Who's Sewing? Are You Sewing?

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I haven't been. Well, except for hemming the handkerchiefs.

Why? There's been renovation work going on in the basement just outside my sewing room door. I've also been a little adrift after deciding I didn't like the blue dress, therefore I've been reading fashion/wardrobe advice books. (And I have formulated a plan, but more on that later...) But primarily I haven't been sewing because David's birthday was a week ago Sunday and Clara's was just yesterday.

Here are photos from Clara's dinner party (I didn't get any from David's).

Let me give the highlights of David's party and then Clara's.

David's party was held on a Sunday evening after the kids had gone to bed. David and many of our friends graduated from a nearby theological school and he wanted to organize a theological lending library from the personal libraries of all of these friends. As alums, they have library privileges at the school, but it can be a bit of a hassle to get all the way across town. Luckily, many of our friends were interested in joining the effort. They had a discussion about the library at the party and made some preliminary plans.

We also had a book swap (any variety of book welcome) and the party attendants brought any books they were willing to swap. That was fun and got everyone together and chatting and laughing about different books.

I made hummus and warmed naan, and baked yam fries with a balsamic reduction for dipping/drizzling. We also served chips and salsa and juice and adult beverages.

Clara's party was held on Sunday afternoon/early evening. We invited two families that we spend a fair amount of time with who also have 2 or nearly 2 year old girls. We served "fancy" grilled cheese sandwiches, carrot sticks, apple slices, and potato chips for dinner and, as you can see in the photos, birthday cookies rather than cake (by Clara's request).

Fancy grilled cheese means that you buy nice bread from a local bakery rather than regular sandwich bread, you use two kinds of cheese from the local amazing deli (in this instance, old orange cheddar and mild provolone - both on special). You also offer the following additions: pesto, sliced tomatoes, and thinly sliced ham cut in small strips (so as not to prevent sticking). You could also offer ripe avocado or tuna salad or really anything else you like.

On to fashion and my wardrobe... I am at a fashion/wardrobe transition point in my life. My body is my own again, and even though I will likely be at home for the next couple of years, I want to be able to transition well when the time comes for me to do something different. To that end, I have been doing a little fashion research.

I stumbled upon Brenda Kinsel's book, Brenda's Wardrobe Companion: A Guide to Getting Dressed from the Inside Out. In it she describes a few collage exercises to help bring themes or interests to light and to help narrow your focus for wardrobe shopping/planning. I am excited to get started on those projects, but I need to get my hands on some recent fashion magazines and clothing catalogues.

Once I have those projects done a friend of mine (single, childless, fashionable, and fantastic) is going to accompany me on a day of trying on clothes in stores. I plan to leave my debit and credit cards at home and bring my digital camera, to make sure this is a research trip. We will take photos of me in anything I really like the look of, so that I will have those photos to reference when I am shopping or sewing later.

Then I need to start the task of actually adding to/changing my wardrobe.

As I have thought on the disappointment that was the blue dress, I felt good about my ability to execute tricky things like the notched collar. This gives me a bit more confidence in expanding my sewing skills. To that end I went ahead and purchased this t-shirt pattern from Jalie. I have a remnant of the correct kind of fabric to experiment with, so I am just waiting for the pattern to arrive. I already know this neckline is flattering on me from my experiences shopping for dresses about a year ago.

It's Time for a Winner!!

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Congratulations, Michael/Catherine!

Since I only had three participants in my giveaway, I actually used the playground favourite, "Eenie, meenie, miney mo" to choose a winner.

I will hem up the handkerchiefs and send them to you - hopefully by mid-April!

Tomorrow is David's 44th birthday and he has agreed to have a party. Next Sunday Clara turns two and will also have a party. Tonight I have a headache and need to trundle off to bed. Good night everyone!

It's my 100th Post! Time for a Little Giveaway!

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So, as promised, I am having a little giveaway in honor of my 100th post.

One person (anywhere in the world) will receive a set of 6 handkerchiefs in their choice of fabric:

On the left, an orange, pink, and pale green stripe cotton lawn. On the right, a plain white cotton, just a tad thicker than the lawn.

Details: Leave a comment with your choice of fabric and make sure I have some way to get in touch with you. You may leave a comment from now until Friday 20 March 2009 at 9 PM Pacific Time. At that point I will figure out a way to randomly select a winner, post that winner's name and fabric selection, and contact that winner to acquire their address. (Friends and family are welcome to participate.)


So, now on to sewing news... this morning I experimented with a too-big t-shirt. Previously, I had taken in the sides and sleeve. Today I pinned in a dart on one shoulder (to move the shoulder seam over) and changed the neckline.

I'm pretty pleased with how this is turning out, so I think I will add a dart to the other shoulder and then do something under the bust - I'm not sure what, though.

#99, Looking for a Project


Thanks, everyone for your kind words about my dress. I will hang it up for a while before I cut it apart, but I still can't raise my arms in the thing, so I really don't feel that it will be wearable. It might indeed look nicer with a very wide belt. I'll see what I can drum up and give it a try.

