just fine / bling-blong!

Check the coat.

Wollen Jas Blauw, Nels

You wanna know more about the coat? You can read about it here. My Flickrstream contains many pictures and construction details. I’m happy to share any tips or advice on making one; the pattern inspiration is originally a size 6 months to 5T and good for beginners (if said beginners are cool with asking questions – the directions are quite sparse). I’m thinking about making up a smaller version in a poly fleece. So if you’ve got a size in the toddler region, and an initial, I can make the test garment up FOR YOUUUUUUUU

***

We had a walk today out at Bowerman Basin, as we’ve done many times before. On the way we got talking about survivalist strategies which of course (because we’re weird) soon got to cannibalism and whose body would be most practical to consume. It was all fun and games and laughs until:

Nels’ eyes fill with tears and his cheeks flush. “Mama isn’t even one pound of delicious MEAT!” he yells, suddenly very upset.

"They're Not Fightin'"

I will not bore you with how many million times Nels and Phoenix wanted us to take pictures of the insect life they found. You can check my Flickrstream for an extremely truncated photo series. Bugs this, bugs that. Hey look I found another bug! REALLY.

Nels + Bug

Salmonberry Blossom (I Think?)

Ralph, Tree

Beetle (more bugs)

A little time perspective out at the boardwalk. Today, 2012:

Kiddos, Bowerman Basin

Laughter

2010:

Lurve 4

2008:

They Do Science
(That last picture is in August… Nels will be blonding up again accordingly.)

At home, a work station – just before finishing the facing back of bound buttonholes, and sewing on all eleven buttons:

Evening, Workspace

call it free

My life could be a little sitcomish, if you squint. Not the sit-coms I watch – well, I kind of don’t watch any. But, kind of silly and down-homey and provincial. Like, this afternoon my kids came and woke me up and they were so kind. I was taking advantage of the kids’ stay-over with my mother – staying in bed until ten or so after a poor night’s sleep. The kids showed up after movies and breakfast of steak and eggs and suchlike their grandma cooks them. (Um, have I mentioned how much it totally works out to live next door to her? It is really, really working out.)

Anyway some time after I get up and shower and pull my shit together, Phoenix cleans her room and I look around for my son while I make tea. I’m not too serious about finding him, as every day I’m half-resigned to the half-private and independent lives the kids often lead during the day. My mom comes over. She’d put out an artificial white Christmas tree on the corner with a “FREE” sign, and looked out the window an hour later to find it gone. All-pleased like she struts over for coffee, to discover the tree on my porch. Delivered by a very satisfied young man in his little suit jacket, I should say. We’re deciding if we’re keeping it, or putting it back on the corner. Nels admits it’s a little early for Christmas, but perhaps we could store it in the garage.

Nels and Phoenix run about outside mostly, later with friends out of school. And by the way, Nels’ four front teeth were recently lost and the new ones are coming in and it’s about a thousand percent adorable. I’ll have to give him an interview on video, for posterity.

I’m sick today – a sore throat. I’ve been laying low and hand-embroidering while watching the kind of television program I do like to watch, mainly really really grim (well it’s either that, or grim but also slapstick). I took the advice of a friend online and rested, and I’m glad for it now that I’ve discovered I’m sick, and my sister is visiting later in the week. A little red meat for dinner, more tea, and back to handsewing and couch-time with family and friends.

 

Free

look what I can do!

A gift for my son, whose turns 8 this Saturday the 7th:

24 Beeswax Crayon Roll-Up

24 Beeswax Crayon Roll-Up

I made two crayon-rollups a while back – and it was well-received by the children. As in, they loved to take them to restaurants along with a notebook or coloring book. The previous versions were made for your typical 16-pack Crayola-style. Today I designed and stitched this up. This version uses 24 fat and (hopefully) high-quality beeswax crayons, as found at Gray’s General Store here in Hoquiam (speaking of which, check it – I’m going to be teaching classes!).

24 Beeswax Crayon Roll-Up

A crayon roll-up featuring not just robots, but also [ <–  (look left) ] cleavage. WHAT COULD BE BETTER?! Not much.

24 Beeswax Crayon Roll-Up

Embroidery … so my Little Guy knows it’s just for him.

Robots (I have a teeny tiny bit of fabric left from the Ready Set Robot shirt):

24 Beeswax Crayon Roll-Up

So what say ye, readers? Should I bust my hump putting together a tutorial? Eh…

“By the sea, Mr. Todd, that’s the life I covet!”

My Mom & My Son, Before Heading Out To The BeachMy son, & my mom, about to head out to the beach together.

