Friday, June 28, 2013

Pinterest Project: DIY Sewing Caddy

Happy Friday! Wow, this month flew by! How are you liking Pinterest Project Friday? I think I'll keep it up through July...I've only scratched the surface of all the great tutorials you can find on Pinterest! Well, at least until Project Runway returns July 18th!! Eeeee! Then it will be back to Friday PR recaps!

Today I'm sharing a project that took less than 30 minutes to make, and has already made my life SO much easier. I deviated a little from the original pin, but the idea is the same:

Pinterest tells me that this was originally published on a blog called Kira's Cottage, but that it's no longer active. I hope I'm giving credit where credit is due! You can find lots of these types of toothbrush holders on Etsy as well.

Eventually I want to make one of these toothbrush holders for my family, but we don't travel overnight much since having the baby. It occurred to me the other day (while falling asleep, of course!) that the same idea would work perfectly for sewing tools. When I'm sewing, I have a few items that move around the room with me, and I'm constantly setting them down and losing track of them. No more!

I didn't take any photos while assembling because I was too excited! But it's not hard to figure it out from the pictures. The fabric is some kind of heavy twill that I got at a garage sale. There wasn't much yardage and I don't know what else I'd ever do with it, so it was perfect for this project. I serged the top of the inside flap, then folded it up and serged the three sides, creating a pocket.

Then I laid my most commonly used sewing tools on top of the pocket and marked where to sew straight lines. There are two extra pockets in case I need to put other stuff in there.

For the straight line stitching, I experimented with a new stitch. In my Craftsy class about tailoring ready-to-wear clothes, Angela Wolf talked about using a triple stitch for hemming jeans. It's a more durable stitch than a regular straight stitch, and a good alternative to topstitching thread. I used it here and LOVE it. I chose white thread only because that was what was on my sewing machine. If you're not sure if you have a triple stitch, this is what it looks like on my Brother CS-6000i:

With the pockets made, the final step was to sew on a piece of trim so that I could tie the bundle closed. I used the remainder of my $1 Wal-Mart lace, left over from my knit Sorbetto top.

There you have it! An easy project that I made with stuff sitting around in my sewing room. Now I always know where to find my scissors (small ones for thread snips), seam ripper, fabric marker, and seam gauge. My caddy is super basic, but you could easily embellish this to your heart's content. I'm thinking embroidery on the pockets? Trimming the edges instead of serging? So many options!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Alex & Anna Summer PJs and GIVEAWAY!

*I received this pattern in return for my review, but all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.

Welcome to Day 4 of the Peek-A-Boo Pattern Shop Summer Tour! I've enjoyed seeing all the great examples of these patterns this week. Today, I'll be showing off a few of my Alex & Anna Summer PJs. This pattern is for tight-fitting pajamas, with two sleeve options. In total, I made three versions of this pattern. The first was to figure out the proper sizing, and since it turned into a "play" outfit I'll be showing it off next week. But on to the pajamas! First up is a short-sleeved version, made with some lightweight knit from Girl Charlee:

I've had this fabric in my stash for about a year, and it was always destined to be pajamas. This pattern is perfect for showing off great fabric! The sleeves and the leg cuffs are finished with bands (instead of hemmed) and that means it sews up quickly and easily. I used my serger, but you can make these with a sewing machine as well. For this version, I used self-fabric for the bands, but you can also use contrasting fabric (see my second set of PJs below!).

I think she was puckering for a kiss?

I LOVE how RTW these look with the self-fabric bands. The pattern calls for topstitching around all the openings, but I find that topstitching restricts my ability to get shirts over AB's enormous head (95th percentile for head size!). The topstitching does keep the seam allowances from moving around inside, so if that bugs you then you'll want to topstitch.

AB is 16 months old, average height and weight, and I made an 18 month size for the shirt. I did have to modify the head opening and make it bigger all the way around by 1/2" (and also make the band longer to compensate). Here's a photo showing my modification (new cutting lines in red):

The shorts are made in a size 2T. AB wears cloth diapers and my first try with the pattern (in an 18 month size) was too small. Just make sure that if you size up the shorts, you double-check your elastic length in the waistband.

I was able to make the top, shorts, all the bands (and an extra sleeve...I messed up the first one!) with less than 1 yard of fabric. The yardage in the directions is very generous. You gotta love a great outfit that doesn't take much fabric!

The second option in the pattern is for a sleeveless tank. This adorable owl slub jersey is also from Girl Charlee. The contrast fabric is a purple ribbing that I got from my big rummage sale score. Over two yards for fifty cents!

