Thursday, April 29, 2010

Project: Top Week Shirt Finished

I have finally completed my shirt for Top Week. I didn't think I'd actually be able to do it even though I had it mostly done last weekend. There was something bothering me about the collar but I just tacked it down on each side of the back closure and I think it works.

But here's the deal: It's too big. Don't you think? I altered the pattern I used to make this shirt (so much so that I don't even think alter is the word for it). The original faux silky shirt fits well but this shirt is hanging off of me way more than I'd like. I think it's because the knit is so fine that it has absolutely no structure. It's just pulling itself down.

Having learned from my first encounter with said pattern, I made the belt a good bit longer and also a little wider. It looks cute from the front but because of all the fabric I added to the back for the gathers, it looks awful. Bunchy bunchy.

I love the Heather Ross fabric I used for the top panel. It was lovely to work with and I still have a little bit of it left to hoard. I also liked working with the knit. You will no longer hear me complain about it. I'm good. I used a hook and eye to close it up at the top. I thought there was enough going on in the back so I didn't want to add a button.

More photos on flickr. More about changing a vintage pattern to fit my design here. And more about the fabric and inspiration here. How hilarious is it that without thinking about it, I am kinda in the same pose as the model in the ad up there in my first picture.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Project: Too many projects at once

I apologize for the lack of posts with substance this week. I mentioned before that I'm in the middle of grading what seems like thousands of final papers and projects. But I've also got some really cool stuff in the works:

1. I'm writing a tutorial on my applique process for Come and See the Seitz.

2. For the Father's Day issue of Modern Handmade Child, I've been writing an article on tattoos.

3. I'm trying to finish up my shirt for Top Week. The collar is a mess but I am just going to make it work right now so I can take some photos in the morning before work.

4. My local Board of Education has decided to close down the school I can see from my house. I am organizing a protest with my neighbors. It's exhausting to have a cause.

5. Oh yeah, the Robot Party.

I do plan on writing a post about the trees and bushes in our yard but I really want to dedicate a good amount of time to it. This is all going to be done by Friday (except for the Robot Party) so thanks for hanging in there.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Project: Earth Week Winners Finally Announced

Sorry for the delay! Remember how I told you that I teach Technical Writing? Well, it's that time of the year when I am in the middle of grading a million very, very, very, very long papers and at the end of the day I can hardly see.

I did use a Random Number Generator to pick the winners and here they are:
The awesome set of soaps from Natural Home Essentials goes to Funk Family.

The amazing monkey cup cozy from Monkey Travel Club goes to Roma.

A finished set of wipes goes to Bagfashionista.

A wipes kit goes to BeeHive.

The second wipes kit goes to Joy Gardner.

So email me your snail mail addresses and we'll get the party started.

Thanks again to everyone who supported Earth Week. Make sure you check out the shops of the sponsors. And because I hate a pictureless post, there's an adorable little girl during the family Easter egg hunt.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Project. Earth Week Winners

I'll be announcing tomorrow. Stay tuned.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Earth Week . Last Chance for Giveaways!

All giveaways now closed.

Click here to enter to win this amazing soap and other natural body products.
Click here to enter to win a fabulous sock monkey cup cozy.

Click here to enter to win a set of wipes or one of two kits to make your own.

I will select the winners Monday, April 25 before I go to bed and announce Tuesday.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Earth Week . Links

It's time to bring Earth Week to a close. Next week, I plan to do a post on gardening -- not because I'm remotely good at it, but because I have picked up a few tricks here and there. First I want to thank Sabra of Sew A Straight Line for letting me join along this week. Special thanks as well to the sponsors: Natural Home Essentials, Monkey Travel Club, 8 Little Coconuts, and Nature's Fabrics. Additional thanks to guest posters The Everyday Palate and Lemon Squeezy Home. It's been awesome.

Thanks so much to all of you who stay tuned this week even though Earth Week was not your thing. And thanks to all the new readers who tuned in because Earth Week is your thing (stick around, you still might like all the other jazz I'm up to). It's not gone unnoticed.

Project: Project returns to its regularly scheduled programming next week. That's mostly my (mis)adventures in sewing projects, getting stuff done around the house, and gardening in the Summer. It's pretty much what's been in my flickr all along, I just spend more time going on and on about it.

