Sunday, December 26, 2010

Reversible Apron

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas! We did at our house. Christmas tends to be a busy time for preachers due to extra services, but there are some other areas of responsibility that lighten up at the same time, so both  Christmas Eve and Christmas Day actually felt pretty relaxing here. Later today we are leaving to visit family for a week and we're really looking forward to that.

I'm rather behind with blogging. Things have been busy and while I've still managed to squeeze in the sewing time that I need, the blogging time didn't make the cut. I do find writing about my projects helpful for myself, so I'm going to try to get caught up relatively soon.

I've been thinking about aprons lately. I really like aprons. It's not unusual for me to wear one most of the day if I'm home. It seemed like it was time for me to have another one. I looked at a lot of patterns, but didn't find one that I really liked.

My personal apron preferences:

  • a full (with bib) apron
  • some interest, but not a lot of ruffles or fussiness
  • nothing that looks like a costume
  • more feminine than this
  • more interesting than this
  • simpler to construct than this

So, I decided to make my own pattern. It would be reversible, have a feminine neckline, a curved hem, and long ties. Here's the first version:

Reversible Apron
This is my daughter's debut as a photographer. I was laughing at her taking the picture. Her running commentary about what part of me the "little box" on the screen was on was quite amusing. The fact that she was giggling and wiggling kept it moving around.

I used stretch woven fabrics for both sides of the apron - not because I thought that stretchiness would be a good quality to have in an apron, but because this was a muslin of sorts and I wasn't all that attached to these two fabrics.

Reversible Apron
While the thought of having an additional available photographer is appealing, photos taken at an upward angle are not particularly flattering. Have to remember that...


This is actually an accidental picture, but it shows the fabric well. I prefer this polka dot side. The other side is made from a black/white pinstripe shirting that reads as grey. Overall, it was very blah, so I added the tea pot appliqué at the lower edge.


Reversible Apron

After making and wearing this apron, I made some changes to the pattern...

  • I don't like how short the apron is in the back, so for the next version I lengthened it a bit, keeping the center front the same. It changed the curve a little, but from the front it still looks the same.
  • The ties are really long. Too long. Ideally, they would be long enough to give me the option to tie them in front. These pretty much require being tied in front.
  • I like the neckline, but felt like the neck strap looked too narrow, so I made it a bit wider.

I've already made it a second time - as a gift, so I can't write about it yet. But, soon...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Mini Mittens

Several months ago I made a mini sweater. Now that sweater is on our Christmas tree and I really like it there. I decided to look for some other miniature knitted things to put on the tree as well. My search led me to these Mini Mittens.

Mini and Mini-er Mittens

The grey pair were the first ones I made. I like how they turned out, but grey isn't a great color for a Christmas ornament - not very festive and hard to see on the tree. I also wanted them to be even smaller, so I made another pair from multi-colored sock yarn on size 1 needles. These were just what I was hoping for (they're about an inch long).

Mini-er Mittens

But, they aren't on our tree because I tied them to a Christmas card envelope and gave them away. Now I have to make another set. But, this is fun, fast knitting. I might make a couple more sets.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Can-Can Skirt

When I first saw this skirt about a year ago, I thought that my daughter would loooove it if it was pink. I was right.

Can-Can Christmas Skirt

The “pattern” is really just a set of instructions, but they are pretty good. The size of the different tiers is determined using a set of ratios, so there are an infinite number of sizes that can be made, including for women.

Can-Can Christmas Skirt

Attaching the ruffles is done with a lack of precision. The instructions say, “Don’t pin; just sew.” I’m a little embarrassed to say how nervous that made me. I like precision. One side seam is sewn before the ruffles go on and the second is done after. The ruffles don’t match up all that well on the second side seam, which I thought “ruined” the skirt, but when this skirt is on my daughter I can hardly find the side seam, much less notice unmatched ruffles. So, I think the instructions are good and maybe I should be a little less hung up on precision.

