Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Today, we decorated the cookies that we baked this weekend. Most were smiley faced pumpkins, but Bit insisted that we needed some vampire pumpkins and some monster pumpkins, too! Bit insisted on licking the mixer paddle that we used to make the icing with.

After that, we got silly!

And, of course, we had to give Boo a cookie without the icing and the candy on it, and she om nom nommed it and covered herself and Gamma with wet cookie!

Every cookie was, of course, different, but here's one of Bit's Monster Pumpkin cookies.  Only six eyes on this one, and teeth going in every direction!

And here's one of our standard ones.  We bake these every year for Halloween.  At least, we started doing it again when we got the kiddos. The icing is really a vanilla glaze that dries hard, thus sticking the candy on very well.  It's just so fun to let the little ones decorate them!  Though I do have to admit, more candy ended up in Bit's tummy than on the cookies!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Halloween madness

Dee and Jay
I'd intended on finishing the wearable muslin for Boo's winter coat today, but circumstances prevented it--Bit did a fantastic (and no, I'm not being sarcastic) job of splitting the seam in her leggings today at a Halloween party, so guess who got to fix it?  Sewing time was in short supply today, anyway, because of Trunk or Treat at church.  A lot of churches in the area are doing it tomorrow, but, well, a party like that doesn't seem right for Sunday, so we did it tonight... with the other two congregations that meet in our building.  It was fun, but a total madhouse! 

The pic is my adopted niece and nephew.  See, we unofficially adopted their mom and vice versa after my dad died.  Lee is the sweetest person alive and we needed each other right then.  Isn't Dee the cutest tiger you've ever seen?  And, well, Jay is really into ninjas right now.  :D

Bit managed to rip three inches of seam out today, so my SIL brought it to me for repair.  The actual fixing didn't take long, but threading the serger did!  I swear, I love that machine, but I hate spending an hour rethreading it every time I have to change thread.  Knotting works well... unless you're switching to wooly nylon.  Bit and Boo were adorable, too.

Boo playing with Uncle Geoffrey's hair.
Bit on Uncle Geoffrey's lap

They wore their pumpkins to story time Tuesday, a Halloween party this morning, and to the church party today.  And Monday is Trick-or-treating, too!  We're going to bake pumpkin-shaped sugar cookies and Bit will help us decorate them Monday.  Sad thing is, we won't get any trick-or-treaters here.  That's the sad part of living on a gravel road with only one other house--they skip our street, so we don't get to see the costumes!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

No more orange!

Simplicity 8429 copyright 1978
The road to this project is a little twisted.  You see, I'm already committed to making Christmas dresses for Bit and Boo for pictures this year, and to give their dresses the necessary fluff, I need petticoats.  So I started looking to price them.  Because, well, if I can buy it cheaper than I can make it, why not?  I all but puked when I discovered that one in 6-9 months is $30!  So I needed patterns.  Enter Simplicity 8429. I was originally looking at the green one.  It has a zipper back, but a few tweaks can change that into a shoulder button.  Most likely, I'll still be making it or something like it as a petticoat later on.

Front of dress
Anyway, pumpkins have currently moved up in Bit's affections.  She's completely in love with them right now.  And while I was mired in her Halloween costume, she asked me for a pumpkin dress.  And lucky for me, I tripped over some inexpensive pumpkin fabric... Or should I say massively discounted designer pumpkin fabric!  (If anyone tells you that it's not possible to use quilting fabric for apparel, they're... misled.  It depends on the fabric, and usually, the 'designer'  fabric is a nice quality cotton with a soft hand and good drape.  The only downside is that it requires ironing!)

close up of fabric and bows
There is one thing--the middle panel on the bottom of the skirt is shorter than the middle panel of the middle of the skirt.  Next time, I'm adding some length to it!  This was also the first sewing project in which I let Bit do any sewing.  And some thread cutting with her kids scissors.  She's been asking me to teach her how to sew for the past six months, and while I'd never allow her to do it by herself at this age, I did let her stand between my legs and guide the fabric.  And thanks to Casey, I managed the easiest and best lapped zipper installation ever.  It's not perfect, but it's the best I've ever done!  (I much prefer buttons!)  It looks better on, but Bit wasn't in the mood for modeling because she wanted to be a pumpkin, not wear them.  But she'll most likely wear it to church Sunday, so I'll get pictures then.  It looks so big!  It's sad, but my baby niece is growing up. 

back of dress
I'm proud of myself for the zipper.  The lap isn't--quite--even, but I managed to install one without spending an hour cussing it out!  The bright orange ribbon on the dress goes all the way around, and the bows help, I think, to give a focal point to hopelessly busy fabric.  It helps that she has bows to match!