I want to finish the week with a list of links to sites and companies that I think are good resources or are worth supporting and why. Enjoy!

Veg Dining and Happy Cow
I haven't eaten meat in almost 20 years. My husband is vegan. We both love to travel and finding food is often difficult. Both of these sites have listings and reviews for veg restaurants all over the world.

Environmental Working Group
A charity working to get rid of dangerous chemicals and toxins in our homes and products and foods. Every year they publish a list of safe sunscreens and they even have a current list of safe cosmetics. They have a list of cell phones and the levels of radiation they emit. Check out their printable list of the Dirty Dozen foods to buy organic and the Clean Fifteen. It will fit in your wallet.

Buying handmade eliminates the middle man and allows you to get you to know the person behind the craft (except if they are a jerk and don't return your convos, in which case you can buy from someone else, right?). Check out the Shop Local tool that can connect you to people in your area.

Greenfeet has just about everything you need to ingest foods more safely like their stainless steel water bottles, bpa- and pthlate-free baby food trays (we used these daily while Zadie was eating baby food), and all kinds of good stuff. AMAZING customer service.

I bought cloth diapers from a million and one different websites. Finally I found Abby's Lane. Always free shipping and they carry all the brands I need at good prices. If you join their yahoo group, there is a coupon code.
A very useful guide to avoiding GMOs when you're shopping for food.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Week . Giveaways!

Giveaway now closed.

I'm going to be giving away 1 set of my fabulous sherpa/flannel wipes plus 2 kits. The kits would include the fabric already cut and ready to go to make 5 wipes.

Just leave a comment on this post to enter. For extra entries post to Twitter (@LemonCadet) or post on Facebook (and leave that info in your comment).

Current giveaways include the fabulous sock monkey cup cozy from The Monkey Travel Club, details here. Natural Home Essentials is giving away some amazing bath and body products, details here. Sabra has some giveaways going on over at Sew a Straight Line. YOU MUST COMMENT ON EACH POST TO ENTER THE DIFFERENT GIVEAWAYS. You can enter just one or all of them. This post is just for the wipes. (Sorry for the all caps but I think it's strange that there are more comments on this post than on the other ones which are way more awesome).

In case you missed this, 8 Little Coconuts has a coupon code to sponsor Earth Week. Enter "earth week" for 15% off through May 7th. Nature's Fabrics is also offering 15% off until June 19th (no rolls). Just enter "pr15".

All of these links are also there on the sidebar. I'll be announcing my winners on Monday.

The photo depicts my well-loved wipes after 2 years of almost daily washing in super hot water. They are still super soft and even more absorbent.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Earth Week . Real Food

Today I am thrilled to introduce Amanda McGuire Rzicznek, of The Everyday Palate and the Food and Wine Editor for Connotation Press:

When I think about the earth, the first thing that comes to my mind is food. It seems logical: seeds are planted in soil, they grow into some kind of crop, and that crop feeds rumbling tummies. At least that’s how it used to be a couple decades ago.

Today, according to many reputable sources, including Michael Pollan, most crops that are grown in the United States are processed. Most potatoes become potato chips or French fries. Most corn becomes high fructose corn syrup. Most cucumbers are canned and sold as pickles.

Right now my stomach isn’t rumbling with hunger. It’s flopping from nausea.

About three years ago I was a fast food junkie. I ate a Wendy’s double cheeseburger, Nachos Bell Grande from Taco Bell, or McDonald’s Big Mac every other day. I was tired all of the time. I never had the ambition to get off the couch and go for a brisk walk after a long day’s work, let alone cook a meal—from scratch. I had horrible stomach problems. I wanted to punch people. Basically, I wasn’t happy.

It never occurred to me that the food I was eating could responsible for my increasing health problems and overall pissy mood. That was until I read Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation.

I was hooked. Not on fast food, but on real food.

The more I read the more I learned about the abuse of animals, farmlands, and farmhands by our country’s food consumption. Which meant my mindless consumption. Which meant I was part of the wicked problem.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be part of a solution rather than the problem.

However, I’m a skeptic, and I don’t necessarily believe one person can change a nation. As much as I want to believe a 100-mile diet is possible for every American, I’m not sure it’s actually physically/mathematically/logically possible. In reality, not all of us have time to plant and tend a garden. Some of us have dogs that instinctually hunt and kill backyard chickens.

