Friday, November 13, 2015

Fall Kidiform: Cords and Bimaas and Turtlenecks

It's gotten colder out. Fall isn't kidding around anymore. This week has been in the 40's and 50's and crazy windy. We've had rain and hail, and only a little sunshine. Cold and wet makes me feel chilly. Elena never seems cold, but I felt the need to make her some more warm things. I don't know why I didn't make myself more warm things. I know it doesn't make any sense.

We are on a strict spending freeze. We are within mere months of paying off our house and now that the end of the mortgage is really, really close, nothing can sway me from my course. I could only shop my stash, so thank goodness it has some really good stuff in it. Is it just me or is it impossible to source stretch corduroy at a store or online? I can't ever find it anywhere so repurposing is the best route. I recently bought a few pairs of very large women's cords at half price at the thrift store for $2/pair. I can afford that. I'm rambling, let me just show you what I made.

These cords (wrinkled as all heck because I took them off of her for pictures) are Peek-a-Boo Skinny Jeans but with a jersey knit and elastic waistband. They are reborn from the ugliest high waisted, darted, relaxed fit, tapered leg cords you ever saw. They were happy to be transformed into cute skinnies with gold topstitching. And if you follow me on Instagram you already know that I ran out of gold thread with 2" to go on the last hem so they have a little bit of tan topstitching on the back too.

Also at the thrift store that same day, I found a woman's tee of exceptionally good quality - thick and soft. It was a mock turtleneck, but on a 4 year old, it's a full turtleneck. I used the Sofilantjes Otium Sweater pattern and made it kind of big and comfy. Elena rarely complains about things being uncomfortable, but she definitely gravitates to the more comfortable fabrics. Soft, stretchy corduroy and thick, soft knit are perfect. and this outfit comes in at $3. That has to be a savings of at least $25 to go towards the house payment.

I have 2 more pairs of cords to repurpose, if needed. We'll wait and see a bit. But we needed more long sleeved tees so I went through the stash again and made a hooded LouBee Clothing Bimaa. I've made 4 or 5 Bimaa's before, but never the hooded version. I really love it. I had to get super creative to eek this out of less than a half yard of Girl Charlee cotton lycra (the mustard color) and some scraps of leftover Mabel Madison Stenzo knit.

Elena isn't supposed to be on the blog for a while, but this doesn't qualify as a photo shoot because we were just outside playing on one of the brighter days and I snuck a couple of pictures. She was freezing by the way so we put a jacket on right after and kept on playing.

Anyhow, the point of this post is ... I don't actually know. I guess it's that you can make good stuff out of other good stuff and it doesn't have to cost much at all. Also, that these 3 patterns are so good, I could almost just use them for everything, all the time. So I'll keep reminding myself of that so that I can stick to the budget and get this house paid off.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Butterick Moto Jacket

 For some crazy reason, I thought this would be a good time to push myself and my sewing skills and make a jacket. I picked up Butterick 6169 a Lisette Moto Jacket and Dress pattern at a recent Joann's sale. This wool blend houndstooth fabric was given to me so there was little to lose if it didn't work out. Overall, I'm glad I did it. I think it turned out pretty decent.

I made a couple of mistakes so it's far from perfect. First off, it's too big. All over. I took the sides and center back in about an inch each but it's really big in the shoulders and high bust. I forgot to compare the finished measurements and just went off the sizing chart measurements. Dumb mistake. Second, I forgot to put the shoulder pads in. That would have helped the structure there. Third, It's a bit bunchy right at the neck/shoulder seams. Not a great job sewing there. I'll be more careful in that spot next time.

The things I like about this jacket are the princess seams, the pockets, and the assymetrical zipper. The instructions are good and there is a sewalong on the Lisette website that offers some hand holding and some additional suggestions. They break it up into 5 days, I did mine in 3 sessions over 2 days (not counting cutting). I have a hard time leaving things unfinished once I start. It's why I rarely do 1000 piece jigsaw puzzles at home, or delve into 600 page fiction novels. I just can't leave it alone until it's done.

