Monday, August 4, 2014

Winning and Not Winning

Today was results day for Challenge Create.  I didn't win but Kara, who sent me the fabric I used, did! She did an amazing job with the fabric she received and she'll be moving on to a final round of all the winners from the previous weeks.  Make sure to go over to Skirt Fixation and vote for your favorite.  While I didn't win the contest, I DO get to keep the cute outfit I made and the adorable birthday girl who wears it.  I count that as a win any day!
Blurry but great picture.  I just wish I'd gotten a shot of her when she first saw the bike.  Best. Birthday face. EVER!
In other winning news, I was lucky enough to have my name drawn in a giveaway for a ticket to The Sewing Party.  Thanks to Rach from Family Ever After and to The Sewing Party!  It's a good thing the ticket comes with 90 days of access because I'll be plenty busy with Video Game (that's the new baby's blog name; I'll share the story later) by that time.  I'm excited to learn new things and "meet" new people.  Have a great day, we're off to Blue Eye's birthday party!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Voting Day!

Today is voting day over on Skirt Fixation!  Voting goes until Sunday, I believe, and then the winner is announced on Monday.  Results day is Blue Eyes's birthday and she's super excited to see how her outfit does in the contest.  So go vote (scroll to the bottom of the post until you get to the voting section) and show some love to your favorite entry!
Blue Eyes says, "Vote for me!"

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A Few of Her Favorite Things or, My Entry for the Challenge Create: Fabric Swap Edition!

It's time for Challenge Create: Fabric Swap Edition!!!  There have been some great projects the past four weeks and I'm sure this week will not disappoint.  I've been most excited for this week because it's finally my turn and because I can't wait to see what Terri made with the fabric I sent to her.  When I saw the themes I immediately chose the Mystery Fabric week.  Really, what's more fun and creatively stimulating than complete and total surprise?

My fabric came from Kara at Sweeter Than It Seams.  She sent me a yard each of two cotton prints, along with a note saying she thought it could be a cute summer theme.  She was right.  I’d originally planned on making something for myself.  The problem is that anything I make now can only be used for the next three months before baby comes.  It worked out perfectly though, because the light red background on the chair fabric is Blue Eyes's very favorite color and it begged to be made into something for her.

I rarely work with quilting cotton so it was quite a challenge to decide what to make.  After many hours of internal debate I settled on the free Brooklyn Frock from Peek-a-Boo Pattern Shop and let loose with the alterations!  I shortened the dress into a top, angled out the sides a bit for a little extra fullness, shortened the sleeves, scaled down the pocket size to fit the new length, and added a second pocket.  Whoo!  My favorite addition, however, was the piping.  It added such a fun pop of yellow and I think it really helped tie the other fabrics together.

Blue Eyes's birthday falls on the day the results for this week's challenge will be announced.  It only made sense to have her help choose several design elements.  She selected the buttons and made a couple of design changes on the purse.  The shopping trip was a bit of a fiasco because I took all three kids to the fabric store.  By myself.  To select buttons.  Sigh.  I know better than that.  Anyway, after many bribes, threats, and replacing of scattered button cards, we came away with a package of small ladybug buttons and another of gold and silver stars.  That was narrowed down from her original nine choices.  Blue Eye's three favorite colors are red, black, and gold so I think we did well.  I wasn't satisfied with the ladybugs in their original state.  A quick dab of black nail polish made a real improvement on these buttons.  The gold buttons also got nail polish.  Upon returning home I noticed that little bits of glitter came off on my finger when I touched the star buttons.  Two coats of clear nail polish fixed that little problem.
I really do prefer my ladybugs with black heads
The pattern suggests sewing together the open edges of bias tape to create button loops.  The buttons are so small that bias tape loops would have been ineffective. Instead I used colored hair elastics from the dollar store.  I got the idea for that from Sue at A Colorful Canvas.  It's a brilliant idea, though I wouldn't recommend it on this top.  Using hair elastics in a facing is one thing, but sandwiching it into the bias tape and then topstitching on the other side to reinforce and get the loops to lay flat is another thing altogether.  The bumps in the elastic made my topstitching go wonky.  At least it's not that noticeable when it's on her body and that's what really matters.

