Monday, October 17, 2016

Arenal Top...I Mean Tops...with an "s"

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The plan was to write this post several days ago but, alas, my laptop died. Insert bitter tears. Trying to post from my phone just doesn't work for me. BUT the Hubs has a job that gets him access to discount prices on computers. So now I'm writing my first post on the new laptop. Yay!
The newest pattern form Itch to Stitch has been released, the Arenal Top (on sale for the release, details below). The quick description is that Arenal is a beautiful top that comes with two sleeve lengths and two hem options. It sounds pretty basic (and it is) but the amount of things you can do with it really are unlimited. As I tested the pattern I loved seeing all the different ways the other testers made their shirts. If you would like to see more of their creations, go to the blog and find the release post. I ended up making four shirts. I almost never make that many of the same pattern, especially not in that short a time frame. That's how much I love it.
The main feature that offers so much variety in this pattern is the yoke. It's a lovely little detail that will give you a lot of options. You can make it in the same fabric as the body of the shirt, or in any contrast fabric that catches your fancy.
 And if you've ever wanted to know how to make the perfect V neck on a t-shirt...well, this pattern gives great instructions to make a flawless V. 
I opted for the regular hemline and 3/4 sleeve in the red shirt. I also made a long sleeve version with the handkerchief hem but I'm not a huge fan of the fabric I used for that one. Thus the lack of picture for that version. Once I tested the pattern exactly as written, I started to hack. The easiest one was just adding and extra inch of length and the lowest lengthen/shorten line. I guess it doesn't really count as a hack because the instructions tell you exactly how to do that.
One thing that stuck me about the top from the beginning was how well it would lend itself to panels. This one is one I've been dying to use. It's a mashup of Harry Potter and Mean Girls. If you can't read it, the words say:
Educational Decree No.364 

On Wednesdays We 
Wear Pink

It makes me laugh. Anyway, I cut this out a size or two larger because it's not as stretchy and drapey as the pattern was designed for. But isn't it perfect for the panel? The shot below is included because my 6 year old photographer caught a moment of me swinging my hair. It looked very Mean Girls-esque to me.

The other pattern hack was to use the two hem lengths on one shirt. In the picture below, the regular hem is sewn up in a very neon pink, with the handkerchief hem used in a stretch lace. I lengthened the overlay layer by three inches, sewed the sleeves as one piece, and attached the purple and pink layers at the yoke and shoulder seams. It required sewing the sleeves on in the round instead of sewing them in before stitching the side seams. I love the effect!

As mentioned earlier, the information about the sale is here. The Arenal Top pattern is on sale for 20% off until 10/19. As an added bonus, buy two or more Itch to Stitch patterns and use the code "lakearenal" to receive 15% off those patterns. I love a sale on good patterns! This one is wonderful because it is flattering and feminine. It's another winner from Itch to Stitch!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

15 Years Later

Today marks 15 years since the events of September 11, 2001. So much of the world has changed in that time. As I have thought about that day and its impact on me, I cannot help but think about how it will affect me in the future. So I'm writing about both. The images included below, and their captions, were posted on today.

Looking back

On September 11, 2001 I was working the early shift at the BYU Laundry. That morning I had chosen to listen to a CD on my drive to work rather than the radio, so I hadn't heard anything about the attack until my manager came in an hour later and told us a plane had hit one of the towers in New York. I did not grasp the scope of what had happened. I imagined a Cessna had gone off course and hit the building, killing only the passengers in the plane. They turned on the television in the back. I got there in time to see the second tower fall. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks: this is no accident.
The south tower of the World Trade Center begins to collapse following the terrorist attack on the New York landmark Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001. The Millenium Hilton hotel is in foreground. (Amy Sancetta, AP Photo)
It was hard to know what to do. What can you do in the face of something so horrific? My mind reeled with questions. The biggest question was "How?" How could someone do something like that? How do we go on? How can the lives of so many mean nothing to the people behind the killing? The shock of it all was intense. My mind had a hard time processing everything.

People hang out of broken windows of the North Tower of the World Trade Center after a terrorist attack in New York on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. (Amy Sancetta, AP Photo) 
Then came the revelation that two more planes had gone down, one into the side of the Pentagon and one into a field in Pennsylvania. I wondered if that was the end of it or if there was more to come. I was relieved to hear that air traffic had been completely shut down. It made me feel a little more secure.

