12.31.2015

2015 Superlatives

It's that time of the year again.  Time to look through all that I've made and decide which were winners and which were, well, not winners.  First up:

MOST WORN


For me, definitely the culotte jumpsuit.  There are no words to tell you how much I love this outfit.  It's a little bit different without being totally out there.  It's fun to wear.  It's easy to dress up or dress down.  It's really just fantastic.  And all of its awesomeness makes up for the fact that it's a tad bit of a pain to go to the bathroom in.


And for the little ones, I'd say that this little dress was a hit.  Knit dresses with long sleeves are few and far between at times, so having this one around is fantastic.

LEAST WORN

Well, I'm sure that I have some failed items for me somewhere around my house from this year, but I never got around to blogging about them, so we'll just pretend that they  don't exist.


As for the kids, this little sweatshirt is sadly neglected since I miscalculated some measurements when turning the Joey Dress into a sweatshirt.  I've tried to make C wear it but she's a stubborn little thing, so in the mean time it just sits in her drawer waiting for a little love.

FAVORITE PATTERN


The Alder Dress!  I made two this year and I love each of them, although this one is definitely my favorite because it's longer and, therefore, easier to wear.  Plus, it's made out of some really awesome fabric.


And for the little ones, I'm going to stick with my pick from last year - the Hanami - since I made it 4 more times this year!   I still think it's a fantastic pattern and I now love it even more since adopting the modification to shorten the bodice ever so slightly.  What can I say, when I find something I like, I stick with it.  My husband should be very happy to hear that.

OVERALL FAVORITE PROJECT



Remember way back in the day when I said that I wanted to make a bed?  Well, I made one (with the assistance of my dad)!  When he asked me what I wanted for my birthday last year I told him that all I wanted was to have him help me build a bed and being the kind man that he is, he agreed.  We built it all in one exhausting day but it took me about 9 months to get around to finishing it.  It is solid and ridiculously heavy and I love everything about it.  Oh, and it's the Farmhouse Bed from Ana White's book.


And for the itty bitty kids, I choose the itty bitty kitty dress.  It's so ridiculous, yet so fabulous.  And it suits her perfectly (even if she is doing some major mean-mugging in these pictures).

RESOLUTION FOR THE COMING YEAR

And as for the coming year, my only resolution is to honor where I am.  I've had a bit of a difficult time transitioning from a competent professional to a complete newbie and more than once (okay, many, many times) I've found myself frustrated at my performance, my lack of progress, and where I'm at in the learning process.  But when I look at it objectively, I know that I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be - at the beginning of a life-long process of learning a new profession.  And so in the coming year I hope to stop fighting the process and instead, honor where I am.

AND FOR OLD TIME'S SAKE...

Superlatives from years past.

2012

2013

2014

12.29.2015

Watson Bras Galore


I've been a bit of a lingerie making machine around here lately, thanks to a series of fortunate events.

1.  After several months of being put off of dying lingerie supplies because I didn't have the "right" dye, I said screw it and decided to give it a go using regular old Dylon dye that's available at just about every big box craft store.  It's probably not the cheapest option for someone trying to dye a lot of fabric, but for a newbie like me, it worked perfectly.  As an aside, from my extensive (read: five minute) internet research, apparently the secret to dying nylon is using acid, so I added a cup of vinegar to my dye bath to make it acidic.  It seemed to work just fine although some elastics did take up the dye more than others - most likely due to their different fabric contents.

2. After fretting about not being able to find any lingerie supplies locally, I found that the Pacific Fabrics in Bellevue offers several fabrics that can be used for bra making.  In fact, they have quite a large supply of miliskin and stretch mesh that works perfectly for bra making.  The stretch mesh has reduced stretch in one direction so I used that direction to support the cradle and I used the other direction to make the bands.  I did, however, have to purchase notions off of the internet (I purchased a bunch of them in bulk about a year ago).  The elastics, bra strapping, and hook and eye fabric are all from Sew Sassy while the metal rings and slides are from Bra Essentials (I bought them all in gold so I wouldn't have to worry about matching them to certain fabrics and I'm really happy with this decision).

