diyds (do it your damn self) : toddler pant pattern drafting

heyoooooo!!! i hope it was the most delicious baby momma day for anyone who has ever changed a poopy diaper! my brother just became a baby daddy! they gave birth to their mini me three days ago and it’s been bittersweet talking with him and seeing photos pop up in my inbox because it ursher hurts to be so far from him (new york) but amazing that our sibling relationship is solid enough that he shares his life with me. it was a great ma day in our flock. woke up to a single rose (picked from our garden by babby daddy but it was a good one) and a 3×5 index card with a beautiful scribble by seb and a lovey, sappy note from baby daddy. cuties. then we fam biked to pambiche for a cuban brunch of eggs, black beans & rice and sugary cafe con leche oh my. and then. then i put boopie down for a nap and got to hit the pattern table for the rest of the afternoon. uugghh. it felt so good.

seb is growing – we really need to stop feeding and watering that kid – and he’s in semi desperate need of pants and shirts for summer that fit him. i usually love sewing kid clothes out of 100% cottons but they are mad hot so i was thinking something in the linen family. i had the chance to hit fabric depot over the weekend. the buttonholer on my janome broke eons ago so i put her in the car wishful thinking that i would find time to make the drive out to 122nd & stark at some point. saturday we decided to hit the annual st. johns parade. god do i love me some lombard street and downtown st. johns. my brother and i were born and raised just off lombard street before st. johns and it feels like you’ve traveled back in time when portland was just a sweet, small town full of hard working blue class families who smiled at you for no reason. it was amazing. this parade is a big ol’ deal every year. folks already had their fold-up chairs ready and guarding front row seats hours before the main event.

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there were corn dogs and cotton candy and strawberry lemonade and a cowboy riding a unicycle and we just had a damn blast. seb rocked out at the st. johns swap n’ play table and leigh and i found hound and the hare, a sweet vintage shop where seb started typing out his memoir. i also finally had the chance to case out the menu at proper eats, a vegan diner and grocery i’ve heard about for years. it looks bomb. i’ll have to go back.

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the parade crowd grew, it got hot and seb fell asleep in the car on the way home so we decided to keep driving alllllll the way to montavilla sewing so i could drop the janome off. bang. getting shit done. seb still asleep we kept on down the road to fabric depot. bang. getting more shit done. it’s been some time since i got to fall down the rabbit hole that is the depot and their buyer is doing big things. there’s a couple racks of delicious japanese linens that are luxurious and definitely out of my normal price range but it’s been so long since i made anything and the kid needs pants – what’s a concerned ma to do? so sunday after brunch, i kissed seb’s little baby forehead, closed the door for his nap, and hit the pattern table. i grabbed one of the pants he has that i like the fit of to copy. they’re knit and the linens i bought are wovens but that won’t make a huge difference.

to start, i grabbed some graphed pattern paper – i bought a roll of this here years ago and it’s lasted well beyond its price tag. i drew a grain line in red down the center of the paper. if i was copying a piece that had a consistent center front (CF) or center back (CB), then this red grain line would indicate the CF or CB. but in this case, i’ll place the front pant piece more or less over the center of this grain line, making sure it runs perpendicular to the hem, as this is a good indicator of straight grain hang when worn on the body.

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then i tacked down the front pant as flat as possible and used the tracing wheel to trace around the front pattern piece, making note of the knit cuff and the waistband situation.

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next, i lifted up the pant and penciled in the trace lines, smoothing and trueing out lines as i go. trueing just means to smooth out any jagged or jogged lines (lines are aren’t consistently straight or curved as you want them to be).

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then i flipped the pants over and did the same thing for the back pant piece, starting with a fresh piece of graphing paper and a red grain line.

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you want crisp 90 degree angles at crucial places, like where the outseam and inseam meet the top hemline/waistband, where the end of the crotch/stride line meets the top of the inseam and in this case, at the hem.

you can check if lines are making a smooth transition between where pieces will be sewn together by placing either the front onto the back or vice versa and look at your lines. the best way to do this is to trace your pattern piece lines on the opposite side of the paper so that you have ultimate accuracy. now you can easily look at your lines like the stride and waistband if shaped, as in this case.

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the back waistband is about an inch higher than the front (to account for bulky baby diaper booty) so i wanted to copy that shaping. i dropped the front waistband by 1/2″ and then using the side-by-side method, i could look at the shaping at the side seams and make any adjustments. to true up a line when you have your pieces layered on top of each other is to take your tracing wheel and create a new line that is smooth. the tracing wheel dots will show up on both pieces! keep fussing until you’re happy.

