Ah Mom! Do we have to go back to school again?

Yes folks it is that time of year again.

Back to school time.

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Wow! It is hard to believe that we actually wore some of the things we did in public, let alone to go back to school in isn’t it?

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Ow! My EYES! It BURNS! It BURNS!

Isn’t it funny the clothing styles that you thought were so cool as a kid of a certain age. And how as your tastes became more refined and changed as you got older,  you can’t believe the things you wore when you were younger.

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It went something like this:

6-9 years old: Wow mom that looks really cool! Thanks for getting it for me! I am going to wear it every day until it has some many holes in it and smells so bad it disintegrates off of my body! No really Mom, I mean it! I really am!

10-13: It’s ok mom, I will probably wear it next week after I have seen some of the dorky things that other kids are wearing that look just like it. I don’t have to be the coolest kid in school yet, but I don’t want to be un-cool either. You know, just in case. Pinky swear!

14-18: Are you kidding me mom? I would never be caught DEAD in that. That is SO LAME! I can’t believe you thought I would like that. You just don’t know anything about me anymore.

ARRRRGGGHHH! Rebelling teens and tweens. It’s a pain, but it’s a part of growing up and it is part of the great adversity of being a parent too.

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Most parents today look at what their 12+ year old is wearing and just shakes their head in disbelief as their children head off to school in who knows what and even if you try to stop them from wearing it, they will just pack it in their backpack and change into it once they get to school without your permission.

The bands names change but the song always stays the same.

Sew forth and study on!

Now where did I put that Trapper Keeper anyway?

The precious, the precious…

Do any of you remember any of your first day of a new school year?

It was all so exciting and scary at the same time!SchoolSupplies1

 

New clothes and shoes of course, but more important to me were the new school supplies! Sorry I must admit here that I am a HUGE fan of office supplies and I always love to see what cool new things they have invented for kids to go back to school with for every new school year. Since I used to roam with the dinosaurs, I am always amazed at all of the cool high tech things kids get to go to school with in these days of future past. For us oldsters it was usually something along the lines of Pencil’s and Paper. Erasers, yes lots of those since we were pretty sure the mistakes we were going to make that year would be of EPIC proportions so we had to have some way to ERASE the evidence.

Glue1Some sort of glue or paste, depending of course which one would make a bigger mess stuck in our hair and on everything else and which tasted better. Why yes I did purchase the new mint flavored Elmer’s Glue, didn’t you? Only the finest ground up horse hooves would do for us kids back in the day.

Then of course I remember the year that Mead brought out the very first version of the Trapper Keeper. Man were those things cool! See! I told you I was OLD! Roamed with the dinosaurs people, roamed with the dinosaurs I tell ya!

Trapper1Oh man! I just had to have one! In pink! Oh yeah! And you should probably go ahead and throw on a Unicorn or two, and maybe a rainbow just to be on the safe side of course. I didn’t want to be seen in public without being in the haute of fashion!1963-jetsons-school

But today kids go to school with all kinds of crazy things. Smartphones, Tablet computers, Laptops, Graphing Calculators, Fitbits, Nike+’s, and a whole host of other crazy things to keep them distracted just long enough that they don’t have much time left over to learn much of anything.

It is fun to reminisce about the past, and a little nostalgia every once in awhile is okay, but it’s not healthy to romanticize the past too much.

At the end of the day, today’s kids aren’t all that much different from when you and I were kids, and most of the school supplies are still the same too. The things they teach kids have changed over the years of course. The humanities don’t seem to be taught as often and with as much fervor as they were when I was a child. But I think that the basic Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic are still there. I don’t believe that things like history and literature are pushed very much anymore. It’s too bad, those were my favorite classes when I was in school.

And while I still don’t have everything in my life figured out, I can take comfort in another kind of nostalgia, reminiscing about how much I’ve learned over the years. I can only hope that when I look back on my life, I’ll regard this version of myself as equally clueless. Only then will I know how far I’ve come.

Until next time, Sew Forth and Trapper Keeper on!

Take Off That Hat And Scarf! It’s Still Summertime out there!

DSCN0243I must have been trying to think of cool thoughts while enduring the heat of the summer when I decided that my next amigurumi project would be a penguin.

Actually, a more accurate reason for choosing it was the purchase of a particular color of variegated yarn. I love the extremes of it. First a bright neon color then the complete opposite, black, then the bright neon color again. What would show off the burst of colors in this P1040325yarn? Of course, an animal with the same contrast, a black and white penguin.