The sewalong suggests adding some canvas to the bottom hem to give it structural support and I think that would have been a good idea. This fabric is fairly thick, but it looks wimpy along the bottom. I'd probably add it to the sleeve hems as well. Also very visible in the picture below is my not so great job at the neckine. I'm not sure what is up with it, but it makes me wish the pattern had a collar to hide it.

 But that lining is beautiful and I am still impressed with myself for trying. I am a life-long learner. It's important to me to keep pushing, keep growing. This one is OK, but the next time will be better.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Simple Skirt and Embellished Tee

I was just putting Elena to bed and picking out her clothes for school tomorrow, when I realized I never did show you this outfit. These pieces are classic and represent my style again - simple, comfy, old and new fashioned, some handiwork, and inexpensive to make. 

I made these weeks ago, months actually. It was still super hot out but I had time for hand-worked embellishments and experimenting. The pattern is the basic GYCT Tinley Tee made from cotton interlock from Joann's I believe. I think this was about a 3/4 yard piece found in the 50% off remnant sale so it cost about $2.

I made the rose by following this tutorial. This was my first attempt and I think it turned out pretty good. I wanted to keep the tee one color to keep it neutral-ish but I didn't want it to be plain. You know how many hours you can kill on Pinterest looking at stuff like this? And then you just have to make a decision and do something at some point. My dad's famous line to us growing up was always, "Do something, even if it's wrong." Of course care goes into a decision, but you can't let yourself get bogged down with all of the options and never choose any. I'm pleased with my choice.

You should realize by now that I really have a thing for corduroy. It screams warm and cozy to me. I think this particular print and color combo is just amazing. I seriously love it. Of course I can't tell you who makes it or where to get it because it is a thrift store find. Am I the luckiest? I got 3 yards of this for $2. I cut a rectangle, hemmed it and made an elastic casing. Can it be any easier?

So that's what Elena is wearing to school tomorrow with some thick tights and her choice of shoes. I'd pick her brown combat boots, but she is in love with some sparkly new silver maryjanes I bought her this week so we will see. If she has trouble choosing, I'll have to pass on my dad's advice and tell her to pick something even if it's wrong.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Elena: Quilted Sweatshirt & Pants

Why does Elena get all the cute things? If this fabric was anything other than hearts, I would have made this for myself. This quilted knit sweatshirt fabric is from Joann's. It is some cozy stuff.

I used the Imagine Gnats Tumble Tee pattern with the long sleeve add-on to make this tunic. I added something like 3 inches to the shirt length so it is somewhere between the pattern markings for shirt and dress length. I made the front 1-1/2" shorter than the back and made side vents following the method in the True Bias Mini Sutton Blouse pattern.

I sewed the doily on by going around in 3 different circles to make sure it all stays flat. The longest circle was the one around the entire scalloped edge. Just as I started feeling like this was a real pain, I was back at the beginning and happy to be done with that. It's just a lot of lifting the presser foot and adjusting over and over and over again.

This fabric is quite thick which can make for some bulky seams as I learned when serging on the sleeves. I had planned on cuffs and a traditional ribbed neckband, but I think the seam would have stuck out funny. I decided that the best way to finish the sleeves and neckline was with a simple turn and top stitch with a double needle. This way turned out very well.

You know the main reason I sew for Elena? Because she is a bean pole. It's her 2T width and 5T length that make it a necessity. These pants may look strangely long and skinny to you, and they are, but they fit her perfectly. 

I was really winging it with these pants. I started with the Peek-a-Boo Pattern Shop Skinny Jeans, but modified them a lot. 1.) No fly  2.) Combined the back yoke and back leg pieces into one piece 3.) Narrowed them even more 4.) Changed the shape and construction of the pockets and 5.) Used ribbing and 1-1/2" elastic for the waistband. 

