Category Archives: sewing

Halloween: Part 2

Mary Poppins: Practically perfect in every way!

When I saw that she was looking for something more tailored, I inwardly sighed at all of the work ahead of me for something that wasn’t likely to get much wear.  Then it occurred to me that I was planning on making her a new winter coat.   Two birds, one stone, and all of that, I made her a wool coat for Halloween.  All except for the buttons and button holes, because the button hole stitch on my machine outright refuses to work properly.  I’m pretty sure it’s a conspiracy.

I’ve had a really hard time finding good quality coats for the kids.  They mostly seem to be either ridiculously expensive or ridiculously insufficient.  Girls’ coats are the worst, with the focus being more on fashion than warmth.  We can’t do thrifted ones, because it’s almost impossible to get the chemical smells out.  This whole “puffer coat” trend has not worked for our family either.  We’ve had several coats get a little too close to the wood stove or snagged on a protruding twig.  Turns out they don’t really work well once all of the stuffing falls out.

When we moved to this area, 14 years ago, my regular winter coat was on it’s way out, but I had a wool overcoat that had previously been used for only work and special occasions.  I figured I might as well wear it out, since I wouldn’t have much cause for dressing up.  Much to my surprise, it still looks exactly as it did when I got it, nearly 20 years ago now.  I just occasionally brush the mud off.  Now the kids are surely harder on their outerwear than I am.  But I’ve done a great deal of gardening, hiking, Christmas tree lugging and so forth in that coat and it’s still going strong.  I thought it was worth seeing how it would work out for the kids.  It’s an experiment of sorts.

For the pattern I used Burda Style’s Girls Dress Coat 12/2012 #156.  I often like their sense of style, but find some of their directions confusing.  I’ve used a couple of their patterns in the past and I would be hesitant to use them again; too troublesome.

The main fabric is a heavy woolen coating.  I quilted two layers of batting to the lining inside.  We’ll see how it holds up!

With this costume we also made a new skirt to double duty. helping to fill out her autumn wardrobe as well.

When it was decided that she was to be a “baby kitty” for Halloween, she told me I must be a “mama kitty” and of course it’s impossible to say no to such a sweet face as that.

I had talked myself out of knitting her a sweater for Halloween.  But, while in Pennsylvania, I whipped through my allotted travel knitting much faster than expected, leaving me with nothing for the ride home, which I feared would render me a threat to myself and others.  A quick pop in to the craft store, where I managed the best I could yarn-wise, and this little sweater was well under way after-all. I’m very glad of it too, because really she needed a new sweater; all of the hand-me-downs being in pretty poor shape at this point.

The pattern is Gilipeysa, converted from a lace weight yarn to a worsted weight.  The bonnet pattern is my own and will be available for purchase at some point.  The bonnet and cream part of the yoke are Knitpicks Reverie in Natural (on sale right now!).  I believe the other two yarns are Patons Classic Wool in ‘Grey Mix’ and ‘Natural Mix’.  Sadly, the colors don’t show well in these pictures.

And that finally puts an end to Halloween!

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Halloween, Part One

Mostly for the sake of The Grandparents.

Seraphina would have been happy to paint every squash under the sun.  Her second one had a beard, so it could “talk like Pop-pop”.

Considering the number of practical jokes they play on each other, I thought this was very trusting (and possibly somewhat naive).  Elijah had me do his, which was likely a safer bet.

It’s kind of ridiculous, the lengths my family goes to for Halloween costumes, considering the very short period of time they actually wear them.  But it’s kind of their thing, so I try to be supportive and enthusiastic.

For years now the older boys have been trying to convince me to let them go as something scary.  Traditionally our celebrations have always been more about the magic of the season.  We attend a mixed age party, where two of my children are the eldest of the bunch, and I don’t want to be the mother who brings the teens who scare the little ones, my own little one included!  Besides, who needs more fear and evil?

blah.

I feel like I’m daily coming face to face with the fragility of life and I’m heartsick over the woes of the world.  Surround me with images of joy, of honor, of love, of goodness.  There is enough horror and gore.  The earth doesn’t need anymore.  I don’t want anymore.  Real or pretend.

But Elijah finally wore me down,or more accurately, took advantage of my being too exhausted to argue…

Besides, a mother’s hang-ups probably shouldn’t dictate Halloween costumes.  I’m sure it must seem to my children at times as though I take everything to seriously.

