Monday, May 24, 2010

lonely needles

I think my unattended knitting was starting to feel like I was having an affair with my sewing machine. Okay, I was, but I'm pretty sure all that sewing gave me new energy when I picked up my needles again. And that energy finally got me to finish what should have been a very simple project but one that hung around too long, hurting my fingers along the way.

This shrug is Stefanie Japel's Two Tone Shrug from Fitted Knits. It's the second pattern I've tried from this book and I'm happy to report that there were no errors with this one (the first one was a serious lesson in patience). I modified the approach a wee bit by knitting the sleeves in the round instead of flat, because seams would have added unnecessary bulk and it's just plain easier that way. As for the painful fingers, it's entirely my own fault - I used sale bin Cascade Cotton Rich which is bulkier, but I stuck with the pattern's recommended needle size, which meant the ribbing was done on 3.5mm and man, was that a chore. I could only do a couple of rows at a time which is why it took my so long to finish. In the end, it's a cute little sweater but I'm not entirely sure if I'll feel right wearing it. Jay already made fun of my "miniature thing" and it looks very strange lying around (hence the modeled shots). But it's done and my needles are happy again.

Perhaps I'll knit for the kids next. Like sewing, it always works out better.

Monday, May 17, 2010

the last day

The final day and I'm sad to see the challenge end. Staying true to the deal I made with Sadie, here is her new romper/pajamas that are like Milo's. I used white snap tape and just gave extra room around the legs to make it comfortable. Sadie wore them to bed last night and her verdict was quick: this is her favourite garment I made this week (seriously? not even the rainbow leggings?). When I was putting Sadie to bed I started the little pair of pants, and amongst the teeth brushing and book choosing, I had them done 5 minutes after she fell asleep. Funny how you can fit sewing in when you really want to. They are for Milo, but when he's a bit older. I had the sleeves left from the thrifted shirt and didn't want to waste the length on his currently short legs.

I really have to thank Meg of elsie marley for motivating me this week. In all, I sewed 15 garments for Sadie and Milo and I learned SO MUCH about my serger and sewing with knits. I really don't want to stop, but at least I'll slow my pace and move on to something adult size because there are only so many shorts and rompers the kids need. I felt like I was in a sewing rut before this week and this totally cured it. I'm also thankful to have been in the company of so many creative woman, and I now have new blogs to check in with for inspiration. All in all, an awesome challenge and a perfect last sewing "hurrah" before I go back to work.

Oh, and for anyone thinking of trying out knits I really can't recommend Wendy Mullin's Sew U: The Home Stretch enough. It's a fantastic resource that gave me the confidence I needed to tackle an all-knit list of sewing projects.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

day six

It's definitely harder to sew on the weekends. Luckily Sadie was very patient and hung out with me during Milo's nap long enough to make him another romper - but the deal I had to make was that I would sew her a romper on the last day of the challenge. With snaps. She really has this thing about matching her clothes to Milo's, and I couldn't argue with her that it would be comfortable. But as for this romper, I used an old t-shirt of mine because I think babies look way better in horizontal stripes than I do. Plus the sailor look should work for the little man and he is now officially set for summer clothes.

Back tomorrow with my last day's efforts. More fantastic kids clothes here, here and here. Not to mention here!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

day five

Another day, more rainbow clothes. This fabric is the only new fabric I've used during the challenge - a friend had given me a sample (used for Milo's sleeves on his Canada shirt) and because I loved it so much, she generously grabbed me another yard of it. So, from one yard I made Sadie's leggings and now a shirt and pants for Milo. Not bad for $5! Oh, and I must explain that Sadie loved the idea that she and Milo would have matching pants, and I loved the idea that I could send the kids out with Jay while wearing matching rainbow pants. Good times for all.