So YE GODS I’ve been having fun embroidering. Last night I finished up this space-age sampler as designed by Wendi Gratz. I really dig her whole approach, as found on her site Shiny Happy World.

Space Sampler

Space Sampler

Embroidered Comet, Close-Up

The whole business made me decide to make up my own patterns, including a sewn samper. LET’S SEE how it goes. Because you know, not only can I draw, but I’m into stuff. For instance last night? I started and finished the above piece, concluding my last stitches while viewing Attack of the Crab Monsters with my kids, Tylur, and Emily, and whilst sharing a pint of Late Night Snack with said Emily.

YES I REALIZE I HAVE NOTHING, EVER, TO COMPLAIN ABOUT.

Anyway I could draw up some awesomeness ala Crab Monsters right this moment. Instead I drew and traced and finished a pattern of subjects close to my heart, non-Crab-Monster-related – and provided my sampler doesn’t shit the bed, you’ll be seeing it soon!

Embroidering

(Hint: will involve GLOW-IN-THE-DARK thread!)

Glow-In-The-Dark Embroidery Floss!

In other news: we got our table finished. The entire table was a gift, both in materials and construction, from friends. I am more than thrilled. It is my Favorite Table Ever. Many people were almost maimed while we put it together.

Making Our Kitchen Table Which Almost Killed A Few People

New Table! With New Wool Coat In Progress

First meal made on the table – meatballs! (recipe, previously shared):

Making Meatballs

Making Meatballs

Followed by – using the crusts discarded from Phoenix’s bread-cubing – fresh bread pudding for breakfast:

Fresh Bread Pudding For Breakfast

Phoenix:

Phoenix, Sly Creature

Harris (Every. Damn. Day!):

Life Is REALLY HARD For Harris

Finally: a piece of mine was published in the latest issue of Natural Life Magazine. As you’ve no doubt heard me say before, I heartily endorse anything written or published by Ms. Priesnitz, and I encourage y’all to head over and subscribe to this excellent publication.

In closing please, do not be so casual about “just a few land crabs” – unless you want to pay the ultimate price.

vintage cuteness, here & now

Hey lovelies! I promised to post pictures of the Western shirt I’m trying to prototype as a pattern. This one here? is for sale. And it’s ON sale. And I posted it to Celebrate The Boy, which I just found out about (thanks, Medrie!).

So anyway, it kinda sucked because I had to take, and then wade through, like four hundred adorable pictures of my son. Nels is currently missing his top front teeth and his resultant lisp is TO DIE FOR. He was sad I told him I planned to (attempt to) sell the shirt, but when I reminded him it was for fundage for the Unschooling Conference he was all on board.

Beautiful Son

Check out the cute kid, and the cat who doesn’t give a fuck:

CuteNess

Nels’ friend isn’t jealous of the shirt, as far as I know, although this picture kind of makes it look like it.

Bias Back Yoke

You can read a few details about the shirt construction at the listing or check out the Flickr tagset. I don’t know how many of my readers are interested in these details, but I always like to share.

Speaking of sewing, I have several other items I haven’t yet photographed and uploaded, because I am hoping to no longer take flat photos but use children and/or (locally and handmade) forms. I’m discovering that I’d prefer those kind of displays rather than the flat-photography I’ve done in the past. Let’s hope I can make it work!

housekeeping

Phoenix, Eyes

My monetary accumulation for our attendance at the Life Is Good Unschooling Conference is trudging along, to my utter delight.

I have saved, basically stuffed in an electronic mattress so I don’t use it for silly things like food and socks, about $238 (of the $650 that will get us there, which does not include food, gas, & fun money). This saved sum includes a wee bit of under-the-table work I’ve done as well as a handful of lovely donations from readers.

I sincerely thank everyone who has helped, and all who read, email, IM, tweet, and support in various ways.

It is so rare I get any IRL contact with other Unschoolers, and it means a great deal to me to consider we may get this chance.

I am hopeful of somehow earning $650 – separate from my husband’s paycheck. I have a few options on this account. For one, I have my little homesewn affair, which is not much of a money-maker due to various and sundry reasons, mostly including a complete lack of advertising budget or promotional considerations, besides the occasional tweet. I also lack kiddo models and let me tell you, that makes a difference. Early this summer, at the Fiber Festival? I put a little homemade dress (the one at left) on a little friend and I shit thee not, she’d been running around about five minutes before a woman came dragging her by the arm and demanding to buy the frock. Well, not really. But kinda.

So tomorrow I’m going start up up a jacket conception for a tot, then find a baby to stuff into said jacket so I can take a picture.

