Thursday, January 10, 2013

A Sort-of Good Bye

After a lot of reflection, it's pretty easy to see that this blog has lost its focus. It has become a mismash of lots of different things - jack of all, master of none. I've decided at this point to retire Humble Beginnings. Instead, I'm opening a sewing-focused blog - Gabi Sunshine - with focus and clarity.

I hope you'll join me over there! As a teaser, here's a picture from my first post - Grace's new "Let's Play School" dress!

And to the main blog:

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Gracie's Christmas Dress [Refashion]

Last year I poured my heart and soul into a special glittery Snowflake Dress for Grace's first Christmas.
Pretty Baby last Christmas :)
As I'd hoped, it did still fit this year. Unfortunately, the proportions were just funny. The high yoke with the super full skirt underneath looked too "infant" for my walking, talking little girl. But I'm mad in love with this fabric and concept - I'm not one to let it go to waste, especially 2 days before Christmas when my fabric budget is empty and the stash only holds cotton and a couple scraps from last year.
This year. Fits - but doesn't look good

So what's a good seamstress to do? Why, fussy cut a new bodice and replace it, of course! There was just enough satin fabric to pull this off. I literally had nothing worth keeping left - the last scraps went into the trash can. The sleeves are cut against the grain, but it's not enough to notice. I had to lose a couple inches of skirt at the waist due to the previous scalloped front, but it's still plenty long enough (maybe even for next year? A 3 year dress!)

Singing in the Christmas program
The bodice is the back-button shirt pattern with short sleeves taken from Heirloom Sewing for Jack and Jill by Martha Pullen. I was pleased that the "short" sleeves are elbow length - I prefer this look. I used bias cut strips of the cream from the underskirt to bind the sleeves and neckline. Since I only had the 2 buttons from the original bodice, I used those as decoration on the front and hid black snaps in the placket on the back. This is the original skirt which, after trimming off the scallops and arm holes, is just a big rectangle gathered on.
 My only disappointment is that in my haste to finish, I only used my pinking shears on the seams. Apparantly that isn't a good solution for satin - it frayed out and part of the waist seem has pulled separate at this point. Thankfully that happened right as we were packing into the car for home on Christmas eve, so she got through both church services without her dress falling apart. I have a couple scraps of satin bias left, and of course tons of cotton, so my plan is to go back after New Year's and encase the seams in bias. That should keep it sturdy - right? I'm pretty new to this whole satin thing. Cotton is definitely my friend.

Removing the stickers the big kids were to stand on
Oh! Can you see her giant hair flower? It's scrap organza from the skirt. I melted it over a candle. Way too much fun. Directions are here for my pyro friends with small girls. Or big girls - I made one for myself too so we matched :D

Friday, December 21, 2012

Vintage Inspired Bias Trim Dress

I made up this sweet little number during my very long blog break then came across the photos again as I was doing prints for Christmas. It's too darling not to share with you! Even if it was made in September.

 This is use #3 for this fabric. First it was a bedsheet that I picked up somewhere. Then it was a dress for me - way back in 2009! That dress didn't fit me after having This Little Miss and just wasn't getting worn, so I repurposed it one last time (maybe) into something for Sunshine.

I followed the Delaney Dress tutorial written by Shannon of luvinthemommyhood and hosted as part of the Melly Sews sundress series. It's so simple, anyone could do it. Basic bodice (I patterned mine off a t-shirt) and a gathered skirt. There's not even any closures - can you see the deep v on the back? The neck is finished off with bias tape, plus more bias tape decorating the waist. And... since I forgot the shirt I was using as a patter is a knit, and this fabric definitely is not, bias trim decorating my several inches of widening at the front so it would actually go on (oops!) I left the back patch untrimmed. Although the original didn't call for it, this is fully lined with plain white muslin except for the sleeves. You can see the shadow of the pintucks I put in the under skirt to help it stand out.

And, of course, a bow :) Left over bias trim stitched onto a plain barrette. Sunshine refuses to leave the house without a bow!

LOVE this tutorial. I will definitely make more dresses like this for G in the future. Since she pretty much hates all pants except her jammies, we'll be needing many dresses come summer time.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Very Crafty Christmas

It seems to be my nature - every time I turn around I have a new project underway. Some I finish right away. Some may never see completion. But I love Christmas crafts most of all! I have an abundance in various stages of started. Hopefully the gifts at least will get done!

