Saturday, October 29, 2011

Murder Mystery

Last night, Brent and I attended a 1920s Murder Mystery Party at our friends' home turned speakeasy. I've been working on the costumes feverishly for a couple weeks and I was so pleased with how it all turned out. Brent was my secret lover which was kind of nice considering I couldn't keep my eyes off him. He looked great in his suit coat and bedazzled suspenders! Ha! All the married couples were having "secret" affairs with their spouses. It made the romances a lot less awkward!

I was SO sick but I didn't want to bail and leave the rest of the group without my character's secrets (well, that I didn't want to miss out on the fun!) Everyone looked fantastic and our hosts had created an environment in their home that made playing characters easy! Well, easy for everyone else. I was terrible (or... banana oil, as the flappers would say). I know Brent really wants to do one of these again, but I think I would like to host next time.

Our friends Mel and Ben were there too. Aren't they cute? They are getting married in the spring!

I have a couple little tutorials coming for you too. One for Brent's suspenders and one for my dress. I'll get them up as soon as I get some time. As for right now, I think I am going to go take some more cold medicine and get my sweet little sick baby to bed. I can't wait until these colds run their course! I want us both to be better!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Flapper Dress Tutorial

My husband and I have been invited to participate in a Murder Mystery party. Brent is ecstatic since he's been begging me to host one of these things for years. I, on the other hand, couldn't be more nervous. I consider myself a friendly person, but having to pretend to be someone different or else ruin the night... that isn't sitting so well with me. Wish me luck!

The theme is 1920s gangster/flapper as the night will take place in a speakeasy. With only a week to prepare and 10,000 other things on my plate, I scoured the Halloween stores in our area and every Goodwill I could think of to try to find something that would work for this night's costume. Unfortunately for me, I had no luck. With time running out, I decided to make something on my own and this is what I came up with:

Thank goodness this is only meant as a costume! I needed something a little longer than the store bought options because, well, I wanted it longer. And I needed something with wider shoulder straps so I could wear my nursing bra. Here's how I did it:

What you will need:

2 yards purple costume satin
1 yard navy bolted lace
rotary cutter
cutting mat

All seam allowances are 1/2" unless otherwise stated.

Measure your widest point (mine happened to be my hips) and add one inch to that width for seam allowances. Measure the length you want your bodice to be. I wanted mine to sit low on my hips since that was the style in the 1920s. My length was 27 1/2, which I added one inch SA to. Once I had my measurements, I cut out my fabric piece. I chose to divide my width by two so I would have a front and back bodice. Because this is just a costume, you could cut one large piece and fold it in half, meaning you would only have one side seam. I liked two because I sewed the lace onto the bodice.

I marked each piece on the wrong wide with chalk. BF = Bodice Front

Next, I found a tank top that had arm holes I liked. I laid it out on one piece of my bodice, bodice fabric right side down.

Use chalk to trace the arm hole onto the bodice fabric.

Fold your fabric in half lengthwise, right sides together. Cut along the chalk line through both sides of the fabric leaving you with two arm holes. Lie the bodice fabric you just cut onto the other bodice piece, right sides together. Use the piece you just cut as a template to cut the arm holes out of the other piece.

Here, I already cut the right side for both pieces of fabric.

If you choose to use a lace overlay like I did, cut a double layer of lace to the same dimensions as your bodice.

Use your cut pieces of purple satin as a template to cut the lace.

Lay out your pieces in THIS ORDER: Bodice front right side up, two layers of lace, bodice back right side down. Pin the side seams and shoulders/neck.

If you are working with satin for this dress, set your machine to a zig zag stitch. Note that a zigzag stitch will take up more space than the 1/2" seam allowance you've given yourself. You may want to cut your material a little wider if you intend to use a zig zag stitch. Sew up both side seams from the crook of the arm hole to the bottom of the bodice.

Try on your bodice to make sure it fits. Place a pin where you would like the neckline to stop.

Fold the bodice in half and draw a line from the pin to the neckline. Make sure wherever you end on the neckline is where you want the neckline to start (in other words, if you want to wear a certain bra/cami with this, make sure you leave fabric where those straps will be).

Cut down the line you drew. ONLY CUT THE PIECE OF SATIN YOU DREW ON AND THE ONE LAYER OF LACE DIRECTLY BELOW. You should have cut half the neck line. Fold over the satin to use as a template to cut the other half of the neck line.

Repeat for the back. I didn't make my back neckline as low as the front neckline.

Put on the bodice. Measure from about 1/2" above the bottom to where you would like your skirt to sit. Mine was 16". Take the original width you used for your bodice, add 10". This will give you a little "flare" to your skirt. I chose to cut the material with the selvage on the bottom. Again, this is a costume and I hate hemming, especially something as difficult as satin so I used the selvage as the "hemline".

I chose to only use the purple satin for the skirt.

I chose not to cut two pieces for the skirt, so I cut one large one and folded in half, right sides together. If you want something more polished, cut two pieces and create two side seams. I didn't want to put too much time into this since it was just something I was throwing together last minute for a party. Pin your side seam, right sides together, and sew with a zig zag seam.

