Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Day Three

While we are on our adventure this week, I leave you with some quotes...  

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Day Two

While we are on our adventure this week, I leave you with some quotes...  

Monday, July 29, 2013

Day One

While we are on our adventure this week, I leave you with some quotes...  

Friday, July 26, 2013

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Dancing Dress

Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass...
It's about learning to dance in the rain.  
~ Vivian Greene

Possibly in this dress:  

What do you think?  Is it only for tall, long-legged beauties?  
Or will it work for shorter, less-slender builds too?  

Burda Style - 8/2013

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

2nd, 21st birthday plus 8

Last week the candle factory burned down. 
Everyone just stood around and sang, 'Happy Birthday.
~ Steven Wright

Our monthly summer pool parties have taken a birthday-themed turn.  It seems that SOMEONE on our list of regular invitees has a birthday each month in the summer, and now our parties are being used to celebrate those birthdays.  

It's not actually a big impact on me.  I pretty much do the exact same things that I would if it wasn't a birthday celebration, except that I let the honoree pick the theme of the napkins, plates, cups and tablecloth.  Brandon (13 in May) picked Iron Man.  Jose (7 in June) picked Yu-Gi-Oh.  

I picked the theme for our most recent pool party and Margarita's (50 in July) birthday celebration.  It was "Happy 21st Birthday!"  She got a kick out of it.  ;)

Next up, Daniella (6 in August) wants - brace yourself! - JUSTIN BIEBER!!!  Are you  kidding me?  What happened to Hello Kitty, My Little Pony or Dora the Explorer?  

We seem to have picked up an additional family of five (mother and four daughters) to our list of regular attendees.  That puts our regular attendance up to 20 (including me and Scott).  

The kids will swim for hours - blue lips, teeth chattering, vehemently insisting that they aren't cold and don't want to come out yet...  ;)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Stick a Fork in Him - Mickey's Done!

The principle is simple: fun, joy, and happiness, are something we bring to life, 
not something life, circumstance, or situation bring to us. 
There are truly no magic kingdoms, only magic people.
Fun, joy and happiness are choices, orientations, approaches, attitudes, 
a way of living in the world, not the world itself...
~ David W. Jones

I'm helping advertise for Mickey, so it's only fair that he promotes me too!  ;)

Given that I complained about the style of the front facing, I thought I should show the result - in this inside-out photo you can see how the facing goes along the collar as far as the shoulder seam:  

I am reasonably pleased with the shape of the collar, but I didn't have enough fabric to allow for a strategic pattern piece placement relative to the design on the fabric.  (I used my "How Much Fabric?" reference cards to buy the fabric, but ended up using a pattern that was several sizes larger than the boy's current size, so I was happy to have enough fabric at all!)  

Another look at the inside - this of the facing and bottom hem:  

And here is the full reveal:  

Oh, I have to say that I loved working with a striped fabric - those lines made it so much easier to cut and stitch in a straight line!  ;)

As with all of the clothes that I make for my friends' children, the shirt is going to be too big right now.  Hopefully I've timed things right so that this shirt fits the boy around the same time as the Minnie Mouse dress fits his little sister...  

Wouldn't that be a miracle?  ;)

Monday, July 22, 2013

Foster Teen Update

It is a kingly act to assist the fallen.  
~ Mother Teresa

Our foster teen is now someone else's foster teen.  Good friends of ours from Guatemala offered to let her live with them until her 18th birthday.  She's been spending her days with them while I'm at work for the last few weeks and they have gotten to know and care about each other.  

We're good friends with the family.  I take the daughter to singing lessons every Saturday and the son and I are learning how to write computer video games together - so I'll still see the teen regularly.  :)

I feel humbled by the family's generosity.  They don't have much room in their trailer and they don't have much money.  But the parents know what it's like to come to this country alone and try to build a new life for yourself, while helping your family in your home country.  And so when they saw someone who needed help, they just said "Yes."  

I asked a lot of people for help - most of whom are economically in better shape than this family.  Everyone else had some reason to say no...  

Heck, when you get right down to it, we are only willing to be Plan B, not Plan A.  :(

(Hence the humbled feeling.)  

I will never forget the generosity and love of this family.  They are my heroes.  

Friday, July 19, 2013

Gratuitous Kitten Picture - with Sewing!

Dedication: To my daughter, Leonora, without whose never-failing sympathy and encouragement, this book would have been finished in half the time.  
~ P. G. Wodehouse

Sophie, proving that she can be just as helpful as Leonora...  ;)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

More from the Mouse's Kingdom

Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.
~ Winnie the Pooh

What a difference it makes, not feeling stressed out and overwhelmed!  Over the weekend, I had assorted half-an-hour-heres and 30-minutes-theres, but instead of collapsing on the sofa in front of the TV (or adding items to my list of things to do!), I used that time to work on a Mickey Mouse shirt for the son of a friend of mine.    

