Monday, June 30, 2014

Challenge Create: A Patriotic Ensemble

I’m so excited to share with you today for Challenge Create: Fabric Swap Edition! 

About the fabric I sent:
A couple of years ago Sew Mama Sew’s shop closed, and fabric was offered at a steep discount. I snagged some Amy Butler fabric that I adored, but when I sewed through my stash last year, that beautiful fabric lingered. Finally I’d decided to make it into a big sun hat. However, when I was invited to be a part of Challenge Create, I knew immediately I’d send it off to someone else.

Still I was stuck on the hat idea, so I still planned to make a hat with whatever red, white, and/or blue fabric I received. Then this arrived from Amy and Tasha:

It took me a while to get over my mental block (HAT! HAT! HAT!) and come up with something new, but once I did, the vision was pretty solid. Inspired by photos on my Pinterest board, I knew this beautiful floral fabric would make a lovely smocked popover top. And I’ve had my eye on denim with tiny hearts; Eliza needed a pair of denim shorts, and I knew she’s love the little hearts! I was right — she loves them!

For the tunic, I started with the free Oliver + S Popover dress. I added 14” to the center of the top to allow for pleating (I wanted it super full) and shortened it to tunic length. Then I pleated it and got to work smocking. 

I used Ellen McCarn's "April" smocking plate for the design. This was only my second time smocking a substantial piece, so it took for-ev-ah! But I feel like the concept of smocking "clicked" for me this time, and I'm already looking forward to my next smocking project.

For the smocking, I used solid blue thread because I felt it would stand out more against the busy patterned fabric. (Instead of whipstitching the neck binding, I edgestitched it for a couple of reasons: my patience wore thin from so much hand work and my time was running very short.) I've still got a lot to learn about the art, but overall I'm pleased with the result. 

To finish the tunic, I added eyelet to the bottom of the hem.

The shorts are made using the free Oliver + S Sunny Days shorts. Using the front and pocket pieces from the Blank Slate Patterns Clean Slate Pants, I added pockets lined with the third fabric I received. 

This outfit fits her perfectly! She likes it, too, which is always a plus. It’ll be great for heading down to the river to watch fireworks and picnic for Independence Day. 

Thanks for having me, ladies, and thanks Amy and Tasha for the fabric!

Challenge Create and a Very Sick Cat

Skirt Fixation
Audrey and the girls over at Skirt Fixation have created a fun challenge for sewing bloggers: Challenge Create: Fabric Swap Edition. The premise is that participants send each other fabric that fits a theme, and we can use the fabric we receive to create anything we want -- clothes, home decor, quilt -- anything. We sent/received two yards total, and I cannot wait to show you what I've created from the beautiful fabric I received from Amy and Tasha. My post goes live tomorrow. 


We arrived home from vacation last week, and a day later VBS began for the boys at their grandparents' church. It was nighttime VBS, so they didn't get to bed until 9:30 five nights in a row (1.5 hours later than their regular summer bedtime). Our routine was severely out of whack, which is why it took us several days to realize our 14-year-old cat, Mozart, was very sick. (Our cats hide while the kids are awake. Really, who can blame them?)

He didn't eat anything for at least three days. (I suspect it was closer to four or five in hindsight.) Friday night I stayed up with him and held him. Neither of us slept, and although he didn't seem to be in any pain, he struggled to even hold his head up. It was pitiful. Saturday afternoon he couldn't even stand. He lay under the bed, completely still. Our other cat lay beside him the whole time; she didn't eat either. 

We all said our goodbyes. I was a MESS. 

I don't consider myself an animal person. A pet is a pet. A human is a human. I don't treat our cats like people, and while we feed them, clean them, and give them attention, the truth is there is a pecking order in our family and they are not at the top. Dressing pets in clothing confounds me. (LeeAnn is rolling her eyes.)

So imagine my surprise when this all started and I sobbed for two days straight. My heart was broken. As much as I gripe about the puking (which he loves to do immediately after I mop), sweeping up their messes, and cleaning cat hair from every available surface -- the truth is he's been with me for 14 years and I couldn't look at any spot in the house without imagining him there. He sits by me every single night, and if I'm sewing, he's in there with me. I couldn't bring myself to even go in the sewing room. If I'm blogging, he's lying across my lap, so typing on the computer was out of the question. (Which created a challenge for the deadline for the first part of this post, as you can imagine.)

