7.25.2016

Shorts On The Line. Shorts On My Kids.


In honor of this week's Shorts On The Line, let's talk about one of my all-favorites shorts patterns - the City Gym Shorts pattern from Purl Soho.


What is there not to love?  It's free.  It comes in both kid's and adult sizes.  It uses the tiniest bit of fabric imaginable.  It's super-wearable and pretty adorable (if I don't say so myself).  The only issue I see with this pattern is that without a modification to lengthen the pattern, it does make a pretty short pair of shorts, which may be an issue for some people (although there is a lengthen line on the pattern so you could easily lengthen it if you wanted).

Because this pattern only requires small amounts of fabric, I love using it as the perfect opportunity to dig through my leftovers and see what I can make with them.  In this case, the main fabric is leftover from this top and the binding fabric is leftover from this dress.  Win-win!


The shorts came together incredibly easily (as they always do) and there is in fact a bonus to them being this short because O is really into wearing shorts under her dresses nowadays, and she often reaches for these ones since they can't be seen under dresses.  It's not exactly what I had in mind when I made these shorts, but I'll just be happy with the fact that she's wearing them.

Which brings me to this other pair of shorts that I made.  Once again, they're made from leftovers (from this dress).  I sewed them up a couple months ago and was so darn pleased with how they came out.  I mean - they're gold shorts!  What kid wouldn't want gold shorts?  As it turns out, C doesn't want gold shorts and she has refused to wear them.  I managed to bribe her to get this one picture taken, but I don't think these shorts will ever get worn by this child again.


She's a stubborn little thing and in those moments when I think that her strong-willed nature will be the death of me, I just repeat under my breath "Future CEO.  Future CEO."

7.17.2016

The One In Which I Take The Advice Of Some Very Wise Women


As I was stuffing dresses into C's closet the other day, I came to the realization that that kid has enough dresses to last her a lifetime and I should really focus more on sewing for O, who has grown out of nearly half of her clothes lately.  I haven't been paying much attention to kid's patterns lately because I've been wholly absorbed with my selfish sewing, but when I saw Rachel's post the other day, I knew that I was going to make a Hummingbird Dress for O.


First though, I just have to say how amazing the sewing community is because without the tips that Erin first passed on to Rachel and Rachel passed on to us, and without the added tips in this post, this dress would not have been as much of a success as it turned out to be.  Thanks to everyone who has ever taken the time to post tips and tricks to make all of our end-products that much better!


So, as for the modifications, I followed the advice of the wise women who went before me and cut out the bodice according to O's chest measurement and then added about two inches to the back bodice piece so that there was a bit more flexibility with the sizing.  I also raised the neckline a bit since several people mentioned that it seemed to hit low on the chest.  Lastly, I followed these instructions for finishing the inside in order to have a dress as pretty on the inside as it is on the outside.


As for the fabric, I picked up some lovely gray Japanese double-gauze the other day at Stiches.  Ben tried to convince me that the fabric was boring and that the kids wouldn't like it, but I had a vision of what I wanted to make and nobody was going to come between me and my vision!  My vision, of course, involved making a gorgeous, flowing summer dress with a lace over-lined bodice and I just so happened to have this lace begging to be made into something since it's been sitting on my shelf for over a year.


Now, I don't want to say "I told you so" or anything, but Ben was definitely wrong when he said that the kids would't be interested in a gray dress because this was C's face when she found out that the dress wasn't for her.


I suppose I'll be making another Hummingbird Dress sometime soon.



7.10.2016

Pants. Yet Another Thing I Told Myself That I Would Never Sew.


So, given that this post is about what I did during my spring break and it's now almost the middle of July, this post may be just a tad bit overdue.  But, I made pants (!) so we're just going to ignore the three month delay and celebrate this accomplishment.  

In any case, want to know what spring break looks like when you're a thirty-something mother of two?  It involved the following very exciting to-do list.

1.  Do taxes.
2.  Stop drinking caffeine.
3.  Learn how to sew a pair of pants.

I know - you're super-jealous of my exciting life.  There is in fact good news, however.

1.  We got a tax refund.
2.  I stopped drinking caffeine and I'm still somewhat functioning.
3.  I sewed a pair of pants!