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i also try to notate pattern pieces as soon as i make them. helps in the sanity department down the road when you want to make another of whatever you’ve just spent hours patterning. for notation, here’s what’s what:

– date
– name of garment (either a made-up name or if using a commercial pattern, the company name and style number of the pattern)
– size
– name of pattern piece (top front, bottom front, pant front, pant back, waistband front, waistband back, top front side, top back side, etc…)
– how many to cut (x2, cut 2, x4, cut 4 – however you want to notate that)

so a complete notation would look like this:

5/10/15
Sebe summer pull-on pant (if i wanted to indicate that it had an elastic waistband)
18 months
front pant
cut 2

then, before you go any further, do what i hastily in all my rusty, over-excitedness forgot to do: double-check the flat paper pattern measurements against the garment you copied to make sure you’re on the right track. had i done this, i would have realized i forgot to double the waistband amount (since it gets folded over to form the elastic casing) and i wouldn’t have cut and sewn pants whose stride was too damn short. whoops. no worries. it was nice practice and i’m sure my boo-boo pair will fit a kiddo somewhere. and i love/hate making mistakes like this because they’re always a good reminder of the process. i’ll show that alteration in a bit when i make the second pair of (better fitting! gah!) pants. but back to where we were.

now that you have everything measured and trued and pretty, it’s seam allowance time. i chose to go the industry standard 3/8″ most everywhere except places like the waistband and the cuffs, which get their own special situation. when drawing in seam allowance, remember to make crisp 90 degree angles at those crucial places where one piece will be sewn to another piece. there are exceptions to this rule but generally, this will do you right.

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after putting in all your seam allowances, throw in a couple notches where you need them. for this garment, i wanted a notch at the outseam and the inseam. you want notches wherever you’re matching up curved pieces – will make your life waaay easier when you go to construct the garment. i chose to put the outseam notch 6″ up from the hem on both front and back pieces.

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and a notch at the inseam 3 1/2″ down from the end of the stride. for measuring curved lines, i use my indespensible clear flex graphing rulers. they are the absolute bomb. i always cope mine at columbia art and drafting at se 15th & burnside. they always have them in stock and they’re cheap, as they should be.

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a single line works just fine for indicating a notch. you can go back after you cut out your pattern and actually notch those with a notcher.

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the last piece i drafted was the cuff. i just measured the cuff on the sample pant, did some fold-over measuring and voila, the easy rectangle cuff.

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i cut out all the pieces.

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i started with the knit cuff – just happened to have some light grey medium weight sweatshirt jersey in the closet stash and thought that’d suffice.

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next up, the pant pieces, out of the fancy yummy japanese linen (since we don’t have a washer/dryer, to get rid of shrinkage, i always dunk new fabric in hot water with a pinch of soap and set it out to air dry before making anything with it)

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first, i tore a small strip across the top cross grain so that i could match up both the grainlines and the cross grainlines when folding the fabric in right sides together. place pieces on top, making sure both pieces were going in the same direction as the cute little animals on the fabric. (one of the pieces is flipped onto the other side so that it fits but this is totally fine! as long as the main grain line is going in the direction of the animals on the fabric, as it is. boom.

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to know that the paper pieces are placed exactly on grain with the fabric grain, i place the ruler three times down the red grain line (top, middle, bottom) and measure from the red grain line to the edge of the fabric. like this.

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now i can and cut them out and clip the little notches i made. and start putting them together. i did these the traditional pant way, sew front to back outseams first and press.

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sew inseams and press.

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place one pant leg inside the other pant leg so that whole stride can be sewn and pressed.

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sew in cuffs to hems.

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fold over waistband and sew closed, leaving one small space open. thread elastic through. sew ends of elastic together. for a final sporty touch, i sewed another line down the middle of the elastic.

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try on boopie! realize that they’re cute but that something went awry in the fit because crotch is too small and tight. curse quietly to self. regard pattern and sample pant. see what went wrong. vow to remedy that for next pair. still make boopie wear too-tight crotch pants to new seasons. just for my hard-on of having accomplished something at the sewing table.

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i’ll put up the tight crotch alteration soon! go make some pants! love you mean it!

make shit : super duper easy thrift store dress alteration & the story of my life

i am a community college proud whore. attending a cc allowed my not so ivy league ass to attend a very ivy league university for the last two years of school and graduate amongst a throng of folks much nerdier than myself. and then, years later, while experiencing a mild quarter life crises, a cc allowed me to take affordable classes that fit my work schedule to discover a brand new life passion / part-time career. if it weren’t for portland community college’s (pcc) continuing education department (which is one of the largest in the country – booyah), i know for a fact that i wouldn’t have had banging classes taught by teachers who gave a shit. more than a shit. so much more that, one of my teachers, eileen celentrano, was thoughtful enough to bring me a threads magazine that profiled nicolas caito, the talent behind new york city’s most prestigious pattern making atelier. and oy vey, what a seriously handsome frenchie.

