30 July 2012

3 Happy, Favorite Things

**Update below**

❶ Do you remember my post about the Lower Lights?  We're huge fans around here.  And guess what.  They have a new album out.  You can definitely tell it's the same band, but with a bit of a different flavor and a few new band members.  It's fun.  And if my ears don't mistake me, they've even got hand bells going, like the kind you hear at Christmas, except in a hymn.  Cool.  Probably the only time I've used Cool to describe Hymns. You can get just the digital file or buy the real McCoy to hold in your hands.  
❷  One of my very first posts was about my spatula (or is it technically called a pancake turner?) that used to be my great-grandma's.  I love to think about how it was held by the loving hands that used it to feed their own children. You can't leave it in water or it rusts, the handle is worn, it's not shiny anymore, but it is the thinnest pancake turner in the world.  I love it, and am slightly panicked about what I'll do when it can no longer do it's duty.
I found this one the other day and thought, that looks pretty thin, only to get home and remember just how thin mine is.  Has anyone found a paper thin one?  
ps It's hard to get a picture of the edge of a pancake turner.
❸  This was one of those purchases that exceeds it monetary value by mountains.  One of our favorite places to go in New York is Muji, a Japanese store full of paper goods, simple toys (we bought New York in a box), clothes, and other household items.  I picked up one of these pads of papers with 4 individual frames, and kept it in my purse for a great way to entertain the kids on the go.  And it does.  Sometimes my kids will do one for me, which I love as well.
Those four little outlined areas for each drawing makes it more fun, for some reason.  We will do simple words to draw for the younger kids:
squiggles for all ages (where you draw a few little squiggles that have to be turned into a scene):
seasonal pictures of weather or wardrobe:
and instructional pictures (trace your name, fill the tree with leaves, add features to the face and eggs to the nest):
When we got through the first pad I promptly went online and found them (they're only $1.75, by the way), and happily paid the shipping on this one, relieved to still have access to them.  I really love everything there.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, this was not a sponsored post, just sharing what I like.  What about you?  What are little things that make you happy and your life a little bit easier?

**UPDATE: I emailed MUJI about their notepads being sold out and they told me they were being discontinued.  I told them of my disappointment (and yours!) and this was their followup response:

Dear Katy,

The item is discontinued, but there is always the possibility that they
implement a similar item or the same one under a different barcode number,
though there are no updates on this item as of email time.
Please continue to check back with us at www.muji.us for news and updates in
regards to this item.
We truly appreciate your interest in our products and do hope they come back
in stock to satisfy the demands for the item.

If anyone finds a similar product, let me know so I can share with everyone...I know there are some google ninjas out there who love to take on a good challenge!

29 July 2012

Abbey Road Top

A Sunday post here, as I'm a guest over at Family Ever After.  Rach graciously invited me to be part of her Sewlebrity Crush series.
When I started this top, I wasn't sure how it was going to turn out, as many of my non-pattern (and sometimes with pattern!) projects tend to be.  I am pleased with the results and even more pleased with how Divine loves it.  My girls now ask me when I make them something if I put "no big dill" on it and love to hunt for it when I do.  Can you find it?
I don't see a whole lot of "older" girl tutorials, so I'm hoping this one will make some of you happy.  In fact, I think I may need to make one of these for myself.
Happy Sunday!

27 July 2012

DIY Buttonhole Elastic

Welcome to another "Friday Feet!"  Friday Feet is when I share a technique such as how to use a certain presser foot.  Read more about it here.
I think I know what my problem is.  I start too many projects and then feel overwhelmed with what I should do next and then I don't do anything, the supplies from each project pile up and the creativity is squished like a cockroach.  I guess that's why I took Pearl to one of my least favorite clothing retailers as we got desperate trying to find some shorts that fit both our criteria.  She wanted comfort (ie elastic waistband) and I wanted length and design.  We found something that was okay, but then I remembered some shorts I started for her a couple of weeks ago and said to myself (because, as I pointed out to Ryan, I only started talking to myself when I had more than 3 kids) this is silly!  This is what I do! The advantage of sewing your kids' clothes is that you can tailor it to their bodies.  The disadvantage of buying or sewing is that all your kids might not have the same body type.  ENTER: buttonhole elastic!
There are several advantages of buttonhole elastic.  Obviously there is the fit factor.  If it fits in the length you can always adjust the waist.  Secondly, I like the fact that I can easily gather something in just the back of the garment.  For shorts, especially, I really dislike having the elastic go all the way around the waist.  It messes with design and a more tailored look.  And thirdly, I like that I don't have to commit.  When it gets passed down to the next child, I don't have to pull out the safety pins and create unsightly, temporary pleats.
When I went to get some buttonhole elastic, I found that they no longer carry in the store.  I even had the employee come over and study the elastic display and then I sighed a big sigh, wondering why my shorts-making momentum was being thwarted.  You can order it online, she said.  While I do find an enormous amount of cool resources online, I don't appreciate paying shipping costs for something that ought to be in the store.  So, dear readers, what do we do?  Necessity is the mother of invention, n'est-ce pas?  
I experimented with what I had.  I have an unreasonable, though slightly founded fear of running out of elastic, so I have a stash of elastic.  All sizes, many types and a few colors.  The first kind I tried is the most accessibly found: knit.  At first I thought I was going to have to sew a bunch of buttonholes along the elastic, but after cutting a little slit, I pulled it in all directions and there was no hint of fraying or distortion.  And I thought, probably like many of you, well that was ridiculously easy, dare I say stupidly simple?!  That's it!  I folded the edge under and did a quick zig zag stitch.  
Just a few of tips:  
✂ keep the slit straight, along just one crevice 
✂ make it smaller than you would a normal buttonhole since it stretches (duh) 
✂ I would make them a bit closer than what I show in the photo for that perfect amount of cinching option.
My curiosity got the best of me and I tried it on the "no roll" elastic.  Results: A big, fat fail.  A picture is worth a thousand words.  Stick to the regular knit.
Decide where you want your cinching party to take place, fuse some interfacing where the buttonhole and the button will go, sew your buttonhole closest to the center of the back and a flat (no shank) button on the outer portion.
Thread the elastic through and even out the distribution of the fabric.  Sew a straight line down the center to keep the elastic in place.  An option is to also sew the elastic sticking out down on the opposite side of the button so it doesn't accidentally get pulled into the casing.
That's it!

