Monday, August 17, 2015

North of The Mitten: Pure Michigan

Upper Tahquamenon Falls, U.P.
I was born and raised in "the Great Lakes State"of Michigan, where people point at the palm of their left hand to show you where they live or where they've been, but that's just the lower peninsula. "Up North", at the top of "the mitten" is the Upper Peninsula, or U.P., for short. When you cross the nearly 5 mile long Mackinaw Bridge, you enter "Yooper" country, where you'll find nearly 200 waterfalls, the shores of 3 Great Lakes, 130 year old copper mines, and old growth forests that are hundreds of years old and hundreds of feet tall.

Beautiful is a start, but "majestic" is more like it! Hiking, biking, and paddling are my favorite activities up there, but we saw so many people touring the area on their motorcycles... you can view the scenery lots of different ways! Many roads travel alongside a great lake and there are many motels, hotels, and cabins available for rent in addition to all the campgrounds that we passed along the way. We visited 7 different campgrounds during our 19 night "loop" from our home in the lower peninsula, around the U.P. and then back down across the bridge again.

Rule #1. Do your research and talk to the locals!
I know my family, so I know that the kids start to go batty in the car after 4 hours, so I planned our campground visits accordingly. I read campground reviews on and made sure there were things to do and see in each area. I relied on a website I found called "Things to do in the U.P." along with a Facebook page called "Upper Peninsula Travel" when considering our options and making our plans.

What one person considers a "must see" might not suit your family. For example, there is a restaurant in Munising that many people said was great, but after trying it twice, we know we'll never visit there again! Basically, you know your family's likes and dislikes, skills, abilities, and ages. Read maps closely and check mileages, for both driving and hiking! If you need a stroller, consider that some hiking paths are wide and smooth, while others are narrow, hilly, and bumpy with tree roots. If you can't find the answers to your questions via Google, then call or visit the local visitor's center for detailed maps, attractions, and information. The best visitor center we visited was the Keweenaw Visitor Center, who offers a free smartphone app for all the local restaurants, attractions, and activities in the Keweenaw Peninsula! The Munising visitor center has maps of all the waterfalls, and I can't recommend strongly enough that you should purchase a detailed map of just the Upper Peninsula with mileages between towns. Gas stations and restaurants can be few and far between, and will elevation changes, your dashboard gas estimate may not be as accurate as usual!

If you're going to spend a day sightseeing, be sure to pack EVERYTHING. Swimsuits, towels, sunscreen, snacks, lunch, water, bug spray, sandals, walking shoes... and don't forget the camera!!! My favorite thing about the U.P. is the untouched wilderness... the silence of the forest path and the crashing of the waterfalls, the breathtaking beauty of the Keweenaw and Porkies where you feel like the only person for miles. Here are some of my pictures but, honestly, the real views are so much better!
Harbor Springs Marina (Lower Peninsula, near Petoskey) Lake Michigan

Upper Tahquamenon Falls

Oswald's Bear Ranch, Newberry Michigan (Yes, those are Fruit Loops!)

Lower Tahquamenon Falls

Lake Michigan view at the Tunnel of Trees (if you love to motorcycle)

Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point (Edmund Fitzgerald site)

Horseshoe Falls, Munising 

Laughing Whitefish Falls, Munising

Chapel Rock, Pictured Rocks, Munising

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Lake Superior, Munising
Lake of the Clouds, Porcupine Mountains, Ontonagon

Bonanza Falls, Ontonagon
Estivant Pines, Old Growth Forest, Copper Harbor

Horseshoe Harbor, Copper Harbor (tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula)

Sunset at Lake Superior, Ontonagon (Porcupine Mtns in distance)

A rainbow over our camper in Ontonagon

Kitch-iti-kipi (The Big Spring), Manistique
Exploring a historic Copper Mine, Ontonagon

Mackinaw Bridge (Lake Huron)

Arch Rock, Mackinaw Island

Sugar Loaf, Mackinaw Island
I hope that my children appreciate the beauty of our home state, and continue to travel and explore it's far reaching corners. There's more than just beaches here... and while they did their fair share of complaining about the hilly hikes or lack of wifi, I'm pretty sure that we made some lasting memories along the way.

Please, by all means, if you have questions about Up North travel, just let me know! I'm happy to share more of our experiences!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Faux Liberty Blouse

I'll be perfectly honest: I love the look of Liberty fabrics, but not the price. When I came across this cotton print in a local shop this spring (as they were going out of business), I grabbed enough of it to make myself a pretty top.

Vogue 8747 (OOP)

This is my second time making up this pattern. I just love the way the center front curves slightly at the neckline and the gathers in the button placket.

There's really not much to tell you, as the pattern is very well drafted and illustrated. It didn't take me long to make, as I'd work on it here and there over the course of a few days. No hiccups, no problems, just a nice, easy, calm, stress-free, quick garment!

