Category Archives: Parenting

Almost there… Simplicity 3678

I’m so close to being done with the dress, I can smell it!  Despite circumstances, we were able to complete quite a bit of sewing last night, Thea and I.  Jack decided that he didn’t want to go to bed at all and I was finally forced to bring him out to the living room with us while we sewed.  He sat in my lap almost the entire time, so some of my stitching is less than stellar (as you’ll soon see).  He talked up a storm the whole time telling me the color of the pin heads, which numbers were on what buttons of my sewing machine and playing with scraps of fabric.  Do you think I have a future tailor on my hands?  😉

As I mentioned last time, I had difficulty with the instructions for the pleating on the bodice, but surprisingly, so did Thea.  She didn’t understand why they required us to stitch down the pleats from the inside of the bodice (see pic below).  It looked ok on the inside, but from the outside it was awful.  Thea didn’t want to put the line of stitches down for each pleat at all, wanting them to just fall open.  I agree, it’s much more pleasing to look at when you leave them be.  But we were doing this dress “straight out of the envelope” so we slavishly followed the directions.  Here are close ups of the bodice inside and out.

Bodice pleats inside

Bodice pleats inside

So you can see the pleats stitched down, that I basted the pleats twice (second time to connect both sides of the front bodice) and then used the stretch stitch above the basting to attach the empire waist band.  You can also see the gathered skirt at the bottom there. 

Bodice pleats outside

Bodice pleats outside

Here are the pleats on the right side (click the picture to “enbiggen”).  The arrows show where they have been stitched down (and show my bad sewing with Jack in my lap).  I do not like the look of this from the right side.

I decided to serge the side seams (using the 3 thread – single needle stitch).  I am still amazed at how fast it is to use the serger.  It’s like magic.  And then all of the sudden, I had a dress!!!  I mean, I still have to attach the sleeves, but I could actually put it on and wear it!!!  I don’t think I will ever get tired of the final moments of putting something together that’s wearable.  SO COOOOOOOOL!  I was so enamored of the finished project, that I actually considered wearing this dress even though the fabric is too young for me. 

Side seam

Side seam

Oh and before I forget to mention it…  ahem…  get ready for this…

I WAS RIGHT!!!!  Size 16 was too large for me.  The size 14 I made was too large for me.  My gut feeling to make a size 12 was right on.  Why, oh why do I never trust my gut???  This makes me feel so much better knowing that most of my patterns are size 14 and lower.  I would have hated having to repurchase them all again!

Ok, ok, I know you’re wanting to see the pictures.  Just remember that I haven’t hemmed yet, I haven’t cut all the stray bits of thread and the sleeves aren’t even on yet.  But lookee!

Bodice

Bodice

It’s a little low cut as you can see my bra here.  Hmm…  I really don’t like being forced to wear a cami. 

full view

There’s Jack.  Still up at 10pm at night.  He was a pistol.  So you can see that this dress is too big on me right?  Also, I don’t think this style is flattering on me.  In fact, I think it makes me look darn right dowdy.  The empire waist emphasises my large rib cage (made larger from years of singing opera). 

So, what do you think?  Should I even bother making this up again in the smaller size?  Do you think it would look better if I took out the gathers?  Please let me know!

Happy sewing!

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Mama needs a new dress!

Hmmm…. where to start.  Well, let’s get the icky stuff out of the way.  This weekend was a tough one for me and Jack.  This single parenthood thing is hard sometimes.  But something good came out of this weekend: The List.  I bet you’re wondering what list could it be?  Well, obviously it’s the good parent cheat sheet, silly!  I am not proud of my behavior this weekend; I hope Jack’s long term memory hasn’t kicked in yet and that he doesn’t remember July 4th weekend of 2009, or as I like to call it, “Bad Mommy Weekend.”  So here’s my “post it” list of things to do or not do to be a better parent…