Part of me can't believe that I've gone this long without sewing a real pair of pants.  The other part of me, however, can believe it because the idea of dealing with fit issues was enough to make me go "oh, forget it!"  But then I bought a pair of high waisted flare jeans at an after Christmas sale, fell in love with them, and knew that I needed to reproduce them.  Lucky for me, the Birkin flare pattern matches up almost perfectly to my beloved jeans.  In fact, being able to match up the measurements between the pants and the Birkin pattern was one of the things that convinced me to take the plunge into pants making.


Okay, on to the actual making.  Before cutting out the pants, I shortened the inseam by 1 inch and I slimmed out of the flare by about 1 inch, which perhaps makes these patterns more of a bootcut now.   In any case, from there I simply followed the instructions which were pretty self-explanatory until it came to the fly insertion which made me scratch me head a bit, although it ended up being just fine in the end (that is - after I sewed the fly shut during my first attempt.  Doh!).  I used a combo of the pattern instructions and the Ginger jeans sewalong for a little extra hand holding during the sewing process and both were really helpful.  I debated whether to add rivets, but in the end I added them since the pants are  fairly tight and can probably use every little bit of added strength in the seams.  I used the instructions from Ginger jeans sewalong and this tutorial to address the issue of the rivets being slightly too long.  Also, I bought my button and rivets from TaylorTailor and they arrived super-fast (way faster than the original place that I ordered from that never actually sent what I ordered).


As for the fabric, I opted for a black cotton twill with 2% spandex.  The fabric is actually a sateen, but I didn't want such a shiny fabric so I used the wrong side as my right side.  The only downside to this is that I'm concerned that lint (and everything else) sticks to this fabric a little too easily.  I suppose it's time to find where my lint roller is.  They also tend to show off every little wrinkle throughout the day (as evidenced by these photos that show off every little wrinkle).


Oh, and I just have to say that these pants were sewn on the simplest of simple sewing machines and it survived to live another day.  Yes, there were some times when I found myself talking to it and saying "You can do it.  I believe in you" but it was all very doable.


And that's about it folks.  I made pants!  Oh, and I also made this shirt which is yet another Archer made from some lovely organic cotton that I bought at Bolt many moons ago.  I was so excited to make it, but a little underwhelmed with the end-product as I thought it came out, well, a little boring.  As it turns out, though, I'm apparently a super-boring person because this is now one of my favorite shirts to wear.  It's funny how things work out sometimes.

Also, that's not our cat.  Much to my kids' chagrin, I'm allergic and we won't be getting a cat, which makes them that much more excited when the neighbor's cat hops our fence and pays us a visit.

3.25.2016

Pretty Little Things


I know what you're thinking?  Another bra?  Really, Carolyn?

I know, I know.  I have a sickness, although I'd like to justify this obsession by saying that I'm  going to be spending many days a week in scrubs this next quarter and I figured that a couple nice, comfy soft bras would be perfect for those long days.  But comfy bras don't have to be ugly, right?  In fact, they can be covered with lace and just as lovely as can be.

Like this one.

The bra is the longline version of the Watson bra pattern.  This is my second attempt at this version because me first one ended up huuuge, because I printed out the PDF pattern wrong and didn't realize it until it was all sewn up.  Not one of my finest moments.  This bra fortunately has a happier ending.


The lace is from the Arte Craft etsy store and the entire bra is lined in nude stretch mesh from JoAnn Fabrics.  On a side note, I've also purchased white stretch mesh from JoAnn Fabrics and it dyes beautifully, making me really excited about all the future color possibilities.  The trims and bra straps are dyed with ecru Jacquard Acid dye and while beige may not be the most exciting color to dye things, I'm happy with how they came out.  I used a 3/8" plush back picot elastic for the underarms and 3/4" plush back elastic for the band.  I didn't realize how huge it would be when I ordered it and I was pretty hesitant to use it, but it actually feels really nice on the band.  Also, I added some clear elastic to help support the lace front of the cup.  It was a bit of a pain to sew on, but lining it with Wonder Tape first made sewing it on, well, wonderful.  All the lace and mesh pieces were basted together with a basting spray before being sewn together and the sewing process was easy peasy.


