Tuesday, September 3, 2013

New Beginnings

Summer is officially behind us.  Zach went back to school two weeks ago as a high school freshman.  He's running cross country and enjoying taking a Programming Java class.  What a fun exciting time for him.

First day of High School

Piper started preschool today.  Each new milestone has been so bittersweet with her and this one is no different.  She is such a kind, sweet little girl the future is hers to do and be whatever she wants, this is only the beginning.

Of course, she needed a new dress.  I took inspiration for her first day dress from this one I had pinned on Pinterest a while ago.  I wanted to work with her favorite colors which are pink and purple.  I used Kona Cottons in Berry and Blush.  The dress is an Oliver + S Ice Cream dress.  I've made this pattern several times before and it's still a favorite.  Instead of doing gathers across the top, I opted for an inverted pleat like in the inspiration dress.

We have been reading The Kissing Hand in preparation for the first day of school.  Chester the raccoon's mom kisses his hand so he knows that "Mommy loves you" even when he is at school.  I thought it would be nice to make sure Piper had the same special message so I sewed the words "Mommy (heart) you" into the hem of her dress.

(I would have been better if I could have figured out how to turn the pic around)

Piper looked lovely and like such a big girl on her big day.  I can't believe she is 3 already and it's time to start school.  She will only be going two days a week.  I wonder if that is the get the children used to the idea of school, or the parents.

There were no visible tears when we dropped her off.  She found her name and hung up her backpack. She was a little apprehensive but so brave.  

I will leave you with this letter by Dan Valentine, it is more than appropriate for today:

Dear World, 

I bequeath to you today one little girl in a crispy dress, with two blue eyes, and a happy laugh that ripples all day long, and a batch of light blonde hair that bounces in the sunlight when she runs. I trust you'll treat her well.

She's slipping out of the backyard of my heart this morning and skipping off down the street to her first day at school. And, never again will she be completely mine.

Prim and proud, she'll wave a young and independent hand this morning, and say goodbye and walk with little-lady steps to the nearby schoolhouse.  Gone will be the chattering little hoyden who lived only for play, and gone will be the delightful little gamin who roamed the yard like a proud princess with nary a care in her little world.

Now, she will learn to stand in lines, and wait by the alphabet for her name to be called. She will learn to tune her little-girl ears for the sound of school bells, and for deadlines. She will learn to giggle and gossip and to look at the ceiling in a disinterested way when the little boy across the aisle sticks out his tongue.  Now she will learn to be jealous and now she will learn how it is to feel hurt inside and now she will learn how not to cry.  

No longer will she have time to sit on the front porch steps on a summer day and watch while an ant scurries across a crack in the sidewalk. Or will she have time to pop out of bed with the dawn to kiss lilac blossoms in the morning dew.  Now she will worry about important things like grades and what dresses to wear and whose best friend is whose. Now she will worry about the little boy who pulls her hair at recess time and staying after school and which little girls like which little boys. And the magic of books and knowledge will soon take the place of the magic of her blocks and dolls. 

She'll find her new heroes.  For three full years I've been her sage and Santa Claus, her pal and playmate, her parent and friend.  Now, alas, she'll learn to share her worship and adoration with her teachers (which is only right). No longer will her parents be the smartest, and greatest in the world. 

Today, when the first school bell rings, she'll learn how it is to be a member of the group with all its privileges, and, of course, its disadvantages, too. She'll learn in time that proper young ladies don't laugh out loud or keep frogs in pickle jars in bedrooms or watch ants scurry across the cracks in a summer sidewalk.

Today, she'll begin to learn for the first time that all who smile at her are not her friends. That "the group" can be a demanding mistress and I'll stand on the porch and watch her start out on the long, long journey to becoming a woman.

So WORLD, I BEQUEATH TO YOU TODAY ONE LITTLE GIRL in a crispy dress, with two blue eyes, a happy laugh that ripples all day long, and a batch of light blonde hair that bounces in the sunlight when she runs. 

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Class Picnic Nightgown

So, school is out and we are busy enjoying our summer.  Zachary spent the past two weeks taking a Computer Game Programming class at the local community college.  I know he really enjoyed the class and I hoped it has stoked a little flame in him and given him something to consider as a career for the future.  Piper and I have mostly been busy running errands and getting the house ready for a visitor next week.  I can hardly believe July is almost here, summer always goes faster than I'd like it to.

