Month: January 2016

Aisha’s Dress – Part 2

I’ve got the rolled edge hem completed, and the sleeves are attached to the top:

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I’ve also got the circle skirt hemmed (what a difference pressing the folds makes – my first circle skirt was OK … but the bottom hedge was certainly uneven. I now make the first fold, press, make the second fold, press, then stitch. The result is a nice even hemline).


To give my mom an idea of what her finished dress will look like, I pinned the top and bottom together. And we almost have two dresses!


Aisha’s back is not as deeply V’d as Anya’s – two different options from the dress pattern.


Aisha’s Dress

Now that I’ve (a) used my serger a few times … including my first two rolled hems! and (b) made the V-back dress once, I am ready to start Aisha’s dress.

I’ve got the front and back pieces sewn together. The lining and the main fabric were lined up and sewn along the neckline and V back.


I’m about to do the rolled hem on the sleeves —


Anya’s Easter Dress

My mom asked me if I’d make a dress for Aisha – she’d buy the pattern and fabric, and I’d provide the labor. It is a really cute pattern, and the size range is incredible. The dress pattern for Aisha’s size 7 dress includes the size 4 that I use for Anya. I figured I’d make the same dress in a different fabric for Anya’s Easter dress to give me some practice using the pattern (and my new serger!!!) before making something to give away.

Looking at the pattern web page, I really liked one of the fabrics pictured. I e-mailed their contact address and immediately was provided a link to the fabric. Bonus, it is on clearance. I looked at the “how much fabric do I need” chart and worked out how much fabric I’d need — rounded up because it’s a fairly large print, and I wanted to have enough fabric to ensure I could get flowers and butterflies visible on the dress.

I printed the pattern — each size is a different layer in the PDF file, so you don’t have a bunch of confusing lines intersecting. Awesome idea, one I hope more pattern designers implement. Once all of the pieces were cut out, I laid the dresses out just to get an idea what they’d look like.


Getting the little sleeve gathered and affixed to the dress took a LOT of pins!


Stitched the front & back together, with the little sleeves sandwiched between the fabric and the lining … turned it right-side-out and we’ve got a dress top.

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The bottom is a circle skirt – it gets attached to the bodice. I still need to serge the fabrics along the waist seam … other than that, the dress is done!

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I think it looks awesome. And Anya loves wearing it – dancing around and spinning. And I’ve got her Easter dress ready to go two months early!

Realized, once I was finished, that I literally had enough fabric to make a second size 4 dress. I had added the “dress” yards and the “lining” yards together. D’oh! Feel slightly less silly because my mom did the exact same thing … There’s not enough extra fabric to do both a size 4 and a size 7 … but there’s plenty to make a skirt and the dress. Each girl is going to get a skirt from the other’s left-over fabrics.

The Imaginarium

I am just starting to set up a craft room. I got the DIGNITET curtain wire from Ikea; the fabrics are wrapped around cardboard backing boards used for comic book storage. Each one is hung with two RIKTIG clips. The curtain wire holds a LOT of fabrics. Since the craft room doesn’t get much natural light, I’m not worried about fading. Dust is a concern, though. Next step is to get some containers for my yarn and thread. Anyway, here’s the craft room:

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Interviewing Preschools

Anya really wants to go to preschool. And, yeah, I know 99% of her desire is “Daniel Tiger goes to preschool, and I love Daniel Tiger. Ergo, I love preschool”. But learning to be around other people is one skill she cannot learn at home. So we’ve begun interviewing different preschools in the area.

What is educational philosophy? How is learning encouraged?
What is the learning style (indirect learning, academic based, blended?)
If academics (reading, maths, etc) are introduced, how so and at what ages? Letters and numbers should be introduced by her age. Especially the spelling of her name.
How are parents involved in the school? Are parents encouraged to volunteer in the classroom? For special events? Are there service requirements or opportunities (and if requirements, what happens if parents are unable to meet requirements)?
Is there more focus on group or individual learning? You will find the tendency is toward group learning.
How is discipline handled? What is the policy for children who cause injury to others (biting, etc)? How are repeat offenders addressed?
How are problems resolved between students (kids work it out themselves, class meeting to discuss, teacher intervention)?
How is growth measured and reported? With what frequency are parents informed of these results?
What is the educational success criterion (i.e. what should we expect kids learn in each level)?

Are teachers credentialed? BS/MS? Child Development Associate? Early Childhood Development degree required and should be what you look. Don’t go for anything beyond early elementary because they are not taught how to effectively work/deal with children of this age group.
Is continuing education required or encouraged? Like all professionals, it should be.
How many staff are trained in first aid? CPR certified? Additional medical training?
What is the turnover rate for teachers?

What is the class size (student:teacher ratio and child:adult ratio)? Check out your state minimum requirements Ohio’s requirements follow…
Are classes age-specific or mixed?
How is the day structured? What portion of the day is free play?
Is there a fixed schedule (if so, is a copy available)?
What indoor physical play facilities are available?
What outdoor physical play facilities are available?
Snacks – Are snacks provided by the parents or school? What dietary principals are followed? What accommodations made for special diets (vegetarian in our case, but in general too)?
Are there supplemental activities (trips)? If so, frequency & examples.
Are there outside parties coming into the classroom for supplemental activities? If so, frequency & examples.

Is enrollment rolling or fixed date? If fixed, what is the deadline.
What is the process for late arrival or pickups or early pickups?
Are any allergens prohibited in the school?
What is the dress code?

What can we do to prepare Anya for preschool?
Can we schedule a time to observe a class?

Class Observation:
Are the teachers getting down to the children’s level to talk with them or yelling across the playground?
Are the rooms organized and show children’s recent artwork? recent work?
Are there areas to play inside and outside?
Are there different activity stations in the classrooms? Are children interested in and using the stations? Ask if the stations varied throughout the year or are they static?
What is the general feel of the place? Ideally observe a full class day. If that is impossible, observe toward the end of class as that is when most classroom problems occur.) Are the students happy and busily engaged?

Anya’s 3rd Birthday Cake!

I have no idea what made me decide to make my first ever angel food cake for Anya’s birthday — so many things that could have gone wrong with such a delicate cake. But eh, what’s life without some risk (well, and I could always make a quick carob “wacky” cake).

Whipped the egg whites and castor sugar – along with some hazelnut extract


And then very gently folded in the flour mixture — I used a silicon spatula, and I was rather surprised how fluffy the batter was after adding the flour. I was really worried that it would deflate. The batter is incredibly sweet — it’s basically sugar suspended in whipped egg white and enough flour to keep it together. Uncooked, it tastes a little like spun sugar.


Then I very carefully scooped it into a bundt pan (yeah, wrong kind of pan … but I didn’t have time to get the proper pan posted to me after I realized it wasn’t something you could just buy anywhere). Very gently placed the pan in the oven, and left the vicinity for an hour.


Voila! We got an angel food cake! It is a super sweet cake, but it went very well with the lemon curd (which also used all of those egg yolks left over after making the cake!).


And it was very tasty!