Sunday, October 24, 2010

halloween musings

I know I'm due a birthday party wrap up. It's coming. This one is about Halloween, and my lack of preparation.

We've always managed a pumpkin for halloween. Maybe not carved, but certainly one rotting on the front porch. On one occasion I was determined to make pumpkin soup served in hollowed out smallish pumpkins, a simple desire that became insanely difficult and caused at least two people to think I was completely bonkers. I attribute this perfectionism to my Grandma E, who is known to serve tropical chicken salad in hollowed out baby pineapples. That kind of detail is nothing short of inspirational and she did that before the rest of us even heard of Martha.

So as usual, we've had our pumpkins at least two weeks. They're sitting in the dining room waiting for the massacre. I've had the costume ideas worked out for weeks until several days ago when I began rethinking the whole shebang.

It was to be:
Husband : Beekeeper
Wife: Beehive (I have a marie antoinette wig that is perfect for housing this)
Kid B: Baby Bee
Kid A: Rapunzel or Jessie/Cowgirl

It is too hard to find bees. I don't want to make them.

I'm pretty sure Kid A is sticking with the cowgirl and I feel confident that we will not have to bow to Disney and buy Jessie for $40. I found a stick horse/hobby horse idea or two and will be working that up, see here and here, I'm good with those two but she likes this. She has a plaid subtly western shirt that is beyond adorable and corduroys. I think with a hat we've got gold. But where will I find that now that I have procrastinated all this time?

I've decided to be a bandit. My sister gave genevieve an adorable kerchief bib that once put on made me have to have one for myself. I'm thinking I'll be a french bandit. Because I have a blue and white boat neck shirt that I wear most days and it will be jailbird-y enough. Some boots would be good but that's a decision that takes more time than I have. I thought the baby would be a cute bandit. But I've been ogling this owl costume on Flickr since I favorited it months ago. How cute is that? Too cute. Worth making a doll of it. Worth adapting it for Kid B. She will be an owl.

E has his own ideas. Involving arms. Which reminds me of my idea a few years ago to have one freaky little doll hand arm like the SNL/Anne Hathaway "sisters" skit recalling one of those shows I never had to watch, singing talent trash from the 40's. E's grandmother used to enjoy watching that stuff so he was familiar. I have no context.

And that's it. How I will finish any of this before the Halloween parade on Friday will be the interesting part.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

rainbows ahead

Genevieve is turning one next week! We're planning a teeny tiny party to celebrate and everything is coming up rainbows.
the invitation, minus the important details.

Here are the points of inspiration:
a website logo that gave me the idea
living room art at lonny (it's the watermelon colored room with Miro-esque art)
some polka dot cookies with candy decorations
rainbow sprinkles on top of at least five things in this magazine. Thanks, Annette!
rainbow cake demonstrated on martha (which sadly I will never make, one of us has a blue food phobia).
crazy lollypops, you remember*
these streamers in rainbow
this adorable thing if I had time and magnificent spare ribbons in that quantity
cute party hats with lots of patterned paper
some kind of childish snack food
and ice cream. one, two and three (TBD by my love)

*picture it, 1981. Back from Cape Coral after visiting our grandmother and grandfather my cousin and I were greeted by two enormous rainbow spiral lollipops. Too unforgettable and large for my parents to retract I hid behind my dresser for months (days, weeks?) until it was gone. The result, three cavities. Permanent molars. Still there though the original mercury has been replaced with the materials of tomorrow.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

no pictures

Oh I dropped the ball with the last bit of the KCWC thing. I put in my hours, on average. However, since Thursday not a stitch has been placed. Though I did knit a little bit today.

On the other hand, I cleaned up quite a bit and now have a box full of clothes and heels that I no longer wear and wonder if I should list it in the etsy shop or start a new shop. I've got quite a lot.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

KCWC: days 3 -4

jump rope dress, view b: size 3
So while yesterday I stated that I did not prefer the jump rope dress's view A, today I will declare that I LOVE view B. Maybe my second favorite pattern of the summer, next to the ice cream dress top (view C).
quilting cottons and a cotton poplin (the skier)
Here's how I spent my "hour" on Day 3: shopping. Big surprise, right? With all this sewing I had to buy something. Just had to. I have been determined to use some of the liberty cotton that I finally splurged on a couple of weeks ago and I thought it would look lovely trimming this dress in corduroy. So I bought the finest, softest cord I could find and went to work. Last night I pre-cut the fabric and prepped the placket area. I also plotted something crazy and decided I *had* to make a capelet for Mira. Maybe one for baby G too. So whilst I was whistling away at the fabric shop I found some sale wool, precut to 1.75 yards and on sale for cheap considering that the wool is about 1.5cm thick. Really darn thick. Just wondering how I go about attaching these pieces to one another. Quilting/Walking foot? The fabric is navy, the pattern is from a japanese pattern book and the inspiration is the cadet cape from Lauren Moffatt. Red trim, brass buttons. I can hardly wait for tonight!
the capelet
And today, Day 4: I finished the dress you see up top. An adjustment was made to the collar, subtracting an inch from the width and omitting the interfacing. If I'm lucky I'll have time to start the capelet. I may have to call it quits after that because enough is enough. And I do have to study for an exam next week.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

