Monday, May 30, 2011

The Book Project, Continued (Books 61-70)

We've read more books on the Top 100 Children's Book List! This has been a really fun project for Ephraim and me. We've had tons of fun reading all the stories together. I hope you're enjoying our reviews!

My review - Ephraim and I read this book, and several other "How Do Dinosaurs?" books. They are all really sweet. In the books, the dinosaurs always end up being good examples to readers of how to do all sorts of things. They are sweet and funny, and they each have a good lesson. Check 'em out! 

Ephraim's review - That was awesome. Awesome! Awesome, awesome, awesome, awesome.... (and on and on)

My review - When I was younger, I loved Madeline books. I still do! And this one is the original! Madeline has a stomachache and has to have her appendix removed, and the cadence of the story is just lovely to read.  Sweet story.

Ephraim's review - This was silly and cuckoo!

My review - We actually own a Robert McCloskey collection, which includes "Make Way for Ducklings." This is a fun story about a family of ducks looking for a place to have and raise their ducklings, and then those ducklings making their way into the city. It's cute and silly, and a great read.

Ephraim's review - The duck man stops and he stops, stops, stops, so they hop! (He's feeling silly and poetic right now.)

My review - OBVIOUSLY, this book is a classic! Who doesn't like the story of "The Cat in the Hat"!?!?!? If you haven't read it, you must!

Ephraim's review - The cat man in the hat has a silly hat. Silly bop!

My review - I thought this was such a sweet, sweet story. A little house was built in the country. Over the years, the world around the house begins to change. The house wonders what it would be like to live in the city. Voila! The city is built right around it. Eventually, a great grandchild of the original owner finds the house and moves it back to the country, where she lives out the remainder of her days in happiness, as she belongs.

Ephraim's review - That was crazy because he could see (the house), so it was so crazy!

My review - "The Napping House" was a cute, silly story! Everyone in the house is napping, piled one on top of the other, until a flea bites a mouse, and things go bonkers! You'll definitely want to read this silly story. :)

Ephraim's review - That was silly and it never happened today. HA HA!

My review - "The Paper Bag Princess" was ADORABLE! In this story, it is a princess who rescues a prince. She's dressed in a paper bag, due to a dragon's destruction of her kingdom. Her prince suggests she comes back after she's dressed like a "real princess." HILARIOUS! (In my opinion, that's not a prince worth having.)

Ephraim's review - This was silly because it never happened. So and so, and so and so...

My review - "The Snowy Day" is a cute story about a child's love of snow, which would be great if we didn't live in Florida. Snow is somewhat meaningless to my son, and a lot of the activities done in/with snow had to be explained to him. ;) Cute story nonetheless. 

Ephraim's review - It was a funny book of kids in the snow.

Obviously, we are still waiting on a few more books. Really enjoying this project, though! 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Baby Bloomers Tutorial & Fun with a Gathering Foot!

Way too long ago, I said I would blog the way that I make baby bloomers. Tonight, I am FINALLY doing it! Here goes!

Buy some awesome fabric, and download and print this pattern. It's a super fancy pattern. ;) This will fit about 12-18 month size, but it is easily modified smaller or larger. Also, the elastic is VERY forgiving, so it does not have to be a "perfect fit." You can estimate size changes using a diaper or a well-fitting bloomer you already own. Just fold it in half and stretch it out as far as possible to match it against the existing pattern. Just remember that you'll need to add extra at the top for your waistband!

Cut out your pattern pieces from paper and your fabric, on the fold, as directed.

You will then have a front piece and a back piece, as above.

Now, if you want to add any lace, ruffles, or embroidery, this is the time. Since I just got a gathering foot, I am adding a ruffle to these!

This is what the gathering foot looks like for my machine. I'm in love. It is such a cool little tool!

To use the gathering foot, I set the stitch length to 3 or 4 mm and a higher tension for the upper thread. I set mine at an 8. The higher the upper thread tension, the more gathers the foot will create.

I had a long strip of this fabric that is already hemmed on the bottom, with a straight stitch. I put the raw edge under the gathering foot and sewed my little heart out!

And these beautiful ruffles were made! SO easy!

Remember that a very long piece of fabric will become VERY short once gathered, so plan accordingly!

Now I will add the ruffle to the back piece of the bloomers. I pin the ruffle on upside down. 

I then sew a straight stitch (or as straight as possible) across the ruffles to attach them to the bloomers. It really doesn't have to be perfectly straight. It isn't all that noticeable on your little lady's behind. ;)

After completing the straight stitch, I went over the raw edge with a wide zigzag/overcasting stitch to secure it.

I hate ironing. I admit it... but I also know that ironed projects are better projects. ;) Iron your ruffles down.

Pin the sides of your bloomers together. (If you chose not to add ruffles or lace, you should also pin the sides of your bloomers together.)

Sew a straight stitch down the edge of your bloomers.

Trim off excess ruffle, if you had it.

Add a zigzag or overcasting stitch to the edge.

If you turn your project right side out, it should look something like the above, with or without the ruffle.

Time for more ironing! Iron the waistband down once, about 1/2 inch.

