full-time summer mom

Now that their meager school schedules are suspended, my job is to keep the kids from going crazy, keep them active and off TV, and keep out of the house so it doesn’t get totally destroyed by noon.

I look forward to getting my mom’s bike out of the shop so I can bike the kids. We’ve been bus-riding exclusively and frankly, it’s a lot slower going.

Waiting For The Bus
We wait at the most boring bus-stop ever. The kids look for mushrooms and I yell at Nels not to pick up garbage.

In A Van By The River
We had lunch with my mom and then walked home. Along the way we stopped at the 8th Street Landing which is oddly free of birdpoop.

Hoquiam River, Picture By Sophie
Picture by my girl! She wants to take a rowboat into the River. I have literally never in my 20+ years since my family moved here set foot in a vessel on this river.

"Hungry For Wood"
Our township derives its name from the Chehalis word “Ho-qui-upmpts”. P.S. don’t pronounce it Ho-kwim like even Wikipedia does, dammit! Ho-kwee-im, accent on the first syllable.

Walking The Train Tracks
A beautiful summer day for railroad walking. What you can’t see is that a few feet down the tracks we decided to cross a trestle. The trestle-crossing ended up being terrifying for me as I only had one free hand so the littlest kid was in the middle and I had to rely on the bigger kid not falling through the large gaps. I was pretty damned terrified.

Miniature Golf, Anyone?
Our “new”, classy miniature golf park. What makes me laugh is the ass hand-painted business sign. The owner keeps painting more and more signage perhaps in attempts to pull the “look” together.

Not A Rare State Of Events
Living in a swamp for a hundred years is hard on a girl.

"Flowers", Picture By Sophie
Another picture by Sophie, who said, “I can take pictures of so much flowers and garbage!”

"Battery", Picture By Sophie
And she did.

a little sharing:

Sewing Irritation:

I don’t sew as much as I’d like to, but most days my children are wearing at least one item I’ve sewn. Lately in our new community people have complimenting my children’s home-sewn items. I say, “Thank you,” but don’t often reveal that I sewed it unless they ask (which happens about half the time). But if my husband is around, he will proudly crow that I sewed it! The last few times he has also pointed out the responses from women are usually to immediately start talking about why they DON’T sew. In other words, they take no time to ask me how I did it or where I learned to sew or further compliment or inspect the workmanship. They immediately (and with an oddly dismissive manner) talk about how they couldn’t possibly take the time to sew, or they could never manage to do it so they gave it up (implying some kind of magic or fussiness on my part that I can), or what-not.

I have my theories on why ladies do this, but it hurts my feelings and slightly chaps my hide all the same.

Sewing Joy:

I sew with and around my kids. My husband is always astonished that they (5 and 3) seem to respect my bobbins and needles and pins and machines, even though my “studio” is our living room. He is also amazed when I’m working on a project and the kids are in and out I am actually OK with them “helping” me (most times).

I think the reason my little children respect my sewing and sewing tools is they’ve seen me doing it since they were little. They also are wearing many of the results of my work and know that it’s really work (or it can be!). They think everyone sews just like everyone washes dishes and folds laundry. If they see anything they like, they ask me to sew (not buy) a similar item (yes, I’m aware that as they grow they may switch to a consumerist model). It makes me happy to see a love of sewing already ingrained in them, whether they grow up to sew or not.

Darn it!

Surely, even if you have never performed this sewing operation before you get my corny pun. Most of us to sew also have to at least admit to ourselves that we should mend, as well. What better way to keep my six-month commitment (in my case, for four people) then to learn how to repair well-loved clothes with a catastrophic tear.

A word about patches. Most novice stitchers have put on a patch like this:

"Traditional" patch
A typical patch. (Check out how frayed these jeans are! A good pair of Levi’s can withstand a lot of play and be worthwhile to keep wearing for a long time). With regards to the patch, we are looking at a piece of fabric applied with a perimeter stitch. If you put the patch on the front of the pants, you can provide a bit of color or interest. The problem is, this sort of patch, especially if applied to an area of stress (as patches often are), will wear out fast as the breach of the weave will slowly (or quickly) work its way to your stitches. A zig-zag or several rows of stitches may forestall tearing but the patch isn’t built to last.

Which leaves me to the process of darning. With machine darning you are generally doing the following:

1. Setting your machine to straight stitch.
2. Lowering the feed dogs (the little teeth underneath the foot that scootch the fabric along).
3. Applying a darning foot – a specialty foot with a circular base and (usually) a side-spring or arm.
4. Securing the tear (with hoop or hands) and guiding the work in a series of parallel stitches, effectively weaving over the tear (either with or without a patch applied).

