Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Sewing Project: Cowl Neck Pullover

My camera cord still has not turned up, despite turning my house inside out and upside down. I seriously gave myself a headache looking so hard for it. SIGH. Anytime something goes missing like this, I assume that AB put it in the trash and that it is now in a landfill. I'm ordering a new cord, but it won't be here until next week. Please bare with me!

So instead of a review of Simplicity 1879, the shorts that I've been dying to blog about, here's a quick and dirty post about the Varsity Cowl Neck Pullover from Peek-A-Boo Pattern Shop.

I've only sewn this up once, and as it's more of a wintery top it may be a few months before I sew it again. This is a great pattern if you want to sew with knits but are intimidated by them, because there is no hemming. The sleeves and the bottom are finished with bands of contrast fabric. Hooray for no hemming! The pattern can be made with regular jersey, like mine, or with poly fleece or cotton sweatshirt fleece. Lots of choices!

The cowl neck seems complicated, but it's not, and the instructions with this pattern are excellent. It took a few tries for me to get the corners of the front part of the cowl lined up exactly how I wanted, but it's a small area (this is a size 12 months) and with a little practice I got it down.

I guess I can go ahead and say that I almost always make a wearable muslin the first time I try a pattern, and this one was no exception. The bodice is made from an old t-shirt of my husband's, and the white parts I believe came from the beer t-shirt that I used to make a pair of underwear.

AB didn't wear this much during the winter because it's hard to get over her giant head. Also the sleeves were a touch too long, but I've found that to be true in everything she owns, me-made or RTW. Sheesh, I make her sound like a t-rex, giant head and stubby arms (she's not!). In real life I promise she looks proportionate. Okay, this isn't sounding any better, moving on!

This would be a fun pattern to use if you wanted to play with stripes going different directions, or if you had a cool sweatshirt fleece. To be honest, I wish I could make one in my size! I have an awesome sweatshirt just like this that came from J. Crew (I got it at Goodwill for $4!) and I love it. It can't be that hard to translate into a grown-up size, right?! Check out the Peek-A-Boo Pattern Shop Flickr pool for more inspiration with this versatile pattern!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Mend It Monday: high chair cover

Somebody's got a case of the Mondays (hint, it's me). I was rushing to get today's post done and then discovered that my camera cord is on an adventure. A secret adventure. And more than likely, AB knows where it is, but she's not talking. So I will spending my day tearing my whole house apart looking for a tiny black cord. And this post will be missing photos. Coffee. Now.

HOWEVER. I. Am so. Excited. I'm in the process of reorganizing my sewing room (thanks to a new piece of furniture we acquired this weekend) and it's awesome. Big reveal coming Wednesday!! Well. Assuming I find my cord. And no, I didn't lose it while rearranging. I don't think so, anyway.

In the meantime, I've been doing a bit of hand-sewing whilst putting my room to rights. I fixed a bunch more of AB's cloth diapers using this method and I also mended a small hole in her high chair cover. We have the Graco Contempo with the Rittenhouse cover, which I like quite a bit. The removable tray is convenient for washing in the sink (we don't have a dishwasher) and the wheels on the bottom allow the chair to move around when we often on special occasions eat in the living room and watch The Office reruns.

The one thing I dislike is how difficult the cover is to remove and to put back onto the seat. We've had the chair for about eight months and I'm only now getting the hang of it. Somehow, it developed a hole in a most random spot, the side of the cover. I promise I have the most marvelous photo, but for now you'll just have to imagine it.

There is a casing at the top, and inside the casing is a thin plastic tube. This portion of the cover slides into a groove in the chair, and it holds up the side of the cover. How in the world a hole came about in this location, I don't know. More than likely, somebody who can't figure out how to put the cover on got angry and jammed the thingy into the slot and...well, you get the idea.

I know what you're thinking, what's the big deal here? I can't explain how, but when I wash the cover, the plastic tube works its way out through that tiny hole. Every. Time. The tube is clear and it always gets left in the bottom of the washing machine. I'm afraid I'm going to lose it one of these days, so I decided to fix up the hole.

It was easy enough to do without even taking off the whole cover. I loosened it enough to get to the hole, and then did a couple of quick stitches. The tear was on a seam, so it didn't take much thinking to redo it.

Another quick project with satisfying results! Now I won't lose the plastic tube in the washing machine. Maybe I should check there for my camera cord...AB is fond of putting things in the most random places.

Need more Mend It Monday? See here and here.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Project Runway recap: finale part 2! spoiler alert!

Can you believe we're at the end? Well, not technically the end since we have a reunion show next week. Sorry, a DRAMA-FILLED reunion show, according to Lifetime. With all the smack people talked in their interviews, that doesn't surprise me.

I think this was a great season. The final three designers all put on an interesting show. Plus we got to see Dmitry! I love him.

I was a tad surprised at the preparation stage. Michelle had so much done, Stanley had so little done, and Patricia needed Tim to edit her entire collection. I don't think that's very fair, but probably everyone was worried that without his help, Patricia's collection would have been a complete disaster. I give Patricia credit for her originality, but honestly, her clothes aren't wearable. You wouldn't buy a car that you couldn't drive, would you? That's sort of how I feel about it. And her clothes were not appropriate for fall. Not in my neck of the woods, anyway.

Stanley did a good job making his items younger, but so many of his looks had coats or jackets or capes over them. I felt like I couldn't see the "real" clothes. I'm wondering if his outerwear was covering a multitude of his final sewing issues. Notice when questioned about it, he was quick to say that the helpers backstage were to blame. Oh really? The helpers who saved you from having no show? That kind of cut-throat behavior sure racks up bad karma, in my opinion. He acted like they ripped out his hems and then redid them worse. Eye roll.

