Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A Petite Pettiskirt!

Yes, Carrie Beth guessed it in my Sew Excited post... all that raspberry chiffon was for making a big, fluffy pettiskirt! I fell in love with pettiskirts like these at a super-cute store called Gigi's at Rosemary Beach. The problem with the pettiskirts ... they retailed for $88 at Gigi's, and prices on the Internet go from $50 and up and up!

Of course, what went through my mind? "I can make this. I can surely make this for a lot less than $88." And, as of about thirty minutes ago, I have!

I have finished my first petite pettiskirt! I'm not going into a full-blown tutorial here, because that wouldn't be fair... I ordered my pattern/tutorial from a woman who sells them as her own small business, and I don't want to take business away from her. The pattern is amazingly simple, easy to follow, and has full color illustrations. If you're interested in making a pettiskirt, I would recommend ordering the DIY Pettiskirt Kit for $24.50 from her Etsy store, Dream Spun Kids. The kit comes with everything you need except thread... it has one GIGANTIC piece of chiffon, a smaller piece of satin, and elastic for the waistband. (Here's a fast tip - this project takes LOTS of thread.) I ordered the Toddler size (3T-5T) in Raspberry for Katie Anne.

But, I do have a few construction photos, incredible facts, and - if you try to sew a pettiskirt yourself - tips that weren't included in the Dream Spun Kids tutorial, so I don't feel it is dishonest to share them.

First, cutting this fabric into this many pieces was super stressful.

I would have NEVER been able to do all this cutting without this cutting board thing my mom found for me at her friend Wanda's house. Wanda was cleaning out and getting ready for a yard sale, and it had been her mom's before she passed away. Wanda isn't a sewer and didn't want it. She sold this for $1! It literally saved my life in this project... I might've died of frustration trying to cut all these strips without it.

Second, if you are not into pinning, this is not the project for you. Period.

There were SO many pins sticking out of this raspberry chiffon that it looked like a monster or a porcupine at some points. I'll just say that I got a big box of pins for my birthday - I think 500, plus the about 100 I already had - and there were several points where I ran out of pins because they were all stuck in this pettiskirt.

Third, organization is the key.

Keeping the tiers, layers, and ruffles separate was very hard to do. Careful labeling helped. The hardest part was making sure the tiers did not twist while I was sewing them together.

Fourth, even though it may not look like it, this skirt contains
TONS of fabric.
Tons, tons, tons, tons ... tons.

For instance, here's a picture I took of one tier of the skirt. (And, bear in mind, this skirt contains four of these tiers.) This one tier is 5" wide by 360" long. Yes, 360 inches... 30 feet. When I laid this tier out to take a picture of it, it ran from one end of my foyer to the other. I made this picture because I didn't think anyone would believe me! The ruffles are even longer than that!

Fifth, there is no complicated sewing in this project... all very simple, straight stitches.

If you can get around the tedious fabric cutting, keep miles of chiffon organized, gather tons of strips of fabric into ruffles, pin like a maniac, and sew simple straight stitches, then you can make a pettiskirt easily! I struggled with a few of these points, so I didn't make it easily... but I made it!

When I started this project, I was in love with it and was so excited about it. At the halfway point, I was cursing this pettiskirt and didn't want to finish it. However, as I saw the light at the end of the tunnel, I got my passion back and finished the drill.

I said, about a week ago, that I'd never make another one when this one was finished... but, of course, I'm already choosing more colors to make another skirt: a two-toned one this time! I would love to make lots of them - red and black, pink and white, blue and white, sunny yellow, rainbow. Practical? Probably not. Dress up heaven? Definitely. I'll at least make one more, but I'm keeping the exact plan under wraps for a while. I'll share pictures when it is done, but it isn't on my to-do list next. So, I'll leave you hanging until October or so. ;)

Here are a few more pictures of the finished project. Katie Anne's asleep now, so she hasn't tried it on yet, but I'll post some pictures of her in the skirt soon!

A view from the bottom. Ruffles upon ruffles upon ruffles!
Ruffle mania!
Top-down view.
What a happy skirt!

Wordless Wednesday

Monday, July 27, 2009

Katie Anne's First Day of School

Today was Katie Anne's first day of school for the 2009-2010 school year!

I had to get to work in my classroom, so she started back to day care full time today. As you saw in the previous post, we tried to build the excitement last night by packing her backpack together and laying out her new outfit for the first day. When she went to bed, the magic had not yet worked... she was sure she wasn't going.

This morning, she was very excited about wearing her new outfit and backpack. I got her this cute applique/monogrammed shirt from my friend Tara Rowell... check out her blog here for ordering info!