I could have stopped there, but I decided I wanted to add a second layer to the skirt, so I chose my length, cut a piece on the selvage and sewed it to the top of the dress, since I had already sewn the skirt on. To hide the seam from the top tier, I made a sash by cutting a piece of satin the width of the dress. I folded it with right sides together and sewed up the side with a 1/4" SA. Turn the tube right side out and press with the seam down. I added lace that I cut to match the sash and sewed it onto the front of the dress right down the middle. I added a flower pin where the two edges of the sash came together. Last step: hem up all those messy lines. If you want, shear the seams to make the satin less fringy.

And there you have it. My flapper dress which, come to find out, I can't even wear to the Murder Mystery!! My character wears an evening gown... so I had to start from scratch yesterday with a new dress. I guess it wasn't a complete waste. I learned a lot from making this costume.

I am adding this to Melissa's blog today. She has started a great new tradition of sharing new things on Thursdays and I am so happy to be able to take part this week! Go check out her site to see what everyone came up with this week.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Strange Timing

Today's observation: I wake up a few minutes before Baby Girl every morning. It's like we're on the same time cycle.

And she's so cute in the morning!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Curse You!

Watching Clara sleep is breathtaking.

Literally. I try not to breathe in hopes that my stillness will ease her into slumber. I'm afraid that any slight move will be construed as an open invitation to forgo sleep and party all night. And by "party" I mean coo, poop, and cry. Clara is beautiful. I relish every waking moment with her, but there comes a time when days have to make way for nights so we can all rest in preparation for the day ahead... and so Mommy can replenish her dwindling supply of patience.

You may be wondering why I am blogging at nearly midnight. Well, let me tell you.

We had an uneventful evening. I worked on my Halloween costume, Brent did some laundry and Clara got toted around from room to room as we did our chores. We watched Once Upon A Time (which I think we will watch again... it stars that one chick from House!) We gave Clara a bath. We cuddled as a family.

It was rounding ten o'clock, which is about when we lie Mazers down each night for her ritualistic hour long scream/cough/whimper cry. I mute the monitor as I get ready for bed and set an alarm on my phone to wake me up in an hour (if I've fallen asleep) to check the monitor again. Tonight, as luck would have it, I had not fallen asleep when the alarm sounded. Instead I was talking Brent's ear off, telling him all the wonderful changes I am going to make to our house. Pinterest really is a Pandora's Box! So, I got out of bed to go soothe my very angry child.

As I entered the room, her cries turned to soft whimpers, assumably because she knows the soft whimpers will melt my heart and immediately set off my guilt reflex. I dried her little tear-streaked cheeks and pulled her in close. I honestly love this part of my job. The times where we snuggle, when I can feel her chest rise and fall with each tiny breath. The times when she wraps her chubby little arm around mine and entwines us so I can never let her go. I swayed softly, singing Taylor Swift to her because her's are the only slow songs coming to mind. Then, I eased myself sideways into my chair with Clara lying across my chest and her glow-belly seahorse propped under my chin. And we rocked. And I rubbed her back. And she drifted off to sleep.

Then I sneezed.

I tried to stop it. Tried to will my nose into forgetting its tickle. But no. My body wretched and convulsed and my gorgeous sleeping baby woke up, suddenly wearing the face her daddy makes when we get a nasty-gram from the HOA making her not-so-gorgeous. I rocked her more and rubbed her back with more exaggerated strokes hoping the new tempo would be as soothing as before. No luck.

So, here I am, two full hours later. Clara is still crying, but alone in her crib for now. Maybe the distance will keep her from remembering my recent offense and she'll fall back to sleep.


Curse you allergies!!!!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Zuppa Toscana

I love to cook.

Last night Brent was craving Zuppa Toscana from Olive Garden, but we've been trying to save money for Clara's braces. Have you seen her chin?! So, I decided to find a recipe online that could rival Olive Garden's recipe. I found this one on Pinterest and it was FANTASTIC! You must try it.

Zuppa Toscana
from Cinnamon Spice & Everything Nice

4 slices bacon, diced
1 lb ground hot Italian sausage
1 large yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups (32 oz) chicken stock
3 cups russet potatoes, cubed
3/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 cups kale, in bite size pieces
1 cup heavy whipping cream
parmesan cheese, grated

In a large pot, cook the bacon until crispy. Drain the grease. Add the sausage, breaking it apart as it cooks. Once sausage is browned and crumbled, drain off grease leaving a tbsp to saute the onion.

Push the sausage and bacon to the edge of the pot and add the onion to the center; saute until translucent; add garlic; saute until fragrant.

Stir in the stock and potatoes, season with salt and pepper, and simmer for about 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

Add kale and heavy whipping cream. Bring to a simmer. Top with parmesan cheese, when serving.

This soup was spicy, creamy, and delicious! Brent absolutely loved it. He said it was WAY better than Olive Garden's version. He could have been just saying that to make me feel good, but I think he actually liked it. I was in such a good mood after making it I decided to bake a cake too! There aren't any pictures of that though. Brent took it to work. I may like to cook, but I don't love the calories that come with eating a whole cake!

