Friday, December 23, 2011

Handmade Holiday Happiness

In this post, I mentioned that I've been enjoying more simple handmade things this year. This post is a bit of a round-up of some of those things.

Potato Stamping


I saw this on Made by Rae and wanted to put some extra packing paper we had to good use. I used paint from a dollar store. I would not recommend it. It worked poorly and smelled like formaldehyde. Scary.

Cinnamon Applesauce Ornaments

Applesauce ornaments

Nothing new or novel here, but it was a fun project to do with the kids. Ours didn't turn out that fabulous. I think I rolled the dough out too thin and then they stayed in the oven 40 minutes too long (it was The Preacher's responsibility to take them out. He's been forgiven). Hence, they have a bit of a curl. Next time I'll be more patient and just let them dry on the counter.

Felt Christmas Ornament

Felt ornament

I'd love to have a Christmas tree full of handmade ornaments. For this one I used some lovely wool felt that my MIL gave me and followed this tutorial.


Handknit mittens

I've been working on these mittens for awhile and just finally finished them up this week. These are as plain as can be, but there's still something very satisfying about handknit mittens. They went into my son's hat and mitts bin, but they're a wee bit big for him yet.

Quilted Wallhanging

Finished wallhanging

I also finished up this wallhanging. The binding does add a lot and I'm happy to have it completed. I haven't hung it up yet and now I'm feeling more like I'll just put it away and be extra delighted to see it next December!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

New Look 6071 - Gray and Yellow Dress

Now that I'm done with the Christmas clothing sewing, I'm turning my attention back to my Dress Warm project. For my third dress this season, I made a lightweight sleeveless knit dress. Sounds perfect for winter in Ontario, right? Actually, it has been unseasonably warm less cold but still a long way from summer-like.

New Look 6071

On it's own, this dress is not at all seasonally appropriate. But, I made it with the intention of wearing it with a long black cardigan that I picked up at a thrift store awhile back. I liked New Look 6071 when I first saw it and have been wanting to try it out.


I give the fabric pretty mixed reviews. I used a rayon jersey - very soft and drapey and nice to touch. However, it was difficult to sew and I think it will keep growing. This dress probably won't last beyond this season, but I'm okay with that. This is the last piece of this type of knit I had in my stash and I likely won't buy any more. My local Fabricland always has a lot of it and it's tempting to purchase, but I'm always disappointed. I've learned my lesson.

The print is pretty wild. I like the yellow and grey combination and it has a bit of an animal print feel without actually being animal print. Truthfully, I like it best mostly covered up like with the cardigan and probably won't wear it otherwise. I can only do prints in small doses. Especially wild ones like this.

New Look 6071

I will use this pattern again. I really like it. The bust detail is well drafted and flattering and the instructions make it easy to do. It's also a pretty quick make. The dress could be casual or dressy depending on the fabric used. When I make it again I will use a more substantial knit. This jersey was just too flimsy. I don't know if I've ever left a dress hem raw (I just prefer a more finished look) but I did on this one. Just the thought of trying to hem this dress without turning it into a rippled, wavy mess was stressful. A less-finished look sounded good this time.

New Look 6071

Worn like this, I was plenty warm. So, technically a success given my Dress Warm goals, but this isn't a dress that I'll be reaching for real often. Both the print and the fabrication reduces its wearability for me. I do really like the cardigan and will probably be looking for another way to wear it.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Burda 9990 - Glen Plaid Vest

Item No. 3 in the Coordinated Christmas Clothing series is a vest for my son. While my girls have often had matching dresses, this is the first time he has been included. When I asked him if he would like to match the girls he was pretty excited about it.

Burda 9990 (vest)

The shirt and pants were hand-me-downs from another family. For the vest, I used Burda 9990 - a good pattern for both the pants and the vest. The front has welts (but no pockets) and the back has darts with a belt.

Burda 9990 (vest)

I underlined the front of the vest with a lightweight cotton because the glen plaid is fairly loosely woven and I thought some more structure would help. There are supposed to be four buttons on the front, but I only had three of the same and didn't want to buy more.

Burda 9990 (vest)

I also made the black tie. It is completely opposite of everything these ties tried to be. This one is made from a crafty-type tutorial (as opposed to in-depth instructions from an expert). This one is cut on the straight grain to save fabric (as opposed to the bias like real ties are). This one has an elastic band around the neck and doesn't even tie in a real knot. The tail end of the tie is square and raw. The back is whipstitched closed. I could go on. But, I do have to say that it looks pretty good, all things considered. I spent as much time on it as it was worth and I'm satisfied with it. I combined these instructions with this pattern (because I couldn't get the pattern for the first one to print).