I haven't been sewing too much but I do have a couple of things I wanted to share over the next few days and weeks.  I am also gearing up for sewing a special little girl a preschool wardrobe and accessories.  After our visitor heads back home I will start to tackle that project.  I have so many ideas I just hope I can get it all finished.

Since summer is here in all her heated glory I thought it was time I got this project, which has been in the back of my mind for a while, finished.  Several months ago my girlfriend introduced me to Hancock Fabrics.  I can't believe I had never been to one.  I went with the intention of getting some eyelet and ending up coming home with a bit more.  One of the things I picked up was this sweet pink seersucker that was on the clearance table.  I can't remember what I paid for it, but it wasn't much.  It's so soft and light, perfect for summer.  The problem I had, once I got it home, was that every time I looked at this fabric all I could see was a nightgown.  Any dress I tried to imagine using it with looked like a nightgown in my mind.  So, why fight it?  Piper has really been enjoying wearing nightgowns lately and they are nice for summer.  We do run the A/C but it is still a little warm in the house in the evenings, nightgowns are the perfect thing to wear to bed.

I used the Oliver + S Class Picnic Blouse pattern and altered it a bit.  Coincidentally one of the reasons I had been putting off this particular project was my laziness.  I've become very spoiled by digital patterns (they are so easy to print, tape and use) and almost avoid standard patterns lately.  I only had the standard pattern until a few weeks ago.  Oliver + S has been releasing all of their patterns that were not previously digital in a digital format.  So, I was quite happy when this one was released, now I could get this project off my docket and out of my mind.

I'm so happy with this lovely little nightgown:

In addition to adding some length, I added this cute ruffle to the bottom:

I finished the ruffle with my rolled hem foot.  That was the first time I had used it and what a handy little foot it is.  There is a small learning curve to using the foot but once you've got it figured out, it does make quick work of finishing a hem.  I may have to get a few different sizes.  I was kind of fun to watch it do it's thing too.

At the top of the nightgown I added a little pretty lace where the yoke meets the skirt.  For the sleeves, I folded them according to directions but made a casing by sewing 3/8" from the top of the hem.  By doing this it created a sort of ruffled sleeve.  

I am a little concerned about the width of the dress.  I wish I had added an inch or so to the skirt for a little added fullness but I think it will be okay for Piper.  The length might also be a little long, I was sort of winging it.  I don't always have the most cooperative little one when it comes to measuring.  Running around is much more fun than standing still so Mama can get the proper measurements. :)

The pink seersucker is very sweet.  The colors seem a little off in the photos because I had to take them in less than optimal light since Piper wants to wear her new nightgown to bed this evening.  It's always a good sign when she wants to put something on before the last threads have even been snipped. :)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Last Day of School

Today is the last day of school.  Boy has this year gone fast.  Zachary will be a Freshman in high school next year.  I find that hard to believe.  I remember very vividly, taking him to his first day of pre-school and how he cried nearly every single day the whole year.  I also, remember quite well his first day of kindergarten and how I cried.  I feel myself, as most parents with children this age probably do, very conflicted.  I want to let go and let him experience life but I want to hold on so tight because I only have a few short years left until he's off to college.

I am enormously proud of Zachary.  He will be taking AP World History next year as a Freshman as well as honors level courses for all of his other classes.  Zachary has struggled and we've hit bumps in the road but he always manages to keep going and I think that says a lot about his character.

Here is my handsome guy before heading off to his 8th grade dance 2 weeks ago:

I think some words from one of my favorite authors seem appropriate here. "How did it get so late so soon?  It's night before it's afternoon. December is here before it's June.  My goodness how the time has flewn.  How did it get so late so soon?" ~Dr. Seuss

I think what I am trying to say is I wish I could slow time down, just for a minute.  I am blessed and proud but sad at the same time.  I love you Zachary!

