Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Project Run & Play- Summer Chevron Shirt

Project Run & Play's May challenge is to use the free pattern for the Summer Chevron Shirt by the Crafty Cupboard. This month's pattern fit well with Elena's wardrobe needs so I found time this weekend to sew one up and I think it turned out really sweet.

I used pink cotton for the yoke and a dainty floral for the rest. I really only changed the back closure. I went with a continuous placket instead of buttons with loops. I used plastic snaps for a modern look to an old fashioned button placket. Then I put it on her to mark where to do the waist elastic only I got overruled by my husband and Olivia. They liked how it looked already and didn't  think Elena would like the feel of the elastic at her waist. Whatever. I think it would have been cute that way too.

To dress up the yoke, I tried a new to me embroidery stitch. It begins with a simple running stitch and then all you do is weave another thread in and out under those and then another one the opposite direction. I think I should have made the stitches a little smaller to get a rounder effect. These are 1/4" long and apart and it makes a flatter line than I really wanted. I also wish the green showed more, but hey, it's still pretty cute.

This little blouse sewed up easily and Elena wanted to wear it right away. After pictures, she wanted to "stay it on" which is always a good sign and then she got chocolate ice cream on the yoke. So it's already back in the wash. Back to the never-ending laundry.

On a sappy note, Elena turns 4 in about a month and I'm not ready for it. Some days, I look at her and think she is looking so grown up and has entered a new phase of being a big kid, and then I see her in this outfit and think she's still my baby. I'm not normally one to hold my kids back, I like to see them gain independence and grow up, but this time is harder because I know she is my last. It's a strange place I'm in these days with my oldest about to be a senior in high school, my second just got his first real job as a lifeguard, and then there is this little one who likes to think she is a teenager too. Sometimes it's a challenge to keep her young and not let her grown up too fast. Slow down kiddo.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Izzy Top - A Favorite Free Pattern from Climbing the Willow

I loved my first Izzy Top made last year, but it was time for a new one. You can find the pattern HERE on the Climbing the Willow website. I traced the 3T and went to look through the stash.(The stash has grown recently due to the generosity of a woman whose children I babysat as a teenager. Vintage fabric and patterns galore. Yay!)


I've been playing around with mixing knits with wovens for tops lately. I like the idea of the knit top portion because then there is no need for linings or closures, and I like the wovens in summer a lot too because I find them to be lighter and breezier than most knits. This top portion was made from the above mentioned recently inherited supply of 1970's green terry cloth. It's pretty lightweight and decently stretchy, with a cool texture. I was a child in the 70's so it reminds me of things I wore. It wasn't stretchy enough to use for the neckband though so I used a scrap of cotton Lycra in purple. The only pattern modification was to remove the center back seam allowance and cut the back piece on the fold as well.

 The skirt portion is made from a thrift store scarf - with fringe! It cost only 50 cents and was just big enough. It was meant to be, right? This skirt is a 3T in width and about a 4 length, plus the fringe, in case you're thinking of checking your thrift store now. (I don't think it would work for any size above 4T.) It is so light, soft, and bohemian looking and I just adore it. Elena loves swinging the fringe around and twirling. I love making something out of nothing. I really get such a kick out of that.

I have come to realize that my favorite part of "sewing" is actually the designing and planning and choosing materials. The actual sewing is just a necessity, but not the best part.

We had a lovely day out at a nearby park. We stopped at the garden center and farmer's market on the way home. Then we worked on planting some of the garden since rain threatens for the next few days. There is so much more to do. We've only planted onions, potatoes, and a fresh strawberry bed so far. We've gone a few years without strawberries, but I love being able to feed my family organic berries so I'm bringing them back. We have red raspberries already, but I'm adding in blackberries this year too. We're already eating our well-established asparagus. Every day at this point, but we still need to plant sugar snap peas, beans, peppers, and lots of tomatoes. So much more to do in the next week or two.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Upcycled & Hacked Aster Cardigan

My 15 year old son recently went through his drawers and contributed to my upcycle stash with a nice thermal knit long sleeved crew neck tee. And although it's been really warm lately, we've had 2 days of 50 degrees thrown in. I wanted to make a quick Aster Cardigan for layering and I wanted to keep it neutral to go with lots of things, but not be white.This oatmeal color is nice.