KCWC: Fall 2010, days 1-2

The elsie marley blog has challenged us to sew kids clothes for one week, one hour per day. Its a fabulous idea and really inspires a creative-based competitive edge in me (you know you have one too!). 
I took the first night to finish making the Jump Rope Dress, view A which I began during the Jump Rope Sew-Along on flickr. Mira selected this fabric herself. I remember asking, "really?" She said, "yes, really." Okay then, Amy Butler's water bouquet it is.  While this pattern is every bit the quality education you have come to expect from Oliver + S, view A is not my favorite. It combines several pieces of torture for me: belt loops, button holes, sash turnarounds, pocket tack downs and hand sewn buttons. Sometimes a girl just wants to be done and something about sewing button holes at the end makes me want to run for the hills. But I got past it, and she's wearing it today. The lady at preschool who helped her out of the car at drop off even complimented her on her dress, the colors, the style, oh my! So it was well worth the effort for that. My comment on the pattern is that I prefer view B, button holes and all. Just sayin'.
Also on day 1, I drafted up my own version of elastic pants and made quick use of some corduroy that I've had hanging about for.ever. It had been pre-washed. One of the few things that are in this household. I rooted through the scrap stash and found some Nani Iro that I knew would make a nice trim. I cut the scraps about 2.5 inches wide ironed them to mimic a double fold bias trim and then enclosed the bottom edge of each pants panel before sewing everything together with a French seam. So far so good, but she's too little to wear them publicly. It cracks me up how they stand up on their own. 

Day 2. I have long wanted to do something with the repeat studio fat quarters that I have privately hoarded and not listed on the etsy shop. I intended to do this shirt at the weekend sewing in vt workshop. This is the easiest shirt in the world to make (well, maybe not the easiest, but easily the most stylish easy shirt). I can confidently tell you it takes about an hour to put together. This is the 12-18 month size and it just about used up a whole fat quarter and a tiny bit of black cotton lawn that must have polyester in it because it smells funny when ironed. Careful cutting was involved so the print ran the proper direction and I had to remove a little bit from the middle of the main panel fabrics to make it work but it does. And I love it. A minor mistake in putting together the pattern this time required me to hand sew the bodice/yoke area together. And I may prefer it that way. I was able to make sure all the layers perfectly cover the stitching area and it was nice to step away from the sewing machine for the finishing details. Just something to consider.

Last night I spent some time drafting a shirt pattern and making a muslin for a double gauze shirt I'd like to create to go with the cord pants (above). I forgot to try it on Gigi this morning so no photos right now. I transferred a few Japanese patterns and worked on a knit shirt. I should have gone to bed. It looks like it has potential but no one is going to wear that thing. No one. Ever.

So if you're wondering how I have time for this here's how: I'm too excited to go to bed when I'm tired and I stopped cleaning the house.

Hearts and happiness! All of this sewing is making me feel joyful.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

She started something

The first baby started preschool. The shirt was part of a back-to-school shopping trip I made for her, it worked out. She loved the clothes and looks so darn cute in them.

Here she is with her sister, right before our departure. And yes, I do cart my baby around sans shoes.
This is at the end of the school day. This school feels like home. Every time I think about her being there I get a little choked up. 

Monday, August 30, 2010

slow knit

If slow knit was a movement I would be the leader. Well maybe not the leader because I'm not a very good knitter, let's say I would be there. I ordered my copy of More Last Minute Knitted Gifts from Purl and it is signed. I couldn't resist a signed copy because things like that make life sweeter than not. I should say my skill level is equivalent to having sewn approximately four things to completion. Two washcloths and two hats. They've turned out reasonably well. Generally while I'm knitting my husband comes over and says something like - "you know you can buy a hat for $12. Do you really like doing that?" And while annoying, it is true. Knitting as a beginner is not cheap. You need ALL KINDS of stuff. I estimate I've spent $200 at least, if you include the abandoned Habu scarf with the stainless steel yarn that I had to have. That item alone required three or four kinds of needles.

Yarn from Nido
Well, let's get back to my slow knitting. I bought the prettiest yarn when I was in Vermont. I stopped by Nido - it was beautiful. You should go because Phiona has a wonderful collection of yarn, fabric and publications.

