Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Sure enough, the vest looks better now that all the parts have been collected! Now I'd better get wrapping.

We've been around here putting our baby dolls into mangers (which means, anything rectangular, like diaper boxes or bread pans), bearing gifts on our camels and escaping from that evil king, Harrod. Oh, and if you hear some screaming in the background, don't be alarmed. It's just the angels visiting the shepherds, and they are sore afraid.

Anyway, we're pretty excited about Christmas, and we hope you have a good one! See you in the new year!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Christmas . . . Swimsuit.

Yes, that's right. Now I know that swimming apparel is not exactly normal Christmas gifting material, but this was a case of necessity. The bigger girls get, the harder it is to find those nice "rash guard" swimsuits that actually offer good coverage. So I decided it was time to take the plunge and try making a swimsuit. We'll have some opportunities to swim in the spring, and I knew I'd better get it made before the baby comes or we'd be in a pickle! Hence, the Christmas deadline.
If you have difficulty keeping your paper in place when tracing from a multi size pattern,
always use Sea Salt to hold your paper down. It's healthier.
I've had the pattern on hand for a while. I wanted a one-piece with actual straps, not string, a modest neckline and a cut that looks more like shorts and less like underwear. When I saw this one, sized for girls through ladies, I knew I needed it for my stash!

I was a little nervous about making a swimsuit, especially as my serger has been acting up. But I needed to change the thread color anyway, and decided to try out the stretch knit setting. Lo and behold, as I started to reset the various dials, I discovered the problem - my serger wasn't broken after all! Some of my settings had been, well, re-adjusted by certain little people. No wonder the thread had been breaking!
With the serger up and running properly, the suit itself was a breeze! I added an inch to the legs. I would have loved to have made a cute skirt to go with it, but I simply didn't have enough fabric. (I'd purchased the fabric a while back, when Sugar Muffin was a smaller size, but we'd managed to get another summer out of her old suit.) And yes, it is sewn with the wrong side of the fabric out! I showed Sugar Muffin the fabric a while back, and she liked the pink side best.
I'm not sure if you can see it, but I reinforced the neck and arm holes with some plastic elastic. It feels nice and secure, but still has a little stretch. Now, I just hope it fits well! I went off the measurements, but you never can tell if it will run large or something.
Anyway, I've finished my other Christmas sewing project. And it's not even Christmas Eve yet! ;-)

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christmas Sewing

You wouldn't know it from the blog so far, but I have sons. Two of them (maybe even three, just don't know about the baby yet!). And while I love them every bit as much as Sugar Muffin, they haven't really made it on here, because I don't sew for them very much. To be perfectly honest, little boys just aren't as much fun to sew for as little girls.

Unless, of course, you're in the market for some Cowboy Duds!

We are in need of some masculine dress up clothes this year, and when I ran across this picture it got me thinking:

This was the cheapest version, and it still cost a hefty chunk of my Christmas budget. But that's what sewing machines are for! So I pulled out some scraps and an old pattern and got to work.

The pattern was a size four, but I scaled it up a bit to give Snickerdoodle some room to grow. I chose a cotton in his favorite blue, to contrast with a dollar store bandana. I also found some gold fabric in the stash, so I decided to add a sheriff star - one more free element added to the outfit!

I printed out a free star template, and made it a smidge smaller. I put the gold scrap on the wrong side of the front piece, sewed around the star (twice, so it doesn't fray too much) and clipped out the center to let the gold show through.

I need to iron it (it's not as crooked in real life as it looks here), and the vest looks a little lonely all by itself. But when the hat, bandana and stick horse arrive (Who wants chaps when you could have a stick horse instead!) I think it will fit the bill.

Now, I just hope he likes it!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Tips for a Cute Pregnancy: Your Waist

Yes, you do actually have a waist, even while your pregnant. It's just higher than it used to be! And in nine outfits out of ten, it simply looks better to define it.
Tip #2: Define your waist.
Some maternity shirts have elastic or detailing that defines it for you. But for many shirts, or if you're using a piece from your regular wardrobe, a thin to skinny belt can be a big help.
 That non maternity shirt again, with a belt to make it work!

