Friday, August 12, 2011

St. Simons Dress aka New Look 6557 Finished

I’m still stunned that I was able to finish this dress, having only started the muslin two weeks ago and losing some time after sewing my finger last Saturday.  This is pretty quick for me, even without the handicap!

St. Simon's Island Dress

(Sorry for all of the headless, poorly lit kitchen shots as of late.  I've been sewing late at night and my head is just not fit for pictures at that point.)

After setting the dates for our road trip, Nick and I got invited to a wedding in Georgia that just happened to fall at the tail end of our trip.  We looked at our route and realized that with a little revising, we would be able to make it!  We are super excited about it, not only because we love the couple getting married (the groom actually performed our wedding ceremony!), but we finally get to see beautiful St. Simons Island, Georgia, where the groom grew up.  Hence why I’ve named this dress the St. Simons Dress!

They decided to keep things casual, so I thought it would be fun to make my dress.  I’ve been wanting to make a dress for the past few weddings that we’ve been invited to, but my skill level just wasn’t up for the challenge.  But this one I thought I could handle, and since I could use a more casual fabric, meaning I wouldn’t have to worry about anything super expensive or slippery, I figured now was the time.

In one of her Sewing Circles, Suzannah from Adventures in Dressmaking mentioned New Look 6557 as a good starter dress for beginners.  I liked the simple design so I picked it up during one of the $.99 pattern sales at Joann.  I wanted to use fabric that was a little nicer than cotton, and after coming up empty at Joann, I took to and found this gorgeous Kaffe Fassett rayon challis.  Here's a closer look at the details.

Image Source

This fabric is so soft!  I love it.  I can’t wait to see it flapping in the Georgian beach breeze.  The muslin went together really easily, even if it did have some fitting issues.  After taking it in, I was so happy with the fit and look of the dress!  My instructor convinced me to put in a full lining, instead of just lining the bodice as the pattern suggests, so I used the same methodology as I did when constructing the Passport dress (making two versions of the dress and then piecing them together).  I was excited when I didn't need my instructor's advice when it came time to attaching the lining and the fabric.  Those sewing lessons are doing something!

This was the second time I have put in a lapped zipper, and I must admit that it’s not my favorite thing.  Putting in an invisible zipper (as I did on both Gingers) seemed much easier for me.  I considered switching to an invisible zipper last minute, but I didn't have time to run out and get one.  Thankfully the lapped zipper made a little more sense to me the second time around and it went in a lot easier than last time. 

St. Simon's Island Dress

I’m so thankful that I didn’t run into any major issues when putting this dress together.  I would have had to go dress shopping on vacation if I hadn’t been able to finish it!  My only frustration while sewing up the final product was that my thread kept breaking mid-sewing.  I must have gotten a bad spool of thread, even though it was Gutermann, because it broke even while I was hand sewing.  I ended up switching to a white thread (my original thread was a soft blue) and throwing out the crappy spool.  Now I am ready to visit St. Simons Island!

This will be the last regular post for a while.  Nick and I are headed west to see the country.  I’ve pretty much been a strictly east coast girl for my whole life, with brief trips to California, Las Vegas, and Chicago, but nothing extensive.  We’re going to be driving through a whopping 23 states, 16 of which are brand new to me, so I’m excited to see lots of different landscapes and wildlife than what I’ve seen up until now.  I’ll try to post some pictures every now and then, depending on the availability of internet.  Also, in case recent news has made you worried for us, we are taking every precaution to ensure that we aren’t mauled by bears.  We have bear spray and know what to do in the event that we encounter a bear, but hopefully the only bears we will see are from a great distance.

I’ll be sure to post a recap of our adventures and return to regular posts after Labor Day.  I never did get to finish my Passport dress.  I guess I have something quick and easy to do when we get home!  Happy end of Summer!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Pretty Things Thursday: Guatemalan Bag

I can’t believe it’s been almost two years since Nick and I were honeymooning (or luna de miel-ing) in Guatemala.  We had so many adventures in our two weeks down there, among them learning how to haggle with the local vendors.  Our strategy involved me putting on my best poker face and letting Nick do the talking, since I have a really hard time disguising how much I love and need whatever item we’re trying to talk down the price on.

We waited until our very last morning in Panajachel before we snagged this gorgeous bag.  Besides being beautiful, we needed this bag to carry home some of our pottery loot that we were too worried to pack in our suitcases.

Guatemalan Bag

We were admiring textiles like this the entire time we were in Guatemala.  We were lucky enough to see some of the women and children weaving them next to their shops, but unfortunately I didn't get any pictures. 

