Laura H. Saturday, May 26, 2012

Well, we have waited nearly a year for it and finally got it! The Boy Scout has gotten a job closer to my family and we are moving this week! Elizabeth is with my mom right now getting spoiled rotten while the Boy Scout and I pack up and do the moving thing.

I gotta admit that we've gotten about half of our stuff packed up already. Living in a two bedroom apartment for a year has meant that all the stuff that we packed and stored from our house is... still packed. So all we have to do is pack up here, load the truck, and go.

And going happens Wednesday.


So our programming (that only just started) is going to be interrupted for a short bit while we manage this move. It has already been an adventure frought with IMPOSSIBLE houses (Sorry, if I can see daylight through foundation cracks, it's not a contender. Likewise with caulked over moldy grout in the bathroom. Call me picky if you like, but EEWW!) and one very sick toddler.

Elizabeth had both an ear infection AND a viral thing while I was frantically failing at finding us a place to live.  Boy Scout shows up, the little one gets better and we find an apartment that day.

I don't care! My kid is well and we have a place to land! And we are using my fabric to pack breakables!

Oh dear. I hope this won't be a disaster.

Laura H. Thursday, May 17, 2012

Yay! First tutorial! I promised a friend of mine that I'd start with something pretty simple. And since I claim to be a friend to those who are brand-new to sewing, I figure it can't get any easier than this.

As a mom on a tight budget, I love consignment sales. I also hate the crowds, competition, and lining up so sometimes what I walk out of there with isn't always what I intended to get.

Example number five billion of my doing that is this dress. I think it was $3, but it was in the 24 month sizes and it's a 3t. *Le sigh* Elizabeth never fit in to it while it was cold out and now she does. What's a mommy to do? I like the dress and I really like hearing Elizabeth talk about her "bee 'ess."

Well, a mommy cuts the sleeves off because it is 80 degrees here. That is what a mommy does.

Oh, and forgive the not-great lighting. I have yet to figure out a way to get daylight underground in a rental. UGH! Next place will be bigger and ABOVE GRADE.

On with the tutorial!

So for this project, what you will need is:
The dress or top in question.
scissors (small ones seem to help a little, but big ones and a little extra attention work FINE.)
a sewing device (a needle and thread works for this, too. it isn't much sewing.)

Start by turning your dress inside out. Look at the seam where the sleeve and the bodice (that's the chest bit) come together. Get your scissors and make a little nick in the fabric on the SLEEVE SIDE of the seam.

This is important. You must cut the fabric on the sleeve itself only. The point here is to leave that nice seamed edge in tact and attached to the bodice. What you are aiming for is a cut that looks like this:
 Clip as close to that seam as you can. But cut on the sleeve side of it. Trim all the way around both sleeves just as close to that seam as you can. Steady as you go and try not to cut into the threads or cut the bodice of the dress. Take your time and trim close!

Once the sleeves are off, you should have something that looks like this:
You see how that left over bit of stitching *wants* to roll in? That is why we left it there! To encourage that fold, press it in place. Depending on the fabric, a little steam might help it hold the press. But press that left-over stitching into place, folded over to the inside of the dress.

When you clipped the sleeve off, you clipped so close to the seam so that you only have to fold the seam in one time. if you didn't get it quite as close as I did, just go back and do a bit more trimming so that you don't have raw edges showing. Trying to fold it in farther doesn't work so great and leads to some puckers and wobbliness when you stitch it down.

No pics of pressing. My pressing space is even more subterranean than my dining room.

For sewing knit materials (tee-shirt stuff) I like to use my walking foot. It works for me. Some people can do a really great job with their regular machine foot, other folks have other things that work. I advise reading up on the KNITerviews and trying some of the tips there if you are going to be doing serious knit sewing. If you are intimidated by knits and don't want to go there just yet, load up your needle and thread for this project - it won't take a whole Netflix'd episode of Blue's Clues to get it finished. But here is my walking foot. And the black cat's floofy hind end.

Next step is to trim the corner where the side seam and that sleeve seam met. Just knick off that pointed edge. We do this so that it will lay down a little better once sewn in place. Here's a pic of the before and after.

Now, sew your hems in place. Take your time and go slowly if this is one of your first projects. It is well worth 20 minutes for a good-looking finished project. Let the machine do the work, don't pull or tug. if you need to move the fabric, stop sewing and lift the foot, then move the fabric.
Once you are done, this should be what you have on the wrong side of the dress. Do the other arm-hole the same way.

