Friday, August 30, 2013

Project Runway rehash!

Remember my culottes from yesterday? Totally wearing them today. It's still a million degrees outside even though it's almost September, which means it's almost fall, which means it should be cooling down a little bit. But it's not. I wouldn't mind wearing tiny tank tops and short shorts except for all the dang mosquitoes around here. AB got a bite right on her face yesterday. So rude.

This episode of PR made me want to go shoe shopping. I guess that was the point, right? Or was the point to make me want to buy Marie Claire magazine? I get so confused by their product placement that I forget to be brainwashed.

Spoilers to follow...

Things I loved:

I'm in love with the dress Heidi was wearing during the runway show. I want!

I'm glad it was another open-ended challenge. I hope the trend continues. I was also glad that the designers were all being ambitious (3 piece outfits, pants, etc.). 

Things I hated:

Ken was a bit two-faced about the whole fashion knowledge thing. Telling the cameras you were worried and then bad-mouthing other people for the same reason? Lame.

Tonight's reason why I love Tim Gunn:

He laid on the floor and let Swatch lick him! Was that real??

Favorite garment:

I liked Alexandria's, I'd wear it in a heartbeat (Rate the Runway here). I might copy those lace cutouts. But you won't catch me in those gladiator shoes ever ever ever!

I liked Jeremy's as well even though he was in the bottom. Making his own cable sweater from chiffon?? Who does that? At least he tried something original.

I liked Ken's a LOT. And I hate peplums! The fabric was gorgeous.

Least favorite garment:

Helen's was so. boring. Sometimes I feel like I shouldn't be watching this show because I just don't get it. My husband and I both thought she was in the bottom for sure but she won! 

I didn't like the plaid pants. Either pair. And Bradon was right, Miranda made the same garment all over again. It was time for her to go.

Oh Bradon. Last week and this week...oh my. I did think his technique was beautiful but somehow it went all wrong.

Best line of the night:

"Where is the eggnog?" --Nina

Well all, it's time for a 3 day weekend!! My husband is taking all of next week off, yay! I'll be blogging, but it will be brief. See you then!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

DIY Knit Culottes

I'm so excited to show these off today! I wish I would have made them 3 months ago, I would have been wearing the crap out of them all summer. There's still time for YOU to make your own, and they're easier than you think!

And did I mention I made them from 1 yard of fabric?? A lot of culotte patterns are for bias-cut woven fabrics, which sounds like a nightmare to me. I thought for sure I could find a way to make these from a knit, and using this tutorial from Sewing Like Mad I did it!

I urge you to check out the tutorial linked above, but I'll also go over what I did to make my version. The best part of the shorts is that they are very forgiving, you don't have to be super precise in your pattern-drafting and you'll still have a great pair of culottes when you're done!

Start with a VERY basic shorts pattern that fits you well. Ideally it would be a pair of knit shorts or pants with an elastic casing waistband, but I didn't have anything like that. I chose Simplicity 1879, because it has no fly front (only a side zip), and no pockets. There are darts in the back and pleats in the front. Simple. I started by tracing the front and back shorts pieces onto freezer paper, not worrying about the darts or pleats, just going around them with a smooth line.

These photos show my original front and back pattern pieces, but with a waistband drawn in along the top. As shown in the tutorial I linked above, you slash and spread the pattern to add fullness. (You can skip over this next bit if you're not interested in my muslin process.) At first, I spread each slash by 1 1/2" (arbitrarily). I did not adjust the crotch depth for my muslin.

Here is the pattern piece once it has been spread, with more paper taped behind it. It was at this point that I made a muslin.

You may recognize the navy blue chevron from this dress. The fabric is close enough to the ethnic knit I used for my "real" culottes, so I knew it would make a sufficient muslin. What I learned from this pair was: 1) I needed more fullness 2) Matching the pattern in the center-front was imperative to make these look like a skirt 3) I needed to do something clever with the hem to maintain a floaty, skirt-like appearance and 4) I needed to adjust the crotch seam to make them look less like shorts and more like a skirt.

