Monday, April 14, 2014

PRP - Signature Style (with a Z thrown in for Sew All 26)

Time to kill two birds with one stone here. I have sewn along with Katy of No Big Dill since letter H, I think, so I wanted to finish that out, even if it's not the most creative use of Z. It's a cheat  because it doesn't even begin with Z but it has two Z's in the middle - the Izzy top!

This free pattern from Climbing the Willow is adorable, and popular, so I wanted to try it. I have a top myself that is the same cut (Simplicity 1620 if you want a mommy and me look), so I already knew I'd like it. I used some ancient rayon challis leftover from the early 90's along with some super soft peach gauze. It's definitely a little bit country, but I think that's me.

My signature style would have to incorporate recycling and de-stashing. Also, something feminine, but not pink or sparkly (though Elena does like that sort of thing). As much as I like contemporary style in magazines, and I even did purchase a pretty modern sofa recently, I am traditional to the core. I like antiques, real wood, gardens full of daisies and black-eyed Susans, casual country style. I know this because once a month when my subscription to Country Living Magazine arrives, I look at the pictures and I feel like everything is right in the world. Gorgeous gardens; homegrown, home-cooked food; modern country decorating (i.e. no pine furniture with heart cut-outs or doilies); and scenes of sweet children playing in the flowers. (That's Elena in our front garden last fall and it makes me melt.)

I also made a tiered denim skirt out of thrift store denim yardage- score! The underskirt makes me laugh every time I look at it because it is made from is the top piece of my neighbor's new bathroom curtains. Lol. She asked me to shorten her new curtains by cutting off the top and making a new rod pocket. For some reason, I didn't throw away the top piece. All I had to do was sew one seam up the back, feed elastic through the old rod pocket, and gather and sew some lace trim to the bottom. That was a 10 minute job, if that!

I wanted to keep the lace separate from the denim skirt so it would be versatile, because I am really, really practical. I can't help it. There is only so much time and so much money in the world and that's my signature style too.

And now a few pictures in action, on a windy day as spring is finally starting to arrive here.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Calling All Kids

Calling All Kids is such a great idea. I love the whole concept. I am so annoyed sometimes that darn near everything in the stores for girls is pink or purple and lately, sparkly and fluffy. My youngest child, Elena, is a girl and she is 2-1/2. My oldest is a girl and she is 16. ( I have a boy in between.) Things weren't this bad 16 years ago. I'm not sure when it all got so ridiculous.

Elena was often mistaken as a boy when she was younger because she didn't have much hair, I suppose. Even wearing traditional pink and purple it still happened at least weekly. I tried not to take offense and didn't bother to correct people at the grocery store. But that older gentleman who is a greeter at our church, he gave me fits. I told him too many times that she's a girl. Good grief.

 But still, I resisted the urge to always go with pink, mixing it up with all kinds of colors.

That turquoise shirt got her labeled a boy many, many times even though it had a purple clothed ballerina on the front, a touch of tulle, and was worn with purple jeggings. Go figure.

So to play along with Calling All Kids, I made an outfit of nontraditional colors, adding just a little femininity with some gathers. The top is made using Shwinn Designs Lucille top modified to short sleeves, not color blocked, and gathered instead of pleated. It is upcycled from a Target heathered yellow super soft clearance t-shirt. The pants are the famous Hosh pants from LouBee Clothing upcycled from a thrift store skirt.  

Elena wasn't in love, but when she put on that super soft t-shirt, she decided she could try it. She has many, many diverse interests. She watches princess movies, too much, and wears her blankie like a cape and is really into watching it drag behind her. She likes Barbies and princesses and ballerinas. But she also loves trucks, cars, trains, animals, dinosaurs, and rocks. She is feisty, and not exactly gentle.

We went to the park today and I should mention that we live in a fairly urban area. There are always a lot of other kids at our parks and they can be pretty intimidating to some 2 year olds. Elena joined in no problem, as usual, and played "monster" with them chasing and being chased. I was impressed that they were mindful of her being little and not one thought she was a boy in this outfit. 

What I learned is that Elena is Elena no matter what she is wearing. She doesn't care so it's just me who has to get over my fear of people thinking she's a boy. She is full of energy and joy. She is too young to care what people think. There is nothing stopping this little girl. Just look at her go!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Challenge Create- Adult Edition Week 2- Refashion

I usually love to refashion clothes but this week was tougher for me. I guess I'm more used to taking my old things and making them over for my 2 year old. I am not a tiny person so I needed yardage. I scoured our house, all closets, and even the attic and all I came up with was a gray striped tablecloth I never used and an old white sheet. Pretty boring stuff. No before pictures are really necessary right? You can picture them yourself.