I found the cutest penguin pattern and it included instructions to make a hat and scarf too. The crocheting of the pieces went smoothly, and the pattern was very well written with lots of detailed pictures. The only change that I made to the pattern was the penguin’s white belly spot. The pattern called for just a round white circle for the belly spot, but that looked odd to me. So, I undid the last round and added some double crochets to what would be the top of the spot, making it an oval at the top and round at the bottom. This looked better to me than just the round circle did. The oval top seemed to fill the belly area of the body better.

P1040335Stuffing and stitching the pieces together went smoothly as well. Soon enough, I had an adorable penguin all crocheted up! I actually thought about stopping there, but the whole reason for making this amigurumi was to use the new variegated yarn, so I started crocheting again to make the scarf and hat.

The scarf was no problem to crochet and it was a good length after being tied around the penguin’s neck. The hat was also a simple crochet to make. There is one thing I thought about changing on the hat and that was the color of the last round of the cap. The last round is crocheted in double crochet versus the single crochets of the rest of the cap, to give the cap a finished edge. This edge is lost when made in the variegated yarn. I thought about undoing the double crochet round and chaining the color to black. But I figured that would that just make the double crochets blend with the penguin’s black head and I would lose the edge anyway. In the end, I decided to leave the double crochet round in the variegated yarn, mostly because I love this variegated yarn on the black and white penguin.

DSCN0241The challenge for this amigurumi came with the pompom on the hat. I know how to make a pompom, but I have never had any luck making a successful one. They always fall apart on me. I thought about leaving the pompom off the hat but I really wanted one so I got started on it. After trying a couple of times to make the pompom and having it fall apart on me, I was ready to quit. So after filling the bottom of the garbage can with failed pompoms, I decided that the hat did not need a pompom after all. I showed the husband the completed penguin with the pompomless hat and scarf and his first comment was “Where’s the pompom?” Flustered I showed him the garbage can and explained to him how I had been trying to make the pompoms with no success. He said to let him try. I watched closely as he did the exact same thing that I had done to make a pompom, DSCN0247but when he pulled the yarn to tie the knot, he pulled it so much tighter than I could have had pulled it, I found my problem. The husband’s pompom was a success and I promptly stitched it to the top of the hat for the penguin. It looks great and best of all it did not fall apart. Unfortunately for the husband, he is now the official pompom maker.

This penguin was quickly named Paulie, not a very original name, but a good name. I think Paulie is very cute and was fun to make and I love his hat and scarf from the variegated yarn the most.

Until next time, crochet forth and crochet on.

Simplicity 5540 -The Tomboy Dress

IMG_0024This dress is just too cute with the two matching fabrics, the buttons down the front, the gathered pockets and the little shorts. This little dress is a great design. A little girl can look so cute and proper for school with the buttons all buttoned up and then she can unbutton those buttons to reveal the little shorts to then ride her bike or run around the playground. It is the perfect tom boy dress in my opinion, and I could not wait to make it. The pattern front said that it was easy to sew, further encouraging me to get started right away. But, the pattern description was a little white lie. I quickly learned that for me this little dress was going to be a long and involved sewing project.

Picking the main fabric with the pink and white check pattern was easy. This fabric was purchased with the fabric I used to make the bubble top of my last post so many years ago, but this piece was actual yardage and not just large scrap pieces. One nice thing about this fabric was that it came out of the washer and dryer without too many wrinkles. I did have to make a trip to Joann’s to get the accent pink for the trim as I did not have that on hand.

P1040470P1040468I traced the size 6 from the pattern and after tracing the bodice and skirt, I noticed there were still many more pieces left to trace due to all the trim and tie pieces. This was not a problem, but it took extra time to trace and cut out of the pattern pieces, and then to cut out the dress from the fabric. Once I had done this my excitement to make this dress had not waned, so I was willing to put the extra time. Since there was not a direction to the design of this fabric, I put a little piece of tape at the bottom of the skirt pieces as I cut them so I could later identify the top from bottom on them.

The next thing I did was read the pattern guide twice before taking my first stitch. After seeing the number of pattern pieces for this dress and reading the pattern guide, I knew this was not going to be the easy or quick sew like the pattern cover had claimed it was going to be, but I decided there was a lot to learn from making this dress and it would still be fun to make. I followed the pattern guide closely as I stitched the trim and ties to the bodice pieces and then stitched the bodice pieces together. The upside down “L” trim pieces on the front of the bodice were tricky to stitch. I did an ok job on them, but I learned a lot and would probably do a better job next time.

