homeschooling, homemaking, homesteading...home.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

You Know You're a Homeschooler (or maybe just a Nerd) When...

...you've had a rough day. The baby is teething and crawling. The older kids have had to entertain themselves even more than usual. You feel like a sucky parent.

The baby finally passes out for a nap, and you think to yourself how you really "should" do something educational, or at least of some sort of developmental quality, with the older kids. So you track them down. They are watching TV (guilt? welcome to overdrive!).

Then you notice. They are watching Mythbusters.

Yeah. They'll be okay. ;)

Monday, May 14, 2012

A Brief Window

Crafting when you have children is not always easy. Crafting when you have a baby is somewhere between difficult and downright impossible. Oh, there are those who will suggest that you get things done while your child naps...but that presupposes not only that they actually do nap (and reliably, and for a long enough period of time to get anything done) but also that you have nothing else that you could/should be doing during that time. Oh yay! The baby is actually asleep! Should I knit something? Or...you know...cook a meal, clean myself, or pay attention to my other children? Ah, decisions, decisions...

There's the option of crafting while the baby is awake, but yeah. That doesn't always go so well. A small baby often requires constant holding, and a mobile baby requires constant vigilance! But there is a window of opportunity. When the baby can sit unassisted and manipulate toys...but cannot yet crawl and get into trouble...ah, yes. Then a mother might be able to do a little peripheral monitoring of the self-entertaining child and maybe get a few stitches in here and there.

So I did. And look what I made!

First, I sewed the Henry Shirt from the book Sewing for Boys, as a gift for C's 6th birthday. I was a little unsure about my fabric choices; most people who have uploaded pictures of their finished Henrys paired a prints with a solid. However, I selected a small print and a small madras. They featured complementary colors, but would the prints be too busy and clash? 


I took the gamble anyway. And I am *so* pleased with my results.

My favorite part of sewing is learning new tricks, and this one had a few. The yoke/sleeve/lining construction was confusing, but I proceeded with caution and my results were good. I felt rather proud for conquering it.
And witness how awesome a contrast-lined sleeve looks.
Also, after my madras proved to be stretchy enough to get misshapen when I topstitched the closure bands, I decided to stop being intimidated and taught myself how to install and use my machine's walking foot. I ripped and redid that stitching and:

Precise. Narrow. Perfection.

So yay...new skills!

My thoughts on the pattern? Like many others who have made this, I find the fit to be a bit off. I made it in the largest size (6-7) and it *just* fits C for length (if I do it again, I'll add several inches) and is very wide. I'm writing the width off as a stylistic thing because I'm not sure I'm up to figuring out how to make the garment more narrow when the yoke pattern piece is so oddly shaped. I will also likely make a regular (rather than inverted) box pleat at the center back on my next Henry; simply because that's how most RTW shirts are designed.

C seems to like the shirt, 
despite the body language *sigh*
but he has chosen for some reason to see it as nightwear and keeps asking when I will be making the matching PJ pants...

Project #2 was also from the Sewing for Boys book. I made the R is for Romper for Baby J.

You may *squee* now.
I am in love with the fabric that I chose; it's a JoAnn's knit with a Hey Diddle Diddle motif. I bought a cut of this fabric not long after I discovered his impending arrival and had intended to make a layette with it. Um, whoops. But it's all good: we have a romper, and there's plenty left over for some future PJ's and maybe more. 

I started following my own drummer on this pattern's construction when I realized that it was designed to be sewn with exposed, raw seams all over. I guess that look is all the rage for...someone. Lots of someones, apparently. Not so much for me. So my first order of business was to sew with right sides together and topstitch all over the place. And pardon my back-patting when I say that my seams look incredible.

Next, I needed to attach and finish the neckline binding using a different technique. I followed these instructions from omi creates and am very happy with the results.

Then I hit a problem. The pattern was designed to have ALL raw edges. Not just seams, but typical hem areas as well. I wasn't sure how much I'd sacrifice in leg length, but I went full-out OCD and *had* to turn under a real hem. That's where I goofed a bit. First, I forgot to change the stitch setting on my machine, so instead of a nearly-invisible straight stitch, I did the hem with a zigzag. Oh well, worse things could have happened. And they did. I started having tension issues with my machine. So the leg hems are a bit wonky. Bleah. I decided to leave the sleeve ends raw because they were too short to turn under for a traditional hem. As it is, the fabric that I used for the sleeves is thin and has a good deal of curl, so a hem would have been a moot point anyway.

Speaking of sleeves, there are two issues that bother me. One was a goof by yours truly. Sometimes when you stay up into the wee hours starting a project, your eyes are tired and you accidentally fuse your interfacing to the "right" (but incorrect) side of your fabric. So, um, yeah. The sleeves are kind of inside-out. Granted, it's a solid color. You can't tell. But I know. And whoops, now the whole Internet knows. Sometimes I should really keep my mouth shut.

The other issue is that the underarm seams seem to twist/pucker and pull. 

Seriously, though...look at the little animals. And the super narrow topstitching on the side seam. This is so much awesome anyway.
I'm honestly not sure if that is due to the thin fabric, my construction, or the pattern design. Honestly, none of them looked likely when I investigated. Maybe it's just a fluke; I will watch this area on my next project using this pattern.

When I make this pattern again, not only will I add hem length to the legs and sleeves, but I will also tack down the bottom edge of the raglan openings *before* sewing the sleeve/side seam. I found doing so afterward (as per the instructions) to pose a bit of a challenge, and opted instead to add a third snap. I also plan to draft a crotch gusset for the next romper. The fit is okay...but my cloth-diapered son would probably be more comfortable with a little extra wiggle room "down there".

Mmmm. Form-fitting.
Oh! And I did all sew-on snaps. Because I am a major martyr. But yay, awesome me.

I made this pattern in a size 6-12 months. J is a week shy of 9 months (and around 19 pounds) and this *just* fits him. I'm definitely making more of these (I am so happy with the final product) in the next size up.

In summary: two projects in just over a month. Unheard of! And both from the same book. If you sew and have a little boy in your life, I highly recommend picking up a copy of Sewing for Boys. The garments are classic and customizable (check out their Flickr group to see user photos...no, mine aren't there yet...I'm typing like the wind now because my kids are asking for food. So maybe later.) and even the more difficult-to-construct projects have clearly written instructions with plenty of illustrations. Many props to the authors/designers for some garments that are both adorable and totally wearable.

So there you go. I still sew. Sometimes! It's been a nice diversion...kind of helped me to return to myself a bit. It's difficult to do "me" things when you have a little one. I got a little bit of that, and some really cute garments for two of my kids in the process. This was likely a brief phenomenon, though, and not the beginning of a new phase of crafting for me, as J is crawling now. With enthusiasm. Lord help me. :p

Thursday, May 10, 2012

My Best Friend

...is awesome.

Seriously. Look what she made for me! I got it in the mail today.


She is the proud owner of a Silhouette (a product I covet but am far too cheap frugal to buy). A few weeks back, I emailed her and said, "I need a Mockingjay shirt."  She Googled, and voila! Because she loves me. *happysigh*