Katie Anne was still a little ambivalent about actually heading back to school. She was looking forward to playing on the playground and seeing her friends, but she also said she thought she'd just go to the bank with Daddy. She reconsidered the bank plan when Saunders pointed out that there weren't any playgrounds at the bank, and she finally decided she'd just go to school instead. Here are some pictures of her before we left.

How does this backpack thing work?
Oh, I get it!
The side view:
Of course, "Big Lily" aka Dora needed a back-to-school picture, too.

All the way to school, she talked about her friends and what she'd do all day. She was really looking forward to playing on the playground, dancing, singing, playing baby dolls, and playing with Play Doh. When we got to school, she was happy to go in. She put on her backpack and marched in like a champion. Here she is, walking in the front door, ready to go!
We unpacked her things, and she chose a baby doll off the shelf.
Then, she sat down to eat breakfast with a friend. I gave her a hug and a kiss, she told me good-bye, and I started walking to the door. Foolishly, I thought, "Man, this is going to be so easy!" Pride comes before the fall... as I opened the door, I heard the anguished scream, "Mommy!!! Don't leave me!!!" I went back in and talked to her for a few minutes, and she cried to go home with me. When I told her I wasn't going home, but was going to school to clean instead, that gave her a moment's pause. Then, Mrs. Christy took her over to the window to look for a red bird at the bird feeder, and that was my chance to slip out.

She got a great report from her teachers today - her paper says "Full of Smiles!" Mrs. Angela said that she was a little whiny until they went outside at around 9:00 (so about 30 minutes of sadness), but playing outside quickly cured her blues, and she was fine for the rest of the day. She ate a good lunch and took a good nap. Katie Anne said this evening that she'd had a great day, and she told us all about playing with her friends, playing on the playground, and she even sang a new song she'd worked on today - Where is Thumbkin? She asked me when we were putting her to bed if she'd get to go back to school tomorrow, and she was happy when I said yes, so I know she enjoys it. Hopefully, each day's drop off will be easier for her as she gets more used to the routine!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Back to School Time

Her new backpack's packed with an extra outfit, a soft pink blankie, and Mo the Mouse...
Her new back-to-school outfit's laid out - a cute shirt and black leggings...
Katie Anne's as ready as she'll ever be-
Tomorrow is back to school day!

Rotary Park Playdate

On Saturday, we met the McWhorters at Rotary Park for a picnic lunch and play date! Lily, Bear, and Katie Anne had a great time running all around the park, sliding and climbing, chasing bubbles, and just playing together! The great thing about Rotary Park is that it is toddler-sized, small, and totally fenced in, so we parents got a chance to catch up while the kids could run around. There's almost never anyone there, so it is like our own private playground! Here's some pictures from the afternoon!

Week in Review

Well, since my Internet was down almost all week, I didn't get to do many posts about our last week of summer. We stayed busy and had a lot of fun. Here's some pictures from our week!

We went to our last movie - Madagascar 2. Afterwards, we met Gigi for lunch, and Katie Anne got to sit in the mail truck!

My mom and I hosted a fun Pampered Chef party on Thursday night, so I cleaned our house from top to bottom before everyone came over. We donated tons of stuff to Goodwill, and I feel so much better to have cleaned out!

The birds enjoy our bird feeder- when the squirrels give them a chance.
Katie Anne and I found a bird's nest in the front yard!
We took a trip to Tellus on Friday.
We also went to a Relay for Life Fundraiser with VJ. We ate great BBQ and listened to Doc's band play. Katie Anne loved the swings!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Boo... Our Internet Service Stinks!

Our internet service has been horrible these last two weeks. About two weeks ago, Comcast sent out contractors to dig around in our neighbor's yard, and our phone and DSL internet service has been spotty ever since. It magically cures itself from time to time for an undeterminable amount of time. Maybe an hour, maybe five minutes. I really haven't had internet access since Wednesday morning! So, I haven't been able to update my blog since Tuesday. Boo! I've got a big project to do online this weekend that has to be done by Sunday night, so I don't have time for an update now. But, I really hope to update soon!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Our Last Toddler Time

Today, Katie Anne and I went to our last Toddler Time this summer at the library. We have really, really enjoyed having this event in our repertoire every week. It is a great way for us to spend an hour together - the little class lasts thirty to forty minutes, and then we spend twenty to thirty minutes picking books and movies to check out. We both really look forward to this every Tuesday!

Today, Katie Anne loved the little puppet show the librarian did with animal puppets to the tune of "How Much is that Doggie in the Window?" Then, our craft was to make a dog puppet, which looked a lot like Abby! She loved that part and couldn't wait to show it to Abby at home. We picked A LOT of books this week... guess we're already feeling withdrawals! (We read five at bedtime, so we've made some headway into our stack of... 23!) Also, Katie Anne filled in two more rows on her reading log this week (she gets a sticker each time we read together for fifteen minutes), and she got to pick two prizes. She chose two of the exact same items -whistles/recorders. One pink and one green - she thinks like her mom! Luckily, they are not loud whistles. :) We've got until July 31 to finish the reading log, but we'll easily do that with our big stack of books... she's only got the last row to fill in, and we've already filled in two stickers today.

