Dec 272010

I enjoy vanilla, and having already purchased whole vanilla beans because we like to use them in ice cream I was inspired by the Heavenly Homemakers post on making your own vanilla (extract).

In the end, I more closely followed the instructions at – but it’s all pretty similar. (I also liked the instructions at Vanilla Enchantment).

Sadly, we did not think to photograph the process… I guess I’m just not quite used to the idea of documenting everything I do!

We only waited a few weeks before we started using the vanilla, which isn’t long enough in anyone’s book.

It does have a strong vanilla flavor already, but it is rather harsh. Hopefully it will become richer and mellow out as it ages more…

Dec 092010

We had a cute idea for our family portraits this year, in keeping with our fun and wacky ideas from years past: Wolf and Nick in their uniform blues, and the Littles and I in ABU fabric clothes.

I got hold of a chunk of fabric at a great price on an online marketplace, and had a nursing jumper made for me by my faithful friends at Katie’s Mercantile.

At the base uniform store, they sell a kid sized “uniform” set – pants, “blouse” (jacket), and hat – for a quite reasonable price. I grabbed one for R.T., and I was thinking I’d get one for Jewel and split the pants out into a skirt. They didn’t have her size, though, and kept telling me it hadn’t come in with the order that week…

Finally, as the picture date drew neigh, I realized I was actually going to have to just sew her something from scratch. And she really, really wanted it to be a jumper (“like yours, Mama!”), not a skirt.

Enter I’m-not-actually-good-at-sewing panic, with a hefty dose of I’ve-never-done-that-before perfectionist panic.

PANIC, I tell you!

I pulled up a free pattern/tutorial for the “Juniper Jumper” that I had picked up from Ditty Pop on Etsy (although last time I checked it wasn’t listed, she’s promised to put it back up!).

Clearly, though time was short, I needed to make one out of “disposable” fabric first. I had no idea how the pattern would fit, on top of having no idea how badly I would mess it up.

Another part of me was horrified at the thought of a “throw-away”… I mean, if it comes out alright, you want it to be a fabric that she would actually wear, right?

So we picked out a fabric that I was willing to throw away if it was ruined, but that Jewel was willing to wear if it worked out.

Then, the ordeal began.

I do not fault the instructions in any way. After all, one has to assume some minimum level of competence to complete a project, or else spend dozens of pages defining vocabulary words like “scissors”…

Truly, I would not have thought it possible to make as many totally different mistakes as I did, on such a small area!

I completed the bodice, and the first tier, and tried it on my model. (Please excuse the pajamas and bed-head – I was on a time schedule!)

I had used a size 7, and it seemed like we definitely needed a size 6. I also didn’t like the way the bodice hung on the sides, though, and felt it would be easy enough to make the bodice a bit longer to give it more substance right there.

Oh sure, the lady who knows nothing thinks modifying the pattern would be easy!

Anyhow, I did this to double the length of the side pieces:

And then, without further ado… And without even sewing the bottom tiers on the “draft” jumper…

I cut the fabric.

I just cut out the bodice and the first tier. I had lengthened the first tier, and planned a lengthened second tier rather than the three in the basic pattern instructions – but I thought I’d wait and measure a desirable length once I got the first parts done.

Really, after making all those mistakes on the draft jumper, you would think it would have gone smoothly with the real one, right?


Just… no.

Broken needles. Layers missed in joining. Ran out of thread. Could not get the serger working at all. Elastic breaking. Corners not lining up… I suppose I could go on, but you get the idea.

I did, eventually, manage to get it done. Literally while she was putting on her shirt and tights for the photo session!

There are things I would change, still, and things I may go back and fix…

But she looks adorable in the pictures, if I do say so myself!

I guess I need to go finish up that “draft” jumper, too, now that the pressure is off. It is, after all that, in the process of being eminently wearable!