The tablecloth was quite a thin linen so the sheet was necessary as a lining. The skirt is from Simplicity 4543, view E. The top is Simplicity 1614, view B and I've used it a few times now (although I prefer making the back into just a simple scoop like the front). The top isn't a refashion, just sewn from stash.

There isn't too much more I can say. I think it's a nice outfit and both are useful pieces. I like mixing the patterns to feel more modern. I thought I liked it better tucked in, but after seeing the pictures, I think I like it better out even though in shows the horizontal yoke of the skirt.. What do you think- in or out?

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

PRP Week 3 - Create Your Own Fabric

I couldn't have been happier to find out that Project Run and Play's week 3 challenge was to create your own fabric to use in a garment. Sometimes things just work out so well, it's amazing. Back in February, I had a library book out called something like Alabama Chanin Studio Style. I loved the look and studied the technique. I tried it out first on a small scale on this project for No Big Dill's Sew All 26 (it was my "T" is for texture). That gave me the confidence to try it on a large scale as a present for my oldest daughter's 16th birthday.

She chose the fabrics from Joann's and the stencil is straight off the Alabama Chanin website. It is called "Anna's Garden." They say they recognize the fact that very many people aren't going to be able to pay $830 for a completely hand sewn organic cotton tank top so they also sell kits and have their stencils available for free download for the total DIY experience. Free sounds good to me! Our materials cost less than $25 and we have leftovers. 

The basic steps are as follows:
1.  Enlarge the stencil to the desired size.
2.  Trace onto freezer paper.
3.  Cut 2 front pieces of your top using 2 contrasting knit fabrics.
4.  Iron your stencil to the top layer and paint it with a sponge or air gun if you are lucky enough to have one.
     The dark paint will actually leave a cool shadow effect around the edges after cutting out the centers.
5.  Baste them together around all of the edges.
6.  Choose another color of something like embroidery floss or I used darning thread.
7.  Outline every shape and then oh so carefully cut away the top layer.

This dress was a labor of love. It was proof to my oldest that she is just as important to me as her little 2 year old sister. It was a risk and a leap of faith because sometimes I sew her things and she winds up not liking them for reasons I never understand. It was a meditation. It was a relief when it was done.

The Alabama Chanin style is pretty rustic and not really my thing. I finished the neck and armholes with bindings machine stitched to the outside, turned and handsewn inside. I used a basic bodice and made it nice and long to attach a dropped-waisted skirt. She and I watch a lot of Downtown Abbey together so we wanted a nod to the 20's with the drop-waist and straight bodice.

I snuck her initials, "O.K." onto her hip as a surprise.
Olivia really doesn't enjoy being photographed. She felt awkward about her knees in the next pictures so let me explain - she is a volleyball player, ok? That means lots of bruises and floor burns - always, even with knee pads. Pretty much year round. She just played a 2 day out of town tournament this past weekend too so we have fresh bruises. But let me also say that volleyball tournaments are an excellent place to do handwork like this, as are my son's swimming meets, and in front of the television.

The skirt and the back are simple and unembellished.

This dress suits her so, so well. It's creative and unique. One of a kind for a one of a kind girl.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Nature Inspired - Ready for Spring

I was so excited to learn about Skirt Fixation's Challenge Create - Adult Edition! I need clothes and now I have some motivation to make it happen. Sew-a-longs are so much fun. I like the themes, the creativity, and the sharing with the link ups. I really look forward to seeing other people's interpretations of the themes.

For week 1's theme - Nature Inspired - I wanted to make something I can wear all day in hopes that I may just feel like working out at any moment. With spring on it's way (sort of) I'm hoping for more opportunities to be outdoors and get more exercise so I need clothes that multitask. Ya know, something I can drop and do push-ups in at a moment's notice. I have been know to do squats, lunges, etc while my toddler plays on the playground. I obviously don't mind funny looks from strangers or I wouldn't have had my husband taking pictures of me down by the river today on a lousy 40 degree overcast day with lots of joggers and dog walkers wondering what on Earth I was doing. (We are expecting 4 inches of snow later today by the way. Ugh.)

I started with the free Deer and Doe plantain tee and added circular pockets - more on that later. My first thought was to add a hood, but then, being ever practical, I thought, "Hoods are cute, but do you ever actually use it? And they take up so much fabric- twice as much to line it and make it look nice and then it just hangs there looking cute but not adding much function. What else can I do?" The neckline on the tee is quite low so I thought it would be nice to make an infinity scarf for while it's still chilly around here. After I put it on, and loved it, it occurred to me that I can pull it up over my head like a hoodie! Yay for happy surprises! And maybe I live under a rock or something because that was a novel idea for me but after a quick search, I see that I am not the first to think of that. Oh well.

