Thursday, August 27, 2009

The search for beauty

I like pretty things. That is a given. However, I usually go for comfort over fashion. Even though I love so many of the fabrics that I see and buy lots of them, I can not quite spend the money for some of the well-known names. I am content and pleased with JoAnn's and Hobby Lobby just as I am content to buy clothes from Target and Old Navy. And this is why I was so shocked today.

I had a sewing circle at my house last night. It was our third, but the first one for me to host and help the others make a project that I had made before. We had decided to make either the crayon roll or the drawing notebook inspired by Skip to my Lou. The biggest problem with this is that I have made many of the notebooks, but only two of them were the same and that is because I made them at the exact same time. I always try to improve them either changing the size or the amount of interfacing. Don't get me wrong. I love them and I think that they are great gifts, but I have never been 100% happy with them. This is mostly because of the deforming of the front due to the pull from the crayon/pencil pocket on the inside. Even after all my changes, I still had not found perfection, but thought the pattern was well worth sharing anyway.

The girls came over and made two beautiful notebooks. I did not sew because 1. I had no one to sew for and 2. it is hard to concentrate on sewing while also helping others to sew. I am not a multitasker. I didn't even remember to take the pictures of everyone hard at work even though the camera was sitting out for that very purpose. Pictures or not, everyone got done, early even, and I got new ideas on how to improve the pattern. That is what I love about the circle. That and you get to be a sewing geek with other geeks. Yay!

Well, then I woke up today going, "duh!" I was just chilling out last night watching everyone sew thinking I had nothing to do while in fact, I know two little boys who are going to the beach with us and would love a drawing notebook. So, I set out finishing my demo project from last night and getting a second one made. And that is where I ran into trouble.

I have not had to go to the store for supplies in a while. It has been great finding things that I want to make and just grabbing for the prettiest or best suited fabric and thread. Today I tried, but failed. It made me so sad. I had made Gabriel's with the left over firetruck material from Eli's, but didn't have enough for a second one.

When I started to make Jack's the plain blue canvas was just too depressing.

Making Gabe's notebook seemed to be an ordeal with the machine getting stuck on corners and other little annoyances. I thought that I just didn't want to sew.

Then I went and got fabric that I liked. I made the changes from last night.

It made all the difference.
At the beginning of the day I was so worried that Gabriel's present would be better than Jack's. I hated to do that to a 4 year old. Now, even though Jack won't know it, he is getting the PERFECT notebook.

And I found that beauty does matter. Making things that will be worn or used is great. Making those things well (straight seams, symmetrical, etc.) is what we strive for. Making those same things pretty is just satisfying.

Modifications to the DIY Pencil and Drawing Pad Holder:

To make the notebook smaller, I use a length of 10 1/2 in. This allows for 8-10 crayons or pencils.

When using crayons the width need only be 14 1/2 in.

The crayon pocket needs to be 7 in. wide.

The crayon/pencil pocket needs to be 11 3/4 in long. When attaching the pocket to the inner lining you need to draw lines on the inner lining AND the pocket. The inner lining spacing is like the original: 1 1/4 in. on ends and 1 in. for the rest. The lines on the pocket should be 1 3/4 in. on the ends and 1 1/8 in. for the rest. When sewing the pocket on, start in the middle and match the line on the pocket with the line on the lining. Just bunch it up, there is not enough material for a pleat.

When sewing the pocket to the lining, start about 1/4 in. from the top edge. This leaves a free bit of fabric so that you have something to hang onto when trying to replace your writing utensils.

And that is my perfect DIY Pencil and Drawing Pad Holder.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Me, me, me

I would have started this post with My First..., but I thought I have had too many of those. So, here are my first pair of shorts. They are super comfy.

