She had a birthday party.

The theme was Circles + Dots.

Camilla's birthday invitation

I tried not to go too overboard, but when you’ve been waiting, like, your whole life to do this and you only have one (napping) baby to worry about it’s pretty easy to decorate.

The food table.

I re-used some of those circle garlands, made some new ones, and borrowed a few paper lanterns. Total cost for the decor was about $10 worth of paper and thread.

Camilla's first birthday decorations.

The big garland thingy on the wall has a photo for every month of her sweet little life. I love looking down the row to see how she’s grown.

A circle for every month of her life.

I tried to serve round food as well, as long as it wasn’t too goofy.

Cupcakes!

We picked a lot of blueberries the day before the party. I didn’t realize how many we had fed Camilla along the way until she pooped blue for four days afterward.

Fresh blueberries and watermelon.

Then again, she also got quite a few berries while we were waiting for the guests to arrive.

Eating some blueberries before the guests arrive.

Blueberries are her new favorite food.

I tried to move some of the birthday cheer into the living room as well.

I hung more paper garlands all the way around the room.

Paper garlands in the living room.

I guess this also serves as a sneak peek of my recently redecorated living room.

The on-time guests...

Which filled up pretty quickly once the guests started to arrive.

Her "god-aunt" Sophia.

I feel kind of bummed that I didn’t get a photo of everyone who was there.

Playing with Madison.

Since Camilla won’t remember the actual party, I want her to be able to make her own memories after the fact when she looks at the photos.

I know that I did that with our old family albums.

Lots and lots of babies.

At least you can imagine the sort of chaos there was with many babies in one rather small apartment.

(Not to mention the adults!)

I am so happy that she is finally getting old enough to really “play” with her friends. :)

The birthday cupcake.

I decided to do cupcakes instead of one big cake. The polka-dot wrappers may have had something to do with that.

Oh, is that for me??

Taking her first bite.

Contemplating.

Going back for more.

Feeling pleased.

Camilla giveth…

…and Camilla taketh away.

There was a very lovely pile of presents to be opened.

It seems that one year is when present-opening really starts to make sense.

A baby finally realizes that these things are for her.

What's in here?

Opening presents.

Hello Kitty was the biggest success of the afternoon, although I know that all her presents will be used in turn.

Hello Kitty was the most exciting present of all.

Some of you may remember we have not yet reached yet Camilla’s real birthday, which is June 27. We are leaving for a short bit of travel and then a big long trip to WA and ID and this was the only time to have a party with our Pensacola friends. As part of our packing shenanigans I am sending my computer ahead of us, so this will be the last blog entry for a while. That’s kind of a shame since I have a few more sewing projects to share, but we’re switching to the summer schedule here and blogging just doesn’t rank up there with “visiting grandparents” and “going to the beach.” Thank you dear readers for continuing to check back here despite my very spotty blogging record…I promise to return with photos of our visit home.

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The New Sewing, part 2.

So, my sewing fervor is still in full swing and I have three new products to show & tell: two for me, one for the babe. They are a step up in complexity from the pjs (patterns! patterned fabric! lining! buttons!), but I stayed true to my rules and finished them as nicely as I could. I’ve decided to keep a scorekeeping record of my projects on a scale of 1 – 10 for future reference, making a note about things to fix next time around. So far, the scorecard looks something like this:

1. Knit longsleeve baby shirts: 7 / 10
need to use thicker ribbing, make general fit and neckline larger, and find a way to finish the ends of the serged seams

2. Knit baby leggings: 8 / 10
make waistband higher, make elastic a little tighter than I think it needs to be, and find a way to finish the ends of the serged seams

I have three new projects to add to the list, and I’ll start with the most complex:

3. Anna Maria Horner “Four Corners Nursing Top”: 6 / 10

This top is modified from the pattern in Anna Maria‘s awesome new book Handmade Beginnings. There are some really nice maternity and baby patterns in it, but the thing that first caught my eye was that she actually took the time to design a few tops for breastfeeding women. Genius! As someone who has been needing to find clothing with, um, access for 11.5 months now, I can tell you that there is a serious shortage of cute nursing gear. I feel like I’m on my way to the office in most button-front shirts and while knit shirts are usually better, you run the risk of flashing someone with a bit of blindingly white postpartum tummy. Which is about as attractive as it sounds.

Anyhow, I didn’t follow the pattern in the book exactly: I decided to join a lot of the little pieces in the front so that I ended up with just two big pieces, the band/yoke at the top and the gathered fabric at the bottom, mostly because I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to match my print up exactly. I also reduced the gathering in the front and lengthened it a bit. It’s hard to tell, but the thing that makes this a nursing top is that front is basically one big panel that can be lifted up on either side since it lays on top of two side panels that wrap around you pretty securely. I reduced the gathering on the side panels as well since they can add rather a lot of bulk unless your fabric is quite thin.