Speaking of, I have lots of Vanilla Sour Cream frosting left over. Does anyone want it?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A New Dress

We all made it back safely from Sedona, for those of you who knew we were gone. We go every year in October. The only special (and difficult) part of this year's trip was the fact that it was Clara's first time. I don't have all my pictures rounded up yet, so more on that later.

Brent and I decided to pack up early from Sedona so we could attend an old friend's wedding this weekend. It was a beautiful affair! The couple looked amazing and their harp player had some mad skills. I told Brent that I wanted a harp player at my next wedding. He said I could, since clearly he wouldn't be there... Twerp. Anyway, anyone who has had a child, or is close to someone who has, can sympathize with me on my current weight struggle. Nothing fits. So, I decided to take matters into my own hands.

Now, I didn't have time to make a dress from scratch, but I was lucky enough to have the extra five minutes at Target that led me to the perfect cotton dress on the clearance rack. I added a few flowers and voila! Awesome dress for fall (even though it was 99 degrees the day of the wedding...)

Here's how I did it:

First I cut circles out of paper and arranged them onto the dress until I was happy with the layout. This was my finished layout.

Each circle represents one flower and I needed five circles for each flower. I found this shirt on a clearance rack at Clothing Co. Mustard yellow is a perfect color for fall, so I snatched it up in the largest size they had.

I didn't take pictures of the next steps, unfortunately. I was rushing to get the dress finished before heading out to Sedona. Essentially, I traced five circles for each flower onto the shirt, cut them out, and arranged them onto the dress before using my free motion foot to sew them in place. I used this tutorial to add the flowers, so you can check out the steps I missed there.

It's not exactly the same as the tutorial, but I think it turned out perfect! And best of all, it fit! No need to go spend tons of money on clothes I won't be in for too much longer.

Ta da!

Friday, October 14, 2011


Even on vacation, I can't stay away from my blogs!

Here's the deal: You all know how much I love fabric. Melissa over at Happy Quilting is having a little giveaway sponsored by Fat Quarter Shop. By posting about this giveaway, not only do I get a chance to win a nice little charm pack, now you can go sign up too!

You're welcome!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Binkie Leash Chaos

I apologize to every defenseless mom I have ever scowled at with my death ray stare because their child was screaming in a store.

As you might imagine, being a mom is no easy task. There are countless details to tend to before ever even thinking about leaving the house, and I, being a new mom and completely unpracticed at the art of baby related common sense, chose to take Clara to JoAnn Fabric with only one binkie in tow (though the experience I am about to relay to you was traumatic, it was nothing compared to the Great Grocery Trip of 2011 where there were NO binkies in tow.) I was having a grand old time. I had a sleeping baby; a mind full of wonderful crafting ideas; it was the Coupon Commotion promotion. All signs pointed to my dreams coming true; my dreams of prancing up and down the aisles in slow motion while rainbows danced behind me and all the items I needed bounced and bounded their way into my cart. There were singing birds and butterflies flitting in synch. It was magical, my dream.

As I rounded the corner to the notions aisle there was an earth-shatering scream that made my day crumble right where I stood. A terrible, rotten, disgusting, vile little brat of a child began vocalizing his need for something hooked to the wall (though what he wanted down the notions aisle, I'll never know. An eye and hook perhaps to adhere to his huge freaking mouth!!!) I looked into the eyes of the child's mother and for about one millisecond, my life stood still. I felt like I was suspended in time, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon style. Clara woke up. Panic ensued.

I tried to reason with her. Anything to keep her in her car seat so I could shop, but she wasn't having it. I gave in, picking her up, rocking her, doing everything in my power to soothe her so I wouldn't have to cut my trip short. I gained lots of practice in one handed cart pushing and even though my arm was cramping up, I pressed on, determined to find the perfect black poly satin for the Cardinals football blanket I've been working on. I had given her the binkie when I picked her up; the binkie she dropped about a dozen times onto the disease ridden floor. The binkie I had to clean each and every time it tumbled to the ground.

Though the trip hadn't turned out the way I imagined, I was making due with the lemons life was pelting me with. I was picking through bolts of quilting cotton, finagling with color combos in my head. It was then that Clara began to whimper. I looked around at my feet, searching for the binkie I knew she had dropped. I didn't see it.

I began making tiny steps backward to see if a new perspective would reveal the lost binkie.
Whimpering turned to mild discontent.
I searched around the corner, retracing my steps.
Discontent turned to frustration cries.
I hurriedly rounded another corner.
Where could it be?
Frustration turned to all out pissed off baby.

People were looking at me like I was a monster; like I had swung my child up by her ankles and twirled her around my head, then pinched her. The moment turned to chaos. I couldn't think. Where was that stinking binkie?! I fled the store leaving my cart of wonderful goodies behind. She screamed all the way home.

As I said: traumatic experience. I decided to do something about it and that's when I came up with the binkie leash... thing. I don't actually know what they are called and I don't actually know if I made them "right", but I do know that they work. I loved my ingenuity so much, I made eight.

And in case you were wondering, she was fine once we got home.

The moral of the story? Avoid jerk kids in stores.
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