Jun 29, 2013

...and we're back!

Hello, Real World!  We just got back from a week on the Gulf coast of Florida, and I am so thankful we have a weekend to recover from that 10 hour drive home.  We went to Florida a few years ago when Cara was almost two and an only child, and let me assure you, vacationing with one child is quite different from vacationing with two.


Just kidding!  There are several really awesome things about vacationing with two kids.  Even though the parenting duties don't stop, being at the beach for me is instantly relaxing, and simply being away from the laundry and cleaning is a vacation in itself. But, there are some real benefits to vacationing with two kiddies.  The first is that we the parents are not outnumbered, so tag-teaming is in full effect.  The second is that two kiddos = automatic playmates, which lets mom and dad off the hook sometimes.  The third is that there are always grandpas, uncles, aunts, and cousins to whom you can hand a child with no guilt.   The fourth is this:

killer vacation naps
We fully embraced all of these vacation benefits, especially the "hand your child to a cousin."  We love Jacob and Ava so much, and clearly, Cara and Colin love them too.
Just look at how much Colin loves his cousin Jacob!
Sweetest teenager ever.
Cara and her big cousin Ava
Can I just say how impressed I am with the iPhone camera?
We spent most of our time at the pool or on the beach, and (I consider this a major mom triumph) no one got majorly sunburned.  Cara has always been a beach bum, but Colin took a few days to warm up to the idea of salt water and sand between his toes.  In the end, he's a beach baby, just like the rest of us. :-)

As usual, we tried for a good ole family photo on the beach.  I got a little red(neck) in my jorts, but don't be jealous. ;-)

That ocean air gives Cara the most awesome beach waves.  I am so jealous.

We still need to work on her fake smile though. :-)

Our vacation buddies--clearly, they are awesome.

Jun 20, 2013

summer uniform

So, I've been sewing a lot lately.  Which is not a bad thing, except that it means my house is not clean.  Oops.  Anyway, I'm pretty excited because I managed to make myself an entire outfit that I really like.  I've stuck mostly to dresses with the occasional blouse or skirt, but so far, I haven't made separate pieces that actually go together.  I figured it was time to plan and execute an entire outfit, start to finish.

My top is the ever popular (if you read sewing blogs) Tiny Pocket Tank from Grainline Studio, obviously sans tiny pocket.  When I found this hot pink chevron chiffon, it was a little more than I typically spend per yard on fabric, but I just couldn't leave it.  I bought one yard with the hope that I could manage a blouse of some sort.  This top pattern actually calls for two yards, which is ridiculous; I still have a few scraps of this pink deliciousness left over, and I even made the bias binding for the neckline and armholes out of it.  I love the way this pattern looks in a sheer, light, floaty fabric, although I did raise the neckline about half an inch.  In fact, I love this top so much that I've tried this pattern again in slightly heavier, stiffer fabrics with disappointing results.  The darts are all wrong, the armholes too tight, the shoulders too narrow.  It's weird, but maybe this pink chevron top will be it for the me and the Tiny Pocket Tank.

However, as adorable as the tank top is, it is just a tank top.  What I'm really proud of are my Sweet Shorts by Pattern Runway.  I looooooovvve the scalloped hem, but I knew these would be a little tricky because they have slash pockets in the front and welt pockets in the back, just like ready-to-wear shorts.  Fortunately, the pattern directions were pretty easy to follow, even though I had to get PJ to help me decipher how to attach the pocket bag in the back.  Poor thing--he knows way too much about constructing clothing these days.  He's a good sport though.  My only other complaint with the actual pattern is the sizing. I measure at a medium in the waist and between a small and medium in the hip, so logically, I should go with a medium and grade down a tiny bit in the hip.  I had a feeling that I needed to cut a small, and I went with it, which was a very good decision.  I made these out of cotton sateen with a bit of stretch, and they are perfect after a wash and dry.

And we have slash pockets in the front...

...and welt pockets in the back!

I should probably confess that those back pockets are supposed to be single welt pockets, but the pattern directions use the metric system, and I cannot do any conversions or even be bothered to google that, so my measurements were a little off.  And so we have a faux double welt pocket.  Whatev.

When I first put these shorts on, I was a little surprised by how high the waistline is.  I came of age in the late 90's/early 00's, and none of my pants hit any higher than my hipbones.  Ten years (okay fine, twelve years) and two babies ago, that was fine, but things are just a little bit different (*cough, cough*) now.  I actually think the high-waisted look is really flattering.

I think both of these pieces will be in heavy rotation for the rest of the summer, although maybe not together. I have a feeling that pink tank top will help me class up a pair of cut offs, and I have several other blouses in mind for my new scalloped hem shorts.  It is so satisfying to be the determiner of my fashion fate.  I might stop shopping for ready-to-wear all together...

