I'm leaving for our annual July 4th vacation on Cape Cod soon (the perk of being a native: having a free place to stay with family so we can actually afford to go back every summer!) and as has come to be my modus operandi for housekeeping, I'm getting our home spotless before I go so we can come back to a clean space... so my kids can trash it again. I rarely manage to keep on top of every room at once, save for welcoming visitors, but leaving home is the one other time I'm really motivated to get it done. Something about knowing that it will sit untouched for days (giving me roughly a thousand times better return on my effort than usual) pushes me to get it done, even if I don't personally get to enjoy it clean and tidy for all of those days. But I'll be a lot less stressed travelling just knowing that I'm not coming home to a heap of unfolded laundry... like the heap that I just got to the bottom of today for the first time in weeks : Pso many great new sets of fabric... not so much room to sew!
Anyway, this surge to clean usually starts with some extra elbow grease on the bathtubs and then builds to a grand crescendo "let's reorganize all the paperwork in the house and rearrange the basement with just 24 hours to go before our flight leaves!" And this week the biting-off-more-than-I-can-chew project has been reorganizing my sewing space. I'd strewn fabric all over the place last week deciding on colors for a project, then my girls pulled apart a tub of scraps to make "pizza," and I'd also recently been the recipient of a few gorgeous Westwood Acres deliveries that had taken up temporary residence on my sewing table... needless to say, fabric storage has been a bit haphazard. I wanted to move everything around, but I've settled on refolding and rainbowtizing my stash (I don't care it's not a real word - I like it! lol), and the drawers of notions and craft supplies will have to wait for order till some boring rainy afternoon next month. Seeing all my fabric neatly lined up on the shelf instead of spilling over or piled here and there sure makes me happy : ) Now when I get home my kitchen will be sparkling and my work space will be all ready for me to dive back in!
(So I had this drafted ahead to post last night, just had to upload the pics, but then where I was staying overnight had no wireless internet - eek! It was like the Dark Ages! Well, you know, minus the pestilence and use of lard for medicinal purposes, but with no internet! Anyway, here it is finally - a day late straight from my decidedly 21st century wi-fied hotel room ; )
As is common due to our military lifestyle, my husband is on an extended "vacation" away from our family this summer. Not that I'm complaining, because he isn't in harm's way and I can actually reach him by phone (and that's the first time I can say that about one of his absences in a very long time), so it's more business trip than duty assignment for a change. But it does mean I've been captaining the ship solo for a while, so I was especially looking forward to the class I took Wednesday night because it meant a mini-break from the bridge and a chance to listen to something other than "Wee Sing in the Car" as I drove somewhere all by myself! (If I never hear "She'll Be Comin' 'Round the Mountain" again, it'll be too soon.) But I digress....
I've had my eye on The Atelier Stitch for a few months, so when I saw a class listed for creating an a-line skirt, I jumped at the chance! I can follow a pattern easily enough, but finding one I like and then hoping the generic measurements hit just right is always a process; I liked that instead this class allowed me to create my own pattern to fit, plus I got some zipper experience (and I am terrified of sewing zippers!). As a bonus, the studio is in an amazing location with big windows overlooking one of the busiest intersections in the city, across from the Portland Museum of Art, complete with a little glimpse of the bay neatly framed by the old brick buildings lining High Street.
The instructor, Giselle, was incredibly knowledgeable and patient (even when I had to rip out my zipper TWICE because I wasn't paying enough attention - really, I am bad at zippers), so the other student (another Sarah : ) and I could take our time and ask anything we needed. Giselle offers a variety of sewing classes, as well as private instruction for whatever sewing task you'd like to master - if you're in the Portland area, be sure to look her up.
(This pic on the left here is a better representation of the color than below, but such is the rarity of good natural lighting in shooting locations at my house. See the hidden zipper, though? Third time's the charm! I finally got it to look like it's supposed to : )
And here's my skirt all done. I really adore the print of the fabric, but the weight isn't quite right to get the drape I was hoping for, which means... I think it might be time to get brave and experiment with some knits next! In the meantime, I've piled the kids in the car for a little last minute quick-see-dad-for-the-weekend trip, so I won't have anything new to share for the next few days, but hopefully I'll find some inspiration while away to carry into next week's projects!
Today was the perfect day for a nap. A beautiful sunny morning, followed by the skies opening up just after noon. Having stayed awake until the very wee-ist of hours last night finishing my daughter's new nap mat for the beginning of summer camp today, I was exhausted - so as it started down pouring just as I tucked my littlest in for her nap, I went right ahead and indulged in one myself!
When I realized "rest materials" were on the packing list for camp just a few days ago, I started looking online for a quick solution. I saw covers for Kindermats and figured I'd make one myself and buy the insert, but then I read the toxicity warning on the vinyl mats and decided to look for a healthier alternative. I looked at other handmade mats, but didn't see one that incorporated a travel pillow the way I wanted to. So I tracked down some high loft batting, picked a bright durable denim to use for the bottom, and sketched out a design that fit my idea. At first I was going to sew the pillowcase into the top panel of the cover, but then I remembered all the KAM Snaps I had on hand and thought how it'd be nice to have it removable, and redesigned.