3. After spending the last several months in scrubs for school, I realized that I didn't need a structured bra and a soft, comfy one is an awesome choice for everyday wear.


I should note that since my last bra making bonanza, I've had some failed attempts and I've learned a couple things from them.  Like the fact that using a super stretchy spandex (like miliskin) for the entire bra is a bad idea (it ended up huge and with no structure).  I then tried to make an entire bra out of power mesh and that ended up on the opposite end of the spectrum (like a bullet-proof bra).  Trial and error, people.

Okay, now on to the bras (all of them Watson bras)!  I made the same size as last time with no modifications.  Instead, this time I tried to focus on using the right fabrics and improving my lingerie sewing skills.  They're definitely getting better, but to be honest, they leave a lot to be desired.  Oddly enough, the part that I have the hardest time with is sewing the tops of the cups to the rings.  On almost every bra I made it looks like a severely inebriated person completed this step.  And there's no picking those stitches out once you double stitch them in!  I know that because I tried and I ended up ripping a small hole in the fabric.  You can just imagine the sounds that came out of my mouth as I did that.

As for the undies, I used the free So Zo undies pattern that I've used for years.  I altered the pattern to use with lingerie fabric rather than fold over elastic.  I've heard good things about the Watson undies pattern and someday I may get around to trying them out, but for the time being I'm really happy with the So Zo pattern.  The undies are made with either all miliskin (with some cotton for the crotch lining) or miliskin for the front with mesh on the back (you know, for all those times I really want people to be able to see my butt).

12.27.2015

What To Sew When Your Fabric Goes MIA


The other day I woke up in a house with no children and a fabulous idea of what I wanted to sew.  Unfortunately, I also woke up with a killer cold and, despite searching high and low, I couldn't find the fabric that I was looking for (it remains MIA).  In the end, though, the missing fabric ended up being fortuitous because it led me back to this beautiful cotton lawn that my sister brought back from Pakistan a couple years ago.  It was a little over two yards of fabric but it was also on the narrow side so there were some definite limitations as to what I could make with it.  Also, it had a really beautiful border print so I wanted to make sure that it was incorporated in some way.  In the end I decided to go back to the Scout Tee pattern with some minor modifications.  I started by lengthening the sleeves to around 3/4 length and I cut the sleeves against the grain to incorporate the border pattern into the sleeve ends.  I also lengthened the body considerably (maybe four inches?  I'm terrible about keeping track of these things).  I attempted to make more of a shirt tail hem on the sides but I didn't do a drastic enough modification so it's barely noticeable.


Most of the seams are French seamed since the fabric is ever so slightly sheer but my sleeves are just serged in.  A couple  years ago I followed Jen's tutorial on French seaming sleeves, but honestly, I found it to be a major pain in the butt.


And that's it, although I'm debating whether I should have made a size four instead of a size two (like I have in the past).  My body has definitely changed over the last couple years and I feel like I'm still figuring out what sizes to sew and what modifications to make.  I'd like to thank growing older and having two kids for these fitting issues.

On a slightly more humorous note, I had Ben retake a couple of these pictures because my posture was so bad in them.  He told me, "That should be your New Year's resolution.  Better posture."
I told him, "It was.  Last year."
To which he replied, "How's that working for you?"

Not so good, I guess.

11.24.2015

Navy and Gold


If you were worried that C's holiday dress was going to be yet another Hanami, let me assure you that I did the unthinkable and actually tried a new pattern.  Crazy, I know.  Well, not that crazy, because it's another Straight Grain pattern - the Jaanu Dress - which I can now declare is as lovely as the Hanami.  When thinking about making a dress for C, I knew that I wanted it to coordinate with her sister's, but I also didn't want them to be too matchy-matchy.  After digging through my stash I settled on using some gorgeous navy blue silk-cotton fabric for the main fabric and then making some gold and cream piping out of scraps left over from O's dress.


Two things about this plan:

1) I had to go through a mourning process in using this fabric for the dress because I so wanted to use it on something for myself.

2) I was really worried that C would not be into such an "understated" dress.  I mean, she's the kid who wants gold and silver and pink and glitter on everything.   Would she absolutely refuse to wear a navy blue dress?


