Monday, July 30, 2012

Small Town Gems

Are you one of those people who will drive far and wide in search of a new (to you) quilt shop or fabric boutique?  I am. It's always an adventure. Sometimes it doesn't work out and that dang online map sends me to somebody's front porch instead of a real live store, but every so often my explorations lead me to a little gem that reminds me how much I LOVE this thing called sewing.  Today was one of those adventurous days and I discovered one porch (don't worry, I didn't stop) and one gem.

Of course, you know me, I had to swing by here to tell you about the gem!

It was a yarn and fabric place on a small town main street.  I chimed through the door and was greeted by a spunky older lady with a dated knit dress and beauty parlor hair.  "Do you do needlework?" she asked, and I felt kind of bad as I told her I *only sew* because clearly it was more of a yarn shop than a fabric store.  "Well that's alright" she said.  "I've been sewing since I was knee-high to a...." and off she went, telling me about her life as a seamstress and about raising her four girls (born within six years) while her husband served in the Airforce.  She told how every week, on Thursday, she and her daughters made dresses for their dolls -- unless they interrupted her while she was sewing for customers.  If they interrupted her, they didn't get to make doll clothes that week.  "It didn't take them long to learn...."  She told of doing her sewing out of a room of her house.  "We always rented because we were in the service.  I used one of the rooms for my sewing and I shared my bedroom with a crib for years and years."  She told about moving into this little town and then having her husband sent off to Vietnam.  "I didn't think that was very nice at all!"  Finally, she told of opening up her shop and alterations business downtown.  "We live right up North Main now." she said.  "It only takes me seven minutes to walk here."

Her fabrics were all on sale because she is no longer going to carry fabric.  I couldn't leave without buying something and chose a deliciously soft knit fleece to make sweats for the baby this fall.  When she finished cashing me out, I didn't want to go.  I wanted to stay and talk with her all afternoon.  I wanted to set up my machine right next to her's and learn about sewing and shopkeeping and

What a beautiful lady.

She was the gem.

That's the thing about pursuing a hobby you love...when you find someone with the same love, it's like finding a kindred spirit.  What a gift.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

needle and thREAD

needle and thREAD

I just have time for a quick post today as the kiddos and I wait for my brother and his family to arrive from out of state.  They're traveling through storms here in the midwest today!  (Hopefully there aren't too many typos, but I make no promises.)

Anyway, as you saw yesterday's Rainy Day Twirly Skirts post, this week's sewing was matching skirts for my two and four year old -- just for fun.

ZouZou (the little one), got her first hair cut in it :o).

As far as reading goes, I found myself picking through my copy of Style, Sex, and Substance again.  Chapter 4 was a good re-read for this week (it is NFP awareness week, after all).  I have been pleasantly surprised by this book and would recommend it.  I actually lent it to my mom and she is in her late sixties -- she said that even though she had to pass by some of the content geared towards younger moms, she really enjoyed it was impressed by the insight of some of the writers.

Anyway, happy needle and thREAD to you all and have a happy weekend!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Rainy Day Twirly Skirt

It's best to pull out the happy fabrics on the rainy days, don't you think?

Decided to make good use of the fabrics given to me by making a couple of skirts for my girlies.  My Roo (pictured above) was twirling in her Sunday dress the other day and I thought it would make just the right pattern for a skirt  The dress fit loosely and I knew a skirt the same size would gather at the waist, though you will see, I cut it down a smidge to create more gather.

I pinned the side seems of the dress together to keep them aligned and cut on the fold because the center front of the dress was on the straight of grain (and I could tell easily because of the pattern on the dress).

I cut the hem portion of the skirt and half of the waist portion of the skirt, then I took off the dress and folded the skirt in half in order to get a straight line on the side seam and to make sure the length on the side matched the length on the front.  Isn't my kitchen floor gorgeous :o)?

Because I knew the skirt was plenty long enough, I trimmed off about 3/8" at the waist to give more gathering room.

After the front piece was cut, I just slid it down and cut a second piece for the back.

It seemed too labor intensive to pull out my serger, so I did french seams on the sides.  For the waistband,  I used some bias tape I had on hand (similar to this skirt, only I didn't overlap the ends because last time it made it difficult to pull the elastic through) and put in the leftover elastic from these pants.

I seem to have forgotten to take pictures of a thing or two:

1) Waistband - To make up for not having "no roll" elastic, I ran a couple of rows of stitching over the elastic after it was in the skirt.  I've never done that before, but it looks good -- like store bought stuff.  I can't be sure, but it seemed to stretch the elastic a bit making the skirt looser than I had originally intended.

