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Skirts are an essential in my summer wardrobe.  The other day, I was wearing one that I made a few years ago.  It is a simple bias cut a-line, made from fabric I brought back from Hawaii.  Since it was sewn for a pre-baby #3 body shape, I decided I could use another similar skirt with a little added room around the waist.  I pulled out the pattern pieces and made some adjustments.  I’m sure my method of alteration was not the recommended way, but it seems to have worked.

As much as I love my skirts, I have noticed a severe deficit of pockets in the skirts I own.  I decided to add some in-seam pockets to my new skirt.  Here’s where I really went off the map.  I drafted a piece that seemed okay and added the appropriate seam allowance.  After sewing one side, I realized that the pockets weren’t deep enough.  Hello, seam ripper!  I have a love-hate relationship with my seam ripper.  Love that I have it.  Hate how often I use it.

Anyway, I was about to throw in the towel and sew it up without pockets, but girded my loins and tried again.  Success!  Next time, I might research the proper way to do in-seam pockets, since mine seem a little bulky.  Regardless of the bulk, I do love having pockets.

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As for the hem, I took a cue from Liesl‘s Lazy Days skirt pattern.  Instead of ribbon, I used a wide, single fold bias tape.  Makes for a far more even and cleaner hem than I tend to get by measuring and ironing and measuring and ironing.

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I’m guessing there are more of these in my near future.

Last summer, my parents traveled to Los Angeles to visit relatives.  Traditionally, they send us a box of various Japanese and Hawaiian foodstuffs, that are often hard to find in Middle America.  This time, in addition to boxes of Kauai Cookies and Japanese candy, I put in the request for a Japanese sewing book.

Mom came through with a book of super cute clothes for both girls and boys.  (Perhaps a hint that The Boy is getting the short end of the stick regarding my sewing projects?)  I’ve spent many hours looking through the pages and making a long mental list of projects I want to try.  A few weeks ago, I finally worked up the courage to trace a pattern.  Of course, the first time I traced it I forgot to include the seam allowance.  For all the clever, cute and wonderful things that Japan produces, you’d think they could include the seam allowances in the patterns.

Anyway, I finally got the pattern traced properly and decided on fabric.  I had ordered a few yards of this fabric from Jenean a while back to make Big Girl a new dress for Easter.  I ended up finishing a different dress for her instead, so I knew I wanted to use some of the fabric for this project.

I chose the pattern because it looked simple but, simple isn’t always easy.  At least when you are trying to follow a pattern written in a different language.  One of my problems is that I read just enough Japanese to confuse myself, but not enough to really follow the directions.  This is a source of great annoyance to me.  I majored in Japanese language in college.  I was always too self-conscious to speak really well, but writing and reading were always my strength.  I guess after 14 years of not practicing, skills do tend to atrophy.  *sigh*

After some time with a stack of Japanese reference books, I finally gave up on reading the pattern.  I was able to fudge my way through and ended up with a wearable product.  Fortunately, the parts I really botched aren’t visible and I doubt Baby Girl is going to complain.

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Wednesday was the first day of summer vacation. Let’s just say, the kids and I were off to a rocky start. That night, after some tears (mine), the hubby and I came up with a plan. Stopping short of a rigid schedule, we drafted a check list of tasks for the kids to do each day. Everything from “get dressed” to S.Q.U.I.R.T. (super quiet uninterrupted independent reading time — acronym borrowed from school).

Arts and crafts time was included in the afternoon. Soon after lunch on Thursday, The Boy asked if it could be arts and crafts time. “Sure, what do you want to do?” He responded, “can you teach me to knit?” Twist my arm. I ran upstairs to grab a pair of needles and some leftover yarn. I cast on for him and showed him how to make the knit stitch, while reciting the rhyme:

In through the front door,
run around the back,
peek through the window,
and off jumps jack

With minimal coaching, he was off and knitting. I watched him for a bit, but soon felt free to putter around elsewhere. Occasionally, I was summoned back to help with a problem, but for the most part he did very well. I could hear him from the kitchen, reciting the rhyme as he knit.

Before dinner, I found him sitting in the backyard with his knitting. “It’s such a nice day, I thought it would be nice to knit outside.”

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A boy after his mama’s heart.

I’ve discovered the danger of sewing for my children – word gets around.  Back in early March, I got a call from a teacher at the kids’ school.  My first thought was, “uh-oh, what has the Boy done now?”  It quickly dawned on me that this was not his teacher.  Nor was it one of Big Girl’s teachers.  The teacher then asked if I might be interested in helping with costumes for the school play.  With a small sigh of relief, I replied, “Sure, I’d be happy to help!

Immediately following my answer of yes, it occurred to me that I would inevitably be sewing with materials I would normally avoid like the plague.  Call me a fiber snob, but I would rather poke my eye out with a stick than sew with most synthetic fabric.

Let’s be clear, ours is not the kind of school that puts on a production of Our Town or anything established like that.  A new play is written each year with the kids’ (grades 5-8) input.  Parts are crafted with particular kids in mind.  The themes of the play reflect current events, with overarching themes of justice, hope and “kid power”.  It is really exciting and uplifting, but agreeing to sew costumes was a bit of a leap into the great unknown.

In mid-March, I attended the brainstorming session for costumes.  The teacher who writes the play gave an overview of the characters and the rest of the teachers, staff and volunteers, started tossing around ideas for suitable costumes.  Some of the costumes are already on hand.  Some are alterations of existing costumes.  Others get made from scratch.

My assignment?  Glamorous starfish.  Red and sparkly.

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A few different ideas were tossed around at the meeting.  I went looking for a pattern that would approximate what I had in mind.  It took me several weeks to work up the courage to buy the fabric.   Ten yards of red sparkly fabric is a big commitment.

With less profanity than I expected, I whipped up 4 of these babies:

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Admittedly, you have to use your imagination to get to starfish, but they’ve got glamor in spades.

Last night was opening night and I have to say, the girls looked pretty fabulous on stage.  (I didn’t get any pictures.)  Based on the heaping helpings of praise I’ve received for these retina-burning babies, I have a feeling that I am in this for the long haul.  Only 11 or 12 years until Baby Girl graduates 8th grade.  🙂