Iain had plans to go as a very noble literary figure, brave and true.  I was secretly thrilled, thinking how handsome he would be and pleased too, in my motherly heart, over such a wholesome choice for my maturing man-child.

There were issues with a prop.  And since it’s perfection or nothing round about here, he made a last minute shift…

and went with a different kind of scary, as well as an easy last-minute costume and a cheap laugh. It was a whole lot funnier last week.

And dear, sweet, little Dobby!  Elijah really did a fantastic job with that mask.  When Galen saw these pictures he said, “Wait a minute, is that me?!?  It looks so real!”

I whipped up a quick hood with ears and we fashioned the rest out of an actual pillowcase.  As it turns out, what I learned afterwards was Steve’s favorite pillowcase.  How on earth was I supposed to know the man has a favorite pillowcase?!?

Just a little glimpse of the girls, as their costumes were quite involved and warrant a post of their own!

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The Handcrafted Wardrobe: Refashion 2

First off, I know I’ve fallen behind on answering comments lately.  I’ve tired to catch up over the last couple of days, so if you are waiting for a response from me, it may be there now!  Also, if there is something I’ve missed that you need or want an answer to, just let me know.  We are back in family health crisis mode, so I am not around as much as usual, but I’m happy to answer as I can. 

Remember this ill fitting sweater with multiple holes?

I did a bit of altering and reshaping…

Oh, for goodness sakes, stand up straight woman! Honestly!

I think it actually needs to be shorter to work right over that dress above.  I considered turning it into a cropped sweater for just that sort of purpose, but never did pull the trigger on that.  It works better with other outfits, like over this sleeveless dress with a more streamlined skirt…

But that’s the only picture I have of that combo, titled “blurry ghost picture” and taken in the bathroom at the kid’s dance studio between ballet and modern, when I realized I didn’t have anything to post about on Monday.  As it turns out it didn’t matter because I didn’t have any time to post anyway.

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The Handcrafted Wardrobe: Off Track

My heart isn’t really in a true Handcrafted Wardrobe post tonight.  My mind it too full of other things, flitting about, unable to settle.  I do have some finished projects, but no pictures, getting photos of myself being rather a bother and a chore at times.  I have been pondering cold weather needs and adding to my cool weather capsule wardrobe mood board.  I’ve been comparing what I’ve made so far to what I’ve dreamed up with that board to see if I’m keeping on track, and I don’t believe I am.  I’ve been teasing out silhouettes in my mind of a Thanksgiving dress in vintage floral print on a deep wine ground.  Then I think, oh slippers for the baby!  And is there enough of that crimson wool for a bonnet as well? Is that costume plan foolhardy or does it truly stand a chance?   And when will I find the time to make it?  Is my lesson plan for the week full enough??  And off I go again…

This weekend was supposed to be devoted to sewing for children, but ended up being all about cooking instead.  We had our first little snow squall, the fire burned without end and the wind howled and howled.  Even now it continues to whip around the eaves and thrash the trees about.

Both our pork and beef arrived this week.  A whole pig and whole cow respectively, except for the bits of pork that are still being smoked.  As a former long time vegetarian, I am still not entirely comfortable with eating meat, though I make a good show of it.  This, I at least believe, is the best way of going about it.  Local, free-range, grass-fed meat from a small family farm.  The price per pound works out to be around the equivalent of inexpensive cuts of conventional meat, only we get all of the cuts down to expensive roasts and porterhouse steaks, along with the reassurance of a good, healthy life for the animal involved and nutritionally superior food for our family.  But it does require freezer space!  Which was on the tricky side and lead to a frozen harvest cook-a-thon.  I made a huge pot of beef stew with all sorts of autumnal root veggies, turned some summer squash puree into a dairy-free cheese and baked a strawberry crisp, using home-made coconut butter as the topping, as per this recipe.  We had the fresh pork chops Saturday night, cooked with onions and pineapple sage and served with orange and yellow chard.  I grew pineapple sage for the first time this year and I find the scent intoxicating.  It has somehow managed to escape harm despite all of our recent frosts and brilliant scarlet flowers are just beginning to peep out of their buds.  I have delusions of somehow finding a way to winter it over in the garden, though I know the thing is impossible.  Perhaps I’ll dig it up and see how it fares inside.