Michelle's collection was the obvious winner, without even seeing the other two. It looked expensive, her models were confident, and it was cohesive. It was a show but there were also items that could easily be adapted for a real person. I still think she's a tad mean, but she did help Stanley towards the end, so she wins some points for that. You KNOW that there have been past seasons where people interview that there's no way they're helping a competitor.

It was nice to see Michael Kors again, even though I do like Zac Posen. I think that Michael's objectivity cut down on his snarky comments (although, "art teacher on an acid trip" cracked. me. up.) and he had a lot of helpful things to say.

All in all, I think the right person won. I was afraid that Heidi's love for Patricia would skew the results (did you notice Layana commenting about the Heidi-love in the preview for the reunion? interesting!). It was an entertaining season and without too much annoying drama.

The important question is: where can I get Mondo's fez? Please tell me someone else saw that crazy thing.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Sewing Project: Pattern-less dress

I'll let you in on a little secret: sometimes my projects don't work out well. Oh, that's not a secret? My bad. Today I'll tell the tale of a well-intentioned dress gone wrong. I LOVE the tutorials featured on iCandy, and they're always showing up on Pinterest. Last summer, I attempted to follow the tutorial to make this maxi dress, with some modifications (pockets, for one!), and well...sad face:

Ignore the socks.

This dress suffered from many issues, first being my fabric choice. This jersey knit is wonderful, thick, soft, striped on one side and solid purple on the other. It's from Girl Charlee. They don't have this particular fabric any longer, but their tonal knits are pretty close.

As lovely as this fabric is, it's too heavy for the dress I designed. The hot mess of a top was my attempt to copy a RTW shirt that I love:

Last summer, at a minor league baseball game.

It has a draped neck and the back neckline is a casing for the binding which encases the armholes (confused yet?). I love this shirt and it's great for nursing. Although I wore it recently and apparently it's TOO drapey...AB was able to pull the front down and the people in the library parking lot would have gotten a show if I hadn't been wearing anything under it. I think that's Mom Lesson #65: always wear layers. And seriously, if you had ever seen the people in our library parking lot...anyway!

I successfully copied the shape of the RTW top, but it's too low-cut and the fabric is way too heavy to also work as binding. The back is cut too wide, the sides are too wide, it's just ill-fitting and blah.

The binding was a B to apply, so once it was on and I realized my problems, I was not going to remove it. So I shoved the dress into my closet and tried to pretend it never happened. Until now!

It may be too heavy for an essentially halter-top dress, but the fabric is perfect for a skirt with a yoga waistband. When I originally constructed everything, I left a ton (like, 4 inches!) of seam allowance in the waistband in case I needed to adjust the fit. It came in handy in this refashion. Sorry I don't have any pictures of myself wearing it, but I'm still trying to determine what tops I have that will work with a purple striped skirt. I might not get a ton of wear from it, but I was getting none from the dress, so if I even wear it once it will be a successful refashion. Does it count as a refashion if I was the one that made the garment in the first place?

Oh and by the way, I did try to save the top part and rework it, but it was still a disaster and I gave up. Into the UFO pile it goes! Have you ever had to rework something you made yourself? Make me feel better!

Pick Your Plum is KILLING me this week...today they have adorable customized buttons! I wish that being an affiliate meant I got one of everything from them regularly!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

What I'm Reading: Desperate

Fair warning: this post has nothing to do with sewing. But I believe the best blogs are the honest ones, so I thought I should share the book I've truly been reading. Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe is a book I've been waiting to read for a few weeks. It was published just this year, and I was one of many on the list of people holding for the copy at the library. But it finally made its way into my hands, and I'm so glad I read it!

You can get the gist of the book with just the title/subtitle. If you are a young mother like me, you're probably familiar with the turmoil that accompanies such a role. What I appreciated about this book was its honesty. Fellow mothers will know that babies are more than cute clothes and monthly photos, yet somehow those superficial aspects receive the most attention when you're pregnant. I took four weeks of labor and delivery classes, but the baby care class was only 2 hours. Labor and delivery for me was 12 hours of my life, baby care is more like 12 months. See a discrepancy there?

The way society views motherhood is important, because it shapes a new mother's expectations. The wrong expectations lead to frustration, and day after day of frustration leads inevitably to despair. Desperate both sympathizes with the realities of motherhood, while also giving concrete solutions for managing it. The book is written from a Christian perspective, and in that respect it was immensely helpful for me.

There are two authors of the book. Sara Mae is a mother with young ones, and Sally Clarkson has already raised four children. Sally's older-and-wiser wisdom pointed to the long-reaching impact we can have as mothers. Too often, new mothers (myself included) tend to group up with one another, and we become short-sighted. It's all diapers and sippys and terrible twos. The minutia of the day-to-day becomes overwhelming, and we lose perspective. Sally's advice from "the other end" helped me to see that these young days are simply a season, one that will pass. The book touches a lot on the importance of having an older mother mentor in your life, who can help reorient you to see the big picture.

And just to include a bit of a sewing reference: I find that I'm also short-sighted when it comes to completing projects. I feel like I need to keep busy busy busy sewing, buying fabric, keeping up with the latest trends. In truth, if I'm lucky I'll have another 50 years to sew. There's no need to rush. It won't hurt to slow down and enjoy it.