P1040378Next up were the pockets. I will be the first to admit that I need more practice when making pockets, the shaping and styling of pockets as well as just making different types of pockets. I knew this fact as I started these pockets, but I was still willing to give it my best. If the pockets did not work out, I could just leave them off so there wasn’t any fear of messing them up. Still following the pattern guide, I made the casing for the elastic at the top of the pockets and inserted it. Still no problems had arisen so I continued on. Next came ironing the edges so that the pockets could be top stitched on. This was not working well at all. As I stopped to think about it, I decided I needed to gather the pockets to help get the round shape I wanted from them, much like you gather a sleeve cap when inserting a fitted sleeve. The gathers would not show on top of the pocket but it would be in the seam to help ease the curve.

P1040403Because I only needed a small amount of gathers to round the pockets, I decided to use the serger method of gathering that I had read about recently. Using this method would take care of two steps. If I serged around the pockets, not only could I use the serger to make the needed gathers, it would also finish off the edges of the elastic at the top of the pockets. After serging the edges of the pockets, I found the needle threads of the serging at the curves and pulled them. This gathered the fabric together. I was then able to iron the curved edges so I could top stitch the pockets on. This left the serging messy with loops but I just tucked the loops into the seam as I stitched the pocket on. The serged gathers worked nicely for rounding the pockets and I think the pockets look pretty good. I still need more practice, of course but these pockets turned out well enough to leave them on the dress.

P1040400The next step I did of sewing the skirt and trim went smoothly. I used the floss method for gathering the skirt, then sewed it to the bodice, and then added the lining. The step after that is where I varied from the pattern guide. Before finishing the lining, the guide called for a fitting of the dress and adjusting the straps to the needed length, then stitching the straps in place and finishing the lining. Since I had no idea of what length the straps needed to be, I decided not to stitch the straps in at this time. I would instead attach the straps in the next step P1040475with the top stitching of the trim. This way, if the straps needed to be adjusted once it was tried on, only the top stitching has to be undone and not the lining finish and the seams inside where the straps are attached. I finished the lining’s stitch in the ditch seam with a little help from some seam to seam adhesive. Because the lining of the skirt was made from the main fabric and not a slippery lining fabric, the stitch in the ditch seam sewed rather smoothly and nicely. Unlike the last skirt I made, I did not have to go back and restitch any places this time. The final steps to complete this dress were the top stitching of the trim where I stitched the straps into place and then the hem and the dress was done.

DSCN0192The shorts were next in line to stitch. The shorts pattern was very basic, just 4 pieces in total with two front pieces, two back pieces and an elastic waist with no pockets. I believe that all kids clothes need pockets, so I debated if I wanted to add patch pockets or side seams pockets to these shorts. I finally decided on no pockets. These shorts would be better if they were straight and flat without the added bulk of pockets. This way they would be less obvious under the dress when it was being worn buttoned up fully. Yet I still wanted to add something to the shorts to give them a little flair, so I decided to add a little slit at the side seams. I finished the side seams flat before sewing the seam together. I then sewed the side seams stoping two inches before the bottom of the shorts. Next, I hemmed the shorts. This formed the slits on the side. I then stitched around DSCN0195the slits to finish up this added detail. The slits were easy to make and added a nice touch to the simple shorts. I made the shorts in white even though that is not a great color for a little girl to play in but the denim fabric I used is very durable and washes well. I am also hoping that the shorts can be universally worn, either with this dress or with the bubble top I previously made or anything else as well.

I feel that this completed dress and shorts set turned out great! I think it is a very cute outfit and will be fun for a little girl to wear. I learned a lot on the construction of this dress and I had a chance to practice pockets, top stitching and stitching in the ditch. I am happy that I stuck with it and endured to the end with this project. It might not have been an easy project like the pattern stated but it was worth the work in the end.

I Need To Hide This Pattern

IMG_0151There is yarn all over the place!

Recently I have not been putting my yarn away as I complete a project, so it has just been sitting helter skelter on my cutting table in piles, and I decided I should take some time to tidy up a bit. But as I started to put the yarn back into my yarn stash, I remembered the fun little pocket pals I made awhile back when I was learning how to fuzz yarn. These pocket pals were a quick crochet and there wasn’t a lot of stuffing or stitching to them, and they came out super cute. So, rather than packing all this yarn up only to get it right back out again, I thought that I should just use a little more of it up and make some more fun pocket pals with it instead.

