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Showing posts from 2014

A Little of This, A Little of That: Coming Up With a Fall Dress

My older daughter is 10 years old now. That puts her in the "tween" age category. When trying to come up with sewing plans for her, I felt a bit stumped. This is new territory. Combining her preferences, my "guidelines" (leggings are not pants!), and this new age category in a successful way is a challenge. We talked through some options together and looked at fabrics together and we have a bit of a plan. This dress was the first part of the plan.


We had an idea of what the dress should look like and then combined a couple different Ottobre patterns to get what we wanted. There was a fair bit of basting and fitting as we went and in the end, we both think it was successful.


She picked out the fabric - a purple pique knit. It's pretty stretchy with very good recovery, so it wasn't too difficult to handle. The black trim is a cotton/lycra jersey. I added the keyhole at the front neckline for interest. The binding was done on my sewing machine with a double ne…

Ottobre 6/2012 #37 - Chambray shirt

Since moving back to the US, I've done some experimenting with ordering fabric online. I had only dabbled with it while living in Canada because of shipping costs, duty charges and the nuisance of return shipping. As expected, it's a bit of a mixed bag. Some purchases are better than expected and some are disappointing. The corduroy for these pants was the former and the chambray for this shirt was the latter. The chambray is nice fabric, it's just different than what I had envisioned. I went ahead with it anyway.


This shirt is for my son and is the partner piece for these pants. I like how the shirt looks with the sleeves rolled up. He will have none of that.


The pattern is just a classic collared button-down shirt from Ottobre (6/2012 #37). I like the two-piece collar, the lined yoke, and the properly scaled front pocket. Breast pockets that are "off" (to my eye, anyway) in size, scale, or placement really bug me.


I used a plaid shirting for contrast on the col…

Ottobre 4/2011 #38 - Rust Corduroy Pants

It happens every September. You'd think I would catch on. The air feels especially chilly on a Sunday morning and my kids still only have their summer clothes for church. Find some tights! Do you have a decent looking sweater? Put a shirt under that! And off we go, looking kind of patched together. Seriously, every year. That was last week Sunday. So, last week I was busy getting some dressier clothes together. I started with my son because I find his clothes takes longer to make. It's easier to squeeze in the faster dresses at the eleventh hour.

I always have success with Ottobre patterns for my son, so that's where I started. This is pattern #38 from issue 4/2011. They are called "Algebra corduroys." Ottobre pattern names are always interesting. I like the narrow legs, the curved yoke and the angled pockets on the front.


They are a bit rumpled from being folded up waiting for their shirt partner.


All of the topstitching is done in tan thread. I copied the rear …

Mega Gift Card Wallet

A few years ago I made these little wallets for the gift cards that I used regularly. The new school my kids attend participates in the same program, but it is much bigger here. That little wallet I had wasn't cutting it anymore. Some searching on Pinterest (it'll cure what ails you every time) led me to this tutorial for a pretty large gift card wallet. Mega even! I thought this might be more than I really needed, but I liked the concept of it.


I had been playing around with this braided-look patchwork and decided to incorporate it in this project. I backed the exterior wallet piece with upholstery fabric to give it some extra heft.


You can see some smudges on the back part. I've been using this for a couple of weeks already and can say that I'm really pleased with it. It is indeed more than I need, but I like having the space to keep everything sorted and also keep the loyalty/coupon cards with the gift cards.



And the last page with room for growth!

The tutorial incl…

Back to School Sewing

My kids start school tomorrow. The first day at a new school. They're all excited. It seems like I'm the only nervous one. The backpacks are packed, the lunches made, the clothes laid out. Everything's ready to go!

These two little items are the only back-to-school sewing I've done this year. My younger daughter and I worked on this pencil case together. She sat on my lap and did some of the steering while we were sewing the seams. The fabric choices are hers.


This is a boxy zippered pouch made with this pattern, A Little Duffle Do It. The pattern gives cutting dimensions for four sizes, but I needed one to fit a set of colored pencils and based the dimensions on that. So, this one is longer and thinner than any of the four given choices.


