Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Alaska Inspired Sewing

    It's Project Run and Play time again folks! My favorite kids sewing competition, a spoof off Project Runway, kicks off this week. There are 4 weeks of sewing each with a different theme. The contestants all compete against each other and a few get voted off until it comes down to the final three for the last week and ultimately one winner. I am not a contestant, I just like to play along and join the sewalong link up. Which is great, because I can sew for all four weeks without fear of getting voted off! I am excited about all the themes this time around, but I think week one may be my favorite. I certainly had inspiration immediately upon reading it: "It's all about that place."
     This past summer my husband and I embarked on an awesome bit of kid-free traveling to mark our 10 year wedding anniversary. We first flew to CO to visit some old friends and old places  (we lived there for a year and half before we came home to New England / got married / settled down).
Visiting Horsetooth Reservoir in Fort Collins (rocking some P4P: Essential Tank and Biker Pegs)

   THEN we continued onward to Anchorage and stayed with his brother for a week and a half in the 49th state, the land of the midnight sun. It was amazing. Both of us were totally enchanted by the wild, lush, expansive landscape and extreme environment.
We are in this picture, being dwarfed by the mountains, 
the clouds and the layers upon layers of wilderness stacked on top of each other. 

While we saw enough to fall in love with the abundance of interesting and edible wild berries and mushrooms...
This was the most delicious mushroom I have ever tasted. 

The little black crowberries in this picture were the most plentiful berry available when were there in early August and became a favorite trail snack. 

...and chance wildlife encounters....
....we stayed fairly close to Anchorage as we only had so much time available to us. 
We ventured as far south as Seward...
(where we found this little guy snacking and swimming in the turquoise bay water)
...and not much further north than the city, spending some time tramping in the Chugach, checking out the local music and visiting museums and breweries. If we had been there for a year, we would still have left most of the state unexplored. As it was, we are absolutely hooked. We need to go back and continue to delve deeper. 
The girls were also sad to have missed the trip, and we promised to take them there. And we have family there for the time being (Dave's brother has now been there for a year and a half with no plans to leave in the near future) so .....
Alaska here we come!

What does a girl need in her wardrobe when traveling to Alaska? 
Hiking clothes of course!

Fern is wearing a merino wool shirt, plush brushed poly leggings and a skirt repurposed from my old cargo shorts. That trend of wearing skirts to go hiking resonates with me while sewing for young girls. She thought it was kind of funny, but if you are wearing leggings, which are so comfortable and functional, you end up with no pockets - so where do you put all of your treasures? She now has 7 (including that kangaroo pocket on her shirt). 

 Her shirt is the Thatcher pullover pattern by Elliedactyl. It is pieced together to maximize the scraps I had left of the printed wool fabric (which is thicker and softer than the pink). I bought a stack of merino wool from New Zealand Merino and Fabrics last spring. Zero regrets there. I will try to post all of my creations that have come of that stack soon. 
The skirt was repurposed as I said, and I didn't use a pattern. I just cut out the main part of the shorts that I wanted to use, kept the bottom hem and avoided the awkward place that shorts seem to shred on me if I wear them out completely (somehow I ripped the ass, medial to the back pocket on each side! I had patched both of them with iron on patches from the inside but it looked ridiculous. These shorts probably should have ended up in the upcycle pile much sooner than they did!) Then I sewed the two pieces together in the back, gathered the top and proceeded to torture myself by reusing the entire waistband and fly of the original shorts. I used her measurements (halfway between hip and waist measurement since it has a functional fly) and adjusted the length of the waistband at the center back, then sewed awkwardly around all the angles required to connect it all together.  Broken needles, seams finished with a zigzag instead of a serger in places, annoying pucker in the front- lesson learned. If I ever try to reuse a fly again, it will get detached from the waistband first. And I will cut the fly out more carefully. 
But- I did preserve some belt loops! 
All the better to show off this belt made from some trim and a buckle we found at JoAnn's last summer. 