P1040460The first yarn I saw on the cutting table was the variegated yarn left over from making the jellyfish. Looking at the pocket pal pattern, I could not decide which animal I would make from this variegated yarn. Then my creative mind spoke to me. How about a monster? Awesome idea! But, what details could I add to make it a monster? Horns and big eyes was the answer that I came up with.

I crocheted up the pieces for the monster from the variegated yarn and then found a pattern to use for the horns from a devil pattern that I want to make this year for Halloween. I then crocheted the horns from the variegated yarn as well, but when it came time to stitch the horns to the monster, the husband stopped me. He said I needed to make the horns a P1040257different color so that they stood out more. He chose white for the color. I was unsure about the white horns on this monster but I crocheted the white horns up anyway and then stitched one on. And I liked it! So I removed the variegated horn and attached the other white horn. Now, I had a perfectly good pair of variegated horns with no pocket pal to stitch them to, so I decided to make a white monster for the variegated horns. Now it was time for the eyes and mouth. I wanted to use these big googly eyes I had purchased a long time ago and just had not found the right project to use them on. The variegated monster was the right project. With his one big eye, he needed a big smile. I tried several smaller eyes on the white monster, but the big eye was the best and once again the white monster got a big smile to go with the big eye too.

P1040449The next yarn that caught my eye was the gray yarn left over from the mouse. There was not much of this yarn left either and rather than return it to the stash, I decided to just use it up and make a pocket pal with it too. I had planned to use the ear pattern from the mouse I just made to make the ears for the pocket pal, but, because the gray yarn was limited and I did not want to try and match colors, I added the gray yarn to the pink center as an additional round rather than making a gray ear and a pink ear and stitching them together as I did the mouse’s ears. This worked just fine for the pocket pal mouse’s ears.

P1040416As I put away the other skeins of yarn on the cutting table, I came across my big skien of pink. You might ask, what have you made recently from pink? Yes, there was a small amount of pink used for the mouse’s ears but why did you get out the big skein for that and not just use some scraps? Well I did use some pink scraps for both the mouse and pocket pal mouse’s ears but the big skein was out for the relay for life teddy bear I had made recently for a charity auction. I try to make something to donate to relay for life each year and this year I picked a pink teddy bear with a purple nose and purple buttons made from the button jointed teddy bear pattern that I have made twice before. He stitched up smoothly and having done the button jointed pattern before, they were no problems to make it again. And he turned out so cute once completed! I just love this pattern. I hope someone will like him well enough to buy him at the event.

P1040443But back to the pocket pals. I decided to make a pink pocket pal bunny from the big skein of pink. The pattern for the bunny’s ear was in the pocket pal pattern already and it crocheted up just fine. In no time at all I had a cute pocket pal bunny made. I decided to fuzz up the yarn on this bunny so I got out my brushes, and with a few strokes of the brushes, I had an adorable cute fuzzy bunny all done.

What pocket pal should I make next I thought to myself? A chick? A cat? More monsters? But, as I planned my next pocket pal, I realized that I had so many patterns that I still want to make that it was time to put away my yarn and the pocket pal pattern and start my next new amigurumi project instead.

Until next time,

Crochet forth and pocket pal on!

What to Wear to America’s Birthday Party

DSCN0103I found this fun sun top pattern on the internet. It looked just right for summer outings, so I decided that I wanted to make one for each for my co-workers tween daughters. This top is made as a front and back square, sewn into a tube. Elastic is sewn to the top to gather the tube to fit the body, and then shoulder ties are added to help keep the top on. Simple enough. The only measurement needed to make this top is an accurate chest measurement. I reached for this Stars and Stripes cotton print that has been hiding in the stash for as long as I can remember. And I hoped that this would give the girls something fun to wear on the 4th of July.

DSCN0099I cut out 4 squares of fabric, 23 inches by 28 inches, for the two tops and 8 strips, 4 for each top, for the shoulder ties. The first step was to sew the side seams. Normally, I would have just serged the side seams to finish them up but the pattern called for french seams. I have read about french seams and seen videos for sewing them but I had never done a french seam. And I figured that I might as well learn something new while making these tops, so I sewed 4 french seams  The french seams were very easy to make and leave a beautiful clean finish to the seams. In fact, you hardly notice there are side seams with the french seam technique.

Next came the shoulder ties. These were not difficult to make, just time consuming. There was a lot of ironing to make these ties. I folded the strips I had cut like bias tape by folding the edges to the middle and then folding the strip in half, then tucking the raw edges into the fold.  Next I edge stitched down each tie. I learned a lot about folding the edges, ironing the edges and edge stitching by the time I had made 8 ties.