The List

  1. Sleep: It’s the most important weapon in a parent’s arsenal.  Don’t stay up late.  Ever!  Because Murphy’s Law dictates that if one stays up late, one’s child is guaranteed to wake up at 4am for the day (or even earlier, like 2:45 am).  If you get enough sleep (7 hours minimum, 8 hours ideal, more than 8 hours and you probably went to bed with your kid), you are not only fresh as a daisy the next day, but you have patience.  Patience to handle the whining, the constant throwing of heavy and hard objects into the air to crash into china cabinets, etc, and general kid stuff all day long and not start drinking at 9am in the morning (and I’m not talking coffee here).  Patience is not a resource I have in abundance.  I guess you could say that it’s almost a non-renewable resource for me I have so little of it.  So sleep is very important for my patience quotient.
  2. Act your age, not your kid’s age: My major realization from this weekend was that I was throwing temper tantrums.  Me?  Temper tantrums???  Whoa!  Poor little Jack.  I was sleep deprived, but that’s never an excuse.  I was not acting like a mature adult.  It’s just not a pretty sight to see an adult lose it because her kid likes to throw hard objects into the air 24/7 (oops, did I mention that already?).   Once I caught sight of myself throwing a tantrum, I just stopped. 
  3. The mystery of Three:  Three IS the magic number.  When Jack and I are with other people, even if it is just one other person, it’s magic.  There are hardly any temper tantrums (adult or child), there is significantly less whining and everyone is happier.  I see two-parent families in the park all the time and it seems like heaven how they can take turns caring for the cranky child.  What bliss that would be to have a fall back person.  It makes me almost want a husband.  Almost.  😉  So, plan playdates and get that third (or 4th or 5th) magical person into the mix.
  4. Plan an outing or activity every day: Sounds simple doesn’t it?  If Jack and I don’t get out and “do something,” he gets hyper and starts venting his ginormous reserve of energy into activities like throwing large and extremely heavy objects into the air (I don’t think I’ve stressed the throwing thing enough yet).  Some weekend mornings, I just don’t feel like going out to the park; I just want to be lazy and hang out inside.  But then I “pay” for it later with a child who’s bursting at the seams with energy.  Boys need to be run like dogs or so I’ve heard. 

I know there are only four items on The List, but those four strategies will go a long way to making my parenting skills better.  Of course, I am open to suggestions, so please feel free to leave a comment with your favorites for the list.

Ok, now that that’s off my chest, let’s move on to sewing matters…  I’ve done a lot of research into what my next major project will be.  I knew I wanted to make a dress.  I knew I wanted it to be knit.  And I knew I wanted it to be easy.  I only have one knit dress in my wardrobe and I would wear it every day if I could, so a knit dress (or maybe 10) is definitely the way to go.  I looked at my Simplicity pattern stash (my friend Victoria insists that I start with Simplicity patterns) and narrowed it down to two patterns, 3678 and 2850.  I read the reviews on PatternReview for both and decided that 3678, view A (on the bottom right) was the one to make up right away. 

Simplicity 3678

Simplicity 3678

Of course, as soon as I made my choice, the parade of endless questions started, beginning with which size should I trace and cut out.  My measurements indicated a size 16.  16????  Yes, I wrote a size 16.  It was just as jarring for me to find that out.  I knew there was no vanity sizing in patterns, but sheesh!  That’s down right insult sizing if ever I heard of it.  I am going to wing it with a size 14 (I’m totally ignoring you Size 16!) with some fabric bought on line which was not a winner upon receipt.  Let’s just say it has a 70’s vibe to it, not in a good way, and leave it at that.  During one of my son’s naps over the weekend I traced it out, and over the next couple of evenings, I cut the fabric and transferred all the markings. 

Oh before I forget, to the other newbie sewists out there: Here’s one important lesson I learned when I cut out this pattern.  If the pattern says 2 yds are required for your size, don’t cut down your 3 yd piece of fabric to 2 yds and then lay out your pattern pieces to cut them out.  Why you might ask? Well, I didn’t need the whole 2 yds.  I could have gotten away with using 1.5 yds and had 1 large scrap left over instead of two small scraps of fabric which may or may not be useful in the future.  The drawings for the pattern layouts are not to scale!!!  So check how much fabric you really need by laying out the pattern pieces BEFORE cutting into your fabric.  Ok, rant over.

Remember when I ruminated over the learning process for sewing?  And how I talked about maybe hiring someone to teach me at home?  Well, I bit the bullet and sent an email to the woman who helped me with the infamous couch slipcover project, Thea.  What prompted this decision was the fact that I sat down last night to start sewing Simplicity 3678 and couldn’t get past the first direction!  I don’t have the pattern instructions in front of me right now, but that one paragraph had me asking an awful lot of questions…  ARGH!  Carolyn and Karen agree that I am overthinking things, and I know that, but I don’t have the experience yet to move past the questions and just do it.  And, although I love PatternReview, asking questions on the boards there is not an instantaneous thing, meaning if you need an answer right away, you’re not going to get one right away necessarily.  A lot of my questions are about interpreting the directions, so with time and experience, I will have less and less of these questions pop up, I hope.  As I also mentioned in the ruminations post, taking classes is an expensive proposition when babysitting fees are included.  So taking private lessons, I think, is the way to go.  My plan is to work on a couple of specific projects with Thea from beginning to end to address all of my questions along the way.  I’ve asked her to come over twice a week for a few weeks and see how that goes.  Her rates are very reasonable and I found her very helpful last time. 

