Tuesday, February 2, 2016

"Nothing But Knits" Challenge

This Project Run & Play theme of Nothing But Knits is my jam. Knit clothes are my favorites and definitely Elena's favorites too. They are so easy to wear and so easy to sew. Tunics and leggings on Elena are top of my list for what to dress her in for preschool. They are comfy, inexpensive, functional, and help her be self-sufficient.


I wanted to try a different shape on her this time. She's so thin I wanted to see what she would look like in a rounder shaped tunic. I used a standard t-shirt pattern (the GYCT Tinley Tee) but redrew the sides to curve out a couple of inches. The body of the shirt is made of a cotton lycra repurposed ladies sized mock turtleneck. It has been transformed from the dowdy to the cute. The striped sleeves and pockets are cotton lycra from Girl Charlee. There is elastic in the hem to draw it in, but still pass the sit on the floor criss cross applesauce test.


The pockets are a fun touch and were inspired by Elena's love of a stuffed owl toy I made her years ago. She has been playing and sleeping with "Who-eee" a lot lately so I found a template online and cut up a bunch of scraps and appliqued them on by hand. Honestly, I had to do it by hand because that whole part was an afterthought. She had already worn the outfit with plain pockets once before we had that idea. My favorite part is the blue sequin eyes.


The leggings are plain brown Laguna Cotton Stretch Jersey Knit. Nothing fancy about them, but so very soft, comfy and useful to her wardrobe.


Now for Who-eee. He is made from an old fleece jacket with a broken zipper and a bunch of odds and ends and some crocheting. He was completely free-formed, improvisational kind of sewing. That is so much fun for me. That was pre-blogging days so there was never any thought of making him picture worthy.



And now more pictures because she was in a ridiculously cooperative mood and that is rare.





Thanks for reading. The contestants did an amazing job. Be sure to cast a vote and comment on their hard work. I have to go decide on my favorite now and I don't know how I'm going to do that.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Lady Skater Goes to Downton Abbey

What's today's date? January 28th already. I am just barely squeaking in my Sew the Show project. January's theme is one of my very favorite shows - Downton Abbey! I love everything about this show and will be so sad when it ends this year. Thank goodness for Amazon Prime so I will be able to watch it forever and ever.

While I'm not a very formal person, at all, I love the dress and manners of the show, and who doesn't love a good English accent. I find myself using words like golly and quite and wanting to dress for dinner. I love how elaborately beaded but still delicate the ladies' dresses are. Of course, I have no purpose in my SAHM life for things like that though, so I made a more basic dress that can be dressed up or down.



I just recently bought the Kitschy Coo Lady Skater pattern. Who knows what took me so long to do it. I usually just hack stuff like this, but this really is better than any of my previous attempts. This pattern is well worth it. I only made 2 modifications. First I added 11" of length at the lengthen/shorten line of the skirt piece. I like this tea length because I don't trip on it and I don't have to hold it up with one hand while trying to carry the laundry up the stairs either. I can walk out to the garden in the morning without getting the bottom wet with dew (you know, when spring and summer return eventually). It may not be the most popular length, but it serves me well and I still get to feel all swishy and elegant.


The second modification was to shorten the bodice an inch. This fabric stretched downward so much I had to. Speaking of this fabric, I may have nightmares. It is an organic hemp knit from Girl Charlee last year. It feels amazing and it's organic so I love that, but it is thin and stretchy with no recovery to speak of. It's also a good thing I had a lot of it, because it was cut so incredibly off grain that I had a huge trapezoid of fabric, not a rectangle. It was a beast to sew, but I persevered and wound up with a lovely dress, so I'm pleased. Quite pleased. (hee, hee)






It will be good this spring summer with sandals. I'm sure that's how it will mostly be worn. I'm a little more downstairs than upstairs, if you know what I mean.

Back to my hacking tendency, I went rogue with the lisette/Butterick 6183 pattern and made the top out of a knit. My fabric is a gray/black/silver polyester knit from Fabric.com (I think - it's been a while). It's medium weight and pretty stable so I thought it could handle the structure. I sized down, but could go even smaller if I try it again. 


Besides sizing down, finishing the neckline becomes an issue. On the original pattern, the front piece is lined and the back piece has a facing. I just cut one front piece to avoid the thickness of 2 since my fabric is already of good weight. Once it was all together, I laid it out and traced my own facings for front and back. I stitched them on and understitched and tacked at the shoulder seams. 