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in a heady, naive move, i contacted the atelier via their website asking about internships and after a short interview over the phone the following week, i was asked to come into the studio for an in-person chat and a draping trial. i have never been more motivated in all my days. i draped and re-draped every garment i could in the weeks leading up to the interview and then with money i didn’t have, i flew across the country to compete with students from fit and parsons and central saint martins for one of three internship slots. and then the email came. whatever amount of desperation i exhibited in that studio must’ve been palpable. for the next four glorious months,  i worked 40 hours a week (no pay, not a dime) learning my dream trade while at night i slept on an air mattress deep in brooklyn and ate beans and rice for dinner. but holy fuck was it worth it. it was the most exhilarating, nerve wracking and marvelous experience of my life. i still sit sometimes and daydream about climbing those five flights of stairs up to the studio, hanging up my faux fur coat, hat and gloves (dead of winter in nyc is NO. JOKE.) and being handed a design sketch by proenza schouler or creatures of the wind or one of a handful of esteemed nyfw designers and being told in that perfectly curt, i’ll-cut-a-bitch tone by one of the head pattern makers to make it happen (a muslin prototype of the garment). which i would spend the next 8, sweaty, nerve and adrenaline-filled hours doing. i had the esteemed privilege to create a skirt from scratch for proenza schouler and work on the finale runway dress for creatures of the wind. here’s some of the other entrees to come out of nicolas’ studio, most which end up somewhere fancy, like the new york times fashion magazine. and here’s a proenza schouler jacket i spied in the times mag many months after being back home from new york.

nicolas caito in ny times

nicolascaito.com

i’m telling y’all – internship of a LIFETIME (and last time, i told myself, that i would likely ever work again for free). nicolas is such hot stuff that a fashiony blog interviewed him at the studio while i was knee deep in a muslin draping and this photo ended up being published. i love it because when i feel like the whole experience was something i dreamt up, this reminds me that it did in fact go down.

me at nicolas caito

oh, the things you can do before chillrun!!! dammit. just kidding. sort of. aaanyway, four months later and having had the easy opportunity to stay in new york and get work with my newfound pattern making chops (my mentor at the studio, the incomparable dylan abrams, is now the senior studio manager for alexander wang, NBD), i made the decision to come back to portlandia where my folks and my fuck buddy were patiently waiting. my folks were happy to see me and my fuck buddy proposed two days after my return so you know, all things for a reason.

(another fun piece to the whole nicolas caito story is that after my interview while waiting to hear if i landed the internship or not, i was googling the hell out of caito and stumbled upon a blog portlander hannah flor used to write where she essentially had the exact parallel experience as i, just a few years before me. i became enamored with her after reading her blog posts and after my stint with caito, i ended up contacting hannah and got to meet her lovely self for coffee and pattern making gossip. it was wonderful. i believe she is still in new york, working as a freelance pattern maker out of a studio in brooklyn!)

a recent and welcome addition to my mom life lately was the offer from pcc to teach a beginning sewing class, the very same beginning sewing class that i had taken several years ago. i actually took over the class after my dear friend and sewing mentor of sorts passed away suddenly. it was a bittersweet moment accepting the position but i do it for jean and i think about her each week in that classroom. i’ve enjoyed the teaching so immensely that i started offering new classes so here we are – a shout-out to my side gig! in a totally undeserved move, after teaching just two semesters, pcc interviewed me and put it in their fall 2014 catalog. i also owe this press to jean, as it was the story of how i became a teacher that interested the school. thank you miss jean. here’s that ink and the info for the three summer courses coming down the pipe, if you or anyone you know is interested.

 

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pcc learn to sew description

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pcc alter your wardrobe description

aaanyways, i say all that to say this; i miss sewing. hella hella. i miss cranking up a podcast of the splendid table or fresh air or starting the entire suede-bound box set of sex and the city series over and blacking out for hours on end at my patterning table tweaking a garment. pushing sebe out was definitely a game changer on many levels and not that i’d want to change anything, i just wish for double the amount of hours in the day so that i can be super momtastic and get my seamstress on. i fo sho cherish the sweet sebe-free hours i get every here and there. one of those here and theres was this past weekend, which started with a bike ride to delish vegan eatery vita cafe on alberta street to suck down multiple cups of coffee and indulge with girlfriends. after brunch, we walked across the street to bristlecone, a most adorable vintage shop run by my girl audie.

bristlecone 1 look how cute she is! such a patootie pie.bristlecone 2i rummaged through her candy-colored racks of clothing and her $3 bins and pulled out this diddy. oh haiii sebe happy at his train table.

