Saturday, April 30, 2011

Owl Pillows

S asked me to make some owl pillows for her shop. She gave me some suggestion pictures and I did a bit of looking online, but didn't feel very inspired until I saw this scrap of fabric in my stash.

Owl Pillows

The larger owl is about 1" tall and I basically just enlarged it, keeping the proportions the same, up to 12" for the pillows.

Owl Pillows

I like how the feet are perched on a branch in the printed fabric, and I really wanted to make some sort of feet that dangled from the bottom of the owl. But, after three different attempts, I was still unsatisfied with how they looked and I didn't have any more ideas. Instead, the feet look like this:

Owl Pillows

The wings have a pleat in the middle so that they sit away from the owl body a bit.

Owl Pillows

The underside of the wing matches the owl belly.

Owl Pillows

I was quite determined to make these using only materials that I already had and I was successful. I think I would prefer the look of regular button (as opposed to these covered button) eyes, but I didn't have any dark buttons that were large enough.

The gray one is my favorite. If I make these again, it might be fun to be more adventurous with prints - different ones for the head and body, perhaps.

Owl Pillows

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Going Once...

Just like last year at this time, I was asked to donate something for a charity auction at the school my children attend. I used this pattern to make a set of placemats.

Auction Items

The background fabric is a sand-colored linen. I bought five yards of it a few years ago when I happened upon a fabric store that was going out of business while on vacation. I've been using pieces of it here and there - never really a big chunk at a time - and now I've got about a half of a yard left. I'll be sad when it's all gone.

The backside is a clamshell printed quilting cotton.

Auction Items

The binding is finished by hand (took a long time, but looks really nice) and the vertical quilting lines are about  3/8" apart - pretty dense. These two factors multiplied over six placemats meant that they weren't finished as quickly as the "so simple and easy" endorsement on the pattern had me expecting. But, I'm really happy with how they turned out. The extra effort was worth it.

Auction Items

I put four horizontal lines of quilting in the yellow stripe - each 1/4" apart. (Sorry about the blurry photo). I think the pattern designer may have intended the quilting to be a little more "organic," but I do love me a nice straight line.

Auction Items

After the placemats, I made six cloth napkins and a liner for a breadbasket to match.

Auction Items

The photo makes it look like the basket has no depth - not the case in real life. The photo below is a little better.

Auction Items

Next up: Owl Pillows. Hoot!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

McCall's 5966 - Easter Dresses

Lately I find myself in a bit of a philosophical quandary regarding my daughters and their clothing. Who should decide what they wear - me or them? If it's them, should anything they choose be okay (within the bounds of modesty, safety, etc)? Do they need to be taught some guidelines about matching or should they go with whatever they think is beautiful? If they need guidelines, how do I teach that without squashing their own style? And how do I know if my guidelines are the best for them? My definitions of matching or coordinating are different from others. Maybe they resonate with someone else's personal style much more than mine. It seems pointless to try to instill "rules" about what to wear based on social norms now and then try to encourage dressing for self without regard for what others think later in life. Hmmm. I realize that in the grand scheme of things, clothing choice isn't a huge issue, but all these questions were on my mind while making these Easter dresses.

I took my older daughter to the fabric store with me to help pick out fabric for spring dresses. I thought it would be a good time. In reality, I found it difficult and frustrating. We didn't like any of the same things. She liked shiny, expensive fabrics. I liked washable, discounted ones. She wanted as many bright colors as possible combined in one dress. I was picturing a more subdued look. You get the idea. In the end, (after establishing some limits) we went with the fabrics she chose and a pattern that I chose.

Dresses without cardigans

The pattern is McCall's 5966, without the sleeves. The bias-cut striped bands are applied like a facing toward the right side.

Bodice close-up

The dress is fully lined with white broadcloth. The print seemed rather summery to me, so I made the dresses sleeveless and also made cardigans for them to wear until it gets warmer.

Dresses and cardigans

I like that the cardigans break up some of the busyness of the print, but they also cover up the interesting part of the dresses. To make the cardigans, I modified Kwik Sew 2918 according to an article in Threads #108 about making twin sets from a T-shirt pattern. I do like the yellow flower buttons.

Cardigan close-up

In the end, I have to say that I don't really like these dresses. My combination of the two fabrics isn't all that successful - maybe there needs to be more striped fabric or a solid mixed in or something else and I'm not sure. It seems that there is just too much of that main fabric. Also, I don't think that I chose the best pattern for the print my daughter chose. A more creative designer type could have made it work, but I find that sort of thing very challenging.

