It’s day 3 of KCWC and my Ice Cream Dress is finished, though it’s not even close to being something warm or cozy for Fall and Winter. This was not my favorite Oliver + S pattern. Maybe it was the fabric I used (linen), or maybe there were just too many stitching lines to cover with yokes and hems, but whatever the reason I’m just happy this is done. As long as I obey Erin’s 3 feet rule, it looks perfect and the big size should get Agnes through next Summer. If I make another one, I’ll probably go for the blouse version in a cotton lawn or voile.
Since my week is beginning at home with yet another sick kid, I’m in for the Kids Clothes Week Challenge, where you work on making kids clothes for an hour a day for 7 days. I’m not sure exactly what I’m going to work on this week, but today I started the Ice Cream Dress I meant to make over the Summer (though I chose a larger size than originally planned to make sure Agnes will be able to wear it next Summer). Maybe I’ll also work on her raincoat (not that we’ve needed raincoats lately), as I now have the perfect lining fabric for my cotton laminate. I have no idea for Ely, as he doesn’t need much right now and there are so many things he can’t wear to school. He might get a few new freezer paper stenciled shirts for weekend wear, but I got to locate his Fall clothes first (it’s still in the 90s here). I’ve had so much fun sewing clothes lately, that spending an hour each day working should make for a good week. Of course, if the next season of Breaking Bad arrives, my intentions might go up in smoke.
(Also known as the carpet dress.)
I originally bought this fine whale corduroy fabric to use for my skirt in the Anna Maria Horner workshop, but then the next day I had serious buyer’s remorse. What seemed kind of fun and funky in the fabric store, looked like a rug once it was home and I didn’t want a skirt that looked like a rug. Even Will didn’t have anything good to say about this fabric, and he usually likes whatever I show him (or pretends to anyways). But it was bought, and I figured I could use it for pillows or something since it felt really nice and I still liked the pattern just not on me.
Then serendipity happened. I was home for several days with one sick kid then another, and I had time to quickly jump into the tale end of the Jump Rope Dress Sew-Along, an Oliver + S pattern I’ve wanted to make for a while. As I looked through my stash, it occurred to me that the carpet patterned corduroy might be a perfect choice for this dress, as I wanted to make a long sleeved Fall version. It might be too much for me, but the pattern would probably look cute on a 2 year old. Thus the rug dress was born.
This is my sixth Oliver + S pattern, and like all the others it was a joy to sew. The sew-along was a great help too because I had handy hints for every step of the way, including sizing up the pattern as it runs narrow in the chest and attaching the collar (my very first one) by hand basting before machine sewing. I had a little trouble with the set in sleeves, but I think the trouble had more to do with the corduroy than with the pattern. It was also a little difficult to sew the sleeve cuff because the sleeve tube was so narrow. I finally had to pin the cuff on the outside of the sleeve, turn the sleeve inside out, then edgestitch the cuff from the inside - a lot of trouble, but it was the only way I could get a straight and neat edgestitched cuff without hand sewing. With the busy and large scale pattern of the corduroy, I knew I wanted a few accents to pop against it and give your eye a place to rest. I chose a bright pink polka dot print for the pocket binding and the inner placket. A solid fabric might have worked better, but I didn’t have enough and needed to make due with my stash as a trip to the fabric store with a kid and his 102 degree fever was out of the question. I also added bright pink buttons (the same ones I used on my last two Oliver + S outfits), and I love how all the hot pink really stands out on this dress.
When I posted a photo of the finished dress in the Jump Rope Sew-Along Flickr group, someone commented that this dress would look great with leggings and boots. I agree, though I hope it’s easier to find boots for a 2 year old than it is for myself. Maybe this will be the lucky year for both of us.
So, I’ve been doing a little skirt sewing. Almost two weeks ago, I participated in Anna Maria Horner’s two day Skirting Couture workshop at a local museum, and have been hooked on skirts ever since. The workshop was fantastic, and Anna Maria is just as fun and full of sewing knowledge as she seems, if not more so. When she announced the workshop a couple of months ago, I literally couldn’t think about anything else until I heard back that I had a spot. It turned out that my friend Julie was going, and then Erin got a spot and decided to make it a family trip, so I was really looking forward to the weekend. Meeting 20 something other women who love to sew was great, and one of the best surprises of the weekend was seeing Cassie at the workshop. A decade ago, we were both art teachers at the same elementary school, but then I moved away to Alabama and had no idea what happened to her. Well she is still here and an art teacher, though at a different school, and makes these really cool belts on the side. She also came up with the brilliant idea of local sewing get togethers, so the fun that started at the workshop can continue.
