Spring Sewing

Before launching into today’s topic, I’ll just touch on yesterday’s photo. Yes, the evil sock pile. I don’t match socks pretty much ever. I do so many of the chores (not that I’m complaining) and figure one of the tasks I truly despise can be done by someone else (the other is cleaning the bathroom; I’m still stuck with it). Since no one else likes to do it, we usually just end up pulling our socks out of the sock basket. Yeah, an entire laundry basket devoted to socks because we’re too lazy to match them and put them away. I pity my future daughters/son in law!

Moving on.

After Monday night’s dress fiasco, I woke up Tuesday morning without a sewing plan. It’s a strange feeling. I had a couple of customs to work on but am waiting on measurements for one and the fabric for the other was in the wash (it was slated for sewing today). I pulled out my Patternease and fabric, and went to town drafting an idea I’ve been stewing on.

It’s a sweet little two-piece set, a halter top and matching cropped pants. I really found a lot of inspiration in the fabric, to be totally honest. It just looked like something you’d wear on a warm, sunny day of lunch alfresco and a walk at the park.

The color is a little off in the pictures. The background of the two main fabrics is more pink, kind of like a pink lemonade. I really fell in love with the sort of Euro-style floral print and then when I found the coordinate — especially that groovy dotted swirl — I had to snatch them up immediately.

I always get a little nervous when I’m drafting a pattern but just held my breath and trusted my instincts that everything would come together the way I envisioned it.  The true test is always trying it on Miss L, and I was thrilled to see that it was a perfect fit. She, however, was far more interested in wearing something else and going outside to play. Of course! I had to bribe her to take this pictures by promising she could wear her new Target flip flops. Not sure how well they match the outfit but I’m not complaining.

I had a little bit of fabric left over, so I did add one of these to my Etsy.

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Oh Boy!

Posted On March 30, 2008

Filed under Gifts, Sewing

Comments Dropped 9 responses

We went to a birthday party today. My “nephew” will be one this week. My, how time flies! Although I picked up some toy cars for him, I had to make a little something for him, too.

The latest Ottobre has a cute button-down shirt in it, so I opted to make that (cutting short sleeves instead of long) and a pair of Britches & Bloomers to go with. The fabric is from the nursery prints section at Joann’s. I’m rather partial to sea creatures and the guest of honor is a blue-eyed blond, so I knew it would be cute on him.

I haven’t made too many button-down shirts and this one was a little more challenging because of its small size.  Overall, I think it turned out well.

Of course, I had to make something for his big brother, too. The pants are the same but I did not have enough for a second shirt, so I embellished a tee instead. I’d planned to do an appliqué but found out when I got home that the t-shirt had a pocket on the front. I made a little contrasting band for the top of the pocket and sketched a fish to embroidery on the pocket. Don’t see the fish? It’s because I ran out of time and had to spritz it off the shirt.  It’s still cute, in my opinion.

Definitely a change of pace to sew for little boys instead of girls!

L+Oliver+S

Have you seen the new Oliver+S patterns yet? Cuteness doesn’t begin to cover it. I’ve been stalking the site for months, waiting for the talented Liesl to announce that they were ready for business. When the day arrived, Miss L helped me pick out the first one to sew, the Puppet Show Tunic+Shorts.

I worked on the outfit this week whenever I had the chance, sneaking it in between this and that. I also bent my “no sewing after 9 p.m.” rule so I could work on it. I’m happy to say that it’s done!

I had just enough of this bright La Zagala fabric for the top, which I accented with pink-and-white-polka dot cuffs and collar. The shorts are a hot pink cotton twill that I picked up at Hobby Lobby. The shirt buttons up the back, and also has buttons on the sleeve cuffs. The pattern calls for using a contrasting print on the bodice pieces but I wanted to do the top pretty much all one fabric. I like the small touches of contrast on this. The main fabric is so busy, I think anything else might be a little overwhelming on such a tiny girl as mine.

The degree of difficulty on this pattern is ranked as three out of four pairs of scissors and I’d have to say that’s pretty accurate. The top involves a fair amount of hand stitching, as well as a little bit of understitching. The directions are very thorough but that’s not necessarily a good thing for me. Because of that whole ADD thing, I tend to skim written material. At one point, I had to go back two steps to sew things I’d skipped over. Whooops! There are a lot of great details to this outfit, so reading the instructions is essential.

