Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Easter Dress for Noble

When I asked Noble what kind of dress she wanted for Easter she couldn't tell me so I asked her to look for something she liked. She found the dress to the right and said she really liked this one; I looked through my patterns to find a starting point, because I can't draft patterns yet. 

I found this blouse pattern - Simplicity 5099

     And a circle skirt pattern - McCalls M4875;
     however when I was cutting out the bodice
     I realized that the fabric, a gorgeous yellow
     cotton pique, was only 36" wide which
     wouldn't accommodate this pattern. 

Back in the pattern box I found this lovely pattern and was able to use the bottom for the skirt.  I drafted a waist band for connecting the bodice and skirt; and cut out a tie from the blue linen.

And here's the dress!  Noble is a modest, virtuous young woman.  Isn't she beautiful!

This project really got my creative juices flowing, and even though I have no sewing room to work in, at present, I really enjoyed the challenge of creating this dress.  When I told my Mom that I was planning to go back to college and get a degree in Fashion Design, which includes pattern making, she reminded me that I had always wanted to do that as a teen.  Somewhere along the way I got distracted by other interesting things and didn't pursue my goal.  Well, now I am.  I really feel a calling to do this as there is a need for clothing that is elegant, beautiful, classy, AND modest. 

The other kind of clothing I've long been interested in is historic clothing.  While we were living in Virginia I was able to attend two symposia about historic clothing.  Wow, were they fun; one was held in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia.  I got to meet and listen to several leaders in the field of museum curating.  My dream was to create for myself a closetful of clothing representing every era from the 1620 landing of the Mayflower to the New Look of the 1950's.  I think motherhood and Halloween costumes got in the way this time.  But as the good book says "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven." (Ecclesiastes 3:1)  I'm really hoping that now is my season to pursue my dreams.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Family Traditions - Conference Weekend

Watching General Conference is a tradition I've worked to establish in our home since we began our family.  We've experienced conference in Washington State, Virginia, Utah and now Iowa.  Each place has it's own set of challenges.  In Washington when our two oldest were tiny I think I took just Noble with me to the church to watch a session or two.  In those days I devoured the May Ensign when it arrived because I hadn't been able to watch all the sessions.  Also, TopDad wasn't a member of the church so I was sensitive about not forcing him to participate.  He was baptized the spring before we moved to Virginia.  Now we had three children under five and it was a circus attending the broadcast at the church building; but I persevered as best I could.  After a couple of years I got the brilliant idea to subscribe to cable for conference weekend and enjoy it at home.  The cable company usually had a special going around conference time so it cost less than thirty dollars for the weekend and I thought that a bargain for the blessing of watching conference at home.  I'd call on the Monday before conference and order the hook-up for Friday.  We'd enjoy all the sessions on Saturday and Sunday, and then on Monday I'd call and ask for the disconnect.  After a few times they knew me and didn't ask questions anymore.

Being able to watch conference at home was the beginning of the tradition of special foods for the weekend.  I wanted it to feel like a holiday and make associations in the minds of my children: Conference = good food.  It worked.  The foods have varied over the years but everyone knows that it is worth it to be home for conference weekend.

In Utah we were able to enjoy conference on the regular broadcast station and found that between sessions there were wonderful special documentaries about the church, it's history and people, put together by the religion correspondent on the television station.  They were fantastic and we looked forward to those as much as conference.  By this time, after about eight years of conference watching in Virginia the children didn't need to be reminded or called to the family room.  Conference watching, and taking notes, was a tradition.  Several times we got tickets to a session and were able to attend at the Conference Center, which was a special treat.  Once you've been there, watching the sessions becomes even more real.  The challenge during this time was that not all the others in the ward and neighborhood watched ALL the sessions of conference and would ask for this child or that child to come out and play.  We were firm, but loving, about insisting that our children stay inside and participate.  We'd invite the friend in also, but few took that offer.

Here in Iowa we watch conference online at  Our little branch tried to have everyone attend the church and watch it together but few attended and so that was dropped.  I prefer to be away from the distractions and noise of others and in the comfort of my own home. 

What are our traditional foods?  Over the years we have had Breakfast Casseroles, Citrus Scones and omelets, lots of fruit, cinnamon rolls, a variety of cookies, hogie sandwiches with deli meats and cheeses, chips and more fruits, Swiss Steak, Ziti Casserole, Lasagna, Ham and Good Potatoes.  I try to make it as delicious and special as I can.  Sometimes we're flush with money and other times we've been "starving students."  I put on a Sunday tablecloth and napkins, use my best dishes and set things out as beautifully as I can.  I have wanted our family to associate Conference weekend with both physical and spiritual feasting.  My hope is that as our children move away from home, marry and establish their own families they will want to continue the tradition in their own homes.