For the workshop project, Anna Maria sent us three drawings of skirts and we had to chose one to make. It turned out that these skirts are her newest pattern, the Proper Attire skirt, which will be released this Fall. It was so new that the printed patterns only arrived at Anna Maria’s house the day before the workshop. I don’t want to say too much about the pattern because I’m sure Anna Maria will do a big post about it, but it includes two versions of a yoked skirt (a softly pleated one which I chose to make out of Little Folks voile and a funky paneled schoolgirl type one I will probably make in the future), both lined and in sizes XS through XLLLL. Anna Maria even drafted a third version (a simple gathered skirt attached to the yoke) as another option for the class, and I have a feeling she will share how to make that one too. In fact the sample she brought to the class had a patchwork skirt out of some of thenew voiles with a cotton velveteen yoke, and I’m already planning on blatantly copying it once I have my hands on the new fabric.
I’m not going to go too much into the specifics of the workshop. I was too busy sewing and chatting (mostly chatting) to think about taking photos, but luckily a lot of the other awesome sewing ladies have already given the details.
Various great moments from the weekend: Taking a tour of the Golden Age of Couture show from the V&A Museum, and wanting to take nearly every dress home with me. Drooling over the new cotton velveteens when Anna Maria previewed her new fabric collection, Innocent Crush. Learning sewing techniques from Alexia, Anna Maria’s assistant who helped at the workshop, like how to cut out patterns pieces in order to achieve a seamless fabric design. Watching Anna Maria and Alexia demonstrate how to sew an invisible zipper – I had no idea it needed to be ironed first! Meeting Erin in person, meeting Fatty and the girls in person, and eating breakfast with them at a fun, semi-touristy place specializing in large amounts of good Southern food. (Will even got the story of Fatty’s name over a big platter of biscuits). Erin and I got to talk sewing, though I should have asked her more of my stupid sewing questions, and I got to witness the lightening speed in which she cuts out patterns and sews. I might have heard a swear word or two coming from her table, but I’m sure she heard way more than two coming from mine. Anna Maria brought quite a few goodies from her store with her, and I don’t think a single participant left without buying something as they are too pretty to resist. Sigh. It was such a great weekend.
So now I’m sort of hooked on making clothes for myself, even though it seems you need a failure in order to have a success. My workshop skirt is too big, but instead of ripping the stitches out and taking in the sides (important lesson - try on the skirt first before sewing the exterior and lining together), I just made another one in a smaller size, barely eking the skirt out of the yard of volumes from Anna Maria’s Drawing Room. The cotton sateen decor weight might be a little heavy for this skirt, but I love the pattern so much that I’m not going to let that bother me. Now I have something to wear to Cassie’s first sewing gathering tomorrow, and still have something to work on.
Juggling school and work and after school activities has worn me down. The long Labor Day weekend was nice – we had the best weather and the three days at home gave us time to play and do some work around the house. All of my windows are washed inside and out, and best of all Will took the interior shutters down in the kitchen so we have light! It looks like a totally different, huge room now. I probably need some curtains, but I have to patch and paint the molding first, which gives me plenty of time to figure out what kind of curtains I want. The last thing I am going to do is cover up the beautiful glass.
With the busy-ness of last week, I didn’t get to finish my back to school book posts for Eren. I figure better late than never, so here are some of my fiction favorites. I’ve always loved fiction, and usually my book club’s pick for the month is fiction. The older I get, the fewer and fewer books end up categorized as favorite books. Some books are well written with beautiful language, but the plot is lacking or I hate the characters or the author can’t figure how to end the story. Other books are the exact opposite. My favorite books seem to have it all, at least in my eyes they do.
Selected Stories by Alice Munro – Munro is such a marvelous writer, and I never tire of reading her stories, both old and new. This volume is great because there are so many included stories, and I love seeing how they change from the beginning of her writing career to later.
Jim the Boy by Tony Earley – A beautiful, simple story of a 10 year old boy whose world is changing almost too rapidly. I love everything about this book. There is an equally good follow-up novel – The Blue Star – about Jim as a teenager, but I’m still partial to Jim as a boy.
The Road by Cormac McCarthy - After my husband read this, he told me, “you should never read this book.” Well it was chosen as a book club pick, and I was mad because I didn’t want to read it. I almost thought about skipping it, but I’m glad I didn’t because there is no other book that is quite like The Road. The result of a horrific time, the journey of a father and son, and McCarthy’s simple language is mesmerizing, and he is a storytelling genius. I’m also a little partial to this book because the only character given a name is an old man named Ely, with the same archiac spelling as my son. I figured there must be a special reason McCarthy chose this name and this spelling, and it made me so happy not to have changed the spelling of my grandfather’s name to the more common Eli just to make life easier for my son.
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri- I probably could have listed all of Lahiri’s books, but I’m partial to this novel. I like so many things about her writing and characters, but best of all I like how reading her books makes me realize that despite all the outward differences in people, we are really very much the same.
Peace Like a River by Leif Enger - My most recent favorite book. I’m still mad at myself for letting this book exist in the world for 9 years before I knew about it and read it, but I suppose that is just how some things are. Luckily I know about it now, and can reread whenever I want.
Don’t forget that I write about everything I read 3-4 times a year in booklog posts. I’ve briefly reviewed many many more great fiction reads (non fiction too) besides the smattering of titles above.