I was sort of tired of making skirts that just hang in the closet. I finally admitted to myself that I wear shorts, lots and lots of shorts. So, I made these shorts using Simplicity pattern 7229. Yes, looking at the link now is sort of sad since it says 1 hour on the front. I was so ready to rave about how quick these drawstring shorts sew up, but that seems a little useless now since it really did take longer than 1 hr. Still, I made a second pair today without a babysitter and with a screaming baby. It took all day, but I think the baby screaming should count for many, many hours since it always feels that way!

I used a smaller size and some new fabric for the second pair. The size is probably a bit better for me. However, if I decide to add pockets on my third go around, I will use the bigger size to allow for room in the leg to actually USE the pocket. I found the fabric at Hobby Lobby or JoAnn's. I don't remember now. I have been dying to make something with it, but am not quite sure that the shorts were the best bet. I love them, but will everyone else? We'll find out soon when I wear them at the beach.

Just a note of greatness: due to sheer luck the pattern on the front of the second pair matched up perfectly at the seam. I love luck!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Sophia's Rummage Sale

I am the first to say that TV is bad. However, I love it and so, unfortunately, does Sophia. I also LOVE my DVR. Seriously, out of everything that was invented or made popular while we were in Germany, the DVR was the absolute best. I mean, I can fast forward through commercials, I can pause it when asked a question. Man, I love it. It also allows me to record shows for Sophia so that most of the time she only gets exposed to things that I approve of. Somehow she still knows who Sponge Bob is and still likes him, but I have no idea how. Weird.

One of the shows that I let Sophia watch is Max and Ruby. Like all kid shows thse two bunnies take some getting used to. Really, where are the parents of these kids and can I really expect Sophia at age 7 to fully take over watching Amelia? I can hope.
Well, Ruby is teaching Sophia about money: How to spend it AND how to earn it. A couple of months back Sophia wanted a toy. She wants a toy every day so that was nothing new. But when I gave her the party line of "Maybe for your birthday" or "Tell your grandparents" she said, "I can have a rummage sale." Huh? Yes, Ruby had a rummage sale to make money and now, Sophia wanted to, too.
I fought this idea for quite a while. I had two fears: 1. She would sell everything and 2. That she would want to have a rummage sale every time she saw anything that she wanted. But I finally gave in and found out that I should not have worried about the first thing. As for the second, I tried to make it VERY clear that rummage sales are sort of like birthdays: they only come around once a year. Only time will tell if that sunk in, but, oh my, was it worth it!
Sophia and I started getting ready for the rummage sale on Monday. It took her DAYS to get enough toys to have a sale. I had to help at the end, but even my suggestions didn't help much. I didn't realize that Anna Lisa would like the stuffed dog and that Eli really likes to play with that McDonald Happy Meal robot. But even after we found all the toys, there was so much more to do. We had to sort them, price them, and draw signs for the toys AND the sale. Here is the finished product.

We invited the kids from the mommies group and since only girls seemed interested, I made them all little princess shopping bags for the occasion.

Yesterday was the big day. I held my breath hoping that she would make enough money to buy that Cinderella doll that she wanted so badly ($3 at Target, so we thought) as well as not yell or cry during the sale. (I was afraid, of course, that she would be upset that the girls were really going to take her toys home, but also that she would tell them how much money they had to spend. She had mentioned this throughout the prep time. She was going to make everyone pay $3 since that was how much the princess was.)

No worries necessary. It went off beautifully. The shoppers were so ready to spend and be happy with their new toys. Sophia was so proud behind the cash register just beaming at me as the quarters kept multiplying. It was great. Not all, in fact not many, big projects that I do for/with Sophia actually end up as planned, so it was just such a relief and joy to see this one happen!

Then came the counting of the money and the buying of the toy. She had to wait until after our playdate to count the money. (You might as well teach them young that it is impolite to count other people's money in front of them). The final count was $6.91 and I gave her another $0.09 to get an even $7. She had to wait until this morning to buy the toy. Oh, but she did so without whining (oh my goodness, miracles happen!!!).