Tomorrow, I'm starting on coats.   It's about to get cold again, so they're going to need them.  And I need to make a quick muslin for Boo out of scrap because according to Pattern Review, Butterick 4009 runs to huge!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

About vampire pumpkins

Bit is just a tad obsessed with pumpkins right now.  It's why my current project is a pumpkin dress from a 70s era pattern.  So far, the pumpkin costumes were technically the worst ever just because of the sheer number of patterns involved.  I started with an etsy and ebay search, looking at what was available, and settled on Simplicity 2788 because it was current and I could get it at one of the Joann dollar sales. 

Thing is, I wasn't all that happy with both their fabric choices (velour and fleece in what will most likely be 70 degree weather) and I hated the hat.  So it was back to ebay to look for a better hat, which I found on the one and only vintage pattern in the whole bunch--

Simplicity 8833.  It has a 1988 copyright on the back, so it's not all that old, but it's still vintage 80s.  The rest of the pattern was a pass, but I loved the pumpkin lid hat... and so did my SIL.  Which led to the next steps--what went underneath.

Boo was easy.  We got a copy of Butterick 5588 at yet another dollar sale.
My SIL chose the onesie style, so this was the one to use.  And I wanted footie pants to keep her toesies warm, so I altered the overalls... but I made a mistake.  I cut the rise too low to fold over for a casing, so I had to cut a waistband.  And I added bows on the front of the onesie, waistband of the pants, and at the ankles of the pants just so we could tell which side was front.

Bit, though, well, just so they matched, (because she kept saying that Boo wanted to be a pumpkin just like her) my first thought was to make her a leotard like from Butterick 5545.  But Joanns didn't have it in her size and I was getting desperate!  There was also the fact that I wanted these to be functional clothing afterwards so that I didn't waste money on something that would essentially be worn only once.  I'm, well, thrifty, I suppose you could call it.  Or cheap.  ;) So I searched the pattern sites and found a t-shirt pattern that I already owned-- New Look 6016. 

I suppose that I could have used the leggings from this pattern, too, but I'd already altered Jalie 2920 to be long enough and I already know it's a good fit because I've made it before.  And, of course, I put a little green bow on the front waistband so we knew which side was front.

The last bit was the covered feet, so I went back to my go-to pattern for feet covers--Simplicity 4024. I used it before for Foofa two years ago. I put bows on them, too, so they'd match Boo's. 

I used a lycra/spandex blend that was four-way stretch for the under bits and the stems so it would all match.

Bit and I sat down together and drew out her pumpkin's face.  She wanted a happy pumpkin with big teeth and fangs, so we came up with this--

I changed the pattern smile to look sorta like it and fraychecked the living daylights out of it so I wouldn't have to satin stitch around it.  (It was faster!) And, well, the pumpkins were labor intensive, because the fleece padding was stitched into each piece before they were sewn together, and then the lining was sewn together, and then sewn on.  Boo's was a little worse, because I had to take in two inches.  1/2 does not necessarily mean it will fit at six months!  Bo's hat was made with the original seam allowances cut off to make it smaller, too.  I think the most interesting thing I did, in regards to construction, was to sew crocheted headbands to the hats to keep them on the girls' heads.  I lined some clips to further secure it to Bit's hair because they seem to stay better on mostly bald heads!

I also got to try out a trick I learned from Make it and Love it to use a double needle for the hemming on my regular sewing machine and it works great!  No breakage and the fabric retains its stretch!  The stems were also handsewn to the tops of the hats.  And I have to say, I'm pleased with the results!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Happy dance!

Found them!  How they got in between pieces of the sectional, I'll never know!  I'm making view A of the Butterick pattern.  I'll be adding tiny fabric bows to the top of the pleats and a back pleat.  And to 4834, I think I'll add cuffs because I like the way they look.  So the girls' coats are going to be a little bit of both!

Oh, the drama!

I'm much less organized now that we have Boo in the house than I used to be.  Certain things (like filing away patterns and cleaning) have slipped because rocking the baby is more important to me than being organized.  I mean, she'll only be this age once, and soon she'll be crawling, and then walking, and soon cuddles will be a lot more rare than they are now.

It's getting chilly here.  Which means that, naturally, it's time to make coats for our girls, right?  I pulled out the wool and the lining fabric and started looking for the patterns.  And THEY'RE MISSING!  ARRGGGGGHHH!  Oh, the drama!  The tragedy!  And to make matters worse, THEY'RE VINTAGE!  Well, Bit's is.  Boo's is 2003 and also out of print, so it might as well be.  Which means that tracking down the patterns in right sizes again is hard.  Okay, Bit's is harder because it's late 50s-early 60s.  Bit's is Simplicity 4834, and Boo's is Butterick 4009.

