Tag Archive | summer

Another jam session

Summer is upon us in the Pacific Northwest! Actually, we’ve had an unusually nice June (kinda makes me wonder when the other shoe is going to drop) and the girls ditched their fleece jammies weeks ago. The problem was, they have outgrown the spring nightgowns that I made them. That was four years ago, so I suppose some growing is acceptable. {sigh} Kids. If they’re not messing up clothes, they’re growing out of them. Whatchagonnado?

Sew new pajamas, that’s what! I found this pattern from 1982 at a thrift store some time ago and snapped it up for Just Such An Occasion. After considering her options, Rana chose the babydoll set with the little top and bloomers.

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Simplicity 5949 from 1982

It was a cute pattern to work up and nothing overly tricky. The best part of all was that I had fabric in my stash that perfectly suited this little pajama set. It’s a white lightweight cotton with pastel stripes — another thrift store find that I’ve been hanging onto for years. In the pattern, the yoke of the babydoll top is cut on the same grain as the rest of the outfit. I didn’t feel like trying to match up all those skinny little stripes and have them still come out just off enough to make your eyes buggy. My solution was to cut the yoke on the cross-grain instead which sends the stripes running parallel. No matching involved and no buggy eyes. Win-win!

Ribbon shoulder ties and a sweet little ribbon rose below the yoke

Ribbon shoulder ties and a sweet little ribbon rose below the yoke

By sheer luck, the stripes on the little bloomers met just right and make me look like a genius. Thanks, stripes!

Of course I did that on purpose

Of course I did that on purpose!

On the inside of the bloomers, I sewed a little ribbon tag so that Rana could tell front from back. You can also see my French seam which I did on both garments. Rana tends to have some sensory issues when it comes to clothing and anything I can do to smooth things out and make it more comfortable is worth not having to listen to her cry and complain and eventually wear said clothing inside-out. Even though I’ve used French seams in many articles of clothing, I still have a momentary freakout when I begin sewing pieces right sides out, like I’m about to monumentally screw things up. I get a little neurotic about that.

Ooh la la

Ooh la la

And here is the full babydoll set, sans girl inside because, internet pervs.

Soft and cool for summer nights

Soft and cool for summer nights

Granota has told me that she prefers the full-length nightgown. I was hoping to make another stash bust for her, too, but I’m having trouble finding suitable fabric. I may have to break down and go buy something, but I hope not! We shall see…

I’m back, from outer space

So, I’ve been gone a little while. You may have noticed. Rather than get into all the how and why, suffice it to say, it’s been a doozy of a summer with plenty of ups and downs.

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A little sampling of the past few months.

But I think the hiatus (as abrupt as it was) has been good for me. Rana and Granota started school today; I’ve got lots of things to write about; I’ve got an Inspiring Blogger award (thanks, Elle!) to take care of; Sprinkaan doesn’t need to be held 24/7… I have a good feeling about this fall.

Also: New look! Am I sold on it? Not necessarily, but fiddling around with it occasionally kept me connected. Tell me what you think!

Thanks for sticking with me!

Beachy dress

Apparently I am trying to satisfy some kind of latent desire to live in the tropics with my garment choices of late. Heaven knows nobody can wear this at “the beach” in the Pacific Northwest. We don’t even call it “the beach” here — it’s the coast. And it takes a hardy kind of person to enjoy a day out on the coast, as evidenced by this hilarious commercial put out by a local insurance company.

beach bum

Click to watch the short commercial! You will laugh! Well… I laugh.

I can see the floor-length version of this dress being worn with pretty jeweled flat sandals by a girl with lightly tousled hair and movie star sunglasses as she strolls the hot, sandy beaches of California or Florida. The floor-length version of this dress would not be practical, however, for me as I hike up a steep, gravelly trail through the ferns and firs just to get to my car.

McCalls 6555

McCalls 6555

So, for the sake of practicality and also versatility, I made the knee-length version. My thought was, not only can I wear it during the summer, but in the fall I could put on a cardigan, tights and boots and keep on a-wearin’ it. In fact, that blue Pearl’s Cardigan that I made awhile back might be just the ticket.