Lowering the feed dogs is on most newer machines a quick flick of a plastic switch. Not so on my 1950 Singer, although it’s almost as easy. Setting the machine back on its hinges, loosening a thumbscrew, and toggling a cast-iron tab to a different setting (you can see the two screwhole settings roughly in the center of this photograph):
Lowering the feed-dogs

Darning is kind of odd and terrifying at first. For those who have never sewn without feed dogs lowered, it takes some time to get used to using your hands to move the work along. There is some danger of sewing your finger as you gain experience. Not to mention the darning foot (if it has a spring or arm attached) is meant to release pressure at the needle upstroke; this provides more free range of motion but is also a bit alarming. As with many new sewing techniques: go slow!

The finished work is posted above; here is the back of the work:

Ugly, But Works
Crotch-side of the patch. Not pretty, eh? Note: this was only my second darned patch and in a difficult-to-darn area; technique will surely improve. The important thing is it’s sturdy. The rest of the pants will fall apart before this crotch does.

At this point, you could apply a pretty patch to the public side of the garment if you like: I didn’t bother since this was at the crotch of my 3-year old’s pants and not a highly visible area.

Darning work usually requires the use of a hoop to really stretch out the area needing work. It is hard to control the straightness and evenness of the stitches when you are also using your hands to hold the work flat. I don’t have a hoop but I would have had difficulty getting one small enough that would hold the bulky fly flat.

However, after this exercise – which really did take a torn pair of pants and render them wearable again – I plan to keep on the lookout for darning hoops and technique!

OPPs and me

The quilters call them UFOs (“un-finished objects”) but I have contemporized the term to OPPs – “oppressive pending projects”.

Here’s my latest, as photographed by my brother today:

2 shirts for a coupla sibs
One of the best things about sewing for my children is that they *watch*, sometimes help, and always enjoy what I create. I don’t know if that will last through school-age years and brand names. If it doesn’t, well. I’ll sew for myself more!

Lady - I mean Boy - in Red

Beeps’ shirt is top-stitched with my favorite color, poison green.

Close up of Siamese twin patch
From Etsyan chaingang. Etsy is my sometime-inspiration but more often, my guilty buying pleasure. I used lightweight fusible web and then Satan-stitched (dumb sewing joke, there) around the edge twice.

Sparrow patch closeup.
I wish I could remember which Etsy shop I bought this from – I don’t even have the purchase on record. I thought the heart motif went well with the red shirt. I did two passes around the patch – once in purple, once in red.

As always, here’s my pattern review and a Flickr tag set.

Today’s crafty lecture: What keeps you from creating? Do you not desire to create in the first place? Or do you desire it, know what you want to do, but find too many obstacles in your life? Or worst of all – are you pretending you don’t desire to create because you just don’t think you CAN?

Me, I live with a fear of being bored coupled with an over-active mind. I started these shirts out in November, planning them to be long-john style tops for winter PJs at Christmas. As is the case with me sometimes, I did not push through a project fast enough at which point it becomes an OPP – a distraction, an annoyance; un-done, sitting in a drawer reminding me that I suck – a feeling only bolstered if I run out and treat myself to another fabric purchase, or trace another pattern. I decided to go through my OPPs when I got my new digs set up. I pushed through a purse I’d started my brother’s girlfriend two years ago, then these. Now I have to finish up a few PJ bottoms and my drawer full of “projects” will be reduced to a tiny handful.

In the meantime, I am trying to:

1. be very deliberate about what I start,
2. work on and finish my projects in a TIMELY manner, and
3. allow a way out or a fun upgrade –

like these patches, with made me want to complete the shirts. Sometimes when I talk about my sewing it seems more like WORK than fun – but that’s because I’m trying to get myself to stick to things more.

Happy creating!

Spider-pants (for a birthday boy)

Dear Flickr: Thank you for making it about twice as fast for me to blog my sewing projects.

My son turned three on Saturday the 7th and I spent the day (besides cooking, cleaning, and kidcare) in a sewing marathon making him these pants. I finished them ten minutes before we were due at the restaurant for his birthday celebration.

front view
Here are the front of the pants. I wish I could figure how to get the cuffs to not look rumply. Stronger interfacing? Who knows? Who cares. They’re done, they fit him. Finit.

Here we see the adorable spider-patch made by LoriV at Etsy (who has since disappeared). I originally commissioned this patch for Sophie but my very considerate daughter was willing to let me put it on her brother’s pants, as a birthday present. How sweet!

I love making these pockets. They could be used on any pair of pants as they are stand-alone pockets topstitched to the leg. The bias facing (binding) along the pocket opening is easy and fun.

you fucking suck Billy
The back of the pants indicate plenty of room should they eventually be passed along to a boy still in diapers, and if you look closely you can see I only bothered to make three belt carriers. First off, my son doesn’t own nor wear a belt. Secondly, I would rather sew an entire prom dress than make and attach belt carriers. Ugh! I really enjoy the look of the flat-front / elastic backwaist. For kids with their slim hips and virtual no-ass, it works well.

fly and button
My brother took an “artistic” closeup shot of the fly. Thick-wale corduroy is rumply. What the hell did you expect? I used a white zipper I had lying around as I didn’t have a grey one.

