Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Gallery

After a brief stint of industriously assembling a gallery of my blog projects, I realized that it was taking far too much time and effort! Finding each post and obtaining a picture and a link for the gallery page (plus arranging them) was a bit of a drag. And thus, I sought an easier option -- namely, Pinterest.

Thoughts and Thimbles Project Gallery

Now, if you click on the Gallery tab on my blog, you'll be directed to the Thoughts and Thimbles Project Gallery, which will hopefully be easier to navigate (and easy to maintain!). I'm actually enjoying having a condensed visual representation of my projects. It's interesting to see how my style has altered over the past few years, and how life changes (marriage, kids, etc.) have affected my crafting habits.

 By the by, those of you who follow me on Pinterest should be eternally grateful to me for starting the gallery as a secret board until it was complete, thereby sparing your feeds from the 145 pins I added to the board in the space of a few hours. You're welcome. *wink*

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Patch Job

For months -- months, you understand -- this particular project has been floating around the sewing room. To wit, one pair of jeans (with holes in the knees thoughtfully provided by my son) and a pair of leather patches (already cut out and ready to go). It's really almost embarrassing how long it took me to finally sew those patches on! 

But better late than never, right? I handstitched the patches to avoid opening up the inner leg seams. Which required less work, in a way, but made the hand stitching a bit more fiddly. Hopefully these poor pants will get a new lease on life -- and "just in time" for the fall weather that should be arriving a very, very long time from now. *ahem*

PS -- I just put these through the washer and the dryer, and they came out beautifully! I was a bit worried about how the suede would hold up. Phew!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Izzy in Bloom

It may surprise you to know that Rosa is actually in need of new clothes. I know, even I was somewhat shocked by that revelation! But little ones grow, clothes wear out, and that means that I have to sew. sigh. Such a sacrifice...

I turned to the Izzy top once again, and that probably won't be a surprise. This is my fourth rendition (One, Two, and Three) in less than six months, and I just keep loving this pattern more and more. Teri, you designed one amazing pattern! Oh, and on the subject of "Izzies," you should go see this beautiful version by "Beloved" -- it's so lovely and well made that it's hard to believe it's her first sewing project! 

And now to the Izzy in hand...

Simply made, in a green floral cotton with natural muslin from the stash. In other words, inexpensive! 

I decided to add a band at the bottom to make it into a dress, which Rosa can also wear next spring/summer with a pair of leggings. The sizing is so flexible with this pattern, because it's roomy in the bodice and transitions well from dress to tunic. 

A covered button, also from the stash, for the back closure. The Izzy is so easy to get on and off, and the single button does its job well while being simple and decorative. One buttonhole? I can do that!

It's super simple to add a contrasting band to the Izzy, because the skirt piece is straight along the bottom. Adding a band to a curved hemline can be tricky, but this is a simple matter of cutting a rectangle twice as wide as you want the band to be, plus seam allowance. I sewed it right sides together to the skirt, then folded it under and topstitched. It's a clean, easy finish, and it seemed like the perfect way to balance the dress with the contrasting bodice and skirt.

Oh, and I made the 2T for my almost-two-year-old. Plenty of room to grow, but it fits perfectly now.

It may seem late in the year for such a summery dress, but the hot weather is here to stay for at least a few more months. We're "braving" it as best we can by staying inside all day like cowards...

Friday, August 22, 2014

Knitting Needles, Organized

When I began my adventures in knitting, I knew one thing for certain -- I wanted to start out with a full set of needles. What little knitting I had done in the past had already awakened me to the frustration of finding a project, only to realize that you don't have the right size needle(s)! Fortunately, I found an inexpensive set of bamboo circular needles with virtually every size included. 32" circulars are necessary for larger projects in the round, but also function as "regular" needles, thus fulfilling two roles. Are they the highest quality? Assuredly not. But for an amateur, they are perfectly adequate -- and cost about the same for a set of 18 as two individual pairs from the craft store. And personally, I am very fond of bamboo needles.

Also, due to an error on the seller's end, I was sent a set of shorter length circular needles instead of what I ordered. A brief conversation with customer service, and the right set was on the way. Since return shipping would be more expensive to them than the needles themselves, I was allowed to keep the mistaken order!