A skirt for me will be the fourth and final item, but I probably won't have pictures for a few days yet.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Ottobre 6/2011 #13 - Glen Plaid Dress

Item No. 2 in the Coordinated Christmas Clothing series is a dress for my younger daughter. I liked this dress in the most recent issue of Ottobre when I saw it and thought it could work for combining the glen plaid and dark red fabric.

Ottobre 6/2011 #13

I'm quite happy with how it looks now, but when I first tried it on my daughter I was not hopeful about it. My first thought was, "I didn't know a three-year-old could look frumpy!" But, cutting off some length helped as did the addition of sleeves.

Ottobre 6/2011 #13

This dress looks better on a body in motion than it does in photographs. Here the back looks a bit big, but it's just a very basic A-line shape. The plaids match nicely at center back, but maybe you notice that the sleeves are cut with the plaid going the opposite way. I was seriously in danger of not having enough fabric and played pattern tetris for awhile to get everything I needed squeaked out. Switching the direction of the sleeves was the only way.

Ottobre 6/2011 #13

I think the sleeves make the dress. The gathering at the top of the arm is done with two rows of shirring using elastic thread in the bobbin. I've never done that before. It worked out pretty well, but I don't know if I'm interested in shirring an entire waist yoke or sundress top yet. I was thankful for the plaid pattern - it made it easy to sew those lines straight.

The gathering at the wrist is supposed to be just actual gathering with the trim strip sewn on top. It was way too loose, so I put a piece of 1/8" elastic through there to gather it up snugly.

Ottobre 6/2011 #13

The instructions for sewing the tucks on the front yoke didn't seem to work out for me, so I just did my own thing and I'm happy with it. I like the textural interest it adds.

If the sleeves made the dress, then the hat made the outfit. For the beret I used this free pattern, cut out of ponte knit. The rose is from a purchased tutorial available here. Before I made the hat, I asked my daughter if she would like one and if she thought she could wear it without playing with it. She was very excited about having a hat and was sure she wouldn't play with it. She wore it all morning today and didn't play with it at all. I was quite impressed.


I really like the rose and added one to a headband for my older daughter to wear with her jumper. No pics of it on her, but it was a good addition.

Rose headband

Next Up: a vest for the little man...

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Ottobre 3/2011 #18 - Glen Plaid Jumper

This year I wanted to make coordinating clothes for the whole family to wear at Christmas time. I have no idea why. I've never wanted to do this before. And right now I'm having serious doubts about whether I still want to do it! When I explained my idea to The Preacher, he gave me a please-tell-me-you-are-kidding sort of look. I'm not sure he's on board yet, but that's okay. I'd say the project is 90% complete and I'm hoping to be completely finished by Saturday night.

I started with my older daughter's jumper. She had a piano recital last weekend so I used that for an early-ish deadline. I chose a pretty simple pattern from Ottobre 3/2011. This is a summer issue and the pattern is shown as a sundress, but it worked just fine as a jumper.


I cut the bodice on the bias and added piping around the top and at the waist seam. The piping at the waist seam made the jumper stand away from her body like she had a hoop in there. Not a good look (but really good for a giggle). I took the cord out of the piping and took the jumper in a bit at the side seams. That helped, but I think I still could have gone down a size.


The buttons were from my stash and both the burgundy piping fabric and the black lining were given to me by someone who cleared out her stash. I lined the bodice only (the pattern called for facings, but lining seemed just as easy).


The pleat arrangement on the skirt seems a little different to me. On each side of center, there is one inverted box pleat and one knife pleat. The front and back are identical.


I wasn't expecting my daughter to be very excited about this jumper - she usually likes a lot more color and fanciness - but she does like it quite a lot. And it looked good with the piano at the recital!


Handmade Holiday Happiness
This season I'm finding myself being attracted to all sorts of simple handmade things. This isn't entirely new for me of course, but my aversion to thoughtless consumerism has increased in the last few months. While I've always admired handmade goods, I'm really appreciating the simpler things right now and have been trying to work them into our family's Christmas preparations.

I made these two pillowcases as a gift for my younger daughter. A few weeks ago she lamented that she didn't have pretty pillowcases like her sister did. (She's the youngest and when she moved from a crib to a big girl bed she just got the linen closet extras. When her older sister made the same move, she got all new coordinating bedding. Oh, the injustice! But, for some reason, she only felt bad about the pillowcases).


Other than the lavender solid, these are all fabrics that someone else passed on to me. My daughter admired both of the florals, so I hope that these make her happy. I didn't feel like changing the thread on the serger, so I did flat-felled and french seams. All the seams are straight and the fabric was so easy to work with that the extra steps didn't take that long.

