Monday, January 31, 2011

Sailor's Valentines

While I was visiting my parents in Florida, my Mom mentioned something I had never heard of before, and it seemed fitting for the time of the year - Sailor's Valentines.

According to Wikipedia, sailor valentines were "a type of antique souvenir, or sentimental gift, originally brought home from a sailor's voyage at sea for his loved one between 1830 and 1890.  Sailor valentines are typically octagonal, glass fronted, hinged wooden boxes ranging from 8" to 15" in width, displaying intricate symmetrical designs composed entirely of small sea shells of various colors glued onto a backing. Patterns often feature a centerpiece such as a compass rose or a heart design, hence the name, and in some cases the small shells are used to spell out a sentimental message.

Pretty neat, right?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Project Toddler Runway - Week Four Results

The polls are closed and my project made it through for another week:

I loved LOVED loved this week's winning project - I'm already planning on making lettermen sweaters like this for a couple of special young gentlemen in my life!  I think I can probably wing it, but I hope she posts a tutorial to help me along.

I'm sure it didn't hurt at all for grabbing votes that this little model is absotively adorable! 

I also really liked this one:

The shorts on this outfit sounded really neat from the description with a men's tie at the waist, but I couldn't really see them very well.

The voting this week really bounced around.  Some projects that were at the bottom were suddenly on top, and while my project had been at or near the lead for most of the weekend, it just barely scraped by at the end.  I'm not sure what's going on, but hopefully the projects will speak for themselves going forward.

We were in Florida visiting my parents last week, so this project was sewn on my Mom's unfamiliar sewing machine, and without all my normal sewing paraphernalia.  It turned out really well, and provided a nice photo setting.  My parents live on a small fishing island and the background was crab traps and crab balls used to mark the traps.   I took photos for a tutorial, but it's a pretty straightforward design.

Jane, my sewing machine got all bent out of shape while finishing up the Plum Pleats project.  I had her repaired while we were in Florida, but now she's on the fritz again with the same problem, so I'm borrowing my friend Susan's machine to get going on next week's project.  Anyone else have trouble with the Janome and the thread getting hung up around the bobbin thread sensor thingy?  The little do-dad that checks to see how much bobbin thread you have left, and then incessantly reminds you that it's getting low when you can see that you've got plenty left?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Stylish Blogger Award

What a surprise!  My baby blog has been awarded the Stylish Blogger Award!

By Georgette at Pink Calaveras.  Go check out her blog - she's sharing vintage finds, crafts, and recipes.  Thanks!  I'm still so new at this, and frankly shocked to be a recipient!

So I'm supposed to:  1.  Thank and link back to the person (or people) who gave you this award.  2.  Share seven things about yourself.  3.  Award 15 recently discovered great bloggers.  4.  Contact these bloggers and tell them about the award!

Here goes with seven things:

1.  I live in Michigan, and apart from a seven-month stint in Atlanta, have lived within 30 miles of my birthplace my entire life.

2.  I have an adorable (of course I think so!) daughter named Arden who is nearly two.

3.  I'm a former (and hopefully future!) marathoner.  I've run Chicago, New York, Honolulu, Phoenix, Marine Corps (Washington DC), and Toronto.  I was going to run the Baltimore marathon, but we were trying to get pregnant and chose it because it was a festival event with many different length races - we did get pregnant, so I ran the half marathon at 18 weeks.  I wore a t-shirt that said "baby on board" and ran r e a l l y   s l o w and used the Galloway run-walk technique.

4.  I'm an accountant for a fortune 50 company.  I used to be in internal auditing and traveled all over the world.  I've been to Singapore (twice), Hong Kong, Thailand (many times), China, India, Brazil, Germany, Switzerland, France, The Netherlands in addition to many US sites.  I had to get the extension pages for my passport and had platinum status.  Now I fly to visit parents and in-laws a couple of times a year.

5.  My husband Dave has a PhD in physics.  He does stuff with lasers that I vaguely understand.  Yes, he's a super geek.  My wedding present to him was a custom cartoon cover with "Laser Man and Super P".  I'm Super P.  He won't admit it publicly, but he really does like to be called "Doctor".

