Friday, October 29, 2010

An oldie but a goodie...

I posted this little story on my dolly website 5 years how time flies!!! You can get the free witch hat pattern here. Happy Halloween!

Tabitha's Makeover Story

Hi! This is me just a few days ago. I am a pretty Battat "Our Generation" Girl. I used to be a sweet little girl's best friend - she would style my hair, have tea parties with me, and take me along on all kinds of adventures. Like most little girls, she morphed into a teenager and became interested in boys and loud music. Her mom felt sorry for me sitting all alone in the closet, so she donated me in hopes of me finding a great new home.

I ended up at the Value World Thrift Shop in Middleburg Heights, Ohio. There were lots of dolls and stuffed animals in the store - baby dolls, Barbies, Tickle-me Elmo - all looking for new homes. I felt lucky to have clothes on! Even though I had a few marks on my face and tangles in my hair, I felt certain I would be adopted quickly.

Just after I was put into a bin of huge (but friendly) bears, Carla came into the store and walked right back to the toy section. Seems she had been looking for a girl just like me! She picked me up out of the bin and told me that she had a very important modeling job for me. Me? A model? I was THRILLED!

We went to Carla's house, and she started me right in on my spa treatment. First she shampooed my hair, and then combed out the tangles. She cut off about an inch of split ends, but I had the hair to spare!

I felt like a new dolly after having my haircut! Next, Carla gave me a facial with a smelly cleanser and some gentle "dermabrasion." I was amazed at how it erased away the ink and scuff-marks! She touched up my cheeks and lips just a bit with some acrylic cosmetics. I was almost ready for my modeling debut!

Paisley, an American Girl of Today, has been modeling for Carla for several years now. She put on one of Carla's latest designs and showed me some poses.

She is a really great model, isn't she? The camera loves her!

Next, it was my turn to get dressed up...

Tada! Look at me - the cutest little witch in the Midwest! No wonder Carla named me Tabitha!

Here is my close-up. See what a new hairstyle and a little makeup can do for a girl?

The shoot took longer than expected thanks to Carla's young assistant, Louie. He had his own ideas about how I should wear my hair, and kept taking off my hat. At one point, he took off his pants and threw poor Paisley in the flowerbed - very unprofessional!

It was time for me to go to my next job - the important one Carla told me about when we first met. Since it was such a pretty day, we decided to take Louie's hot red convertible.

He wasn't in the best mood, so I was glad to let him have the front seat to all to himself.

Ready to ride!

After a few minutes loud complaining, Louie just conked out. Ahhh - the silence. We had a lovely, peaceful trip to Lakewood, a suburb just outside of Cleveland.

Here I am with my new boss, Kathy.
She had a stand ready for me and everything - I LOVE it here! My job is to help sell Carla's patterns and to get customers to sign up for her sewing classes in the fall. She is going to teach little girls how to make pillowcase dresses for dollies like me! She is also going to teach grown-ups how to make twirl skirts just like mine (but lots lots bigger).

I waved goodbye to Carla and Louie (who had woken up very refreshed and actually smiled at me), and got right to work posing. I have a great view of the bustling downtown, and I'm so looking forward to making lots of new friends!

Update: After a several month long stint at the fabric shop, Tabitha went on to star in the "Twirls for Girls" video. Her 3 year old co-star Isabella fell in love with her, so she went to live with her in her Connecticut home :) .

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Purse in the works!

Thanks so much for all the well-wishes with regards to our upcoming move! So far we've had a handful of showings and looked at a few houses in PA, but nothing has clicked yet. I really hope we sell/buy soon so Del doesn't have to make the commute in the winter. Plus, it is just hard being in limbo (not to mention it stinks having to keep the house clean all of the time).

In the meantime, I am back on the job, full steam ahead. Jennifer dreamed up a gorgeous purse, and I am in the process of putting it in pattern form.


Here is the prototype, based on her original design. This has been my out-and-about purse for the last month or so, and I have gotten so many compliments! Even though I'm usually wearing jeans or leggings, this purse makes me feel dressed up and girlie. All I need is this purse and a little lipstick, and I am ready to head out the door!


Of course, we couldn't just have one size or finishing option (this is a Sis Boom/Scientific Seamstress pattern after all), so we came up with some variations. To get some idea of the scale, I photoed the different version on my dress form, Bessie (who actually stays clothed these days since we have strangers going in and out of the house).


This is the "mini" version. It would be perfect for a little girl, or even as a big girl's evening bag. On this one, I finished the ruffles with narrow, double-folded hems.


Here is the original again. The ruffles are finished with a quick rolled hem from the serger. I really love the mustard/turquoise combo. Surprisingly, it matches pretty much everything I wear! I trimmed it with a bit of vintage lace. It really "pops" on the top band. You could substitute gorgeous ribbon, rick-rack, etc.