*sigh*  I've checked every place where I can see patterns with no joy.  I moved my desk in case something had fallen behind it.  Nope.  I cleaned out the sewing corner.  Un uh.  Checked all three pattern boxes, the other desk, through piles of papers and piles of fabric (yes, my house is a mess) and under the other desk, because I spotted a pattern there.  Nope.

I found a size three that didn't sell, and emailed the seller to see if she'd sell it to me--just in case.  And I located the more modern Butterick pattern and bought it--also just in case.  I'm moving the TV table next and then the couch.  We'll see if the originals can be located.  I hope.  I think I need to clean the house.....

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Vampire pumpkins are attacking me!

I still need to tweak the shoe covers, but we have two vampire pumpkins in the house! Boo loved chewing on hers, and Bit didn't want to take it off, so I think we have a hit!

This is a record for me--Bit's outfit took five patterns to make because each piece had it's own pattern.  Boo's was only three, but I majorly altered the pants from footed overalls to regular pants.  And this is my first time sewing spandex.  I have to say that I'm glad to see the end of them!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Totally Thrifted

Yesterday afternoon, my sister had a doctor's appointment.  This is only significant because we went to the nearby thrift store to kill some time.  We didn't find the baby jumper we were looking for, but we did find some cute clothes for the girls.  I love thrift stores for that!  Now, they always have to be washed.  And this time around, there were three stains on Bit's new-to-her dress.  But I've learned how to get just about any organic stain out, so it was no big deal.

I love the fact that I can get pretty things that I can't afford otherwise.  This is a 4T, and I might have to take down the hem--I'm not sure yet.    Very nicely machine smocked.  Okay, that's a bit snobby, but I like hand-done things better!

This is what we found for Boo.  It's a large 3-6 months and I think that it might be a bit large on her still.  It should be nice as a casual jacket, and it looked as if it was never worn...

I love thrift stores!

A letter to ebay sellers

Dear ebay sellers,

First of all, you know who you and you and you are...  Old does not necessarily mean rare.  Children grow.  That means that children's patterns are more plentiful than adult patterns.  As in--not rare.  Old does not mean valuable, either.  The most expensive kids' patterns are usually around $16.  Yes, that's right--$16.  Less than the retail price of some modern patterns that I can walk into the nearest craft store and purchase.  And another newsflash--most moderately competent seamstresses, like me, can actually take any pattern that looks vaguely like the ones you're trying to mint money with and reproduce it from the picture alone if she or he is feeling ambitious.  Which I'm not.  I have too much else to do!

Laura of Granny Lane Sewing

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Fabric choices.

This weekend, (read: yesterday... bad idea on Sunday ;) ) I've been working on the vampire pumpkin costumes.  I think I've successfully redrafted the pattern two inches smaller than size 1/2.  And I dug out fleece from donations for the padding (which, BTW it calls for in the instructions, but not on the back of the pattern envelope!) from my donated boxes of fabric.  Yay, free!

After reading the instructions and pattern envelope both, I started thinking of fabric choices.  Unless it's stretch knits, I usually take what's on the pattern envelope as a suggestion.  In this case, I think they're totally insane!

Obviously, whoever thought of it doesn't live in the South.

First of all, they want the jumpsuit in velour.  I decided I wanted something that can be recycled as clothing later, so I went to the pattern stash and pulled my leggings pattern and a leotard pattern.  They'll get more use that way.  I could still do both out of velour, I think--especially if I used stretch velour.  But then I read more.  The pumpkin part is fully lined with an underlining of the aforementioned fleece and also made from velour.  Let's do a count--three layers of velour combined with a layer of fleece.  In Georgia.  Riiight. 

Can we say heatstroke?

Don't get me wrong, I am underlining in fleece.  But the rest of the pumpkin is poly/cotton broadcloth.  And the leggings, shoecovers (which I'll gank from a different pattern) and leotard are all going to be lycra/spandex.  And the hat will be of the same fabrics.I'm putting alligator clips on the hats, and using an orange headband to attach them to.  It's going to look more like a pumpkin lid than the poofy hat from the base pattern.

Sometimes, I think you really have to just ignore the crud out of the pattern envelopes in regards to fabric.  I swear, this costume is meant to keep a child warm in really cold weather! And, well, here in Georgia, it'll most likely be in the 60s and rainy--not really cold at all!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

And it came in the mail....

