Friday, March 20, 2015

She Stitches Snappy Stuff

Blue Eyes got a sewing machine for Christmas (thanks Grandma and Grandpa!). This one, in fact. I love that it's a real sewing machine and not a toy. She loves it because it's Hello Kitty and is of the opinion that there's pretty much nothing better than that. Six year olds are awesome.
Diligently working on her very first project
Two projects have now been sewn with it. Blue Eyes first made a drawstring backpack that she made away as a birthday gift for a neighbor. The second was a dress for this month's Project Run & Play

The drawstring backpack
The pattern for this month is the Knot Dress from Jess at The Sewing Rabbit. I decided to keep the pattern mostly the same because this was only the second sewing project ever for Miss Blue Eyes. I had previously purchased some Hello Kitty fabric so that was definitely the material of choice.

Red + Hello Kitty = a very happy Blue Eyes
Because she was the one who did most of the sewing, I'll let Blue Eyes say a few things about her dress.

I like Hello Kitty. This is my favorite dress and I made some of it. My favorite thing about sewing it was when my mom helped me with the twists and turns.

Aaaaaand that was all I could get out of her. Blue Eyes is six years old and not big on sharing much if she doesn't feel like it.

Back view
As for the changes that were made, I closed the back, traded the knots on the bodice for snaps, included a band at the waist, and just used the width of the material for the skirt rather than measuring panels.
The heart snaps are super fun. Just in case you were wondering
I was very proud of Blue Eyes for getting through the stitching of the top of the bodice with all the curves that went into making the straps. There were some pretty tight curves with the straps. I had to stop her quite a few times to help her get the seam allowances even.

Two snaps per strap to keep everything nicely in place Those curves really were deadly.
Blue Eyes stitched the side and back seams on the skirt, as well as the side seams and neckline of the bodice.  I can't say enough how impressed I am that she did such a good job attaching the lining at the neckline. She rocked it! I aided the project by doing the understitching, attaching skirt to bodice, and hemming. Blue Eyes would have done the hemming if I had not put the dress on the back burner for over a week before remembering the Project Run & Play deadline was looming. The final touch was adding the iconic bow.

I added fleece interfacing to the bow for extra puffiness
While I was pleased with how well Blue Eyes did with her dress, I'm thinking her next project will be sewing quilt squares together to make a pillow or a lap quilt. That was how I learned and it helps a lot with getting used to making completely even seam allowances.
She was more interested in playing on the tablet than posing for pictures
I think Blue Eyes has a great sewing future ahead of her. I'm so happy we can share this. The trick for me is trying not to hover and correct every stitch. She's doing great.

Rocking her dress and her new glasses

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Emily Culottes Blog Tour and Giveaway

A couple of weeks ago I was surprised to see my phone telling me there was a call to pattern test the Emily Culottes from Itch-to-Stitch patterns. Before doing the testing I was unaware that culottes are making a comeback. That may have been the best news I've gotten this year. Culottes give the coverage I appreciate from capris with the added bonus of the fullness for comfort and air flow. Even better was that I immediately knew which fabric I would use. I got some lovely eyelet for 75% off then hated every idea I had for what to do with it. The culottes were a perfect project.

The pattern comes with plenty of options for whatever makes you happy. I opted for the welt pockets and lining to eliminate the peekaboo factor of the eyelet. I already had some knit fabric for the lining that matched beautifully.

My lighting is off...which is to be expected I use my phone for pictures. Which is always.
Working with the Emily Culottes pattern was a pleasure. Several digital patterns I have used in the past left something to be desired. I didn't feel this way about the Emily Culottes. Not even a little. The pattern is sized well, the instructions are clear, and the sewing techniques are professional. I was very impressed with the quality of the pattern. It was plain to see that a lot of care and skill went into its creation. Coming from me, that's saying a lot.
I always lean against the wall on my porch; don't you?
One portion of the patterns that is pretty great is the welt pockets. The welt pocket instructions were different than I had used before, but every bit as effective. I was able to squeak out just enough fabric from the unembroidered selvage edge to make the welt flaps. Pants without pockets are pretty useless to me so I was glad they were available. Patch pockets are also included in the pattern.