This was one of those books where I wanted to underline every sentence. I didn't, because my copy was a library book, but I intend to order one someday soon and then I'll mark it up like crazy. If it sounds like this book might help you, I encourage you to order it right away. You won't be sorry! And if you don't believe me, then the 200 5-star reviews on Amazon might convince you.

Ahhhh...washi tape on Pick Your Plum today! Better hurry, it won't last long!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Sewing Project: sweatpants

To all the fellow bloggers/writers who warn that sewing pants is hard...you're right. And I'm sorry I ever doubted.

A while back I posted about the Kimono Dress that I made from Heather Ross' book, Weekend Sewing.

One of the other projects I made from this book was a pair of sweatpants. Shouldn't be too difficult, right? It probably wouldn't have been such a long project for me if 1) my walking foot had been working and 2) the pattern fit. The pattern is actually for a pair of pajama pants made from wovens, ideally flannel or something like that. But I had a pair of knit grey collegiate sweatpants that I had had for almost 10 years, and my husband had practically banned me from wearing them ever again. So, I set out to replace them.

Sorry for the crappy overcast morning light. I made these pants back when I was fairly new to sewing and still learning about fabrics. I went to Jo-Ann's and looked for fleecy sweatshirt fabric, and couldn't find any (I've since discovered a tiny selection of it). Somehow I ended up with a yard of grey rib knit. I was basically trying to match my previous pair of sweatpants (they were just grey jersey!) and that was the closest thing that passed the feel test. I know now I should have used interlock or jersey, but oh well. The ribs are very fine and the only time it's an issue is if I stick my foot in and trip myself because it gets caught in the stretchiness of the legs. NotthatIvedonethat.

Completing the "easiest" pair of pants ever is a waistband with a casing for elastic. My pair of decade-old originals had an applied elastic waistband, and while I loved those pants, I did not love the feeling of elastic on my skin all the time. This casing is much more comfortable.

Like I mentioned with my Kimono Dress, the patterns in the Heather Ross book are all huge. They're multi-sized, but even the small sizes were much too big for me. I scaled down while cutting out, and then basted the crotch seam and did about one thousand fittings. The most, uh, unflattering feature of my old pair was the saggy bum, so I did my best to avoid the same trap with the new pants. I didn't know the "right" way to change the crotch depth, so I pinched out fabric and basted over and over again. In my memory, this process took forever, but eventually I had a pair of pants that fit well. I left the hems raw because I knew from previous experience that I would just walk on them and ruin the hem anyway.

Notice I've not included any pictures of me wearing these pants. That's because they have a tendency to stretch out. Throw them in the washing machine and they get better, but I'll never get back that well-fitting bum area that I had when they were finished. Sigh. And I guess that's why, upon seeing me proudly wearing my completed pants, my husband responded with: "sweatpants never make anyone look good".

He's probably right, considering that I don't even want to put a picture of myself in sweatpants on the internet. Someday I might run for president, y'know? Gotta be careful what you put on the web.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Inspiration: Earth Day!

Today is Earth Day, a celebration of all things...Earthy? AB and I celebrated by attending The Great Cloth Diaper Change, an event to set a world record for the most cloth diapers changed at one time (seriously, Guinness is there and they have all these official rules and everything!). This was our second year, and even though a 2 month old newborn is slightly more manageable than a 14 month old baby, we still had a good time.

Great Cloth Diaper Change '13

In honor of Earth Day, I wanted to talk about my New Year's Resolution for 2013, which was to not purchase any new clothing for the entire year. The only exception is one bridesmaid's dress for a wedding in September. I actually picked up that bridesmaid's dress this weekend, yay! What is it with formal wear places trying to get you to order the wrong size? I had to talk this store into letting me order a dress two sizes down from my "measurements" and it fit just fine. It's an alterations racket, I tell ya. But I digress.

My New Year's resolution started from a desire to use my sewing skills to take care of my clothing needs, but shortly after the year started I read Overdressed (reviewed here) and developed an even more layered reason for the resolution. I won't go into all the details of the book again, but to be blunt, there is way too much clothing on this Earth already. Most of it cheap and trendy. It's been easier to stay focused on my resolution by simply forcing myself to shop in second-hand stores and seeing that there are plenty of quality items to be had. To be fair, I live in a university town, and there are two Goodwills and one Plato's Closet, not to mention tons of little vintage shops. The college students seem to keep an influx of items flowing through these stores, meaning that it's easier for me to find nicer things than it might be in other towns.

Aside from helping the environment, it also helps my wallet to purchase second-hand clothing. Last week, I got a great pair of shorts (black eyelet, which I've been lusting over for spring), white capri leggings with lace (exactly what I came into the store to find) and a leather belt all for somewhere around $12. I wouldn't have been able to buy just one of those items at Target for $12. With one income and a baby at home, I rarely buy clothing for myself, so it makes me feel great that I can stretch a dollar when I do look for some key wardrobe items.

As far as saving the Earth and all that, I think balance is important. Yes, we use cloth diapers, but we also use paper plates. We try not to eat too much processed food, but I also drink Coke every day. If you tried to go all-out gung-ho saving the world, you'd probably burn out quickly. Take the steps that seem manageable, one at a time, and you'll be surprised how many positive changes you can make.

The next time you find yourself needing a wardrobe staple, might I suggest that you shop around second-hand before rushing out to buy something new? Chances are that someone else had too many black cardigans, and there's one waiting somewhere (possibly even with the tags still on it!) for you. Help keep our landfills as empty as possible (yes, LOTS of clothing ends up in landfills) and not only will our Earth thank you, but your wallet will, too!

