Simplicity 1610, or “The Eight Month Dress”


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Well, I’m finally finished with the dress! You’re surprised. You didn’t even know I was sewing a dress, did you? I kept you in the dark, figuratively speaking, because I’d like to appear to those of you who don’t know me as the sort of seamstress who can daintily sit down at her perfectly organized sewing table and over the course of a weekend calmly and rationally turn out a well fitted dress.  I didn’t want you to know about the many muslins, the tracing paper that swallowed our upstairs hallway, the long sessions with the seam ripper, the fabric and sewing machine and needles resided next to my chair in the dining room. I didn’t want you to know that this dress took me 8 months (count ‘em!) to complete.  But it’s such a terrible figure, it’s worth boasting about.

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I made the dress cutting as many corners as possible–no French seaming here!– but I did take the time to hand pick the zipper. I don’t know why it’s called “picking” when it’s hand sewing, but that’s what I did, and I like it alot! I used a piece of crochet trim for a belt.

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I also wore it with a purple flower in my hair.

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Basically, what I did to the pattern was raise the armscye– other wise known as the arm hole. Since the armscye has two sharp corners, this was pretty dicey. I adjusted the fit of the bodice, and went up a size in the skirt. I also lengthened the sleeves. Going up in the skirt size messed up the pleats, but I got it figured out with mum’s help. Oh, and I gathered the back instead of pleating it.

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Would I make this again? Well, lets just say that some other sewing projects have piled up, and leave it at that.

Orchestra Camp


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At the end of August I went to The Anabaptist Orchestra Camp, which is in it’s 3rd year. I figured I’d go to support my local denomination, if you know what I mean. Many Mennonites aren’t into the whole instruments thing–they sing and do sports– and so even though I really wanted to go, my expectations were a little low. But I was pleasantly surprised by the dedication of the musicians there.  There was a tacit understanding that we were there to make beautiful music, and many people practiced  in their free time.

I only have four pictures from the weekend, because I was in rehearsal much of the time, and I didn’t feel like carrying my camera around.   But may I just say that the food was good, the air conditioning excellent, snacks were available, and take a look at the size of the dorms!  There was another set of bunk beds just out of sight.AOC 14, children's museum, flowers 002

I would have got excellent sleep, had it not been for some crickets that found their way into the room.

Mum and Dad took everyone down to see me in the concert and to take me home. We got a hotel for the night, and went to a children’s museum the next day.

Watching "America's Funniest Home Videos" at the hotel.

Watching “America’s Funniest Home Videos” at the hotel.

Children's museum

Children’s museum

The obligatory semi-awkward family photo.

And I leave you with the Really Awkward Family Photo:

Daddy on Vacation

This picture is a character study.

Let me tell you– it is cold. The lake is rough. The canoe has a leak. We have only a kayak paddle. Daddy is predisposed to sea-sickness.  But because the children want a canoe ride, Daddy patches the hole (a small one, with duct-tape) and sets forth for a test drive.Vacation Brimley MI 510

Like I said, it’s a character study.

Compliments of Mother’s phone


The Siege of The Seven Suitors

Yes, it’s been too close to a month since I last posted anything. Reasons? We’ve been busy, of course. VBS, summer programs, gardening, vacation (our first since 2010!) reading, lots of violin-related stuff, crocheting (how can I mess up a simple granny-stripe pattern, you ask? I’ll tell you— *easily*) and sewing on a dress that for all it’s simplicity (see what I did there?) has taken me 6 months so far and it’s still not finished.  

There’s a fair amount of reading been going on, too. Chad has taken up reading in a new way, and just this last week said in surprise, “I read it in my head!” We’ve just started “Bunnicula” as a read aloud. 

  I vowed that this summer I would get some books out of the way, and began reading “A Tale of Two Cities”, which actually wasn’t that difficult. I got halfway through before got overdue, and I shall return to it this fall.  

Reading also explains the title of this post. Because, if you were to look on Project Gutenberg for “Meredith Nicholson”– which I highly recommend you do– you would find among her list of books “The Siege of The Seven Suitors”.  It’s cast of characters includes a chimney doctor, a capricious dowager who keeps a clipping bureau busy supplying her with information concerning sunken treasure, a ghost, two beautiful sisters, nine men with top hats going over a stile, a jack-o-lantern, and a concerned butler. Scenes take place in tea rooms, near chimneys, on moonlit roofs, in apple orchards, back pastures, a luggage room, and one place I can’t tell you because it would spoil some suspense. 

Read it, please.  


Give Away Winners

(This post is brought to you by AEP Electricity, who kindly mended storm-damaged powerlines and restored our power just before bedtime)

It is time to announce the lucky winners of “Stylish Skirts” by Sato Watanabe! I snagged Chad fresh from the tub, and asked him to do the honors. He took it very seriously.


Super-Hero Pose!


And the first lucky winner is….





And the second?

Me–“What did the monkey say to the…. goldfinch?”

Chad– “I don’t know, what?”


“I don’t know either, I just made that joke up!”020

Congratulations! Please contact me with your mailing information, and I’ll get the book shipped out to you.  This has been fun!

“Stylish Skirts” by Sato Wanatabe Review and Giveaway


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Tuttle Publishing kindly asked me to review a handful of books a few months ago. It’s taken me a woefully long time to get this done, but I was/am determined to get it done ‘right’, and actually make up a pattern from each book, as opposed to merely reviewing the photography and layout. I had several other sewing projects to get squared away first, before I could commence.Stylish Skirts - Tuttle Publishing<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
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<p>I am reviewing <a href=“Stylish Skirts” by Sato Watanabe, which is different from my other Japanese pattern books in that you draft your own pattern.  You do this by referring to the diagrams, which have the measurements on them.