Guatemalan Bag

One of my favorite details is this outside zipper.  It compliments the weaving nicely.

Guatemalan Bag

I wonder if we'll come across any local textiles on our Great Western Adventure!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Crafting While on Vacation

Last week while ripping a bunch of CDs to load onto my iPod, I organized the pack of floss that I ordered from Sublime Stitching.  I wrapped the floss onto bobbins and then sorted through the colors so that no more than two bobbins of the same color were present in my floss holder.  Why the OCDness?  Because my floss is coming on our Great Western Adventure!

Organizing Floss

Last year I picked up Martha Stewart’s Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts and immediately fell in love with the State Bird Quilt.

Image Source

Thankfully Nick is a bird lover too and agreed that this would make a nice summer alternative to our Lucia Duvet.  I couldn’t make up my mind what colors to use, so I never got around to starting it.  Every so often I would revisit the pictures and try to decide what to do.  Martha embroiders each bird using one color, which I think looks awesome and beachy in the photos, but which I’m afraid will look too rainbowy in real life.  Plus, the idea of embroidering a bird in all one color didn’t sit well with me.  I’m more of a realist and it would bother me if a bird wasn’t depicted with its real life colors of feathers.  So Nick and I finally decided that each bird should be embroidered in its true colors, while limiting the number of colors that I use overall so it’s not too all over the place.

I kept an eye on linen prices on and once they had a good sale, I ordered the required 6 yards.  During Camp Flickawanna, I cut out the 30 14-inch squares for the birds.  How pathetic is it that states repeat birds?  There are only 26 different birds that were chosen to represent the 50 states.  Seven states picked the Cardinal.  Come on, states!  I’m proud that Pennsylvania is the only state that chose the Ruffed Grouse as its mascot, even if I haven’t ever seen one in the 28 years that I’ve lived in this state.

I then used transfer paper to trace the birds onto the linen.   

Tracing State Birds onto Linen

I’ll be taking these squares along with me to work on in the car and when we have down time, using Nick’s bird books as inspiration for their coloring.  I've only had time to trace 9 of the birds (thank god for lunch breaks!), which I think will be way more than I'll get to while we're gone, but I wanted to be safe.

State Bird Tracing

But before I get started on the birds, I am going to finish up the Ryan Berkley quartet by tackling a Mr. Fox and Mr. Bird for ourselves.  Here they are all transferred and traced and ready to go!  The frames come with the PDF version of the Ryan Berkley patterns, which is why I had to trace them on rather than just transfer them with an iron.  Sorry, I know I talk about these patterns all of the time, but I LOVE them.  Ok, I'm obsessed.  If I have convinced you to get these patterns, I suggest getting the iron-on transfers.  There are so many tiny details that it's hard to trace the patterns and I didn't have much success printing the PDF on a laser printer and ironing them on. 
Mr. Fox and Mr. Bird are ready to go!

I’m also bringing along some yarn to work on my knitted afghan if I don’t feel like embroidering.  Thought I forgot about that project, huh?  It’s been awhile since I finished a panel, but I haven’t forgotten!

I think that will be more than enough to keep me busy while we’re gone.  Do you take crafts on the road with you?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

2nd Annual Action Kivu Fundraiser

For the second year, Alissa over at Handmade by Alissa is organizing a fundraiser for Action Kivu, an organization that teaches women who are affected by the conflicts in Eastern Congo how to sew.  Here's a little bit more about Action Kivu from Alissa's blog:

"The conflict in Congo has taken the lives of over 5.4 million people since 1998. Rape is used as a weapon of war, with estimates putting the number of rapes in the hundreds of thousands.  This is truly difficult stuff to think about but together we can really make a difference for some specific women who need our help.
By learning to be seamstresses these women can then support themselves and their families. Action Kivu also pays to send Congolese children to school.  You can read a lot about them on their web site."

Image Source

Donating to this cause was a no-brainer for me since it empowers women in the present and gives them the tools to support their families now and in the future.  Check out the Action Kivu blog for some amazing stories about how the program has helped the women in the program.  And look at the beautiful fabrics they get to work with!

Stop on over at Handmade by Alissa to donate and enter to win one of many amazing giveaways.  As with every fundraiser, every little bit helps!

Finished Brown Chambray Ginger Skirt

Here she is, chambray Ginger skirt #2!

