Thursday, January 31, 2013

Everyday Valentine's Day

Gracie's shirt
Gracie's Headband
To be honest, I hadn't planned on entering the sew along this week.  All I had planned for Valentine's Day this year was simple, store-bought t-shirts painted with the aid of freezer paper stencils.  No sewing=no entry.  But things changed.  Tuesday, Mom started having appendicitis symptoms, so naturally, she went into the ER.  But it wasn't appendicitis.  They found a baseball-sized mass that they think is a tumor, and a spot on her liver.  The tests aren't back  yet, but since she's a survivor of breast, uterine, and ovarian cancer (all at once, even) cancers, that's the diagnosis for now.
We're a religious family.  We're active in our church, try to live our religion, and firmly believe in the power of prayer.Part of me is hesitant to send this out over cyberspace, but I'm doing it anyway.  Losing her would be absolutely devastating, so I'm gonna ask.  Pray for my mom, Nadine, please?  We need all the prayers we can get.  Back to the point.

Nikki's shirt
When I'm upset, I make things.  It gives me something to focus on and something useful comes out in the end.  In Center Stage, Juliette tells Eva that smart dancers realize that  it all comes back to the barre.  For me, that's sewing.  For however long it takes, it's me, fabric, and a picture in my head of how it will look when it's done. Everything else disappears and fades into background noise.

One of Nikki's new Valentine's bows

Combine that with the fact that Nikki is at an awkward size.  She drowns in a lot of commercial 18 month clothes, 12 months is too small, and of 18 months what does fit is almost too small.

Nikki desperately needs some long pants. She has only two pairs that fit well, and has been rotating between them.  My base pattern was the Pier 49 pants from Peek-a-Boo Pattern Shop.  (I'm not affiliated with them, but I do like some of their stuff.)  I made her a pair last summer in 12 months, and they fit until last month, so I know for sure these will last a long time... at least in infant clothing time!  ;)  I ditched the original pockets, the belt loops, and the string.  The pants themselves are made from some wale-less corduroy I picked up on sale at Joanns last year, and Nikki picked the pink heart fabric from the leftover bin.  Y'all might recognize it as the pink part of Gracie's
polka dot dress!

Instead of rivets, because, frankly, I'm out and I've never seen any at Joanns, I opted for heart shaped buttons.  But I didn't have enough, and Joanns didn't have enough, so I mixed them with the same clear glitter buttons that I used on the girls' Christmas nightgowns.  The back waistband is adjustable.  A long time ago, I examined a commercial adjustable waistband and figured out how to do it. (Tutorial can be found here.)  Because it will extend the life of these pants, I decided that was the way to go, and I freely admit that it figured in my choice to use the Pier 49 pattern--I knew it could be done!

Because I'm counting on these lasting, I kept the convertible part so these can be shorts this spring... at least until she outgrows them.  For corduroy, the fabric is fairly lightweight; it's about the same as a pair of jeans.  All of the pockets are useable and makes it so that she can stuff small toys in them easily--even the back pockets that probably won't be used! I considered tacking a ribbon "belt" on, but decided it would ultimately just be a pain, so I put a largish heart button on the front to make it even easier to tell which side goes front...  especially since Nikki is reveling in a new skill that led to a new game--the Naked 400! 

Yep.  She strips off all her clothes and runs away in hopes that I won't catch her and redress her.  Or worse--strips them off after I've put her down for a nap which ends up with everything in the crib, including her, getting a bath!  (Hm... maybe that's the aim here?)  I'm calling this the Everyday Valentine's Day outfit because that's what I think it is--casual, cute, comfortable, and hopefully wearable after Valentine's Day. 

As for Grace, well, she has so many pairs of pants in her current size that she doesn't need a new pair, so it's a new shirt and hair accessory instead!  As per usual lately, she says she wants Nicole's outfit instead of hers.  A bit of sibling rivalry, I guess!