*I am trying to add a Follow Me on Facebook gadget to the sidebar but can not seem to figure it out just yet.  In the meantime here is the link: https://www.facebook.com/NotSewPlain.  I have been a bit more successful at using the FaceBook page for quick updates.  Check it out!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

13.1 at 13

Do you remember what things you were interested in or the kinds of activities you were doing at the age of 13?  I don't remember any specifics but I do know one thing, I wasn't out running 13.1 miles, the distance of a half-marathon.  Zachary on the other hand will be able to say I ran 13 miles at the age of 13.  Can you imagine?!?

Last weekend we drove down to Fredericksburg, VA for the Historic Half Marathon, part of the Marine Corps Marathon series of races.  Which by the way DH and Zachary are registered for the Marine Corps Marathon on October 27.  So, you will hear more on that later.

DH and Zachary are running buddies.  They started running together when Zachary was 7 years old and we lived in CA.  As part of the Big Sur Marathon, a 3K kids run was held the day before the marathon.  The 3K was part of an iniative to get kids running called Just Run for Kids.  There were other kids run runs associated with larger 5K races around the area and Zachary ran in several of those. When we moved out to the east coast the boys started running 5K races together.  They then started going longer distances; The Navy 5 Miler, Shamrock 8K, Marine Corps 10K, and now a Half Marathon.

To say I am proud of Zachary and this accomplishment is an understatement.  I stood at the finish line waiting for them to cross with a huge knot in my throat, my heart was so swollen with pride.  The boys finished the race in 2 hours 15 minutes.  Of the 7,700+ runners at the race, 44 of them were under the age of 14.  Less than 200 were under the age of 18.

People all along the race course cheered Zachary on.  After the boys had finished and were resting a bit a gentleman came up to Zachary and asked his age.  When Zachary told him he was 13, the man shook his hand and said "do you know what I was doing at the age of 13?"  He told Zachary how impressed he was by doing the race at his age.  Sometimes, as parents, we wonder if we're doing a good job it moments like those that confirm to us that we're doing okay.

Here are a few photos from our weekend:

Start / Finish Line

Piper w/ the dog Piper the girl at the Race Expo

Race Expo

Race Expo, I imagine someday Piper will be joining the boys on the races.

Race jerseys

Monkeys jumping on the bed.  I don't think this is the best way to rest up for a race.

Congratulations on an amazing accomplishment Buddy!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Rainy Day Tea Party

Last weekend, Zachary was supposed to have a soccer tournament so we had nothing else planned to do for the weekend. Lucky us, the tournament was rained out. That gave me an entire day with no plans, I took advantage of this time on my hands and put together a dress that has been on my mind for a while.  What do you think of my rainy day Tea Party dress?

I think this was the dress that made me fall in love with Oliver + S patterns.  I love the unique shape and the little details that make this dress what it is.  Like the curve of the bodice where it meets the skirt:

I tried to add in some flat piping for a pop of color but I can never judge it correctly when cutting, folding and or pinning it to the garment.  It never fails to be either too wide or too narrow.  Maybe someday I'll get it just right.

The bottom of the skirt is finished with this genius little hem band, making the curved skirt easier to hem.

I did get a little lazy when finishing the hem band.  Per the directions, the hem band should be finished with a hand done blind hem.  We all know my feelings on hand stitching.  I avoid it at all costs.  Yes, so maybe I gave up some of the clean look of the dress but I didn't have to hand stitch by throwing it on the machine to finish.

I love to see how people mix and match fabric patterns and colors.  I wish I had more confidence to do it myself.  I generally stick to fabrics from the same line when mixing and matching.  That's the case here.  This is one of my favorite fabric lines, Riley Blake Dress Up Days.  The skirt is done in floral and damask prints.  Piper's favorite color is purple so, I'm pretty sure she loves it too.  What do you think?

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Library Wednesday / Lola Inspired Dress

This is our last library story time for the season, so there wasn't a theme today but I made Piper a special outfit anyway.  Let me give you a little back story before I show you what she wore.  A while back Piper picked out a Charlie and Lola book to check out from the library.  At the time, I didn't really know much about Charlie and Lola but it was love at first "read" for Piper (and myself).  Each story starts out "I have this little sister, Lola.  She is small and very funny."  Piper likes for us to replace Charlie and Lola's names with Zachary and Piper when we read the stories.  Ever since that first book came home, each week Piper asks for another "Lola" book.  There is also a BBC cartoon series for Charlie and Lola that we've watched on YouTube a few times.  Needless to say, Lola is one of Piper's favorites and I enjoy it too.