But what does one do with a burgeoning set of unruly circular needles?

Make a needle organizer, of course! I must admit, I entered this project rather naively. I mean, how hard can it be to make an organizer to hold 18 sets of needles? *cough*

I am quite pleased with how the project turned out, and how it functions. The mess that was my circular needle collection is now a neatly organized collection. But getting there? Well, that was less fun than I anticipated.

I did have a plan and a few schematics, but I altered just about everything along the way. And let me tell you, making 18 individual pockets is no picnic.

The brown and teal fabrics are linen, and the bird fabric came from JoAnn. Each pocket has a tiny vinyl "pocket" on the side, with a cardstock label indicating the needle size.

The pressed snaps were a serendipitous notion. They're not gorgeous, but they were fast and easy! Hand sewn snaps, buttons, or just about any other closure would have been quite tedious repeated that many times. The case is interlined with some fleece batting and interfacing for a little "oopmh," and it seems quite sturdy enough for my purposes.

On the horizon is another case for my 8" double-point needles, as well as a pouch for my other knitting notions (counters, etc.). But for now I'll take a break from organizational sewing, and do a little knitting, instead!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Gift

I don't typically share "the news" this early, but considering how many of you have been kindly praying for our family over the past few months, I think it's high time to let you know that we're expecting another baby in March! Actually, the current due date is March 15th, the infamous "Ides of March" (which apparently no one knows about, because most of the people I've mentioned this to have responded with blank stares). Considering that Little Man was due Christmas Eve and Rosa was due Reformation Day/Halloween, we seem to have a "holiday due date" theme. 

How I'd hoped and prayed that I would be pregnant before our sweet baby girl's due date! I reasoned that such joyful news would soften the heartache sure to accompany that day. As it turns out, I was pregnant, though I had no idea at the time. And really, I think it was better that way. Without that buffer, I was "forced" to close out a painful chapter in the grieving process. As the due date approached, all of the progress I'd felt I'd made over the past few months was swept away, leaving the wound very, very raw. Only a few days before I took that pregnancy test, I'd prayed to God that He might take away my desire for more children (at least for a time), because the constant see-saw of hope and disappointment each month made the grief that much harder to bear.

Clearly, He didn't grant that petition! I actually found out at 3 1/2 weeks, due to a number of factors (largely my impatience, and the realization that it would be better to test early than wait and wonder in agony for a few more days).

I can't begin to express my gratitude to God for this blessing. I never presumed that we would be able to have another child quickly -- or even at all -- because I know very well that not everyone gets a "rainbow baby" after a loss. Nor can I express my gratitude for the many prayers that you, my dear readers, have offered up on our behalf. I am treasuring this blessing and yet holding it loosely, knowing all too well how precious and transient it can be. It's hard not to give in to anxiety (and I'm not always successful), but as the days pass I become more hopeful. We recently had our first sonogram, and the relief of seeing our baby's heartbeat was great, indeed. Still, for some reason it's difficult to imagine why this pregnancy would go any better than the last. There are still many weeks to go (and several more before we're past the point at which we lost our last baby), so I crave your continued prayer for a safe and healthy pregnancy.

Lamentations 3 was a source of comfort to me over those dark months following our loss, and its verses still bring me comfort:

But I call this to mind, and therefore I have hope: 
the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; 
His mercies never come to an end; 
they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. 
"The Lord is my portion," says my soul, "
therefore I will hope in Him." 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Leggings for Mama

It may surprise you to learn that while I've cranked out almost a dozen pairs of leggings for Rosa and frequently wear leggings myself under dresses, my first by-me-for-me leggings came off the machine only a few weeks ago. Armed with a yard of lightweight cotton spandex from Girl Charlee, I used the same self-drafted legging pattern that I used for my swimsuit bottom. The fabric is actually much lighter than I anticipated, so it has a tendency to bag a little at the knees over time. I think a little adjustment in the knee area is all that's needed to fix that, though.

The most nerve-wracking aspect of the project was a detail that I've been wanting to incorporate into leggings for the longest time. Inspired by this image (which is now just an image with a broken link, as the item is no longer available), I wanted a button-and-lace detail on the sides. Fortunately, it was faster and easier than I anticipated -- a good thing, since I'm pretty sure I held my breath the whole time!

