Keeping a Gift for Myself

Last year, I made this messenger bag with every intention of giving it away as a Christmas gift.

Instead I decided it didn’t suit anybody on our list and tucked it into my closet. Surely, I would find somebody to give the bag to next year.

That year is this year. The gift list has been made because I’m crazy about Christmas and love to start shopping in late summer.

The result is the same though. I’ve made several excuses as to why I can’t give the bag away. It all comes down to the simple fact that I don’t believe anyone will love the bag as much as I do.

So, I’m keeping it.

Pattern: Messenger Bag by Sew Liberated

Fabric: Denim recycled from an old pair of jeans, 100% cotton in polka dots purchased from Pottstown Sewing store and 100% cotton in pink elephants purchased from Walmart

I found the section on the making of the exterior pocket to be confusing. I actually had to recut the pattern pieces because I had stitched it inside out or maybe upside down. It’s been over a year since I made it. I forget what I did wrong.

The rest of the pattern was straight forward and I do love the way the bag turned out. I suppose that’s obvious since I refuse to give it away.

Dress Progress

Although the taffeta fabric is gorgeous, it is persnickety to work with. It is constantly slipping about. Coupled with the underlining, it feels like I’m working with bullet-proof material.

The other issue is that the pattern I’m using for Elly’s dress has no straight edges. Every edge is a curve. So, like inserting a sleeve, I have to ease in each and every piece of fabric. It takes time.

Despite hand-basting all the seams before I sew them on the sewing machine, I’ve made some minor errors. Rather than rip them all back, I plan to hide them as best as possible and just hope nobody notices. Or if someone does notice, she minds her manners and says not a word.

For the first time since buying this fancy sewing machine, I’m using the decorative stitches. When topstitching, I am using a flower motif for the stitch and a gold thread so it pops on the dress.

I love the results.

Almost no progress has been made on my dress. Elly’s dress is more important in my book, since she is the flower girl. So, I’m trying to finish her dress first. I’d say I’m about a 1/4 of the way done on her dress. It’s coming together nicely despite all my complaints above. The end justifies the means.

Thrill of Amusement Rides

The first ride Elly picked out had Dan and I a bit apprehensive, but her enthusiasm overrode our instincts.

Perhaps we should have tried to talk her out of it more.

She was very happy to get off the roller coaster. Yet, the first thing she wanted to do was to go find more rides to go on.

At first, Dan went on the rides with her.

Then, we put her on a ride all by herself.

There was no turning back. She would have lived on the piers if we had let her.

Her favorite ride was called the Speedway.

So, as you can see, the trip to Seaside Heights was a success. Elly loved the rides as you can see above. She also loved the lights, sounds and games in the arcades.

She showed off her swimming skills in the hotel’s pool, yelling at complete strangers to “Watch me!”.

The beach was fun for all. Elly built a sand castle, dug holes in the sand with another young girl and ate handfuls of the sand despite our grimaces. Dan took Elly into the ocean where she screamed and kicked her legs as the waves came in. Yet, she wouldn’t let Dan leave. She wanted to stay on the beach forever. We adults waved the white flag first – just as it should be.

My favorite pictures from the trip:

All 46 pictures of the trip can be viewed below. Note that no pictures were taken at the pool or the beach as I was concerned about getting water and sand in my fancy new camera. Of course, the cheaper point and shoot that I brought along for such occasions wasn’t working because I had failed to charge the battery. Boo. Let me assure you, she was adorable in her bathing suits.

Seaside Heights 2012

Headed Back to the Jersey Shore

Since Elly and I had such a wonderful time in Long Beach Island, New Jersey, we are going back as a family.

Well, we are going back to the Jersey shore. Instead of LBI, we will visit Seaside Heights.

You might recognize Seaside Heights as the host town of MTV’s Jersey Shore. The show is not the draw for us.

We love Seaside Heights for the memories. It’s the shore town Dan visited every summer as a kid. It’s where Dan asked me to marry him (and I said yes). It’s the only shore town besides Atlantic City that we’ve ever gone to. It’s our little oasis.

We also love Seaside Heights for the boardwalk. A beach without a boardwalk is just boring. It’s where all the good food, amusement rides and arcades are located.

This will be Elly’s first trip to Seaside Heights. It’s our hope that she’ll fall in love with it too.

My other hope is that I’ll kick this fever and sore throat before we leave Friday morning.

This blog will be silent while I’m away. More pictures than you probably care to see will be published on our return.

Have a great weekend!

Hand Sewing Replaces Knitting

It’s been 2 weeks since I finished Elly’s skirt. I haven’t knit a single thing since then. Despite reminding myself repeatedly that I need to rummage through my yarn to find something that will compliment the brown wool I plan to knit into a skirt for myself, I haven’t done that either.

All my once free time that I used to sneak in a little knitting has been used to hand sew the underlining to the purple taffeta fabric.

It’s also been used to hand stitch accessories to Elly’s dress.

There is only 1 month left before my sister-in-law’s wedding. It’s officially crunch time.

All knitting and home decorator projects have been placed on hold. Sewing Elly’s dress as well as my own has taken front and center stage. Though right now we are eating home-cooked meals, that may change as the day of the wedding draws near. I’m determined to finish these dresses. Bound and determined.

Sunday Snapshots (of spraying turtles)

These pictures are from our visit to New York City last weekend. These turtles were in a playground found in the middle of a public park close to where Elly’s Aunt and Uncle live.

In NYC, there is always somebody to play with at the local playgrounds.

Not so in Pottstown. It’s a 50/50 shot as to whether somebody will be at the playground or not. With Elly being 2, the shine has worn off of the playground. It’s no fun if nobody is there to play with her.

