Caroline Blogs (+ a giveaway)

Hi everyone!  It has been about 5 months since my last blog post, when I sewed costumes for Jet’s 7th birthday party.  That was right about the time when symptoms of Wes’ cancer began.   As most of our readers know, in February, my youngest child (at age 15 months) was diagnosed with stage IV, high-risk, neuroblastoma, a childhood cancer of the nervous system.   Our lives changed forever.  I have a new blog now- the kind you never wanted to have-  that chronicles our family’s fight for Wes’ cure.   You are welcome to join us on http://www.caringbridge.org.  Just log in and search for Wes Chang.

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I don’t want to get into the horror, the hardship, the grief, the joy, the crazy emotional rollercoaster that comes with having a child go through cancer.   Its something I would not wish on my worst enemy.  But somehow, many blesssings have home out of it, and I have a renewed sense of purpose, and new perspective on life’s importances.

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To tell you the truth, I have been avoiding this space.  Writing my posts on caringbridge (along with living our new normal) takes a lot out of me.   Its just so emotional that it exhausts me.  Actually, even here in the past, blogging did not come easily for me.  I am extremely self-critical and perfectionistic.  I sew slowly, and I write slowly.   And now, I simply do not have time for any of it.  I still crave sewing.  I miss it.  I yearn for it.  But my priorties have shifted, and the sense of satisfaction I get from crafting a wearable garment, is replaced by taking the best care of Wes that I possibly can.  Add NURSE to my resume, because I’m pretty sure I’ve earned my degree!

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To catch you up to date quickly, Wes has undergone 5 rounds of intense chemotherepy since his diagnosis.  He had tumors (or “lesions”) in several places in his head, also in his lungs, and, signature of neuroblastoma, a primary tumor on his right adrenal gland (which sits above the kidney).  His bone marrow was also infected by the disease.  After just two rounds of chemo, the visible tumors on his head and face were diminishing, and bone marrow biopsy was clean.  Wes just underwent scans after round 5, and the only remaining visible disease  is the primary tumor (1/3 of its original size)!  It will be surgically removed on Wednesday.

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His progress has been amazing!  His expert oncologist actually used those words.   Wes has stayed extremely healthy through this process, and we have been living at home as normal most of this time.  I can assure you that this is not the norm for kids with neuroblastoma and other devestating cancers.   He is making this look easy.  But it is not.  The stress, the worry, the time it takes, and the toll it takes on the family dynamic, is extraordinary.  Please understand, that if this could happen to our family, it can happen to yours.  Please support the research, support the families, the events, the races, the blood drives.  I never thought we’d be the recipients of so much kindness and generosity.  I never thought we would need to be.  We are humbled indeed.

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I’d like to thank my sister, and co-blogger, Erin, for all that she has done to help our family.  Thank God we live in the same town!  She has had to swoop in a ton to help with Jet and Avery, but has also managed all the wonderful friends who have wanted to help.  She (and the rest of our extended family) has also dealt with a lot of emotions when learning the devastating news about Wes.  Our mom was still in treatment for her own recurred cancer.  But, Erin had to be my liaison to the people.  All of the calls and emails went through her.  I simply could not talk to people.   She organized a donation website that just exploded with funds to help us financially.  It’s been a long  road, and we are only at about the half-way point with Wes’ treatment, but we are in a much better place now with Wes doing so well!.  Lucky doesn’t even cover it!

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So, this summer has been a nice change of pace.  Not having to get up early to send the big kids off to school has been a sweet relief.  I found ourselves having a slow week recently, and was able to dust of my sewing machine.  An email came from Dana of Made,  asking us to test her First Day Dress pattern.  How exciting to have an assignment from an industry big-wig that we have worshiped since the beginning of time!  Erin and I both jumped at the opportunity!

I chose to sew the simple A-line option for Avery.

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Excuse the ‘tude.

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And the pool hair.

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I chose the 5T size for my solid 4.5 year old, Avery.  The fit is perfect!