Can-Can Christmas Skirt

Non-fraying chiffon is the fabric recommended for the ruffles, but I used polyester organza. I didn’t have time to order this certain fabric, so I had to use what I could find. This coral-pink color was the only organza that came in three similar shades at my local Fabricland. I was hoping for a darker, blue-pink but I didn’t really get to make that choice.

Can-Can Christmas Skirt

I cut the strips on the bias to get around the fraying issue. When I took the picture above, my daughter had worn the skirt three times and the edges are starting to get rough. I still think it looks okay, but this isn’t going to be an heirloom sort of garment.


I also made her a headband to match the skirt using this tutorial for the flower. I'm not as excited about how the flower turned out as I'd like to be. I think it needs a few more layers for fullness. As much as I'd like to think I'll go back and re-do it, I likely won't. Too many other things to start...

Christmas Piano Recital

Things have been busy here, so this ended up being a last minute rush job. I really don’t enjoy that type of sewing. I got in done in time for her to wear it to her first piano recital last Saturday. She loved wearing the skirt and did a fantastic job playing her pieces.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Stars Have Aligned...

...on my couch!

Star Pillows

These were all requested by S and most of the fabric is from her stash. Two of the dark grey ones are for her to give as a gift and the others are for her shop.

Individual pics:

This is a decorator fabric. Half of the points are cut from the "right" side and half from the "wrong" side:

Star Pillow

Also a decorator fabric, the points are cut from two different sections of the same fabric:

Star Pillow

The purple fabric is from S. I combined it with this strange greenish-gold dupioni silk that I had. It looks much more gold in the pictures than it does in real life. This is kind of a strange combination, but it's good to try something different once in awhile.

Star Pillow

The textured fabric was my compliment to S's crimson fabric.

Star Pillow

The raised rows are strands of recycled silk spun together. The colors are fascinating to look at, but it isn't an easy fabric to work with. 

Star Pillow

I'll drop these off tomorrow and that will make her shop very well stocked with stars!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Ottobre 01-2010-14 - Denim Coat

I'm so pleased with how this little coat turned out, I hardly know what to say about it. It is a gift for my newest niece and I had so much fun making it! 

Ottobre 1/2010 Denim Coat

The pattern is in the Spring 2010 issue of Ottobre magazine. This is the third Ottobre pattern for me - the other two (here and here) were much simpler than this one. I was so impressed with this coat pattern that I cancelled my subscription to Threads and started subscribing to Ottobre. I've been subscribing to Threads continuously for 10 years now and haven't been impressed with the last couple of years at all. There are a couple of reasons for that. I'm not completely dissatisfied with Threads, but it seems like a good time for a change. Threads and Ottobre are entirely different sorts of magazines, but the funding for them comes from the same place so I had to choose one or the other.

Okay, back to the coat...

It is fully lined with a printed plaid (aka difficult-to-match plaid).

Ottobre 1/2010 Denim Coat

The buttons came home with me from NYC. I didn't have a project in mind when I purchased them - I just really liked them. I had the exact number called for in exactly the correct sizes for this coat - 4 larger for the jacket front and 2 smaller for the sleeve tabs - and considering the pace at which I'm sewing for myself these days, it seemed like it would be good to share them with someone else.

Ottobre 1/2010 Denim Coat

The sleeve tabs are a nice detail. All of the top-stitching is done with taupe thread using the triple-straight stitch.

Ottobre 1/2010 Denim Coat

The niece that I sent this to was just born in October, so it's going to be awhile before she can wear it. Right now it fits my two-year-old daughter pretty well.

Ottobre 1/2010 Denim Coat
It seems that the ponytails were feeling extra perky and the nose extra runny for this picture!

Thankfully, the season when she could wear this is pretty much over. I'd be tempted to keep it otherwise.

