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Thursday, August 30, 2012

11 Months & A Sewing Challenge

Mmmm...Sidewalks chalk.

Miles turned 11 months old this week.  I can't hardly believe that he'll be a year old next month. This month has been an eventful one for this little guy. He grew three new teeth, he's added a couple of new words to his vocabulary, dog and clark, although we don't hear dog very often, and Clark is more of a dra sound. He figured out how to take off his diaper, and stand up in the shopping cart. He even started walking this month...tear.  He's up to a total step count of about 7 or 8.  

He's a happy little guy with a short temper. He cries, but rarely when he's hurt.  

He's busy, busy, busy. I'm constantly having to clean up the mixing bowls, and tuna fish cans that he pulls from the kitchen cupboards.  He thinks that everything is a stool, and is quite the climber already.

 He has some serious curls on the back of his head, and I plan on keeping them for a while.  A kind gentleman at the store last week told me it was time to cut his hair.  "There will be plenty of time for long hair and earrings down the road", he told me.  I plan on keeping the curls as long as I can.

This boy loves being outside.  It makes him so happy to play in the grass, and so upset when it's time to go inside. I used to take Clark for walks in the stroller to fall asleep, but Miles hasn't fallen asleep in the stroller yet, he's too fascinated with his surroundings.

Now it's time to start planning a birthday party.  With my boys' birthdays a week and half apart, I'm still trying to decide whether we'll do a joint party or not.  Clark thinks that Miles wants a submarine party, and Clark is dead set on having a "big and mighty machine party".

About the challenge...I was trying to find something in the top drawer of my craft dresser yesterday.  It was filled to capacity.  The top drawer is typically filled with half finished projects.  Yep, I have that many half finished projects.  So, in an effort to clean up my work space, and get something accomplished before it's time for halloween and holiday sewing, I'm going to challenge myself to complete as many of my existing projects as I can.  I've got a lot of projects on the list, and I'm sure I won't finish all of them, but it will be good to make progress.  Anyone want to join me?  I'm starting today, and next Friday I'll try to recap everything that I've finished.

Also, don't forget to visit P&G's eStore for a 10% discount on your purchase, and free shipping on orders $25 and more.  Today's the last day for the discount, so hop on over.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Technique Tuesday: Basic Three-Thread Flatlock Stitching

Flatlock stitching is a technique that I've wanted to figure out on my serger for awhile now.  A flatlock seam can be decorative when serged on the fold of a fabric, or used to join two fabrics together, while creating a finished flat seam.  

The set up of the machine is pretty simple.  It is a three thread stitch, with the needle in either the left or right position. The multi-purpose guide foot is used, and can be extremely helpful when stitching along a folded fabric.  

Tension Settings: (Brother 1034 D)
Left Needle: 1.0 (wide stitch)
Right Needle: 1.0 (narrow stitch)
Upper Looper: 4.5
Lower Looper: 7.0-8.0 

 See your serger handbook for settings for other makes and models.

Differential: 0 (far left)
Stitch Length: 3.0-4.0

 Knife: 3.0-4.0

 Multi-purpose guide foot attached.  The white plastic piece on the right of the foot is the guide.  The metal wheel on the left adjusts the position of the guide.

If you are flatlock stitching on the fold of a garment, you will press the fold.  Then align the fold of the fabric with the guide foot.

  I found that my stitches were the best if the guide sat in the middle of the stitching. 

Because the stitching is unbalanced, when the fabric is pulled open, the stitching pulls flat on the surface of the fabric.  

Bunchy fabric.

Initially, I had my guide foot wider, and my fabric always bunched up between the stitching when pulled open, when I moved the guide closer to the left needle, the fabric laid nicer.

The wrong side of the flatlock stitch is decorative in and of itself.  It creates ladder pattern, very similar to the blind hem stitch. Either side of the stitching can be shown on the garment.

Flatlock stitching can be done to join two pieces of fabric.

 When flatlocking two pieces together, the wrong sides of the material should be facing each other.  The right sides should face outward (unless you want the ladder stitching to be on the right side of the fabric). When joining two pieces together with a flatlock stitch, it is not necessary to use the guide.  Trimming the material with the knife will ensure an even and clean edge.

 Serge just as you would if the material were on the fold.  When the seam is pulled open, the top piece of material will fold over toward the edge of the flatlocked stitch.

I've yet to try the technique out on an actual project, but can't wait to do so.

 Have you used this technique on any projects?  If so, what were they?  

I've seen the stitching on swimsuits, raglan t-shirts, and kids clothing.  I love the look of it.