With that said, I have discovered ways to be pro-active that actually work—for our family.

1.) I gave up fast food—cold turkey. The first three months sucked. I craved the salt of a too-hot-to-eat French fry. I would wake up in the middle of the night, sweating with desire for a Mexi-melt. What kept me going was my love for animals. Yes, I eat meat, but I want to eat meat that I know has led a happy life on a family farm. And I want to know where that meat came from and where it was processed. No fast food chain can guarantee that knowledge. I’ve lost my taste for fast food. I actually crave spinach now. I have tons of energy. I exercise. My stomach’s happy, and I’m happy too.

2.) My love of meat led me to find local meat producers whom I have established relationships with and who tell me about the meat I am buying. Be it grass-fed or locally raised, it’s gratifying knowing that the animals I eat are treated humanely, well cared for, and not pumped with gross hormones.

3.) Also, I found a local farmer who I order veggies from through Spring to Fall, in addition to supporting several local farmers markets. I’ve found it’s important to ask farmers about their practices and philosophies, and once I’ve found ones that match up with my values, I’m a loyal customer. The great things about buying produce locally and seasonally is it keeps the money in our community and it teaches me to cook creatively. Never did I imagine I would regularly eat kale, Brussels sprouts or kohlrabi, but now not only do I eat them, I can cook them. And I’m really good at cooking them. This might seem cocky. I see it as taking pride in providing healthy meals for my family, which fuels my motivation to continue learning as a home cook.

4.) The money we save not eating fast food has afforded us with the opportunity to dine out—in style. Because we eat every meal at home almost daily, when we do go out, we can go to local restaurants that share our food values. Our favorite is Revolver restaurant in Findlay. They use local ingredients and care about sustaining local foodways. A meal there costs much more than one at McDonald’s or Applebee’s, and I’m okay with that, especially when I’m saving money (and my health) in the long run.

5.) This summer I’m participating in a community garden. I’m scared as heck; I’ve never seriously gardened before in my life. Ever. But I have a feeling I’m going to meet many gardeners of all levels and learn a lot from them. And I imagine I just might weep, like a proud new mama, when I hold up my first imperfect, plump heirloom tomato that I planted, tended to, and harvested with my own two hands.

About the photo:
When we gave up fast food, that included pizza chains too. We've had so much fun making our own dough and coming up with unique flavor combinations. Fresh heirloom tomatoes, peppers and basil is one of my favorites. Our dough recipe can be found on The Everyday Palate.

Thank you Amanda! Except for the meat part, we are doing many of these things in our vegetarian/vegan household. Amanda and I go way back and I was with her at those fast food restaurants (although maybe not as often -- cheese and lettuce on a bun for convenience lost its appeal after undergrad). I love how we've grown up to embrace these similar philosophies even though our busy lives have kept us far apart in distance and in communication.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Earth Week . Cloth Wipes Tutorial and Recipe

Cloth wipes were one of the first things I made for the baby. They are super easy to use, super easy to make, and a lot nicer than flimsy disposable wipes. When "soiled" just toss them in with the cloth diapers.

Step 1: Gather and cut your materials. I used flannel and sherpa. The wipes in the photo are 8" square so you'll need squares that are 8.5" to have a seam allowance of 1/4" all around. You can use a rotary cutter and ruler or regular scissors. (The wipes in the tutorial are from scraps but you can get the idea).

Step 2: Start toward the end of one side and sew all the way around, leaving an opening for turning. If you are using a thick and a thin fabric, sew with the thick stuff on top (right sides together) so that the feed dogs don't eat one side more than the other. Make sure to backstitch at the opening. Clip your corners off.

Step 3: Turn inside out making sure to poke the corners out. Tuck your seam allowances in and pin the opening.

Step 4: Topstitch all the way around. This will keep the wipes nice and flat when you wash and dry them a million times.

The most important thing to remember is that you're going to be wiping a butt with these. They don't need to be perfect -- just soft!

Nature's Fabrics is sponsoring the other half of Earth Week over at Sew a Straight Line. Click here for a coupon code and look in the left sidebar. Nature's Fabrics has a very nice selection of fabric to make your own diapers and wipes.

