Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Finish It Up: Washi Dresses

Yes, dressES, plural.

I can't stop.

I actually wore my first one WHILE I was making my second one. THE PATTERN HAS POCKETS BUILT RIGHT INTO IT.

POCKETS POCKETS POCKETS

I also have an opinion about pockets, Leslie, and it is this: things without pockets are stupid and I'm going to throw them all away.

In my very short (thus far) garment sewing adventures, I've made three things, and all three of them went into the bin almost as soon as I was finished.  They didn't fit and they looked AWFUL. Homemade.  Perhaps by a child? A blind child? With limited feeling in her fingertips?

They were BAD.

But the washi dress?!?! OHHHHHHH, the washi dress.

I am in two sewing 'groups' on Ravelery and I'm pretty sure the moderators are going to remove me for not shutting up about the pattern.  Seriously.

It's from the (I assume) fantastic Made By Rae.  I always love a fellow Rae, even if her mama forgot the Y. I assume she's fantastic bc this pattern is so brilliant, but I haven't actually made any of the other ones. BUT I WILL BE.

I bought the dress and the expansion pack, but only for the sleeves. I can't see myself with a giant bow, know what I mean? I'm just not a BOW GIRL. Presumably, if I knew what I was doing, I could have just added the sleeves myself. But I don't, so expansion pack it was.

My first one fit right off the machine PERFECTLY.  The only complaint I ever read about this dress is that it seems like maternity clothes and makes some women look pregnant.  Well. I love maternity clothes and I look pregnant no matter what, so it was win win for me.  Seriously.  I don't know enough about style to know if these empire waists actually look GOOD on me, but they are my absolute FAVORITE.


I made it out of this Timeless Treasures grey crosshatch quilting cotton, which apparently is a no-no in garment sewing? But I love it.  It's drapey enough for me and honestly I can't figure out why we're not supposed to use it. Does anyone want to share the secret? Anyway. It's sold out right now, but when I got it, it was only 4.88 a yard!!! I got three and a half yards, and didn't need that much.  And since it's regular ole quilting cotton, it's made it's way to bagland as linings and contrast bottoms.  PERFECT.

I adjusted my skirt pattern to be 24 inches and once it's sewed in and hemmed and washed and dried, it's actually 22 inches.  Perfect for me.  And my sleeves are 12 inches on the paper pattern, about 10.5 sewn up. I like to cover the batwings.

I used this video to help with the elastic shirring (I'd call this smocking, is that weird? Where did I pick up this word?) but the directions in the pattern are pretty perfect. I just happen to really like video tutorials. And apparently Brothers are weird for this? I will say that my tension has been a tad finicky ever since I started this, but it was totally worth it.  If it keeps up after the move, I'm just going to buy another bobbin casing and have one for regular and one for shirring.  BECAUSE I LOVE THIS DRESS THAT MUCH YA'LL.

There is literally not a single thing I don't like about this dress.

For my second one, the one I made while wearing the first one, I used this gorgeous chambray from Robert Kaufman.  Apparently it has some stretch? Does that mean it's jersey? Or a knit? I don't know what any of these words mean. I do know that it's the most perfect fabric EVER INVENTED and I love it to death and I can't wait to order more.  It's light and drapey and perfect perfect PERFECT.

This version is my favorite. I knew what I was doing, so it went a little faster, although honestly the first one went plenty fast. Why am I making that face? No idea.


Now. I'd ordered that perfect chambray to try to make a mock wrap dress from the Sew Many Dresses book. BUT, the three things I'd made before and had to bin were from that book. So since I knew how to do this one and I knew it would fit and I was ready to sew RIGHT THIS MINUTE I hurried up and ordered MORE fabric for that mock wrap dress and got to work on Washi Two.  Then I made a muslin for the wrap dress and it was just AWFUL.  I am obviously doing something WRONG with that book. So I didn't really have a choice- I had to make a third washi.

While I love it, it is my least favorite of the three.  I tried to make it v neck, but I don't really know how to do that.  Suggestions? I also need a different type of interfacing than what I'm using. This one is made from this double gauze, which I just didn't like. I like the way it looks (except I wish it was longer?) but I hated sewing with it. 



