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May 24, 2011

And one more thing...

Once a week, Caitlyn goes to circus class. For the last several months, she's worn knit pants and a t-shirt - easy to move in, safe around the equipment, and not too cold before warm ups. But it's actually warming up and the pants are too hot. This has resulted in some rather unfortunate - to my eye - mid-class wardrobe adjustments. I do try to let Caitlyn make most of her own fashion choices, but this was looking ridiculous, not to mention uncomfortable.

So, I took what was left from the knit I used for the t-shirt from KCWC and went looking for some how-tos online. I found these really cute banded shorts at Create and Delegate, added the band length to the pattern bottom, and produced these:

circus shorts

One basic pair of circus shorts, made entirely out of things on hand. Caitlyn intends to wear them with the t-shirt, I think. I wonder how long that will last...

May 22, 2011

School Dance Angst

Growing up, school dances were something I anticipated with more trepidation than excitement. Dances were never just a chance to dress up or hang with classmates in a more social setting than Mr. White's fifth period social studies class. This was where the magic was supposed to be. It seems it's almost always at a dance that the princess falls in love.

But the gym, in neither junior high or high school, ever looked like the school dance setting in Footloose or Back to the Future or any other teen movie from the 80s. No one ever asked me to a dance, which didn't stop me from going with some vague expectation that someone would declare himself there. In hindsight, I realize that would have been more creepy than romantic: who needs such a declaration from someone who can only speak it in the dark, in an over-heated room that smells of sweaty teenagers, while the music is so loud it guarantees that no one will hear you?

I have (mostly) managed to block out the memories of gangly, poodle-permed, over-sized-glasses-wearing, teen-aged me wall-flowering my way through school dances. But then Caitlyn's elementary school sent home the announcement about their annual Sock Hop. I'll confess to recycling the first one that came home in a desperate and naive attempt at making it go away. I have no interest in going back to relive any part of junior high or high school, thank you very much. And do elementary students need the social pressure and expectations that go with school dances? Aren't they supposed to think that the opposite sex has cooties or something?

But then Caitlyn brought home a second copy of the dance flyer and wondered aloud why we hadn't talked about going. She very definitely wanted to be there, and had already started to figure out how she would put together a 50s style outfit from the clothes on hand. I had no reason besides my own uncomfortable memories to say no.

It probably won't work out this way, but for now I find myself hoping that some school dance experience that is less about hooking up and more about dressing up in costume (is there anything cuter than kindergartners dressed up a la eighties punks?!?) and running around the school grounds with your friends (Caitlyn spent some time in the gym - which was indeed hot and smelly, and too loud for her taste - but more time out on the playground, I think), will lead to less hook-up pressure at future dances. By beginning the school dance phenomena in kindergarten, have we provided any counterweight to Belle and Beast or Cinderella and Charming as they waltz their way to fairy-tale endings?

May 18, 2011

Things I Think I Might Make Someday

A notebook, inspired by this but probably with a sewn binding instead of staples. Adventures in book making?

A light weight bag that folds down super tiny, so I can keep it in my bag for accidental shopping events

Experimental fabric dying, with the backs of old t-shirts, then perhaps making t-shirts for Caitlyn from the results

Fabric gift bags. Maybe I can avoid ever buying wrapping paper again?

A skirt for Caitlyn based on this

Marbled paper. Just discovered today you can do this with water-soluble paints and shaving cream.

Wristlet variation. Caitlyn's going to be old enough to require a bus pass this summer, and it's time she had something for carrying her own money (eep!)

A roll-up for colored pencils, inspired by this. I wonder if it could be adapted into a thing to hold the heirloom silver spoons we never use?

May 16, 2011

KCWC - Day Seven

I sewed something in a knit! And it's not all wobbly!

my first t-shirt

(Sorry about the lighting - the sun is totally AWOL here today.)

It's a no-frills version of Pattern's by Figgy's Tee for Two (thanks, Erin!). A nice way to be introduced to the whole sewing-with-knits concept. Now I can let Caitlyn pick out all those iron-on sparkles and embellishments she finds at the fabric and craft stores and we can make her t-shirts. I'm even thinking about letting her experiment with tie-dye projects over the summer. She can dye the backs of old white t-shirts (fronts are going to a different project) and then we can turn the results into shirts for her. And I can avoid going to Target next time she needs a new pair of circus pants.

my first t-shirt

The pattern is a raw-edged pattern with seams on the outside. I flipped things around to put the seams on the inside, 'cause I like it that way. I left the edges raw, though. Adding enough to the pieces have a hem shouldn't be a big deal, should I want to do that on a future version.