6.  I trained and taught Muay Thai kickboxing for over 10 years.  This was during my pre-baby, pre-dogs, pre-husband super-fit days.  Yup.  That's me - demonstrating Ram Muay/Wai Kru, the fighter's dance.  Only a few people know the woman's version of the dance, so I demonstrated in front of the training camp.

7.  Dave and I got a trip to Hawaii on the government.  On the plane ride to run the Honolulu marathon, a guy went a little wacky and ended up in federal custody.  He had sat down in an empty seat next to me for quite a while and tried to talk to me, so we were called as defense witnesses.

Here are the 15 blogs that I'd like to award.  I tried to mix it up a bit with some bigger, medium, and some little newbies like me:

Project Toddler Runway - Week Four Projects

Week 4 projects are posted over at Shwin&Shwin!  This week our assignment was "The Boy Challenge", so was to be designed for or inspired by something a boy could wear.  I think this week's projects show a wide range fitting the boy inspiration.  Go vote for your favorite before the poll closes Sunday evening!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Plum Pleats - Pinafore Top

This was part of my project for Week 3 of Shwin&Swhin's Project Toddler Runway.  The challenge for this week was Feathers, Sequins & Fur, Oh My! - so we were to create something using one or all three.  I went 'round a bit on this one before settling on sequins; anyone need any faux giraffe?  I knew early on that I wanted to stay away from a dress for this one, and I'd been wanting to try to make pants - tutorial for those to follow shortly.  I thought a pinafore top would be fun to go with the pants as well as serving to keep my sanity, since pants aren't simple.  With the addition of pleats and sequins, this ended up being more complex than my cute little 'pinnies' normally are.

Plum Pleats Pinafore Top

Skill Level - beginner
Items Needed
main fabric - 1/2 yard
reverse fabric - 1/2 yard
sequin trim - 2/3 yard
paper, scrap fabric, or pattern fabric
rotary cutter
quilting ruler
cutting mat
matching thread

Dimensions given are for a 2T dress.  Adjust measurements and fabric requirements accordingly to get desired size.  Sew with a 3/8" or 1/2" seam allowance; keeping the same allowance throughout the project.  I used a 1/2" seam allowance.

1.  Create pinafore pattern.  I have a pinafore pattern that I love and have made several times.  The pattern crosses in the back and I like that, but I wanted to change things up a bit for this one.  I used an old sheet as pattern paper (my pattern fabric seems to have walked away) and extended the sweep of the bottom edge across the midpoint, and then angled back to match the strap from the front piece.
2.  Cut pieces.  Cut 2 of the back from each fabric, and one from each fabric on the fold for the front.  I did a big oopsie on my reverse fabric and thought I had it on the fold but it wasn't.  I didn't have enough of that fabric to cut another, so I pieced in a strip of the purple linen.  Now it's a design feature!

3.  Make pleats.  Using a rotary cutter, cut 2 fabric strips 3" wide from the width of the fabric.  Piece together to make one long strip.  Fold in half lengthwise wrong sides together and press.  Sew a basting stitch along the raw edge.  Pin your pleats in place.  I did mine by pinching the fabric 1 1/2" from the edge of the previous pleat and bringing the pinch to rest along the edge of the previous pleat.  Sew down the pleats by following the basting stitch.
4.  Pin and sew shoulder seams.  With right sides of the main fabric together, pin and sew the shoulder seams only.  Repeat with reverse fabric.

5.  Pin and sew bottom edge.  Pin the main and reverse fabrics right sides together along the bottom edge, with the raw edge of the pleats aligned with the raw edges of the bottom and the pleats tucked up inside.  I didn't want the pleats to continue past the side seam or stop ubruptly, so I curved the pleats to reveal less towards the edge, and then to be within the seam allowance for the last 1/2".  Sorry I don't have a picture to show this - I'm sure you can figure it out.
6.  Pin and sew all other seams except side seams.  Pin and sew main and reverse fabrics together along neck, back and underarms.  Do not sew the side seams.

7.  Notch seam allowance on inside curves.  Make sure not to clip the stitching.
8.  Turn right side out and press.  Make sure to work the fabric all the way out so the seams are at the edge, and not trapped inside the body of the garment.

9.  Pin and sew main fabric at side seams.   Align your side seams and pin the main fabric together, matching the seams at the armpit and the bottom edge.  I can draw the reverse fabric around about an inch or so on each end and sew that at the same time.  Repeat on opposite side.

