Sewing

Sometimes there are patterns that catch on in the blog circles that I don't bother with because they seem more like trends than good ideas. I'm the opposite of a trend follower as I actively avoid doing what everyone else is doing, at least till I see some value in it personally.

Enter the Blackwood Cardigan by Helen's Closet. I had seen it around on blogs and IG, so I took some time to stalk it a bit. It seemed to me that it made pretty much everyone who wore it look good, so I decided to finally join in on the Blackwood train.

BlackWood Cardigan by Helen's Closet
BlackWood Cardigan by Helen's Closet

For my fabric, I found a DBP that I fell in love with from Boho Fabrics (search Monique. It's low stock as of now, prob sold out soon). Florals aren't my go to fabric, although the occasional floral on the perfect garment has been known to fall in my wardrobe. This one was great because it was a larger print and it was on a navy background. I found I don't have a whole lot of shirts to wear under it as I usually wear black or blacked based cardigans. Which is just the excuse I need to make more shirts. :-)

BlackWood Cardigan by Helen's Closet - Back View
BlackWood Cardigan by Helen's Closet - Back View

I cut the XL size with no other alterations and went to town. It is a fantastically satisfying sew (read: easy but still looks good). I only screwed it up a couple times (my fault, not the pattern). Somehow I marked the notches wrong and ended up with a weird, and I mean weird, stretching of the neckband. After scratching my head for awhile, I finally figured out where I was supposed to have put the notches, resewed it and all was well.

The other thing is I may or may not have cut the wrong band out for this length. The pattern piece that was sitting on the table next to the piece was the wrong one, but then it went in to the cardigan perfectly, so maybe it wasn't? Who knows, either way it turned out.

This is one of the few makes I've had recently that makes me feel great about sewing. I love it, love it! I made this months ago and am only now posting about it due to DBS (delayed blogging syndrome), and have worn it so many times. Not recently, of course, as the weather here is absolutely sweltering. So, I'm holding out making more till this fall, but believe me, there will be more.

BlackWood Cardigan by Helen's Closet - Side View
BlackWood Cardigan by Helen's Closet - Side View with weird pose... I dunno...

I bought all the products in this post because I love them and am giving my honest opinion of them. Some links are affiliate links and may result in financial benefit for me. Most likely I'll use it for more fabric for blog posts, so click away!

Work has exploded in the last couple weeks, so I haven't been able to get into the sewing room, as sad as that makes me. So, to keep this blog from turning into a completely barren wasteland, I'm going to update about a dress I made back in December but haven't blogged.

The Pattern 4 Pirate's Wiggle dress is a figure hugging dress that is for those who aren't afraid to flaunt it! Normally, this style wouldn't be in my comfort zone, but made up in a black fabric, it's close enough to a LBD that I can feel moderately comfortable in it. I wore it to a date night to see a musical (Waitress - loved it!!) and I still felt like the most dressed up person there. It didn't help that it was pretty cold that day, so must people were choosing warmth over glam. Not me! Ha!

P4P Wiggle Dress - fantastic LBD
P4P Wiggle Dress - fantastic LBD

The instructions are pretty straight forward, but of course I managed to complicate it a bit. I didn't do any pre-cutting alterations, other than to give myself very large seam allowances around the bust. Then, I just tried it on and pinned it and sewed (and repeated like 5 times). I took a large chunk out of the back, kind of like a sway back adjustment, as well as some off the sides. Around the top of it, I took several inches (maybe 4?) out of the upper bust.

P4P Wiggle Dress - Off the Shoulder
P4P Wiggle Dress - Off the Shoulder

The only thing I really deviated on is the finished for the top. Instead of doing encased elastic, I finished it with a band. For some reason the thought of it just turned didn't seem as nice to me. Probably just me, but I wanted it, so I did it. To make the band, I measured the top once all the adjustments were done. Then, I multiplied that by .85 and used that length to make a band from. From there it was just like finishing any banded edge.

P4P Wiggle Dress - Added band
P4P Wiggle Dress - Added band around the shoulder

I cut it originally at calf length thinking I was going to add a circle hem, like a mermaid skirt. However, after trying it on, it was overwhelmingly black. I decided some leg was the way to go and chopped it off just above the knee. With high heels, this was perfect for a night out!

