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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Back to School? Blah

My 8-year-old son went to school today and started 3rd grade. How on earth did that tiny bundle of goodness & baby fat become a lanky, lean and funny half boy/half man? 

When I went to give him a little kiss good bye, he leaned his head back a little, and every so quietly he said "mooom, not here", with a wink and twinkle in his eye.

And so begins the separating of baby and mommy -- and boy and mother begins. I thought I'd cry or be mournful over this new chapter, but alas I am not. So I question why...why am I not lamenting this new shift in our relationship? Because somewhere in my brain, in my heart, I knew this was coming. Did I think at 8 this would be the turning point? No, I really did believe it would be middle school. But I think I've been training myself for this, somewhere in the depths of my consciousness I've been running a marathon to toughen up whatever hurt this change was going to cause. 

As every morning goes that we keep putting off a decent hair cut, I had to remind my son that his hair needed some fixing before going to school today. We stood by the sink as I sprinkled water on his massive curls, and I did my magic by manipulating these ringlets to fall "flatter" than the mad scientist look he is now sporting. Any other day he'd take a quick look in the mirror, say thanks and take off. Not today. Today he sighed and said "Mom! This isn't my look -- stop making it flatter. I'm me and I'm puffy!" My boy is taking his first step in owning his look, his personality, himself. 

I know something big is happening in that little creation between myself & my husband, but I have yet to learn just how great and grand it will be. 

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Etsykids Team Member Highlight #3: Lilygiggle

***UPDATE: I just purchased some PDF patterns from Lilygiggle. I know what I'll be doing tonight***

I am a beginner sewer (and crafter....). My sewing machine does the basics and I don't own any special "feet". After the kids are tucked in, dishes are done and other vital evening tasks are accomplished, I sit down to the computer and disappear into the tunnels of tutorials and pictures in the crafting blog universe. My eyes start to blur after bookmarking page after page -- all items I hope to one day conquer with my machine.

While I abhor patterns -- measurements, exact cutting, etc -- they make me nervous and I tend to mess up project after project. I've taken to upcycling old clothing, making skirts and tops for my little 4-year-old. I'm obsessed with ruffling anything -- knits, chiffon, silks -- and then attaching the ruffles to whatever I can. But it's not always easy, figuring out how to lay the fabric and attach the ruffles and avoiding any puckering. And it's so much easier to make a little dress from an old tee -- avoiding hemming and other "straight" line issues. 

That's when I found Lilygiggle on etsy. These are sewing patterns that use your no-longer needed tees, leggings and whatever scraps you have around. While I haven't tried any of these patterns, I'm thinking that some of them must be purchased and tackled. This is my favorite: Rings-of-Ruffles skirt. I think any little lady would love to twirl all day in this skirt. Pair that skirt with the Rings-of-Ruffles pant and you're set!

For now I'll keep working on my zigzag stitch with knits and exacting my measurements so dresses aren't so big on my daughter. But next stop will be with my paypal account at Lilygiggle

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Just Shirring the Day Away

My answer to not cutting straight lines, sewing straight hems, and avoiding the up & downs of ironing/pining and sewing? SHIRRING!

I took my Petite Bateau racer back tank -- that I was never able to wear because my bra needs were too big for it -- and upcycled it into a shirred halter top for my daughter. I took pics, so take a look!

My Petite Bateau racer back tank...

I cut the top off and did NOT hem the top of the bottom half that would become the dress.

Just shirring along. Still trying to figure out what's easiest -- keeping the needle in and turning garment around or back-stitching and starting all over again.

Yeah, that's right! I did it, I shirred a top :)

I have been struggling with straps -- either I place them too far or too close. Solution? I cut one long length of the tank material, sewed a 1/4 seam and turned it inside out. Then looped in U shape, like below.

And here's my insanely tired and disheveled daughter modeling her new top! She wants me to wear my identical top tomorrow too :)

I Really Like This Blog...

I hate patterns. I have purchased several, opened them up and practically had the same anxiety attack I had in high school when I opened up a geometry or algebra book. I have zero idea where to start -- and I hated having to FOLD that delicate paper back up. Seriously, those patterns are written in french.

It was absolutely humbling and comforting when I found a blog most of you crafters already know about: Sew.Craft.Create. Heidi's "About Me" page was so refreshing, because I saw a REAL crafty woman who was doing it however it came to her. For all this time I thought maybe I just wasn't cut out for this torture -- measuring, cutting, terms -- I thought crafting was creative and fun! But after seeing someone who is a true crafty woman going it at blind (sort of), I was invigorated to try more things, but my way.