Now I am looking for a quick sewing project to work on tomorrow. Something that will make me feel like I have made something worthwhile and hopefully something on which I can practice a new technique.

I suppose I really ought to spend my sewing time tomorrow experimenting with knits. I have a few t-shirts that I can cut or alter... hrrmmm. I have spent the last while scoping out Burdastyle, but I'm not coming up with anything exciting.

Post #98; Disappointment with the Dress


I finished quite a bit on the shirtdress. All that remains are the buttonholes and buttons and the hem. I tried it on last night and it is just unflattering. That and I can't raise my arms much at all.

I would never wear it. Bleh.

I worked so hard on the dress, but since I am doing this alone and I am so new at garment sewing, I didn't know how to tell in advance that this just wasn't going to be flattering.

Here are some photos.

I just feel wide and lumpy across the middle. Well, to be honest, I am wider and lumpier across the middle. I also have no hips to help make my middle appear less wide and lumpy. I should have realized that a style that looked good on me way back when I was wearing dresses regularly before (that's three pregnancies ago) would not necessarily look good on me now.

Anyway, my plan now is to cut the skirt off of the bodice, add a waistband, buttonholes, buttons, and a hem to make a functional skirt.

I am going to save the bodice for comparing to other garments later and to remind myself that I can sew well - I mean, just look at my first attempt at a notched collar! (The one bright spot in this entire escapade.)

Oh, and this is post #98, for those of you waiting with baited breath for the giveaway on post #100.

It's Been a While...

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Hopefully I will get to sew tomorrow (Wednesday is David's day with the kids so I can do things).

My big plan is to first set in the other sleeve, then attach the skirt to the bodice and figure out how to finish the seam at the waistline, if all goes smoothly, then I'll get the button bands and facings attached, too. But, realistically, I will not.

Tomorrow I also have to drop Peter off at school, attend a meeting about my volunteer work, do my volunteer work, and attend Peter's parent-teacher conference (where I intend to express my concern to Peter's PE teacher - also the vice principal - regarding her teaching methods in PE). All of that probably won't leave much time for sewing.

Why haven't I managed to touch my dress in the last two weeks, you ask? Well any number of reasons, but primarily the three short people I am responsible for. David and I also celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary last weekend and folks came to the house to knock out a wall in the basement, which involved my sealing off my sewing room so as not to get the fabrics covered in drywall dust. There have also been playdates aplenty this past weekend and the one previous.

I love little children, but I just can't sew around them. They are always touching something sharp or attempting to turn my clear ruler into a sword or pulling on the cord of the iron (which is a ridiculously dangerous object - I don't know why more murder mysteries don't involve irons - heavy, pointed, hot, electrical, cord for strangling, etc). You get the picture. It's hard to keep my concentration when one or more of my kids wants to "watch " me sew.

Anyway, I'm off to research current PE teaching practices and ways to finish a waistline seam on an unlined shirtdress.

Teeth, Bikes, and Pattern Alterations... An Update

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Peter lost his second tooth on Friday. Here he is showing off his gap and the gifts he received from the Tooth Fairy. Pardon the pained expression on his face. He is at the age where he almost can't smile naturally when he knows a camera is pointed at him. I swear I wasn't pinching him.

Peter and Lucy have loved my copy of The Boxcar Children almost to death (well, the spine is still holding up, but the paperback cover has nearly disintegrated), so in conference with the Tooth Fairy - you can arrange meetings with her; she is more than happy to work within each family's ideology and general parenting preferences - we came to the conclusion that this series would be Peter's tooth gifts.


Earlier last week Lucy learned to ride her bike! She just turned four and is now a fairly decent cyclist. She still has a little trouble starting and she is not strong on hills, but she is generally fairly reliable with few falls. You can tell she feels really good about this accomplishment. Here are a couple of blurry videos of her riding on our sidewalk.


On Wednesday I finished off my list of things to do on the blue shirtdress from my previous post. Here are pictures of my attempts to do a full bust adjustment and move the horizontal dart. I had a hard time with this because neither of the darts actually pointed at the bust point (the circle with cross hairs near the center) and because my bust point didn't match the pattern's. I decided to mark my own bust point (shown in green painter's tape that's been split) and redraft the dart and then do the FBA.

Here you will see my improvisation on a work surface that can be pinned. I don't have a cardboard cutting board or table, but found an old cork board (bulletin board) in our junk room and laid it on my sewing table. It worked perfectly for something this size.

Here are the final altered pattern pieces. The redrawn horizontal dart is in dark green. I decided to eliminate the vertical darts since I needed a bit more girth at the waist (I still had to add tissue to the side seams).

As it stands now, I have removed my sleeves from the old bodice and have removed the gathering stitches at the tops of the sleeve caps. I need to re-stitch the gathering stitches, then pin and baste and stitch the sleeves into the new bodice. Then I can get on with the rest of the construction.


Oh, and this post is number 96 for Thoughts From the Second Floor. I plan to host a giveaway when I reach 100 posts. Stay tuned!