P4P Wiggle Dress
P4P Wiggle Dress

I have a couple other Wiggle Dress shirts (sounds funny to say it that way!) planned. However, if I don't get to them soon, it will be out of season and I don't know if I'll end up making them or not. If I do make it again, I'd like to more of the adjustments up front instead of pinning and sewing after cutting can be frustrating. In addition, I'm going to add more of a peplum/flare shape to the hem of the shirt.

I'm so excited to be participating in #SewMyStyle2018, hosted by Jessica Lorraine. The January pattern is the Sunny Dress from Friday Pattern Co. I have finished taping the PDF and altering it for my size. If I were rating this pattern, so far I'd only be able to give it 2.5 or 3 out of 5. I'm not loving it.

Friday Pattern Co. - Sunny Dress (PDF)
Friday Pattern Co. - Sunny Dress (PDF)

First of all, sizing. It seems inclusive as it goes up to XXL, but that XXL size is much smaller than what I would expect. To be fair, this is a knit pattern, and how much negative ease is in the pattern, if any, differs per designer. The description of this is "body skimming without being too tight," but based on my measurements and the garment measurement, that would not have been the case. It would have been tight enough on my to be more along the lines of lumpy sausage! Not what I feel beautiful in. :-)

Second, the sizing chart isn't included in the PDF instructions. I had to go back to the website to check for sizing. Not world ending, but kind of an oversight. There was also not a legend the showed the cutting line styles for each size. Again, not huge, but it's handy to have that.

Taping went well. Marks were clear, and it all lined up nicely and was easy to cut and tape.

I'll talk more about the alterations I made in a second, but after I had it all cut out, I noticed a drafting issue on the bottom of the back piece. Nothing huge at all, but the angle where the hem and back meet was incorrect. If sewed as drafted, there would be a point in the back. Minor, but, IMO, shows an oversight. Below, you can see the pencil line I've added to remove the point. The hem line need to be at 90 degrees from the fold line and them smooth into the hem line.

There was a second mistake I noticed on the XXL size. The XXL line alternates a long dash line and shorter one. Halfway through the armhole, the line switches to the same dash as the XL line and continues in that dash through to the neck line. The line itself is correct, it simply uses the wrong dash pattern for a while. Not a huge thing, but I had a moment of , "Oh No!" when I was cutting because I thought I'd cut the wrong size out for a minute.

For the alterations, I basically redrafted the sides. I kept to the XXL size along the armholes and neckline, but from the underarm point down, it's a new line.

To find this line, I took my waist and hip measurements, divided them by four. Then, I measured from the fold line out toward the side seam and put a mark where that measurement fell. I did this on both the front and back piece and then measured the difference back to the XXL line. Adding the differences together, then dividing by two gave me the amount out from line to make my new line (the green line in the picture).

Grading/Altering Side Line
Grading/Altering Side Line - Front piece has new line in green

For example: my waist is 40 and I wanted a little looseness in it, so I did 10 1/2" out from the fold line. Measuring from that back to the XXL line, the front was a difference of 3/4" and the back was 1 1/4". That makes the total difference 2", so, dividing that by 2 the amount I needed to increase both the front and back at the waist was 1". I repeated the process for my hips, which was much less (I'm apple shaped) at only 13/16" needed on both pieces.

I made marks away from the line at those distances, on the back piece only, and then used a french curve to make a smooth line. After that, I simply flipped the back piece onto the front, keeping the underarm point matching and the fold line parallel. That allowed me trace the line from the back to the front.

By keeping the underarm point the same, I didn't have to alter the sleeves at all. I probably needed more room in the bust, but not having to adjust the sleeves is worth a little tightness.

At the hem, just a note, when widening the skirt, make sure to mark the new hem point straight out from the side. If you follow the hem up to the new side line it makes it shorter, and IMO, this dress doesn't need to be any shorter!

The shoulder seams are a different angle than I'm used to seeing, so I'm thinking about doing a wearable muslin to start with, especially, as I've basically redrafted the sides.

Pattern rating so far: 3/5

My plan for this year's sewing is revolving around idea I had called 3D Capsules. Many of us are familiar with capsule wardrobes. Essentially, you limit yourself to a handful of interchangeable options that you know will always go with each other. It's color coordinated and laid out to easily make outfits that match your style and coordinate with each other.