[And now we come to the awkward I-need-to-take-a-photo-of-myself-in-this-shirt shots. You know, where I set up the tripod, try to settle on a not-too-dorky expression, fiddle with my new remote (which, incidentally, is MUCH nicer than setting the timer and sprinting toward the wall), and contemplate how much I need a haircut. Seeing photos of yourself is always a helpful boost to the humility levels, right?]

The front (okay).

Aha, I forgot that I also made another big modification. The front panel has to have something to keep it from fluttering up and in the original pattern it’s a set of ties. I happen to not care for ties, however. Whether you tie them in a knot or a bow, they always leave a lump in your sweater and are uncomfortable to lean back on. So I made the side ties thicker and much shorter and added a third one that wraps around that back and connects at the sides with buttons. Presto! Problem solved.

The back (good).

Alas, I am afraid that the back side is the cutest part of the shirt. Keeping rule no. 4 in mind (“make sure that the fabric is appropriate to the project and a wearable print”), I picked this totally cute Anna-Maria-meets-Jonathan-Adler cotton print out at Joann’s while it was on sale for $3.50/yard. I thought that the fabric was thin and just a teeny bit drapey, but evidently I was wrong.

The side (ugh).

I will be the first person to admit that I do not have a flat stomach, but it doesn’t stick out this much. Either I should have completely eliminated the gathers under the placket, used a much drapier fabric, or both.

I spent a long time matching up the pieces.

It pains me to say this after having spent a ridiculous amount of time carefully matching up the pattern on all my pieces, but I think this one is going in the maternity box.

At least I have a new maternity shirt to look forward to, right? (In addition to another baby.)

4. The Eugenia Kim cloche: 8 / 10

I have a little problem with hats. I often see such cute ones at the store (Liberty had some adorable sunhats at Target), but it seems that I have an enormous head because hats that aren’t stretchy very rarely fit me. One day, it occurred to me that I could actually do something about this problem and sew my own.

The Eugenia Kim + Denyse Schmidt hat.

This sunhat was based on the basic cloche pattern in Eugenia Kim’s Saturday Night Hat, a copy of which was kindly sent to me by a friend. To make sure that it fit my giant noggin, however, I measured my head, divided by six, added my seam allowances, and adjusted the pattern accordingly. Oh, and I made a muslin. As a result, the fit is quite precise albeit a bit perky at the very top.

The top side is made from some polka dot Denyse Schmidt fabric from my stash and the underside is unbleached linen. The linen makes the hat a little floppier than I wanted, but since it’s a pretty beachy-looking thing I decided that’s okay.

Almost...but not quite.

Once again, I worked hard to match up the prints and I *almost* did it.  I give this an 8 / 10 for the floppiness factor and minor fit issues, but I plan to make it again out of a stiff wool for the winter and I think everything will be solved then.

Home-sewn shirt + hat.

6. Oliver + S ruffled halter: 10 / 10

I saved the best for last because I looooooove this shirt. I have been wanting to try an Oliver + S pattern for a while and am saving up for the Ice Cream Dress. In the meantime, this pattern came with the last issue of Stitch magazine, which was available at Joann’s (where I happened to have a 40% coupon and a gift card…with me, proximity and price almost always win out in the end).

Oliver + S ruffled halter.

There was one catch, however: the pattern is sized from 18 mo/2T up to a 12, but I wanted it to fit an 11 mo baby. So I cut out the pieces in the 18 mo size and then pinched 2 inches from the main body, 2 inches from the top ruffle, 3 inches from the middle ruffle, and 4 inches from the bottom one. (You could just cut it, but the pattern is a download and I’m lazy and don’t want to print it out all over again when she’s two.)

On the model.

And as a result…it fits perfectly!

The back has elastic for a nice, trim fit and an adorable tie at the nape of the neck.

So cute from the back!

I initially wasn’t so keen on the halter idea, but I just love seeing her little white shoulders. I want to eat them.

A cascade of ruffles.

The ruffles are all cut on the bias, which give them a nice drape and means that you don’t need to hem them.

This project was so successful (in my mind, at least) that it has been banished to the closet until her first birthday party, which is coming up soon.

If it gets a stain on her birthday, at least I will feel like it was for a good cause.

The New Sewing, part 1.

I don’t know why, but I caught the sewing bug a few weeks ago. I am fully aware that I have a short attention span and that my interest flits from project to project…sometimes it’s painting, sometimes it’s photography, sometimes it’s fixing things up around the house. But right now all I want to do is sew. And when I sew, I want to make clothes. Not curtains, not cushion covers, not tablecloths. Clothes.

The only problem with this is that I have not had great luck sewing clothing in the past. And it is very frustrating to stay up late finishing that dress/skirt/blouse/thing and find out, in the end, that it either screams “I made this myself” or is just so unflattering that it’s not worth wearing more than once before it is condemned to the dark recesses of the closet.

Despite my previous track record, however, I’ve decided to have another go at sewing a few bits of clothing for myself and for Camilla. To separate my current wave of enthusiasm from my previous endeavors, I am calling it The New Sewing and have established a few rules:

1. I will look through my own clothes (and Camilla’s) before sewing something from scratch to see if I already own anything that could be made more wearable through simple alterations.