I'm so pleased with how they turned out! They're remarkably comfortable, and I actually remembered to make the back of the waist higher than the front. The waistband is a doubled length of white spandex -- I decided that I wanted a thicker fabric at the waist, and no one will see the difference in color!

Alas, no good pictures of me actually wearing  the leggings, but aside from the button detail, they're remarkably... ordinary. I'm so pleased that my experiment was successful, and that I now know I can get a pair of leggings from one yard of reasonably wide material.

Now excuse me while I go think up uses for the pound of dried lavender that just came in the mail!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Rolly Tootsie Wrappers

No, the title of this post (though confusing) is not muddled. For the topic in hand are new "wrappers" for the rolliest tootsies in the house, belonging -- of course -- to Rosa.

Since my predilection for leather shoe-making is clearly here to stay, I actually invested in some leather sheets via Etsy and decided to have a bit of fun. Little pink shoes were just too much to resist! I used the same pattern as I did for Rosa's tan leather shoes (and a pair of "undocumented" red leather Mary Janes), namely, Podsshoes's Ruffled Mary Janes via Etsy. Rosa has outgrown her other pairs, and they're truly in sad shape, anyway. She's now very comfortable in a size 4. Consider that there are 5 sizes in the pattern, and the largest size is supposed to go up to 18 months. Rosa will be turning two in October! I think the sizing may run a little big, but still, my girly has tiny, pudgy feet.

I used a dark grey leather suede for the soles -- these had already been worn a few times before I snapped
photos, so you can see some little toe-prints if you look carefully! *wink*

My only real modification this time (besides omitting the ruffle) was to the change the strap design. Rather than a single piece that crosses to the other side, I shortened the strap and added the "difference" to the other side of the shoe back -- this created two short straps instead of one long strap.

I also omitted the lining pieces, since the leather I was working with was quite thick. Instead, I stitched a rectangle of thin leather to the ankle area, thus creating the casing for the elastic.

The straps are connected with a small loop of elastic, with a pink bow stitched to the front. They slip onto Rosa's feet with just a hint of persuasion.

I took my time with the stitching this time, using an awl to keep my stitches even and thick buttonhole thread for durability. I think it paid off, as these are by far the tidiest pair of leather shoes I've made to date. Over time, I'm hoping to increase my skill -- and perhaps my stash of tools -- but it's nice to know that I have enough to make simple shoes and such.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Sugar and Spice

A few weeks back, I needed something to go along with the little dress (actually store bought, by the by) we were giving our first niece. And what better than a bow? Or two. Or several. Because a girl needs options, right? 

In the end, I assembled a little "folder" of bows, with a few elastic headbands thrown in for variety (and because newborns rarely have enough hair to handle a full-fledged bow). I prefer double-fold elastic for baby headbands, since the narrow elastics seem like they would be rather uncomfortable. My method is to hand sew the ends of the elastic together with a 1/4" overlap, and then wrap the seam with a short piece of elastic (sewn together on the back side of the headband) -- this allows you to affix a bow to the "wrap" so the bow clip doesn't contact the baby's head, and also is a tidy finish if you're not using a bow. 

Bow making is such a blast! One of these days I need to take a picture of Rosa's bows, because her collection is already rather large. I primarily use the Ribbon Retreat tutorials and, when necessary, a homemade bow-making jig (i.e., a short 2x4 drilled with 1/4" holes and a pair of 1/4" dowels). 

Presentation was a bit of a puzzle, until I decided on a "folder." Two pieces of scrapbook paper (one was card stock weight) were affixed together, folded in the right places, and finished with two card stock bow holders. The edges of the folder are covered in gold washi tape, since the raw edge of the paper was not particularly attractive! Yes, I often obsess over gift wrapping. Yes, I know that's probably not healthy.

Little Man and Rosa finally have a cousin, something Little Man is particularly excited about. He talks lovingly about holding her and patting her on the back, and then (when she gets "bigger and bigger") taking her to Wal Mart to buy a swimsuit so she can play in his sprinkler with him. At any rate, hopefully she will not be at a loss for bows any time soon!