I LOVE the instructions from Peek-A-Boo Pattern Shop. If you've ever tried to sew a tiny seam on a sleeve for baby clothes, then you'll appreciate Amy's construction order. Wherever possible, you end up sewing flat instead of sewing in the round. It usually takes me a few days for any project, but I could cut and sew these up in one day without any trouble.

You can print this pattern at home and I've never had any trouble with scaling or printing. Even if you print them in black and white, you can pick out your proper cutting line and outline it with a highlighter or colored pencil before tracing off. I save all my pdf patterns in my Dropbox and then read the directions on my iPad while I'm sewing. It saves me from having to print the directions (and inevitably losing them...). 

Now she's REALLY getting into modeling!

The bonus to this pattern is that you have a great tank top and t-shirt pattern as well. Since these are designed to be close-fitting, you can size up for play clothes and be all set for t-shirts. Remember that most of Amy's patterns go all the way up to size 8 (and some even higher)!

If the constructions looks a any areas, please forgive my newbie serging skills. My Beginner Serging class at Craftsy is helping, but there were still a few times when I wanted to chuck it and go back to my dear sewing machine. I know that the only way to get better at something is to keep practicing. And to keep showing off bad photos on your blog so that you're held accountable!!

If you can, I recommend adding a little tag to the shorts so you can tell front from back. The difference in the rise isn't much, so you could easily mix up which is which. 

I hemmed the shirts using my new favorite stitch! I read on So, Zo... that she used a three-step zig-zag for hemming a knit dress, so I decided to try it for these PJs. A. Maze. Ing. There is WAY more stretch in this stitch than with a twin needle. No more popped stitches in my hems! I do recommend using a coordinating thread...a three-step zig-zag can get wonky quickly and is harder to match at your starting/end point than a straight line.

Thanks to Amy for hosting the Summer Tour, and to my little AB for being such a cooperative model (it doesn't usually happen that way!). And as a thank you to YOU, Amy is giving away a pattern 10-pack to 3 lucky winners! Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter this awesome giveaway, and be sure to check out all the other stops on the tour! While you're at it, head to the shop today and pick up The Madison Dress, on sale for $4 today for Thrifty Thursday! You can read my review of the super cute Madison Dress here.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

What I'm Reading: How to Use, Adapt and Design Sewing Patterns

Please tell me I'm not the only one secretly addicted to America's Got Talent. Okay, not so secretly as of right this second. It's SO campy and SO weird...I guess it has that trainwreck thing going for it. Also, summer programming blows. What am I supposed to do with my time in the evenings, read a book or something??

I mentioned today's book a while back as one I was reading during my Thurlow shorts fittings. It didn't help me much with fitting, but it does offer an in-depth look at patterns and pattern making.

No spoilers here, the title pretty much sums up the book. Thank you everybody, goodnight!

Just kidding. The book is broken into three sections (Use, Adapt, Design). The "use" portion, I admit, was a snoozefest if you already know how commercial patterns work. It would have been helpful a year ago when I was starting out, of course. It's great information for beginners, but the second two portions are NOT for I don't know. Let's call it a good refresher/base. There WAS a great sidebar on measuring children, something I haven't encountered before.

The "adapt" part of the book focused first on creating slopers. I've read about twenty-six different resources for making slopers but I haven't done it yet. A sloper is a basic pattern which is made to your exact measurements. Vogue also sells commercial slopers. Curse me for not remembering, but I know I read a blog last week where the author said she has used commercial slopers and drafted her own, and that by far drafting her own was better. If you're interested in that, this book is excellent in teaching you what to do, complete with muslin fittings and adjustments back to the flat pattern.

As part of adapting patterns, time is spent discussing fit issues and how to correct them. I was impressed with all of it except the pants portion. If you need to know how to fit a blouse, there were things in here I hadn't read before, particularly about shoulders and sleeves and balancing them properly.

The "design" part was where I wanted to glean the most information. Sadly for me, there was probably TOO much information for me to digest in the few weeks I had this out from the library. The book was detailed in showing how to change a regular sleeve to a cap sleeve, how to add fullness to a skirt, how to change a collar, things like that. I enjoy reading these types of books, but unless I'm specifically working on that topic at that moment, all I can do is tuck away the info for a rainy day.

My favorite part of the book was a mere 4 pages that were spent on taking a sketch to pattern paper (using your slopers as a base) and creating a garment. Y'know, the kind of stuff they do on Project Runway every week. I could have read a whole book on that topic!

