Monday, April 7, 2014

Patchwork Pouch (of good cheer)

It's finally (finally!) feeling like spring here. The sunlight, warmth, and blue skies are doing wonders for morale and energy levels.

I made this little zippered pouch back in February, when I was starved for color and cheer and needed a simple project.


The patchwork is done using the fusible interfacing technique. I had not tried this before, but I liked it. It simplified maintaining the placement of the squares. There was no need to come up with a system for remembering the order of the arrangement when moving back and forth from the machine to the iron. Each square finishes at 1".


The patchwork pieces were quilted to fusible fleece. I like the texture of all the stitching lines and the contrast of the white thread against the colors.


The text fabric for the lining has lots of sewing and quilting words. I used the Open Wide Zipper Pouch tutorial from Noodlehead for the pattern, adjusting the size slightly. This pouch rides around in my purse, corralling some small items and offering a bit of cheer when I see it.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Jalie 2908 - Little Girl Jeans

My younger daughter had her sixth birthday in January. I purchased some clothes for her as a gift. One of the items was a pair of jeans and they were a terrible fit. We took them back and tried a different size, but they were all bad. She was bummed about that, so I told her I would make a new pair for her.

Awhile ago someone gave me a few cuts of denim. They're all too short to be used for me and I don't really care for the finish of most of them, but they're great for kids' clothes. The fabric I used for these jeans does have a bit of stretch and a very soft feel, making these actually quite comfortable.


I used Jalie 2908 and am really happy with the result. The only modifications I made were for length (adding some), leg shape (straight vs. boot cut) and the waistband. I wasn't impressed with the waistband the last time I used this pattern, so this time I did my own thing. I made a pattern piece to match the circumference of the top of the assembled jeans and then cut out a few small wedges from the top edge down. After I overlapped the cut edges of the wedges, I had a gently curved waistband piece. Adding seam allowances and center front overlap finished it off.


I left off the belt loops and rivets in the name of speed and efficiency. The pocket bags (overexposed in the photo) and fly guard are made from a pink animal print cotton. The inner waistband is finished with bias tape - shocking pink, of course!


At our house, we have a bit of a love/hate relationship with buttonhole elastic in waistbands. Love: the adjustability. Hate: the buttons seem to really irritate hip bones. The waistband of these jeans was pretty close to being just right for size, but I suspected they would bag out and droop a bit due to the stretch in the denim. So, instead of the buttonhole elastic, I just added elastic to the back half of the waistband and fully enclosed it rather than making it adjustable. Since the waistband wasn't too much too big, I didn't make the elastic much smaller than the back. It seems to be working well.


For a fun detail, I used my daughter's initials on the back pockets - JB. The right pocket is the mirror image.



I'm happy with how they turned out. She likes that they're comfortable with lots of PINK and I like that they've got some room for her to grow. I don't like that she's already 6! Wah! How does that happen?!?

Silky Tunic Top

I wanted to make a silk top to go with my faux leather leggings, but I'm still a bit intimidated by silk (both the sewing it and the living in/laundering it). I'm hoping to get over that (through practice!) when I have better options for sourcing than I do now. So, for now I chose a high quality poly-blend fabric with a silky feel in a print and color that I liked.


I started with my TNT shirt pattern (Burda 04/2010 #114 - also seen here and here) and modified it by adding length, chest pockets and flaps, and a center front placket. The pockets are the same as I used on my denim shirt. I followed instructions from the book, Shirtmaking for the center placket. I wish I had made it a little longer.


The black fabric was harder to work with than the blue - lighter, slipperier and very resistant to pressing. At the beginning of this project, I knew that perfection was going to be the enemy. I didn't want to fight the project the whole way only to end up hating it in the end. The details certainly didn't come out perfect, but I'm quite happy with it.

The leggings and tunic are fun to wear together - stylish and slightly edgy but still appropriate for my everyday life.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Faux Leather Leggings

Back in December, The Preacher and I were passing through Chicago and we had time for a quick stop at Vogue Fabrics. We used to live on the south side of Chicago and I made quite a few trips there during those years. Now we pass through Chicago to visit family, but we're usually on a schedule with kids along. This trip was leisurely and without kids! Perfect opportunity.

When I got in the store I was a little torn about what approach to take - look for the best deals or look for fabrics that I wouldn't normally have access to. I ended up doing some of both. One of the unusual fabrics I picked was a black stretch faux leather. They had several nice choices. All of the faux leather at Fabricland feels pretty plastic-y (stiff and shiny) to me. But, this one is a very good imitation of real leather both in appearance and feel. Of course, that's very hard to capture in a photo.


Inspired by this pair of jeans, I sliced and diced a legging pattern that I've used before (Burda 01/2011 #130). All the seams are symmetrical even though it doesn't look like it in the picture. The back of the legs are made from black ponte knit (also purchased at Vogue Fabrics). For the waistband, I made a separate casing from the ponte for 2" wide elastic. It feels substantial and sits smoothly around my middle.


This faux leather was pretty easy to sew. It is pretty thin, soft, and pliable and it has a knit backing. The backing allowed it to move through the machine without any "stickiness" and it also makes the leggings very comfortable to wear. I did have to let out the inseam a bit, but the needle holes disappeared really well. That was a surprise to me, but I think it's because of the thinness and the knit backing.