And now for the best part, my top secret amazing wipes solution recipe. We have been using this solution 3 weeks shy of 2 years and I am having a hard time remembering the last time we had any diaper rash. I know we have had a couple of issues but they were mainly when we were traveling and using disposable diapers.

1 cup distilled or boiled water (we use our Brita pitcher)
1 tbls Dr. Bronner's liquid soap baby mild (we get this in bulk at our co-op but it's at Target)
1 - 2 tsp Burt's Bees apricot baby oil (Target often sends me coupons in the mail)
6 drops or so tea tree oil (you can get this at most vitamin stores like GNC, natural foods stores, or for the best price try Trader Joe's)

We have both a pump and a squirt bottle from that section of Target with all the travel toiletries. Just put a bit on the wipe and you're ready to go.

And my secret to not making solution all the time is to double everything in the recipe except for the water. I put the "stock" solution in a bottle labeled MIX 1:1 and just add water to it when we run out.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Earth Week Sponsor . Monkey Travel Club

My second sponsor for Earth Week is Monkey Travel Club. We have one of her pencil cup cozies covering up a Mason Jar full of diaper dust (a must-have if you use cloth -- it really absorbs odors in the diaper laundry). We had originally planned to do a sock monkey theme in the nursery but it pretty much fell apart. We have this cozy and two handmade sock monkeys. Since Zadie asked to play with them the other day, they're no longer part of the decor. There is just too much other cuteness in the world to make it work.

Our monkey fits perfectly into the room despite the lack of theme. I just love how soft my the yarn is and that Ginny added a lemon button as a special touch. Ginny is a seamstress who makes amazing quilts, bibs, bags and even designs and sells her own patterns in her other Etsy shop, iSew. These cup cozies are really eco friendly. Instead of wasting the cardboard sleeve every time you buy a cup of coffee, use one of these. They're a great conversation starter and will last a long time. She also makes super cute owl items and a bunch of different monkey items.

Check out the flickr group for the Monkey Travel Club to see monkeys and owls on various adventures. He really gets around! Giveaway now closed.

Earth Week Sponsor . Natural Home Essentials

I'm very excited to introduce the first Earth Week Sponsor, Natural Home Essentials, a local company. Karen sells most of her products at our co-op. She is a pharmacologist specializing in toxicology by day so when she reads a label on a product, she actually knows what those ingredients are. Ten years go, she started to make her own natural home and personal care products so that she could avoid exposing her family to chemicals found in commercial soaps, lotions, etc.

Here's what's special about her products:

- Made with pure oils, butters, waxes, and other natural materials
- Scented only with essentials oils - no artificial fragrances or phthalates
- All palm oil is certified organic & sustainably farmed - no rainforest destruction
- No genetically modified anything!
- As many organic ingredients as possible while still keeping the price reasonable
- Food grade sodium hydroxide, not industrial-grade lye, in the soapmaking process

Over the last few years we have made a gradual shift to more natural products. I don't buy anything with parabens (methylparaben, propylparaben, etc.), SLS, homosalate, or pthalates. I've also been using deodorants without aluminum ingredients for over 10 years. Luckily, it's becoming easier to find these products thanks to this green revolution we're in and websites like Etsy. And we even luckier to have Karen as our neighbor who drops a soap or two on our front porch when we're not looking. Awesome.

Here's the giveaway from Natural Home Essentials:
Pink Grapefruit Soap, a refreshing splash of citrus with the moisturizing power of shea butter

Masala Bay Soap, a moisturizing soap, fragranced with an exotic blend of West Indian bay, citrus, and spices

Healing From The Hive Body Butter Bar, designed to moisturize and protect with only pure, natural ingredients, without feeling heavy or greasy. No unpronounceable ingredients that don't even keep your skin from getting scaly and cracked. Because it contains no added water, no chemical preservatives are required.

Check out the website for more information and a complete list of ingredients. Giveaway now closed.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Project: Earth Week . Cloth Diaper Report (the conclusion)

Back when Zadie was tiny Baby Lemon, I wrote a couple of posts on our experiences with cloth diapers. You can read my posts on cloth diapering a newborn: part 1 here, and part 2 here. I also wrote a guest post over at Surely You Nest on switching to cloth for a toddler. It's been a long time since then and I feel that we have it figured out.