Moving on- I was just as inspired in the aesthetic of the garments as the functionality.
The first thing that came to my mind when thinking about Alaskan inspiration (aside from the obvious need for high performance items) was the Aurora Borealis. Which led me to think of Zenith and Quasar's vapors fabric. It was of course sold out, but when I asked if it would be restocked on the facebook group, a sweet lady offered to sell me a yard from her stash! (Thanks again Robyn!) And from there, I bring you Fern's Northern Lights leggings (Bonny leggings from Made for Mermaids) along with her sister's Aurora shirt. 

Althea is wearing a Lianna Ruched Sleeve shirt, also by Elliedactyl. I have been really enjoying their patterns lately. They have a great fit and there are so many fun details to appreciate, like the shawl collar on the Thatcher and the sleeves here. 

The sleeves are gathered and ruched and I think it's such a great touch. It adds a bit of whimsy to a practical item, but also they are not so poofy that they look ridiculous or would be too bunchy underneath another layer. 
Her pants are another upcycle. These nylon Northface pants were my favorite hiking / outdoor / anytime pants for a long time. 
There they are, on our honeymoon in Hawaii. 

Alas, I now have two kids and they don't fit. I decided to let go of the idea of hanging onto them, just in case my body miraculously changes shape on me. I am so happy to see them put to use and to free space in my own wardrobe to make myself something similar in the future.
I heeded the lesson learned during Fern's skirt by completely ditching the original waistband and fly, and adding a knit waistband (measurements straight from the M4M bonny's) to these woven pants. The rest of the pant was based on the Daphne Knickers pattern by Violette Field Threads, because it was the only elastic waisted woven pant pattern I have! I was surprised by that. I used Althea's inseam measurement and measured up from the hem of the pants to decide where to lay the pattern. I had to narrow the legs a bit to fit everything on there. Once I had them cut and sewn together aside from the waist, I realized one of the pockets would have made much more sense if the front / back were reversed. 
Can you tell that the one she has her hand in here zips open? If that zipper was in the back, it wouldn't be very useful!

So- I added a yoke to convert the front of the pants to the back and then proceeded with the waistband (using some nebula scraps, also from Z & Q) and they fit PERFECTLY! 
So happy. They have all the fun technical details of the original pants (drawstring cinched leg openings, three fun cargo pockets, quick dry fabric) with a soft knit waistband- I don't think pants get better than that. I heard her declaring to her sister while putting them on, "Fern! These will be great ninja pants!" Awesome. 

Which brings us to my grand finale and probably most inspired piece- 
Althea's fleece Alaskan flag vest. 
Alaska has one of the best state flags. 
I bought a hat with it emblazoned on it while we were there:
I'm not sure how well my hat shows up here but I can't resist sharing another day in the Chugach.

Royal blue background with the big dipper and polaris depicted in the same angle that they point at each other in the sky. I love the simplicity and distinctiveness of it. Even if you don't know it's Alaska's flag, it still makes a great image. 
I had the blue fleece leftover from her Halloween costume (yet more proof that it is always a good idea to buy extra). The stars are cut from some Mustard Liverpool from Knitpop - leftovers from my Halloween costume. They were sewn on by hand. The lining is another Knitpop scrap; a blue and white tie dye that is probably rayon spandex (and very soft). 

I adapted the vest from a sweatshirt pattern in the latest kids Ottobre magazine (I got a year subscription for my birthday- so exciting!). I am pretty proud of my work here. Changes I made include fully lining it; ditching the sleeves and instead making some binding out of the fleece to finish the armholes and make it a vest, and adding some elastic to the back of the bottom hem for a more snug fit (I had sized up a bit).  Details that I love that were already a part of the pattern include the front and back yokes, the welt pockets and the zipper that slants to the right instead of vertical. The zipper is inset in a panel on the right side of the vest.
which creates a snug wrap around type of hood when it is zipped up.
I also decided to quilt the yokes a bit in order to draw attention to them as a detail and also to hold the liner securely to the outside and prevent things from sliding around.
And so there you have it! Cute, fun, Alaska inspired clothes they can move in!

