Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Haunts and Horrors

Whew! What a week I've had. 4 out of the last 5 days I've had someone else's vomit on me.  Usually at 2 in the morning.  And there's no stomach flu in our house, just a genetic fail as I comfort my son dealing with my lifelong stomach issues. While it leads to certain philosophical ponderings such as "How can tiny people's tiny stomachs produce such volume?" but mostly it just leads to exhaustion.  Top it off with the continuing woes of a hypersensitive kindergartener, and I'm wiped out.  Every night once the boys are settled I melt onto the couch and lose myself on Petfinder. The loss of my little dog last Winter has morphed in recent weeks into a gaping hole begging to be filled.  Hence, Petfinder. Sweet, sweet Petfinder.
 Anyway, as the brooding kindergartener requires daily creation, and his Halloween obsession has only grown over the years, we've made a few things.  As you can see the mantel is in Halloween chaos.  Beckett has made more air-dry clay ghosts, this time with googly eyes.
 And we made these yarn ghosts.  So cute.  Becks had a problem with the faces, getting them just exactly how he wanted them.  Sharpies bled too much and the yarn moved too much to draw, glue was too sloppy for him.  So we found that cutting features out from adhesive backed felt and sticking them to the yarn bodies worked the best.
We just wound two kinds of white yarn, varying texture and width, around a cardboard rectangle until it was sufficiently puffy.  Then we tied it at the top, cut the yarn at the bottom, then cut a few of the top layer strands because why not give ghosties rediculous hair dos? We had 3 cardboard rectangles to make different sizes.
And if that's not enough spooks and haunts for you, check out this shadowy phantasm that swiped a spoonful of pumpkin cookie dough out of my mixing bowl.  

Sunday, October 14, 2012

KCWC Day 7 - Sleeves, Stencils and the Groke

First of all, let me apologize for the blurriness of my photos this week.  Mr. Jones has a new found passion for photography, and I have a nasty habit of supporting such passions, even when the fate of much loved hardware is at stake.  I thought all was well, but there's definitely something amiss...
For today, the last day of KCWC, I just have a few more upcycled t shirts to share.  The first is a felt Groke shirt for B.  I added rainbow stripe sleeves to the basic Target t shirt and it goes a long way toward looking like something really unique and whimsical.  If I wasn't so worn out from this week, and worn out from just looking at the messy fallout that a week of sewing has scattered around our place - detritus abounds! - I'd probably go on a stripe sleeve insert rampage.
The Groke is a melancholy creature from Moomin Valley who strikes fear into the hearts of other residents and freezes the ground beneath her wherever she goes.  She's awesome.  She inspires a sort of a slow, looming cold fear rather than a running and screaming fear.  Something about her has always fascinated B, and to be fair she's a complicated villain, but that's the way we like 'em around the Brewer house.
My last 2 projects were these 2 punctuation shirts.  If you know my kids, you know exactly which shirt belongs to which boy. It was a pretty cool coincidence to find I had these two blank tees in the same shade of worn red around the house.  It was a perfect opportunity for some brotherly cuteness, but I could not get inspired.  The stared, maybe even glared at me from the ironing board for days.  Finally on Thursday I was helping my dad print large letters on tee shirts for the bus drivers.  (He wrote another School Bus the Musical to be performed at the schools by the drivers themselves.  The first was super successful, and if I know my dad this one will be even better!) One of the shirts had an exclamation.  Epiphany.  And thus the red shirts has a destiny.
 At first I thought I'd make exclamation points for both of them, but 20 to 30 seconds of thought about the boys and I knew Becks should have a question mark.  Jonesie! and Beckett?  It really does suit them well.
Overall I've had a fantastic week.  Most of all, blogging again has given me a larger perspective on my world.  It's like a porthole to the wide blue from this swaying, sometimes listing, ship called parenthood.  It's really good to write again, to use grown up words, and to allow myself a few minutes alone with my netbook to pull it together.  Thanks for putting up with my long absence and thanks for reading!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

