Friday, March 29, 2013

TongJie and the Amazing Technicolor Dreampants (and other sewing stuff)

Disclaimer:  if you're not interested in sewing, you might not want to read all the words in this post, because I'm mostly talking about boring sewing stuff, so don't feel bad if you want to just look at the pictures of TongJie.  I've been having fun sewing some slightly more complicated articles of clothing for TongJie, such as this blazer:

In the photo above, he's also wearing a pair of denim pants that I made, but the top part of the pants (you can't see it in the picture) looks kind of lame because there's no fly, not even a fake fly.  I decided that if I'm going to be making him pants and then thinking that they would look better with a fly, I should probably just learn how to make a fly.  SO . . . that brings us to the story behind TongJie's new wildly-colored striped pants.  Our church was getting rid of a ton of old stuff that had been sitting in closets for probably decades that nobody was using.  Included in the stuff were many costumes from long-ago children's musicals.  I was able to snag some pretty sweet fabric, in the form of costumes that can be deconstructed and given a new life.  One of the more, ahem, interesting finds was a long coat that had obviously once been a "coat of many colors" for someone portraying Joseph.  The costume had probably been quite nice at one time, and I hope I'm not offending anybody by the fact that I deconstructed it, but keep in mind that it was going to be rid of regardless of if I had claimed it or not.  The seams had not been finished and were frayed and coming apart, and it had apparently been altered using packaging tape that had left a sticky residue.  I wish I would have taken a picture of the costume, but unfortunately I did not.  I didn't have a plan as to what I would use it for, but the fabric was too awesome to pass up.  I guess I was thinking maybe I could use it for a lining for something in the future, but I didn't know what.  When Jeff saw my amazing find, he said I should use it to make some 70's-style pants for TongJie.  I think he was joking, but I'm not sure.  The coat of many colors sat around our house for a few weeks and I kept looking at it and thinking I should put it away, but it was so big it didn't really fit in my already-full fabric drawer.  So one day while TongJie was napping, I just decided to take my pants pattern and plunge into cutting up the coat.  I figured that this would be a good pair of pants to practice putting a zipper fly into.  I also tried out the technique of adding pintucks to the front and back, but you can't really see the pintucks because the pants are already striped.  So, in the end, I'm pretty happy with how the pants turned out, but (as expected) they sure are wild!  We tried them out at the playground this morning.  TongJie seems to like his new pants, and even he notices how bright they are when he looks in the mirror or sees pictures of himself wearing them.  And I guess when you're a two year old, you can pull off the look of wearing outfits with crazy pants and still look pretty cute.  Or handsome.

Here's the front and the back:

The pockets are lined with some orange velour fabric that came from another costume from the church closet.  My plan is to make a sweatshirt or vest with that velour fabric someday.

And the zip fly:

I'll definitely be making more pants with a fly now that I understand how to do it.  There are a lot of clever bloggers out there who are really good at explaining sewing techniques in the form of tutorials with lots of pictures.  I think it's much easier than following those complicated paper patterns that you buy at the fabric store - sometimes those patterns drive me crazy trying to figure out how to understand the instructions, and there are never enough pictures.  This pattern is one that I actually purchased, from Blank Slate Patterns, in the form of a PDF pattern which includes sizes from 18m all the way to size 8.  So when I need a bigger size for TongJie, all I have to do is print off the pattern again and cut it out in a bigger size, instead of trying to trace that tissue paper stuff and then somehow manage to fold it up and get it back into the envelope.  The PDF pattern also comes with very detailed instructions and lots of photographs, which I find immensely helpful.  Incidentally, the blazer pattern from above is also from Blank Slate Patterns - I purchased three patterns back in January: the blazer, the pants, and a polo shirt that I haven't tried yet.

