The first day of school …

So, it finally arrived.  Juliette’s first day of school.  After a flurry of scheduled activities to get her and us ready for today, she woke up this morning eager to get dressed and get going.  And I have been fine through it all.  Nary a tear and not even really feeling sad, primarily because she was SO happy and excited to start.  It’s hard to feel sad for yourself when your kid is so full of joy over something.  And I must say I held it together really well this morning, until the moment came in the Kids & Company room to hug her goodbye and let her get on with her day.  It just came on like a ton of bricks, all of a sudden.  It felt as though my heart jumped up into my throat, and I could barely breathe and I fought against my feeling until I got out the school door and could let go of the fight.  I had to sit there a while in my car before I was in any condition to drive.  And I’ve been thinking all morning, about how this represents such a major milestone for her, and for us, how this is the first of many little and big acts of letting go, where we continue to love her and care for her with all of our being, but have to ease up on that firm grip we’ve had until now.  As Harald pointed out last night, from now on we will have her to ourselves only a few hours each day as teachers and peers become an increasingly important influence and part of her daily life.  So there is part of me that is so sad to see those first five, precious years end.  And yet, this is what we have wanted all along, to raise a child up to be part of the next generation, a contributing and vibrant member of society, and this is all part of that process.  So it is a bittersweet day, tinged also with plenty of satisfaction and anticipation.


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The 2 hour dress

Yes, you read that right.  The two hour dress.  If I hadn’t done the decorative stitching, it would have been the hour and a half dress.  I took the bold and colorful approach, but this dress could be done many different ways, with an heirloom aesthetic or done more simply or embelished in various ways.  But I am getting ahead of myself.

Today was one of those days where I came home feeling and sounding like a bear – and not the cute, cuddly kind.  I don’t know why I felt so out of sorts, but my supply of patience was left wanting and I just felt like I wanted to be left alone for a while.  Yesterday, I had gotten a shipment from Annie’s Catalog of some sewing notions I had been meaning to buy.  Among them was a book called “Quick and Easy Dresses to Sew” and it contained patterns for girls up to age 10.  Juliette got so excited when she saw the book and said the girl on the cover looked just like her.  We looked though it together last night and I promised her that after dinner tonight we would go pick out fabric from my stash.  She showed me what she had in mind, but they were the remnants of her old flannel receiving blankets and I told her I didn’t think with the fabric as worn as it was that would be a good idea.  But I spotted some funky fish fabric in the same bin right below, and suggested we might make her a dress out of that, which appealed to her immediately, no doubt because of the fish tank she set up with her Daddy right after Christmas.  So I measured her before we got her in her jammies, and after we got her into bed I disappeared into my sewing room.  What you see below is the result of two hour’s labor, a pattern called “The Simple Dress” that was fun and easy (and truly simple) to put together.  Made almost comlpetely on my Pfaff Performance 5.0, except that I don’t have a narrow rolled hem foot for it, so I had to do that on my Bernina, but she performed the task flawlessly (the book cheated and had you double the flounce at the botton so as not to have to hem it, but I wasn’t putting up with that!).  The Pfaff is a truly excellent and high-performance sewing machine if ever there was one.  In the slideshow below, you will see some close ups of the fish motif stitch, as well as one of the many quilt stitches, both sewn on the blue contrast band above the wide cuff at the bottom. I sewed another decorative stitch on the yellow bias tape binding around the armholes that tie into bows above the shoulder.  Just when I thought I wouldn’t be able to finish it tonigh (the white and pale blue bias tapes I had clearly were not going to cut it), I found the yellow bias tape hiding in a box of supplies and it was exactly 1 inch longer than the amount I needed – how is that for serendipity?  So this entire dress was made from fabrics, notions and supplies I had on hand, which delighted the part of me that decided a few months ago that my sewing/quilting theme for this year was going to be “use what you got.”  Never mind that snickering over there if you know about my recent quilt store outing with a couple of friends, that’s my theme, and I’m sticking to my story.  I’ve been meaning to write about that here, but I’ve left my blog to the point of neglect recently, so I am hoping to change that soon.