More Last Minute Knitted Gifts - Joelle Hoverson
I selected a pattern from the book, a simple 2-4 hour project. A scarf. And well, it may be a 3-4 hour project if you have edward scissorhands. I don't. So I have knitted about 8 inches, and spent probably 8 hours (pattern calls for about 21 inches). According to the description one hank should quickly whip up 5 of these babies so my friends and I can match. And while I wish this to be true - it is simply not happening like that. I wish these visually stunning books were rated by skill, 2-4 hours for an expert, 4-8 hours for a single person who just started knitting, 8 - never for someone with two kids and no real measurable skill level. Should I decide to abandon this one too, Phiona sent me a link to a scarf that was on display using the yarn in the shop, it looks lovely. I have two hanks so I just might make this one too. Since I'm crazy and completely in denial about time and skill. That's what competitive spirit gets you. That and some new 24 inch size 6 circular needles.

accidental flavorings

outside an ice cream shop in Chestnut Hill,  September 2009

I almost forgot to mention the ice cream recipe that I made up... It is more than good. Maybe the best ice cream I've ever had. I would take a photo but it is dark and I've been hitting it too hard - so please imagine.

mildly vanilla but mostly herbal mint, lemon and thai basil ice cream.

The Base:
2 cups 1% milk
half a vanilla bean (penzeys) sliced open to free the flavor
a handful of mint
a few sprigs of thai basil
a subtle handful of lemon balm
scant 1/2 cup of sugar

The Middle:
3 egg yolks, whisked

The Finish:
1 tsp. penzeys lemon extract
1 cup table cream

Heat The Base in a saucepan on medium to medium high until the milk base bubbles prior to a boil. Take your time to allow the flavors to infuse. Pull off heat and drizzle slowly pouring into the eggs, or The Middle (I suggest pouring through a sieve or coffee filter). Dig your vanilla bean out of the infusions and scrape a little off and put it back into your mixture. Add The Finish. Pour into your ice cream maker and let good things happen. Freeze, enjoy. It won't make enough. You should probably double it.

A note, if you use table cream as I did the mixture may appear a little more ice milky than ice creamy.

the ice cream dress and three flavors

Alexander Henry Cotton Print size 3, view A, Moda Whimsy size 3: view C,  and Heather Bailey Bijoux (ice)/Anna Maria Horner Good Folks (sea) size 12-18 months: view A
Earlier this season Oliver + S hit us with a pattern called the ice cream dress. Originally done in pink, cream and chocolate it was inspired by Neopolitan ice cream, if memory serves. I've been meaning to get started on mine - and was especially motivated when I heard about the "ice cream social" on Flickr but life gets in the way, you know how it goes.

I have no idea how or why, but since Thursday I have made three. Keep in mind that these items were largely prepped because I intended to make them in Vermont (you know, when my pal delirium informed me that I could sew 7 or eight projects in 36-40 hours). Aside from some missing pocket facings and a yoke all cut items were good to go. I have a bad habit of not following through with pattern markings, but after Liesl herself gave us all a lesson in an easy way to transfer with carbon or other marking paper a la ralph lauren - I will do better. I promise.

the one that I adore - heather bailey print with anna maria horner
Now while I love all three of the pairings for different reasons, I really adore this one. I know the colors don't match exactly, but the cheerfulness of the accent print balanced by the bohemian print from Anna Maria Horner make my soul satisfied. And that's what it's all about. And yes, if you care to look at that pocket detail on the left things almost match up. That's as good as it gets people.

So here are my thoughts on the pattern - it's lovely. Go ahead and do it - it doesn't have to be for summer because you can stick a long sleeved tee under it or even make it a little heavier if you must. It is accurately rated two scissors - which I attribute to the fact that you have to read the directions to do it properly. I found the suggestion of sewing a basting stitch to use as a guide completly ingenious. It seems like a new tip and it is one that made my ironing so much easier (but calls for thread pulling later, kind of a bummer when you're ready to be done). There is only one wonky part which seems to have stumped more than one person - it is the part where the bodice meets the yoke on the back, right side. Scary.
pin like mad
I read some feedback from other sewers that feel the dress could rip at this little achilles heel. And if you worry about that I suggest adding a bit of iron on interfacing in that area. But I think it's going to be fine if you don't. Just carefully clip the bodice seam allowance perpendicular just to the seam line. Then you tuck everything under the right side yoke and pin like crazy - I backstitched where the two openings meet at the back of the dress. Everything will be alright. Really. If it isn't you can pour yourself a gin and tonic. Or maybe you should do that anyway because who knows what your kid got into while you were sewing.