Again, the thickness of the fabric and seams is what drove some of the changes. I eliminated the pocket bag to reduce bulk and just sewed the back piece behind it. Is there a name for that? It's like a reverse patch pocket. That's what I'm calling it. For the waistband, I didn't want to sew/serge on a waistband and have a thick seam exposed so I sewed the opened up flat ribbing to the inside of the pants in the round. I pressed under 3/8" on the open edge. I laid the elastic in and folded the ribbing over it tucking in the pressed edge. I sewed it on from the outside with a zigzag stitch covering the first line of stitching. Does that make sense? It definitely all lays nice and flat.

I don't really intend for her to wear the 2 pieces together. She can of course, but I'd rather split them up and mix them with some of her other pieces. That's the beauty of the capsule wardrobe. And now, I think I can really say Elena's fall/winter capsule is complete. Besides maybe a Christmas dress, I don't think she needs anything else until spring. I know I'll never make it that long without making something for her, but I'm going to try my best. There are plenty of other people in this house to sew for, and plenty of other things needing my attention.

Thanks for reading and I hope you have an awesome weekend. My whole family will be busy with a swimming meet. Only one member of the family will actually swim, but my husband and I will volunteer as timers and such and the oldest will have to watch the youngest for the whole day so that's that. Maybe I can get a picture of Andrew wearing the shorts I recently made him and then he can make an appearance on the blog. Hmmm, I wonder if he would. 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

KCW Day 4: Lined Twisted Trousers & a Tee

Knowing I would be super busy Tuesday of this week, I sewed up these pants on Sunday morning to wear that day. It was raining and sleeting all day and these were ready just in the nick of time. I made the tee up Wednesday in about 30 minutes.

The tee is a mash up of McCalls 6785 raglan top/tunic/dress with the CINO Nessie top hemline and swingy shape. The bodice fabric is interlock from the remnant bin at Joann's and the sleeves and neckband are from her big sister's old t-shirt. Comfy, easy, and fast. I didn't have to hem the sleeves since I used the existing hem.

I've made rather a lot of Twisted Trousers already, but one variation I hadn't tried yet was the completely reversible option. I bought the fine wale corduroy and the flannel at Joann's on Friday when I saw the weekend weather forecast. These pants are sooooooo soft and cozy. (Find the pattern here.)

Love those twisting seams and the flannel cuff.
I didn't add any piping because I didn't want to add any extra bulk since they would be lined. I did do pockets on the front and back of the corduroy layer, but nothing extra on the flannel layer. The method of construction is another one of those times when it seems impossible, but if you just follow the directions, when you pull it out at the end, it will result in a beautifully finished pair of pants with no exposed seams anywhere. Sewing magic.

Excuse the wrinkles, she has already worn them before getting pictures.

She now has one pair of jeans, one pair of cords, and this lined pair of cords so I think that will be enough real pants along with 2 pairs of sweatpants (one to be made this week), many pairs of leggings, and 3 or 4 skirts. So as fun as these pants are to make, I'm sticking with my minimalist plans and not making more.

The irony of sewing a minimalist capsule wardrobe for my daughter is that she is more obsessed with clothes than the average child. I'm guessing that for the parent who just goes to the sale at the mall and buys a whole wardrobe at once and puts it in the child's closet, the child doesn't really think about how it got there and just wears it. My child however, sees me planning, and sewing, and photographing and blogging and sees too much importance being put on clothes. She has shown some annoying to me behaviors like showing everyone her knew clothes and asking me if I made her anything knew while she was at school. So I fired her as my model. I will still sew for her and maybe blog some of it, but I'm keeping her out of it for a while. There are far more important things for her to be thinking about, probably me too.

Monday, October 19, 2015

KCW Day 1 - Moto Dress

I know I said Elena didn't need anymore clothes for fall, but I was wrong. We were faced with our first cold, wet weekend with winter-like weather so I was inspired to sew up a few more outfits this week. I have plans for sweat pants, a sweatshirt/tunic, some flannel lined corduroy pants, at least one more long sleeved tee, and this tunic/dress.

