Another Old Dress

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I went to VinPrime again yesterday and found a few noteworthy vintage dresses that were MAJORLY on sale.

My favorite one, however, I paid full price for.  A whopping  ₩15,000.  That’s only about $13.00, so I felt like it was a pretty good deal.

This dress is from the 60’s or early 70’s.  Handmade, and gorgeously tailored.  I took some photos for you of the inside and the outside so that you can drool over the details with me!

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First of all, THAT FABRIC. Secondly, THESE BUTTONS!

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They were covered with foil when I bought the dress, which I have never seen before.  If you have any idea why the owner might have done that, feel free to comment and let me know.  I’m super curious.  Maybe just to keep them looking nice while it was cleaned?

The front buttons to the waist and then has a zipper that goes down about 7″.  At the bottom of the lapped front there is a snap, which has broken and I will need to replace.

All of the buttonholes are delicately bound.

Now let’s take a look at the inside!

The skirt lining  is secured to the dress by hand with tiny stitches.  The dress skirt itself is pleated in the front and back, but the lining is simply darted.

Here’s a look at the zipper:

And I love how the maker reinforced the shoulders!

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Bra strap holders are in place, which is uncommon (at least in my experience) in shirt dresses but super cool!

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Most seams are finished with pink bias binding.

But blanket stitch was used to finish the back yoke seam.

A simple hem.

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The lining back seam was machine stitched and then hand stitched before being pressed.  I’m sure this is a tailoring technique that I have not learned yet!

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All-in-all a lovely dress.  I can’t wait to wear it.  It needs a couple repairs–one button is broken (I will replace it with the button from under the collar, which I will not use and you will not be able to notice is missing), and then the snap that I mentioned above.  Once everything is fixed, I’ll be sure to take a photo or two of me actually wearing it!

Here are the other gems I found at VinPrime:

The “Trees and People” shirt:

70’s Tailored Dress with Yellow Buttons:

Cute go-go-esque dress, which looks like it’s from the 60’s:

Have you found any cute vintage garments lately?  Do tell!

Bessie

Making The Perfect French Press

 

I’ve always preferred my French press to any other method of home brewing.  However lately I had begun to feel like my pots were lacking in depth.  This point was brought home in a big way when I stopped by my favorite local patisserie for a pastry and the most delicious French press that had ever danced around my taste buds.

I knew at that moment that I was doing something wrong.  I had to figure out how to make a French press like that.

So I went online and did some learnin’.  One thing I learned was that it is beneficial to help the wetting process along by giving your grounds and hot water a 20-30 second stir before letting your coffee brew.  I use a chopstick, and gently swirl the coffee until a lovely, yummy foam forms on the top and then cover and let brew.

The second thing I learned was that I was not brewing my coffee anywhere near long enough.

When I was younger, I worked at Starbucks for a bit.  It was a fantastic place to work, and I loved it.  However, I don’t believe they can be looked to as the best resource for coffee brewing expertise–at least not on every level.  I was taught that if you let your French press brew for any more or any less than EXACTLY 3 minutes, it would be ruined.  THREE MINUTES!  Three. Minutes. Period.

Turns out, if you let those grounds soak for 7-8 minutes, your coffee will taste amazingly better.

Today I took some pictures of my coffee making process, and without further ado I will share my little step-by-step Amazingly Awesome French Press Coffee tutorial with you!

Step 1: Beans, grind ’em.
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Obviously you want to use good beans.  I’ll admit, although I’m sure they are not the fanciest of beans, I absolutely LOVE Dunkin’ Donuts coffee beans.  Turn up your nose at me if you will–I’m not ashamed.

Anywho, put them in your grinding device (we use a Magic Bullet-type blender) and grind until your beans look about like grits.  In case you are not from the south and have no idea what grits are, here’s a good example:
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I use about 1/3 C of whole coffee beans per 4 C French press.  Some people like to use more than that.  I personally like a rich coffee that is not too strong or bitter, and 1/3 is perfect for me.  Feel free to experiment!

