Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Twirling in Teal: A Winter Dress

Last year, I took on a big coordinate-the-family-for-Christmas project. Nothing at all like that happened this year. We were well into December before it even occurred to me that I'm often sewing new Christmas clothes. After a quick closet assessment, I decided that my older daughter was really the only one who needed anything new right now. And what she needed was more of just a winter dress rather than a holiday dress.

I did a bit of thinking and came up with a plan before going to Fabricland. The "let's just see what we find" sort of trips always leave me overwhelmed and disappointed. Also, I had a limited amount of time and had to be quick and focused with a list. Thankfully, they had what we needed and my plan worked!

Christmas Dress

The fabric is a teal ponte knit so it is both comfortable and washable. The pattern is a heavily modified Ottobre T-shirt pattern and a 3/4 circle skirt. I used Kadiddlehopper's tutorial for drafting the skirt part.

Christmas Dress

I put a zipper in the back because the waist seam is very fitted and I didn't think the dress would stretch enough to go over the shoulders.

Christmas Dress

The organza flower (tutorial here) is pinned on and the velvet ribbon belt closes with a snap under the bow so both are removable before washing. Thread chain belt loops at the side seams keep the ribbon in place.

This is a more sophisticated looking dress than I've made for my daughter before and I really like how it looks on her. It doesn't get any better than a circle skirt for twirling, so she really likes it, too. Winner!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Perfect Quilted Tote from Oh, Fransson!

A couple of years ago someone gave me a box of quilting scraps. Her style is similar to mine and I have used many of the scraps in various projects. One of the real gems in the box was a partial charm pack of Authentic by Sweetwater for Moda. There were also some fat quarters and other larger random pieces from the line. I loved this fabric when I saw it and knew that I wanted to do something just for me with it.

After pondering it, I thought it should be some sort of tote bag, but I still wasn't sure exactly what it should look like. There are a lot of patchwork tote bag patterns out there, but not a lot of them that get me excited. When I saw the Perfect Quilted Tote pattern from Oh, Fransson! I knew it was the one. It was still quilted  patchwork and also modern and unique.

Quilted Tote

Generally, I followed the pattern, but I wanted a larger bag so I altered the dimensions. The pattern is good - clear instructions, helpful photos, and useful tips. Her instructions for making the lining are more involved than what I did. Hers has two lined pockets, one with a zipper. I simplified that because of the altered dimensions and just added a slip pocket with a pen slot on one end. I also left of the magnetic snap closure.

Quilted Tote

I started this bag one evening at the beginning of December. The next day I came down with the stomach flu. It seems strange, but it took me awhile to get over the association I had between this project and feeling lousy. I did have to set it aside to work on some gifts and I had to wait for a chance to purchase the lining fabric, but I wasn't really eager to get back at it.

Quilted Tote

This is a pretty substantial bag. It stands up just fine on its own and could handle a full, heavy load. A piece of batting is layered between the patchwork and some heavy upholstery fabric. All the quilting helps make it pretty rigid.

Quilted Tote 

Now I'm glad it's complete and I think I'll enjoy using it. I'm happy with how it turned out and happy to have used some of the Authentic fabric.

Monday, January 7, 2013

McCall's 6438 - Black and White Plaid Skirt (of woe!)

Generally, I don't do UFO's (unfinished objects) when it comes to sewing projects. I either finish it before starting something else or toss it at the point I decide it isn't going to work. However, this skirt was a UFO for about two months earlier this fall. I was hoping it could be an entry in the fair in September and made the mistake of rushing through it in an attempt to meet that self-imposed deadline.

McCall's 6438 Black and White Bias-cut Skirt

In my haste, I made a significant mistake while cutting out the skirt. I didn't pay enough attention to matching the plaid. I thought it was matched, but I was only looking at the heavy black lines going in one direction. This pattern is a fabric hog, so after making that mistake my options were really limited. I was able to match the front well, but that's it.

McCall's 6438 Black and White Bias-cut Skirt

The back is somewhat matched with the heavy black lines, but not exactly and that's the only part of the plaid that does match. You can't actually see most of the seam in the picture, so it isn't as bad as it looks here, but it's still bad.

McCall's 6438 Black and White Bias-cut Skirt

But, still not as bad as the side seam. Brace yourself...

McCall's 6438 Black and White Bias-cut Skirt

Ugh. Look at the expression on my face! It is painful for me to show this to you! So bad. Even if I had finished it in time, I would not have entered this in the fair.

And yet, there is something I really like about this skirt. The yoke pieces are piped with patent leather piping - a subtle textural detail that I like. The longer length feels elegant, dressy, and ladylike. Plus I don't know if I've met a black/white motif or bias-cut plaid that I didn't like.