Flash sale over at Craftsy today, some classes up to 75% off! It's free to sign up and fun to join!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Project Runway recap: Finale Part 1 spoiler alert!

Sigh. I'm disappointed. If you've been reading along, then you know that I *heart* Daniel. I completely understand why he was eliminated, but that only makes it slightly less awful.

First off, I'm SO glad to see that the designers were given 5 months to make their collections. I think during the last season of All Stars, they had 4 WEEKS if I'm not mistaken. Ridiculous. You can certainly see the difference in the quality of the clothing and the thoughtfulness of the designs.

My final verdict on a season of team challenges: not as bad as I thought. The helpers and team members have all been rather useful, which proves that you can't really design in a vacuum. I hope that Layana did/will help Patricia edit, because obviously she has a problem doing that on her own. I liked Patricia's mini collection (except the horsehair cape...I was with Nina on that one) but I think her actual show will be a disaster. Patricia should thank her lucky stars Heidi that she gets to show at all. She's nice and all, but I'm over her designs.

I'm on the fence about Stanley's collection. On the one hand, I feel like it DOES need more skin in order to be youthful. On the other, I agree with him that it's fall and cold and people cover up. I guess the problem is injecting enough fantasy ("sure, I'd wear that sleeveless mini dress to my imaginary fancy winter party!") without getting too far out there (cough cough Patricia).

Michelle might have this in the bag. Her pieces were unique and well-made. I totally thought of Joe when I first saw that wolf sweater and I can't believe I was right! Yes, I am that smart. Michelle definitely benefited from having to design a fall collection. She knows it's her strength and she's allowing that to be shown. I didn't hate the hair styling (duh, her girl is a lone wolf running through the woods, why wouldn't the hair be messy?) but the makeup was sort of blah.

Daniel Daniel Daniel. I think Tim was really trying to help him, but he couldn't see it. His mini-collection was certainly sexier than I thought it would be, but Daniel fell victim to the mini-collection curse of non-cohesion. Seriously, do the designers not watch this show? A lack of cohesion and too many safe outfits always get people eliminated at this point. Oh, and Nina and Heidi, shut up about too much black. You lost the right to complain about that when you let mean Irina and her all-black collection WIN back in Season Six.

It's shaping up to be a good finale. Or possibly a terrible one, if Heidi gets all pushy for Patricia to win. But I don't hate the designers that are left and I can entertain them all as winners without getting physically ill (Gretchen).

Now that the immensely likeable Daniel is gone, who are you rooting for? I still dislike Michelle's personality, but I do like her designs, so I guess I'm rooting for her.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Sewing Project: Knit Sorbetto top

I'm so excited about today's post! Ever since I finished my first Sorbetto I was determined to make another in a knit fabric. The pattern isn't too complicated, and I thought it would be as simple as removing the dart and redrawing the side seam lines. I think I still have some tweaking to do to my pattern, but I'm making great headway!

To "remove" the dart from the pattern, I folded my paper together as if I were "making" the dart in my paper. Then I laid the pattern piece on top of another piece of paper, and sketched out the new side seam. I double-checked my line by placing a similar RTW knit tank top on my paper and making sure I was on the right track. Then I flattened the dart back out and drew the original armhole, shoulder, neckline, and hem.

I have lengthened it once already, but I'm still not in love, so I think I'll be slashing my pattern at the narrowest waistline portion, and lengthening it again. Since I didn't want to get too crazy, I did not alter the back pattern piece. It worked out fine, but I think I need to remove some fullness from center-back. In fact, I made a note to myself to do that after I finished my first Sorbetto, and I forgot. Whoops.

Even though I took the sides in some, my husband still thinks it looks too big (he said "I'm sensing a theme" he thinks everything I make is too big). Help me out here, fellow Sorbetto sewists, is this top too big, or am I just not used to wearing a wide-neck blouse?? I seriously can't tell if I need to make it smaller, or get used to the look.

The reason I'm so excited about this particular top (I mean, aside from how awesome it will be to make a zillion of these in all the knits I have) is the lace I used in place of bias tape. Stroke of genius if I don't mind saying. I've been looking for some narrow black lace for a different project and happened to see this at Wal-Mart of all places:

And the best part? It was $1 for 3 yards. !!! If you go looking for this stuff, it was with the ribbons and it was in these plastic globe thingies. I wouldn't have even noticed it except that there were a few open and spilling onto the floor. Ew. I didn't buy those, I picked a clean one.

I intended to make bias tape for this top, but happened to still have that lace sitting on my sewing table while working. "Aha!" I said. "Will this work?" (Not out loud...unless there was a baby/dog/cat in the room...then it's okay to talk out loud). It folded over PERFECTLY without any pressing, coaxing, or cursing. I practiced on a scrap, and with black thread I could sew anywhere over it and not see the stitches. I first sewed half of it down on the inside of the neckline:

Then I folded it over and sewed the second half down on the outside. When it came time for the armholes, I just pinned it a lot and was able to sew it all with one pass. (Seriously, do you hear the angels singing about how much easier this was than making bias tape???)

I love how the scallops on the lace correspond with the circle motif on the fabric. So pretty. Oh! And I also love this Sorbetto because I made a double pleat in the front.

Okay, so you can't see it from far away because of the print. But I can see it while I'm wearing it. Here's a photo while I was still pinning it in place:

Making the double pleat (is there a real term besides "double pleat"?) was easy, just a tad time-consuming. I made one tiny pleat first, then sewed along the original pleat line for a larger pleat.

