Monday, November 30, 2015

Cyber Monday sale on A Sewist's Notebook!

Today only, save 25% on all versions of A Sewist's Notebook! Use code ONEMOREDAY at checkout. Valid until midnight eastern. Need some convincing? Check out Very Purple Person's recent review of the book, here.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Belle-inspired Halloween costume

Did everyone have a good Halloween? Yes, I know it was two weeks ago. But how am I supposed to post about something I'm sewing if it's not done until the last minute? AB is quickly approaching 4, so she finally is old enough to understand "dress up day" (thanks Daniel Tiger). For weeks leading up to the 31st, I grilled her about what she wanted to "be". She kept saying things like Spider-man or Iron Man or The Hulk. Those weren't exactly costumes that I wanted to (or could?) sew. We settled on buying her a Spider-man costume, complete with fake muscles and mask. Immediately after we dropped all that money on it, she became obsessed with Beauty and the Beast and asking for a Belle dress. This mommy couldn't say no, and I ended up sewing her exactly what she requested.

Don't worry, Spider-man served her well at her preschool "pumpkin party" and I was glad that she had a more, er, janky costume to wear there. Let's just say I'm not a fan of letting my creations out of my sight and into the paint-splattering hands of her preschool. Anyway, the Friday before Halloween, our city had a really cool event where local businesses had candy to hand out. We could walk around our town square in broad daylight, with lots of other families, and with reputable businesses handing out the goods. Since our neighborhood doesn't have many kids and we have no family in town, this kind of event was perfect for a worry-wart mama like me.

To make this Belle dress, I used Amy's tutorial and pattern here. I did make some modifications. I color-blocked the front bodice so that I could use a nude fabric for the shoulders, giving the illusion of an off-the-shoulder dress like Belle's original.

I also cut the skirt differently since I wanted more fullness. I almost made a circle skirt, but after chatting with a good sewing buddy she suggested just adding more skirt panels. Genius! I did narrow the top of each panel to accommodate the fact that there were more of them needing to be gathered and sewn to the bodice.

I also added a crinoline underneath, because what's a Belle dress without a lotta lotta poof? I admit, I took a shortcut here and used the crinoline I wore when I got married. It had already been borrowed one additional time after I wore it, so I figured it had been used plenty and could be sacrificed to the cause. I ended up simply cutting off the bottom tier and finishing those hems with my serger. Then I gathered the top portion and sewed elastic to it in order to fit my daughter's waist.

Even more brilliantly, I added snaps to the top of the crinoline and the skirt seam allowance, so the crinoline could snap to it and stay securely in place.

Finally, my last change was to NOT ruche the center-back of the skirt with elastic. This decision meant that the dress had a slight train. Any excess gathering that I was having trouble easing got put in the back of the dress as well.

I also made gloves. I can't say I followed a good tutorial, I kind of just hacked away at them until they fit. I did a combination of tracing a snow glove and tracing my daughter's arm. The gloves are made from jersey knit so they can stretch and move. The knit was in my stash and the color match isn't exact, but it's close enough for horse grenades (Parks and Rec anyone?). The costume satin I ordered from Mood and they sent me approximately 38 extra yards for no reason, which was awesome. I still have a ton left in case I want to make an army of Belles. With a matching yellow ribbon in her hair and her enchanted red rose, this costume was pretty much to die for, if I do say so myself.

Don't worry, baby H got in on the fun and wore AB's old Robin costume. Daddy dressed like Batman (I was sewing him a mask up until right before we left!) and I think most of the kids thought he was the actual Batman. Mommy...failed and didn't make anything for herself. Next year I won't be so neglectful of me!

Did you have a me-made Halloween or go the store-bought route? I can't say I'd blame anyone for buying a costume, they are so. much. work. to sew!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Project Runway recap

If you missed it on Instagram, my daughter has now gone from commenting on the runway shows, to creating her own. I don't know how to break it to her that the season is over!

Spoilers ahead...

Best moments: No weird crazy drama. Everyone finished. And they didn't even need to bring in helpers like they usually do.

Worst moments: You know what I'm going to say, right? The collections were SO BORING. I miss the days of Seth Aaron or Mondo, when you didn't know what to expect and saw something new in every garment. 

Also, the models were the worst (with the exception of Ashley's). They all looked so angry/mean that I wanted to run away from them AND the clothes.

Best collections: It was clear to me that Ashley and Kelly were the top two. They used the most color and had the most cohesive collections. (But Ashley's finale look with the glued-on flowers was the ugliest thing I've ever seen...I thought it HAD to be some kind of joke.) When it came down to the two of them I did think it was a crapshoot as to who the judges would prefer. They weren't breaking any molds in terms of silhouette. Kelly had better fit but her pieces didn't look as expensive. Given that Ashley had had the courage to show PR's first plus-size collection, you had to know that would put her over the edge. When Gretchen beat Mondo we all learned that there is more at work here than who shows the best collection. I don't know that we've ever been given the criteria the judges use, anyway. For all we know, they put the names in a hat.

Worst collections: Edmond's was disappointing. I'm going to assume that he meant to show a collection of pieces that met the quality of the bow dress, which I thought was beautiful. But somehow he couldn't get there. He had a lot of throw-away looks (including the LBD that Heidi loved). And there was too much black. 