As for the undies, I finally got around to trying out the Watson undies pattern and I'm really glad that I did.  The pattern makes it really easy to incorporate lace into the pattern which I think makes the final product extra pretty.  The rest of the undies are made with the same stretch mesh as the bra and the crotch is lined with a scrap of pink cotton which I think looks really lovely behind the nude mesh.  I used the same 3/8" plus back picot elastic for the waist and this picot elastic for the legs.  On a side note, I'm in love with this picot elastic.  It's held up great on every project that I've used it on and it takes dye fabulously.   It is definitely my picot elastic of choice!

3.10.2016

Quilted Vest


Sometimes it takes me a ridiculously long time to start a project.

Intertia, man.  It's a real thing.

But once I finally get going, I'm usually so happy that I did.


Take this project for example.  I had it in my mind for weeks - ever since making my first Women's Hero Vest and seeing this gorgeous quilted version.  I knew that I had a significant amount of fabric left over from these shorts, but I didn't know if it was enough and I couldn't muster up the effort to actually go downstairs and find out.  Eventually I forced myself to lay out the pattern and I found out that with some creative pattern placement (and lining the hood in a different fabric), I would have juuuust enough to make it.  Did you know that I get extra pleasure when I finish a project and there's nothing but teeny-tiny scraps of fabric left?

In any case, I made a size extra-small graded out to a small at the hips once again, although as I was quilting up each piece I worried that I should have made one size larger in case the quilting made the pieces shrink a bit.  I think it ended up being okay, although I took the vest out of the dryer when it was still damp in case it was prone to shrinking up.  Speaking of the quilting, I quilted each piece with a diagonal pattern, 2 inches apart.  Quilting garments, by the way, is the perfect way to use up odds and ends of batting leftover from quilting projects.


The only modification that I made was to raise the armholes about 1/2-3/4 of an inch (I can't remember the exact amount).  The armholes were pretty deep on the first vest, most likely to accommodate whatever you wear under the vest, but I tend to wear pretty thin shirts and didn't feel that I needed that much room.  I also bound all the edges with the woven fabric rather than knit fabric and I love the way it looks.  I cut out all the bias binding the same length as was recommended for knit fabric under the crazy assumption that it would work just fine.  Turns out that bias binding does not stretch as much as ribbed jersey.  Duh!  So I had to add length to all my bias pieces.  No big deal.  I also now realize that I should have backed the pocket part of the front because as it is right now, the batting is left exposed on part of the inside of the pocket.  It's not visible and doesn't cause any problems, but I wish I had the forethought to address the issue.

Once again, I used the instructions on the Make It Perfect website to enclose the zipper in order to have a nice clean finish on the vest.  And I used a metal zipper this time rather than a plastic one.  All I have to say is "metal zipper for the win!"


Interestingly, despite my proud Pacific Northwest residence, before sewing up these vests for myself I had never actually bought myself a vest and really didn't think of myself as a vest person.  But now I find myself reaching to wear this vest all the time.  It's funny how things work out sometimes.

Also, thanks to the Pacific Northwest for starting to rain on me after I finally mustered up the energy to take pictures.  The slightly blurry photos will just have to suffice.

2.27.2016

Marlborough Bra - Round Three - The Knock Out Round


Sometimes things don't work out so well in sewing-land.  I have more than one project to demonstrate that outcome..

But sometimes the stars align and things work out pretty darn well.  This project falls firmly into the latter category because despite being pretty new to sewing underwire bras and despite having made several untested modifications to the pattern before sewing this version up, this bra is a hit.


Once again, the bra is the Marlborough bra, but I built upon the modifications that I made last time around.  For one, I increased the total length of the band by another 1/2 inch (it's now increased 1 inch total) because I came to realize that not only was my second version too tight, it was actually way too tight.  The added length is much appreciated by my ribcage and my breastbone.  

Thanks to this tutorial I also took some time to lower the bridge by 1/2" and lower the upper cup by the same amount.  All things considered, it's a pretty small change, but I'm a big fan of the difference that it makes.  

And while this is not a modification, I also changed up the pattern by lining all pattern pieces (except the band) with lace (purchased from this shop).  I used a basting spray to baste the lace to the fabric pattern pieces and it worked...okay.  In general,  it held the pieces together but every once in a while they would come apart which was a bit of a pain.  The rest of the fabric is from a kit purchased from Sweet Cups Bra Supply.  I got two kits for Christmas back in 2014 (!) and I can now officially say that I've used both of them (I used the other kit to make this bra).  Once again, though, I used bra strapping from my stash since the amount that they supply isn't sufficient for this pattern (why, oh why, don't they increase it?).  