Ottobre 1/2010 Denim Coat

Generally, I make baby gift clothes pretty big (other projects here and here) for a few reasons:
  • pattern sizes can be quite a bit different than RTW (ready-to-wear) and it is hard to guess what size a baby will be in a certain season
  • babies outgrow clothes much faster than toddlers/pre-schoolers and if I'm going to go through the effort of making something it would be nice for it to last a bit longer
  • new parents usually get LOTS of little baby clothes and I when I was in that spot I really appreciated being able to pull out something new a couple of years down the road
Ottobre 1/2010 Denim Coat

This isn't a heavy coat and my niece lives in Michigan, so the number of months it can be worn might be relatively few, but I think it will be enjoyed nonetheless.

Ottobre 1/2010 Denim Coat

I'm not sure why I feel compelled to point this out (maybe because it is the only thing I'm not happy with), but the top-stitching on the collar is too far away from the edge. I should have ripped it out, but I didn't. Mea culpa. Okay, enough of that. Back to being happy with it...

Yay for satisfying sewing!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Special Order Crayon Rolls

An art sale patron specially ordered two crayon rolls from me.

Crayon Rolls

She wanted them in time for Christmas to give to her grandchildren.

Crayon Rolls

Her only specification: one for a boy and one for a girl.

Crayon Roll

It was a pretty simple order to complete.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Christmas Table Runner

S asked me to make a Christmas table runner for her shop. Her only suggestions about what it should look like were "not too fussy or busy."

I decided on a simple applique of three trees on a linen background. The runner is 60" long and 13" wide.

Christmas Table Runner

For the trees, I used a lightweight fusible product and then straight-stitched around the edges. I like the raw-edge applique look, but don't use it very often.

Christmas Table Runner

The border and backing is an apple green color that didn't photograph well. I was happy with the mitered corners, but they don't look so good (a little lumpy) in the pictures. I do really like the narrow folded border inside the green one. I only had a small amount of the striped fabric, but think this was a good way to use it.

Christmas Table Runner

Christmas Table Runner

I was so happy with this when I finished it a couple of weeks ago, but now that I'm looking at the pictures, I'm less than thrilled. I'm really hoping that it is just the pictures, but it looks wrinkly and rumpled to me. I think I would have noticed that in real life and fixed it. I tend to be hypercritical about the things I make to sell. The runner has been at S's shop for a few days now, but after this post I feel like I should go check on it to make sure it really looks okay.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Jeans Re-purposed As An Apron

Early in the summer, a woman from church gave me a bag of fabric that she wasn't going to use. It was primarily quilting cotton in farm and boyish prints. This was a great addition to my stash and I've used a few of the pieces. She also included an apron that she had picked up at a farmer's market in Alberta when she was on vacation. The apron was made from an old pair of jeans. She thought it was pretty neat and wanted me to see it as maybe I would be interested in making them, also. The apron was an interesting thing to see, but it wasn't something that was going to be high on my list of things to make.

Fast forward a bit to August when I was on an uncluttering rampage. I got rid of heaps of things that were not enhancing my (or my family's) life in any way, shape or form. (Side note: I find the Unclutterer blog very inspiring. So many good ideas and insights there). Fast forward again to a few weeks ago when this woman asked for the apron back. I looked everywhere the apron could be, but I think it got caught in my rampage. I don't know exactly where it ended up, but it wasn't in my house and I wasn't hopeful about getting it back. Gulp. I explained to this woman that I did not have it anymore and apologized profusely. Apparently, she was just lending the apron to me and was going to want it back from the beginning. I missed that part of the conversation entirely. Together we decided that I would make her a new one to replace the one that I lost.

There are many tutorials out there for aprons made from old jeans, but they are all half-aprons and I know the one I was replacing was a full apron with a bib. Unfortunately, I could not remember exactly what the original looked like, so I had to come up with my own thing.

Blue Jeans Apron

There isn't a lot that needs to be explained here. For the lower part of the apron, I generally followed the same steps as this tutorial, but I cut off the waistband at the side seams and didn't mess with the yoke (because the jeans I used didn't have one). The lower and side edges are just turned back and stitched (after serging the raw edge).

Blue Jeans Apron

The bib part of the apron is the lower part of one of the legs - I used the pant hem as the top edge. After finishing the side edges, I lapped the lower part over the bib and top-stitched along the waistband edge.

