Oct 26, 2010

Max Costume Pattern and Tutorial

It's been 24 hours since I posted it and already 41 people have downloaded my Max costume pattern at Burdastyle.com! It may be a small achievement, but I'm pretty stoked. It's the first pattern I have posted at this super rad open-source sewing website. I hope there are many, many Maxes running around next Sunday. The world would be a cuter place because of it.

I can't seem to attach a PDF to a Blogger post, so if you want to make your own Max, you can download the PDF at Burdastyle.com here: http://www.burdastyle.com/patterns/toddler-size-max-costume.

The instructions follow the jump:

Max Costume Giveaway Winner

You'll have to trust me that I was totally fair in using a random number generator to choose the winner of the Max costume. I meant to take a screen shot of the number, which determined the ultimate winner: Alexander from St. John's, Newfoundland. But I forgot, and then I surfed away from the screen. You all know you can trust me though, right? Especially because I don't even know Alexander, or his son, Xavier, who is apparently going to be super stoked when his new Max costume (hopefully) arrives this weekend.

I really wish there was enough time and enough white fleece to make all who entered a Max costume. But I'll be posting instructions soon for anyone who cares to make their own.

Oct 25, 2010

Say, "Poophole!"

OK, parents. Want to know how to make your child smile for a photo every time? Just say "poophole." It's that easy. Like above: Lucy eating a cookie at Lyman Orchard in Connecticut this weekend. Poophole. The good thing is when your kid later repeats it, it can sound a lot like "football" (especially if there's a cookie in her mouth). So you don't have to explain how a 2-year-old knows the word poophole.

Speaking of poopholes, I lost an entire weekend day coaxing a dump out of child. Poor thing. Now I have class tonight and still have homework to do. Plus our dear babysitter's bathroom roof caved in this weekend, so I don't get my usual Monday morning catch-up time. Parenting: not all poophole-party-funtime.

Oct 23, 2010

Max Costume Giveaway!!! (Comment to enter)

You probably don't have yellow eyes, but I bet Lucy here (pictured in the cozy Halloween costume I designed and sewed this week) could tame you by staring into them if you did (or maybe you do. Maybe you're two days old and have jaundice. I don't know who's reading this thing). Anyway, I don't want to waste your time making fun of infants overdosing on bilirubin. That was actually a reference to Max, protagonist of Where the Wild Things Are — one of the best children's picture books of all time and a current favourite in our home. Every children's book writer should look to that book as a model of just how brilliant a picture book can be. I still haven't seen the Spike Jonze film adaptation. It's on our Netflix queue, but my husband is so sentimental, I don't think he could handle it. He gets sad looking at strangers' baby photos because "they're all grown up now and isn't that just so sad????" (His words.) Especially when a song like Boyz II Men's "It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday" is playing. That just kills him.

Anyway, when my toddler asked to be Max for Halloween, I was stoked. She has good taste, clearly. But also I thought it would be fun to design and draft the pattern for it myself.
 Here she is holding up the jellybeans I used to bribe her to put on the costume today on our fall family road trip to Connecticut. (Exhibit A that I am not afraid to provide incentives, like any good boss. We all need a Christmas bonus as motivation now and then.)

On Monday I am going to post a pattern for anyone who cares to make their own Max costume. But luckily for you, lazy jaundiced baby, I bought too much white fleece at the WalMart in Upstate New York, which means I am making another one to give away. It's sized to fit an average two-year-old, though it could probably fit anywhere from 12-30 months, depending on how chubby/tall the kid is. All you have to do is comment on this post to enter. If you don't have a toddler of your own, enter to win it for a friend's. You have until midnight Monday (Eastern time). I will email the winner Tuesday morning, and get it in the mail that afternoon. Hopefully it will get to you by Halloween. If not, it can go in the Tickle Trunk (American friends: "Tickle Trunk" is not what you think. Totally wholesome. Look it up). Let the wild rumpus start!