So there you go. On one hand, I feel like I should branch out and try new things. On the other hand, I love these so much and they fit so perfectly, I can't help but think I should just make these FOREVER.  The idea of wearing the same thing day in and day out doesn't bother me in the slightest.  

But, in case I ever DO want to try something different (different is BAD) I've earmarked this popover tunic from Hey June.  But I don't know how to put in a button.  And they packed up my sewing machine.

People also RAVE about the Anna dress from By Hand London (short and made from casual fabrics, not the evening dress with the split in the side all the way to her hipbone) but I'm nervous that that pretend sleeve won't cover the aforementioned batwings. Plus I don't know how to put in a zipper.  Or put pockets on something that isn't written for pockets.  And I'm not wearing a dress without pockets again EVER. 


Thursday, May 12, 2016

Book Reports: Mr Penumbra and Thirteenth Tale



I read these quite far apart, but they sort of reminded me of each other (what??) so I figured I'd review them together. In case you were curious. 

First is Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan. It made the rounds last year and EVERYONE loved it and EVERYONE told me to read it...but being me, I refused to cave in to the hype.

Idiot. 

It was absolutely perfect.  Silly, ernest, well written, fun, moving- it was perfect.  One of the lines near the end of the book summed it up for me and it's all I used for my initial review: "The right book exactly, at exactly the right time." What else can I say?

Would I have loved it as much if I had read it at a different time? That's hard to say. But the point is, I loved it, and I highly HIGHLY recommend it.  'Two very enthusiastic thumbs up.'

From the back of the bookRecession has shuffled Clay Jannon out of his life as a San Francisco Web-design drone - and serendipity, coupled with sheer curiosity, has landed him a new job working the night shift at Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore. But after just a few days, Clay begins to realize that this store is even more curious than the name suggests. There are only a few customers, but they come in repeatedly and never seem to actually buy anything, instead they simply borrow impossibly obscure volumes from strange corners of the store, all according to some elaborate, long-standing arrangement with the gnomic Mr. Penumbra. The store must be a front for something larger, Clay concludes, and soon he's embarked on a complex analysis of the customers' behaviour and roped his friends into helping to figure out just what's going on. But once they bring their findings to Mr. Penumbra, it turns out the secrets extend far outside the walls of the bookstore...

Next was The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. I swear I read this bc it was on one of those SK Recommends lists, but I can't find any mention of him liking it, so I guess I made that up.  Either way, I'm so glad I read it!!

First, twins.  You KNOW how I feel about twins. I couldn't figure out if they were really REAL twins or just regular twins, but I'm going to assume identical bc that's more fun for me. 

Second, it's a book about LOVING books.  Seriously.  I know there are other books about loving books, but this one NAILED it.  I couldn't put it down or take the time to snap a pic of some of my favorite passages, but trust me- it was GOOD.  

My initial reviewFive stars. I wish now I'd used my phone to take pics of the most powerful parts. A book about the magic of books. I've read a few and this is easily the best. I have a thing for twins but if I'm honest, I didn't know this was even about twins. I loved every single word. I'm going to buy this in hard cover and put it maybe not on top shelf status with HP and SK and the Giver, but definitely on the second with the Passage, the Silo Saga, and Jacob Have I Loved. It was just soooo good!!!

And from the back of the bookAngelfield House stands abandoned and forgotten. It was once the imposing home of the March family--fascinating, manipulative Isabelle, Charlie her brutal and dangerous brother, and the wild, untamed twins, Emmeline and Adeline. But Angelfield House conceals a chilling secret whose impact still resonates...

Now Margaret Lea is investigating Angelfield's past--and the mystery of the March family starts to unravel. What has Angelfield been hiding? What is its connection with the enigmatic author Vida Winter? And what is it in Margaret's own troubled past that causes her to fall so powerfully under Angelfields spell?


So there you go.  Two books that I loved very VERY much and highly recommend to EVERYONE. 

Linking up with Mama Kat's Pretty Much World Famous Writer's Workshop with the prompt book review!


Monday, May 9, 2016

Currently...