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Solstice Wrap by Striped Swallow Designs

At Christmastime, when I made myself and the girls our lovely red rose tops, I also made the girls matching Solstice Wraps in an olive green crushed velvet from Knitpop. The Solstice Wrap is from Striped Swallow Designs, a lovely pattern company I have admired for awhile. (They also put out the Coachella Shorts pattern which I will definitely be sewing up for myself and the kids this spring / summer). 
I am happy that I finally sewed up one of her patterns, these are such fun accessories! The Solstice wrap can be cropped like these are, or also can be made longer to be a full length shirt. I love patterns like this that are kind of like a puzzle to put together. There is real magic to me in carefully layering pieces of fabric together, pinning, stitching carefully and then turning it all right side out to reveal something stunning. 
That being said, the instructions are quite easy to follow. It is so nice to have a pattern to follow that you can just trust without thinking too hard about it (I actually thought I figured out a shortcut that I would use on future versions for hemming the front of the top, but then realized a few steps later that my shortcut would be impossible, and there was a carefully analyzed method to the directions I was following- I am glad I was following them!). 

    If I wasn't about 1000% over my fabric budget for the year I would have gone back for more of that green crushed velvet. It is really luxurious to the touch and I love the deep green color. Those lucky girls!

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Halloween 2015 for crafting con

    I shared these costumes on my blog this fall, but I also shared them over at Crafting Con. I used different pictures in this post, so I thought I would finally bring it back home and keep another record of these fun get ups over here. The following post was written for the crafting con readers, which is why the wording may sound slightly off from my usual posts. Enjoy!

    I'm sure that most of the folks frequenting this site get pretty excited for this holiday and all the sewing fun that goes along with it and I am no exception. I have been making my kids costumes for the past few years as I have been getting more into sewing, and I have to say, I really killed it last year. In my kids eyes, anyways, and that is the most important thing!
     So here they are in all their glory, straight out of Neverland, Fawn and Gruff, (aka the Neverbeast)!

    I will start with Gruff. Althea is my little critter. Her favorite games always involve animal role play, and she knew she wanted to be the Neverbeast for Halloween as soon as she saw this movie.
   Gruff's fur is a greyish color, which I of course could not find for sale. So I dyed some white fur and achieved this greyish blue color. We went with it. That Gruffy suit was self-drafted, and after adding a large crotch gusset, it turned out well. There are flaps on the bottom to cover the tops of her shoes, mitts that can cover her hands and a long zipper that opens up the front from the neck to the crotch to gain entry. The zipper is an electric green color, reminiscent of Gruff's electric stripes. The whole thing is lined with a soft old sheet since the inside of the fur was rather scratchy. I painted the swirls onto the back, sides and legs once it was completed with black fabric paint.
   I decided to make a detached hat instead of a hood so that she could wear it separately afterwards. She wanted it to be a full face mask, as in nothing visible aside from some little eye holes covered in green film, but that sounded pretty claustrophobic. We compromised with a snapping chin strap that she pulls up over her mouth. I used the hood from a coat pattern in Ottobre 06/20013 for the hat. It was totally her idea that there should be teeth sticking out of the top of the chin strap. The horns are made from black fleece, stuffed with fleece scraps and hand sewn onto the hat, which I have decided is truly the best way to make something stand upright on a hat. The ears are fleece lined fur with pipe cleaners inside to give them a bit of shape, and are hand sewn onto the hat as well. It is lined with the same white sheet that the rest of the suit is lined with.
     She also has fleece wings, framed with a bent up wire coat hanger. They have straps made from the same fur as her suit so that the straps blend in. There was a black fleece tail as well, stuffed with more fleece scraps and pinned to the back of her costume (most of the time).
The real highlight of the Neverbeast costume though, is seen best at night. I hand sewed orange EL wire to Gruff's wings, and 2 separate packages of green EL wire along the black stripes on the body. I added a couple of hidden pockets at various points on the suit to stash her battery backs. 
And Voila! She is ready to collect lightning and save Pixie Hollow!