I still have some thawed chard that I think I’ll turn into creamed chard and a couple of jars of shredded zucchini that I haven’t decided what to do with. We also spent almost an entire day rendering lard, which was a first for me.  Eight whole quarts full! I’ve never even cooked with lard before. And maybe, just maybe I’ll finally sew up that skirt full of pins by my side.

Has the season scattered your focus as well?  Do you find a discrepancy between what you like and the items that you make, buy and wear?  This has always been true for me and I’ve been trying to correct it, but apparently without much success.

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The Handcrafted Wardrobe: Herringbone Lunas

Teenage photographers, in the rain, using a camera without auto focus…  It’s kind of a miracle there are pictures at all.  It really would have been too much to ask that all of the pictures actually be in focus or that I don’t have a funny look on my face, etc.

More Luna Pants.  I didn’t have a chance to talk about my last pair.  My biggest regret with them was that I didn’t have enough of the linen left for the pockets and I used muslin, thinking it wouldn’t be a big deal, but there are flashes of white from the pockets when I move and it looks funny.  I didn’t make that mistake with this pair, which are of a very thick cotton flannel shirting in a herringbone pattern.

I wanted wool trousers, but cotton was a more affordable option.  The linen ones are better for in-between seasons, but these will actually provide a decent level of warmth on chilly days.

In a nutshell: I’m still not sure how I feel about the whole jogger pant trend thing- style wise.  But I really like Rae’s patterns.  And from the perspectives of comfort and ease of sewing, it was clear these would be a good match.  And they are- both comfortable and easy to make.  The fit is good.  I love the pockets. I don’t have a lot of tops that work well with them.

What have you been working on?

 

 

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Back to (home) School Pictures and Sewing

Usually I take their back to school pictures over the course of about half an hour after lunch on our first day back.  This year it took me three solid weeks just to get everyone photographed and another two to edit the photos.

Mairi’s new dress is an Oliver and S. Playtime Dress.  The bodice is linen.  The skirt and sleeves were made from an older fabric that came from my mother-in-law, the style of which somehow reminds me of hand-me-downs from my own childhood.

Elijah as been at it again and made himself a new shirt for the new school year, complete with a double piped and hand-embroidered yoke.

See how they’ve grown….

2015

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2013

2012

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The Handcrafted Wardrobe: Sick Sewing Day

There is something soul-satisfying about matching the right outfit to the occasion, isn’t there?  A quick pic between sneezes here.  I did promise you real life with this project!  Not exactly high fashion, but probably at least a step up from answering the door in my pajamas (even if having my hands in my pockets like this makes my hips look funny).  And very, very comfortable.  Which in a day of discomfort is the highest of priorities.

Yes, there is a new pair of pants in my life.  I had a box up in the attic with some fabric in it.  Mostly little bits of some favorite fabrics that I wanted to keep for a quilt sometime in the undefined future, but also two larger lengths of fabric from my mother-in-law, that I thought might work as dresses for the girls.  I was surprised to also find a pair of regular women’s XL yoga pants that I must have gotten during one of my pregnancies and never gotten around to hemming.  These are them, reshaped.  There was also a length of black jersey and some navy stretch terry, but I haven’t yet determined if there is enough of either to be of use in the pants department.  But hey, I’ve just doubled the number of pants I own!  It’s a start anyway.

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cloaked in goldenrod

“She watched her little ones walk around their only world, the one that she was creating.  She hoped that the wars within her would not break upon their delicate shores.” ~Marie Mielke, Soul Gardening: Issue 18

I’ve always been a collector of quotes, but I find I am especially so just now.

Yes, I’m rather obsessed with the chickens.  But mostly I wanted portraits of each of them to include in my garden journal.  One of the roosters tried to crow for the first time a couple of weeks ago and let out this hilarious half-crow, half-squawk that made Elijah and I look at each other and burst out laughing.  It has improved since then….if you can consider loud, jarring noises…occurring regularly…. during the only hours I have a shot at sleeping, an improvement.  Seraphina’s crow is improving as well.  She hides her face in the hem of my skirt and, “ruh-rah-rah-rah-roo”s her heart out.  I don’t know why her face must be covered with my skirt to do this, but apparently it must. Mothers know so little really.