Emergency workers look at the crater created when United Airlines Flight 93 crashed near Shanksville, Pa., on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001. (Keith Srakocic, AP Photo)
My job at the laundry was working the front counter and directly interacting with customers. The mood changed during the course of the morning. It started with everyone excitedly asking what we'd each heard and wondering who was behind it. The excitement of something so big and newsworthy faded into solemnity as more details came in and the scope of the attacks became a reality. Nobody smiled. Tears flowed freely and without shame. I cried so much that my manager asked if I needed to go home. I didn't know what else I could do, so I stayed and continued to work. It felt odd to be there or to do anything. It felt inhuman to continue going on about my day as if nothing had happened, but what else was there to do? Hiding from the world would do no good.

One memory of that day stands out to me. A Devotional is held every Tuesday morning at 11 am. The campus shuts down so that all students, staff, and faculty can attend. Traditionally, the first devotional of the school year is given by the university president and his wife. As fortune would have it, September 11, 2001 fell on the day of the first devotional of the school year. After the attacks, the devotional was changed to a prayer meeting. An hour or two before the prayer meeting, the university president came in to pick up his order of shirts. I'll never forget what I saw and felt looking at him. I was impressed that he showed up himself to get his shirts when he had a campus full of scared and grieving college students, as well as faculty and staff. I saw the deep emotions and concern on his face and I wondered, "What can he possibly say? What can he say to all of us to bring us comfort in the face of something so traumatic?" What he said changed me and brought me peace. The abridged transcript of speech delivered at the prayer meeting is here, with the full audio linked to the left of the text. I remember with perfect clarity the power I felt as he said, "You young people hold the power of peace for the world in your hands." When he spoke those words, I knew what I could do. The gospel of Jesus Christ brings peace and I knew it was my time to share it.

The hours, days, and weeks that followed were filled with grief but also with the peace that, in the end, everything will be made right.

Looking at the Now

My current and forever calling in life is being a mother to my children. They were born into a world that has been shaped by the events of 9/11. They will never remember a time before it happened. Every year they see the flags placed in yards and around town and we talk about that day. The first year that my oldest was aware of the flags we talked about what happened. She asked if superheroes came to save the people. I tearfully told her that there were no superheroes that day but that everyday people stepped up and became real heroes. She responded, "But I don't know who they are." That inspired me to learn about the people who gave their lives. These were people who had names, faces, and families. When I think about what happened I wonder if I would have run to safety or run to save others. I hope I never need to find out. As I read the stories of the real heroes, I know I need to teach my children that evil did not win that day. Goodness, kindness, and love won out.
Firefighters unfurl an American flag from the roof of the Pentagon Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2001, as President Bush visits the area of the Pentagon where an airliner, hijacked by terrorists, crashed into the building on Sept. 11. (Ron Edmonds, AP Photo)

Looking Forward

So, 15 years beyond that tragic day, what have I learned? And how do I move forward? The beauty that rose out of the ashes was a spirit of unity and love that I don't remember before and have not seen since. We were all Americans. We were all brothers and sisters united in mourning and joined in determination. Support was expressed worldwide.

Ruzhana Vecherko, 3, puts a candle outside the U.S. Embassy in Minsk, Belarus, Wednesday, Sept 12, 2001. The poster at right reads : Dear American people, we send our condolences and sympathy to you and your country. (Sergei Grits, AP Photo)
That time of unity has sadly passed. We are now in the midst of an extremely divisive presidential election. Social media was created and has expanded to the extent that sharing an opinion with a large group of people is as easy as a few clicks and keystrokes. I see us being encouraged to deepen the divide rather than bridge the gap. The attacks happened because someone was focused on our differences and chose to see them as something to destroy.

Despite the differences we all have, there is more about us that is alike than is different. We want to be happy. We want to be loved. We all have things we hold dear. Most importantly, we are all children of God and that is something that cannot be taken away from us.

Moving forward, I have learned that I need to look for the good in others. It is there. Moving forward, I know that people are individuals and all are worthy of love and patience. Moving forward, I know to look for commonalities and build upon those. Moving forward, I know that understanding another person is the first step to loving them. Moving forward, I know the world can never have too much love.
Annabelle Banievicz, and her son, Oriel Vanega, 7, attend a candlelight vigil Friday, Sept. 14, 2001, at Union Square in New York, not far from the site of Tuesday's terrorist attack against the World Trade Center. (Mark Lennihan, AP Photo)

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

New Pattern! Bonn Shirt and Dress

I am crawling out of my blogging absence to show off the newest pattern by Itch to Stitch: the Bonn Shirt and Dress. It comes in shirt or dress length, as well as options for short, three-quarter, long, and flounce sleeves. There is a lovely v-neckline and a contoured collar. It looks like a stand collar but lays flat against the neck. I tested both the dress and shirt lengths, with a three-quarter sleeve for both. Behold, the smirk shirt:

If it is any indication of how much I love this pattern, it was good enough that I broke out my beloved purple fabric to make the shirt. I've been holding on to this bit of deliciousness for about three years now. I also used some fun peacock feather fabric for the dress length. It's gorgeous fabric, but not as "me" as I like to wear. But an ultra purple solid? Perfection.

