Saturday, January 3, 2015

Meet my family...

BUT until then - I wanted to share with you my family. Who's excite? Raise your hand. Wait... are you wearing deodorant? 
I have 3 lovely children... Lily just turned 7, Reese is 5.5 and caleb is 3.5. The last time we had family photos... ah it's even hard to think about. Caleb was a newborn... just 3 months old and we were moving to ENGLAND. Hopping the pond to jolly ole England straight from California's San Francisco Bay. Mr. Burlap Button had gotten the opportunity for a position there at RAF Lakenheath (He's in the Air Force) and although I was 9 months pregnant at the time and he was in Washington DC for the month (aka I was a huge, beached whale running after 2 kids alone!) we made the decision to go! Ohhh I was dreaming of European travel, the English countryside, fresh-farm-foods and fabric... OHHHHHHHH European fabric. 
We shipped our whole house, our car... just about everything we owned except our 3 suit cases and car seats - well and our children... all via a barge to England! We loaded our bags and headed to Texas and then North Carolina to vacation with our family before we headed off onto our next adventure. It was during that time that Caleb had his first infantile spasm.... Our vacation family vacation to kick off our big adventure went spiraling down in flames. Caleb was diagnosed within a few hours of arriving at the ER with a rare genetic disorder called Tuberous Sclerosis. It's not a curable disease.. one that involves a mutation in his genes and developed from the time he was conceived. He has benign (mostly) tumors that have formed and grown into almost all of his major organs. He has 12-15 brain tumors, kidney tumors that have yet to develop, skin tumors and heart tumors. Talk about a crushing blow... 
We had family photos set up for that week. We showed up anyway... put on a brave face and that was that.  That week was so hard... but it was nothing compared to the weeks and months and years that followed. It's never something you comfortable with per say... but you do get accustomed to dealing with it. You learn the worlds of hospitals (as a nurse... I know it well - but now I walk the halls as a patient/parent)... you know the pharmacy's number by heart... you stop thinking about vacations and dreaming about the "what ifs" because your "what ifs" become much scarier than the dreamy things you used to ponder. You realize the heavy weight of day-to-day things because all of a sudden they don't come easy anymore. There is a lot of planning... a lot of sacrifice... a lot of sweat and tears that go into just trying to be "normal" AND because of that - we haven't had family photos since that week in July when Caleb's future ... our future as a family forever changed. 
NOW before we start getting all sad - let's remember why I started this post :) To share my family. NOT that picture from over 3 years ago BUT to share the photos from just a few weeks ago ;) My baby boy is starting to look like a big boy. He has endured COUNTLESS hospitalizations and EEGs and MRIs and scans and blood draws and doctors appointments... he has had one brain tumor removed, one G-tube placed and conquered more seizures (on a daily basis...) than you can imagine AND LOOK AT HIM. 

He lights up a room. He lights up his mama. He makes friends wherever we go. 

He laughs when he's tickled. He loves to be tossed high into the air. He loves to play with balls, play outside and swing in the swing. 

He loves his Daddy. 

He's a mama's boy. 

He lives life in full color despite the circumstances that should make us all blue. 

And my girls. OH my girl :) They are quite possibly the best big sisters one could hope for! 

But THIS man. Oh this man - he stole my heart 8 years ago and without him - I None of it. 

Thank you Jesus for my family... 

AND for these photos... and our photographer (low-res and unedited photos shared here).. and for our readiness to capture these photos amidst a life that is and will never be perfect. 

We never made it to England. But the Lord brought us to NEW England where we had the medical care we needed and the support we longed for. We were instantly surrounded by a wonderful church, fabulous friends, amazing doctors ... even though our adventure was drastically different than planned. 

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New year, new plan

New Plan? I plan to TRAVEL. Well, fake travel ;) I plan to blog travel and pattern travel and style travel and share it all here! I'm not sure I even know what that means - I just hope to share with you as much and as many things as I can find... so that you hide a few treasures here and there as I uncover them. 

If you know me and hang out in my sewing room (aka my sewing Facebook groups... ) then you KNOW I have some major lady-crushes on several European bloggers. Shall I introduce you? Yes, I shall. 

HERE you go. Meet Joma-style. Before you click... please be forewarned that this is the Alice in Wonderland of all rabbit holes. you will fall... deep and far... into her blog of lovelies! 
NEXT wonder over here. Ohhh Charlotte, how you woo me. 
CLICK to keep on keeping on ya'll.  WARNING WARNING you'll end up buying patterns in her store! There is no question of my love for Pauline Do and everything she does ;) 
STOP and don't click here... unless you just MUST fall in love. Claudia over at Ki-ba-do stole my heart years ago! Her little Lina shirt is probably one of my MOST sewn and re-sewn patterns ever. 