The waist tie is not attached to the apron - just threaded through the loops and tied in the back. The neck strap is stitched on the back of the bib and is adjustable. I added the pocket just because it seemed to need something else.

I haven't given this apologetic apron to this woman yet, but I really hope she is happy enough with it. And now I know that when someone gives me something, I should ask, "Do you want it back if I don't use it or want it?" Lesson learned.

Next Up: A Christmas table runner

Monday, November 15, 2010

After the Sale

It's been over and done with for more than a week now, but I had a good experience with the art sale that I was participating in. While I didn't take an actual count, I think I sold about half of the items I brought. The other artists were fun to chat and visit with and it was neat to meet the customers and talk about some of the things I'd made. I really have no desire to join the craft show circuit and do a sale every weekend, but this was a good opportunity to try it out. I'll likely do the same one next year.

In the last week, I've been working on all of the things that I'd postponed until the sale was over - sewing and otherwise. Most of the sewing is for other people. I've decided that once I finish the things I've currently agreed to do, I'm not taking anything else until January.

S liked the idea of the bigger star pillow when I dropped off the other pillows, so I made one that is 50% bigger than the hanging ones. To give you an idea of its size, here it is on my couch with another pillow:

Large Christmas Star Pillow

And here it is with my two-year-old daughter:

Large Christmas Star Pillow

S thought a couple more of the hanging ones would be good, too. I made two more just like the first ones.

Christmas Star Pillows

Next Up: an apologetic apron.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Final Pieces

These zippered pouches are the last things I sewed for the art sale.

Make-up Bags

I made three others awhile ago that I'm going to include also. Not terribly exciting, but I thought it would be good to have some simple things at a lower price point.

Make-up Bags

The sale starts tomorrow (and ends on Sunday) and other than setting up my table, I'm ready to go. So excited!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

More Gathered Clutches

Many of you had positive things to say about the gathered clutches I made a few weeks ago (thank you!), and I was quite enamored with them myself so I made five more to sell this weekend.

Gathered Clutches

My favorite of this bunch:

Gathered Clutch Close-up

Sometimes sewing multiples can get tedious, but using different fun fabrics for each helps each one feel new.

Gathered Clutches

Monday, November 1, 2010

Shopping Bags

Most stores in our town charge you a nickel for a plastic bag when you check out. I love this practice and the way that it encourages people to bring their own cloth bags or reuse their plastic ones. My habit of bringing along bags to the grocery store is well established, but I used to find myself stuck at places like the drug store or farmer's market or other impromptu stops. Then I picked up a bag at an upscale kitchen goods store that rolls up quite compactly. Now I keep that in my purse, so I always have a bag with me.

I like my bag so much that I wanted to replicate it for the art sale. The final result is a hybrid of the bag I purchased and these that I made last year.

Reusable Grocery Bag

The bag is a little bigger than the average plastic grocery bag. The velcro tab is used to keep the bag rolled up, but also can close the top of the bag when it is full.

Reusable Grocery Bag

Most of the bag is a single layer of cotton, but the handles are faced. There is a double row of top-stitching around both edges of the handles. The sides have a gusset and are sewn with French seams for strength and a clean finish. The bottom is also sewn with a French seam plus an additional row of reinforcing stitching.

Reusable Grocery Bag

To roll up the bag:
Fold the bag into thirds, using the pocket edges as a guide.

Reusable Grocery Bag

Fold the handles down. There will be a twist in one side of the handles.

Reusable Grocery Bag

Fold the bottom of the bag up to be even with the top of the handles.

Reusable Grocery Bag

Roll the bag up into thirds. The velcro on the bottom of the pocket should be visible.

Reusable Grocery Bag

Close the velcro tab and stash the bag somewhere where you will use it, like your purse or in you car's glovebox.

Reusable Grocery Bag

I think these could be great stocking stuffers and I hope other people see them that way, too.

Reusable Grocery Bags

Reusable Grocery Bags

Reusable Grocery Bags