Friday, April 30, 2010

dress to skirt again

This dress was waiting for me at Goodwill last time I went for half off Saturday.
Tacky no? There's not a figure on earth that would be flattered by that halter top. Unless of course your definition of "Flattered" is "droopy sag" in that case, I still have the discarded bodice of this dress. I'd be glad to send it to you.

Lopped off the top, inserted a facing and the tackiness became quirkiness. Well, maybe it's still tacky but now it's tacky that I like.
I think the classic lines of a straight high waisted skirt balance out the loud pattern like a poorly executed droopy-bust halter and hoochy-mamma front slit never could.
Speaking of the front slit, I remedied that unfortunate situation with the placement of a contrasting box pleat.

The photos would have been much better if I'd waited to take them until I had access to shoes, accessories and possibly a more interesting top, but I am impatient and there's no telling how long Little Moo will nap barring the way to my closet.

There you have it, stark photos of my most recent sewing venture.

Dress to skirt

I bought this dress last summer. Not so much because I liked the dress but because I was completely in love with the gingham. I have a thing for gingham. There's no denying it.

The dress was cute enough I guess, but it was rather snug in the boobs and would have fit so seamlessly into my high-school wardrobe that is was a little disconcerting.
So I chopped off the bodice, added a waistband and now I am happy.

I put elastic across the back to keep things simple. And to save me from the pouch enhancement that would have come from putting elastic all the way around

I probably ought to have altered the side seams so they wouldn't pull to the back like that. I knew it would happen but I chose to ignore it and charge ahead anyway.
In the end I am ok with the wonky side seams. They are not ideal but they are worth the time savings. I probably would never have gotten back to this skirt if I hadn't finished it in one sitting and I was sewing with the baby in my lap by the end of the project as it was.
This wonky little skirt is going to see a lot of use, and that's what counts.

Friday, April 23, 2010

A-camping they did go

This morning I needed to pack Enzo's things for the long awaited Father and Son's camp out.
Seriously I've been waiting for this day since before I had a son.
What fun to ship off the men folk for a night of farting in the woods while the girls stay home and do girl things!
Last year Enzo and The Mr were not ready to face the wilderness on their own, but Enzo is three now so off they went, into the wild.
So, anyway, I went to pack his things but I found I had nothing to pack them in. Well, ok, I had things I could have packed them in but I wasn't real keen on sending my nice easy rolling luggage on the Father-son camp out. There's also the giant duffel bag but I really am talking giant here. It is what the Mr used to carry his trombone, case and all, around in during high school. It might have been overkill using bag that big to carry a pair of jeans, four pair of underwear, a variety of socks and a t-shirt all sized to fit a boy of three. He's a big three, but his clothes still don't take up that much room.
It was clear, I needed to take matters into my own hands.

I wonder if The Mr looks forward to the calls that go like this
Me- "Hi how's work? Can I cut up your (item of clothing) to make a(secondary item) for (family member)
Mr.- "umm... ok"
Me- "Thanks! Love ya, bye" (Humm of sewing machine) *click*

Today it was this pair of shorts.

They became this back pack

I was going for a rugged look so I hacked off the waist band and with no further finishing work, tacked it on as straps.

This Robert Kaufman Monkey print is something Enz found at the fabric store and couldn't leave without. We bought a quarter of a yard and it's been waiting for the right project to come along.

Look at that, he's all ready to go! Too bad he still had to wait for Pop to get home from work.

The back pack may have turned out a little droopy...I don't want to talk about it.

Ok, he's got his "smarshmellos" and his "fruit row-lups," Now he's really ready to go.

And His pop was ready too.

Bye boys! Have fun farting, I'll see you tomorrow!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Eva the copy cat

The other day I was sifting through fabric trying to come up with a second spring top to enter without buying anything new and I was blessed with an idea.
Not an idea for another spring top, I don't think that's going to happen, an idea for Zizza.

You see, before I started sifting I had been browsing around Oliver+S. I've got a piece of fabric that would be fantastic made up as a Birthday Party Dress but I've been trying to talk myself out of it because It will be a play dress and I don't want to have to iron those pleats just so Ziz can play in the dress. You know what I mean?

