Tuesday, December 15, 2009

He's a jolly happy soul.

Claire wanted a Christmas dress for her Christmas program today at school. I've been working on this smocking plate off and on for a little while now. This was just what I needed to get it done!The material was salvaged from a jumper dress I had made for myself when I was teaching. I had several with different fun fabrics. This is the last one that I've cut down to make into a dress for my girls. The fabric is a perfect match for the smocking plate!
Here's a close up. I'm sad to report that later in the day after this photo was taken, Claire got ketchup on the O in the first "ho". I hope it will come out, but if it doesn't then I won't be able to enter it in the fair. The risk of letting the item be worn in between fairs!

Edited to add: The ketchup stain came out! Don't worry, I'll let Claire wear this dress as much as she wants, even if it means it can't be entered in the fair. I just always hope it will stay nice so that I can enter it in the fair!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Ben finally gets to visit the Washington Monument.


It was very cold day,

but Ben's dream of going up into the Washington Monument finally came true.
Macy didn't want to go into the monument, so I stayed outside with her and Kate.
While we were waiting for the others, a bunch of wandering Santas, reindeer and elves came for a visit.

Macy got her picture taken with Santa when she discovered they were giving out free candy canes. I know, I didn't know them from Adam, but I let her eat the candy cane. It was wrapped well and she's okay.

Kate chose to wait while leaning on these marble benches. I'm sure this would be pleasant on a hot summer day when something cool like marble would feel good, but this was not a hot summer day. It was COLD.

Did I mention it was cold? There weren't a lot of people out and about. We always know how to pick those less crowded days. We live for those less crowded days, because lets face it, we are a crowd.
While we were down on the mall, we visited a few museums. Ben wanted a picture of this dinosaur.
Macy and Eleanor wanted this picture of a Shark's jaw.
Claire and Kate wanted their picture taken in front of this penguin.

All in all it was a good, but cold, day.

Monday, December 07, 2009

I couldn't help myself

Ben is going to be so mad when he sees that I've done it again. Done what? Just see for yourself!

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Happy Birthday Macy!

This funny, sweet, often quiet (except when she's not) and sometimes goofy girl (who can be very stubborn too) is now 9! How did that happen? It seems like just yesterday that I gave birth to her at the Maternity Center-a stand alone birthing center with just Trent and our midwife present. I remember feeling so strong and powerful after that experience! On our way home a couple of hours later, I called my friends on the West coast to let them know the good news and they were sure I was calling to say it was false labor. They couldn't believe I had already given birth and was on my way home. That birthing center is now gone due to high malpractice insurance rates in our state-so sad! It was my first out of hospital birthing experience and it was so wonderful! Macy loves to tell people she has never been in the hospital. When they say, "Oh, yes you have. You were born in one." She slyly smiles and says, "No, I wasn't!".

Happy Birthday to my sweet girl!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!!!

Happy Halloween everyone!
Here we have the grim reaper. Easy costume. Didn't finish seams or hem, because he's death after all. Pattern is Simplicity 5512, size 8 but I added 5 inches to the length and the sleeves.

Glinda the good witch says hello. The zipper on her dress is one of the few things that makes this dress less than fairworthy, but Macy loves it none the less. Pattern is McCalls 4948, size 7. I made her crown from a silver piece of poster board. Her wand is a Christmas ornament wired onto a dowel painted silver.


Eleanor our vampire looks ready for an evening of trick-or-treating. Her dress is one of my favorites and I wish it were fairworthy. Unfortunately I burned a hole in the skirt with a faulty iron and didn't center the front bodice piece (which is drapery fabric, but I loved how it looked!), but she loves it all the same. This is the same pattern (McCalls 5731 or P277) I used to make her Halloween costume last year, but I cut a size 7 this time.
She wanted a cape and I wanted it to flow with the dress. I used the cape pattern from the Snow White dress that Macy wore last year (Simplicity 9384-oop) and added hooks to each end. I added the same trim on the cape's neck as on the rest of Eleanor's dress and then we were able to hook the cape onto the dress trim and it looked like a continuation of the trim. I was proud of myself for figuring out that one!I also used size 14 snap source snaps for the snap in stand up collar. I applied them first and then sewed the trim over the rings. They were fast, sturdy and I didn't have to sew in any snaps. Woo Hoo for me!!!

Finally the pièce de résistance. Please welcome Claire starring as Sleeping Beauty. This pattern (Simplicity 9384-oop)-I cut the size 4-had many pieces and the skirt was a bit fiddly with lots of godets and matching of dots, but I persisted and we have a winner! Unfortunately it rained and her skirt bottom got soaked and dirty. It's a long time till the fair, but maybe a good cleaning will make all right. I may just enter it anyway. I was dreading this dress most of all and as a result didn't get started sewing any of the costumes soon enough, but I'm glad I persevered, because it turned out so nice and wasn't as bad as I had thought. Macy's dress actually gave me the most trouble due to the bead like bumps on her outer fabric!