Besides, Simplicity 3678, I am going to work on my pant sloper with her, a skirt and who knows what else I will add to the list.  I am very excited to work with her and tonight is our first night.  Woo hoo!  Can’t wait.

Happy sewing!

Sew much to write, sew little time…

Ahhhh, staycations.  They’re not all they’re cracked up to be.  I gotta tell you, my hat is off to anyone who can be a full time SAHM.  I don’t think I could do it.  I knew being a single parent would be hard, but being an old single parent is harder.  I just don’t have the energy for a toddler.  Wow!  Of course it would help if I went to bed at a decent hour.  Jack is going 240 from the time he wakes up to the time he goes to bed.  I know this is a cliche, but I wish I could have that energy bottled for myself.  Sheesh!  I was looking forward to going back to work today just to rest up.  😉

Anyway, I have so much to tell you and so many posts planned.  But first the exciting stuff (not that all of it isn’t exciting), I met up with Trena and Cidell (pic of all three of us on Trena’s blog) while they were in NYC last last Friday and met up with Karen last Wednesday.  It was so much fun to meet these women, whose blogs I have been reading for over a year now.  It was so cool to talk shop with them and ask them questions, get their opinions on fabric choices.  I have to admit that while shopping with them all, I went overboard with my purchases from the sheer excitement.  And then, Carolyn wrote about the Vera Wang fabric sale at fabric.com and my stash has just doubled in the last two weeks.  Crazy!!! 

With Trena and Cidell, we met up for lunch first at an ok chinese place, Ginger, in the garment district.  Then we headed over to Kashi’s at Metro Textile.  I was pretty restrained there that day, but promised him I would come back the next Wednesday with Karen.  Funnily, I saw the sweater knit that I bought from Ann of Gorgeous Fabrics there.  And even more funny and unbeknownst to me at the time, I bought the same navy stretch cotton from Kashi that I bought from Ann.  Originally, I had bought yardage from Ann to make capris and shorts from my new sloper pattern (thanks to my moulage class with Kenneth King), and while I was shopping with T & C, I got the urge to make a navy skirt.  I didn’t realize they were one and the same fabrics until I went home and saw them together.  Very funny!  From Kashi’s we went to Spandex House; I’ve never shopped there previously.  I wasn’t in the market for their stuff right now, but at least now I know where they are and what they have.  Unfortunately, I had to bid T & C adieu after Spandex House.  I had a lot of errands to do on my day off before vacation.   

On Wednesday, I met Karen at Kashi’s and continued to buy more fabric.  Shocker!  I went a little crazy.  He had more new stuff than the previous Friday.  I promise I will show pics of my hauls altogether as soon as I receive the fabric.com package.  From Metro Textiles we went to Pacific Trims and I was in ribbon and button heaven.  I had forgotten how much I loved my grandma’s button collection when I was little (where did that collection end up???).  I wanted to take them all home with me.  But instead, I had to settle for the cutest little round buttons made of coconut shell of all things.  I think I’ll use them on my navy capri pants.  Then Karen took me to a store where she had found batiste at a great pricepoint, H&M Fabrics; I bought 5 yds.  But, as Karen said, the best part of the day was seeing the Isabel Toledo exhibit at the FIT museum.  We weren’t allowed to take any pictures, but oh my was it delicious.  I wasn’t really aware of Ms. Toledo before the Obama Inauguration outfit, but all of her work is amazing.  I wouldn’t personally wear all of it, but they were one and all a marvel of sewing techniques and so well made.  Just stunning.  She even called herself a seamstress.  If any of you come to NYC in the next little while, I would definitely put this exhibit on your list of things to do.  It was just mind-blowing.  

While shopping, Trena mentioned she was looking for avocado colored silk jersey.  Well I saw some at a great price when I was H&M Fabrics with Karen.  I emailed Trena later that day asking her if she wanted me to pick some up for her when I was in the hood again.  She wrote back right away saying yes!  So, on Friday Jack and I power subwayed up to the garment district and back in under an hour!!!  I am mailing her fabric off today.

