The thoughts, sewing projects, and fabric oglings of a dedicated sewist.

Little Clothes

Whew, the past few weeks have been crazy.  I have about five posts in my head (and in pictures) that haven't yet made it to my fingers and keyboard.  And this week I'll be teaching Camp Runway (oh, I can't wait!) so those posts don't stand a chance of escaping from my head.  I'm sure they are feeling cooped up and a little stir crazy (wouldn't you if you were stuck in my head? Shudder.) but they'll just have to stay put.

I've been sewing some little clothes for little people in the past few weeks.  This first outfit is for Helen, the daughter of one of my clients.  She really liked the idea of these ruffle pants and from there we figured out an idea for a top to go with it. 

I had fun with the process on this one.  Helen and Melissa came over to look through my fabric stash and Helen loved the Michael Miller Pretty Birds Dancing fabric (orange).  I put together a board on Pinterest with other possible fabrics and an idea for the top.  She picked out her favorites and I ran with it.  Or rather, clumsily shuffled through it.  The pattern I found to use as a starting point for the top (Peek-A-Boo Pattern's Charlotte Dress) was much more difficult than I imagined.  I think some of the difficulty was due to some awkward construction issues - I'll be tweaking these in the future - and I had to re-do a few things to get it right.  I think the top alone took me close to nine hours to complete, which seems just plain silly.  I do like the design, so I'll likely make it again, but faster. 

Here are some of the lovely design details:

I also made some little clothes for my own kids (WHAT?  MAKING CLOTHES FOR MY OWN FAMILY?? SHOCKING!!).  I usually do this only for special occasions as they really have way too many clothes already.  But with Thing 1's 5th birthday, I really needed to create something special.

I bought the main fabric from a woman here in Berwyn who was clearing out her stash (she used to run a business sewing kid's clothes and baby blankets). It's an old Michael Miller design, and I was kind of surprised that my big girl fell for this one.  She picked out the contrast fabric at Joann's and the buttons were from Grandma's basement.  The pattern is the Addison Dress from modkid patterns.


And because I had fabric left over, I had to make Thing 2 something to match . ..


So glad we were able to find a coordinating piƱata!

And while I don't usually write about food on this blog (although I do have a recipe to share in one of those poor trapped posts), I did want to show off the cupcakes I made:

My MIL gave me a book on decorating cupcakes a few years ago and the tradition we have is that the girls get to flip through the pages and pick out their design.  And since this birthday girl's favorite food is apples, she wanted these (stems are tootsie rolls, leaves are rolled out starburst).  I have to say I'm pleased she managed to thwart the Hawaiian theme.

And I've got some big breaking news (not sure why I'm burying here at the bottom, but there you go - maybe it's the teacher in me making sure you read to the very end).  I'm finally making enough money between teaching and sewing custom-made clothing and bags to afford a day or two of childcare for the little one now that the big one is in school.  I'm excited to see where I can take things with daytime consecutive hours in which to work.  Wish me luck!

A Pride of Crafters

I had fun looking up the names for groups of animals.   Did you know that a group of salamanders is called a "congress" or a group of vultures a "venue"?  I considered using one of the names for many rhinos in my title - a "stubbornness" or a "crash" - but since the ladies who came were such a vibrant, interesting bunch (and not at all rhino-like), I decided to go with the name for a group of lions.

And pride is accurate in another sense.  I really enjoyed seeing people's modest pride in their own work and the warm pride the work was greeted with by the group as a whole.  We were all women last night (but men are welcome!!), and I was pleased that there wasn't a lot of that apologetic nonsense that women (including me) sometimes display when showing their work to others.  People asked for help with a problem they hadn't yet figured out, but not in a self-deprecating way.

So we haven't yet figured out what our name is or how exactly we'll structure our time together (mini-workshops on new skills or ways to sell?  open-mike time to show off new work?  support group for crafting obsessiveness?) but I think we're on to a good thing!

So this group came about because Kristine Roof Fachet and I met through the BCK (Berwyn Cool Kids) facebook page and thought we'd see if we could get a group of crafty people together.  Jessica Calek of Studio 22, a new gallery and shop in Berwyn, offered up her space for us for the gathering.  We had a great response - 37 people responded to our announcement - and a good turnout of 15 for our first meeting, especially considering the weather (rain, lightening, tornado watch).  We had screen printers, seamstresses, costume designers, knitters, home dec folks, weavers, glass painters, metal workers, jewellery makers, and even with that list I've still probably left some activities out!  Here's a list of links of those who attended so that you can check out their work for yourself:

Sur Le Feu shop and facebook page
Tiny Little Buttons blog
Daily Dose Nature blog
Creative Texture Tools
Formwork shop and blog and facebook page
Megan Lee Designs
and if you're at my blog, you probably know how to find my shop and facebook page!

And here's a list of our members who couldn't make it last night but were, I'm sure, there in spirit:

B-holistic blog and facebook page
Kistner Supply
Custom Cookies by Jill shop and facebook page
Pinwheel Anna shop, blog, and facebook page
Little Bits Workshop
Crank Heart Pony shop, blog, and facebook page
Sunshine Corner shop and facebook page
Dana Perea Bloede shop and website
Paula Knits

I came home bubbling with energy and ideas.  Ah, the glory of human contact!  And the cookies - let's not forget the glorious cookies that Jill from Custom Cookies by Jill donated for the devouring:

Basement Treasure


Oh, my sewing friends, just wait until you see what my mother-in-law found in her basement recently.  My level of excitement will surely give it away.

A bonanza of notions, buttons, fabric, and patterns!

Deb's (my MIL) mother was a talented home seamstress.  She made clothes for herself, her three daughters, and her three grandsons.  I've seen photographs of her lovely work: a wedding gown, a light blue long coat, Madmen dresses.  She also did general DIY like headboards and furniture upcycling when this was just called "making-do"  - necessary activities in the home of a state policeman and part-time switchboard operator.

Deb has been clearing out her basement in preparation for some remodeling, and she came across a cupboard full of sewing related items.  Some are from her own work sewing clothes for her three boys, but a lot is leftover from her mother's stash.  Part of what's fun about receiving all these items is imagining what Deb's mother was going to make with them.  For instance, we found five packets of light blue piping. Five??  Did she just like the color or was there a pattern that called for that many?  Maybe a dress with coat to match?  Or matching dresses for her three daughters?

And take a look at that cheery cherry trim (top right)!  I can't wait to use it on something for girls, and can't you just see the black one trimming a black sundress for me?  And, thaks to Grandma Bobber (she didn't like her own name - Gladys - so everyone called her by her nickname), I will likely never need to buy embroidery thread ever again.

I'll save the fabric and patterns for another day, but I must show you the buttons:

Buttons are one of my favorite thrift store finds.  It's like discovering a box of jewels or a bag of gold coins.  I don't know why this is - maybe it's because a tin of buttons represents so many potential projects, a richness of opportunity. 

I also love the connection to the past that these items give me.  If I make a dress for my girls and use buttons from their great-grandma's stash, they get to touch the memory of her in a small way.  When I sew a blouse using one of her patterns, I get to finish a project that she perhaps planned but never had time to complete.

The sewing machine I sew on once belonged to Bobber, and receiving this machine is what started my whole sewing journey.  And so it's fitting that two years later I finally found this:

Sometimes it's better to start a journey without the instruction manual.  But I'm glad to have it now!

Have any of you found a treasure in an attic or basement?  What was it?