10.  Tuck in seams and press.  Tuck the sewn seams to one side and press with raw edges inside.

11.  Topstitch side seam.  About 1/8" from pressed edge.Topstitch pinafore.    Topstitch all edges about 1/8" from edge.
12.  Add buttonholes and buttons.


I'll be linking up to Shwin&Shwin and the parties in my linky party directory and to:

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Project Toddler Runway - Week 3 Results

Whew!  That was a close one!  I squeaked by at the very end.  I'm so happy that I'm "in" for one more week, because I'm really excited about next week's challenge.

Plum Pleats was my project for Feathers, Sequins & Fur, Oh My!  I went round and round on this one.  I started out thinking fur for sure, but then went through a couple different iterations of that before settling on sequins.  I was always thinking pants, so that was my original direction.  This was tricky and time-consuming to put together.  I have a reversable pinafore pattern I like, but I modified it to button on the back instead of criss-crossing.  The pants I modeled after a couple different pairs of Arden's pants, and added the pleats to the bottom.  I broke three needles sewing over the sequins and pleats on the seams - one nearly put my eye out!  Jane, my sewing machine is sadly in the repair shop.  I guess I couldn't ask for better timing, since I could hand-sew the last of this project, and now I'm visiting my parents in Florida and using my Mom's machine.  Anyway, I guess voters just didn't care for my vision, or didn't think sequined and pleated tuxedo pants on a toddler were as cute as I do - and they actually fit really well!  Let's hope my idea for next week is more on target.

Girl's Night Out, a little diva number was this week's winning project.

La Petite Gown was my favorite project this week.  The workmanship in this one looks really nice - vertical ruffles, and the sequined belt on the empire waist are really cute!

Trap to Table

First let me begin by apologizing for my spotty attendance here.  I got incredibly busy trying to simultaneously re-create my Arden refashioned shirt dress to make the tutorial while getting the next Project Toddler Runway Richly Ruffled dress crafted and documenting that one properly.  I was also doggedly trying to keep up with A Bowl Full of Lemons' 21 Day Organization Challenge.  Something had to give, and sleep couldn't keep losing so I'll catch up with the organizing challenges later.

Remember the stone crab claws I posted about?  Well, we're visiting my parents in Florida, and what's better than dinner directly from trap to table?  Blue crabs in this case.

Dad went crabbing on Friday morning and brought home a bunch of stone crab claws and blue crabs.  Stone crabs are a live catch - he takes one of the claws and sends the crab back to grow a new one for next time!

Into the double boiler with some seasoning to steam for about 20 minutes, and then...

Now that's a crab cake!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Richly Ruffled Dress

This was my Week 2 dress for Shwin&Swhin's Project Toddler Runway.  For this A Flower In Your Hair week, we were given a flower headpiece as an inspiration.  My flower was a beautiful yellow with a green center and a little rhinestone accent.  I didn't want to go literal with a yellow and green outfit, so my doodling was immediately drawn to green like a stem or a leaf.  That brought me around to ruffles, and I wanted them to be soft and floaty, so jersey knit was a great candidate.  Then I wanted to bring some linear details in like a stem, so the stitching on the top.  I'm an Alpha Chi Omega and our flower is the carnation.  We have a song called In a Little Red Carnation that has a line about "richly ruffled out of green".  That song kept running through my head while I created it and hence the name - The Richly Ruffled Dress.

Richly Ruffled Dress

Skill Level - Confident beginner - intermediate
Items Needed
knit fabric - 1 yard, I used jersey
woven fabric - 1/2 yard was generous, I used linen
paper, scrap fabric, or pattern fabric
rotary cutter
cutting mat/ruler
sewing machine

Dimensions given are for a 2T dress.  Adjust measurements and fabric requirements accordingly to get desired size.  Sew with a 3/8" or 1/2" seam allowance; keeping the same allowance throughout the project.  I used a 1/2" seam allowance.

1.  Cut strips.  Using a rotary cutter and clear ruler, cut 1" strips the full width of the fabric.  This is easiest to do by folding again in half so a 24" ruler can span the width.  I cut 18 strips to have 9 rows on each side.