Nicole is especially taken by the "hairbows", and keeps pointing out her pink hearts.  We've been pointing out colors for the past two months, and pink is one of the guaranteed right ones.

 She loves the heart pockets, too and has been trying to stuff just about everything into them.
Nikki and Babbit (who, she informs me quite a bit, is 'lellow") say hey!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Mini-skirt? Say WHAT? Or Double Trouble Polka Dots

Right after school started, Grace asked for what I thought was a "mini skirt"...  to which my reaction was "over my dead and lifeless body!"  She's four.  She should look four, not twenty-four!  Two days later, I realized that what she'd been asking for was a "Minnie Skirt"  as in, Minnie Mouse.  Fine.  But because we're Georgia Tech fans, red is in short supply in her closet, so she had absolutely nothing to wear with it, so I decided she needed a shirt to go with it, preferably long sleeved because winter was on the way.

Simplicity 1785 was my choice, primarily because it came in the sizes I needed and had the double sleeve that both Joanna and Grace love.  The skirt needed no pattern--it's a simple, gathered skirt with a tulle ruffle on the bottom.

I dug around etsy and found a Minnie Mouse patch, ordered the skirt fabric, and then started looking for polka dot knit.  By the time I found it, Christmas sewing was upon me, so it got put off.... until now.  All things being equal, if I make something for one child, I have to make something for the other, so I found a different Minnie patch with Nikki's name on it.  I realized that Gracie's Minnie outfit was perfect for this week's challenge and doable considering my technical difficulties.  Knits and I are still on a learning curve, and the white that was in my stash was kinda shifty, so I used some knit stay tape to stabilize the seams, including the back.

 I'd admired some "boutique" shirts on etsy with ribbon appliqued on them, but the asking prices were ridiculous.  Since red ribbon with white polka dots is easy enough to come by, I decided that I'd duplicate one on this project! If you're wondering about the "E", well, the world is a scary place, and after a friend of my brother's baby (he was literally, about four months old!) got his identity stolen, I got a tad paranoid and I try not to use the girls real names on the internet.  I've erased the name from the Minnie patch on Nikki's shirt, too, for my paranoia's sake.  The original plan didn't call for the plain, felt Minnie head on the skirt, but it just needed something on the skirt, and what's a Minnie Mouse skirt without Minnie?

And, of course, since they don't have any everyday bows that would go with this outfit, I had to make those, too.  The Minnie head is plain old craft felt and the bows are scraps of 1/8" ribbon.  I finished the whole thing at about 6:45 this morning, and Joanna was running late, so I don't have pictures of Gracie wearing hers yet...  But I've got pictures of Nikki, sans bows.

Despite her usual enthusiasm for hair bows (she doesn't keep them in, but wants to wear 'em!) she refused this morning with all the stubbornness a toddler in the terrible twos can muster. (And Heaven help us, she won't be two for months!)

She threw a bit of a fit when I wanted to take it off so she could take it home not covered in her breakfast yogurt and cheerios.

I like the different mix of textures and dot sizes on this, and hopefully, I'll be able to post pictures of Grace in her big girl version tonight!

Two-Tone Polka Dot bliss! (Or. the magic invisible dress)

We love pink and brown here on Granny Lane, and because I'm fairly lazy when it comes to matching up stripes, polka dots are a favorite!  (I have and do match up stripes... just not on a deadline!)  Last year, Bit asked for a "corduroy dress" when winter rolled around.  But life with a colicky baby didn't include much in the way of sewing time--regular sewing time was collapse-in-exhaustion-and-fall-asleep time!  My starting point was McCall's 3333 from 1987.  How surreal is it that "vintage" is clothing that I could have worn has a child?!

I fell in love with the asymmetrical bodice and just had to make it.  Most vintage patterns run short--dresses started being exceedingly short for little girls in the 20s and didn't start getting long until the 90s.  Knee length or a little longer is my preferred because they grow and then the dresses last longer.  Just to put this in perspective, though, the finished length is 18 inches... and tunic length on Gracie is 17.  Talk about micro mini! 