I quilted the outer fabric and lining together with fusible fleece in between. The pattern gives good instructions for cleanly finishing the inside seams using binding, but I was trying to be quick and just zigzagged them instead.


I l…

Simplicity 2406 - Black Cold-Shoulder Dress

This dress was a very quick project, made shortly after my new sewing room was unpacked. I had this project in my mind for awhile, but the need for kids' clothes and then the moving project meant that it got pushed to the bottom of the list. This was a wardrobe-driven project, meaning neither the fabric nor the pattern are new or compelling, but I knew I would appreciate having it in my closet.


This is the third time I've used this pattern, Simplicity 2406 (first here, second here). For this version, I used a drapey knit. I modified the sleeves to be longer and have slightly more of a slit sleeve than a cut out shape. The pattern instructions would have you line the sleeves, which makes for a very nice finish, but I wanted to maintain the drape of the fabric and not add bulk, so I just hemmed the edges of the slit and finished the neckline edge of the sleeve piece with bias tape. I included lingerie guards as described here. Such helpful little things those are.


In terms of co…

Kaleidoscope Quilt Top

A couple of years ago I started assembling these quilt blocks with my daughter. It was a good project to work on together and my scrap bins were over flowing. We worked on it on and off in between other projects, usually eight or ten blocks at a time. I figured we'd do it until we had enough for a twin size quilt and then see if we wanted to keep working on it.


This is twin size and we are done. The original inspiration is here and the accompanying tutorial for paper piecing the blocks is here. We made our blocks 8.5" square because we used the 8.5" x 11" printer paper we had on hand. I just eyeballed the placement of the white strips, so those don't all line up precisely, but I'm okay with it.


I really like the variety of colors combined with the white strips. The diamond shapes and variety of stripe widths keep the eye moving, but the white provides some grounding, too.


I don't have plans to finish this in the immediate future because I haven't dec…

Back at it...

July was a busy month for our family. We moved back to the States and have been busy getting settled in our new community. It's been a good move so far but the changes and adjustments have consumed a lot of time and energy. I am very grateful to once again have a dedicated sewing space and have that all unpacked. There is still some arranging to do and things to get to make the space as efficient as I'd like it. That will come in time.

After not sewing anything for six weeks, I was honestly a little stumped by the question of what to sew first. My older daughter needed some more warm-weather pajamas and I could do that with stash fabric, so that's what I did.


I used two Ottobre patterns for this set, both of which were designed for knits. To make them work for this woven poplin, I sized up before cutting and then had to do some tweaking during assembly.


The top is Ottobre 3/2011 #33. I like the envelope-style neckline and I loved doing the bias binding. The yellow looks li…

Ottobre T-shirt blitz

Much like I did for my son, I quickly made a handful of T-shirts for my daughter to meet her clothing needs for the season. They were all fast and easy.

Ottobre 3/2013 #32
Ottobre 4/2012 #28
Ottobre 1/2014 #28  (I thought I could just eyeball that button placement. Yes, they are crooked and no, I probably won't fix it).
Ottobre 3/2013 #39 (Birthday shirt!)
My sewing room has been packed up for a couple of weeks now. We're moving next week. So, this space will be quiet for awhile (intentionally this time!) until I get my new sewing space unpacked and set up. 

Taking a Risk (or I Made Harem Pants)

My sewing lately has been quite intentional, planned, and purpose-driven. I typically work well that way, but last week I needed a bit of a break and wanted to just sew something for fun. If it didn't turn out to be a runaway success, I wasn't going to worry about it.

I pulled out a piece of black ponte knit fabric that was in my stash. I know it isn't the best quality and I didn't want to be tempted to use it for something that I would invest a lot of time in or would want to last awhile. It's a fairly heavyweight knit, but has quite a lot of stretch and decent drape.

I don't know made me want to make harem pants, but after I had the thought I really wanted to go ahead with it. After looking for a pattern to download from Burdastyle, I remembered that I already had an issue with a suitable pattern in it (1/2011 #124).