So, I went back to my pattern piece and did 3 things. First, I added 1/4" to EACH slashed area, front and back (you could probably add even more). Second, I deepened the crotch seams. This was also sort of arbitrary but I dropped it by 1/2" starting at the inseam, then tapered my new curve to nothing at the waistline. My French curve was useful for keeping a smooth line. Lastly, I added 1/2" of width at the inseams, which increased the circumference of the leg opening.

I took those ratty taped-together pattern pieces and traced new ones. As a reminder, I'll show you the original pattern piece again:

Original back pattern piece

Final back pattern piece

I hope this explains the pattern-drafting process! The pictures do a better job than the words, I think. Assemble the shorts the way you would any other pair of elastic waistband pants, trying them on to adjust for a perfect fit.

And what about that dainty hem treatment that I mentioned above? Well, I tried something new on my serger! I sucked it up and forced myself to try a rolled hem. Good thing I had already watched that lesson in my Craftsy class. I followed the settings in my serger manual, but the tension was WAY too tight and the machine would barely even feed thread. I was a good little sewist and practiced on scraps until I got the tension correct. On my Brother 1034D, that meant my right needle was at 4, my upper looper was at 4, and my lower looper was at 5.25. The fabric is a rayon spandex knit. My stitch length and width were set to R, and my differential feed was at 1.0. If none of that makes sense, then you're not that different than I was 4 months ago : ) I promise you can learn about serging if you put your mind to it!!

Rolled hem

There is a very slight lettuce edge waviness, but that actually helps these shorts look more like a skirt. If you don't have a serger, you can always leave the hem raw, because knit fabrics don't fray.

Aren't these fun? And SO comfortable. I forget I'm wearing them and don't remember to change into pajamas!

Obligatory awkward pose.

All the fun of a skirt with the functionality of shorts! Love it!

Is it Thursday again already? I love the Hangout Hoodie pattern I bought from Peek-A-Boo Pattern Shop during last week's Thrifty Thursday. Today's pattern is the Newsie Cap, on sale for just $2.50! If only AB would keep anything on her head...sigh!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Blogging for Creatives

Some books are useful, some are fun, and every now and then I read one that's both! Sorry it's not a sewing book, but if you're a blogger (or a wannabe!) you'll like this book.

Blogging for Creatives is exactly how it sounds: a book for bloggers who write about creative endeavors. I imagine that most creative bloggers are visual people, and this book is lovely to see. Every page has a photo and description of a blog, most of which have creative topics and therefore creative blog designs. You'll be inspired if all you do is look at the pictures!

Aside from all the eye candy, there is a ton of useful information about blogging. And because so much of the page is taken up with photos, the text is concise. It tells you what you need to know and gets on with it!

There are standard topics like incorporating social media, and useful ones like "12 blog posts that work". Videos and podcasting are both covered, as well as how to blog on the move. The book is well-round and doesn't forget analytics, troubleshooting, and navigating copyright.

If you're looking for inspiration AND information, look no further (hey, it's like those commercials where the people like "and" better...y'know, sweet AND sour chicken instead of sweet OR sour...nevermind). If you give this book a go, let me know what you think in the comments!

Remember I talked about washi tape yesterday? Lo and behold, Pick Your Plum has some today! Better hurry, this stuff sells out FAST!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Tuesday Tips: tracking serger thread

I've been using my serger like crazy lately (OMGI'minlove...oh and bee tee dubs that is a fantastic price on Amazon right now, I paid more than that!). However, I don't have a bottomless sewing budget (more on that here) so I try to be mindful of how I'm using my thread. If you're not familiar with a serger, its most common setup uses 4 cones of thread. Two cones feed two needles, and two cones feed two fancy doo-hickeys called loopers (there is no bobbin).

The two loopers use more thread than the two needles. Sadly, this means that two cones could run out and leave you weeping in the middle of an unfinished project. To avoid this sad fate, I make sure to switch my cones about halfway through them, moving the two needle cones over to the loopers and vice versa.

But that's not the trick! The trick is how to remember which cone was where. I change thread colors often (I try not to, but I get bored sewing the same color garments over and over) and I quickly realized I needed a system to remember which cones were where. 