What you should know... these ladies are all German :) What you should also know... I speak absolutely NO German. Yet I have been able to sew patterns from each of the above ladies that produce patterns and drool over ALL of their blogs and creations without having to know German! YA'll - it's like giving someone a hug.... seeing their beautiful creations... it's universal. I see it, I drool and they feel warm and fuzzy inside from my accolades. No translators needed (but in case you wanted to... Google will help translate!) 

Ok. So I may work backwards over the next months :) Re-introducing ya'll to some of my lady-crushes but 2 nights ago... I saw JOMA-styles blogpost on this dress from Lillesole & Pelle .  I gave that blog post a big, fat, warm hug. I followed it further along to their blog.... HERE.  You guy still following? Guess where I ended up?  HERE.  MY FINAL CLICK.  Insert more drool. I stayed strong ya'll! I went to bed. I considered my evening to have been well-spent sleuthing the Euro-blog-sewing world and I went to bed without purchasing a new pattern. I mean, I could adapt what I already have right? Guess what. I got up the next morning and promptly purchased it. Don't hate ya'll, don't hate. It was money well spent. 

Now purchasing a new pattern isn't a problem... paying for a pattern and letting it sit in my email, on my "downloads" file or in my dropbox without even being printed is my problem. The struggle is REAL ya'll. You know it... you're giggling now and pointing the finger at me WHILE YOUR OTHER THREE FINGERS POINT BACK AT YOU. So I vowed to sew it.... that very day. 

Print (on A4 nonetheless! Go me), tape, cut and go. Here's what I had (you can print JUST your size? SCORE. Taping was a breeze)

Note - how do I sew? this is how... with a mini-me by my side who has a very-helpful addiction to his iPad. 

Pattern was well written. Well shoot, I can't say that... I didn't read it ;) But I DID follow the photos and well my own sewing intuition! The pleats were the most difficult part - I lined up the dotted lines first BUT when my pattern piece was still too wide... I figured it out. It's quite easy really - well marked and perfectly spaced! You simply fold each pleat mark ON the dotted line so that the solid lines line up! You sew those together so it looks like this: 

Then turn it over - iron the down nice and flat and sew across the top to hold them into place. BOOM. 

A little dirty secret? I totally watch Golden Girls from my laptop while I sew! SQUEE sew time is ME time. 

Now the pattern has 3 necklines. A turtle-neck, a slouchy turtle neck and then a more cowl-neck option. I went with the cowl-neck option BUT after seeing that lovely blog I posted earlier... I knew I wanted to adapt it. If I wasn't in a sewing-fury I would have taken better photos to show you guys how I adapted BUT I sewed the front and lining pieces per the pattern and nestled them into one another, right sides facing like so. 

Then I sewed around the bottom to join them ALL the way around except leaving 2 small 0.5 inch openings side by side for my little drawstrings. Blow up the photo and you should see...  

NOW Here is where I forgot to take photos! Oops. I clipped into the curves of my seam allowance there and then turn inside out.  Now those little 1cm openings that I have side by side... I found those and stitched a straight line all the way up... from bottom to top... at each side of those and one stitch straight up the middle. Then I used my handy-dandy bodkin pull to pull up thin strips of fabric up each little tunnel. (My aqua fabric is perfectly stretch so it naturally curls in! PERFECT - I simply cut a 12x1inch strip and once you pull it through, it curls right up.  I knotted the end and stitched across the top to secure them! Easy peasy) 

AND after I had 2 little draw "strings" secured in there - I attached the collar per the pattern and tied a nice little bow. NOW isn't THAT fancy??? Cute right? I KNOW?! Tighten it, loosen it... ahhhh I still love it. 

I finished up the dress with a 1 inch hemline and BAM. Here you go ladies! NOW TELL ME.... money well spent??? 

BUT WAIT - little sister was not to be left out! Of COURSE not. In fact, I finished hers up to size the pattern ;) This is a size 110 on my 5 year old with a 22.5 inch chest. It's actually quite perfect! So for Lily's (above) I just cut it slightly bigger myself instead of re-printing the next size. This child quickly said "I don't want a puffy neck though mama" - so she got a nice, normal neckline and as you can tell - that works nicely too! 

SOOO Battle of the styles... who won ya'll? 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

JuJube Sew-a-long - from the fabulous LilyGiggle pattern

You guys I have adored Beth over at LilyGiggle for a long while.. both from her personal encouragement, her fantastic style and her patterns! I owned those Ring of Ruffle pants from MANY moons ago in her Fox and Doe shop so don't be surprised that I have a crush on her biz.  I also TOTALLY respect the break she took. Yes, it was the right thing to do and as small-fries as I was I was feeling that same calling in my own life.