Well, I'm happy to report that that wasn't not the case, but mostly because I sewed some little gold buttons at the end of each pleat and I think that the added sparkle helped her fall in love with the dress.  It was touch and go there for a little while though.


As for the pattern, I cut out a size three based on the size recommendations and the fit appears to be right on.  The pattern comes with two dress versions and after much hemming and hawing I chose to make the Norah version because of those awesome pleats.  I'm excited to try the pattern in the future with fabric that has even more body to see just how big and beautiful those pleats can be.

Now If you'll allow me a moment of indulgence, here are the two little ones together in all their glory.  Let's pretend that they're this sweet to each other all the time.  Also, let's pretend that O doesn't make this face at us at least once a day.



11.21.2015

Striking Gold


Sewing has definitely taken a backseat lately to school work, family obligations, and basically just keeping my children alive and fed.  Despite the craziness around here though, I did manage to dust off my sewing machine (in the most literal sense) in order to sew up a dress for each girl for some family pictures that we had taken last weekend.


For O's dress I was definitely inspired by this simple quilting cotton that I bought over the summer during my Portland fabric-shopping extravaganza.  It's a cream and gold quilting cotton and as soon as I saw it, I knew that the girls would love it.  It turns out that I was right.  My only regret is not buying a tad bit more.  I was hoping to be able to make something for C out of it too, but because I cut out the bodice on the bias it used up more fabric than I had planned for.


And speaking of the bias-cut top, that was my other inspiration for the dress.  I really wanted to make a Hanami with a chevron on the front.  Yeah, yeah, I've made a million Hanami's before but I thought that this would be a great modification to the pattern.  Super simple and really cute.  I also played around with the stripes by making the back of the bodice vertical and the skirt horizontal.  It also eliminated any problems that I may have had trying to match up a chevron on the back while inserting a zipper.  I'm all about taking the path of least resistance.


O's a huge fan of her new dress and was made an even bigger fan when we went out to buy her some gold shoes to complete the outfit.  And I'm a big fan of the fact that I already have her holiday dress made.  Big high five for both of us!

9.21.2015

A Hero Vest


I'm afraid that things have been a bit, well, boring on this old blog lately - mostly due to the massive amount of repeats that I've been sewing.  Now don't get me wrong, I love reusing patterns for many reasons.  You get to try them out in different fabrics and compare results.  You get to the master the techniques used in the pattern.  You can tweak the fit until it's juuuuust right.

But let's be honest, it doesn't make for the most exciting blog content.

So with that I'm excited to announce - "Hey, look I made something new!"  And with fall just around the corner in the northern hemisphere, it's actually seasonally appropriate!


The vest is the Women's Hero Vest pattern by Make It Perfect.  I wasn't quite sure when I was going to get around to making the pattern but then I fell in love with this super-soft flannel on an in impulse fabric shopping trip to Fabric Depot and with that the vest moved to the top of my list.  I also purchased the cotton/lycra ribbing at Fabric Depot but I didn't find out until I got home that the tubular ribbing wasn't quite as wide as I needed it to be so the bottom ribbing is actually made from two pieces of ribbing sewn together, rather than one continuous piece.  And while I'm confessing things I should also confess that I cut the bottom ribbing shorter than it was supposed to be only to realize that I couldn't rectify the mistake because I ran out of the ribbing that I just so happened to buy in another state.  Doh!  Fortunately, the ribbing seems to be high quality and I was able to stretch it enough to accommodate the missing length but I will say that this experience definitely taught me the importance of the saying "measure twice, cut once."


The inner fabric is a polar fleece from Seattle Outdoor Fabrics.  I looked at buying some fleece in other, closer fabric stores but nothing comes close to the quality of fleece that they sell there so I held out until I could make a trek up there to get some. The only other notion that I needed to buy was a separating zipper and I was able to find that at a regular big-box sewing store.