So now that I know this is doable, my plan is to do this again with not so thick polyester fabric that doesn't press well and mash it with the Lady Skater skirt and make an actual dress instead of layering it like above. I love how the necklines and sleeves matched up so perfectly that I can wear it layered and no one can tell that it isn't just a skirt and top. And yes, it is killing me that my skirt looks so wrinkly at the bottom. 

I think I'd like it in a thick french terry with 3/4 sleeves at least. Then I can also just do bands at the neck and sleeves. Or I could just do what I did with the Lady Skater and suck it up and buy the pattern because really what I want is the Victory Patterns Lola, but I'm over budget on pattern buying lately so a hack it will have to be. Do I sound mental? I just might be.

Thanks for checking out my Downton Abbey looks. Next month's Sew the Show focuses on Mad Men so that should be fun. 



Monday, January 18, 2016

Butterick 5679 Draped Tunic

2016 is off to a slow start for me as far as blogging. The sewing and making is still happening, the pictures and writing is not. We are being slammed with snow yesterday and today, the kids are all home from school, and I've got the itch to actually post something so here is my stripey draped tunic using Butterick 5679.


Yeah, my eyes are closed, oh well. I made this tunic back in late November and am trying my best to remember what I can tell you about the pattern. The only thing I remember is that I should have made the binding on the back piece quite a lot tighter so as a result, it was big around the shoulders. Instead of unpicking it (lazy me), I just took it in at the raglan seams instead. So lazy, but effective.


The fabric came from Girl Charlee last year. It's very thin cotton spandex. It worked fine for this, but of couse it's thinness made it a pain, not to mention the stripes. Not the easiest choice, but I really liked the colors and was intent on using it somehow.


We have received a foot of snow already since yesterday, and as you can see, it's still coming down. (Also, it's only 9 degrees.) This is great news for my sister and her kids who are flying up from Florida later this week. They grew up here so the kids really miss snow and are excited. Not me although I had a really beautiful drive taking Andrew to swimming this morning. There is something so amazing about the silence that a storm like this brings. The roads weren't clear at all, but there wasn't much traffic and it was truly beautiful.


The main reason I haven't blogged much is because it's impossible to get pictures lately. No matter what I tell my various photographers about composing a good shot, they still manage to grow trees out of my head, or get ugly backgrounds. I give up. I still think that this pattern is a good one and deserves to be made up and worn a lot. There are several other variations including a cowl neck and different angled hems. It just runs big is my only caution. You can see below that the side seams on this one hang lower, and they are supposed to me several inches lower, but I didn't have enough fabric so this is how mine is. It's fine with me.


So I will be staying in today, making soup, and only venturing back out to pick Andrew back up from practice. Keep warm and keep safe, wherever you are.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

More & Less in 2016

Do you get excited about the New Year? I often treat it like no big deal, but this year feels different. I feel more compelled to put some serious thought into the coming year, lest it slip by un-noticed. I don’t want more of the same old, same old. I want this year to be special. So I’ve put together a list of things I want LESS of and MORE of in my life.

  1. LESS Stuff – The clutter growing in my house and the clutter growing in my mind both have to go. Even though most of the extra junk in the house is hidden away in the attic, the basement, and the closets, I still want to get rid of it. I want to pretend I live in a tiny house. I want MORE open space and lightness. I want to detach from material things even more.
  2. LESS Worry – I will not allow myself to worry about the future, about my children, the bills, all the sadness in the world… I want MORE trust, MORE faith, MORE joy. I give all the troubles over to God.
  3. LESS food. Yep, just less overall eating. We eat well around here. We eat clean,  homemade, often homegrown, gluten-free (3 out of 5 of us), and delicious. I just eat too much of it. I know I can do with LESS food. I want MORE energy, MORE yoga, MORE walking.
  4. MORE organization – of the stuff that gets to stay in the house and of the stuff in my head. This may require some furniture swapping or repurposing as well as more self-discipline. Ouch, it hurts already.
  5. MORE creativity in many ways, but definitely in sewing ways! I hope to do interesting projects that push me to learn new things. Last year I tackled zip flies and buttondown shirts. 2016 will be the year of the welt pocket! 
I've never done a year-end round up post, but I do think they are a good idea for a couple of reasons. First, I have gained quite a few new followers recently so I thought it would be a good idea to show some of the highlights. Second, it is so beneficial for me to look back through the year and see what stands out and think about what to do this year.

