Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Little House That Sewed The Schoolhouse Tunic 4 Times in 3 Days

If you are here to read strictly about knitting please skip down to the very last paragraph and picture.  I got a little carried away with tis blog post and I totally get it if you skimg..or even skip until you get to the knitting..and if you want to read about some serious knitters head over to Ginny's blog where they all get together on Wednesdays...

Wow..I think that was my longest blog title yet.  I have to admit this particular situation I am about to unfold for you warrants such a lengthy introduction. But before I get to ahead of myself let me start at the beginning of this wild and wonderful sewing adventure.
I began this sewing craze when 2 bloggers I read wrote about 2 particular sewing books.  The first book mentioned was from Ginny's blog Sewing For Children, and the second book was Weekend Sewing mentioned on dig this chick.  Two books that completely had me itching to hook up my bobbin and get pressing.  I immediatley made the yard sale skirt from weekend sewing and my addiction to skirt making was born.

I had read that a few people had trouble with a few steps when making the weekend sewing yard sale wrap skirt so I began googling reviews for the pattern and learned from others experience.  And the other cool thing I discovered was people post their creations to flickr groups showing their finished product (something most of you were probably already aware of..not me. Lisa meet the Internet, Internet meet Lisa).  Well, this led me down an internet hole that I just could not tear myself away from.  I began to click on some of the pictures posted and that brought me to other pictures..which then led me to my greatest all time internet discovery...Schoolhouse Tunic from Sew Liberated.

I whipped out my debit card and purchased this $15 pattern because I wanted to create a SchoolHouse Tunic for myself especially after reading other people have success with the pattern and even describe it as a great beginner pattern.  I was DYING to recieve my delivery.  So, finally last Thursday I got the pattern in the mail and I have been in some stage of creation ever since.

There are so many things I want to go over about the last 4 days I have spent with this pattern and show you how each time I sewed this patternI have discovered so much about me and sewing.  Somethings I should have seen coming.  First I will begin with what I did wrong....I opened the package and decided I as a size Medium.  I am learning with sewing your own clothes sizing is a huge part of the equation.  But I just jumped in thinking I am mostly a medium at Target so ..I must be a medium .  I closely followed the directions and things ran WONDERFULLY..not a hitch.  I was rockin' this pattern and loving every second.

(new chair we picked up this weekend from a furniture thirft store in town which has nothing to do with me making this pattern 4 times this past weekend..I just liked the picture...p..s the chair was $60)

Then the big moment comes for me to try on my new creation and I am shattered..It Is HUGE ON ME..really huge. My mind rushed back to all the people who posted their picture on flickr and I don't recall anything this huge.  What went wrong??  I raced back to the packaging and read the sizing..and I really start to scratch my head...according to this sizing I am NOT a Med...but a Large.  I could not imagine this thing being any bigger on me.  So I got out my seam ripper and went about remaking this little cutie to fit ME!!

I made the two front pleats much bigger and then brought the 2 plackets together to close the middle gap in the bodice...sewed it up and tried it on!!!

This time it was not to big at all..maybe a little snug in the bust area..but it looked super cute and I was SEW IN LOVE!! (he-he)
Isn't that sew cute??  Well, I thought so... but I really wanted to try again and see if I could get the sizing better and make the actual pattern fit me..not my altered version.  So I just happened to have another 3 yards of cute fabric laying around and this time I decided I should try the small..once again NOT REGARDING THE SIZING CHART AT ALL!!!

So, I whipped up another one the very next day and I was shocked to find that it was TO TIGHT on top and the skirt part was not pleated as much as I liked in the first version..plus the opening on top was really..OPEN..and I kinda liked it better closed because I did not want to HAVE to wear a tank top underneath.  BUMMER..I really liked the fabric. Oh well, I can wear this version but I have to wear it as a top more than a dress...... and possibly not eat dinner the night before...and probably limit my breathing.

So the next day I went back to the Med and decided to try again.  I really liked the way I closed the top in the first version but I thought it needed a bit more room under my bust line.  I had some fabric and got right to work.  I was satisfied with this version..but not estatic..I knew I still needed to tweek the sizing...but I already went down a size and that was not the answer...should I go UP a size???  Say it isn't so..I need to go up a size???  But the first version was so HUGE..why would I need to go up a size...
Because you ninny...you want to fold the bodice over itself and you want to have deeper pleats in the bottom front skirt..in order to do all that taking in..you need more fabric to take in...And tonight I have just finished my 4th Schoolhouse Tunic and I think I am as pleased as punch..there are a few adjustments I need to make but I need to wait for my sewing guru to get back from Disney before I go for Tunic number 5.
Not the greatest shots of my 4 tunics, but..I am hoping to do a full 4 tunic fashion show tomorrow and have one of my girls shoot the pictures because I feel like you all need just a little more info on this tunic and my journey to this post.
And guess what ???  I also finished a knitting project.  I loved making this pattern.  I accidently bought to much yarn so I am going to cast on another matching sweater for Priscilla.  Never Not Knitting has such cute knitting patterns and I really liked these directions.  This sweater was very much a beginner pattern. I have to also take a minute to recommend a knitting essential for beginners Knit Speak.  This little book is a handy little life saver for those little stiches you know you know but you just might want to double check before moving ahead.  I have checked this book out of the library  times now.  I am just about to order it myself...
And just  a sneak peek as to what I am working on right now..well after I hit Publish.  Thanks for reading and hopefully I did not just loose my 6 readers plus mom!!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Lots To Say..Little Pictures To Share

