Thursday, September 8, 2011

Sweetest Little Dress

Look what I made!  Is this not the sweetest little dress?   I used Jackie Clark Designs' pattern appropriately named Sweetest Little Dress.

The fabric, Junko Matsuda Tip Top Elephant Stripe in pink, and pattern were both from Pink Chalk Fabric.  I used one stripe for the bodice and put a few of the others together for the skirt pieces.

The pattern  has a hand embroidered design included, but I wanted to use this fabric which certainly doesn't need any embroidery.   My original intent was to put a blue ribbon across the bottom but Melissa talked me into something red and suggested the buttons be red as well.  The red was a much better choice.
This was my first time using rick rack.   It was really easy to work with, and I love the additional detail.

In the pic below you can see how I  cut the fabric so that a pink checked stripe would fold under for the hem.

The pattern is really simple for the most part.  I did have a one problem with it.  There are no markings for the buttons.  You have to wing it.  I was not really comfortable with that. I have never had a pattern without button and buttonhole placement before.   I spent a lot of time trying to figure it out. Finally, I emailed the designer who suggested folding the fabric to find the center placement for the middle button.   It's fairly easy to figure out the placement across the shoulders.

 I was more nervous figuring out how far IN from the edges to place the buttons and buttonholes. The designer didn't answer this part for me (although I emailed her again).   I don't have baby clothes sitting around the house to use for comparisons or the little person here to serve as a dress form.  I finally just guessed at it.  I hope it will look as good on the wee person as it does on the hanger.

According to the designer,  button placement would depend on the size and shape of the button.  The pattern, however, lists quarter-inch buttons.  I would have preferred having the markings for the quarter inch buttons.  If someone wants to change that, they should be the ones that have to spend time figuring out how to make it happen.

Another thing is that the sizing is quite vague.  The pattern is listed as being for "up to 24 lbs."  Since it sure isn't for a newborn, I don't know what the starting number would be as in maybe 12 to 24 lbs.  As I said, I don't have any baby clothes around to compare it with.  I think it would be better for the company to determine the comparable sizing used as in 6 to 12 months or whatever along with a beginning number for the pounds.

Will I use the pattern again?  Probably.  It's a cute dress.  I will be able to make changes in the button placement if I need to.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Hiking After a Hurricane

When we went camping within a day of Hurricane Irene, we were not expecting any real problems. We were heading into the mountains! It's far inland. No problems there, right?   Wrong.  Lots of wind, lots of rain, lots of places for all the rain to flow downward, lots of wash outs. From the State down to the local government and all the utility people did an incredible job of getting everything back on track for the tourists, but the Adirondack Park has a million hiking trails that are still a bit beaten up from the storm.

I thought you might like to see some pics of tiny Deer Leap Trail outside of Lake George.  We picked a short one with little elevation figuring that would be doable.

What can happen in less than two miles?

Well, in some areas the washout was so wide it was difficult to know if you were on the trail or just following a washout.  We were barely on the trail when we met two hikers who had turned around rather than go through the downed trees.

Sometimes you could go over and/or through

These were the easy ones.

It think he wanted to come home with us.

Stopping constantly to assess how we could get through through made this  two mile walk seem like  it was taking forever!

It's always good to have  a friend to go ahead for you.

These spots were tough.  You just could not see the path beyond because so much was down.  My husband and I made the mistake of both going off the trail at one of these spots.  We spent what was probably five minutes but seemed like twenty to me trying to find the trail again.  I have the "keep someone on the trail and stay within shouting distance" rule firmly ingrained now.

Nice place for a picnic lunch, but I think I'll wait for the clean-up crews to come through first the next time.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

You CAN Blog While Camping!!!

As I sat here at the campground picnic table, the hubster suggested I look to see if there was any internet available.  Crazy man--we are in the middle of nowhere!  My phone keeps searching for service.  I looked, though,  and there it was--a connection.  Yeah, I probably shouldn't use that motel's internet, but come on!  It's just too inviting.

Greetings from Lake George!  This area in the Adirondack Park was hit harder than our area down south near Albany.  All the State campgrounds were evacuated on Saturday which turned out to be a good thing.  Most of the State campgrounds have too much damage to open yet with trees and lines down. None of the area had electricity until late in the afternoon.  Only a few places with generators were open for business.

Our campsite was closed when we arrived, but we held out til the electric came back on at 5:30.  We spent the day watching crews clean up the damage by the lake and driving around the area.  One of the major roads had collapsed on one side from flooding water washing out the ground under it.  I hope no one was on that in the dark.

The village workers were amazing.  You would hardly know that anything had happened by Tuesday.

I even found this lovely little Monarch butterfly in the village.   Look close--it's in the middle.

 Off for the biking portion of this venture.  Hope your day is gonna be as nice as mine.  Blogging at a campsite!  Perfection!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Something Fun For You!

I'm  off for five days at Lake George in New York--biking, hiking, and watching the clean-up crews clear up the branches from the storm.  I hope I'll get some internet service somewhere up there.  Being away from my computer for several days does not seem like fun.  Am I addicted??