I've never made pillowcases before, but it is a small, simple way to add a little more handmade goodness to your daily life.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

More Christmas Sewing

A couple of years ago my mom gave me this kit to make a quilted Christmas wallhanging. This year I was determined to get it made up so I can enjoy it. I bumped it up on the to-sew list over some other things that had definite deadlines. The sewing wasn't at all complicated and assembling the top went very quickly.

Christmas wall hanging

I followed the layout guide as exactly as I could. Some of the fabrics included were different than those used in the diagram. The red for the ornament was different from the blue and green, so I put it in the middle. But, I didn't consider how that would affect the border blocks. There is a lot of green in the lower left hand corner that I didn't notice until I had it all together.

Christmas wallhanging

I haven't put the binding on yet, but I really like the candy cane stripe fabric included for it.

Christmas wall hanging

The ornament tops are machine appliqued. I started hand embroidering the hooks, but it was taking a long time and wasn't looking that great so I ripped it out and stitched it by machine, tracing over the line three times. Much more efficient and it looks just as good as my embroidery would have.

I'm looking forward to putting the finished project up soon. But, after I got to this point, I switched gears and did some work on gifts for my kids' teachers. I started with this tutorial, but modified it a bit.

Covered Journals

I moved the patchwork strip to the other side of the cover and added a ribbon loop to hold a pen. I saw this on a different journal somewhere and thought it was a nice touch. I won't include these particular pens, but didn't have the right ones when I took the picture.

Covered Journals

I find teacher gifts to be a tricky thing, but that's a discussion for another time. I hope they like them!

Next up: Christmas-y clothes for the fam...

Monday, November 21, 2011

Stash Busting

No new fabric until after Christmas. That's my goal. I love accomplishing a goal. To make it happen I'm cutting out several things at once and then sewing them up. Some of this first batch were things that were necessary for my daughter's wardrobe (this and that) and then others are fabrics that I bought for a certain purpose but aren't very exciting to sew, so they have been pushed waaaaay down on the list.

First, is this fleece pullover for my older daughter. I bought this fleece as a remnant when the Fabricland in town closed. Each season I like to make sure each of the kids has at least one of these extra layer type garments. My older daughter has been lacking one for awhile now. Ottobre to the rescue.

Ottobre 1/2010 #38
I'm counting on those wrinkles coming out in the wash!

This is the "New Generation sweatshirt" (#38) from the 1/2010 issue. I wasn't hopeful about finding a matching zipper and didn't want to buy one, so I went with one that I had and made it look purposeful by adding coordinating piping and collar facing. The whole thing is giving me a bit of an 80's vibe - the color combo or the style or both? I'm okay with it and my daughter likes it.

Ottobre 1/2010 #38

I was confused by the pattern pieces related to the pocket. I was unsure if I was just not understanding or if there was a drafting error. I don't have a picture and it's hard to explain without it, but I did some redrafting of the front side panel piece to make it work for me.

Ottobre 1/2010 #38

The other change I made was to lengthen the sleeves and finish them with elastic rather than a cuff. I do prefer a cuff to elastic on these type of garments, but didn't have a suitable fabric.

The second was going to be a similar top for myself - an extra layer for when the house feels chilly. I like the vest I made from Kwik Sew 3453, but I think it's a little small now and I wanted to have long sleeves. I tried just adding a sleeve from a different pattern without really checking if they were compatible (I'm sure you know where this is going).

Kwik Sew 3453

My first mistake was cutting the vest pieces too big. I mistakenly thought I had made a medium before, but it was actually a small. This time I used size large, which was much too large. Then the sleeves didn't fit at all. Not even close. Blegh. But, I had done a great job with the zipper and it seemed like a shame to just toss the whole thing, so I did finish the armholes and put it on the donate pile.

And, finally, a basic long sleeved top from the leftovers of this dress. I thought I'd just cut it out and sew it up rather than filing it away in the fabric closet. This isn't an exciting new garment, but it's great for days spent at home cleaning or baking or relaxed weekend days. It's warm but not bulky, covered up but not sloppy.

Vogue 8536

The pattern is Vogue 8536 and I've made it before, but this time I followed Elle's suggestion and simplified the front. I like it a lot better this way.

Vogue 8536

Now both of my machines are in the shop getting a good cleaning and tune up and I'm starting on the next round of cutting out. All from stash!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Another Twirly Skirt

The first twirly skirt I made was so fun that I immediately cut out another. I had small amounts of all the fabrics left over from this project and combined them in a different way for my younger daughter.

Sweet smile

This cotton poplin print is really nice to work with. I added piping to the horizontal seams but even with that addition, this was a really quick make.

