Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Sewing Projects with my Mom

Today my mom and I had one of the special days that only we can enjoy and experience. We have a special relationship. It is the kind forged through many trials and yelling matches until we came to appreciate that we have nothing in common, completely different personalities yet are exactly alike.

Wednesday was a day that our opposing personalities came together the way they should to create fun and productivity.

So for the past few months I have been coming up with sewing "ideas" and collecting supplies which I then put in the closet because well...I don't own a sewing machine and I have only basic sewing skills. Not that I found that relevant at all. I simply called my mom up and scheduled a time for us to work on these project together (OK forced her to let me come over thinking she could just sit next to me and give me pointers as needed).

Project number one: I got the idea to buy a second button down shirt exactly like one I already have to cut down into a matching dress for Isabelle. Why would we need a pattern? We have the concept.

Project number two: Last summer literally an hour before we were to meet everyone in my family for a large group family picture (taken by Mckmama in those early carefree weeks of Stellans pregnancy)I decided I really liked my denim skirt but felt it should be shorter. Because of the way it was I needed to cut the top rather than the bottom off. So then, since I don't have a sewing machine and we needed to be leaving, I stapled a pocket around my waist and ran a cord through it, cinched it up and away we went. I had that in the closet because as nice as the staples were I thought maybe an elastic waist would be better. As a project 2A I also have a skirt that came with an elastic waist but I must have been carrying a few extra pounds at the time because it almost falls off so I needed to tighten the elastic on that one too.

Project number three: And while mom and I were at Jo Ann Fabric picking up a couple supplies we came across some cute fabric and a pattern to make a cute dress for Isabelle.
Project 3A would be the another fabric that has the elastic smocking on the top where you just wrap it around the child and sew a seem up the side and you have a cute strapless dress. Then you add a cute strap of ribbon so it doesn't fall down and they are off. Do you know the kind I speak of? We found that material on sale for about $1 per dress so Isabelle's cousins Sofie and Lilia are getting matching dresses too.

Project number four: I saw a great kitchen curtain idea on Project Create a Home that I decided to make with some toile fabric that I picked up a while ago because I really liked it. During its life at my house I have folded it up to use as a runner on my buffet and most recently wrapped it around a cushion on my wicker chair but all along I have thought it should be a curtain in my kitchen.

So after dropping off Isabelle with her cousins for the afternoon I arrived at mom's, we had a quick lunch before beginning. Mom had been acting like she didn't actually want to spend the afternoon on these projects but I knew she would love it so I was ignoring her complaints. She had asked a neighbor who is an expert sewer some advice about the shirt-into-a-dress project and was feeling a little more confident as we began.

First WE started with my two skirts. Seemed like the simplest projects and sure enough only took mom a few minutes to pull the elastic tighter in the first skirt and sew it down.

As I sat watching her I was reminded of my childhood. She wore the same tomato pin cushion on her wrist the entire time we were working. Ah memories.
Then we moved on to the denim skirt.

While watching I learned how easy it is to put in an elastic waist. First you must remove the staples.

Next you iron the pocket down.

Then carefully sew in place and thread the elastic through. My mommy even let me push the elastic through a few inches. But not all the way because she wouldn't want me to make a mistake. And finally, sew the elastic in place.

Our next project was the shirt-to-dress project. We decided to take a dress we knew fit Isabelle and lay it on top of the shirt and then cut into that shape and sew up the sides. It fit great except for having long sleeves. We decided to do a little roushing of the sleeves to pull them up shorter. Very cute. Of course Isabelle refuses a second fitting so I don't know how sleeves look but I feel confident they will be great. She calls it my picnic shirt because the first time I wore it was on a picnic so tomorrow we are planning a picnic just to wear our matching outfits. A blog post with the dress reveal to follow. Here is mom puzzling over the project after we cut away the sides.

We are flying through the projects and pull out the pattern to start the dress for Isabelle. Now mom's stress level really seems to accelerate. Who knew that as much as she hates my just make it happen approach to projects she is completely stressed by a project with actual directions. What did I learn while watching her work on the project that could help me understand her stress? She doesn't actually READ the directions. ha ha

First we cut out the pattern. She actually let me do that with the pinking shears from my childhood. Another thrilling flashback to my youth.
After sewing together the top part of the dress we decided we need a break and a fitting session so we brought the shirt dress and top piece over to Julia's to try to get some measurements and fittings. Isabelle had a complete fit which I assume was due to her fear I would bring her home. I think she secretly wants to move in with Aunt Julia and her cousins and have me just come visit occasionally.

Anyway, we stopped by caribou for a little treat on the way back (mom showed excellent will power by getting nothing, I got the equivilant of an ice cream sunday, the vanilla cooler with plenty of whip)and then did a little more work on the dresses. I did sit for a moment at the sewing machine about to sew together the straps for the dress before mom saw me and freaked out.

Finally just when I thought we were about to have a break through on the strawberry dress, mom suddenly stood up and announced that she was done and it was time for me to go. Do you think it was the 5 hours of me staring at her that took a toll?

So I never did get started on the curtains (actually I forgot the material at home) and I also have a painting project that I brought with too but decided I could do at home without her. I guess I will need another sewing day sometime soon. Maybe next time I will sneak into her house while she is gone and actually get a turn at the sewing machine.


  1. Having someone else using your sewing machine is like having someone messing with your computer. It takes a long time to get it back to functioning the way you want it to. Don't think she won't notice you were there. Words of advice from Aunt Cari.

  2. Haha, great post Mel! I'm glad that my niece loves to spend time here. My kids LOVE having Isabelle visit.