Since my fabric extravaganzas of late, I have been itching to sew clothes.  But first, I had to finish the quilt for Ryan.  And with my Mom’s help (she was in town last week), I did just that!  I am mailing it today too.  I am so excited to have completed this project.  It was way out of my comfort zone, but I learned a lot of new skills:

  • Used a walking foot (that foot is über-cool!)
  • Sampled and used decorative stitches on my new Emerald 183 (love the cute stars stitch!)
  • How to do sashiko embroidery (love it:  very relaxing + quick to do = very satisfying)
  • That I should use a longer stitch  and special quilting thread when machine quilting (who knew?)
  • How to bind a quilt (thank God I didn’t sew it by hand — I would be still stitching that thing while Ryan was in college)
  • how labor intensive and detail oriented quilt making is (and I didn’t even piece the top?!?!?!!!!)
  • I’m sure there’s more that I learned, but I can’t think of anything more right now

Will I do another quilt in the future?  I don’t know.  I won’t rule it out, but I definitely did not get the quilting bug from this project.  It’s a long process and I think I like getting results a lot quicker than that.  However, that being said, I did love doing the sashiko hand embroidery and I loved knowing that a special little baby boy would be lovingly placed in and on this quilt and that it would be used.  I hope they like it.

Wanna see the finished quilt?  Here are several views:

Finished Quilt full view

Binding with Emerald 183 star stitch

Binding with Emerald 183 star stitch

Do you see the baby's initials and birthdate on the rockets?

Do you see the baby's initials and birthdate on the rockets?

Quilt Backing

Quilt Backing

Closeup of shooting star

Closeup of shooting star

 

I know I still owe you the wrap up on the Kenneth King class.  I’m going to work on it tomorrow.  Tonight I want to finish my first project apres quilt, the 20 minute skirt (which is now on the 3rd hour of work).

Happy sewing!

What I didn’t do this weekend

Well, procrastination just wasn’t in the picture for the weekend.  My good friend saint Lisa called me on Friday to inform me she was coming over on Saturday to help me unpack.  Luckily, I had booked a babysitter for Jack or we wouldn’t have finished a thing.  I can’t believe how much we accomplished.  She is really the best kind of friend.  Thank you Lisa!!!! 

I was able to get rid of lots of boxes, unpack and put away lots of stuff (stuff that I hadn’t even unpacked the last move!), organize my stuff and even find places for all the furniture.  There is no longer any need to mount the desk or table on the ceiling.  It’s actually a livable, play in-able space now.  I can hardly believe it.  And it’s all thanks to Lisa.  I could never have found the energy or creativity to finish this without her.  Did I say thank you enough yet?  I don’t think I ever can.  🙂

So the parenting side of the equation, this weekend wasn’t one of my better ones.  Maybe it’s the stress of moving and soon to be changing jobs,  as well as a toddler’s stress with all the changes, but we did not have a good weekend together.  I was completely shocked this morning when he preferred me over the nanny.  He was clingy with me.  I could barely put my make up on.  So surprising and somehow reaffirming.  Anyway, I am hoping that more patience comes my way and that someone slips me a better parenting mickey sometime soon.  Jack deserves it.

Remember that pretty Kokka fabric I bought at Purl?  Well I bought only one yard thinking that would be all I needed for a sleeveless or short sleeved summery top.  Well guess what kiddos?  All the patterns I have call for 1 7/8 to 2 yds!!!!  What the???  Why would a blouse call for that much yardage?  Compound this with the fact that the Kokka fabric is only 42 inches wide and I am in big trouble.  So I guess I will have to use that fabric for a certain little girl I know, my other niece Haley. 

Good thing I bought all that other gauzy cotton last week…  But of course, I needed some more, so I went internet shopping again today!  You can’t stop me now.  😉  I bought these two lovelies (2 yds each) from Fabric.com.

London Calling Cotton Lawn Lagoon

London Calling Cotton Lawn Lagoon

London Calling Cotton Lawn Lipstick

London Calling Cotton Lawn Lipstick

 

Can’t wait to get them.  As for the poll from the last post, the jumper won (thanks for voting in my first ever poll!), but I’m sorry to say that I’m just not feeling a wintery garment right now.  I am so jonesing for spring and maybe, just maybe, if I sew a spring/summery garment I’ll make it come sooner.  Right?  So now I’ll have enough fabric to sew up one of the blouses, but in the meantime, I think I’ll try my hand at a muslin.  Why screw up the good fabric when you could screw up the muslin first?   