KCWC Day 6 - Striped Sweats

Today felt like the major payoff to all of the plotting that felt so laboriously methodical early in the week.  So many of the bits and pieces were already cut and pressed, even pinned, so I'm writing this feeling like a cheater.  Like I pulled fully constructed garments out of thin air.  It was a fantastic way to spend the day, though. 
I love these pants.  Love them.  Not that they're anything special, just basic sweats - the little ones don't even have pockets, but I'm really loving the yellow stripe rib.  It was fussy.  It's not proper ribbing, but a soft, bouncy rib knit, so I had to sew a smaller channel for the elastic to keep the whole thing from crumpling in on itself.  It all worked out just fine. I'm super happy with the bright drawstring too.  The whole thing came together just how I pictured, and let's face it, that's a rare feat.
 I'll be back tomorrow with the last day post.  I just have a few more upcycled tee shirts in the works. More stripes as usual.

KCWC Day 5 - Dino Shirts

It's going to be a two post day.  Yesterday I managed to plan, sew and photograph, but not blog, so you'll be getting this post, and a day 6 post in a bit.  Maybe after dinner.  And a glass of wine.
I made Jonesie a pair of dinosaur shirts using stripe jersey appliques.  I used Heat n'  Bond Lite and zig zag stitched around the edges.  Jones is happy, Becks is furious that he didn't get one.  So despite the fact that this seemingly simple project caused me more grief than anything else I've done this week (including those things yet to be posted) I can't retire the Heat n' Bond just yet.  Another triceratops must be delivered. I will admit that they're pretty cute.  Maybe practice makes perfect?
This was my first attempt at a proper applique.  I usually work with felt- no fraying, no stretch or shift.  So this jersey on jersey business was a whole new rodeo.  There may have been a few choice expletive streams flowing from behind the Brother.  I thought I was giving myself a break by upcycling so many old, blank shirts for KCWC this Fall, but in my efforts to excite and fascinate the Littles with my work, I feel like I've been reinventing the wheel all week.  The straight up sewing projects seem to go much quicker.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

KCWC Day 4 - Buckaroo Baseball Tees

Any success I'm having today is owing to to this epic retro cowboy fabric.  I picked it up at the tail end of Spring KCWC, fully intending to make short pjs over the Summer.  I'm so glad I didn't, it's a nice heavy interlock knit that lends itself so well to Fall. 
 I fudged my way through another raglan tee pattern for each kid.  This time around it was frought with issues, tiny neck holes and gorilla arms etc.  But after fiddling a bit, they've turned out just as cute as my Spring patterns and just as quick to whip up.  Tall, Dark + Brilliant took Becks to dinner last night after the Jones was asleep.  This entire trio of garments was made during that <2hr nbsp="nbsp" p="p" window.="window.">
Anyway, Becks got red sleeves, the Jones got brown sleeves and matching sweat pants.  No pants for B this round.  He's a little miffed, but sweatshirt fleece is way too pricey for Longshanks pants.  It's way cheaper to buy the premade Hanes.  Hell, with legs like his, it's actually cheaper to buy sweats from Mini Boden or Hanna Andersson.  That's a brutal reality check.  He will be getting some pants later this week, if all goes to plan, but just not as many pairs as his brother.  Besides, as he was quick to point out, "Real cowboys wear jeans anyway." Word.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

KCWC Day 3 - Tusks and Tails Shirt

Aha! Something complete!  I made a thing.  Well, truthfully I stenciled and appliqued a preexisting thing, but you catch my drift.  I never thought the good old walrus would still be such a source of joy in this house.  It's unsurpassed for immediate glee.  Mustaches too, as they're related to walruses, have been a steady gag for years now.  It's showing no signs of stopping (stocking stuffers are going to be cake this year! Mustaches are everywhere!) Anyway, here's the latest incarnation of these much loved favorites.  Mr. Walrus here sports a freezer paper stenciled hat, monocle, and pearly tusks, and appliqued over the top is his felt mustache. 
For some reason, I'm a little iffy about this.  I think it's the colors.  I'd prefer the hat to be gray maybe, or brown, but Himself wouldn't hear of it.  In Beckettland, bowler hats are black, end of story.  Regardless, I'm glad to have something to post today, and Becks is giddy.  Isn't that really the whole point?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