My husband asked for a cookie tray to take into work. My mom is a crazy cookie decorator :) so Grace and I went to visit her for the day to get her assistance. I did a lot of the piping myself this time! Cookie baking will never become one of my "main" hobbies, but aren't they cute?

6 different styles
 By special request, a Ginger Man. Apparently redheads have no soul, or so my husband tells me... which is why he is sad. I don't get it but the guys at his office had quite a bit of fun with this one I heard.

Have you seen the new mesh/lace yarns available? I LOVE this stuff! I knit two scarves, one in coffee colors and one in ocean colors. It's just a simple garter stitch, but the way the mesh is woven makes these lovely ruffles. I'm totally making one for myself after Christmas!

More cookies, this time boxed up for neighbors. Do you like the tags? Grace and I made them each out of salt dough. That is so easy and cheap to mix up, and the results are darling. Easier than the cookies, that's for sure! 

We're actually using these ornament tags for all our gifts this year. I'm wrapping in brown paper grocery bags flipped inside out, then tying on one ornament and one heart to each gift. The heart will have the recipient on the back.

I'm still working on Gracie's quilt. I have 4 butterfly motifs yet to do. The girly better like this - it's more than likely the only quilt I'll ever hand quilt! Way too time consuming for my taste. I really enjoy piecing the tops of quilts, but I really dislike quilting. Anyone the other way around? I'll trade off with you!

Also to finish:
  • Woodland playset carved by my husband, still in need of painting and waxing
  • Reworking Grace's Christmas dress
  • Stitching down the yarn ends on the scarves
  • A table runner (fabric is washed and ready to go, but this probably won't happen.
May all your Christmas crafts be completed in due time!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Family Picture Dress

 It's that time of year - family pictures! There is a reason I only try to get us all in the same place at the same time with coordinating outfits once a year. I seriously think I'm going to have my husband swap faces around using his editing software. In every picture, at least one person is grimacing, has their eyes closed, or is looking completely the wrong way. But! Gracie looks cute in a new dress!

Nice and long - this will fit forever!
 I drafted this jumper myself off of one from her closet. The only thing I changed was making it all around larger and longer so it will fit for a very long time. There is a yoked bodice that ends half-way down the armholes, then the skirt is a simple rectangle gathered onto that yoke, with scoops cut to complete the armholes. A ruffle at the bottom adds some fluff and weight to keep the dress down.

Giant pink buttons make me smile
I've had my eye on this cut of corduroy for a couple years, but I knew it was too juvenile to use for myself. Tada! It has now found a purpose in dressing my small princess. It's hard to see, but the flowers are actually tiny pink buttons. I'm planning on making a big hair flower to match with a large pink button center.

Oh... and in case you were wondering, this is the winner. Really.
The best of over 100 terrible pictures

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

My little snowflake :)

All the sudden I'm giving my sewing machine a much-needed work out :) Next up: A snowflake dress/pinafore for Little Miss to wear all winter! Forgive the terrible pictures, my model was (again) not in the mood to have her photo taken. One of these days...

I splurged a little on Black Friday. And by a little, I mean an awful lot. We were at Joann Fabrics over 2hr and walked out with a grand bag full of goodies. And then, I came home and indulged myself with a couple patterns I've had my eyes on for quite a while from the beautiful Lily Bird Studio. They're the perfect blend of classic and modern styling. Most patterns have a generous range of sizes and full photograph tutorials.

This particular pattern is called the "Birthday Party" dress. If you can't see in the pictures, there's an empire waistline just below the armholes where the skirt is ruffled on at about 2:1, then there is another hem ruffle again at 2:1. It's awfully fluffy by the end! Plus the shoulder ruffles, of course. And - believe it or not - I made absolutely no adaptations to the pattern other than cutting all one fabric instead of a combination of prints. Oh, and switching the buttons to snaps because button holes hate me. There are belt loops on the sides, but I haven't made a belt yet and we'll just see if I ever get around to it. It's pretty darling as is!