I especially love to use belts early on, when it's hard for people to tell if you're actually pregnant or if you ate too much turkey and stuffing! Given the options, since I am pregnant, I'd rather look pregnant!

Here's an example of what a belt can do:


Same outfit, same day, same angle, all I did was add a belt. It's fast, easy and cheap, but it really can make a huge difference!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Tips for a Cute Pregnancy

Two posts in one week! Hasn't happened for a while, and probably won't happen much in the next 3-4 months, as I've got a top secret and time consuming project I'm trying to finish before baby comes. I can't wait to share it as soon as I can! But until then, it might be quiet over here.
Now, to kick off my pregnancy dressing series. Being pregnant for the first time is quite an adventure. Your shape is radically changing, you've got a whole wardrobe to scramble up, and (if you're like most folks) not a lot to spend on it. AND you're trying to re-figure out what looks good on you.
Four pregnancies in, I've learned a lot about what I like, built a basic wardrobe, and collected a whole file of cute pictures on my computer for inspiration! So, I'm going to share my thoughts (and pictures) in the hopes that is will be helpful to someone. Basically, I'm going to do the blog series I would love to find somewhere!

Without further ado: TIP #1 Use regular pieces that can grow a little.

These are not maternity clothes.  Neither is the top I'm wearing in this post, but the green sweater works for the first trimester because of it's baby doll styling. My shirt today has a loose and flow-y style, and it's fairly long. And the belt of the jacket can be tied above-bump (especially now before the baby gets very big). Anything loose, long or in a high waisted style is a good candidate for your early maternity wardrobe. By mixing regular clothes with maternity pieces, you give yourself a lot more possibilities.

This picture was made possible by the Bathroom Mirror.
One last little thought. You won't be a Cute Pregnant Lady if you're complaining. Whether it's those uncomfortable (or sometimes miserable) side effects, the goofy things your body is doing, or the fact that this little one didn't come on your timetable (or other, more serious circumstances), there is always something negative you could focus on. It's so easy to do!
If that's where you're at, let me remind you that each new life is a gift from God. And He didn't give this new life because He had the illusion that you would be a perfect mother. Or to overwhelm you. Or because He forgot what was happening in your life. He gave you this gift, so He could show Himself strong for you. So that you could learn more about His giving kind of love. To give you the opportunity to be involved in something truly significant.  He gave you this gift because He loves you.
Sometimes God withholds a gift we think would be good out of the same motivation - as in invitation to experience His love. But that's another topic for another day.
And to bring things around from the sublime back to the trivial, no accessory is more crucial to the Cute Pregnant Lady look than a happy, grateful smile. :-)

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

For the Dress Obsessed . . .

Sugar Muffin is going through a dress phase - all she wants to wear is something with a swishy skirt. I can't blame her, after all, she got it from me! I was a good seven years old before I decided that pants had their merits, and I still love to wear skirts in daily life. So there was only one thing to do - make the girl some play dresses.
I had some fabric in my stash, and since Sugar Muffin looks great in royal blue, I picked up a shirt to match. Ruffles and Stuff has a fantastic play dress tutorial, so I won't go into that here, but they are super easy to whip up! They are also very cheap - an important factor for something that will probably acquire grass stains.

To decorate the top, I decided to try for a three flower corsage look. Unfortunately, it looks a bit more like a blue and white amoeba! But that's the fun of a play dress - it doesn't really matter if it turns out fantastic, or simply "meh", because it's just for everyday wear.

I made the skirt extra long and full for twirling and . . .

. . . the Princess is happy. And now we have something else to wear to Walmart that isn't velvet. ;-)

Monday, November 25, 2013

On New Things.

I was thinking I might start a new blog series. Not necessarily every week, but just putting something up every little while for the next few months. Well, the next six months, really. I was thinking I could call it something like "Modest Maternity" or "How to be a Cute Pregnant Lady" or something like that.

'Cause, we've got a Little Muffin on the way! So it's going to be on my mind. Or, to put it another way, I'm SO EXCITED and grateful for this new little person, I can't resist sharing!

Anyway, that's what's coming up.


Friday, November 15, 2013

Finally Done!