Because I planned this for last year, the materials came out of my stash, because, well, I bought 'em last year intending to make this.

Let me tell you a secret--I don't install sleeves in the round if I can help it.  Serging is easier, and installing the sleeve is easier, too!  I love the contrast in these colors, and the dots are opposite colors.  Grace actually picked out what color the piping and binding were.  I wanted hot pink so they'd pop, but she insisted on "pink-pink"

The skirt on this is shaped to match the shape of the bodice, and the right sleeve was installed before the left, because the arm hole is a four piece one--you have to sew on the skirt before you have a complete arm hole!

I admit, why I did this one had nothing to do with Project Run and Play sew alongs and everything to do with the fact that it was the only dress I had planned for Grace that zips up instead of buttons.  My machine is in the shop, and Mom's is refusing to do buttonholes! 

Gracie likes it, but she said that she wouldn't wear it where anyone can see her.  When asked why, she told me that it's a magic dress that turns her invisible!

I didn't know I could make magic dresses!

She did finally say that she'd wear it to church, which is great since we're having a cold snap right now.

Grace is just getting into 4s, so this is a bit loose still, and I made it a little long on purpose.  Mostly because she grew two inches in between Christmas and the three days before when I'd measured her and made her a Christmas night gown.

Happy Polka Dots and Stripes Challenge everybody!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

First 2013 project

Baby sewing!  I've given these away several times, and they've always been a hit--extra large receiving blankets.  They're fast, easy, and best of all--cheap!  Most commercial blankets are just too small, and like most baby items, they're kinda expensive.  I usually give away four at a time, which ends up costing about $20 which isn't expensive for a baby present.  (I had major sticker shock when I went shopping for baby presents before Grace came along!)  Joanna asked for several for Nikki, and since that was what people were going to see of her, I made them all in pretty, girly colors like pink, purple, and turquoise.  Which just won't do for Baby Alex.  So I went shopping for fabric with Nicole and Grace online. carries double-napped flannel.  My mom, who remembers the era before disposable diapers existed, calls it "diaper flannel."  Fleece or minky would also work for this if it's for a winter baby, but Alex is due in April, so flannel is just right! One yard cuts make excellent receiving blankets.

Grace picked out a cloud pattern, and Nikki picked out the busy robots. First step is to cut off the selvedge edges.  (My good shears have been sent in for sharpening, so I'm using my back up Fiskers that I sharpened myself.  *sigh*  Want my Ginghers back!)

I try and cut off as little as possible so the result is a fairly big blanket.

Now round off the corners.  You can do 'em square, but I like the round look.

Set the serger to rolled hem or picot edge.  You can do this with a rolled hem foot on your sewing machine, too.

Serge.  My serger and I used to have an agreement--I wouldn't attempt to serge curves, and it would live to sew another day.  I've gotten over the learning curve a bit now, and here's some tips for doing curves:

1) turn off your cutting blade.  Trust me.  then if you screw up, you don't have a huge hole in your fabric.

2) take it slow
3) line up your edge with the edge of the front of the needle plate.

Technically speaking, you're done now, and you have an extra-large receiving blanket.  But being me, I added one more step. 

I drew register lines with a pencil on my fabric and marked out "I love you" and then hand embroidered it. I decided that it would be less scratchy than a label, and it's a personal touch to them.

The lines washed out nicely, and if they were going to a baby shower, I'd probably iron 'em.  But they're not.  They're going in a drawer in the baby's room and I'm lazy.  So they're folded nicely and in a box for the trip home.

And it's true.  I already love the little guy, and I haven't met him yet.  His sisters are great kiddos... even Miss Imp.  Can't wait to meet you little one.  See you in April.