Which brings us to Candice. She listened to the judges and toned it down, but that didn't really help her. She probably should have done what she wanted, which apparently was to put on a spectacle. What irks me the most about her stuff is her unrelenting use of leather and black. She had a lot of good ideas or good pieces that could have worked perfectly fine in other textiles. It would have made the collection more interesting and less bondagey/hooker. I get it, she thinks it's her signature, but you really need to be more varied than that, I think. Your ideas should be your signature, not your textiles.

Overall, this was a lame season and a predictable winner. My only hope is that Ashley does something meaningful with her win, that whether or not she deserved it she puts her winnings to good use. Poor Kelly. Her disappointment was hard to see. Reunion show this week!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Elephant Dress

I wish I had a more clever title for this dress, but sometimes a name just sticks in your head and that's that. Earlier this year, I received some free fabric from Organic Cotton Plus and made the awesomist Easter dress for my oldest daughter. It's held up amazingly well, despite many washings the color hasn't faded and the fabric hasn't thinned. So I was thrilled to be able to do another review for Organic Cotton Plus. This time, I decided to make a dress (and the headband!) for our newest family member, baby H.

It turned out pretty cute, but I may be biased based on the model :) I went with this elephant interlock, and chose some pink rib knit for the trim. A word about the elephants: I definitely thought, looking at the image online, that they were pink. Hence the pink trim. But they are off-white. Luckily, the colors still went together really well, and probably it's even better with only a touch of pink.

I wanted to use this flutter sleeve tunic pattern from Brindle and Twig, but I'm trying to go on a pattern freeze. I knew I could probably figure out something similar with a pattern I already have. I ended up with the Gloria dress from Peek-a-Boo Pattern Shop, but I added the flutter sleeve (slightly modified) from the Oliver+S Badminton Dress, the same one from the Easter dress I mentioned before. It's basically just a long skinny oval, pointed on the ends, folded over, gathered, and basted to the sleeve head before it's sewn into the bodice. Easy peesy!

This little chunk is only 5 months old, but this is a 12 month dress. I did shorten the skirt 2" and this is the 3/4 length sleeve. I added pink cuffs at the wrists and also on the hem of the dress.

The rib knit was a dream to sew, and both fabrics finger-pressed very well (important to a busy mama who can't leave her iron on all the time). The interlock seemed to want to stretch out a lot, but I've found that to be true of all interlocks. However, they're much easier to sew than jerseys that roll on you.

Organic Cotton Plus has some of the most amazing lace trim. I've seriously been thinking about it for the last six months, because I couldn't figure out a way to incorporate it into my last review. I decided to try my hand at making a headband. Of course, all the laces are non-stretch, so I had some puzzling to do in order to make it work. I looked at a few of my store-bought headbands and decided on an elastic back. To keep it looking pretty, I also made a casing from the pink rib knit. 

I'm excited for baby H to wear this dress for the rest of the fall/winter, because I know it's going to hold the color well and stay super soft. Get yourself over to Organic Cotton Plus and get some cozy fall fabrics for yourself!

The fabric for this post was sent to me for free in exchange for this review. I would never endorse a product I don't love, and all opinions are my own. The patterns mentioned were bought by me.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Project Runway recap

Will you be watching Project Runway Junior? I'll admit, the most I've seen about it is one commercial watched on mute (this is what happens when you turn off your cable). Someone give me the details so I don't have to look it up. But first, let's get oh so close to finishing up this season!

Spoilers ahead...(see, fans of TWD, that's how you warn people, not by posting crap on Facebook for those of us who are behind or don't watch live...but I digress...)

Best moments: Edmond is, predictably, saved by Tim Gunn. I don't think even Edmond was surprised, but still, yay!

I loved that Edmond didn't take his looks out of his garment bags when he got to the workroom.

I was VERY happy that there were no eliminations or shenanigans. Make one new look (kind of a given) and that's all. Get feedback. All good things, unless you're Edmond and left yourself a bunch of work.

Worst moments: Home visits always make people more real, and therefore, usually more likable. I don't think it worked that way with Candice. I'm just totally turned off by her now. 

Best mini collection: I thought Kelly's was so cool...until the judges saw it. Then I realized how right they were, that it wasn't luxe/high fashion/expensive. Maybe that's not who Kelly is, soooo does that mean she can't win the show? Are we suddenly living in a world where Ashley can make her 1,000,000th ill-fitting bustier and that's okay?? I do give Ashely props, however, for her use of color and for using "plus size" models. I think it's super cool that she's brave enough to pursue that when its so against the grain in the industry.

Worst mini collection: Ugggggggh why so much black Edmond and Candice? I mean, okay, I wear a lot of black myself, but using it for an entire collection is so boring. In fact, I feel like a boring person when I wear black. And adding leather makes it so bondagey and Tim was right to tell Candice that it looked like streetwalker-wear. I guess she's not going to listen. And she's not going to win (I hope?).

Best quote: "I mean, I might be making this up, but I'm pretty sure he loved everything." --Kelly

Wow, the judges were pretty brutal with everyone. Probably a good thing, since they all seemed to think they had it in the bag. But I'm going to turn down my expectations a notch (even more than they already were) for the finale. Any predications?

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