You can also grind the beans a bit finer, if you like.  However your coffee might end up a little bitter, and you might see a few grounds in it.

Make sure you take the time to inhale the intoxicating scent of freshly ground coffee.  Forget smelling the roses.  Smell the coffee, people. SMELL THE COFFEE.
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Step 2: Put the beans and water in your French Press

I had a helper this morning.  See above how he deftly demonstrates the emptying of the blender contents into the French press.  I then allowed him to pour boiling hot water over the grounds.

Just kidding.  I did that part.

I learned at Starbucks that boiling water was actually a little too hot for a French press, but have since read elsewhere that it is acceptable.  I haven’t noticed a difference when I use slightly cooler water, so boiling it is for me.

Step 3: Swirl, swirl, swirl!

Next, take a spoon or chopstick or something of the sort and give your coffee and hot water a few nice, slow swirls.  When a fine foam floats to the top (that is carbon dioxide escaping from the grounds), you’ll know it’s ready to start brewing.

 

Step 4: Let Brew
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Place the lid on top and set your timer for 7-8 minutes.  IMG_3406

 

Step 5: Plunge and enjoy!
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Gently press down the plunger of your French press.  Pour yourself a delicious cup of coffee.  If you have a delicious French pastry to go with it, all the better.

Oh, and I must share my awesome mug with you.  My sweet friend and sewing buddy over here bought this for me.

Do you like my little coffee “splash” on the counter?  Yeah, this is real life people!  Sometimes you spill a little coffee.  And that is ok.

What type of coffee brewing method do you employ?

Bessie

Up-cycled Mod for Evvie

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Evelyn asked me if I could make her a dress like Tiana’s.  I told her I didn’t have quite enough material for a dress like that, but I could look at what I have and see what we could make.  She went into my fabric stash and came out with some pieces of a shirt I was going to up-cycle into baby toys.

I knew just the pattern to fit those pieces.  It was a cute McCall’s from the mid-60’s.  Simple little A-line dress with a front pleat.  Turned out that there was just enough fabric to make a dress without pockets.  I also had to chop up the pattern a little and add a contrasting facing for the back, as the original design had the dress back and facing all in one piece and it wouldn’t quite fit on my shirt pieces.

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My sewing room is like a refrigerator.  Hence the hat. Oh, and this is McCall’s 8001, circa 1965.

I didn’t intend to turn up the sleeves like that, but it looks super cute that way!  My first thought was to cover some buttons with the stripe fabric for the back, but to be honest I just didn’t feel like it.  So instead I opted for some cute vintage blue buttons I happened to have in my stash.  I think I like it even better than how the stripe buttons looked in my mind.

You’ll notice I also had to add a contrasting pleat underlay.  I thought stripes would be too much, so I used some baby wale green corduroy instead.  It was just the right shade to complement the main fabric.

For the hem, I tried out the method we discovered in the 70’s shift.  It was very simple and easy, and looks really good.

Evvie told me once the dress was finished, much to my disappointment, that she thought she’d just save it for summer.  She begrudgingly agreed to do JUST ONE photo shoot for me, and I was very much obliged indeed.  The dress looks pretty adorable with those jeans, don’t ya think?  It’s like a little tunic.  Maybe she’ll change her mind and wear it a few times this winter.

Here are some playing-with-beans action shots!

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Yesterday was my big day to go fabric shopping in Dondaemun.  I had several projects to buy fabric and supplies for, including costumes for an upcoming play at my husband’s school, a few dresses for myself, a bag, and some really adorable overalls for the kids.  But true to Korea form, I traveled to Dongdaemun only to find that the entire fabric shopping complex was CLOSED for reasons unknown to me.  I cannot tell you how frustrating this was.  Since I have two kids under 3, it is practically impossible for me to do large-scale fabric shopping with them in tow, so I have to go when my husband is home.  The shopping complex closes at 5pm (GAR!), so I can never make it on the weekdays.  That leaves weekends.  So the next time I’ll be able to get out there is next week, putting me very behind on costuming.

Alas!