14 years ago I was in a new city in a new career far from my family. Ryan was a poor graduate student in another city, and when a friend told him his wife was allergic to her new cat, Ryan offered to take the tabby home as my Christmas gift. One weekend when I arrived at his apartment in the wee hours of the morning to visit (my schedule was GRODY), I sneaked into Ryan's room to wake him. Suddenly a huge rat skittered across the floor! I screamed, and Ryan said, "Merry Christmas!" 

I certainly wasn't a cat person. My apartment complex (nor his) allowed pets without a deposit we couldn't afford. Mozart was a MEAN kitten. I was not thrilled. 

But Mo kept me company. He kept my secrets and listened to my dreams. He cuddled with me when I was lonely, homesick, or overwhelmed. He didn't mind that I stunk from smoking or stumbled in at all hours of the night. He knocked over my Christmas tree the first year I celebrated the holiday without my family. He rode shotgun with me every time I went home to Memphis to visit. (It gave the drive-thru workers a thrill to see a cat hanging his head out the window, meowing loudly at anyone who'd listen.) He stalked me, and slid down my legs when I'd get out of the shower. (He almost didn't survive that feat.) Ryan and I got married and added another cat to the mix. Mo reluctantly adjusted to that and our adding kids to the mix, too. He attacked me while I was breastfeeding Lee, and after a visit to the vet where I was instructed to "assert my dominance," we had a mutual understanding. We've gotten along swimmingly since.

He's moved six times in 14 years. He's a tough cat.

Late Saturday night I brought food to him again and begged him to eat. He stood up, wobbled over the bowl, and ate three bites. Later when I checked on him he did it again. Then he emptied the bowl. (Our youngest cat still didn't eat to allow him to fill up. If you've seen her -- all 25 pounds of her -- you know that in itself is a miracle.) He's very, very slowly working his way back. He's alert again and moving more easily. The vet recommended watching and waiting -- taking him in could set him back again. 

So we wait. And watch. And hope and pray for just a little more time. And really, I'm also praying for a second chance to show him that even though I'll never put him in a tutu or call him my "baby," he's a pretty important part of our family and I'm glad he's here. Puke and shedding hair and bad breath and all.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Giveaway Winner!!

Lee drew a winner for the Kate & Rose Midtown Collection PDF -- congrats Mary Mahoo! Take your pick, and happy sewing!

Thanks, y'all, for playing along in my first giveaway. Wahoo!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Completed: A Vintage Matinee

Today I'm a stop on Jennuine Design's Matinee Dress tour!

My stack of feed sack fabric is quickly dwindling, so I'm selective in choosing projects for it. This dress was the perfect opportunity to dig through my stash and find a great combination.

Here's the original description of the pattern:
The Matinee Dress and Peplum Top features a pseudo bateau neckline with a plunging open back. A simple sash at the empire waistline adds interest and closes the middle back. There are several options for customization: cap sleeves, a contrasting hem band, and dress or peplum lengths.

I made quite a few changes to the pattern. Eliza measured in 12/18 months for the chest and waist, so I stuck with that width and used the 3T length. I lengthened the skirt and shortened the bodice. I moved the sash to the waist and made it into a belt that closes with a large hook and eye. I used ric-rac to keep the shoulders up. And finally, I made the width of the skirt pieces for the size 8 dress so it would be fuller.

Pattern: Matinee Dress from Jennuine Designs
Fabric: All fabric is from my stash: the floral fabric is a vintage feed sack.
Size: Combination of 12/18 month, 3T, and 8 as described above.

This is one of the nicest PDF patterns I've used. The sizes are nested, so you only have to print out the size(s) you need. Jenn has been so thorough in her instructions; she caught potential mistakes before I had a chance to make them. The diagrams are simple and easy to follow. For these reasons, this pattern would make a nice one for Confident Beginners.

During the tour, Jenn is offering the Matinee pattern for 20% off with the code matineetour20 in her pattern shop.

She's also collected an awesome assortment of prizes for a giveaway! Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway here!!

Thanks for having me, Jenn!
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