September 27, 2012

Kiss Me Dirty & the Down There Divas

Last Saturday I participated in the Kiss Me Dirty 5k Mud Run with my friend Anja and 7 other lovely ladies from her work. The event was a fundraiser for ovarian cancer, and was open to women only. The nine of us comprised the team Down There Divas!

We were sponsored by Acme Scenic and Display, and they generously contributed our t-shirts, tutus and socks.

While these types of events are pretty commonplace, this event was significant to me because I  have never run 5k before. In fact, the last time I even ran was 18 years ago in high school soccer. I will walk, lift weights, bike, zumba and use the elliptical machine, but running for anything other than to save myself is just not my thing. Until Saturday. When I ran. And while I was not particularly fast, I did manage to cross that finish line!

There were 6 obstacles along the course, and I was quite grateful for them since they afforded me a chance to stop running and catch my breath. The obstacles varied, but they generally involved water, mud, ropes and tires, and contributed to our looking like ragamuffins at the finish.

I felt great at the finish, although tired. Apparently the water hoses weren't working so we couldn't rinse off. Needless to say we didn't hang around for long. I was quite happy that the racecourse was only 8 miles from home and a long hot shower.

September 22, 2012

I'm an Auntie again!

Sara and Bobby welcomed sweet baby Elle Sophia into the family last week!
I can't wait to meet her when I visit Ohio next month.

I made Elle a baby mobile in July, and I know that Sara and Bobby have gotten everything they need and then some, but I couldn't resist marking her actual arrival with a few quick little items.

I sewed up a tiny pair of baby pants (pattern here) using up scraps from my Wiksten Tova short sleeves and a couple of pacifier clips (tutorial here) in two lengths. One is from vintage ribbon that I backed with red bias tape. I love this ribbon because it reminds me of my childhood in the '80s.

I also made up a few baby washcloths from gauze. This is the same fabric that swaddling blankets are made from. I made myself a few, thought they were soft, so whipped up a couple for Elle as well.

I have two baby nieces now and I'm very excited about all the toys and clothes that I can make them.  I hope that at least one of them is into dolls and dresses!

September 15, 2012

A Green Washi

I previously mentioned that on my birthday I spent the day sewing up a Washi Dress pattern from Made-By-Rae. She first mentioned this dress on her blog back in May and I was instantly smitten; I knew I wanted it in green. I had to wait until early August before she published the pattern, but the timing actually worked out for my day-of-sewing that I planned for the 20th (my birthday).

Since I was intent on getting this dress done in time for dinner that night, I picked up my fabric the week before using a gift certificate for Bolt from Sara. I even remembered to get it washed and ironed. But that is where my prep ended. I forgot about the time it takes to print out the pattern, piece it together and cut out all the pattern pieces. oops.

That said, I still finished the dress that night, and only 15 minutes after we were supposed to leave.

Here's the picture of me in the dress outside of the restaurant.

Here is my thought on the pattern:

The pattern is great - very well written and designed.

Here is how I deviated from the pattern, and what I'd do differently next time:

I had a hell of a time getting the shirring right on the back of the dress. I wore it out that night, but the next day I ripped the shirring out and put in elastic and casing (as seen above). What I should have done was read the tutorial that Rae mentions in her pattern, but I was on a time crunch and didn't bother. It doesn't look good in the above photo, but in reality it's actually pretty even and does the trick. Next time I will do the shirring, and do it correctly since I think it's a nice touch. However I'd probably make it a bit lower on the dress so that it falls in the small of my back.

I might enlongate the bodice a bit too, so that the waist is a little lower.

I had a really difficult time getting the bust darts to look good. I think they're okay now, but that was the worst part of the pattern.  The dress is not lined, but the top has a facing around the neck opening. I like the look of facings, versus bias-tape openings, but I hate how facings flip up when you put it on. So I ended up sewing it down (on the inside) with some double lines of stitching. I like the addition - it's subtle, but I think a solid colored dress could use a little detail. Rae has added a tutorial on her site for a partial lining, so I might try this on future dresses.

I loved the u-shape when I saw this pattern so I was eager to include it (there is also an option for just having a standard scoop neck). There is a little bit of interfacing in this area to help it keep the shape, but unfortunately it doesn't lay flat on mine (you can see a bit of curl in the photo at the right corner of the U). After wearing it for awhile I think I determined that the U is just a little too deep for my chest so I just need to adjust the size and it should lay better.

All that said, the only "real" problem comes down to one thing: I chose wrinkly fabric. I can iron this thing to within an inch of it's life, put it on, and it instantly wrinkles. I wore it to work, got out of the car, and I was a disheveled mess from the waist down. There was only one thing to do.