I do need to bring my camera and do a post about Dongdaemun.  Oh, fellow sewists–it is like a fairy dream land!  Anything and everything you could EVER WANT for sewing, crafting, knitting and crochet.  Gobs and gobs of it.  Four huge buildings full of it.  It is pretty amazing.

So this week I’ll just spend my time making up a muslin for Tzeital’s wedding dress (they are doing Fiddler on the Roof), and bust my butt making up for lost time next week!  Go with the flow, right?

Bessie

A Dress For Tiana

Have you ever sewn from a vintage Barbie doll sewing pattern?  I’ve collected a few over the years, and now that I have a daughter who has a beloved Tiana Barbie with a small wardrobe, I have been trying some out!

By small wardrobe, I mean she has one outfit.  We found her at a yard sale last year, butt naked.  Evelyn thought she was the most beautiful doll in the world, and I thought it would be fun project to sew her a new wardrobe with my old patterns.  Shortly after we brought her home, I made her this cute little outfit:

It’s been about a year since I made that one.  I’ve been swamped with commissioned sewing lately, and decided for a little creative break today to pull out the vintage Barbie patterns and let Evvie pick a new outfit for Tiana.  We chose Butterick 9993.

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She picked the wedding dress, of course.
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I didn’t have any large pieces of lace, so I used a little lace trim that I had to edge the overskirt.

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A rolled-up dish towel makes pressing tiny tubular skirts and curved seams much easier!

I pinked most seams, and double-turned some others, taking tiny careful stitches along the back edges.  Skirt was finished with a tiny hem stitch.

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Barbie dresses are fun because you get to do a lot of the finishing by hand, but it doesn’t take very long.  Well, unless you have a 3 year old and a 20 month old saying “Mommy!” every two seconds.  But that’s ok!

The dress was very simple, and very easy to make!  I used a small strip of velcro for the back fastener, as it’s a little easier for my daughter to open and close than snaps.

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The overskirt really adds some glamour! If only I had enough lace left for a veil.  We’ll have to add that later.

Evvie was very pleased.  Next I am supposed to make a dress “with flowers on it.”

What have you been sewing lately?

Bessie

Two 60’s Dresses from Korea

Handmade Black Party Dress
This dress has a full skirt with pleats on the front and back and has 3/4 sleeves.  It’s a simple dress, and unlined, but looks absolutely adorable on!  It’s about 1″ too small for me in the waist, but I can squeeze into it if I suck in and hold my breath.  The dress is made of a black poly-something blend with pretty embroider allover.  Very nicely finished and seems to be in great shape!

I’m thinking about taking out the waist a little so I can keep it.  If I do, I’ll take a picture of it actually on so you can appreciate it better than just on the hanger.

 

Mitsukoshi Sheath
I hate that I couldn’t model this for you, but the sleeve lining has come unstitched so I need to repair that before I can wear it.  This is a bombshell dress!  The first time I tried it on, I positively felt like Marilyn Monroe.  Another simple dress, but this one is very much a designer dress with lots of lovely details.  It is by Mitsukoshi, a Japanese designer.  I love the elbow darts and snaps at the forearm.  It is fully lined and made of a pretty black crepe.

Both of these dresses were also on the 5,000 won rack.  Yep, I paid less than $10 for these two lovely specimens!  I guess Koreans are more into 1980’s than 1960’s…

which is fine with me.

Bessie

 

Disassembling A Vintage Dress

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I bought this old dress the other day at a Korean thrift clothing store called VinPrime.  It was on the 5,000 won rack (which is a little less that $5), and I had picked it up because it was obviously vintage and looked really well-made, and the fabric was pretty awesome.  However I had also found a couple amazing black dresses from the early 60’s, a coat, and a really cute floral shirt and didn’t want to spend too much, so I put it back on the rack.  While I was looking through some other clothes, my husband brought this same dress to me thinking I would like it, and that the fabric would be cool to repurpose into bow ties.  Ok, ok, fine, I’ll buy it!!!

The seams started splitting very badly in the wash, which made me feel a little better about taking this cool dress apart.  The thread used to sew it together was pretty brittle, and I could easily rip the seams just by gently pulling the fabric by hand.