I am mad in love with this pattern. Which is good - it goes from sizes 1-8 so I'll be able to use it forever. Maybe not forever, but a good long while, at least until she outgrows the style :)

PS, I can't decide if it's a dress or a pinafore - technically a dress, but since it's snowflakes and short sleeves, it will never be worn without something underneath... historical fashionistas, can you explain the difference?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Pretty in Plaid

I've had a sewing block for a long time because Gracie has So. Many. Clothes. We've been blessed with multiple trash bags of hand-me-downs in good condition, and one of her grandmother's love languages is so clearly gifts - most frequently shown with cute outfits for Miss to wear. I'm ashamed to count the number of garments I've washed, folded, and then had sit there never worn until she outgrew them. But! We're finally towards the end of the bags, and she is in need of winter clothing. Also, now that her growth is slowing down, it's worth putting the energy into sewing darling little garments for her.

If you haven't found Pinterest... don't. It's a problem. I found it. I've been collecting girl's sewing tutorials for months now... and it's time to break them out! Inspiration is easy to find:

Oliver + S Jump rope dress

Libby Top tutorial, Craftiness is Not Optional
I've combined the two ideas above, plus a handful of other ideas I've seen in person and online, to create this cutie:
I followed the Libby Top tutorial almost exactly, incorporating my own styling while following the directions. I'm not a huge fan of white bibs, which is why I used the same fabric as the body of the dress except set on bias. The pockets are on bias, too, just for fun :) They're gathered like on the Oliver + S dress. And since I thought buttons would detract from the lines to compete with the pink bias trim, I opted for three little snaps hand sewn into the overlap on the bodice center front.

And a ruffle to make it dress length :) And pink bias trim from a scrap in my stash. It makes me so happy.

What? You don't wear butterfly wings when you play?
This is the first time I've drafted a sleeve from scratch. It frightened me to no end, but I think they turned out ok. And Gracie smiled, right before flinging herself down the slide. Little Miss was NOT interested in being photographed today so I'm afraid the pictures don't do it justice. It's *really* cute and I'm *really* going to the Joann's doorbuster sale Black Friday morning to buy more fabric to whip up a couple more.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

"Biblical" Discipline

We have reached that age. You know the one: Where Miss is given a command she is capable of following and for whatever reason doesn’t do it. Where Miss knows what she wants but can’t have it, resulting in an epic melt down. And like many parents in this situation, I’m searching for tools to use to guide her through this stage.

I have to admit, even though I consider myself a strong Christian, I really hesitate to take the advice of Christian parenting experts touting a single “biblical” method of raising children. At first, I didn’t know why. I’ve spent a couple months now in the Scriptures themselves as well as outside sources, and I think I can explain my discomfort with that now. I’m writing this to anyone else who may feel the same way – especially if those who can’t put their finger on the “off” feeling. [Clarity: I am writing about those experts who have a one-size-fits-all method, or ritual, designed to be used after any infraction by the child. These books are poplar and wide-spread and frequently taught in churches.]

The main reason I distrust those who claim there is one biblical method of discipline? Because God himself doesn’t use one consistent method of correction. Nor does He lay one out within the Word itself.

First, a short reflection on the ways God interacted with His children who disobeyed him:
  • When Moses hesitated, offering an abundance of excuses as to why he could not obey, he was given a helper in Aaron. (Exodus 3-4)
  • When the Israelites stepped out of God’s protection, He allowed them to experience the natural consequences of being a small nation surrounded by larger, ruthless ones. (See most of Israel’s history, 1 and 2 Kings)
  • When Jonah fled to Tarshish, he was stopped and then redirected on the Godly path. (Jonah)
  • Peter, after denying Christ, was shown love and forgiveness and given an opportunity to make things right. (John 25:15-19)

If I had more time, I’m sure I could find more. Four problems, four situations defined as sin, four different solutions from our loving, involved God.

Second, there is no detailed method of disciplining children laid out anywhere in Scripture. God certainly could if He had wanted. Look at the detailed building plans given to Noah for the ark, and to Moses for the tabernacle (Genesis 6; Exodus 26-28). Every specific instruction of the required sacrifices was included (Leviticus). I also see that when there is one and only one way, God makes that very clear:
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

But what do we see God tell us about children?

Jesus took a little child and had him stand among them. “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.” (Mark 9:36-37)

“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:10-12)

These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them upon your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. (Deuteronomy 6:6-7)

If God will take the time to craft every perfect snowflake to be unique, and no flower of the field looks exactly like another, why do we presume that one method of discipline would be correct for every individual child created in God’s image?!