 On the tee, I used 3 cotton/spandex fabrics from Girl Charlee - a charcoal on white floral print and a green and a "prussian" blue. The stripe for the scarf is a lighter weight cotton blend from Girl Charlee last year. They are all wonderful - soft, stretchy, nice recovery. So comfortable.

The infinity scarf is made from 2 pieces that were 15" x 58" - the full width of the fabric. I sewed the two long sides first and then turned it right side out. Slide one short end back through the tube to meet up with other end right sides together. Sew around that circle leaving a 3-4" opening for turning. Turn it and slip stitch the opening closed. So so easy. I watched this video first to get the basics.

To add pockets to the shirt, I went with a kangaroo style but it's behind the front layer. Take your front pattern piece and cut a semicircle out where you want your pocket on the side seam.

Do you like my pattern weights? They're ceramic coasters.

I used the 80% rule to determine how long to cut my banding strips for the pockets, but it depends on how stretchy your fabric is. Measure your semicircle and multiply by .8. For the width, I used the same as the neckband for a congruous look. Sew them on, trim the excess and topstitch the seam allowance down to the body of the shirt.

The pocket piece is the piece that will show in the openings and run the width of the shirt. I used my original pattern piece and traced from the bottom to about 2 inches above the top of my pockets. I matched that fabric to the elbow patches again for continuity. I used my lightening bolt stitch to attach it across the middle of the shirt. The sides will get sewn into the side seams and the bottom into the hem.

On this damp, cold day, I was ever so grateful to have a scarf, a hood, and pockets to keep me warm.

And now the really good news, I wore this outfit all day and I did workout a little. Besides running and pushing Elena around on the merry-go-round at the park, I did some planks during commercials while watching TV and some yoga poses too. It's a good start.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Y Is for Yellow & Blue

Our city rec programs' and our city schools' colors are yellow and blue and the mascot is the Panthers. Let me just be absolutely clear here as a life-long Ohio resident and an Ohio State fan - Michigan sucks! ;-P  If I could change our colors to not be the same as Michigan's I would, but this is what we have to work with. We may as well make the best of it.

I made this little t-shirt for Elena to wear to her brother's swimming championship meet and then she got to wear it all season long for her sister's high school volleyball matches through the end of October. She has worn it a lot. The poor child really knows her way around a set of bleachers having 2 athletic teenage siblings. Next year they will both be Panthers at the high school and the opportunities for this shirt will only increase.

A proud Panther!

This was only the second knit item I had made at this point. I followed a big 3 pattern and didn't understand why the back closure was necessary and now I know it is NOT. To be fair, now that I think back on it, they wanted you to attach the binding with a straight stitch to the front and then fold it over to the inside and hand stitch it. I suppose it may have been necessary that way, but I wasn't going for a more dressed up look so I don't mind the double-needle stitching lines on my version.

The applique is made with a woven cotton and a tight zigzag around the edges. It has held up well through many washings. The first time Elena saw it she said,"A clue! A clue!". She doesn't know much about school mascots yet but she does know about Blue's Clue's!

Yellow is also for the Peeps I had already bought for Easter and that Elena found in my not good enough hiding place so we may as well use those as a photo shoot bribe, right? Right. These are her first Peeps ever and she loves them! I tried one for the first time too and yuck. Can you make them any sweeter? Blehhh.

 So here's to yellow. Here's to the Panthers. And here's to Peeps - especially the yellow ones.

Make It and Love It

Monday, March 24, 2014

PRP- Put Me In The Zoo

Season 9 of Project Run and Play is here, and I think we're going to see some amazing clothes from these amazing contestants. Their combined creativity and sewing skills means this is going to be so inspiring. I am going to sew along for some (or maybe all) of the weeks. I made some New Year's Resolutions about not spending money on fabric for clothes that Elena doesn't need so I will try to adhere to that. But if the fabric was free to me, or the clothing is something she needs, or if I can refashion something, then game on!

Our Put Me In The Zoo look is inspired by Elena's recent discovery and love of Disney's 101 Dalamatians.

The tunic length top has a nice swingy shape and contrast button placket down the back. I combined a few different basic bodices to get the shape. The neck and armholes are finished with matching bias tape and the ruffle cap sleeves are attached following this method explained nicely last week on You and Mie. 

This fits with my resolution requirements because the rayon fabric was repurposed from a top I made myself last year but didn't like. (Not sure what I was thinking with this print.) I was even able to reuse the bias tape and make some more. The solid black was gifted to me from my mom's destashing last year, the buttons too. The capri length knit leggings were also given to us and now they are useful because we have something to wear with them. 

Make It and Love It