Monday, May 24, 2010

Summer Wardrobe 2010

Pattern Review is having another wardrobe contest! This time, the wardrobe is for 10 pieces: 4 tops, 4 bottoms, a topper (such as a jacket) and a bonus item. The added challenge is to include something "on trend." The contest runs from June 1 - August 31. My original plan for this contest was to sew pieces for the cooler weather ahead. But after posting my "Must Haves" for Summer I realized that I had enough projects already planned to create a wardrobe that I could also wear right now. It's too hot to think about woolens right now anyway.

The trends I will be incorporating are white jeans, denim on denim, and turquoise. To that combination I will be adding navy blue and red. The colors remind me of the Greek island Santorini. I've never been, but have seen beautiful pictures of the colorful buildings and deep ocean color. I was playing around with Polyvore the other night and came up with this inspiration board:

The items from my list include:
  1. dark denim pencil skirt - M5429 - need fabric
  2. white jeans - M5894 - need fabric
  3. striped shirt - OOP B3344 - black and blue striped mesh knit
  4. knit skirt - OOP S4237 or B5101 - navy jersey
  5. six gore skirt - S5914 - large print black and white floral
  6. knit dress - S2443 - navy doubleknit
  7. denim shirt - M6035 - need fabric
  8. white jacket - not sure what pattern - need fabric
  9. floaty top - S3751 - turquoise eyelet - need pattern and fabric
To this list I'm adding B5328 in a red stretch shirting fabric from my stash. I'm considering a different dress, too. I won't make a storyboard until I make my final fabric and pattern decisions. I'm looking forward to adding these pieces to my summer wardrobe.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Book Review: The Hidden Art of Homemaking by Edith Schaeffer

My dear friend, Linda, reminds me now and again to turn to a good book when life becomes too much. Charlotte Mason, my home education philosopher of choice, also espouses the importance of reading for mothers - part of what she calls "mother culture." Books are there to inspire, to educate, to uplift and encourage! As a very domestic person who loves being at home, cooking, sewing, taking care of my family and a lifelong lover of art and creativity, I should have read this book, The Hidden Art of Homemaking: Ideas for Creating Beauty in Everyday Life, years ago. Its title kept popping up on my blog feeds over the course of a year, or so:
So I jotted it down on my to-be-read list and eventually bought a signed copy on eBay. Isn't the illustration lovely? Then the poor book languished (as so many do) on my to-be-read pile. I just have to wait for the right time before I pick up a book.  That is definitely what happened with this one.

If I had picked up this book when I first heard about it or even when I first purchased it, I would have skimmed the first chapter and put it back on the shelf. Until recently, I bristled at the thought of God as my Creator, the Creator. I am the creator. I wrote this. I made this. Give credit to some invisible other? Nonsense! But, oh, how the heart changes. Now, though I still have doubts, I can read about the Creator and be comforted and encouraged. I am a creative being made by a creative force (God) in His spiritual image.

And that, my friends, is how Edith Schaeffer begins this lovely book. If you are turned off by the religious overtones, I recommend that you read it anyway. It is a delightful book for anyone wanting to make their (home) life more beautiful by (re)discovering their talents. It is all about intentional living. The areas of "hidden art" include music; painting, sketching, scultping; interior decoration; gardens and gardening; flower arrangments; food; writing - prose and poetry; drama; creative recreation; clothing; integration; and environment. She encourages her readers to explore each of these areas in simple ways such as playing that instrument you learned as a child, writing letters to friends, reading aloud, planting flowers in a sunny place and going for long walks. She makes all of these things sound like not just good ideas but necessities for living a full and rich life!

The Hidden Art of Homemaking is a book that I could turn to often for encouragement. Each page has a quote or phrase that jumps out at me to contemplate.  Reading this book is like reading poetry. It puts me in a higher frame of mind. It encourages me to see the world as a more beautiful place. She writes:
I feel strongly that this modern fear of home becoming non-existent can be countered only if those of us who want to be sure our little spot is really a home take very practical measures to be sure that it is just that, and not a collection of furniture sitting in some sort of enclosure being protected from wind and storm.
As I read through the chapters I have been inspired to begin making small changes in our home. I bought a lovely set of candlesticks at the thrift store and some tapered candles. I try to make time to set a lovely table for everyday meals with the candles and placemats. I've stopped waiting to have a home of our own to make our interior more pleasing and have begun cleaning out and redecorating the children's rooms. I am trying to be more creative on a regular basis. (Writing this blog is helping!) I've been thinking more about why I do things and how to make my personal environment (my attitude and appearance) closer to my true self.

Despite my efforts, I still have a long way to go. I can start by putting my spiritual life (my relationship with God) first with daily prayer and meditation. Second, spend more time clearing and cleaning my physical environment with regular housework. Third, focus more on my relationships by being more mindful of the needs of others and responding with love on a daily (hourly) basis to all. Finally, utilize my time wisely in creative and productive ways and not waste it with unnecessary computer time and idleness. (Though idleness is not all bad. Sometimes one needs to spend time in "wise passiveness," as Wordsworth's writes in his poem "Expostulation and Reply".) Most of all I need to imprint this verse on my brain:
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8 (New International Version) 

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

To my children, on Mother's Day

I've been a bad Mommy this week. No amount of dark chocolate could get me through the day without lashing out at my poor children. It was mostly hormonal, but my short-temper is a character flaw that I really, REALLY, need to work on. (Seriously, Holy Spirit, if you are reading this, I need help!) So often I get caught up in the small details of the days that I forget to just enjoy the children, the who and how they are right now. Many people are writing and reflecting about their mothers today. I don't think I can without crying a lot, so instead I will write and reflect about my children and cry a little.

