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.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

KCW - Day 3 - Blouse & Skort

I've been wanting to make a white blouse for a while now and today was the day. This one is Butterick 4176 made from a vintage sheet from my neighbor. I will think of Irene every time Elena wears this. (Irene is now in an Alzheimer's unit and doesn't even realize that her house has been sold. That is so sad to me.) The skort is the free Monkey Bars Skirt from Crafterhours. I moved up to the size 3 width and 4 length this time and the fit is very good. The inner shorts are the size 2 from last year because I was in too big a hurry to trace a new size. (The skirt pieces have all straight lines and can easily be folded to the right size.)

I love the design of this blouse - the pleats and the puffy sleeves are so sweet. It was a pretty easy sew except that set in sleeves in a size 2 isn't really much fun. The Big 4 patterns don't get much love in blogland, but I have 3 I'd say that I just love and have used multiple times. I opted for flat felled seams on most of it. The neck is finished with bias tape. There is a button and loop in the back.

 And yes, Elena is freezing in these photos. It's about 60 degrees but windy as all get out. All done in 2 minutes flat.

I'm still planning on continuing sewing for her each day this week, but I may not blog about it. The list of things she needs isn't very exciting right now - a white t-shirt, some knit capri's in a couple of colors, boring basics. I'd like to get back to sewing for me since Me Made May is right around the corner. Until next time.

Monday, April 20, 2015

KCW Days 1 & 2 - Butterfly Tee & Shorts

This is going to be the fastest post ever. I have approximately 1 hour of battery life left to work off of until I can get a new power cord for my laptop. Oh yikes.

For the Kids Clothes Week Wild Things theme, I was able to make Elena some summer pieces that she really needs. These pieces are in our same color family I've been working with so the mix and match theme continues.

The tee is CINO's Nessie Top, again. Instead of hemming the sleeves, I did little bindings. I also bound the neckline instead of doing a band. It is hemmed with the double needle, which I must say I had been avoiding lately, but she performed beautifully today. She is a fickle thing and this knit from Girl Charlee is quite thin so I was nervous.

The shorts are really Twisted Trousers made before the turquoise capri ones. These were my muslin made out of some lightweight denim. They were worn 3 or 4 times and then Elena tore both knees in
the same day. I hemmed them by making facings and adding little vents at the sides.

The embellishments were done with freezer paper stencils and fabric paint. I sponged on a few colors last night and then added the embroidery this morning. It's like grown-up coloring and it's fun to do.

That's the first 2 days of work. I'm hoping to do some sewing every day and post at least a couple more times this week. Enjoy your week!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Spring Essentials to Mix & Match

I am still committed to not purchasing any clothes for Elena with very few exceptions - socks, jeans (which she doesn't like anyway) and winter coats being the main ones, and possibly swim suits. We do have some ready to wear items handed down to us, but the goal is to sew most everything and be smart about it. I strive to make pieces that Elena will like and will wear a lot. I also don't want her to have so many clothes that each hardly gets worn. While I enjoy making them, it feels wasteful to me.

Her spring wardrobe really started with February & March's Project Run & Play outfits. (February 1, February 2, & March) Then I ordered some more fabrics that would fit in with the purple, green, coral, pink, and turquoise that those outfits included. I'm also considering the fact that Elena really likes to pick her own clothes out now, so I want everything to coordinate as much as possible so it's easy. She may still look ridiculous sometimes (I'm cool with that) if she puts some of the prints together, but otherwise, I hope she'll look pretty good no matter what she picks.

Those are our 3 new pieces I'm showing you today. The pants are the Titchy Threads Twisted Trousers again. I like the 5-pocket styling options with the simplicity of a knit, pull-on waistband. I used floral stretch twill from Girl Charlee.  These are the 2T again, with 2 inches added to the length (at the lengthen line mid thigh). I didn't use any piping this time but added a bit of coral ribbon to the front pockets and back yoke. Elena hates them. She actually cried and begged for leggings. They aren't really that heavy so I'm hoping she'll try them again when she is in a better mood and not being such a threen. They fit her very well.

Next up is the Sofilantjes Otium Sweater in it's most basic version in size 2. I used scraps of green sweater knit left from her big sister's sweater 2 winters ago so they can sort of be twinsies if big sis will allow it. The fabric is from Joann's and has held up great on Olivia's sweater. Being so close to Lake Erie, we'll warm up slowly in the spring and still need sweaters in the morning and evening until early June. It's neutral enough to be versatile.