Welp. In addition to my little wee dream of making the conference, we are a bit squeezed with a few upcoming financial considerations that likely need some attention. First, it is a near done deal we will be moving to a new home in Hoquiam (within about a month), which comes with a few expenses (and deposits, if they get returned at all, are not always returned at a convenient time). After a decade of rough use on our beds, we are in need of three new mattresses. Our couch and two armchairs are sinking into further disrepair. My car has a bad alternator (which at least, I can buy and replace with a friend’s help), and both vehicles likely need an expensive brake job (that, I don’t have the capability to do myself).

And then, or course, there is always that little special item of extravagance one wants for herself. Well, kinda for me, not just for me. I have been watching a friend’s baby (free gratis) and I did a little research and my dream-boat idea would be to get ahold of a Boba 2G so I can run around like usual while caring for an extra (occasionally separation-anxiety-laden) tot.

So that’s our scene in a nutshell. I write it out for my own sake as well as readers who may or may not be interested. I am, of course, quite serene about all of this. I have received such incredible support and wonderful friendship and care from so many people. I also live a life, to the best of my ability, of planning the event but not the outcome, which leaves very little room for sour grapes, worries, envies, et cetera. For this I am very grateful.

From yesterday: skating at the Harborena, watching a daddy lift his tot – to her delight. Also, bottom picture, Unimpressed Woman in Foreground is Unimpressed.

Good Daddy

Good Daddy

into the wild blue yonder

Zipper Shield, Button

For today’s sewing blog installmwent I want to talk about:

Venturing Out.

Picture a Kris Kristofferson voiceover: “You know, some people seem to have no trouble gettin’ themselves new ideas, trying out new things and branching out artistically.”

* record scratch, then in my own voice * Yeah. I’m not one of those people.

So anyway, trying something new. In the case of this Mini Yeti snowsuit, I really got myself in trouble. And then self-rescued. I ventured out in a few ways: mostly, in working with outerwear and tech fabrics I’d had no previous experience with (three such fabrics, to be exact). I also self-drafted a few tricky things (including curved spiral-pieced horns), lined and underlined counter to previous experience and without a pattern, and handworked eyelets. This is all new stuff and done on a blind commission sent my way from Alberta, Canada. And I’ll tell you, the whole thing felt like risky business often, and I wasn’t sure if it would work out.

Front View

But, so far, so good. The blessed item is winging its way to its new home, where I hope it will be much-loved and much-worn.

Spiral Horn & Ear

From The Back

(Elastic-back, plenty of room for a diapered – cloth or disposeable – and active child! Lovely-warm double-yarn yeti mitts with mitten-holders! w00t)

I have neither the right nor the hubris (these days) to define the term or concept of “art”. But for myself, any creation I make without risk and without stretching myself doesn’t feel like art – it feels like craft, or construction, or some such combination. There’s no problem with craft, repetition, or factory-assembly type work – after all, how many times have I made a few tried and true patterns? – but since I’m trying to develop myself beyond what I already can do, that risk isn’t always super-fun when I’m sweating it out.

Still, I think things turned out okay, and I’d be proud to gift, with love, this garment to any budding snow-bound little tot. Which I may have to do, if the client &/ortot this was intended for isn’t into my results.

I wrote a fair bit about how I made this in the Flickr tagset; for details on to exactly what fabrics, how much, and how many hours I spent, etc, you can look at my listing.

Hand-Picked Zipper

Sewing Zipper Shield

And now? Off to the Next New Thing.

Ears and Whiskers Oh My!

Contemplative

As any longtime reader knows, I’ve made many a fanciful, comfortable, and sturdy garment, mostly for child-aged humans. I keep coming back to animals and creatures (real or imaginary). In no small part this is due to the influence of my own children, who retain an interest in biology, zoology, cryptozoology and anything else involving creatures that flap, crawl, squirm, prowl, and/or fly.

This particular hat is a faux fur wolf-inspired self-drafted piece, lined in 100% wool for warmth and comfort. Since Halloween approaches – and I do run a side-sewing blog, here – I wanted to share a bit about how to make effective ears and easy-enough whiskers from inexpensive and rugged materials.

Now a few words about what is entailed in good ears. It might not be obvious to the initiate, but it isn’t enough to have wire or pipe cleaners, or whatever, stiffening the ear. The ears will be rigid, but they will not stand up from the head if this is all you do. The tail ends of the wire stiffening the ear will need to be anchored to a rigid form, which is in turn inserted into the hat body in a way secure and comfortable to wear. This means the rigid form has to mimic the shape of the pattern pieces of the hat itself. Get it?

