Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Refashion Purple Passion

Improvisational refashion sewing is the best. No pattern, no rules, no risk. If it doesn't turn out, all I've lost is a dress I haven't worn in years. This particular top came from a maternity/nursing dress I bought on clearance at Target before Elena was born. It had a low draped front tank top with an empire waist with a same fabric belt and a gathered skirt. The fabric is a rayon lycra. It's very stretchy and drapey.

My summer capsule wardrobe is pretty well set. The only way I can justify sewing for myself is to make it cost nothing at all and be a useful everyday piece. The color of this will carry into fall with a cardigan or jacket so that is a bonus.

As for construction, like I said, this was improvisational, make-it-work kind of sewing. I used only the skirt and belt pieces of the dress. There was less fabric available than I thought so it had to be sleeveless. The bodice pieces of the Sofilantjes Otium Sweater worked great. The back piece was left as is except for removing about an inch in the width at the armholes (but not the depth). For the front pieces, I retraced the half pattern to give me a full sized front piece and then trimmed one shoulder off on the diagonal from a shoulder/neck point to the opposite side underarm.

EXCEPT, and there's always an exception with a refashion you know, except that I didn't have quite enough fabric for the full width on one of the front pieces. I was about 2 inches short. Oh well, I forged ahead saving that obstacle for later but thinking that this would probably not work out. I should also mention, that I cut the pieces reusing the original hem of the dress. Yay for not having to hem slinky rayon knit.

I sewed the front pieces to the back at the shoulders and draped it over myself to see if I was totally off-base and should just quit here. But no, it was looking pretty good and the odds of success were improving. So I used the belt to make one long band for the entire length of the front and back neck edges. I had 6" left and took it as another sign that this just might work out. For the armholes, I just turned them under and stitched them down with the double needle. I sewed the one side seam with the back and both front pieces. Then I sewed the other side seam with just the back and inner front piece and tried it back on to figure out what to do about the piece that was too short to reach the side seam.

A bit of playing around with forming some soft pleats and BAM! I pinned it well, carefully took it off, folded the edge under on that front piece and just sewed it down. I was pretty please with myself. Projects like this are so fun to me. The only thing I wish is that it was just a bit longer, but that was all the fabric there was and it's all good. I just feel a little self conscious in such a body hugging shape with a large-ish chest. I am very happy to report that the crossover holds very well and doesn't gape open or shift around and need re-adjusting at all.

Do you like to just wing it like this or do you need a pattern? It's funny because I'm not all that spontaneous or adventurous in most things, but refashion sewing is my safe place to get crazy. Not only do I feel comfortable experimenting like this, but I get quite a little thrill from it. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? I'll call this one a gain.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Sew The Show: Parenthood

I'm participating in Show the Show again. I have been watching Parenthood like crazy and I'm still only halfway into Season 3, after a whole month! I have gotten pretty caught up in it and have stayed up too late too many nights, but that is the only chance I get to watch it. I don't even know what July's show is yet, but I feel compelled to finish Parenthood so I don't know how that is going to work out. I hope July's show is something I've watched before or that doesn't have as many episodes and seasons or I'm totally screwed.

I initially thought Sarah was going to be my inspiration, but the more I watched, the more it had to be Kristina because I can relate to her the most. She is the dedicated SAHM (mostly) that is capable of wearing all the hats. My family is shockingly similiar to hers. Working husband, stay-at-home-wife, daughter, son, big gap to youngest daughter. We have similar values, parenting styles, and problems. Although I do not have a child with Aspergers.

So what I like about Kristina's style is that she dresses pretty nicely everyday. I like the dresses she wears on special occasions and her work clothes (which hasn't been much in the first 3 season I've seen). Her everyday clothes are lots of cardigans over button down shirts and t-shirts. I mentioned my gingham sleeveless button down in my last post, and now here it is, Kristina Braverman style.