And so begins my first muslin journey…  Happy sewing everyone!

PS:  I read the latest Threads last night; too tired to trace out my pattern for the spring/summer blouse.  Do you think it’s worth getting a subscription?

Move Debrief

Well, I am moved into the new apt, but it isn’t a pretty site.  I am thinking that I need to nail the desk and the round table to the ceiling as there is just not enough floor space to go around for furniture, much less for Jack to play.  He has been completely unhinged by this move, poor little guy.  Hopefully he’ll acclimate in a couple of days.  I keep hearing how children are resilient though. 

It was a grueling 18 hours of hard labor.  I am thankful to two dear friends for taking pity on this single mother helping me out, Cayce and Lisa.  I don’t think I could have done this without them. 

Next up: the Stash Exp0sé continues…

It’s a Wrap! barely in time…

Well, I finished the wrap skirt.  There were several problems encountered along the way, but all in all, I think it turned out all right. 

Problem 1: Monday night, I spent 4 hours trying to get my serger to do a rolled hem.  Lesson learned: read your instruction manual.  It saves you time and frustration.  I don’t know what a stitch finger is, but apparently it must be removed for the roll hem stitch.  The manual also said to use the right needle, not the left, and gave the stitch length and width settings.  The funny thing is, I already had the length and width set to those settings.  Go figure.  Solved: So then I tested it out on my fashion fabric.  Beautiful. 

Problem 2: So I started to roll hem all along the outside edges of the skirt.  I made it about 1/2 way through the entire skirt when I noticed that about 2 inches of the fabric was not covered with the rolled hem.  Confound it!!!  I just kept going and finished off the rest of the skirt.  I went back and tried to stitch that section again, but it took me about 6 or 7 tries to successful hem that section.  By the time I was done, it was a little shorter than the rest of the skirt.  Solved: BUT the fabric is really drapey and when I tried it on, you really don’t notice it in the folds of the fabric drape. 

Tuesday night I was so busy making dinner for Jack, doing laundry, packing, etc. I didn’t have time to sew on the waistband/ties.   I set my alarm for 5am (first time setting it since Jack was born btw — he’s an early riser, like 4:30am early!!!) so I could finish packing, do another load of laundry and finish the skirt before leaving for work at 7:45am.  No problem right?  Wrong!

Problem 3: At 5:15am I start cutting out and ironing the waistband/ties and then attach it to the waistband.  I remember that this is the point where I diverged from the instructions on the pattern the last time I made this skirt.  But I am so tired, that I can’t think about it.  I even looked up my review on PR, but couldn’t “wrap” my tired mind around it.  (hehehe)  So I just did as directed.  The rayon chiffon was a little difficult to work with here.  I have to admit that, with the time crunch, I wasn’t as careful with my cutting and didn’t spend a lot of time pressing the creases.  These issues combined with “don’t want to stay put” fabric made it difficult to keep a consistent 1/2 inch seam allowance.  I had to topstitch the waistband part twice, because  I noticed that the first pass didn’t catch the underside completely due to the wonky seam allowances.  Whatever.  This skirt is a thigh beach cover up, not a ball gown.  It would have been nice if everything went perfectly, but it didn’t and I’m ok with it and how the skirt turned out.  Solved.

My apologies, but I didn’t have time to take a picture of the finished skirt.  I promise to take some while in Puerto Rico.  I leave tonight, can’t wait.  Although it was tough to leave my little Jack this morning.  He doesn’t really understand that I am leaving for a few days.  He probably thought I was just going to work.  😦  I have no idea how I am going to react to being away from him for the first time ever.  Or how he’s going to react for that matter.  Wow.  I really need this vacation and the opportunity to sleep in for the first time in 20 months.  I have a deep psychological need to sleep past 6:30am now.  It’s funny, because I used to wake up at 5am or 6am all the time on my own being a morning person naturally.  But now that I’m a single parent, I find that I stay up much later to sew, knit, surf the internet, watch tv or whatever, so I really need to sleep in now.  I know I’m doing it to myself, but I think it will be good for my psyche to sleep in a few days. 

Anyway, I won’t be posting until I get back, so have a great weekend and happy sewing!