This is a great book for people like me who don't have any formal pattern drafting training. I'm tempted to sneak into the university bookstores in town and find some design books. But until I work up the stones to do that (I'm pretty sure having a baby with me would give me away), I'm happy knowing this book is waiting for me anytime at the library.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Sewing Project: Lace Back Tank

Now that I'm a mom, it takes a bit more planning and subtlety to inject any sexy into my wardrobe (am I even allowed to say sexy as a mom??). Holy split personality Batman. A few months ago, I bought a pattern that encouraged a small use of lace and haven't been able to get it out of my head:

View C (yes, it's View C, even though it's on the left IDK McCall's) is a racerback tank, with the top rear portion in lace. I made a TERRIBLE muslin of this pattern (you can see it towards the end of my Me Made May photos when I was getting desperate) and since then I haven't tried it again. But I've been hunting for some nice lace just in case. A few weeks ago I was at a garage sale and found a silk blend crocheted lace shirt for $1.

I thought it would be perfect to cut apart and use the back for a tank. I decided not to use McCall's 6359 after all since there was enough yardage to make an entire back from lace. Instead, I used Simplicity 1716.

You may remember this pattern from my red and black striped mini-dress. I don't know why it took me so long to use this pattern again, the front drape is perfect for nursing and the pattern goes together very easily. The tag on the silk shirt suggested hand wash only, so for the front of my blouse I decided to use a very drapey rayon jersey (from Mood). I did prewash it once on cold and dried it on low heat, but I always have trouble with rayon getting pilly over time. I figure hope if I hand wash it, I won't have that problem.

Obviously, I had to change the pattern a bit since I wasn't cutting the back from yardage. I carefully cut the back of the shirt away from the front and the sleeves. The Simplicity pattern has you cut the back in two pieces because it has a slight curve in the center back seam. I ignored that. To get my side seam curve to match my front piece, I laid them together and cut into the lace portion.

I also wanted to keep the great scalloped border along the hem. That meant I had to hem the front only. As you can see from the photo above, I cut the front of the shirt longer than the back so that I could hem that portion. The original pattern also calls for a facing along the back neckline, but since the silk shirt was already finished, it didn't need a facing. I did remove the original tag because it was lame.

I assembled the front as directed, and then sewed it to the back using French seams for the sides and shoulders. This was my first time trying French seams on a garment and they're pretty awesome (except in the shoulder seams, I think it's a bit bulky there). I thought I would NEED them because I assumed that the lace would be all ravelly and hard to manage. It turned out that the rayon jersey was much harder to sew than the lace. All kinds of slippery! All my normal methods for dealing with slick knits (glue-basting, dissolving stay tape) wouldn't work because they required washing afterward. Ugh. I have a bunch of this knit left and I don't know if I'll use it because it was so hard to sew. Maybe now that I have my serger...(oh yeah, I made this top before I got my serger on Mother's Day...otherwise I probably would have used it instead of French seams). I couldn't even pin because of the openness of the lace. Binder clips to the rescue! Oh, and a little tissue paper, too.

You can purchase real sewing clips if you didn't use to work at a place that had way too many binder clips in the incoming mail. And if you didn't accidentally take a bowl-full home with you when you stopped working there. Y'know. If that's not you.

I wear this top with a nude bra and you can't see it through the open lace. It's sort of a tightly made lace, so that helps. Plus I get a cool breeze on a hot day! I like this blouse a lot, but I'm so paranoid about getting something on it and having trouble washing it out that I haven't worn it much. I hope I still love it when AB is older and not throwing food at me everyday.

I promise I don't have Hulk shoulders.
I was arching my back to show off the lace!

Oh, and in case you're wondering, it was pretty tricky hemming only the front. There was a lot of folding and pinning and swears prayers. Especially since I couldn't press it either (I tried with a press cloth and still saw shine...or at least was paranoid enough to think I did!).

Any adventurous sewing happening for you these days?

Monday, June 24, 2013

Sewing Inspiration: Lace

When I was a kid, my sisters and I would pitch a fit if our mom tried to make us wear something with lace. Even a tiny bit on the edge of a sleeve or bodice and we would reject the whole outfit. My mother's wedding dress had lace all over it and we insisted that we'd never wear something like that (omg girls are the worst...can't wait until AB pays me back for all that!). Fast forward to my wedding day, when I wore a dress covered in lace.

The poor man who altered my wedding dress had to remove all the lace on the side seams, take those in, and then hand-sew the lace back on (this was in the days before I knew how to sew). By the way, did you see the vintage wedding dress on Coletterie earlier this month? Stunning.