The pattern calls for sewing the sleeves and top separately, and then setting in the finished sleeves. I was a little worried about fitting the small sleeves on my free arm, so I opted to attach the sleeves and then finish the underarm and side seams in one fell swoop. This would have worked well had it not been for the little sleeve cuffs. Had I read through and actually comprehended the instructions, I might have followed them. Instead, I had a nice bit of finagling to do in order to get the sleeve edges turned and sewn properly without sewing my own finger. (In retrospect, I should have done the buttonholes on the cuffs before attaching them to the sleeves, since it was a bit of a challenge to get them under the presser foot without getting other parts of the shirt stuck under there, too.)

The pattern also called for cutting out and sewing far more of the bias hem facing than I actually needed. Not a big deal but if you’re going to sew the size 2 (and possibly the 3), you could easily make do with two bias strips.

It’s a really pretty outfit and I think it would look beautiful with linen shorts and a pretty batiste cotton top. Or even a cool seersucker.  I’m already plotting my next pattern purchase and figuring out what fabrics I’ll use. Because I’m nutty like that.

A Little Ginger

Posted On March 27, 2008

Filed under Sewing

Comments Dropped 11 responses

I have been anxiously awaiting the release of Sandi Henderson‘s Ginger Blossom fabric, and was so excited to be able to join an Etsy launch revolving around it. Just one little problem.

I didn’t know what to make with it.

I had plenty of ideas, but nothing that seemed to be perfect. And the clock was ticking. Finally, inspiration struck — and not a minute too soon, since I needed to get my listing up today. I spent all day making my idea a reality, then had to bribe Miss L to get the pictures done.

It’s a three-piece outfit with a skirt, pants and top. The ruffled pants are a beautiful, soft white cotton. I want a pair for me! I used the same cotton for the underskirt of the top; the bodice and overskirt are a pretty Swiss dot, very light and airy. I wanted something subtle to mix with the bold prints of the skirt, and also something really versatile and suitable for spring and summer.

The skirt uses two of the Caribe prints from the Ginger Blossom line. I really like how the two play off each other. The colors are so vivid and pretty, with kind of a retro feel to the prints. I’m thinking I need to pick up the Blush colorway to make a coordinating skirt for me!

We had fun mixing and matching the three pieces during our little photo shoot this afternoon. I like the different options and how it changes up the look so much by just using two pieces instead of all three. (I think the all-white pieces would look beautiful for pictures at the beach!)

Skirting the Issue

I’ve had the Amy Butler Barcelona Skirts pattern for about a year, yet have never made the first one. I did trace off the pattern, and I bought plenty of fabric for making a couple of them. I just found other things to sew first. Why? The zipper. I have an irrational fear of sewing zippers, for no other reason than the unknown.

Not anymore.

In the past week, I’ve sewn two skirts and one pair of shorts, all with invisible zippers. They’re not perfect but unlike previous zipper experiments, they are functional and wearable — and they don’t look half bad. In fact, they look pretty darned good!

This is actually the second of the two Barcelona skirts I sewed. I bought this fabric when I bought the pattern, brought it home and washed it, then promptly ignored it. And that’s a total shame, because I could have been wearing and enjoying it all this time.

I made this more or less as the pattern dictated. Instead of using sew-in interfacing for the waistband of the apron, though, I used flannel. While I like the feel, it’s a bit too heavy, especially when folded over.

I also had some issues with stitching the waistband closed. If you could see it close up, you’d understand what I’m talking about. I think part of the problem was the thickness of the waistband, courtesy of the flannel. The other part? Sewing too late again. Yes, it’s the bane of my existence. Unfortunately, it’s sometimes necessary and I guess I really need to learn to keep it together when the clock ticks past 9 p.m.

I did make a bit of bigger goof in sewing this skirt that had nothing to do with the time. I thought the first skirt I made was a little on the small side, so I added a half an inch to the middle of both the front and back sections, then used a smaller seam allowance. I now have a skirt that is too big. Guess I’ll be taking it in before I break it in.