I doubt that I would have ever purchased a pair of RTW leather leggings, but I really enjoyed the process of making these and like the end product. They're warmer than regular leggings and more comfortable than jeans. And if (when?) I spill anything on them I can just wipe them clean! Perfect.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Pajamapalooza

Shortly after Christmas, I got into a bit of a pajama-sewing blitz. The pajama options for all three of my kids were pretty bad - way too small, woefully mismatched, etc. Pajamas aren't ever my first choice of things to sew (which is why the situation had gotten so bad) but I found there was a lot that I liked about this round of pajama sewing:

  • The kids were really appreciate of new pajamas and that always makes the time and effort worth it.
  • I find it really easy to leave the perfectionist tendencies behind with pajamas. "Good enough" is the name of the game for details, finishing and fit. Because they're pajamas!
  • Sometimes I feel conflicted when I need to choose between being resourceful and frugal or getting it exactly how I want. Use the serviceable buttons already in the stash or go buy the ideal ones? Does this ready-made piping "go" or should I make my own out of newly-purchased and perfectly coordinating fabric? When it comes to pajamas, the resourceful side wins every time. No conflict.


These three sleepers are all made from Kwik Sew 2704. I purchased the fleece for both girls' and the boy's is made from leftovers of other projects. My older daughter was surprised by the size of hers (she was still regularly wearing this one!) and shoved as many stuffies inside it as she could.


It looks nicer without the extra fluff inside.


More fleece for the boy...this time a two-piece deal...


I added plenty of length - so much that they fold over the cuff at the bottom. The cuff keeps the pants from covering the feet and dragging on the floor. I think I used Ottobre patterns for both pieces (hard to remember...).


This border print flannel has been in my stash for awhile and it was the perfect amount for this nightgown. For the bodice, I used Kwik Sew 3169 (OOP) and then cut the skirt as one rectangle as large as I could make it.


The final set is repurposed from a set of pajamas that were mine. I think they were a gift after I had a baby. I don't remember wearing them much and they were from Gap. I'm pretty sure I've never bought myself pajamas from Gap. Even though they haven't fit me for quite some time, I have kept them for such a time as this. I couldn't salvage the neckband and had to make that from a different fabric.


Everyone was happy with how each individual project came out and I was happy with the success of each child's pajama drawer overhaul!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Hunter Street Cowl


Whoa! A knit item to blog about! This cowl is what I have to show for many miles traveled during the summer and fall of 2013. I don't knit much anymore, but I do like to have something to take along on road trips.


I wanted to try some lacework, but knew that I wasn't going to be able to be a slave to a chart. So, the Hunter St. Cowl seemed like a good choice - some lace work, but nothing too complicated. The combination of yarn and pattern made it a pleasure to knit.


I don't have the ball band anymore, so I don't know the exact info about this yarn, but I know it is baby alpaca and I'm pretty sure alpaca is my favorite sort of yarn. It has the best of what wool has to offer without the itch.


No road trips in the near future for me, so it'll probably be mostly dishcloths coming off the needles for awhile again. :)

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Burda 11-2012-127: Grey Blazer

I've been wanting to add some jackets to my wardrobe for awhile now. Back in the fall, I made some plans to get that done. The first jacket has been completed for a few weeks now, but I can't really call it a success and it hasn't inspired me to move forward with other jackets just yet. Sit back and listen to my tale of woe...

I thought I wanted a pretty classic one-button blazer and chose Burda 11-2012-127 because it had the classic elements and it was easily accessible (by instant download at the time. It does not seem to be on the website anymore). My plan was to modify the lapel - I didn't like the peaked lapel and it was overall wider than I wanted. I made those mods and my standard lengthening of sleeves and then made the muslin.

The muslin was too big overall, which I thought was odd because I followed the size chart and Burda doesn't have the excess ease typical of the Big 4. It turns out that I did not print the pattern correctly. We got a new printer and I'm not sure exactly what happened, but the 4" test square was not 4". That would be a good thing to check BEFORE cutting. Lesson learned. After that, I went down a size and then just cut right into my fabric.

A second muslin would have been a really good idea because the end product is still too big overall. The blazer is made up of front, back, and side panel pieces. There isn't a side seam, which wasn't obvious from the technical diagram. With the welt pocket cutting right through the front seam, a side seam would have been really helpful for tweaking the fit. A second muslin would have been worth the time. Lesson learned.

It seems I didn't get the jacket on the dress form straight, making both the lapels and the hem look higher on the right side.

I love the color grey. I know that's a strange thing to say, especially in February. But, it's true. So I thought I would like a grey blazer. I still think I might, but the final product this particular fabric hasn't won me over. I think it has more to do with the texture than the color. Also, this is not high-quality fabric. I thought it was a wool blend when I bought it. Turns out it's a combination of rayon and polyester. Meh. It handled the tailoring well enough, but also had a very unattractive limpness. There's a lot of interfacing in this jacket fighting that limpness.

The very worst part of the fabric is that it is itchy. So very itchy. I don't know if my skin sensitivity is increasing or if my discomfort tolerance is decreasing, but I don't handle itchy clothes well at all these days. Of course, this is fully lined, but the lining fabric is pretty thin and it even feels itchy through the lining! Ugh. Better quality fabric is worth the extra cost. Lesson learned.


I think the fit and fabric work together to give this jacket more of a stuffy vibe than a chic one. I was hoping for a casual, but polished sort of look and I just don't think this does it. It's not terrible, but I want to really like my clothes, not just think they're "not terrible."


This is quite a downer of a report, eh? It's not all bad...


I enjoyed the tailoring work - a combination of machine and hand work, following the guidance in Tailoring and Cool Couture. The work was enjoyable in and of itself, but I also appreciate the additional experience.


Also, I'm happy with how the details of the jacket came out. I think the welt pockets with flaps were successful and the sleeve vents were new to me.


The sleeves went in well the first time and the notched collar wasn't as difficult as I feared it would be.


The back of the collar seems too short, which I think is a result of the pattern printing at the wrong scale.


Finally, I think the process and results have led to better personal style understanding. Hopefully this one helps me make better choices for future projects.

So, overall not a raging success, but several lessons were learned, so I can't exactly call it a complete failure. Onward and upward!