I'm gifting you with one of my favorite sites for a quick laugh while I'm gone:


They show really short clips of animals being......let's say amusing (or mean or gross).  These are really, really short clips that play over and over so that you can see what you missed til you click for the next one.  The pithy little captions are as much fun as the clips.  Be sure to read them.  If you get to the Silverback ape clip, let me know if you think the guy is still working in wildlife photography.

Have a great week!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Embroidered Towels - The Green Phase

After finished eight dish towels with shades of gold, I needed a change.  I've moved to my green phase.

I can't decide whether I like the light/bright green colors shown up close here:

or the light and dark greens together:

None of these colors, by the way, are the ones used by the designer.  As soon as I buy more fabric, I shall have to try making a set with the "right" colors.   Ya never know--one of these days I may learn to follow the directions.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Getting started on the Gift Making - Embroidered Towels

I've been doing lots of things lately--just not blog-worthy--such as making 15 pillow cases from old sheets cuz one of my kids likes to change his pillow cases every night or so.  Of course, he's also the one who uses two pillows.  Here's a portion of that chore.
Nice, easy, straight sewing. But still a bit time consuming.

I did start something blog-worthy! I'm making embroidered dish towels from Huck toweling as Christmas gifts.

These are some of the designs I got from Embroidery Library during the summer when I was making the baker's apron for Melissa.  I love this design company!  They have so many designs, great prices, lots of sales, and downloading orders is so easy even I can't screw it up.  Every design comes up beautifully.  (No, they are not paying me.)  In searching for a design for the apron, I found the "Savory Swirls" set that I thought would be great on dish towels. These are four of the eight designs in the set. 

I love this fabric.  It is so easy to work with and takes machine embroidery exceptionally well.  I got it from Joann's with a 50% off coupon.  You don't find those too often anymore!   It's usually $5.99 a yard.

I pre-washed and dried on hot with very little shrinkage or wrinkling.  The fabric is 15 inches wide with finished edged so you only need to hem the ends.  I cut 27 inches for each towel, turned the edges under 1-/2 inch twice and did a straight stitch that you can see here.
Frankly, these looked great without the embroidery, too.  While Joann's doesn't have any other material like this, I did find a number of different toweling options/colors online at    I'm going to order a bit of each to see how they wash--will let you know.

That is four towels down and about 20 more to go, a couple of aprons, countless napkins--It's going to be a kitcheny Christmas.

Equally as nice as getting some sewing done is being able to listen to some books while I'm working.  I finished Michael Chabon's Summerland.  LOVED IT!   Just as Neil Gaiman's American Gods uses many mythological gods throughout the story, Summerland uses many characters from folklore.  That and the great writing in each is where the similarities end.  Summerland is NOT a dark tale at all.  I have a whole new respect for baseball.  You'll understand if you read it.

I also listened to Laura Hillenbrand's Unbroken, an amazing story about a guy's World War II experiences.  She also wrote Seabiscuit.  I didn't think I'd be interested in that one, but after, listening to Unbroken, I'm going to give it a try.

Anyone else getting a head start on making Christmas gifts???  Let me know what you're doing.  I'm always open to stealing sharing ideas.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Hotel Trials and Tribulations with EconoLodge and Holiday Inn

I've managed to get through all my more-than-I-care-to-mention years with no real problems with hotels.  I've been in a few that were shabbier than I might have liked, but I never left one until I saw the EconoLodge on Boundary Street in Beaufort, South Carolina.  Ironically, the photos we had seen online were streaming on a small screen in the lobby.  They actually show you the glaring contrast between the online photos and reality. 

I hadn't even reached the room when I was having serious doubts about the cleanliness of the place.  As it turned out the room was dirty, had a serious musty odor, outrageously loud air conditioner, and a slit of daylight that reached at least an inch  under the door.  Vermin could have stood up proudly and walked right in.  With the conditions I had seen outside the room, vermin were a strong possibility.

I will tolerate a lot, but it was either sleep in the car or find another hotel.  We couldn't get a refund, but decided we'd deal with it at a corporate level later.    Corporate response:  We'll let you know within 72 hours.  Seventy-two hours later:  We've turned it over to the place that turned you down for a refund. 

Was that enough abuse?  No.  On the way home we stopped at the Holiday Inn Express on Boydton Plank Road in Petersburg, Virginia.  It was a nice place.  We were happy with it.  However, we arrived home to find a bill for a pillow we've been accused to STEALING from the Holiday Inn!  I don't know if a pillow was missing when we arrived.  Being a bit OCD about symmetry, though, I think I would have noticed an uneven number.  I've never thought to count hotel pillows on arrival.  The only thing I'm sure of is that we don't even take the free toiletries from hotels let alone pillows.

The charge for the pillow is $25.  We stayed at a total of four hotels on this trip.  Not once do I recall thinking, "Wow, these pillows are great!"  In fact, I do recall thinking that hotel pillows kinda suck and I missed my own.  My pillows didn't cost me $25.  Holiday Inn corporate response:  the manager--who has never gotten back to us as mentioned in our email to corporate office--will get back to us. 

Sorry to be whiny, but I had to vent.  Yeah, I know, we need to start staying at better hotels.