Lest anyone think I jumped off the crazy train, I want to make my point exceptionally clear: I DO believe there is a biblical command for disciplining our children and to “bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). I just also believe that the specific METHOD of discipline falls to each believing parent’s freedom influenced by Godly wisdom (see 1 Corinthians 10:23-33) rather than a one-size-fits-all formula response. Clear as mud?

Oh, and don't be too surprised to see more of this topic. It's been the height of conversation around here lately.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

You Are My Sunshine

Hello Friends! Let's just pretend my 4.5 month absence didn't happen. I don't have any sort of explanation, other than life got in the way. A specific small person, to be specific:


My Miss is getting bigger every day :) She's definitely what one would call "spirited" - she has big feelings, and she feels them all the time. Happy isn't just happy. It's overwhelming giggles of joy and bliss. Sad isn't just sad. It's a puddle of angry baby who refuses all forms of comfort. Blessedly, the overwhelming joy is much more frequent than the sadness, but when it comes! Watch out!

Mommy's cell phone, AND jewelry, AND wings?! Yes please!
I'm really enjoying her more each day. I have to be completely honest - I'm not a newborn person. Having a tiny needy being was so draining to me. But now! The chirping of my little bird screaming "Mommy!" never fails to stir my heart (Sometimes negatively... little trouble maker... but always a stirring).
Sunshine still likes to be worn for chore time
This kid. LOL. Every time I pick her up from the nursery at Bible Study, my friend (the lead volunteer) hands her back to me laughing with a story to tell. Today Sunshine wandered around after all the other children, picking up their scattered toys and chanting, "Help... Help..." At least, until she climbed into the toy fridge and popped out at anyone walking by with a giant "HI!!!" At 18 months she is officially off the charts for height at 35" tall. My husband is 6'3" and I'm 5'9" but golly! She's in 3T in several brands!

As always, I've got ideas for big plans and big projects. But in reality, making it through the day is often an accomplishment with a toddler who demands so much attention - attention I get much pleasure from giving, but detracts from other necessities all the same. She falls in bed and I likewise collapse from exhaustion, only to return to cleaning the kitchen and plotting invitations to play for the next day. Oh, and seeing my husband occasionally ;)

So again, forgive my absence. There's just so much Sunshine to soak in :)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Apron Inspiration

My mom wasn't an apron mom. We had a couple in the closet but they came out VERY rarely. She's just a clean baker :) Aprons were a thing of mystery; I saw them at the church suppers, and in old movies and photographs. But they were unnecessary to my way of life.

But I soon came to realize that I, on the other hand, am not a clean baker. And I seriously lack in the household motivation department.

It was a few years ago, when I was really starting to set up my own home, that I stumbled upon a blog that I've come back to time and time again: The Hillbilly Housewife. At the time, my main interest was the low-budget, real food meals. But one day, I found an article that changed the way I think entitled Apron Evangelism. She talks about how her boys were being insubordinate (of course, this was before Grace was even imagined) and how she just couldn't get motivated to clean her house. Until she made an apron:

Boy howdy, was I in for a surprise. In the mirror I saw a vision of the homemaker I have always strived to become staring back at me. Her cheery face glistened in the sunshine. Her hair tied up neatly in bun looked authoritative, and compassionate all at the same time. The apron covered several figure flaws and accentuated the fertile curves of the woman I saw in the mirror. This woman had purpose. She had status. She had clout. I stood there, contemplating the wonder of the homemaker that shone through my image in the mirror. “This is who I want to be” I told myself. “This is the Keeper of the home, with a capital ‘K’. ”

Well, then. If a simple piece of fabric could make me actually WANT to clean my house, it's worth a shot. And so began my love affair with aprons. Since then I've made a drawer full and even bought a book on the subject. But it's been a while. My "best" apron (functionality wise, at least) is really starting to show some wear. Time for a new one!

So... full skirt, deep pockets, pretty print... comfy, functionally, and best of all - upcycled! This material was a shower curtain that I loved. When we redid the bathroom, though, we went to one of those curved "hotel" rods that requires 2 curtains to get good coverage. This one was retired to my craft storage in wait for the perfect use. I have just enough to make an apron for Gracie that matches! Of course, she's too little now, but... someday... I've been having all kinds of crazy matching/coordinating outfit plans lately. Which is probably a really bad idea but kind of fun to think about all the same.

Blue birds with brown flowers. It makes me smile
Are you an apron lover? I don't think I'll ever go back!