So wish me luck as I travel the crafting and sewing roads alone. And see what comes out on the other end...

Monday, August 8, 2011

I Freaking DID IT! Shirring...

The other night I attempted to upcycle a dress my sister gave me -- I had all my notions and all the balls to make my daughter a dress. But alas, after 3 days of seam ripping, remeasuring and sewing, I'm tossing it in. I am going to cut that dress up and make a few other items. And besides, I was taking on too much -- eyelet fabric with lining? C'mon, I haven't even figured out how to sew a straight SEAM!

But what I did learn how to do today is SHIRR! Yes, I conquered a sewing barrier that I was absolutely afraid to try. Winding a bobbin by hand with elastic thread? No problem. Sewing slowly to get straight lines for proper shirring? DID IT!

How, you must be asking, did I figure it out? After days of reading online tutorials, I found this tutorial on shirring from my new go-to blog on sewing, Ruffles and Stuff. This blog is chock full of awesome tutorials -- I understood them so that means a 6-year-old beginner can. Everything is photographed and explained beautifully.

I made one small change to these directions -- instead of drawing lines on my practice fabric, I just left my needle in the fabric, lifted the presser foot, and turned the fabric around & lined the presser foot alongside my already sewn shirred line (make sense at all??). It worked out quite well, except for the few time I lifted my eyes up to my kids and yelled at them for slamming the door...

The only step I haven't done yet, because I have zero desire to take out my iron, is the very last step of spraying water and ironing. I'll do that tomorrow...after coffee.

I made two rows, but followed those rows as guides when spacing my lines.

 A close up of leaving my needle in and turning the fabric.

YAY! I did it -- now I have to spray with water and iron. Since it's a sample piece, I'll turn it into something coming soon.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Last Night was Awful

I attempted to upcycle a dress my sister gave me. That's all the rage these days, right? So with trying to keep up with the times, I went to work last night. I could feel myself channeling all the tutorials and blogs I've been reading, mastering my own fear of my sewing machine.

The dress is a gorgeous color -- taupe/tan color, almost muddy, but really delicate. The top layer was eyelet cotton and then lined underneath. I wanted to make a little dress for my 4-year-old...I measured, pinned, cut and hit the sewing machine.

I was so excited! I was making pleats at the front top edge, I attached elastic to the back for some gathering and dimension -- I even trimmed the edges of the princess sleeves so the sleeves on this little dress would look legit. My struggle with my sewing machine was BIG -- every time I back stitched, the thread from the bobbin would double up and catch and THEN the back stitch wouldn't be even.

But I continued on...

I finished, wiped the sweat off my brow and called this little princess into the living room. YAY, let's try this puppy on...and do much dismay, the dress was a mess. The sleeves too far on her shoulders, the pleats not even looking like pleats and the front would dip and sag, obviously not fitting at all around the chest. Alas, I was defeated.

But as the sun rose this morning, I decided that I will take out all the seams and try again. I mean really try again...

Here are a few photos I took this morning. A good lesson? Start documenting everything, from start to finish, so I can always look back and see that I've grown at some point...If there's a follow of my blog that knows how to sew and can guide me to some great tutorials, please email me at mylittlenuggets at gmail dot com

 This is the front. See how I tried to pleat?? I liked the raw edge, so no hem. 
But the stitching looks awful!
This is the inside of the back of the dress. The elastic ruffle effect worked, so I think
I'll do it in the front too.
Here is the back of the dress, where the elastic was used. Much cuter and more fitted for back/chest.

Here are the sleeves. Wish I had photographed the whole sleeve, so this would make sense. These were princess/cap sleeves &  I trimmed off the hemmed edge plus 1.5" of the sleeve.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Homemade Sidewalk Chalk UPDATE!

We did it! Sidewalk chalk was a huge success...and so easy. We even made a second batch today :) Here are a few of our materials: plaster of paris, powder tempera paint, measuring cup & toilet paper tubes.

The kids chose a few types of molds...

We even used food coloring to help intensify the colors -- plus, we only had black and yellow powder tempera paint.

Little fingers mixing away. 

After 24 hours, we had homemade chalk. It was trial and error: toilet paper rolls stick to the chalk, making it difficult to peel away. Ice cube trays, popsicle molds and a sandwich cutter did a great job for shapes.