But you know who gives this bra the official seal of approval?  O.

She saw it hanging in the bathroom and asked, "did you make this bra?"  I told her "yes" and with stars in her eyes she replied, "It's beautiful.  It looks like a wedding bra."

Which, when you're a six year old girl, is apparently a really big compliment.  

1.26.2016

The Marlborough Bra - Round Two


In 2014 I attempted to make my first underwire bra - the Marlborough bra.

Fast forward over a year later and I've attempted to make my second one.  I think I needed all that time to build up my patience and courage to attempt a project that can call for such finicky fitting alterations.  I'm not sure that it was such a great idea to wait that long though, because this time around pretty much felt like I was sewing it for the very first time again.

I can barely remember what I did yesterday.  Don't ask me to remember what I did over a year ago.

Fortunately, my blog post had some notes about what I wanted to do differently this time around.  I sewed a 32C once again, but I made a couple of modifications.  First I widened the bridge by about 1/8th of an inch and lengthened the band by about a 1/4 of an inch on each side because it was too tight last time.  It turns out that I didn't lengthen the band enough because it's still a bit tighter than I would like.  I also followed Kathy's tutorial on changing the shaping of the cups for a shallow bust.  This resulted in a perfect fitting cup...on my left breast.  It turns out that my right breast is smaller so I'm still getting a bit of puckering on that side.  Ah, the things that sewing teaches you about your body.

I've been wearing this bra around for the past week and have figured out some additional changes that will need to be made in future bras.

1) The underwire ends a little too low on my armpit side so I think I'll raise that side of the bra a bit to allow for a slightly taller underwire (as it was, I had to snip off part of my underwire to make it fit this pattern).  Just a side note about snipping off parts of your underwire.  I just cut it using wire cutters and then dipped the edges in Plasti-Dip, as recommended by Amy.  Just a word of caution - Plasti-Dip is addictive and you'll leave the process wanted to dip everything in your house in this mixture.  We may or may not have dipped a Strawberry Shortcake doll in Plasti-Dip.  Consider yourself warned.

2) I'll add some additional length to the band so that it fits better around my ribcage.

3) I'm debating reconfiguring the cups and bridge to allow for more of a plunge style  Part of me feels that I should wait until I have the basic bra perfected before I start messing with bigger elements and part of me says "just go for it."  We'll see which part wins.

As for the sewing, I used the Marlborough instructions, but I also relied heavily on Cloth Habit's bra sew-a-long.  I can not say enough good things about all the work that she put into putting that sew-a-long together.  Thank you!

I used fabric from a kit from Sweet Cups Bra Supply, although I used bra strapping from my stash since the bra strapping in the kit was too short.  Plus, I wanted my strapping to match my lace.  Speaking of which, both were dyed using Jacquard acid dye in the chartreuse color way.  The lace is from Tailor Made, which also seems to sell beautiful bra making kits.

Alright, folks, that's a wrap.  Now excuse me while I go put my shirt back on.

1.22.2016

A Nettie Tee


You know how half the sewing community is out sewing jeans right now?  Well, I chose the lazy man's route and just bought myself some new ones (thank you, awesome after-Christmas sales).

They're one size larger (thank you, awesome Christmas food).

High-waisted (thank you, two pregnancies).

And flared (thank you, 1990's).


Of course, these jeans needed a new t-shirt because while long, flowy tees may work great with skinny jeans, they don't work all that great with these.  In an attempt to use what I had on hand, I turned to the Nettie Bodysuit pattern.  Bet you didn't know that I had that pattern?  That's probably because I never blogged about the one bodysuit that I ended up making because

1) bodysuits look pretty terrible on me and

2) I opted for the high front neck, medium back version and that also was not a good look for me.


I didn't want to totally scrap the pattern though, because I figured that the regular scoop neck version would work better on my silhouette and I saw that some other talented folks had good results in turning the bodysuit into a regular fitted tee.  That said, I knew that I wanted a fitted tee but not a skin-tight tee so I went up 2 sizes from my recommended size (I traced the top to the bust at a size 8 and then graded out to a size 10).  The result, thanks to the use of a cotton-lycra fabric, is more body-hugging than I intended, but it works seems to work well when I bunch it up slightly as it's worn (I like to refer to it as natural ruching).