(photo by Molly )
First I would like to thank the 5 people who read my last blog post..ONE WEEK AGO!!  I appreciate you coming and reading even though I have been less than consistent with my blogging lately...but to those 4 readers, and my mom who never comments..let me explain...
(Another Molly Original)
I refuse to start my explanation with the lame excuse that I have been busy...we are all busy and people with a lot more to do than me find time to blog. So I won't start there.  I will just say I know my limits and there is only SO much I can handle while still maintaining a standard I have created for myself.  And I have recently become completely OBSESSED with sewing. Obsessed in the sense that I have decided I no longer need to bother with goods that are not handmade.  I realize that is the most ridiculous thing to even say..but those are the thoughts I have been having lately.

So you might think with all the sewing I have been doing I would have a few pictures to show you of the things I have been making...w..e...l...l...that is the problem..I have such tunnel vision I have not even opened my camera lens cap in over 7 days. And my blogging time has been taken over by me googling certain patterns and reading every blog post ever written about that pattern..super fun...super time consuming.
And here I sit Monday night, committed to NOT sit in front of my sewing machine, instead I am going to try some hand stitching. That is after I tell you all every thought I have had this week..not really..just a few thoughts.

All this week I have had such a sense of gratitude to the blog world.  I am sure people have stated this much better than I am about to, but blogs are like an old time community of washer women who would wash clothes in the town square and share all their talents with their neighbors.  Because all they had was each other to go to to learn something. People knew how to do things back then.  Girls were raised with skills that provided necessities for their families and created commonality with other women. They needed to know something and they knew the person to go to.  We have that today, just not around the town well.  We have that in blogs with people who share things and inspire others to try new things.

Eighteen months ago I did not know how to hold a knitting needle or change a presser foot on a sewing machine.  I had no idea what an embroidery hoop was used for or how to use a needle threader.  And now I can't get enough...I want to drink it all in.  I want to fill my mind and time with these skills and learn everything that I can.  And I want to pass these things on to my girls and fill their world with the pleasure of making beautiful things.  I really thank the blog world for showing me women who can do so much and being so generous in their sharing.

And with all that being said I am focusing this week on finding a good balance.  I can really get myself going in to many directions and things start to slip between the cracks.  Another words I can get carried away..I can get lost and focused to the point of complete self absorption.  I still have 5 kids. I still am moving in 21 days.  I still home school (even though I am on GLORIOUS summer break...fall is around the corner). 
And I still want to blog.  I want to take pictures and share with you the fact that I made the same pattern 3 times this weekend  each time trying to get the fit different.  And finally last night after attempt #3 I figured out I was a different size on the top and bottom and I can cut the pieces to fit my parts...I know you want to know that...well one or two of you might find it interesting.  But sharing opens us all up to new things and even the silliest thing shared can make a big difference to someone.

Thanks for reading..even if there are only about 5 people left here!!! I love all 5 of you!!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Count Down To Move Date!!

We keep getting closer and closer to the day I knew was coming for 4 years..moving day.  We keep saying to ourselves, "This is the last time we will do ____________ in Mobile."
And people keep asking me..."Are you guys getting ready?"
That question can be answered in many ways.  We have been getting ready to move into a new house for 6 months now.  So, we are ready to get to our new home, but in so many ways we are not ready to leave.

Alabama has changed me, just like Alaska did, just like California did.  I have become such a different version of the person I was 4 years ago.  I keep walking myself down memory lane and feeling so touched by all the memories we have made here.
Alabama is Lucy and Priscilla's home.  Lucy was born in Alaska but moved here when she was 4 weeks old.  Priscilla was born here.  I have lost 3 babies here.  I have bought and sold a house here, lived in 3 rentals and gone to countless Catholic churches.

I have been a Little Flower leader, a book club organizer (and go-er), a mom unleashed with a new camera, a blogger, a knitter, and now a sewer.  I have run many miles around my neighborhood and logged ridiculous hours in the gym.  I have bought 5 couches, 1 dishwasher, 2 dryers and 1 washer since moving here. We had a fire and lost EVERYTHING and now I have filled our home with the new me..in every way.

I made great friends while I have been here and lost 2 good ones (not to death in flesh..just lost in spirit).  I have cried here and laughed here. I have wanted to leave and wanted to stay all in the same conversation.  I have celebrated many sacraments here and met amazing priests here.

The fun thing about moving is you get to re-invent yourself..the hard thing about moving is...
you HAVE to re-invent yourself, start from scratch, build from nothing.