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The fabric is rayon challis. As you can see, it is a sort of gussied-up stripe print. As you can also see, I paid not a whit to the stripes when I was cutting the pieces. Never even occurred to me to match stripes. I had extra fabric, so I could have matched them. Alas. For some reason, the print never really registered in my brain as “stripe.” I just saw wild swirls and stuff. Fortunately, I think the print is wild enough that I can get away with mismatched stripes. And if not, just nod and smile and play along.

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One thing about the print that I’m a little disappointed about, though, is that it hides the pleats where the dress meets the yoke. That was kind of the main design element. The dress also hangs a bit more sack-like than I would have preferred, which I think would not have been so noticeable in the floor-length version. A little belt may have to be employed.

Another small disappointment is that the middle of the back gaps.

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This is not the first time I’ve had this problem. In fact, it happens nearly every time I make a dress. Why I haven’t paid closer attention to this phenomenon, I can’t say. But it is apparent now that my back measures narrower than the Big 4 pattern companies think. Obviously, I’m going to have to get a measurement and then compare it to the width of pattern pieces from now on. It should improve the fit quite a bit! What I really need to do is make another duct tape dummy of myself and then make a sloper (a sloper is a sort of base pattern fitted like a second skin to your body, then disassembled and used to adjust the sizing of printed pattern pieces to ensure good fit). All this sewing-your-own-clothes stuff is great and fun, but it’s also a lot of trial and error. I’m glad, though, that there are always new things to learn.

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Have you learned anything new lately?

Just enough warmth

Sometimes I get cold, even in the summer. The first summer that my family moved back to the Pacific Northwest after my body had acclimated to 90+ days all summer for the previous twelve years was a major shock to my system. These fir trees block out a lot of sunlight. When there is sunlight. I’ve since become re-accustomed to the less-than-summery temperatures we often experience up here. And part of my survival is sweatshirts and jackets. What can I say? I’m a wimp when it comes to cold.

While functional, hoodies aren’t particularly chic. Since I’ve been making all these lightweight summery-type clothes (Take that, clouds!), I needed a way to keep warm without instantly demoting my outfit to “college student” (Not that there’s anything wrong with that. heh But my college career was many years ago and I milked the sweatshirt/flannel pajama bottoms ensemble for all it’s worth back then).

My first thought was a shrug — something to cover my shoulders and a little bit up top, just to add a tiny bit of warmth. I had found a pattern that I liked in one of my crochet magazines and bought yarn for it. First, the yarn.

You got my money once, punks.

You got my money once, punks.

It’s a Martha Stewart (Lion Brand) acrylic/wool blend (65%/35%). I liked the aqua color (called “igloo”), which is similar to the yarn pictured in the pattern. I’m easily swayed by suggestion, apparently. I also liked that it is a smooth yarn and, while the weight is listed as a 4, it’s not too thick or bulky. As far as working with it goes… eh, I’d be hard-pressed to buy this again. It tends to be splitty; I found knotted lengths within the skeins and one skein even started with several inches of dirty yarn — like it had been walked on! I was too far along at that point to want to abandon the project or deal with the hassle of returning and finding another skein in the right color lot. Besides, who’s to say the next one wouldn’t have some kind of weird issue, too? Obviously, I cut off the dirty part and forged ahead.

The pattern. Well, the pattern ended up consisting of block motifs joined together. If you know anything about me, you know I hate weaving in loose ends. Look, it’s one thing on a blanket, but on a garment? I’m pretty good at hiding those suckers, but there’s always a couple that will work loose eventually. I didn’t like the idea of sporting little fuzzy ends sticking out. Plus, there was the weaving to start with. So I nixed that pattern and went to my fallback — Crochet Pattern Central.  I looked at all the shrugs, shawls, ponchos and capes. Some of them I looked at twice. I finally landed on Anke Spilker’s “Knock Knock Knock Penny.” I have no idea what the name is about, but I liked the look of the little poncho. It had enough coverage to offer warmth, but enough open stitching to keep things airy.