The limit of capsules wardrobes, however, is the number of items. Basically, it's too basic. There's not enough options. Even me, with my not-so-large wardrobe, I have more options to choose from than a basic capsule.

While it's a very cool concept, I don't want to spend time sewing something that's boring, or disappears into my other clothes and isn't worth the planning and sewing effort.

So, my solution? A 3D Capsule wardrobe. I was inspired by the Sudoku style capsule wardrobes where you have each box be an item and the items next to it build the wardrobe (for a more thorough explanation of this, read the CSC article, here).

A 3D Capsule is different than a standard one because the idea is that each box isn't a specific item, but instead a specific style of item. For example, instead of having a pair of jeans be in the box, the box represents the style of jeans, and I can have several different jeans that fit in the spot. Another box could be fitted woven tops. In that box, I could put several different shirts, all of them fitted woven tops that fit the color scheme.

I call it 3D because it's like it's file drawer and the drawer is labeled with what kind of item it is, but you can pull it out and find several different options behind it. Even with only a couple options in each style box, it would immensely increase the number of options that could be made by one capsule.

Capusle Wardrobe Basic Grid
Capusle Wardrobe Basic Grid

As I was thinking about what I reach for in the morning, I realized that I do have a "uniform" of sorts. Nothing formal, of course, I work in a pretty casual office, but  a uniform in the sense that I tend to most often wear items that are a similar style.

For example, my office allows jeans, so I wear jeans every day. Then, I grab a top that is either a nicely fitting knit shirt (nothing baggy here!), or a slightly more fitted, but still comfortable top. I don't wear boxy things, or loose things. I very rarely wear skirts, and never dresses.

Since intention in my sewing and wardrobe is a focus for me this year, I wanted to start planning my sewing to include only items that fit my style and went together. Combining these ideas, I created my 3D Capsule idea.

Below is my Every Day plan. It's what I am  already most comfortable in and what I wear the most, style-wise.

My Every Day 3D Capsule Plan
My Every Day 3D Capsule Plan

This grid gives me flexibility to include many different styles, but still gives a guideline for what I can and should be focusing on that will get worn and loved. When I'm thinking about buying a new pattern, I can decide if it fits in one of these categories. Doesn't fit? Don't buy it. It means I can start developing TNT patterns and then variations on those patterns, so I can explore new techniques without feeling afraid of wasting the effort. It means I can quickly find the way to know if I'm expanding my wardrobe or cluttering it.

In addition, I'll probably have a couple different 3D capsule wardrobe plans. In addition to this every day one, I'll make one that's slightly dressier, because on occasion I like to feel a little more put together. I'm considering adding a lounge one for night gowns/lounge clothes, etc., but that depends on how much sewing time I can find this year.

My next step is to do an inventory of what I wear everyday that already fits in to the grid and what I want to start sewing on. Next up, I'm going to start working this plan into the 12 week year framework to see if I can get moment up this.

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Seamwork Gabrielle princess line skater dress with tie back
Seamwork Gabrielle, I feel pretty!

My sewing has been so inconsistent lately. My sewing energy was nonexistent for a while and I'm only lately having the energy and focus to even try sewing. When I saw the Gabrielle dress, I knew I had to have one! I searched for purple ponte and found a lovely rose print from Fabric.com.  I sometimes still feel like I'm only so-so on buying fabric online and loving it, but this one was a win! It's a great weight-heavy like ponte should be-and not too pricey.

After cutting it out, it sat for a while because my serger was down and out. Actually, it's been down and out for a while, but I didn't want to face the music and deal with it. This month, in addition to finally wanting to sew again, we had the extra money, so I took it in to the shop. It would have cost almost what I originally bought it for to have it fixed, so, instead, I traded it in for a new one! It's a Husqvarna Viking machine and I love it. It was quite a bit more pricey than my first one, but hopefully that means this one will have a longer life. (My old one was only 3 years old.)

Getting my new machine set up and running didn't take very long (I even re-threaded it, with no problems!). The dress was an easy sew. I'm not sure how long I actually spend on it, because I sewed a little bit at a time on this.  Sometimes I'd only sewing a couple seams before calling it a night. Even with my slow pace, it came together fairly quickly. Since I didn't force it, I felt good the entire time, no burn out. Feels good!!

