Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Celebrating June!

Life is a festival only to the wise.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday was our June pool party - we have these parties once a month every year, starting in May and going through September.  

This month we had 22 people (mostly kids), celebrated two June birthdays (a 9 year old boy, who selected Sonic the Hedgehog as his theme and an 8 year old girl, who selected Hello Kitty as her theme) and, as always, the kids demonstrated their wisdom by thoroughly enjoying every moment of the festival!  

Although, sometimes, there were traffic jams!  ;)

I buy paper plates and cups in the birthday themes - and my husband grills pounds of hamburgers and hot dogs!  

It was this little guy's first time at one of our pool parties - and he was fascinated by the older children and all their activity.  

The day ended with a piñata, and let me just say that you don't want to run into some of these children armed with baseball bats in a dark alley - they have some wicked swings!  ;)

But the Pampers box (disguised in colored tissue paper) withstood an amazing amount of abuse before it crumpled and fell to the ground.  

This has never happened before - when the piñata came down, one of the kids grabbed it and started running!  (I'm not sure where he thought he was going...)  

In the end, there was candy for all.  :)

I believe that next month's theme is supposed to be Hawaii - so you may get to see some grass skirts and belly dancing!  ;)

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Plugging Away on The Shirts...

Don't despise the little steps you know you can take everyday.
There are tiny miracles in each and every one of them.
~ Israelmore Ayivor

Sunday was our June pool party, so I didn't have high expectations for the weekend, but I did get some sewing on the Hawaiian shirts done.  :)

Every time I do a facing on a shirt, I remember another Gwen - the redhead, GwenSews - who gave me this tip:  

Before ironing on the interfacing, I stitch it to the fabric - with the non-stick side of the interfacing against the right side of the fabric.  

Then I open it out...  

... and fold it over so that the sticky side is against the wrong side of the fabric and I can press it with my iron.  

This gives me a beautifully finished edge.  

I've probably posted this approach a dozen times, and I apologize if you're tired of seeing it.  But it brings back memories of that very special woman from our sewing blog community.  I'm miss her...  

Anyways, I was able to get the front facings done on both small shirts and the collar put on one of them.  

I've got four shirts to do before July 10th - hopefully I can get these two done this week, if I do a little bit each night after work.  Fingers crossed!  :)

Monday, June 23, 2014

Gratuitous Kitten Picture

Macavity's a Mystery Cat: he's called the Hidden Paw --
For he's the master criminal who can defy the Law.
He's the bafflement of Scotland Yard, the Flying Squad's despair:
For when they reach the scene of crime -- Macavity's not there.  

~ T. S. Eliot

Popeye, inspired by his hero Macavity, has found a new hiding place!  

Unfortunately, it appears he did not get the memo about how TRANSLUCENT materials don't make good hiding places!!!

P.S. - the photo is courtesy of my husband!  

Thursday, June 19, 2014

I am SUCH a Sucker for Good Marketing...

I recently turned in my official Luddite membership card and purchased a smart phone.  (Although I am still on a pay-as-you-go, prepaid plan.)  This new adventure with technology may periodically spawn posts such as this one:


The secret of being a top-notch con man is 
being able to know what the mark wants,
and how to make him think he's getting it.  
~ Ken Kesey

I've had an "e-pass" in my car for about 17 years - ever since my route to work included toll roads.  If you aren't familiar with these, they allow me to be identified automatically as I drive through a toll station without stopping, and my account is automatically charged the amount of the toll.  

Sounds awesome, right?  Well, I use it - because I go through 10 toll stations a day and the commute would be intolerable without it - but I have always hated the idea that I am driving around broadcasting my location to...  

And I've been very resistant to GPS and OnStar (and etc.) for the same reason.  I find it unsettling to think about total strangers being able to find out where I am at any given moment, without my knowledge or my permission...  

Even knowing that I could benefit from having those systems in my car isn't enough to overcome my distaste of this "cost."  

Of course, put a different spin on it...  

Hey there, want to join a community of commuters - all helping each other identify and avoid traffic problems?  

And all of a sudden I'm all - Sign me up!  I'm in! 

I know - totally illogical...  In both cases, I am letting others - hundreds, if not thousands, of total strangers - have access to information about me.  

But, apparently, someone knows what I want and how to make me think I'm getting it...  

Because "joining a community" where everyone helps each other sounds so much more appealing than "being spied on by the man" - doesn't it?    

Plus, in Waze, I get to pick my own nickname and icon - I'm a ninja!  

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Miracle Weekend - There was SEWING!!!

Give a man a fish and he has food for a day;
teach him how to fish and 
you can get rid of him for the entire weekend.
~ Zenna Scha

"Sewing" is my "fishing"...  ;)

I know - I can hardly believe it myself!  But not only did I get some weaving done over the weekend, I also got in some sewing!

Oh, happy day!  :)

I made a reversible bubble romper (with this pattern) for a young couple in my ESL class, who are expecting their first child in July.  They are going to name their son Manuel, their color scheme is green (not blue) and they hope he grows up to be a baseball player.

I documented every step with photos, in part because I think it's a very clever design that allows every single seam to be hidden.