Something about summer makes me embrace lovely laces and eyelets. I've been kind of obsessing over a lace-backed tank top, also known as a mullet top if you ask Trisha at Made by Trisha (business in the front, party in the back). She also made an awesome lace dress for a wedding in Vegas. How come none of my friends get married in Vegas?

Don't worry, I put my money where my keyboard is and I have actually made a lace-backed top. Stay tuned until tomorrow for the rundown. Scared to try sewing with lace? Me too. I may have to get some of this knit lace PRINT from Hart's Fabrics. All the drama without the fickleness of real lace.

But if you want some help, I found a good tutorial at Sew Fearless for working with stretch lace. And lest you think I only like black lace, this is one of my favorite images I've found on Pinterest:

I can't find the original source I'm sorry!!! Ugh. Pinterest. I love you, but some of your users are very reckless with their pins.

Oh, and my mom's lacy veil did make its way into my wedding. It was used to wrap my bouquet <3

What about you? Have you ever sewn with lace?

Saturday, June 22, 2013

New Offerings from Craftsy!

Just a quick Saturday post to let you all know that Craftsy is now offering Fine Arts classes! I'm making my way through two of the sewing classes, and I can tell you that they are definitely worth the money. Hours of class instruction for less than you would pay for private lessons, plus you can keep the class and rewatch forever (not to mention a money-back guarantee)! Here are the new Fine Arts classes:

  • These are making me want to bust out my drawing supplies again (read more about that here)! Remember, it's free to join Craftsy and they also offer many free classes. Topics range from sewing, to knitting, to cake decorating...if you can craft it, you'll find it there. Look me up and follow me by searching for 110 Creations!

    *This is a sponsored post, however the thoughts and opinions about Craftsy are my own. Srlsy, I love it!

    Friday, June 21, 2013

    Pinterest Project: DIY slip

    OMGeeeee I changed the design of the blog! Do you like it??? I'm nervous. I liked the black...but it felt like BLAAAAAACK sometimes y'know? Plus the header photo was my old, pre-makeover sewing room. It was SO March 2013.

    But back to business! Following up on yesterday's shrinking dress disaster, today I have a quick, cheap solution for you if you have any too-short dresses or skirts hanging out in your closet. Forever ago, I saw this tutorial on iCandy Homemade for what she calls an "extender slip". It's just a slip that shows outside your clothes, rather than hiding underneath your skirts. There's also a great tutorial over at Domestic Bliss Squared (with more before/after photos and examples).

    I have one white slip that I've worn under tunics (see here), but white doesn't go with everything. I wanted another in nude and black. Rather than buy yardage and make my own, I turned to Goodwill. We have two Goodwill stores in town, and of course the one closest to me had no slips at all. I guess they ship them across town to the other store? IDK. It just seemed weird that one store had a lot and one had none.

    I probably should have photographed this anywhere other than on a white background. This photo looks SO drab. Sorry. For a few bucks, I came home with this nude full slip, and one black one. Both had pretty lace on the bottom hem, which I love for some extra interest. Plus it meant I could skip all the parts of the tutorials that talked about adding trim. Score!

    To figure out size, I took my white slip that already fit and laid it on top, then cut it to the same size (plus a tad extra for seam allowance and elastic).

    On the left is a side seam, which I left intact. I've been using my serger on all my projects this week. Maybe it's more accurate to say I've been practicing with my serger. Seriously, for the next few weeks my stuff is going to look like a dog ate it. Or tried to eat it, but it tasted bad, so he spit it out and sat on it. I can't get used to sewing without pins and sewing as quickly as a serger does. But I'm trying!

    I serged my elastic directly to the top cut edge of the slip (I removed my cutting knife so I wouldn't accidentally trim off any elastic). I thought about flipping it down and topstitching it, but the elastic wasn't uncomfortable to wear and I didn't want any extra bulk (it IS a slip, after all).

    Then all that was left to do was serge up the open side seam. Easy peasy!

    I tried it on with my disaster dress from yesterday, and it looked okay, but the fullness of the half-circle skirt looked kind of weird with a not-full slip. And when you're sewing your own clothes, is okay really good enough?

    Have you tried this Pinterest project? I'll get to work on my black version whenever I switch my serger to black thread, haha. Right now I'm doing as many things as I can with it while it's threaded with white!