Some of the other options I used were the front pleat and lengthening the culottes. I added five inches to the length so they will be appropriate wherever I go. We're putting in our backyard this year and I look forward to going outside to play with the kids. With the culottes I'll be able to horse around with them while still looking pretty and keeping my underwear covered at all times. And that's to say nothing of the bike rides I have planned for our little family.

I love the drape and flow of the culottes. It's so feminine and comfortable.
I'm very happy with the way the culottes turned out. They are comfortable, cool, and pretty while allowing me all the movement I need as a mom of four. I already have another pair cut out in denim and just waiting for the serger to come back from a tune up. I'm fairly certain I'l be living in culottes this summer. And I'm okay with that.
I mention summer in the text yet I'm still standing in the snow. In my sandals.
Kennis from Itch-to-Stitch is giving away a copy of the Emily Culottes. Just enter the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win! If you're not feeling particularly lucky or just want to get a jump start on your spring and summer wardrobe, the Emily Culottes are on sale for 20% off. Grab a copy, get sewing, and spend the summer wearing culottes. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, March 9, 2015

Recent Projects

I have a new obsession. I mentioned it briefly in my post about Pink Blur's new dress. It's the Girl Charlee KnitFix. You get six different fabrics in two yards cuts, all in a tote bag. And the fabrics are all a surprise. My fabric tastes are so specific that I wasn't interested in buying something I might never use. Then I discovered the KnitFix Facebook group and saw that people buy, sell, and trade their KnitFix fabrics there. So I went for it and bought two bags. I'm not sad. These are the bags I received.

The only fabric I kept from this one was the top middle. It's a rayon blend jersey. There were also two cotton/spandex fabrics, a ponte knit, a hacci sweater knit, and a french terry.

From this bag I kept the top left (Hubs wants a polo out of it), top right (Pink Blur's dress), and the bottom left. I either sold or traded all the others. I ended up getting an extra cut of the bottom left to made a cardigan for my brother's fiance and a baby hacci knit for myself. That one is a work in progress. The last I traded for was a large chevron ponte that I made into a maxi skirt. Rather than go into detail on each piece I'll just give the pattern and fabric under the picture.

This is a Simplicity pattern that is pretty far out of print. I used it once before here. I can't find the pattern number immediately but I'll post it later. I brought the sleeves in quite a bit from elbow to wrist.

This is the cardigan for my future sister in law. Her birthday is in a couple of weeks and this is her gift. The pattern is Butterick 5793 and the fabric is a boucle hacci sweater knit. I'd never worked with a sweater knit before, so that was a learning experience.

This is just a quick snapshot of the ponte maxi skirt. I almost didn't trade for it and now I'm so glad I did. It begged to be a maxi skirt and I used this tutorial from Miriam to make it. I love it.

That does it for the KnitFix fabrics thus far. I'm not receiving anything for talking about KnitFix (though I certainly wouldn't mind!), I just had a lot of fun with it. I'll be doing it again. Back to the fabrics, once the Hubs is done losing weight I will make him the polo shirt he wants. My own cardigan is sitting in my sewing machine box waiting to be finished. The pattern is apparently also out of print. I picked it up at JoAnn's rellocation sale when they were clearing out all their stuff rather than move it. $1.99 Vouge patterns? Yes, please! I bought...a lot.

This final picture is just another quick shot. Obviously, Video Game was not very pleased that I was taking a picture. Actually, it was just the tie. He screamed when I put it on him. The pattern is the Max & Matilda button-up bodysuit. Next time I make it I'm going to make the collar a size bigger around the neck and wide enough to cover his tie better. The fabric was just a plain woven white I had in my stash.