Tower of Terror: as retold by a girl who has never been in it

Tower of Terror
A week ago our neighbors came home from Disney with a number of stories to tell about their adventures. One story was so successful that Mira instantly appropriated and illustrated it. The ride is called Tower of Terror, a story about a runaway elevator that results in quite a large number of casualties (I have not been on the ride but have heard the adventure recounted by the three year old about 100 times... so it must be true). The illustration above reveals some of the riders and the box in the middle is of course, the murderous elevator (a shocking story from the princess people). I was so impressed by her mad narrative story skills that I have scanned it for your viewing pleasure. Her tale of terror follows below.

It was the scary ride that went up. It went up, down and everyone throwed their tongues out. And then everyone died. Then I woke up. The ride was going to crack, and the thunder made it crack and cut off. It was cutting off - so we couldn't go there.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Modern Playtime

A few hours ago, or since yesterday when we strongly committed to getting rid of a plastic playhouse monstrosity which the neighbors "generously" bequeathed to us, rather than the dump - I began considering how we can get a kick ass new playhouse for not so much money. Even the ugly ones cost $300. A simple google image search found three divine sources of inspiration.

They are: Made by Joel
Kiddo Cabana from the Modern Cabana people
and this inspirational glass house

Here is the plan... convince the husband that he wants to make this (he just appeared unimpressed when I walked him through the above links) BEFORE next year (he seems concerned about the cold, I ignored him because it is still AUGUST). Then - make a simple playhouse possibly with a porch so we can set out some adorable kids chairs. A major plan (which I haven't mentioned to the builder) calls for excavating the slope so the house can tuck under a pine tree and be close enough to the house so I can initiate some illegal wiring (just kidding, but really the place needs a chandelier to be my kind of fancy). All of this may be more than a little impractical because really we'd rather move. But we've been saying that for about 5 years. Maybe 6. And we are still here. Fully improved in this delightful 1980's colonial on a quiet little cul-de-sac in boring ol' Mary-land.

But I just opened up a can of worms that won't stop. What about this? Holy Jebus you can't believe this stuff, can you? It's like 1982. It is. If you look at some of this stuff long enough - particularly the Made by Joel site, you might find yourself knee deep in sensations you had as a kid if you are a bicentennial babe, as I am. I can almost smell the craftiness oozing out of his paperclip furniture. The cork tree branches on the dollhouses? Friggin' genius. It must be Portland, I think the city donates a portion of creativity when you submit your property taxes. A while back all the best stuff was coming out of Australia and New Zealand, and now it is all in Portland. Time to plan a little vacation to pick up on that creativity.

One more playhouse of note, very girly.

Friday, July 30, 2010

(pre)weekend sewing updates

Yesterday I tore it up with the weekend sewing preparations. I decided I would try Heather's Library Skirt, found on her blog and adapted from a pattern in her book. I traced. I traced the yard sale skirt, huck finn pants, ruby's bloomers and the little flower girl dress too. I figured everything was out so I'd just get to it. So I did. And I pre-cut the nani iro stripes for the skirt, vertically. I thought the waistband looked a little small. I thought, eh so what. I'll lose 5 pounds. Right.

Around 10:30 last night I determined it was time to try to stitch the library skirt. I stitched, I gathered. I pulled it on when the waistband had been attached to the rest. It seemed to make my stomach look like an alien was inside. I noticed a tear in the double gauze. Disaster! I really need to go back and rip out the waistband from the dg, but I don't want to. I'd rather scrap it. Move on. But I think I have to go back to it.

On a brighter note, I was researching the Make it Perfect Kaftan patterns and found myself at the Film in the Fridge blog again. Check her out! This woman is amazing. I am constantly inspired by her quilts on flickr and now her clothing projects are making me jealous too. For example she does a version of the Socialite dress that makes me want it. I was a little worried about it being too roomy in the hips, but she makes it look awesome. I have decided I probably should visit this adorable store she mentions called Nido Fabric in Burlington while I have a few hours to kill before the workshop.

Any place else I should visit? I think I have 3-5 hours before driving to Goshen.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Countdown to Weekend Sewing in Vermont

I can't believe in two weeks I'll be heading to Vermont for some weekend sewing with Heather Ross. Word on the street is that Denyse Schmidt and Liesl from Oliver + S will also be here. When I dropped these names to my husband and I realized that it is possible to be a sewing geek. Can you relate?

In preparation for my long weekend with sewing interrupted only by sewing authorities, cookies and nature I need to prepare a sewing to do list. I also feel like I should sew something before I go. Of course this is akin to my ill-concieved idea that I should practice yoga for two weeks before going to a class. You know, so I look like I know what I'm doing. Er, whatever.

