One item that I added to my pre-move lists today was sending my sewing machine in for a tune-up. I am not sure that it's had one since I inherited it from my mom! It's more a preventative thing; my very basic 1977 Bernina 707 Minimatic is running fine (except that the on/off switch no longer works; thankfully it defaults to "on").
My sewing project is an experimental nightgown for Madeline. We used to be able to find very soft all-cotton ones in Bangkok at Lottie & Max, but we haven't lived there since 2010! Here in Canada, my kids have a choice of often-scratchy synthetic pajamas, no matter where we shop. So, I found this really cute raglan-sleeve pattern online and am using it with some of the cotton knit that I bought at the Than Dinh (if I remember the name correctly) market in Saigon.
So, I've mentioned above that my sewing machine is getting vintage, and that I'm actually in the midst of a sewing project. What else should I find when I check out my feed reader this morning and see a post titled "Is it worth it to buy an expensive sewing machine?" over at one my favourite sewing blogs? It was like the universe was telling me that I need to upgrade and make many more raglan-sleeve nightgowns filled with machine appliques and automatic buttonholes!
The post did make me doubt my loyalty to the little Bernina that has been in my life forever for a moment, but even if I do buy a new machine someday, I'll probably hang on to the Bernina. It's the machine that most of my clothes were made on until I was probably eight years old. It's the machine that made all of the outfits for my Cabbage Patch dolls. And it's small and portable, so I can plunk it down on a table to get to work right away, no matter where in the world I am!
1. My kids are interested in knitting themselves, but more so on whatever project that I'm working on rather than a project of their own. I've lost more than a few stitches due to passing my WIP to Madeline, so I'm not keen on having her work on whatever lacey pattern I currently have on my needles. She knit a fair amount of the crazy-long garter-stitch scarf that I made for Chris, and she's made a cute little cozy for her eReader, and that was a good project for introducing her to some increase and decrease stitches. Now that the scarf is finished, she's working on a mobius capelet with some very soft bulky-weight yarn. My six year-old is just not allowed to touch my knitting stuff, period - I just don't have a plan for teaching her yet. When Sadie talks about what she wants to knit, it's always stuff like three-dimensional stuffed animals and I am so not there myself! I'm not sure that she's going to be hooked on knitting by knitting swatches, you know?
2. Ravelry has been around for awhile now, and I am still not sure whether it's a blessing or a curse. I am definitely the type of person who will use whatever tools that I have access to research anything that I'm interested in to death. This means that when I decided that it was time to knit myself a new winter hat, I looked at over a hundred pages of patterns before finally giving up and just picking one. Too much choice is a bad thing - at least, for me. On the other hand, it's great to be able to look up a yarn that I'm clueless how to best use, and see what other knitters have successfully used it for. And to see what a scarf that I am smitten with is usually knit out of.
3. I've spent far too many hours since last Saturday comparing photos of finished scarfs in three different shades of grey yarn. The worst part is that one of these yarns is totally discontinued, which makes my crush on it even more ridiculous. None of them are stocked at my local LYS, and are out-of-stock at the Canadian online retailers that I've been able to find. My fingers are crossed that I'll find something else in a similarly lovely shade of silver-grey so that I'm not tempted to order from the USA ...
And the costume is very nearly done.
The tulle skirt was finished up first - I followed the instructions from this tutorial and this tutorial and the biggest ordeal of the project was actually working with the tulle. Sadie's skirt has six layers, and I cut them out separately so that the sizing would be truer. This was fine, but then lining up all the layers of tulle to baste them together was a tricky matter because the fabric was both a little bit slippery and a little bit static-y. But they sewed together fine (plus a cotton layer for lining) and attaching the wide elastic went exactly to plan. I copied the circle skirt tutorial and downloaded the circle skirt pattern template from the Scientific Seamstress and it was extremely helpful. I needed to the entire pattern to make a tea-length skirt for my average-height five year-old.