Then I happened upon the Ice Cream Cone Dress. At first I just thought it was a cute little play dress, but then I saw the picture on the mannequin and I was like "Holy interesting construction Batman, look how the yoke transitions into that kimono style sleeve!" and I knew I had to try my hand at that.

Now go back to the part where I looking for something to make for myself and imagine me running across this floral.
Suddenly I remembered these little shorts. The shorts that still fit that child and have that same floral as their inner waistband lining. I planned making a sleeveless button down blouse out of it to be worn tucked in to those shorts but I never did.

So I'm in my sewing room looking at the floral with the ice cream dress at the back of my mind when the scraps of chambray from the shorts catch my eye.
I abandoned the idea of sewing for myself and got to work.

These spur of the moment, "I've got to start sewing now or I'll probably die" kind of projects sometimes bear interesting fruit. The button hole tab for example was born from my failure to consider a closure until the dress was otherwise complete.

I generally try not to copy so blatantly as I think it's in bad taste, but this one happened before I fully realized it. Maybe I'll buy the Birthday Party pattern in recompense.

P.S. Don't tell her daddy I let her jump with her shoes on. She can't unbuckle them herself and I wanted to get the trampoline shot real quick without putting down the camera to help her.
P.P.S. Pretend there aren't little un-clipped threads hanging off her left sleeve (how embarrassing)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Salt water

Last week was shoe week round these parts. Zizza and Enzo's new summer shoes were delivered the day after mine.

I spent the whole of last summer looking for sandals that would fit on Enzo's chunky brick feet.
I decided the salt water surfer sandals were worth a try, but it was late August by then so we got a new pair of Converse for those occasions where flip flops wouldn't be appropriate and made it through the end of summer that way.
The only shoes I've found to fit his feet are flip flops, converse, too-big boots and now the surfer sandals.
When I first put the surfers on him I was sore afraid. See, I'd already buckled them on the loosest buckle and still they only just fit. If they proved too tight I'd have another summer of searching ahead of me. Luckily though, they didn't cause him discomfort and they've loosened with wear such that they are his current favorite thing to have on his feet.
It's a much easier thing to keep Zizza appropriately shod. The only trick is deciding on something we both like. In this case I chose the style (classic salt water sandals) and she chose the color. (Surprise! she picked yellow)
I guess this means we are all ready for summer.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Spring top week

I initially decided not to enter Rae's spring top week because I couldn't think of a top I wanted to make. There are half a dozen or so dresses floating around in my head waiting to take form in the physical world. Tops? not so much.

After seeing so many other tops emerging over blog-dom though, I just had to join in.
Sill, I faced the problem of what to make. Setting out on a new design is like a puzzle. No, a scavenger hunt. You have to take it one piece at a time.

The loosely ruffled ruffled collar came to mind first, then I decided I needed a print that was sort of juvenile and a little bit retro feeling. I found this piece in my stash. I picked it up years ago, one lonely yard on the dollar table at Wal*Mart. I complimented it with rusty red linen and had myself a concept to work with.

I really wanted a flouncy skirt on this. Something long enough to wear with leggings, but with only one yard to work with I had to edit.
The skirt shortened and narrowed, the collar had to be pieced together, but ruffled just right in the end and soon (Just in time for date night!) I had something to enter in the contest.

That is how I arrived at this top.

Friday, April 16, 2010

New shoes!

Hare you heard of Sseko designs? The sandals are made in Uganda by women to earn money for their University tuition.
I read bout them last fall on Design Mom and fell immediately in love.
Part of the reason has to do with Marilyn Monroe.
In our late teenage years Barefoot Cassandra and I went through a Marilyn phase. We watched her movies at every sleep-over, we bought her CD's and sang along. (We can do every number from "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" with the two of us switching off between the Marilyn part and the Jane Russell part.) And we coveted her shoes.
If I ever find a pair of white sandals like the pair from Seven year Itch, my credit card will be in my hand before I have time to blink.
Of all the hundreds of reincarnations of the Seven Year Itch air vent scene I've encountered, only one got the shoes right. Not even the display at Universal Studios came close.
Anyway, (that was a tangent) besides those, Barefoot and I always admired the acrylic pair with interchangeable ribbons pictured below.
I've never heard much about these shoes, but in addition to the photos from this Harold Lloyd shoot, I found photographic evidence of her wearing them with white, black, and green ribbons.

