Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Bloggy Giveaway Carnival - Have you heard of it?

Someone on one of my yahoo groups is participating and sent a link. Literally hundreds of bloggers are offering giveaways this week. You sign up for each individual giveaway by leaving a comment on the individual blog. So, for all you people who love to win stuff, check out Rocks in my Dryer

But, even better, as you are clicking through the participants, stop to read a few posts on these bloggers. I have found some excellent new blogs to read, and a lot of talented sewing ladies as I signed up to sign bags, aprons and baby gear. :)

Okay, one of my favorites I saw this morning makes incredibly gorgeous burp cloths and sells on Etsy, so take a look at Its Whimsy

Monday, January 21, 2008

Book review: Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping by Judith Levine

I first heard of Not Buying It on the Simple Living Discussion Forums I believe. The opinion there was not all that positive honestly. Despite that, given there just are not that many books about not buying things (heh, perhaps because the target audience would not purchase the book?!), I decided I did want to read it. However, I picked it up from the library. My next best source,, had a waiting list of over 100 people for this book. In any case, I finally did find a copy.

First off, this is not your typical "how to" guide to not buying it or saving money (ala The Tightwad Gazette or similar), nor is it a "how to" philosophy or primer on simple living. It is one woman's year without buying (meaning without buying what she considers "unnecessary," so obviously purchased food and so forth), and her thoughts along the way. The chapters are the months of the year as she progresses along, both in her year and her thoughts, starting off very much in a consumer mindset and ending the year not only weathlier in monetary means but in life satisfaction as well. Along the way, I have to admit the book got tedious in places, and I skimmed some pages. Levine though touches briefly on many, many hot philosophical debates (green living, radical simplicity, regular simple living/downsizing, involuntary simplicity and consumer culture post 9-11 as a political statement just to name a few). Any of those could serve as a jump point for those interested in doing further reading. This book, again, is not a primer though and remains one person's memoir of her year "without shopping."

Overall, I enjoyed reading a well-articulated, if somewhat long-winded at times, account. Levine brought forward many interesting points of view. However, this is not a book I will seek out for my personal permanent library to read again (remember, my copy is a library book). So, my recommendation honestly is pick up a copy used or at the library. A side note here is the author herself did see the irony in an author writing a book about not buying. She has a good sense of humor. LOL.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Ottobre 1/2003 #27

Ottobre 1/2003 #27, originally uploaded by michaeldog_1999.

Sewing this weekend was another raglan Ottobre top for Noah, sleeves from the "red dress" knit (see below!) and front and back from a nice thick white interlock. I used a firetruck and fire hydrant applique I have had in my stash for many years. This is Ottobre 1/2003 design #27, size 98 cm.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Ottobre leggings and RTW shirt

This outfit has a history. I was shopping at Babies R Us after the holidays and saw this cute lonely shirt on the clearance rack, 50% off the clearance prices, which made it about $1. I loved it but the bottoms of the set were long gone missing apparently, probably why it ended up on the clearance rack. In any case, I bought it because I loved the bright cheery red and figured I would buy or make red pants to go with it. A couple of weeks later, my mother-in-law comes over with an Eddie Bauer dress she wore only a few times after surgery and doesn't like, of a red knit of 100% cotton, and asked if I could use it. It had a full skirt and was made of a very nice knit, so I stashed it away. It occurred to me the other day that it was a very nice match for that little Pooh shirt! So today I used that dress to make these leggings. The pattern is Ottobre 1/2007 issue, #2, "striped leggings" as their title, in size 62 cm (about 3 month size). The pattern was one piece (like the Kwik Sew knit pants type if you are familiar with that). I laid it out on the skirt so that the leg of the pants would be along the hem of the dress, thus making it so I didn't even have to hem them but could reuse the existing skirt hem. I then sewed the crotch and inner leg seams and added elastic and was done - total sewing time approximately 20 minutes including cutting it out and doing the elastic. I still have a lot of the dress left as well for something else. With as much stash fabric as I have, I probably could have found a nice red interlock there too, but it is fun to stretch my imagination and reuse fabrics, with the added benefit this time of the nice existing hem that could be reused. :)

For those interested in seeing the original garment, photo is here:

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Ottobre slim fit pants back

Back view of the Ottobre 4/2007 #27 pants.

