Saturday, July 31, 2010

Sundress How To

Sundress How To
The Dress I DIDN'T Wear to the Wedding...

This pattern is deceptively easy.
I, however; still managed to muck it up part way through... so I've decided I need to invest in this lovely dress form I found here: courtesy of a tip from Mr. Neal Taflinger (who, incidentally you should already be checking out both Here: and in person at Homespun - the lovely new store in Irvington where I could easily drop entire paychecks...)

So... in this blog-to...please do as I say and not as I did...and perhaps your sundress will turn out a tad more precisely...with a little less eyeballing-the-proportions.

Step One: Material Girl
Me? Oh I just used this lovely lightweight suiting that I found on super clearance at JoAnn Fabric. I tend to shy away from Jerseys even though they're super comfy, because I can never quite get my cuts and hems exact. In any case...find something lightweight, this IS a sundress after all. For the edging I used a nice not-totally-contrasting pretty little cherry blossom pattern that I had some scraps of lying about.

Step Two: Measure Twice...Cut Once!
See? Do as I say. Not as I do.
Fold your material over and use a butcher paper pattern (measured and constructed for one quarter your waist circumference for the front of the skirt...and one quarter + a generous few inches for the back of the skirt). And, before you cut...add an additional inch to each...for seam allowances! [Remember...we're folding the material to cut it. Hence, only the quarter circumference. Still with me? Good.] *NOTE. I happen to like a fuller skirt. So rather than a perfect rectangle, I made my pattern a trapezoid. Sundresses = breezy, fun, and twirly!

Step Three: Bodicea
Set aside your skirt pieces... we'll deal with those in a minute, but first, the bodice!
I sort of just haphazardly eyeballed this...which is where I went wrong... so don't do that, okay? You'll need two (eventually overlapping) triangle pieces for the front of your bodice and one rectangle about 6-8 inches high and the length of your back skirt piece. [insert the bit about measurements here]

Step Four:Press and Hem
Let me just go ahead and say it. I HATE pressing my hems. AND my seams for that matter. BUT it happens to really I continue to do it.
So, give yourself a good one-inch hem [because I happen to think a nice thick hem looks pretty on a dress). Measure, pin, and press. You'll want to go ahead and do this to the bottom of both skirts, and the top of your back bodice piece. But don't bother with the front bodice pieces, we're going to edge those in another material. No need to double up on our work!

Step Five: The Skirt
Match your outsides together and stitch those skirt pieces into a tube. Turn it Rightside Out & press your hems down all nice and neat and pretty. Hopefully that's all we really need to say here.

Step Five: The Back Bodice.
Take your Back Bodice piece and match it Rightside to Rightside with your Back Skirt piece. Stitch these pieces together. Then fold up and press your hem. Now isn't that smart? We're making progress.

Step Six: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back.
You thought we forgot about the Front Bodice, didn't you? Silly you.
Take your two triangles, and lay them out overlapped. Decide which side (left or right) you want on top. we'll need to edge them both in our contrasting material (which, again, we're first going to need to press & pin. ugh.) I used scraps about 6" and 9" long for the longest edge of the Front Bodice.
Fold your pressed material over the bodice triangles and pin into place. Be sure that you have a nice crisp, freshly pressed edge showing. (So, essentially you've folded this piece of fabric into thirds, one third falling behind the bodice and two-thirds, folded under on itself showing in front of the bodice). Stitch the edging on and remove you pins. Press one more time for good measure...we don't want it to look bulky!

Step Seven: Attaching your Front Bodice
Again, Rightside to Rightside, pin the front bodice to the top front of your skirt. Pin & attach the under-half first! Once both triangles have been attached, tack a few stitches, either by hand or on the machine, to firmly attach Triangle one to Triangle two. We don't want any gaps or wardrobe malfunctions if at all possible... Now Turn & Press!