Here's what I've got in the works:
1. Playdate Dress
2. Bring Tea Party dresses that are in progress, maybe finish?

Poster Fleur - Rainbow Print
3. Yard Sale skirt from Weekend Sewing or the Easy Wrap skirt from Diana Rupp's Sew Everything Book... using the Nani Iro poster fleur rainbow print or the stripe but I had been thinking of using the stripe for
4. a dress...
Saaa Saa

but maybe the stripe should be this skirt that I found when looking for examples of the yard sale skirt:

5. Patchwork pieces to work on for back of Anniversary Quilt
6. A big bag (I was thinking about doing this with the rainbow print) and the bag on the cover of the carry me book (but someone has checked it out from the library, GRRRR)

Fuwari Fuwari
7. Been dying to use this gauze-y fabric for something, thinking a blouse, need a pattern.
That's enough, right? I know. It's way too much. That's why I need to do the blouse, skirt and bag BEFORE I go. So I'll get on that. And I have to trace all the patterns too. Jinkies.

But I still have to select the rest of the fabrics. My goodness, I hear they are charging for checked baggage and I'd rather bring my own scissors. All sorts of logistics.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Dress C: Girly Style Wardrobe

This was pretty simple. I even goofed up a couple of things (due to the translation/adding seam allowances/where is my mind conflicts), namely: I forgot to add the seam allowances and decided to carry on. Worse things have happened.

So I chopped up some Amy Butler Sandalwood fabric from Love in Tangerine. It's a crazy print. Tangerine, Lavender and Cream. It's nice, but this is the first time I've thought of using it for anything. I have a whole bolt, people - BUY SOME.

As I was sewing the arms in, Mira decided it should be for her instead of her cousin Eloise for whom I was sewing it... 4th birthday, size 110cm, hem drastically shortened.

I decided that it was a little larger than life as a dress and this version should be a pool cover up. And for that, it is perfect.

Naughty Secretary Skirt: Made

I've gotta tell you, I'm quite pleased with myself. You see I sewed something for myself. Yes, just for me. I think this is a first. How envious I've been of all the beautiful dresses some ladies have time to make for themselves. I've wanted to. But the stars had not quite aligned for me until last week. The sewing machine cooperated, the children napped. I sewed a straight skirt.

I used the pattern from Diana Rupp's Sew Everything book. And I'll update this with a better pattern review. It was my first project from her book and went well enough. There were a couple of parts where I was more than a little bit lost. I'm sure it was all my mistake but sometimes when I'm reading about a project my brain just shuts off and all I can do is think, there's no way I'm ever going to understand this... so I hop off the exit ramp and DImYself. Scary. 

So what happened with this pattern was that I had no idea what she was talking about with the whole invisible zipper joining the back seam thing. Partly my fault because I did not buy the invisible zipper foot. Amazingly I made it work, but after wearing the skirt today I think I could probably stand to reinforce the area back there with the INVISIBLE ZIPPER. Never thought I would do that!

Second part was the issue of the slit. Whaaa? I couldn't figure this out. Not enough illustrations, not enough close up photography... not enough people on Flickr posting their project photos. So I totally made a suburban ghetto mess of that. It functions but let's hope no one gets *that close* to my rear. If I make this again I will be reconfiguring the pattern to go with the enclosed slit that I found in the Oliver + S "A-Line Skirt" pattern. It is so MUCH BETTER, CLEANER, MODEST, etc. Because seriously, who wants a slit up their backside? I don't. It's one more vulnerability for me to worry about children exposing my body parts in public.

So here you have me modeling the skirt. I've never been a fan of these downward angles so popular in the nineties... but hey, you get the whole body in and it makes my hips look small... so there. I held the camera all by myself and then I gave myself a nice, golden glow.

Here are the stats and my review:
Pattern grade results: a B-.
Size Small.
The print: Far Far Away Chapter 2, Roses Natural Basecloth, Aqua Colorway.
Bias Trim - Scrap from Stash

Free with purchase but ultimately not polished. I'm going to give one of her bags a try because I do like the style in which the book is written; however, I don't like the lack of close up photography or illustrations. I'm visual, I need details.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

G to the Genevieve who eats Japanese bookmarks

This last image is from Good Girls Cute Clothes. After I made the pink apron with tulle {two posts below} I knew I also had to make this shirt because it was pictured with it. Looking back, I feel like I was inspired several months ago by something I saw on the Katie Did blog. I'm not sure what it was anymore, but I sense it involved yellow buttons or colorful buttons used as an accent on an otherwise simple design. I remember that being part of the reason why I had to buy them. I'm sad that her blog is on hiatus because I was truly inspired by her beautiful children's clothes.

