Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Shirts That Caused Silly Talk

A couple of days ago I was talking to The Preacher and telling him that I had a lot of things to sew (M and S have both asked for more for their shops and the art sale is the beginning of November). Then I said, "But first, I need to make the little man a couple more long-sleeved T-shirts." To which The Preacher said, "Maybe you should just go buy the T-shirts. You've got a lot to do."

Um, hello? Are you new around here? We don't really "just go buy" clothes. Especially T-shirts. Please.

Ottobre  T-shirt

I wanted to use a pattern from the Spring 2010 Ottobre issue that I purchased. Since I'm not so familiar with Ottobre, I took more than the usual number of measurements of my son. He did not enjoy this.

Ottobre  T-shirt

After I got the shoulder seams sewn and the neckband on, I asked him to try it on to see if it was going to fit. He came over reluctantly and said, "Why do you need to measure me AND have me try it on? I thought you did all the measuring so that it would fit."

Yeah. You have no idea how I wish it was just that simple.

Ottobre  T-shirt

When my daughter got home from school, my son was excited to show her his new shirts. When he showed her the one pictured immediately above, she said to me, "Is this one just a practice one? You know, when you try out a pattern and see if it fits?" (She was referring to my habit of using leftover or ugly fabric in strange combinations for muslins, example here). I said that no, it was a real shirt that would actually be worn. She said, "But I don't think all these colors look very good together."

Well, thank you for your feedback. I'll take that under advisement.

Ottobre T-shirt

These shirts mean I've accomplished another goal for this year and I've used two Ottobre patterns. Yay for me!

Ottobre T-shirt

Now I've got to get busy. I've got a lot to do, you know.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Gathered Clutches

A few months ago, I purchased the Gathered Clutch pattern from Anna of Noodlehead. Similar to the Buttercup Bag pattern I used here, the purchase of the pattern includes a limited commercial license to sell what you make with it. This is great for people like me who have good sewing skills, but aren't great designers. Someone else thinks up something cute and I can make it and sell it.

Gathered Clutches

I'm adding these three to my art sale inventory. The pattern was really easy to follow. The only thing I thought was strange was that she has you sew that front band as a tube (RST and then turn), press it flat and then sew it on the gathered front. I didn't see why that was necessary. I pressed the long edges under and sewed it on that way.

Gathered Clutches

The inside of the clutch has a divider and two credit card pockets.

Gathered Clutches

The overall size is about 8.5" x 5". As far as a handbag goes, the clutch has never appealed to me. I wear a cross-body bag because I need to have my hands free. A clutch requires the use of one hand almost all the time. I guess some do master holding it under their arm, but that seems tricky. So, I don't really see these replacing a purse, but it does seem like a great thing for when you need more than just your wallet, but less than the whole purse. Like when you are hauling a big diaper bag and don't want to have a separate purse. Or a tote bag on a day trip. You get the idea? This will accommodate the necessities, but won't take up a lot of space.

Gathered Clutches

The back of the clutch is plain. (This is my favorite fabric in the three I made. It is also from Heidi and while I would love to have it centered top to bottom, it was already cut the exact width I needed).

Gathered Clutches

I love choosing fabrics for these type of projects. It's a different sort of process than choosing fabrics for garment sewing. It takes me awhile to consider all the different color and print possibilities, but that is part of the fun. I love my stash!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Patchwork Skirt and Owl T-Shirt

During the summer, Heidi of Handmade by Heidi generously gave away some of her scraps. I was the lucky recipient of one batch and was thrilled with what I received. One of the things in the box was a partial charm pack. If you aren't familiar with quilting, a charm pack is a set of pre-cut 5" squares - one from each piece in a fabric collection. Every time I'm in a quilt shop I look at the charm packs and am tempted to buy one, but I've never been sure what to do with them so I've never bought one.

Several weeks ago the Sew, Mama, Sew blog featured back-to-school patterns and tutorials. One from The Polka Dot Chair caught my eye and after looking at it further, I decided to try making it with the charm pack from Heidi. I really liked the T-shirt with the owl applique, too and decided to just copy the whole outfit.

Patchwork Skirt and Owl T-shirt
My daughter is really happy with these clothes, but you sure wouldn't know it from the picture.

Since I was working with only a partial charm pack, I had to add some squares of other fabric, but I found what I needed in Heidi's box. I did have to buy the fabric for the lower band and the waistband. While I wasn't sure I was going to like it when I bought these fabrics, I did the best I could given my choices and I'm pretty happy with the result.

Patchwork Skirt

The skirt tutorial has good instructions, but I did change a couple of things. First, I sewed the squares together with my serger. The piecing isn't as accurate as I could have done with my sewing machine, but I thought the raw edges needed to be finished.

Skirt waistband

Second, I moved the elastic casing to the center of the waistband, rather than the top as suggested. I wanted the ties to cover up the elastic and look like a paper-bag waist.

