Sunday, May 30, 2010

Shawl Wrap Cardigan

Please excuse the awkward photos herein. I'm 100 miles away from old Helen, and have no grace in front of a camera. None. Although my belly is pretty outstanding these days.I got a little experimental again with my basic drape cardigan pattern. Prior to my confinement I'd been lurking in dark corners of fabric stores to find a white or cream lightweight knit to no avail. I picked up this heavier knit and stared at it for weeks. The other day, with my cousin's encouragement and with a whole run of mediocre movies as our soundtrack, I turned it into this.I had wanted to make a simple shawl collar. As usual, I was working on the fly so I exaggerated the size of the collar, fully intending to cut it down when it was all put together. But when I tried it on it looked surprisingly nice. So the big collar will stay, though it does make the whole thing more wintry. It's 100% cotton, with raw edges as usual. I feel like it gives my daily pajama-fest a touch of class. The vast expanse of blank cream cotton is like a childhood double dare to add some sort of craziness. Like a big stenciled fox or a bunch of printed cotton or something. But I also want to keep it simple. Any thoughts, dear readers?

Friday, May 28, 2010

Jail Break

Ok, in all of my self pity the other day, I neglected to mention that my cousin, Kimberley, has actually also been staying with my parents this week. She's single-handedly saved my sanity. Beckett's completely smitten with her too, and she's been so helpful with him, but mostly we spent the week watching romantic comedies and eating peanut butter cups with our sketchbooks on our laps. Perfect.

Today, to top it off she staged a jail break and took me out to the Pacific Fabrics outlet. Here's my new loot, and with all the new ideas she's given me, I'm almost looking forward to spending the next 10 days cooped up.Kimberley is on a short break before returning to San Francisco for Summer session at the Academy of Art University. Redundant name, right? but a stellar school. She's studying technical design in their fashion department and picking her brain about how to really make clothes and patterns has been awesome. Not to mention that she's been doing some surface design (my field of choice) so we've been able to wax artistic about reactive dyes and photo emulsion.

Kimbo is heading home to Oslo after her summer classes. She'll be back for the big wedding in September, and for other short breaks here and there, but really she divides her time between San Francisco and Norway, so having her here this week was just one of those perfectly serendipitous things. With her help, I even did a little sewing late last night. I'll post my latest cardigan in a little bit.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Grandma and Grandpa

B and I have been staying with my parents since last Thursday. I'm itching for home, for my husband, for my own space with all of the trappings of my hobby filled life, but Beckett's had many adventures (lumber yard!!!) and I've made a serious dent in the new release movie selection. So, things are pretty good.

This little bird is now at 35 weeks, and well on his way to being out of the danger zone. The looming threat now is that his mother will be so mad with cabin fever by the time he's born that she'll abandon her newborn son and his brother to push a grocery cart down sidewalks, mumbling to herself about the injustices of confinement.

Bed rest is exhausting, contrary to how it sounds. I'm exhausted and have nothing to show for it, which does little for my mental state. But my to do lists are flourishing, and I have no shortage of new ideas. So, dear reader, keep your fingers crossed that shortly mothandsparrow will once again be a blog of action, not just words.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

One Man's Junk

The boys happened upon a little neighborhood yard sale yesterday morning, and brought home these treasures. That was it for our day, because really, what else do you need besides hours building red domino runs and illustrated explanations of the rack and pinion?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Salty and Sweet

Thanks to an amazing and generous visitor my dishes are done for the first time in years (or so it seems) and I have a new pair of old school sandals. Aren't they darling? Yes, they're official Saltwater Sandals, just like I wore between the ages of 2 and 6, and again between the ages of 13 and 17. I'm in love and filled with nostalgia.

To go with these little dearies, and thanks to the dangerous combination of bed rest + a new mini laptop, I did a little online shopping and have these waiting for me in Seattle (we're heading down there tonight for a nice long weekend.) With the cardigans I've made, and a few more I have planned, I might make it out of this confinement with a modicum style. At least my husband will be relieved to repossess his penguin pajama pants.

I could really see online shopping becoming a problem in the next few weeks for me. Fortunately, I have nowhere to wear fancy new duds, and by the time I do my life will be a messy infant affair, so I hopefully won't go too crazy. It's still fun to peruse Modcloth and Anthropologie and J Crew, at least for new sewing ideas.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

More Restier Bed Rest

More discouraging news from the doc this week. And really there isn't much we can do beyond keeping our fingers crossed that this baby will stay put for at least 2 more weeks. But just in case we've adjusted further, picking up some paper plates and bowls, and packing a bag of sandwiches and fruit and snacks to keep by the couch to minimize my efforts.