Ottobre slim fit pants front

This was this week's sewing, but unfortunately they came out quite a bit too large. This is from the 4/2007 issue of Ottobre, #27, "slim-fit" pants. They were not quite slim enough for Zach though. As they are large all over rather than just in one area, I think I just need to do one size or two sizes smaller and lengthen them to fit his height. I already went down one size all over and lengthened (a 110 cm tracing lengthened to 116), but I need to try the 104. I obviously did a poor job of measuring my ADHD child who dislikes being measured because he is smaller than his measurements taken! Ah well, I got the experience and practice in doing zip fly complete with a fly shield, separate waistband, belt loops, etc. --- things I definitely do not sew every day. So, I'm happy with the process if not with the result. I'm going to trace and sew a smaller pair - but maybe not just quite this week. I think I do some easy T-shirts or something first before refocusing on this. :)

By the way, the material here is a tan baby/fine wale cord from somewhere, JoAnn's actually if I recall correctly. It was decent to work with, and I like the effect of the cord in this style, a "dressy casual" if that makes sense, not really dressy but not his typical jeans or elastic waist pants either. Definitely a keeper of a pattern once I get his sizing right. These I'm going to tuck away in his box for next year, when he will hopefully have grown into them.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Misc. news

Lily's 2 month appointment was on Monday and she weighed in at 11 lb 4 oz, nearly a 3 lb gain since December! That puts her now solidly at the 75th percentile for weight. She definitely was a slow starter and then too off. Her height was 23 inches.

Today, Noah had his speech and language evaluation, the results of which are as we expected with him being normal or slightly above in comprehension (receptive language skills) and below average for his age group in expressive language skills. Hence, he is going to qualify for speech therapy services, to be arranged soon. Hopefully this will continue to encourage him (as we do already) in his words, and lessen his frustration at not being able to tell us what he wants.

Lastly, Zach now is enrolled in a local public homeschool charter school. We spoke to our EF (educational facilitor) via telephone today, and set up our initial meeting. My hope is that he is able to attend some classes on site and slowly build up a group of similar-age peer friends. He continues to do exceptionally well educationally speaking, but I would like to see him work on some friendships. A side benefit of this being a public school is that we will get some tuition assistance towards classes for him. We are usually unable to afford very many classes for him, so this will be nice. The down side of course is that we are accountable with recordkeeping and regulations of a public school. At this time, it is an acceptable tradeoff for us. We will continue to reevaluate this each year, continuing with the charter as long as the benefits outweigh the drawbacks for us personally.

Sewing wise, I have been trying to sew a little each day. Early in the week I finished up the binding of a UFO (unfinished object) that has been lingering since early 2007 in my sewing room. It is a quilting wallhanging, and I'll post a picture of that later on. This week I also completed some simple serged fleece baby blankets for charity, adding a little embroidery to one corner of each using my reader/writer card (VERY exciting, was my Christmas gift from DH). Today's project was a pair of jeans for Zach made from an old pair of papa's jeans. I got the project idea from the files at, and they came out quite well. You lay the pattern on the jean legs, using the two side seams and hem and then just have to sew the crotch seam and add elastic in the waist. I actually for mine cut off the casing allowance at the waist and added a separate knit waistband with elastic inside the knit. These are certainly not high fashion, but Zach reports they are very comfortable play clothing, and they took less than 15 minutes to create! :-)