The part that took so long was neatly flattening both pleats and pressing them. Even with aggressive pressing, the pleats were sort of flopping around, so I tacked them down in a few places with coordinating thread. You could also flip up the small pleat and sew right underneath it:

Side note, can someone give me some feedback about this black skirt I'm wearing? I've had it for years (from Old Navy) and I've never been able to LOVE it. It has all these pretty eyelet and pintuck details, but something about it has always been off to me. Maybe the length?

PHEW! Hopefully this post wasn't too long, but I didn't get many results when I Googled knit Sorbettos, so if I can help someone else looking for info then I'm happy to assist. And seriously, I need feedback about the size, so help me!

Psst...did you see today's Thrifty Thursday deal over at Peek-A-Boo Pattern Shop? Today only, the adorable Sailor Shorts pattern is only $4!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Me-Made-May 2013

Two posts in one day! Whaaat? NBD. And you would know faster if you followed me on Bloglovin--->

It's coming up on one year since I was given my sewing machine and starting on this crazy journey, and all throughout the last year I've read about Me Made May. Obviously, I missed it last year since I was only just beginning to sew, but I've been looking forward to it and wondering if I would have enough items made to be able to participate. The great thing about it (now that I've read the post over at So, Zo) is that you can customize your pledge to fit whatever needs you have. Some people pledge to wear items with no repeats, but I'm nowhere near there in terms of quantity of garments. So, here's my pledge:

I, Beth Byrge of 110 Creations, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '13. I endeavor to wear at least one handmade or repurposed item each day for the duration of May 2013.

Notice I threw "repurposed" in there. I don't have anything in particular in mind, but I wanted to give myself a bail out in case I needed to upcycle something quickly! Also, I'll confess that "handmade item" might sometimes mean "headband" or "bracelet". I hope nobody calls me a cheater cheater pumpkin eater, but like I said, I honestly don't know if I have enough me-made clothing to keep this interesting. But I won't be clogging the Flickr group with a bunch of headbands, don't worry. I'll do my best to make it garment-centered. My current plan is to post a weekly round-up of photos on Fridays in May.

Are you participating in Me Made May? 

What I'm Reading: How to Have Style by Isaac Mizrahi

I bought this book a few months back at a Half Price Books Outlet (meaning it cost like $2) and at the time I was deep into Project Runway: All Stars, watching Isaac Mizrahi on TV every week. Then I read one of Tim Gunn's books, where he speaks not too highly of Isaac, so I sort of set the book aside until now.

The beginning of the book discusses all the normal things you'll read in any book on style. Embrace your body, have confidence, dress appropriately and spend your money wisely. Then there is a questionnaire to make you start thinking about your own style: what five items can't you live without? what's the one item you wear again and again? etc. All of that part was kind of boring to me (I've simply read it too often), but the next section took real women and their answers to the questionnaire, and they were given makeovers to help with one specific style issue.

The makeover portion was fun (who doesn't love makeovers?). The style problems ranged from moms in a sea of endless denim, to women stuck in a rut of black clothes without color, to older women looking to stay young and vibrant. The makeover pages were full of mood boards, Isaac's specific clothing ideas, and tips for achieving a specific look.

One concept Isaac talked about a lot was "just looking". Going to a store to try on lots and lots and lots of items. Seriously, there was a photo of the studio where they shot the pictures for the book, and it was INSANE how much clothing they had to try on these ladies. How can you know what you like/what looks good unless you try different things? I put this thought into practice last week on a trip to a local consignment store. I was there to find some leggings and sandals, but while browsing I saw a denim skirt that I liked. I've never owned a denim skirt, finding them a tad dowdy, but I thought hey, why not? I was going to go into the dressing room anyway. And you know what? It looked awful. It DID look dowdy, and it made my already flat tushy look even worse. But now I know! My instincts were right on that one. And now my own fashion sense is that much more refined.

The final section of the book went over items that Isaac considers "must-have's" like different types of shoes, jewelry, and even bras (with insight provided by his female staff!). If you know you need to update your wardrobe but aren't sure where to start, this section is a great resource.

I enjoyed this book, seeing the transformations and finding inspiration. There were great follow-up questions with the ladies talking about how their lives have changed, just by changing their clothes. It reminded me to take those few extra minutes getting dressed, and what a difference it will make to my day.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Sewing Project: Butterick 5211

Months and months and months ago, I bought some striped fabric from Girl Charlee that made me swoon. SO soft and SO fun, this fabric needed the exact perfect pattern.

Sorry, no longer available!

I wish I could put a swatch of this through the internet. It's cotton/modal and so. soft. so. drapey. LOVE. If I had had any idea how dreamy it was, I would have ordered more than a yard. See, sometimes I order fabric for AB and then it gets here and I change my mind and selfishly designate it for myself. Unfortunately, that means I end up with small yardage and big ideas.

I have been dying to sew this up into a very specific look. Kimono-sleeved boatneck top. I don't know why. The fabric talked to me and that's what it said. Just call me The Fabric Whisperer. I've been searching high and low for a pattern (more on my kimono sleeve obsession here and here) but I haven't been able to find the perfect look. Until now!

I buy a lot of striped fabric, and not only will this pattern work for my dream neon stripey knit, but it will work for all my other stripes. Yes, this is a dress pattern, but it does not appear to be difficult to shorten into a top if I have limited yardage. Before cutting into my black stripes, I made a wearable muslin from some orange and white graffiti stripe jersey that I got from Girl Charlee (at the same time, actually).

 FYI I'm wearing a slip here.