I used the Sewaholic Granville, which I actually won by luck of the draw in the very first month of Sew the Show: The Honorouble Woman. I went sleeveless because I know I won't wear a long sleeved shirt like this in the fall or winter. I really don't like how constricting the sleeves and cuffs feel,  but then again I've never worn a homemade one fit just for me. This one is made from a cotton blend gingham and doesn't even require ironing so let's do a happy dance for that (My other issue with button down shirts.)

This was my very first buttondown and it went smoothly as all get out. I thought it would be so much harder. The pattern itself and the directions made it quite simple. I have no fears of doing it again. Even the buttonholes went without a hitch. Knock on wood.

The thing I relate to about Kristina, is that she gives and gives and gives. She is trying so hard to make everything great for everyone. Her son Max makes her work pretty hard, but he can't really help that. She still strives to be the perfect wife and mother everyday. Her family really appreciates her too. They know how good they have it. I feel that way too, for the most part, since my life isn't a TV show. I enjoy taking care of my family and consider it my honor to serve them (and therefore serve God).

Like Kristina, I have a daughter (currently 17), a son (15) and then an eleven year gap to my youngest daughter (4). I too have struggled with how to find a family activity that is going to please everyone. Any ideas anyone? It's getting slightly easier now that she is 4, but it still feels like there are going to be a couple people unhappy with any choice. I have to wait up for the oldest to get home at night, but then be up at 6ish with the youngest. That sucks big time. I have to keep Elena out of the room when older teens are watching scary movies, and try to keep her from growing up too fast, But, there are some really great things too. Last night, Andrew read a book to Elena at bedtime. In her bed and everything. I didn't ask him to. He offered. She loved it. They both play with her all the time. Olivia paints with her and since she can drive, she takes her to the beach or for hikes in the woods. (I stay home and watch Parenthood) Andrew shows her how to build with his old Lego's and play video games. It's great for all of them I think.

Besides Kristina, I also identify with Camille quite a bit. I think Camille is the older version of Kristina. She has reached a point in her life where she seems to feel a bit lost. She gave and gave so much for so long putting her kids and her husband first and kind of lost her herself in the process. She always had hobbies and interests of her own (like me) but the needs of her family came first. I sometimes wonder if that will be me in the future. I've been out of the professional workforce for 17 years now.  So in honor of Camille, I also made a tunic (or a possibly wearable muslin at least with some free to me fabric) that I think she might like.

Most people would probably wear leggings or skinny jeans, but I see Camille as more of the flowy pants type. The tunic is the Liesl and Co. Gallery Tunic. It went together easily, but I don't really like it on me. (Hence no head in the pictures) It feels too long and big and the neck is too closed for me. Before I put the pattern away, I went ahead and traced the next smaller size, did the FBA, and shortened it 3 inches so it will be ready to go, if I want to try again.

I want the neck to stay open but it won't on it's own. When I make the next one, I'm going to make it more of a v-neck. My great plan is simply to change the outer vertical lines on the placket to slanted lines. And then I'll need to shorten the collar piece a bit to match. Do you think that will work? Has anyone tried that? It may help to use really lightweight interfacing as well, so it's softer. This was still a great learning piece though, even if I don't wear it ever. Maybe just to bed?

Well it's July 1st already so thanks Sew the Show for keeping the linky open. Modern Family is the next show and that is one I've been watching since the beginning so I can just watch a few re-runs and keep watching Parenthood too. See you all again soon. With what I have no idea, but I'll work on something.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

My Summer Capsule Wardrobe

I joined the Capsule Wardrobe bandwagon this spring. I cleaned out my closet (not that it was ever very full) and put a lot of thought into what I kept. There is a wealth of information out there about this concept but my favorite source is Becca DuVal and her blog FreeNotion.There is a Facebook group she runs as well. All the ladies give great feedback and suggestions on fitting advice, color choices, patterns, fabrics, etc.

I am a minimalist at heart anyway, so reducing my wardrobe to the recommended 2 dresses, 2 jackets, 9 bottoms and 16 tops doesn't freak me out. I haven't counted lately but I'd say I have 3 dresses, 3 cardigans, 2 capris, 4 shorts, 2 skirts, and maybe a dozen tops that I actually wear regularly. My pieces are an approximate 50-50 blend of handmade vs RTW.