Bit is convinced that everything good comes in the mail--at least since this past January when we bought some Pooh toys for her over the internet.  Since then, when she wants something it's-- "You buy it and it comes in the mail." 

Well, I bought them at about 50% retail, and they came in the mail.

Matching shoes for Bit and Boo for the annual Christmas pictures.  Now to just get off my duff and make the dresses.....

Monday, October 3, 2011

christmas pictures

Okay, I have very classic tastes when it comes to dressing Bit and Boo.  Lucky for me, her mommy and grandma do, too.  I think kids should look their age instead of miniature adults or mini-hookers. That's one of the big reasons why I sew for my nieces--a dress for a three year old that makes her look three is either 1) hard to find or 2) expensive.  That's not to say that they spend all their time in dresses, but they always wear them on Sundays, and sometimes during the week.  (Boo lives in knitwear right now, and Bit mostly in jeans.)

It's become something of a traditional present to my brother and SIL from Mom and me for me to make Bit a fancy dress or buy one (the one next to us was a thrift store find, and I made matching panties with ruffles on the butt because the panties were missing)  and then get her all dressed up for pictures at the local Olan Mills in Wal-Mart.

We did it for her first Christmas, skipped one and then did it again last year--

This year, I'm going the heirloom sewing route again, only in blue.  That way, she can wear it more than once or twice, and it will coordinate nicely with the blue wool coats I'm making for both of them.  And Boo is getting a matching dress.  Her coat will match, too, because I found a pattern from the 90s that almost matched the 50s one I'm using for Bit.  I had to go with Children's Corner patterns for the dresses to get them to match, and I'm going to have to do some revamping for them to look like they're not from the early 80s or getting christened, but they should look adorable.  (The matching infant pattern is for christening gowns)  I'm making bows to match and they'll be wearing white tights and hopefully matching shoes.

Which brings me to the shoes.  I'm a bargain shopper.  And since Peter did a post a while back about quality shoes he bought second hand off ebay, I started there.  We're on a fixed income, so I have a definite budget.

But I also have expensive tastes.  We buy a lot of the girls' clothes second hand and invariably, I will pick up the most expensive thing there and want to buy it.  It's the same if I walk into a department store--I'm attracted to the most expensive thing on the rack... all without looking at the price.  Which leads back to shoes.  I will happily buy second hand shoes for Boo.  At her age, they grow so fast that there's rarely any real wear on them. She's going to be an early walker, so we got shoes to help her stand up (with us holding her hands) on our slippery floors.  (Standing and "walking" are favorite things for her do do. She can be throwing a fit and if you stand her up, she's all smiles)

But not so with Bit.  At her age, kids wear shoes out and get them yucky, so I want 'em new.  Which I can get on ebay for a fraction of the retail price.  She jumped to a size ten recently in toddler shoes, which means that I want 10.5 in dress shoes.  She only wears those once a week, so I need them to last a while.  And Stride Rite is a favorite brand.  They have a great reputation, I wore 'em as a kid, and they have the classic, plain black patent mary jane that I'm looking for.  It also helps that Bit loves the sound the hard soles make against the wood floors.

But I refuse to pay retail.  That's somewhere around $50-$60 which in my mind is too much for shoes that she could grow out of in a couple months if she hits another growth spurt.  I've set myself a $20 budget, which isn't much above what I'd pay for the cheap ones at Payless.  It's funny--I got her new sneakers for less that that ($15 brand new second hand because the child they were originally purchased for outgrew them before she wore them), some white sneakerish t-straps for $5.50, and I've even found boots for her, brand new, for under that.  Heck, I got two pairs of Stride Rites and one pair of Pedipeds for Boo for under that!  (*Those* were second hand--$15 for what amounts to around $150 worth of shoes)  I can buy new Sunday shoes for Boo for about $15, but I'm having problems with Bit.  I can get 10s.  It's $6 over budget, but I can live with that.  It's just that I can't seem to find them in 10.5 M.  Wide, yes.  Narrow, yes.  But medium?  Good luck.

Mom claims that I'm developing a shoe obsession because I check once a day to make sure I haven't missed a pair going up.  There were pairs in the right size, but by the time I got back from having her feet measured (another reason to do Stride Rite--we have a local store that will measure her feet so I know that she'll fit that size in that brand)  they were all sold.  Probably, I have until the first week in December.  So until then, I'll keep combing auction sites and crossing my fingers.  In the meantime--I should probably go buy Boo's shoes in the next size up, because she just turned five months today and she's on her way out of the size 2s....