So far it's worked like a charm. I've only gotten up to use the restroom and to get one glass of milk all day. Frankly about an hour ago I was so sick of staying put I was ready to throw myself out the front window. But I opted for a less dramatic form of defenestration, and climbed out the back window and onto the roof instead.So I'm sitting here on my remarkably comfortable resin adirondack style chairs, with my new toy on my lap and my camera at the ready. Still immobile and confined, but feeling like I can breathe again.
It's beautiful out here. My garden has turned into a lush container jungle despite my recent neglect. It's warm and balmy and feels like thunderstorm weather and the sky is mottled with the dark underbellies of spring stormclouds. This is just what I needed. B too. Playing foreman to his tiny excavation team is all he really needs to have an adventure filled day. I feel human again. Calm and human. The winds are picking up now, and a few raindrops have dotted the blacktop. We'll have to run for cover and enjoy the bluster from the great indoors, which will actually feel great and not imprisoning after our little garden vacation.

Monday, May 17, 2010

My New Toy... or... Define "Spoiled" Pt. 2

Lookie lookie what my husband surprised me with to help keep me a) off my feet and b) entertained. It's called an MSI Wind and I love it!!! It's cute and quick, the screen is clear and bright despite its diminutive size. I'm such a happy camper. There are no limits to the benefits of being married to a genius, and this is no exception. Since becoming an integral part of the Brewer family it's undergone a few after-market mods, making it even sweeter.

It doesn't have the gusto to easily run a program like photoshop, for example, but with remote access I can do whatever I need to from my home computer. So, should I be put on full bed rest, and thereby made to move in with my parents for a spell, I won't have to give up blogging!

I have to say I was shocked by this gift - this is not the sort of thing ZB and I usually buy at all, let alone give. I'm dumbfounded and moved and grateful and so excited I can't stop touching it. I've always been a sucker for miniatures, though.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sweet and Lola

A while back I blogged a little about my sister's upcoming wedding and the Save the Date ideas we'd been collaborating on together. As these creative sorts of things often (and rightly should) do, the ideas shifted and morphed until she developed a whole new idea. Here's the final result, which she created with her fiancee. It's so perfectly adorable, and so perfectly them.

I'm thinking the success of this might shift the entire aesthetic of the wedding and little bears and toadstools and bubbly clouds will be found peeking from each centerpiece. How fun would that be?

Friday, May 14, 2010

In Which She Inadvertantly Makes a Bathrobe

Here's my latest cardigan creation. It's just about the most comfortable thing I've ever worn. But I have to say, and it may just be that pastel color, that it totally looks like a bathrobe. Maybe after the little one is born I'll toss this in a dye bath and see what happens.
Despite the resemblance to housewife couture , I'm very happy with the pattern I made for it and with the extra collar detail I added. I've been wanting to make more of these drapey guys, but have wanted to add some x factor to make them unique, not just an army multicolored clones marching in my closet.
It's in a rayon blend jersey and is super light weight like the striped guy I made a while back. It's so soft and very flattering. Given that I can't leave my house these days, do I care that it looks like a 1970s Ballet Russe Prima Ballerina's housecoat? No, not really at all, but I would love to see if a little gray Procion Mx and I could make it look more sophisticated.

Hey Amelia! Still offering your afternoons? Have anything you'd like to dye?

Does anyone out there have any suggestions on how to dress this up? A tie belt? fabric corsages? buttons? stencils? anyone? anything?

In other randomness, I've been feeling a little weird about being so faceless here on mothandsparrow. Especially since I've been sewing things to cover my big belly, and then just showing them on the bellyless Helen. So, in a moment of silliness I asked Beckett to take some pics of me in this cardigan. So Funny!!! He got some pretty great abstract shots of a rotating fan and a laundry basket. Here's the best one with me actually in it.Very avant garde, I think the kid's got a real future ahead of him.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Ax and Apple

Remember way back when I found my boots? I never gave proper credit to the awesome etsy vendor and fellow blogger who brought me together with those perfect Dexters. Jamie of Ax and Apple - collector and seller of vintage greatness, creator of fantastic, unique jewelry, and general trend aficionado. I've been stalking her blog ever since (and dropping hints to my husband about her jewelry - so far no success.) Yesterday she commented on a post and it made me so happy to have struck up this distant virtual friendship, that I wanted to share her with you all.She's amazing, the jewelry she makes from vintage bits and lovelies is completely drool worthy. In addition to sharing a similar (but not exact!) shoe size, she also shares my love of skulls, feathers, and things trapped in glass domes. Things that, though I've neglected them since leaving art school and entering mom-ness, still give me heart palpitations.Yes, that's a tiny harmonica! Checking her blog makes me feel hip in my child-proofed world. She's like if you took my soggy woodland Northwest self and set me out to dry in the Texas sun. And then made me 10x cooler. Check out her blog here and her etsy shop here.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The New Workspace