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Fans and summer go together!

As you can see in the pictures, it is basically a series of fans, which really aren’t that difficult to execute, but look fancy. And, while the pattern isn’t difficult, I did find it a bit of slow going because the first 15 rounds are all slightly different, so I couldn’t get into that yarnworker’s zen-like rhythm (full disclosure: I can never spell “rhythm” correctly on the first try). Rounds 16-26 repeat previous rounds, but I only went to about Round 22 or 23 because I was running out of yarn and time (this was one of the projects I wanted to get done before my trip back East). I like the finished length, so it doesn’t bother me that it is a little shorter than how the pattern was written. If I fold my arms across my chest, the poncho is long enough to cover them for a quick warm-up. And, just like I had hoped, it’s warm without being too warm for a cool summer day.

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I'm not the only one who likes it! She has commissioned me to make one for her, too.

I’m not the only one who likes it! She has commissioned me to make one for her, too.

Back in the saddle

The sewing saddle! No, I’m not sewing saddles. Nor anything else Western-themed. Just sewing. Well, actually, I haven’t even taken the cover off my sewing machine yet. But I did iron fabric, lay it out, and cut three pattern pieces out of it so far. Then I had to go pick up my daughters from VBS and get lunch for the kids and well… now it’s naptime and the sewing machine is just too noisy during naptime. Not like they sleep anyways, but I like to maintain the illusion of providing a quiet, peaceful environment for them to sleep, if they’re so inclined. Which they aren’t. But I always hope. And now it sounds like one of them is out. Pardon me while I go return small children to their beds.

Alright, where was I? Ah, yes. Sewing. Or the illusion of sewing. There are a lot of illusions around here. It’s like a carnival fun house. Or a magician’s show. Speaking of magicians, Rana is in the bathroom soaking play-doh in water for “a magic trick.” The magic trick also involved cutting a sponge into small pieces and getting those wet, too. I’m tired and she’s being quiet, so… she gets to play magician. I’ll probably regret it later when the sink is clogged with play-doh.

Last week I decided I should start sewing again. I cut out all the pattern pieces and laid out my fabric and then realized that because of the print on the fabric, I really needed to turn it around the other way. It sounded like a lot of work to me at the time, so I just left it. Rayon challis is hard to get to lie flat and I had just worked so hard to get it all spread out and even when I noticed the pattern. Feh. So it stayed there all week, getting progressively wrinklier as my children took turns playing merry-go-round in my chair even though I tell them everyday that they are not allowed in Maman’s sewing area. They don’t listen to me. They don’t listen to anybody. They might listen to Duff McKagan because they think he’s awesome, but probably only the first time. After that, he wouldn’t carry any more weight than the rest of us around here.

Someday, this will be a blouse.

As the week went on and I avoided my fabric, the thought dawned on me that my brother is getting married in a few weeks and I have nothing to wear to the ball. I mean, the wedding. Well it’s a darn good thing I know how to sew, isn’t it? I looked through my fabric waiting to become dresses and found a lot of wool. Hm. Even though summer shows up only sporadically here in Washington, I’m not sure I’m down with a wool dress at the end of August. Next option — cottons. One is white with large navy blue polka dots. It’s gonna make a killer dress, but, eh, a little too much white for a wedding. My other option is a purple/green floral. It may even be a Swiss dot. It’s not; I checked. The pattern it is destined for is cute. I’m not convinced it’s really wedding-y enough, though. But I have this underlying guilt that says I shouldn’t buy any more new fabric until I use up at least some of what I already have.

Someday sooner, this will be a dress.