Owl applique

I don't do a lot of machine applique because I have a hard time getting it to look good. I'm happy with how my machine handled this one. The green around the eyes and the yellow around the feet doesn't look all that great, but those are small curved pieces that required a lot of tiny pivots.

Because the shirt is a knit, I fused a tear-away stabilizer on the back to prevent stretching and rippling. The parts of the owl are fused on with Wonder-Under. In the picture, it looks like the button eyes are really off-center. I think that is because of the angle that I was holding the camera.

And yes, those are pink breast cancer awareness ribbons on the brown owl belly fabric. Was my intention to have my six-year-old daughter make a statement about breast cancer? Nope. Like I said above, I did the best with the choices I had available.

Picot Elastic Neckline

Before I cut out the top, I contemplated doing something "different" with the sleeves to make it a little nicer than a plain white T with an owl slapped on it. I had a hard time coming up with anything I was excited about and decided to trim the neckline instead of change the sleeves. The picot-edge elastic was a good fit - stretchy, cute, and not overdone.

The T-shirt is based on Kwik Sew 2918 and the leggings are Burda 9615, both patterns I've used more times than I can count.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Oliver + S Music Class Skirt and Blouse

I'm feeling much better today. The antibiotic is doing its job. To me it seemed that it took awhile to start being effective, but I think I was impatient after not feeling well for weeks. Yesterday I had confirmation that the medicine was indeed circulating in my body because I started having an icky metallic taste in my mouth that wouldn't go away. That is one of the side effects of the drug. It tastes like what I imagine having a dirty penny in my mouth would taste like. Blegh. But, enough about that. Let's talk sewing, shall we?

Over the summer I ordered two Oliver + S patterns - the Jumprope Dress and the Music Class Skirt and Blouse. I have admired their modern, but classic patterns with great details for awhile now and decided to work them into my fall sewing for my daughter.

First, the blouse:

Oliver + S Music Class Blouse

I combined the Peter Pan collar from the short-sleeve version with the rest of the long-sleeve version.

Oliver + S Music Class Blouse

The yoke and pintucks keep it from being too plain. Unfortunately, I think we made a poor fabric choice and the details are hard to see. My daughter has admired these ladybug buttons every time she has been to the fabric store, so it was fun to be able to use them here.

Oliver + S Music Class Blouse

The pintucks are repeated on the back. It's hard to discern here, but in the set of three tucks, the center one is longest and they each get a little shorter as you move toward the side.

Oliver + S Music Class Skirt

I'm pretty happy with how the blouse turned out, but I'm really excited about the skirt.  I think it turned out so cute. It was quick and easy, but, again, with great details to keep it interesting.

I was concerned that the denim would be too bulky for an elastic waistband, but there isn't much difference between the waist and hip measurement, so it worked okay.

Oliver + S Music Class Skirt

The side panels have a pocket and then a pleated inset at the bottom. The pleats pressed well in the denim and I hope they stay that way. (Does anyone else hold their breath a little bit the first time something goes through the wash?)

Oliver + S Music Class Skirt

I used gray thread and the triple straight (stretch) stitch for topstitching and like how it turned out.

After sewing both the Music Class outfit and the Jumprope Dress (post yet to come), I can say that the directions in these patterns are fantastic. This wasn't news to me, but it was nice to see them for myself. Because of the details, these might not be the best patterns for absolute beginners, but they would be good for advanced beginners that are looking to increase their skills. The directions actually tell you how to sew the different parts - especially the difficult parts like plackets. Personally, I really appreciated the places where it said something like, "HINT: This is a tricky seam....." If I try to think like a beginner, I would find that reassuring if I was struggling to get it right. Often pattern instructions have no distinction between difficult and easy steps.

There are a lot of other Oliver + S patterns that I'd like to try (like the Sunday Brunch Jacket and the School Photo Dress).  They aren't cheap patterns, but they're so cute! And I'm done thinking that patterns (and most other things, actually) should be cheap. After having tried to make some of my own I know that it takes a lot of time to get it right. The Oliver + S folks have got it right and it's worth the price.

Friday, September 17, 2010

This and That

It's been awhile since I posted anything here. Our household has been really busy and I've been pretty worn out. I was blaming it on getting back into the school routine and adjusting to the Preacher working more again (the summer workload is lighter for him). Having a cough and cold symptoms since the end of August didn't help, either. Earlier this week I was hardly able to make it through the day without laying down to rest and felt like things were getting worse rather than better so I made a mid-week visit to the clinic. The doctor thoroughly listened to my lungs and said I had "a bit of pneumonia." That was a surprise for me, but it helped explain why my cough would not go away, why I was winded so easily, and just so tired. He prescribed some "heavy-duty" antibiotic that should take care of it. Now I'm optimistic that I actually can handle this school/ministry year schedule and hopefully I'm feeling better and more energetic soon.

