I’m finally back at the sewing machine! I’m now sixteen weeks pregnant and feeling much better. Just this last week I’ve been branching out beyond the necessary household duties to also do some fulfilling creative stuff too. I made the first project from a book I’ve been enjoying browsing through, Girl’s World. This dress is called Mary’s Favorite Sash Dress. It’s a pretty simple pattern with no zippers or closures at all. That makes it a bit wide in the shoulders for my narrow-shouldered girl, but it’s still a cute look. I tied the sash in the front, but she informs me that she intends to wear it with the bow in the back. Whatever… (grin)
I used this Bella Blossom Aqua/Orange quilting fabric from Fabric.com. It’s a thick weight for apparel sewing, but I think it works well for a dress like this that wants to have a little fullness and substance. One of my favorite things about this pattern was the cute way of using bias tape to finish off the bodice. I used a contrasting orange and it’s sweet. I finished off the skirt hem the same way, but with wider tape. I was going to use more of the contrast for the sash but ran out of fabric. Oops. I’ll definitely be making more patterns from this book. The sizing seemed to be right on and the instructions were clear. I especially like that the sizes go all the way up through bigger girls. If this new babe is a girl I’ll be able to get several years of “matching” big girl/little girl patterns from this book. We find out May 28!
We’ve been on the move again. My awesome parents flew the whole family with them to Florida for some fun times at the beach. The last time we’d all been to the beach together was to celebrate my Mom’s retirement in 2010. I made Dorothy and her cousins matching dresses to wear on that trip, pictured below. They were so cute running around in their little coordinating beach gear that I knew I had to do the same thing for this trip, plus some shorts for Worth. I bought this fabric and used McCalls MP339 as a basis for the dresses and just improvised Worth’s little shorts. The pattern was simple and adorable and the sizing was right on except for the straps, which had to be shortened considerably from what the pattern called for. I added the ruffles to the top and bottom. The kids collected smiles and coos everywhere we went, and they liked their matching outfits so much they wore them for two days straight.
This was the 2010 picture, with sweet little Maggie just 3 months old and Worth only a dear hope!
I’ve been going through some photographs from the last couple months and I found these two that I’d taken this spring but not yet blogged about. This one above is a picture of our “toothpick lunch.” Dorothy and Worth are not the pickiest eaters I’ve encountered, but they aren’t exactly omnivorous when it comes to food either. One of the strategies I find very useful for feeding them at lunchtime when I know we may not have their favorite foods on hand is to declare that we will have a “surprise lunch,” and that they must play away from the kitchen while I fix it. For some reason the pleasure of having the table set with food laid out on their plates (like a restaurant!) is so compelling to them that they may eat food they would otherwise not have selected. One day I really couldn’t come up with much that looked like lunch in a just-bef0re-grocery-time refrigerator and pantry. I had some cheese sticks the kids rejected because they weren’t the right color (the horror of yellow cheese when one prefers white!), some crackers they didn’t like, some fruit. For some reason the line from the original Fancy Nancy book, about sandwiches tasting better with frilly toothpicks popped into my head. I sliced some fruit, cut up the despised crackers and smeared them with a little hummus, cubed the rejected cheese sticks, located a few other bite-sized goodies and arranged them on a breakable platter I wouldn’t ordinarily use for the kids, then I got down our cocktail toothpicks and set out an assortment of colors. The kids totally bought the “toothpick lunch” idea. They loved the colored toothpick frills, they giggled, and they ate every single thing on the platter. The color of the cheese or the substance of the cracker was never even mentioned. I’m absolutely going to use this idea again.
Finally, Dorothy has been into puppet shows lately. We have a small store-bought puppet theater but the game would be just as fun with a cut-out cardboard box. I’ve printed some scripts for her from a website I use as a resource to our homeschooling. She’s had a blast coloring simple paper doll forms into the characters for each script, gluing them to popsicle sticks, and then putting on performances. She can spend a long time doing this on her own, and I’ve also divvied up characters with her and participated in her performances. I love that she always dresses her narrator characters in black–how did she know? In this photo she’s holding Red Riding Hood and the Wolf.
