Friday, June 29, 2012

House For A Little Friend

With the sense of newfound freedom from not sewing the dress, I made something for the kids that had been on my to-do list for a while. 

It's for Bearaby. Remember Bearaby? She's Jenna's beloved sidekick, the one with the much-kissed nose.

Bearaby needs a house, Jenna has been saying for the longest time.
So I took a kid-sized table (SVALA, from IKEA) and sawed some dowels

and made Bearaby her house.

The front door is just a slit opening

that peels apart and buttons back.

Because I wasn't in the mood to be particularly original, I just gave it the typical ikatbag tent-house features -

windows with tie-back curtains

raised roof with dowel channels

and an attic window

and zippers 

to open up said attic

for snoozing in the sun.

Speaking of snoozing, here's Jenna's favorite part of the house - a loop of fabric tucked under the roof

that can be pulled down

and stretched across the ceiling when it's time for a nap in the shade.

With a house as tiny-cosy as this, foldaway beds are much better than actual beds. Especially beds that impersonate space-efficient lofts, don't you think?

Here - I'll show you how to make this hammock. It's really easy. Take a fat quarter and pleat it towards the midline,

then sew bands at either end to hide all the fraying folded end bits, as well as to keep the pleats in place

and open it up like a peapod to cocoon a sleepy friend.

This particular hammock was attached at one end to the roof. The other end was free and has velcro to attach it to the opposite side of the roof.

Jenna had also been talking about a doormat, so I made her one in those Color Me fabrics I bought for Emily's satchels last year.

I gave her a bowl of fabric markers to decorate her mat.

Her sisters wanted something to decorate too, so I serged random squares of the fabrics, christened them Napkins, Blanket and Pillowcase and everyone had something to work on.

As far as we know, Bearaby is very happy with her home, 

and has already placed orders for (cardboard) furniture, laundry service, catering and a possible tea-party/sleepover with her best friends.

Did you notice that I used print fabric? If this were for me, this house would be all solids, with applique. But it's for Jenna, who loves print so much she wears stripes, florals and polka-dots in as many colors as possible, in the same outfit. So you can tell that the roof I made for me, but the walls -oh, those walls! - are entirely for Jenna. 

How long did this take me to make? Two nights. I'd say this counts as "whipping up", as far as playhouses go. Certainly more fun than sewing a dress.

And speaking of the dress, I must go rummage in my closet for something to wear in lieu of that Dress That Never Was. And clean up the royal mess in the sewing room. And vacuum. And pack. And find food to turn into dinner. And do laundry. The fun never stops around here!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

This is as far as it's going

Right - so at (approximately) 2 am this morning, I had an epiphany: I don't need this dress. 

I'm not even interested in sewing it. It's not like I totally slacked off - I mean, look: I made the lining yesterday. It was from my 2010 princess seam block. That in itself should've already given me a clue-  the fact that it was 2 years old, and made long before my current love affair with my running shoes. Then last night, after 6+ fittings and long after I'd turned the CDs off for fear of waking the neighbors, I suddenly remembered that when I made Fleur from that same block, I had to practically redraft it because it needed so much adjustment. And I'd also become deeply disgusted that what was supposed to be the very straightforward lining was turning out to be an accidental -and overpriced- muslin/toile. Wrong on so many levels - the most important being that established blocks/slopers aren't supposed to require fittings, least of all 6 (and counting), and with an impending deadline, besides. Do you know why something requires so many fittings? It's because it's a bad draft. Adjustments won't help a bad draft - it needs to be completely redone from scratch. In other words, in order to sew this dress, I'm going to have to draft a brand-new princess seam block - and accompanying sleeve block. That's not going to happen in three days. 

And no, I'm not even tempted to "just sew it up" with whatever substandard fit it now boasts. I don't sew clothes that way. Either it fits right or I'd be wasting my time because I'd never wear it. I'm only sorry I got stymied this time at the least interesting part of garment-sewing i.e. the fitting, because -hoo!- did I have plans for this dress. It was so going to rock. Was.

So I'm taking my own advice. Remember this list? I'm talking about #10 - the bit where I step away. And once I'd decided not to make this dress for the wedding, the sense of relief and peace and joy and freedom was palpable. 

It's summer, too. 
The days are too precious to be spent sewing handmade clothes, honestly. Anyone with common sense (and especially anyone who lives in 7-winter-months-a-year Minnesota) knows that. My kids are home with me and I'm choosing to hide out in the house, drafting and fitting? Seriously? I couldn't justify that. 

So today I decided we'd go swimming. And shopping for a wedding gift. And playing. And eating ice cream. Sure, I'll finish this dress someday. It's too cute not to. Besides, rumor has it that there are other family members getting married this summer so it may get done for that, if the mood is right. But you know what? I'm not procrastinating anymore. Nor feeling guilty- just glad that I came to my senses in good time.   

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

I Made Bags Instead of Sewing The Dress

Aren't I irresponsible? 
Also avoidant.
And, now, panicking slightly. 

I made three bags - one,



They're roomier than they look and are great for toting towels and things to the beach or pool. At least, that's what I'd use them for. And shopping. And, were I still a mother of very small children, a babyphernalia transportation receptacle. The straps are tubular in the middle so they feel comfortable on, and don't slide off, one's shoulder. 

I'll post more photos later when I'm ready to list them in the shop. Yes, you can buy all three of them, since I'm obviously not keeping them for myself. But for now, I'll just give you the quick tour. 

They have four pockets - two side pockets

one lapped zippered pocket on the back for your ipad (or whatever)

and one zippered welt pocket on the inside. This is the orange bag turned inside out.