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 I took Dana’s suggestion and used a home-dec fabric.  How cute are these chickens??  The fabric, called Barnyard Dance Speckel,by P Kaufmann, was at our local U-fab store, which also sells online.  It is a lovely weight for this project. Plus, you get 10 extra inches on these bolts.  I have plenty for another project!  Even with the cotton sheeting I used as a lining, it is super soft and drape-y.   Another bonus is that this fabric is stain resistant.  It will totally hold up in the fall when we throw on a cardi and some leggings.

Hopefully you saw Erin’s version last week!  She made a peplum convert out of me!  There are so many adorable options to choose from in Dana’s pattern.

Please leave a comment at the end of this post if you would like a chance to win a copy of this PDF pattern!  Giveaway will close Thursday July 17 at 8:00 pm.

Even if you are not interested in the giveaway, we invite your comments!   I know this post is major heavy.  Erin and I want to extend our gratitude to our devoted readers, and blogger friends, who always “like” us on instagram and continue to show your support for #hungiegungie and #teamwes.  We love you!  I hope to not be a stranger for too long!

Lots of love,

Caroline

 

 

Polka Dot Peplum + giveaway

Hello!  Today is a good day.  Dana of MADE has released her much-anticipated First Day Dress pattern!

:::::APPLAUSE:::::

Caroline and I were excited to be testers for this pattern, because… well, duh… it’s Dana- need I say more?  But, for me anyway, her blog was literally the FIRST sewing blog I had ever stumbled upon.  Like, I didn’t even know about you people or your cool sewing blogs, or that this community even existed.  I was googling sewing patterns late one night 4 years ago, and came across her Market Skirt tutorial and then spent the next several hours poring over her beautiful, bright and cheery site.  I was amazed that a person could make these things at home!  Not to go all cheese-fest here, but you could say that she changed my creative life!  Aw….

Onto this GREAT pattern.

There are several options.  I’ll let you hop on over to her site to read all about them, but for my version I chose to sew the peplum top.  I’m pretty sure Caroline is with me here… we are not peplum people.  I have seen them all over the sewing world over the past year, but haven’t jumped on board until now.

Something about my fun little Coco-girl inspired me to give it a whirl.

And I’m so glad I did.

I made a size 2 for my newish two-year old.  Guys, the fit is PERFECT.  I was nervous that this would be to small on her, but as soon as she got it on, I was just doing a crazy dance.  Those little capped sleeves, the adorable swingy peplum skirt, the polka dots… this is a happy project.

I found this great charcoal/silver polka dot fabric at Joann, and snatched up three yards of it.  Luckily, I barely had to use much for this pattern- since I might see a size 6 dress version in my future!  The back closes simply with a single button and elastic loop.  I used one of my favorite buttons from my stash, and I like you could have some fun with a colorful, bold, or special one that you love.

Like I said, there are plenty of options here.  Even when it comes to the lining…you can choose to do a partial lining- just at the bodice, or a full.  I fully-lined mine with some mint voile.  I love the glimpse of color that pokes out when she’s boppin’ around.

Or balancing on her brother’s cute bum.

This pattern is very thorough, with great photos and detailed instructions.  I think it is such a sweet tailored shape, and after making so many dresses with a gathered skirt, this top seemed to come together in a jiff.

I made one particular note to myself that I’ll share with you about this pattern:  while this top really does fit peeeerfectly, it took some care to get off of Corinne without inducing a full on mid-removal arms-stuck meltdown.  If your kiddo is well endowed in the noggin’ department, I’d consider cutting your back slit 1/2″ longer, or cutting the neckline a hair larger.  Just in case y’all.

Now.  Which one of you kind readers would like to win a copy of this pattern?  Okay!  Leave me a comment telling me which option is your favorite, and I’ll randomly pick a winner by the evening of Thursday July 3.

**Giveaway is now closed.  Congratulations to #13, Jo!  Hope you enjoy your new pattern!**

And come back soon if you don’t win because sister Caroline (!!!) will be back with a totally different look and another chance to win!

Thanks to Dana for the awesome pattern- it’s obvious to see how much work went into creating this one!

Goodbye and Good Luck!

