Tuesday, March 10, 2015

On Living WITHOUT Spider-Man

August 2013

Last week when we got ready for the library, Eliza came downstairs in Daniel's outgrown Spiderman costume. It's the same one he wore every day for a year when he was three.

"Can I wear this, Mom?" Eliza asked.

"Absolutely," I replied.

Then Lee put on his Spiderman costume. It was too short in the legs and was (ahem) constricting in other areas.

"Can I wear mine, too?" he asked.

"Absolutely," I replied.

When we got to the library, I noticed he didn't take his coat off despite the thermostat's high setting. "You okay, buddy?" I asked. He assured me he was, but I noticed the way he kept his coat closed and kept glancing around him.

"I want to take this off," he said, gesturing toward the costume. "I've got clothes under it."

So sitting at the kid tables in the kid section in the library, I worked to help him remove his Spiderman costume. "Can you hold it?" he asked.

"Sure," I said, rolling it up and putting it into the book bag. Then we went back to his Math workbook.

I knew. It was probably the last time he'd wear a costume out in public except on Halloween. Costumes have been a BIG part of our lives for the past five years, and Lee kept squeezing into them even as the elastic groaned and the hems came closer to his knees than his ankles.

He'll still dress up, but now it'll be trying on new skills and new identities -- Big Cousin, Trusted Friend, Bike Rider, Shoe Tier, Trash Emptier, Reader, and Young Entrepreneur.

He'll visit Spiderman's world in movies and books, but chances are good he won't believe he is Spiderman or expect others to believe simply because he's wearing Spiderman's outfit.

We are moving very, very quickly through this thing called Parenting Young Ones. As someone obsessed with newborns and infants and toddlers and young pre-schoolers, I thought my heart would break daily when I realized our baby days were finished.

Instead, though, I've got more time to notice things. Instead of running from here to there, wiping bottoms and noses and spills and tears, I get to slow down and notice. I notice the lasts.

The truly awesome thing is that we get to notice the new firsts, too. They're not those familiar milestones like smiling, crawling, walking, and talking. There aren't blank spaces in baby books for these firsts.

The first time the boys came up with their own business plan and earned money, the first time Eliza climbed up in her bed without a stool, the first time they all sat at the table and conversed for an entire meal. Politely. In public.

We've entered into a new season of parenting: one where everyone is potty trained and temper tantrums aren't as frequent. They can dress themselves and buckle/unbuckle their own car seats. We have family discussions. We can go out to eat at a restaurant where the entrees cost more than $4. I get to sit down.

I'll always cherish the memories of having babies in my arms -- those nights sleeping with a baby on my chest and singing lullabies after middle-of-the-night nursing sessions; and the days holding one on my chest, one on my hip, and one by the hand. Remembering those moments will keep me warm in my rocking chair someday.

But right now I'm looking forward to big kid things. We're planning to take the kids on the AT this spring and to help them train for their first road running race. Lee is reading, and the whole world is about to open up to him.

We may not be living with Spiderman, and the boys' costume days may be over, but I can't WAIT to see what identity they try on next.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Crafting Con Guest Post: Mario

Have you heard of Crafting Con? It's a series hosted by Mae&K and Friends Stitched Together that celebrates all things nerdy. Each month there's a different theme like Star Wars or Harry Potter or Dr. Who -- and guests create tutorials and four bloggers compete with a complete outfit inspired by the theme.

This month it's my turn, and our theme was Mario Brothers! The boys got a Wii for Christmas and have been getting to know Mario and his friends. Daniel's favorite character is Mario - and he's the one who needed one more winter shirt - so, he got a Mario outfit!

Whenever I sew for Daniel, especially if it's something soft and comfortable, he is so grateful. It warms a sewing mama's heart to see him so happy. He wore these pants three days in a row until I convinced him they were stained and needed to be washed!

I wanted the outfit to be a nod to Mario - the converse shoes, slim-fitting pants reminiscent of the '80s, and pageboy hat. The appliquéd Mario silhouette is for fun!

The hat is the Newsboy Hat Sewing pattern from Butterfly Tree on Etsy. It's fully reversible and made with fabric from an upcycled robe my grandmother gave me. The pattern was super easy to follow, and I took my time and am pleased with the outcome.

The pants are the Clean Slate Pants from Blank Slate Patterns. I've made the pants a couple of times before, so they went together easily, too. I do have one recommendation: if you know yours is a slim kid and you'll be cinching the elastic quite a bit, anchor down the elastic closer to the pockets rather than the side seams. All that gathering makes the welt pockets distorted otherwise. I did widen the legs of the pants a tad for a more relaxed fit, and I'm glad. Melissa's directions for a zip fly are still my favorites.

The first time I sewed these pants was a couple of years ago (at least). I remember how difficult they were for me -- the welt pockets, the zip fly, everything. The fact that things were so much easier this time made me realize just how much all that hard work has paid off! Look -- it's even got a bar tack!

My love for the Bimaa knows no bounds! The hooded version is just as great as the others. Daniel loooooves hooded shirts. This is what? my fourth Bimaa? I won the pattern from Call Ajaire and will end up investing in the updated version that has more sizes.

That's it! There's more nerdy goodness over at Mae&K, and there are some photos I didn't share here, so go check them out if you're interested!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Free for All: A Bevy of Bows

Today I'm talking hair.