Chop it off.

I cut it just below the pockets so that I could keep them. However, after I took this photo I determined that the pockets will have to go too. The shape is too "belled" now, and I need to take the sides in so that it drops straight (it would make a good maternity top now).  The only way to do this now is to take out the pockets, trim the sides, and sew it back up. It's a bummer to lose those pockets, but at least I'll have a nice green top.

Here I am looking out for spiders in the apple tree.

September 12, 2012

A Gnoming

Last year for my birthday I got "gnomed"  by my sister, Sara (via Mike).

 This year Mom got me via the mail!

In a much smaller scale!

This one was made by, but you can see that it's pretty simple: gift box, plastic toys, paper and photo. There are endless possibilities with this idea - I won't be able to resist. Somebody is going to get one of these in the near future...

September 10, 2012

Kitchen Project Update: wood floors

After waiting three weeks for the floors to arrive by train (ostensibly from Virginia Mill, but the boxes distinctly said: Made in China (!), we were able to install them last Saturday.  Papa came down to offer his invaluable experience, and as a result it only took 5 hours!

We purchased our flooring from Lumber Liquidators. It's hand-scraped, matte finish Coventry Oak, 4.75" wide boards, .75" thick, varying lengths. As you can seen in the above stacks, the lengths really varied. In some boxes there were maybe 8 different lengths, some with only a 2-3" difference. We opted to match the wood floors in the rest of the house by material and color only. We really wanted the handscraped matte look in the kitchen because it won't show wear and tear as readily, and the 4.75" wide boards meant that there were fewer boards to install.

We rented the nailer from Interstate Rentals and it worked pretty smoothly.

We installed Vapor Barrier between the subfloor and the wood floor to help prevent squeaks - it works!

The most time-consuming part was the angled transition between the living room and the kitchen. But with three heads (including a math teacher and an engineer), we got it figured out and it looks good.
We still need to get the transition piece, so for now it's a toe-stubbing hazard.

We were able to move the stove, dishwasher and fridge into the room last night. The stove is hooked up, so we could feasibly boil water now!

The fridge is hanging out in the middle of the room for now until we can change the door swing.

September 5, 2012

Setting myself up for a busy winter

For my birthday last month I got lots of sewing related gifts. In addition to gift certificates for fabric, I also got three new books. The first, from Mom, is the Stylish Dress Book:

I have two other Japanese sewing books, that I've used with moderate success. As I've mentioned before, I don't really have the same body type as these pattern models. That said, I think this book has a lot of potential, and with a few modifications I'm really excited about several patterns.

Particularly the shirt above. It's very similar to the Wiksten Tova, and it looks incredibly comfy. I think this would be a nice layering piece this winter.

I think this black dress has some potential too. I like almost everything about it, except for the fabric. I'm not really a satin person.

 The two dresses above are very similar (though they are each considered to be 1 of the 26 available patterns). I don't like these in their entirety, but I think if I omitted the sleeves on the right one and maybe used a solid for the left one, that I could end up liking these dresses a lot.

Using a gift certificate from my Pa, I bought Sew U Home Stretch by Built By Wendy.
Why do I need this book?

Because Mike got me a serger!

I wear a great deal of knit clothes, and I'm so ready to be able to make my own. Susanna even started me off with some serger thread in my favorite colors.

I'm most excited about being able to make myself a raglan-sleeved baseball shirt.

But I have had a boatneck striped shirt on my list for a long, long time.

And I love the idea of making my own sweatshirts. Mike has already put in a request for a few zip up hoodies.


A zip up terry-cloth robe would be handy for the hot tub.

And this is strikingly similar to a dress I have in gray right now. I wouldn't mind a purple one...

Sara sent me this sweet sewing book. I was surprised that she didn't bookmark a few pages with requests for her soon-to-arrive-any-day-now baby!

 I can easily imagine my niece Freya in this get-up. We call her the little wood fairy.

Who can I make this for? Because I want to make this.

 These don't really need a pattern, but they are very cute. I might just make these for my shelf.

I don't know any kids who will keep a hat on, but if I come across one, they are surely going to get a bucket hat.

Mom also got me this fun Simplicity Pattern. It reminds me of the fruit & veggies that I made for Lilly last year. These can be made on the sewing machine though, so I think they would be faster to whip up than the handsewn ones. I think the cupcakes would be fun because I could probably spend hours coming up with different decoration options. Or perhaps I could make all the decorations with velcro on them; ensuring hours of decorating fun!


Last, but certainly not least, Mom got me this DVD on soldering jewelry. She thought this would be a good next step to the soldering class that Susanna and I took last Spring and I couldn't agree more. I'm saving it for a nice winter craft break.
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