In January I was spending some of my Christmas money, so in addition to purchasing those patterns, I also purchased two "test swatches" of fabric from Spoonflower, a website where you can design your own fabric.  It's pretty expensive to order something that would be enough to actually use for sewing a garment or something, but I made a little logo that I could use for homemade tags.  A test swatch is $5.00, so I spent $10 (plus $1 for shipping) and got over 60 tags that I can use to put in clothing that I make.  I went with our "sittin' on go" theme of our blog and CD project, and designed a tag that has a stoplight and says "Go!" and then "love Mom."  You can see the two different swatches that I got below.  One sheet is for the side tags that get folded in half and go in at a side seam, and the other sheet is for the regular tags that get sewn into the back.  All I have to do is cut out a tag and iron the raw edges under, which admittedly is a bit of a pain, and then sew it on.  It's pretty slick!  I sort of wish I wouldn't have put the "love Mom" part on there, because that means that I can only use them for things that I sew for my own child(ren) and not things that I sew for other people.  Maybe someday I'll spend another $5 and design a tag that can be for stuff I make for other people.

Here are some more photos of TongJie at the park today.  He learned how to go down the slide all by himself!

We're looking forward to spring break!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Almost spring

I guess it's been nearly a month since I've posted anything on here.  We've been having all sorts of fun lately, especially since we've had some really nice days and have been outside a lot!

We went to the loop trail and even walked out onto the dock.

Poor Albert wasn't brave enough to walk on the metal grate, so we had to leave him while we checked it out.

TongJie and I went to Smallwood's last week.  It's a local farm with a gift shop, petting farm, play areas, and all sorts of cool stuff.  TongJie loved pushing a little cart around in the gift shop.  He never put anything in his cart, but he happily pushed it all around.

Then we went to the petting farm.  TongJie liked these goats the best:

He liked the sheep at first, especially since he's been into sheep lately.  He always wants us to sing "Baa Baa Black Sheep" and he looks through all his books for pictures of sheep.  However, these sheep were greedy and snatched the entire bag of food right out of TongJie's hands, and after that he didn't want to have anything to do with them.  I managed to rescue some of the food, but TongJie clutched the almost-empty bag close to his chest and walked around for a long time not wanting to give any to any of the animals.  I kept asking him "do you want to give some to the llamas?" (or the chickens, or goats, or whatever), and he would politely answer "no" in his sweet little voice and clutch the bag tighter.  He finally shared a little more with his favorite goats, and then saved the rest by scrunching up the bag and stuffing it into his pocket.

Those greedy sheep!

Here's TongJie on a child-sized bench at Smallwood's:

And here's a picture of him on that same bench when we were at Smallwood's last June.  He's grown a lot in the past 9 months!

Speaking of 9 months, TongJie's last day of his Isoniozid pills for TB exposure was last week.  He took a pill every day for 9 months.  When we first started giving him the pills, it seemed like 9 months was such a long time for him to have to take them, but now it has come and gone . . . another example of how fast time goes.  About the TB pills, we would crush them and sprinkle them on his cereal, yogurt, or applesauce for breakfast every morning.  At first, I tried to be discreet because I was afraid he'd not want to eat the food if he saw me putting something in it, but we soon learned that he didn't care, so we started referring to the pill as his "sprinkles."  He would take a scoop of food with his spoon and hold it out for me when he saw me crushing the pill so I could sprinkle it right on his spoon and then he'd eat it right up.  So the pill must not have tasted too bad.  I took a picture on his last day of eating his sprinkles.  Yum, yum.

Most weeks we get fruits and vegetables from a food co-op.  We pick up the produce on Saturday afternoons at a location that's not far from our house.  Now that the weather has been nicer, we've been walking with the wagon.  TongJie loves bananas, so he's always so happy when we pick up our food and there are bananas.  A couple of weeks ago, he triumphantly held a banana high above his head and announced "NANA!!" to all the people within earshot, as if he'd won some sort of coveted prize or something.  He's so funny!

Here are some other pictures of what we've been up to.

TongJie has some interesting fashion ideas with his accessories.  He put a belt around his head all by himself and proudly wore it around for quite awhile.  And you might mistake the thing around his neck for a necklace, but to TongJie it's a microphone.