The pattern is the 100cm size, I had to make some corrections after I misinterpreted the pattern and pulled too tightly a strip of 1/4" elastic within the sleeve seams. It made for some cute puffy sleeves; however, the effects of me eyeballing resulted in sleeves more akin to a tourniquet than a puffy sleeve for a three year old. In future incarnations I plan to add some ruffles. I could see flowers, a sleeve embellish or even something front and center anchored by a placket. (Assuming Mira gets over the sleeve incident and allows herself to try it on again...) I'm going to make this shirt five times. Maybe more. 

In this simple version on white Kona with yellow Dritz sunflower buttons I added some hand sewing on the back and at the bottom hem with a denim thread that was in my drawer. It may have been nicer to whipstitch and it's possible I'll change it if I ever have the kind of free time that allows for corrections instead of manic project completions. I can't get over that I sewed four projects since last Saturday. I feel like I owe somebody something. Thank you, husband! Thank you, children! I'm sorry for letting the TV watch you.

This is Pattern G. It is featured underneath the adorable apron tutu number that actually appears on the cover.

You're probably thinking about how much you love that green bookmark in the photo. I am. Well Genevieve ate it while I was tracing patterns. I think it had useful information like ISBN numbers. Well La-Ti-Da.

Girly Style Wardrobe... every letter in your book

And then there's this project... {Pattern A} my first one from the aforementioned shipment of pattern books from Japan. I loved this look, how adorable with the ties, but I thought it was reversible. When I realized it wasn't I opted to make a simple change that could change the history of family photographs For. Like. Ever. After all, who doesn't have a toddler that spills her ice cream all over herself?  Well, I do! And this creamy color may not hide chocolate but at least it can be turned for a cleaner look, if need be.

So what I did was double the pieces, eliminate the partial lining pieces and enclose the bottom with careful ironing, pinning and ric-rack to hide the blemishes. I couldn't have been more pleased with myself and this pattern was as easy as it looks. It is the 100cm size, and may be a little big for Mira (3t). She's tiny and if she weren't so tall she would likely be wearing her old baby clothes. Not kidding, but back on point: the beauty of a shirt like this is that it probably has a bit more longevity than most, with the ties allowing for simple lengthening adjustments. 

So rock on Girly Style Wardrobe. I think I'm going to love every last letter in your book.

Far Far Away. Chapter 2: the affair begins

This addiction all started in my head a few months ago when I ordered two Japanese pattern books, Good Girls Cute Clothes and Girly Style Wardrobe. And then the Charm Stitch Far Far Away order arrived last week and I knew what to do.

Lately, I love working with the materials that I have on hand. And every time I pick up a project I think about using something that may promote sales in the Charm Stitch shop. So just that much reasoning was a big enough excuse to tear into the bolts of Rapunzel in Pink... and then Rapunzel in Green (Meadow) and the Roses, which are a bit coral with green, yellow and natural tones. I can't help but think that the moons are next. How cute they will look as an Oliver + S skirt; you know, the one that goes with the brunch jacket.

I have to admit, I didn't know if I would like the cotton/linen blend. A month or so ago I was at the Purl Soho new store opening celebration and felt the Nani IRO 2010 lines and thought it felt a little rugged. And it is, I suppose. But it also lends itself to all kinds of projects that can benefit from larger scale prints (like jackets, bags, pillows, aprons, skirts and I don't know what else, but I will find out). I'm addicted to flipping through my books looking for ways to use the other prints. I almost used the owl and the pussycat for this jacket but I let Mira choose the fabrics and she really wanted another Rapunzel. No one had to twist my arm to put those coral roses alongside her. One confession: the pattern calls for a wackily creative long strip of bias trim on a single cut of fabric. I am very conservative with my cuts and I decided to see what would happen if I cut on the grain instead of the bias (using only 4-8 inches instead of a yard and a half). And I have to say that the tie is heftier than most, but it is fine. I saved oodles of fabric and no one will ever know the difference.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

pickling, preserving and fermenting

Lots of ladies in blogland have been making food from scratch. Ever since I watched HOW TO EAT YOUR LIFE and immediately ordered the TASSAJARA BREAD BOOK I've been on a bread kick, major. I have almost memorized the recipe and would be happy to eat bread for all three meals, including snacks. I'm planning to take the girls to the strawberry fields this morning to get some berries in our basket. Then I want to make preserves and strawberry rhubarb something. I've also been DYING to pickle things. Mostly jalapenos since I can't stop eating them out of the jar (can you wrap your head around two jars in 10 days? I think it's 40 servings). So pickling something, that's important. But I have been planning another something special, yogurt after reading this.