Over at Frances Suzanne the lovely sisters are sharing all kinds of free goodness. There's a link-up for sharing free patterns, a link-up for sharing things we've made from free patterns, and guests sharing some of their favorite freebies. Today it's my turn, and I'm changing up my usual M.O. to delve into accessories!

Eliza's a fan of hair bows in theory, and she loves to point out awesome hair bows on other little girls, but we have yet to find one that she actually wants to wear herself. We've tried the big, boutique style. We've tried small barrettes. We've tried headbands and fancy ponytail holders. She keeps them in for a while, and then I find them lingering behind the couch or beside her plate at the kitchen table.

Maybe if she watched me make them, she'd be more inclined to wear them, I thought.

There are a MASSIVE number of hair bow tutorials on the Internet. Most of them are for ribbon hair bows, but since this is a sewing blog, I figured I'd concentrate on those made with felt and regular old fabric.

First I used the Oliver+S free pattern and tutorial for felt bows. It was a cinch! The hardest part (for me) was finding cute felt fabric. Hobby Lobby had some neat squares of felt at a great price, so I picked up my favorites. Each square would make four bows (at least).

Oliver+S also has a free pattern for a Bow Hair Tie if you like more subtle hair accessories. I made one, but Eliza's hair is so fine (and mine's so short) that it just didn't work for us. Maybe someday.

Sew Bon also has a great tutorial for fabric hair bows that I tried. I shrank Erin's recommended measurements roughly in half to fit a small alligator clip barrette. How cute are these?

The best part is all of these bows are super easy to make. Disney from Ruffles and Stuff and Jess from Craftiness is not Optional both have felt bow tutorials that are a tad different and don't even require sewing!

This tutorial from The Ribbon Retreat shows how to cover snap barrettes with ribbon and add a bow -- so unique and adorable! The tutorial is detailed with great photos, too.

I hope this gives you a nice place to start with FREE felt and fabric hair bow tutorials and patterns! If you've got any to add, please share them in the comments. They're satisfying to make, that's for sure. Wish me luck on getting Eliza to wear one!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

KCW: Chemistry Kit T-Shirts

Here are my final two makes for Kids Clothes Week. My goal this week was to embellish the t-shirts I made earlier this winter, and WOOHOO! Check it off the list!

The boys each have two mama-made t-shirts this year. (Daniel has another on the way to replace one I goofed up.) 

These are my favorites! I pinned a Boden appliquéd t-shirt a while back (so far back that it's not online anymore), and it's the one the boys picked for me to make.

They love how they turned out.

(Details on fabric and such are at the bottom of the post.)

Funny story: I was trying to make them laugh and started imitating a toothless moonshiner. I'm a southerner who's lived in East TN, KY, and NC. I can NAIL a toothless moonshiner imitation. They were in stitches.

These kids are so fun, and they're so grateful when I sew something for them. Also, Daniel looks just like my mom in this next photo. 

Pattern: Flashback Skinny Tee from Made by Rae. Size 6 for Daniel; size 8 for Lee. (They're slim fitting, so I size up. Next time I'll add a little width to Lee's. Next time I'll shorten the sleeves, too.)

I forgot to mention last time that I always disregard the pattern's measurements for the neckband and estimate my own length.

Fabric: More Robert Kaufman Laguna knit from Let's Sew in Evansville. It's got a bit of spandex. I cannot say enough good things about this fabric.

The rest of the fabric came from scraps.

Thoughts: These shirts were SUPER labor intensive. The appliqué took time, of course, and so did the hand-stitching. But the most time was spent trying to figure out how to make that atom.

That's it! Happy Kids Clothes Week, y'all! I'm working on an entry for Crafting Con and a post for Frances Suzanne's February Free for All. And somewhere in there I'm finishing our master bedroom. Because I'm ready for some curtains. 

See you next week!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

KCW: Star Wars T-Shirts

This winter's theme for Kids Clothes Week is "upcyled." I'm working on a full ensemble for Daniel that's 90% upcycled, but it likely won't be finished (and photographed and blogged) this week.

Instead I'll share some t-shirts that I've finished. A couple of months ago I loaded up on Robert Kaufman Laguna knits. I let the boys pick the colors and embellishments.

Daniel requested Darth Vader's TIE Advanced x1, and this bleaching tutorial published on Sew Country Chick suited it perfectly. It's supposed to look like it's flying through a starry sky. I was excited and went a little heavy on the bleach.

The second t-shirt is made using freezer paper, too, but instead of doing a traditional stencil version I did it in a negative-space way. I mixed blue and brown paint and intentionally thinly coated it so some of the light gray would peek through. It's an AT-AT Walker. 

I made Lee a navy shirt with a ET-AT Walker on it, too, but didn't blog it or photograph it. And now it's in the dirty clothes hamper.

There are lots of projects and deadlines this week, so I'll wrap this post up with stats.

Pattern: Flashback Skinny Tee from Made by Rae
Size: 6 (this one's designed to be slim-fitting, so I always size up
Fabric: Robert Kaufman Laguna knit bought at Let's Sew in Evansville//Ribbing is from my stash

I HIGHLY recommend this fabric! I made the boys six shirts in this fabric, and they've been wearing them plain and patiently waiting for me to embellish them. They haven't stretched, shrunk, faded, or pilled.

For a few years I've been waffling on the logic of making their long-sleeved t-shirts and whether it's cost-effective. This fabric convinced me it's worth it. They love the softness of the fabric, and I love the quality.

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