As I got in there, I was more and more impressed with the workmanship.  I took lots of pictures both for my own education and to share with my friends who love garment construction as much as I do.  So without further ado, here are the inner workings of a simple Korean shift dress from the 70’s!

The Basting


This sewer used extensive basting.  Everything was basted by hand.  The lining was basted to the outer garment at the seams.  Made it a little trickier to take apart, but I was impressed!

The Collar

Soooo pretty!

Bound Buttonholes

These were four of the most perfect bound buttonholes I have ever seen.  You can hardly tell the front from the back (front on the left and back on the right).  Lordy.

Sleeve

The sleeve lining was hand-stitched into the garment with lovely, tiny whipstitches.  An extra strip of fabric about 1″ wide was sewn into the top of the armscye for added strength at the shoulder.

Interfacing
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The seam allowance of the facing was catch-stitched to the interfacing.

Perfectly Pressed Lining

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Isn’t it just pretty?

The Hem Finish

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Sorry for the shoddy photo, but don’t you just love the way this hem was finished?  I DO!!!  I can’t wait to try it out.  Looks so nice with only about 1/8″ of the bias binding showing.  Perfect for this type of fabric.  The bias was cut from the lining fabric so that it matched perfectly.

Isn’t it just fun to take a look inside of an old garment?  I find it so inspiring–not to mention, educational.  I saved the strip of buttonholes and under collar for myself, just to look at and admire.  The fabric will be put to good use, and I really can’t wait to use it.  It’s just beautiful, as you can see.

Bound Buttonholes

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Remember how I was going to make that cute Advance shirt dress next?  Well, I changed my mind.

My husband picked up the mail a couple days ago, and much to my delight I had about six or seven little padded envelopes fully of vintage pattern goodness waiting for me!  Inside of such envelope was this beauty:

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I’ve had some cute lightweight denim with a teeny-tiny bit of stretch in it that I’ve been wanting to put to use.  I found it at this small fabric shop in the town we lived in last year.  When I say small, I mean like the size of a large walk-in closet.  There was barely enough room for me to park my stroller inside the door.  All of the fabric was 3,000 won a yard, which is a little less than $3.00.  They didn’t have a huge selection, but they had some really pretty and surprisingly good quality stuff crammed on the shelves in there!  I bought three yards of this fabric (and a few others), thinking it would make a cute something. 

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(Wrong side shown here–pinning a dart.)

Yesterday I cut everything out, and today, after dinner, while my sweet husband played dollhouse with the kids (I love him), I began to stitch ‘er up!

This dress has a really cute band-like collar with buttons down the front to the waistline and a side zip.  I love the sheath version on the envelope (that is what I am making up now), made with a plaid.  If all goes well with the first one and I like the end result, I may make a plaid one myself.

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As I mentioned, on the band are three buttons and bound buttonholes.

Bound buttonholes!!!

I love bound buttonholes.  I love the way they look, and I love making them.  This is the stuff that really makes me love garment construction–they nitty-gritty detail work that makes the finished product look beautiful.  It’s a fun sort of challenge for me.  Keeps my fingers deft and my mind working.

Since bound buttonholes are a tad time-consuming, I figured I’d take a bunch of pictures and do a little walk-through with you on how I like to make them.  Perhaps it will be helpful to someone, or perhaps there are other bound buttonhole enthusiasts out there who might enjoy going through the process with me.  Perhaps some of you can give me tips on how to improve my buttonhole binding method!

The pattern instructed me to cut out strips of fabric yea-wide and yea-long and fold them in half to form the inner edges of the buttonholes.  I personally like my buttonholes to have a bit more stability, so I always place a piece of string (or yarn–honestly, for me it is almost always a sturdy yarn from my stash) in the center of the fabric strip and then fold it in half and sew.  This just makes the buttonholes look nicer and hold their shape better.

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So here you see my little buttonhole strips, all pinned and ready to stitch in place!