As for making the bodysuit into a tee, I followed the footsteps of others and traced the body suit to around the hip level.  I then added 2.75 inches to the length at the lengthen/shorten line.  In sewing it all together, I started to worry that the neckline would be a little low so I sewed the neckband on with a smaller seam allowance (1/4 inch) resulting in a  thicker neckband.  In the end, it probably wasn't necessary but I really like the look of the thicker band and will probably opt to do it this way again.


And if the fabric looks familiar, it's left over from this little dress that I made for C.  I've kept it all this time with the intention of making myself a t-shirt (because someone my age totally needs a t-shirt covered with little cat heads).  I figured that I would end up making a Plantain Tee since I've had good luck with it in the past, but something about it just didn't seem right in my mind.  Personally, I think the universe was just telling me to hold on to it to make a Nettie Tee.

Meow.

1.18.2016

A Brief History of My Relationship with Knits


We met for the first time circa 2011,  when I first attempted to sew a t-shirt for teeny-tiny O (no seriously, look how little she is in these pictures).  It was a quasi-successful attempt.  The actual sewing was fairly easy, but man, did I have to struggle to get that sucker over her big toddler head.


At that time I was really only familiar with jersey knits, but I was soon introduced to interlock and cotton-lycra blends thanks to my first attempt at making undies for O (okay, this picture is actually from my second attempt).  At that time, good quality, cute knits were few and far between and the best options were usually only available on interlock fabric.  Unfortunately, I really didn't like working with interlock because of its tendency to get stretched out.  I was a much bigger fan of cotton-lycra blends and thankfully cute cotton-lycra options have become more available over the past couple of years thanks to companies like Art Gallery.  It's definitely been my knit fabric of choice.   I've used cotton-lycra blends to make tees, and dresses, and pjs, and everything in between.

But now I've branched out once again - only this time to ponte knits.  To be honest, I've avoided ponte knits in the past, thinking that the polyester fiber content would make them feel, well, kind of yucky.  It turns out that I was wrong because not only does this polyester/lycra blend ponte feel lovely, but ponte is the perfect fabric for certain projects.


Example number one would be this little Cocoon Dress that calls for a nice stable knit fabric (like ponte!).


The pattern is simple, but sweet.  It sews together incredibly easily and is right up O's alley when it comes to what she likes to wear nowadays.  I cut out a size five based on her chest measurement but added some length since she's about average size for a six year old.  Because of the high-low hem, it's a tad bit shorter than I would like in the front for a dress, but she'll probably be wearing it with tights or leggings for the time being so I'm not too concerned.


Also noteworthy - we took O to get her first ever professional haircut.  Up until now she's been suffering through my feeble attempts at cutting her hair.  It's been looking pretty ragged lately and she's been talking about wanting it shorter, so I figured that it was time to bring in some folks who actually know what they're doing.  Based on the smile on her face, I'd say that it was a pretty good decision.

1.07.2016

The Sewing of Seasonably Inappropriate Clothes


I don't know what it is about the winter, but for some reason it always inspires me to sew swimsuits.  Although, in my defense the kids have been in swim lessons all fall and winter so they're actually in need of new swimsuits.  Well, at least the little one is.  The big one is the lucky recipient of many, many hand-me-down swimsuits from her older cousins.  Plus, the little one is growing like a crazy and it was about time that we stopped trying to stuff our 3 1/2 year old into bathing suits for a 2 year old (hangs head in shame).


Once again I broke out the Peekaboo Patterns Waikiki swimsuit to make a new one for C.  Having made this same swimsuit five (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) other times, there's really nothing new to say about it.  It a great simple swimsuit with a little bit of fun added in the ruffle and the ability to add contrast fabric for the binding and straps.  For this go around, I used some swimsuit fabric that I bought on sale at Mill End Store outside Portland at the end of summer.  I wasn't necessarily looking for swimsuit fabric but I couldn't pass this fabric up when I saw it.  You understand, right?  I knew you would.


I cut out a size three for C, knowing that the sizing has been pretty right on in the past but I'd forgotten that C is a much bigger kid than her older sister and now I'm concerned that she might outgrow this swimsuit before summer gets here.

Oh well.  Maybe that'll inspire me to sew a swimsuit when it's actually warm outside.
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