Do you know about washi tape? It's awesome (I got mine from Pick Your Plum around Christmas). Okay, it's just tape, but it's colorful and low-tack, which means I could use it to color-code my serger thread. I put one strip of tape on my serger where the cones sit, and then when I take a cone off the machine, I use a second strip in the same color and put that onto the cone itself. Easy peesy! Next time I know that the cones with red striped tape were last used with the needles, and to move those over to the loopers.

Do you have a system for tracking serger thread? Or are you good at eyeballing it? 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Inspiration: culottes

Okay, I know I talked about fall all last week. I tried to get my head into that season, I really did. But I discovered that I have no patience for sewing ahead. So, back to summer sewing I go!

I PROMISE I had this post written BEFORE Andrea at Four Square Walls posted culottes yesterday : ) I've been wanting to make a pair for a while now. I've been gathering inspiration all summer and will have a finished pair to show you on Thursday (along with a bit of a tutorial)!

We'll just start with the ones that have been appearing all over Blogland, the Tania pattern by Megan Nielsen. These are the ones that Andrea made (two pair!) and I also love Lauren's at Lladybird.

I've also been pinning RTW examples:

I love the sort of paperbag waistband and the floaty chiffon of this pair. And, duh, the color! But if you want something a bit more serious, you might like these better:

It's unfortunate that every photo of culottes requires a goofy stance.

And if you REALLY love the look, you could always go full-body with them:


Thursday I'll show you my simple knit culottes, using a pattern I drafted myself. I LOVE how they turned out! Until then, here's a sneak peek...

Friday, August 23, 2013

Project Runway rehash!

We went camping a lot when I was a kid, but my ungrateful 12 year old self had no idea how to enjoy it properly. I ALWAYS complained. How many of us, as adults, would give an arm and a leg for a beautiful campsite with nothing more to do than hike, stay up late, and eat marshmallows?? Sometimes I want to go back in time and punch younger-me in the face. Like, stop being a brat and racking up bad karma for future-me!

But I digress.

At least the designers managed to enjoy themselves! Spoilers to follow...oh! and this week's contest winners announced at the end : )

Things I loved:

At first I wasn't sure about the camping trip, since part of the "fun" of Project Runway is that these poor people don't get a break. But then I remembered all the unconventional challenges they've been put through already, and I changed my mind. They deserve a break! And even Debbie Downer Ken came around eventually.

I also liked that the challenge was open-ended. I'm sure that a lot of us like to "play along" at home and think about what we might design in the same situation, which is hard to do when the challenge concept is too restrictive. I think we can all find inspiration from nature without trying too hard.

Things I hated:

Another sponsored challenge. What's next? Design a high-fashion toilet paper dress, sponsored by Cottonelle?

Ken calling Alexandria a tiger, more or less to her face. Like, why? She's already unhappy with you? Why make it worse and be mean for no reason?

Tonight's reason why I love Tim Gunn:

Sometimes I wonder if Tim's affection for the designers can be real, given how long he knows them (not long) and how many of them there are. But watching him use his save on Justin made me finally believe that he's being genuine. Not that I thought he was fake...just that it seemed forced to care about these people who aren't always pleasant. So kudos Tim Gunn, for having a heart in the midst of that crazy chaos!

Favorite garment:

I have a deep dark secret to confess, one that I've been hiding for a long time (since last night). I liked Alexandria's "poopy pants". I liked her whole design (Rate the Runway photos here). She was right, it was the coolest thing on the runway. Even the phrase "drop crotch" makes me cringe, but she managed to make it look cool. I'm not sure how comfortable either of her garments would be (a jacket with no shirt?) but she definitely deserved the win.

Least favorite garment:

Justin's got totally out of control (pics here). It looks even worse in photographs. Why do these designers insist on using so. much. chiffon? I also disliked Karen's. Who wants to wear anything inspired by a tent? Another shapeless dress from her. I think a different color ombré would have been much better, a bit like Michelle's "dirty" dyed coat from last season.

Best line of the night:

"...toilet of craziness." --Alexandria.

