Monday, September 27, 2010

Sewing on My Own

The most exciting thing about sewing is that one can choose her own textiles. I only found a few bedding sets in stores that I liked but were well beyond the amount I am willing to pay. Those bedding sets that were in my price range were not very interesting. Even shopping in consignment shops, the selection of baby bedding is sad.

Sewing has enabled me to create my own bedding without having to settle. I was so excited to finish the crib sheet, I began work on the dust ruffle for the crib using some fabric I had selected years ago for my classroom. I didn't think then that the material was for a baby, I just liked the colors! It works well for the dust ruffle though. (REMEMBER: click on the picture to bigify!)

My only wish is that I had chosen a pattern set that was less fussy. There were all sorts of odd tricks and turns to making the ruffle - the bottom consists of three parts oddly sewn together.

The material ended up being so thick, I had to adjust the tension. I then re-read the directions for the end pieces only to discover that I had pressed the lower third section incorrectly on the longer sides. Oh well - with my not so straight sewing, it hardly matters! Even with measuring using several rulers and one protractor, the pieces didn't quite match up and I had to gather material along the way. I also learned that when the pattern says "baste", one should baste and not pin! Thankfully, I learned this lesson before I had to make the pleat!

More importantly, the dust ruffle fits for the most part! Hurray! If I were to make another for when our little one is older, I am hoping I can just measure from the floor to the deck of the bed and sew one long piece - without a pleat!

After finishing the dust ruffle, I was so enthralled, I wanted to make blankets like the one I received at a baby shower.

A childhood friend's mother had sewn it using her mad ninja sewing skills. It is so soft and well put together, I really wanted more of these!

Since my straight stitching isn't so straight, I was not going to attempt any curved corners or try for the fancy stitches (after consulting my manual, my machine does not do that anyway). I had purchased two fabrics in Houston both with owl designs - one was a thick flannel and the other a normal cotton cloth. I didn't want owls on both sides of the blanket, so here in Seattle I purchased some light flannel and regular cotton cloth with polka dots. I first attempted to work with the heavy flannel and the blanket resembles a sopapilla rather than the flat, smooth tortilla of the "model" blanket.

I do like the material - it's just that I made the mistake of not sewing up most of the sides and then cutting the material a little closer. So, in addition to being puffy, it has this long straight stitch on one end and looks a little funky. However, it is soft and a good weight for sleeping. I did attempt a fancy stitch - a zigzag! I turned corners! Yay me!

I then used the other two fabrics and took care to have both pressed, neatly lined up, and decided to stitch most of the way around the blanket so that there would be no external straight stitch. It almost worked - it is less poofy than the other!

I still cut too close to the edge AND I marked on the right side of the cloth so that I could not see where I was stitching! I ended having to rip one side because of this. Also, I neglected to test out the zigzag length before I began stitching, so there is a little section of zigzag that is different than the rest. I was so tired however, I decided to use my artistic license and leave it instead of ripping it out.

I do like the owls in this blanket - they have a lot character and it will be good to point out to our little one. I am so glad they are not "Disney-fied" and are interesting!

Now I have to take a brief break from the sewing and finish preparing the room for the baby! I have crates to move, this computer to relocate, a bassinet line, and a need to turn our computer desk into a changing table. Let the nesting begin!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Too Much Crying Today...

Gah - I find pregnancy an uncomfortable experience. My emotions always seem to close the surface.

Today a member of our parish and a really extraordinary person reposed today. Though it was expected that Flore would pass soon, it did not make it any easier. He will be missed so very much.

Sadly, most of my crying today has not been about Flore. No, crying over the passing of a wonderful person is acceptable. I cried over food.

That's right - food.

Now, I really dislike when people, in conversation with me, begin sentences with "Well, you are pregnant...". Pregnancy is not a mentally or physically debilitating disease - it is merely uncomfortable but women are able to function quite well (thank you very much).

So, to read that I cried about food today, one might think "Oh, well, she's pregnant, so...".

I would urge you to read on to get the full picture as to why I would shed tears over food.

The development up the road from our home has taken off - in a sense. The condos have not sold and the apartments are only partially full, but the restaurants and movie theatres are doing quite well. Due to a lack of meat and vegetables in the house, as well as a need to get outside, I decided to take a walk to this development to find something for lunch. Plodding through the labyrinth of stairs and walkways, I found myself in the heart of the cement monstrosity where the movie theatre and several restaurants reside.

Deciding I was not in the mood for sushi, I was left with two choices: "Jewel Box" or "Five Guys - Burgers and Fries".

I went with the Jewel Box.

The restaurant itself is very cozy - dark wood paneling, large velvet seats and couches, and an impressive fire place. The food, on the other hand, is quite odd. I would not call this a restaurant but instead a coffee shop as it, along with pastries, is all this shop appears to be good at producing. Plus, many people were sitting around tables on laptops or reading books and seemed content sipping warm beverages and eating croissants.

Against my better judgement, I ordered a meatloaf sandwich. I knew in the back of my mind I was not going to have a pleasant experience because:

1. There was a wide assortment of bubble tea on the menu
2. Daikon and cucumber were listed as toppings for the sandwich (remember, it is a meatloaf sandwich)
3. There were lemon slices in the water container (not that lemon is bad, but one must know they probably did not wash the lemon before they put it in the container)

When I received my sandwich, I found pinkish-grey ground meat plopped on one side of the bread and cilantro, mayo, and cucumber piled on the other. Opposite the sandwich sat some limp lettuce covered in shredded cheese and black olives further wilting on the warm plate.