My original intention was to make this pattern exactly as specified (with a keyhole cut-out in the back and with neckline facings) but I ended up going off track. I didn't have enough fabric for facings (and I was concerned about facings in stripes since the fabric is a tad sheer) so I abandoned that idea. I also had to ignore the keyhole idea since I couldn't do facings. To finish the neckline I simply folded it down over clear elastic and topstitched. I omitted the pockets for fabric reasons and because I had half a notion to make it a top.

This is marked as a One Hour Pattern, but it took me longer than that because I was matching up stripes. Because of the keyhole, the pattern has you cut 2 back pieces so that you have a center back seam, rather than cutting the back on the fold. I hadn't yet decided to forget about the keyhole, so I did give myself extra work with a CB seam (and therefore with more stripe matching). The only way I can match stripes well is to pin like crazy, baste, check the stripes, then sew the real seam.

Once it was sewn up, I couldn't bear to shorten it into a top. It's now a sort of mini-dress/tunic length. I won't wear it without a slip, leggings, or skinny jeans in the winter. The boatneck does break my number one rule by preventing easy nursing access, but I just try to plan ahead and not get caught in any awkward situations.

It also goes well with capri leggings and a black leather belt. It's pretty darn shapeless without a belt, so don't even start on this pattern unless you have a belt to wear with it. The pattern includes instructions for a self belt, if you have enough fabric.

It has the hanger appeal of a bedsheet.

My husband says this tunic looks like pajamas. Even when I properly style it. "It's a matter of taste" as Tim Gunn would say. Good thing I'm not making it for my husband to wear.

One other thing I did to make this top fabulous was to add bra carriers. These were super easy to make and have such a huge impact on my comfort/confidence while wearing. A bra carrier is just a piece of ribbon or twill tape sewn to the inside of the garment shoulders, with a snap on one end. You slide your bra straps into the carriers and then snap it closed, resulting in straps staying put under your clothes, an important concept when wearing a wide-necked look like a boatneck.

Now the real question is: will I hurry and sew up the neon stripe knit with this pattern? I got it off my shelf to throw in the washing machine...and I couldn't do it. I couldn't commit. I've talked myself into making some other things first.

Anyone else suffer from can't-bear-to-use-it-fabric-itis? What's the cure?

Monday, April 15, 2013

Mend It Monday: Dog Bed

If you have pets you've probably experienced destruction at some point. Socks, purses, shoes (the dachshunds my family had growing up were particularly fond of leather...and library books). Our sweet boy Sawyer is a digger, but only when it comes to fabric.

He has the personality of Eeyore.

He likes to make little nests when he lays down. Sadly, I've lost some clothes to this habit, but the expensive dog bed saw the worst of it.

It wasn't exactly like this one from Petsmart,
but you get the idea.

This is what our dog bed used to look like. After a few years with Sawyer, it had a giant hole in the middle of it, and the sides were ripped where the piping held it together. Seriously, the sides of the bed were disintegrating by the second. I thought about replacing the sides since the piping was mostly intact, but one Saturday afternoon I just wanted the dang thing fixed. Enter scissors!

To make it simple, I removed all the stuffing (Sawyer's favorite snack) and cut off the piping and the sides. That left me with a top and bottom rectangle of fabric. Before I could sew the two rectangles back together, I needed to patch the hole. From my scraps that I cut from the side, I cut a large patch to put over the hole. I pinned it on the wrong side of the hole, and zig-zagged all around the patch.

Then I flipped it over to the right side, and zig-zagged over the raw edges of the hole.

Next, I took my top and bottom rectangles and laid them on top of one another, right sides together, and trimmed them down until they were the same size. I then sewed them together, again using a zig-zag stitch, and leaving part of it open in order to turn it right side out. I put all the stuffing back inside when I was done.

Since this is a dog bed and not a couture wedding dress, I made it easy on myself and just sewed the open end closed with topstitching, tucking the raw ends in as I went.

Of course there are some changes now; I can't unzip the cover for washing (uhhhh...yeah...sorry doggies but I rarely washed the cover unless it was..."soiled") and it's also smaller than it used to be. But as crappy of a sewing job as I did, and as boring as a dog bed is, I felt an enormous amount of satisfaction when it was fixed. Same as when I mended my winter coat. Creating something new is all well and good, but giving new life to something old is just as rewarding.

It's also a tad small for a German Shepherd now.

Anyone else have pets with destructive tendencies? Had any luck fixing up the damage? As much as I love that pooch, sometimes he's really in the dog house (yes! bad pun totally intended!).

Friday, April 12, 2013

Project Runway recap: spoiler alert!

This was the best episode of PR in a long time! If you've been reading along with my posts, then you know how intense my Layana dislike has become. An episode with Paris and Layana getting elimintated? Yes please!

I don't think I've ever teared up at Project Runway...but when Daniel found out he was going to Europe, I definitely got misty-eyed. And to be second in to fashion week, how amazing for him. Daniel gives hope to all us self-taught people that you can do whatever you want if you keep a positive attitude and put your mind to it.

The Europe visits were amazing. I took a lot of years of French in school and I can't imagine how surreal it would be to go to Paris. And how sad it to leave the next day! Has anyone been to the Eiffel Tower replica at King's Island in Cincinnati? Because that's all I can think about when I see the real Eiffel Tower. Except the replica is 1/3 of the height of the real tower...yikes!

I was glad to see that Daniel's fabric disadvantage didn't hurt him in the end. It was interesting to see how much fabric cost overseas, and the variety of selection. $1000 to fabric shop in Europe? Sign me up!