In other news, you will notice I have a new visual theme to my blog.  It was time.  The red a black, while certainly getting your attention, was just a little too severe – and I was just bored with it too.  I needed something different, some more me.  Purple, in all its shades, is much more me.  I hope you like it.  I’m interested in any feedback you might me willing to share.  You will notice one big difference.  The comment links are now at the bottom of each post on the right hand side, instead of being up top under the title like they were with the old theme.

OK, so it’s off to bed for me.  I hope Juliette is pleasantly surprised when she wakes up tomorrow morning and finds that papa made her a new dress while she was sleeping!  And I hope you enjoy the pictures.  The beast has definitely been calmed in the process.

The dress, she is done.P1020092
A close up of the decorative fish stitch and one of the quilting stitches used on the accent blue collar band above the cuff.P1020093
Decorative stitching in blue on the yellow bias tape binding.P1020095
Pfancy, my Pfaff Performance 5.0.  For when you need to make a dress in two hours.P1020097
Another shot of the dress.P1020098
The pattern.P1020099
The book from whence the pattern came.P1020100
Where has this MARVELOUS tool been my entire sewing life?  It is absolutely genius!P1020101


Four years ago

It was four years ago today that we were nervously getting ready for the short drive to Methodist Hospital where we got to meet our daughter Juliette for the first time, just a few hours old. I remember looking into those clear, bright, alert eyes of hers – and my heart melting all over the floor. And then her birth mother asked me if I wanted to feed her. It has been the most amazing, demanding and rewarding four years of my life and I can’t believe how quickly the time has gone. I feel so privileged to be given the opportunity to be her Papa. Happy birthday, Juliette. Papa loves you!


Riding her bike Douglas Avenue

She’s been practicing in grandma’s garage for days, but we wouldn’t let her out in the street until we could get a helmet for her, which we picked up yesterday – a pink one, natch, that she loves. This was her first “real” ride and we all enjoyed it. I think it was second, so far, only to watching her take her first step.

Getting ready for Easter 2013

She has been full of excitement all day as in “You mean TOMORROW is Easter day, Papa!?”  So we had to dye some eggs, make some treats for dinner tomorrow – deviled eggs for uncle Johnny, Liptauer cheese for an appetizer, lemon cookies for dessert, and a gallon of sweet tea for me and anyone else who wants it.  And we had a ton of fun in the process too!

Her Easter dress and shoes are all ready to go, and now just to get our clothes ready so we aren’t in such a rush tomorrow morning.

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Purple, black, cobwebs and spiders

On Saturday I took Juliette to the fabric store to get her out of the house for a while. She SAID she wanted a pink princess dress. But when we got there she saw the Halloween fabric and insisted she was only interested in this purple and black fabric with cobwebs and spiders. “You can wear Halloween ANY time of the year, Papa!” So it was. Not exactly what I had in mind, but she seems thrilled with the idea. Let’s see how she feels when she wakes up tomorrow and sees it.

Ruffles, satin ribbon, ric rac edging on the hem and neck, a perfect narrow rolled hem on the polka-dot ruffle – and skulls, spiders, cobwebs (that sorta look like flowers from a distance). What a combination!


I look bootiful!

(I know some of you have seen the first picture, but for those not on Facebook …)

When she woke up this morning, I told Juliette to look around, there was something in her room that wasn’t there when she went to bed last night. She finally spotted the dress hanging up and her jaw dropped and she got all excited and said “You finished my DRESS?!” And I told her I had after she went to bed last night and the first thing she wanted to know was could she wear it today. Well, I told her, it’s not exactly a dress for a 4 degree day, but we agreed on a turtleneck and fleece pants under it. As soon as I got her dressed, I grabbed the pink bow on her dresser and she wanted to wear it so she could look like Minnie – and she was pleased her pants made her look more like Minnie! It was so priceless to hear her run to the mirror in the hallway and say softly “I look bootiful!” Of course she does, but not because of the dress. But I just let her enjoy it. As I was putting her coat on to get her in the car, she said “Thank you papa for making me a pretty pink dress” and she was so sweet I swear you could have eaten her with a spoon!