Monday, December 31, 2012

Apron times two

As my last post of the year, I wanted to share the two aprons I made for my youngest's daycare teachers. Both were based on this vintage pattern, though I made enough changes to the first apron that it's virtually unrecognizable as the same style:

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Hands down, my favorite decoration for the house is this advent calendar, made three years ago.  I based it on my in-laws wood version, but ours is all felt, with tiny rick rack, ribbon and seed bead decorations for the ornaments.  Clearly made before child #2 came along, each number was hand cut with an exact-o knife from freezer paper and then stenciled.  I still can't believe I went through all that trouble!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Dumplings for Christmas

Other than the tree skirt, I only set out to make aprons for my son's daycare providers for Christmas this year in a conscious effort to reduce holiday stress.  The 2 year old goes to a Japanese immersion small family daycare**, and the teachers wear cute little cobbler-style aprons every day.  Clearly, I had to make one for each of the two main teachers!   So, in preparation, I purchased Japanese import fabric months back and ordered a vintage pattern from overseas.  After a few muslins to try out the pattern and making some alterations, I sewed up the first apron and it just fit oddly (though admittedly, I was trying it on and I'm not the same size as the ladies to whom they will be gifted.)  I loved the fabric so much, though, that with some scraps left over, I scrambled and made some cute little dumplings using this tutorial (and thanks to my Sewing Buddy, Jennie, for pointing me toward it!).  

Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas tree skirt

After seeing this tutorial, it was immediately imperative that I make a tree skirt.  Not that we needed one; on the contrary, I own a beautiful skirt with rows and rows of cute little pompoms that I actually like quite a bit.  No, I had to make one because despite not being a matchy-matchy type of person, I had some extra fabric left over from the stockings I made for the boys in previous years and I just really wanted it to be made-by-me!  Here're the boys' stockings (I designed them myself, so no pattern to reference):
That 2-D Zoo (Alexander Henry) was just spot-on perfect for my animal-loving eldest, and well, the youngest just got a pattern that matched his brother's!  I love rick-rack, so it had to be incorporated into the skirt.
The original pattern called for ties to close the back of the skirt, but I chose to do buttons and loops to make it look more clean.  With all color options laid out on the skirt, I opted for a light pink to make it modern and pull from the 2-D Zoo print.
Here's the whole lot together, in all their matchy-matchy glory!
Notice, mom and dad's stockings are missing.  I made ours many years ago, and my husband insists that I keep them as-is (though I think I've convinced him that they need to be pulled apart and stiffened with fusible fleece so they aren't all floppy).  
Unfortunately, we have this big, tall tree stand, and the skirt is definitely not designed for that kind of thing, so it doesn't lay as nice and neatly as I'd like.  Oh well...once it's buried under a heap of Christmas presents no one will care anyway!  

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Cozy PJ bottoms

I bought that sweet mug at a student pottery sale at my college yesterday!  
Even in a land where I know the location of 3 pairs of sunglasses and no idea where my umbrella is (and it's currently raining), cozy pajamas are a must-have in the "winter".  I purchased this fabric (In the Clearing Winter, part of the LouLou flannel collection by Anna Maria Horner) online, not knowing that the printed flowers were in lines across the width of the fabric , and not as an edge print.  Luckily I'm short, so I was able to cut the pattern using the width of the fabric, placing the floral pattern at the sides of the pants (the back matches the front).

Friday, November 30, 2012

Peplum blouse, pattern review

During my recent visit to Britex I purchased a beautiful stretch silk floral fabric, the most expensive piece of fabric I've ever purchased (but so worth it!).  I only got a small amount, with some kind of sleeveless shell in mind.  After making the Minna blouse by Salme patterns, their Peplum blouse caught my eye.  E-downloads make those impulse pattern buys oh-so easy!
I made not one, but two muslin versions of the Peplum blouse.  The first was so awful that after massive fit and style alterations, I had a to make a second before committing to my special fabric.  I'm still not 100% in love with the fit (pulling at the shoulders and bust in a weird way), but I typically wear these types of blouses with cardigans, so no biggie.
Ready for lecture!
Okay, so for the review.  I love the style of this blouse.  Love the front and back keyhole, love the peplum, love the interesting way the lining is sewn in.  But man, I wouldn't suggest taking on this project without a good understanding of fitting a pattern to your own body.  As mentioned in previous posts, I have a small bust and am relatively straight from waist to hips.  The pattern appears to be designed for a woman with a very large bust to waist ratio, so after measuring myself and the paper pattern (there was only a garment measurement for the bust), I graded out from bust to waist and made all of the darts shallower.
The shoulders were too narrow for my apparent football-player body, so I had to adjust those as well, grading out several sizes.  Deepening the arm scythe may improve the fit a bit, now that I'm looking at my pattern alterations...
My final front bodice piece looked like this after my changes with similar alterations made to the back bodice:
I had a suspicion that the peplum would have too much flounce for my taste, so I slashed and reduced evenly around the peplum.  Here's the before:
And the less-flouncy after:
 Love that my peach necklace matches perfectly!
 Here's the back view.  I had to extend the button loop, because of my broad shoulders.