-Erin

Kids in Hats

Last month I stayed up way too late making a bucket hat for Ellery.  The next day at school was “H” day- they were counting down the days of school with each letter of the alphabet- and I was damned if she was going to wear the ratty purple dollar store witch hat that she layed out before going to bed.

  She loved the hat, but wouldn’t ya know… she wore the goofy purple witch hat to school.  OF COURSE.

This pattern is a free download from the Oliver + S website, though you can also find it in Liesl’s book, Little Things to Sew.  Luckily I had this pattern cut out in every size (thanks again, old self!).  A couple of easy modifications were done: I widened the brim AND skipped the hand-stitching a la Jessica.

I used some Echino mochi dot linen in charcoal for the outer layer, and mint cotton for the lining.  I also made one for little sister using some more Echino linen.  BIRDS y’all.  Ellery got a size large, and I made Coco the medium… I recommend that you go a size up with this pattern.

This was not a day for bucket hats…

Look at that sky!

Ellery always dresses for the weather.  She looked outside before going out and decided a corduroy jacket was in order- even though it was in the mid-80’s.  Silly girl.

Oh look!  It’s my semi-annual Hungie Gungie photo of Grant!

 He was so cute trying to sneak into their pictures.  Remember the first bucket hat I made? It was for this boy when he was just a squishy little 1 year old…

This hat is technically reversible, but I gotta say, the inside is not super pretty.  I’m not very good at sewing around curves and this pattern has plenty to fit together and sew.  Plus, I maybe should’ve interfaced my lining pieces instead of the linen, because the linen was then extra thick and the lining was very thin, and it just took a lot of fiddling around to fit them together nicely without tons of puckering.

These hats are just so cute and so practical- my girls wear them outside playing all the time!

Hope you are all enjoying the beginning of Summer!

(oh, and thank you all for your nice comments about my etsy shop! XO)

-Erin

 

OPEN 24/7.

 

 On a bit of a whim, I opened an etsy shop.  I have always tinkered with the idea, and then at the beginning of the year started making some things, but sort of set it all aside for a while.  A month ago or so, I picked it all back up and just started sewing like a crazy lady.  At the moment my kids really don’t need any more clothes, so it was fun to focus on producing things for others.  My angle was/is to just make the things I like.  That’s it.  If they sell, then I’ll make more!  Of course, it’s summertime, and you all know I fell in love with this pattern, so I pumped out many of them.  I think they’re perfect summer attire.  I hope my buyers love them.  I am considering making a few pairs of these for the boys out there, and I’m thinking already about items for Fall.

I will mention that part of the reason for opening the shop is to blow through some of my current fabric stash.  I want to sew a lot, but I simply cannot afford to buy all the fabric to just make things for my family.  It just feels excessive when my kiddos have hand-me-downs galore!  I hope that after a few more sales (I’ve already had two- wooohoo!) I can go back to doing what I do best- late night online fabric shopping.

Anyway, hope you’ll check it out!

-Erin

 

hummingbird

I have been sewing like a crazy person, a.k.a. Jesse Spano, a whole lot this past month.  Like cutting out several projects in one fell swoop, labeling fabrics, staying up late, watching 19 Kids and Counting (OH C’MON… you watch it too)/Intervention (the girl who huffs computer duster. YIKES.)/Inside Amy Schumer, and sewing until my back hurts.  Hey, sometimes you got it and sometimes you don’t.  It’s rare for me to be on a straight-up sewing binge, but currently I am.

(And lest you think all I do is sew and watch trashy TV all night…I don’t.  Though sometimes I accidentally put on Peppa Pig, not realizing that my kids are in BED and ASLEEP… and it’ll just play for like 10 minutes before it occurs to me.  Do you ever do that?  Turn on the old boob tube after the kiddos are down, and immediately hit up Nick Jr? What the?! Anyway, I also enjoy the occasional TED talk or Creative Bug on youtube… I love the meet so-and-so videos.  And sewing in the daytime calls for Pandora.  Moving on.)