Above are some of the tops I've made myself recently. The tanks are from some basic Simplicity pattern that can be a top or dress. I love both and wear them a lot. The top right one is         made with rayon but with a knit neckband. It hasn't gotten a lot of wear because I feel like it's too dark for summer. And yet, the black with white stripes Deer & Doe Plaintain Tee is getting regular wear. Weekly, I'd say. The coral feather print in the bottom middle is some crazy variation of a basic tee with lots of pintucks and a banded waist. I'm meh about that one but I wear it around the house anyway because I like the color. The last one is coral with shoulder accents using the Maria Denmark Kimono Tee. I wear it plenty too.

These shorts were made last week using the Peekaboo Patternshop Summer Lovin' Shorts with the longest inseam. They have slanted pockets on the front and a comfy knit waistband. I added pockets to the back and narrowed the legs. They are made out of stretch cotton sateen from Joann's. I think I'll wear them quite a bit. They can be dressed up or down so that is great for the capsule wardrobe thing.

I pushed myself to cross off a sewing bucket list item - I made proper shorts with a zip fly! I was pretty proud of myself. They are the Greenstyle Creations Taylor Shorts. What a nice pattern. The advantage of making my own is that I can adjust my waistband because my waist is quite a bit smaller than my booty. I still haven't gotten any real pictures of them but here's a bad out-of-focus selfie for proof that they exist. I used navy stretch cotton sateen from Joann's for these.

I crossed off a second bucket list item - a buttondown shirt with collar and collar stand. That really wasn't difficult either. I made it sleeveless, so that's a bit of cheat since it eliminated the cuffs and corresponding plackets. I used some light blue gingham so it feels vintage. Or maybe just frumpy. This time of year, my hair can go crazy with the humidity, and I can't stand eye make-up because of allergies so I feel frumpy quite often anyway. I made this shirt for Sew the Show: Parenthood. I'll post about it separately. Also not shown, is a boring and basic gray knit skirt. Simple, A-line, comfy and useful.

I'm feeling pretty well set for now so I can't help but start thinking about my fall wardrobe. I'm curious to see how many pieces from summer carry over with added layers. Anything I make from here on out will definitely keep that in mind.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Swimsuit Cover-up Hack of McCalls 6785

One of my favorite things about being able to sew, is the ability to be self-sufficient. I like to solve problems. If I recognize a need, I can run down to the basement sewing room and rummage through the pattern and fabric stash and make something. I LOVE that.

The day before Elena was to begin her first official swimming lessons, I realized she needed a new swimsuit cover-up. I wanted it to be a pullover dress, to have a hood, and to be absorbent. So I went through the patterns I own, and came back to McCalls 6785 once again. This way I'd already have most of the pattern pieces (bodice, sleeves, hood, and kangaroo pocket) and could just add my own gathered skirt. I also changed things up a bit by lining the hood, adding trim to the pocket piece and binding the seam that connects the hood to the bodice for a clean finish inside. I've used this pattern half a bajillion times before so I knew it would fit well.

The fabric is vintage 1970's orange terry cloth with a stripe woven into it. I used the stripes vertically for the skirt portion since it didn't need to be stretchy there and I was short on fabric. Plus it looks cool. The plaid accent fabric is cotton jersey from Girl Charlee ages ago. They don't seem to have it anymore in this colorway, but there are several other color options in this plaid, and also some adorable ginghams.

That boy in the lifeguard chair is my son working his first job. So proud of him.

Swimming lessons are going soooo great. She was already comfortable in the water, so I knew it would be fun for her, but I can't believe how much she has learned in the first 5 days. Yesterday she turned 4 and marked it with her first jump off the diving board! Some classmates needed to be coaxed to the end and "helped" off a little, but she walked right out there and jumped to her teacher. Such an adventurous little girl and so much fun to be around.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

More Twisted Shorts & a Halter

This outfit and this post was supposed to be about the shorts, but I think the halter top is stealing the show. So let me just tell you quickly about the shorts (which I LOVE) and then we'll get to the top.