This was my first attempt at the Barcelona skirt, using a pretty blue floral fabric from Joann’s. Boy, do I like this fabric! It’s very spring-y and sweet, but not in a cloying way. You know? I think I may even have paid full price for this fabric, I liked it that much. Glad I did, too, because it’s sold out around here.

The apron was sort of a last-minute project. I decided on Saturday to make Miss L a coordinating outfit for Easter, since we were going to church the next day for her big brother’s baptism. I thought the apron would help pull together our outfits. While I got her dress finished before I went to bed Saturday night, the apron was only about half done. Woke up early Sunday to finish it before church — and then managed to leave it on my bed when I walked out the door.

Brilliant.

I opted not to make this apron reversible, and also did not use any interfacing on the waistband. Because it’s not reversible, I did need to finish the back side and bottom edges. I think it’s one of my favorite aprons, and I actually wore the outfit at left all day Monday — even out and about. (By the way, the picture is actually a self portrait. I used my handy dandy tripod and the timer on my 30D.)

The dress on the left is Miss L’s Easter dress. It’s just a simple A-line dress, fully lined, with buttons at the shoulders. I think it’s going to be a great dress for spring and summer, very cool and fun and classic. The Easter bloopers actually continued Sunday morning. I didn’t realize I’d put the dress on backwards until after lunch. Guess I need to sew some tags on it!

My little “Stinkerbell” had fun posing today, especially the photo on the right. What a nut! Tomorrow is “green day” in her class and she needs to wear something green. I recently acquired this Tinkerbell knit fabric and knew it fit the bill. I’m not big on buying anything with characters on it but I made an exception for this one because Miss L loves Tinkerbell and I couldn’t resist. The pattern is Butterick, 3316 (I think). It’s no longer in print but definitely worth searching out. It has a curved bodice, which does make it a bit more interesting than just a basic swing dress. Fun to sew, pretty fast — except when I sewed one section wrong and had to re-cut two pieces to fix the goof. When the weather warms up, I’ll shorten the sleeves so it can be worn through the summer.

This Burda pattern is another I’ve had for a while, just waiting to get up the courage to sew something with a zipper. I hate that I missed out on a year of getting use out of it, because these pants are cute as can be. I made the bermuda length but there are two other lengths, so they can be worn year round

I love this fabric, a pretty embroidered twill with bumblebees on it. I found it at Joann’s, along with two other twills. One is pink with strawberries; the other is green with ladybugs on it. I was only going to buy the pink and blue but that little blond cutie insisted on the green ladybugs.

I’m planning to make tops to coordinate with all three pairs of shorts, but I figure I’ve got a little time since the weather is not quite warm enough for wearing them. (I can already tell that t-shirt isn’t going to make the cut for summer, cute as that pumpkin belly may be.)

I’m meeting my goal of sewing more for me this year, that’s for sure. Today, I broke in my new coverstitcher with the top on the left, Butterick B5185. I made it with short sleeves with a pretty teal knit I bought at … yes, same place. (Really, I do shop other places; it’s just how it worked with this sew-and-show.) I messed up while sewing it and had to rip out some stitches and fix it. It would help to read the directions before I start sewing.

A little love for the CP900: I never thought I’d own a coverstitcher. It just didn’t seem like a must have for me, and I was making do just fine with twin needling on my sewing machine. But then I learned about a great deal on a Janome CP900 and decided to splurge. So glad I did! It’s really amazing how great it does on coverstitching knits (and it should, since that’s what it’s supposed to do). In fact, my son was surprised to learn the shirt I was wearing was made by me and not store bought — and that made my ego just swell.

On the right is my new Favorite Things skirt, the Hip Skirts pleated skirt. I used a fabric I found at Hobby Lobby that’s one of my favorite colors (aqua). I like the skirt but did not cut the elastic small enough, so it’s a little roomy in the waist. It’s an easy enough problem to fix; I just haven’t done it yet.

I Work Here

When I decided to take the plunge and buy a new sewing machine and serger (and then my first cover stitcher), I knew I needed to revamp my sewing space before I moved in my new machines.

