Child’s Lace Pattern Smocked Skirt

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My daughter asked if I could make a skirt for her, so we picked out this fun cotton fabric with a lace print together, washed and prepped it for sewing, then I promptly put it away and didn’t any sort of work on it for a few months. In my defense, I did make three birthday dresses in the interim.

I wanted to include smocking on this project, which posed the problem of the waistband. I like to make clothes that can grow with the kids, especially with the amount of time that I put into my sewing projects (I’m definitely not a “finished in a weekend” sort of person), which meant that I needed to figure out how to put in an elastic waistband.

I ended up marking the waistband casing on the fabric, then carefully running it through the pleater with only the needles below that line threaded. After the smocking was finished and the gathering threads were removed, I hand basted the elastic casing in place, so I wouldn’t wind up fighting with all the folds of fabric under the machine presser foot. It was all frightfully time consuming.

The embroidery is very subtle against the print on the fabric, which is a touch disappointing because it’s easy to miss how much work I put into this project, but the skirt is very full, and very twirly. My daughter loves it.

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Toddler Solstice Dress

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I used a very simple and straight-forward pattern for this dress, with the whole shebang of lining and under stitching to get the neckline curves neat and tidy. Construction wise, this toddler dress was very basic.

My main focus was the embroidery, and learning how to do needle lace.

I was thoroughly unambitious, since I wanted to have the project done for the summer solstice, and my baby just so happened to come down sick at the same time (mom life), so all I did was figure out how to do the detached buttonhole stitch within the irregularly shaped petals of the big flower. The rest of the embroidery is the usual stuff I’ve done before.

I washed this dress twice before taking the pictures, and aside from some wrinkling around the embroidery, the dress is promising to hold up until baby outgrows it.

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Summer blouse

I’ve discovered that taking progress photos detracts from the meditative nature of sewing, and since that’s a major reason why I sew in the first place, I’ve decided that meditation trumps pictures.

So, completed.

This photo came out bad, but whatev’s.

Instead of an elastic waistband, I’ve decided to use a belt for shaping.

Eyelet embroidery.

Split sleeves with buttons.

Ruffle bottom with a serged rolled hem.

Sometimes a little busyness…

I lead a fairly quiet life these days. Unlike the other moms in the neighborhood, I don’t continually run around between activities, support groups, and girls’ nights out. The other day I mentioned taking the kids to the aquarium to one of the other moms, and her response was, “I didn’t know that you left the house!” Ha ha, thanks.

There is some truth in that; my idea of a chaotic weekend is canning with my husband in the kitchen. I hate running around much, as it throws off my flow between chores, hobbies, and kids. I live in a mindfully crafted state of zen that keeps my natural inclination toward anxiety in check, and when it gets disrupted, oh boy do I melt down.

But sometimes it feels good to mix things up. Sometimes I like wrangling the kids from the dentist to the grocery store, or finding the balance between patience and rushing to successfully scoot them through the crafting store without any tantrums. Sometimes I feel like doing something different.

Just not every day.

Living with four kids

I’ve had people ask me, “How do you do it with four kids?”

Woah now, let’s not go making assumptions; I wash my hair only once or twice a week. I can’t say I’m keeping up with the Joneses at all.

That said, I do vacuum every day and have time for hobbies, so I’m not a complete disaster.

I had to become comfortable with chaos, especially with my kids. They’re the hyper energetic sort that can run around nonstop at the park for a couple of hours, then beg to play with the potato pellet guns the second we get home. Usually my question for other parents is: how do you get your kids to stay still? I have a hard time getting mine to wear themselves out.

My youngest is ten months old, and she refuses to nap on her own. I know that there are lots of books out there to tell me what I should do in this situation, but I’ve been through this song and dance before. My babies keep growing up so that they aren’t babies anymore, and I always find myself missing the days when they were small and cuddly. I don’t bother with trying to put my youngest down so I can work on chores or whatever. Instead, I snuggle up comfy with her on the couch, and work on reading, writing, crochet, watching Korean historical dramas, playing Yoshi’s Crafted World, etc, while she sleeps on my chest. One day she’ll decide that she doesn’t want to sit still anymore, so I might as well enjoy it while I’ve got it.

The chores get done around the edges of everything else, and the older children are learning boundaries about when it’s okay to bug me and when they need to play amongst themselves. Most importantly, I’m happy with this arrangement.

And washing your hair less frequently is supposed to be good for it anyway.

That’s how I do it.

Summer Sadness

Our house is over a hundred years old. For most of its life it has been surrounded by big trees, until the previous owner, for reasons he never divulged to any of the neighbors, cut them all down a few years before selling the house to us.

Summertime is always a battle against the heat. Our largest window faces East, where the sun is the most potent. The grass always dies no matter how much I water it, and I’ve discovered that I can’t keep a number of our potted plants on the Eastern porch without them sunburning. It’ll be quite awhile before the trees we planted are big enough to offer a reprieve, so this time of year is spent on coming up with new ideas to protect the house from the summer sun.

This year I’ve decided to try reflective vinyl that mimics one-way mirrors (though I hope that it’s not so reflective that it causes additional problems outside). That means taking down all of my window decorations.

Last October I had taped up some fabric circles because I liked the way the sun shined through them, as well as some perler bead crafts that the kids and I had made. I know that it all would have had to come down soon anyway, because, as I’ve discovered, if the window decorations don’t melt, they will most certainly fade completely. But the thought that, come next October, I won’t be putting anything new up made me sad. I like my hodgepodge window decorations.

And, of course, there’s the faded paper flowers that I put up in the south windows right after we moved in, that will likely come down as well. Oh, my poor heart.

Beginner draping project – probably not my future

I did some sewing, took some pictures, then ended up with this:

I think it’s ugly.

I can’t work in 3D very well.

Draping for fashion design is probably not in my future.

So let’s go back to what I can do.

Everyone is familiar with the blue seam rippers that have a red ball on them, that once upon a time in my young child mind, I was dead convinced was a drop of blood. I don’t use those anymore.

I prefer the hook seam rippers. Put a tailors ham underneath, pin one layer of fabric to it, pick a few stitches loose, then gently pull the two halves of fabric apart and slowly cut the thread in between. Even when you work carefully, it’s still faster than the blue seam rippers. Just don’t cut your fabric.

Since this fabric has a loose weave, I decided to cut off my serging instead of unpicking it. That’s the benefit of working with tons of extra ease.

Originally I experimented with the neckline having a curved grain line that did not work at all. Fashion students are probably grimacing at what I did, but I had to know.

So, I laid out my front and back pieces to know where I should draw my lines.

Lines measured and drawn.

Then I got into the zone and did a bunch of sewing without taking any pictures.

There’s a neat and tidy way of doing necklines that I didn’t feel like doing.

Advice: if you wanna go pro, don’t sew with your emotions.

This is my “I need to relax so I don’t kill everyone” hobby, so I can do what I want.

Anyway, I serged that sucker, and it turned out as puckery as a baby’s face after eating a lime. Cue embroidery thread and a basic running stitch.

Pull tight, distribute gathers, and steam, steam, steam!

The fabric will magically take the new shape.

At some point I’m going to add in more embroidery and embellishments, but that’s good enough for today.