The next part I worked on was the sparkly bodice overlay. I'd changed my plan for this part at least four times. I've actually sewn two. The first one was a simple tube that I'd drafted using one of Sadie's tees; it looked really good but when I thought about it, it was kind of a pain for her to shimmy into. I thought about sewing a panel of the bodice fabric directly onto the leotard, but the obvious problem with that scenario was that my fabric wasn't stretchy and the leotard obviously was. I googled and Pinterested and found a new tutorial that had a good solution. It's basically sewing a rectangle and thus, really easy. I have never seen this Wonder Under product, so I used Steam-a-Seam 2 for fusing the cotton lining. I added a bit of length to Sadie's in order to ensure the elastic on the tulle skirt was fully covered, and only put elastic part-way down the back to accomodate her bottom.
In the meantime, her leotard arrived in the mail, and I was happy that I'd gone with the Capezio version because the colour is a lighter blue than the ones I'd seen in real life at the dance supply store. I've started to sew some beads and sequins around the scoop neck.
The glitter organza was delivered yesterday, and when I pulled the fabric out of the plastic sleeve, it looked like a bag of pixie dust had exploded in the kitchen! It looks like a lot of the glitter came out in the wash! Anyway, I'm happy with the sparkle as a stand-in for ice crystals. Also, ordering from Joann's across the border was completely painless. Shipping cost and time was reasonable, and my order was a small enough value that I wasn't charged any duty. Now I just have to sew the thing ....
Status as of Today:
I'm somewhat disturbed by my experience shopping for some of the items that I need for this project.
The online store for Discount Dance Supply came highly recommended by a couple of my friends who have kids in tap and ballet, and they did have good pricing on long-sleeved light blue leotards. Except their shipping fees to Canada start around $30. Ugh. I found an online store in Canada that had fairly competitive pricing on leotards and I'd picked out one to order, but then I discovered that there's an actual dance supply shop about ten minutes away (who knew!), so I took Sadie over there in the hopes of seeing the colours in real life and getting a better fit. Only, the guy working the floor at The Masque kind of laughed at me when I asked for assistance with a light blue long-sleeved leotard. They only had short sleeved versions. The colour was a little darker than I was hoping for, as well. The only upside to the visit to the dance shop was that they had a very nearly perfect fabric for the bodice of the dress, so I bought a metre to work with in lieu of knitting the bodice (though I still think that mixing textures like that would have been really cool). Fourteen dollars a metre. Done. I ended up ordering a light blue long-sleeved Capezio leotard from Amazon.com, of all places. It was much less than the Canadian online shop - about fifteen dollars for the leotard and eight dollars for shipping.
I ended up ordering a glittery organza for the cape from the US, too. Joann Fabrics just had so many more options than I found at the local fabric stores and the online Canadian retailers, too. Maybe they were just out-of-stock, but the whole trying to shop domestically just left me discouraged again!
Yesterday, I spent a few minutes wondering if I was living in an alternative reality because I was watching the national news on CBC and they ran a feature on the lack of Frozen-related merchandise at Disney Stores. I didn't realize that this was a crisis of national importance on par with Senate reform and the temporary foreign worker program, but now that I think of it, this story was one that I can relate to a little.
I have a five year old. She very much asserts that her dress-up costume collection is lacking something from the "Ice Movie" and when I start talking about the beautiful colours and embroidery on Princess Anna's outfit, she gets online and show me exactly what slinky and glittery gown she's talking about.
Additionally, this five year-old's dad is a supporter of the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, and they're hosting a father/daughter princess ball fundraising event in about a month. The five year-old needs something to wear.
So, I'm going to try to make something. People do this everyday. Google "Elsa cosplay" or search on Pinterest. I haven't checked textile availability at Fabricland yet, but my basic plan is to make Sadie a tulle skirt (probably from this tutorial - it includes a lining), knit a bodice (because I like knitting more than sewing), and procure a long-sleeved bodysuit to attach it to. I'll let everyone know how it goes :)
So, remember how I wrote about ordering hand-sewn quilts for my kids back in October? They were finished in time to be tucked under the tree for Christmas. This one is Madeline's (please excuse the quality of the actual photo - the lighting was lousy):
I love it. She loves it, which is probably more important. The dark turquoise of the applique looks fantastic with the white background, and I can't find any faults in the workmanship.
I'm less pleased with Sadie's:
The pink fabric was supposed to be pink tie-dye, but sometimes those things are tricky to communicate, so I can mostly forgive that. The thing that really bothers me about Sadie's quilt is the proportions. It's really long, and the center applique is small and leaves lot of "blank" (or yellow) space. I don't really like the large section of plain fabric between the top of the center applique and the top of the quilt, and I don't like how the applique isn't centered in the middle of the bed (see: problem with the length). I think that this was actually my fault though - aren't twin beds normally longer in Asia than they are in Canada? I'm kind of tempted to relegate this quilt to guest-bedroom duty and start over for Sadie.