 Just a little reminder that you can receive 10% off your orders from the P&G eStore this month, with free shipping on orders over $25.  There are several olympic deals going on still, so be sure to stop by and snatch your favorite products from the comfort of your home office. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

On My Mind: Shooting for the stars: School and Nature Kids

We've entered into a new stage of our little family's development.  My husband started school today.  He has a bachelor's degree already, but we felt that it was time for him to get to work on his graduate studies.  Grad school has been a part of our plan since we were married, but babies, and uncertainty on career direction, has delayed the process a bit.  It's nice to finally get started on our little journey.  I'm so proud of my husband for deciding what it is he'd like to study.

The path we've taken to get here hasn't been easy.  It's been full of unrewarding jobs, pay far below what he deserves, self doubt, and uncertainty.  I think that we've both grown quite a bit as we've struggled over the past four years since graduation.  Our struggles have ultimately led us to where we are.  Where we are, is a place that we both feel really good about. Unfortunately, the journey that we are starting on will not be an easy one.  He's going to do three straight semesters of intense undergraduate work to prepare himself for the graduate program.  He'll also be working 30+ hours a week, at least that is the plan.  I was awake most of last night wondering how in the world he'll be able to work that much, and find time for all of his 400 level classes.  The time that I didn't spend worrying about his ability to work and do homework, I spent worrying about how we'll be able to support our family if he can't work that much.  I have confidence that we'll be watched after, and that things will work out.  I  really feel that we've been guided to be where we are, and if it is something that is supposed to happen, I trust that there is a way prepared for us to make it through.

Have fun at school Dad, Love Clark
Clark is a bit less enthused with the idea of his dad going back to school.  It is going to mean much less time with his dear old dad.  I am excited that Clark is old enough to witness the time and energy that his dad is putting into going back to school.  I want Clark (and Miles) to learn the importance and value of education and hard work.  I'm so pleased that he has a dad that is willing to provide him with that example.

Clark wants to be an astronaut, and a paleontologist.  I love that when you are a child, you can dream big.  One of my biggest fears, is that somewhere along the way, my realist views, will discourage him from doing what he really wants to do.  Clark is smart, he could be a astro-paleontologist if he wanted, I know he could.  But what do I do to encourage that?

Side Note: I love the way Clark interacts with new kids.  He always introduces himself, and then offers one fact about himself, or immediately asks them a question.  Some of his recent introductions have been:

"Hi, I'm Clark, I'm a shark".
"Hi, I'm Clark, I have a pet fish".
or  my favorite...
"Hi, I'm Clark, did you see the Mars Rover land"?...probably not something that most 3.5 year olds witnessed, but he loved it.

His dad was showing him some footage from headquarters.  He was watching the engineers/astronauts celebrate at it's landing, and he told me...."They can't wait until I'm an astronaut". I can't wait until he's an astronaut, though I'd prefer that he never really went into space, I'm a bit of a worrier that way. Isn't it possible to shoot for the stars without actually visiting them?
Speaking of shooting for the stars...I have a couple of cousins that I really look up to.  They are brothers, and have always had a pretty clear vision of what they want to do with their lives.  They've worked really hard to develop their skills, and talents.  The oldest of the brothers, Kenny, is a documentary film maker, and has just finished filming a documentary "Nature Kids".  The documentary is all about the importance of kids interacting and exploring nature, rather than being plugged in, and baby sat by the television. It's a documentary that he's devoted 2 years making, and has created using his own funds, and contributions from family members.

The topic of the film is one that I think is so important to parents and children.  How much time do your kids spend watching television, playing video or computer games?  I know that Clark spends more time than I'd like to admit.  Sometimes I have a hard time getting him to go outside and play.

When I think of childhood, I do remember Saturday morning cartoons, but not everyday cartoons.  I remember swimming in the ditch with my brothers, catching caterpillars, jumping on the trampoline, family backpacking trips, canoeing on mountain lakes, and climbing trees.  I was very fortunate to have parents that made an effort to get us outside.  I grew up just off the river, with a large backyard.  While not everyone can live where I lived, there is certainly more that we can do to get our kids outside, exploring their environment.

I encourage you to take the time to watch this short compilation of his documentary.  He's currently trying to finish up post production work on the film, and work on marketing.  He's using Indiegogo, as a way to help with the cost of the post production work.  If getting kids outside, is something that's important to you, take the time to donate a dollar or more to the cause.  What do you pay for netflix or redbox a month, I encourage you to donate your monthly fees to producing this special film. (Tell him Tricia sent you).