After many months of tweaking this, and moving that, I finally have a sewing space to call my own. Even old Helen has left her usual haunt (bidding farewell to all the lovely plants) and now finds herself amongst like-minded inanimate objects. She seems filled with a sense of belonging after floundering in her bedroom exile. She's deep, that one, especially for a headless mannequin, but you know what they say about still waters.Even my beloved flat file has been restocked and organized with all of the fabrics that had been stored in plastic bags and shoved into dark corners for so many months now.
I can't accurately express how motivating having this workspace is. Even if it is in the middle of the playroom, and I usually step on a few sharp cornered Hot Wheels to get to my desk. I hardly scratched the surface of my things-to-do-before-the-baby-arrives list, and am now quite limited in what I can accomplish, but at least I have this. It makes me feel a little optimistic about carving out a few minutes for myself here and there this summer.To celebrate having this space of my own I set out this pile and started sketching. It's funny how much it looks like this pile. I should feel shame for having my spring collection in a similar palette (and even some of the same fabrics) as last fall's, but whatevs. Where I fail at trendsetting, I excel at not giving a rat's.

Monday, May 10, 2010

A Little Augury

I'm not the kind of person who goes out looking for signs or omens or portents. I generally consider myself a skeptic. But sometimes, a specific occurrence will set off such a profound gut reaction that I can't help but sit up and take notice. The strongest of these have had to do with birds, and the most unforgettable have had to do with my pregnancies. A sparrow hit our window and I was instantly sure that I was pregnant with our first son. The hawk came in the window last fall and I was instantly sure that I would be pregnant very very soon.

Tonight, after weeks of worry and panic about the safety of my little hawk baby, we came home to another red tailed hawk visitor on our roof. This one was all strength and fearlessness, standing over a carcass and boldly staring right back at me. He was just a few feet from the window, and was wholly unperturbed by my presence. It was amazing. Of course, as fate would have it, my camera's battery was dead. So, sorry no pictures.

I'd had another ultrasound this afternoon which, while not being fully reassuring, at least didn't present any more obvious concerns. But standing by my open bathroom window tonight watching that hunter bird, with all of my inconclusive and worrisome test results buzzing in my brain, I felt calm. I still feel that calm, like this baby is going to be just fine. Needless to say, it's a welcome and beautiful respite.

Now, back to bed rest. Because no amount of stunning auspicious visits will make me take any unnecessary risks, after all.

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Guillotine Dress

Here's my two part dress! It was even easier than I thought. The skirt fabric is an Urban Outfitters curtain and is all kinds of light and breezy. The blouse is something that Zion bought me a million years ago that I haven't fit into in ages, but have been too attached to to give away. I love the result. It's comfortable and lovely.The basic shape of the skirt is just a big tube, with one seam at the back, gathered under the elastic. I might go back and make it a little trimmer, since I'll have more occasion to wear it post baby. Let's face it, bed rest with a 3 year old isn't exactly a dressing gown and fainting couch type of gothic adventure.I didn't take any process pics, and I hadn't planned on making a whole tutorial, but this was so simple I'd love to share. Here's how I did it.

1) Cut a big rectangle of skirt fabric - 55" wide by 36" long. 36"is the length of the skirt, and 55" is what I needed to wrap all the way around the belly.

2) Cut a piece of 2"elastic to 1" shorter than your waist measurement.

3) Pin and sew top edge of skirt to elastic, right side of fabric to wrong side of elastic. Pull the elastic, stretching it as you work so it's flush with your fabric as it runs through your machine. I used a medium width zigzag stitch.

4) Pin and sew the skirt closed. I started at the elastic end and worked down to the bottom.

5) Behead your blouse, leaving plenty for a seam allowance.

6) Pin and sew bottom edge of the beheaded blouse to the top edge of the elastic. Right side of blouse to wrong side of elastic.

That's all it took. I look forward to playing around with these thick elastic bands some more. They're just so easy! And I have some more complicated guillotine dress ideas too. Now that I have my very own little sewing area, complicated sounds fun.

"Off with Their Heads!"

I'm really loving this trend: the two part dress that looks like separates. Like these from Anthropologie.
and these from modcloth.

I've been ogling them for months now.