Step Eight: The Straps
I used a bit more of what scrap material I had on hand here and cut six haphazard strips of about 10 inches in length. I braided three strips together and secured each with a few stitches by hand at top and bottom to secure my braid. To attach each strap, I simply handstitched the straps to both the top point of the Front Bodice and a point about three & a half inches measured in from either outside edge of the Back Skirt.

If you have not significantly altered your pattern or decided to eyeball your should have one completed, perfectly wearable sundress! At this point you may do any (or none of) the following:

1. Appliqué. With a bit more of that scrap material you could easily appliqué a few cherry blossom branches along the hem...

2. Trim below the bodice. I opted to add a bit of my scrap material just under where I attached my bodice. This bit of deco. helps to hide any unsightly stitches that may be showing (ahem. not that I had any of those...). It also perks the dress up a bit.

3. Add a sash. I found some fantastic little scarves at Forever21 (you know.that store that carries every accessory I never knew I always wanted so I could wear it once and then lose it on the dance floor?) for $4.00. I very nearly wrapped the cream, fringed scarf under the bodice and tied it in back. The same effect could be attained with some wide silk ribbon, etc.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Missing You

I miss couch time and root beer floats and movie nights and hour-long showers and soft touchies and breakfast sandwiches. I miss your smile and your laugh and your stupid Phil Collins ring tone. I miss stealing the covers knowing you won't mind because your core body temp is about a thousand degrees. I miss your fish. I miss wandering around premium aquatics and giggling at Phineas & Ferb episodes even if the kids aren't around on a Saturday afternoon. I miss Little Ceasers Hot & Readies & Crazy Bread on the couch. I even miss listening to your talk radio stations while in the truck on the way to dinner or out to meet friends.
Hurry back.
I miss you.

Stupid Afghanistan.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Exploration Sunday

I forget, from time to time, that the best part of being a kid is exploration.
Everything is new to Munchkins. Everything.
They're too young yet to think that it's uncool to be enthused about art or classical music or ancient greek literature (sidenote: Percy Jackson & the Olympian's The Lightning Thief MAY in fact be too mature of a movie for a three-year-old. Oops)
So Sunday I piled The Munchkin crew into the car and off we went to explore our city a bit.
First Stop: The IMA's new ArtPark.
This place has a come-and-climb-on-me vibe, and that's just what we did. We scaled most of the structures we found. And, my kids, being the total hambones that they are, insisted on having their picture taken on pretty much each thing we found. We got dusty and dirty and hot and sweaty and it was glorious. We talked about the Hows and Whys of it...the reason social settings play into the creation of a sculpture just as much as the materials do... and their little spongey brains just soaked it all up and spit back out more questions.
I think sometimes, as parents (and lord knows I'M guilty of this) we don't give our kids enough credit. They are dying for us to challenge them with new ideas, new experiences... I'm making it a point to be more mindful of this, and not brush of questions of "How?" and "Why?" with glib Mommy-answers. And, as a side bonus? They were exHAUSted that night. Score.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Summer Time

I want to wake up because the sun got in my eyes, turn around and see you laying right there next to me. I would smile and watch you sleep, and when you wake up we would squeeze ourselves into your kitchen, arms and legs tangling, to make breakfast sandwhiches. And I would brew coffee and you would smile indulgently and bite your tongue on poking fun at my caffeine intake. And we would open the blinds and let the sun warm our spots on the couch, the soft hum of the news or some new music I'm forcing you to listen to in the background.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

MojoStock 2010. Misty Memories of an epic weekend

I've come to several very important conclusions over my past weekend excursion to Sleepy Bear Campgrounds in Noblesville, IN.

1) I am officially too old to camp without an air mattress any more

2) I am verging on too old to dance until 4:30am - as my knees still ache a bit a full two days later.

3) You CAN take your front porch with you wherever you go, even if it's just a tarp.

4) I have MISSED camping, and the fully liquored up debauchery that so often attends it.

5) Kicking around random inanimate objects at 4 in the morning can be the BEST. FUCKING. GAME. EVER. INVENTED.