I only had 90 minutes yesterday during Milo's nap to sew, so I lazily decided to use only the serger - which meant I deviated from the 90-Minute-Shirt style I've been making over and over again. This quick shirt, complete with green collars and cuffs, is a cinch to make in roughly 40 minutes. But I may have to start calling my little man Ernie because I think I've ripped off his look entirely. Or maybe it's Bert? Either way, I'm totally out of rainbow jersey for now. Back to the t-shirts for Day Six.

day four

What can I say - I'm addicted to sewing for Sadie and Milo. First up, I finished a pair of leggings for Sadie. They were made completely on the serger, which means they were FAST and I'm really happy with the split cuff. Sadie is a bit disappointed that the buttons are only for show but I'm doubtful that she would actually do them up and I didn't want to get frustrated trying a buttonhole on knit fabric. Oh, and the fact that she got to stand on the table to model made her disappointment pretty much disappear. The "Gumout" tank is from a t-shirt that I wore at the end of both pregnancies when nothing else would fit me. I think a friend gave it to Jay for the whole gum mention, but neither of us even know what it means.  It just seemed fitting to have the kids wear it, so for now it's Sadie's and when Milo is ready I'll just chop off the bottom band. And then I got a sleeveless romper finished, inspired entirely by Meg's version. It's a perfect hot weather garment and easy to get Milo in and out of (thank goodness). I'm going to try to get another one done tomorrow from the last t-shirt in my pile because I think Milo could just live in these all summer.

There are so many great clothes being made and the Flickr group is growing every minute. Only 3 days left to go...

Thursday, May 13, 2010

day three

Recycling old clothes continues. This pink tank for Sadie is made from an old Gap shirt that I just couldn't part with, but if worn, seriously looked like I was wearing pajamas. I kept the neckline intact and then tried a different style of edging which is done only with the serger. I think it's my favourite edging yet or the knit of this shirt was just the right weight to make it work. And Sadie debated for 24 hours whether she wanted shorts or a skirt out of the fabric Milo's shorts were made of - and I think she's pretty happy with her skirt choice. The t-shirt was quite wide, so I made use of the original hem and let the skirt be really full. Sadie tried both pieces on as soon as she got home and she wouldn't take them off until bedtime, so you may notice a spaghetti stain on the hanging shot. Oh well, at least I know she likes them. I'm pretty fond of the whole look she had...why can't they make red shoes like that for adults?

Next up, Day Four. I may not be as prolific (I'm battling a determined plugged duct - ouch - and I had to go to work this afternoon) but the day isn't over yet. It's amazing how 10 minutes here and there can add up.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

day two

Day Two of the challenge and I managed more clothes for Milo. I'm a lazy mom and don't mind my babies wearing only onesies in the hot summer, but it's probably more acceptable when the legs look a bit more like shorts. So with that in mind I made the 90-Minute-Shirt into a onesie with longer legs and room for snap tape (I just don't trust my application of real snaps, especially on knit fabric). I used a men's golf shirt (these shorts were from the same shirt) and the green edging is from an old t-shirt of mine. The result is an outfit that's more 1920's era bathing suit than shorts but I love it on Milo...that is, when I managed to wrestle him into trying it on (getting him dressed is a real sport, hence the lack of modeling shots). And I got one more pair of shorts made out of the sleeves from the t-shirt I made this shirt from - now I don't have a single swatch of that fabric left. They are a bit too short in the rise, but are nice and snug so they totally stay on. I bet Jay will put these on Milo any chance he gets, probably with the matching shirt.

Day Three is more focused on Sadie and girlie things. Be back tomorrow!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

kids clothes week challenge

After Day 1, I'm shocked to have 3 garments done. I have Wendy Mullin to thank - after reading through Sew U Home Stretch I have figured out how to make knit clothing fast using my serger. Both pairs of shorts were 100% sewn with the serger, and I love the waistband on the blue pair. I didn't plan it that way, but I was using the sleeves from a men's t-shirt to make the shorts and I had limited height, and so a deep waistband was necessary (now Sadie wants a pair just like them, because the blue ones are for Mr. Milo). Actually I've added a little extra challenge to my challenge - I did not buy any fabric and am only recycling t-shirts (mine, Jay's, big ones from Goodwill) to make all these clothes. The ruffle skirt - which I'm super happy with - is actually the t-shirt I tried to sew for myself but now salvaged into something way better. I'm going to try one more ruffle skirt from another t-shirt and then maybe post the how-to info after the week is done. It takes no time to sew and hey, little girls love ruffles. And I love shirring.

