Lifetime Achievement – Coat Making

Sewing. It is my hobby, my stress release, my oldest friend. Through the years, I’ve tackled dresses and skirts. Tops and shorts, but never a coat. Outerwear is right up there with Jeans in my book. Untouchable. As I’ve been through many muslins and failed garments, I wasn’t really ready to tackle something so time consuming and costly as a coat. But then….I know, there is always a “but then” to have us eating our words….my longtime favorite indie pattern designer Christine Haynes released her Ellsworth Coat pattern.

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My best “Sherlock”; hubby told me I was ridiculous and refused to take any additional photos of me with my collar popped. It looks pretty cute that way, but you’ll have to take my word for it.

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He also didn’t understand why I kept opening the coat. Come on – A fully bagged lining!!! This is epic! Check out the button placement. (see below)

I want to say it was released late last Summer or even in the Fall. Whatever the date, I promptly purchased the pattern upon release and then lamented that I couldn’t attend Camp Workroom Social in NY last Fall to be in her coat making class. The pattern sat. I bought some green coat fabric, as I was in a green mood this past Winter. Yet, inspiration and motivation never came together. I peppered my Instagram sewing friends who had sewn the coat with questions about fit and sizing. Even chatted via social media with Christine herself about it. She’s really helpful.

So then, right around my birthday hubby surprised me with a dress form. Does he know me or what?! Those hints didn’t go unheard!! And I decided on a blustery day that I really needed a pink jacket. Needed. I know, my life is need and not need when it comes to sewing and clothing. Right around this time, I stopped in at Joann’s for a quick pop in, not realizing it was the yearly President’s day sale blitz and came away with pink coat fabric, buttons and thread for just under $12. A steal. The stage was set.

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Inside, Outside, Upside, Downside – The bottom of the coat back and the lining. A little cheat shown here too. There is a point in the construction, near the end, where you are to hand tack the lining. I didn’t really understand it, nor did I have the patience. So I sewed up next to the seam and in the ditch of the other hem seams. I think the intent is the same – keeping the bottom edge from rolling out. At least that was my take on the directions.

My Ellsworth coat was going to happen. That was February 19th. Here we are just a little over a month later and the coat is finished!! Glory, glory, Hallelujah!!  I did not make a muslin for this garment. Instead based on the pattern description and my above mentioned virtual advice (thank you to everyone who indulged me!), I sized down two sizes. Oh wait, I did make a muslin right after I bought the pattern and it was a disaster. I actually threw it away and promptly decided to make a skirt. Anywho, I should also mention, my version is five inches shorter than the pattern. I bought end of the bolt on the fabric and I had to either make the facings a contrasting color, which in theory I would love,  but knew long term it would drive me crazy, OR figure out how to make this coat from less than the required fabric. Ta-da! Five inches shorter did the trick and makes the coat even more Spring like. In my opinion anyway. 

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I’d put my hand in the front pocket, but unfortunately I miscalculated with the fabric and had to also shorten my pockets. They are fine for holding my phone or keys, but not so good for putting my hands into.

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I love the boxy 60’s look.

I really took my time with the coat construction; which also may be the reason I’m so pleased with the results. I sewed it over several weekends, mostly when the boys (all three) were at the in-laws, so I could talk myself through the process or cuss in private when needed. Overall the pattern is super easy to follow. Step by step, just like Christine’s other patterns. There were only two spots where I was lost and had to re-read and then just go for my best judgement call on the project. The fully bagged lining turned out to be pretty easy, although a little unnerving turning the whole coat out through a tiny slit in the sleeve lining. Lots of deep breaths. And maybe a shot of Limoncello. Who can really say for sure?

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Last step of the construction. I didn’t notice until I put the other four buttons on that these are in the wrong spot. Oh bother.

The buttonholes were my last big hurdle as I avoid making garments with buttons. Ugh. Not my favorite. However, I am pleased to say, they turned out perfectly!!! I was so giddy with excitement, I actually sewed one row of the buttons in the wrong place. See photo above. I do have my airhead moments. Luckily it was an easy fix. The lining fabric is a Nicole Miller print I picked up several months prior because it was on sale and I just had to have it although no idea what I was going to make from it. Now we know. The perfect coat lining.