So, even though I live in the Land of Hot, I've been pretty good about not letting my knitting skills fall by the wayside by knitting something each year. I've made baby hats aplenty that I've sent off to friends, a cute shrug for Sadie, mittens for my bigger kid, but 2012 was the year that I was going to knit something for myself!
I was only five rows away from being finished the Ruffle My Feathers scarf when tragedy struck. I'd just finished counting the stitches between the repeats, and then I went to gently shift all of the stitches on my circular needles over to the left, and this happened:
But that is actually not supposed to happen! The cable is NOT supposed to come out of the needle tips! I swear I wasn't being violent with my knitting needles; I treat them with a lot of care because I can't really replace any of my Knitpicks gear here in Vietnam!
Anyway, the result was 30+ live stitches , and though I tried to pick them all up, I saw that I was in a losing battle and conceded. I'm not experienced enough to be able to fix up the lacework. I'm so bummed out, though, because I was only five rows away from being completely finished with this scarf!
It would have been pretty, huh?
Today, I found myself, without the toddler, at the Tanh Dinh market (if I remember correctly) with a friend, on a mission to find fabric for a pair of holiday dresses for the girls. If I'd taken Sadie, she would have loved it. Imagine tidy stacked piles of cotton and synthetics, all folded, on both side of an aisle that was only wide enough for 1.5 people to comfortably pass each other. She could have made a big mess in record time with all of that merchandise within a single arm-span! I was really wishing that I'd brought my camera to take a photo, only to remember when I was back at home that I have a camera on my mobile phone. I never remember that when I need to!
This was actually a pleasant market-shopping experience (those who know me are aware that I much prefer the air-conditioned mall shopping experience instead of the watch-out-for-thieves-and-get-ripped-off-by-vendors-experience). It's not touristy like the Ben Tranh market; I went there once with Chris and wasn't able to walk three feet without hearing yet another stall keeper shouting, "Madame, you need new shirt?" like the one that I had on was far too old or something!
We both bought more fabric than we'd planned to - she stocked up on floral Japanese cotton for blouses, and I even found a little something for myself - the geometric print in the photo in this post. I wasn't looking to buy anything for myself, but I really liked this design, so I am hoping that I can get a dress out of three metres. Maybe this one, actually. For all of the fabric that was at the market, I didn't find anything "perfect" for the holiday dresses. Most of the fabric was lightweight and floral - perfect for this climate and the tastes of a lot of the Vietnamese women that I see out and about, but nothing that was suitable for a Christmas dress to be worn back in North America! I ended up choosing the brown knit with dots for the dresses. It's not a festive print, but I think that the design is stylish. The monkeys in toques and earmuffs was just another cute piece of cotton knit that I stumbled upon; I'm thinking pajamas for my own little monkeys.
Be assured that I have no ambitions to enter the realm of design blogging, but I thought that a wee little makeover that I did in one of my daughters' rooms this past weekend was really cute. See, both Madeline and Sadie's rooms have a wall that is completely full of built-ins - a wardrobe, a few cupboards and drawers, and this large space:
To me, it looks like that space was designed to contain a large screen television, but somehow it just seems improbable to me that a typical Vietnamese home would have large screen tvs in all of the bedrooms. Maybe I'm missing something? Anyway, these big brown spaces that really only held a clutter of toys kind of bothered me, being wasted, brown, and boring. But this weekend, I transformed Sadie's big boring brown space thusly:
The photo may be too small to really see, but I stuck regular boring wooden clothes pegs (going for either a shabby-chic or minimalist look, depending on one's decorating sensibility) to the back of the big brown space using one of my favourite decorating aids, 3M Command Strips. And then I hung a small colourful quilt in the space, and now there is something pretty to look at there. Much better.
I could actually write a whole post on my love of the 3M Command products; I've relied on them profusely in my life overseas with it's concrete walls that I can't hammer a nail into. Why, this past weekend, I also used the velcro version of the Command Strips to put up a pair of pictures on the big brown doors to Sadie's wardrobe. Love them.