I have several other projects in the planning or construction phase. I was also thinking of doing a tutorial about working with sweater knits because those are a different beast altogether. And tomorrow I'll be part of a blog tour for a new pattern I recently tested, so come back again soon to see it. There will be a giveaway too!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Let's Talk Weight Loss

This is not the first time I've been in serious weight loss mode (see the Losing It page under the header) but it will hopefully be the last. No more babies will be adding pounds to me so that excuse is gone. It's all on me now, which is a little scary. I want to write about it in the hopes that I can be even more accountable and make better choices. Slipping up is so easy. And so delicious.

The picture above was taken the day after Thanksgiving 2014. Video Game was one month old. I expected to gain weight because I have always gained weight while nursing. This time around I've had enough breastmilk supply to keep the baby happy. That's a first. Anyway, I hoped to keep off as much weight as possible. After Video Game turned two months old the Hubs and I started on the Take Shape for Life program. He is doing their regular program and I'm doing on that's modified for nursing mothers. We started in conjunction with a five week health challenge. It went really well and I'm posting the before and afters.




In the five weeks I ended up losing 15 pounds and the Hubs lost 25. Pretty awesome, I think. But now that five weeks is over and we're two weeks past that. And I'm slipping a little. Right now I'm very close to being down 20 lbs since starting Take Shape for Life. I haven't gained anything back but it scares me that I might. I'm not being as careful about my eating as I should be. There's a lot going through my mind right now. Am I exercising too much for the amount of calories I'm eating? Am I really producing enough milk for Video Game? How do I strike the correct balance to be the best at this for the baby, myself, and my husband? 

I bring all this up on this blog here for several reasons. 1) Making it public should help keep me 2) Writing helps me work out my thoughts. 3) If I keep sewing stuff, the has to change with my changing body. 4) I plan on sewing things as my reward fr losing weight. Documenting it here will show my rewards for accomplishing my goals.

All of this is hard for me. I've lost a bit of my self control and it comes back in fits and starts when I hear someone compliment me on the weight loss. Now I guess the best I can do is to accept my strengths and my struggles and try to work with them. I don't love opening up about all this but I hope it will help me and/or someone else. So here goes.

I can do this. I've done it before.
The Hubs is doing this with me. Helping him also helps me.
The food is convenient. Remembering the cost should help me stay on plan.

Being home with the kids all day opens up a lot of possibility for eating things I shouldn't.
My brain and my body fight over who's in charge.
Part of me doesn't believe I'll get down to my goal, which I haven't clearly defined in the first place.

If anyone has any other thoughts or tips for me, feel free to share. I just finished eating several balls of frozen cookie dough so any help is good.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Drop (Waist) and Give Me 20!

For the first time ever I am participating in the sew along for Project Run & Play. I generally sew for myself because I get the most enjoyment out of that. 

This is her muscle pose
The set up this time around is pretty intriguing so I decided to join in. The pattern is the free Mademoiselle Muscle Tee by Susan from Living With Punks. It's done in size five so I figured it would be perfect for The Pink Blur, who is four. It was a little big for her but I worked with it, as well as adding modifications.
This is her favorite pose. You'll see it more as the pictures continue.
A new pattern deserves new fabric. I took the leap and ordered two Girl Charlee KnitFix bags from the February sale. Pink Blur loves knit floral dresses like nobody's business. When she saw this floral she immediately claimed it and asked for a dress. The blue is from my stash and I was glad to find something that matched so perfectly. It really brightens up the dress and makes it playful.

Same pose from the back
I modified the muscle tee pattern into a drop waist dress by finding her hip and cutting the pattern off there. With the remainder of the pattern pieces I just slashed and spread to get the fullness I wanted, then added length. I prefer the look of sleeves and added flutter sleeves to keep it simple.