 Side view of the peplum, and invisible side zipper:

The bodice is lined with nude Bemberg (and I think I still have enough left to line a dress!):
Overall, I'm happy with the final product.  I will wear it, which indicates my satisfaction, but there are still improvements to be made to the fit.  Mostly, I'm just happy that my expensive fabric purchase amounted to something worth wearing!

Monday, November 05, 2012

Henry Turtle pin cushion

I could not resist this pin cushion pattern from Heather Bailey.  Truly, the price was a bit high at my local boutique fabric store, but I bought it anyway--it's that cute.  In an ongoing effort to reduce my fabric stash, I used what I had on had: some leftover Lotta Jansdotter "Bella" dotted yellow for the body (and the stripe for the belly) and Anna Maria Horner "Good Folks" for the shell.  Instead of French knots for the eyes, I used tiny seed beads since I had them on hand.  

This was a rare instance when I sewed the entire thing during the day (as opposed to after the kids' bedtime).  I cut the fabric while the little one was playing with trains, and did the majority of the sewing during a single naptime and a bit of cooperative playtime between my two boys (when they were setting up a tea party outside my sewing room :). Three cheers for a quick, adorable and useful sewing project!  
Now, hopefully I can get over the feeling that I'm using him as a voodoo doll when I poke him with pins (you know, use him as intended...) 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Pleated clutch

Samantha from At Home with Mrs. H has created a lovely new pleated purse/clutch pattern and I had the opportunity to test it out!  For my version, I used an upholstery-weight linen/viscous blend. I adore this orangey-pink nubby fabric that I snapped up from FabMo--it's perfect for a vintage-y clutch.
The bag is lined with a Robert Kaufman quilting cotton.  The only changes I made to the pattern were to omit the topstitching around the flap and opening of the purse (my fabric didn't seem to suit that detail), and omit the slip pocket, since those just aren't useful to me.  I kept the inside zipper pocket, of course!
Seriously, it is only due to my mother, visiting from the other coast, that I was able to do any sewing this week, since my husband is away on business to Ireland.   Once he does return, I plan on using my little clutch for date night!  So, thanks mom!
 Once Mrs. H has the pattern finalized, I'll do a giveaway so some other lucky lady can have her own!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sewing Buddy Challenge #2

As part of the Sewing Buddy Project, for Challenge #2 we were instructed to "create two projects that coordinate or reference one another through the use of color".  Buddy Jennie and I tackled this color challenge with gusto!  Jennie focused on improving her sewing room with beautiful and functional quilted pieces (including a sewing machine cover, thread catcher, pin cushion and sewing mat):
Look at all that work!  I love the beautiful handmade piping, sweet buttons and fabric tape measure detail.  Just in case her space wasn't cheery enough with those lovely pieces, she also whipped up a sunny wall hanging:
So pretty and intricate!  I know she was also working on a chair cushion, so pop on over to Porch Swing Quilts to check it out.