Well, yes, technically, they are reversible

but only because I am fanatical about there being no raw or serged edges in my bags anywhere. You could, if you wanted, use it inside-out, but there's no piping on the inside, and the lining fabric is lining-ish, and the cute giant button is only on the outside.

These were also unusual bags for me to make because they're very girly. And I'm not girly. For instance, they have elasticized gathers. And I'm not a gathers-person. But for some reason, these bags work and I really like them (or I wouldn't have made three, and in verrrrrrry expensive fabric, besides). I think sometimes one needs to take a huge leap out of one's comfort -or preference - zone and try something different, don't you?

Here's something else interesting about these bags: there's practically zero interfacing because, as you know, I don't think much of interfacing a bag if you can use the right-weight fabric for it. There are only three places where there's interfacing in this bag:
  1. the straps
  2. the trim on the side pockets
  3. around the welt opening for the inside zipper.

How then does it hold its shape?
Answer: the piping. And you thought I liked piping only because I had an addiction problem ;)

I think there's also going to be a sewing pattern for it. I took all the photos.  Do you want the sewing pattern? If so, hold me accountable, okay? Because heaven only knows I might procrastinate again and suddenly feel like making .... I dunno....wooden toys or.... a dress for a wedding. Now wouldn't that be ironic?  

Monday, June 25, 2012

I Bought Thread

That counts as making progress towards sewing a dress, right? 
I also bought lining (see photo). This is $10-a-yard lining, people. Per yard! That no one will actually see when the dress is completed (unless I make tragic mistakes). The real, visible fabric cost me $6.20 for the full 2.5 yards, plus a half-yard of piping fabric. I can't believe the price of good lining! Is it any wonder that people use quilting cotton for clothes these days? I'm beginning to see their point. 

This is the first time in a long while that I've had all three girls with me when fabric-shopping. I'm pleased to say that they are vastly improved from the days when I wrote that post about buying fabric with small kids. I was privy to this funny exchange in the backseat, enroute to the fabric store:
Emily: I feel like buying fabric today!
Jenna: Well, you're in luck, 'cos that's where we're going.

I can't get enough of Jenna's sense of humor, honestly. She's a fluent reader at age 5 (no credit to me - I refused to do phonics and whatnot and just let her read whatever was lying around the house) and has picked up the most hilarious expressions from stuff she's been reading, including the jokes in the children's menus in restaurants. 

Bit of good news: Emily got her store-bought dress for the wedding! At Target! Good old Target. So all three girls have wedding clothes. Now it's just me needing to get my act together so I'll have something to wear. 

I'll show you what's standing in my way, though:

Another bag. With piping. I will have to finish it before I have peace of mind to start a dress. Also because I'm too lazy to change needles. As I lay in bed on Saturday night, I deconstructed the draft in my head, so I think (hopelessly optimistic) it will go fast once I actually start. If I start. Uh.. when! I meant to say "when"!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

No Escape

I will go to any lengths to avoid sewing clothes. Any lengths.

My cousin-in-law is getting married this weekend. I've known this since last year. And we got the formal invitation several months ago. I suspected I might have to sew a dress to wear to this happy event. And possibly three small dresses for the girls. I don't have to sew anything for the husband. But I  pretended not to believe it and procrastinated. Told Mum. She said, "Wait till the last minute, and then you'll be so desperate that you'll naturally have the motivation and inspiration to make something." She knows, because she does the same thing whenever she has a "function" to attend.

So on Thursday, the girls and I went shopping at Old Navy, and found dresses for K and J. Cheered. Two down. None in Emily's size. She looked so forlorn that I gritted my teeth and, instigated only by the unconditional (and somewhat misguided) love that mothers have, offered, "Well, I suppose I could sew you a dress."

"No. Jenna and Kate are wearing store-bought. I want to wear store-bought."

Hugged self. 
Tried Kohls on Friday. Nothing. 
Tomorrow I'm trying Target. 

Feels good having a plan (in a manner of speaking).

That still doesn't solve the problem of my own dress, though. I've tried every store nearby. Short of going to the Megamall and spending four hours browsing, I don't think I have any options left. So yesterday, I went to Mill End and forced myself to pick fabric. Everything was cotton and floral and hideous. I was about to give up and wear jeans. But I steeled myself and groped more fabric and then found something. I'd never been so relieved to find fabric that I didn't want.

See that photo above? That's what I have to work with now. It's soft and translucent (means I have to go shopping AGAIN for lining) and non-cotton. And heavy  - a very nice weight. I have less than one week to draft and sew myself a dress: vintage and classic and tailored and PLAIN. The rose-pink is for piping, of course. Charcoal and rose (and a pearl necklace) - I think I can do it. It will require every single Kevin Max CD in the house, plus extra random tracks on iTunes, but I think I can do it. I have to do it. 

Subconsciously, I'm deeply jealous of the bride, because 
  • she already has a dress
  • someone else sewed it for her
  • she's probably eating chocolate now.

Then there's the shoes. Which I don't have (yet). Oh well. Thank goodness I can't sew shoes. I think I'll start the dress tomorrow. I need to procrastinate a little more and go run some miles now.  

Friday, June 22, 2012

I Patched Yesterday's Tutorial

Just a short post to say yesterday's Backing Up The Blog tutorial was more holey than swiss cheese, so if you read it and went, "Whaaaa?" you were totally right. I've mended it now, so go have a look again, OK?

P.S. Note to self: stick to cardboard tutorials.