All fabrics for this motorcycle themed tunic came from my stash. The motorcycle jersey from Girl Charlee is leftover scraps from making hubby a t-shirt. The sparkly metallic knit is so completely synthetic and came to me through my mother and heaven knows where she got it. The black is upcycled from an adult t-shirt. I used a basic t-shirt pattern in it's full length and added a double layer ruffle. Easy Peasy. I managed to sew it up in several short bursts while we both combat colds. The sun came out and it went up to 60 degrees so we even went out for pictures.

Elena loves it. She thinks she looks like a rock star. I think it's ok and fun all that, but it's not my taste. My style is disguised in the shape. The ruffles and simplicity are me, the fabrics are her. So that's cool.

So Day 1 is a success. Day 2 is going to be rough to find time in but I'll do my best. Anyone have any particular sweatpants or jogger like patterns they really recommend?

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Sew Elena: Circle Shorts & a woven Nessie

Elena didn't need another outfit. At all. But she got a new one anyway because I was so inspired by a recent post from my Finnish friend, Krista, who blogs at Helmoja ja hepeneita. (She is awesome by the way.) So the outfit Krista made her little girl just spoke to me, or screamed at me actually, that even if Elena didn't need the outfit, I needed the experience of making it. Sewing this sweet outfit was a real joy. Go ahead and laugh at me, I'm used to it.

Even though this make was largely about me, I tried to at least think a bit about how these pieces could fit into her fall/winter wardrobe and be useful and appealing to her. Some leftover gray ponte de roma sounded like the perfect choice for the circle shorts. The wrong side of the fabric will slide nicely over thick tights on cold days.

Circle shorts? Yep. I think this goes beyond culottes. My not so ladylike 4 year old can squat on a rock and be covered so that is cool. To make a pattern piece, I combined a full circle skirt pattern piece which is a quarter circle (you with me?) with a flat front shorts pattern. I laid a transparent piece of paper over the 2 pieces and traced the quarter circle skirt for the side seam and the crotch curve of the shorts for the inner seam. So basically a quarter circle skirt piece with a crotch curve extending out one side. The waists matched up so it was easy. The waistband is a separate piece with 3/4" elastic inside. I made a muslin and it looked good so I went with it and used up the last of that ponte, pretty much.

The shorts also have 2 patch pockets on the front for a bit of decoration, while keeping them neutral.

So the top uses up more of that thrift store gingham sheet used also for her Mini Sutton blouse because it is just a muslin, technically. Some people (i.e. my husband) may think it is too babyish. But I like my little girls to look like little girls and not miniature teens or adults so it suits my taste. Classic little girl. She is my last and I want to enjoy this stage for a while longer.

Now you will fully know the depth of my love for the CINO Nessie Top pattern, because this is a Nessie! Why buy another patten, and print it, and tile it, and trace it....  The Nessie had all the lines I was looking for and really only needed a few modifications to be made in a woven. Mostly with the bodice pieces of course.

So the front and back pieces of the Nessie are the same except for the neckline and she includes an option for a color blocked yoke on the front piece so that made it easy to cut the back as 2 pieces just like the front. I cut 2 upper fronts on the fold, and 4 upper back pieces not on the fold and adding about an inch to the center to make room for a placket. The lower halves were cut as usual except for adding a few inches to the center - more on the front piece than the back piece - to be able to gather it up. In addition to the button opening, I put a continuous placket into the back skirt piece so it goes on really easy. I also cut the long sleeves slightly fuller than the pattern piece since there is no stretch.

If I do this top again in a woven, I'll go up one size for a little more wiggle room. She has worn this the rest of the day so it must be comfortable, but I think it would be better just a little bigger. Don't you love it when they don't want to change out of the outfit after pictures? It's a great reward for me.

 If you've made it this far, I want to thank you for that and I want to thank Krista again for the inspiration. Now go check out her blog because she is so, so good.