Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Autumn's Elsa-Inspired Dress



Like many of the kids I know, Autumn loves the movie Frozen. Lainey and I were talking about how odd we thought it was that Autumn would latch onto Elsa, though, because we totally thought Anna would be the one she would resonate with the most. I think mainly it's more fun to sweep around the house throwing pretend ice (or outside throwing very real dirt) than it is to sing about love being an open door. 

I really wanted to get Autumn the Disney Store dress but it's either available from third party, price-gouging sellers or I'd have to do what I consider way to much to get it from Disney. We even sent Donnie and Liz to the store in Vegas! With Autumn's birthday coming up rapidly, I decided to make a dress and asked people who were shopping to grab the Disney accessories if they found them. Penny found a wig (it's too small, nooo!) and shoes and my mom found a scepter. Not too bad!

The dress itself wasn't too bad to make. If I were a better seamstress, the only thing I might have done differently is make the bodice come to a point. As it was, I used Simplicity Sewing Pattern 4764 Child Special Occasion Dresses. The store had a $1.99 pattern sale plus sales on the materials so I made this dress for something like $30. I could have gotten out for less if I had gone with less durable materials but I knew Autumn wanted this to be her Halloween costume. With Halloween in mind, I top stitched everything for extra security.

I bought too much of the performance fabric but not enough of the lighter blue material. I solved the problem by making the front panel with the performance fabric so the entire dress is darker than I intended. My serger haaaaaated the performance fabric so the hem of that fabric isn't finished. I'm not sure what I'm going to do about it but so far it doesn't seem to be unraveling. I don't think you can tell in the pictures but the satin (and the cape) has some glitter in it and it got everywhere. Mike and I looked like we'd been at a bachelor party all weekend we were so covered in the glitter that covered the playroom!

As you can tell, Miss Autumn loved the dress. She said she liked it better than the one at the store! The dress was a big hit but the biggest hit? The cape! And I am so glad because that cape took almost as long to make as the dress and I had to take it to Nanny for advice. I was  overly ambitious with it but my thought process was that I didn't want Autumn to have long sleeves because she's always hot and she's also going to wear this at her birthday party in June (May is so busy). The pattern has some gauntlets and I am going to make them out of the same fabric as the cape when it cools off some. Most of the DIY costumes I've seen tuck the cape into the bodice which is attached to a shirt but I preferred a removable cape and a top that would be a little more durable since Autumn is more rough on her clothes than one might expect.

I took inspiration from Autumn's Elsa doll who has a cape attached to a collar. It goes over the doll's head and velcros in the back. The cape goes under the arms like in the movie and would keep the material off of Autumn's throat. She loves capes but they choke her after a bit. I have a lot of sympathy because I'm the same way. I cannot handle anything around my throat.
Image from Toys R Us.

I cut the cape fabric in a curve slightly longer than the dress and then cut arm holes in the side, measuring the location of the arm holes against the dress. In the middle of the back, I cut a slice out to make the space for it to go over her head and serged the edges on the whole thing. Using a peter pan collar as a base, I cut a piece of construction paper in the shape I wanted. The peter pan collar's front became the back of the cape. The only change I made to the peter pan collar other than using it backwards was cutting the big curve into a point. I cut 2 pieces of white satin I got from the remnant table and one piece of iron-on interfacing to give it structure.

This is where I had to have a consultation with Nanny. My first attempt, which I won't even confuse anyone with, completely failed. I had an idea about what to do but I wanted to check before I wasted another collar. At Nanny's suggestion, I sewed two rows gathering threads on the back pieces of the cape and then, with right sides together and the cape material in between, I sewed the cape to the bottom part of the collar.

I didn't even think to ask Nanny what to do after that so I improvised. There may be a better way to do this but it turned out pretty well! After turning the collar right side out and ironing it in place, I used bias tape to close the neckline of the collar. I could have made my own if necessary but I happened to have white bias tape from a previous project. After I sewed the bias tape in, I top stitched the entire collar and then sewed the velcro to the back collar.

So far the dress is holding together! Autumn wore it to the restaurant on her birthday, took it to her grandparents' house over the weekend, and has romped around like crazy in it! In this picture you can see where I serged the edges of the cape and the hemline of the dress. I decided not to bother with a folded over hem. I might change my mind later, though. One change I already had to make was to the back of the dress. I had velcro dots but the weight of the skirt kept pulling the bottom velcro apart. Rather than go buy a strip of it, I made buttonholes using the wonderful button setting and foot on my sewing machine and attached clear buttons.

All in all, a fun and not too difficult project!! And I'm not kicking myself anymore about not going to see Frozen at the movie theater before we went to Disney! When we were there they had a special Frozen package at the Bippity Boppity Boutique but we hadn't seen the movie yet because I had the flu before Christmas so Autumn wasn't interested in the Frozen costumes. She wanted Belle but they were out so she dressed up as Ariel. The Ariel dress is lovely and Autumn wears it all the time but, still, after Autumn fell in love with Elsa, I couldn't help but vaguely regret the timing. But no more!

submitted to skip to my lou's made by you monday!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Tamara's Ice Cream Social

I've had these photos in my queue forever! You guys know one of my best friends got married last month. We had some fun events leading up to Tamara's wedding and I thought I'd start with her couples shower. We decided on an ice cream social and thoroughly enjoyed planning it. Although...the day before the shower it was beautiful. 70 degrees. Breezy. Amazing. The day of the shower? WINTER STORM WARNING. No lie. We had a small crowd as a result but we still had a great time.
Cheri helped me out with a few decorations but we kept it pretty simple. The colors were blue, orange, and hot pink. Which...I think I might like those colors because I kind of happened to have a lot of those colors around. The balls in the basket below and the place mats and lanterns above are mine. Cheri happened to have the vases in both photos.
Before this party, I gave into a temptation I've been dealing with for more than I year. I bought a Fujifilm Instax MINI 7 because it was on sale and, well, I couldn't resist any longer. I'm still working on putting it together but I got a little book to put the printables in and everyone at the shower had their picture made and filled out a "special wishes card." Note that on the instruction card, I misspelled the name of the camera.