I didn't think I would like that deep yoke, so I modified that to be narrower and straighter across and also changed the front and back leg …

Filling the Gaps

My son didn't have major wardrobe needs this season. A quick assessment showed that a few T-shirts would do it. Last week was a busy week and T-shirts were about all I could handle in the sewing room. I finished four (from two very basic Ottobre patterns and stash fabric) and hemmed a pair of pants with holes in the knees - one project for each of the weekdays.


The navy stripes are fused and then topstitched.


I just eeked this out from an old T-shirt of mine. The neckband had to be pieced.


I love this little gecko. It's from an Ottobre pattern.

Back view:


Finally, a new age number T-shirt. I like the baseball style shirt, but the sleeves ended up an awkward length. The pattern had narrow bands at the hem. I left them off and added length to compensate, but it isn't quite right. Still wearable, though.

One Winner, One Loser

More spring kids' clothes! It sure has been nice having these clothes done and ready for the warm weather. Beautiful new clothes that are ready to go make warm, sunny days all that much nicer. These two pieces are for my older daughter.


I modified Jalie 2908 slightly for these cuffed capris - straightened and shortened the legs and curved the waistband. Sadly, I don't have a picture of them on my daughter, but they fit great. The fabric is pretty lightweight and stretchy. It looks like denim, but my daughter finds these more comfortable than regular denim would be.


These were actually a pretty quick project. The fabric was easy to work with and I just used regular thread and a standard straight stitch for the topstitching. I'm happy with how all the details came out.


The insides are PINK! Pink fly guard, pocket bags, and waistband binding. I really like the flower print on the fabric also - a little abstract and stylized, but still feminine and fun.


It looks like there is …

Navy and White for Spring

Today was a beautiful warm, sunny day - just how I imagined late May would feel back in March when I was sewing these pieces. This year I intentionally sewed spring/summer clothes for my kids ahead of the season. So, I have a number of things to post, but will likely not have too much to say about them (March was a long time ago!).

These cropped pants were supposed to be for my older daughter, but they turned out much too small. Happily, they were just the right size for my younger daughter.


The pattern is Ottobre 4/2013 #16 and I used an "engineer" stripe cotton (leftover from these pants). I played with the front pockets a little - cutting them on the bias and inserting a strip of rickrack. I like the small feminine touch it adds.


Most of the waistbands I've finished lately have included bias tape. I think it is less bulky and the pop of color and clean finish are fun. The waistband closes with a button, chosen by my daughter. The snap on these jeans frustrates her, so…

Oliver + S Music Class Blouse and Ottobre 3/2012 #38 Trousers

My older daughter does not always sit appropriately when she wears a skirt or dress. She doesn't loooove skirts and dresses like my younger daughter does, so when she wears one, it's usually to church or another setting with a dressy/formal feel. To say that she does not appreciate my reminders to sit appropriately is quite an understatement. When it was time to make her new Easter duds, I gave her some choices. I told her I didn't want to continue on with the reminder/scowl exchanges anymore so she could have a new dress if she would sit appropriately or she could have pants. To my surprise, she chose pants. And I think it was a good choice!


I wanted to only work with stash fabric, so we came up with this combination. The blouse/jacket (pattern: Oliver + S Music Class Blouse) is one of those notorious linen-look fabrics with an all-over embroidery pattern including a scalloped border. The photos aren't great, so you can't see the texture of the embroidery.


Without…

Oliver + S Garden Party Dress

For my younger daughter's Easter dress this year, I used the new Oliver + S Garden Party Dress pattern. I'm always tempted to buy the new Oliver + S patterns when they come out, but usually resist unless I have a real "need" for one. An Easter dress seemed justifiable. I found the bodice shirring very appealing and a bit different than many of the girls' dress patterns out there.


I used an embroidered chambray fabric that I had in my stash. It is soft and lightweight and very easy to work with. The combination of an "easy" fabric and an excellent pattern made this dress a pure pleasure to sew.


The dress looks more complicated to make than it actually is. The instructions are excellent and the methods used make it easy to get a good looking product.

Rag curls! Boing, boing!
I slightly altered the pattern pieces to make it work with the border print - mostly just straightening out the side seams.