I dug up a pattern from my stash – it has that style of front facings that extends up to the shoulder seam, which is not particularly my favorite style of shirt facing.  But I decided that this was an opportunity to improve a weak sewing skill.  Plus, of course, I recognized that it would be a waste of money to buy another pattern.  #beingnoble

Oh, okay, you got me – I was impatient, didn’t have time to run out to my local Joann’s at that particular moment, and just wanted to get started!  #hopeyourehappynow

(Look at me using hashtags!  Am I hip, or what?)  #lameoldperson

Anyways, I did use the opportunity to try a “trick” for finishing the raw edge of the facing that I learned from you guys!    

Typically, you just fuse the interfacing to the facing and then finish the raw edge, right?  Not this time! 

First I laid the back (non-fusible side) of the interfacing to the right side of the shirt, thusly:  

Then I stitched along the outer edge, such that, when you open out the interfacing, it looks like this:  

Then I folded over the interfacing so that the fusible side was against the wrong side of the fabric and ironed.  See how the outer edge is now finished?  

The last step, of course, is to fold and iron the interfaced facing to the inside of the shirt, as below:  

I really love this “trick” – it looks way better than what I get when I follow the official instructions.  Thanks!  :)

The last bit I was able to finish was the pocket.  As always, the choice must be made between picking a dramatic image for the pocket and preserving the integrity of the images on the underlying shirt fabric.  

I went for the dramatic image – possibly a mistake, given the interrupted Mickey images on either side of the pocket.  But, whatever…  My friend’s son is 3 – I don’t think he’s going to get too upset.  ;)

Hopefully I’ll be able to finish this over the weekend and get back to my own top!  As a cost savings measure, management at work has set the thermostat controlling the building’s air conditioning to 100° F and I definitely need more sleeveless work tops!  

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Context, Perspective and a Joke

A man goes to his rabbi and complains that his house is too small for himself, his wife and his children.  
The rabbi asks him, "Do you have a cow?"  
"Of course," the man replies, "we have a fine dairy cow."  
The rabbi tells him to bring the cow into the house with the family.
The man goes home and brings the cow into the house.  

The next week, the man returns to see the rabbi again.
"I have brought our cow into the house as you advised," he tells the rabbi, "but now the house feels even smaller and more crowded!  What should I do?"
The rabbi asks him, "Do you have a goat?"  
"Well..." the man replies slowly, "yes, we do have a goat."  
The rabbi tells him to bring the goat into the house.  
The man goes home and brings the goat into the house with his family and the cow.  

The next week, the man returns to see the rabbi again.
"I have brought the goat into the house as you advised," he tells the rabbi, "but now things are even worse!  Please, tell me, what should I do?"
The rabbi asks him, "Do you have any chickens?"  
"Ummm..." the man replies reluctantly, "Well, we might have some chickens..."  
The rabbi tells him to bring the chickens into the house.  
The man goes home and brings the chickens into the house with his family and the cow and the goat.  

The next week, the man returns to see the rabbi again.
"I have brought the chickens into the house as you advised," he tells the rabbit, "and I have to be honest.  Your advice isn't helping at all.  The situation in the house is desperate!  We can barely breathe, never mind move around.  Please, tell me, what should I do?"
The rabbi pauses and thinks carefully.  
Finally, he replies, "Go home and put the cow, the goat and the chickens out of the house."
The man goes home and puts all of the animals out of the house.   

The next week, the man returns to see the rabbi.
"It's a miracle!" he exclaims, "it's as if we have a new house!  There is plenty of room in the house for all of us!"  


When our house picked up a foster teen after 30 years of dynamic-duo-ing it with my husband, it suddenly seemed crowded and I found myself weighed down by the responsibility.  

Then, my mother-in-law came to visit, with her two great-granddaughters, for a week.  

Don't get me wrong - I love them all dearly and treasure my time with them - especially my sewing time with the girls!  

But I can't lie - when they left, all of a sudden, three didn't seem so many in this house and the one additional didn't seem like such a huge responsibility...  ;)

And a block of 30 unscheduled minutes went from "barely enough time to breathe before my next marathon of running around" to "hey, I could probably get my next sewing project cut out and ready to go..."  

It's all about context and perspective...  ;)

Monday, July 15, 2013

Wherein My Nieces Express Themselves

Don't get even,
get odd.
~ Bumper Sticker

It was a bit of a challenge, but we managed to finish the sewing projects before an airplane whisked them back to their home (and waiting boyfriends!) in Ohio.