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Now it would have been smarter for me to just do one long strip and then cut it down into smaller pieces.  That’s what the Vogue Sewing Book recommends, and it makes much more sense.  Here’s what the afore-mentioned bible of sewing wisdom has to say about this particular method of buttonhole binding (for your reading pleasure):

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Ok, so once you have stitched the little pieces you will want to trim the seam to about 1/8″.  The whole thing should be about 1/4″ wide at this point.  I forgot to take a picture with the seam trimmed, but here it is before.

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You will have drawn on the buttonhole markings from the pattern.  It’s hard to see my chalk marks in the pictures, so I sketched that out for ya on my kids’ easel:

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You can add to this a little box-like sketch if you would like a bit more of a guide while you are stitching.  I like to mark mine like this:

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With chalk or a fabric pen, of course.  The horizontal lines on the top and bottom are the most important, as they indicate where to stop and start your stitching.  You can make those extra wide so that you can see them after you lay the edging pieces down.  It is very important that the stitching lines on both sides are the same length, otherwise your buttonholes will be lopsided and wonky when you turn them.

From here, you lay the edge pieces on the fabric and pin, one at a time, with the outer seam edge lined up with the middle of the buttonhole.  Stitch down the middle.  Backstitch at the beginning and the end, making sure not to go past the stop and start lines.  Here are mine, stitched in place and almost ready to turn!

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Once you have both pieces stitched in place, you need to make an incision in the fabric so that you can turn it.  Below is the line you will need to cut.  Be very careful here, too–you want to cut exactly to the corners (the top and bottom of your stitching lines).  If you cut past them, you will have raw edges that can ravel and tear, and if you come up short, your buttonholes will be bunchy when you turn them.

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Once you’ve made the incision, it’s time to turn that baby!  Ohhh yeah.  Here’s what that process looks like:

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You will need to do something to stabilize the little triangle pieces at the top and bottom of your buttonhole.  Make sure they are turned under and sticking out the back.  I like to press my buttonhole first, to establish a line to sew on.  Then turn the piece around, and fold like this, being careful to keep it straight!

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Next, just stitch across.  I like to stitch forward and then back-stitch over it.

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Ta-daaa!

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Here are my three bound buttonholes.  The middle one turned out the best, but I think they all look purty good!

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(Middle buttonhole, in all her glory.)

The backs of these will be finished when it’s time to stitch the facing in place.

This is as far as I got last night, as I ran out of bobbin thread.  My machine was damaged on the trip over here (GAR!), and I’m currently having to wind bobbins by hand, which is tedious, as you can imagine.  Once my new bobbin is wound, I’ll start work on the next step–stitching the collar band to the bodice front and back!  From here on out, I imagine this will go pretty quickly, as long as I can steal away a few minutes here and there to sew.

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(Poor Bernina baby!)

What are your thoughts on bound buttonholes?  Have any tips or pointers to share?  Please do!

Bessie

P.S.  Really wishing I had one more of these–wouldn’t they be cute on this dress??

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A Cozy French Press + Next Project!

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Today I took a look at my French press, and it was looking a little chilly.  I might have actually been projecting my own chilliness onto the French press, but nevertheless, I made up my mind that she needed something cozy to keep her warm.

I’ve actually been meaning to make a cozy for my French press for some time now.  Maybe even years.  Somehow I just keep forgetting about it–the thought flashes through my mind each time I make a pot of coffee and disappears by the time I’ve taken the last sip.

I searched online for some ideas, and found several tutorials and free patterns.  My favorite was from Sew4Home. I liked the general design and construction.  However I wanted my cozy to be a little cozier (as in, fit more closely and tightly around my FP), so I decided to use Sew4Home’s basic plan and tweak it a bit.  (Thanks, Sew4Home!)

To begin, I measured my press.  It is 12.5″ in circumference, and 6″ from the top of the handle to the bottom of the press. I wanted my cozy to start right at the top of the handle, fasten underneath it, and stretch to the bottom, so my pieces ended up looking like this:
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In retrospect, I’m not sure what I was thinking exactly, but I should have made the main rectangle about an inch wider.  The finished product turned out great, though, so I’m not going to cry about it.