Not only was this my first knit, but the first time I used the rotary cutter for clothes (in the past it's been a quilt-only tool), and the first time I used something resembling pattern weights instead of pins to keep the pattern from shifting while I cut. Ok, so they were glass jars of pens and sponge brushes instead of weights, but the job got done without pins stretching the fabric.

I think I'm might explore some other Figgy's patterns. And this may have been my door-opening experience to some patterns not by the Big Four (Butterick, McCalls, Simplicity, Vogue). Who knows where this will go? Anyone have any recommendations for pattern sources not to miss?

May 15, 2011

KCWC - Days Five & Six

Oh, my. Even on the hanger, this looks big.

pink and purple dress

No off-roading here, just excessive enlarging. It's McCall's 4817 and this is my fourth time around with it. Caitlyn's been wearing a version of this dress since the spring of 2009, (I think). She's wearing a yellow one in her school photo from her second year in preschool, she has a blue one, and a purple one (her favorite). The pattern pieces are cut at size 5 and I've dropped hems and repositioned shoulder straps on all the other versions. She's two years bigger now, at least. But I don't really know what I'm doing when I enlarge something.

Which is why this is roughly a size 8 now, I think.

Caitlyn's thrilled with it, of course. It's long enough that it trails behind her when she walks downstairs ("Just like Mama's skirts!"), and she can get back upstairs without tripping because "I'm walking on my toes." We've struck the compromise that this is a "special occasion dress" until it's not so big that it poses a danger on a playground. This has the added benefit of (hopefully) not being faded and threadbare by the time it actually does fit her.

Over in the positive column, I'm really pleased with myself for handsewing in the lining (instead of cheating with topstitching like I have on the last three). I think I may finally understand the pattern's instruction on how to put in the zip, not that I did it according to their directions this time either. And I remembered to line up the stripes before cutting out the pieces, so everything lines up at the side seams and remains level all the way around.

(The purple fabric was selected by Caitlyn off the remnants table last fall. Don't tell her it's actually called "Here Comes the Princess".)

May 12, 2011

KCWC - Days Three & Four

It's not that I mind the laying out and cutting part of sewing, it's just that sometimes it takes so darn long. Measure twice, cut once, so the saying goes; I'm more measure four or five times, obsess a bunch, then cut, and pray I've not forgotten to adjust consistently across all pieces. I tend to always add length (necessary in a family of tall people) and sometimes add a little width for Caitlyn (so that maybe the clothes I make for her this year will still fit next year) when cutting pattern pieces. Even though I don't think I've ever done it, I seem to be afraid that I'll put all sorts of effort into making something, only to have it turn out too small. At least if I start with pieces that are too big, I can always take in seams or cut things down. It's hard to go the other way.

Which is a very long way of saying that I'm still cutting out the pieces for the next project for KCWC. I'm still hoping that I'll be able to finish the remaining two projects I'd planned for this week, but I think my odds are getting slim. Do you think anyone will notice (or care) if I'm still at it next week?

May 11, 2011

KCWC - Day Two

For the first time I can recall, I really wanted one of my dad's wooden trouser hangers, the kind that have two pieces of wood that press together to hold a pair of pants. And I'm officially jealous of anyone who has interesting textured walls or closet doors.

salad bowl skirt

Photographic difficulties aside, here's the first completed project for KCWC: a "salad bowl" skirt. I love the row of radishes on the front:

salad bowl skirt

... and these peas on the back:

salad bowl skirt

The skirt is loosely based on McCall's 5841 and the rainbow skirt I designed for Caitlyn in December.

The vegetable theme had me a little worried, as Caitlyn is selective about her vegetables - eggplant is straight out, pepper and onions ok in some preparations. However, bright colors win out and the skirt was deemed a hit this morning. Hooray!

May 09, 2011

KCWC - Day One

I'm already hip-deep in fabric for elsie marley's Kids Clothes Week Challenge. I started tracing a pattern for one project, then realized I'd never held any piece of the pattern up to Caitlyn to see if if needed adjusting. I pulled out a project that's been on the to-do list since last fall, then decided I need to check measurements on that one, too. This is what happens when I don't do the prep work before she heads off to school on a Monday!

Fortunately, I have a project that's straightforward enough not to need a pattern or terribly precise measurements, so I've started there.

salad bowl fabric

It's loosely based on McCall's 5841, but I'm off-roading quite a bit; that is, I measured the length and width of one of the pattern pieces and then cut similarly sized rectangles out of my fabric. The only problem: the fabric piece I had was too small. Oh well. I've added in some color block inserts and everything (I hope!) is just ducky now.

I checked my other pattern pieces with Caitlyn before she headed to bed, so I'm all set to go tomorrow. Of course, if we really do get to be partly sunny tomorrow, I'll be in the garden, pulling weeds...

May 08, 2011

Now you see it...