Obsessing over Haven. How did I miss this when it was on?!?! It's got EVERYTHING I love: it's cheesey and implausible, it's supernatural, it's romantic,y the two men would actually make me pause to try to figure out who I wanted (Team Nathan, sorry Duke!!! You were a SUPERCLOSE second!!!)- I just love it. LOVE. I was reading some reviews of the Colorado Kid though and apparently it's NOTHING like the show? That's okay though, I'll read it anyway. But not right now bc I have twenty four hours of Haven goodness left. 


Freaking out a tad about the move. We obviously want to see our families on the way from here to CA, and since we're laying over in Atlanta anyway, it's a great time to do it. The Navy (obviously) pays for our flight from here to CA, but they're less interested in paying for us to galavant around the southern states. We figured out it was going to be about five grand, plus renting a van in Stuart bc we want to go to Disney (!!!) so...we're going to drive it. 

I actually don't mind ANY of this drive...except the final leg from Biloxi back to Atlanta to catch the flight to San Jose.  Why does this one bother me and not the others? Bc Nick doesn't ever let me drive, so all those other hours will be filled with Pinteresting on my phone, texting Angela and Holly, knitting, and sleeping. That last leg? He'll be gone so I'm stuck driving it.  LAME.

But. It's got to be done, so do it I shall.  And to soothe my anxious nerves until then...there's always a Haven marathon ;)


Listening to the All Killa No Filla Podcast.
 What? Comedians talking about serial killers? YES PLEASE.

And while, for the most part, I'm still sore about switching to Apple Musci (spotify will hold my heart FOREVER) lately they've nailed it with my curated Life in the Fast Lane radio station. Lots of embarrassingly rad jams for me to rock out to when no one can see.  Plus some Poco that even I am too embarrassed to claim. 





Reading The Niceville trilogy, which I am LOVING. The first one was so-so, but left me CRAVING the rest of the story, and luckily I'd grabbed the second one at the same time, so I got to dive right in and MAN is Homecoming GOOOOOOD.

Yall know how I feel about libraries. 
I hate to pay money for books, but occasionally I do. Our library doesn't get some titles (I'm assuming it has to do with the way books are published in different countries?) so I do occasionally have to buy them on Amazon.  Sigh. Luckily I have enough other books at the library (um, infinity books. That's how many) so I can wait for the books I want to go on sale for a dollar. 

Usually.

While we're traveling, I can probably get my mom to check me out a few books, but other than that, I'm going to be stuck with my kindle and, after I finish the dollar books I've already bought, I'll be paying full price for the books set to release shortly.  

Oh, you need a list of what I'm looking forward to? NO PROBLEMO. Making lists of books is sort of my jam.

I'm currently waiting for Morning Star (the first book I'll be willing to pay full price for bc I cannot WAIT, although I've already checked and they have it at the library in Mountain View, so I might actually be able to wait, I really do love libraries...) and Raven King to go on sale, along with Where They Found Her. Oh and Mortal Heart, the final of the Fair Assassins books. The library has the first two, why don't they have the third?!?!

Releases I'm looking forward to: the final in the Passage trilogy, City of Mirrors (May 24), the third (final?) of SK's Mercedes Killer books, End of Watch (June 7), the fourth Gentleman Bastards book, Thorn of Emberlain (July 21??), Last Star, the third 5th Wave book (May 24)

And, just to round out this ridiculous list, the books I waited patiently for, got for a dollar (sometimes a dollar ninety nine) and haven't read yet bc I've been saving them for the travel, plus infinity books at the library.  Duh. Grace Keepers, Invasion of the Tearling, Trigger Warning, Red Queen, Descent, Dragon Factory, and The Cove.

Wow. That's a lot. Maybe I won't be buying those new releases at full price!! I have plenty to keep me busy until I get that Mountain View library card.  My life is the BEST. I'll probably splurge for The Reckoning though bc I'll need to know what happens! 

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Location Location Location

Ironically, one of the prompts this week is 3. You have to move away from your state in one month. List 6 destinations you wouldn’t mind relocating to- and as you know, we happen to be moving in less than two months, for real. Sooo, I figured it was appropriate. 