There are really only 3 pattern pieces - the front (cut on the fold), the back (cut 2) and the tab (cut 2 and interfacing) that opens and closes between the legs.

Step #1 is to attach the two back pieces to the front piece.  Here is one of the fabrics I selected - green and a sports theme (including, but not limited to, baseball):

My second fabric choice was in the same style - but had a pirate theme:

Once you have shoulder seams complete in both fabrics, you align them, right sides together and stitch the neck and upper back openings - you can see where I stitched by looking at where I trimmed the fabric with pinking shears:

And you stitch the armholes:

Next, pull each side back through its corresponding shoulder seam, to turn the romper right-side-out:

This takes a bit of pushing and tugging and fiddling...  

...and some serious pressing...

...but it turns out beautifully!  :)

After that, you work on the side seams.  You can see here how I have one side seam opened up - when the other side is opened up similarly, they can be aligned and stitched, right sides and matching fabrics together.

Here is a view with one side seam closed up:

Next up is the leg openings:

See how they are opened up here:

This one is a bit different, because you align different fabrics, right sides together:

After stitching them together and turning them right side out, you add a second row of stitching to form the casing for the elastic:

And here is the elastic inserted, courtesy of a safety pin:

The only seams left open are the back and crotch seams.  You do the back seam first - all in one long seam:

Open it up... it together and stitch - right sides and same fabrics matching - scrunching the rest of the romper in the middle:

The last main step is to hide the only remaining raw edges - along the front and back crotch - inside tabs.  This step is not unlike attaching a collar to a shirt.  Here are the tabs:

Hopefully, in this next picture, you can make out the tab, as it is being attached to the romper:  

After you get one side of the tab attached, you flip it over, tuck everything into it and seal it closed.  

Here's the romper with both tabs attached:  

Add some button holes and buttons, or snap tape, or strips of velcro:  

And you have finished a beautiful, reversible, bubble romper!  

The only thing I've never been able to figure out is where to put my label, since there is no "inside" to this outfit...  ;)

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Gratuitous Kitten (In Big Trouble) Photo

Cats are connoisseurs of comfort.  
~ James Herriot

Popeye isn't the only kitten who has been helping me with this round of weaving - look who I found helping ensure that the warp threads are under tension:  

Monday, June 16, 2014

Weekend Weaving

Next to sound judgment, 
diamonds... are the rarest things in the world.  
~ Jean de la Bruyere

I got started making another batch of rag rugs this weekend - yay!  :)

The pattern I'm using this time is supposed to make little diamonds.  It never works out quite as well with my rugs as it looks on paper, because my warp threads are thin and my weft (recycled t-shirt yarn) is thick - so it's not balanced.  

But I think, if you look closely and squint (and possibly use your imagination!), you might be able to make out the diamonds in the fabric above...  ;)

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Possibilities of a Blank Page

A blank page of paper and a pen is the greatest invention - 
it's so exciting to be confronted by possibility.
~ Nicky Wire

Across the last few weeks, a little bit here and a little bit there, I've been getting my loom ready to weave a new batch of rag rugs.  

It would have gone more quickly, but I had "help" from one of our kittens - look carefully and you can see him.  (This did not end well.  There was yelling AND hissing involved...  I'll leave it as an exercise for the reader to decide who yelled and who hissed.)  

Last night, I finally finished!  And here it is...  

...a weaver's blank page, its siren call humming in my head...  

Oh the possibilities!  :)

I think I'll start with this color combination...  

(Mostly because it is the only combination out of seven for which all three t-shirts have been cut into yarn!)  

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


We may even find out why the duck-billed platypus.*
* Not why it is anything.  Just why it is.  
~ Terry Pratchett

Okay, I'm still on the topic of making shirts for Ana's nephews, and this particular fabric choice may be a mistake...  

But let me back up.  The specific reason that I'm going all the way to Mexico for some graduations is that the oldest of Ana's graduating nephews, Fredi (pictured here on the far left) - graduating from "la secondaria" - asked me to be his "madrina" - which means "godmother" but is, in this case, a role associated with school, not the church.  

It's a big honor to be asked - but it does require attending the graduation ceremony.  (And I've probably set a precedent by saying yes, which means that I may end up attending a lot more of these ceremonies in the future...)  

Anyways, he expressed interest in my ability to sew clothes the last time I was there - which gave me the idea to make him a shirt.  

Of course, I'm also giving him a tablet - I want to be one of the cool madrinas!  ;)

As I wandered around Joann's, I was really struggling with what fabric to buy for his shirt.  (Finally!  We're back to the topic of fabric!)  

He is a laid-back, easy going, goodnatured young man - someone you just enjoy hanging out with.  He has a good sense of humor and never seems to get bent out of shape about anything.  He loved playing video games on my tablet last March.  And so, when I saw this fabric...  

I bought it. 

(And I got the corresponding game installed on his tablet.)  

Part of me thinks (hopes!) that he'll get a kick out of it and enjoy the humor in wearing it.  

And another part of me is a bit worried...  It's not suave or sophisticated or macho.  

It's definitely a risky choice.  

I may end up changing my mind and making him a shirt in a different fabric.  But this is what I have now, and I have already cut out the pieces, so, we'll see...