201706Gabriella-3

On a side note, I thought I'd be smart and buy less fabric than it called for, but then I ran out. Fortunately, I was able to squeeze it out by only lining the tie portion of the back tie piece instead of the whole thing. And I thought I was so smart.... oh well, live and learn and buy the right amount of fabric!

I cut out a XL (my measurements are 47.5"/41.5"/47") with approximately a 1" FBA. That makes it sound fancier than it was; I gave myself extra seam allowance at the bust and free-handed more width at the princess line bust point. Overall, it turned out a little large. I took out nearly an inch out of both sides seams and I still had to stitch down the top back tie piece to keep my bra from showing. I would definitely go down a size if I made it again, but keep the free-handed FBA.

Those familiar with the pattern may notice that this is a sleeveless version. I would like to pretend that was a thought-out and brilliant plan, but actually, I was tired and forgot them. Yep, I forgot to put in the sleeves. Instead, I hemmed the armholes. When I realized what I'd done, I figured I could go back and put them in if I want, but just wanted to be done. For now, I'm kind of liking it sleeveless.

Seamwork Gabrielle, side view

The tie detailing on the back is fun!
The tie detailing on the back is fun!

 

Pink Linen Nantucket

These shorts make me so happy! If you'd asked me if I wanted a pair of pink shorts before I laid eyes on this fabric, I would have said no. But little did I know that I needed them. Truly, needed.

The fabric claimed it was linen (bought from the late Hancock Fabrics), but it wrinkles so little, I suspect it's a linen/poly blend. It's also lightweight and slightly see-through, so I will have to be conscious of undergarment choice. Other than that, it's perfect for summer shorts!

Pink Linen Nantucket - Back

The pattern is Seamwork's (referral link) Nantucket. It was a really quick sew and only a couple minor alterations. I raised the front and back crotch slightly as well as adding overall length, starting from a 16.

I also have a personal distaste of drawstrings. So, I altered the waistband to be flat in the front and gathered in the back. This worked beautifully with one exception.

When I sewed in the elastic on the back, I wanted the sewing to look like ready-to-wear. I zigzagged over the elastic to try to get it closer to that look. However, it stretched out the elastic really bad when I did, so now the waist band is slightly too large.

In addition, I should have taken some waist width out to account for the flat front, so it's all a little too loose. I'll have to take it in soon, as it tends to fall down to underwear showing levels.

Pink Linen Nantucket - Front waistband

Pink Linen Nantucket - Back waistband

Now, I have a fun pair of cool short to wear and they please my inner child. Fun in the sun!

Pink Linen Nantucket

 

PS: I finished these shorts just in time for the last heat wave to break. Isn't that just the way? By break, of course I mean that it's now mid- to upper-80's. Still summer and all of August left to go.

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I was digging through my stash and when I came across this fabric from who knows how long ago. I thought, there's enough here to muslin the Adelaide! I liked the blue roses and it seemed like a summery dress, what could go wrong....?

Blue Rose Seamwork Adelaide - Fabric

After looking at it a bit, I realized it would be too sheer to wear as is, so I decided to line it. No big deal. Since it's sleeveless, I would need to find a way to line it that would clean finish. No big deal.

Well, you know how it goes. First, the clean finish method I found worked like a charm, but because of the narrow straps took me nearly an hour to get the pieces turned through. An hour. This was after several hours of adjustments and muslining (probably not a word, but you know what I mean). *sigh*

So after fiddling with fit and fabric and finally getting it all sewing, then it sat for awhile as I couldn't find all the parts to my snap installer thingy. Finally, after way to long, I got this wrapped up.

Blue Rose Seamwork Adelaide - Front View

Overall, the fit of this dress is pretty good. I give it B- in fit. For quality of construction I give it A-. But for fabric selection I give it C or maybe D. I feel like I'm clothed in drapery. This didn't occur to me until the first time I tried it on, so I don't know what I would have done differently.

This pattern was the first pattern I'd done an FBA on that didn't have a waist seam. I followed the Curvy Sewing Collective instructions here and got the front piece done, no problem. Then, when i tried to true it up to the back, it was all kinds of wonky. I knew it would pull really bad from the apex to the waist and it did. I split the difference between the pieces in half and added it to the back piece to get it lined up better. There's still some pulling, but it masquerades as needing more FBA room, which I don't think is true. (You can kind of see it in the above picture.) I'll keep practicing with this and see if I can figure out more of what I did wrong.