Elly’s uncle asked if we would ever move to NYC and the answer is no. We bought this house with the intention that we would die here. Yet, there are perks to NYC, such as lots of playmates, endless variety of great food and, of course the most important, family close by that we love.

But, we’ll stay here. Here is home. Home is good.

Love for the Secretary Desk

My best friend got her secretary desk first. She related the whole story to me. She told me where she bought it, how much it cost, how she called her husband at work and excitedly prattled the details off to him and how she managed to get it home. Mostly, she went on and on about how it single handily organized all her bills and other paperwork. She was so giddy about it.

I was happy for her, but I did think she was a bit over the top. (Love ya, V!). I mean it was just a desk, right?

Then, I fell in love with a secretary desk. Now I understand all the fuss. I LOVE this desk. It’s amazing.

For the first time since we moved into this house 7 years ago, I finally have a place where I can store and easily access my extensive collection of cards, stationery and writing utensils, including my calligraphy pens and ink.

Before when I wanted to write a letter, I had to pull all my supplies out of the dining room hutch, lay them out on the dining table (for that was the only free surface), write my letters and then pack everything back up into the hutch. It worked. It just wasn’t fun.

Now, take a look.

My cards, stationery and even scrapbooking supplies are organized. Oh, how I love all the little dividers that are built right into the desk. It’s an organizers dream come true. I need more of these desks.

So, of course, my best friend was right.

The Versatile Cardboard Box

We order a lot online from Elly’s diapers to spices to coffee and tea. Thus, we have a never ending supply of boxes. Some are broken down right away and tossed into the recycling bin. Some are saved for future use, such as mailing presents to distant relatives.
But, this past year, I have started to find more uses for the boxes.

They were used to help kill the grass around my garden beds and make nice even pathways.

Once the top flaps are cut off, they have made excellent drawer organizers.

The best use by far as been in organizing my fabric.

Long have I wanted my fabric storage to resemble that of a sewing store with the fabric lined up next to each other and the colors and prints easy to see. This was as close as I’ve accomplished.

This was taken several months ago. Every open spot is taken now and it’s a bit of a mess. So, when I read a blog by The Cottage Home about how she accomplished her store-look-alike-fabric-storage, I was determined to try again. She recommended the sturdy plastic sheets from Only trouble is that they are expensive. The Cottage Home recommended comic board books as an alternative and that’s when I was reminded of my treasure trove of cardboard boxes.

It takes a little more cutting to whittle the box down to the right size, but I like the price: free. Free is good.

What do you use your empty boxes for?

Fun on MPB Day

Saturday was MPB day. Saturday was also my birthday.

I decided that there was no better way to spend my birthday than hanging out with Peter and people who loved to sew.

Though the day started at the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum, I opted to meet up with the group at the Brown Cup due to travel time.

They were just sitting down to lunch when I arrived.

After lunch was finished, the group divided into two. Half of the group went straight to Mood. The other half followed Peter to the budget-friendly fabric stores. I went with the latter group as this was my 1st time in the garment district and I wanted the full experience.

The first store Peter took us in was unlike any other fabric store I had ever been in. Bolts of fabric were leaned up against the walls, leaned up against each other and blocking passage way through some of the aisles. Almost nothing had a price tag. There was no air conditioning. A yard stick in hand was used to measure the fabric rather than a ruler anchored to the cutting table. The owner of the store along with his son were present and remarkably friendly. It was overwhelming and amazing. In the midst of it all, I found a cotton embroidered fabric that I couldn’t leave behind.

Here is Elly looking it over later in the day.

Our next stop was Paron Fabrics. Though they had better organization and even AC, I didn’t fall in love with any fabric. However, Peter pulled this fabric out and remarked about its uniqueness.

During the conversation, it occurred to me how wonderful it would look on a bag. I tried to walk out of the store without it, but I knew I would regret it. So, I blame Peter for this purchase.

Next we made a quick stop in a magazine store where most folks perused the sewing magazines; I flipped through some old Trend magazines on Knitwear.

Then, it was on to Mood. At this point, I was slightly disappointed that I hadn’t found any fabric suitable for Elly. So, I headed to the printed cotton section at Mood. I found nothing close to what I was looking for and yet I found exactly what I wanted.

Apparently, it was designed by some well-known designer. I was told the name at the cutting table by the friendly staff member named George who assisted me. But as I’m not up and up on fashion and designers, I neither recognized the name nor cared enough to write it down. George did tease me for buying designer fabric for a 2-year-old. I just loved the colors and the apple motif.

The tour was to continue on to a park, but I and another lady said goodbye here. I was eager to meet back up with family and spend time with them.

It was a wonderful day!
Thank you, Peter!

For complete photos of MPB day of which most are of Peter, see the link below.

MPB Day 2012


Elly’s 5 Tier Skirt

While watching the Golden Girls, May and Walsh, win their 3rd and final Olympic gold medal, I finished Elly’s skirt.

I love how it turned out.

The best part is the ruffle. It wasn’t in my original drawing. I was inspired to add it after looking through Nicky Epstein’s Knitting on the Edge book. I’m so glad I did.

Elly hasn’t been feeling herself due to a mild cold and lack of sleep, so she balked at my request that she pose for pictures while wearing a wool skirt in 90 degree heat.

Still I think she liked the fact that she could twirl in it.

Pattern – my own
Time Frame – 1.5 months
Yarn – Lovely Malabrigo and Claudia Hand painted yarn

So, should I knit Elly another skirt just like this one except in greens and blues or should I knit a skirt for myself in a dark chocolate brown? I can’t decide.