A single golden, glorious day, where, at least for a little while, all seven of us were together and well enough to be out and about.

Our new batch of sauerkraut includes both red and green cabbage, beets and carrots and looks like a big jar of confetti.  For a quick meal last week I seasoned ground beef, kind of as I would for tacos and served it over yams with fried onions, chopped cucumber, and veggie cheese.  That one is going on the meal plan, for ease if nothing else.  Though really it was quite delicious and hearty as well. Radishes, grated carrot, fresh herbs, avocado, all sorts of things could go on top.

Between us, we collaboratively made a new set of napkins.  There were five of us working on them in one way or another, but I think Iain ended up doing most of the sewing.  I have another set in a coordinating print all cut out and waiting for a rainy day.

Our back door has been broken for a while, but it’s now to the point where I can literally put my hand through to the outside.  I found a potentially beautiful wooden one to replace it, but it required a great deal of attention.  Every night for a week, while dinner cooked or the kids did their after-meal chores, I’d go out and work for 45 minute or so.  It’s nearly ready now.

Elijah is trying to grow a giant pumpkin.  It got a late and rough start.  While I don’t think it’s going to end up county fair worthy, it is filling out and shaping up to be the biggest pumpkin we’ve ever grown.

A new nature study necklace for my shop, which is now open, though I’m still in the process of setting it up.

I’ve made a reservation for two nights in November at a tiny lakeside cabin nearby.  It’s to be a big surprise for the children.  I don’t know when I’ve ever needed a vacation more.  I’m now eager to finish my sweater, as I picture myself wrapped in it while watching mist rise off the water, sitting on the cabin porch, steeping in the scent of pine trees, chilled damp earth, and wood smoke.  I only have one button band left to go.  And pockets.  I do believe it shall have pockets.

It’s such a hard season to keep up with posting regularly.  This happens every year around this time.  I think I usually get into a groove again in October?  Meanwhile, I find myself not getting around to it day after day and then putting out these massive monster catch-up posts every two weeks.  Such is life.

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Wrapped in Flannel: Part 2, now with words!

Iain took a stab at fixing the space bar and it now more or less works, provided you strike it just right.

And now for the items left unsaid on the last post…My second to last pair of pajama pants disintegrated just days before the big labor day fabric sales.  With the ability to purchase flannel at around $2.50 a yard, I thought it was time to treat myself to some new jammies.  But evidently my commitment was only tentative, because my shopping trip turned out much the way it usually does.  My plan was to make myself two nightgowns and three pairs of pajama pants.  Which seems reasonable enough.  But as I approached the cutting table, I started to get nervous about spending money at all and specifically on myself, so I decreased the amount of, or completely eliminated, the fabric that was slotted for projects for me, while leaving the fabric that was meant for the children.

The result being that when I got home, I discovered that this green flannel, originally intended for a nightie that I was really excited about, was the only length of fabric big enough to cut a pair of women’s pajama pants out of. So I made them, with a pang of regret for the much wanted, but less needed nightgown.  And as soon as they were off the machine, I slipped out of the tattered leggings I was wearing, depositing them directly into the trash, and slipped into these.  I would probably be wearing them still, if I hadn’t been called upon to leave the house.  And even so, I spent some time considering if they could pass for trousers.

The bottoms situation is getting a little dire.  By the end of last week I was down to this pair of leggings, the afore mentioned “last pair” of not-long-for-this-world pajama pants and this new pair of pajama pants.  Which does not quite seem to be enough.  In desperation, I did finally try to fix the waistband on the olive leggings and managed to put a few holes in them in the process.  Word to the wise: velour does not like to be unpicked. But they are more wearable than they were.

I think the problem is two-fold.  One: it’s much harder to piecemeal together pants from what one might have around and, as mentioned, I have trouble investing in fabric (or clothing) for myself.  Of all of my Handcrafted Wardrobe projects so far, I’ve purchased fabric for one of them.  And that felt like a huge, somewhat guilt inducing, treat to myself.  Everything else has been made from whatever I have around.  And two: pants are boring.  At least the pants I wear are.  And as much as I might need them, I’d rather dream up and sew a dress or a top instead.  All the same, I think it’s clear what my priority needs to be!

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