I think I’m like a lot of other folks when I say that I made do with what I had. I started out sewing in my dining room. That worked when I sewed only occasionally but quickly became a hassle when that pace picked up (and a serger on the table didn’t lend itself to mealtimes). We actually use our dining room, so repurposing it was just not going to happen. Instead, I decided to take over ask Honey if I could use his desk/office area, since he rarely used it anymore.

Our downstairs has been largely unused since we bought our house 4.5 years ago. It’s a pretty big space but oddly shaped (a big L) and poorly lit. My sewing space is at the right-most side of the L’s bottom leg, running along the wall between the door to the garage and the door to the laundry room, right at the bottom of the stairs.

Originally, the space had an L-shaped arrangement of desks (a regular sized desk and a laptop desk), with my serger on the small desk and sewing machine on the big desk. This didn’t work for me for a couple of reasons:

  1. Lots of wasted space on the corner of the large desk adjacent to the small desk. It just would end up buried in piles.
  2. The rolling stool I used would lower with each spin, so I’d have to get up and raise it every 20 minutes or so.
  3. Add in my cutting table, and the space just seemed really claustrophobic.

Here’s my new, improved sewing space (as seen from the stairs)!

Left: My cutting table was a sale purchase from Joann’s, as was my cutting mat. The little “paint can” on my cutting table came from Archiver’s. I cut some of the paper I used for my sewing table so it would match. The inspiration piece for my revamped workspace is actually on the floor underneath my cutting table: my vintage sewing box, which I won from Lisa’s blog. It’s roomy and fun, and now I actually have a place to put it! LOL!

Right: We have a few 6-foot folding tables and I pulled one out of storage to use as my main sewing table. One of the great things about having lived near a university (while Honey was in law school) was being able to pick up stuff like that on the cheap when kids graduated. I think I paid $15 for one table and dragged the other two home from the trash at our apartment complex. I bought a roll of adhesive-backed paper at Target to liven up the table. It wasn’t wide enough to cover the whole table top, so I overlapped it by rolling it along the long edge on one side of the table and then the other. (There are close-ups of the tabletop further down.) On the left, behind my cover stitcher, is a basket I bought at Michael’s; it stores the patterns I’m about to use, plus current reading material.

Here’s kind of an overview of the space from the other side of the room. You can really tell from this photo how poorly the area is lit. I actually need to go shopping for a new light fixture soon because I can’t stand the cave-like feeling that’s down there.

Continuing the tour … To the right of my sewing table is a trash can. Big deal, right? Well, it is for me! Until now, I’ve relied on the trashcan in the laundry room. It’s actually not that convenient, so I often would just make a pile on the floor while I was working. It’s so much nicer to have a dedicated trash can right there.

For most of the past year, I’ve been using a stool I bought at Ikea. I love it, but the previously mentioned problem with it lowering makes it less-than-ideal for my needs. The replacement is not only more comfortable, it’s also a little taller, which means I can actually sit at my cutting table now (instead of under it).

Underneath the table, you can see my cheapie Brother sewing machine, which is set up for shirring. It handles it better than my old sewing machine, although I have not tried it on my new Janome. Regardless, I do it enough that it’s nice to have a dedicated machine for it.

The door on the left, behind my cutting table, is my hobby closet. There’ll be a tour of it later.

Welcome to Janomeville!

I picked up this two-sided bulletin board on clearance at Hobby Lobby. The right-hand side is a corkboard. I unscrewed the backing, pulled out the corkboard and covered it with a piece of fabric (a Japanese Little Red Riding Hood print), then slid it back in and closed up the back. Easy peasey! The chalkboard side is magnetic and the new home of the cute magnets Amy sent me (she made them!). I plan to use this as a to-do list and inspiration board, but right now I’m just enjoying looking at the pretty fabric.

I have managed to avoid hanging any artwork downstairs and am glad to say I’ve rectified that now. The frames were picked up on the cheap from Big Lots. They needed to be cleaned up a little but were otherwise perfect. I was delighted to not only find these two pieces of art on Etsy but also that the artist (KJ of The Dreamy Giraffe) was able to accommodate my request for same-sized prints. I need to get some matts cut to fit, but that’s easy enough to obtain. Right now, I’m enjoying having such beautiful things to inspire me every day!