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i’m having the most bubblegum pink moment of my life and the gingham was so springtime-picnic that i snagged it. after trying it on at home, i realized i wasn’t in love with the elastic waistband nor where it was placed (these dresses are never built for the short torso’d among us, are they?) and i wasn’t sure i was into the marmy length. again people, just because you have the chillrun, doesn’t mean you can’t dress like your inner ‘yonce is asking you to. since it’s been fo-ever since i did anything with a needle and thread and i’m hoping this blog will put a stop to that, let’s do a little garment altering shall we? word.

first to go was the waistband. when i turned the dress inside out, i realized that i had in my presence a lovingly handmade piece.

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none of the seam allowances were finished, which is a fail and one i’ll have to go back and remedy by zig-zagging all the seam allowance edges so that the fraying doesn’t get so bad that it compromises the sewn seams but other than that, the dress was put together adorably. oh haiii sebe happy playing with his hamburger stickers.

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trusty seam ripper in hand, i first undid the elastic casing holding the elastic in place and then took out that casing and elastic. like this.

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than the dress looked like this.

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getting better! i could have left it like this if i wanted – tented oversize thangs are so on trend right now, right? but i was like, ah to hell with it, i’m already spending time on this, let’s keep going. so next i took out the collar and collar facing. so now the neckline looks like this.

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at this point, taking apart the collar and using some of that fabric to make a cute little neckline and then hemming the skirt length to whatever (from ankle-grazing to cho-cha grazing) would finish this off but i really want to turn the long skirt into palazzo’ish pants, throw in a center front zipper and rename this cutie a jumpsuit…i will try and take the appropriate time/photos/explanatory verbiage and do this in a separate post! love you mean it!

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* experiment with what your diddy will look like if you decide to a) shorten the hem or b) go for the jumpsuit! *

 

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pookie play dates : waggle n flap family dance party

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IMAG0302i had seen this dance party listed on the pdx kids calendar a few times and finally had the chance to go with the kiddo. girl, let me tell you, i know it said they play funk and hip hop on the description but i didn’t think it was going to be like, a legit first club experience for the under 5 set. the party is held once a month at the roomy and window-filled Village Ballroom in the N. Dekum hood and hosted by the adorable, bouncy Mary Rose, who non-stop twerked and twirled for the entire hour and a half. jams are provided by dj acid wash who, on the day Seb and i went, appropriately sported a neon turquoise denim jacket and hot pink trucker hat from the 80’s. dude played Kanye. dude played delicious world beat. dude played Beyonce remixes. Mary Rose hauls a giant suitcase full of sparkly costumes and eco-friendly crayons and drawing paper to add even more fun. and there’s a soft corner for the little littles and those either to shy to shake it or need a sweat break from shaking it a lot. i did my best to get Seb to drop it like it was hot but since it was his first time and he is 18-months old, i mostly boogied with him in my arms. i think next time he’ll be ready to put on something with sequins and do the worm. or robot. or whatever the hot move for 2-year olds is.
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Kiddo Outing – SpielWerk Toys

SpielWerk Toys


SpielWerk Toys

Monday-Saturday 10am-6pm / Sunday 10am-5pm


SpielWerk would probably go under the same category as Powell’s Books, a store that sells things but supplies a kid-friendly port-in-the-storm space where you are welcomed and encouraged to come and kick it, in whatever state of sloppiness or exhaustion you may have found yourself that day. This toy store is delightful and I often feel like I’m in some quaint European city while browsing through their goods, which is exactly what I think the store owners hoped for, as they source many of their items from small studios in Europe. They believe in classic and simple, handcrafted toys that inspire imagination. The first time Seb and I snuck in was to bridge the gap of time between putting in our group number for brunch at Tasty n’ Sons (the outing of which was only made possible by visiting friends – two hour waits for breakfast with an infant on board is not only cruel but should be made illegal. that being said, nothing can fuck with their Potatoes Bravas or their Radicchio salad, which is served in a pre-chilled bowl and is the greatest morning companion to warm eggs and potatoes and a mug of Stumptown coffee, made with several spoonfuls of sugar and fresh cream, which they always have, and is always fresh). I’d walked past the place so many times but never been inside. The whole front area of the shop is an open play space. At the time, they had a cardboard kid house, a mini height-right table filled with stuffs and thingys to play with and a giant wooden loft with a make-believe house and kitchen underneath and a stairway up to the second story, which was enveloped in a gauzy, fairy covering. I got to sit and sip still-warm coffee while Seb did his baby thing with a couple other kiddos. The whole brunch wait time flew by so much more painlessly than ever before and I was so thankfu that the next time I needed to pick up a baby gift, I made it a point to spend my loot there.