One pattern that I’ve been pretty smitten with lately is the Hummingbird dress by rabbit rabbit creations.  I stumbled upon it one night while searching around on Etsy and I bought it right away.  I’ve already sewn several variations, but this one here is a fave.

p.s. that mole in the middle of her back is also my fave. :)

I love the fitted bodice and the elastic casing in the back which adds comfort and a casual vibe.  There is the option of adding flutter sleeves to the straps, but I am all for the clean look of this for now.

As for the fit, it’s just perfect.  I sewed a 6 (Ell is a new-ish 6 year old), and it’s right on the money.

(update: there are couple of glitches in this pattern.  first, at the back bodice piece- which is a long rectangle- a 1/2 should be added to the width (not length!) of both the outer and the lining back bodice piece,  because when attaching it to the front bodice at the underarms, it is too short and doesn’t quite match up with the width of the front bodice piece, which then requires you to adjust some things when attaching the skirt to the finished bodice. second, the instructions suggest that you can enclose the gathered skirt piece into the bodice and the bodice lining so there is no raw seam inside… however, this is incredibly hard to do once the elastic is already in the back bodice piece.  I recommend you try attaching the skirt to the bodice and lining first, but leave the sides at the underarms unattached- then thread your elastic in, and finish enclosing the rest of the skirt. I decided to just attach the bodice to the skirt without enclosing and I am more than happy with my result, but I did want to include that in here for you in case you make this dress and want a very professional look inside!)

I’ve been really drawn to color in the last few months… I used to buy a lot of prints, but realized that I tire of them really quickly and they don’t seem to get much play at my sewing machine.

You already know that I’m a cotton couture lover (no really, Michael Miller… where’s my sponsorship?!!).  It’s just the perfect weight, has some sort of sheen to it, and if you look closely and compare it to say, Kona cotton, it seems more tightly woven, which really seems to give it this softness factor.  I used it here in watermelon for the skirt, and in gold for the sweet little straps.  The bodice is a solid voile in coral (lined with cream cotton), I’m sorta/kinda/alotta in love with this combo.

This dress is actually not for my Ellery (Sorry, kid).

  But more on that soon…

-Erin

 

Another Ruby

 I’ve worn my first Ruby about 4 times already since I made it.  So I sewed up another… This time however, I decided to take it up a notch.

Literally.

The fabric is from Joann, and it’s one I always stopped to look at and never bought… Glad I finally did!  It’s quilting cotton (Denyse Schmidt), so it’s not quite as soft and light as my last Ruby.  As for the notch, I should’ve added a little interfacing before sewing that, since after a day of wear it sort of starts to flap on one side, but I like it anyway!

Happy Spring Top Sewalong-ing!

-Erin

Ruby

Anyone out there sewing for Spring Top Sewalong?

I am excited to do some sewing for myself for a change, and hoping that I actually wear the items I plan on making this time.  It’s a problem of mine.

This Ruby top is definitely one I will rotate through the ole wardrobe cycle.  It is comfy to the max!

I used a basic white cotton for the yoke, and a really lightweight blue and white striped cotton from Joann.

I decided to line the yoke because I thought it would yield a more professional looking finish, as opposed to the bias tape.  There is a great series of videos that Rae put together for you to follow if you’d like to do this, and honestly, I recommend you go that route too.  I set my iPad up on my sewing desk and spent a couple nights hanging out with Rae as she walked me through each step.  Easy.

 

I cut my pattern between the M and L lines, and followed the Large size when it came to length of all pieces.  Next time around I’ll add 1/2″ to all the shoulder seams so it all hangs lower- It’s a teensy bit to high up under my armpits (you can kind of see in that picture)- BUT… this shirt is so comfortable, I will not reject it as I have some other handmade items (a-hem, a-hem)!

 I think the nice thing about sewing for yourself, is that you can fix/tweak those things to custom fit your body.

I’ll also add a full inch to the length next time too- even though I used a 1″ hem as opposed to the suggested 2″.  I’m 5’11” and I’ve never owned a shirt that wasn’t too short!

#tallgirlproblems.

If you want a pretty easy sew, and a comfy relaxed fit, you should make a Ruby.

I’ve also heard it makes a GREAT maternity shirt!

Ha. Gotcha!  I’m not packing a baby in there….it was a windy day!

-Erin