Jun 23, 2014

the story of summer

 I think the best thing in the world is to be a kid in the summer. 
Mine have barely gotten out of their bathing suits, and with good reason.  Our local pool has the best friends and water slides ever.

C and C sandwiching some sweet little friends.

One of the things that has amazed me the most is how quickly my two kiddos have become little fish.  Colin was very hesitant on our first day.  He stayed in my arms or in my lap for at least the first half hour and then would only walk around the kiddie pool holding my hand.  On our second visit, he warmed up to the toddler slide, and by our third visit, he was basically telling me to back off while he handled all the kiddie pool slides by himself.  In the meantime, Cara has been teaching herself how to swim underwater and begging us to take her to the big pool so that she can practice.  She's even mastered the big slides.

These lifeguards are pretty amazing.  They give the kids a color-coded bracelet according to swim ability and then catch the non-swimmers at the end of the slides.  This seems well above the call of duty, but it means that Cara can slide over and over and over, and I can just watch. :-)
little girl, big slide

Last week, Cara participated in a soccer day camp, so Colin and I got a little alone time in the mornings.  We spent some time at the park and at the pool, but Colin really missed his sister.  They have been constant companions, and Colin missed his playmate.  Seeing their friendship grow has been one of my favorite parts of summer break.  That, and not having an alarm clock.

Of course, there is always a bit of sewing going on.  I found this rainbow polka dot cotton on a fabric shopping trip with my mom, and I snapped it up as soon as I saw it.  Is there anything more perfect for an almost-five-year-old girl than rainbow polka dots?  Cara's favorite dress right now is the Oliver and S Fairy Tale dress--this is a match made in heaven.

I think she likes her new dress.

Cara's soccer camp had a pirate/ninja dress up day, so I decided Jake and Izzy costumes were in order as my kiddos binge-watch Jake and the Neverland Pirates on Netflix.  I do love how these dress up costumes turned out.

For Izzy's top, I used the Leila and Ben Sweet Dress pattern as the base.  Then, I added ruffles to the sleeve with a decorative scallop stitch at the edge, and I drafted a scallop hem and facing.  It's not perfect, but with the addition of the matching bandana and pixie dust pouch, the imperfections fade away.

Jake's vest is the Explorer Vest from Little Things to Sew.  I skipped the pockets and added yellow bias tape as trim and gold pirate buttons.  The vest took me less than an hour to sew up, and I have never seen my son so excited about mommy's sewing. :-)  The inside of the vest is lined with Lightning McQueen fabric, per Colin's request.

I can't wait to see what the rest of the summer holds for us.  I'm sure there's lots more fun ahead.

Jun 14, 2014

lemonade out of lemons (and other cliches)

I have pretty good luck with my sewing projects most of the time, especially lately.  Even if there is some frustration involved in the process, the end product is generally wearable.  Unfortunately, even luck isn't going to be able to save this dress.

This is the Gathered Sundress by Pattern Runway, and it seems to have many features that I thought I would love in a summer dress: princess seams, lined bodice, separate waistband for definition, POCKETS with a cute gathered detail, etc, etc.  I also really love this fabric.  I've been eyeing batiks lately, and this one has so many lovely pinks and purples and greens and blues swirled together plus a dash of gold.  I swooned.

My hopes were quite high.  The bodice seemed to fit perfectly when I tried it on in progress (although I quickly realized that the colors in this dress closely match the colors in my skin--it's not a flattering look for me), but once I added the lining, it gaped quite a bit at the armholes.  Maybe I stretched out the curves as I added the lining?  It doesn't look stretched to me, but who knows.  The waist is quite tight, even though I measure precisely at the size I chose, and I even shortened the bodice by an inch to make sure the waistband would fall at my actual waist.  Sigh.  I expected the skirt to have a little bit of fullness, but it doesn't really, and there's a strange pulling at the side seams--it's like the gathers at the back waist force the side seams to angle toward the front.  That makes no sense, and I can't come up with a way to fix it except to say that maybe I needed to size up from the waist down.  At any rate, this dress makes me look like a tree trunk, and I would love to find someone whom this dress would fit so that I can add the zipper and hem and send this one away with love and well-wishes.

In spite of all the challenges, I still love this fabric, and I had a little over a yard left.  My redemption came in the Oliver and S Hula Hoop skirt, a fun, flippy, reversible skirt perfect for my almost five-year-old.

Cara took this skirt on a playtime test drive this morning, so bless her heart, her hair is a mess and her shirt is already dirty, but who cares.  The Hula Hoop skirt is playtime approved.  I paired my lovely batik with a tiny yellow floral that I had in my stash.  It's quite an unusual fabric combination, but the colors work and I like it.

See that purse?  She really doesn't go anywhere without it. Such a funny girl.

Jun 2, 2014

belcarra blouse times three

May is a rough month for me as a teacher.  The weather is perfect, and the end of the school year is so close we can all taste it.  The time from spring break to the last day of school either drags or flies, and for the entire time, we all feel like there's somewhere else we'd rather be: out in the sun, please.  For me, there is usually lots of grading and make up to work chase down, and I'm a little surprised I managed to make it all the way through Me-Made-May without giving up.  I didn't have much time for actual sewing, but I did whip up three Belcarra Blouses.  This is a nice everyday blouse--it's almost like a fancy t-shirt that I can wear to work--and it's a quick make, even for a slow sewing gal like me.

View A:

View A is the no-frills version, perfect for showcasing special prints.  I had one meter of this gorgeous Nani Iro double gauze taunting me, and I was determined to make it work as a blouse, even though it was maybe three quarters of the recommended amount of fabric.  It took some creativity, but here it is.  Double gauze is a perfect fabric for this blouse.  It's so soft and comfortable, and the drape works nicely with this loose style.  I cut a straight size 6, and, as usual for Sewaholic patterns and my body type, it fits quite nicely.

I accidentally sewed the neck binding at a 3/8 inch seam allowance instead of 5/8 because I wasn't paying attention.  It ended up working out as a benefit because it narrowed the neckline just a tiny bit.  The wide neckline seems to be a concern for some folks out there, so I thought I'd offer this up as an accidental solution.  (Also, you can see this one in Me-Made-May action here and here.)

View B:

View B includes pintucks in the sleeves.  I chose a solid color for this version so that the sleeve detail would stand out a bit more.  This is a basic poly/cotton broadcloth, and it's okay.  It doesn't wrinkle much, it doesn't shrink or fade in the dryer, and it looks like it's going to hold on to the smooth texture for a good long while.  It's a little crisp, but I tell myself that crisp equals better pintucks, and I wear it anyway.  (And this one saw a little Me-Made-May action too.)

View C: 

View C includes fold-over cuffs and a pocket, so I decided to play up these design features with a contrasting print.  The solid is the same poly/cotton broadcloth, but the contrasting bits are an Amy Butler voile.  The pocket directions did give me a bit of a head-scratch for some reason, but there is a very convenient sewalong taking place right now.

It's sort of hard to say which Belcarra is my favorite, and I'd hate to ruffle any feathers or incite jealousy between blouses, but...

...you know. ;-)

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