1. Because this isn't my home state, I don't consider this a cheat: my numero uno dream fantasy relocation destination would be...Northwood, in the borough of Hillingdon, United Kingdom.  
Good ole Northgate Street if we could swing it, otherwise I wouldn't mind living in Moore Park or in Megan's old house, which would be even BETTER bc we would stay in the same school. Whenever people hear that I'm bummed to leave, they invariably ask 'what do you like about it so much?' The answer is EVERYTHING. I don't know what I love so much.  It's ENGLAND!!! That's enough for me!!



2. Pawnee, Indiana. I never EVER want to live in the midwest. No offense at all to anyone who lives there, it's just not for me.  I need oceans. But Pawnee?!?! I could handle Pawnee. At least for a few years. But Pawnee when Andy and April still lived there.  Because they would totally be my friends. And as much as Leslie Knope is my spirit animal, I need a little April to cut the sweet. 





3. Narnia. And slash or the Middle Earth places in the Lord of the Rings movies. (I never read the LotR books (I know) but the movies had some gorgeous scenery.) But Narnia? I could handle Narnia.  I grew up in those books. Literally. I could probably get around without a map. 






4. Haven and slash or Derry and slash or Castle Rock, Maine. And I guess let's throw in the worlds from the Dark Tower for good measure. 
I mean, I don't particularly want to be terrorized by clowns or afflicted with a trouble or have to deal with the fallout of whatever created the Wastelands. But to live in a world that SK himself created? YES PLEASE.

5.  Twin Peaks, Washington. 
Again, not exactly looking to be murdered by whatever it was that got into Trey at the end there, but I've always wanted to live in the PNW and Twin Peaks seems just quirky enough for me.  And I feel like I'd be fast friends with the Log Lady.  Obviously. 





6. Hogsmead. You'd think I'd pick Hogwarts, but I hated school and never ever want to go back. I think I'd do fab in Hogsmead. I could work at the bar!! I could work in the candy store!! I could just sit at home all day and be a badass living in Hogsmead!!!




But I guess since SATO has issued us our tickets, it's getting pretty official: we'll have to make the Bay Area Adjacent work for us.  Not a bad problem to have, if you ask me ;)


Linking up with Mama Kat's Pretty Much World Famous Writer's Workshop with prompt 3:You have to move away from your state in one month. List 6 destinations you wouldn’t mind relocating to. 

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Finish It Up: A Petal and Plume Quilt

In the midst of my giant Cotton&Steele custom order, I got a request from an old friend I used to work with for a quilt for her daughter. She basically left everything up to me (best orders EVER) but she did want something that her kiddo could grow into, nothing too babyish.  We easily settled on Petal and Plume from Bari J for Art Gallery fabrics.  I ordered a layer cake and some extra yardage of the white Peacock Waltz to replace the text prints (which are lovely but I just didn't want them in a quilt) and I was off!!
I used my beloved Easy Bake pattern from Cluck Cluck Sew. I went for the throw size (almost all of my quilts are this size) which is about 55x64 after you account for trimming up and such. It's SO easy to lay out and whip up- it truly is my absolute favorite quilting pattern.  Like for real.

For the backing I went with my standard Shannon Minky, this time in fuchsia. Now the computer doesn't look like what that minky ACTUALLY is, maybe it's just my monitor? Regardless, I almost ALWAYS order a swatch first.  They're a dollar seventy five and it adds weeks of time to your shipping schedule (at least when you live overseas) but it's TOTALLY worth it to get a match.  Plus, now I have about thirty swatches, so I'm good to go for the most part.  Makes me REALLY want a Kona card though...

I pin basted it, then quilted it in a two inch (or whatever width duct tape is, but I think it really is just about two inches wide) crosshatch pattern, bound it with the Drawn Mist print and sent it off without taking any proper photos.  Frowny face.  But it was gorgeous, my friend said she loves it, and I'm a happy camper.

Linking up with Sew Can She for Show Off Saturday!! Even though it's Sunday.  Oops.


Thursday, April 21, 2016

Hey Babe. Let's Hold Hands.

I quote movies.  A lot.  My father does too, as do both of my sisters.  My childhood memories are basically made up of working different scenes of Terminator Two into daily life.

Nick and I quote Friends and Armageddon to each other on a daily basis.

Holly fills her texts with references to Mean Girls and Troop Beverly Hills.

Movie quotes are just a thing. I didn't know other people do it (I don't know if it's just perhaps my strange circle?) but I'll tell you this- my proudest moment as a mother revolves around a movie quote and just happened last week.