DSCN0102I next stitched a 1 inch hem at one end of the tube and a 1.5 inch hem on the other. I added the ties to the larger hem as I stitched it and I placed the ties 8 inches from the side seam. I made a tab and placed it under the hem at the center back as a tag, and also to tell me which top was for which girls since their measurements are just a little bit different.  I also left an opening for the elastic in this hem. I then stitched down the middle of the larger hem to make a casing for the elastic. This left a nice ruffle at the top. This ruffle is very cute and adds a nice touch at the top of the elastic. I cut the elastic to the chest measurements that the girl’s mom had given me plus one inch. I did not want the elastic so tight so that it cut into their chest when wearing the top. I also wanted the elastic just big enough to the make the gathers and hold the tube to their body. Lastly I pulled the elastic and then finished it off to complete the top.

DSCN0096Upon completing the tops, I put one of the tops on a hanger to take pictures before giving the tops to the girls. It look terrible on the hanger. The ties looked too close to the center front and the tube looked like just that, a tube. I was very disappointed. I could only hope the tops would look better on the girls than they did on the hanger. Luckily, they did. The girls looked very cute in their summer tops, and they seemed to like them. The tops seemed a little long and I told the girls that I would shorten them, but they both said they liked the length. The smaller girl mentioned that her elastic seemed tight. I told her that was an easy fix and had her try on her sister’s top. She said that the larger size was a better fit. This really was an easy fix. I just unpicked where I had closed the elastic, removed the smaller piece of elastic, pulled in a longer piece and stitched it back up again. At work, their mom said the fit was great and they were already wearing their tops before the 4th of July. I was excited to hear that.  I hope they will wear and enjoy their tops all summer long.

Until next time…

Happy American Independence Day and Sew forth and Celebrate On!

Hey! I found a button!

I wanted to look for some buttons for an up and coming project that I had started to plan, so I decided to make a trip to Joann’s. But even though I found some great buttons, I also found so much more.P1040394

Because I have to travel to get to a Joann’s, it is rare that I make it there on the starting day of a sale, but this time I did. On my way to the buttons, I passed the clearance aisle and noticed the 50% off signs. I also had a coupon for even more off of the 50% sale so I decided to look, just look.

Usually I do not find much in Joann’s clearance section, especially when it is on sale. I am usually too late in the sale to find anything I want and the clearance fabric is all picked over by the time I get there. This time since I was there on the first day of the sale, this was not the case.

I picked up two or three bolts of fun kids cottons and flannel that on sale for 50% off and the extra coupon I had made them a great price. As I was making my way to the cutting table, I walked by a separate rack of licensed fleece. I almost did not notice the 50% off sign hanging above the rack since it is seldom on sale for a good deal. But this time it was not only on sale, but it was on clearance too!

P1040387To my surprise I could not believe what was on this rack, several bolts of snoopy fleece prints. Oh my! Thank you! I believe I will take it all please! And so I proceeded to load my cart with all of the Snoopy and Peanuts licensed fleece they had left.

As the nice lady at the cutting table was measuring off the remaining Snoopy fabric on each bolt for me, I noticed several other clearance fabrics behind her on the return rack. So I strolled over to the rack behind the cutting tables to check out that fabric as well. Even though there wasn’t any Snoopy fleece on there, the rack was filled with some great minky fleeces and flannels. The prints and prices on these fabrics were so wonderful, I just had to have some of them too!P1040391

After that I finally made my way over to the button aisle but I could hardly see the buttons over my cart full of fabric. After seeing several buttons that might work for my project, but were not exactly what I had wanted, I decided to not purchase any buttons for now. Yes I know, the very thing that had brought me to the store in the first place and I was not going to be purchasing any. Well I wasn’t going to purchase any until I made it to the register to check out.

As the register lady was ringing up all of my fabric treasures, I noticed a basket of clearance buttons next to the register. And as I dug through the basket, I found some buttons that would be great for my project and many more that I would need for future projects. And since they were on clearance and with my extra coupon, they were a steal of a deal! Yay!

P1040389With my arms now full of bags of all of my wonderful fabric purchases, I waddled my way to the front door.

But wait!

I had forgotten to go to the yarn department to see if there were any fun sale or clearance items there. So I stopped and started to turn around but then I turned back around and headed towards the door again. I was so excited to get home and see all of my wonderful fabric and button purchases again that I decided to save the yarn shopping for my next trip.

Until next time… Sew forth and Sale On!