      But Gruff would of course be lost without her favorite fairy, Fawn.
    Halloween is usually pretty cold where we live, so I am always trying to incorporate warm things that are part of the costume. So Fern, aka Fawn has a reversible fleece coat modeled after Fawn's look from that time Tinkerbell's gang traveled to the land of winter. This coat is very toasty, complete with two layers of fleece, a tall collar and cuffs with thumb holes that come to a point over the top of her hand. 
     She also has tan fleece leggings and some really fun ear muffs that consist of a fleece headband with tan fleece elf ears. The ears are two layers of fleece quilted together with a spiral stitch radiating from the "inner ear". 
     This all is worn over a lightweight dress that is meant to look like Fawn's dress in the Neverbeast movie, which can be worn to indoor Halloween parties that are too hot for fleece. The one strap dress is a little skimpy however, so I also made a tan knit long sleeve shirt to be worn underneath the dress. I stuck with the Ottobre 06/2013, and used patterns from this magazine for the fleece pants, long sleeve shirt and the fleece coat (with severe modifications for the coat). 
        And to top it all off, she has some really spectacular wings. They are made out of Fantasy Film and the only regret I have is that I made them a little too large for her. Most of the Halloween activities we do happen in a crowd and it was hard for her to be spatially aware of them. But they were truly magical and will certainly be used again as she grows (or perhaps by an adult female in the family,...ahem). 

Please come on over to my blog for some more pictures and details about these costumes. We had so much fun with them, I hope you have enjoyed them too!

Thanks for having me!

Love for Zenith and Quasar

    This fall and summer I was raving about some of my favorite fabric and pattern companies, and I have another one for you today. Zenith and Quasar is a fabric company that sells mostly athletic type knits; think supplex and really high quality brush poly. Lilly Himrod (the owner of the company) also creates some of her own fabric that is usually science based in theme. I just bought some goodies from her for the first time, and am in love with my new duds.
      I have some neuron leggings (Peglegs from Patterns for Pirates of course):

 And a nebula dress made using the Free Spirit Tank (dress version) also from P4P.
-with the racerback option.  
Aren't the nebulas incredible?!I've seen a lot of space prints and this is my favorite. 

I love both of these fabrics so much. I like them together a lot as well. 
They symbolize the magic of life to me; the similarities found in the macro- and microcosms of our world and beyond.
I had been thinking about make some raglan shirts combining both fabrics but then changed my mind. These two pieces will end up getting more use than a single shirt would have I believe. And I can always pair them together!
When I made the dress, it was 50 degrees outside, then the next day it was in the 20's and dumped over a foot of snow. (Hurray for an actual winter!) 
No worries though, this layers nicely right into my winter wardrobe. 
     Lilly is also running an awesome preorder right now with some sweet Earth Day / March for Science panels. Check them out here through February 28. or if you'd rather have someone else sew them up for you, you can check this out.
    Here's a peak of my favorite:
                                       zq-I'm with her.jpg
Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, February 4, 2017

My first Me Hearties

    That rose red P4P Me Hearties dress I made for Althea at Christmastime was not actually the first Me Hearties that I have put together. Earlier in the fall, I made one for Fern. Both fabrics are from a knitpop auction box (surprise); the floral is a DBP, the teal I believe was said to be double brushed but it is a lot thinner than the floral so maybe a brushed rayon? Do they do that? Anyways, it's crazy soft. And actually the exact same fabrics that my SIL's harems were made from.
 I made her a size 7 (which she had just turned) and it was a tad big, but that's all right. Better than too small. She hasn't stopped growing yet. 
 It's nice to see pictures of the yard in bloom, seeing as it is currently covered in a blanket of snow. 
Her flowers fit right in. 

 Circle skirts are of course the best to twirl in.....there she goes!
 She's got a pair of bonny leggings from Made for Mermaids underneath there. They sure do love to match. 
And to eat the baby strawberries growing in that "red" section of my rainbow garden. 

And why not throw in a matching pair of P4P Peglegs for mom? 

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, February 3, 2017

The drape top

I mentioned when I posted the Edith fun that I have now made three of the Day to Night drape tops by Maria Denmark. It's true. 
Here's the first one I ever did. 
I used an applique that was included with an auction box I bought from Knitpop at the end of the summer. She added them all as fun bonuses after we scored our boxes in that auction, it was surprise when it came in the mail. I'm tellin ya, Knitpop is the best. 
So, there it is, on the back of the shirt. The rest of the shirt is made from this super soft, rather see through sweater knit that came in the knitpop scrap box I got earlier this summer. Score. 
I graded out at the waist as usual, but otherwise followed the pattern. 
Love it. 

The other one of these tops that I have made went to my mom for Christmas. I will have to try to get some photos to post!

Thanks for stopping by!