Beautiful fabric, silly kid
The pattern went through thorough testing and came out with a great fit. Once the pattern was completed I made only a few changes to the final shirt so it was perfectly fitted to my own body. The only cosmetic change was raising the v-neckline by an inch. I probably didn't need to do it, but I never regret an extra touch of cover up.

I like the shirt both tucked and untucked. The first time I wore it was to church, tucked into a black skirt. I kept it on all day to go to the in-laws' house but swapped out the skirt for a pair of jeans. I took the pictures at their house. It's way swankier than mine.

As always, the pattern instructions were clear and easy to work with. I really appreciate that the designer uses standardized measurements in the design process, rather than making something to fit her, then grading the pattern out from there. It makes such a difference in getting a good starting point for adjusting the pattern to fit your body. My own typical adjustments include shortening the waist (or sometimes just a swayback adjustment), widening the shoulder, and using a larger sleeve size.

Swayback adjustment=no pooling at my lower back
The Bonn Shirt and Dress pattern is on sale now for 20% off the regular price. A great bonus is that you can get 15% off your purchase with two or more patterns, so it's great if you want to get more (use code "dream"). With fall coming quickly, my next project is the Liana Stretch Jeans. And about a billion of the Lisbon Cardigan, which is one of my favorite patterns ever. Go grab some Itch to Stitch patterns and get sewing!

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Monday, May 2, 2016

Cindy's Wedding Dress

Back in December my cousin, Chance, married the lovely Cindy. I was called upon to make her wedding dress, which was super exciting. I love making wedding dresses. Well, I like the idea of making wedding dresses. With four kids running around it becomes a bit more difficult to do everything necessary to make a wedding dress. Because of that, we decided it would be best to order a dress ans alter it. Cindy found her perfect dress at JJ's House.

Cindy liked the mermaid silhouette
The button down back was another favorite feature.
As gorgeous as the dress is, there were some limitations. The sizing available in this style leaves a lot of girls out of luck. Thankfully the dress is encrusted with lace and I knew I'd be able to add in a gusset. The biggest issue with the gown, however, was how much of it was sheer. It's a gorgeous look, but Chance and Cindy planned to be married in the Payson temple and the dress needed to be more opaque for that. She also wanted 3/4 sleeves instead of long sleeves.
The dress straight out of the bag.
The first thing to do was make the dress fit. That required taking it in around the waist and adding a gusset in the hips. DOing this proved to be a bit more difficult than I had expected. I had assumed the lace medallions were only sewn to the mesh. They weren't. Those medallions were sewn on after the dress was constructed, so I had to pick out and peel them back before making the alterations to the dress. It was pretty involved. Picking out seams sewn with transparent thread is super fun. There needs to be a sarcasm font.
So. Much. Picking.
The sleeves and neckline were next. To avoid having the dress look like an obvious alteration, we decided to add more lace at the neck and back. I'm pleased with how it turned out.
Neck detail.
Along with building up the back with a satin lining, the dress needed a zipper that went all the way up to the top. In the interest of honesty, my mom took care of that for me. Sometimes things get to be too much and I was so grateful she was able to step in when my life got to be overwhelming. It gave me that extra rest I needed so I could come back to it fresh.
Finished back
By the time the dress was done I realized that it might have been less work to make the dress from scratch than it did to alter it. Oh well. She looked gorgeous and was happy with the dress. In the end, does anything else matter?

My quick snapshot from the wedding day
It was a beautiful wedding, a beautiful couple, and a beautiful day. Here are the professional pictures, for your viewing pleasure.
The Payson temple is one of my favorite places on earth. So beautiful inside and out.
With the bridesmaids
There is a nativity display in the fountain at Christmastime.
My aunt, Cindy, and Cindy's mom
One of the many required kissy-face pictures
Such a cute and happy couple.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Three Pattern Tests!