Brown Chambray Ginger Skirt

I love that this skirt came together so quickly since I had already worked through the fitting issues.   Of course I would have gotten it done a lot sooner had I not accidentally sewed through my finger on Saturday night!  I'm still not sure how it happened, but what set me up for it was inserting the pins the wrong way when sewing hem tape onto the bottom of my Passport dress.  I reached to remove a pin and somehow at the same time still managed to have my foot on the foot pedal.  The next thing I knew, the needle was broken and my fingernail was bleeding from the middle of the nail.  Not good.  My only excuse was that I had been at frisbee finals from 9:30am - 4:00pm that day and I was pretty tired.  This is yet another reason why I shouldn't sew when tired.

Thankfully the needle wasn't stuck in my finger, but instead broke when it punctured my fingernail.  I couldn't find all of the pieces of the needle, and what I found were tiny shards of metal, so Nick insisted that we go to the ER to make sure there wasn't any metal under my fingernail.  I was not fond of this plan since it was 10:30pm on a Saturday night (who knows what craziness we would encounter there), but agreed since we were leaving for vacation and I didn't want to find myself in the middle of the nowhere in need of a doctor.  Thankfully I made it through triage and an x-ray quickly and after only an hour and a half, we left the ER knowing that my hand was metal-free!  But sewing since has proved difficult because my finger is pretty sore and a little swollen.  I never realized how critical your left index finger is while sewing!  Hopefully I will never sew through my finger again.

So back to my new Ginger.  I had originally wanted to try out version 2 so I didn’t end up with two almost completely identical skirts, but I was realistic about my time for once and decided to go with version 1 again.  A version 2 is in my future though, I’m just not sure when.

Brown Chambray Ginger Skirt

As I mentioned on Friday, the reason why I whipped up another Ginger was so I can mix and match a few tank tops with it and my other Ginger.  There are 10 days during our trip when I’ll need to wear clothes that aren’t meant to be hiked in, so by packing 2 Gingers and 4 tank tops, I’ll only be repeating exact outfits twice.  Hurrah for smart packing!

Also, don't you love my new sneaks?  I picked them up for the days that we're visiting cities so I'm not trudging around in sandals for hours and getting blisters.  They're lightweight canvas and are super comfy.  Plus I got them on sale at DSW.  Bonus!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Ms. Kitty Embroidery

Introducing Ms. Kitty of the Ryan Berkley Quartet!  Admittedly, Ms. Kitty is my least favorite of the four, but I do love a dapperly dressed animal.  Maybe it’s because Ms. Kitty isn’t as formal as the rest of the bunch?  Although her broach and hair clip are quite fetching.  I won’t be surprised if Flick develops a crush on her immediately.
Ms. Kitty

I forgot to mention when I shared Ms. Bunny that I used Sublime Stitching’s method of blending two colors of floss to create a wood-like feel for the frame.  I’m pleased with the result and I think using the split stitch added the texture needed for a “wooden” frame.
Ms. Kitty of the Ryan Berkley Quartet

In case you're keeping track, here are the two that are finished and ready to be framed.

Ms. Kitty and Ms. Bunny

I’m so excited for when they’re all finished and I can hang them and stare at them in their formal glory every day!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Planning a New Ginger Skirt

Every time I go on a vacation, I make a spreadsheet of what I need to pack.  I can’t help it—I need to be organized and make sure I don’t forget anything!  Last week I was starting to put together a spreadsheet for our Great Western Adventure packing list, and I realized that my Ginger skirt is perfect to have on hand to change into when we arrive at our destinations.  Then I decided that having two would be perfect, because I could bring a handful of tank tops and switch off the Gingers so I’m not wearing the same thing in every photo.

Yes, two weeks before we leave on our trip, I decide that I need to make another skirt, on top of the dress that I’m supposed to be finishing so I can wear it to a wedding at the end of our trip.  Oh, and on top of finishing the Passport dress.  Did I mention that I’m working up until the day that we leave?  Am I crazy?  Probably.  But it’s the perfect plan!

This does mean that I won’t be able to get to the sewing project for a friend that I wanted to complete before our trip.  Although, that project would have taken me longer to complete than the skirt, so I’m calling it even and not beating myself up about it too much.  That project is the very first thing on my list to complete when we get back from our trip, and I am holding myself to that!

In a stroke of luck that I take as the universe agreeing with my crazy plan, I stumbled upon the Fall line of Lisette fabrics at Joann when I was there picking up some random supplies for my dresses.  And what does it include?  A brown chambray, of course!  It's down there on the bottom right.

And I had a 50% off coupon, which I took to be the final sign that it was meant to be (the fall Lisette fabrics are still full price since they just arrived in stores), so I snatched up 2 yards. Thankfully I'm not a huge fan of the two new Fall patterns, so my ever growing pattern stash is safe for now.