So for now I keep busy.  I live each day knowing these days are coming to an end for us here in Alabama.  I try to swim at the pool and not think about leaving it.  I sit at piano recitals and try not to think of it being our last one with our beloved piano teacher.....
And looks like I write dramatic blog posts while Pete watches AN AWFUL show from Netflix....

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

I Should Be Knitting...

No yarn along for me today...not because I don't want to be knitting, but we have been getting ready for Jack's Birthday the last couple of days. 
My only boy..5!  Knitting can wait!!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

School's Out For Summer..

I have been needing to write this post for awhile. I just have not found the time to reflect much lately.  We are done with our school year.  We finished last Wednesday and it has been Introduction to Summer ever since.  WE have loved it!! So how did this year go? 

I would have to start with ..this year went.  I think this may have been the hardest year for me yet.  This year was the first year that I had 5 full time people to deal with.  I no longer had 2 little ones that napped 2 times a day.  I had 2 older kids that needed mama and 3 little kids that REALLY needed mama.  I was torn all year and sometimes I fell apart and had a hard time putting the pieces back together.  I wanted to quit more days than not.  I thought more about school this year than I had ever in the past.  I prayed for God to let me feel ready to do traditional school...but He never did.

I cried to Pete and whoever would listen, "I can't do this anymore!"  But I never gave up.  I can say that now.  Now that this school year is over I can look back and say I never gave up.  I never skipped a day because I "did not want to do school".  I knew if I did that it would be a house of cards.  Some days I just went through the motions...but I did all the motions I needed to.  I am not proud of every day of this past year...but I am proud I got through it.  I am here..done!
I hope for better but I know I did my best this year.  Maybe my best was not as good as it could have been..but boy I tried and in the end I know my kids learned a lot and I know I have.

I learned that home schooling is a job.  I have a full time job and some days I did not feel like going to work, just like some days Pete does not feel like flying, just like some days I don't feel like cooking.  But I prayed my way through and looked for hope when I had the strength.  This all may sound dramatic, but it was dramatic this year and I praying for less drama next year.
There will be a next year.  I am not giving up.  I believe in the classical education I am trying to give my kids and as hard as it may be I want to keep working at it.  I will take this summer and indulge in long mornings and mid day-outing that I miss during the school year.  I will take the kids to mass in the mornings and not rush back to start school.  I will stay up late and run in the afternoons.  I will enjoy this break and at the end of it I know I will be ready to start again.  And next year will be better than this year..it has to be.  Kids are getting older, screaming is lessening and maturity is taking hold.  All that helps right???

And probably the best part of next year is the addition of this little guy..he will start the fun and amazing adventure of Kindergarten..what a joy that will be...
But for now I am sewing every spare minute I can ...knitting when the time allows and soaking in the moments of "nothing to have to do" because this season will pass just as fast as it has arrived...
So here's to all the hard working mama's who look forward to summer either because they get their kids back, or get some time for themselves back..we all work hard for these kids and we all need to be proud of the year we have gone through...

Monday, May 16, 2011

Another Sunday Dress Post

Please don't kill me.  I don't mean to be boring and predictable but I have made  a few more skirts and a full on dress...Before I go on let me just set the stage...Late Saturday night I decided it would be so fun for all of the girls in my family to wear something to church that I made.  I stayed up late stitching Emily's dress and I have to say it was worth EVERY DARN SECOND!!!!

Let me present to you...a dress made by..ME..for Emily late Saturday night.....

This is the same dress that I made Lucy and Priscilla last week except this has a waistband..which I LOVE...

Priscilla wore this dress which is a simple peasant style dress.   This pattern you can get off this amazing website called www.thehandmadedress.net .  It is the Madeline dress pattern.  My friend Karen opened up my world when she shared the website www.youcanmakethis.com with me.  They have lots of patterns that are simple to follow and great for beginners.

Let me just clarify something about my sewing.  When I say it is simple that means it is so simple you can do it hands down no problem.  I can only sew simple right now.  I have still impressed myself with myself. 

 None of these pictures would be possible without my friend Karen who has so generously shared her knowledge and love of sewing with me.  Now would be a good time to insert a picture of Karen, but I have yet to take my camera to any of our sewing lessons because all I can think about is sewing....

And this is what I wore..I made this skirt.  I out in the zipper and the waistband..can you imagine???  I made the skirt a tad to short for my comfort level...but in the winter with boots and tights I can see myself LOVING this length...

And what did Molly wear you are asking yourself???  Well..look at this little skirt I whipped up Sunday morning while 4 of the 5 were bathing...

Guess what this is..a $3 valance from Target that I sewed a seam in and threw in an elastic waistband...
OK..I wanted to give you tons more details because I know you must be dying to know my every thought on these skirts...but Priscilla is calling me from her crib right now saying, "Mama, I want you!!!"  She wants me..how cute is that. So simple ...so honest.  My in detail examination of my skirts must wait another day, or two, or three....

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Matching Dresses

Made the matching dresses..not the extra cute baby girl you see.
Thanks Karen for a great day of sewing and most important..thank you Pete for letting me go for a whole day of sewing....