You can find his Nature Kids facebook page here, along with several clips from the documentary.
Can't donate? If this is a topic that you feel passionate about, take the time to share this video with your friends and family on facebook!

I really respect my cousins for their ability to work hard, and set their sites high.  Fear of failure has always been my biggest stumbling block.  So often I fear that if I do something, that seems to hard, that I'll fail.  Often I never make the attempt, simply out of fear of failure.  Help this talented filmmaker see the success that he deserves.

Question:  What do you like to do with your kids outside?  What are your favorite outdoor childhood memories?  What do you do to get your kids outside?  How much television do you allow your kids to watch? 

What did you want to be when you were little?  Did you become what you wanted to be as a child?  What do you think that we can do to encourage our children to fulfill their dreams?

I'd love to hear from you?

Friday, August 24, 2012

Zucchini....Tis The Season

You don't have to have you're own garden, this time of year, to be bombarded with zucchini.  Our dear sweet neighbors, that we have had limited interaction with, kindly knocked on our door, to deliver several zucchini.  This, on the same day that I'd decided to dehydrate some of the zucchini that we picked from my parents garden.  I'm not complaining though, I love zucchini, and it can be turned into a number of delicious treats. 

First up: Zucchini bread.  I used Betty Crocker's recipe, and make a couple of loaves for the gluten eating men in my life.

I was in a chocolate cake kind of mood, so rather than make it from scratch, I found a box of gf chocolate cake mix, and added a cup of shredded zucchini to the batter.  I omitted 1/2 cup of liquid from the recipe, and the cake come out nice and moist.  Bonus, I ate my vegetables (and a full cake).

 We also dehydrated some zucchini.  I had a really large zucchini that we cut into 1/4" slices, and then in halves.  These will be great in the winter to throw in a pot of soup.

We threw some shredded zucchini on the top tray.  We'll use this in spaghetti sauce.

It feels great to put the zucchini to good use.  I like it when I don't have to throw food out. 

Zucchini Brownies

Mexican Zucchini Soup

Source: via Tricia on Pinterest

Dehydrating Sliced and Shredded Zucchini

Thursday, August 23, 2012

You've Gotta Have Faith-Skirt

The last skirt I'm going to show you this week, is for the oldest of the three sisters.  

Clark was really concerned about this skirt, and the fact that it is green and blue.  EVERY time he saw me working on it he'd express his concern that she would not like it. "I think it looks a little bit boyish", he'd say.  I happen to love the scale of this print, and the colors.  I'm hoping that this little eight year old can get past the fact that it's mint green, aqua, and cornflower blue (the girliest greens and blues you can have). 

I added a small mint crochet trim between the print, and the solid white band.  There are four pleats on the front of the skirt, and the back features an elastic casing.  It was fun to work with the print of the fabric when determining pleat placement.  

We added pockets, and an aqua blue ribbon sash. Three different skirts, for three different sisters.  Hopefully they like them, and put them to good use.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Apple of My Eye Skirt

Day 2 of 3 on paternal cousins skirt week. (Can you call them paternal cousins?). The youngest of the three sisters is starting pre-school this year.  She's an absolute doll, and needed a new skirt all her own.  I've had this apple print corduroy scrap, sitting in my  drawer, just waiting to be used.  I thought this was a fitting print for back-to-school, and the corduroy adds a bit more warmth than a cotton.

I'd intended on having about 2.5 inches more on the length of the skirt, but as I serged my last seam, I somehow managed to catch the under layer in the knife and make a nice ugly hole in the skirt.  I think that the skirt will still work, but it made the proportion of the pockets a bit odd. I tried the skirt on Clark (my husband hates that), and the skirt should still be about knee length, perfect with a pair of leggings.

The skirt features two box pleats, a contrast waistband, and some piped side pockets.  In an effort to save every bit of length I could, I trimmed the hem with bias tape.

Much like the June Bug Skirt, I sewed three bands of elastic onto the back of the waistband, leaving the front flat, and eliminating any need to run to the store for supplies.

I thought that the skirt turned out pretty cute, not perfect, but wearable.  Luckily, my niece could wear a paper bag and make it work.

It's a bit of a hybrid of the piped pocket infant skirt, and the boxed pleat baby skirt.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The June Bug Skirt

 After making the Kissing Cousins skirt for my nieces on my side of the family, Clark and I thought that it was only right to make a few skirts for his cousins on my husband's side.

Unfortunately, these are not accompanied with tutorials.  The first skirt that we made was the June Bug Skirt, named after a certain little miss by the same name (not given, and minus the skirt).