I nearly threw up.

Now, pregnancy has not made me a picky eater - I have been picky all my life. Still, the presentation of this sandwich was disgusting and not worth the ten dollars I spent on the meal. I gave it my best go - I pecked at the baguette, tried the salad (the dressing was sweet - why?), but I could not bring myself to touch the mounds of goo that was supposed to pass for meatloaf.

So I began to cry. I could tell people were looking at me. I know L would kill me for purchasing food this expensive and not eating it . Had I a job, this would not be a big deal. However, I am unemployed, expecting a child, and very hungry. All I could think to do is cry and try to think of how I could get my money back.

I waited till it seemed the counter was clear and I took my plate up there. I explained that I was not one to complain about food, that I found the presentation of this meal unpleasant and I could not eat it, and could I please have my money back.

Of course, I am crying while saying this - which is the only thing I can blame on my pregnancy. If I had not been pregnant, I would have been more calm. Especially when the gal at the counter said "No, we can't give you your money back". I started to sob at this.

I explained that I really could not waste my money on food that I didn't eat because of its unappealing lack of presentation. She did not offer me another dish; she simply said she could not give me my money back.

"Have you had a baguette sandwich before, "she asked.

If I had not been pregnant, and therefore emotional, I would have schooled her in the fact that I have had many a baguette sandwiches, some for the same price as her sorry sandwich, that were much more appealing and loaded with better quality ingredients (Baguette Box comes to mind).

However, I simply replied "yes".

Then a slew of customers began lining up behind me and having a crying pregnant woman is bad for business. So she gave me a gift card for the restaurant instead of reimbursing my credit card. Now, that doesn't seem right ot me, and I am thinking of posing this question to a few lawyers I know, but really is it worth it to get upset over a $10 sandwich?

Upon receiving my gift card, I scurried out of there as quickly as I could to Five Guys - Burgers and Fries. Having inhaled a delicious cheeseburger (the tomato was mealy, but given my earlier experience, I let it go), I felt much better. I also was quite impressed with the Five Guys establishment - the potatoes looked real, the toppings for the burgers seemingly endless, no trans fat, and a very tasty burger for under $5.

So, lesson learned - when I go to Thorton Creek Cinema to watch the next Harry Potter movie, I will use my gift certificate at the Jewel Box to purchase a pre-made something or other to sneak into the theatre. Then I will go to Five Guys for dinner.

I just hope L isn't too upset over the $15 I spent on lunch.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


When I got married, my mother insisted that she make my wedding dress. I had found a dress I liked, the dressmaker wanted $700 for it (pretty reasonable), and I was willing to pay. However, typical of our family, my mother looked at it and said "I can make that". So she did.

The unfortunate thing is I had cancer and I didn't know it. I continued to lose weight and I believe I was around 90 pounds when Lance and I got married. So, my mother travelled to Santa Fe and found I had lost more weight (I was perhaps 95 pounds at the initial measuring) and was forced to alter my dress, which meant buying a sewing machine.

My grandmother was the one who made the purchase and gave it to me as a wedding gift. I took it with a smile knowing that it would remain in my closet for years to come.

My mother is great seamstress and I helped her cut and pin several projects growing up. However, sitting at the machine and pressing the pedal was beyond my abilities. My reluctance to sew stems from a deep fear of needles and it has been with me long before I ever saw designers get injured on "Project Runway".

I had longed to conquer this fear of the sewing machine, but unfortunately my usual strategy of not looking at the needle when I am near it does not work for this activity. It is all well and good to turn away when you get blood drawn, but one must pay attention to the position of the needle when sewing.

When I learned I was pregnant, I was excited (for some reason) about sewing. But where to begin? I selected fabrics, I purchased patterns, and even showed them to my mom. She was more than willing to sew all of it for me, but I really wanted to do it myself. Part of the reason might be that it is a skill I would like to pass on to my children. I learned how to crochet and embroider from watching my grandma and mom, so surely sewing could be something I could pick up on sight.

That turned out not to be the case. My mother would guide me through the process, but I was still quite frightened of the machine. I freighted over what I would do with all of this material and notions I had purchased -- it seemed like a waste.

Happily, my friend Emily Lorelli was more than willing to help guide me through the process. Some how working with her helped me conquer my fear of the machine. Perhaps I needed to view more than one person operating it without harm to convince me that I too could sew.

This afternoon I forced myself onto the machine. Taking a few scraps, I tested out my skills - I am not very good at keeping the stitches straight.

"Whatever," I internally said, "I'm getting this finished."

Emily had pieced and sewed most of the crib sheet last Saturday and the only thing it needed was three more corners of elastic. And so I sat down, stretched the elastic, pinned it, and sewed it!

And here is the finished product!

The crib is from Peg and Gregg - they purchased it at Land of Nod for us. I like it - it is very simple.

I wanted a gender neutral pattern not only because we are not sure of the gender of our child, but I am not into frilly, girly stuff.

Hurray for froggies! I used this material in my classroom, and I washed TWICE before I sewed with it. Here is the pattern up close.

It is a bit blurry, but one gets the gist - it is colorful and cute!

Next up is a dust ruffle for the crib, which will take a bit of time. The nice thing is knowing I have Emily as in-state tech support and a book to reference. Onward!