The hack was to lengthen the sleeves, change the shape of the bottom hem to reuse the cool shirt-tail hem the tee had, and change the closure. I interfaced some woven floral cotton to make a strong tab, and  and sewed it to one side and added a snap to the other side. Easy for Elena to do and adds some needed femininity to a boyish tee.

One cool thing about this quick project is that I finally tried my walking foot and it's AWESOME! I'm going to leave it on there a while and experiment a little.

Also new here, are these wide-leg knit capri pants made during Kids Clothes Week and shown on Instagram, but not here. They are also upcycled  from an old tee. The tee had the large rose print on most of the front but the sleeves and back were the lighter leafy print. It makes for some interesting pants. I used the Ananda Pants pattern again in a 2T and shortened them. Super comfy and the short length gives an Asian feel to the outfit. (The tunic was previously posted here.)

I get such a thrill from making clothes for Elena out of nothing. I may or may not have initially paid for that thermal tee. I can't remember at this point if I bought it or if it was a gift to Andrew, but it will live on with Elena. The rose tee had been my mom's so there was no cost there. The only real costs here were my time (the most valuable), some thread, and a snap. (Though the tunic is made from fabric from Girl Charlee and a bit of a thrifted lace tee. And a scrap of that tunic fabric makes up the pant's yoga waistband.)

I just love that I can get away with this recycling for now for her. It's so easy to upcycle items when the new item is a small size. That is much harder for the 4 adult sized people that make up the rest of the family. I'll keep doing it as long as I can just because.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Slow Sewing - Hand Embroidered Knit Sally Tunic

This past Kids Clothes Week I made 8 pieces for Elena and 2 for myself. After all that, I took a couple days off from sewing. But I can never stay away for long.

This little tunic was made using the Sally Dress pattern (my third I think) but I used a knit for the top. I still lined it (same knit) so that the backside of the embroidery wouldn't be irritating The bottom half is cotton voile from my inherited stash. This top is light and breezy. The other obvious change from the Sally dress pattern is that I did large pleats instead of gathers. I made it as long as I could with what fabric I had left but this tunic length is confusing to Elena. She would prefer it as a dress I think. That's an assumption based on how much she argued about having to wear shorts or leggings under it.

The embroidery is from this book and adds a sweet folk touch. I'm just mad that I didn't get it in the center somehow. Not sure how that happened. Is it better to embroider first and cut the pieces out afterward? Seems more fool-proof that way and I am feeling quite the fool.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

The Ready for Anything Outfit

I was super productive this past Kids Clothes Week and have more to brag blog about. Actually, these aren't anything very special, but good grief, they are comfy and I want some.

The top is my go-to CINO Nessie Top made from a scrap of floral interlock Doodles from Joann's a couple years ago and a white box tee cleaned out of my oldest daughter's room recently. That is the quickest way to make a tee. I cut the neckband off and reused it and reused the sleeve hems too. So fast.

The pants are shortened Ananda Pants, a pattern from Chopstix that was part of the SewFab Bundle in Fall 2013. I made a 2T and shortened them a lot, partly because that's all the fabric I had. Last year I had cut a maxi skirt down to knee length for Olivia and had this piece left. It's super soft and drapey rayon spandex. I didn't hem them because they are just for play and it's so thin I didn't think it would be any fun to do.

And now Elena is ready for anything a beautiful spring day can throw at her.

Long walks on the fishing pier.



Jumping, running and rolling down hills.

Ignoring her photo-bombing cousin.

Keeping half an eye on that cutie cousin creeeeping up on you again, trying to steel your spotlight.

Bring it on spring. We're ready for anything.
(And it cost us NOTHING but an hour of my time and some thread.)

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Friends Part 2 - The One With the Re-do

I'm asking for a re-do. My first Friends look for Alida's Sew the Show was boring. I must have been PMSing and feeling old and incapable of having fun. So here is my new Phoebe look instead (complete with my rendition of Smelly Cat).