So let’s get started. Materials needed (not shown, glue gun):

Supplies

Left-to-right: cardboard (buckram or light plastic, like a thoroughly-cleaned bleach or carpet-cleaner bottle, will also work), wire for ears, needle and waxed thread for handsewing, cable ties (and assembled “whiskers” on anchor tie, self-explanatory), pattern template, and both fabric AND paper scissors (ask any stitcher how much he/she likes having sewing scissors abused by paper!).

Different hat or hood shapes will have different templates – this hat was made by an earwarmer-style band and a four-gore crown. The traced piece you see here is one of the four gores. It is NOT an ear! I am assuming you have a rudimentary knowledge of sewing, or can follow a pattern, and already have your ear finished and waiting – with the bottom raw edge open (you’ll see below when I show you my finished ear).

I chose cardboard for my form, because I plan to simply spot-clean this hat, not immerse it in water. Dry-cleaning would probably even be an option but I don’t think we’ll be needing that. Using buckram or thin plastic might make the hat more washable – but you certainly want to wash a structural item like this with care, not throw it in the washing machine or anything.

So! Trace your cardboard (or whatever) form from your pattern piece(s):

Trace Pattern Piece To Form Material

If you’re thinking about ear placements/markings at this stage, don’t. There is no need to worry about ear placement yet as you will be able to use the lining to determine where to fix the ears.

Now it’s time to cut the cardboard (or whatever) form:

Cut Out Cardboard Form / Trim Seam Allowance

Make sure to trim off the seam allowances. This is because tape will serve as our “stitching” together the form pieces (if we do have more than one, as I do). If you didn’t cut off the seam allowances, the form would be too large. Go ahead and be confused, that’s okay. You’ll see what’s up when you stick the taped-together form in the lining and it doesn’t work – if that’s the case, you can go ahead and tear it apart and re-tape, or re-trace and re-cut.

Tape The Form, & Then...

The red piece on the left is the hat lining, an indespensible item for making sure things will fit nicely. At right we have the form, taped together. Next I need to slide the form into the lining to make sure it fits perfectly and does not extend awkwardly or look bulky. The goal is the intended recipient will not even feel the form. So let’s see how we did, eh? The cardboard form is inserted between the child (Hi, Phoenix!) and the lining:

... Double-Check The Form Fits Nicely

Everything looks good – that cardboard form is inside the hat and against the child, layered just beneath those two front gore pieces you see here. A few notes: the hat is a little large for my child, so would fit an adult with a smaller head. Secondly, that raw edge is going to be turned under and stitched, so the hat lining appears a little larger than the finished piece will be.

Slip the form out, and it’s a good idea at this stage to punch a few holes in the form. Even if you plan to use a glue gun exclusively, may find you are glad for a few holes to use in reinforcing by stitching:

That's Awl She Wrote!

Now for wiring the ear. Simple at first – just get a flexible but rigid bit of wire (23 cents a foot at the hardware store), bend it, and slide it into the ear with at least an inch and a half margin poking out the bottom from the open end of the ear. Wrap the wire-ends with tape so no one gets poked. Handstitch the raw edge of the ear together with a simple baste, and lash the wires to the ears. This is to preserve the general ear shape and make sure the ear form is closed, before proceeding.

Lashing Wires Into Ears

The wire may want to creep down a bit. That’s okay for now. When you’re finished you should have something like this:

Finished Ear; Wire Inserted

Pretty-cool ear, eh? I thought so.

Now sew the ears, again by hand, to the position on the shell hat pieces. You can use that lining (and hopefully a live model) to determine ear position.

Hand-Sew Ears First...

Basting or tacking the ears in place by hand will make sure they are symmetrical when sewn into the hat. I highly recommend this over pinning. Simply take firm stitches about 1/8″ shy of the seam lines.

Don’t worry about the wires much at this stage. They may be trying to slip around a bit. All you are doing is anchoring the fabric ear piece in position along the seam of the as-yet not-assembled hat.

Now, machine-sew the hat seams, which will anchor the ears firmly. Assembly will depend on the hat or hood pattern you use. Just don’t try to sew right over that wire, or you will bust your needle and scare the heck out of yourself, especially if you’re amped up on coffee (ask me how I know this!). When you get close to the wire, take your foot off the pedal and use the handcrank, guiding the seam along with your other hand.

... Then Machine-Sew The Ears - Carefully!

Your ears are almost finished! Now, insert the finished form into the finished hat/hood/crown, and glue or stitch first the form itself to the inside of the hat using the seam allowances, and then the wire “legs” of the ears to the form, to secure. As if that faux-fur wasn’t messy enough, we are adding a GLUE GUN!