KCWC - Day 2

Washed and folded piles are systematically becoming cut and pinned piles.  I've gone about this Fall's KCWC with more of a process in mind.  I thought it'd help me make the biggest impact with my limited hours.  Everything has gone according to plan so far.  So... why the hell am I experiencing premature burnout?!? It's day 2, are you kidding me? I think my assembly line procedure the past 2 days has just left me dry.  I get such a buzz with each successfully completed item, so no matter how scattered I usually am while working, it seems to feel more creative.  Or maybe culling success from the scatter makes it that much sweeter?

So, for the rest of my week, I'll be throwing in my lot with chaos and frenzy and we'll all see what shakes out.  I'll post again tomorrow.  Fingers crossed with something completed!  In the meantime the flickr pool is getting epic.  It makes me feel like a slacker.  A happy, inspired slacker.


Monday, October 8, 2012

KWCW Day 1 - Back from the Dead

Hi all! I've been trying to write a post explaining my long, unplanned haitus (there is no explanation really - life just happened) and expressing my glee at writing again, making again, sharing again etc.  I have missed it, and missed you all, so much.  It's a tricky post to write, it's too big and wiry to get a handle on.  Too many tangents run amok. Plus the new Blogger format hates me, and the feeling may well be mutual.  But here we are, and thanks to Meg at elsiemarley, I have no more excuses and no more time to dilly dally.  Today is day 1 of Fall KCWC.  I know, I feel pathetic for skipping a half year there, and my aim is not to be an KCWC exclusive blogger.

I thought I'd get a jump start the past few days, but Kindergarten trivialities arose, leaving me strapped for time and down for the count by 8:30 each night.  So here I am on day 1 with my washed and folded piles.  A few things have been cut, a few stencils have been sketched, I'm all kinds of excited to participate again, but as of yet, the piles are all I can share.  In the meantime, please check out elsiemarley and all the awesomeness therein and click through to the flickr pool to see what some eager beavers have already completed.

Away we go!!!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Post KCWC Malaise, or Lost in 1Q84

So much for my day 7 post, huh? I guess I had a little KCWC burnout. I also had, after waiting for 197 other library users to have their turn, Haruki Murakami's 1Q84 sitting beside my bed. Oh man, I got so swept up in that whirlpool, that for the past few days, I couldn't have cared less about kids clothes. But there were so many outstanding things made during KCWC, the flickr pool was absolutely filed with eye candy. I hope you've been ogling along with me, and discovering some great new blogs and virtual cohorts in creative crime.

Huge thanks to Meg at elsiemarley for hosting as usual. She's a whirlpool in her own right, and hundreds of people volunteered to share and be inspired and work up a frenzy along with her. Thanks so much. I can hardly wait till Fall!

I'm happy to say I've gotten a lot of mileage out of last week's creations. Most of them have been cycled through the wash at least twice and they look great. At least as good as they ever did. My one major flub was neglecting to properly heat set the ink on B's robot shirt. I know, such a rookie mistake. The bright blue is definitely somewhat distressed now. Boo. But it gives me an excuse to recut that stencil. Which gives me an opportunity for tutorial-ness. Life is hectic right now, to say the least. It's coming, but don't hold your breath, deal?

Sunday, April 29, 2012

KCWC Day 6 - Rainbow Monsters and Truck Trousers

Well, here we are on the last day of KCWC.  I'm still blogging a day behind, but I'm feeling a bit done.  I'll try to sew today and post a proper Day 7 post with a few straggler things I haven't finished up yet tomorrow.  But for right now I'm definitely feeling a sort of blissful exhaustion.  It's been a great week. Just what I needed to remind myself what I love to do in my spare hours. 