Kiddo Outing – Portland Children’s Museum

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CHILDREN’S MUSEUM

4015 Southwest Canyon Road
(503) 223-6500 (it’s right next to the Zoo and the Forestry Center)

portlandcm.org

9am-5pm seven days a week

Everyone aged 1-54 $10

Annual membership for you, baby daddy/partner, kiddo and up to two different guests every time, $80. Again, absolutely worth it. These annual memberships make the best holiday-time gifts if you have family in (or out) of town and they ask what you’d like for your kiddo.

FREE the first Friday of every month. Go. Spend the whole damn day there.


The Portland Children’s Museum is absolutely magical. It starts before you even enter the building with an outdoor corn maze and gigantic hand-wheel operated metal gyro thingy. They’ve taken full advantage of their operating size and turned every nook and cranny into an explosive experience for tiny brains. There are 11 play rooms like the pet hospital, the theater, waterworks, clay studio, a building Bridgetown room and several rotating exhibits (currently it’s a yellow brick paved road leading into a spacious Wizard of Oz hall), for which the imaginative ideas are endless. I started taking Sebe to the Children’s Museum when he was still way too young to do anything but have me carry him around while I oooed and ahhhed at all the things he could play with. At 17 months, he is now old enough to get into it and he has the best time walking around until he sees or bumps into something he’s jazzed about interacting with, which is almost everything except the water room; he’s just shy of being tall enough to reach into the pools of water and gets super frustrated that he can’t splash (a baby frustration-driven tantrum is just so sad). So we avoid that room. For now. The OMSI water room is smaller and simpler but much more height friendly.

Kiddo Outing – OMSI!

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Dad at OMSI

I couldn’t help but feel like we were getting away with a wonderful crime these last few months – the sky was blue, the sun was bright and the usually soggy sidewalks were way too dry. With a non-stop 17-month old munchkin, I can attack the weekdays with all their activities. Between the community centers, libraries, kid-friendly cafes and Church basements, the Monday through Friday block is packed and all moms have to do is show up (“all” gives the illusion that getting out of the house with an infant is easy. ha.). But many of these are closed during the weekend forcing us to fend for ourselves during rainy, chilly weekends. Lately, I’ve been wishing I had set up more inside play dates during the week so that I wouldn’t be last man standing come Saturday. With a small apartment and a cranky Chihuahua who Sebe will go after to take out his pent-up stir-craziness on, we have to get the fuck out the house. We definitely go on bundled walks when all else fails, which is great except when mittens and hats keep getting pulled off. Blue baby hands are not a good look, I’m pretty sure. I know Portland is small and these things are easy to find but maybe there’s one someone didn’t know existed, thus helping salvage a stir-crazy weekend day.

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OMSI

1945 Southeast Water Avenue
(503) 797-4000

omsi.edu

9:30am-5:30pm Tuesday-Sunday

Adults $13 + $5 per parking space

Kiddos 3-13 $9.50

The annual membership is seriously the way to go – you and your baby daddy/partner or any guest plus a kiddo under 3 is $85 a year and comes with free parking. Go just four times and you’ve already paid for it. So. Worth. It.

First Sunday of every month is $2 entry. Go. Spend the whole damn day there!


OMSI is so special. It’s an acronym, standing for Oregon’s Museum of Science & Industry and it’s been around since 1944. I remember when it was housed where the Children’s Museum currently is (see below) and it was rad back then. I also remember watching them build their new digs on the East waterfront and being like, whoah, this is going to be amazing. And it is. The museum boasts permanent and rotating exhibits for bigger kiddos and a gigantic, interactive room for the littles, complete with water, sand, lego, woodland creatures and grocery store areas, plus tons of science-y stuff and a soft baby play corner. They also have a large room for robotics and messy, sticky, wonderful projects like making your own goop. There’s an area for eating, restrooms and water fountains all inside kiddo-land so you never have to leave. Never ever. Oh, and my Dad volunteers once in a while for the bigger kid exhibits. Ask him anything, science-related or not. You’ll get answers.