So I'm torn about it. Part of me groans every time I see it and another part feels like I should just embrace the mistakes and focus on what I like about it. It'll stay in my closet for the rest of the season and we'll see how I feel about it at seasonal wardrobe changeover time next year. They can't all be winners...

Friday, January 4, 2013

What Happened to December 2012?

I didn't have a single blog post in December for three reasons: some of my sewing was for gifts, the rest of the sewing was not terribly interesting, and even if I could have made it interesting there wasn't time for blogging.

Yet, I did do some sewing and wanted to record it here so I can remember later on. Sadly, there aren't really any pictures (I guess this post is more for me than you).


  • linen "picture" napkins for my mom (kids colored on them with fabric markers and I hemmed the edges)
  • a pillow for a friend
  • felt owl ornaments for teachers using this tutorial

Other sewing in December was determined by the needs of my family:

  • two tops for one daughter and one for the other - all very basic companion pieces for orphan hand-me-downs
  • fleece pajamas for my son - reducing bulk in the stash
  • four undershirts for The Preacher - he only needed a couple, but I did as many as I had fabric for and constructed them assembly-line style
  • one dress for my older daughter - a very last minute decision that worked out well and will have its own blog post soon

That's it!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Welcome, 2013!

When I think about what 2013 might involve as it relates to my sewing room, I'm trying to think in terms of dreams or hopes rather than goals. What I'd like to be sewing is jackets. For me!

I would like to have more jackets in my wardrobe. I have a number of cardigans, but I'm finding that I prefer the structured look of jackets more. The traditional suit jacket doesn't appeal to me, but I'd love to make each and every one pictured here (plus some others!).

The problem is that jackets tend to be substantial projects and I suspect 2013 is going to be a busy year (if it continues on as 2012 has ended). Part of me rails against setting unrealistic goals and I really hate setting a goal and not accomplishing it. Also, I have a hard time maintaining motivation when a project drags on and I want to enjoy my sewing time, not feel burdened by it.

Also, I don't have many jacket patterns or much suitable stash fabric for jackets, so it would require some investing. I should really set a hard and fast goal about not acquiring more of anything and then the two would be in conflict.

However, the thing that may make it happen is the fact that I always like the more complex and detailed projects better in the long run. If only it weren't so difficult to keep an eye on "the long run" in the middle of all the busy-ness.

I feel a little like I'm rambling and not being very clear. This post in a nutshell: no firm plans or goals attached to 2013 for me, but I'm going to keep the desire for jackets in mind. The reality is that much of my sewing revolves around what my family needs for clothing. Hopefully one or two of these jackets gets worked into the mix.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Farewell, 2012

I wasn't going to do one of these wrap-up posts this year, but I really enjoy reading ones from others. I just scrolled through the last year of my own posts and felt pretty satisfied with what I have produced. Overall, it feels like I haven't been able to find as much sewing time in the last year, but actually the blogging has taken more of a hit than the sewing.

When looking back at my posts, I found I was happy with different projects for different reasons and it seemed like some yearbook-style "awards" were in order...

Best Wardrobe Addition
Goes to my orange coat. I have really liked having an additional outerwear option and every time I wear it I get comments and compliments on it.

Simplicity 2508 - Coat

Most Successful Vision Turned Reality
Goes to my white denim trousers. I love these pants and they turned out exactly as I had envisioned. They also were the inaugural pair of a TNT (Tried-and-true) pants pattern for me and marked the learning of a new pattern creating process.

White denim trousers

Best Problem Solver
Goes to my daughter's Jalie jeans. She hasn't needed another pair yet, but knowing that this pattern works well for her relieves so much shopping frustration. I enjoy being pleased with them every time she wears them.

Jalie 2908 - Stretch Jeans

Most Surprising Success
Goes to my maxi dress. Surprising because it is a style I wasn't sure I would like and I do. Surprising because I wasn't sure the fabric would work and it does. Surprising because people really notice me in this dress and I'm okay with that.

Striped Maxi Dress

Most Delightful
Goes to my daughter's orange and pink dress. She loved this dress and so did I. I made good use of the border print and the dress fit really well. There were no construction snafus and it washed and wore well. There was nothing disappointing about this dress.

New Look 6089

Most Successful Overall
Goes to my denim shirt. This garment project was more planned out than many and that probably has much to do with its success. I purchased good fabric specifically for it and used a pattern that I knew worked for me. Time was spent on construction details and I appreciate that every time I put it on. I did the things that ideally I would do for every project, but don't for various reasons. This is a shirt that I hope to have in my closet for a long time.

Denim Shirt

And that wraps up 2012 (just a few days late). I've resisted setting some goals or posting plans for 2013, but some of those are bubbling up anyway. Stay tuned...