Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Insa and Redondo for Gwyn

She calls this her "Spring Skirt".

No clever title this time, just the facts. These are 2 skirts I made for Gwyneth a while back and hadn't blogged yet. The Insa skirt is from Sewing Clothes Kids Love, although I confess I already had the pattern and just hadn't used it yet. I'd made one for Maeve last year and she loved it and had planned to do one for Gwyn but just hadn't gotten around to it. Obviously, I didn't use the same fabrics, although I did use a polka dot for Gwyn's underskirt just like I did with Maeve's. And both of those fabrics came from Banberry Place - Gwyn's is the aqua poplin with spring-green dots. The top layer is an awesome ebay find - the famous Oilily suitcase fabric! This stuff is so soft. It really feels like your favorite sheets or shirt that have been washed a million times. I used the same polka dot poplin for the waistband because I felt that introducing another fabric with the busyness of the suitcase fabric would have been too much.

Embellishing is always fun, since I can dig into my stash and put all kinds of things to use and this skirt was no exception. I inherited a ton of ric-rac and other trims from my grandmother and my mom's godmother and I like to use them because they tend to be 100% cotton, as opposed to the polyester kind that is so prevalent now. I made use of a vintage yellow medium ric-rac at the hem of the overskirt and stitched a green dotted ribbon on top of that. I say medium but it's actually more of a large size, I guess. On the underskirt we have new (polyester) rose ric-rac in a smaller size with a wonderful floral woven ribbon I had sitting in my stash for a few years, waiting for the right project. It has all the colors in the skirt, with the exception of the red in the overskirt, and the floral shapes kind of echo the floral shapes in the overskirt fabric. To top it off I found 2 flower appliqués - one large aqua and one small yellow, which I sewed near the underskirt hem. Lastly, I made a cute little tag with my favorite Farbenmix ribbon, which has a flower that perfectly matches the red small flowers in the overskirt.

The Redondo skirt was originally made for Valentine's Day. These are just quilting cottons - I forget what the name of the main print is, "Love Letters" or something like that and I don't remember the manufacturer, although it might be a Kaufman print. Don't quote me on it. The flounces are made from everyone's favorite Michael Miller Ta-dot in pink with red dots.

I love how the skirt looks like a big flower when you spread it out this way. I love this pattern and really want to use it more, since this was only the second time I'd done it. It was also the first time I did the flounces, as opposed to the inserted ruffle. I decided to be brave and use Nancy's method for the flounces, using the inner curve of the skirt gore as the shape for the flounce and it turned out really well. There are a few places where it puckered when I was sewing and didn't see it until after I was totally finished but I chalk that up to being in a hurry to finish it for Valentine's Day, which was the whole reason I made it. I actually sewed this in 2 days, though I only actually worked on it an hour or so each night. The hems for the flounces and for the skirt itself were all made with a rolled hem on my serger, using wooly nylon in the loopers to ensure that the raw edges were completely covered. You can do a rolled hem without the wooly nylon but I never think it looks as good, no matter how much I shorten the stitch length. You can see a close-up of the rolled edge here. Gwyn wore this on Valentine's Day with a red shirt that had a sparkly pink heart and the words "Daddy's Girl" on it. Lucky for me she didn't stop wanting to wear it after Valentine's Day and when it got too warm for long sleeves she replaced that shirt with a pink one that says "Love Bug" and has a ladybug on it. I love that her go-to clothes are almost always things I've made.

A place for everything

Normally I blog about my sewing and occasionally some family stuff. But where do you put down the stuff you want to talk about when you have no one to discuss it with? Is this the right forum? I don't know. I do know that there are some things lately that confuse/bother/excite me, that I want to talk with friends about but I have none to talk to.

Well, that's not really true. I have some friends that I could talk to - if I didn't live in a distinctly different time zone from them and if we each didn't have at least 2 or 3 kids of our own. I really miss my friends from Germany, J., M., S., H. and K. But they're all spread far and wide and busy as hell and I don't have the opportunity to talk to them. J. lives in the same time zone as me but she has 5 kids and is terribly busy with them and their activities. M. lives on the east coast and I live on the west coast now, plus she's hard to get hold of and is busy making a new life since her divorce a few years back. S. lives in Hawaii right now and is super busy working and doing competitive paddling - team ocean kayaking, I think. She's always my go-to for political discussions and the like and easily makes counter-arguments to mine without sounding antagonistic. We always have good conversations and I miss being her neighbor. K. is still in Germany and is fun to talk to - she makes me forget things that are bothering me. But a 9-hour time difference is pretty hard to get over.