We currently use a mix of pocket diapers and fitteds with covers. I was hesitant at first to try Goodmama diapers but I gave in to a print with rainbows and clouds and was immediately sold. And for good reason. These diapers are hard to beat. We have a heavy wetter here so we need something super absorbent. These last about 3 hours. Some people go coverless but I think they must not have rugs or furniture. We still love Thirsties covers.

We also have a few pocket diapers. Mostly we use the BumGenius brand stuffed with one of the microfiber inserts sold with the diapers and another hemp insert. We have a few Thirsties AIOs as well. These have the microfiber built in to a pocket system. They are surprisingly trim and we still add a hemp insert. The only downside to the Thirsties is that they take a long time to dry.

While the Goodmamas show absolutely no sign of wearing out, I don't see the BumGenius diapers lasting through another 2 years with a second kid (no this is not a hint. I am not, nor do I intend to become, pregnant anytime soon). The velcro is starting to pull off most of the Thirsties AIOs and we've already replaced the covers once. Always a sucker for something new, I bought the BumGenius flip system to try out and I didn't really like it.

We still hang our diapers on the line every chance we get. The sun bleaches out the stains and keeps everything so much nicer. The Goodmamas have been in the drier many times and it doesn't seem to bother them. We always hang the pockets and the covers.

At night and when we are going out for long periods of time, we use the Seventh Generation diapers. We could not get anything to work for nights. I wish I would have believed my friend when she told me not to mess with it. But I'm all type A and had to see for myself. I wasted a LOT of money on pricey inserts. A LOT. We go through a pack of diapers every 3 weeks (more if we travel). We are still using the same wetbags I bought when I was pregnant and even the same bags for the dirty diapers. While I will keep the wetbags because they are still in great shape, I can't wait to toss the laundry bags in the trash. They are spent but I know we're almost done with this. Welcome pullups! There is nothing more green than potty training.

So there you have it. This is what works for us. Every baby is different and every kid has a different body. It does take a little bit of experimenting to figure out what is going to work for you.

And we still love our changing table (above). Check out the monkey cup cozy! I love it. It's concealing a Mason jar of diaper dust. Mr. Lemon just punched a bunch of holes in the top with a hammer and nail. More on the cup cozy tomorrow when I'll be announcing two sponsors.

Don't forget to check out Sabra's Cloth Diapering 101 over at Sew a Straight Line. Tomorrow she will be writing a tutorial on sewing your own cloth diapers (really amazing if you have the time). I will be posting a tutorial on making your own cloth wipes and sharing my secret wipes solution recipe.

Project: Earth Week

Earth Day is Thursday, April 22. I'm thrilled to be joining Sabra of Sew a Straight Line in an entire week of green posts. Sabra has some amazing stuff lined up including a few giveaways, a special guest blogger, and some tutorials -- all centered around sewing projects. I think it's important to think about what we can do to be better citizens of this awesome planet and there is no better time than now.

I like to think that our household is pretty green but we can also do a lot more. This weekend I spent a few minutes tidying up the office and took inventory of all of my unfinished projects (see left sidebar). These are projects that I have the supplies for but have not completed. Some of them haven't actually been started but since I acquired the stuff for them, I counted them. My pledge for Earth Week is to finish 5 of these projects before I buy any new fabric. I know I won't finish any projects this week and I know that doesn't seem like much but that's my plan and that's a pretty big deal for me. Oh how I love to buy supplies...

Anyway, later today I'm going to post about my experience with cloth diapers: what has worked for us, what is working now, etc. Tomorrow I'll post a tutorial for making cloth wipes and a recipe for our solution while Sabra goes to the big leagues with her cloth diaper sewing tutorial. Wednesday I have a secret guest blogger planned and Thursday I'm going to talk about foamy soap. There will be some giveaways here too. I'm really excited about this week and want to send a special thanks out to Sabra for letting me tag along in the festivities.

