later, promise).

Now I have to wait 26, no, 25 more days for the 4th and final book to come out. I'm bummed that I did not know about these books earlier, but also excited that I only have to wait 25 days for the conclusion. Now, I've become a bit obsessed with this series - I have googled every aspect of them. I know the inspiration behind the books, all sorts of details about the author and I've even read the outtakes and deleted chapters. I know what actors are starring in the movie (Helllllllllloooooooooo Cedric Diggory from HP4 - gorgeous) and I have seen the trailers. I may have even bought a t-shirt aligning myself with one of the main characters. Shhhh... don't tell my husband. He does not need to know that I'm acting a bit like a "young adult" in regards to the Twilight series.

Regardless of my personal obsession - I highly recommend the books to all and am looking for peeps to read them and accompany me to the movie. 12/12/08 baby. Can't wait!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Swap stuff done and ALMOST in the mail

You know the saying "check is in the mail"? I wish I could say that the napkins and place mats are in the mail. The napkins and place mat swap I joined requires our projects be in the mail by Monday. We are going out of town until then starting tomorrow, so I have been hustling to get them done and shipped. (I know, what is the rush? I only had a month and now I'm rushing.) So.. you may ask why are they currently sitting in a shipping box in my car -silently taunting me with my apparent inability to get them on their merry way to Australia. Note - I can't imagine my partner is scoping out all the BTRS swap participants sites, so I doubt I'm ruining a surprise by saying where she is from, but just in case, I won't tell you much more.

I spent a rather frazzled past 2 nights finishing them up - and made some major rule bending to accommodate a tension issue, as well as my personal preferences as a mother of two children. The personal preference included increasing the center square of fun fabric to a larger size. I'm sure that if my kids used fabric place mats, (and if I didn't usually take them off of the table when they ate) there would be some serious staining going on. Since my partners info indicates her kids are a bit older, I'm sure they are not as messy as mine, but kids are still prone to spills, so I made it the biggest part of the place mat to hide them. The tension issue (that I may have to bring to the Viking personnel people at the sewing center) ruined my top stitching attempts. Unfortunately, it took me 3 partial attempts to determine that it just wasn't correcting itself. Hello seam ripper. OK... no top stitching - I can handle that. A bit of hand sewing and we are good, right? Right? Honestly, it was hard to be done with these. I kept wanting to re-do parts. I chose this fabric since my swap partners short bio indicated that they raise ducks, chooks (Australian chickens - thank you Google) and have kittens (OK, if by random chance she is reading this, she may know who she is now). Thought that the ducks and kittens were appropriate and cute. She asked for kid friendly -and I was trying to do it without being "anti-adult". I'm still a fairly new sewer, and I am nervous that my partner is getting the short end of the stick a bit, BUT, I'm happy with the fabric and colors and think that they will look nice on a dressed table.

So, around midnight or so last night, I got it all together - wrote a quick note and packaged it up. I worked today and knew I could ship it from the office. WRONG. Turns out we only mail envelopes internationally, not packages. Hmmm... I did debate opening the box and putting the swap stuff in a large envelope, but I feel that they are better protected in their cardboard box. So, second attempt involved running to the post office after dinner tonight. My aunt had told me that there was a fancy machine that was available 24 hours to ship packages from. Since it is hard to get to the post office during business hours on the days I'm in the office, I thought this would be perfect. So, drove a few miles from home and started pushing all the appropriate buttons on the machine- got about 6 or 7 screens in and was asked for a zip code. When I selected the tiny little "No zip - it is International" button, I got an error message telling me to bring it to the person at the desk. Hello - it is 8 pm. There is no person at the desk. Strike 2. The third attempt was a stop in to Kinko/FedEX on my way home from the post office. A very friendly woman kindly suggested I not use their service when I told her the package she had already wrapped in their FedEX box needed to go overseas. She told me that I should use the normal post office because she was too expensive. By now - I was ready to chip out some bucks to get the package on its way, so I said "It is OK if it is a little spendy". She said "It is like $200 spendy". Wow. Well, my jaw dropped, I thanked her kindly, grabbed my package and drove home.

3 strikes, I think I'm done for today. I'm baffled by how complicated this has become - and now realize why the swap questionnaire asked if I was willing to ship overseas. Naive me did not know that this was more difficult that I thought! Not that I wouldn't partner internationally again, cause I would, but now I'll know the correct method to get swapped item out the door! How odd that the one thought I keep thinking after the FedEX visit is "How did my UGG's get here with free shipping"??" Crazy.

I'll borrow a line from Scarlet and say "Fiddle dee dee. Tomorrow is another day" . I hope to, no, I will report that the package is on its way down under by this time tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Rowie's Mama Quiz

Found these questions on this site. Thought that it was cute, so I asked them of Miss Rowan (5 YO) to see what she thought of her mama. She is a cute, smarty pants, that is for certain! Her answers are in bold.

The color of my mother's hair is brownish blonde-ish, brownish grayish (then she proceeded to show me where there were gray hairs next to my ears)
My mother is 45 years old. (nice, huh? I'm 33)
My mother's shoe size is 3. (width?)
My mother likes to sew
My mother is happy when I help and be very good
My mother is sad when I be naughty and mean
The funniest thing I ever saw my mother do was "hmmm, that is a hard one, Mom, do you know anything that you did funny?" (not a good sign, huh?)
The funniest thing I ever did with my mother was go down the waterslide at my birthday with her
I like when my mother helps me when I say can someone please help me
I like to help and be nice for my mother.
My mother's favorite food is Salad and everything
My mother does not like to eat gross and moldy stuff (??)
If I could give my mother anything I'd give her a thousand dollars.
My mother works at Allianz
The first thing my mother does when she wakes up is "well, I think she goes downstairs and gets on the computer" (Bad mom, bad, bad)
I love when my mother gives me hugs and kisses
I love my mother because she made me inside of her tummy
The color my mom likes best is brown (she is right! Good girl)