Once you are done, try the dress or top on your little person. Don't be surprised if the arm-hole drops down a lot in comparison to other sleeveless dresses and tops. If it is 80 degrees in May where you are, your little person will like every breeze they can get!

Now, go play!

Laura H. Sunday, May 13, 2012

I'm going to try each Sunday to muse over something I've thought of during the week. Today's is brought on by my churchin' this morning, but not all of them will be.

So the sermon today was about love. There was a fancy title and outline as usual, but I have to admit that I paid about as much attention to those two things as I ever do. And that is enough to see words printed on the page. (Hi Bill! Aren't you glad I don't make airplanes to fly around?)

But, it was about love. Naturally, the scripture was 1 Corinthians 13: 1-13.

Now, before I lose all of you who don't buy the Bible-bits, I'm not going to talk about this in terms of scripture. I do buy it and I know that these verses are talking about the love of God for all people (yeah, even you who don't buy the Bible-bits. He loves you too. Cope!) What I'm going to muse over is my own attempts, failures, and observations about the act of loving.

I've decided that Love is a Habit. Stop and think about your habits. Things that you do over and over and over without giving it much thought. I think love can be the same way.

Idealistic? Maybe. Impossible?  Maybe for some, but I never let the notion of something being impossible get in my way. That's a habit of mine. Tell me it is impossible and I'll either do it or talk the impossible out of it.

See, love isn't just a feeling. It is something we DO. Love is a big action made up of millions of tiny actions. So you don't have to feel a passionate attachment to someone to love them. You can display love through a smile (which is audible as well as visible,) through kindness and respect, or through helpfulness.

Those are the three biggies that I try to do when I'm out and about. I smile at everyone I can make eye contact with (I don't walk around with a big dopey grin on. I meet a person's eyes and smile.) I say please and thank you in a pleasant tone of voice through the drive through speakers. If someone is clearly struggling with something, I offer the best help I can while staying out of the 'creeper zone.'

I expect nothing in return, either. Love for loves sake is so much better to give.

Now, I fail at this a lot of times. People who whine about things they can fix, people who don't think as fast as I do, the Boy Scout when the tv is on, Elizabeth when she's overtired. These people are tough to show love to.

I feel particularly bad about the Boy Scout and Elizabeth. They mean the world to me and yet so often they end up with the worst of me instead of the best. I find myself apologizing to both of them so often - even the small girl! I apologize to her so much because sometimes being mommy means being tough because I love her. But even the apologies are an act of love. I do wrong by being impatient. I know it and I apologize for it and over time, I've gotten better about it. If I did not apologize for doing wrong, it would be selfish of me.

And selfish can't love anyone else. Because selfish is 100% me, me, me. That's not to say I'm never selfish! Oh, boy am I! That is something else I work at curing.

My attempts to love all really took a hit last year after Boy Scout's sister and her family lived with us for a while. It has taken me the better part of a year to go from burning hate to mild indifference towards them. And I forced myself to take on sewing for their child during Lent this year to get to that point. My hope is that one day (with God's help) to be able to honestly be able to say that I love them.

Until then, I fake it.

Now hold on a second before you get all up in arms on me about that. I know, I know! There's a million reasons why faking anything is a Very Bad Thing. Faking it is lying! Faking it is not being true to myself! Faking it is unfair! Know what I say to that?


The human being is a very interesting creature. We can see something or be told something is one thing but if it doesn't jibe with our own opinion of the world, we can twist it around in our heads to line up with what we know. Stop. Think about it. Think! Think about all the times through history that people have been convinced that some other bunch of humans were less-than-worthy! If it works that way, can't it work the other way instead? As a teenage girl who has fancied the biggest loser on the block - she'll tell you it can!

I do not want to cheat anyone out of a little brighter day, a little bit of help, or a little kindness if I can help it. I really don't. So when the Boy Scout has to be told something for the 5th time because the tv is on and it is All Consuming to him, as mad as I am, I try to at least keep my voice level. And when Elizabeth is screaming and kicking about not wanting a nap because she is overtired, I try to keep my voice quiet and usually give in to one more story. I offer, 'I'm sorry to hear that' and 'Let's try again' to the people who whine and the slower thinkers. And to my in-laws I offer nothing more or less than civility. And it serves the purpose until I do it often enough that the faking isn't necessary because I *do* love those people.

I have decided that I want to live my life with love. I can spread that around. Sometimes it is easy as pie! Sometimes, it is the last thing that I want to do. Sometimes I do a pretty good job of it. And sometimes I fail miserably.