And honorable mention: "I'm not going to ask permission, I'm going to be blunt." --Tim Gunn

So who won the McCall's pattern giveaway?

The winner of the fall pattern, McCall's 6614, is KaeleyAnne!

The winner of the summer pattern, McCall's 6744, is Ashley D.!

Winners, please email me at sew110creations (at) gmail (dot) com with your shipping info! Congrats and happy weekend everyone!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Mustard Polka Dot Cardigan

I've been discussing Fall Fashion all week and it's time to debut my first fall garment!

What's more fun than a polka dot cardigan?? Perhaps a mustard polka dot cardigan? The pattern is McCall's 6802, which features 4 different types of knit cardigans. The starting point for mine was View D, which is a kimono-sleeve style with a ruffle down the front.

If you know me at all, you know I have a deep love for all things kimono-sleeved. Apparently it's noticeable, because when I put this on for my husband he said "it looks like a kimono". Ha!

The fabric is a cotton/poly sweater knit from Girl Charlee. I originally wanted to make a sweater dress from it, but the color and polka dots are a bit overwhelming to be worn alone. I can't tell you if the fabric is going to keep me warm in the winter, because it's been 80 some odd degrees all week. Here I am pretending that it's cold while we were taking these photos:

You may notice that there isn't a ruffle on my cardigan. It's hard to tell from looking at the envelope, but the ruffled edge is meant to be left unfinished. Meaning the wrong side of the fabric will show. I was NOT into that idea and decided to make a folded-over band on the edge, instead.

It might be more plain this way, but I know that seeing the wrong side of the fabric all the time would have driven me crazy!

There are in-seam pockets as well. Hooray! The only complaint about this pattern is (surprise) TOO MUCH EASE. I may have to give up on McCall's patterns. The smallest size is always too big for me. I shortened the bodice and the sleeves, which meant that I had to make the pocket bags smaller as well (they were hanging below the hem in their original size...yuck). If I make this again I'll also move the pockets up a bit more.

What's that in the bushes?!

This was a super quick sew using my serger for everything except the pockets and hemming. It's comfortable and unique. I see myself wearing it a bunch this fall/winter. But for now...I'll be back to summer sewing. I'm too impatient to sew ahead. When I finish something, I want to wear it immediately! And unless a cold snap is coming, I can't wear this item right now. See you in October pretty mustard cardigan!

It's Thrifty Thursday! Check out Peek-A-Boo Pattern Shop and today's SUPER popular pattern, The Hangout Hoodie. On sale for $4 today only! I just snatched it up and can't wait to make a zillion of these for AB!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Vintage Pattern Selector

I LOVE the book I'm going to talk about today! It's so cute and modern and retro all at once. AB actually picked it out the last time we were at the library. And by "picked out" I mean that she grabbed it from a low shelf and threw it on the floor.

Personally I think the title is a little bit misleading. Vintage Pattern Selector makes you think that the book will help you pick out vintage patterns. In truth, the book offers lessons on vintage style, with modern ideas for updating the look. 

There were chapters for each type of garment (dresses, blouses, skirts, etc.) and then it was further broken down into specific styles. Each style had a photo of a vintage pattern, and pictures of modern versions.

I previously read Tim Gunn's Fashion Bible and this book was a lot like that one. I felt like I was reading a fashion history book, but in a condensed form with only the relevant details on how to carry the ideas into today. 

I would have been into this book if it ended with that, but there are also patterns! Included is a CD with 15 digital patterns. The sewing instructions are in the book, along with ways to vary the pattern for other looks. The patterns are where the book shines, they are unique and I haven't seen anything like them, anywhere. Where else can you find a pattern for a full petticoat and a fitted jacket? A 70's maxi dress and a prom dress? French knickers and a pillbox hat? Okay, you get the picture. And if you don't, here's a picture:

Fascinating to read, inspiring to look at, I ::heart:: this book!

