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Happy Halloween Everyone!!

I love costumes. It’s the theatre kid in me. But to my surprise, LMC was excited to wear hers too. The first thing she said the morning when I got her from her crib was “ears” because she wanted to put on her headband. Gotta love it – and I think she looks pretty stinkin’ adorable.

Mr. Cleaver and LMC painted the pumpkins together on Wednesday. The tempura paint is starting to peel a little, but I think they’ll make it through the night.

We’re planning to eat pizza and hand out candy, we get 80-100 kids a year. We’re holding off on treat or treating for at least another year.

Hope your Halloween is fun and fabulous!

  • Olivia Dress: McCall’s M6913, View B with D collar. All Kona cottons from JoAnn’s.
  • Pig Ears: Improvised by me. Wool Felt from Z Fabrics.
  • Striped Leggings: Target
  • Tintin outfit: Goodwill and Mr. Cleaver’s closet
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Minoru Jacket

Minoru Sleeve Mod

Minoru Jacket

Minoru Cargo Pocket Mod

Minoru Jacket

Minoru Jacket

I finally made something for myself and it’s a doozy! I loved the Minoru Jacket pattern from the moment it came out (back in late 2011), so much so that I bought the pattern, the fabric, the lining, and special ordered the zippers shortly after it came out.

Three years of sitting in my stash and five weekends of sewing later, I have a bright and beautiful new jacket that does some much-needed filling of a long-outstanding hole in my wardrobe. Of course I finished it just in time for summer, but being as I live in Maine with it’s often cool nights and mornings, I’m sure it’ll still get plenty of wear before getting a real workout in the Fall and Spring.

The jacket is a spring green twill of forgotten origins, lined with some silky polka dots purchased at JoAnn’s, and riri metal zippers. I made the pattern in a straight size 14, which is a little bit roomy, but it means I can wear it over sweaters come Fall. It’s comfy and the right amount of warm for the in-between seasons.  I found the instructions clear and concise (though missing a few metric to imperial measurement conversions in the text and there’s something funky about the placket length/hem length). I pretty much made it exactly as described, with the exception of the following modifications:

  • Flat felled all the seams noted as top-stitched in the pattern – seam finishing and top-stitching in one!
  • Lined the hood
  • Moved the waist elastic up 1″/2.5 cm from pattern marking
  • Removed the cuffs
  • Made the hood zipper opening shorter
  • Added cargo pockets
  • Accidentally placed the interior pockets about 5/8 inch too low

One of the great things about sewing a pattern three years after it came out is that by then, a ton of other people have made it and you can steal their ideas and learn from their problems. About half these mods were inspired by other blogger. Case in point, I can no longer remember the blogger who mentioned it, but the hood zipper opening was indeed too long for my zipper, which I was able to check, before cutting it out. I do wish  I had headed the warnings to reduce the hood, as it is overly large. Some more direct copy-cats include borrowing Lladybird‘s idea to lose the cuffs (which were way long, even on me) and after I flat-felled my side seams before I inserted the side seam pockets I had planned on, I stole cutcutsew‘s cargo pockets idea.

The cargo pockets were a happy accident, as I love the way they turned out and they really make the jacket. I constructed my pockets largely based on this tutorial by 21 Wale. Should anyone want to copy me in my copy-catting, I’ve made up a PDF Cargo Pocket Pattern and Instruction Sheet  (tiled for US Letter-sized printing).

As with any coat/jacket, this was a time-consuming project. All said, it probably took me somewhere in the realm of 16 or so  hours to complete, but I love the outcome and consider it time well-spent as I can see myself wearing this coat all the time.

Speaking of wearing me-made things, I’ve completely missed Me-Made May, but I realized after I took the photos that everything in my outfit in these shots (not including underthings) was handmade either by me (cardigan, skirt, tank) or someone else (necklace, shoes). The fact that I didn’t realize it until I took the photos is a nice nod to how the right handmade items can really become an intrinsic part of our wardrobes.

Continuing on the theme of handmade wardrobes, there’s a neat little story behind the striped sweater LMC’s wearing. When we first moved back to Maine, my mother-in-law gave me a bag with some random knitting stuff in it: a few sets of straight needles, some old yarn, and all the pieces to a blue and white striped baby sweater.  When I was pregnant, one of the first things I did was seam the otherwise complete sweater together, so now LMC has a Memere-made sweater, even though her Memere hasn’t knit in years. The original yarn and ball bands (Reynolds Giselle) came with the sweater, but I’ve been unable to definitively date them and my MIL has no recollection of making the thing, so my best guess is that it was originally made for either one of her three sons, or my nephew – meaning it could be anywhere from 20 to 50 years old (quite the range, I know).  The best my google-fu can find is that the yarn was at a minimum available from 1981-1984. Doesn’t look too shabby for some never-worn 30 year old yarn, does it?

Easter Beignet
Happy Easter!!

I know that technically I don’t have to wear a skirt today, but it’s Easter and I finished it last night, so I figured I would wear my sparkly new Beignet skirt.

Easter Beignet

It took me about a month from muslin to finished project, but I think the time was well worth it.

Easter Beignet

The shell fabric is a lovely blue twill from my stash and the lining is a super soft polka dotted poly-charmeuse from JoAnn’s. The lining fabric was a bit of pain to work with (it frayed terribly until I finished the seams), but it feels fantastic.

Easter BeignetThe buttons are pale blue slimlines. I considered doing a more contrasting button, but decided I wanted this skirt to be a versatile as possible, so I kept it tone-on-tone.