Seeing how I have a little time, I pulled some ill fitting blouses out of my closet with the intention of beheading them to copy this look. Therefore, I've been calling them "guillotine dresses."

I just revved up my iron and did a little pressing in preparation for making my own guillotine dress. I've decided to start with something very simple. I'll be using an old knit top, some fabric and black 2"elastic. Check back tomorrow to see my success or my stunning failure.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Just the Facts, Ma'am

I don't like to pout, or host little pity parties in my own honor, but the time has come for me to fess up. I've been put on partial bed rest due to some signs of pre-term labor. We're not talking bedpans and sponge baths or anything, but suffice it to say I'll be taking it easy for about the next month to keep this little guy warm and cozy and out of the neo-natal ward.

Now, not only do I not know how to take it easy, but having been ordered to rest instantly makes me want to rebel and book a trip to Disneyland. Of course I'll comply, I'm just having trouble wrapping my head around it.

So bear with me for the next few weeks. I'll have more time to blog, which is fun, but I'll have little of interest to write about. I'm hoping to revisit some old favorite projects and make more tutorials. Plus, I haven't been forbidden from sewing, though I can't run any errands, so maybe this is just the opportunity needed to further deplete my fabric stash! How's that for finding a silver lining?

Mostly I'll just be spending time with my boys, all 3 of them, and doing my best to keep us all healthy and happy.

Mother's Day Gardening Apron with Tutorial

For those garden loving moms out there, and for us daughters who waited till the last minute to think about a gift, here's a super simple (and very quick!) apron tutorial.You will need: fabric for the main body of the apron, bias tape - I used 1/2 inch bias tape because it's what I had. If I'd gone shopping for this project, I'd have used 1/2 inch for the pocket lining and something much wider for the tie.

1) Cut 2- 20 inch squares out of your main fabric. I used the same print on both sides, but this would look really nice with two different coordinating fabrics.2) Pin and sew, right sides together, leaving one side open. Turn inside out and press.
3) Pin and sew your bias tape along the unfinished (bottom) edge, leaving about 1/2 inch extra on either end.

4) Cut a second length of bias tape long enough to tie around your waist. Mine was about 65 inches long. Center and pin this along the top edge. Sew all the way from one end of the bias tape to the other.
5) Next fold the bottom edge up to the desired pocket depth and pin along the sides, tucking the 1/2 inch bias tape tails between. You could just leave this as one big pocket, or divide it into narrower ones. I marked with chalk and put a row of pins where I wanted the pocket divided.6) Sew up the sides and where you've divided your pockets. I used a zigzag stitch, since this is all visible top stitching. Press again for good measure, and you're done!I really love this apron. In fact, there's no way I'm giving it up (sorry, Mom!) but hey, I'm a mom too, so it still counts. Kind of. And since this is so quick and easy, I still have plenty of time to make another one if the guilt consumes me.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Define "Spoiled"

We live in a small apartment with little storage, so getting all of the trappings of a 3 (soon to be 4) person family to fit takes a little work. So, for months I've been slowly moving, and cleaning and organizing our playroom area in an attempt to make myself a legitimate sewing area, and to create more space for the baby's things. This weekend felt like a breakthrough, mostly due to a giant Goodwill dropoff. This is part of the new arrangement. I'll post more of the progress soon. I'd like to get the art back on the naked walls before I reveal too much.Having all of B's toys organized and in one place made me feel a little gluttonous. Zion and I are both guilty of this, we'll go months with holes in our jeans before spending a dime on ourselves, but we love to give B anything that might spark his imagination.As a result we have a toyshelf worthy of a small preschool, and a very happy son. Which is just fine by me.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Procession of the Species

Oh Bellingham. Our lovely little hippie town boasts much more than access to great organic produce and fair trade coffee. And living directly on Bellingham's parade route means that we get to experience and enjoy some of the wacky, wonderful creativity of our civic brethren without leaving the house (or changing out of our pajamas.)Today was the annual Procession of the Species parade which, despite it's annual status and the posters plastering our neighborhood for weeks preceding, always manages to surprise me. I have to be honest, I'm not into parades. But B was all kinds of fired up, and his enthusiasm was infectious. So when we heard the drums, we watched with glee from the window. Then Mr. Beckett donned his own forest creature costume and we chased the procession down the street to the park. He loved it. And I'll admit, I did too. I just kept thinking about how much I love that, living where we do, adventures like this find us, as long as we're open to them.
B loved the brass band in particular, and waved to all of the big costumes and puppets, but only when their backs were turned. That's my boy. When we headed for home he said, "That parade sure turned into a fun party." Yup. Pretty much sums it up.