And now for my dream tote! I picked some of my fave fabrics from Jen's lines and mixed and matched for this one. The top band is denim embellished with decorator's gimp, and it is just begging for a vintage rhinestone brooch (note to self...go antiquing once we move to the country). The ruffles are actually folded strips, so no edge finishing necessary. It takes a little more fabric this way, but it is quick and so crisp-looking.

The pattern is just about ready for my awesome team of testers! I'm debating pocket options, and also writing up some instructions for the folks that use (and love) ruffler attachments on their machines. I'll keep you posted!

Monday, October 18, 2010

REblanking the walls...

Remember how my New Year's resolution was to just go crazy and give my stark, contemporary, house some color and character? Well, I did pretty good job of adding my crazy little touches until spring sprung, and then I felt like I needed to be out in the garden (tilling, weeding, planting, etc). At that point, I was semi-balancing work life and home life and just happily chugging along. Then mid-summer (right about vacation time), my husband had a heart-to-heart with me. Basically, he thought it was time to transition to a more sustainable career in a more affordable part of the country (he is a classically trained chef, but has been managing large corporate food service accounts in urban venues for the last 5 years). Anyway, he wanted to better connect with the customers (and the food), even if that meant taking a step back. We agreed this was the right long-term course to pursue, but suddenly I lost interest in making this house a home.

You see, we've moved just about every year since Lou was born. People ask if we are a military family, but we aren't...just corporate nomads. I've (over)decorated so many homes, only to turn the keys over to another family a few months later. So when I realized I needed to detach from this home, I just focused on work, Louie's upcoming school life, and zoning out in front of fail blogs/reality TV. As the summer wore on, it became more and more apparent that a move was imminent. Then, on Lou's first day of school, things all fell into place and we knew that there was no question...we were moving. Scary thing was - we didn't know exactly where we were going. We wanted to live in a place that was beautiful, affordable, and close to both of our families. We kept gravitating towards the Lancaster County area in PA...gorgeous landscapes, wonderful people, abundant produce, and quilt shops galore! Our prayers were answered, and Del got a great, fulfilling job that he loves in Honey Brook, PA. For now, he is making a 2 hour commute each way, but of course our goal is to sell this house and find a "forever" home up there.

So in a way, it is a good thing I dropped the ball on "personalizing" this home. Most of the decor is still pretty neutral - we just needed to do lots of painting, cleaning and purging. Thank goodness for PODS! We were able to pack up lots of stuff that was in the way (but couldn't quite bear to part with). Here are a few pics of our cleaned up, thinned out abode...


The spotless, shiny kitchen (I have to admit, the very basic Scandinavian cabinets are so functional, and super easy to clean)!


Our totally repainted bedroom and loft/library area (there are sliding doors for privacy, but we've always loved waking up to the view beyond the sunroom windows).


Our dining room...the previous owner left us the gorgeous rug and nice large dining set. I did the decorative painting when we first moved in, and the cool plate rack was made by my dad (I've hung it proudly in all of our dining rooms).


Louie's room - I didn't change much, just took out a few pieces of furniture. He has been great about handing down toys and clothes to his younger cousins, so we have been able to make lots of room in there.


Here is the big sewing room! Remember how happy I was to rip out the carpet? With all the other fix-up projects we had going on, we just couldn't even conceive of refinishing hardwood before the house went on the market. So we had some nice, new carpet installed, and it looks great! I will admit, I'm a lot more careful about dropping straight pins now!


Lots of furniture (and the bulk of my fabric stash) went into storage. I still have scads of beautiful Sis Boom fabric on hand, which is a good thing because Jennifer and I have LOTS of new patterns in the works (I promise to blog about the latest this week)!


So there you have biggest distraction as of late. I do hope this beautiful home finds new owners who appreciate its spaciousness, warmth, and gorgeous setting as much as we have these last two years. We've made lots of memories in this home...Del's cooked astounding meals, I've sewed up so many designs in my cozy work space, and Louie made the transition from toddler to big kid here (sniff). I am very exicted to move on to the next chapter, however, and I know that there are so many great times to come in our next residence.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

My handwritten absence excuse note...


I am sorry to have been away for so long. We've had a tough couple of months, and I've been very stressed out, withdrawn, and grumpy in general. There have been so many times when I've thought "OK, I should just let everyone know what is going on...they will relate...they will be supportive" - but, frankly I didn't want to bring anyone down. In this day and age (read - this economy), our problems are minor, and just watching the news for a few minutes would remind us of our blessings. Still, it is hard to be in financial limbo, even in the strongest of families. So many of our prayers have already been answered, and we know that we are making choices that will lead us to a very peaceful, fulfilled existence. I usually try to keep this blog pretty happy-crafty, but I feel like I owe it to you to share some of our recent trials and tribulations. I'm sure many of you have had similar experiences, or if you haven't, you can still relate and share some much needed warm hugs and encouragement. I have truly missed my "bloggy friends!"