Have you entered the pattern giveaway I announced on Monday? Go here for all the details!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Tuesday Tips: Season Boards

Ooooo you guys, remember a few weeks ago when I was contemplating a Burda magazine subscription? And whether $25 for 3 issues would be worth it? Totally worth it. My first copy came yesterday and I'm in love. Think about looking through a cool fashion magazine and then having the patterns inside it (okay, yeah, crazy looking patterns, but still). Yay! There were even some cute baby clothes. Now I'm in trouble, seeing as how it's like, $100 for a year of issues. Le sigh.

This week's tip has to do with my topic from yesterday: Fall Fashions! When working on ideas for a new season, I like to sketch out my ideas on a large sheet of paper (I use 14"x17" drawing paper). I group similar garments together, and then at a glance I can see my new mini-wardrobe.

After getting this far, I can tell that I might be over-ambitious! 8 tops, 2 pairs of pants, 2 skirts, 2 dresses, and 3 cardigans. But better too many ideas than too few!

Do you have any of your own techniques for tracking a whole season's worth of designs?

And don't forget to enter the giveaway mentioned in yesterday's post!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Fall Fashions and GIVEAWAY!

*********This giveaway is now closed!*********

Wonderfully warm summer weather took a break this past week, and around here highs got up to ONLY 70ish. Most people were happy about this change, but I love summer and it made me sad. Are you a summer or fall person? (Hold that thought for the giveaway below!) The only benefit of the cooler weather is that it turned my thoughts towards fall sewing.

If you're still looking for something to kick your butt into fall, you have lots of inspiration! The Big 4 have released their fall patterns. Simplicity has an Early Autumn collection as well as an Autumn Collection. I'm kind of digging this tunic, #1543:

But maybe without those fussy ties on the sleeves! 

You can see the Summer/Fall Butterick patterns here, and thanks to Mrs. Smith I have #5926 waiting to be made into a fantastic ponte jacket.

Fall Vogues can be enjoyed here. Well, I assume someone enjoys them! As usual, Vogue patterns make me feel like I must be missing something. The only one I liked was this very basic t-shirt!

And last but not least, McCall's. If for some reason you don't receive copious amounts of mail from Jo-Ann's, then perhaps you didn't know that they had McCall's patterns for SEVENTY CENTS last week. No joke. It's JA's 70th anniversary, apparently, so that's the kind of sales they're having right now. I got my butt over there as soon as I could on the first day of the sale. I might be making my whole fall wardrobe from McCall's, such as this cardigan:

If you find you love these fall patterns but aren't sure where to start choosing fabrics, make sure to check out the Pantone Fall Colors!

So what about you? Are you sewing for fall yet or still clinging to summer? I confess that I WANT to sew for summer, but that's mostly because I want it to BE summer. Here's your chance to pick a side, and maybe win a free pattern! Leave a comment saying which season you like better, summer or fall, and I'll pick one winner from each side to win a season-specific pattern.

The pro-summer commentors will have a chance to win one of this summer's best patterns, McCall's 6744 (sizes XS-S-M). If you're a pro-fall kind of person, then you can win McCall's 6614 (size S-M-L), a unisex pattern for sweatshirts and hoodies. This giveaway is open to US residents only. You have until Thursday at midnight to comment, and I'll choose a winner from each category using I'll announce the winners Friday. Good luck!

Want to see a review of McCall's 6744? Read mine here!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Project Runway rehash!

Phew, it's been a busy week around here! Not enough sewing in my life. Also, AB has decided that she only needs to nap for 30 minutes a day. I desperately needed this hour and a half of Project Runway (plus a glass of vino!).

Spoilers to follow...

Things I loved:

Sandro's apology. Even though it made little sense, I appreciated the effort. And it didn't seem entirely too coerced.

Things I hated:

A team challenge. A sponsored challenge. An unconventional challenge. So. Over. It.

I can't stand it when people sabotage a team from the beginning (KEN). Okay, we get it, you don't like your team. But you have to get it together and TRY. Ken was too busy rolling his eyes to work on his attitude.

Tonight's reason why I love Tim Gunn:

He kept it fair and wouldn't allow Sue to keep sewing as they went to the runway. Nobody wants a naked model, but he's right, it wasn't fair to the other teams. I also loved his rant about curtains, although at this point I don't understand why they send them to places that sell curtains!