P.S. If you post anonymously, I can't include you in the contest! I need to be able to contact the winner.


Oct 20, 2010

Running in water

I have had only two recurring dreams throughout my life. In the first I am able to do the splits, which always leads me to believe, upon waking, that I actually can do the splits. That up until now, even through all my years of ballet as a child, it was my own disbelief in my abilities that kept me from being truly flexible. But, of course, I am not flexible and never have been. I cannot do the splits - no matter how hard I believe.

In the other dream I am trying to accomplish some task but minor obstacles and the accelerating march of time conspire to keep me from getting anything done. For example, I'm waitressing and my table orders four lattes, which take me so long to make that the customers have left by the time I return with their drinks.

That's how I feel this week: like everything I need to do is taking me far to long to finish.

Part of the problem is multitasking, which I've long thought to be an admirable skill, but now I know is just a bullshit word for "unfocused." After reading the chapter on "unitasking in A.J. Jacobs' "My Life as an Experiment," I realized what I thought was multitasking was just doing shitty job at a bunch of different thing all at the same time. Now if my husband starts talking to me while I am trying to get through an automated phone system, I hang up, listen to what he has to say and then tell him to call TimeWarner and ask why our bill went up $9 this month. (Seriously, did they think I would not notice? Maybe the old multitasking me, but not the new, totally focused me). 

Oct 17, 2010

The Dutchess County Sheep and Wool Festival

There are not many events where you will have a better time if you bring your kids. Uncomfortable family dinners where you want to deflect attention off yourself onto your adorable offspring. Another kid's birthday party. Waterparks. That's really about it.

Top on my list of places I'll probably not bring my kid to again (unseating the lineup to see Santa at Macy's on 34th St., formerly my most-hated place to bring my child) is the Dutchess County Sheep and Wool Festival, a huge weekend-long festival celebrating all things woolen.

That's not to say it's not super cool if you're a knitter (which I am) or if you have kids. There were lots of kids there, and there were some fun things for them to see (sheepdog trials, leaping llamas, magic show..). It's just that if you actually want to see stuff other than the kid stuff, don't bring a toddler. That's the vibe I got from about 10,000 middleaged ladies attired in various handknit items as they shoved past me and my stroller (with sleeping toddler inside), glaring as they made their way through the tightly packed exhibition halls. The festival is in lovely and amazing Rhinebeck, NY, but it felt like we were a couple hours south in New York City.

If I didn't have my kid with me, I would have enjoyed impulse-buying a few skeins of wool from one of the many great vendors, or watching one of the weaving demonstrations, or taking a workshop, or knitting and drinking a beer in the beer garden. As it was, the only thing I bought was a bottle of wine to chill out with after spending an hour in an idling car trying to leave the parking lot.

However, the main thing that I took away from the festival was a greater appreciation for all the effort involved to create one ball of woolen yarn. Like the lady to the right here: you know what's she's doing? She's trimming the dingleberries from around that sheep's butthole. This is something the hardworking people who raise sheep must do often. I don't know how often. That would require research. But I'm guessing daily. How else to explain the dozens of sheep getting their Brazilians on the fairgrounds as innocent toddlers watched? All to keep your yarn poop-free!

Maybe I'm a dummy, but it blows my mind a little to think about the fact that at some point in human history someone looked at a sheep and said, "I'm cold. How 'bout we shave that sheep, and then pull and twist on the fleece until it becomes one long strand and then tie a million knots around two pointy sticks and make ourselves some sweaters?" I like to think I'm resourceful, but transplant me to that point in history that predates knitting and there's no way I would have thought of that. I would have kept on making toques from coconuts or whatever.

Check out the "Canados" mini-donuts truck. Not the best I've had, though I appreciate the spoonerism.