Now, on to the shiny clean craft closet!

The view of my closet from the outside. It’s not a huge space and actually occupies the underside of the stairs leading to our living room and other main living spaces. Fabric is stacked on the left and right side of the doorway. I also store my scrapbooking paper in here, some photography gear (backdrop stand and my formerly lost tripod), rubber stamping supplies, Xyron machines and a few other things.

Honey also uses this closet to store his lawyer books. He is far happier with the renovated closet, since now it’s possible for him to open the door, walk in, find what he needs and retreat without commenting on my fabric stash. (That last bit may be wishful thinking on my part.)

We also have things like big coats down here, plus my tutu-making supplies (gotta keep all that tulle somewhere!). When I need to, I can fold down my cutting table and roll it in here, too.

The fabric is sorted by color, more or less. I separated out the corduroy, flannel, linen, silk and Japanese fabrics (both from Japan and Asian-inspired prints). Since reorganizing it like this, I’ve found it easier to locate specific fabric and also to find coordinates.

But enough yapping. Here are more pictures!

Catch Up (Not Tomatoes)

I have to start off this entry with a bit of a disclaimer. You see, I had more photos of what I’ve been working on lately. Sadly, the 2GB CF card I bought before my trip to Chicago last year has resumed eating my photos. All of Easter? Pfffft. Gone. Just like that. Everything I shot yesterday? Gone. So, know that there’s more to be photographed as soon as I can find my 1GB card (henceforth known as “ol’ reliable”). Also, I’m doing a separate post with my sewing space revamp because there’s so much to share there.

Now, on with the show!

Neither of these cute little purses is for me. The one on the left, made with the cutest Japanese panda fabric (with a touch of Jennifer Paganelli) is a pattern by Jenna Lou Designs, the Fiona Handbag. Ca-yooot! It’s a birthday present for a friend and I can’t wait to give it to her. I added a little pocket on the inside with the same panda fabric on those polka dots. There’s a touch more JP on the kitty purse on the right, another Melly & Me pattern. The two main fabrics are (I think) Alexander Henry. I’ll be honest here and admit that I’m not as crazy about this bag. Love the pattern, love the design. The fabrics aren’t doing it for me. I think I need to use a smaller print fabric the next go ’round. The print just gets lost in the strips, which is a shame because it’s a cute fabric with geisha and cats. (The little missy has no complaints and has been hauling it everywhere she goes.)

I had so much fun making these felted wool pincushions! I used an online tutorial I found and was surprised at how easily they came together. It does take a little bit of patience, especially with the dunking and squeezing part, but I found it pretty relaxing.

I’m eager to try more felting, actually, and have a few more projects in mind. That’s how much fun it is. It’s a little tough to find supplies and tools locally, though, so if anyone has suggestions of online sources, throw ’em at me. And with this project, I get to cross off another on my Try It! list. Oh, yeah! I’m pleased with the progress I’m making there, especially since I may need to slow down with the list a bit in the next few weeks as I finish up some custom orders, stock my Etsy storefront and try to make a little progress on spring and summer wardrobes for Miss L and I.

Last but not least is the little design job that let me stretch myself creatively in a completely different way. My sweet sister-in-law has a show coming up next month and needed some tickets designed. How could I refuse? I’ve never done something that size before; most of my work has been a considerably larger format (newspaper or magazine). Fortunately, I had some great images to work with and the photo booth strip from Pink Ink Studios lent itself to the format. They were a huge hit and I can’t wait to see them in person (which actually won’t happen until the show, since the tickets aren’t coming here). (The red bar at the bottom is where the ticket numbering goes.)

Some Easter fashions for Miss L and I, plus a couple more apparel items, will hopefully make their way to the blog in the next few days as I re-shoot what my camera ate. In the meantime, check back soon for the new and improved sewing space tour!

Party Sweets

Here’s the little cupcake dress I finished the other night. OK, mostly finished — it still needs buttons and buttonholes (any suggestions for button color?) but otherwise is done. Oh, wait. I need to rip out the hem and redo it. See how wonky it looks? It’s not just the picture. The hem really is that wonky. That’s what I get for sewing so late.