Here are some of the things that we've been busy with:

New School Year
My daughter is in Grade 1 and goes to school every day now.  She loves it and isn't nearly as tired from it all as I thought she would be. My son started Junior Kindergarten (Pre-school) this week. He goes three days a week and so far his first two days were great. He is tired at the end of the day and today he told me that his favorite part of the day was rest time. That might be because he was tired or it might be because he helped me make a blanket and pillow for him to keep at school. He choose a fleece with hockey players on it. He was most excited about stuffing the pillow. He loves stuffing things.

First Day of School
My toothless daughter takes her role of big sister very seriously when it comes to school!

I did not get a picture of the blanket and pillow. It didn't even occur to me. That might be because this was not one of my proudest sewing moments. Neither fleece nor hockey make it on the list of my favorite things.

Seasonal Clothing Change-over
Three days a week I am home with just my youngest daughter.  She's two and a half and a very delightful companion. So far we've done really exciting things together like go through boxes of hand-me-down clothes and find things that will fit for fall/winter and put away spring/summer clothes. I am amazed at the task that this is each fall and spring. The bedrooms are a mess with clothes until the transition between seasons is over. Clothes pile up in the sewing room waiting to be mended or altered or for a matching shirt or pants to be made. It all just feels very cluttered and disorganized to me. The Preacher came home in the middle of this project one day and commented about the number of boxes and then said, "This is a part of our life that I know absolutely nothing about." Ah, yes.

Seasonal Clothing Sorting and Change-over
It's nice that one of us seems to be having a good time.

Preparing for the Fair
Last year at this time I was busy making things to enter for judging at our local fair. I enjoyed doing that and it was a good experience, but I've been too busy this year to do that again. I still have been sewing, but it hasn't been stuff that I can enter in the fair. At one point I thought I would just forget about entering anything this year, but then I started thinking about things that are already completed that would be eligible. So, I registered a quilt, hand knit socks, a sundress, and a pullover sweater. Optimistically, I thought that I might be able to make a blouse and skirt for my daughter and finish a cardigan sweater, so I included those on the entry form.

The blouse and skirt are finished and despite the impression this lousy picture gives you, they are rather cute.

Music Class Skirt and Blouse
The Music Class Skirt and Blouse from Oliver + S.

The sweater, however, is not complete and will not be entered:

Rosamund's Cardigan 

My daughter is very excited about entering some things in the fair this year. So, some of the time that I would have spent getting my own things ready has been spent helping her and it has been fun. She's hoping to enter four things. We had a cupcake decorating practice round last weekend (that might make us sound rather competitive, but really the thought of figuring it out the day before it is due and counting on it turning out well is just too stressful for me). She liked the sheep the best and that's the one she's going to enter. All the entries are due on Monday.

Animal Cupcakes

Some Sewing
I have done some sewing in the last three weeks. I'll give these things proper posts with decent pictures soon.

Jumprope Dress
The Jumprope Dress from Oliver + S.

Patchwork Skirt
Patchwork Skirt

There are so many things on my want-to-sew list for fall. I'm so hopeful that I'll be feeling better soon and be able to get to some of them.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Soap Socks

Earlier this week I made sixteen small terry cloth drawstring bags for holding bars of soap or soap slivers (more here).  M sells these in her shop.  She calls them "soap socks." I really like the names she comes up with for the things I make.

Soap Socks

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Butterick 3344 - Brown Cowl Neck Top

I made this top before I made the swimming suit, but was hoping to make a skirt to go with it before I posted it. Now I see that it just isn't going to happen. I suppose there is always next summer.

Butterick 3344

The pattern is my well-loved Butterick 3344 and I made this same version in white earlier this summer. I didn't like the bias-cut of the white one and the back facing keeps flipping out, so I changed both of those things. There is plenty of stretch with it cut on the straight grain rather than the bias. The back of the neck opening is finished with bias tape. The arm holes are finished the same way.

Butterick 3344

This fabric has been in my stash for a few years.  I purchased it as a remnant, so there wasn't much of it to work with. I'm not sure what the fiber content is, but it is a jersey and the stripes are created with a burn-out pattern.

burn-out jersey

I underlined the brown fabric with an ivory knit fabric that I'm also unsure of the fiber content, but it was also a remnant about the same size.

It seems this was the summer of the sleeveless top for me.  I made six if I include the running top. Perhaps that is too many and puts me into the "stuck in a rut" category, but I think sleeveless tops are flattering, they work well under cardigans (hate that sleeve bunching) and I have a hard time finding short sleeves that I like. I feel silly in puffed sleeves and flutter sleeves have never appealed to me. The length of a short sleeve needs to be just right to be flattering. I've been burned by this before. Lately I've been admiring sleeves that end just above the elbow.  That might be worth a try for me.