The finest details of the fabric is tough to see in the pictures, but there is a soft background wide stripe of seafoam green, and the print is a "contemporary" paisley, with soft pink accents. It's just lovely. The color scheme, the print, the weight... I think it reads very "feminine" and I really think it will be a nice addition to my closet.
You can kind of see the soft wide stripes here...
The neckline is perfect for a pretty necklace charm.
I'm working on cleaning up the UFOs in the sewing room, I've got two more patterns that are completely cut and ready to sew: a Vogue skirt and a dress. Summer is flying by too quickly!!!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Vogue 1302: Little Black Lace Dress

Vogue 1302
Kay Unger with lots of ruching
My pattern review is here.

With a wedding to attend, and no little black dress in my closet, I thought it would be a good project. I managed to have EVERYTHING on hand in my stash already: lace, charmeuse, lining, zipper, and thread! There was only 1 other review I could find on this pattern, and it warned of the multiple layers of fabrics being heavy to wear... so the lace and charmeuse made a lot of sense to me. In hindsight, I'm afraid that the nature of the lace is not ruching-friendly, and maybe I'd have had more luck getting the gathers to lay correctly if I'd used a chiffon?

As I started construction, I hand gathered the lace over the 4 side panels of the dress (2 front and 2 back) which didn't take nearly as long as I expected. As I approached the draped and gathered lace pieces of the bodice, I was careful to first attach the flat edges of lace to the under layer of charmeuse, which made the gathering and attachment of the remaining edges much less confusing. My new Baby Lock Imagine serger was absolutely amazing going from lace to charmeuse, over gathers and switching between single layers and multiple layers with gathering. It was the absolute best investment in the sewing room, next to my Baby Lock Jane straight stitch machine!

One it was all together, I did NOT like the way the lace was poofing across some of the gathers, but a little time spent distributing the ruching and pinning and hand-tacking made for a much better looking bodice.
 You can see how I placed the pattern so the hem would fall along the scallop edge of the lace. Other than taking it in a pinch in the waist at the side seams, I made no alterations (and from all the corners and angles, I'm not sure it would've been possible to anyway).

I'm very happy with the final product. It's a great addition to my closet for special occasions, and was actually very comfortable in weight considering the heat index yesterday was 100 degreees! I'd definitely recommend this pattern, just be sure to select appropriate fabrics and have the patience to work with lots and lots of gathering!
A little selfie at the table with my honey.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Mini Winter Wardrobe

Funny how projects find their beginnings... this set started out back in the fall when I happened to catch "Good Morning America" the day after "Dancing With the Stars" ended, and I really loved the look of this monochromatic sweater skirt set that Whitney was wearing.
I knew the crop top was out of the question, but I loved the overall look. So, when I was at Haberman Fabrics, I looked for a sweater knit and coordinated faux leather. I found a lovely combo in a deep purple/burgundy, along with a coordinating plaid wool. While I didn't know what I would do with the wool, I knew it had to come home with me!  Looking through Pinterest for ideas, I stumbled across this image and thought, "Damn. Gotta have it."

Skirt: Vogue 8750

Talk about easy, this skirt went together very quickly. Well drafted, the style lines are fantastic and perfect for leather. I used a teflon foot and leather needle for construction, and my only complaint is that I'll need to go back and line it, as the faux leather is quite "noisy" when I walk?! Sorry about the shadows in the pics that are hiding the seamlines, It's tough with the contrast of the snow!

Sweater: Burda 6990
This sweater knit had a really neat woven pattern to it, but it also had WAY more stretch than necessary! At the time I was sewing this, Kyle was using the same knit (but in ivory) for a Renfrew sweater (which made the project like a mini sew along). Anyhow, the Burda pattern has this HUGE cowl, which can be worn down around the shoulders, or loose around the neck. Super comfy sweater, I'll definitely make it up again, but do view A next time (no cowl).

Back to the Bomber jacket...
McCalls 7100

I liked the style of the pockets on view A best, so I proceeded, cutting a size Medium (which fits pretty perfectly), but added 2" to the length at the hem. Even though the pattern doesn't call for a lining, I dug around in the stash and pulled out some black poly lining to protect the wool (and my skin).

I cut the pockets out of the lining fabric and skipped the front facing, since I added the lining anyway. I needed a 22" separating zipper (since I added some length), and the rib knit is bamboo, also from Haberman's.

I'll be honest, the pattern illustrations are a little wacky, it took me a few minutes of studying to figure out the pockets and if you don't line it, the facing and bottom ribbing installation looks a little strange.  But, now that I've been through it once, I'll definitely be using this pattern again, it's really pretty perfect! The wool is substantial, thick enough to be really cozy and I wasn't even cold taking these pictures. I'm really glad that I added the 2" to the hem, I think it will rest in a better spot in the back, especially when I sit.

Sorry for the super long post, but there was lots to share! Pretty proud of myself for turning all that fabric over in less than 6 months! I really feel compelled to keep moving on the rotation of fabrics and patterns, as it doesn't do me any good sitting on the shelf! I'd rather have it hanging in my closet!!!