The pattern I used was from this Japanese pattern book:
*update: I apologize, I had the wrong book up earlier, but this is the one with the shorts pattern.

I love these secret, undercover pockets,
but I'm rethinking my button choice.  They look a little too purple.  
What do you think?

I loved hearing from you about the last "Friday Feet" and how so many of you cleaned out your bobbin area and oiled the hook mechanism to reveal a more smoothly running machine!  Hooray for a happy sewing machine!  

24 July 2012

The Post that Never Ends

I told Ryan it felt like it had been forever since I posted anything on my blog.
Because 1 week=forever, right?
He said, why don't you take a break for the rest of the summer and just relax?
I laughed.  In fact I'm chuckling as I write.
I told him I enjoy it!  I once heard that one ought to choose a career in whatever they think about when they don't have to think about anything.  For me, that's sewing.  And eating.
It's kind of like being a mom.
Every once in a while you just need a little me time, even if it's 43 minutes, wandering up and down every single aisle in Target, needing nothing, but looking at everything.
I've missed rambling here and sharing what mischief we've caused, projects that have kept baby dill hands busy and mama dill hands happy.
A whole lot of sun=a whole lot of freckles, mainly.  We've had some family in town and we're sad to see them leave, but hope that their hearing loss reminds them of the good times we had.
Meanwhile, I'm trying to get the house back in order.  Not that it ever really was in order, more of an attempt to take inventory.  Finding and returning long lost library books (or in the case of a couple of books, having to purchase some to replace...sigh), finding shorts for Pearl who always has a case of I-have-nothing-to-wear-itis, and trying to fit sewing projects among the everyday minutia which is more like filling holes in the wall with putty rather than actual construction. 
I'm happy, though.  
We're happy.  The longer I'm married to this man, the more we realize how perfect we are for each other, or perhaps "our" perfection is ever evolving, and we are becoming more perfect for each other over the years.
Our 12th anniversary is coming up next week, not all of those years were a perfect swan dive, sometimes more like a cannonball, but the journey has been exciting and keeps getting better.
Whitney and her "baby"
We took this crew to the zoo to see the wildlife, and they fit right in, at least mine did.
It was the first time we saw the entire zoo in once visit.  I even tried to convince Pearl that there was no bear nor was there a  panther, only to turn around and see a sign for both.  Huh.
I think God had a bit of fun creating the Okapi, who despite what I thought, is a relative of the giraffe.
Olive's favorite: the elephants.  Give her yellow, ballet, and elephants and she's happy.
Give these two a hiding place to cause mischief and they're happy.
Give Pearl any animal and she's happy.

I'm glad these three got the stripes memo.  Color coordination is great, but pattern coordination is wildly impressive.

So.  I blog because I enjoy it.  I enjoy the interaction with you.  Ryan  only knows what I'm thinking sometimes when he reads it...what can I say, I'm not a big talker.
I don't blog for the money, the little bit that comes in is just sweet side effect.
I'm honestly grateful and sometimes a bit in awe that anyone besides my mom and sisters come here, so thank you.

Rain speckled sand
Looming clouds
Can you find the impostors?
We saw a shark, a stingray and this fish caught (twice! once on each side of the pier, bless it's little heart.)  The old woman who caught the stingray offered it to us.  We said we didn't know how to cook stingray, but thanked her for her generosity.
Ryan and I are like an old couple: he wears my sunglasses when I need him to hold them.
Well.  If you've made it this far, you get a star.