The following represent my very favorites. Some are favorites because they feature a technique or pattern or fabric I love. Many are featured because they have been worn so much that it deserves to be mentioned. 

January was a good, busy month for sewing producing lots of well loved clothes for Elena. These all include some fun handiwork with reverse applique, crochet, and a freezer paper stencil. Click the picture to go to the post.
Otium Sweater with reverse applique
McCall's 6785 with crochet trim

Freezer paper stencil tee and yarn/bead embellished skirt

February was still bitterly cold outside but I escaped by thinking about summer and sunshine. I love the colors of both of these outfits. I especially love that the carnival printed dress was a window valance I found at the thrift store. 


Caroline Party Dress

Bow Back Otium and Tiered Skirt

March was a slow month, but did result in one well-loved piece for Olivia. We had fun collaborating on this one. Anytime she actually wears something I made for her, I call it a win.


Pernille Pencil dress turned tunic
April showers brought out the need for flowers before May. I just couldn't wait after the longest, coldest winter in a while so I made flowery Twisted Trousers and some pieces to mix and match.

Spring Essentials to Mix and Match
May brought on the nice weather and brought out the summer clothes! I sewed a lot, but these are the most worn pieces. Most of these include some kind of upcycled fabric along with pattern hacks. I love changing patterns up to suit my needs.

Maternity skirt to Japanese pattern shorts
Hello Kitty Gumnut Dress Pattern

Izzy Top in knit and a recycled scarf
Kimono Tee color blocked

June was another very productive month of sewing filling in the gaps in Elena's wardrobe. These are the pieces that were worn the most.

Flowery shorts and sweet halter
More Twisted Shorts and a foxy tank

July wasn't a month for much sewing. Summer is a busy time and I like to take the time to be outside as much as possible. I did however, cross a major item off my sewing bucket list by making myself a buttondown shirt to sew along with Sew the Show Parenthood.

Sewaholic Granville in gingham

August and the return to school is always inspiring for me. I tried hard this year to plan Elena's wardrobe to be very comfy and very mix and match. This month I found time to add hand embellishments again and that made me very happy. 


All the stripes
Hand-sewn bindings on a modified Nessie Top

Embroidered skirt and a Mini-Sutton blouse

September allowed me to cross off another bucket list item. I sewed jeans! It wasn't really that hard. This was my third zip fly, and I think I've got the hang of it now. It's good not to be afraid of things. Now I have choices. I don't really have much trouble buying ready to wear jeans, but knowing I can sew my own, is pretty empowering.

Butterick Jeans

October was a good month for creativity. We had gorgeous weather the whole month. My sister was in town for a visit. I had successful sewing experiments. It was a good month.

Rose embellished Tinley Tee
Self-drafted Circle Shorts

November was a dud. I sewed a little, but mostly unblog-worthy nothings. I spent quite a lot of time on this jacket and am proud of myself for making it, but I admit I haven't worn it once. That's partly because I'm not sure how to style it, and partly because it's just a bit big all over. I find the waist length awkward for most of my wardrobe. So no link here. If you  really want to read about it, you'll have to search the archives. Lol. I also made myself quite a few t-shirts, but there wasn't anthing special to them so I never photographed them.



December was much more fun than November. I participated in a very fun blog tour called Sew the Show: 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon. I made a couple of looks inspired by the movie Princess Bride. I enjoyed this challenge so much. This pink Bimaa has been worn so much already it's crazy. Andrew's performance season hasn't begun yet, but I hope he'll wear his black buttondown as much or more than his ready to wear one with the too short sleeves. He also said he would be willing to model for me again so now I'm thinking he can be part of my January look for Sew the Show: Downton Abbey. We'll see if I can get him to leave the house for pictures next time. (Both pictures go to the same post.)

Prince Humperdinck in a pink Bimaa and velvet skirt

Marco Shirt 
Well that was the longest post EVER! I wish you all a Happy New Year and hope that you may have MORE or LESS of whatever you desire too! 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Sew the Show: 6 Degrees of Separation

Welcome to the next stop on the Sew the Show: 6 Degrees of Separation Blog Tour. This is a not a costume series and it's not a competition, but it is a series celebrating the love of Hollywood and all the sewing inspiration found in our favorite movies and tv shows. How many of these sewing bloggers do you recognize?