These shorts are pretty much the same as the last turquoise ones. I used the Titchy Threads Twisted Trousers pattern again but with the racer short modification I learned from Dana at Made. I switched out the pockets for the ones from the Japanese shorts made recently too. Apparently, I am incapable of sewing a pattern as is. ;-P But I'm pretty glad about that. The fabric is the scraps left from one yard of stretch twill from Girl Charlee used to make Twisted Trousers in the full length. The bias trim was pre-made and inherited.  The waist band is white cotton lycra from Joann's (leftover scraps).

The halter began as Butterick 4503, with a couple of changes. First, I cut the back as one straight piece instead of with the split effect. Then, I have no idea what the heck I did wrong, but my straps were not nearly long enough to reach around her neck so I had a Tim Gunn make it work moment, and added a 4" strip. It still bothers me that I don't know why or how that happened. I am trying to force myself to let it go and not pull the pattern pieces back out and see what the heck I did.

I also changed the front by adding another layer and tying it up in the middle for a girly detail. I started out without a clear picture of what I was going for; I just knew I didn't want it plain like in the pattern. I cut that piece on the bias for added detail and just played around with it until I liked it. The fabric is some adorable two tone gingham cotton that I inherited; same with that cute button. Even the pattern and thread were inherited so this top cost NOTHING!

An outfit like this screams "summer" to me. It reminds me of things I wore as a child, but in a modern way. Our summer has gotten off to a slow start with crazy weather. We are now ready for the hot days and for lots of popsicles!

Monday, June 8, 2015

All the Nessie Tops

I know have used the Craftiness Is Not Optional Nessie Top pattern a lot, but it wasn't until today that I counted them up. I have made 13 different Nessie's in many different variations. Sheesh, I can't even believe it so I thought I'd do a round-up and show you all the basics and all the hacks and embellishments.

Most have been blogged about previously so I'll include links to learn and see more. They are in no particular order.

1. Nessie Rides Again 
This Nessie was lengthened a couple of inches just under the armpit to keep the shape. I also added flat piping under the yoke and lace trim to the sleeves. The fabric was thrifted.

This very recent make probably bears the least resemblance to a Nessie. I mashed the Nessie up with the Crafterhours free racerback tank/dress pattern. I like the swingy shape of the Nessie and used it also to gauge the width of the front and back pieces because the racerback tank has some extra width to allow for gathers.

3. This is a straight up Nessie with the Peter Pan collar and some pearl beads on a floral fabric from Joann's. I think it was a Doodles print, but a couple of years ago already. I never did blog about it for some reason, but it has gotten a lot of wear. 

4. T is for Texture, adding reverse applique technique
This Nessie is my all-time favorite. This was actually a test. I was interested in trying an Alabama Chanin style dress for Olivia but I wanted to try a smaller project first. The funny thing about this being my favorite is that I invested absolutely nothing but my time into it, and was greatly rewarded. The green jersey was upcycled from a standard box tee, the magenta from another tee, and the cream is a scrap of interlock. I already owned the beads and the 2 sequins and the thread for the embroidery.

This pattern is super quick and easy, especially when you reuse the hems for the sleeves and bottom and the neckband too! It has fit her for over a year now, and it will be a sad day when she outgrows it.

5. Blue Floral Gathered Hack
The Nessie creator, Jess of CINO, showed this hack on her blog and I had to make one too. I used a thrifted jersey fabric and paired it with stretch velour leggings for one of Elena's very favorite outfits this past winter. I love this version too.

6. The Ready for Anything Outfit
I made this Nessie during this past Kids Clothes Week. A mostly white tee is always really useful. It was super quick too because I used a box tee to make this one also, which means reusing hems and the neckband ribbing. Woot woot.

7. Butterfly Tee & Shorts
This one was also made during this past Kids Clothes Week with the Wild Things theme. I used the basic pattern and the only change I made was to bind the neck instead of using a band, and I bound the sleeves instead of hemming. It is embellished with a combination of paint (freezer paper stencil) and embroidery. I have a tee in this same fabric so now I have to be careful not to be twinsies.