Adding to my feeling of success is the fact that 2 well known and crazy clever people have highlighted my work this week.  First the brilliant Dana from Made linked to Jonesie's rainbow raglan shirt! Then today Meg at elsiemarley, the ineffable organizer of this sewing freight train called KCWC linked to Beckett's robot shirt!  In a word... elation.  I mean, I would have felt proud either way, but it never hurts to get a pat on the back from people you respect so so much!

Anyway... onto Day 6:
I definitely owe a lot to the rainbow fabric.  I can't believe how much mileage I got out of it, and how much brightness and whimsy it adds to simple, simple things.  So yesterday I made 2 more shirts with it.  This time with icy blue jersey for the bodies.  I screen printed Beckett's monster (I saved the screen from last Fall) on them both.  The placement is a little too high on B's, but it'll do.
I also finished these corduroy trousers I've been plodding along on all week.  They're like the robot shorts, with lined pockets and trimmed hems.  B loves them.  He says they're so comfortable that he can't wear underpants with them, like pajamas.  Hmm... this could become a problem...
 My model was reluctant, as ever, so I have no pictures showing the back pockets, the length, or how well they fit his long, long legs.  I'm proud of these, they worked out better than the robot shorts.  The corduroy is soft and lightweight and the warm brown color is perfect with the bright cotton print.  If only I had a better photo to share, but alas... this is all I've got.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

KCWC Day 5 - The Rainbow Robot Raglan

As I mentioned before, the baseball tee has become a favorite for B.  Warmer arms, but no need to push up sleeves to experiment in water, dirt, sand, toilets etc.  I had a raglan for each boy on my to-sew list for KCWC, but now that I've discovered the super speed of making raglan tee- shirts, I may sneak in a few more before Sunday. So far though, this one is my favorite.  I actually made a little tee shirt and shorts set for Jonesie yesterday (Day 5) too, but this guy deserved a post all to himself. 
B is super proud.  He had a rough day at school yesterday, but I had this shirt ready for him by the time he got home.  The mood swing was abrupt and delightful.  Though he insists that I call it his "robot shirt" or his "color stripe shirt" not a "rainbow shirt."  He says he's not such a fan of rainbows, even if he really likes this fabric.
 It has rainbow stripe on the sleeves and back and gray on the front.  The robot is another freezer paper stencil.  The edges of the bottom edge and the edges of the sleeves are left raw.  I'd left them long enough to hem, but they roll up so nicely, so why bother? Beck insists that it makes them more comfy too.  This picture is lame, but it's the only one I snapped that shows the stripes on the back.
I think after KCWC is all wrapped up, and I take a quick breather, I'll post a tutorial for eyeballing this raglan pattern from an existing tee shirt. It's just so simple and I've had such a good time with the ones I made this week.
PS.  My kids don't actually play in toilets.  At least one of them doesn't.  The other very well might, if left to his own devices.  No governor on that little guy, but he knows how to have a good time.  He's way more fun the other 3 of us combined.  Still though, we try to stay away from commodes, as a general rule.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Day 4 - Freight Train Baseball Tee

Freight Train by Donald Crews is one of the most cherished books in our house.  I assume that's true in many, many homes across the world.  The kids are crazy for it, for obvious, vehicle worshipping reasons, but I adore the simple, modern illustrations.  It's a pleasure to read, even for the 300th time this month.  My favorite page has the city scape.  Clean, positive - negative shapes, skyscrapers and bridges.  It's just awesome.  And it's been screaming at me to be stenciled.  So, because I needed a breather and new needles for my sewing machine, I spent Day 4 with my old friends, x-acto and freezer paper. 
It turned out better than I'd expected.  Becks is thrilled, Jones is thrilled (he should probably get his own) and with Beckett's new-found adoration for baseball tees, I see this being a new favorite.  Not bad, for a no-sew day.

