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I have been on the receiving end of some excellent thrift finds lately. Notice I say “on the receiving end”. I am not a master thrifter, though I would love to spend more time cruising the aisles of my local Goodwill. I happen to be the mother of a rather cute 7- month old who is the real recipient of said thrifted goodness. My friends have had great luck coming upon “must have” items that are too small for their own children, but just right for my wee one. It’s really all about who you know.

This is one example,

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A vintage Paddington smock. Of course, I have a big soft spot for all things smockish. It also hits a soft spot because it is Paddington of the era we lived in Scotland. There are several children’s characters that I was introduced to during our year abroad and have loved ever since. Paddington Bear, Miffy, the Mr. Men and Little Miss books, just to name a few. There is just something so enduring about those favorites from early childhood.

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“Please look after this bear.” I shall do my very best.

Though the vast majority of the finds have been for baby Sarah, I did get this little bit of greatness the other day.

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Abby found two at Goodwill and presented them at knit night with an invitation for me and Sarah to arm wrestle for them. The gasp of awe that escaped both of us in unison indicated that the battle would be hard fought. In the end, no blood was spilled.  We opted to each take one.

I’ve been working on this little linen smock.

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I want to embroider a little something on it, but have yet to decide what that will be. I was going for something akin to Alison‘s latest creations. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right? Nothing of mine will ever be so beautiful, but I am happy enough with this. My seam ripper has been an essential tool with this project.  I keep attaching the bias tape the wrong way.  I have some changes in mind for the next one including lengthening it, something different for the ties and taking a bit more care while applying the bias tape around the armholes and neck. Just another opportunity to play with my bias tape maker, what could be wrong with that?

I also made something for myself this weekend.

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The pattern (Simplicity 3807) is meant to be a dress, but I will be wearing it as a tunic over pants (at least for the foreseeable future, while I’m still nursing). I was hoping the empire waist would help disguise my post-pregnancy mid-section. I should have known better. It just makes me look like I’m still pregnant. I skipped putting in the ties that were called for on the back.  I might rip out a little and put those in with the hope that it will be less tent-like then.  Either way, I really like the fabrics (thanks to Abby‘s keen eye) and it is very comfortable, so I’ll be wearing it a lot regardless.

I’m going to a friend’s baby shower in a couple days and I think I have finished the gifts. My friend ::loves:: dachshunds and when I found this, I just could not resist.

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When I found a stuffie at a local toy store, a theme was born. Next I ordered this book by one of our favorite authors. I also knit a hat with the intention that I would add ears, but I ran out of yarn. Even with the earless hat, I was ready to call it good.

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Then Superbuzzy added this trim. I wasn’t sure what I’d use it for, but I had to have some anyway. I decided to try a small, simple tote bag to hold the loot.

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I am rather pleased with myself over the tote bag. It isn’t perfect, but it is pretty cute and I know what I will do differently next time. And trust me, there will be plenty of next times for this project. Simple, fun and useful. What could be better?

Maybe this?

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A happy hedgehog button (or magnet).

I was unpacking a gift for Sarah from a friend and as I was about to cut off the tag, I noticed what it said:

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“Style + nature’s softness for chic babies and sassy mamas”. Yep, that’s me – a sassy mama! 🙂

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The shirt is made from 50% soybean fiber and 50% cotton and it is super soft. Last year I knit my mom a vest from Soysilk yarn and that was super soft too. I love that the fiber is from the dregs leftover from tofu manufacturing. Given how much tofu our family consumes, it is entirely possible that we helped produce that much fiber. An appropriate outfit for Earth Day, don’t you think?

I can’t remember how old I was when I first learned to sew. I might have been 8 or 9 when I learned to use an electric sewing machine. Younger when I got to try my grandmother’s treadle sewing machine and younger still when I first used a needle and thread. My mother has been sewing the vast majority of her life and was quite capable of teaching me. She practiced great patience with me as I learned (and that is no small feat for her). In an act I didn’t fully appreciate at the time, she even let me sew myself a skirt from Marimekko she brought back from Finland! (Whenever I doubt her belief in me, I should remember that.)

Despite her own skills as a seamstress and teacher, at some point she encouraged “lessons” with other friends of the family. It was during my “tween” years that I was as likely to be found hunched over a sewing machine in the company of my 40-something mentor as I might have been hanging out at the mall with my peers.

I really didn’t think much of the fact that my mom was farming out my lessons in this particular domestic art. We had started down the path of niggling comments (hers to me) and eye-rolling (mine to her). I figured she just wanted me out of her hair. As the parent of my own ::ahem:: spirited daughter, I now wonder if there wasn’t more intention behind it. Giving me space to spread my wings with other women she knew would nurture and encourage me. Time to spend in the company of women with whom I would open up and share in ways I couldn’t or just didn’t with my mom. Even though the sewing skills I developed then have long since atrophied, the time I spent with those women holds a special place in my memory. Thanks, Mom, for that gift.

With my sewing machine currently out of order, I’ve been playing around with my fabric scraps in other ways. How much fun is a bias tape maker?? I know, just call me “johnny-come-lately”. I don’t have a specific use for the bias tape, but I’ve been cutting and ironing bias tape just for fun. Cheap thrills.

Speaking of cheap thrills, I followed Jessica and Sally‘s lead and got a button maker kit to make thumb tacks . I also got a larger size to make magnets.