Oh, and feel free to grab the graphic to post on your site or blog. Also, if you'd like to be a sponsor, shoot me an email and we'll set it up.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Project: Making the pattern

Here is the pattern I worked on for my shirt. The foundation is the vintage Simplicity pattern I used to make the faux silky shirt. I wrote before that I really like how the shirt fits. And since I had pretty much worked out all the kinks of the pattern the first time, I'm hoping it will be a good choice for the ideas that are in my head. For the front of the pattern, I changed very little. I just taped the original to my window and then taped a bunch of pieces of office paper together and taped that on top.

As you can see, I kept the bust dart because it was the right proportion. I also really like using darts with knit because the detail elevates the t-shirt to a higher level. At the existing lengthen/shorten line, I took out about 1.5". With the silky shirt, the extra length makes it more dressy but with the fine knit, I think it will just hang down and look messy. Finally, I redrew the entire hem. I was wearing a shirt with a hemline that I really like so I took it off, set it on top of my pattern, and traced it. I'm sure the new neighbors liked that one.

The back is where I made the most changes. I started with the hem and length changes from the pattern front (you can't forget to do both sides!). Then I removed the shoulder dart and eased the fabric to the middle. Next I just eyed up how big I wanted that top panel to be (see my inspiration photo here) and drew a line perpendicular to the grain line since the middle back seam has a curve to it. I cut on the line and then added "darts" for the gathers. You can see in the photo where I added the blue to show you that. I wanted to keep the waist slim so I used that as my pivot point. I just started at the top edge and cut a straight line with scissors to the waist. Then I split the paper apart until it started to buckle just slightly then taped some paper from the recycling bin to the back of the pattern. (I should have used colored paper -- that's how I was taught. That way if I were to make changes to this pattern and use it again, I'd know what was original and what was added.)

I did this until I felt that I had enough in there. Then I drew a line with a ruler to clean up the top edge and added seam allowances to both pieces. I added a little more to the top of the sleeve pattern (not pictured) to give a little more gather to that using the same slash method. Since the existing belt pattern wasn't long enough, I added some length to that and also made it just a little wider. I'm not sure if the belt will look right with this but I'll make it and try it out. I made some adjustments to the collar to make it somewhere between a band collar and a Peter Pan. I have no idea how that is going to work. I did like the way the Simplicity shirt looked without a collar so that's my backup plan.

The waist of the original pattern is almost fitted. You can see how the pattern has a really nice curve there. I'm not sure at all how my gather adjustments are going to look with that. If you want to try my improv method of pattern alteration: Make sure you use the right marks on the armholes and sleeve pattern. One means the front and one means that back. If you mix them up, the sleeves will not fit. I often chop my little triangles right off; if you have a good pattern and you cut straight, your stuff should line up. I'm lazy but I do not cut corners (ha ha) on sleeves.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Project: We are the truth

I will never forget the day that my friend called me up with her big news. She said, "My daughter's name is Fei Yen ..... and her sister's name is Xiao-niao!!!" I was stunned. This is one of my closest friends. We have known each other since we met at camp when we were 12. She had been waiting a very long time for her adoption referral. The process was lengthy but she knew the envelope from the agency would be arriving that week and I was expecting her call. No one, however, was expecting two babies! She and her husband were hoping to get one baby girl from China but they were one of the few lucky parents to be given twins. What a wonderful surprise.

A few weeks after that, they travelled to China to meet the girls and become their official parents. We met them at the airport when they came back home and it's certainly been true love for me ever since. Even though my friends live in a different town from me, I feel like they're my family. Zadie loves the girls and talks about them all the time. She wears their old clothes and shoes and is currently playing with some of their toys that are on loan. The picture above is the three of them playing some bizarre game with outdoor chairs (toddlers. who knows). They are having a blast whatever it is they're doing.

Last week the media told the story of a woman who adopted a boy from Russia and sent him back. I'm not going to comment on that because I really don't know the whole story and it just makes me cry thinking about it. But I feel that this one negative story has put a bad light on international adoption, which is a truly wonderful thing -- bringing children who need families together with parents who need children. We Are The Truth is an adoption blog day. You can go to the JCICS website for more information or just do a Google search and read other stories from adoptive parents and people who know and love other adoptive parents.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Project: Working in the yard

This Sunday I spent all of naptime clearing out the black raspberry bed with a pair of scissors, my trusty gloves (R.I.P.), and a couple of other little yard tools. Luckily, I had picked up a new pair of gloves on clearance at the end of last season because these are no longer useful. I do still have my thumb somehow but, as you can see, it was close.