Let's start with the boy. At six years, he's a wonderful child. He is full of energy and curiosity. He is the one who must figure out how everything works. He is the one who strikes up conversations with strangers in the line at Chick-fil-A to tell them about his lost teeth or the cool thing he found in the ditch. He's the one who wants to be a scientist or inventor or robot builder.
He's the one who likes to be the first at everything: getting up in the morning, running home, playing on the computer. He's the one who giggles. He's the one who wants to sit right next to you while watching a movie. He is most like his father in his wiry hair and distractibility. He is most like me in his smile and stubborn independence.

Then there is the toddler. She is almost two and at that perfect age where she is still a cuddly baby at times, but is learning and exploring so quickly you can hardly keep up! She loves babies. She loves singing and dancing. She loves being outside and going for walks. She can be very quiet and is often found sitting on the couch or her little chair perusing a book. Her favorite foods are bananas and yogurt, though not together. Her vocabulary is booming lately. She's making sentences, can say her name and repeats just about everything she hears, for good or bad. She is most like her father in her cheerfulness and sweet puppy-dog face. Of all the children, I think she is most like me.

Finally, there is the older daughter. She is nearly ten and is blossoming into a young lady before my very eyes. She has been addicted to the computer since a very young age. She has a lively imagination and likes creating and playing role-playing games (RPGs). She draws and doodles all the time. She doesn't think much about boys, except her brother, who is her constant companion and playmate. She loves animals and reading. She has read almost every book in the Warriors series a couple of times each. She has a secret club with her best friend, Lily. She is messy and tall and loud and not nearly as brave as she imagines she is. She is most like her father in her boisterous laughter and her addiction to electronic gadgets. She is most like me in her moodiness and love of reading.

Thank you, children, for filling my days so that my life will always be full. Thank you for your joyful noise so that I may relish in the silence as you sleep. Thank you for your angry words so that your hugs, kisses and little kindnesses are all the more sweet. Thank you for the unmade beds and the dirty clothes and the hungry stomachs so that I may serve you. Thank you for your questions so that I may think and be wise. Thank you for being so that I may be a mother, your mother. I thank you and love you...always.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Singing and dancing and ... sewing?

I've not done any sewing in the last week. My pajamas are all cut out but I haven't made the time to sew them yet. I want to finish them by Mother's Day. Yikes! I have three days!

I was hoping that watching The Pajama Game with Doris Day would give me motivation for sewing my 1950's pajamas. I'd never seen it before. It took me back to my costume shop sewing days. There were a few good songs, costumes (especially Carol Haney's) and Bob Fosse dance numbers (especially Carol Haney's), but overall I was hoping for something better. My teenage self would have loved the 2006 Broadway revival with Harry Connick, Jr. as Sid Sorokin.

If you've never seen the movie, here are a few highlights.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

My "Must Haves" for Summer 2010

It's rainy and the husband is busy grading final exams. So instead of enjoying an afternoon to myself sitting at the coffee shop with a nice mocha frappe, I'm writing this in my living room with the toddler sleeping on my lap listening to the dishwasher run and the dryer spin and the boy munch an apple. I will envelop myself in a cone of silence and try to get rid of some of the virtual post-it notes from my laptop screen.

A blog that I enjoy reading is Smiles Go With Everything. Diana is a newly graduated librarian (my dream job!) who also lives in The South and has a similar polished yet casual style that I admire. I purchased this bag on Etsy that she featured in a recent post. I love it, but secretly wish I'd gotten it in blue.

She has a list that she keeps called 2010 Wardrobe Gaps List. This helps her keep her shopping focused and on budget (another of her projects). I think this is a great idea. I don't like to shop for clothing much, but I do have a list of projects that I'd like to sew. Some are based on fabric/patterns that I've stashed and others are from trends lists such as Angie's list on You Look Fab. So as I was cleaning up from my wardrobe sewing marathon, I pulled together this list of projects to sew for spring/summer 2010 (in no particular order):

  1. dark denim pencil skirt - M5429 - need fabric
  2. white jeans - M5894 - need fabric
  3. inverted pleat skirt - OOP B3155 - olive stretch twill
  4. rouched waisted top - OOP B4914 - pink floral print jersey
  5. striped shirt - OOP B3344 - black and blue striped mesh knit
  6. casual knit top - S2690 - abstract floral print jersey
  7. knit skirt - OOP S4237 or B5101 - navy jersey
  8. six gore skirt - S5914 - large print black and white floral
  9. knit dress - S2443 - navy doubleknit
  10. denim shirt - M6035 - need fabric
  11. white jacket - not sure what pattern - need fabric
  12. another knit dress - either M6109 or M6112 - need pattern and fabric 
  13. vintage pajamas - in progress
  14. "utilitarian" jacket (military or safari) - completed 
  15. something lilac - (see #16) or coral - (see #14)
  16. a lacy shawl/scarf (such as the one below)
  17. vintage-style apron - such as S3544 - need pattern and fabric
  18. floaty top - S3751 - navy eyelet - need pattern and fabric

This is an ambitious list, but will add many wonderful pieces to my wardrobe.  Oh, and I'll probably sew a few things for the children. They need clothes, too, right?