So I think my seasonal allergies are officially killing me, and perhaps my blog as well. I’m so groggy but can’t sleep well, and I can’t stay up late for my solo creative time either since I’m so tired–all of which means that I’m just not getting quite as much done as I used to, and I feel all red-nosed and nasty. I’ll quit complaining now, but I’d like it noted that it is not cute or vintage or handmade or (since this comes up so often on my blog) sexy to have a stuffy nose for three weeks straight. Not one bit. Bleah.
Moving on, I’ve actually managed to get a lot done in the past few weeks anyway even if some of it may never make it into my little record here. This is my sweet family at Easter brunch, one of us popping decongestant pills as needed.
Dorothy’s dress was a joint venture by me and my mother. Mom sewed a simple tank dress out of white eyelet and I crocheted colorful little flowers to decorate it. I used cotton embroidery thread so the scale of the flowers would match the eyelet fabric, then made a very large one in worsted weight yarn for her hat. She looked sweet and pretty and it was fun to do a project with my mom for my daughter. Now the white dress has chocolate stains all over it, so I’m trying to devise a creative laundry solution!
I sewed my own dress from McCall’s M6027. I fell in love with this fabric at Joann’s a couple months back and finally got around to stitching it up a couple days before Easter. I think it is a Lisette poplin. The pattern worked up very easily on the serger–no messing with clipping around the bust or fussing with how all the skirt godets line up. The serger magically makes it all smooth. The problem with this pattern didn’t arise until I tried the thing on and realized the shoulder straps are set too far apart for my frame. I re-serged here and there, clipped, stitched and tucked and finally got the bodice so tight and the straps so ridiculously high that I couldn’t put my arms down when the back was zipped up. Right at the point I was read to throw it in the trash I took the scissors and cut big chunks out of the fabric under the armpits and that was when things finally started to improve. I sewed it back together and it fit acceptably well. The straps are still not in quite the right place for my shoulders and something around the arms looks a bit uneven, but if I keep the cardigan on no one will notice! The fabric is so pretty it is worth it. I altered the pattern a bit and re-sewed the dress out of a thrift store sheet to see if I could get the straps right on a second go-round. I love the theory of the pattern with the swishy skirt and the quick serger seams. I want to sew it out of this fabric and have it be a “cocktail” dress, in a breezy casual summer cotton. It went better the second time but then bagged a bit in the front. If I get my courage up I’ll order the fabric and do it one more time, with hope for a perfect fit.
My last Easter project was a gift to my church. Our pastoral staff organized an Easter vigil this year, a unique and special service that involved traveling around all the grounds of the church and involving various lay and clergy readers. They needed two three-ring binders in which to stash the materials for the readers and someone thought of me because I sometimes do book-binding. It’s much more satisfying to make books with more attractive bindings–traditional stitching or screw posts–but the three-ring kind was serviceable here so that’s what I did. It was fun to get back into a craft I haven’t spent much time on lately. I hadn’t even purchased book board in Dorothy’s life, but I was encouraged to find that I could buy it locally. I decorated the binders with illustrations drawn for the service by another church member, which I then embossed with powder and heat. I think this project will inspire me to do some more books in the upcoming months. I made a baby book for Dorothy but haven’t done the same for Worth so that seems like a good place to start.
Did you know I’m Cupid’s mother? If any of my readers need some help with the love this February 14 you just let me know and I’ll let my son get in some target practice. (Wink.) A friend gifted me some cast-off fabric last year, including some very sturdy red cotton with black designs and hearts all over it. I decided to use it to make Dorothy a dress for Valentine’s Day. I used Simplicity 5704, a new pattern for me, and it turned out great. Her usual size fit her perfectly and the sturdiness of the fabric gives good fullness to the skirt and the sleeves. If I make this pattern for her again I might lengthen it a bit, as she likes longer skirts and this one hits just below the knee, but that’s the only change I’d make. It’s a good pattern and made a sweet dress that I suspect will get worn all summer.
I’ve also been dressing my home up a bit for Valentine’s Day. I used scraps from past February projects and some pink and white shirting from my stash to make cute place mats and a short table runner. Each mat is different. I sewed pockets to the front of each one for the flatware because I thought Dorothy (who sets the table) would think that was cute. I found the melamine conversation heart plates unexpectedly at Kroger for just $.99 each. The woman at the checkout who rang them up got so excited about them she decided to go purchase a set for herself when her shift ended! They are pretty cute, and were available with six different phrases. Now we’ll enjoy ten more days of very pink and loving dinners!