Did everything cost more even though I made them? You betcha! Will they last longer than those cheaply made costumes you can buy? YEP! Was it worth it? Of course!!!!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Happy Birthday Eleanor!!!



You are fun and sweet and now you are seven! Where did the time go?

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Halloween Fun

I saw one of these on a friend's blog and had to make one with the kids. Hilarious!!!!

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Monday, September 21, 2009

After 19 months of waiting . . .

video

Ribbons

Okay, I promised a post about my fair winnings. To be honest, this feels a little like when I used to write my grandmother and tell her about every single present I got for Christmas. So instead I'll just show you a pictures of my ribbons. It was a good year. Here's a couple of highlights:
So pleased this dress won after everything I went through. So glad I didn't give up and throw the completed smocked piece away. The judge commented "Your smocking compliments the fabric!" So glad she thought so since I bought the fabric to compliment the smocking!

I made this dress for someone at church who was in her sister's wedding. I'm so pleased it also won a big ribbon. I will admit though that I think I was the only entry in Wedding garments. That said, I once was the only entry in Tailored Garments and I only got a red ribbon because that's what I deserved. So if they didn't feel like it was champion worthy, well then I wouldn't have gotten the ribbon.

All the kids did really well and Macy won a champion ribbon in Children's Candy for some chocolate fudge she made. Recipe came right off the back of the Marshmallow Fluff jar. Maybe it was the Trader Joe's Belgium chocolate that put it over the top. Claire's first entry of chocolate chip cookies won first place in children's and adult's. I have never been able to do that. Maybe since I helped her a bit, you could say I almost won a blue ribbon in cookies. I did get a blue ribbon for my Lemon Poppy Seed muffins, even though I forgot to put the almond and vanilla extract in the glaze. My cheesecake was undercooked and so it did not even get judged and there was a big "Undercooked. DO NOT SELL" written on it's tag. How embarrassing. See, after the judging they cut up half the cakes, take half the cookies, etc. and sell them to support 4-H. I only know about my cheesecake, because I had to pick up my spring form pan bottom. Oh well, there is always next year.

Ben and Eleanor each received a ribbon for all of their photography entries which is very difficult. None of the rest of us were able to do that. In fact poor Trent got no ribbons on his pictures and only received 7th place for his toilet. I was surprised. This year's toilet was so much better than last years which placed 4th. Oh well, go figure.
Here's a picture of some of the ribbons I've earned over the past few years. I have a lot more little ribbons, but I think they're in my hope chest. I keep wondering what to do with them. For now they're in a drawer with some yarn and other knitting/crocheting supplies.

As I was going through the ribbons, I made some observations (please forgive that the photos are sideways, I was too lazy to take the extra steps to rotate).
Here is the very first champion ribbon (Adult Tailored Garment-Men's Sport coat) I ever earned.
Last year the above ribbon was the champion ribbon. Not the Grand Champion or even Best of Show, but just champion. Now granted it was the special 60th anniversary year of the fair, but still.

It was even bigger than the Best of Show ribbon.

This how the progression used to look.

Now there's no difference between the grand champion and the champion ribbon. In fact the Best of Show ribbons are still a bit smaller than their lesser prizes. Funny!

In case you were wondering, I've already started on my preemie blankets for "You Be the Judge." Two are completed (crocheted) and I have material to make some "quilted" ones as well. I'm hoping to win the most made contest again. It will be tougher this year since I really irritated some people who thought they were a shoe in with 40 pillowcases. Ben was pleased because we received a special prize of Miniature Golf tickets just for him since he challenged me to make so many. Me? I won a gift certificate to a nail salon. I was really hoping for a gift certificate to Jo Ann's since I am a horrible nail biter. I'm thinking I'll take the girls for a special manicure instead.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

A day of firsts.

Monday was the first day of school. It was a good day and everyone enjoyed going back. It's Ben's last year of elementary school. That makes me a little sad. He's not sad at all. All he can talk about is middle school. Let's hope that enthusiasm continues when the reality of middle school hits next year.

It was an especially good day for Eleanor. Can you guess why?

She lost her first tooth on the first day of first grade!

Well, actually she didn't lose it at school, it was hanging by a thread all day, but as soon as she got home, we pulled that baby out! Now just three more wiggly teeth to go!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

You be the Judge


I have fair results to post at a future date (our Internet has been out), but I'm excited to share that I won this year's most popular vote for the "You be the Judge" contest. I also won the contest for the most pillowcases entered and they wrote about me in our local paper. The link to the article is here.

Friday, August 14, 2009

A tale of three dresses (or more than you ever wanted to know about smocking, material and my quest for perfection)

In January, I decided to make my girls four matching smocked dresses to wear to their cousin's wedding in June. In the past I had been able to smock fairly quickly and felt like 6 months would be more than enough time to complete my project.

I went to the Smocking Bonnet to purchase 12 yards of Imperial microcheck in light pink. I also purchased about 6 yards of pink Imperial Batiste for lining. I had planned on making the dress on the cover of Sew Beautiful Issue 82 May/June 2002. My only problem is that I am a perfectionist and felt the compulsion to hand pleat the fabric so everything would be just right. Unfortunately it took me about a day to pleat one row. I worked doggedly at it, but by the end of February, I realized at the pace I was going, I would be done pleating by the end of May and would not have time to smock or construct the dresses.