I get a little worried about shower games and activities. I generally hate them but I know a lot of people like games so I tried to think of something fun to do. I believe everyone enjoyed this and we had a nice combination of funny and sweet wishes. In the scrap book, I'm going to put each person's photo next to their wishes card.

I have a hard time taking photos on the bar in the breakfast room because it gets so whited out from the lighting but I loved this little arrangement so much I had to use this photo. The flowers from the shower are another deal I got the better end of. I traded water bottle labels for a shower Cheri threw for these arrangements. I put these flowers with the water, the wishes card, and the camera.

This, I didn't expect to come out okay. I made the tassel banner the night before on a whim because the living room seemed to lack some color. At first, Mike and I thought this was a huge failure because it seriously looked raggedy. I am SO GLAD I decided to try to hang it before I put it in the trash. Way, way cuter hanging than laying on the floor! To make the banner, I cut coordinating fabric from my fabric stash into strips, folded each stack in half and tied it with another strip of fabric. I really liked the banner and left it for a while!

For our other activity, we played He Said, She Said. Before the shower, I asked Tamara and Landon questions and chose answers to put on the card. Without any context, I had the guests vote on who they thought I was quoting. The winner got Astronaut Ice Cream!

If you look on the table, there are lip and mustaches in glasses. I made those out of glitter paper. I printed mustaches and lip and traced them on the back of the glitter paper and then hot glued them to the sticks. Some folks liked them so much that they took extras home. Voting with the props was silly in a good way. Definitely a do-again.

Other than nuts and pretzels, this was an all-dessert shower. We did DIY sundaes and root beer and beer floats. The beer floats were odd and most people chose to drink a beer and have a sundae but it was still pretty fun! This isn't my prettiest table. I feel like it could have been better but I might have had to push the table against the wall. I think something tall in the middle is what's missing. Originally I planned to put the ice cream bucket in the middle but adding the beer/root beer bucket made me reevaluate.

It looks better on the other side. I had fun with the apothecary jars. I've always wanted some and found them at TJ Maxx way cheap. They are on the dining room table now, filled with silver and gold woven ornaments.

We had a fun afternoon! I wish I had more photos of the guests, other than the instant camera shots, but I think something was wrong with my settings when I gave the camera to Mike. They are all really blurry. So sad! But this one is adorable! Congratulations, Tamara and Landon!

Tomorrow is Autumn's birthday and she's going to be seven--I CANNOT BELIEVE IT! In the meantime, I'm trying to get caught up on blogging...I have more martial arts material to share, 2 more wedding events, and I made Autumn an Elsa dress!! Here's a preview...just ignore my messy desk.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Adoption Update: The Nothing's Happening Edition

I have so many fun things to write about!! But, I feel like I need to write this adoption update before I do that. A lot of friends have been asking where we are in the process and the short answer is: nowhere.

Grumpy cat speaks for us all.


We're trying to decide if the answer is a no. Sometimes it is despite what the Everything is Rainbows crowd likes to believe. We have officially broken ties with our agency. I don't think I'm ready to go into details about the whys and hows but I'll say that many more mistakes following the last failed adoption prompted the decision. Previously, we planned to stay until our contract expired but that simply wasn't an option anymore.

We didn't tell many people about this, but around the time we decided to call it off with the agency, a friend of a friend contacted us about a lawyer who had two babies to place. Long story short, research showed she is a great adoption lawyer, both situations fit our criteria, we sent her an updated version of our profile book, and then neither birth mother chose us. Start to finish, that situation took about 2 months to play out. When we last spoke to her, the lawyer asked if she could keep our book and show it to another family and we said yes.

Although we didn't particularly expect that one to come to anything was still disappointing because we're just not sure why all this opportunities come and then don't pan out. It's like the universe likes dangling carrots! I know that's not true but it is rather tiring. I spoke with a social worker at an agency today about updating our home study when it expires in July. While we aren't actively in the adoption process right now (other than the lawyer), we haven't decided that it's time to give up yet so we're going to keep our home study current.

There are a few options we're considering. There's an adoption group that some friends recommended that sends your profile to multiple agencies. We could retain the lawyer we've been working with. We could go with another agency, although that's looking unlikely. Fostering or foster to adopt isn't off the table although that would be a completely different kind of situation so we're really thinking that one over hard.

I find myself having a great day and thinking, "maybe this is enough." And it is! It's totally enough. I was trying to think of a way to articulate what is in my head but then I remembered of our friend Ken's poem, the one he wrote when we had our last home study update:
Welcome again to our home
It's a lot like it was last time
It's full of rooms with stuff
A complete complement of parents
A child who is everything

It has wide open arms
Joyfulness brimming
All the love that will fit
We're all full up
Because only a home that's full
Needs more children

I guess when it comes down to it, that's why we haven't closed the door yet.