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!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Minna blouse

This is the first Salme pattern I've tried--the Minna blouse.  I had purchased the fabric on sale (Cocoon Voile, Shine in aqua, by Valori Wells) and really wanted to sew *right* then, so I went looking for a printable pdf blouse pattern.  Minna fit the bill.  It's also really simple, with some interesting details at the same time.  What great attributes!
I made this blouse several weeks ago, so I can't recall some of the specifics (like, what size I cut!), but I generally followed the pattern as written.  I had some major trouble getting the self-fabric bias tape to lay flat in the front without stitching it down, so I seriously cheated and used iron-on hem tape.  Hey, it worked great!  
The elasticized waist makes it comfy and adds some shape, and there's a cute little button at the back.
The dart at the top of the sleeve makes it look more squared-off than I would like (my shoulders are wide enough!) and the sleeve installation was a little odd, but overall, I liked the pattern quite a bit.  I'll definitely be trying more Salme patterns!  

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Work in progress--Buddy project #2

Despite the heaps of apparel fabric and stack of quilting yardage I have on my to-do list (not to mention pants to hem, tops to alter, etc., etc.), I have not forgotten about the second Sewing Buddy Project.  After our fab showing at the last Buddy Project, I definitely don't want to let my buddy down!

The new challenge is "to create two projects that coordinate or reference one another through the use of color".   We chose yellow, turquoise and hints of gray as our color palette, with diverging projects: Jenny is working on sewing room accessories, and I need to replace some of my worn-out kitchen accessories.  Without getting into too much more detail (I'll wait to the big reveal for that), here's what I've been working on--oven mitt and hot pad.
I ought to make one more of each of those, but I'm going to tackle a princess-seamed apron first.

In other WIP news, I'm an unfortunate amount of hand-stitching away from finishing one of the dresses from Britex fabric, but it's turning out just as I had hoped, so stay tuned for photos of that!

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Trip to Britex and fall fabrics

San Francisco is a scant 40 or so miles away from my house, yet the thought of driving into the "big city" is completely daunting to me.  This makes not a bit of sense since I have taken public transit (with children) all around Tokyo and London, and just spent two weeks driving myself and the kids around Switzerland (where I can't even read the street signs).  Yet something about driving in SF makes me nervous.  Luckily for me, my husband is on vacation and agreed to go with me (read: act as my chauffeur and lunch date) to the city today so I could make a pilgrimage to the fabric and notion heaven that is Britex.
Since photos are prohibited inside the store, you'll just have to take my word that the store is incredible. Four floors, three of which are floor to ceiling fabric (the fourth devoted to notions and ribbons).  After enduring Joann's for so long, the selection of apparel fabric is truly staggering.  I spent a short 2 hours there and came out with these:
  • geometric turquoise and brown cotton knit for a top (and to continue practicing my knit sewing)
  • brown wool, with coordinating brown Bemberg lining for a yet-to-be defined work skirt
  • charcoal wool, with deep red Bemberg lining for a sleeveless work dress
  • yellow and red flower print on brown cotton shirting for a sleeveless peplum top
  • peach, red and white floral silk/lycra (my splurge of the day at $59/yard!) for a variation on this top (hopefully, I have enough fabric)
My husband joked that it must stink to go shopping, spend all that money, and not be able to wear anything when you get home.  I reminded him that since it was fairly expensive fabric, I can't even just sew the item--I have to make an unwearable muslin of the item before I can even make the real deal.  Why do we do this again? :)

With the next Sewing Buddy Challenge deadline coming up (Eek! Don't worry, buddy, my fabric is (mostly) purchased and washed!), and so many beautiful pieces of fabric sitting on my desk, I've got some work to do!