Friday, May 30, 2008

Floral Friday

I've decided I'll use Friday's to show you photos of what is currently blooming in the yard.

This is actually my neighbor's redbud tree. Isn't it pretty? It overhangs the peonies. We have a little one we planted last year. I just love them.

The columbine are blooming on the side of the garage. I can't remember what the blueish flower is behind it.

The first of the many varieties of iris I have are blooming. You'll be seeing a few other colors in the next few weeks.

I don't know what this plant is, but it's so pretty. I got it from my mother's yard. It stays short and spreads pretty easily.

Wild geranium.

Next Tuesday someone is coming over to help me come up with a landscape design for the side and back yards, to form a natural fence. It'll be a lot of work, but I'm excited to start.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Is It Over Yet?

I am so ready for school to be DONE. You can tell the end of the school year is upon us. This week we had a choir concert (Caleb) and a gymnastics banquet (Calvin). Next week we have Family Fun Night (Calvin) and an orchestra concert and potluck (Caleb). There is still soccer practice and games, Scouts, and a campout next weekend for Caleb.

I want my boys home so we can be lazy!

Monday, May 19, 2008


Another season has also started for us: Camping! We went camping this weekend in the Northern Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest.

We stayed at the same campsite that we go to in late June. I've never been there this early in the year, and the trillium and solomon's seal were blooming all over the forest floor. It was beautiful.

We enjoyed playing in the spring forest.

Calvin worked on improving his whittling skills.

We got rained on after supper on Saturday, and Connor really really wanted to go home, but we stayed and were able to roast marshmallows over the campfire. In the morning, after a good night's sleep, he was happy.

Friday, May 16, 2008

It's that time of year again -- time for gardening!
The daffodils are almost done blooming, the iris are shooting up buds, and this bleeding heart is as big as me (ok, not really, but I'm seriously going to have to divide it next year).

It's neat to see all the plants coming back after the long winter.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


I got to meet my new nephew on Monday. He's tiny (my littlest baby was almost a pound more at 7 lbs 12oz), and just gorgeous. He woke up a bit while we were visiting, and it was neat to see him looking around. The newborn phase is one of my absolute favorite baby stages; I could seriously sit there for hours just holding, watching, and smelling them. ^_^

The boys will get to meet him when we go down for Cuzzy's birthday party (2!).

Thursday, May 08, 2008

It's A Boy!

I'm an auntie again! My SIL and brother had their baby today.

Mr. Spencer Timothy
6 lbs, 15 oz
1:03 pm

They sure grow them little! Caleb was my littlest baby at 7 lbs, 12 oz. It's going to be so fun to hold a newborn again (one of my favorite ages), I just need to figure out when I can get down there, between soccer tournaments, scout camping, and gymnastics!

10 Questions and Answers

My friend Rowena posted this on her blog yesterday, and I really like it, so here are my 10 questions and answers:

1. What are your 3 favorite fabrics?

- 100% silk, with duppioni being my absolute favorite. I love the sheen, the feel, the vibrant colors, and the smell.

- 100% cotton. Cotton comes in so many varieties, from the lightest voile to heavy canvas. You can get fantastic prints and beautiful weaves, and it's easy to sew. The only cotton fabric I don't care for is knit.

- this is a toss up between linen and rayon. I like both, though linen is pretty similar to cotton, so maybe I should go with rayon on this one. ^_^ I love the drape and weight of rayon, I adore rayon batiks, and my favorite knits are rayon ones.

2. What are your 3 least favorite fabrics?

- like Rowena, I loathe anything with glued on sequins. Stitched on isn't so bad, but glued ones are awful.

- Neoprene. I can never get a machine to stitch that stuff without cursing and whatever I've done with it has taken 39 times longer than necessary.

- Fake fur. It sheds and gets in my nose.

3. What is the most unusual fabric you have ever sewn?

- I have to really think on this one. I sewed a costume once with a gorgeous embroidered duppioni. The embroidery wasn't done with thread, it was done with metal.

4. What is the most unusual thing you have made out of normal fabric?

- Gee, I dunno. A bra? Not unusual, but not normally made at home.

5. If you could sew with just one fabric for the rest of your life, what would it be?

- I'd probably pick 100% cotton, though I'd have to think really hard about the silk too.

6. What is the most special piece of fabric you've bought AND used?

- I don't get too attached to fabrics, I get attached to the end result. I suppose it would be the Coca-Cola bottle cap print I bought in 1990 or so. It was horridly expensive (almost $50/yard), supposedly a Perry Ellis overrun, and I made a shirt for my dad with it. He loved that shirt, and I kept it when he died and I went through his things. The fabric quality was great, and it still looks as good as the day I made it.

7. Where do you get most of your fabrics?

- I try my best to buy locally, and I'd guess 95% of my fabric is bought here in Milwaukee. We have JoAnns, a Hancocks, and Wal-Mart. We also have a few pretty good quilting shops, and I get a lot of my quilt fabrics at Bigsby's (they have some garment stuff too, like this linen). Mostly, though, I buy my garment fabric at Canvasbacks, which is a local manufacturer that sells off their fabrics 3x/year. I tend to go to only one of the sales a year. This, this, this, and this were all made from Canvasbacks fabrics.

8. What are the last 3 fabrics you used?

- 'quilting' cotton (Amy Butler prints), 48 bean bags for my Student Interest Day sessions.
- some sort of satin, for the jester costumes last week, along with a really neat sari fabric.
- duppioni and canvas, for the jester hats, along with the satin and some poly crepe looking stuff.