Aaaaaand looking over her shoulder.
The blue waistband was for added definition and color, as well as to tie in the blue on the neck band. Before I started cutting out the floral I knew the dress was going to need something more. That was when the idea for the layered sleeves and skirt was born. I'm happy with the effect. The dress then looked like this:
Quick reference pic for sending out
At this point the dress was okay but I thought it needed something more. Everything I thought of just didn't look good in my head. I sent out the above picture to my mom and a friend to ask their opinion about a couple of my ideas. One suggestion I got from both of them was to gather a strip of fabric and make a corsage applique with it. This is meant to be a play dress and I wanted something less fussy than what was showing up in my brain. I wanted to keep it really simple.
Drop and give me twenty smiles!
I did end up using the idea of gathering a strip of fabric, but I used it to make a straight strip down the center front. It gives it the added embellishment of blue that I wanted without competing against the busy floral pattern. The strip was created by gathering down the center, placing the strip, and sewing over the gathering stitch. Easy peasy.
The response to "Show me a different pose, sweetie."
The final adjustment I made was on the neck band. I didn't like how it was laying on her little chest, so I took a tiny wedge seam on the band. Ta-Da! Now it's a V neck. I didn't bother too much with pictures because she just wanted to play and also because I have a three month old baby who is teething and wants to be held. Poor boy. :(

How long are you going to make me hold a plank? It's hard!
The Pink Blur absolutely loves her dress. Her big sister wants one of her own and has already chosen her design modifications. I'll get around to that. Some time. For now I'm really pleased that I got such a great result from a floral fabric that I would not usually have chosen. See the other Mademoiselle Muscle Tee challenge creations over at Project Run & Play!

The final muscle pose. This little cutie makes me smile every day!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Introducing Video Game!

In the delivery room
Our newest (and last) addition is here! His blog name is Video Game. His oldest sister thought that should be his real name "because he's a boy and boys like video games." 
Meeting the family
He came four days late. I was scheduled for an induction but went into labor on my own the night before. Labor and delivery was the easiest I've ever had. We did have the little snag of me passing out, but it wasn't scary this time like it was with Blue Eyes.
Coming home from the hospital
Video Game was 21 inches long and a pleasant 8 lbs 5 ounces. We expected him to weigh at least a pound more than that, so his weight was a happy surprise.
First Halloween costume
He has been very alert and observant since his first hour of life.  He's a really chill baby,though I would be lying if I said he doesn't have a voice of complaint. That is mostly saved for when I don't feed him fast enough. With three other kids sometimes he just has to wait.
Smiley boy
His brother and sisters adore him, as do his parents. And everyone else. I love seeing him smile. I can't wait until he starts laughing. Baby laughs are contagious!
He likes looking at the lights on the tree
I haven't done a lick of sewing since was born, though I did crochet him a viking hat. He doesn't scream when I put it on him. That's always a good thing. I've been enjoying just soaking him up.
Everyone should have a hat like this
We ended up blessing him earlier than we planned so I asked my mom to sew him a blessing outfit. She stepped up to the plate in spectacular fashion with this little tuxedo. I love it so much.
We're fortunate to have this little guy in our family. I thought Q-ball would be really jealous but he's been doing pretty well. I'm a lucky mom. Now excuse me while I go nibble on his little cheeks.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

What I've Been Up To or, The Photo Dump of Many Projects

I've been neglecting this blog. I may have been inactive here, but I certainly have not been idle. For anyone who cares, I now present several pictures and words about what I've been doing the past almost 3 months.

Getting Ready for School

Blue Eyes started first grade at the end of August. The school sent home a Summer Stay Sharp packet that included things to be done to keep up reading and math skills. Completing the packet then got the student a prize. I have no idea how I got the idea that the prize was a costume party, but I did. Blue Eyes really, really wanted to be a mermaid and, because I am a sucker and because she worked so hard, I complied with her request. I did this with the full knowledge (and purchase of fabric and pattern) that the plan was for Blue Eyes to be a "vampire girl" for Halloween. Turns out the prize was an ice cream party. So now she's decided to wear fangs and be a vampire mermaid queen for Halloween. Works for me. The costume is finished, I just haven't taken the pictures yet. She wore it to a costume birthday party and I need to fix where the fins were too long and ripped.