Easter Beignet

The sewing was not difficult, although attaching the curved parts of the lining to the facing can be fussy. The reason it took me  so long was purely due to the large number of seams -meaning a large number of seams to finish.

Easter Beignet

That said, if I came across a good fabric, I’d make it again and I think this iteration will get lots of wear especially since the twill can be dressier (like today) or more casual.

Easter Beignet

Top: Ann Taylor Loft – from Material Objects (consignment)

Coral Necklace: American Girl Co. (to go with my Felicity doll, when I was ten or so)

Skirt: Beignet, made by me

Shoes: Bass Outlet

Chocolate Bunny: from Mom

Jelly Beans: on loan from Mr. Cleaver

In the next few days, I’ll do a post-Lent round-up/wrap up. Hope you’ve enjoyed this challenge as much as I have!

Domenic Duck

PS – Don’t forget  today is the last day to get $1.00 off the Domenic Pattern in my Ravelry shop!

Lent Day 21

Last week was a wonky week for me – between getting back from the DC trip to the snow on Friday – it was just weird and disjointed. In the midst of all I didn’t feel super motivated either in dressing or taking photos, so all I have for Lent proof is these two. Don’t worry, you’re not missing anything.

Lent Day 21 (above):

Necklace: Sears

Cardigan: Joy by Kim Hargreaves, made by me

Tee: Target

Wool circle skirt: made by me

Shoes: Clarks Outlet

Lent Day 22

Lent Day 22:

Sweater: Gap

Skirt: Granny skirt, drafted and made by me.

Boots: Naturalizers, Macy’s

Reaching

My seedlings are doing well. Almost everything has a little seedling now (except the mint). Up until a few days ago, though there wasn’t a hint of activity on my peppers or tomatoes. The soil was too cool, methinks. Then while driving, Mr. Cleaver mentioned that the despite the cool weather, the sun made the car really warm. Only in Maine, he said, do you drive around with the window cracked in 38 degree weather.

Reaching

His comment gave me an epiphany, and immediately when we got home, I put my tomato seeds under my clear glass cake dome, and voila! within a day seedlings!

Beignet Fabric & Lining

My other big triumph of the week was finally cutting out my Beignet skirt yesterday (the blue twill is the shell, the polka dot is the happy happy lining).

I spent some quality time in JoAnn’s yesterday and picked up two patterns, some notions, the lining fabric and fabric for two more projects – including the pattern and material for a new casual skirt. I’m putting my plans for pants on hold and as soon as I finish the Beignet, I’ll dive into that skirt pattern, because really, the denim skirt needs a break!!

When I moved to Maine, I decided that I wanted to walk more and Mr. Cleaver agreed. We both love to stroll together, in Chicago, we’d jaunt up to Andersonville. Here in Portland, we’ve ended up in a neighborhood tailor-made for the leisurely stroll. Then houses are lovely to walk along and the other evening we saw some little brown bats in action at the far end of street, there’s also Baxter Woods which is a 6/10 mile loop through deciduous and evergreen trees, and then there’s Evergreen Cemetery.

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Now before you start thinking that I’ve gone all morbid and spend all my time hanging out in cemeteries, I say fear not. It’s just that cemeteries are some the best keep green-spaces ina lot of urban environments, if you don’t mind weaving between headstones. I always loved the idea that in the early 1900s people used to have picnics in graveyards. I don’t know why the shift occured, but there are plenty of people wandering the trails at Evergreen, so I’m not alone.

Mourning

I also love the history of graveyards. Who were these people, why did this one deserve a monument, while this person hardly a stone at all?  What happened to the wife on the headstone listed below her husband with a birth, but no death date; and how horrible to lose someone at sea.

Duck Pond

As an added bonus, Evergreen has a trio of duck ponds, filled with Mallards that will eagarly take your stale bread. We also saw what might have been a cormorant. I’d really loved to get a book on the local flora and fauna so I could identify it all.

 

Crabapples

And my favorite season is knocking at the door!

In a quick round-up of other news. I had my second interview on Monday, but alas, no job there, though the interview went (I felt) very well.

We found a great dresser for $10 at a garage sale this weekend, so I am no longer living out of a suitcase, which is fnatastic for one’s pysche. I’ve also made what seems like an endless series of trips to Target and Walmart to get all the little things, like a toaster or a vacuum.

The book club is reading Watership Down, and I raced through it. I forgot how wonderfully thrilling that book is. Next up on my reading list is Richard Russo’s Empire Falls, then I plan to do a survey of New England Poets – feel free to send along any suggestions.

I’m about a third of the way done with the first sleeve on my Forecast sweater and I picked up some lovely leather buttons for it on sale at JoAnn’s yesterday. I’m also about halfway through sewing a Kasia skirt out of thick navy blue linen. I’m feeling very confident about my sewing on this piece, though if anyone has a trick for making sure you iron the interfacing on the right side of the fabric I’d love to hear it! I also managed to pick up a great vintage navy blue linen dress/jacket combo at Material Objects, it’s an almost exact match in color to the skirt, so I can mix it up with the jacket. I’ll post pictures when I get a chance.

I’m assisting my friend Peter on a reading of the play The History Boys for Mad Horse Theatre, I’m not sure the exact date of the reading yet, but I’m excited to be involved!

Our internet is supposed to get hooked up on the 23rd, which I can’t wait for, and will hopefully increase the regularity of my posting. Until then – I’m off to enjoy the fall weather!