I expected that the dress would have a zip closure, but it d…

Burda 02/2014 #128 (Desert Moto Jacket) in White Denim

Last spring I decided I wanted to make a white denim jacket in the traditional jeans jacket style. I never got around to it, but returned to the idea this year. My plan was to use this pattern and when I went to the site to download it, I saw this moto-style jacket and was quite taken with it.



The fabric I used was a lightweight denim with a lot of stretch. Too much stretch. In hindsight, it's clear that I should have interfaced the bodice pieces to control some of the stretch. I think it will be comfortable to wear, but it was frustrating to work with.


I quilted a block of the denim before cutting out the shoulder insets and upper sleeve pieces. I'm happy with how it turned out. I used a heavyweight thread and was pleased with how well it worked. When it came time to topstitch, it didn't work nearly as well and I had to do some switching around between machines, types of needles and thread. Eventually, I found an arrangement that worked, but a lot of the topstitching on t…

Big Bids on Baby Bibs

Every year at about this time I get invited to donate something handmade for a silent auction fundraiser for the private school my children attend. I'm always happy to do so, but sometimes the decision about what to give stumps me for awhile. This year I decided to go with baby bibs. Donations of previous years: pillows, pillows, placemats, apron.

Three girl bibs, sold as a set:

Three boy bibs, sold as a set:

I like the monster bib and wish that I had thought to make a girly monster. It didn't occur to me until they were all done. The daisy bib is nice, but doesn't feel quite as inspired as the others.

I'm happy to say that these were a hit at the auction!

Patchwork Pouch (of good cheer)

It's finally (finally!) feeling like spring here. The sunlight, warmth, and blue skies are doing wonders for morale and energy levels.

I made this little zippered pouch back in February, when I was starved for color and cheer and needed a simple project.


The patchwork is done using the fusible interfacing technique. I had not tried this before, but I liked it. It simplified maintaining the placement of the squares. There was no need to come up with a system for remembering the order of the arrangement when moving back and forth from the machine to the iron. Each square finishes at 1".


The patchwork pieces were quilted to fusible fleece. I like the texture of all the stitching lines and the contrast of the white thread against the colors.


The text fabric for the lining has lots of sewing and quilting words. I used the Open Wide Zipper Pouch tutorial from Noodlehead for the pattern, adjusting the size slightly. This pouch rides around in my purse, corralling some small items an…

Jalie 2908 - Little Girl Jeans

My younger daughter had her sixth birthday in January. I purchased some clothes for her as a gift. One of the items was a pair of jeans and they were a terrible fit. We took them back and tried a different size, but they were all bad. She was bummed about that, so I told her I would make a new pair for her.

Awhile ago someone gave me a few cuts of denim. They're all too short to be used for me and I don't really care for the finish of most of them, but they're great for kids' clothes. The fabric I used for these jeans does have a bit of stretch and a very soft feel, making these actually quite comfortable.


I used Jalie 2908 and am really happy with the result. The only modifications I made were for length (adding some), leg shape (straight vs. boot cut) and the waistband. I wasn't impressed with the waistband the last time I used this pattern, so this time I did my own thing. I made a pattern piece to match the circumference of the top of the assembled jeans and th…

Silky Tunic Top

I wanted to make a silk top to go with my faux leather leggings, but I'm still a bit intimidated by silk (both the sewing it and the living in/laundering it). I'm hoping to get over that (through practice!) when I have better options for sourcing than I do now. So, for now I chose a high quality poly-blend fabric with a silky feel in a print and color that I liked.


I started with my TNT shirt pattern (Burda 04/2010 #114 - also seen here and here) and modified it by adding length, chest pockets and flaps, and a center front placket. The pockets are the same as I used on my denim shirt. I followed instructions from the book, Shirtmaking for the center placket. I wish I had made it a little longer.


The black fabric was harder to work with than the blue - lighter, slipperier and very resistant to pressing. At the beginning of this project, I knew that perfection was going to be the enemy. I didn't want to fight the project the whole way only to end up hating it in the end. The…

Faux Leather Leggings

Back in December, The Preacher and I were passing through Chicago and we had time for a quick stop at Vogue Fabrics. We used to live on the south side of Chicago and I made quite a few trips there during those years. Now we pass through Chicago to visit family, but we're usually on a schedule with kids along. This trip was leisurely and without kids! Perfect opportunity.