When Patricia and Kate went to the Louvre, I finally remembered Patricia talking about her divorce (I think in the Road to the Runway special?) and saying that she had to choose between her art and her marriage. How awful. I'm not into her aesthetic, but I'm glad for her that she's getting a chance to show at Fashion Week, she deserves it after all she's given up in her life. I do think that Nina is right: people go to stores to BUY clothes, not to LOOK at clothes as art. Maybe Patricia will put on an interesting show, but I can't see her winning the competition.

Stanley Stanley Stanley. He might be on his way to winning the whole shebang. It made me happy to see Heidi slamming him for never smiling, because she's right. I wonder if he's a total bore to be around in real life. And how come we didn't see any bossiness this week? Did he not boss around Richard, or did they just run out of time to show us that stuff?

Michelle will probably make an interesting collection, so I'm cool with her moving on to Fashion Week. Watching her paint $100/yard cashmere made me hyperventilate a bit, though!

I enjoyed this week's episode a lot, how about you? Bye bye Layana and your nasty attitude and pirate sleeves! You can take your jacket with you.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Sewing Project: Katrina's Soaker Pattern

About a year ago, AB was just starting to get big enough to fit into her one-size cloth diapers. I started reading more about the other kinds of diapers available and liked the idea of sewing a few of my own. If you check my Pinterest board called Baby-Make This you'll see a ton of tutorials and links on this subject. Cloth diapers need two parts; one part to absorb, and one part for waterproofing. Anything cotton can become the absorbent part, and with the proper care a wool cover can become the waterproof layer. One common way to make inexpensive cloth diapers is to use old t-shirts and wool sweaters.

Soaker upcycled from a merino wool argyle sweater.

The most widely used pattern for covers (which can also be made from fleece instead of wool) is Katrina's Soaker Pattern. It's free, multi-sized, and can be found here. I've made a couple of these for AB. Honestly, soakers are one of the first things I ever sewed on my machine, and they taught me how to sew carefully (in the tiny leg openings) and how to sew cuffs. And any project that doesn't take much fabric is a winner in my book!

Upcycled from a thick wool sweater.

I found wool to be a sort of tricky beast to learn about when I first started out sewing. There are a lot of different weights, blends, and types of wool. It's expensive to buy yardage, so in order to teach myself I went to Goodwill and browsed the sweaters. I highly recommend this process to learn about fabrics in general, not just wool. At first, my hands couldn't tell the difference between acrylic, wool, polyester, cotton, anything! But after a few trips and carefully reading labels, it became easier and easier to tell fiber content just by touch. I'm not perfect by any means, but I surprised myself with how fun it was to learn this way.

But anyway, back to soakers! My Goodwill sells sweaters for around $4.50 each, but of course they have some that are 50% off every week, and the first Saturday of the month the entire store is half off. So for a couple bucks you can score some great wool sweaters to upcycle into soakers. Be sure to check the men's section and the plus size section, since the price is the same whether you buy a small or an XXXL.

I promise I'm going to refashion this someday.

With a decent-sized sweater, you can make a soaker for your little one out of the body, and then use the arms of the sweater to make a pair of longies or shorties (pants, basically!). Once you get the hang of it, it's very easy to make pants from sleeves. I will confess that on my first try, I sewed the waistband closed. Oops. If your sleeves are short, you can cut a different sweater and make a waistband. You can also use fold-over elastic like I did here:

Armhole cuffs make excellent pant leg hems!

As I mentioned, you can also use fleece for this soaker pattern, but there are as many kinds of fleece as there are kinds of wool, and it can be another confusing world to navigate. The downside to fleece covers is that they leak when compressed (such as when a child is sitting or strapped into a car seat) so I don't use my fleece covers that often.

Just make sure your stretch goes around the waistband.

I've barely scratched the surface of the cloth diaper cover conversation. If you want to learn more, check out this group on Baby Center for way more details. But be careful...cloth diapering is addictive (no seriously...just Google it if you don't believe me!). You've been warned!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

What I'm Reading: Bloglovin'

Being relatively new to the blogging world, I'm coming into this whole blog-reader thing a tad late. What's a blog reader, you ask (or maybe you don't ask because you're smarter than me)? Basically, if you read a lot of blogs, it can become tedious to save them all in your favorites and constantly check for updates. Personally, I use Facebook a lot to follow/like what blogs are doing, but as I expand more into the world of sewing blogs (which don't often have a Facebook presence) I find myself losing track of a lot of good reading material.

Enter blog readers. I guess the most popular one until recently had been Google Reader, but it has gone the way of the cassette tape. From what I can tell, Bloglovin appears to be the new leader. Curious to find out myself, I went to Bloglovin and signed up for an account. It was quick and painless, and in no time I was adding all my favorite blogs to my own personal reading list. Think of it as a Facebook timeline for blogs.

There is even an iPhone app, which I installed on my iPad without trouble (those of you with an iPad but no smartphone will sympathize with those tiny iPhone-sized apps on your giant iPad screen!). Now I can hop on my iPad anytime I want and check my Bloglovin app for updates. And then check Facebook. And then Instagram. And then Pinterest. And then forget what in the world I got on there to do an hour before that. Anyone watch The Office? I find it hard to believe that Ryan's invention WUPHF hasn't actually come about. My husband's birthday was yesterday, and he kept getting notifications on his phone and tablet about people writing on his Facebook wall. Every time both devices dinged at him, I was waiting for the woof to follow.