Hi folks! I'm still here, but with a bout of warmish weather last weekend, I spent my free time trying to finish painting the house. It's been a long, spread out project and it's ALMOST done (good thing too!). I'd like to share before and afters when it's done, as it's looking really cute, but we're not quite there yet.
In the midst of other swirling projects, I did get something off my sewing list. And it's not the navy blue floral dress. That project has been officially postponed, because I realized that two of her three Sunday dresses are navy blue! I also found a few thrift store dressed that fit the bill, (they are now altered and hanging in her closet) so we're covered in the Sunday dress department for now.
However, I did finish something this week that's been on the sewing table for a long time. I gave Sugar Muffin this old fashioned dress for Christmas, and it's been waiting for the finishing touches ever since! Arg! Well, better late than never, I suppose. I'm glad to have it finally done, and she hasn't wanted to take it off!
I made it a bit large (there's a hidden tuck in the bodice), so it will fit her for a while, and the time period could go anywhere from the 1830-1860s, as girl's everyday dresses didn't change much.

You can see the old fashioned shoulder seam placement in this photo. It has a nice full skirt, so she's been twirling and curtsying her way around the house. There's nothing we like better than a "twirly skirt"!

Ah, that felt good! Now I'm trying to calculate the chances of getting a bonnet finished before Christmas! ;-)

Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Bluebell Saga

Well, leaves are coming down all around and the sugar maples are flaming, but I can't resist putting up a few last pictures from this year before flower season is officially over. We've lived in our house for five years, and never once had I picked the bluebells.

They were just this tiny patch, across this little ravine in a forested area down the lane, but every spring they looked so pretty, and this year I was determined to catch them and bring some inside! Every day when we checked the mail, we also checked the bluebells. They sprouted, they budded, and then I remembered why I had never gotten them into the house. It rained.

Suddenly, my lovely flowers were on the other side of a six foot deep by thirty foot wide puddle. Too wide to jump, and too deep for my rain boots. So we waited while they bloomed and the water started slowly going down.
Obviously, I got them, or else I wouldn't have these pictures!
One day, at the end of nap time (just about the time when you start finishing up your projects and listening for noises) I remembered that the water was down enough - it was now or never! I pulled on my boots, ran down the lane (in boots, just picture that!) cut my flowers and ran back. No one had awakened (whew!) and I had my bluebells trimmed, singed - you always singe the tips of flowers with hollow or milky stems - and into water just in time for the family to enjoy them.
Five years in, and I finally got my bluebells.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Finished Plate Wall (and How My Husband Saved My Life)

And here it is, in all it's finished glory! My pictures don't do it justice, but it's one of my favorite spots in the house.

But even with all my prep work, the final install didn't come without hitting a snag. Do you see that random light switch in the lower right corner below?
Well, my Beloved happened to come home for lunch when I was working on nailing up the last plates, and pointed out that three of my plates were right above the switch and that if I nailed into a live wire, I could conceivably shock and/or electrocute myself.
Being just minutes away from a finished project, this was not what I wanted to hear.  After living in this house for five years, I still have no idea what that switch is supposed to do, other than mess up a perfectly nice wall. We've switched it on and off many times, without any visable effect. Which, however, doesn't prove that it's not live.  

After a few minutes of deep dejection, I came up with a plan B - buy some plastic plates. I hopped on e-bay, found two cheapies in the right size with colors I liked, and got them on their way. It ended up stretching out the project a few extra days, but the tacks in Kelly's hanging method don't go through the drywall, thus, possibly, sparing my life. (Thanks, Honey!)

And now, the Sad Before:

. . . and the Happily Ever After!

I am just delighted with how things turned out! Now that blank spot is filled, I have my plate wall, and . . . I'm still alive to enjoy it! ;-)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Plate Wall: How I Did It

Now, on to the nitty gritty how-tos. I did a lot of messing off the wall, which totally paid off. My finished wall has one hole for each plate. :-)
First I collected all the plates I wanted to use. I laid them out on my unmade bed. I know, I know, such elegance. But I wanted a white background, and I didn't want chinking noises that would wake the napping Littles.
I knew that I liked the contrast of traditional looking plates in a freeform, modern arrangement. But my first effort was too far apart, and too close to traditional looking. So I tried again.