2012 retrospective

I've snatched the odd moment here and there thinking about what I did during 2012.  Half the year was devoted to moving everything out (and fulfilling last year's resolution to get organized), so I didn't do much sewing until right before the kids' birthdays.   I did Bit's requested "Tangled dress" for her "Tangled birthday party", a frog for Richard which I've been told has been dubbed "Mr. Jeremy Fisher", a clown for Lizzy, a doll for Nikki which as far as I know is still, "baby", and an Alice doll for Bit that she named "Tangled".

I did swimsuits for all four kids, too, as part of my learning to work with knits, which is still ongoing.  I made two apiece for Grace and Nicole--one each to take home, and one to keep here.  Right after that, I got started on summer wardrobes for them to take with them on vacation.  I've always made an outfit or two (It tends to make Joanna's sister jealous 'cause she can't buy the stuff for her kids that I make for our girls!) for them to take to the beach, but this year, I made count 'em--seven outfits each.  Some matched, some didn't.

Grace's had a few missteps this year.  I hadn' t yet figured out that to find out what will fit, you subtract two inches from the finished measurements. Thus the blue dress and playsuit was a titch tight.  And I forgot to make the neck wider on her last crisscross dress, which led her to tell me it was too tight... even though it wasn't!  For the most part, I stuck to purple and pink because they're "my favorite colors".

The colors on Nikki's were more varied, but I went for blues quite a bit, 'cause she looks great in blues.  After that, I started on dresses--three apeice, including Grace's first day of school dress.

I also made her a blanket, pillow, and pillowcase for school naptime with name patches on them.  (She refuses to leave her blanket at school because some of the other little girls seem to like it a bit too much!)

 In the midst of this, I took a break and made two skirts for Skirting the Issue.  My Uncle Jim was a foster child, so it's fairly close to home for me.  My grandparents couldn't afford to adopt him, so he earned the money himself so he would legally be part of the family.  (Emotionally, it was already the truth!)

I moved on to Halloween sewing, and made Nikki an owlet costume, and fixed the commercial hair so that Grace could use her Tangled dress for school.

Soon after that was finished, I started on the Christmas dresses, because unlike last year, I was determined to actually finish 'em this year.

I managed to finish, though not as early as I would have liked, and we got pictures taken.  Next year, we're going elsewhere, because Sears was horrifically expensive, and thus we only got one portrait with both girls.  Gave it to Jared and Joanna for Christmas, so I don't have a copy!  They looked cute, though, so all the work was worth it!  Then it was Christmas presents.  This year, I made two pairs of mustache pj bottoms, one pair of jungle jammies (I let the kids pick the fabric), one set of football jammies, one set of bear jammies, a pink dino, a railroad engineer's outfit, a giraffe, a pangolin, two fleece blankets, and two nightgowns.

With the family, Nikki learned to talk this year.  We're still on short sentences, but she's only 20 months old!  She's started identifying colors, too. She also learned to run, started getting into trouble and earned a new nickname that she actually answers to--Imp! Grace started preschool and was proposed to and kissed in the first week.  She's decided that boys are disgusting!  (Yay for us!) She's started stating more opinions on what she'll wear, and I've been informed that I'm not allowed to take pictures of her with food on her face anymore.  We're making progress on learning to read, and can count up to 40 without help.

We also got some fantastic news a few weeks ago--

Yep!  We're getting a baby boy!  Boy sewing!  Hooray!  (Richard, unfortunately, doesn't count, 'cause my sister is bad about measuring and I don't see him enough!)

As for last year's resolution, I made progress, but didn't totally conquer it.  I still have boxes to go through on top and I have yet to find an affordable, stackable solution for my pattern collection.  For this year, I want to continue to get organized, and I'm going to make a concerted effort to follow through on planned projects.  I have a load of fabric I bought for fall/winter wardrobes that I have yet to cut into.  It's been a busy year here on Granny Lane.  Goodbye 2012!  Hello 2013!