First, the oldest (almost 17) and I made a pair of fleece pajama pants and a matching (very simple, pullover) fleece tunic.  

Both were decorated with rhinestone stars.  :)

The younger (almost 13) made a pair of pajama pants.  

It is really wonderful to see how much they have learned from a couple of hours of sewing together each summer...  They were able to do about 90% by themselves.  

And her chosen self-expression?  Well, speaking of bumper stickers...  ;)

I hope you had a wonderful sewing weekend!  :)

Thursday, July 11, 2013

A Summer Tradition: Sewing with Nieces

The human soul can always use a new tradition.  
Sometimes we require them.  
~ Pat Conroy

Every year, my mother-in-law comes down to Florida to visit us and, for the last few years, she's been bringing her two great-granddaughters with her.  We've gotten into the habit of doing some sewing together, and it has become one of my favorite times of the summer.  :)

This year they decided on fleece pajama bottoms and picked out very "cool" fleece prints - the almost-17-year-old picked out the bright pink on your left and the almost-13-year-old went for the green and black animal print on your right.  (And there will be some iron-on rhinestone bling too - but you'll have to wait for the final reveal to see that!)

I decided to use this one-seam, symmetrical pants pattern, because it is simple and produces comfy pants.

I really like how this pattern works - you tape together a template that has the shape of the waist and crotch at one end and the shape of the cuff at the other end.  Then you determine the desired length of the pants by taking a measurement on the person.

You mark the desired length measurement (plus extra for hem, waistband, etc.) on a piece of pattern drafting paper and then trace the outline of the template at each end of that line.  Then you connect the 2 bits to yield a pattern that is exactly the right length.  Cool, huh?

The girls have been sewing with me for several years now and they are doing more and more of it on their own - by next year, the only thing they'll need me for is to pay for the fabric!  ;)

This year, between work, taking care of our temporary foster teen and a mild stomach flu, I am barely able to spend any time with them and I hate that.  But we are squeezing in our sewing time - one of my favorite summer traditions.  :)

I hope to have model shots of the completed pj bottoms soon!  :)

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Gratuitous Kitten Picture

Cat: a pygmy lion who loves mice, hates dogs, 
and patronizes human beings.  
~ Oliver Herford

I think someone is getting tired of having his picture taken...   ;)

Monday, July 8, 2013

A Treasured Hour of Sewing...

Doing what you love isn't a privilege;
it's an obligation.
~ Barbara Sher

Probably a month ago I had everything done on these dresses except the center back seam.  I finally squeezed in a few minutes over the holiday weekend to finish them up.  (Man, did it feel great!) 

I couldn’t quite make sense of the instructions, so I decided to “go commando” and throw them out.  Here you can see one of the dresses, with the 2 back pieces laid right sides together and the upper facing on your left.  

I started by stitching the center back seam from the hem (lower edge) up to the bottom of the facing.  Then I pressed that seam open – here is the result: 

Next I turned the dress right-side out and folded the facing over so that the wrong side was exposed:  

I stitched this from the bottom of the facing to the top of the dress – I tried to line up my stitches so that they started right at the point where the back center seam ended:  

I trimmed the corner and flipped the facing back to the inside – here you can see how nicely it lines up with the center back seam on the outside:  

And on the inside:  

Before I repeated that step on the other side, I lifted the facing and added my label, so that the stitches wouldn’t show on the outside of the dress:  

Now it was time to repeat the previous steps on the other side.  This time I slid an elastic hair band into the other side – to be the button-loop – before I stitched it.  If you try this, remember that it’s the part that you can’t see at this stage that becomes the part you do see when it’s complete!  (VOE*)  ;)

Again, trim the corner before flipping right-side out:  

A nice thing about those elastic hair bands is that they come in all different colors.  

Voila!  Three adorable A-Line dresses for 3 adorable little girls!  

It was so nice to get in some sewing time!  :)

I hope you had a good sewing weekend!  :)

* VOE = Voice of Experience

Friday, July 5, 2013

Melting Pot?

America, it has been observed, is not really a melting pot. It is actually a huge potluck dinner, in which platters of roasted chicken beckon beside casseroles of pasta, mounds of tortillas, stew pots of gumbo, and skillets filled with pilafs of every imaginable color..
~ Andrea Chesman

Our house-guest/foster-teen made a special meal for us recently.  

Home made flour tortillas:  

Shaped by expert hand:

Baking sheet?  It will do:  

When she saw me taking this picture, she made me wait until she found the perfect tortilla for the top of the stack:  

The fillings - red beans, cheese and avocado:  

The final masterpiece!  :)

No news yet on a more permanent place for her, but everything here is going smoothly, with periodic forays into deliciousness such as above.  :)