I was a bit worried about the sizing since I'm much smaller in the chest area than in the hip area so I decided to grade out around the hips from a size extra small to a size small and I'm happy to say that it seems to have worked.  As for the actual sewing process, it was lovely.  It was the perfect combo of interesting and not overly complicated.  My one recommendation would be to follow the zipper instructions that Toni has on her blog rather than the ones on the pattern.  The ones on the blog are for a fully enclosed zipper that really makes the vest look nice, tidy, and finished.


Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to cuddle up in the most cozy vest you ever did see.

9.18.2015

Meow, Meow, Meow, Meow


This is an outfit of repeats.  First, there's the repeat pattern - the Oliver and S Hopscotch dress pattern -  that I have made many, many times before and remains one of my favorite knit dress patterns.


Then, there's the repeat theme - cats - which rank high on C's list of loves nowadays.


Fortunately, there's no repeat stink eye in these pictures, because I learned my lesson last time - do not take photos of your three year old when she just got up from a nap.


Because this garment is so full of repeats there isn't too much to say about it.  I made a straight size three and didn't make any modifications to the pattern other than adding little contrast cuffs to the sleeves.  I'm not going to lie - I love those little cuffs.  The fabric is a Lizzy House knit fabric and it was a total impulse buy when I dropped by Drygood Designs the other week.  Once I saw it I knew that I was going to make a dress for C out of it.  And lo and behold, I actually followed through with my sewing plans!


On a side note, Drygood Designs is the only fabric store that my kids never complain about being dragged to.  It may have something to do with the kid's play area in the back of the store and the fact that they get a pixie stick if I end up buying fabric there.  There's nothing like a little positive reinforcement, right?

9.15.2015

Joey Sweatshirt



Okay, let's start with the most obvious thing about this garment- it's too small for my child.  Which is a huge bummer, because I happen to think it's a pretty freaking adorable garment.  In fact, this may be the exact face that I made when I realized that it was too small.


Alright, now that that's out of the way, let's talk about this little sweatshirt.   Remember, the Joey Dress?  And remember my Renfrew?  Well, this is what you get when you use the left over fabric from your Renfrew to make a sweatshirt from the Joey pattern.  Ta-da!  Although, my stupidity in making this was shortening the Joey bodice piece by an inch when cutting out the pattern.  I don't know why I thought this would be a great idea.  If I had left it an inch longer it probably would fit perfectly - doh!  I'm a bit bummed because this is the most luscious of sweatshirt knits and I hate for fabric to go to waste.  Hopefully I can talk C into wearing it in the coming years although knowing how stubborn she is, I won't hold my breath.


In any case, this little sweatshirt was a super-simple, easy make.  With a cute little pocket piece, the Joey Dress pattern is ripe for turning into a sweatshirt.  The only thing that needs to be done is to cut out a slightly larger size to make up for the fact that most sweatshirt fabrics have very little stretch.  This time around I was super-lazy and just sewed the sweatshirt together with a smaller seam allowance, but next time I'll make proper modifications and cut out one size larger.


Also, next time I won't let O spill yogurt smoothie all over her new sweatshirt before I take pictures of it.  You learn something new everyday.  Or at least I do.

9.10.2015

A Renfrew Sweatshirt


I will freely admit that when I first started sewing I was completely taken in by things that were "new."

New pattern?  I'll make it.

New fabric?  I'll take it.

We'll just ignore the fact that I really don't need either of them.

For me, it's a terrible trap that I have to work hard not to fall into.  There's the whole issue of consumerism (which is ironic considering the fact that so many of us sew in part to avoid consumerism) but there's also the issue of losing appreciation for all the things that have worked well so far as we chase after the latest and greatest.  You know, like Dorothy at the end of the Wizard of Oz.  Or something like that.


In any case, as I work my way through sewing some basics for the fall I keep coming back to this idea of rifling through what's already in my own "backyard" before I go searching for my "heart's desire" all over the internet and all through fabric stores.