I then decided to pleat white fabric to make inserts to go with the fabric I had purchased and smock the inserts with a combination of some of the pattern from the Sew Beautiful dress and a few others I liked. I worked hard, but the going was slow either because I have five children or I've become too much of a perfectionist. I finished one insert, without roses, when I realized my thread did not match the material I had purchased. While in the store it appeared to be a perfect match, after smocking, it appeared to be a bit too "peachy". Back to the drawing board.

It was now May and the wedding was drawing close. I decided the material would be perfect made into Simplicity 2918. I had more than enough material and I even found that I had trim that matched perfectly in my stash! Although the pattern did not call for the dress to be lined, I went ahead and lined them (with the pink batiste I had purchased as well) so the girls wouldn't need slips.

So that leaves us with the single smocking insert that I had finished, but did not use after all. I added pink and yellow roses and I bought some fabric that I thought went perfectly in the store. Got it home only to discover that the smocking that had appeared too "peachy" with the previous pink fabric, now appeared too pink with the new fabric. Back to the fabric store. Many fabric stores it turns out. I finally purchased a piece of fabric from Capital Quilts my local quilting store. I wasn't keen on the fabric, but Macy really liked it. So we purchased three yards and turned it into this:
A variation of Maya's Heirlooms Annika dress. Although there is no yellow in the dress, the green really works with the yellow roses. Macy loves it and I do too.

Of course you would think that was easy once I got the fabric, but nooooo. I had to get material to make piping trim as all good heirloom dresses have it. So I bought some at the store which looked to be a perfect match. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. It was too "pink" and made my insert look too "peachy". Was this ever going to end? Well yes, it did. I amazingly enough found some perfect not too pink, not too peachy fabric at Hancocks and made my piping. Here's a close up:
What about that lonely piece of microcheck so lovingly hand pleated you ask? Well several times I just about pulled those pleating threads out, but I am so glad I didn't. I had been looking at Australian Smocking and Embroidery Issue No. 73 for smocking plate ideas for the above mentioned smocked insert when I remembered the baby dress on the cover. I thought the material I had hand pleated would be perfect for the dress and I was right. I had by chance pleated just the perfect number of rows. I also knew of someone that was pregnant and her baby would be the perfect recipient of this dress. (Now she just needs to have a girl.)

So I smocked. And smocked. And smocked some more. This was a hard plate and I didn't enjoy it at all. There were times I was ready to throw it away, but I plugged along.

I added the bullion roses, which were a bear in and of themselves. They turned out better than I thought, but I'm still not happy with them. I need more practice.

The finished project which I am so pleased with.

So in the end I ended up with 6 dresses, three fair entries and enough left over microcheck to make something else for someone else. In the process I almost lost my mind. Of course I kept saying, "never again, never again" but now that everything is entered . . .

Fair entries are in.

Yesterday and today we entered all the items we have sewn, baked, created, photographed, and decorated. Too many pictures (which I didn't have time to take), but I'll include a few.

Claire entered Chocolate Chip cookies and a pillowcase for "You be the Judge".

One of Eleanor's Photos
Eleanor entered:
brownies
a skirt made from Simplicity 9854
pillowcase for "You be the Judge."
2 photos
various drawings/paintings/etc. from art class and home this year

One of Macy's Photos
Macy entered:
chocolate fudge
skirt made from Simplicity 9854
pillowcase for "You be the Judge"
4 photos
Girl Scout SWAP collection
Lego sculpture
Clay mug made in Art this year
various drawings/paintings/etc. from art class and home this year.

One of Ben's Photos
Ben entered:
Two drawings.
pinewood derby car
5 photos
chocolate chunk/reeses peanut butter cup cookies
one pair of sleep shorts McCalls 9206
pillowcase for "You be the Judge"

One of Trent's Photos
Trent entered:
Three Photos
One decorated toilet:

"the playing field" complete with players, cheerleaders, goal posts and a ref.

"the jumbo tron"
As for me I entered:
5 photos
Salted White Chocolate chunk Oatmeal Cookies
Chocolate Chip Cheesecake
Mint Sandwich cookies
Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins (of which I forgot to add vanilla and almond extract to my glaze-ugh!)
Skirt from Simplicity 9854
Bridesmaid dress made from New Look 6864 out of yellow linen
Claire's Dress from Simplicity 2918
Dress from McCalls's 8108

Powder Puff from AS&E Issue #73

Simplicity 2876 complete with bound buttonholes

Maya's Heirlooms Annika

124 pillowcases for "You be the Judge"
Three will be entered for the actual contest. These were for a separate contest for most pillowcases sewn. At the time I entered, I had indeed entered the most. I will find out by the end of the week if I was beat in that category or not!

The aftermath of a morning of non-stop baking. Oh how I love the fair!