True love is using a toy teacup and gold paint pen to make scales on the tail portion of a costume. I took the picture at the point where I had decided I'd made a mistake in adding scales. Yes, I even took the center front and back into account.
The next project didn't take long. I saw chocolate apples at See's when we were there and decided they would be a nice little gift for my daughter's teachers. I added a little note to go with them. I figured that meant I had filled my cute and creative quota for the year.

Broken Nose

The Pink Blur lives up to her nickname, but not always to her advantage. One Saturday in August she ran through the house in her flip flops and took a header into my bed. I was in my room cleaning out my closet and saw her go down, though I didn't see whether it was into my bed frame or box springs. Either way, the screaming was immediate and the bleeding was so strong ans fast that it came out both her nose and mouth. No fun. We took a useless trip to the ER only to be told that, since she hadn't lost consciousness, we just needed to go to an ENT in a few days after the swelling had gone down. Two appointments later we knew for sure her nose had indeed broken and needed to be straightened in same day surgery. The entire process from accident to surgery to getting rid of the nose split took two weeks. And a buttload of money. With just that we've met more than half of our family deductible for medical insurance.
Waiting to go in for surgery. I have spared the internet the pictures of the bruising and the splint she wore for five days after the surgery.

First School Project

Blue Eyes's class learned about habitats and they were assigned to choose one and make a diorama including land formations, plants, and animal life found in that habitat. Blue Eyes chose underground and insisted that moles needed to be one of the animals. Because it's so easy to find ready-made moles that can fit into a shoe box diorama. The project would have been so much easier to do if I hadn't included Blue Eyes in the construction of the diorama. She would have preferred to be more involved. She also wanted the moles to chase the earthworms in a flying race. So...there was quite a bit of it I did myself. It was time consuming. These little guys were created from part of a maribou boa that was stitched together and the fluff trimmed down, pink beads glued together for the nose, and the hands and feet of a dollar store skeleton.

The earthworms and grubs also came from the dollar store. They were made from rope candy which smelled like death.

Missionary Suitcase

It's hard to know where to start on this. It was a big project made with lots of love and the experience ended with a reaffirmation of the love of God for each of us. I wrote about it in detail on my personal blog but I haven't decided yet whether or not to share it here. Here's the long story short: In early September I heard about a project to fill up a suitcase for a prospective missionary who would not be able to get those things together on their own. I had a lot of help in getting ready for my mission and felt the need to pay it forward. I did so by making the clothing and asking friends and family for an contributions they could make so I could afford to get everything that needed to go in the suitcase. Below are the fruits of my labors.
The tops. The two in the middle are from the same pattern. I totally love it.

The skirts. The picture is fuzzy but they are pretty basic. The black and olive skirts on the left are flared, the black and blue skirts on the right are straight. All but the blue skirt use buttonhole elastic to make an adjustable waist. I can't fit someone I'll never meet.

Accessory shrug and dress. I really love the dress fabric and I'll probably make a skirt for myself out of the scraps.

After dropping off the suitcase we met one of the organizers of Eyes4Zimbabwe. And it was awesome.

Taken at 39 weeks along
I'm in the final days of pregnancy with baby #4, who will be called Video Game. Did I ever mention his blog name? Well, it's Video Game and his sisters came up with it. Anyhow, the last bit of pregnancy is always a bit super-ultra tiring and sewing isn't high on my priority list. I did make two maternity/nursing tops from the same pattern that I anticipate using more after Video Game is born.

At a girls' night with some high school buddies. The striped shirt is one of the two I made. I ran out of fabric to make the sleeves as long as I wanted so I added green ones to give it a layered look.
I'm trying to fill my remaining time with things I won't be able to do after I deliver. Tonight is a date night with the hubby including a trip to the temple and dinner. Tomorrow is a dinner at church with the ladies there. The doctor will be stripping my membranes the day after that, so hopefully Friday night is baby time. We'll see. This kid doesn't seem too anxious to leave his little apartment.
The photo op at the pumpkin patch was too good to pass up. The kids had a blast too.