Fold it over and iron it down again, about the same width.

You absolutely MUST iron the curves of the legs. You can't get away with skimping on this step. I make the hems on the legs a little narrower. Fold over once, about 1/4 inch and iron. 

Fold over a second time, about 1/4 inch, and iron again. You have to iron your curves carefully and slowly, but you will not regret doing it. I promise!

(Forgive my switch to another fabric. I wasn't planning on doing this tutorial tonight, but I caught the 'productivity bug.')

Now, all your hems are ironed and your sides are sewn together, as above.

Sew a straight stitch near the edge of your hem on the waistband, leaving a couple inches open in the back.

It's hard to see with this black on black, but there is a hole left open.

On the legs, sew a straight stitch as close as possible to the hem edge from one end of the curve to the other.

Personally, I feel like a loop turner is a MUCH easier way to accomplish this task, but I couldn't find mine. Obviously, safety pins work too! Insert your elastic into the waistband and work it all the way around. 

Pull it out the same hole you entered through and play with the waist size until it is where you like it. Compare to other bloomers if you like. Don't make it too tight. You can always make it tighter later, but it is harder to make it looser! Trip excess elastic.

Pin and sew the elastic together, backstitching over it a few times to secure it.

Sew the opening closed.

Now, insert a very narrow elastic into the leg hem.

(This is the part I've never seen anyone do the way that I learned to do it. Maybe it's a weird way, but I think it's easier!) Once the elastic reaches the other end, pin it and sew back and forth across the elastic to secure it to the crotch.

Notice that the crotch is still not sewn shut.

Make the leg width appropriate using the elastic. Trim any excess elastic and sew opposite end of elastic to the crotch in the same manner.

At this point, your bloomers should look like the above. There is a closed, finished waistband, one elastic, scrunched-up leg, one unfinished leg, and the crotch is still unsewn.

Repeat the above process to put the elastic in the opposite leg hem.

Now, you have some "almost bloomers." Time to sew the crotch closed!

Pin the crotch edges together and sew a straight stitch.

Go over the edge with a zigzag or overcasting stitch.

Additionally, I sew this excess fabric flat against the bloomer. You don't have to do this. If you choose to do it, you should be aware that there will be a straight line of stitch visible on the outside crotch of your bloomers.

Turn your bloomers right side out, and Voila! An easy, awesome pair of baby bloomers! Happy Sewing!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Great Park Adventure - Arlington Lions Club Park

Today we took the Great Park Adventure to the Arlington Lions Club Park! This is another one of those teenage shenanigan parks. It's so secluded, they are just asking for it! ;) They are doing quite a bit of construction out there, so I'm curious to see how it will ultimately end up. We limited our visit mostly to the playground area, but this park has a very popular boat ramp, picnic area, and nature trail right next to the river.

Anyway, back to the playground... If you happen to be planning a Florida Gators party, this is where you should have it. It's an orange and blue park, so your decor will match! The playground had lots of litter, so that was a bummer, and one of the slides was seriously damaged. You'll see. The other negative was the equipment itself was a little strange. There were really large gaps to climb up the equipment. I took pictures so you'll see what I mean. On the positive side, it is a very shady park and even though it was a hot day, we were all quite comfortable. It's secluded and quiet, and the kids had plenty of fun!

Playground area and covered pavilion

Umm, yes, that is part of a slide.

Ephraim was trying to show me how strong he was!

Super long slide!

Trash... mostly popped balloons

Smaller kid equipment


There is one bench inside the playground area, and it is almost on the ground. I just thought that was kind of funny. :)

This is where the slide part should go. It would be pretty dangerous to land on that piece of metal at the bottom. This is a long, fast slide. DANGER. DANGER.

(PS - Aspen's wearing a new dress/bloomer set that I made for her yesterday. TOO CUTE!)

The view from the playground toward the boat ramp


Cutie patootie!

BIG slide!

Random pole with nothing on it


She is such a daredevil! She climbs on these things everywhere. NOT safe! Also, one of the times that I grabbed her up from them, I hit my head on the handles and gave myself a pseudo-concussion. :)

This looks like trouble

The concussion-causing handlebar

Here are pictures of the large gaps. This is how you get into the slide.

These slides are pretty high off the platform as well.

Huge gaps, again. The pictures don't do it justice.

This picture should give you an idea of scale. These really are HUGE gaps.

See what I mean?!?

This is my postconcussive face. 

This is a tree that apparently fell on to the playground fence. Did anyone hear it? (Rimshot!)

We saw a huge boat go by, with a little tug behind.

This is the pathway to the dark side. Not really... just a picnic/walking trail area. I wasn't feeling that adventurous today. :)

So, the Arlington Lions Club park is worth a visit. I'll let you know as soon as construction is done how it changes. :)  Here is the website and its amenities.

Benches  15
Boat docks  2
Boat Ramps  2
Boat Trailer Parking  61
Car Parking  40
Fishing Available
Grills  7
Manatee Education
Pedestrian Docks  1
Perimeter Site Fencing
Picnic shelters  3
Picnic Tables  18
Playground Equipment  1