KCWC Day 3 - Robot Shorts and Stripe Tee

Day 3 was a doozy, I pulled off two items. Navy corduroy long shorts with robot linen details and a blue and white cotton tee with lime ribbing. The tee shirt was super quick, basic, easy.  Not as quick as the raglans I've been playing with this week, but still pretty painless.
 I have a confession, I started these robot trimmed pants way back last Fall during the last KCWC. Pathetic. They sat in a paper bag in my steamer trunk for all these months.  Fortunately, Becks tends to grow up and not out, so while they were now too short, they still fit in the waist.  So, I cropped them to below the knee, and finished them up. They're pretty cute, if I do say so myself.
The pockets are lined with the Kokka robot linen as well as the cuffs.  The waist is encased elastic, and the front has a top stitched faux fly.  Actually the whole shebang is top stitched like crazy.  It's time consuming, but I like the style.  Someone else likes it too. 
I think he was starting to think Jonesie was getting all the goods this week.  Little does he know, the big boy's list is double the toddler's list.  He wore this outfit to school today, which had me bursting.  Damn, it feels good to be productive.  I mean, not that I'm otherwise lazing about, but you just don't get the same sense of pride over a clean sink or folded hamper of underpants, agreed?

I'm behind, so I'm going to post my KCWC Day 4 progress report later tonight.  Check out all of the other darling kids clothes being whipped up over at the elsie marley flickr pool. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

KCWC Day 2 - Rainbow Raglan

I know I'm blogging a couple of days behind, but I'm keeping up with the sewing and that's saying something, right?  The house isn't even that big of a disaster, considering how divided my attentions have been.  However, we're getting down to the dregs of our take out dinner options. Pizza again, boys?
Anyway, on Tuesday, the real day 2 of KCWC, I made this raglan baseball tee for Jonesie.  It's the same made-up pattern as the Day 1 shirt, but with 3/4 length sleeves.  I just traced an existing shirt's sides and neckline, eyeballed the raglan angle at the shoulders, then made a sleeve pattern with the corresponding angle.  So simple. 
 I ordered this awesome primary rainbow stripe jersey here.  I'm such a fan.  I'll be making a few more items with it before the end of the week.  When you have a 5 year old that wears a size 7 or 8, your options for playful, young-hearted duds are pitifully limited.  It's all skulls, and camo.  So I'll definitely be making B some rainbow things in the next few days.
I'm having so much fun making sewing a priority this week.  It's great timing too, the boys have outgrown nearly everything in their closet, and at the rate I'm going they should both have a couple of new outfits for Spring. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

KCWC Day One

Hi all! Thank god it's KCWC. I needed a shot in the ass to overcome my recent doldrums. Nothing like 550 creative people working simultaneously on children's clothing to get you going. Or to make you feel like a total bum for not getting going sooner. Maybe both.

The pervasive strangeness that has plagued us Brewers these past months didn't let up for the pre-KCWC week. I was swamped. So I started the day with a minimal list, washed fabric and that's it. I hadn't made my patterns or cut anything, none of the things I thought I'd have gotten a jump start on.

Oh well, it's a truer test of the theory this way, right?

Well, I put in my hour today. It was rough going, both Little Brother (my sewing machine) and the Viking (my serger) were dusty, needed new needles, and all of the tensions and settings were jacked. Worse yet, it's been so long since I sewed anything, all of those dials and mechanisms were like alien technology to me. But I did my. due diligence, babied my machines a bit, and pushed through to a second hour.

The second hour became a maelstrom of newsprint, felt tip ink stained fingers and improvised patterns. I have to admit, as scatter brained as I can be while "drafting" patterns, this is one of my favorite parts of sewing. Oh, lovely, puzzle-y geometry

Anyway, despite how disorganized I felt all day, I snuck in a 3rd hour after bedtime, and actually made something. I made something!!! It seems simple, but I've been useless in terms of output since Christmas so this little raglan tee feels like a big deal.

I'm proud. I'm happy. I'm inspired. And I'm hoping to keep it up this week and well beyond.