Blue Rose Seamwork Adelaide - Back view

This doesn't wear all that comfortably. The snaps need to be closer together on me, so it gapes funny. It's nice for around the house or quick errands, but it's not good for any place I'll be sitting.

Blue Rose Seamwork Adelaide - Side view

 

I'm not actually sure I'll make this again. I don't love how it fits on me and and I don't feel particularly awesome in it. It's OK and it's good to have a quick make (now that I got through this round) summer dress in my arsenal, but it won't be a go-to pattern.

Construction and Fit Notes

  • Cut size 16
  • 1.5" FBA
  • Graded out at waist a smidge (technical term)
  • Shortened 3/4" at back shoulder
  • Shortened by 2"
  • Added pockets
  • Sewed side seams above pocket at 1/2"
  • Sewed the bottom seam of the waist tie at 3/8"
  • Sewed the armhole seams (for clean finish) at 3/8" to make more room for turning (I might always do this as it's just wide enough to cover my bra straps as it is.)

Things I'll Do Different

  • Add more snaps. Due to all my fit fiddling, the snap marks weren't right anymore. I evened them out, but in the future, I'll add more. I might even go as close together as 4" and then add as many as I need to get down to the bottom. It gapes weird now.
  • Raise the darts up 1.5" or so
  • Remember to sew the side seam at 1/2" BEFORE putting the pockets in.
  • I'm on the fence about the length. I shorten things by 2" by default as that's a good start. I like the length when looking at the front, but the back seems kind of short to me. Next time I may add some length back in.
  • Sew the tie all at 3/8" seam. It seemed awfully narrow compared to the pictures at 5/8". I only didn't sew the whole thing that way because I was too lazy to pick all the stitches back out. 😀
  • There's weird bunching where the bottom of the pocket meets the seam. Not sure why or if my pocket piece

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Happy Blog Birthday to me! One year ago I posted about a top that I love and wear often. I only posted a small percentage of all the things I made in the last year, but I love all the things that I posted and the things that I didn't. Here's to another year of beautiful makes!

Tropical Pink Hayden

This is an awesome finish that's way high up my favorites list. I love the fabric (rayon) and the print. As much as I like it, it's not on my all time favorite makes because the fit isn't quite right. I made quite a few adjustments, so even though it isn't perfect, it's pretty good.

  • Shortened the bodice by 3"
  • Took 3/4" out of back shoulder line, adjusted neckline and sleeve head to account for that
  • 1/5" FBA and adjusted front band to account for that
  • 1/2" swayback (I probably won't do this in the future)

Tropical Pink Hayden

I need to make a couple of changes to the front still. I did a 1.5" FBA on the side princess line piece and only took out .75" back out at the waist. I think I need to take a little more out of the princess line seams. The neckline is still a little weird. One recommendation from another sewing friend (thanks, Sarah!) is to take a 1/4-1/2" from the front shoulder line. Since I will probably be making this again, I might play around with that.

Tropical Pink Hayden - Back

The back isn't my favorite as it's not as flattering, but I think I could make it better with a few fitting tweaks.

Tropical Pink Hayden - Back Closure

I didn't have a button that I liked for the closure, so I tried using a hook and eye. Bad idea. Technically, it works. However, the neckline doesn't sit correctly as it needs a little bit of the gap the button closure provides. In addition, if the tension gets off the hook and eye pops open. One of these days, I'll fix it and add the button. You know, as soon as I have time. Ha!

Overall, a comfortable shirt that will be getting a lot of wear and a great pattern that I will be glad to make again.

This Christmas I did a lot of sewing, mostly bags. Due to working on these At. The. Last. Minute, I don't have pictures of most of them. Bad blogger, I know.

I used two patterns and made them twice and then I hacked one of those for a third bag. The patterns I used were both by Noodlehead, the 241 Tote and the Sidekick tote. I modified the Sidekick for the third bag. I gave the modified bag to my mom, so I'll see if she'll let me take pictures of it. :)

This is the 241 Tote using jewel tone brocade and brown suede. Quite classy, if you ask me.