My original plan was to make shorts out of the swap fabric, using the rest of the blue as the main fabric.  Despite searching through paper, PDF, and self-drafted patterns, I just couldn’t find anything I wanted to pair with the top. I almost decided on a pair of sailor shorts but it just felt too busy when I pictured it in my head.  The top is a really strong piece and I didn't want to distract from it.  Instead I pulled out some white jersey I had on hand and made up a pair of Go To Leggings. Had I known before I made the top that I would make leggings for the bottoms, I would have made the top a few inches longer.  The leggings are fairly loose and she's just turning six, so no biggie.  I think the leggings give it just the right touch.
LOVE the back of these leggings!
A quick shopping trip in my mom’s fabric stash produced the red knit I used to trim the hem and peek-a-boo hole.  I called asking her for a solid red knit.  When I showed her what we were matching she immediately pulled out the fabric you see on the leggings and it was an amazing match!  I could have used the red solid for the bows in back but I really wanted to incorporate the swap fabrics. I used the smallest and largest size bows included in the pattern to make a double layered bow, then used the red knit for the center. I can hardly handle the cute.  Blue Eyes says the leggings are boring because there's nothing on the front.  She also wanted three more pockets on the top so I take that little comment with a grain of salt.
FYI, she's holding a dead butterfly in her right hand and a live ladybug in her left fist.  It's dead now too.
In addition to the challenge of using the mystery fabrics, I also challenged myself to use as much of the swap fabrics as possible.  To accomplish that I printed up the Free Child’s Ruffled Purse Pattern from Create Kids Couture.  The bag echoes the top with the added piping and the buttons.  I moved the bottom ruffle down a bit so the buttons can actually be seen.  At Blue Eyes’s request I added a button and loop closure to the opening, as well as “side pockets like the diaper bag!”  I was getting ready to attach the lining to the body of the purse when those requests came in.  Being the sucker loving mother I am, I complied with her requests and made side pockets and a closure.  The star buttons were also problematic.  I'd used all the gold buttons from the original package on the shirt and only had silver buttons left over.  I really wanted the purse buttons to match the ones on the shirt.  Rather than go buy more buttons, I busted out my glitter toes set and turned them gold.  Now the purse is just what she wants. I'm so glad she loves the whole thing.

Most of the pictures you see above were taken at the school Blue Eyes attends.  They use uniforms so I'm pretty sure that will be the first and last time she wears her favorite things outfit there.  Blue Eyes was far more interested in finding bugs than in posing for the camera.

We also went to the local children's museum that recently opened and I figured I'd get in a few decent shots there.  For your amusement, I give you a sample of what I got at the museum. They were pretty much all like this.
Love my silly girl!
Thanks for stopping by and don't forget to vote for your favorite Mystery Week project on Friday and/or add your own favorite project from 2014 to the Sew Along (bottom of this post).  I had a great time and I'm happy I had the opportunity.  Thanks, Skirt Fixation!

Monday, July 28, 2014

What I WOULD Have Sewn Along

Tomorrow is the start of the Challenge Create: Fabric Swap Edition theme I am competing in, Mystery Week!  There has been a sew along for each week.  I really wanted to sew along with all the themes but you know, life happens.  Between preparing to have our house appraised, finishing the altar cloth, and just the general blech-ness of entering the third trimester of pregnancy, I haven't done any sewing beyond completing my challenge project, which will be revealed on Wednesday.  The sew along for this week of the challenge is different.  This time the sew along is for the one favorite thing you've made in 2014.  It was fun to look through this year's projects and decide what I would link up.  Because I am a contestant this week I am also a judge for the sew along.  So I probably shouldn't enter.  :)  But what I CAN do is show what I decided on. It's also given me a good chance to go back and fix the posts with the magically disappearing pictures.  You can enter your own favorite creations by linking up at the bottom of this post.

It was a toss up.  I really, REALLY love my red jeans.  Oddly enough, I never blogged about them.  They (used to) fit me perfectly and I just adore the red.  I don't have a current picture in them because they don't fit my beautifully bloated body right now.  Maybe before the new year...if I'm lucky.  I've gotten comments that they should be made into skinnies, but I don't like the feel of skinny jeans.  Straight leg is the skinniest I'll go with pants for myself.  Here they are, pictured with a top I refashioned this year:
I usually choose a white ribbon for my waist.
As wonderful as those jeans are, my favorite was the Little White Dress.  It stands out as my favorite because it is such a distinctive piece and because the construction was so interesting.  I don't have much occasion to wear the dress.  I hope to wear it to church when I'm done nursing.  Actually, I hope for it to be too big when I'm done nursing but it's not something I'm too concerned about.
It was fun to make a changeable panel for it and to add a fascinator.  I would love to make this dress in another color and probably add a couple more inches to the length so I feel more comfortable sitting in it.
The project I most look forward to next year is making something from the same fabric as the purple panel and fascinator.  That purple makes me happy just looking at it.  I can't wait to make something great out of it and put it on my body.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Altar Cloth

This should be my last in this string of posts that doesn't show something I've sewn.  This post is about a project, just not one that required the use of a sewing machine.  As today is Pioneer Day, I thought this was appropriate.