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Hee, hee! So much fun! I need to get several refill packs because these things are addictive. Such a great way to use up scraps, too. I also want an even larger size. I have some hedgehogs who are itching to have their day on a magnet and won’t fit in a 7/8 inch diameter.

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(Fabric from Superbuzzy, of course!)

It’s a good sound when you pour milk over Rice Krispies, not so good when you are sewing and the sounds are coming from the foot control. Those distinctively malevolent sounds indicating something electrical is not-quite-right. Eek.

I managed to finish the majority of this little number:

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I used a vintage pattern I found on a recent thrifting excursion. It is similar to the smocket, but calls for buttons. Those cursed buttons! I wasn’t willing to tempt fate and endure the snap, crackle, pop in order to do the buttonholes. I’ll need to wait until I can get the machine serviced and replace the foot control or go use a friend’s machine. Hmm, I’ll go with option b. This machine is no good for buttonholes anyway, so I will be better off using someone else’s. Matching pants will have to wait though. Too bad.

Currently, my sewing machine is living in the nursery. We have yet to make any moves toward getting the babe out of our bed, so we haven’t bothered to set up the crib. This leaves a rather convenient space for a sewing table, don’t ya know? It isn’t permanent, but it has made me realize how important it is to me to have the sewing machine set up and ready to go. I’m trying to think of another alternative but, as we are woefully short on space, finding a home for my sewing supplies is a sizable challenge. I am starting to understand why my mother was so quick to convert my childhood bedroom into her sewing room as soon as I left for college. Only 11 more years…

 We had an enjoyable Easter despite the chilly Minnesota weather. The kids were excited to hunt for their relatively meager loot at home and equally happy to discover the Easter bunny had dropped off a gigantic bowl of candy at church. No worries that their blood sugar levels would drop too low!

Lizzie was thrilled to wear her grandma’s dress. She discovered that it is a fine dress in which to twirl.

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Lizzie received many compliments and eagerly shared the provenance of the dress with anyone willing to listen. When we arrived for brunch, she immediately changed into clothes that were more appropriate for an outdoor egg hunt. She was quick to tell our hosts that her dress was “rather delicate”.

I received my first swap package last week! I got this package of goodies from Marcia, my Vintage Button Swap partner:

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Meanwhile, I sent this bundle:

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The cards for the buttons and the hair pins are about the extent of my craftiness lately. I did make invitations for a friend’s baby shower.

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I had several more involved ideas percolating, but just didn’t have the drive to see those through. Sometimes it is hard to quiet the inner cynic that keeps saying, “why bother with so much effort, these will just end up in the recycle bin anyway”.

The big kids returned to school today after a week off for spring break.  To be honest, I wasn’t thrilled at the prospect of having them home all week, but we ended up having a pretty good time.  The key was staying busy and seeing people everyday.  We filled the week with the art museum, amusement park at the uber mall, and multiple playdates with friends.

After the busy week and an equally busy (and sugar-fueled) weekend, it was nice to have a relatively mellow Monday.  Once I got Joshua to school and Sarah down for a nap, I was tempted to sit down to my sewing machine.  Alas, I was a good girl and did some work (the kind for which I receive a paycheck).  Maybe tomorrow…

Hippity, hoppity, hippity, hoppity Easter’s on its way! A quick trip out for a couple chocolate bunnies and I think I’ll be set for Easter. I try hard to keep Easter baskets under control and not overplay the Easter bunny. I am employed by a church, after all. In past years I have given the kids gardening gloves and seeds, in addition to a chocolate bunny and some jelly beans. This year I got some cute German paper eggs to hold the jelly beans. No more plastic eggs!! I also got each kid a Holztiger figure. It was so hard to decide on which ones to get, they are all so cute. I ended up getting a rooster, hen and chick.

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Next time I want to get a couple bunnies and some sheep. I especially love I’m sure the kids will like the bunny eating a carrot and the baa, baa black sheep. 🙂

Despite my Southern upbringing, I don’t get too uptight about what the kids wear to church on most Sundays.  Holidays are a different story.  In the kids’ closet, we have a growing collection of Christmas and Easter outfits, many of which are sent up from Memphis by my mom. They come from stores with names such as, Little Lambs & Ivy and Cottontails. Getting the picture yet? Peter pan collars, smocking, Bishop dresses and John Johns. Hee hee. I love it. Maybe it is a product of growing up in the South, but I really can’t think of anything cuter than a little boy in a smocked John John with a Peter Pan collar. After years of torturing Joshua, I have accepted that he is too big for such get-ups. Not to mention, we live in Minnesota, so he was often forced to wear snow pants over the Easter outfit on the way to church so as not to freeze en route. This year he will get to wear khakis and a sweater vest like a big boy. ::sniff, sniff::

With my thrifting success a couple weeks ago, I have outfits for Sarah and Joshua. What about Lizzie? In looking through the afore mentioned closet, I found not one, but two possibilities for Lizzie to wear. The first is a dress that my mother-in-law wore as a child. It is, in fact, the dress she is wearing in a painting that hangs in their foyer.

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I am both thrilled and terrified to have Lizzie wear this dress on Easter. It is quite delicate. Option number two is a dress that belonged to me as a child. A similarly dainty Polly Flinders dress, but possibly not as delicate.  Such decisions to make! Maybe I’ll let Lizzie decide. Novel idea, eh?  Whichever dress she picks, I am tempted to go in search of a white hat to finish off the ensemble.  Overkill?  Maybe, but it is Easter!