The whole tour begins and ends with Kevin Bacon! Each stop along the way connects through an actor, actress, director, or significant other. There was one crazy hour on Facebook where we hashed it out to see who had the fastest fingers and I was quick enough to land the 15th spot. My lucky moment came when The Nightmare Before Christmas was picked by Ula of luluandceleste.com so I quickly picked out Chris Sarandon who is in that and also starred in the Princess Bride. It is such an iconic, funny and sweet fairy tale to draw inspiration from, and it's one of my whole family's favorite movies. There aren't many movies that our entire family can enjoy together having children that are 17, 15 and 4, but this one is perfect for us.                                                                                               

Image result for The princess bride

I definitely wanted to sew something based on Chris Sarandon's character, that scoundrel Prince Humperdinck. Elena was soooo disappointed that she wasn't going to get to be Princess Buttercup, so I thought I'd better make this appealing somehow. And if you know me at all, you know it also has to be practical, useful clothing. Prince Humperdinck wears lots of heavy velvet tunics with billowing cape-like things. I'm not sure what they are, but I settled on a skirt and cape with a comfy Bimaa sweater. I chose rich jewel tones and of course, there is velvet and trim.


Can you ignore the graininess to get the idea?





The blue velvet had been passed down to me and was just waiting for this challenge to come along. I cut the cape out first and based it on a Big 4 poncho pattern I had in my stash. I added the trims, lined it in purple, and added a metal clasp.


Remove the cape, and you have a practical outfit. I made the skirt based on what fabric was left, which wasn't much, but it allowed for 3 inverted pleats on both front and back. It has a zipper and button hidden in the center back pleat. The waistband is handstitched inside for no visible stitches on the outside. The hem was also done by hand. I love how it turned out.


The sweater is a LouBee Bimaa made out of leftover sweater knit from my Jalie Drop Pocket Cardigan. Although I've made many a Bimaa in my days, this was the first time I used the hoodie option, and I absolutely love it! So does Elena. I loved it so much, I made 2 that day. 



So Elena was happy, but there was more sewing to be done. My nearly 16 year old son Andrew is making his blog debut here, as inspired by the dashing Westley. Andrew's only condition was that all pictures would be taken inside our house, no location photo shoot for him. As you wish. Andrew plays electric guitar in the Pit of our high school's show choir. He is nearly 6' 4" tall with extra, extra long arms. Those arms come in really handy as a swimmer with hopes of competing in a Division I College program, but they are a real problem when trying to buy dress shirts. 

Sis Boom Patterns was so kind to give me the Marco Shirt Pattern for this post. (While I received the pattern for free, my opinion of this pattern is my own and is not influenced by that.) I sewed it up in some black Kona cotton from Joann's. The members of the Pit are not to be seen so they have to wear all black. Westley of course wears a black peasant shirt with laces up the front. No young guy dresses that way these days, but the Marco fit our needs perfectly. Replace the sword with a guitar, and here is my young Westley.





I can honestly say that sewing this shirt was a great experience. I had made myself a sleeveless buttondown this summer so I was halfway there having done a standing collar. The new parts were the cuffs and sleeve plackets. The Marco directions and tips worked perfectly. I sometimes don't enjoy the precision required with this kind of sewing, but this went so perfectly. Everything matched up so exactly. The topstitching is so good too. (Patting myself on the back.) I really took my time spreading it over several days. I will be making many more of these for him over the years. 


The only trouble I had is related to my sewing machine. It always balks any buttonholes that are on anything slightly uneven. The only one I had trouble with on this shirt was the top collar buttonhole, and I still have to resolve that, manually I suppose. He does have to wear a tie and black dress pants for performances.


You've probably noticed his hair and facial hair. It's quite alarming for a mom to see her son looking so wooly and grown. The lack of shaving is a swimming thing. He won't shave until high school Districts in February! Can't imagine how he's going to look by then. I also made him a black slouchy beanie to cover some of that hair. I used an old shrunken sweater of mine, taking advantage of the ribbing at the bottom for the hem of the hat. The mask is from Elena's "Incredibles" birthday party so it's not quite the right shape, but close enough.



So that's it folks. Please be sure to check out all the stops on the tour, including today's bonus stop. Click the image to hop over.



If you'd like to join the Sew the Show Facebook group you can do so here.  If you are feeling inspired and would like to sewalong, you can link up your projects using the hashtags #sewtheshow, #sixdegrees, or even #baconsewsexy
Thank you so much for stopping by.