My New Ssekos are not nearly as glamorous as Miss Monroe's acrylic platform sandals, but they're a lot more wearable for such a one as myself, and buying them helps people!
I was just going to buy the one pair of straps because five minutes in my sewing room could give me a new set in any color found in my stash but I went ahead and got straps in green, aqua and red as well because every pair get's those girls a little closer to their education...also I didn't really feel like making straps. Let's focus on the "helping hand" portion of the decision rather than the "lazy" portion kay?

I stayed up late last night to paint my toenails so I could take a proper photo of my new sandals first thing this morning.

I mostly planned on wearing them with skirts for the full effect of the laces, but I like them tucked under skinny jeans too.
Another thing you should know, this style of ankle laces have a tendency to slip and be a general nuisance. (I have 3 other pairs that lace similarly. I know. It's a sickness) But these stay put really well.
So, to sum up. Ssekos are great, everybody should buy a pair! (I know it sounds like it, but no. I was not compensated for this post. I am way too small potatoes for that kind of thing)

Friday, April 9, 2010

the tie

I wrote this post back in October right after we had our family pictures taken. The day I wrote it I intended to go right us stairs, finish the tie, photograph it and publish.
That is obviously not what happened.
When I finished the tie today I remembered the poor forgotten draft so I put the tie on, posed for a picture and here we are.

You might remember I set out to make a tie for the Mr to wear for our family pictures.
Well here it is.

My favorite thing about it is that front and center seam. (which turned out not to be visible in the photo, darn)
I was using the left over corduroy from Zizza's skirt and the remnant wasn't big enough to cut the front tie piece from. I love accidents like these that make your finished product significantly better than you'd imagined.
That seam in the tie seems (no pun intended) to say "Look at me, I make this tie sing! " That seam there allowed me to reverse the wale of the corduroy adding that textural interest that took the tie from simple to simply fabulous.
From this time forth my story is going to be that I intended it from the beginning. When I got it in my head to make a corduroy tie I immediately said to myself,"say, I think I'll put a seam right in the middle such that I can reverse the direction of the wale thus adding textural interest that would be other wise lacking from the project.
Ask me tomorrow, I'll never acknowledge the portion of this post that claims the seam to be a happy accident. I meant it to be that way all along.



Zizza has a new love. It is yellow. Ever since the orange party she's been talking about the yellow party she will have when her birthday comes. Accordingly, when we went thrifting a few weeks ago, she was on the lookout. She found this sheet and fell in love.

Tuesday when I sat down to work on the sheet to dress transformation she was right there with sketches for me to sew from.

She drew the sleeves at least five times to be sure I understood what she wanted. I guess I got pretty close because she didn't complain when it was done.
She did mention that she hadn't planned on a gathered neck-line but she thought it was a nice addition to her design so she allowed it.

She was not ok with the yo-yo flowers. I think it needs them to tie in the lighter yellow from the ruffle but she'll have none of it.
Lucky for me she was magnanimous enough to wear the flowers long enough to be photographed.

This is not the prettiest dress I've made, but it just might get the most wear.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

For Izzy

A dress for a dear little niece who will be blessed on Sunday.

The only things her mother and I talked about were fabric, (this pink dupioni I bought for a wedding but it wasn't quite the right shade so it was shuffled into the stash to await it's day of glory) and ruffles, like the ones on Zizza's winter dress. The rest of the design was up to me.

That really is my favorite way to work. It's so much better to have creative freedom. I sometimes get a bit resentful when sewing the designs of others. I quell it as best I can, but I'm much happier when my own hand rests at the design helm.
I had some trouble with this one though. Initially I designed something completely different. It would be a lovely dress, but it really needed more drape and flow in the fabric to come out right. This is a nice thin dupioni, crisp, almost like paper.