2) Hem - To save myself from burning my fingers on the iron while prepping for a narrow hem, I trimmed the skirt in lace, then turned and top stitched it with a zigzag to keep away any fraying.

I offered Roo another row of lace and she declined because it was already just the way she wanted it!  (She also put on a size 18-24 month shirt for her photo shoot.  She's almost 5.)  

A++ rating for twirlability! 

And the grand finale:

Friday, July 20, 2012

Baby Toy - Take Two

Told ya I was plotting more baby toy sewing.  I think baby toys might become my go-to sewing therapy from now on.  I love that everything goes when it comes to toy creation.

This rattle turned out to be more labor intensive than I anticipated because I had to do some major hand sewing.  Little spaces and fiberfill are not my machine's best friends.

Believe it or not, it's a rattle!  My little girlies used up a container of sprinkles yesterday.

I filled the mini-container back up with beans and stuffed it in with the fiberfill.  It was the perfect size.

After several attempts to photograph this rattle with it's six-month-old recipient, I surrendered to the baby code that rattles are to be thrown immediately.  Sorry friends.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Baby Crinkle Tag Toy

There is a serious lack of fun stuff for my six-month-old to play with and I'm determined to remedy the problem starting with this here crinkly tag toy!  You know, the kind that makes a crunching noise when you touch it.  Instead of making one plain old square like most tag toys, I made three squares and attached them together.  As a friend used to say -- nothing succeeds like excess.  Besides, I find that the bigger the toy, the more likely it is to stay in the clutches of the young'uns before falling onto the floor.

Not sure why these next couple of photos are blurry.  Sorry!

Basically I cut out six squares of cotton and three squares of crinkle stuff (a wet wipes package because it's what I had on hand, but I hear that the plastic you wrap around presents works well), and 24 tags of ribbon, Ric Rac, and lace.

Other websites I found suggested making the squares and then stuffing the plastic in them, but I wanted the plastic to be anchored somehow and decided to attach the plastic on one leg of the square.

One side:

The other side:

Kinda cool, huh?  Finding boy appropriate primary prints in my stash-o-girly-stuff was a challenge.  Thankfully the final product got rave customer reviews.

Quite a rewarding naptime sewing endeavor, if I do say so myself.  

I'm thinking future shower gifts might benefit from these.  There's nothing I love more than a project that doesn't require a trip to the store.

Already plotting more toy making adventures...

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Sort of Sewing? (AKA: Humor me, I need to talk sewing! and fabric! and making stuff!)

Oh gosh, I haven't been doing any bloggable sewing in the last few weeks unless you count the pair of pajama pants I cut off to make these stunning short shorts.

It is hot, as you well know.   Hot enough to butcher old pajama pants in the name of nighttime comfort and too hot to go moving sewing machines out of overstuffed cabinets onto kitchen tables.  At least that's my story and I'm sticking to it as I sit in my air conditioned house in my hot pink fleece bathrobe.  I need a good reason, after all, for not hemming these pretty babies as they are oh-so-stylish and all.  (My poor, poor husband.)

It's just that I have such an itch to blog about sewing.  Can you humor me by letting me show you the sewing-related things I received from my dearest older sister?  Yes?  Oh thanks ya'll!

I love it when people clean out their closets and think of me.  I do!  Here are a few of the items I've been bequeathed:

Linens, curtains, fabric by-the-yard.  Isn't it a pile of inspiration?!   If I weren't too hot to make something of something, or myself, I'd be all over these in a jiffy. *wink* Obviously the needlework doesn't need anything but a place to display it but perhaps...well iron, but the other things are screaming to be whipped up into fabulousness.

I confess I am willfully going to ignore their cries for attention for another reason (not that I need another reason than my immobility in the face of this summer's heat *wink, wink*).  You see, I'm also undertaking a venture of sorts that involves a bit of sewing and a bit of marketing and a bit of me stepping out of my comfort zone.  It's what you think, but not what you think :o).  Anyway, here's a sneak peak-ish picture of secretive possibly later-to-be-unveiled stuff.

And last but not least, I do apologize that I have not been reading this past week (or two weeks!  where does time go?), so my qualifications for participation in the delightful needle and thREAD are shaky at best.  Oh, but I can't help myself...
needle and thREAD

(Head on over to the lovely Elizabeth's blog for more -- there is real sewing and reading going on that you won't want to miss, I'm sure!) 

 If it counts, I have been reading away through my favorite blogs quite a bit and thinking about motherhood and finding space for personal/private/"help"-free creativity within the greater scheme of life with little people.  I have a suspicion that there is a right way and a wrong way to go about making time and I think I am mostly going about it the wrong way.  I need to contemplate a bit more on the matter!