The brown stuff all around the bed is the mess I cut away and pulled out. It looks so much better now. Some sort of strange groundcover is taking over the space so that's really nice. It doesn't seem to interfere with the vines but it is keeping the grass away. I probably won't have to deal with this space again for a few more weeks. There is nothing better than warm berries right off the vine. Berry was one of Zadie's first words. I can't wait for them just to see her face.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Project: The shirt I've been going on and on about

I was just about to drop out of Top Week when I saw this shirt in the bizarro Urban Outfitters catalog that started showing up in the mail regularly a couple of months ago. I love it but it really is unrealistic for me and a bit out of my price range. Then the light bulb went on inside my brain and I decided to make something similar to it. I am using that vintage pattern I was bitching about last week because it's actually a good fit and I figured I could work with it rather than start from scratch. The bust darts are spot on and the shoulders are a good width for my frame.

On the spur of the moment, I packed Zadie up in the car, called my mom to see if she could meet us at JoAnn's for a late afternoon fabric spree, and we were off. I found this awesome teal (I buy a heck of a lot of this color, right?) superfine knit on sale for 50% off and also picked up some duckcloth for another project I've got in my head with a 40% coupon. We met my dad for dinner and an hour or so later I was home all full of inspiration.

I traced the pattern pieces to have my foundation. First I removed the back shoulder darts and eased the extra toward the waist. I drew a line straight across the back pattern piece and added seam allowances. Then I added a bunch of darts to the new top seam without messing too much with the existing waistline (I don't want this to be too piratey).

This gorgeous cotton floral print is of course Heather Ross' Far Far Away double gauze that I've been hoarding since it came out. Yum. My pattern is cut out and I'll start sewing tomorrow after work. What do you think?

I'll take some photos of my pattern manipulations and write more about that after I see how it goes. I reworked the collar but I'm not sure I did that right.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Project: 65 Roses (somebody else's project)

Nikole over at a happy nest is doing a very important and wonderful project to raise money and awareness for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Here's the information that she wrote:

On October 30, 2009, my niece Caroline was born. Shortly thereafter, a blood test revealed that she has cystic fibrosis. Cystic fibrosis is a life-threatening genetic disease that primarily impacts the lungs and pancreas -- leading to severe lung infections and reduced ability to absorb fats (and more importantly fat soluble vitamins) that, taken together, substantially reduce life expectancy.

"Sixty-five roses" is what some children with CF call their disease, because these words are easier for them to pronounce. You can read the story about how this phrase was adopted by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation on the CFF website. On April 24, 2010, my brother and his friend Matt will be participating in the Extreme Hike for the Cure to support the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. The hike is a 30.1 mile trek through the mountains of North Carolina. Their goal is to raise $10,000.

100% of the sales from this project will be given to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation in support of my brother's fundraising efforts.

Please head over to the Etsy shop the 65 roses project and support this cause. Nikole is a very good friend and she has obviously put a lot of time into these gorgeous roses. I would not be writing about this if I had any doubts.

And I will write about my shirt tomorrow. I promise.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Project: Birthday Party . round 2

I absolutely cannot believe that Zadie is almost 2. We had a really nice birthday party for her last year with lots of family and friends and we want to do the same this year. But what's better is that Zadie actually gets what's going on and has things she loves and has already made some requests.

I told her we'd be making bags for all the kids like last year. We looked through the Oriental Trading Company catalog for inspiration and she announced that she would like cars, balls, crayons and spoons. Spoons! Where did that come from? I've been able to get some cars on Easter clearance, balls at the dollar store, and I even picked up a box of crayons to tie into little bundles. Add some candy and we're all set.

Here is a sneak peak at the theme and the dress I'm working on for the big day. What do you think?

Oh, I know yesterday I said I would talk more about the shirt I'm working on but that's going to have to wait until Monday.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Project: Simplicity 8018

Simplicity? Um, no. Finished? Finally. This shirt was the bane of my existence for weeks. After having an easy time choosing the fabric and getting the supplies together, I was super excited to get started. I love this faux silk stuff. It has a nice tooth to it and it actually seems pretty sturdy. But wow was it a pain to cut. Plus I was trying to be all nice to the vintage pattern (1977) and preserve the lines for the other size (never again, from now on I will whack away -- I'm not a vintage pattern library). What a challenge this whole thing was!