For the past 18 months or so I have been working on a crochet project.  It is an altar cloth for the temple being built close to my home.  This project has been a labor of love, a source of learning far beyond what I imagined, and my own special offering to the Lord.
View of a long and short edge prior to blocking
My family history is full of men and women who gave their all for what they believe.  Whether it was the pilgrims who came on the Mayflower or the pioneers who crossed the plains into unsettled territory, I have a heritage rich with individuals and families who were willing to sacrifice everything to do what the Lord wanted and for the free exercise of their religion.  They inspire me.
Closeup of the motifs
When the Relief Society President first announced that there was a call for altar cloths to be used in the temple being built just down the road, I jumped at the chance.  I'd been hoping to make something for the temple. Part of me just wanted to have some of my handiwork displayed and used in a such a beautiful, sacred place.  Mostly I wanted to channel my inner pioneer woman and take the opportunity to give a part of myself to the effort of building the temple, just as my ancestors had done.  I wasn't particularly experienced with crochet but I figured I was up for the challenge.  And challenge it was.

In the process of blocking
After looking at approved patterns, I chose the one that looked the most like something on my skill level and went to work.  The learning curve was a steep one.  I understood the abbreviations for stitches and other directions but I was still confused quite a bit at the beginning.  As I made the first few motifs I decided the instructions were stupid and that I knew better than what was printed on the page.  I was mistaken.  The first several motifs had to be pulled out and reworked or simply abandoned altogether.  Only with careful study of the pattern was I able to produce the intended design.  Just as the scriptures and the prophets lay out a pattern for us to have happiness in this life and exaltation in the eternities, so did the crochet pattern spell out what needed to be done in order to achieve a beautiful and usable finished altar cloth.  Deviating from that pattern only brought frustration.  Every time I skipped a step or made some other mistake I had to pull out the offending stitches and start again.  It was a strong reminder of the atonement, that even though we make mistakes or do something contrary to what is right we can change things, start again, and continue on the path as directed.  Even as I worked I knew the finished product would not be perfect (the learning process is evident to me in the difference in thread tension I used as I went) but that, by fixing my mistakes, I could make it flawless.
Detail of finished cloth and of the first (and very flawed) motif I made.  I kept it to remind myself how important it is to follow the directions.
Once I became familiar enough with the pattern and had repeated the motifs sufficiently that I didn't need to consult the pattern for every stitch, I still made careless mistakes.  Often.  Most of the time these mistakes were things that no one would ever notice and that even I didn't notice until I had worked another full round of the motif.  There was a great amount of temptation to simply keep going, knowing the mistake would be invisible.  But I couldn't.  While no one else would ever know, I would be keenly aware that I hadn't given my best.  And if I wasn't going to do my best it wasn't an offering I wanted to make to the Lord for His house.  My husband can attest to the many times I made the same silly mistake and had to pull out my work to fix it.  Now that the cloth is finished I know all the extra fixing to make it as well as I could was worth it. I can look at it and know I gave the best that was in me.
Finished and blocked
The altar cloth is now washed, blocked, and lovingly wrapped in fabric to protect it until I can hand it off to be of use in the temple.  I look forward to participating in temple work and, hopefully, seeing the cloth I made gracing an altar and adding beauty to the room.  The experience has been an emotional one, as I truly have felt a part of the legacy I have inherited.  In the past few days I have felt I was paying tribute to them while I worked at making a gift for the temple.  I am truly blessed.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow...Or a Week Ago

I finally took the plunge with my hair.  I don't do well with long hair during a summer pregnancy so I knew it would have to come off at some point.  This time around the cut was far more drastic than anything I've done in the past.  I went from this:
The girls are looking huge in this shot
to this:
Yay for pixie cuts!
It's been quite the adjustment.  A week and a half later I still feel like I'm wearing a ponytail but without the weight.  My cousin cut my hair.  I showed her a picture of Anne Hathaway that I figured I could pull off.  She asked me a few clarifying questions, made suggestions, and we ended up with this cut.  It's a very different look for me but I'm really loving it.  The weightlessness and ease of my hair is f.a.b.u.l.o.u.s!  It takes almost no time to blow dry, allowing me to take great shots like this:
Fraggle hair and no makeup.  Keepin' it real.
 Having all my hair gone is great motivation to do my makeup every day to display my femininity.  Playing with my makeup a little bit makes it fun.  I've found that if I need to calm my hair down all it takes is a wet comb to tame it into submission.
The completed look with hair and makeup
Several people have asked my how The Hubs feels about the cut.  His official response is that he's happy as long as I have hair.  As for myself, I prefer the way I look with longer hair but I really do love the cut.  Also, I prefer what I see in the mirror to what I see in a selfie.  I'm not sure why that is.  I took a mirror selfie to show you what I see.  The difference may be small to you but it's very noticeable to me.