8. Rainbow Bright for Project Run & Play Sew-a-long
This Nessie only got worn a couple of times before it got paint on the front. I loved the bright colors together, but it isn't my usual color choices. Combine that with the paint stains front and center, and this one spent the winter in a drawer. :-(

9. A Plaid Nessie with a Kangaroo Pocket
I borrowed a kangaroo pocket pattern piece from a commercial pattern, bound the edges with ribbing and matched those plaids up like a boss. This one has been worn so, so much. The neckband is getting stretched out and wonky now and the whole thing is a bit short anyway. How sad.

10. An Incredibles Birthday Nessie Top
To make this version of a Nessie, I redrew the sleeves to be a dolman style cap sleeve. That means you have only a front and back piece so it's even quicker. What was not quick was the freezer paper stencil on the front. It took me a few tries to draw the emblem, then to trace it and cut it out of the freezer paper, and many coats of fabric paint to cover that dark red. It was ready just in time for the party and got a lot of wear. It is really borderline too short now. Oh, stop growing kiddo.

I used the same modification to make another out of some of that popular monkey fabric and she loved that one too, but it didn't make the blog.

11. Merida Princess Dress
Elena wanted to be Merida from Brave for Halloween. I majorly lengthened a Nessie made out of stretch velvet and bought and made a few accessories including the wig and a bow and arrow set.

She liked it so well, that I made a red one as well. She slept in them often and her little friends and her always play dress up when they come over.

So that is all the Nessies so far. I can't even guess how many more there will be in the years to come considering the pattern goes up to size 8. Elena currently wears a 3 with a 4 length so we are nowhere near outgrowing it. 

The lesson I've learned lately is that you don't need a lot of patterns. It's fun to have a lot of them, but it's not necessary. It takes a good deal of time and energy to print and put together a pattern, trace it and then find out if it works for your child or not. I like a sure thing and like to find ways to just change it up. I already know what my next Nessie will be when Elena needs another t-shirt. It involves a change to that yoke piece and I'm excited to try it. The question is, can I be patient or will I just go ahead and make it sooner rather than later?

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Twisted Shorts & a Foxy Tank

Elena still needs more shorts and after the last shorts I made for her, I needed to go back to a TNT pattern. I grabbed my trusty Titchy Threads Twisted Trousers pattern and the fabric scraps left from making Elena's Twisted Capri's (seen here) and whipped up a nice pair.

I was looking for a quick sew, therefore, no pockets. Elena isn't into pockets anyway. The fabric is a stretch bottomweight from Joann's. I changed them up a bit by bias binding the edges (a quilting cotton from Joann's). In a short length, you don't get a lot of seam twisting like you would with pants, but enough to bring the opening a little to the front. I wanted a longer length short for her because she is always all over the floor playing and I want everything covered. I also used more of the matching elastic like I did with the capri's. It is so soft and really holds them snug.

A blurry action shot.

Check out this tutorial from Dana at Made to see how to make racer shorts. It's a super simple modification. I chose this detail for 2 reasons. 1. To add the coordinating fabric for interest. 2. To have "vents" for ease of movement.

If you remember my March Project Run & Play look, then you know that these shorts will match the reversible knot top I made for that. And in keeping with my goal to have not a ton of clothes for Elena but to have everything mix and match, I wanted to use this cute fox fabric from Girl Charlee to make a top.

This top is a mash up of two patterns. If you know me, you can guess one of them. I've only used it 6 or 8 times already in the past year - it's the CINO Nessie, yet again. I combined that with the free Racerback Tank pattern from Crafterhours, with one change to the back. The pattern has 2 pieces for the back - a yoke and then a wider bottom piece to gather on. I cut it as one piece and used the Nessie to gauge how wide to make that. So the PAB pattern was essentially just used for the racerback shape.

She's looking weary in that picture isn't she? She is terrified of bugs and on the lookout for them. She shrieks over the tiniest ant. It's going to be a long summer I think.

And continuing our new photoshoot tradition, we'll end with another selfie. I really like this one.