2. I will sew to meet a specific need and not just for the heck of it.

3. I will not buy fabric unless I have a very specific project in mind, and I will check my current stash first to see if I can use anything I already own.

4. I will make sure that the fabric is appropriate to the project and is a wearable and flattering color or print. (I’m thinking of some specific “short sleeve plaid flannel shirt” and “blue/brown prairie print skirt” fiascos here.)

4. I will take the time to prewash the fabric, make measurements, baste seams, sew a muslin, serge the edges, and whatever else it takes to make a fully-functional garment that is designed to be washed and worn for many years.

5. I will seek out and pay for good patterns if I think they have a better chance of fitting myself or Camilla than buying cheap ones or making my own.

Well, that’s a pretty lofty list and I’ve already broken, um, a few of these. But I feel that it’s good for me to at least start with these points in mind, especially since it’s very easy for me to get an idea in the morning and want to start making it that afternoon. But good sewing really doesn’t work that way. Picking out fabric, washing it, finding a pattern, cutting it out, making adjustments, sewing and picking out seams, hand stitching buttons…all these things can be so slooooow. But I need to learn patience. And I really want to become a better seamstress, which isn’t going to happen if I just slap some fabric together and call it good. Practice doesn’t make perfect if your practice is always sloppy.

I’m now going on week two (three?) of The New Sewing, so I’m obviously running a little behind with my blog posts. But I can show you one of my first projects, which — I am proud to say — produced my baby’s first mama-made garments. Unbelievably, I had not sewn anything for Camilla thus far. Usually I find so many cute things at the thrift store or Target that I decide that it’s not worth the effort, and for really complicated clothes (jackets, jeans, button-up shirts) I still think that’s a better use of time and resources. A few weeks ago, however, we found that the babe was running low on pajamas and that gave me an idea. You see, my darling mum gave me an old and incredibly heavy serger for Christmas that was still sitting in my closet because I was strangely terrified to use it. But what better first serger project could there be than jammies? Good fit isn’t essential and no one will see them besides family. (Oh, and everyone who reads this blog.) Plus, I am predisposed to be forgiving because she just looks so cute when she wakes up with scrunchy hair that I won’t even notice a few wonky seams.

So, that’s what I did. For fabric, I went to the Goodwill on their 99 cent tag sale day and came home with a pile of extra-stretchy t-shirts. I have to say that, if you’re trying to sew baby pajamas, old t-shirts are really where it’s at. They’re pre-shrunk, they come in way more colors and patterns than the knit fabric at JoAnn’s, you can find them with a lot of different weights, softnesses, and stretchiness, and you have the option of using the existing t-shirt hems instead of sewing your own. Score!

From t-shirts to pajamas...

For patterns, I used the 90-minute shirt tutorial on Made and the baby tights tutorial on Made by Rae with a few adjustments (i.e. no feet). I wish I had made my patterns a little bigger since these fit perfectly right now and I had been hoping for something a little loose. But I can easily adjust my homemade patterns the next time around.

They look better when she wears them.

I cut out five shirts and five pairs of leggings but have only finished a few since I need to rethread my serger in black before doing the others and am therefore finishing every single project I can think of that uses white thread. These are the first ones I finished and I admit that they don’t look all that great on the table. The fabric I used for ribbing was way too thin and ended up looking really wavy after I serged it. (Side note: the only solution I could find online to this problem is to adjust the “differential feed,” but my machine is so old that I can’t do this. Do any experienced sergers out there have any other suggestions?)

The other jammies.

But, I think they look pretty cute when they’re worn by the model.

I need to make the neck opening a bit bigger next time around, but I can still squeeze the shirts over her head.

The "I don't want any" face.

See how enthusiastic she is about her new jammies?

Oops, the pants are a bit low.

I accidentally made the waist too short on this pair of leggings…oops. My baby wears lowriders.

Standing.

Oh, can I also take a minute to brag about her standing prowess?

Helping mommy with the laundry.

It comes in very helpful when you want to help mommy do the laundry.

Did you SEE what was in there?

Which is evidently waaaaayyyyy more fun than she realized.

Silly mommy.

Modeling her new jams.

This is the other set I finished.

I wrapped the ribbing around the unfinished edges instead of just sewing it on top, and I think it looks a little bit cleaner.

Sounding her barbaric yawp.

I made this set from an old long-sleeved tshirt of mine and was just able to eke out both the shirt and the pants.

It’s a little hard to see, but I was able to re-use the decorative hem for the pant cuffs and shirt bottom.

Oh, and the color matches her eyes.

Pondering my camera strap.

Which are usually fixated on whatever fascinating object is dangling nearby.

Running from daddy.

Unless the foot monster is coming.

Beware the foot monster!

You think that you are fast…

He got her anyway.

…but HE is faster.

The foot monster!

And when he catches you, he will eat you up. With kisses.

New teeth.

Which makes you smile like this.

(More sewing projects to come, as soon as I can get some decent photos…)