Bending the wire “legs” of the ear and affixing them to the form may or may not be tricky, depending on your hat/hood style. Be patient, use more glue – the whole thing will be lined anyway. Press the wire into the hot glue using a spoon. Not your fingers. (Ask me how I know this!) Be cautious with the hot glue if you’re using it – don’t let it mar your fabric or your body.

Glue/Sew Template

Ears all done!

Finished Ears

Finally: when the glue is entirely cool, slip the lining into the hat and feel to make sure the hat will be comfortable to wear. No jabbing wires or glue bumps. You can add batting or a layer of fleece if you need to, but if you’ve cut your form templates properly and wrapped your wire, you shouldn’t need this layer. My daughter said she couldn’t feel the cardboard at all.

And now – this is easier, promise! – the whiskers.

The assembly for the whiskers and anchor cable ties is self-explanatory, and shown in my Materials photo up above. Now we only need push the whiskers through the shell material. If you are sewing a hat with a woven that has a loose weave (not likely, for a hat project, but still), you may want to interface or interface and make eyelets (by hand or machine), to make sure you don’t get a ravelling effect. However, these directions assume a knit or fleece, etc., easy, sturdy, and typical fabrics we work with.

So first, poke holes in the earflap to slide the “whisker” cable ties through (here you are looking at the wrong side of the shell fabric)…

Seam-Ripper To The Rescue

Then slip in the whisker assembly:

Inserting Whiskers

Now we need to lash the whisker anchor cable tie in for security. Due to the nature of cable ties, the “whisker” ties can only slide one direction along the anchor tie. So lash accordingly:

Lashing Whiskers In Place

If you’ve cut your hat out properly on the grain, the grain will assist you in making sure your whisker alignment is proper. You can see the knit grain here on the wrong side of the shell. Alternatively, just make sure you carefully mark your whisker-placement lines after cutting out the hat pieces.

One more note about lashing the whiskers in place: if you were to be creating a hat where you didn’t want stitches to show on the shell side (as you see, my choice of faux fir hides anything like that), you could carefully apply the anchorpiece to the lining and take orderly stitches from the anchor tie to the lining, then poke the “whisker” cables through the shell, when the lining and shell were joined.

Double-check the whiskers are symmetrical:

Whiskers, Right-Side

And kink them up, if you like it kinky. Heh.

Bent Or Straight?

If you went mad with power earlier with that glue gun, you could apply a bit of glue on the anchor points of the whiskers, although it’s not needed.

Now all that remains is inserting the lining into the shell. Normally I do this in such a way that only involves a teeny bit of handstitching, but in this case I turn under the entire lower edge of both the shell, and the lining, and securely whip-stitch all along this edge.

Voila! You now have a pretty ferocious little hat.

On The Prowl

Cutaway

cuddle goblin

Today I delivered this little scrappage and my own sweet ass to a Mother’s Blessing for friend and reader Kat:

Head-On

(And yes; Ralph and Phoenix named the bunting “Cuddle Goblin”, because all my one-of-a-kind baby things need names.)

Goblin

The bunting was made from a lot of scraps – cotton canvas, silk, and linen – and the shell was made by Essex linen/cotton, a fabric sent by Karen as a Thank You for pattern testing. It was lined in a soft off-white fleece. Given the math, I figure it would be fitting the baby in late late spring so I did not underline for additional warmth.

I am beginning to really like the Essex linen/cotton and may buy some (since I’m all out, finally). It is lovely to work with, although I am still getting used to the fact it shrinks and shrinks and shrinks upon washing. It seems very rugged and stain resistant (I’ve made my son pants from it and they still look fabulous after much rotation). A bolt from Dharma would be divine; I could dye it in batches – I love dyeing fabric – any color I want! (Yeah, yeah, get in line with all the other supplies I need; my WIZARD sewing machine is still in the shop as I don’t have the funds to bail it out.)

I’m still experimenting with applique…

EXTREME CLOSEUP

And employing both my stellar machine- and hand-sewing skillz (a bit of color on a hidden snap, plus PRICK STITCH and, for the lining, slip stitch):

Hand-sewn Snap

Zipper

(You can see more detail shots and read about how I made this in the Flickr tagset.)

The Mother’s Blessing was a very lovely experience; I’ve been to a handful of them (though not for a couple years) and they suit me more than the typical baby shower content and substance. I brought a date, my friend Jasmine. It was a super lady-positive evening. Here we are all tied together, just before snipping ourselves apart.

Mother's Blessing

I’ve a length of cotton string around my right wrist and over the next few days will be holding Kat and her family adventure in my mind and heart.