Lola wears these adorable shirt dresses in her stories.  I had seen a few of them pop up in the Oliver+S Flickr group in the past and was truly inspired to make Piper her own Lola dress.  It took a bit before I found the perfect fabric but once I did, I couldn't wait to get started.  The fabric is Cold Springs Dreams Floral in Cream:

Look how cute the finished dress is:

I am thrilled with the finished product.  This is the Oliver + S Jump Rope Dress (View B w/ View A sleeves).  I made a standard size 3 without any modifications.  While I was making the dress I kept thinking to myself that I should have added some length and in hindsight, I wish I had. Piper is 39 inches tall so it's just perfect right now but if she grows at all I'm afraid it will be too short.  

The Jump Rope dress has a few details that require a little extra time, like the placket, which I put on backwards.  I could have done it correctly, as I caught my mistake early but out of shear laziness just left it as is.  There is a great Sew-A-Long found here, that has pictures to help with things like finishing the placket correctly.

The collar also requires a little time, but the end result is a nicely finished collar.  I would highly recommend taking the time to hand baste the collar before sewing it on.  By doing so I was able to avoid any puckers or tucks and had a nice finish on the first try (something that rarely happens for me).

The sleeves have this adorable cuff, that I also did incorrectly.  I was in a hurry to get finished so Piper could wear her dress today and did a quick scan of the pictures and directions without truly reading what to do.  The result is a finished sleeve that is wrong.  It wasn't really a big deal, or so I thought, until I got her dress out of the dryer and went to do a final pressing.  It took me nearly 5 minutes to fiddle w/ the cuff and get it looking decent enough to press.  I will likely go back and fix it.

I have learned from the past few dresses I did that didn't have pockets that they are a requirement.  When you are 3 you have lots of things to carry that require pockets like; lego's, rocks, sticks, etc.  So far I have found no living creatures in pockets but it's only a matter of time.  I have a big pet peeve about "unmatching" pockets so I did my best to fabric match, but this type of pocket doesn't really lend itself to matching very well.

Piper was so excited to have her own "Lola" dress.  What do you think?  Good likeness?

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Popover Maxi Dress

Piper loves to wrap a blanket or towel around herself to make a long "dress."  It wouldn't be unusual to come to our house and see one clothes pinned to her.  I'm not sure what it is about or why she likes it, but I kind of remember doing the same thing when I was little.  Since she's a big fan of the long dress she's started to ask for me to make her one.  I caved the other day and did it.

I used the same Oliver + S Popover dress I have used many times before.  I had looked online and found a couple tutorials for making cute toddler maxi dresses but decided to take the easy route.  To make it a maxi dress I added 3" to the bottom of the pattern I already had cut and used previously, then added a 4" ruffle to the bottom.  The fabric is a super light weight swiss dot that I got at Hancock Fabrics about a month ago.  It's a nice summery dress.

I will be honest and say, at first I wasn't thrilled with it.  On the mannequin it just looks a little ho-hum.  I also wasn't so sure if Piper would like it.  I had it all finished except to hem the ruffle but wanted to try it on her so I made it the right length.  She wouldn't take it off and ended up wearing it to WalMart unfinished.  I finished it yesterday morning and she wore it to Zachary's soccer game in the afternoon (which his team won 4-2).  I still wasn't sure if Piper would like it in the long term because she's a rough and tumble kid.  She likes to climb and run and jump, if she wasn't able to do those things the dress would have been coming off.  She climbed, she ran, she jumped just fine and wore it all day.  She even got a few compliments on how cute it was.  I do agree, it was super cute on, she looked so easy and breezy.

On a side note, I love the picture with the water pump for nostalgic reasons.  We went to a Ma 'n Pa grocery store near our house after the game for ice cream and this pump is outside the store.  It made me smile because my grandparents lived on a farm when I was growing up.  They had a water pump outside, but theirs was a working pump.  I remember playing w/ that pump and better yet getting nice cold drinks from the pump as a kid. Too bad this one wasn't working.  It was fun to see and nice to bring up some childhood memories.