I believe I read something about making ones own butter somewhere, too. This strikes me as possibly up my alley. Martha Washington made her own after all, the mother of all Marthas.

Pickling resource at NYTIMES.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Fixing my sights on a straight skirt

I need a pattern for a straight skirt. I anticipate my linen/cotton Nani IRO hoard will arrive soon from Japan. And now back to my needs... the skirt, a pattern. I have plenty o'fabric and lots of books. If anyone is reading, have you used the pencil skirt from S.E.W. everything or the Built by Wendy Sew U book? I'd be happy to try an Amy Butler pattern. I digress, I want something cheerful and delicate. I think the new Fuccra prints look close enough to this JCrew skirt. Which I believe is sold out.
Also going on... a pair of shorts utilizing a built by wendy pattern. I've sewn the zipper in and made my way through one column of directions. It took me four tries because I feel that I synthesize directions quickly when I clearly don't (hence multiple appearances of the seam ripper, or maybe the multiple appearances of screaming over-tired baby).
I intended to whip it together tonight; you know before my productivity was derailed putting children to bed for two hours. Then I got stuck under a baby, began reading inspiring posts at Made by Rae and the Selfish Seamstress. But if I have to be stuck let it be here, with this adorable, healthy and sweet sleeping baby and an endless amount of inspired bloggers.
Also held hostage and crammed full of inspiration is the built by wendy dresses book, I'm not allowed to renew it from the library anymore and dread returning it next week. I need a copy! Accepting donations and suggestions. (sound of crickets chirping, hello?)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

a springtime dress

Boy was it a challenge to get our little girl to stand still in this dress. Eric is off-camera making her laugh. This was my weekend project... my first go at a simplicity pattern that I saw first at Posie Gets Cozy. I love her selection of fabrics. I decided to challenge myself to use the bolts in my collection, I've been particularly interested in the contrast between the lower two panels, a little bit of Nicey Jane and a whole lot of Love

I wound up admiring the way the bodice came out, I think these two prints from nicey jane (heather bailey's latest line) are my favorites. They have a super sweet vintage feel and are also quite springy. What you see here is what happened when I ripped out a section of Tangerine Sun Spots. I liked it so much I put it in twice. It was just too much.


I made the dress from Simplicity's pattern 5695 view B, a size 2. It runs quite large.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

in case you need a reminder, here are more reasons why I love Nani IRO/Naomi Ito.

I just found her website (1), and it's excruciatingly beautiful (2) like this. Surely I suspected she made watercolors and that they were beautiful; but I had no idea they were like that.

The new line for spring has me wanting more precisely all of the bolts from one of the lines {this one}, which is trouble (3). Three of this one, but I'll settle for the chocolate print (4). All of this one, but I'll order the one in the middle {sigh} (5). And I can't help but want to make this dress scoop-necked with this one (a, c, or e)... not horizontal (6)! I just love the way the prints are unusually laid out (7), making a top & bottom look like two totally different prints or a dress look completely original and not like something you whipped together from a common fiber.

And as usual, you can find some patterns here (and that makes 8).

Monday, March 1, 2010

read these, thank me later.

I've read all three of Jhumpa Lahiri's books and I encourage you to do the same. Start anywhere. I happened to read them chronologically by date written. I must have picked up the Interpreter of Maladies book a couple of Christmases ago and saved it for myself. The effects lasting enough to make me remember her name while I was at the library long enough to browse for something past the Children's section.

The Pulitzer Prize winning Interpreter of Maladies was solidly good, memorable but it didn't affect me quite as much as either The Namesake or Unaccustomed Earth have this past week. That's right, I read TWO books in one week. Lucky for me, our baby is more than happy to feed as long as there is something to eat and I have learnt how to balance a baby, water, a book and incessant demands of a toddler from the couch (Sophie makes a fine Sherpa).

I don't know where to start with these beautifully crafted stories that don't reflect nostalgia, but do carry an air of sadness, wistfulness, a loss of place, sense of delayed longing without hope. Several times she got me, I knew what was coming but really not until the page prior. Thank goodness Lahiri doesn't delay with delivery. Some of her short stories follow a similar pattern of family, education, certainly location; a few are so different they are hard to delve into but a reader does anyway. There's something there, though. Some feeling; fleeting just on the edge of our personas... the point where we want to give more, say something and we don't. Something happens and our lifetimes are irrevocably different. Maybe nothing happens but the moment is gone; the paths changed, relationships ceased. As I reached the last 15 or so pages of either book I was filled with equal parts devouring anticipation and bitter sadness for the end.