I wanted to replace some well-worn kitchen items, so my half of the Buddy Project was to make oven mitts, pot holders, and a new apron.  My kitchen is pretty neutral, but I have yellow as the main accent color, with a bit of turquoise thrown in there for fun.  I loved bold designs of these Lotta Jansdotter  fabrics
Also loved these birds (Oh Deer! by MoMo for Moda) and stripes (Simpatico by Michelle Engel Bencsko for Cloud9 Fabrics) for my oven mitts (pattern found here).
Even after I'm done cooking, I tend to wear my apron around the house, so I designed this one with princess seams to be less frilly and more fitted.  The original incarnation was a bit too simple, so I added a little scalloped neckline and a boutonniere, so I can pretend I'm going to the prom while making dinner :)  And it's blue polka dotted on the reverse side, so it's actually reversible!
Here's me, pretending my Dutch oven doesn't weigh as much as my two year old as I wait for my camera timer to go off.
And here's a close up of the boutonniere, which was made from four folded circles of fabric, sewn together at the center with a fabric covered button.  Easy!
I'm so excited about our entry for Challenge #2--both buddy's projects were practical and pretty.  Way to go!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Miscellaneous sewing

So I started back to teaching this week, very part-time, but working nonetheless.  Sewing (as well as many other things) gets shifted into low(er) gear this time of year.   Which is hard, since I have so many projects on my to-do list!  Now, we're into the must-dos on the list...

First up: a door stop.  We can keep our windows open much of the Fall, but a gust of wind can slam my sewing door shut suddenly, and obviously this only happens during nap or bed-time.  I've used the adorable pattern for the door stop from Lotta Jansdotter's book Simple Sewing several times before, so I pulled out the tried-and-true pattern to construct a new version to match the color scheme in the sewing/ spare bedroom.  I scaled the pattern by 50% (I think), so it's a bit more petite, but holding over a pound of beans it can still do the job.
Next up: diaper covers.  One can never have too many, and they don't last forever, so a new batch was sorely needed.  I can optimize my sewing time if I make a bunch, so I sewed up 4 all at once.  I love the look of all of the gussets sewn in a row, while attaching the FOE...looks like a birthday bunting.
Four diaper covers in process:
Four diaper covers all finished.
So I do have a baby boy, but that polka dotted cover on the bottom right is just so darn cute...any one have objections to girly covers on little boys?  I can always put it on my Etsy shop (don't worry, we haven't used it yet!).  Post a response if you'd like to buy it, and up it will go...otherwise, the next time we're desperate, I'll pull it out of the closet.
With the remainder of the red and blue robot PUL, I made a new waterproof bag for the daycare.  It's kind of like matching your shoes and handbag, right? :)
I'm happy to be back to work, exercising my brain and body (I'm riding my bicycle to work--about 13 miles round trip!), but it'll take a little more effort to find time to sew.  Make it work, right?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Vogue pattern: V8755

School has started for the kids, the weekly dinner menu has moved toward longer-cooking and baked meals, and I found myself buying tights today.  Even without the crisp air and colorful leaves that I grew up with, Fall has most definitely arrived in the Bay Area.  My own teaching quarter starts next week and I always get myself something new to wear on the first day of school (the kids can't have all the fun!).  I'm not sure I'll wear it on the first day (chances are, it will be in the mid-70s, and a little warm for this heavy dress and tights), but with my new snazzy dress, I'm ready for when that first chilly day arrives!

The pattern is Vogue V8755 with heavy charcoal cotton fabric.  It truly has the heft and appearance of wool, but I'll trust that Britex knows their fiber content! The lining is burgundy Bemberg, which is truly a fabulous, incredible lining fabric.  I followed the pattern instructions pretty closely, but I omitted my usual petite adjustment in the bodice, because I didn't want the maternity effect of an empire waist and belly pleat.  After constructing the shell, the belly pleat was really awkward looking (I think my fabric was a bit too heavy for the design, actually), so I sewed along the pleat lines to make it much more streamlined and architectural looking--I love it!
The back has shaping darts along the shoulders and waist, and an invisible zipper.  I had to make some additional fit adjustments to make the dress more fitted in the bodice and it honestly fits better than the photo shows.  I think I was standing more upright than normal for the photo.  And it needs more ironing.  :)
Other changes to the pattern included adding on-seam pockets (all dresses should be designed with pockets!) and extending the lining to full-length (from just a bodice lining).  I used the lining to create the hem, a technique I just love since it makes the garment much more professional-looking.  Here's a glimpse of the inside:
I can't say enough about Bemberg lining fabric.  Like poly, it still frays like crazy and is pretty slippery, but it irons wonderfully, is breathable and feels wonderfully soft against your skin.  
The dress can easily work as jumper, but I'm having some trouble finding a top that can go underneath and still look modern.  Any ideas?
I'm ready for school--I just need my laser pointer and high heels!  Happy early Fall!