 This dress is one that I tested when she was ready to open her doors again and I loved it! So when I had the chance to jump-on the sew-a-long train, I gladly agreed! I chose not to add ruffles on these... to show you just how basic this dress COULD be for your own wild embellishing desires to run wild (and besides, the last 2 I made were perfectly ruffled and fantastical)   I had an itch to embroider - so that's what I chose to do, but first... let me walk you through those necklines that seem to plague you. I'll hold your hand... promise... it's not that hard! 

**FREE TIP** on sewing stripes? The key is lining them up correctly when you cut the pattern out!!! Watch when you fold to make sure they line up... (free... yes, well all of this is free from me but I wanted it to sound special...)

How do you line up front and back? Since the pattern shapes are different?? LINE UP according to the armpit! BINGO :) So I cut both front and back with the bottom scoop of that armpit at the top of a red line.  

NOW you have your pieces all cut out and they match up stripe wise :) BINGO Carry on sewing solders. Off to battle those necklines. 

NOW cut your neckband... but what size? Let me show you my technique! You will attach your bodice front to back (right sides facing) at the shoulder seam as usual. NOW we need to measure. I chose a cute little woven trim I had on hand because it shows up well in photos AND it curves well :) 

Walk all around the front and then along the back as well to get the exact neckline size. NOW measure that length out. 

NOW time for some math. Take that measurement (18in) and multiply by 0.75. SO 18 x 0.75 = 13.5 inches (75% of the original measurement)  THAT is the size you will cut your neckband. I often times add a little seam allowance (1/2 in)... but it's not that crucial.   I use 2 inches of width on all sizes over a 2t and 1.75 inches on smaller sizes. 

Iron your strip in half-length wise (see my crease?) and then line it up on the short sides. SEW HERE. 

CLIP the corners. Hold on... I'll show you why... don't jump the gun on me.  

Ignore my bad ironing board cover and press the seam OPEN. 

and now re-press that long crease you made in earlier. NOW take time and notice those little clips we took out? Why did we do that? It decreases the bulk in  your seams once you sew this onto your garment. Wa-la :) 

While nice and pressed - quarter out your band and pin to mark. So your seam line is one, the exact opposite of that is one pin, then add the other two by lining up your seam line and your back pin and then placing a pin on each side.

NOW pin to your garment. The back seam is easy... center it on the back. Same with the front - center it in the front. ON THE SIDE PINS - do not center them on the seam.  WHY? Well, look at your front neck scoop to your back - it's larger in the front so that we don't all sport turtle necks... therefore it's not "fair" to line it all up evenly; the front needs more :)   Line up those side pins about an inch in FRONT of those side seams (give or take...1.5 inches) Another option is to hold up the front and back pins and stretch the neckband to match and see where it should line up. 

NOW you will be stretching the band as you sew - to match the neckline. You do NOT want to stretch your neckline though! 

See? The neckband looks like it doesn't fit... because it doesn't UNTIL you stretch it :) 

Line up in your serger or sewing machine.  Put your presser foot and needles down to hold it in place. 

This is how it looks relaxed... 

NOW stretch it to match and sew! ALL The way around. Be sure to disable your knives if serging before you over-serge to complete your circle. Tie off your threads.

AND WA-LA :) Now I have I go over and coverstitch that serged seam down on the inside of my neckline BUT most folk don't own a coverstitch.  What I recommend is a wide zig-zag or stretch stitch OR you can use a long (4) straight stitch if you stretch it out slightly as you sew. Remember, thread does't stretch... a tight straight stitch will never stretch. If you slightly stretch the neckline as you topstitch, there will be a little slack in the stitch so it APPEARS to stretch. A zig-zag can stretch due to the design of the zig and zag LOL :) ... for lack of better terms. 

NOW if you hate doing things in the round? You can use all the same techniques BUT like this - with one shoulder seam opened... 

Calculate and cut your neckband 

Start at one shoulder, walk around, line up the MIDDLE of your strip just in FRONT of your shoulder seam on the other side... remember, you need more neckband in the front scoop than the back 

And pin again at the other shoulder seam 

Stretch as you sew... below is unstretched... 

BUT it lines up if you stretch :) 

Finish all the way over and press it down. 

NOW close off your shoulder seam 

NOTE - you will have a seam that is otherwise enclosed so now you need to make sure you stitch that down so that it's not irritating. 

and WA-LA -- that's two ways to do it. Now you have a perfectly fitting neckline! NOW to finish your dresses ... tomorrow... ;) 

If you can't tell, I'm a BIG fan of understanding WHY you do things the way you do. When you understand how and why you do things a certain way, you have the knowledge to move beyond where you are :) To adapt, change, tweak and create! If you need more visual to understand, I get it!! Lucky for you, I made a video a few years ago on neckbands! BOOM - just remember I did this a few years ago so forgive me if I say something dumb! (and for my double chin and well you know, Grace ya'll extend some Grace) 

Stay tuned to the blog-hop as we finish up our dresses this week!