Twirly Skirt

The top is made from an Ottobre pattern (4/2011 #15). I think the style is really cute, but I didn't do a great job with the binding. And there's a lot of binding on this top - sleeves, keyhole at neck, and neckline. Clear elastic is stitched to the edges before the binding goes on. I tried using a double needle to finish the binding on the sleeves, but it doesn't look great. For the keyhole and neckline I just stitched in the ditch like I usually do and that looks better except that I didn't get the clear elastic on very evenly. It should be gathered evenly all around, but there are more gathers in the back. This project really made me want a serger with a binder attachment. Usually I'm really content with my older, very basic serger. But, these Ottobre patterns always have a lot of binding and I'm going to have to get better at the finish to be happy with them.

Knit Top

I added an inch of length to the sleeves before I cut them out, but was pretty disappointed to see that they are just long enough for my daughter's arms. The bodice was long enough without adding extra length.

Flower applique

The flower applique matches the piping in the skirt. To get the shape I traced one of the red flowers in the skirt fabric and the flower center is cut out of one of the turquoise flowers. The ribbon is stitched down with the same decorative stitch I used on my older daughter's dress ruffle.

Goofy girl

The leggings are made from Burda 9615 and keep everything appropriately covered up while twirling...


and dancing...


and other three-year-old life enjoying activities!

Twirly Skirt

My younger daughter continues to prefer skirts and dresses to pants. She gets my older daughter's hand-me-downs, but they aren't always the right size or season. I'm finding that I need to fill in a few holes in her wardrobe for fall and winter.

I started by replacing a black skirt that was too short and too tight. Since it was a skirt, my daughter didn't want to give it up. I pledged to replace it with a skirt and decided to copy a simple RTW one that she really liked.

Ruffled Skirt

It's a very basic three-tiered ruffled skirt. The top tier is hidden by her top here. I used the leftovers from this skirt. This fabric doesn't press all that well, so I topstitched the tier seams to keep them flat.

Ruffled Skirt

The outfit is really all about the shoes (red mary janes!) which are sadly getting pretty tight. One or two more wears and then they'll be put away.

It took me a few minutes to figure out the dimensions of the tiers from the RTW skirt, but once I had them figured and recorded I knew that I'd be making more of these. Construction is simple and quick and makes a cute skirt. And that makes for a happy little girl.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Oliver + S Jump Rope Dress

This is a repeat make for me. You can see the first one here. I started wanting to make this dress when I made this basic skirt for my daughter. Oliver + S patterns are a joy to sew and result in classy looking clothes for little people (and now they're available to download at BurdaStyle).

Oliver + S Jump Rope Dress

The pattern envelope says this dress has a "slightly dropped waist." I didn't really get that result the first time around, but this time it does look like that. I intentionally made the dress a little big because I want it to be wearable all the way until spring.

Oliver + S Jump Rope Dress

The instructions for the placket and collar are fantastic. They walk you through each step and it looks great at the end. The buttons are from stash.

Oliver + S Jump Rope Dress

The pockets are my favorite part of the dress, I think. It's nice to have some detail on the skirt part.

This fabric was going to be for me. That was my thought when I purchased it in NYC last spring. But, my daughter really liked it and I thought it would work for this pattern. I also made her a pair of leggings from a purplish mauve knit that I had in stash (no picture). The leggings are more school-friendly than tights are.

Oliver + S Jump Rope Dress

I've made some clothes for my younger daughter that I need to post yet. My son has noticed that I'm sewing a lot of girl clothes and not anything for him. He doesn't really need clothes, but he didn't think that was a great reason for me to not be sewing for him. I should probably include him in the fun. Add that to the "to sew" list...

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Simplicity 2406 - Corduroy dress

In this post, I mentioned my wanting more fall/winter dresses. Here we have the second dress in this "Dress Warm" project. For this one I opted to use a warm fabric and chose a design that would allow wearing a cami underneath  for an extra layer.

Simplicity 2406

The pattern is Simplicity 2406, view C. I previously made view B here. I used a dark green fine-wale corduroy fabric that I've had in my stash for years. It's so soft and more drapey than most corduroy. I've considered using this fabric every winter for the last few years, but haven't felt like I found the ideal pattern for it. I'm making a concerted effort to sew up stash fabrics and not hoard them out of fear of not getting it perfect. So, did I choose the perfect pattern? I don't really think so, but I still like the dress and a dress in my closet is more satisfying than flat fabric on a shelf.

I had just enough fabric to make this dress - only small scraps left, so no matching sash. This is an extremely easy pattern to sew up. I did add length to the sleeves and the hem and closed up the back seam all the way to the neck (we're going for warmth here and the opening isn't necessary to get the dress on and off). Because I thought it might be helpful for fitting, I did keep the back seam, but ended up just leaving it straight. If I made it again and had enough fabric, I would consider putting it on the fold.

I don't have the next dress planned yet, but it will likely be something to wear with leggings. After all the leggings I've made for my girls, I'm finally cluing in that they might be something I'd like for me!