When I struggled with little children during the early years in Virginia I would feel like giving up, thinking it would never work.  Now I am glad that I didn't give in to weakness and kept working to establish our traditions for Conference.  I know we are blessed for watching and listening and taking notes.  Our hearts are filled with encouragement and our resolves to live the gospel are strengthened.  The unity we feel as a family and the happy memories make it all worthwhile.

P.S. I managed to maintain my weight loss this weekend, in spite of all the delicious food, by taking small portions of the rich stuff and chewing very slowly to savor each bite.  I loaded up on veggies and fruit to feel full.

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Seamstress is Home

In other news, I'm making Easter Dresses for Noble and me.  Hers is a gorgeous yellow pique, faux wrap bodice set on a circle skirt.  She showed me a picture of a dress she wanted and I'm making it.  The dress in the picture is sans sleeves, and she asked me to add them.  So I'm stretching myself to the limits of my sewing knowledge to do this, but it's been fun! Mine will be a sky blue linen shift.

For the first time in forty years of sewing (ee-gads that makes me sound old) I made a muslin to fit to Noble, and had fun doing it.  I had to do this as I was using a pattern but adjusting it to look similar to the picture and I needed to try it before cutting out the fashion fabric.  I cut out and sewed together one bodice, fit it, cut out another with all the changes to the front and was very proud of myself.  Then I had to ponder on how to attach the waistband and skirt to the bodice with a side opening owing to the wrap front bodice.  It overwhelmed my brain which later came back with a simpler solution: Use a zipper in the back and have the front a faux wrap.  Bingo!  But that meant adjusting the back so I had another fitting and was able to make all the adjustments, cut out a new bodice and have it fit perfectly.  I love this! 

As President Uchtdorf says "The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul."  Amen, brother.  I feel alive when I'm creating, whether it is a dress, a quilt, an orderly room or dinner.  I love to create!

I am taking steps to return to college next year and pursue a degree in clothing design; not so I can get a job in New York, rather I want to translate the ideas in my head for modest, beautiful clothing to actual things for me (and others) to wear.  If it goes further than that, fine, but right now I'm taking one step at a time.  April 8 I'm scheduled for a college visit and "Behind the Scenes" look at the annual Fashion Show at Iowa State University in Ames.  I'm so excited!

Mirrors and Miles

Last Saturday TopDad finally hung the full-length mirror in our bedroom as well as putting a large mirror in the downstairs bathroom.  And I finally got a glimpse of my full-width self for the first time in how many months?  Let's see we left Utah on July 30, 2010, and Saturday was March 25, 2011, so almost eight months.  Holy Hannah, I'm huge!  I admit to gaining ten pounds since leaving Utah (I was supposed to be losing for lots of reasons, but that's another story) and hadn't seen myself except in photos, which were exaggerating, I thought.  Well, no I guess there was no exaggeration, just cold, hard, I mean jiggly, facts.  So my current thinking is that a full-length mirror is a dieter's best friend.  It is totally motivating for me to catch a glimpse of my huge behind; the desire for the wrong foods dissipates faster than water drops on a hot griddle.  Since the installation of the mirror I've dropped five pounds!  Way to go!

Today Noble and I walked about five miles.  The sun is shining and the skies are mostly clear and I felt like a "very long walk."  We walked to the Library to return a video that Dr. Hair (son number three) had rented, then we turned around and walked to the edge of town where Albert, the Bull proudly stands, and got onto the T-bone trail and walked out a mile and a quarter.  It's about a mile from our house to the trail head so we walked a total of about 5 miles. On the way out (south) we enjoyed the wonderful tail wind and I was feeling great, hence the longer than normal distance.  Then we turned around.  I always feel like those mimes pushing against the wind.  Very strong head wind on the way north, well duh!  We got a fantastic workout pushing ourselves home.  Actually, other than a little stiffness in the joints I feel good, EXCEPT: my feet which have hot spots (not full blown blisters) on the balls.  I have really good shoes but need some cushy-er socks and a whole lot less weight to support!  But a girl can only do so much in one day. 

In other news, I'm making cinnamon rolls today for consumption during this weekend's General Conference. It's tradition! Noble and I planned the menu and are going shopping for the ingredients tonight.  Twice a year we have special foods to coincide with the Spiritual Feast of Conference.