Something new

Published on Thursday March 7th, 2013

A lemonade recipe: car accident > lots of chiropractic visits > an extra day of nursery school for the baby > Creative Thursdays! (It was a minor smash, as these things go; the littles were mercifully unharmed and Mama is going to be fit as a fiddle again in a few more weeks.) The upside is a whack of personal time this one day a week, the likes of which I haven’t seen in two and a half years. Today should have been about a spit-and-polish of the Pomander pattern, newly improved by a group of savvy and thoughtful test knitters. But friends, it is impossible for a Portlander not to be swept up in high-hearted pursuit of new visions when the heavens shake off a forecast of Typical Wet Gloom and give us, instead, a glorious halcyon day. So I made these:

Come on, spring time! The fabric is Kelly Lee-Creel for Andover Fabrics; it’s called Storybook Lane Flowers.

Jolly in the hood

Published on Wednesday November 7th, 2012

Most of the things I made for my second babe are already tucked back into the bin of outgrowns, ready to be handed along to a friend or squirreled away for future binges of nostalgia when I have great galumphing teenagers. My son is so large (28″ at four months!), so sunny in temperament, so calmly alert in his bearing, and so accomplished at fitting himself flexibly and cheerfully into the rhythms of our family life that we tend to forget what a new baby he actually is. A mere twenty weeks have passed since his birth. But you’d never guess it from his wardrobe. I’m already retiring pajamas made for nine-month-olds. So it’s a good thing I sewed the Baby in the Hood jacket from Anna Maria Horner’s Handmade Beginnings in the 6-9 month size, and it’s a good thing the weather is finally getting properly cool.

(Please forgive the dim, noisy photographs. It’s November. I hate the flash.)

The fabrics are from Lotta Jansdotter’s first collection; I’m sorry I can’t tell you the source for the teal lining, which is printed with circles of sweet birds. I snatched it up at Bolt on a whim because I liked the color as a contrast to the orange and the echoing of the round shapes inside and out.

The pattern was a bit of a reach for me and I did make some mistakes. Setting in sleeves was not easy, and if I had it to do over again I’d think to sew the lining pieces first for practice. Also, I somehow missed that I was supposed to have half an inch of each front left over after attaching the hood so there would be an allowance to sew the button bands to. I didn’t have it in me to rip off the hood and try again, so I had to improvise: I lapped a sandwich of button band over the front edge and top-stitched it on. It’s less than impeccable at the corners and it doesn’t line up neatly with the hood edge as Anna Maria intended. Oh well. I’m submitting it for drool and gumming by someone who doesn’t even understand that the jacket exists if he can’t see it, not for assessment by a panel of judges. And he seems well pleased.

I’m thinking of sewing a bigger one in blue checked wool for outdoor wear this winter. I even have this idea that I could use a felted strip of an old brown sweater of Mr. G’s for the hood stripe. It might be pretty cute.

Don’t look so skeptical, dude. Or are you just being more realistic than I am about my sewing time? Maybe I’d better acquire Anna Maria’s new All Set pattern collection, which includes a version of this jacket sized from 2T to 8 years, so you’ll have something to wear next year?

Birds on it!

Published on Friday August 31st, 2012

See? I sewed:

As dubious as my little model looks here, this thing came out pretty well. Her actual reaction to the shirt was totally positive; it was just the first time I’ve tried to explain to her how this whole bit with the camera is supposed to work: you stand over there, Mama’s going to back up into these bushes to get far enough away to fit all of you in the picture…. Okay, no wonder she looks like she thinks I’m nuts. “Birds on it! Birds on it, Mama?” she chirped when I showed her what I’d finished sewing.

This, my friends, is the Oliver + S Class Picnic Blouse, and I am making more of them. It was easy to sew but taught me nifty tricks like understitching and stopping the seam finishing a few inches from the cuffs and hem to reduce bulk, thus making me feel I’d gained in competence and might be able to apply what I’d learned in a novel situation. Turns out I love that feeling in sewing just as much as I do in knitting.

This blouse falls right in the sweet spot for kiddo clothing, as far as I’m concerned: easy enough to make that you could whip up another in the next size in just a couple of evenings and wouldn’t cry if anybody drooled cherry juice down the front; cute but not precious; and most importantly, so comfortable your child can forget she’s wearing it and focus on the business of examining very small rocks.

It’s not for Ada, though. It’s a birthday present for her cousin Lucy. (I made sure to mention this right away so I wouldn’t have to wrestle it back from a crying possessive toddler.) The bird fabric is, of course, left over from the quilt I made for my neighbor in May. My remnant was too narrow to make the whole front and back of the blouse in the 3T size (I believe I shall always make children’s clothes a size larger than necessary from now on), hence the contrasting hem. I stitched the two fabrics together before tracing and cutting the pattern pieces; as it happened, the seam was perfectly concealed in the hem finishing. I’ve already cut out pieces from some of the other quilt scraps to make my girl one of her own.

In unrelated news, Jolyon uttered his first giggle on his seventieth day in the world. My friend Mary takes the honors for provoking it. And tonight my children laughed at each other for the first time. There are moments of dizzying magic.

To paraphrase Douglas Adams

Published on Thursday June 14th, 2012

I love due dates. I like the casual whistling they make as they saunter by.

I thought maybe you were the punctual sort, baby. But you didn’t come on Tuesday. Then I thought maybe you wanted to share a birthday with Granny (happy birthday, Mom!). But unless we both bust a move in the next two hours and forty-five minutes, that’s not happening. So just in case you actually are waiting for this:

Seriously, kiddo. The weather’s fine out here. But you are going to live in the Pacific Northwest, so you might want to think hard about letting too many more days like today pass you by.

I’ll say this in your favor: you appear to be the considerate sort, having waited for Mama to get (mostly) over a cold and Daddy’s back to feel better before putting us all through labor. Maybe you know exactly what you’re doing in there. I trust you.