Next up, Day 2. I've got a romper and some snap tape waiting. For more Kids Clothes Week happiness, check out the Flickr pool here.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

mums for mom

I've been thinking about this post for a long time now, and I still don't know where to start. How can you ever say enough about your mom or put into words the effect she has had on your life?

When my brother was only 17 months old, my mom gave birth to me. I have no idea how she coped with two small children, but I do know she fostered a wonderful sense of play in my brother and me. If I pulled out a suitcase of dinky cars right now, my mom would still be the first one to dig in and start playing. We played board games, card games, made puzzles, turned cardboard boxes into spaceship command centrals...all the good things that developed creativity and imagination in us. Sometimes I hear myself hesitating when Sadie asks me to play and I remind myself that my mom never said no, and it helps me find the energy I need.

My mom loves to laugh and she came from a family that enjoyed jokes and joking around with each other. Watching Naked Gun with my mom is an experience everyone should try at least once - you'll never be the same afterwards. Humour was so important growing up, and my mom taught me how to laugh at myself, which I'll always need because I can sometimes take things too seriously. Not surprisingly I chose a partner who makes humour part of our everyday life, and he was the guy my mom approved upon first sight. All he had to do was make her laugh.

There is so much to say about my mom, but there is this one thing that makes her so special to me, and that I am thankful for every day. My mom is my number one fan. She believes in me and everything I do. I don't know who I would be if it weren't for her. And the crazy part is that her mom was the opposite. Don't get me wrong, I loved my Gramma and my mom was crazy about her, but perhaps it was part of that generation. However it happened, she didn't instill a confidence in my mom or her sisters, especially when it came to being creative. But instead of repeating behaviors, which is the norm, my mom chose her own path and cheered me along in whatever interest I chose. Confidence, self-esteem - how can I thank my mom for such gifts? And here is the moment I'll always remember: right after graduating university I exhibited my art at the Toronto Outdoor Show in Nathan Phillips Square. I was a student, but won the "Best Mixed Media" award for that year's show. After packing up I found a payphone and called my mom to tell her the news. She started saying something and then went silent.  And when she next tried to speak through her tears, it was the most wonderful message a mother could share. In her mixture of joy and pride, she wanted me to know that my journey to that point was so worth the effort. Words like that, and a daughter can take on anything.

I feel I'm only scratching the surface, but now I have tears in my eyes and am having trouble typing. So to my co-quilter, co-knitter, popcorn-loving mom, thank you for being my friend and my fan. I love you.

Happy Mother's Day.

(P.S. here is a message from Sadie, typed by Sadie: i  love  you  gramma  youre  the  best  gramma  ever. maybe i'll have a sleepover at youre house.)

Saturday, May 01, 2010

now the hard part

On my list of things to finish before I go back to work is a quilt for our sofa - which is to protect the slipcover which is protecting the sofa itself. Babies and cats make messes and I think washing a quilt will be easier than the slipcover, but I may just start piling up quilts as time goes on. I do have more than enough fabric to make that happen plus the whole "Princess and the Pea" thing could be pretty comfortable. But anyway, here is the finished top. I did a simple 7" square patchwork and it's rather bright, bringing together all the colours in the main floor. It should work well with he black sofa, red walls and super-bright-yellow painting. I didn't buy anything new (well, not for this) so I'd like to think this is use-what-you-have kind of quilt. So, now the hard part: quilting.

My mom has a long-arm quilting machine in her basement and has been clearing out some room to see if we can get it working. Space is an issue whatever the quilting method, but I like the idea of not having to baste this. Hopefully I can find time in the next 5 weeks to spend a few hours with her to see how far I can get. The list is so long and I'd really like to cross at least something off.

Quilting inspiration a plenty here, here and here. Oh, and of course here.