Jun 18, 2013

a Father's Day Negroni

PJ is forever teasing me about how I make clothes for everyone in our family but him.  It's not that I don't want to make him something, but for the longest time, I thought the best I could do would be a bowtie.  And as adorable as I think bowties are, I have never seen PJ wear one.  He can be pretty picky about his clothing and how it fits, which just intimidated me even more.  However, the Negroni pattern went on sale about a month before Father's Day.  I thought about what an awesome father and husband PJ is, and I decided to bite the bullet and make a solid attempt at a button down shirt for my man.  My plan was to surprise PJ with a shirt and then offer him a more custom fitted version for his birthday in mid-July.

A man's shirt is truly uncharted territory for me.  I spent the last few weeks of school staring down the shirts of my male teacher friends, which I'm sure was a little awkward for them.  By the time I got ready to actually cut my fabric, I think I had read I read every blog post I could find about the Negroni shirt and every single post in the Male Pattern Boldness Sewalong, all in the name of research, but I felt prepared.  The directions and diagrams, as you would expect from Colette Patterns, are clear and thorough.  Still, this shirt took me the better part of two and a half days with my children at daycare because I needed some time to become even better friends with my seam ripper and my iron.

Overall, I'm pretty pleased with the outcome, for a shirt that had no in-progress fittings.  I cut a large after measuring one of PJ's regular work shirts, but I probably should have gone with my gut and cut a medium.  The large is just a little too roomy for his liking, but I think it's wearable.  And also, I made it, so he is required to wear it.  Those are the rules.

I cut the back yoke horizontally to add visual interest but also so I didn't have to match stripes.

Sleeves are, ahem, a little bit too long.

I am most proud of those sleeve plackets.  Please ignore the sideways buttonhole.

handsome devil

Honestly, I feel like a sewing rock star.  If I can make a man's button down shirt, then welt pockets and trousers should be a piece of cake...right? :-)

Jun 17, 2013

summer scenes

Summer is such a glorious time of, well, time.  I am so thankful for the extra time I have right now to hang out with my family and my friends, to enjoy the sunshine, to watch mindless TV with my hubby, to sew, and even to work out.  

Colin is almost exactly 15 months and Cara is a few weeks shy of 4.  I love watching them play together.  Colin mimics what Cara does, laughing when she laughs, running after her when she runs.  They also bicker over toys and splash each other and get on each other's nerves, but that's an important part of having a sibling.  Life lessons in problem solving and people skills or something like that.

What's been strange for me is remembering the differences between 15 months and almost 4.  I find myself frustrated with Colin when I say "no" and he doesn't listen because that is what I expect Cara to do.  Cara keeps telling me that Colin needs to go to time-out in his crib, which sounds like a good idea, except that I don't think Colin will understand the time-out concept just yet.  However, we are working on signing and saying "sorry" when Colin hits his sister, and we are working on forgiveness and grace with Cara.  Again with those life lessons.

Cara is trying really hard to read and spell.  She likes to sound out words and write them in chalk on our deck.  It's amazing how smart she is, and obviously, I'm not just saying that because she belongs to me. :-)  In the first picture, she sounded out "jump" but wrote it backwards (she also didn't like her first J, so she wrote a second one).  In the second picture, she sounded out "pop" and wrote it the right way.  Sometimes I don't want to tell her when she writes a letter or word backwards because I want to cheer for her because she got so close, but she always asks, "Is this right, Mommy?"  When I have to tell her that her Z is backwards, she giggles and says, "Oops.  Sorry!"

Mr. Colin got a big boy haircut on Sunday.  This is not his first haircut, but this one seemed to change his look a little more than the first one did.  He reminds me a lot of my brother when he was a baby, just with brown eyes instead of blue.  I guess that makes sense; Colin looks a lot like my baby pictures, and my brother and I are clearly related, but it's really more of an expression of mischief than any particular feature.  Which scares me a bit since my brother was aptly nicknamed "Josh the Destroyer..."

And, this is totally unrelated, but what on earth is up with this grocery store and their huge display of "fresh from the field" CANDY right in the middle of the produce section?  I need to know where this candy farm is.

Jun 15, 2013

summer sewing for the boy

Poor Colin has been left out of the handmade clothing parade.  Big sister gets lots of fancy new dresses, but sadly, I haven't made much for my baby boy yet.  It's partly because there just aren't that many cute boy patterns out there and partly because I would rather sew for children who are past the crawling stage because, let's be honest, if I'm going to spend the time to make it, I want it to be seen.  ;-)  I have no real excuses left now because Colin is full steam ahead, running around everywhere all the time.  So my first order of sewing business this summer was to make the boy a few summer outfits.  I love the classic look of the jon-jon, and the Oliver and S Tea Party Playsuit pattern, as girly as the name sounds, makes a really cute one.

For the green seersucker, I decided the cut the bodice on the bias and leave off the flat piping.  The effect is subtle, but I still really like it.

For the blue seersucker, I added flat piping made from some leftover lightweight denim.

 And since it is bright and sunny, I couldn't resist a matching bucket hat.  I used the 12-24 month size, which just barely fits.  Maybe I should start measuring before I cut...

I've made enough versions of the Tea Party Jumper and Playsuit that putting them together is an easy-breezy project, and they turn out adorable every time.


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