One of the first basics that I knew that I wanted to make for myself was a sweatshirt from the Renfrew pattern.  Actually, I should say "re-make" for myself because I made one ages ago but I ended up getting rid of it because it was far tighter than I would have liked it to be.  When sewing it up the first time I apparently didn't take into account that sweatshirt fabric has very little stretch so it was quite fitted once all was said and done.  Fortunately I learned my lesson the first time around and this time I cut out the shirt one size larger than my recommended size.  While I was sewing it up I started to worry that it still wouldn't be roomy enough so I sewed the sides together with a slightly smaller seam allowance (somewhere between 3/8 and 1/2 inch) to give myself a tiny bit of extra wiggle room and it seems to have worked out just fine.


I like to think of this as my "fancy" sweatshirt.  It's a totally cozy, cuddly, and warm sweatshirt but with a funnel neck and a more fitted cut it's a little, well, fancier (if a sweatshirt can, in fact, be fancy). The fabric is the most awesome peachy/salmony color that you ever did see and these photos do not do it justice.  Earlier this month I taught a week-long class in southern Washington and I managed to pop over the border into Portland for the world's fastest shopping trip into Bolt Fabric.  This is one of two the two beauties that I bought during that whirlwind trip.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to take this sweatshirt off because summer is still blessing us with its presence and it way too hot to be wearing this thing around!

9.08.2015

First Day Of School Joey Dress


After two months of not sewing a stitch, it definitely took me a while to find my groove again, but I can now happily report that I'm back!  I'm filled with ideas of what I'd like to sew and a bit sad already knowing that I won't be able to get everything done before school obligations start up again.  In the meantime, though, if there's one thing that I'm focused on it's sewing the basics.


Yeah, yeah, basics can seem a bit boring to make but I happen to find them rather exciting because I know that they'll always be worn (as opposed to the many dresses that I've sewn for myself that mostly hang out in the back of my closet).


And the first basic that I needed to make, of course, was a first day of school dress for O.  I contemplated making something a bit more "special occasion" for this special occasion but practicality won out and for me there are few things more practical than a long-sleeved knit dress for a girl (assuming your girl likes to wear dresses, that is).  My go-to knit dress in the past was the Oliver and S Hopscotch dress but O has grown out of my copy of the pattern and while I debated just buying the larger size, I figured that this was probably a good opportunity to branch out a bit.  So branch out I did - with the Joey Dress by Make It Perfect patterns.


You've no doubt seen many versions of this dress around the internet (in both kids and adult sizes!) and I loved the little details that the dress allowed for.  A kangaroo pocket and contrast bindings?  Sign me up!  As an added bonus I didn't even have to spring for new fabric for the dress because I had enough Art Gallery knit left over from the girls' Christmas pjs.


The dress sewed up super-easy although I should probably confess that there were times that I didn't use the instructions since I feel pretty confident sewing with knits.  I should also confess that I didn't look at the size recommendations and just sewed up a size 6 for O (who is 6).  She's a slim little thing and may have benefited from a smaller size but I couldn't bring myself to buy the size 5 version of the pattern since that's the biggest size on that version and I figured that I would want to make this dress for many years to come.  And, as it turns out, I was right.


So happy first day of school O!  First grade, here she comes!

8.28.2015

One. Two. Three.

First there was one.


Then there were two.


And now there's three.


Three people sporting octopi covered shirts that is.

You know what they say "the family that wear octopi together, stays together."  Or something like that.  In any case, 3/4 of our family is now fully outfitted with an octopus-themed garments.  Ben was feeling a little left out so he made his own handmade octopus shirt.  I told him not to quit his day job.


O's dress is from her birthday and my shirt is an Archer that I finished just before starting school in June.  I didn't get to wear it from a couple months because it was blazing hot around here for several weeks.  On the day of our midterms, though, it cooled down to a reasonable temperature and I broke out the octopus shirt as a little good luck charm.  It turns out that is was just the ice breaker that people needed in the middle of hours of tense exams.  I mean, who could be stressed out when the woman in front of you is wearing a button down shirt covered in octopi?  It's simply not possible.


As for C's shirt, it's the Class Picnic Blouse from Oliver and S which makes a great little top and I'm thinking that, with some lengthening, it would also make a great little dress.  I'd be hung go for making it except that C has returned to her natural state of being a mostly ungrateful recipient of handmade goods.


Ah, three year olds.  So stinking cute.  So stinking fickle.
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