The dress is a pattern I picked up at the Expo (I can look it up if someone is that interested). Cupcakes are again from Sublime Stitching; I’m really enjoying that book and just embroidery in general. I have lots of ideas for other projects. For the record, I’m still plugging away on my crocheted scarf. I’m determined to have one wearable object, even if it takes a while. The experience has convinced me that I’ll need to sign up for knitting and smocking classes if I want to actually make something I’m willing to show off.

I think this dress will be perfect for all those special events and parties we’ll be hitting when the weather warms up. For now, it’ll be virtual party wear for …

Glitter Text Generator

Ultimate Blog Party 2008The Ultimate Blog Party! I’m joining the fun at 5 Minutes for Mom and taking part in this year’s global blog event. I even put up a nice glittery banner just for the party! The Blog Party is a great way to find other cool blogs and also win some pretty nifty prizes. I’ve already found quite a few great reads to add to my Bloglines, plus “run into” a couple of friends whose blogs I already read.

For those who are stopping by for the first time, I’m Mary, the self-professed craft addict. My blog is about a year old and documents my many adventures in crafting — some more successful than others. When I’m not crafting, I’m hanging out with my three kids or spending time with my very cute and tolerant husband (aka Honey).

What’s a party without food? Gotta feed my guests so I’m going to share one of my favorite recipes. It’s actually what I made for dinner last night! I found the recipe for Spicy Chicken Cakes with Horseradish Aioli in Cooking Light magazine last year and it was an instant hit with the fam. That’s no small feat around here, since there are five very picky eaters in this house. I have made a few modifications to the recipe, namely using Ian’s wheat panko breadcrumbs instead of making my own. I also use packaged ground turkey breast instead of grinding my own chicken. Martha Stewart can do everything from scratch if she wants. I have three kids, a husband who works too much and no interest in doing every little thing. We also like our aioli a little hotter, so I add a lot more horseradish. Enjoy!

One Apron, Two Looks

I had the chance today to not only break in my new sewing machine but also a new pattern: the Emmeline apron from Montessori by Hand. I’ve really been eager to do it, but had a tough time finding fabrics in my stash that would work. I easily could have bought any of a number of fabrics but decided that it was best to cull from what I already own. Sometimes, that’s easier said than done.

While I often buy fabrics with coordinates, I rarely buy more than two fabrics for me. It took several tries to find three fabrics that worked together. I think it turned out pretty well:

I’m calling it my Proper & Punky Emmeline. The black-and-white fabric is Michael Miller’s Dandy Damask. I think the polka dot also is from MM, but couldn’t swear to it. The funky red fabric is from Joann’s; I bought it last year with the intention of making a punk-style Valentine’s outfit for Miss L but went in another direction.

Gotta say that I really had fun making this apron. The directions were easy to follow, although I did machine-stitch on the binding/halter straps instead of hand stitching them. Definitely faster, even if it’s not as pretty. I can definitely see wearing this apron on a regular basis (I am right now, actually).

Tomorrow’s another Word-free Wednesday and I’m planning to show a snippet of my current project. It’s quite sweet, if I do say so myself.

Shhhh! Don’t Tell Honey

Look what followed me home from the Sewing Expo today:

Just kidding about not telling my husband; he’s actually the one who urged me to buy a new sewing machine. My last two machine purchases were from a big discount retailer. Great for the budget. Less so when it comes to sewing quality. Things started out well with my last Brother sewing machine — purchased about a year ago — but I soon found that it could be … inconsistent. Random thread tension issues that cropped up in the middle of a sewing project. Snapping bobbin threads. The complete unwillingness to sew a buttonhole on an actual garment (but willing to cover every scrap fabric with perfect buttonholes 10 times in a row).

I’ve heard great things about Janomes and the price was right, so I handed over the bank card and drove home with my very first Janome sewing machine. It’s currently on the living room floor, where I sat playing with it while watching the most recent episode of Lost with Honey. It’s so quiet, it didn’t interfere with our viewing experience even a little bit. And it sews like a dream, just so smoothly and perfectly.

Yes, I’m in love.

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