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As you can see here, she can bend down perfectly easily so hopefully she will accept these pants even though they aren't leggings.

And finally, Elena's favorite new piece - the heathered lilac peplum tee. I used the GYCT Designs Tinley Tee in 3T that I've used several times before. I shortened it and made up the difference with a ruffled flounce that is twice the width of the bottom of the tee. The puffy, gathered sleeves and a skirt are so girly and just what this princess loves. It looks allright with the floral pants, but not as great as I'd expected. A darker purple might have been even better I suppose, but I also bought this same cotton/spandex from Girl Charlee in coral so there will be other tees. Elena prefers this top with some leggings.

I'll be back next week during Kids Clothes Week. I'm planning on a pair of shorts and a tee at the very least, but possibly more. Will you be participating and if so, how are you incorporating the Wild Things theme? I'm not sure how wild I want to get yet, even though I've seen so many inspiring posts.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Pernille Pencil Tunic - A little sewing therapy

The level of crazy got a little too high this last weekend, so I got all the littles in bed, made sure the bigs (teens) were good, and headed down to the basement sewing room. (My poor hubby was still out there dealing with crazy.) There were many interruptions, late into Saturday night, but in the end, it felt so good to make something useful and pretty for someone I love.

My oldest, Olivia,  turned 17 last week. It's pretty unbelievable to me. I'm starting to really feel like my days with her in our household are numbered. I know I don't have much of this phase left. But I've had enough emotions this weekend, so before I start crying, let me just tell you about the tunic I made.

This is pretty much just a shortened Pernille Pencil Dress by Maria Denmark. I won my choice of patterns last year through Skirt Fixation's Challenge Create: Adult Edition. I haven't been too happy with my mid-section lately but I thought maybe I could pull off this dress for myself in sweatshirt fleece since it's thick and not clingy. But alas, it wasn't stretchy enough and therefore too small for me so I asked Olivia if she was interested. With a couple of tweaks, and the removal of several inches of material, it became a pretty cool tunic for her.

If' you've paid attention to all my posts about her clothing choices, you know that I'm lucky that she always chooses modest, conservative clothing. I never have to worry that she will wear a ridiculously short skirt or low-cut top. While her skinny jeans are a little baggy and she never wears leggings without being covered, she still is an artist at heart and likes interesting clothes. She enjoys the design process and has good ideas.

It was her idea to add some kind of bands/facings and also her idea to use the triangle knit that arrived from Girl Charlee last week. It's a perfect match for the navy sweatshirting also from Girl Charlee last year. I threw in a few fun stitches from my Singer, and there you go.

This stitch looks like a blanket stitch, #23 on my machine. It's intended use is for applique. I used it to join all of the raglan sleeve and body pieces. After sewing the seam, I pulled on the 2 pieces to expose the stitches and then ironed it. I think it's cool and it's a bit stretchy so that is what I was really after.

 I used #24 (same thing but spaced wider) for the decorative stitching on the neck band, and wrist and bottom facings.

The back of the dress has darts. They do help a lot with giving it some shape. But I admit, I was being lazy, and kept the darts from my size that were already sewn so they are a little widely spaced for her. 

The triangle knit is quite a bit thinner than the sweatshirt fleece of course so I thought facings would work better than just bands. I sewed the facings to the wrong side of the fleece and then flipped them to the front, ironed the edge under, and sewed them down with the applique stitch. Oh those sleeves, they taught me a good lesson. I thought I was being all cool and finishing them so cleanly by doing the cuffs in the round. But then there was no way to sew down that top edge 5 or 6" up the arm. I had to rip it all out and open the sleeves half way up to do it flat. It bothers me that I didn't foresee that. It also bothers me that there has to be a seem inside that cuff, but I will live.

Well we are both immensely pleased I'd say with this tunic. I can tell she loves it. She is wearing it today with a favorite scarf, gray leggings and the messenger bag I made her last year. The brown sandals would probably not be her first choice but she always gives up shoes and just wears sandals for Lent. Since this February was the coldest EVER on record here in northeast Ohio and March hasn't been kind either, she did wear socks with those sandals some days. She just wanted you to know that the sandals aren't part of the look. And hey, she let me put her face on the blog!