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This (above) is an adorable linen fabric I found in Dongdaemun last year.  I’ve been waiting for the perfect project to use it in, and this was it!  The underside is made from an unbleached medium weight canvas.  I cut a rectangle of cotton batting that was 1/2″ smaller all around than the basic rectangle shape of the pattern.  The batting was 1/2″ smaller all around because I was using a 1/2″ seam allowance, and that would cut back on bulkiness in the seams.

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Ok, I’m sorry, I didn’t take construction pictures because I was too excited and I didn’t think about it.  But basically, I stitched the batting to the center of the underside, stitching 1/16″ from the edge of the batting.  Then I placed the outside fabric on top of the underside, right sides together, and stitched, leaving about a 2″ opening in the bottom edge for turning.  Clipped corners, trimmed seams, turned right-side out, and top-stitched around the entire thing, closing up the opening on the bottom.  I had one little blippity-boop fold at the bottom when I was finished–whoops.  Oh well. Add’s character, right?
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Next I sewed a 1″ wide piece of velcro to each edge.  Box-stitched it.  Oh yeah.

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^ That’s the view from the underside. ^

Here is the *almost* finished product (E said, “Put my coffee cup in the picture, too!”):
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I really thought I was finished.  But as I gazed upon this lovely cozy, in my mind I saw the words “Cozy Coffee” embroidered on the front in gold.  Oh the cuteness!  I had to do it.

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None of the gold-toned floss I had looked right, and I ended up going with a pretty, light blue-grey instead.

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My hands needed to embroider something anyway.  It soothes my soul. <3

Alright, are you ready for finished product, for real this time?  We tested it out this morning with our Paris Baguette breakfast.  Here it goes!
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What do you think?  Have you made a cozy for your French press?  Do you use a French press?  If you don’t you should try it sometime–it’s one of my favorite methods of brewing coffee.  Mmmmm.

My next project is in muslin-phase right now!  I’ll be posting about it soon, so stay tuned!

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Love,

Bessie

For You

Hey, you.

We miss you.

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We miss you really much.

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Everyone is getting bigger.

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Some of us are starting to say new words, like “Wi-boo” (River) and “Batman.”

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We miss snuggling with you.

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We’ve been discovering some new things.  Like nail clippers.

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Some of us are even taking a stab at modeling.

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Oh, and one of us finally joined the Saucony club!

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The two smallest of us cause the biggest one to have this look on her face a lot more than usual without you here to save the day.

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We might have gotten you a few presents…

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And one of us is becoming quite the photographer.

We cannot wait to see you.  We think about you every day, and can’t wait for you to call.

We love you.

Love,

B, E & R

A Simple Skirt For Me

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Lately I have had my hands full.

Full with two little ones, full with housework to do and meals to make, full with orders for my toy business.  Full with our fun new adventure overseas.  My hands have been full in a joyful, fun, exciting, sometimes crazy, and a little bit stressful sort of way, so it was very nice to have a few moments this afternoon to whip up a simple gathered skirt for myself.

DSC07031 Our local fabric store had a huge sale this past week.  Two yard cuts of fabric for $5!  Can you imagine?  Of course I went hog-wild.  How could I let such a sale get past me without snagging at least 18 yards of fabric?  Amongst the many lovely fabrics I choose was a beautiful brown, western-ish, old-fashioned stripe that instantly made me think “gathered skirt!”

DSC07072 This was a very simple, easy skirt to make.  I constructed it similarly to this DIY at Extra Petite.  Elastic waistband because, let’s just be honest, they are so much more comfortable (and easy–I needed something that I could whip up while kids were entertained).

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Because my time is minimal, I used simple techniques like pinking the seams and machine stitching the hem (I used a long zig-zag stitch).  The end result?  It is love!!!

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And of course you ALWAYS have to have a fun pocket lining!

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Next in line is this number, in this beautiful cotton (that I purchased 4 yards of for $10 the other day…just had to rub it in!):

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Anyeonghasayo from Korea!

Bessie