Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Basic Sewing II - Girl's Dress

What is it about little girls that makes everyone get their girly-girl on? All of a sudden, even the most diehard tomboy holdout surrenders to the pink and frothy when faced with a baby girl. Or more specifically, little girl dresses. And really who can resist - all that insane cuteness. Bring on the poufy!

For my second sewing class with Ondrea, we set out to make view C. Quite possibly the cutest of the cute. Nothing sweeter than a Peter Pan collar and puffy sleeves.

I thought long and hard about the fabric selection. I wanted something that would toughen up the dress, give it a little bit of an edge. Skull and crossbones? Too subversive. Palm trees? Too Lily Pulitzer. In the end, I settled on this modish flower print in very girly colors with just enough Merrimekko to make me happy.

Did my two year old niece like it?

I think she did. Almost as much as the little bird I made from the scraps - that's what she's holding in the pictures. I was planning to make a whole bunch for a bird mobile. But someone stole all my birdies.

New Look 6309
Easy Dress for Kids

Fabric: from Joanne's

Bird pattern: free from Spool's blog. See sidebar for a linky to the pattern.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sewing Lessons

When I was in middle school, I made a pair of madras shorts from a pattern that was reassuringly marked "easy". It was easy and it felt exhilarating to make something that I could actually wear. I wore those shorts to shreds and sadly they are no longer in my possession. However, I still have the baby blanket that I made soon after. Actually, my mom made. Once she saw that I was interested in sewing, she decided to take over. She had been a seamstress and had taken sewing lessons when she was younger. She vetoed my fabric choices (alternating pink and blue squares) and insisted on a blue gingham coordinated with with a blue floral print. She tut-tutted my sloppy stitches and noted where my squares didn't completely match up. When I wanted to finish the blanket with a simple binding, she usurped the blanket and sewed up the matching ruffle herself. In retrospect, her color choices were probably more tasteful and the ruffle did give it a very nice finished look. However, I lost interest in sewing with that blanket. A hobby that required me to spend any more time with my overbearing mother was clearly not the hobby for me.

Years later, I bought myself a sewing machine with the vague ambition of throwing together some curtains and pillows for my new apartment. I used it a few times and then let it sit in its case gathering dust. When I started knitting again, I thought about sewing but never got motivated enough to dig out my Kenmore. I couldn't remember how to thread the machine anymore and the manual had always been an intimidating read.

And then a few months ago, I happened to walk by a vacuum and sewing machine store. Why do vacuums and sewing machines go together? "Hi, I'm looking to replace my old Miele. Oh, is that a Babylock Imagine serger you have there? It just so happens that in addition to vacuuming, I do all the mending too." There was a sign in the window about sewing lessons. Sometimes I act impulsively with good results. I signed up for Basic Sewing: Make a fun Apron! Here's a picture.

An action shot:

I got reacquainted with my sewing machine and found that I could still drudge up dormant knowledge stuffed into the Home Ec file in my brain. Sewing was fun again.

The class was taught by a hipster girl just recently graduated from FIT in NYC. She has a PhD in pattern making or something like that. She also has a cool name: Ondrea Bonvecchio (but alas she has no website or blog that I could reference here. You'll have to email me if you want her contact info).

As for the apron, I'm quite pleased with it. I spent hours at Joann's until I finally settled on this fabric printed with cartoony trees in colors that make me smile. However, I did make one huge uncorrectable error. I cut the pattern out upside down.

Oops. However, I figured it was okay and I could live with it. Here is my rationale: when I'm wearing the apron and I happen to look down, the trees are right side up. Brilliant!

If I were to make this apron again, I would use a heavier weight fabric - maybe a decorator weight or even an oilcloth. The calico cotton I used was just too flimsy. But overall, a great first project. Next up: Basic Sewing II: Make a little girl's dress.

Laura's Sewing and Vacuum (they don't have a website either)
3958 Northlake Boulevard, Palm Beach Gardens, FL

McCall's pattern 2947
Misses apron
View F

Fabric: Print was marked "Made exclusively for Joann's"
Pocket and bias straps made from solid quilting cotton also purchased from Joann's.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Broken Hearted

I really miss Harry. I think about him every day. My therapist Terri says this is the price one pays for love. I wish I could say that I pay it willingly but it's kind of rough missing him so much. The other day I had a minor meltdown when I was cleaning his nose smudges off the glass patio doors. One minute I'm spraying Windex. The next minute I'm sobbing so hard that I have to sit on the floor.

Grief is painful. But necessary; I can't imagine not grieving for Harry. I keep telling myself that the loss I feel is a testament to the friendship. The greater the friendship, the greater the loss. But sometimes the grief is so intense that I wonder how I'll get through it.

But I will. Grief is universal. Talking to my friend Stacey I complained that every good dog story ends the same tear-jerking way. Stacey reminded me that it's not just dog stories; it's every story.

I've found that certain things help. Seeing other dogs, petting them, watching them play sometimes brings tears to my eyes but always a smile too. Swimming in the ocean helps. Floating on my back while the waves bob me up and down, I find it easy to enter into a meditative state. I feel completely in the moment. No past to burden me, no future to worry me. Yoga helps in the same way although lately it's been hard to get myself to the mat. Sometimes my yoga practice is like that - quiet, dormant.

Writing helps. So does reading, cooking, knitting, and daydreaming. I've been spending a lot of time at the sewing machine lately, puzzling over different seam finishes and whatnot. It's both soothing and satisfying to dream up something and then sit down and make it.

Harry used to get upset with me when I cried too loudly. It alarmed him. He would nudge me with his nose and then bark at me, as if to say, "Come on, already! That's quite enough now. Let's go for a walk!"