Friday, August 29, 2014

This Moment {August 29, 2014}

on my sewing table:
3 finished objects to photograph and blog about, 2 that have been worn half a dozen times already.

3 Elsa dresses -- one for Eliza and the other two for my dear friend's girls. I've given myself a deadline of September 8th to have them delivered. The muslins fit all three of the girls, so I'm optimistic I'll make the deadline.

on the track/road:
I'm four weeks into marathon training again. This will be my fifth marathon run. (I've trained for eight!) I'm matching my pace or running faster than this time last year, so I'm convinced a BQ-qualifying time is possible for the race. There's some training-related fatigue, but going to bed by 10:00 helps.

on the nightstand:
This one arrived at my doorstep after a conversation with my cousins about homeschooling Daniel. I'm an INTJ (MBTI Personality Type) and Ryan is an ENFP. We balance each other beautifully and have learned (and are learning) how to navigate life together as opposite personalities.

Homeschooling our children is a whole different ballgame. I'm trying to learn what motivates Daniel to want to learn and what discourages him. Things like tone of voice, word choice, and body language have profound effect on him, which is a totally foreign concept to me. Ryan's been trying to explain it for years, but you know. Sometimes it takes a book. (says the INTJ)  

Fascinating stuff. It's already proven immensely helpful.

at home:
We had new windows installed on the back of the house, and I'm making slow progress on the master bedroom. This week I rearranged the den and sewing room. After living in these spaces for a year, I had a better idea of where things should go.

I've finally gotten back into my routine of keeping the house in order. While my deep-cleaning routine still needs work, the house is neat and the floors are clean, which helps us all feel more peaceful. (Ryan likes the neatness, I'm the floor fanatic.)

on the school table:
We started officially homeschooling this week! Lee turns seven in a few weeks, so now The Law requires us to Do This For Real. We went to our first Classical Conversations co-op, and we've been easing into things for a couple of weeks at home. Our routine is incredibly flexible, but most mornings we start at 8:30 and spend three hours doing Bible, Math, Language Arts, and Memory Work. We do science and art at CC and will do music and art at our Fine Arts co-op on Fridays. 

We rest after lunch for an hour and afternoons are for playing outside with friends if they're home.


on the side:
Lee started Boy Scouts this week, and the boys are still doing karate two nights a week. They are learning wonderful things and enjoying karate. (Eliza can't wait to be in the class, too. Watching a three-year-old girl throw a mean jab is just about The Cutest Thing Ever.) Lee is over-the-moon excited about Boy Scouts. 

The boys learned how to swim! Their grandmother has taken them swimming a few times recently, and the last time I got in a pool with them they swam across the shallow end. I was in awe. 

current challenges:
Our days are more scheduled now, and our evenings were taken up this week with activities: karate, Bible study, back-to-school night, Boy Scouts. . . Ryan and I were two ships passing in the night. I'll lose my everlasting mind if this becomes the norm.

Mozart. He got sick again when the kids and I went to Memphis. I took him to the vet and she says he's in kidney failure. He's not going to die right away - especially since we're starting him on a prescription diet - but when I said, "Oh! So he could be around for another two or three years!" she said, "Um, no." After much discussion, we decided to board him while we're on vacation.

One good thing that's come from his illness: I haven't taken a single day with our cats for granted since. I'm grateful to have had a second chance with my ornery friend.

currently grateful:
For friends who know just what to say.
For a vibrant community of homeschoolers.
For a husband who doesn't blink at a neurotic cat and his neurotic human.
For healthy children.
For field trips to discover local treasures like a seminary and monastery. 

 Thanks for letting me catch up, friends!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Completed: Waste Free Lunch Bag

School starts next week! Our last couple of books are arriving this week, and the daily schedule is all planned. The kids range from excited to despairing depending on the day. Ha. They've had a great summer.

This year we're attending two co-ops: Classical Conversations and a fine arts program where they'll take Intro to Art and Intro to Violin.

Eliza and I will accompany the boys and hang out with the other families and young ones during class. Snacks are a requirement to keep both of us happy!

Enter the Waste Free Lunch Bag by Gingercake.

When Virginia invited me to sew up a bag, I chose this one because of the divider and interior pocket for napkins, wipes, utensils, etc. Now that we've outgrown diaper bags I hardly every carry a purse, and the little pocket will be perfect for my wallet.

The interior holds a couple of small plastic containers and a sippy cup. If I get around to sewing some snack bags, it would probably hold six of those.