However, my daughters both love their dresses. They love to dress alike and they are thrilled with how they turned out. They've been dancing and twirling and deciding which of the flowers on the dress is their favorite. And clearly they feel beautiful. So, I guess that counts as success.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Goods

After the buttonholes were finished, I spent the rest of the day in the trim, button and notions shops. I also went to the more expensive fabric shops (where I would be broadening my fabric horizons more than acquiring). On the second day, I would return and do the rest of the fabric stores. My reasoning for this plan was that I was meeting the Preacher for a play on Broadway that evening and didn't want to be loaded down with bulky bags of fabric. Buttons and trim are easier to stash away.

So, let's get to the good stuff...

NYC Goods

Clockwise from top left: striped ribbons in two different colorways, likely will become hairbows for my girls; flower printed webbing for a tote bag for older daughter; D-rings and latches for tote bags, wristlets, or purses; brown ribbon, likely for me but I have no specific intention for it right now (it looks like denim up close).

NYC Goods
Picot-edged and fold-over elastics

I find the elastic selection at my local fabric store very bleak. I was tempted to buy so much elastic, but also felt like getting the proper elastic is rather project-specific. These few seemed both safe enough to be used up easily and also interesting to me.

NYC Fabric

These are all shirting fabrics from various stores. Most of this is just to add to the stash - I have no imminent projects planned for them. The chambray, however, is the exception. I have several projects "planned" for that chambray (dress, shirt, shorts, skirt, etc) - so hard to decide which to do! All of them would probably be overkill and I don't have enough yardage, but I love chambray and I particularly love the shade of this one.

NYC Fabric

These are the knits I purchased. The white piece is already cut up into two different summer tops. Strange to go all the way to NYC for white jersey, but this was less than a third of what I'd pay for it here. I'm not sure exactly what I'll do with the navy stripe (I know it looks black here, but it's navy) and the green print will be a dress, but I'm not sure what season it will be for.

NYC Fabric

Here we have the only bottomweights I bought. The white piece is a heavy stretch denim so I can try Jalie 2908. The plaid is a stretch woven that I'd like to turn into a summer skirt.

NYC Fabric

I purchased the orange necktie silk in a fit of inspiration when I went in Beckenstein. That store is incredible. And so far out of my league. But, the silk was a good deal and I thought making a necktie for the Preacher would be a good challenge. The gray fabric is from another shop and is for the lining.

NYC Fabric

I fell hard for this gray and yellow patchwork fabric. It seemed so summery to me and so different from anything else in my closet. It will likely become a skirt as well, but I haven't decided on a pattern. The gray knit is bamboo and beautifully soft. It will become a top to wear with the skirt.

And that's it. I didn't last nearly as long as I was hoping to on the second day. Fabric is heavy and my shoulders were not willing to carry any more. But, I saw all the stores I wanted to see and am very happy with my purchases. Nearly all the fabric is washed, dried, and moved into the fabric closet.

Now I find myself in a bit of a holding pattern. My iron stopped working last week. I ordered a new one, but  its ETA is a little uncertain. Any sewing time that I've had available has been used to cut things out. I've got quite a few projects ready to go whenever it arrives!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Beautiful Buttonholes

My time in New York City was fantastic. Just incredible. The Preacher and I had a day together to do some sight-seeing and then I had two days to myself in the garment district while he was at a conference.

On the first of my "just me" days, my top priority was finding buttons for my coat and getting the buttonholes done at Jonathan Embroidery. I chose buttons from Pacific Trimming. I had a hard time deciding between two different buttons, so I bought enough of each for the coat. There wasn't space to spread out the coat and get a good feel for the overall look with the buttons, but I didn't want to regret a choice when I got home.

Option #1:

Burda Talea

And lined up on the coat front:

Burda Talea

Option #2:

Burda Talea

And lined up on the coat front:

Burda Talea

Neither are what I would consider novelty buttons, but there are a lot of other details on the coat and I didn't want to overdo it. I like both of them and haven't decided which to use.

Now, about the buttonholes. If the only reason I had gone to NYC was to get these buttonholes, the trip would still have been worth it. They're perfect.

Burda Talea

The experience of having them done was fascinating. There were two people ahead of me, so I waited maybe 10-15 minutes, but it was interesting to watch the process for their projects, too. When it was my turn, the employee chose two different weights of thread to match the coat and then went through what looked like a very complicated re-threading process on a very intricate industrial machine. It made threading my serger look really simple. The buttonholes were stitched (very quickly!) and the machine punched the eye of the buttonhole. Then the employee cleanly cut the straight part open. Threads were left for me to snip off. I paid $1.00 for each buttonhole - by far the best deal I found in the garment district.

The photo above is taken from the right side of the coat and the one below is the wrong side. The heavier weight thread is on the right side.

Burda Talea

So, that was a great start to my garment district time. Next, I'll show you all the goodies I picked up.