In preparation (sort of) for Kids' Clothes Week starting in the morning, I've finally managed to finish (sans borders) the top to the disappearing nine-patch I've been occasionally working on since late last year.

disappearing nine patch

I found Rachel's tutorial for this pattern about a year ago, probably when I was looking for something else and decided that I needed to make one, immediately. I'm particularly pleased with myself for not buying a charm pack for the starting squares, instead digging through the stash for Things That Worked. Most of these fabrics were part of a fat quarter bundle I received from my mother for Christmas one year (Thanks, Mom!). I'm really good at saving things because I Might Need That Someday, something that occasionally translates not only to not letting go of something but not using something on Project A because it might be better in a completely hypothetical Project B. So not only does this project (so far) represent success in Not Shopping For More Fabric but also in Never Mind What Might Come Up Later, I'm Using This Now.

disappearing nine patch

Now that it's this far, though, I'm going to fold it up and set it aside for a while. I've a dress and probably two skirts and something out of a knit and maybe some other things for Caitlyn on deck for this week. I have fabric for three new shirts for Ian. I really should finish the postage stamp quilt - it has borders now, but the backing isn't quite ready and then I need to quilt it (future post: anyone know of a long-arm I could use?). And, there are two other quilty projects I can't share here until they are done.

Oh, and my pile of octagons.

Nope, no boredom here!

May 06, 2011

Taking Inventory

With the return of our farmers' market, it's time to take stock in the pantry and start planning what will be put up this year, even if the weather is acting more like late March than early May.

Excepting the jam, which I apparently made in large quantities two years ago, and the apricots, which Caitlyn refuses to pack for her lunches, I think we actually did really well in eating through much of what I put up last year. We have tomatoes left, but probably just enough to get us to tomato season in a few months. The same is true of corn, although I expect I probably over-stocked on zucchini. But we are out of peas, green beans, spinach, broccoli, and raspberries in the freezer and out of squashes, potatoes and apples in the pantry.

I'll plan to pick strawberries (some for freezing, some for jam, strawberry being the only jam we are in any danger of not having on hand), raspberries and blueberries (Caitlyn currently loves having frozen blueberries in her lunches at school; should she cool on that, we can always eat blueberry muffins). There are 8 pints of peaches left, but almost none in the freezer, so I'll probably get one box and split it between the canner and the freezer. We have 6 1-gallon bags of bing cherries in the freezer; clearly we prefer the dried cherries. I wonder if I thawed the ones in the freezer if they would dehydrate nicely?

Spinach should be packed better. I've been blanching then freezing it on trays, then packing jars with frozen spinach. The result is jars with lots of extra air space, which means that anytime I want to make a spinach-feta something, I go through 2 quarts of spinach. Perhaps I should pack pints instead and skip the tray-freezing step...

A couple jars of broccoli would be a good addition. I'm going to try freezing rhubarb this year, since the rhubarb mush I canned two years ago has turned out to be useful only for topping things; it makes a terrible crisp. But otherwise, I think I'm pretty much right on for my food storage goals. It'd be nice if we could not run out of potatoes in February or March, but without a better potato storage plan, more potatoes stored would probably not result in more potatoes eaten.

The last thing to do before I start bringing home piles of produce from the market is to defrost the chest freezer. Maybe if I pull all the nuts and dried things and flours out of the kitchen freezer, there will be enough space to temporarily house the things that shouldn't thaw when I turn the big freezer off.

And then, to think about cheese-making!

May 03, 2011

Confetti Eggs!

confetti eggs

I'm prepared. There are (almost) 11 dozen confetti eggs for Solstice and Caitlyn's birthday. Caitlyn knows what she's going to do with these... the only question is will she smash them on any heads other than her own?

May 01, 2011

Bags for small things

Maybe it's the proverbial spring cleaning, but I've been on an organizing spree lately. I've got bags of out-grown clothes to take to Goodwill, books to drop off for the Seattle Public Library book sale, and dead electronics and computers finally making progress toward Re-PC and Total Reclaim. If it's been ignored for years, I'm making an effort to decide what to do with it and then follow through. I'm pretty good about bagging up Caitlyn's old clothes a couple of times a year, but they usually move as far as another closet, not actually out of the house.

Mixed in with a stack of old games, most of which we'll never play, I found plastic bags of chess pieces and poker chips. The bags were scuffed and dusty and sticky, the way old plastic bags can be. So I made new ones.

another baggie

It's a variation of my bulk goods baggie, with a drawstring rather than a tie. So easy, I made three of them, all in relic fabric from the depths of the stash. The most time-consuming part: braiding the yard to get a decent weight drawstring.

I've no idea what we're going to do with three sets of chess pieces. But now when the bags get saturated with the dust of years, I can wash them.