Favorite garment:

I'm surprisingly meh about so many garments this year. The only one that made me say "wow" was Bradon's gown (Rate the Runway photo here). And his team was only safe. I guess I don't have the same tastes as the judges!

Least favorite garment:

I wasn't crazy about the winning dress (photo here) but I'm biased against anything resembling a peplum. Just not my style. I also disliked Kate's look. The losing team obviously had the worst "garments".

And I'm just throwing this out there...but someday Karen is going to get in trouble for making the same sheath dress over and over.

Best line of the night:

"Have you SEEN Project Runway?" -Tim (no, she hasn't Tim, that's Sue's problem...don't believe me? read her Q&A and see what she has to say about her favorite past PR designer)

I felt badly for Sue, but Tim was right, it was her time to go. I'm not sure why she wouldn't have been disqualified simply because her model finished her dress. Preeeeetty sure that's against the rules!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

My 50 cent Little Red Dress

If I tell you that this dress cost 50 cents to make, will you hate me?

It has zero hanger appeal. But when it's on...

BAM! My husband had an event for work (his company's 50th anniversary) and naturally, I NEEDED a new dress to wear. I was going to wear a RTW dress I already had, but 2 days before the party I realized it was a complete waste to have sewing ability, fabric, and a (rare) fancy event and to not make anything. 

I drafted the pattern on my own, borrowing heavily from this video (which borrows heavily from Megan Nicolay's book Generation T) for the top, and using the skirt pieces (slightly modified) from McCall's 6752. I made a few quick muslins for the top and realized I needed to angle the bottom (the video shows it cut in a straight line). Here's my finished pattern piece for the top:

You cut one on the fold (at center front) and sew a mere 2 seams, at the neck and at center back. Easy peesy! I then attached the skirt and used the seam allowance to add elastic. I had to ease the skirt and top together considerably, but the result is a cute blousing at the waist that I like.

The front drape is insanely low, but I knew that going in and didn't care. This event was my first non-sports date with my husband in a year and a half, I'm not ashamed to admit that I wanted to look, well, hot!

I didn't take this photo, please excuse how blurry it is. And I promise the dress is red, not orange.

We had a great time at the event (Jeff Foxworthy even performed!) and I attempted to get some good photos when we got home, but there were a few peeps who missed me:

Oh, and how did this dress cost 50 cents? The fabric (about 2 yards, I think) was 25 cents at a garage sale. It's some sort of polyester knit with not much stretch. The lace trim was purchased at the same garage sale and it was 25 cents for a bunch of it in a bag.

I really wanted to use my serger for construction since the fabric didn't have much stretch, but sadly I don't have any red cone thread. I can't commit to any colors beside black, white, and navy. Help me!

Either my husband's coworkers are all extra nice, or the dress was a hit, because I had more than one person compliment me. It was a great feeling knowing that other people liked something that I'd sorta kinda designed and made.

I'm considering another version of this dress, in black. A stay-at-home mom can never have too many party dresses, right??

Yay Thrifty Thursday! Today's bargain from Peek-a-Boo Pattern Shop is the Molly Schoolgirl Blouse! The blouse is half off and $4 today only. If you also purchase the Molly Schoolgirl Skirt, use code "schoolgirl" to save an additional $3!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Stitch Magic

Do you ever see photos of other people's projects, using all these cool techniques, and wonder how they do that? I do! And finally, after reading this book, I know how to do those things!

Stitch Magic is so well done. Not only did Alison Reid write this book about decorative stitching, but she did all the illustrations as well. 

In addition to the pintucking shown above, the book covers pleating, smocking, cording, and other specialty techniques. After an explanation of the method, there are multiple design examples on a small scale.

Then there are larger projects, ranging from pillows to aprons to necklaces.

Did I already say that this book is adorable?

One of these days I'll be able to sit on the couch and handstitch in peace, and I can't wait to try these ideas. I love Oliver+S patterns, and so many of these techniques made me think of adorable ways to use them with their traditional, timeless designs. 

Honeycomb smocking on a Picnic Blouse yoke? Yes please!

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