I recently got to do one of my favorite things, namely testing patterns for Itch-to-Stitch. Four(!) new patterns were just released and I was able to test three of the four of them. Lucky me, I was able to test three pieces that work up beautifully into a suit. Lucky you, all Itch-to-Stitch patterns are on sale until March 13 using the coupon code on the banner. I'll be picking up the one I didn't test. It's lovely.

First up is the Hepburn Turtleneck. This is a FANTASTIC basic piece. The top is very fitted and perfect for layering. I chose to use the short sleeve option an used a classic white cotton spandex I got online. I prefer my tops with a bit more ease when worn alone so this will be for layering and I'll size up with anything I plan to wear on its own. I love that this top and these pictures show off my weight loss (I am thisclose to 40 lbs down from where I was when I started in November). The top is a quick sew and very straightforward. I love a good instant gratification project.
Still self-consciously posing my belly. Suck it in, Jordan, suck it in!
Next on the list is the Seville Skirt. This one is a very fun an feminine little number. It is fitted through the waist and hip, then flares below the hip for a trumpet effect. I used a jacquard fabric, so this skirt is very structured. I have a cute charmeuse fabric I've been saving for when I'm done with the weight loss and this is the pattern I plan to use for it. It will have a different look with such a flowy fabric.
The perfect professional skirt
The waist and hips here are rather fitted, so pay close attention to the finished measurements to get the ease you're looking for. The pattern uses an invisible zipper and a waistband with a hook and eye for the closure.

Finally, we have the Salamanca Cropped Jacket. It's completely lined, but the method is so easy it's not overwhelming. 
A fully lined interior makes for a very professional look
I had so much fun making this one. I started off looking for fabric with the idea of using a boucle in a springtime color, preferably a lavender. As fate would have it, the selection at my nearest fabric store was pretty abysmal and I was force to go to the red tag table. I'm pretty sure the red tag table is stuff they're trying to clear out, so they put a red tag on it but don't actually mark it down any. That, however, is a discussion for another day. With the idea of a suit in mind for the jacket and skirt, I happened upon this delightful fabric. 

Once I saw the fabric I was pretty sure that Jacqueline Kennedy would be crying tears in heaven if I didn't use this fabric to make the jacket and skirt. It's got a great mod vibe to it that I thought would work well with the patterns. I wasn't disappointed.
Worn open...
...and closed
 To fit my orangutan arms, I needed to lengthen the sleeves about two inches. Not a problem with the great instructions.
Does anyone else feel weird looking at their own backs? I kind of do.
Along with the orangutan length in my arms, I also have some extra thickness there. I didn't think about that before making up the pattern, so next time I'll need to check my adjustments to make a bit more room for my arms. Future plans for this pattern include something lighter and in a really bold solid color. There's also the though in my head that I'll shorten the sleeves to elbow or bicep length.
My favorite look is with the jeans
This jacket is fun and looks great every way I've seen it styled.
Don't forget to stop over at Itch-to-Stitch and pick up the patterns while you can get them for 20% off. Also check out the other new release, Zamora Blouse. Gorgeous!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Pictures Are Worth Several Thousand Words

You know how sometimes you get so busy that, even though you want to document things, the busy-ness is about all you can get around to? I know that feeling too. As much as I would love to talk about each and every new pattern I've used in the past few months, here are photos of the finished products:

The patterns from Pattern Anthology's Unbiased Collection:
Tote bag for a geeky Christmas craft swap
No pattern used
Mommy and me, me, me, and me Star Wars shirts
Ladies' Pocket Tee for me and Treasure Pocket Tee for each of the kids
Major Wedding Dress Alteration
I'll actually blog this one later, but a majority of the time was spent working on this beauty.
Nativity Costumes
Simplicity patterns 4795, 4213, 4797  I was called on at the last minute to make the costume for Mary and Joseph, so I have half made kids' costumes and they went in bath robes.
Miscellaneous Kid Stuff 
Top, left to right: Slouchy Cardigans for the two girls, Quick Crew shirt with Wreck-It Ralph panel
Bottom, left to right: Pretty Panel Dress, Panel Pocket Tee, Flyaway Ruffle Cardigan
Family Pictures:
Julia Cardigan
Not Pictured:
Hooded tee for The Hubs, another Pretty Panel Dress for Pink Blur, nine infinity scarves.

I think that about covers it. All together that makes twelve shirts, nine scarves, four cardigans, three finished costumes (plus five more cut and partially sewn), two dresses, one bag, and a big wedding dress alteration. Not bad for two and a half months. I've also been working on weight loss and that's been going really well. The family picture above is somewhere between 20-25 lbs down. Woohoo!