So the ruffles morphed into pleats and the rest of the dress followed until the design reached a place that both suited the fabric and made me happy.

Once the dress was done it was time to consider the bonnet.

I initially planned to use the dupioni for the bonnet but aside from being too matchy matchy, I decided the stiffness would be problematic for the bonnet design I had in mind.
Out came the extra bit of silk chiffon I had tucked away from Azure's Dress and the bonnet came into being.

I spent weeks sifting through ideas for this dress. It took so long to decide what exactly to do that I didn't end up starting in until the day of my deadline.
As I was thinking and grew more comfortable and confident in my design I came to realize that this was becoming very much like the white linen gown that I imagined for my own little Moo.
There's a picture in my head of us on the steps on the Mesa temple, holding hands.
The pleated underskirt hits just above her ankles and her hair hangs just to her shoulders in perfectly chaotic ringlets.
I suppose I'm letting go of that dream a little bit. Enough to let the design slip through for the benefit of someone who will get the chance to wear it.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Easter weekend in a nutshell (eggshell?)

My parents, two of my brother's and my sister in-law came for the weekend. Enzo attached himself firmly to this uncle and would not let go, as evident in the following photographs.

It's different, not being the favorite. He didn't want me to help him go potty, he wanted Uncle. He didn't want me to brush his teeth, he wanted Uncle. He didn't want me to tuck him in, he wanted Uncle. On Saturday night when his uncle was otherwise occupied, He consented to let Grandma tuck him in.

There was egg coloring

Thanks to Family Fun Magazine for the tip about using whisks to hold the eggs.

I've never seen two and a half dozen eggs colored faster.

They were dipping eggs at lightning speed. the whole shebang was done and cleaned up in about fifteen minutes.

The Easter Bunny brought "gobbles"

Don't they look comfy? She's been longing for a pair of gobbles for the past two summers.

This one sat like this, hair in the eyes, face in the bucket for over an hour. That is apparently how long it takes an 18 month old to eat a handful of m&m's, a reeses egg and a cereal bar.

Now, remember the outfit Enzo had on in the first photo? The too small black t-shirt and the too small brown sweat pants?
Add in some fly-away hair(think Alfalfa only wispier) and feet smudged with black trampoline dirt and you'll have an idea of the state Enzo was in when this next story took place.
For Zizza imagine a brown t-shirt patterned with large abstract butterflies paired with very short white pink and baby blue small scale plaid shorts. She also sported trampoline smudges on her feet, but blessedly I managed to comb her hair that day.
On Friday with my children thus attired we headed out for lunch. I figured we'd go in to the restaurant, get our food and then they would spent their time running about under the olive trees while we all ate, and then we'd walk through the nursery in the back, look at the pretty plants and go home. For this kind of an afternoon outing I figured ragamuffin self-dressed children were perfectly acceptable so I didn't bother prying Enzo off his uncle to go put on clothes that fit and matched.
We met my mother's Uncle and Aunt at the Restaurant. They'd arrived sooner than we had and reported that it was quite full, so why didn't we go on to their clubhouse and they'd treat us to lunch there?
Clubhouse? I thought. What does one wear to a clubhouse? I was pretty sure mismatched ill-fitting lounge wear, dirty feet and wrong footed flip flops didn't fit within clubhouse wardrobe guidelines, but what was I to do?
My little ragamuffins sat at the long elegant table and ate special ordered noodles (no kid's menu at the clubhouse) with napkins tied 'round their necks while I thanked my lucky stars that there were only two other parties dinning on the lanai to witness the state in which I'd brought them to the establishment.
The food was divine, (I had a caprese sandwich and the most heavenly sweet potato fries I've ever encountered) the view of the golf course was breathtaking, and the table hid from my view the attire of my children. As long as I didn't look directly at the stand-up wisp of hair on the top of Enzo's head I found I could enjoy myself.
I was ever so glad that Moo and myself were both respectably dressed, and mark my words: When Uncle Duke and Aunt Wanda came on Sunday for Easter dinner, Zizza and Enz were dressed in attractive, well fitting clothes.