You'll recognize the fabric, as being the same as one of the Kissing Cousins skirts.  Clark loved it so much, and I did too, that we thought we ought to make another skirt out of it.  A big old bonus is that all of the material for this skirt came from Miss June Bug's great grandmother.

The skirt is a basic A-line, with a ruffled side box pleat.  I've been wanting to do a gathered box pleat for quite some time, and hadn't quite found the right application.  I love the idea, but think that I ought to have added even more extra material for the gather.  I ended up pressing the fabric to create a bit of a crushed gather.  Jury's still out if I like it pressed. Perhaps I'll do a tutorial on this technique, any takers?

The box pleat was topped off with a grosgrain ribbon bow.

The waistband is flat in the front, and gathered with elastic in the back. For the front, I added a bit of eyelet lace trim.  I love this material, and it seemed like an appropriate garment for it. To attach the lace to the waistband, I added a bit of hem tape to the back, ironed it in place, and then stitched along the scalloped edge of the lace.

  I didn't have thick enough elastic for the waistband, so I ended up using three separate pieces of elastic, and creating a divided casing.  I actually really like the effect.

The skirt has two large pockets sewn into the side seams, I probably won't make a girls skirt again without pockets.

The hem of the skirt was finished with a scalloped stitch.  I finally found a project for that technique as well.  I am kind of in love with this skirt, and may have to make one in my size!

Side Note: I am 95% sure that Clark married one of his cousins last weekend.  We saw them standing together in front of the wedding reception backdrop, with an eight year old officiator between them.  

Monday, August 20, 2012

Wedding: A Little Bit Personal

I wanted to do something nice for my brother for his wedding.  I really like it when the wedding is personal, and says something about who the bride and groom are.  I love my little brother, he is kind, thoughtful, sweet, and very much an individual.  He has quirky interests that make him unique, and I love him for that.

About a year ago he decided that he wanted to keep bees.  He purchased all of the necessary equipment, and set up a hive in my parents apple orchard.  The bees did quite well, and produced delicious amber honey.

When thinking of what we could do to make the wedding day and reception a bit more personal, we thought it would be fun to tie bees into the theme.  Now, the bride was not crazy about having yellow and black bumble bees all around the wedding site, and I wouldn't have been either, so we found a couple of small things.

First, I found some honey bee charms on etsy, and created some tie tacks for my brother, and some of the other men in the family.  I asked for his input, and I was surprised at how particular he was about the type of bees that he wanted.  He DID NOT want the bees to look like bumble bees, they needed to be honey bees.

Some tie tack blanks, some E-6000, and the charms made these little tie tacks.  I quite like them.

We also found some colored honey straws, and created some simple tags as a small wedding favor.

Nothing too over the top, just a small little something to reference my brother and his interests.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Wedding Wear: Bow Tie and Vest Onesie

For my brother's wedding we kept Miles' outfit pretty simple. A bow tie and vest bodysuit with matching shorts. The material from the vest and shorts came from a pair of my dad's old dress pants. I love repurposing existing garments, especially when they come from, and go to, people that you love.

I added a matching pocket square to the vest, and thought he looked rather handsome.

He thought so too.  I love this age, he instantly smiles when he sees the camera.

I failed to get any great shots of the shorts, but they turned out pretty cute.  I added some faux welt pockets to the back (a first for me). Though I don't have a photo of the front, I used the original tab from the dress pants.

My dress came from eShakti.  I was really pleased with my dress, my only complaint was the difficulty in ironing out all of the wrinkles from the pleated surplice neckline.

My newest niece, ended up wearing the lace appliqued onesie, with bustled buttercup skirt.  She is such a sweet little baby.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Wedding: Thumb Print Tree

As I mentioned recently, my baby brother got married last weekend.  I can't believe we're all married off. Fortunately the five of us didn't get married off the same day. Sidenote: My husband helped get one of the grooms in the Arizona Weddings with his suit.

You may have seen the thumbprint trees around on pinterest or etsy, I love them.  They're a great way to record those in attendance.  It's also something you can hang on a wall, rather than stash away in a wedding box.

The tree is inspired by our neighbor's tree, that fills our front yard with leafs every fall. The image is  prismacolor pencil on illustration board.  I made the image 11x14, but 16x20 would have been even better. The ink pads we used were leaf shaped, and turned out to be perfect for those that didn't want to leave their fingerprint.

The bride and groom loved it.  I added a few personal touches, like the carved initials, and the honey5 bees in the grass (my brother keeps bees).

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