My kids can and do quote movies often. It is, apparently, genetic. It's in their BLOOD.  But there's a difference between randomly spouting off some hilarious gem, and working a quote seamlessly into a conversation.  That's the difference, that's where the magic lies.

We were at dinner a few weeks ago (we NEVER eat out, so this was extremely special) and I was rambling on to Nick about something or other, and I said 'hey babe' to try to get his attention.

And out of NOWHERE, inflection absolutely PERFECT, Ava says 'Hey babe. Let's hold hands.'

SHE TOTALLY FRICKING NAILED IT!!!!

My baby is a genius.  I am SO proud. Seriously, I almost cried.  It was funny, it completely fit the situation, it was spontaneous and unprompted- it was just absolute perfection.

Other mother's don't get weepy when their kids learn to quote movies.  I'm okay with that.

Linking up with Mama Kat's Pretty Much World Famous Writer's Workshop with my loose take on the prompt BABY, which I decided to change to BABE to fit my needs.  I like to break rules and live dangerously. 


Monday, April 11, 2016

A Finished (Cotton+Steele!!!) Quilt

My ready made quilts STILL aren't flying off the shelves (although someone did finally snatch up the Liberty quilt!!! dancing lady emoji) but I've had two custom orders recently.  Can't really complain about that.

The first girl wanted to start with the Diamonds quilt I made for Serena all those months ago, and she wanted a full size too.  Gag me. I seriously just do NOT enjoy making the big ones.

But make it I did, and of course- OF COURSE- I absolutely love it.


As always with  my half square triangles quilts, I started with a grid from this website, opened it up in PSE and filled in the colors the customer and I picked. This is a completely different kind of 'project' than actually sewing, but I gotta say, I love it just as much.

She went with some of the Netorious prints from Cotton&Steele, which were TO DIE FOR.  I've never gotten to work with Cotton&Steele before and there was a noticeable difference.  It was thick and creamy and luxurious and buttery and just so so LOVELY.  Sigh.  *side note: I ordered from Hawthorne Threads and while I'm sure they're fine in the states, shipping took FOREVER.  I was seriously worried I wouldn't get it done in time*

But they did finally come, along with a Kona Snow layer cake, and we were off.  Making two hundred and fifty five half square triangles.

Whomp whomp.

I'd ordered yardage for the colors and precuts for the 'white' so I didn't prewash the colors, just started tearing them into ten inch strips, then cut ten inch squares from that. I typically wash and dry fabric the moment it comes thru the door, but since you can't wash precuts, I didn't want any funny shrinkage going on in the final product- I wanted the ENTIRE top to shrink up together.  Whew.  I'm in an awfully chatty mood today, aren't I?!

I got incredibly bored and spent too much time video taping myself making them.  Feel free to NOT watch.

This is me making the squares. I gotta say, I sort of can't stop watching myself.  I'm like that dude who turned into a flower from looking in the mirror too much.


This one is taking those squares and cutting them into triangles...



And then finally trimming them up.




YOU'RE WELCOME, WORLD.


I use this method to MAKE my hst (although I don't think purist will like it- something about cutting on the bias or not cutting on the bias- I don't know.  I use a shit ton of starch and haven't had a problem) and this method to trim them up before I press them open.  That's a lie, I don't press.  I straight up iron.  I'm the world's worst quilter, basically.




Then it's just a matter of lay them out (don't forget to drink a diet coke while you do this part)...




...sew the squares into rows and rows together into a top...


...baste it in all of its gigantic glory...


...hate yourself for deciding to do a TWO INCH CROSSHATCH pattern but then cry when you see how gorgeous it quilts up...


...and then cry some more when you realize you can't get any decent photos of it bc you don't have a wide enough angle lens or a room big enough to back up appropriately.  Consider (briefly) going outside to do it, but you'd rather DIE than get even one SMIDGE of dirt on this sucker.




Make do with what you have.  Get it in a box and get it out of the house bc honestly, after forty days and forty nights, you never want to see it again.



But man if it wasn't gorgeous.  There's just SOMETHING about quilting every two inches, isn't there?

Linking up with Flamingo Toes and Sew Can She!!