Oct 14, 2010

People who don't have kids should know this: parents talk about their kids' sleep habits because we live and die by their naps and nighttime routine. There's a reason why interrogators use sleep deprivation as a coercive technique: it makes you fucking crazy. It also makes you stupid and uncoordinated and likely to agree to anything. (Though courts have ruled sleep deprivation is not torture, Amnesty International has deemed it inhumane. But babies don't give a shit about Geneva Conventions and the like.)

Anyway, I am tired. But here is what I did while my kid napped today. That pile of paper to the right is the patterns for my two-year-old's Halloween costume. When she told me she wanted to be Max from Where the Wild Things Are, I jumped for joy because I think it will be fun to make. So far I've drafted the patterns for the front, back, sleeve, hood, ears and tail, and made the whole thing in muslin to test it out. I've never drafted pants or a hood before so I wanted a sample to make sure I did it all right.

The little muslin suit looks kinda like a baby Hazmat outfit, doesn't it? The only changes I need to make to my patterns now is make the hood bigger and adjust the leg length. I had to bribe my daughter with fruit snacks to get her to try it on for me.

Oct 12, 2010

Why today is a great day


There are these moments you have as a parent where you think to yourself: "This is exactly what the childless think parenting is like, and they are right." This usually happens while changing a shitty diaper in a train station bathroom without a change table and while you're searching in your bag for a clean diaper your kid puts her hand in poop, and the train whistle blows, and oh: you just used your last wipe to clean up chocolate milk, so now you're scrubbing your baby's butt with the cheap toilet paper Metro North stocks in their restrooms and experimenting with varying degrees of wetness by holding her steady with one hand while you run the tap with the other, dunking the weak single-ply in the cold stream. Of course she's crying and of course there's someone knocking on the door, and if you miss this train there's an hour wait for the next one — and you're already out of snacks. It can be cruel and lonely being a parent. And people, strange people who could show you some kindness in situations like this — but don't because they are jerkoff New Yorkers — are just so awful sometimes.


But then there are the other times. Like sweet Lucy here, drawing clothes on my drafting table. I was working on a pattern tonight when she pushed a chair over and asked for some paper to draw "tothes." (Last night she told my husband I was going to school to learn how to make clothes, but he misheard her mispronunciation as "toast." Mommy is going to school to learn how to make toast. For three hours every Monday. I do love toast.)

It's all so very sweet (especially shirtless; NYC is still so very warm) though totally lacking in the Three Men and a Baby-esque comedy of the bathroom scene described above (true story, naturally).

Oct 11, 2010

A dress for me

My apartment looks like shit right now. I blame this dress. (And homework for my patternmaking class, writing assignments, taking care of my toddler full-time, and finally enjoying some fall weather in NYC.) I even quit Twatting or whatever it is you do over on Twitter because I realized it was a timesuck that wasn't actually offering me anything positive. Mostly I just read stuff that made me mad (Thanks, Roger Ebert). Plus no one I know is on it, so all my followers were companies trying to advertise to me. At least on Facebook I can play Farmville (kidding, kidding).

While I drafted the pattern myself from my sloper, the design is Elaine May's adorable Coffee Date Dress, which can be found on Burdastyle.com. Not that I get to go on dates ever. That would require a babysitter. And more money than we would like to spend on a drink. Better to lock the baby in her bedroom and split a box of wine in the kitchen. Anyway, yesterday I wore my new dress to a matinee of Billy Elliot on Broadway. (Of course I loved it, though I have to admit much of the charm for me comes from listening to small children swear.) It feels so good to have the waistline at my actual waistline,

The instructions provided by Elaine May are very good. I also referenced the “sew an all-in-one facing” tutorial on Burdastyle) and the great instructions on Burdastyle.com member Grosgrain’s blog, which I am totally in love with and in awe of because she has three kids, blogs a new dress every week AND has great legs.

I'm going to make another one for myself, and maybe one for a friend to whom I owe a favour. I would totally recommend this project for anyone who's ready to go beyond sewing a pillowcase or whatever.

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