241 Tote
241 Tote

Construction was straight forward, but those curved pockets were kind of a trick. I like to interline my bags with duck and interface my outside fabric, which makes for a little bit of a thick bag. Took some manhandling to get it all lined up, but the finished product was worth it!

241 Tote - Pocket Details
I added bias strips to the edge of the pockets to help give cleaner lines to my busy brocade fabric.
241 Tote - Inside Details
241 Tote closes with a snap and has a patch pocket inside.

This is the Sidekick Tote in the same fabrics.

Sidekick Tote
Sidekick Tote

This bag is a breeze to make up. No tricky seams or anything like that. I didn't bias bind the pocket which I kind of wish I had. It wouldn't have looked much different, but I think it would have been cleaner.

Sidekick Tote - Outside Pocket Detail
Sidekick Tote, pleated front pocket detail.
Sidekick Tote - Inside Details
Sidekick Tote closes with a zip and has a patch pocket on the inside.

For the other two, I made them in solid colors, red, yellow and blue and gave them to my two sister-in-laws, both of whom are big KU fans.

So there you go. One short post that doesn't even begin to feel like it covers the work and the love that went into these bags. I guess that's just a part of the crafting process, right? :)

Alos, here's an outtake moment from my photo shoot as my little helper was constantly trying to be in the pictures too. Wouldn't have it any other way, though!

My Little Helper
My Little Helper

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Button Down Shirt
Completed and actually fitting button down shirt!

This pattern is from the Craftsy class One Pattern, Many Looks: Blouses. It's a Craftsy only pattern, M6649, but it's a basic button down shirt. I started with view C, left off the sleeves and pockets (I've never understood boob pockets, we're not guys, c'mon).  I am doing the first step which is to get the base pattern to fit nicely. It's a only mentioned briefly in the class, but it's taken me forever to get it right. The first half of that forever was just talking myself into it once I saw how bad the fit of the pattern was. The second half felt like forever but was actually just 5 muslins later. Could have been better, could have been worse.

I started with the D cup base, but ended up increasing the dart by about .5" and then splitting it into two. Even with that it was kind of pointy, so I've sewed them as very curvy darts. I shorted the back by over an 1.5" as well. Seems like that shouldn't have taken so many tries to get it right, but I just kept shortening and shortening.... guess I could have measured better or something. Also, the darts where super finicky and didn't want to stop being so pointy.

Button Down Shirt Darts
See the double darts (for DD! teehee!)

The sleeves felt like clown sleeves. Since I had enough fiddly work with trying to get the main bodice to fit, I decided to go sleeveless with it and work out the sleeves later. This fabric (free from my mom-in-law!) was super light weight, so I thought it would make sense for a lightweight summer shirt. I finished the armholes with bias tape.

Sounds good, so far, right? Well, let me add to this one drama moment (really, it was more of a d'oh! why????? moment, but drama sounds less .... stupid).

In order to get the bias tape binding on the arm holes to lie nicely, I was trimming the seam allowance down. I bet you can now see where this is going. Yep, I chopped right into the shirt itself. Ugh.

Sleeve Snip
Oops! Too much snipping

I'd been clawing out time to work on this shirt and it was the first version that fit, so I was not ready to just chuck it out. I saw Mary over at Idle Fancy do a patch with a skirt she made (looking for the link....) and she made it look very nice. Inspired by her, I tried using Wonder Under and a scrap of fabric to make a small patch. Fingers crossed it stays put...

Sleeve Snip Patch
Patched as seen from the back. Wonder Under to the rescue.
Sleeve Snip Patch Front
Trying to match the stripes in the snip wasn't too tricky. Wasn't perfect, either...
Finished Patch
Here it is with the binding on it. Not too noticeable. Besides, who's looking that close at the sleeve of my shirt?!

Overall, I'm ok with the fit of this shirt. I grade my work on the collar at a C or lower, so I need to practice there. Other than that, I really like it. Because I'm so busty, I've never really had button down shirts that were even close to the right size, so this is great! More to come of these and hopefully with even better fit and construction.

Back of Button Down Shirt
Back, with bias cut yoke

(PS, what's up with these pics?? Getting not horrible pictures is far more challenging than it seems like it should be. Still on the learning curve for it. I thought there was enough light, but my camera was glad to prove me wrong. Next time, better, I promise.)