Have you ever tried a super short cut?  What did you think?

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Summer Pregnancy Survival Tips

Now that my third summer pregnancy is well underway, I thought it might be good to share a few survival tips I've learned along the way.  Summer pregnancies are not for the faint of heart.  My first two were born in August and September so when Q-ball was born in April I thought it was pretty much heaven on earth.  Had I not had a miscarriage in October, there would have been a very new baby around these parts and I would have missed out on a third summer of having a built-in heater in my tummy.  But it is what it is and so I will happily use my hard-earned knowledge to make it through as pleasantly as possible.  Below are several things that help or have helped me cope.



Loose clothing
Everything I read about clothes during my first pregnancy advocated wearing fitted t shirts to accentuate the belly and avoid the tent look.  Maybe in winter, but in the summer...not so much.  I much prefer a flowy top that gives me good circulation to a tighter shirt than gives me sweaty under-boobs.


Comfy bra
image via Motherhood.com
I realize this could easily go under the previous heading, but it is important enough to me to merit it's own section.  Early on in this pregnancy I started feeling suffocated by the band on my bra.  I first attempted to just buy an extender.,  Victoria's Secret, however, doesn't sell extenders in white (seriously, no white?!?) so I simply went to Motherhood to buy a couple that would take me all the way through nursing.  After trying on several I decided on the bra pictured above because the band is so stretchy.  The conversation with the girl at the counter went like this:

Counter girl:  So you're going with the lounge bra?
Me:  Lounge bra?  Oh.  Well, no wonder it's so comfortable!
CG: Yeah, it's light support so it's not, like, a real bra...

She trailed off when she saw the shut-up-and-take-my-money look on my face.  Being able to breathe in my bra makes life much happier.


Popsicles
image via happinessblog.com
You would be amazed at how quickly a single popsicle will lower your body temperature.  If you're really into it you can make your own all-natural, organic frozen fruit juice pops with cups and sticks.  Me?  I do Otter Pops.  Lots and lots of Otter Pops.  Sometimes I even share with the kids.  Another thing I really enjoy is a flavored slush from Sonic.  Soooo good!


Pool pass
image via http://www.kenosha.org/departments/parks/pools.html
If you can reasonably get to a pool every day, do it.  When I was pregnant with Blue Eyes I was able to go to the pool at my grandparents' condo for an hour or two every week day.  The buoyancy the water gave my poor, bloated body was heaven on earth.  During my pregnancy with Pink Blur I was given a pass to the city pool, which I used almost daily.  With baby #4 I have three kids under 6 years old to watch out for and that's just too many for me to do by myself.  My solution this summer is more to eat more popsicles and hide out in the air conditioning when the older two kids aren't at swim lessons.  I'll also be getting a haircut pretty soon.


Loose shoes
Here is yet another heading I could have put with clothing, but which deserves mention by itself.  Swelling of the feet and ankles is fairly common, particularly in a summer pregnancy.  Flip fops are your friend.  I like some that have a little heel to them because they are more comfortable than the flat ones.  For a lot of people, flip flops end up being the only shoe they can put on their swollen tootsies.  The picture above was taken when I was eight months pregnant with Blue Eyes and the air conditioning went out at my work.  It was so bad I had to go home because I was overheating.  My swelling lasted for a minimum of six weeks and was bad enough that I could poke my feet, ankles, and sometimes even my calves and it would leave a dimple where I pressed.


Fake ring
This is my real ring.
Okay, so this isn't a necessity, but it certainly makes me feel better.  Along with swollen feet and ankles, my fingers also grow in size when I'm gestating a little one.  I like to just buy a cheap stand in ring to wear on my left hand when my real wedding ring doesn't fit anymore.  Most people don't care whether or not you have a ring but there was a stranger who saw me in the store without my ring and asked if I was considering adoption.  Sigh.  Rude people or not, I like a little sparkle on my hand.  I usually get a $10 ring from Walmart and it passes as real just long enough to get me through until my wedding ring fits again.


Bath and shower powder
image via Walmart.com
Let's get real.  When pregnant (and sometimes when not pregnant) "summer fresh" is more like "summer moist, chafe-y, and kinda stinky" unless you take the appropriate measures.  A few shakes of baby powder or bath and shower powder in your underwear is the answer.  Use it every time you go to the bathroom.  EVERY time.  I realize that during the first and third trimesters that means you're sprinkling more in every five minutes, but it's still totally worth it.  I like to keep an industrial size shaker bottle in my bathroom and a travel size in the diaper bag.  It does more to keep me comfortable and confident than anything else.


So there you have it, my summer pregnancy survival tips.  Is there anything you've found to make a pregnant summer more comfortable?  This baby is due about a week after the weather turns cooler where I live, so I'll take any hints I can get!