So find me on Bloglovin by searching for 110 Creations, or hey, click the handy button to the right! That way you can receive updates just as they happen. Any other favorite sewing blogs out there (besides mine, of course)?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Sewing Project: Simplicity 2209

This year, I decided I wanted to make an Easter dress for myself. Not an unusual decision. But I decided it...two days before Easter. And no, I didn't want to make just another knit dress, either!

I've had this pattern for a few months, and actually, I've had fabric for it since my big Mood order for my birthday in February. I wanted to make View B, the dress with two different fabrics for the skirt and top.

From Mood, I ordered a green poplin for the skirt, and a white stretch poplin with vertical metallic threads for the top. The white poplin was kind of sheer and you can see the facings through it, which is a drag, but the stretch is awesome so that made it worth it.

I love this dress. I love the pattern. I do not love zippers (more on that later). I cut the smallest size in the envelope without paying any attention to the measurements (I always do that and because I'm so thin it's never been a problem...and sorry...I just have lucky genes) and this dress just fit. It definitely runs small, so check your measurements! The narrowest part is at the natural waist, and after a big breakfast I was feeling a tad squeezed!

The dress looks complicated, but it's not. It does take a bit of time to mark carefully, because there are two darts in the front bodice, two pleats in the back bodice, two pleats in the front of the skirt and two pleats in the back of the skirt. As I discovered (too late), these elements need to be done pretty exactly. Otherwise, when you join the bodice to the skirt, the opening for the side zipper will not look (or work) right. 

The side zip is meant to be a lapped zipper. For my first time sewing a zipper, I probably could have picked something easier than a side-zipped lapped zipper, but oh well. In the interest of shaming myself into never doing so poorly again, I'll show you some very honest photos of my zipper disaster.

Topstitched on one side? What?

My zipper is not lapped. It's an exposed zipper. Honestly, I don't know if I had enough fabric to make it lapped. The directions were not helpful. Also, somehow my zipper ended up on the opposite side than the directions instructed. If you don't already know how to do this kind of zipper, these directions are not going to teach you (I see Craftsy just added a free class about zippers, I'm definitely taking it). On day two of my self-imposed deadline, I was almost having a panic attack about putting this zipper into my dress. I'd never felt that kind of sewing anxiety before. The whole thing was already assembled (minus the armhole facings and the skirt hem), and there I was, staring at a paragraph of nonsensical directions, an uneven hole where the zipper was supposed to go, and no idea how to do it. I ended up hand-basting the thing in whatever way seemed right, and then sewing it in permanently on my machine. If you asked me for more details, I wouldn't be able to provide them. All I know is that it looks "wrong". Sure, it functions. My husband says it looks fine (and believe me, he would tell me if it looked like crap...he had no problem telling me that the white poplin looked like paper). I left too much space above the zipper and had to hand-sew that closed (twice) and it's all wonky, too.

This was not a good experience. It's really a shame, because the dress is very flattering to wear and I would love to make more. (Update**I conquered lapped zippers here on some shorts!) Maybe I should be glad the pattern isn't a bust, because it will force me to learn how to do the zipper correctly. I have seen some people on Pattern Review moving it to the center back and using an invisible zip instead. I don't have an invisible zipper foot, but if I get one someday, I'll be all over that plan.

Exposed zipper fail.

Ugh. Moving on from my zipper disaster, one other fitting problem occurred. I got the whole dang dress done and THEN noticed that the back neckline was gaping. As I said, I had cut the smallest size, so that was pretty frustrating to discover.

Gape from above.

Gape from the side.

I turned to the helpful ladies on the Pattern Review message board for help (here's the thread if you're interested) and was instructed to put two small darts in the neckline. I would have liked to put two in the facing and two in the bodice, but since the dress was already assembled (and the back facing was sewn into the armhole facings) I had to put the darts in the facing and bodice together.

To make the darts, I found center-back and then marked one inch to the left and right for one side of each dart. First I tried darts that were 1/2" wide, hand-basting them closed and then trying on the dress. A 1/2" didn't remove enough excess, so I upped it to 1", which was just right. The darts were 1 1/2" long, which was a random amount that seemed right by looking at the dress while wearing it.

It might have been easier to try the dress on and let my husband pinch out the excess. Well...maybe easier isn't the right word! Perhaps I got lucky with guessing, but the above alterations weren't too bad and I liked being able to be precise. When the darts were done, I liked how they looked so much that I'll probably just keep doing them. As I said, the pattern already has darts and pleats all over the place, so what's a few more?

No more gape from above!

No more side gape!

The directions call for a blind hem, but I did a standard hem with slightly contrasting thread (actually, it was the closest color I had) and it looks fine.

I made one other change to the pattern, which was to add a pocket on the opposite side from the zipper. You can't add a pocket on the zipper side because it would be right where the zipper is installed. I used a pocket pattern piece from McCall's 6288 which worked well, but it's a tad too low (I just guessed where to put it), so next time I'll move it up a bit. There's another reason to move the zipper to center back...two pockets are better than one!

I did not finish the dress in time for Easter, but it didn't matter because AB chose Easter to have a 24 hour stomach bug (I mentioned Friday that hubby and I had come down with it as well, thankfully we're all feeling better now!). I had it done by the next Sunday and wore it to church, on the first glorious spring day we've had so far (over 70 degrees!). It's the perfect spring dress and it will be hard not to reach for it over and over.

I definitely recommend this pattern, especially if you already know how to do a lapped zipper. I don't have any fabric to make another right now, but I'll be on the lookout (maybe a lovely grey linen??). Somebody please tell me that they've had disastrous results with their first zipper attempt! Is there something I'm missing about lapped zippers in particular? Are they just awful? Spill! 

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