I stole the idea from my mom to take a picture of her with the library sign... here she is holding up her pink whistle.

Tonight, after her shower, she wanted to show off her dog puppet to Daddy, so I snapped a few pictures of her with her artwork.

I've Got Her On Retainer

Katie Anne found my retainers in the back of my bathroom drawer last week. She was entranced by them, wanted to know what they did, and - of course - wanted to try them out!

I got these retainers made in eighth grade when I got my braces off, so that would be sometime in the spring of 1995... about 14 years ago! She wanted me to try them on and show her, and so I did... surprisingly, they both still fit!

I can't believe they still fit, although admittedly a little more snugly than the last time I wore them, which was probably six or seven years ago. I guess that's a testament to Dr. Acuff who did my braces, and to the fact that I wore them every night until I was in college!

**Also, Katie Anne took that picture of me all by herself with my camera! Budding photographer!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Congratulations, Saunders!

Saunders recently got a promotion at Century Bank. He's worked very hard at the bank for five years, moving from a teller (where he was crowned "Super Teller" by the president - haha!) to CSR to Branch Manager to Credit Analyst, a lot of which was accomplished while also going to school at nights and on weekends to earn his MBA ... and now he's the SBA Loan & Credit Officer! In this economy, when many of our local banks are having to cut staff and salaries, we are very grateful that Saunders works for a bank that has been fiscally responsible and is doing well. And, in light of all of the challenges the banking industry faces, it is even more of an accomplishment to get raises and promotions right now. Saunders's bosses are always very complimentary of him and the hard work he does, and they think he's got a very bright future in banking. We're very proud of him!

Here's an article from the local paper about his promotion...
click on it to enlarge it so you can read it.

My Annual Depression...

My annual depression is setting in today, because this is our last Monday of the summer.

Technically, I'll still be "off" next Monday, because I don't have to report until Friday, July 31. I've got so much work to do in my classroom before Open House on Monday, August 3 that I'll never be able to do it all in those two days. The school will be open that weekend in between, but I just hate to spend Saturday and Sunday at work and be totally stressed by Open House.

We can get into our classrooms again on July 27. So, I'm taking Katie Anne back to day care full time starting that Monday, and I'll have those four days to work in my room before "officially" being at work on July 31.

I'm very sad about taking her back early, but everyone I've asked for advice (Saunders, my mom, and my dad) assure me that this is the best idea. As my dad said, Katie Anne's had six more weeks home with her mom than most other two-year-olds this summer... most people just had one week of vacation, and their kids are obviously just fine.

I know I'll be totally overwhelmed on Friday if I walk into the piles of boxes that I know are waiting to be unpacked, and I don't want to be at school on the weekend while Saunders and Katie Anne are at home. Also, my mom is taking off Monday and Tuesday to help me in the classroom, and my dad's planning on helping that week, and I want us to be able to get a lot done.

Also, after reviewing my post from last year, apparently I did the same thing last summer - and I don't see any ill effects in Katie Anne's persona from it. :)

I know she's going to have a hard time this year... she's not done too well at drop-off the four days we've put her in day care as a drop-in this summer. I think this is the first summer that she's really going to be old enough to realize that she's not at home with me anymore.

However, I also know that she loves her new school, loves her two teachers Ms. Angela and Ms. Christy, and has made many new friends... she talks about Chauncey, Audrey, Skyla, Haley, Talon, Jackson, and several other kids by name all the time, even though she's only seen them four times since May. She looks forward to playing on the awesome playground, she's getting really good at her before-meal prayer because they emphasize it in her class, and she's singing several new songs that she's learned at her new school. So, even though I know she'll cry at first, I know she'll also have fun playing with other kids, getting outside more without her bug-fearing, sweat-hating mom dragging her down, and doing fun activities with her teachers.

(Also, as a day care side note, I heard on Friday from a former manager at Katie Anne's old day care that our two favorite teachers, Ms. Amanda and Ms. Edna, have both been laid off. So, I'm VERY glad we moved Katie Anne.)

So, we're going to enjoy our last week together this summer by doing some of our same favorite activities. We're not packing the week too full - in fact, today we're not doing anything. We're going to go to the library for Toddler Time, go to the movies, meet people for lunch, hit the Tellus museum, go to the playground, and just generally have a good time together!

At the end of the week, we'll pick up Katie Anne's new backpack after it is monogrammed, we'll pack it with a change of clothes and a cuddly blanket, and next week we'll start back into the daily grind, all while looking forward to next summer when we can do all this fun stuff together again!