Dear Billy: Thank you for coming over and taking pictures for me, since I’ve got no camera.

As always: my pattern review and Flickr tag set.

she rides again…

Well, I finally finished a sewing project besides organization of my sewing room (ugh) and mending here and there. Just two simple school shirts for my girl who is growing alarmingly fast and her closet shows it. Ottobre 05/2006 #14 in 110 cm, for the curious (I know, you’re not):

Vintahttp://www2.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifge fabric shirt
Sophie in vintage fabric which was $20 a fucken yard! I don’t know why I bought it (months ago) but I hacked into it because just because it is expensive does not mean it is holy!

Little girl + owl shirt.
Sophie in beloved owl shirt.

Ottobre 05/2006 #14
Both shirts from on high.

Smoove sleeve
Armpit. Hey, flat-felled seams after sleeve assembly? Kelly, how did you do it?

Sassy Sophie displays collar
Sassy little tiger!

Here’s the Flickr tag set for this project as well as my pattern review.

for valentine’s day:

A Brief History of Ralph

We were 17 when we met in church. I was an atheist but went with my mom just about every Sunday of my senior year. She’d just become a Christian and this was her church of choice. I liked spending the time with her (it was always hard to get her to spend time with me one-on-one) and I enjoyed a lot in the sermons (the pastor later married us then cheated on his wife and was disrobed or whatever you call it).

Despite the fact he was a nice person, I instantly disliked Ralph because he was very attractive to me, he was unattainable, and he was a “good boy”. He had a girlfriend who besides being simply an obstacle to my designs, was someone who rubbed me the wrong way in about thirty different ways (I liked his choice of girlfriend after her, very much). Ralph was an unusual specimen for a 17-year old boy: popular, cute, and smart, he didn’t cuss, drink, and he was very polite and deferential to girls. His good behavior was unfathomable to me, although his treatment of girls garnered my esteem quite a bit. Ralph’s respect for women went bone-deep, it wasn’t a facade and to this day I love him for it. He was also pro-celibacy which just blew my mind (later, I came to see the benefits… not that it was ever easy!).

I wasn’t too hung up on Ralph or his girlfriend, being busy chasing and being chased by other boys while extricating myself from my Evil High School boyfriend. The first time I really talked to Ralph – in my memory, anyway – was at a pep band rally – he played the drum kit, another thing that impressed me. He mentioned reading Catch 22, a book I did not like but nevertheless was impressed by this boy who looked like Huck Finn who I would have gladly jumped, had read it. I found out years later he wasn’t much of a reader, despite my first impressions.

I went away to college and had some boyfriends there. He and I weren’t even “friends” so much as “friendly” – we knew one another, but didn’t hang out much. I still remember at the end of my junior year getting an email from him, “Are we going to hang out this summer?” I thought, sure, why not? Within a few days of my return home we were dating. I really fell for him. This was a very troubling time for me. I took his celibacy requirement as a rejection of me, of the fact I’d had sex (he was 99% virgin) and that I wanted to have sex. Now I know better; that it was OK for me to want this, and it was OK for him to want to hold off. It was kind of a battle between us, but between what I wanted and what he wanted (physically, anyway), well, our celibacy lasted about a year. I remember years of push-me-pull-you as we tried to figure out how sexually active was “OK” for us. It was difficult but of course, also fun. I think we were conflicted on this issue until the day we got married.

Oh, and the marriage? Three plus years into our relationship, an unplanned pregnancy! At this point there was no question in either of our minds about keeping a baby. We were very excited about that. We were slightly more jittery about getting married – he wasn’t sure if I’d want him (silly!), I was at first still thinking about the baby. The day after I told him I was pregnant (I remember the exact moment – he said, “My little bird has an egg for me!” when I told him) he proposed to me. Using a fortune cookie that he’d cleverly slipped his own fortune into (“you will spend the rest of your life with a man named Ralph”) and, when I looked up, doing the bended-knee bit on the kitchen of my rented studio apartment. The memory of those couple days is very special to me.

A little addendum: as he proposed, we were just about to head out the door to meet my parents for dinner – they’d driven three hours to see us, totally unaware of what was happening for us. We met them at the restaurant, me cradling the plastic “engagement ring” in my pocket and a big secret in my heart. As we tucked into our dinner salads we told them we were getting married, and they reacted favorably. A few minutes later we told them about the baby on the way. This was the only time I stumped BOTH my parents, especially my father who can always run his mouth, such that neither could think of what to say. We ate in companiable silence for a few minutes before my parents, with their eyes rolling about in their heads, started faintly asking us our plans.

I still feel pretty awesome about that.