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Are those 7/8″ sleeves? Indeed they are! Bracelet length. I almost had a fit when I first tried it on and ran to the pattern to be sure they were actually intended as bracelet length – I have long limbs and completely forgot about the need to lengthen the sleeve.

What’s next? Jeans?!

Maybe I will Lois, Maybe I will.

 

LEGOLAND 2017

Let’s say you have two boys and your playroom constantly looks like a lego bomb just hit,  you have several conversations a week about what precious lego mini figure may or may not be in the vacuum bag, or you find a handful of legos regularly lurking the bottom of your purse, the cup holder of your car…etc…. Well then, you should most certainly take a trip to Legoland.

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Actual playroom footage. Taken moments before a Mommy Meltdown.

Due to a massive change to the energy code taking place January 1, 2017, many local home builders wanted their plans submitted before the end of the year. While thankful for the work, it made for a busy holiday season and no time for a vacation. I put out a cautionary warning I would be taking a delayed break early in the year, thinking Napa or Hawaii, but in the end it was Legoland. We had built up going to legoland roughly 18 months ago and then the whole plan fell apart, so we were very tentative in telling the boys or spreading the word about our trip until it was about to take place.

Brendon has never given up on the idea and made many offers to cover the cost of the tickets with his Christmas and birthday money coupled with a coupon he found in the Lego magazine; sort of the prompting that made the trip happen in the end.

Getting to Legoland:

I love my little guys dearly, but a 10 hour car ride (each way) was not one I wanted to endure. The way down would be doable, although a tiny bit brutal. The way back….I don’t even want to think about that adventure. Thankfully a visiting friend mentioned the Southwest Airlines Ticket sale, enabling us to get rock bottom ticket prices from Sacramento (2hr car ride for us…that was plenty).

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I didn’t notice it until this flight, but here’s another lefty challenge photo. The tray tables put the cup holder on the right.

Now remember when I mentioned I was really busy with work at the end of the year? I am pleased to say we are still constantly flush with work and trying to plan a trip and work, while managing life, i.e, sewing projects, was a little chaotic. We booked into Santa Ana.

Tip #1. Do NOT fly into Santa Ana. You need to fly into San Diego!!! Airport. There is a super shuttle from SD airport. We managed fine with Uber and a Taxi; all be it a costly lesson.

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John told me he was feeling “pretty confident about himself” as he insisted on carrying this booster. We let him ride in one of Brendon’s boosters, just for this trip. He’s right on the line weight wise and it was much easier than hauling his car seat.

Legoland Hotel:

There are a few other hotels in the area, but only one **Legoland Hotel**. True to comments from friends, the hotel is expensive. Not just a little pricey. Expensive!! With a capital E. But, in the end it was really worth the cost. There is a fantastic breakfast buffet included, complete with the chef coming to our table to talk over what was unsafe for our allergy boy. The customer service impeccable, to the point that they stepped in and called the taxi and when the receptionist could see how frustrated I was, she offered up some Lego packets to keep the boys happy on the long journey to the airport.

Everyone at the hotel is friendly from the minute you pull in and throughout your entire stay. Our room was a little dated, but they are in the midst of renovations and constructing a second hotel on site. The boys were super happy to have their “own room” with bunk beds, their own tv and a treasure chest with a take home toy for each of them, each day. The wifi was pretty pitiful, but we used our phones as hot spots when needed and got by just fine.

The biggest bonus of staying in the Legoland Hotel was the 30 minute early access to the park each morning, for hotel guests only. The boys felt so special and it enabled getting to ride a few rides with little to no line. The bane of every theme park – waiting in line! I should also mention the park tickets for all four of us, both days, were included with the hotel stay too.