When I got in the store I was a little torn about what approach to take - look for the best deals or look for fabrics that I wouldn't normally have access to. I ended up doing some of both. One of the unusual fabrics I picked was a black stretch faux leather. They had several nice choices. All of the faux leather at Fabricland feels pretty plastic-y (stiff and shiny) to me. But, this one is a very good imitation of real leather both in appearance and feel. Of course, that's very hard to capture in a photo.


Inspired by this pair of jeans, I sliced and diced a legging pattern that I've used before (Burda…

Pajamapalooza

Shortly after Christmas, I got into a bit of a pajama-sewing blitz. The pajama options for all three of my kids were pretty bad - way too small, woefully mismatched, etc. Pajamas aren't ever my first choice of things to sew (which is why the situation had gotten so bad) but I found there was a lot that I liked about this round of pajama sewing:

The kids were really appreciate of new pajamas and that always makes the time and effort worth it.I find it really easy to leave the perfectionist tendencies behind with pajamas. "Good enough" is the name of the game for details, finishing and fit. Because they're pajamas!Sometimes I feel conflicted when I need to choose between being resourceful and frugal or getting it exactly how I want. Use the serviceable buttons already in the stash or go buy the ideal ones? Does this ready-made piping "go" or should I make my own out of newly-purchased and perfectly coordinating fabric? When it comes to pajamas, the resourceful…

Hunter Street Cowl

Whoa! A knit item to blog about! This cowl is what I have to show for many miles traveled during the summer and fall of 2013. I don't knit much anymore, but I do like to have something to take along on road trips.


I wanted to try some lacework, but knew that I wasn't going to be able to be a slave to a chart. So, the Hunter St. Cowl seemed like a good choice - some lace work, but nothing too complicated. The combination of yarn and pattern made it a pleasure to knit.


I don't have the ball band anymore, so I don't know the exact info about this yarn, but I know it is baby alpaca and I'm pretty sure alpaca is my favorite sort of yarn. It has the best of what wool has to offer without the itch.


No road trips in the near future for me, so it'll probably be mostly dishcloths coming off the needles for awhile again. :)

Burda 11-2012-127: Grey Blazer

I've been wanting to add some jackets to my wardrobe for awhile now. Back in the fall, I made some plans to get that done. The first jacket has been completed for a few weeks now, but I can't really call it a success and it hasn't inspired me to move forward with other jackets just yet. Sit back and listen to my tale of woe...

I thought I wanted a pretty classic one-button blazer and chose Burda 11-2012-127 because it had the classic elements and it was easily accessible (by instant download at the time. It does not seem to be on the website anymore). My plan was to modify the lapel - I didn't like the peaked lapel and it was overall wider than I wanted. I made those mods and my standard lengthening of sleeves and then made the muslin.

The muslin was too big overall, which I thought was odd because I followed the size chart and Burda doesn't have the excess ease typical of the Big 4. It turns out that I did not print the pattern correctly. We got a new printer and …

Ottobre 4/2012 #13 - Corduroy Shirt Jacket (+ Twirly Skirt)

One more new niece needed me to make something for her. Her older sister received this coat, and I suspect she will also wear it when she's the right size. So, I thought it might be smart to make something else for her. There is no shortage of Ottobre things I'd like to make, so it was just a matter of picking one!

I love this little hooded shirt jacket and wanted to combine it with this corduroy fabric (also seen here) even though it isn't a knit as called for in the pattern.

The piping helps define the yoke seam and makes the sweet gathers a little more noticeable. I was not intending to line the hood until I started putting the hood together and realized it wasn't going to look that nice with the wrong side so visible. Thankfully, I had this broadcloth that was a pretty good match for the piping.

The skirt is a scaled-down version of this one, made from a dark purple ponte knit. I scaled it down too much the first time, so I had to add an extra tier, making it extra…