6) I'm a LOT better at Edward 40-hands than I thought I would be. And by that I mean I can pretty much belch on command to release the pressure, didn't lose. I mean I didn't win by ANY stretch of the imagination, but I didn't cheat, and I didn't lose. It's a big fat win in my book!

7) Matrix Dancing is the best way to move in an EDM tent when you don't know what in the heck you're supposed to be doing.

8) Everyone may THINK they look good while dancing, but they're wrong. I fully accept that this probably applies to me and I've come to terms with that.

9) Everyone may THINK they look good in glowstick jewelry, and they'd be RIGHT. That stuff is awesome.

10) Ladder golf is reallllly difficult if the complexity and volume of the cursing that accompanies it is any indication.

11) I need to step up my camping fare. I expected hot dogs and s'mores... Some of my friends brought steak, chicken, kabobs, etc. I was wondering where the linen tablecloths and silverware was at one point.

12) They make DISPOSABLE Grills! I'm not kidding!! Why didn't anyone ever tell me this before??? Genius! Just one more thing I wish I'd thought of first...

13) NEVER be the first one to fall asleep/pass out. You'd think this li'l rule would die off after bra-freezing incidents in junior high, but no. Definitely no.

14) Pacing is very VERY important when one intends to drink for a 24 hour period in 90 degree heat.

15) Kiddie pools DO, in fact, increase the value of your temporary residence. They make good leg soaks and gain you insta-friends. Often those insta-friends also bring popsicles. Sweet.

16) The grapes-thrown to grapes-caught ratio is, and forever will be, horribly disproportionate. This is not Wade's fault. This is not Caralyn's fault. They are both champions at this game.

17) Breaking both one's wrists does not necessitate sitting at home by oneself. One can, upon gathering a couple of sharpie pens together with a couple handfuls of Vicodin, attend a full campout/music festival.

18) It's still cool to get your face painted even at our age.

19) You should always keep tabs on your camp chair. Because woe to the person who gets up to go dance for a few hours and returns to find that their camp chair has become the puke seat. ew.

20) Camping is a lot like going to war. Shared experiences create instant friends and strengthen bonds between already-friends. And, you can always claim that you survived Knollfest '08...I mean Mojostock 2010...

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

War, Spaghetti-Os, and the GoGirl @ Bedtime...

Bedtimes are often exhausting in my house.

There are three sets of teeth to brush, pajamas to change into, blankets and dolls and cups to locate. And it seems that often, they all save their day's worth of questions for those 15 minutes when I'm trying desperately to shift from kid-time to Mommy-time. I think they've discovered that it's in those 15 minutes or so, that inevitably drags out into half an hour or more, that I'm more likely to answer their questions directly, instead of shifting my answers into kidspeak.

Last night, the four of us are squeezed into the black and white bathroom on the second floor.
Isabelle stands on the blue plastic stool in front of the sink, rubbing her big toes against each other in a scritching noise that sets my teeth on edge. Baz leans against the edge of the clawfoot tub, trying to balance himself without toppling in, and I bite my tonge against reminding him he'll get hurt if he falls. Sophie hops gingerly from one foot to the other, board to thick, wooden board, waiting impatiently for her turn at the sink. I urge the kids to hurry with soft tapping slaps of my flip flops against the floor. "C'mon guys, get a move on"

"Why?" Baz asks in a taunting voice.

"Do we need to get to bed so Daaaaaa-aaaaan can come over?"
And he says it the way fifth grade boys would say it...sing-songy in it's almost-derision.

"No," I reply. "Dan's out of the country, remember? He's in Afghanistan"

"Oh" is the succinct reply, accompanied by a small eye-roll.

"Why's that" Sophie chirps in, still hopping steadily, left foot..right foot..left foot...hippity hop
|He's there for work, being the simplest answer I could provide.

"Yeah, because he's Army" Baz nods sagely at his sister.

"Buy why's he there?" she pauses mid-hop to ask.

"Because there's fightinggggg" he answers, drawing out the G in annoyance.

