Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Gratuitous Kitten Photo

Is there anything quite as expressive as a cat's tail?  
Kinked or straight it tells the story of a hundred moods.  
~ Unknown

Last week I posted a picture of Popeye and Sophie on guard duty.

Well, Popeye also enjoys screen time with Oliver...  :)

Monday, April 29, 2013

If Everything Else Fails...

...read the instructions.  
~ Unknown

I managed to squeeze in some sewing time this weekend - which was non-trivial, because there were a lot of other things that I should have been doing!  ;)

But I shook off all those annoying chores that were hanging onto my legs and yipping around my feet, and locked myself into my sewing room for a couple of hours.  Yay!  :)

I probably should have finished my postmark blouse, but I was lured in by the new fabric and worked on the three, A-Line dresses for the young daughters of my friends at work.  I was using the same pattern as the Snoopy Valentine Day dress, in a smaller size - but I thought that this time, just for the heck of it, I'd actually pay attention to the instructions.  

So, instead of sewing front to back along the side seams, I stitched fronts to backs at the SHOULDER seams!  This allowed me to lay the facing against the dress, right sides together, like this:  

...and then stitch around the open armholes...

...and the neck opening:  

Once these seams were stitched and trimmed (I've really gotten into my pinking shears recently)...  

...I pulled the two back panels through the shoulder openings:  

Ta da!  ;)

The next step was to close up the side seams.

If you've done this before, you know to raise the facing...  

...and stitch in one continuous seam:  

Then you fold the facing back down and voila!  

So, I got the facings inserted and side seams done on two of the three dresses:  

And I got all that done AND the bottom ruffle attached on the third dress:  

Once the other two ruffles are attached, it's just a matter of dealing with the back center seam - which will mostly be closed, with only a small opening at the top and a button/button loop closure.  It should be a breeze to finish these up!  

It was nice to get some sewing done - and I hope you all had a wonderful sewing weekend!  :)

Friday, April 26, 2013

Birthdays Part 2

A diplomat is a man who always remembers a woman's birthday, 
but never remembers her age.
~ Robert Frost

Spoiler alert:  If you work with me and have a child who is having a birthday in 2013, sometime between the months of January and December, I am about to reveal the fabric that I will be using to make a gift for that child.  

Yesterday I showed you the fabric that I'm going to use to make clothes for a brother and sister.  Today, two more A-Line dresses with bottom ruffles for two more little girls.  In a rather undiplomatic way, I'm going to tell you their ages...  ;)

First, an almost-one-year-old:  

Her mother loves blues and turquoises - so I think this will be a hit.  :)

Next, this bright batik for a very high-energy, almost-two-year-old:  

These should be lots of fun to make!  Hopefully, some day, I'll have pictures of the girls in their dresses... :)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Birthdays Part 1

All your dreams can come true if you have the courage to pursue them.
~ Walt Disney

Spoiler alert:  If you work with me and have two children having birthdays around this time of the year, this post describes what I will be making for them and includes photos of the fabric.  Continue at the risk of ruining your surprise.  ;)

I've been so good this year about sewing from my stash, rather than buying more fabric - but a bunch of my friends' kids are having birthdays and so I decided to go on a spree and get fabric to make each one something special.

They are young enough that they don't yet experience the feeling of being gypped when they get home-sewn clothes, instead of expensive toys, as a birthday gift.  I figured I should enjoy that while it lasts!  ;)

One friend has a son turning three and a daughter turning one.  This family loves Disney World, so I thought I'd use that as the theme for the fabric.  I'll be making the little boy a Hawaiian shirt with this Mickey fabric:  

And the little girl an A-Line dress with a (solid pink) bottom ruffle, using this Minnie fabric:  

Aren't they cute?  I'm looking forward to getting started on these!  :)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A (True) Sewing Machine Story

I am certain that a Sewing Machine would relieve as much human suffering as 
a hundred Lunatic Asylums, and possibly a good deal more.
~ Margaret Atwood

Sewing was part of the family even before I came along.  The lady's father was a tailor, and during the Ukraine famine of 1932-33, when she was just a girl, she and her sister walked for many miles carrying some clothes that he made, hoping to trade them for some flour for her family.

But that was before my time.  I came along when she was a young woman in Lutsk, Ukraine.  She was so happy when she got me!  We made all of the clothes for her family together.  

Of course, this was before the days when pre-printed patterns were common and she struggled a bit with drafting patterns from scratch.  She still laughs sometimes about the fashionable shirt that she tried to make for her husband, which all of his co-workers said looked more like a nightie!  ;)

But it wasn't all fun times back then.  One of my scariest memories is from the early 1950's, when she believed that the government would be sending agents to take all of the family's valuable possessions.  I hope you don't think I'm bragging when I say that she was most worried about me - she agonized over the decision of which neighbor to ask to hide me.  Some might have turned her in to the government - others might have tried to keep me for themselves...  

In the end, she picked the right person and we were reunited.  

When the time came, I went to live with her daughter.  She mostly used me for mending - it was only during Perestroika (in the late 1980s and early 1990s), when times were rough, that I got to make clothes for the family again.  

Around that same time, the granddaughter was also learning to sew and the family was introduced to Burda Moden pattern magazines - oh, how the granddaughter liked those pre-printed patterns!  

I took care of the lady and her family for about 50 years - I helped them through hard times and introduced two new generations to sewing.  It was a good life.  No sewing machine could ask for more.  