Brown chambray

I know that sewing the same version of a skirt in two very similar fabrics seems a bit boring, but I have a theory.  The blue and brown chambray are both pretty neutral, which means they both go with the tank tops that I plan on taking on the trip.  So instead of getting 4 outfits out of 2 skirts and 4 tank tops, I can potentially get 8 outfits out of the same articles of clothing.  This is genius!  And will hopefully prohibit me from overpacking (which I always seem to do).

I came up with a sewing plan for the last two weeks before the trip.  Of course I underestimated how long it would take me to do things and I got a little off schedule.  Then the sewing gods shined upon me and brought in a thunderstorm that cancelled our Frisbee game on Monday night, freeing up a whole two hours of sewing that I didn’t think I would have.  I now have a half-finished brown chambray Ginger on my sewing table!

Makings of a Ginger Skirt

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Pretty Things Thursday: Small Globe

I have a soft spot for maps and globes.  When we saw this little guy in Crate and Barrel while putting together our registry two years ago (!), I knew he had to come home with us.

Small Globe

Even if he is a little askew in spots, especially at the poles.

Small Globe

It's nice to see Philadelphia on the globe, even if the actual part of North America that Philly sits on is cut off. 

Small Globe

This little globe has lived on Nick’s desk ever since we got it.  He is being displayed on the upside down lid of a glass jar.

Small Globe

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Camp Flickawanna 2011

As kids, Nick and I never went to overnight camp, but were always slightly jealous of our friends who did.  So last year Nick decided to start a tradition for my birthday and created our very own Camp Flickawanna. 

If you are a child of the 80s, you may remember Salute Your Shorts, the Nickelodeon show about kids away at Camp Anawanna.  I recall watching Budnick, Donkey Lips, and Sponge for years on end, but they were actually only on the air for two seasons.  It’s funny how childhood memory works.  If you have no idea what I’m talking about, I apologize.  Salute Your Shorts had a pretty epic theme song, which I’m pretty sure anyone my age can still sing from memory.  I know I can, and did, during Camp Flickawanna (it’s tradition).  The entire first episode is available here and the theme song starts at 1:59.  You won’t regret it.

The day starts with, what else, a bugle call.  Nick just switched the alarm on his phone to the bugle call.  Phones certainly do come in handy these days.  I was greeted with this wonderful artwork on the chalkboard in our kitchen.

Camp Flickawanna chalkboard

Then we proceeded to say good morning to the camp counselors: Owl, Bunny, Merlin, and Flick, the camp’s namesake. 

Camp Counselor OwlCamp Counselor BunnyCamp Counselor MerlinCamp Counselor Flick

Afterward, Nick gave me the day’s schedule while he made breakfast, which this year consisted of bagels, a smoothie (strawberry, banana, and orange juice), and coffee (for me).

Flick then led the first activity of the day: bird watching from our sliding glass door.  This activity wasn’t scheduled, but since he was so interested in the birds that were perching on our deck, we decided to add it in.  This picture would have been awesome if I didn't have to shoot it through our screen door!

Birds on our patio

Nick and I taught Flick how to bark at them, which he has been doing for the last few days and is hilarious. 

Flick barking at the birds

I’m pretty sure the birds know Flick lives in our house and perch by the windows to taunt him.  Yesterday there were 4 birds lined up by our bedroom window, and Flick was barking away at them at 5:00am.  It’s pretty hilarious.

Every good camp has a great t-shirt, and Nick didn’t disappoint when designing this year’s (green) and last year’s (purple) shirts.  I forgot to get a picture of me wearing both of them during the day, so here they are drying after being washed.  Having them on during the day’s activities made the whole thing feel official.

Camp Flickawanna Shirts

After sufficiently covering ourselves in bug spray, the next activity was riding our bikes over to Tyler Park.   When we were locking up our bikes, I saw this awesome nest.

Nest in Tyler State Park

Nest in Tyler State Park

Once everything was locked up, we set forth for some geocaching.  If you’re not familiar with geocaching, the basic idea is that people hide an object, the geocache, and post the coordinates of the object.  Then, using a GPS device, people find the geocache.  The geocache holds a log book for you to sign, and usually people leave a trinket and take a trinket. 

Last year we went geocaching during Camp Flickawanna and we saw this amazing note in the log book.

We set out on a path that took us along one of the corn fields in Tyler.  It looks like we’re in the middle of nowhere, which I love.

Corn fields in Tyler State Park

Mmmm yummy!