First, I didn't have enough fabric. I thought maybe I had them cut the wrong amount but after buying fabric to make another of these (I'll get to that later), I am thinking that the width of it must have been less than the normal 44". I'm not sure but after playing Tetris will all the pattern pieces, I know something was up and I've already started blocking that from my memory.

The zipper was easy to put in. I used this tutorial from Sew, Mama, Sew. Definitely take care to put those teeth right at your seam. It's very important. I had a couple of problems with the collar and need to make some adjustments for some issues that you can't see in the photos. I'll have to rip part of it out and re-sew. It shouldn't take long. The sleeves in the original do not have the extra gathering detail you see in the photos. The directions expect you to ease the fabric -- even though they list several potential fabrics, few of which actually "ease." I solved the problem by adding the gather. Since I have small shoulders, a little poof on the sleeve is a good thing. I am proud of myself for making that work.

The most challenging part of the construction was the hem. Again with the ease! This fabric does not ease so I ended up cutting more of the interfacing fabric using the same pattern pieces, put right sides together and stitched it up. Then I clipped my curves like a maniac, turned and topstitched as directed. I ended up going in with my pinking shears and cutting the extra way down to about 1/4" because it was hanging funny.

Finally, the pattern for the belt did not make it long enough for my taste. My MIL suggested that I sew in a little snap and do a fake squareknot. I think that's a good idea but I doubt I'll actually get around to it. Overall, I love the this top. I think it fits perfectly, is very slimming, and very comfortable. And guess what? After all that hassle, I'm actually going to work with this pattern again. More on that tomorrow.

Thanks to Mr. Lemon for taking these pictures of me. We walked across the street because I thought the color of our neighbor's wall would look good with the shirt.

Zipper detail here. Pattern here. This project was inspired by the Pattern Challenge at See the Seitz. See the sidebar for a link to the information.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Project: Taxes

I'm starting on my taxes tonight. Yuck.

Back tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Project: Jane Austen book club . Persuasion

I just got home from the second meeting of my local Jane Austen book club. Because of work, I got there late and missed a good bit of the discussion. I had to confess that I hadn't actually finished the book. The first five chapters were just so hard to get into and I was just so tired that it never happened. By the time I figured out who was who and what was going on, it was too late to finish. Most of the group felt the same way (although it seems they had all read the book and many had watched the movie).

I didn't say much but I really enjoyed the conversation. At one point a couple of the ladies started going on about Dancing with the Stars and some astronaut who's had some work done and his wife, "now she's had some facelifts." Also, "that Kate."

Next up, Sense and Sensibility. I'm not sure I've read that one so I'm excited about it.

The photo is from, a website devoted to the setting for Persuasion.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Project: Welcome Spring!

Last week was Spring Break. I had planned on posting just a couple of times but ended up just taking the whole week off from the blog. The weather was gorgeous and I had a ton of work to do. However, I did finish up a few projects and got started on a few more. The teal shirt is done (woo hoo!), Zadie's got a cute dotted swiss robot dress in progress (must finish taxes before getting back to that one), and I found some buttonhole elastic and got started on those sailor pants.

The pollen in the air (and my eyes and throat) has really gotten me all excited about our garden. We used to have an amazing garden. Then we had an amazing kid (who somehow enabled us to kill our garden through sheer neglect -- of the garden not the child). We have big plans for this year. I know there are some people who manage to have children, perfect houses, massive gardens, and beautiful flowers and stuff. Not so with us. And our local farmer's market was one heck of an enabler with all that delicious produce. But now that Zadie is older, she will be put to work like it's the early 1800s. The Easter Bunny brought her a wheelbarrow to haul weeds to the composter, a watering can, and some gardening tools.

The photos show the first blooms on our forsythia, new buds on the lilac (fingers crossed there will be no freeze before it's time), and the current state of our garden. Mr. Lemon covered the whole thing with black plastic last Fall thinking it would kill all the weeds but there is something growing under it. Oh well. Soon we he will till it and we'll start seeds in mini greenhouses: tomatoes, spinach and other greens, lettuce, cucumbers, lots of different kinds of squash...