"But why?" Seeing an inevitable pattern, I interrupt, explaining that fighting between countries, and in countries between people, is much the same as fighting between the three of them over a toy they all want, or control they all want (of a game board, of the remote, of my attention).

"But, but" Isabelle stutters, toothpaste spittle arcing out across my once-clean mirror. "It's not our toys or presidents or anything. Why are OUR army there?"

To this I can only shrug, bowing to her young wisdom, and try to explain that, in the same way that a Mommy has to step in a break up a fight, sometimes our army has to step in a calm things down and restore order. It's the best I can muster at 7:45 in the evening, and they seem to digest that well enough.

I make Isabelle say cheese and show me her teeth post-brushing, and I find remains of Spaghetti-O sauce on her chin. Wetting the corner of a hand towel I mutter about the three of them and stains lasting through nuclear apocalypse while lifting Belle by the armpits and swapping her out for Sophie on the stool, knowing tonight's not the night to enforce the age-order rule.

"Where do Spaghetti-O's come from, Momma?" the Monkey chirps as I swoop in to grab the overflowing toothpaste tube from her rigid clutches.

"From a factory" I reply pragmatically.

"But how do the get the holes in the middle then?" Isabelle asks.

They enjoy in mocking me, I can tell. They know I don't have the answers to these questions, and it's like a game, to see who can stump me first. But it's Baz to the rescue tonight with a convoluted explanation of giant machines that stamp out the holes in each Spaghetti-O, sending the middle parts to another factory that makes food for animals at the zoo. Somehow he's decided that the monkeys and the hyenas like spaghetti-Os. Leave it to the boy to take a simple answer and make it complicated. But who am I to argue with him, really?

Sophie, brushing through his explanation, decides she's done and hops down from the stool, toothpaste mustache still very much in evidence.

Hopping in earnest now, she rushes up to the toilet, then stops.

"Mommmmmm?" she asks, dropping trow in the process. "Why can't I go peeps standing up like Bazzy does?"

I start to toss an explanation over my shoulder, applying toothpaste liberally to Baz's brush, that girls just aren't built like that. I half turn and see her standing before the toilet, a look of intense concentration on her face...

"NO!" we all three shout almost in unison as she scoots her little legs (Didn't there used to be more baby fat there? Why does it always disappear when I'm not looking?) closer to the bowl. I'm sure she's going to attempt it, knowing also that I won't be able to get there in time to stop it.
Instead, she simply smirks at me in the way only three-year-olds know how, turns, and scoots herself up at the last second.

"I'm gonna try it one day" she insists. I carefully avoid answering that one and softly hum Happy Birthday twice through while Baz brushes.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Everyone should have one great romance in their life.
One that makes you spring out of bed at the chance to see, the hearts, the lips to meet
One that makes the blood run full and thick through your veins, that makes your limbs heavy with want. One that makes you ache.
Even when that ache turns acidic and etches small scars in its travel... it's worth it. Always worth it.

It's Ours
there is always that space there
just before they get to us
that space
that fine relaxer
the breather
while say
flopping on a bed
thinking of nothing
or say
pouring a glass of water from the
while entranced by

gentle pure

it's worth

centuries of


just to scratch your neck
while looking out the window at
a bare branch

that space
before they get to us
when they do
they won't
get it all


-Charles Bukoswki

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Sometimes, cartoons are the best place to find these little hidden gems of wisdom. People tend to overlook cartoons as frivolous, but I think that the combination of cartoon and satire often results in life lessons we ALL need. And it's an accessible media for both the young and the young at heart.
Oh, Chuck...

Peppermint Patty- What do you think security is, chuck?
Charlie Brown- Security ......
CB- It's when you're a little kid & you,ve been somewhere with your parents, & it's night, & you can sleep in the back seat.
CB- You don't have to worry about anything, your parents are in the front seat, & they do all the worrying.
CB- They take care of everything.
PP- That's real neat.
CB- But it doesn't last. Suddenly you're grown up, & it can never be that way again!
PP- Never?
CB- Absolutely never.
PP- Hold my hand, chuck.

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