After breakfast this morning it was off to Target we went and she had eyes only for that one doll that was in the cash register line. I had to make her go back to the toy section just to make absolutely sure that she didn't want a different princess. She didn't. It was one of the quickest shopping trips EVER. And now, we're home...

and she and Cinderella are happy.

Just a note: Notice the dress that she picked out to wear today. Oh my, she is determined to make today a good one!

Friday, August 14, 2009

At least she sleeps...

Jet lag has hit our house pretty hard. Or at least that is what I am telling myself while listening to Amelia scream her head off because she doesn't want to take a nap. It was also what I was telling myself at 5 in the morning when I was getting up to feed a nine month old AND give cheerios to a hungry and AWAKE 3.5 year old.

At least Sophia makes it up during her nap time. I don't see how she gets into these positions, but she sleeps and sleeps hard...and pretty: notice the bow in her head.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Repurposing, but with a pattern

Alot of the sewing circle have done the repurposing of a man's button down shirt and Sophia has been begging for a blue dress, so again I took the opportunity to do a twofer. I, however, do not love sewing without a pattern and really hate the Step 1: make a pattern that begins a lot of the repurposing tutorials like the one found at Made. So instead I used the dress to make one of my Simplicity patterns (Simplicity 3859) that I picked up on sale at JoAnn's.
The dress, like a lot of the other stuff that I have made, turned out ok.
Yes, just ok. I am proud of myself regarding one thing that actually didn't work out that well, but I tried and that counts for a lot in my sewing world!! For the first time, I actually checked the final measurements on the back of the package BEFORE I started. Amazing, right? Unfortunately, I am unclear about whether the measurements are with or without the ease. After it is made, I am thinking...with the ease. Regardless, the end measurement was suppose to be 22 1/2 in around the chest and my little bitty 3 year old is just 19 in around, so I....made the pattern pieces TWO inches smaller. And now, it looks...................a bit small. I have decided that sizing is the hardest part of this hobby!!
With armholes following somewhere close behind.

I added some iron on butterflies to make the dress even better.

And how did Sophia like it, you ask. Sigh.

I almost hate to admit this, again, but the girl doesn't approve. She did model it for the pics which is more than I can say for the cape. Unfortunately, she took it right off after the pictures. That means another failure, at least as far as the critic goes.

I offered to change up the buttons on the back to make it even more special, but she said, "no thanks." She is a tough critic, but, at the very least, a polite one.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Confessions of a lazy day...

Yes, this is sitting in my floor. Yes, there is another one right beside of it and a load in the washer AND the dryer.

Yes, my kid does need a diaper change (pew wee) and is playing with both a pen and a tube of benadryl cream.

Yes, the other child has been like this all morning.

This has been a lazy day.

In my defense: we just got back from Germany and are all a bit jet lagged. We are going to bed early (at least the kids), getting up early, being a bit cranky and needy. Yesterday, I think we held Amelia about 85% of the day. So, who could blame me taking advantage of the times when she is happy to sit on the floor and play with things that normally she couldn't?

So, I took advantage. I made this cute little bag using the tutorial found here. In the process, I learned how to use my zipper foot. I have used it before, even successfully a couple of times. But this time I really understood where the zipper should be positioned and where the seam should be. Yeah for simple projects that give you the time to understand what you are doing.

I also got to take a few pictures today of the cape I made last night at our second sewing circle. We used the tutorial found here.

In true Sophia fashion, she informed me BEFORE I went out that she did not want a cape. I, as always, thought that 1. I wanted to make it anyway and 2. that after she saw what an awesome job I did that she would BEG me to wear it.

Well, at least I was right on one account. It was great to make. I love the material I got for the princess side even if it was $7 a yard ON SALE!! We switched around how we cut the material compared to the tutorial so that we saved a lot and I could make another cape using what I bought. If one thinks of it that way, one could convence oneself that one only spent half the money...sort of.

Now back to reality. The lazy day is now over. Amelia is screaming bloody murder after a nap that was less than one hour. I have a feeling my arms will be getting a workout this afternoon.

It was fun while it lasted.