But then I think about how it can be a pretty stinky world right now - people are at each other's throats over the silliest things. *Everything* seems to be a violently contentious issue right now. It is so disheartening for me to watch! Maybe while I try to pick up this habit of loving everyone I can give a little hope. A little brightness. A little laughter.

Laura H. Friday, May 11, 2012

I have been working on a lot of boring organizational stuff this week. After KCWC, I spent a week doing patterns for myself and hating every minute of it, so I've given up on that for now, When I stopped throwing my tailbone out of wack by sitting on the floor tracing patterns, I realized that my whole sewing area was a HOT MESS.

It isn't hard for this to happen. I sew on our dining table. While the table itself seats 6 comfortably, the room it resides in is lucky to hold the three of us for one meal a day. And it is open to the kitchen (nothing I hate worse than an open concept floor plan. HATEHATE.*) and our pantry is a massive antique corner cupboard that did an excellent job putting a knot on my head breaking my fall when I passed out cold while sewing one night.** I don't even have room to trace out my patterns on the table, so you can only imagine the state it gets in to.

So I set to on Wednesday trying to make sense of the chaos. And I now at least know where everything is again. My poor mother would still have eye-spasms over the chaos, but at least it is a controlled one and I know where my tweezers are.

I did get a little carried away with the tossing stuff and tossed my machine oil. Oops.

I also did a big tidy-and-pack-up of Elizabeth's clothes. And I have realized that he needs for summer are met. Unless she grows another inch. Half of which she grew this week during naps. *Sigh*

But thankfully, I have plenty of coordinating fabrics that I can use to add ruffles to the bottom of dresses! And my mom sent me a lovely Mother's Day present that I have used to get some new patterns, so all is not weeping and packing the toddler in a box to prevent further growth. I managed to find some oliver + s patterns that I have been coveting for a while, so I've ordered them.

I am just bitterly disappointed that Paypal is stupid about gift cards. I SO want the Charlie Tunic and Dress add-on from Made By Rae. But, with my gift card, Paypal attempts to verify it and it goes ppfftthh and declines it *every* time. And yeah, it's Paypal doing it. I tried to add the card to my account and it spit it back at me again. But, it will be a while before Elizabeth outgrows the pattern. Maybe when she starts to Kindergarten, she'll have one.

I did manage to finish a couple of Popover Sundresses, but I've been lazy about pictures. And it is hard to take pictures when Elizabeth is helping wash the deck chairs. But they are little mirrors of one another - one will be delivered to its new home tomorrow, the other is being auctioned off tomorrow for a charity event to support Elizabeth's playschool. The other project will find its home tomorrow too - but I can't post pics of it as it's a surprise present.

I'm working on a post about the lovely lady in the picture above. That's my grandmother who sewed. There is a rumor going around the family that I am an awful lot like her. I consider that a compliment. A big one. And I'm not sure that it is always meant as one.

* has anyone ever thought about what a nightmare it is to entertain in a space where your guests can see the disastrous mess one makes in the kitchen while putting a large party together? open plans only produce more entertaining stress! and don't get me started on combination mud-and-laundry rooms. STUPID!
 ** i'm fine. i have low blood pressure and didn't eat much that day which led to low blood sugar. Add that to having just gotten done with a very heavy period and you get me, falling over. The knot did go away about 6 weeks later and now I always sew with a pillow strapped to my head. That was a lie.

Laura H. Saturday, May 5, 2012

Well, I've not got a thing to show for a week of silence save a handful of doll diapers. However, I do have a stupidly large pile of patters for myself cut out and one test pattern made up. Large pieces of paper and a ratty tank-top are not worth photographing, so here's the doll diapers! Aww!

 There are two sizes of them. The smaller ones on the left and the larger are on the right. Nice this about them (other than being really simple to make?) They cost me NOTHING. Every bit of fabric was one of those strange pieces left over from something else.

I never managed to get pictures of Elizabeth in all of her new things, but I did manage to get one of her in one of the skirt-and-top sets. I'm not so sure about the fit on it, but I did realize after these pictures were made that the top was on backwards all day. Oops!

I have learned this week that sewing for myself, I can't take an accurate measurement for anything. I must have measured myself eight times only to adjust my pattern waaaaaaay too much. I'm in no way petite and i have a very inflated sense (it seems) of how large I really am. So, patterns are made and I've started marking out fabrics for tops and dresses.

We will see what comes of it all.