The original pattern closes with a flap and velcro, but Virginia added a tutorial for finishing the bag with a zipper, which I prefer.

Lunches and snacks stay cold/warm because of a layer of thinsulate. There's lots of interfacing, too, for stability in the handles and divider panel.

The bottom of the bag is finished with a wide box pleat. One of the bags on Virginia's site had a contrasting panel along the bottom, so I decided to try that and added piping between the seams. Next time I'll add a larger contrasting panel, but I ran out of fabric.

This is the third Gingercake pattern I've sewn. The Crayon Folio for Eliza is still a favorite of hers, and I gave our niece a crash course in sewing this summer using the Modern Folksy Bunny. Virginia's pattern instructions are thorough, and her designs are practical and attractive. 

Some notes about my experience with this pattern:
  • The walking foot was so helpful when sewing through all the layers of interfacing. Also, a heavy-duty needle was a must.
  • I goofed up the zipper and sewed too close to the teeth. (Blame it on all those invisible zippers I've gotten used to sewing.) After taking these photos, I had to rip apart the whole bag and re-sew the zipper so it would open and close properly.
  • The crayon folio pattern and this one involve cutting one long rectangle for the main body of the bag. If you're using a directional print, be aware of the direction of your pattern. I messed up again on this one, but fortunately I had enough fabric and wanted to add that contrasting panel along the bottom. Either you'll need to buy more fabric so you can lay it out properly, or you'll need to seam things a little differently than the pattern instructs.
  • All my fabric came from JoAnn. I didn't have major coupons, and together things cost around $15 for all the fabric and interfacing. The thinsulate is expensive, so one way to keep costs down would be to exclude that part.
Until August 9th Gingercake's lunch box patterns are only $5! Virginia's generously offering a free lunch bag pattern to one of our readers -- just enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below for an opportunity to win. (Enter up until August 10th at midnight.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Completed: Mash-up Tank Dress

In the past few years I've taken to combining knit tops with woven skirts, and the result is my go-to dress. 

There are just more fabric options available with woven fabric, and I can't beat the comfort of a knit top. 

Here's my latest edition of this staple -- it's a mash-up of Simplicity 1358 and the Moneta Dress from Colette Patterns.

I've done a similar combination with the Renfrew top (Sewaholic) and a self-drafted skirt, but I decided to try a different bodice this time. It's a little too roomy in the top, so next time I'll probably return to the Renfrew.

As for the skirt, it was much easier to use the Moneta Dress's skirt portion than to draft my own. The length and width of this skirt is just right. I didn't add pockets because of the delicacy of the fabric.

I constructed the bodice of the dress in the traditional way -- it's banded and unlined.

I sewed the skirt lining and main skirt separately. The main skirt is constructed with French seams (it's sheer). Once each piece was fully sewn and hemmed, I serged them together at the top. Then I measured a length of 1/2" elastic (using my waist/comfort as a guide) and sewed it to the top of the skirt with a zig-zag stitch. Then I serged the bottom of the bodice and joined the skirt top and bodice.

it's got twirl factor!

Pattern: Simplicity 1358 (bodice) and Colette Moneta (skirt)
Modifications: lengthened bodice - based on waistline, cut and added 2" to the length (I didn't read the assembly instructions of this pattern.)
Fabric: lightweight organic knit from my stash (bodice), Bemberg rayon from Joann (skirt lining), clearance sheer blend fabric from Joann (skirt main)
I sewed the Colette Moneta last week in knits, following the instructions and making no alterations to the pattern. Originally it was going to be my "wearable muslin" and this was going to be my Main Moneta.

BUT, I didn't like the Moneta. The boatneck top wasn't flattering on me, and several things in the construction of the garment turned me off. Maybe I'll try it again with no collar and sleeves this winter. Maybe.

Overall I'm pleased with this dress. It's got plenty of ease in the waist, which means I'll likely wear a belt with it (which I would anyway). It's comfortable and practical. The styling options are pretty endless, too.


On blog photos: taking photos of finished projects for myself for the blog is so challenging. (That's not counting the actual writing of the post.) Finding a time of day, location with decent lighting, and getting made up -- it's a pain. My remote doesn't work unless I'm inches from the camera. This morning I figured out that I can put the camera on the tripod, frame things up, and Lee can stand behind the camera and press the button on the remote to take the photo. It's not ideal, but it works. I'm telling you this so I remember in 10 years how much effort this took and how helpful my kid was in the photo-taking part. :) 

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