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Gratuitous Kitten Picture

One of the poets, whose name I cannot recall, has a passage, 
which I am unable at the moment to remember, in one of his works, 
which for the time being has slipped my mind, 
which hits off admirably this age-old situation.
~ P.G. Wodehouse

Okay, sometimes I have trouble finding a good quote for a post...  ;)

Here you see a grown-up Popeye and Sophie, securing the perimeter of our pool - no lizard shall gain entrance!  

What would we do without them?  ;)

Monday, April 22, 2013

Postmark Blouse Princess Seams

My professional aspirations were simple - 
I wanted to be an intergalactic princess.
~ Janet Evanovich

I haven't had much free time at home lately - at least, not much time that I felt good enough to do anything - but I did get a start on my postmark blouse.  Gwen suggested that I add some flat piping in the seams - which I think would look very cool - but, I didn't have any suitable fabric or bias binding on hand at the time and I really wanted to get started.  

So, I'll file that idea away for next time!  :)

This blouse has princess seams:  

I've learned a lot from all of you about how best to do princess seams.  First, I don't actually pin the main part of the princess seam - I just pin on either end of it.  

Next, I stitch with the longer (more rounded) piece of fabric against the feed dogs, gently stretching the top (shorter) piece to fit the lower (longer) piece as I stitch around the curved part.  

And, of course, I always baste first!  

Why?  Well...  

Here you can see one of the main princess seams:  

I ended up with perfect alignment at the top on one side:  

...but the other side was off a little bit:  

It's probably not completely legitimate, but I just trimmed the taller bit a smidge to make the 2 pieces line up...  

Now, I'm not sure if the shoulder straps count as more princess seams, but they are definitely curved and required some stretching to get the two pieces to line up.  

Here you can see the shoulder strap pinned at the side seam:  

...and here I have just flipped it up to show how it will be once it is sewn on along the curved seam: 

While I did have to do some stretching, these seams were definitely easier than the princess seams up the front of the blouse.  

Here is the front of the blouse - isn't it interesting how the 3 pieces intersect?  

I spent a bit of time trying to line up the print along these 3 pieces.  Now that I've assembled them, I'm not sure if it was worth it.  Also, I pretty much ignored what would be front and center on the blouse - I probably should have paid more attention to that!  Oh well, live and learn - it could be worse.  ;)

So, there is still lots of work to do - but it felt good to get some sewing time in!  :)

Friday, April 19, 2013

A Victory and A Defeat

Victory is sweetest when you've known defeat.  
~ Malcolm S. Forbes

There was a time - maybe 10 years ago and mumblety-mumble pounds ago - when, if it was his first time, I could out-climb a buff male who was half my age in our rock climbing gym.   :)

I'm afraid those days are long behind me...   

But, I did experience a small victory during my trip to Mexico last weekend.  Felipe, 12-years-old, is the best swimmer of the family and has grown complacent in his ability.  

On Sunday we were playing tag in the river, and he was possibly gloating a little bit about how no one could catch him.  In my broken Spanish I told him to enjoy the good feeling, because it was going to be brief.  

(At least, that's what I hope I said - it might have been something about my pen being on his uncle's bureau...)  

It took him a second to process this, but then he laughed at my trash talking.  (or possibly at my accent - this was unclear)  

He stopped laughing, however, a couple of seconds later, when I caught him!  

Yes, to his chagrin and my great pleasure, we both discovered that I can still out-swim a 12-year-old!  

Lest you think I am bragging, I will leave you with the story of my defeat.  I was playing a game with Giobani - a four-year-old.  I would draw a picture and he would try to guess what it was.  Then he would draw a picture and I would try to guess what it was.  

Here is his picture:  

What do you think?  Any guesses?  

A dinosaur?  

Nope, I tried that...

A giraffe?  

Nope, I tried that one too...

Turns out the long neck was a bit of a red herring.  

This is Giobani's picture of a dog.  And it is now my favorite picture of a dog in the whole world!  ;)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Weekend Trip

Travel may begin by exposing us to the differences between cultures; 
but if we do it right, it ends with showing us the similarities.  
~ Gwendolyn Campbell

Last week, some kind of cold / virus knocked me on my butt, but good!  (Thank you for all your kind wishes!)  It was particularly bad timing for two reasons - a very busy time at work AND I had a trip planned to visit Ana in Mexico for her birthday.  I still had a cough on Friday morning, but I got myself to the airport and spent a long weekend with her and her family...  

The kids (her nieces and nephews) had my camera out of my hands in about 5 minutes and, over the next 30 hours, managed to take about 250 photos and burn through the 3 lithium batteries I had brought with me.  ;)

Here are some of my favorites:

The road to Ana's family's community


Her father

Four-year-old cousins - and best friends - eating empanadas

Chayito with her new cousin


One of Ana's sisters:

A baby napping in a hammock...

...waking up...

...and getting ready for company

His house

One of Ana's brothers playing guitar at church

Ana and her sisters making tamales

Remember this cutie from my trip last November?  My favorite model:

Playing with his new toy

Hand feeding a baby parrot

Weaving a pot holder with another new toy

Okay, I'm in trouble for this next one.  ;)

Yes, I'm the one who taught the kids to hold up 2 fingers behind someone's head to give them bunny ears...  (Although, I think that the little one may have missed the main point!)  

Getting ready for a dip in the river

A couple of cool hours during an otherwise very hot weekend!  

A happy two-year-old


The kids have started calling me "Tia" (aunt)