Friday, January 04, 2008

2008 Resolutions/Goals

Like everyone else I have a few things I want to accomplish this year, about which I will be blogging (of course!):
  • Sewing: I want to track all fabric in and projects sewn this year. I started this last year on a spreadsheet, but it is not a complete list. And this year I'm moving it to blog form!
  • Sewing: I want to continue to craft/sew gifts for birthdays and Christmas this year as much as time permits.
  • Financial: I want to continue the plan we have been doing of paying off our van within 1 year of purchase, and hopefully the small remainder of my college loan this year, which will leave us debt free except our house ... as Dave Ramsey might say. :-) We are loosely following the Dave Ramsey plan, though we started this long ago so already have some the later steps completed and did not start with any credit card debt (having taken care of that some years ago). With three children, we just are refocusing on financial security for the entire family.
  • Health: I would like to get back into running, or at least consistent daily exercise, to improve my energy level and ability to keep up with Zach. I would like to lose a few pounds too, because hey what woman wouldn't?! LOL.
  • Health and Financial: We are continuing to focus on cooking more from scratch, eating less processed foods, more whole grains and more organics.
  • Education: We are planning to continue using Sonlight with Zach, and possibly get core A for Noah this fall (for 2 and 3 year olds). Zach will continue his homeschool PE class, and we hope to find one additional sports-related class for him weekly. We are strongly considering a martial art. We are considering a public school charter to give him a full day of interaction with others (on site one day a week), and give mom a break to be with Noah and Lily without needing focused attention on Zach and his behavioral issues.

And I probably will have more as the year goes on, but this is my focus.

Raglans for DS age 2-1/2

Raglans for DS age 2-1/2, originally uploaded by michaeldog_1999.

These are some shirts I made for Noah for Christmas and am just now blogging them. The pattern itself comes from Ottobre magazine (, which I HIGHLY recommend for children's sewing. This one is from issue 01/2003, pattern 27. I made a 98 cm size (european sizing) for Noah, and they fit very well. You can't see it very well in the photo, but their take on the raglan sleeve includes a bit of a curve in the raglan seam. This makes for a very nice lay on the shoulder wearing.

The fabrics I got from a couple of fabric co-ops. The blue space fabric came from Ressy's co-op (FabricsAndNotions on yahoo), a Siltex I believe. The transportation and Jurassic Park fabric came from Sara's coop (JoyofSewing on yahoo groups), also very high quality knit, so soft and easy to work with. As a side note, I recommend those co-ops to anyone looking for better fabrics than are available locally. We ready to increase your stash exponentially though as those ladies find some gorgeous stuff to offer. The green solid is from Wal-Mart, okay stuff but not great. It really shows it isn't that great when made into the collar band. That collar just doesn't look as nice as the others, but hey it was the color I needed and it is quite soft on his skin. The blue and brown came from, again top quality, and I recommend that site as well. by the way also has "yard sales" a couple times a year, where they discount their already low prices. That happens to be going on right now. The only hitch to that is shipping is often quite a bit slower during yard sales so be prepared to not have your fabric right away. I haven't been disappointed by the quality of anything received from them though.

Noah is very pleased with his new tops, especially since they contain no buttons. So some strange reason he is very much against wearing buttons of any type. If we try to put a shirt with buttons on him he starts yelling and fighting you getting it on him, saying "no button, no button." Last week he discovered his pants (fine up until this time) have a button for the elastic in the adjustable waistband. Now he is not liking to wear those either. Guess some plain elastic waist pants are the next thing to sew for him. I had those on the list anyway for potty training, but I'm going to move those up. I'm scratching my head on why he hates buttons so much though, even a couple on a placket and so forth. He sure is a picky little fellow about his clothing though (recall he refuses to wear any type of bib overalls either). Maybe he is destined to become a fashion designer, or just a buy who will only wear T-shirts and sweat pants. Guess time will tell. LOL.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Lillian 2 months!

Lillian 2 months!, originally uploaded by michaeldog_1999.

I can't believe Lily is already 2 months ago. Here is a photo taken 1/1/08 of our youngest cutie.