I had wanted to make up the “Escargot” skirt, but with my dislike of drafting patterns (it makes my head hurt) the angled pattern pieces seemed intimidating for a project I wanted to hurry up with. So I chose skirt “J”, because it’s squares and rectangles looked doable, and because I have never seen a maxi skirt like this anywhere. It’s unusual without being unwearable, as are all the patterns in “Stylish Skirts”. There’s only four out of twenty-three patterns that I wouldn’t wear, and those are the asymmetrical ones. I could easily picture someone else wearing them, though.022

Time: It took me maybe a day and a half total to sew this; an afternoon to draft the pattern; an afternoon and evening to cut it out and sew up the main parts, a morning for the waistband; a morning for the (entirely optional) under skirt, a simple A-line to combat the extreme sheerness of the overlay. And most of that sewing time was done in 10 and 15 minute increments!





Here’s a Tip: Draft your pattern onto paper.  Yes, yes, I know, you really want to wear it this weekend. You’ll just draw it onto your fabric with a washable pen.  Well, it’s your fabric and your time, so do what you like. But it’s been my experience that any time I try to draw squares and rectangles onto fabric, the grain shifts and I end up with rhombuses. Not to mention I’d have to repeat the whole excruciating process again the next time I wanted to make the skirt.  So, paper pattern.

Here’s Another Tip: Use metric. It’s much faster to measure 152 cm than it is to measure 59 7/8″. And truth be told (I will bold this so that it sticks out) sometimes the translation from metric to U.S. Customary didn’t go smoothly.  On panel “B” there was no inch measurement, and for the topstitching they rounded 0.5cm up to 1/4″, when 1/8″ would have looked better.

The measurements were accurate, though, and it went together smoothly, with one exception:  The finished folded width of the waist band was 3 1/2cm.  The directions said quite clearly to topstitch. They then said to put in two more rows of stitching, the first 1cm from the top, the second 1 1/2 cm from the first and 1cm from the topstitching. I did my math. 1 cm+1cm+1 1/2cm= 3 1/2 centimeters, an impossible figure because that is the finished width of the waistband, not counting the topstitching.

Enlarge to see my penciled in explanation.

Enlarge to see my penciled in explanation.

Negatives:  (1) There were no finished measurments given, so I wasn’t at all sure what size skirt I was making. It sounded as if there were, but there weren’t. I added up the measurements given on the diagrams (fairly easy to do, since seam allowances are separate) for the length, and measured the waistband to see if I could get it up over my hips.

(2) The diagrams were a bit tricky to figure out, esp. on the small pieces, and this wasn’t even the most complex skirt in the book. However, you might fare better than I did.  Just go slow and use your common sense. And draft it onto paper first.


Memos to self.

Pluses:  (1) As I said, the all the skirts were wearable by someone, and they were all a bit unusual, which is what I look for in sewing patterns.

(2) The book has cute little diagrams throughout the directions, instructing about straightening the fabric grain and reinforcing zipper seams.  There is a page with good photographs about linings, and in the back it also has a glossary of terms and symbols used.

(3) The variety of skirts is impressive. There are so many techniques used in this book– shirring, pleats, paneling, elastic, drawstrings, linings, zippers, hooks and eyes, welt pockets (ingeniously sewn on as a patch pocket!) ruffles, gathering, gores, irregular hems, darts, button holes, and embroidery: and there are so many styles– gathered, A-line, sailor, pleated, bubble, asymmetrical, gored, wrap, color blocked– that there is bound to be something for everyone.

In Summary: Would I make this skirt again? You bet I will! This time with a fabric I can wear with anything, because this was just what we had on hand.  Would I change anything? Just the measurements on the waistband– I’d add an 1/8″ so that the topstitching would come out even.



Tuttle Publishing was kind enough to send me two extra copies of “Stylish Skirts” by Sato Watanabe! Two lucky readers will each receive one copy.

A FB share, a link on your blog, and a comment are all worth one entry. So if you share, link, and comment, you will get three entries. You will have to comment to let me know if you linked or shared.

The winners will be chosen via drawing. I’m terribly sorry, but due to prohibitive shipping costs I can only ship to the lower 48 states. :-(

The drawing will end on the 25th of July, ’14.

(Disclaimer: All opinions are my own. I was not paid or compensated other than the books sent to me.)



Chad in Summer


On Tuesday, Mother made an Executive Decision, and shoed us all out of the house for a few hours. It was hot, but not unbearable in the shade, and quite pleasant when the wind blew. Kristina and I outfitted ourselves with water bottles and books and settled down to read.

Chad is not big on reading. He will peruse a “Calvin and Hobbes”, and will pick words out on coupons and in his animal encyclopedias; but a story book beyond an easy reader is a bit above him yet, even though his vocabulary is quite good–I heard him just yesterday break off from explaining something to say with gentle reproof, “Kristina, you’re supposed to look enthralled and interested.”   He was quite bored outside. But after ten or fifteen bored minutes, he came up with natural face paint, and continued to deprive the geranium of it’s petals long into the evening.


Later that evening, I look up and Chad has rolled a barrel down by the play house for cover, and is peeking up from behind it spying on me with his face painted like this and with a pair of binoculars around his neck! I was so proud.



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