Besides enjoying getting away and sewing a bit Saturday night, I got to enjoy seeing her wear it all day today. And that is the best part and helps wash away some of the drama of the weekend. I predict the need for much more sewing therapy in this coming week so stay tuned. I'll be back.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Sew the Show - Boardwalk Empire/1920's Fashion

I'm sewing along with Alida from Alida Makes again for Sew the Show - Boardwalk Empire. I don't have Amazon Prime so I didn't watch this one, but I looked at tons of images from the show online. I went with more of a general 1920's feel in an outfit that is practical (of course) for my life. More like this image that I found on Pinterest.

WORK IT! Career wardrobe history 1920s Style-setting Coco Chanel dressed Jazz Age career girls in boxy, boyish suits made of soft jersey. Hemlines rose, and flapper fashionistas made the most of their newly discovered lower legs with patterned stockings and vibrantly colored shoes.

The skirt is an adaptation of Simplicity 4138 (out of print now), a 6 panel flared skirt with an elastic waist. I changed it to a side zip for a better fit. With all those seams, it was easy to just angle each one in a bit and add the zipper on the left. I topstitched all but the side seams for a little detail. You probably can't see it though because I used matching thread to keep it subtle. The fabric is a chambray I believe. It's always hard to say when I find these things at the thrift store. And even though it is the orange-red color, I have at least 3 things in my closet that look good with it.

I'm showing it here with this t-shirt I made last summer and never blogged about. The trim (actually 2 strips of lace and a ribbon) fits with the 20's embellishments. After the first washing, the trim shrunk up and made it appear a bit ruched, and it actually looks pretty good that way. I think I used the free Scoop Top tee from Kristen at Skirt as Top, but I widened the neckline if I recall. The scarf was a birthday present from my mom this winter and adds some sparkle. The cloche hat was a gift from my daughter last Christmas.

Well thanks for not laughing at me, I hope. I'm enjoying sewing for myself again and plan to keep it up and push myself more. I also plan to buy some self tanner for my legs if I do another skirt. Yikes.

Can't wait to see what show you pick next, Alida!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

PRP March - Reversible Knot Top

A quick look through Elena's closet reveals that she already has 8 everyday dresses, 3 fancy dresses, and 4 twirly skirts for this spring/summer. So even though I had two absolutely perfect, coordinating prints that I wanted to use to make Jess's Knot Dress, my OPD (obsessively practical disorder) wouldn't allow me to do that. Judging by Elena's appetite, we're heading for a growth spurt so I'll save those fabrics for a dress version later this summer. For now, we have a fully reversible knot top and some capri pants for this month's Project Run & Play challenge.

Both fabrics for the top are quilting cottons from Joann's. The floral one is a premium quilting cotton and has more weight to it. The geometric one is lightweight, and unfortunately, Elena doesn't like it much. Sad face. To make it fully reversible, I sewed the side seams of the outer and inner and then placed one inside the other. I sewed around the entire top edges first. After trimming and turning and topstitching that part, I worked on the ruffle and hem.

I cut a strip 2.5" high and double the width of the hem for the ruffle. I sewed it into a loop and pressed it in half lengthwise before I gathered it and basted it to the outer piece. Then I pulled the lining all the way up and over matching the side seams and pinning my way around. It makes a funky looking donut like thing. I left a 3" opening and sewed all the rest of the way around. After trimming the seam allowance and turning it, I closed the opening by topstitching once all the way around. But it doesn't make Elena love the other side any better. She would only flip it over for a few seconds so I didn't get many pictures of that.

As you can see, I made some edits to the design. Besides making a top instead of dress, I also skipped the back opening and knot. Elena is just so narrow I a) didn't think she'd need it and b) thought it would overwhelm her slim body. I like it simple like this, but the ruffle is still a nod to the skirt.

Pants have been a sewing struggle for me. I've tried some of the blogland favorites and haven't had much luck. Without naming names, they are always too big, even when I make ridiculously small sizes. I have found a great pattern here in the Titchy Threads Twisted Trousers. I made a 2T out of some stretch denim bottomweight from Joann's. There is a shorten/lengthen line mid-thigh so I took out 3 inches there to make capri's and still have the seams twist all the way to front and center. It makes a very cool affect when highlighted with piping.

 My error was in not adjusting the length of the rise for her typically 4T height. I will do that next time. So you can see her underpants popping out in the above picture. Instead of doing a knit casing with the elastic inside, I found matching elastic at Joann's and just used it straight. It is so soft and comfortable. Just look at all that cool piping. And below is one of the rare pictures of the reverse side of the top.

 Look at the flexibility in that ankle. Anyone else thinking I have a little dancer or gymnast here?