Legoland – The park

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We were happy we actually held off on going to the park until this year. John is just now 42” tall, with his hair uncombed and wearing his Timberlands. At 42” the park is your oyster. You can ride every ride, some by yourself and some with an adult. There were even a few rides John and Brendon could ride together because Brendon is now 48” tall, the other magic age for the park rides. I wouldn’t suggest going with a child under the height of 36” as there is a lot of restrictions for that size and plus, can a child that size really stand in long lines?? Without incessant complaining?

The park is really well thought out and includes a giant play structure when kids just need to burn off some energy. Since we went off season, we had the benefit of short lines and lower prices. We found out they even raise the rate of the ride photos in peak season. I would definitely suggest going in early March before they open the water park. While I was bummed we would miss out on the water rides, there was plenty to do without it and a lot less guests at the park.

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One of their solo rides. True to form Brendon chatting up another rider.

Tip #2 – Download the official Legoland App to your phone during your visit. It will send you dinner coupons and you can look up the wait times on rides throughout the park and which rides are currently closed for maintenance. It helped quite a bit in navigating our day.

The rides: I am not a big fan of roller coasters and fast action rides. I still remember going to the fair with my childhood friend and throwing up in a trashcan after she talked me into riding the Zipper. That pretty much sums up my lack of love affair with theme park rides. That being said, we did all the rides open in the park, most are pretty tame, but there were a couple with fear inducing power. One such ride was the Technic Roller Coaster. We rode this ride back to back three times at one point because there was no line. I always sat in the back with one of the boys, but both boys and Vance had been in the front through our many rides. On the second day, Vance convinced me I too could sit in the front. Why oh why did I listen to him? Just like Javonna all those years ago – I was lulled into them having my best interest in mind. Ha!

As we’re climbing the initial track, *Tick. Tick. Tick.* Vance is behind me now saying how scary it is to be in the front, “don’t look down,” etc. You can imagine when we hit the crest of the hill, one look and I was screaming down the track. See photo below. It is the reason we purchased ride photos at all.

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The Lego Technic

Tip #3 – Maybe regular park goers know this, but we didn’t. Once you get a bracelet for photos, hang on to it and have all other photos from every ride and character sighting scanned onto the same bracelet. Had I known, we would’ve had quite a few more photos from our visits. One helpful worker was able to scan all of my many bracelets I did manage to hang onto and bundle them together.

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The one photo I look good in from the trip and I’m wearing these crazy glasses. Ah well. Memories are better than great photos.

One the biggest attractions for the boys was the Mini-figure Trading. There are several disclosed and undisclosed locations throughout the park, at the stores, or even just the many workers in the park and hotel, for trading minifigures. The boys each brought one from home for this purpose and then received one each day in our hotel treasure chest, so they had plenty of trading to do throughout the day. It was like getting a new toy each time. John ended up playing with his while patiently waiting to board the plane and in the car for the last hour of our 2hr ride home from the airport.

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Some of their Interesting Trades.

Attached to the park is the Sea Life park, included with the admission of Legoland. Vance was the only one truly excited about going in there, but it was well worth the stop. A mini version of the Monterey Bay Aquarium I was told twice by other guests and we timed it to see the feeding of the sharks and fish. Turned out to be a nice way to get inside for an hour. Once again, the staff was impeccably friendly and there’s a treasure hunt in the aquarium to keep the littlest occupied – they get a prize at the end. (And some great mini figures trades here too)

ninja movesWe spent two full days at the park, walking 6 miles each day. The boys went to sleep without a fight each night, did their schoolwork each morning prior to entering the park and it was a fantastic family vacation for us. Will we go again? Maybe. If we lived closer, definitely, but the expense and effort to get to the park is a serious obstacle for us.

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Batman and Batman. John’s number one favorite since two years old.

Oh, and my thoughts of sitting poolside with an adult beverage never really happened. On our initial half day arrival, it was drizzly and the pool, although heated, is outdoors. Vance canned that pretty quickly. We were done! when we got back from the park each day and just wanted to camp out in our room with said adult beverage from the well timed “happy hour” pricing timed with the park closing.

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Dad needing his happy hour drink.

And as my work partner likes to say, work will always be there. He’s right. And I was in need of a three day absence.