I'm enchanted by authors that can glide easily between male and female characters without apparent difficulty. In some cases, you might say she writes better from the perspective of a man than a female. Certainly her younger characters are closer to her, more developed. One particular story discusses the conflict of a child - born in America but visiting relatives in Calcutta whom his parents long to be with but not feeling any particular attachment to them. He comes home, none of his american friends ask about his absence. Sadly, I've been that American. Only now, twenty or more years later do a regret not asking a boy from Africa more about his life, a friend from India what her travels were like. Were they too exotic? Didn't I care? Did I not know how to ask? Clearly I wasn't alone in my ignorance.

Alas, you won't find any spoilers here, I can't take that away from you. Just go, go to the library or order it now. I'm sorry I don't own these two. They're so good I'd never lend them but will plan to give them, to spread the love.

Strangely enough, though the stories mostly fall between Cambridge and Calcutta I have the strongest desire to visit London.

So like I said, read these - thank me later.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


I certainly don't have much free time, but I have enough that I have started plotting my next series of projects. I have to go pick up the babylock from the doctor's office and then all heck is gonna break loose on that thing. Assuming it can handle it. 

Here are my plans...
1. Birthday quilt for my dad, simple and inspired by one that I saw on the katie did blog. God how I love orange. I may just appropriate the whole orange trim thing, though I bought some tiny prints for back up.

2. Duvet for us. Something cheery like the "film in the fridge" lady does. Gonna go bento boxy on some old heather bailey fabrics.

3. Quilt that I see equally at home on our bed atop a white duvet cover (thinking new sheets appropriate for fourth anniversary gift), or down here on the couch, where I am now. I'm using the momo wonderland tomato prints.
4. Curtains for us. Thinking about white tops with a chevron bottom, either black & white or yellow & white. Problem is, not sure which will go well with either of the quilts I have planned. I have to say, I'm leaning toward yellow. In a pinch, I could find an espresso/ivory stripe.
5. Lastly, I have to find out if I can get this Amy Butler Tangerine Polka Dot fabric anywhere. I've long wanted to make some bold curtains for Mira's new room. I think they would really liven the joint up.

Monday, February 22, 2010

I hate LOL

On facebook, my most hated sight is LOL. Even worse is when someone writes, "lol! {something attempting to be witty} LOL." They type an LOL for their own lol. Geez, I get it; but stop. I prefer a good ha! Because ha is a sound you can actually make. Do you really need to tell everyone you laughed out loud, twice? Maybe you should just say, "holy toledo! that was so funny I spat out my milk!" Because that happens to me all the time.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

my favorite things

Originally uploaded by charm stitch

Bowerbirds radio on Pandora
my ever-growing reading list
the "request title" library portal feature
ideas scribbled on shopping lists (destined to be forgotten, but planted nonetheless)
the looming doom of training for a race in june
mira's imaginary friend
two sleeping children
snuggling with people that I made, and the person I made them with
a new perfume of blackberry and vanilla
40 degree weather
chirping birds whom are not penguins
melting snow
cookie dough
inspiration found down under
new projects
and the possibility of completion

Valentine Take Down

Garlands made from thread and paper... Valentine, oh valentine you gave us lots to do.

habu knit

Originally uploaded by charm stitch

Several months ago, before I had any interest in knitting, I came across an unusual stainless steel yarn and thought well, maybe. I kept coming across a particular pattern for a scarf and last week I began the ambitious project. Sixty inches of ambitiousness! The foundation utilizes two yarns before eventually dropping down to the black stainless. I've already made a mistake, purled where I should have knit; took in a stitch five times I shouldn't have. But now it's mine. My own pattern of mistakes. And if I can finish it, this may become my sister's happy birthday present. But that's at least 57 inches from here.

Friday, February 19, 2010

oh genevieve

She looks up at me with these adorable eyes, smiles. She seems happier than the rest of us, just naturally. Just because. Almost four months old. The framework of her personality is coming up. Easy-going, doesn't like her view obstructed, ready to get out of the baby chair, full of aforementioned smiles, blue-eyed, snuggly, gassy, quick to laugh, loves to be held, amused by her sister, hearty eater, quick to spit up, late to rise... our little baby genevieve.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Charm Stitch contributors... call for inspiration

Here is your sneak peek of the new site!

Of course, Charm Stitch will have its very own blog. I have big plans for featured artists, projects, tutorials and studio tours. I've been spending every free minute I have looking at blogs and sites for contributors. What are your favorites? Or perhaps you do something wonderful... contact me by email or comment and tell me about yourself.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Swatch Attack!

Hello friends!
Sketchbook style ideas for you on our Flickr page! All fabric available in downright excessive quantities for immediate enjoyment. Purchase as a fat quarter grouping or yard by yard. Bespoke services available, contact info at
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