So where do I go to talk to people? My neighbor is a nice woman but she's also about 12 years younger than me. That sounds mean, but it's true. And sometimes I feel so old when I talk to her. Plus, she's not really enough like me that I feel we have anything in common. I do like her, though - I just don't know what kind of a conversation we would have if I brought up politics or economics or homeschooling/unschooling vs. traditional school, or extended nursing, or whatever.

So what IS the appropriate venue for discussions when one has no one to talk to in person? I have these discussions on facebook but they take so long it saps my energy. Like right now I've been 'discussing' politics with a woman I know from Germany. I don't think I'd call her my friend because we didn't deliberately do things together and our husbands didn't work together, but she was a close acquaintance. Anyway, she made a comment and I responded to it and we've been going back and forth on the topic of the president and the economy. She makes these statements which she doesn't back up with fact and then I refute her statement with facts. I'm not trying to argue with her or start a fight - I genuinely want to know how she feels and (more importantly) why she feels the way she does, since it's clearly negative. I feel like she'd feel different if she knew facts. And if she doesn't, that's fine but one's opinion should be based on an accurate assessment of facts, or at least a minimal understanding of them. She keeps dancing around the issue, saying one thing and then another and not sticking to any specific line other than her opinion that the president is blaming everyone else for the nation's economic situation and not doing anything about it. This is the kind of discussion that I love. But I feel like it's one-sided. Is facebook the right venue for this?

I know of another individual, whose blog I read, that is opinionated (in a good way) and open to discussing major issues, especially social ones. It happens that I live near enough to her that I could drive to her town, take her for coffee and discuss these things. But that seems weirdly inappropriate, and slightly like stalking. Is it? I mean, I've emailed with her, sent her links to articles I thought would interest her when it's a topic she's written about on her blog, that sort of thing. And I comment on her blog. I think she'd be fascinating to talk with in person but feel like it would be too weird to approach her, since I've sort of spied on her life through her blog. What's the right answer to that? I honestly don't know. I do know that I keep hoping that we'll somehow run into each other at the fabric store (or somewhere totally random) by accident and talk and then she'll decide whether or not I'm worth knowing in person, thereby taking the stress off of me.

In the meantime, I find myself talking about stuff that I care about with my eleven year-old, which is wildly dissatisfying, and with my husband which can be difficult because he doesn't always wait for me to finish a thought to offer his opinion and then I become frustrated with his interrupting me and stop the discussion out of anger - not the best sort of discussions.

Sigh. I need to get out more.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Dress for Miss Beans

So I have 2 beautiful girls that I sew for - a lot. But I really like making things for other people, especially little girls. And I have tons of fabric in my stash, so I can do that. A friend of mine has a little girl named Greta who loves twirly dresses. My friend, H., is a busy mom and doesn't really sew, though I think she'd love to learn. Right now she's got a lot on her plate because she's working full time and her husband has cancer. Luckily, her in-laws have moved in to help out around the house and with Greta, whom they call Greta Beans. I've never met Greta but I know she's a special little girl, not least because she's probably the only child H. will ever have and it took them a while to have a successful pregnancy. So when I got the itch to make a cute little dress for someone, I knew exactly who to make it for.

H. told me about Greta's favorite colors and how she likes her dresses to twirl. I emailed her a photo of the Farbenmix Sasha dress I'd made for Maeve and she loved it. When she mentioned that Greta really liked bright colors, I immediately knew that I had the perfect fabric for the dress already in my stash - Millefleur by Alexander Henry.

The rest was also all in my stash - three different colorways of the Busilis poplin by Hilco: hot pink with lime green dots for the shoulder straps, bright grass green with darker green dots for the bodice, and sunshine yellow with tangerine dots for the middle tier of the skirt. I also used a solid cerise-colored poplin for the ruffle between the first and second tiers and at the hem.