Much better with a little overlap hear and there, but the colors didn't look balanced. So I messed . . .

. . . and messed . . .

 . . . until I looked right. We girls are great at messing, aren't we? I took pictures as I went along, because I knew there was no way I'd remember what I had done. After I found my arrangement, I made little paper templates to tape on the wall.

And it's a good thing I did, because I made changing things very easy. I put everything up, and immediately decided the design needed to be flipped.

I wanted those two little plates on the end to lead your eye down the hall. With templates, all the adjustments were a breeze. I left the paper on the wall for a few days, just to be sure everything looked good. Then I started hanging.
That doesn't sound very good, does it?

I used these little guys for all but the lightest plates, where Kelli's idea worked beautifully. To avoid measuring (measuring should always be avoided, when possible) I rubbed some sidwalk chalk on the top of the hanger, then pressed the plate against my template. The chalk made a little mark, showing me where the top of the hanger hit, so I just tapped in a nail right through the template just under the mark. SO EASY!
So, there you have it, a plate wall made easy. Tune in next time to see the finished pictures and hear how my Husband saved my life. (Yes, it's all related.)

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Dreaded Couch Wall

I've finally addressed the empty wall behind the couch:

(Yes, I've been on a decorating-the-house kick, since about January.) I've been wanting to do something easy, cheap and with large impact. I don't ask for much, do I? I wracked my brain for ages before finally coming up with a very simple solution.
Want a hint? A big one?
A little beauty from The Lettered Cottage.
I drooled over this picture for months before it hit me - it's the perfect fix for that big wall! I've always loved plates on the wall (well, at least since I was 17 and, thanks to my wonderful Mother, started collecting pictures of interiors that I liked.). Not only that, it's easy, and I already had all the plates I needed!
Once I made up my mind, I started seeing plate walls everywhere:

Love the color at Domestic Imperfection.

Around the corner at View Along the Way.
So, mine is definitely not original, but I love how it turned out! Coming soon - how I did it, and how it looks!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

To Sleeve, or Not to Sleeve?

I really need to make some winter Sunday dresses for Sugar Muffin (my daughter, name changed to protect the adorable). A friend gave me some fabric I'd like to use:

I can't make up my mind on the design though. I'm thinking of trying a bubble skirt, with flower trim either at the neck or waist.

I can't decide if I should do it sleeveless to wear with a sweater (which I need to buy for her anyway, but which she will probably want to take off), or put short sleeves on it, which at least looks a little warmer.

I'm thinking third from the left, on the top or bottom row.

Any ideas? What do you think?

To sleeve, or not to sleeve?

pollcode.com free polls 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

An Epiphany

As I alluded to earlier, I love flowers in the house. Thanks to my green thumb Hubby, I keep flowers on the kitchen table pretty much from May to October. It's something (along with bookshelves) that I'm always drawn to in pictures. Have you ever had a conversation with yourself that sounded like this?

"Oh, how pretty, I like that room! I don't really like the colors, though. Or the furniture. I don't care for the the window treatment either. I guess I really just like the greenery!" (Or the bookshelf.)

I've played around with flower arranging in the past, but this summer I've kept it pretty simple, usually just a vase of garden roses. Or, other stuff, as you'll see in a moment.

One day I was browsing the blog of one of my favorite interior designers when she mentioned sticking some branches from the yard into a vase for a photo shoot.



Why didn't I think of this? Totally easy, fast and cheap! So, when the flowers aren't blooming, or I've been in the mood, I've been doing stuff like this:

 Can you believe that exotic, leafy beauty came from my yard, here in Midwest Cornfield US? Well it did. See, here's a picture to prove it:

Some of those leaves are about 8"x10"! Sometimes I've put cuttings from this jobber on the table. It makes me think of those exotic vacations so popular in the 1940s, so I like it even though my table is really too small for it. Someday . . . when I get a larger table  . . . well, for now, it looks best on the piano.
Next, I've got my eye on the rhododendron. Watch out, little bush.
Oh, and if you have any idea what that tree is, let me know!