    Thursday, June 20, 2013

    Sewing Project: Knit Dress hack

    I'm thinking of mixing up my blog entry titles. I like to use categories to keep it all straight, but categories do leave one rather underwhelmed. Especially when a project deserves a kick-a** title like "Epic Knit Dress Failure" which is what I should call this post.

    I am on a hunt. A hunt for The Perfect Knit Dress. And since this is a perfect dress, my requirements are steep. In terms of style--feminine, fun, dress it up or down. In terms of construction--easy to medium. I want to make a lot of these. In terms of fabric--works with stripes, solids, or prints. I don't want too much, huh?

    A few months ago I got a bargain box from Girl Charlee and it had a lovely brown floral in it. Fifteen yards of lovely brown floral. Guess what I found out? There aren't fifteen yards of open space in my house. I liked the small scale of the print but couldn't wrap my head around the enormity of the yardage, so I tossed it on a shelf and left it there. Eventually, it occurred to me that this fabric would be perfect for experimenting with my knit dress obsession.

    What I REALLY want is a knit dress that looks like the Sewaholic Cambie. Sweetheart neckline, pretty straps, fluffy skirt, it hits all my requirements when it comes to style lines. But I haven't found much evidence to suggest it could be made in a knit. And I'm too cheap to buy the pattern for experimenting. So, I've been Frankenpatterning ones that I already have. For this first version, it involved a half-circle skirt and the top 18 inches of Butterick 5606. Just one problem: prewashing.

    I don't know about you, but my washing machine struggles with a bedsheet. They always get twisted around the column thingy and I feel like they're not actually laundered. Because I'm SO cheap, I couldn't bear to cut a few yards off my 15 to prewash. What if I wasted fabric?? (I KNOW IT SOUNDS CRAZY.) Like a good little girl, I obeyed all my sewing books and cut a small swatch, measured it, washed it, and then measured it again to figure out the amount of shrinkage. Minimal. Great! I could move ahead with my dress experimentation and not worry much.

    Can you guess how this story will end?

    IT SHRANK. A LOT. Sigh. I was SO excited about it, too. To further shame myself for being unwilling to cut and prewash, I've given you this photo of the dress on me. The waist is too high, the skirt is too short (and I haven't hemmed it yet). It looks exactly like a shrunken dress. It doesn't look terrible in the above photo, but you can see the problems more clearly here:

    This is what I would call an "outtake" photo, by the way. The quality is terrible and AB is making a face, but it does show how bad the dress looks.

    If you're done laughing at me and would like the deets on the pattern, I'll spill. When I try again with The Perfect Knit Dress, my approach won't be much different (except, of course, prewashing). The half-circle skirt fits the bill for fun and flirty. I decided a full circle skirt would be too much oomph and might not dress down well enough. To draft my half circle skirt pattern, I used the amazingly wonderful excellent tutorial and calculator at Patty the Snug Bug. I added in-seam pockets (it can't be a perfect anything without pockets) using a pattern piece from McCall's 6288.

    To figure out the length of the bodice, I measured from my shoulder to my waist and added seam allowance, and then cut that far down on the Butterick pattern piece. I love the way the top part fits on my feather tunic, so I wanted to use it again here. I think next time, I'll make the side seams more straight up-and-down. On the Butterick pattern they flare out a touch too much for converting into a top.

    I did make an elastic casing at the waist, using the seam allowance which was created by sewing the bodice to the skirt. I used the same method in New Look 6097. For some reason, it was annoying in this dress. Just a difference in fabric, I suppose.

    The reason I was so excited about this creation, pre-shrinking, is the way I finished the armholes and neck. The Butterick pattern calls for narrow 1/4" hems, which is fast (and fast is partially why I chose this pattern to hack) but kind blah and terrible. I have a knit RTW tank top that uses bias binding as a facing, and I decided to copy it. To get the method straight, I turned to my newly acquired Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Sewing (for $3!!) and BAM it had the answer. So look at my pretty insides!

    This post is already way too long, so I won't go over the method in detail. I'll save that for Version 2 of The Perfect Knit Dress. Just know that I plan on doing armholes and necklines this way whenever possible.

    Before I send out an SOS for any petite friends who might want my shrunken dress, I have some ideas on fixing it. I'll keep you posted! What about you? Do you ever skip prewashing? I NEVER have until now...and see what it got me. Complete fail.

    Is it Thrifty Thursday again already? This summer is flying! But you still have time to whip up some Sadie Nighties, marked down today to only $4. Be sure to check out Peek-A-Boo Pattern Shop's new website AND Romper Week. All romper patterns are only $6!

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