9. If you could buy any fabric you wish, what would you buy and what would you do with it?

- I really don't know! I've been obsessed with finding a fabric that duplicates chain mail. I've seen it online in movie photos (Monty Python's Holy Grail) and in some of the Shakespeare plays I've seen. It's probably knit, and I'm not sure it's available in yardage. IF I could find it, I'd get a bunch and make cowls and hauberks for the whole family.

10. What advice do you have to seamstresses about buying fabric?

- Touch everything. Go to every store you can and learn about the fabrics. Learn about fibers, weaves, dyeing (not that you have to do any of it, just know about it). Get samples, buy 1/4 or 1/2 yards of stuff and play with it. Make samples. Don't buy something unless it speaks to you, and don't be afraid to use it.

Lastly, don't be afraid of anything. Don't be afraid to try welt pockets or a lined jacket, or underwear. Don't be afraid to cut into that fabric you love, just do a muslin (or two or five) first. It's really not that hard. Really. Enjoy the process. DON'T BE SO HARD ON YOURSELF! I see and read people picking apart their work, and yet, if the same thing was on a rack at the store, you wouldn't be complaining, or not nearly as much.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Sharing My Passion

Tomorrow is Student Interest Day at Calvin's school. A while back, they sent home flyers, asking if parents had a hobby or job they'd like to share about, and I volunteered to talk about sewing. I've been trying to think of what I'm going to do. Turns out I will have 2 sessions, about 45-50 minutes each, with a mix of first through fifth graders in each session. The sessions were pretty popular, and are full with 20 kids in each one!

So far, I'm planning to bring some clothes, some costumes, and some quilts for the kids to see and touch. I'm also thinking I'll set up a sewing machine that the kids can try out (no fabric or thread, just run paper through it so they get a feel for it). I'll talk about how I like solving puzzles and creating things, and sewing is both for me. My friend Rowena said that she did something similar at her daughter's school, and she showed the children what patterns look like, and put together a doll shirt so the kids could see flat pieces turn into clothes.

It was suggested that I try and have something that the kids could do hands-on and bring home, so I'm thinking to have small bean bags sewn up, and I'll show the kids how to close them using a mattress stitch (I'll have a few helpers).

Am I missing anything? Trying too much? Any other ideas?

Friday, May 02, 2008


Here are the jester costumes in all their glory. Turns out that Caleb's friend had 2 pairs of gold shoes, so they wore those, along with either green tights or green soccer socks. I'll try and get a picture of the two of them together this weekend. The feast was a lot of fun, with kings, queens, serfs, bishops, monks, wizards, jesters, cooks, archers, knights, and plague victims.

(the bells fell off. I'm sure the metal cut through the thread. any ideas on how to get them sewn on and stay on?)

Court Jester: The Hat

The pièce de résistance! (maybe not, the pants ARE really cool, but this really makes it say 'jester'). I used Butterick 4313 for the jester hats. This pattern went together really nicely, and was quicker than I thought it would be. I think the pattern runs a bit small, however, so if you make it, check the fit right after you sew the main pieces together.

Looks cool, no? I underlined the pieces with canvas instead of using the fusible interfacing called for. The horns are stuffed with fiberfill. If I hadn't been on such a time constraint, I would've spent more time making sure I didn't have any of the same colors next to each other.

I lined both hats in blue, since I had a good amount of it leftover. To make this hat, you sew the main horn pieces together, then stuff the horn. Next you are to put in the lining, but I did that last.

You then make the two little horns separately, stuff them, and hand sew them to the hat. That was hard, and I can't imagine doing it with the lining in already. Next time I would hand sew the little horns on before stuffing the big horn. The horns were also hard to turn right side out, and I rounded the corners.

I finished the bottom with a french binding (like a quilt). The binding was sewn onto the inside of the hat, and flipped to the outside and edgestitched down. Quick, easy, and looks pretty good.

Each horn got 3 bells each, and it does fit nicely. For as big as the hat is, it really stays nice and secure on the head. I hope to get some good pictures at the feast this afternoon (my batteries died during our photo shoot this morning. o_O ).

Court Jester: Tunics

Yesterday was a costume production day, and I finished the tunics and hats. Originally, I had hoped to make each tunics different. However, I ran out of gold, plus was on a time constraint, so the tunics are the same, just reversed in colors. I tried to get more gold fabric, but couldn't find it again. This gold duppioni was the closest I could find.

The tunics are basically rectangles. I cut two fronts/backs out of both red and green, about 14x29. I then used the pattern I made for the pharaoh costume and cut the shoulder slope and neckline.

To finish off the neckline, I made a facing pattern, cut it out of the duppioni, and fused it with knit interfacing. I stitched the tunic RST at the shoulders and CF/CB. I then attached the right side of the facing to the wrong side of the tunic, stitched, trimmed, and clipping it, and flipped it right side out.

After pressing the neckline, I edgestitched the facing down. An easy way to finish off the neckline and make it look like a collar at the same time.

The sleeves are rectangles also (13x15), and I dagged the hems. I put a 3" bias gusset in the underarm. Hemmed the bottom and side slits and they are finito!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

The Boy Is 12

Dudes, my firstborn is twelve. Twelve!
I remember nursing him, his head in the crook of my elbow, my hand holding onto his thigh, amazed that this little boy was mine. Now he's almost as tall as me, has bigger feet, and seriously needs a haircut. ^_^

(the Mexico soccer jersey was his birthday pressie. Didn't get to pie him today, but I'll get him tomorrow. Bwah ha ha ha!)

(oh, and the jester costumes are done. they rock. pictures tomorrow.)