The end product turned out great! The mat is soft and well cushioned, folds in on itself with attached snap-close handles for easy carrying (and no bottom-that-touched-the-floor coming in contact with the top to appease the germ freak in me!), and the pillow case can detach for use alone or separate washing. I'm planning to tweak the design a tad further and add these to my product list - they'd be great for travel, school or camp, and naps at grammy's house : )
Next up, this mom is getting a night out all to herself! Well, herself, some happy fellow sewers, and a great instructor at Atelier Stitch. I'm taking an a-line skirt class this week and can't wait to share how it turns out!
I found this Barcelona fabric by Alexander Henry and fell in love. I knew it would be *perfect* for the Miette Skirt pattern from Tilly and the Buttons that I'd been wanting to make. And guess what? It was! I love the bright bold print, and it has so many colors that it coordinates with almost every top in my closet. What do you think? Does it feel "so summer" or what? (Oh, and see in the close up on the right - I know, not quite in focus, but it has rained and rained ever since I finished it, and I had one busy sunny day to squeeze in the shoot and this is what I got, so anyway... see how I completely by chance made the print on one side of the waist tie line up with the skirt? Couldn't have planned it if I tried!)
Here's the Kindle cover I made for my mom. (Though I couldn't model it exactly, as we still read paper books over here in our house ; ) The Pink Poodle Bows pattern was super easy to follow. It didn't call for any adornment on the cover, and personally I'm not a big fan of monogramming, but the project was just screaming for it so I ran all over town today trying to find a place to get the embroidery done same day. Fortunately, I lucked out. Unfortunately, despite positioning, sewing, ripping, repositioning, and sewing again, it's still not quite centered, which I couldn't see until it was all finished. Grr. I toyed with fixing it, but at that point it would have required a lot more seam ripping than just the label and the troops were circling. So I cut my losses and made dinner for my kids instead. Starvation seemed more urgent than perfectionism tonight.
Here's a little project I was working on this past week - easy, breezy summer dresses. Using pre-smocked fabric meant I just had to add a seam and some straps (and a hem for my littlest). So my daughter is delighted to have a new Hello Kitty dress, and her mom is delighted that it was such a bargain! (I paid $0.25/inch for fabric on sale, and then used maybe $2.50 worth of ribbon - so I ended up with 4 dresses that will fit next summer, too, for $23.50.) Oh, and for posterity's sake, I had to include the bottom right snapshot; for some reason the little one equates squeezing her eyes shut with the command to smile and I know when she's bigger she'll think it's as adorably silly as I think it is now : )
I had the highest of hopes to get the proverbial ball rolling a year ago "way ahead of our move," but that so didn't happen. And then again this past fall "once we were settled," but new routines and months of weekly house guests (the wonderful yet time consuming side-effect of living pretty close to family again in a gorgeous sea coast town) had my ball still just sitting there. A few hurried Christmas projects got me sewing once more, but the New Year saw us deciding to embark on the path to adoption to grow our family, so all winter I juggled paperwork while policing the troops who were constantly tired of being stuck inside (the down side of the northern sea coast town: temps that soared into the single digits for weeks on end). I also picked up a part time job out of the house to kick off our adoption savings, so in fairness, I was really really busy this spring, but still, that ball was sitting there, thickly coated with dust and serving as a daily reminder that my business goals were at a standstill. And now the husband is gone for a few months, so there is no "I'm headed to my office to sew - you're in charge of the kids" for quite some time to come. *Sigh* So many excuses, but not so much sewing!
Anyway, here it is, summer again. Almost a full year and a half since I launched this little blog to document building my new business, but sadly there hasn't been much to document yet. So I'm starting fresh this month by implementing my new goals - goals to help get multiple facets of my life more organized and productive, starting with posting here much more regularly, and sewing every day. I've polished off the ball, and with my newly minted, goals-oriented daily schedule in place, plus a little summer camp childcare starting next week, I'm really - no seriously, REALLY - excited to get the ball rolling once and for all!
And now for a little public accountability... DAILY GOALS:
1. Build my business. Blog. Design. Brainstorm. Be productive. 30 minutes minimum. Every day.
2. Sew something. Clothes. Quilts. Gifts. Products. 30 minutes minimum. Every day. No excuses.
3. Workout. Healthy? Sure. Better yet, "gets the ball rolling" for the day, increasing my focus and productivity? YES! 30 minutes. Every day. (Proud to say, I kicked this off 8 days ago, and I have run every day for 8 days! If you know me well, you know I hate running... at this rate I just might have to 5K it with the hubby come fall, though. Maybe. We'll see ; )
And now for some pictures... the very, very long overdue reveal of the doll quilts Mrs. Santa Claus made way back at Christmas. I snapped some pics the other day of my girls' new Bamboletta Little Buddies (a gift from their daddy while he's away to keep them busy and out of mom's hair... um, yeah, that hasn't exactly happened lol), and the dolls wanted to pose with their adorable beds and new outfits, so you can see how the quilts turned out and how nicely they fit the beds.
Doll furniture: vintage hand-me-down bunkbeds from my mom's 1950s childhood that I refinished
Doll quilts: Berry Barn Designs
Doll clothes: Frocks they arrived in, Bamboletta; Felt shoes, Dolly's Favorite One; Dresses with bloomers, Lisa's Little Lasses Boutique; A-line tunics & leggings, Crafts With Heart; Footie pjs, Reggie's Dolls