2.  Make ruffles.  There are many different ways to ruffle, but I did it by using the longest stitch length and adjusting the tension to get the density of ruffles I wanted.

I cut up a t-shirt to get strips to experiment on.  I got the look I was after with a tension setting of 6.  Ruffle each of the strips 1/4" from the edge and set aside.
3.  Cut front and back dress pieces.  You'll need pieces to sew all your ruffles to - cut rectangular panels several inches wider and longer than your desired finished dimensions.

4.  Pin ruffles in place.  I placed my ruffles with 1/4" showing between the rows.  I wanted my top row to begin just below the bodice, so I placed my first row 1/2" from the top, using my quilting ruler to keep everything lined up.  Then measure and mark every 1 1/4" on both sides using a disappearing pen.  Lay the ruler across the marks and lay the ruffle along the edge.  Pin in place along the stitching.  Normally you would pin perpendicular so you can sew over the pins, but in this case you'll want to pull the pins as you approach them.

5.  Sew ruffles in place.  Sewing with a slightly longer stitch length, stitch down the ruffles along the ruffling stitches.  I found I got better results if I sort of "went for it", rather than trying to fuss and press each ruffle under the presser foot.  Remove the pins as you approach them.  Set aside the ruffled panels.

6.  Make bodice front pattern.  I used a shirt pattern I knew fit, and then made a pattern of the top part to a couple of inches below the armpit and drew a sweeping line to the side to give a wrap top look.  Cut two pieces with it right side up, and two pieces with the pattern reversed.  This is to make the outside and lining pieces.

7.  Make bodice back pattern.  Using the back of the same shirt pattern, I shortened my pattern to match the front.  I wanted to create rounded tabs to button towards the front of the bodice, so I extended the shoulder lines and traced a glass to get the rounded edge.  Cut two pieces on the fold to make outer and lining pieces.
8.  Stitch accent.  If you want to add the stitching on the bodice, stitch parallel lines of stitching at random intervals.
9.  Sew bodice and lining pieces.  With right sides together, stitch the outside pieces together at the side seams.  Repeat with lining pieces.  Again with right sides together, stitch the front and lining pieces together, leaving the last 4" open on one edge of the wrap front.  Clip curves, turn and press.  Press the lining under 1/4".
10.  Sew skirt pieces together.  Measure the bottom of the finished bodice piece to see how wide the top of your skirt should be.  Lay the two panels of ruffles right sides together, lining up the rows of ruffles.  Measure and place pins at the top the same width as the bodice bottom measurement.  Measure and pin at the bottom of the skirt 1" wider on each side.  Pin a line connecting the two measured pins.  Sew together.  Trim and finish edges.  Turn right side out.  I was really surprised how well my rows of ruffles aligned.
11.  Sew bodice front to skirt.  With the bodice upside down and right sides facing, pin and sew the outside of the bodice only to the skirt.  Press seams up toward the bodice.
12.  Sew bodice lining.  With the pressed edge tucked under, pin the lining to the seam allowance of the inside of the skirt.  Topstitch from the outside about 1/8" from the edge.  I had to cut a little slit along my wrap portion to get everthing to go together. 

13.  Top stitch bodice.  Top stitch around all edges of the bodice about 1/8" from the edge.

14.  Add buttonholes and buttons.  Measure the spacing of your buttons and sew buttonholes and corresponding buttons.
15.  Trim bottom of dress.  If needed, use a ruler to trip the bottom of the dress 1/4" below the last ruffle.  No need to finish the edge!

Yay!  This project was featured:

This will be linked at Shwin&Shwin, and I'll be linking up to the parties in my linky party directory and to:

Project Toddler Runway - Week 3 Projects

Week 3 projects are posted over at Shwin&Swhin!  This week's theme was Feathers, Fur & Sequins, Oh My!  Go check all the fabulous submissions and vote for your favorite!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Project Toddler Runway - Week 2 Results

Voting for the second week of Project Toddler Runway is closed.  The winning project is this adorable ensemble - complete with ruffled shirt, embellished leggings, coordinating coat AND a flower headpiece - that's a lot of pieces!

Voting was really tight on this one, with my project coming in just behind the leader.

So, I'm "in" and will be moving on for the next round.  This definitely keeps a girl busy, but it's so much fun!
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