After Becca DuVal wrote in the Facebook group that she was looking for a slip dress pattern, I thought "Oh, that'll look great on her. She's young and cute and slim. I can't pull that off." Then I watched Oprah's Spirit Class yesterday (Sunday's epidsode with Christiane Northrup) and had an ah-ha moment. She said, "Belief trumps genes." So if I believe I'm still young and pretty enough, I will be. And my genes must be pretty good too because I have a 3 year old. I read somewhere recently, that having a baby in your 40's makes it very likely that I'll live into my 90's. There is a correlation between my reproductive system being young enough to do that at 42 and the age of all my cells. Elena will be 4 this summer and is keeping me young.

Anyway, the dress here is made using an old pattern from 1996. I forgot I had it, but am so glad I did. I used a thrifted rayon dress to make this, which is essentially a muslin because it felt very experimental. I didn't have enough fabric to make it as long as I would have liked. I also didn't have enough to do the facings the pattern called for, so I did bias tape instead. All in all, it still turned out pretty good and I may even make another. It feels so light and comfortable it's amazing.

I feel quite naked without my granny chic sweater on, but I  wanted to show it on it's own at least once.

So now that I'm feeling young again, we'll be switching to the Golden Girls for next month!?!? Are you screwing with my head Alida? That is another awesome show and will be perfect for summer coming up so I'm excited. Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Sew the Show - Friends Inspiration

This month's Sew the Show theme was Friends. Alida of Alida Makes picked a great one here. There are a couple hundred episodes and I'll admit to watching about 60 so far. I think that my favorite is The One With the Tiny T-shirt (I think that's what it's called, Season 6 maybe). Fashion-wise, I'm not sure I have a favorite.

I think that most people think of the styles from the first season or two mostly. Denim vests, actually lots of vests in general, floral rayon skirts and slip dresses, short skirts with tights and chunky healed loafers, bad jeans. I have fond memories of dressing that way myself. I still have 2 of my favorite vests stored away. One is more Phoebe, the other Monica. I was the same age as the characters and living the same part of my life as them when the showed originally aired.

So the challenge of what to sew has been gnawing at me all month. Long story short, although I wanted to make a maxi tank dress, I wound up being all practical again and making a knee-length knit dress. It's more like if the show was still going now, and say Rachel was taking her kids to the zoo and if she really didn't want to and it showed on her face. Don't know why I look so mad. My poor family has to look at that expression all the time? I'm so sorry guys.

And those are seriously about the best picture (of my face) so I'll be cropping my head out in the rest! As for the dress, the fabric is a knit I found at the thrift store. It's really soft, not too thin, and I like that it's faux chambray and has the lattice/floral print. That's my nod to the many light blue chambray sleeveless button downs and denim vests that Rachel wears to work at Central Perk. I like that all three girls wear lots of skirts and dresses too.

For a pattern, I started with the free Kimono Tee from Maria Denmark. (You get the pattern by subscribing to her newsletter.) I've made it once before so I knew it would be a good start. I sized up and added lots of length widening it to an A-line. I ruched the shoulders by sewing down the seam allowances and inserting ties into the channels created. I did a bunch of rows of shirring at the waist so now I have to suck my stomach in all the time. That must be why I look so unhappy. Although I'm actually quite happy with this dress and think it's pretty flattering.

By this age, I know my body pretty well and what flatters it and also what functions for me. As much as I love maxi's, I feel like it's too hard to work in the garden, clean house, etc with all that length. I have always loved tanks and cami's, but now that I'm a certain age and weigh a little more, I feel more comfortable with my shoulders covered a bit more. I remember watching What Not to Wear a lot and Stacy and Clinton always said to show off your narrowest part and then let the rest float away from the body. It is a great piece of advice.

Elena wanted to help with taking pictures so I had to include this one too. Is that how monstrous I look to her? Let that be a reminder to me not to yell, and to smile more, because that must be scary.

Lessons learned:
1. The Kimono Tee makes a really cute, comfy dress and I should make more of these for summer.
2. Smile more; don't scowl so much.
3. Friends really was one of my favorite shows ever.