Growing corn in Tyler State Park

Apparently this is what the bottom of a corn stalk looks like. Kinda looks like fingers reaching down into the earth!

Bottom of corn stalk

When we were near where I thought the geocache was hidden, I checked our coordinates again, but the geocache app would no longer bring up the cache we were looking for.  So we decided to “do it live” (NOT a child friendly video, btw) and find the geocache by memory.  Nick eventually came across scraps of the tags that are usually on the geocache, and upon a further Google search, we found out the geocache we had been looking for was deactivated.  I’m not sure if the app pulled it into the search results by accident or if the person deactivated it while we were en route, which would have been nuts.  Either way I’m really proud of Nick for spotting those two scraps, especially since they blended in so nicely with the surrounding area.

Geocache label

Do you see the scraps in this picture? They're in there!

Hidden scraps of geocache label

We considered finding the geocache a success, and made our way to an almost-dry creek bed that I like to hike.  We took one of our usual running paths and then picked up a horseback riding path, which I thought would cut us through to the creek bed.  Turns out I was wrong and we walked about a mile out of the way.  Oh well!  We eventually made our way back to the creek bed but only stayed there for a few minutes because the bugs were attacking us.

Creek bed in Tyler State Park

By the time we got back to the boathouse where we started, we were famished.  Our local pizza place delivered us a delicious lunch of chicken cheesesteaks, fries, and two cups of ice for the Coke that we brought with us.  How good is an ice cold Coke after a hike?  So refreshing!

Newtown Pizza lunch in Tyler State Park

We feasted while we watched a bride and groom get their pictures taken by the bridge and creek.  They were accompanied by the manager of one of our favorite lunch spots in town, the State Street Kitchen.  They make THE BEST grilled cheese.  What a small world!  He's in the pink shirt below.
Bride and groom in Tyler State Park

After we were finished feasting, we rode our bikes back home, slopped sunscreen on, and made our way down to the neighborhood pool for some swimming.  The pool was a bit more crowded than it usually is, so we only stayed for a short bit before returning home to shower and then take a nap.  I was exhausted!  We limited our nap to a hour so as to not waste precious Camp Flickawanna time.  Once the bugle sounded, we were up and ready for some arts and crafts.

I chose to do some prep work for a project that I will be working on while we’re on our Great Western Adventure.  I’ll share more details closer to our trip, but for now, here is a sneak peak. 

Secret crafting

Soon we were hungry for dinner.  Nick prepared my favorite summertime grilled item, cheddarwurst, and tater tots.  Seriously delicious.  It was dusk by the time dinner was ready so we ate by candle/lantern light.  My feasted-upon legs can attest that the citronella candle in the middle did absolutely nothing.  The two lanterns on the ends are from Ikea and the other two are tin lanterns that I made for Nick for Christmas.  They are supposed to be of a star and a bird, but they’re a little hard to make out, even if they were simple to make. 

Eating by lantern light

Just fill a soup can with water, freeze it, trace a pattern on the outside of the can, use a nail and a mallet to poke holes into the can (the frozen water helps the can to keep its shape), let the water thaw, and then use the mallet to reshape the can if it got misshapen (the bottoms on mine popped out when they froze).

Star tin lantern

See the bird? The beak is on the upper left side. It's ok if you don't see it.

Bird tin lantern

After our feast, we returned to arts and crafts and I worked on Ms. Kitty for a little bit.  She is almost finished!  Then, since it was finally completely dark, we embarked on our night walk.  Being afraid of the dark, I insisted that we stay on the streetlight-lit sidewalks.  Our development is quite peaceful at night, even if it was only 10:00pm. 

Our development at night

I love how the light was hitting the leaves in this tree, making it look like there were a bunch of different shaded leaves. 

Street lamp in tree

When we got back to the house it was s'mores time!  We toasted marshmallows on our gas grill and then squished them into a sandwich of graham cracker and Hershey’s chocolate.  Delicious.


Our final activity of the day was scary story time.  What else to read during scary story time than Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark?  I picked up the Scary Stories Treasury from the bargain books pile at Borders a couple of years ago, so we had many scary stories to choose from.  Nick insisted that we turn out all of the lights and use a flashlight to read the stories. 
Image Source

Then it was time for lights out, which I was happy for since I was exhausted from the day’s activities (even with a nap)!  It was fun pretending that we were at camp, even if it was only for one day.  I’m pretty sure our camp was a lot more fun than regular camp would have been, since we got to choose our activities.  Plus our day was drama free thanks to us not being pre-teens.  There are positives to getting older!