Next, it was time to embellish. I have tons of ribbon and other embellishments in my stash and I wanted to make this a really special dress. First, I found a ribbon in hot pink, tangerine and lime that was slightly narrower than the straps and I sewed that on the straps. Then I found a giant magenta daisy and 2 smaller orange daisies, which I applied to the front of the bodice. I decided to use cute mixed-up buttons for the straps - one lime green with hot pink dots and one lime green and hot pink striped. I wanted to put something on the back, too, so I dug around in my drawer of embellishments until I found the floral shape you see on the right. I got it in a group of patches from ebay; all were from the well-known Dutch clothing company, Oilily. This one says Oilily in a smile shape on a pink gingham background with orange felt petals and embroidered eyes. I'd been wanting to use this patch and it seemed to be a perfect fit with this dress, since it's made in sort of the same mix of super-bright colors, patterns and embellishments that the real Oilily clothing is famous for.

In order to balance out the embellishment on top, I found a woven ribbon in a multi-colored squares pattern of yellow, tangerine, pink and aqua and sewed that on the seamline between the second and third tiers. I also added a small "tag" made from Farbenmix ribbon at the side seam to give it a ready-to-wear look. I'd sewn the small ruffle into the seamline between the first and second tiers during construction; it was finished with a rolled hem on the serger, using wooly nylon to get a smooth finish. The bottom ruffle was made the same way.

All in all, I was extremely pleased with the final product and I was on pins and needles waiting to hear if Greta and H. liked the dress. I needn't have worried. She sent me a message on Facebook to tell me that Greta put it on immediately and didn't want to take it off; then she posted a video of Greta twirling around and around in her new dress, saying "Thank you Miss Jen" and blowing kisses. I was truly touched. Just looking at this dress makes me happy and knowing that Greta likes it makes me even happier. I've got plans for another dress for her - this time a Feliz! Stay tuned for that one.

More catching up

Okay, I said I would do a little recap of what I've sewn in the past 6 months. First, some things for the boy:

The boy has a slight obsession with robots. He often goes around pretending to be one, sometimes wearing a wire trash basket on his head. I'm not sure why he does that, so don't ask. All I know is, that's his robot disguise. Anyway, I decided that he needed a robot shirt and since I had a cool robot print knit stashed away it was a good time to use it. This is the #18 Hippotamus Hoppulainen shirt from the 6/2010 issue of Ottobre. I made it in a 92 since he's been growing fast. I shortened the sleeves on this, since I wanted him to be able to wear it in warmer weather. The olive interlock matches the green in the robot print, but I felt like it needed something else because it seemed like such an endless swath of green. So I drew a robot and used a reinforced straight stitch to embroider it. I decided to use buttons for the eyes, and sewed them on with red thread to mimic an electronic eye. Tallon loves it.

The second birthday gift I made for T. was this super cape. The girls were tired of him using their Snow White cape as a super cape, so it was a good gift. This is from the 4/2004 issue of Ottobre, made in a size 92. I made a small change to it in that I made a velcro closure instead of ties, since he can't tie things yet. He wears this frequently and everywhere. The shield and T appliqué were done freehand and applied with a satin stitch. I chose red cotton poplin for the cape with royal blue satin for the lining and the shield. My only gripe with this choice is that the satin of the shield seems to want to get fuzz all over the poplin.

It's wearing pretty well despite the fuzz and the frequency of wearing. I haven't washed it yet, so we'll see how it holds up.

The third mommymade birthday gift was robot jammies. I used the same robot knit and olive green interlock with the red ribbing. The pattern is the #34 Night Owl pajama top and the #35 Stripy Legs pajama bottoms from the 6/2009 issue of Ottobre. The pattern calls for a coverstitch to be used on both the top and bottoms but I don't have one on my serger. Instead, I used a honeycomb stitch on my regular machine and it turned out pretty comparable. I also used it for the hem of the shirt:

He loved all of his presents - especially the cape, of course. I have 2 pairs of shorts that I made him this summer, too and I'll blog about those another time. Currently I'm planning his fall/winter wardrobe and I'm really excited about it. I want to blog about it as I go along - we'll see if that happens!