Purple floral it is. I got it ironed, which is no easy task when you’re trying to simultaneously eliminate wrinkles on one end and wad up the other end to keep it from dragging through wood shavings, dirt, and mouse poop on the floor. I managed to get it folded in half again and spread out on my sewing table and even achieved the cutting of three pieces from it! But I already told you that. Now I’m sitting here with a weird nerve pain in my right arm, listening to water running and pouring in the bathroom, and feeling so drowsy that I could just go       to        sleep     righ

What? What was that? Ohhh, right. Drowsy. Why don’t my children sleep? They’re trying to kill me by sleep deprivation. Panama! Panama-ah-ah-ah! There’s none of that, thank goodness. Besides, if they’re going to blare music, it’s usually “Welcome to the Jungle” or “Magic” (by the Cars); it just depends on the night. It’s the waking up at 6:30 every morning that’s killing me. And the waking up in the middle of the night. And the not going to sleep until 9:00. And then they won’t take their naps. Sewing on low sleep is not normally advised. We’ll see what I manage to turn out in the next week or so.

For now, I’d better see what kind of magic they’re cooking up in the bathroom. Yes, “they.” Once Granota discovered that Rana was up, naptime met its demise and instead turned into a little watery pow-wow. Good times.

A glimpse into my day

Just four more days until we return to the cabin. It has been a nice respite to be in our friends’ house while they were on vacation. I made use of the oven today and made sure the kids spent lots of time outdoors to enjoy the sun!

For the first time in 8 months… cookies!

Turned out to be a sunny day after all

While I took a picture of this flower, a dragonfly landed on my fingers. I wasn’t quick enough to get a photo of him, too.

Psych-osis

It’s not that I’ve been unproductive this past week. On the contrary, I’ve gotten a lot done! But it’s all on the same mystery project that I showed you awhile back. And y’know, I’d just rather not show it again until it’s finished! Well, mostly done, anyways. My self-imposed goal was the 4th of July. That would imply some sort of patriotic theme. I’ll let you be the judge of that once I reveal it. Anyways, I didn’t want to leave you high and dry, so I dug through my photo archives to find a couple of crafts I did way back when.

Probably my favorite TV show is Psych. Love it. There are some episodes I can watch over and over again and laugh myself silly every time. I used to be fairly active on craftster.org (my name is grenouille78 if you want to check out my old stuff) and I loved participating in the craft swaps. Unemployment and general lack of funds have taken their toll on that pastime, unfortunately, although I hope someday to be able to join in again. One of the swaps I participated in was themed all around the show Psych. There weren’t many of us in that particular swap, but we had fun.

If you aren’t familiar with the show, the two main characters are Shawn (James Roday) and Gus (Dule Hill). In the first several seasons, Shawn was always coming up with goofy aliases for Gus. So the first item I made was based on that concept. I bought a pair of black Guess jeans at the thrift store, cut them off at the crotch and made a purse out of them. I lined it with red fabric and top-stitched it in red (my swap partner’s favorite color was red, otherwise I probably would have done it all in green in keeping with the theme of the show). Then, I adorned the bag with several of Gus’ nicknames. My original plan was much cooler. I had bought an acrylic stamp that looks like one of those “Hello, my name is…” badges. I was going to stamp it all over the purse and then paint the names in. But the weave in the denim prevented the paint on the stamp to come out clearly. Too bad. It would have been funny. I did have a moment of genius when I realized that I could paint over the E and last S on Guess and turn the purse into a “Gu s” purse. That’s what I’m talking about.

Pick a name, any name

The back with handy built-in cell phone and chapstick pockets.

Gus who?

The second Psych-themed craft I have is not one I made for the swap, but inspired by what I received from my swap partner. I have another friend who loves Psych, so I made her a set of Shawn and Gus salt & pepper shakers. Just a little easy printing and decoupaging. But it’s fun! The only tricky part is spreading the glue smoothly enough that the brush strokes don’t show up all over their faces.

Black & Tan, meet Salt & Peppah

So there you have it. A little Psych-inspired fun. I follow Dule Hill and Tim Omundson on Twitter and it sounds like next season is going to be great judging by the little snippets and teases they leave us. They’re filming in Vancouver right now (oh yeah, Happy Canada Day, eh. Hug a maple for me), enjoying this same cool and damp summer that we are here. That’s right, we’ve got a high of 64 today, although that may be a bit optimistic. Hey, anywhere else in the country, send us your extra 20 degrees and we’ll all be happy!

Now back to crocheting until my hands break off at the wrist!