Monday, October 24, 2016

Fall wardrobe sampler: #memadeknitpop Monday

    When your favorite fabric store hosts a #memadeknitpop week, you might as well try to blog along, right? I can always use a little inspiration to get blogging. Sara Jaggers Knook has all the knitpop ladies wearing an item of clothing they made using her wonderful fabrics every day this week and documenting it / sharing with each other. And there may be some prizes involved. Check out the knitpop facebook group to join the fun.

So here I am on Monday.

I wasn't sure what I wanted to make with this gorgeous yellow floral DTY when I bid on it. I was thinking a fishtail skirt a la the lovely Delia's tutorial, but ended up going with palazzo pants by P4P instead. I think it was a good choice, because these pants have been getting way more wear than a dramatic skirt would. (Of course, I am now on the lookout for the perfect fabric to make one of those skirts; I think DTY is probably it).

I'm pretty psyched about these pants. I realized when I was cutting them out, that the scrap fabric created by cutting around the crotch part of the pant piece was the perfect size and shape to create side seam pockets. Score! I just had to cut a rounded notch out of the top corner of the front pieces, fold down that edge and top stitch it to finish the pocket opening; then I top stitched the pocket piece to the pants, right side of pocket facing wrong side of pants. Since there is a side seam and waistband in the pattern already, you just proceed as usual at that point. The last alteration I made to the pattern, however, was to use the measurements for the Pegleg yoga waistband instead of the palazzo waist. I prefer the tighter waist so that I don't lose my drawers; especially if I am going to be toting around the weight of items in pockets.
This is a view of the pants from the inside. You can see the shape of the pockets here. I didn't alter the crotch scrap at all to make the pockets. 

I love how knit fabric doesn't fray; I didn't worry about finishing the edge of the pocket or folding it under or anything; so it is not very bulky at all and I can't even feel that seem against my leg when I wear them. 

Here's a close up of my pocket from the outside. You can see where I top stitched the pocket opening with my double needle and also where I top stitched the side seam of the pants (on the right) with my double needle as well. 

 And here is the whole top view of the pants. If you look carefully enough you can see the double needle stitching that attaches the pocket to the pants. On the right, the pocket goes around both of the large yellow roses and the stitching goes down through the green leaves. These are ample pockets that hold all the essentials; phone, keys and even wallet.

 And voila! The perfect pair of new pants for fall. (My favorite time of year!)
Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Halloween 2015 - finally!

     Today I am back at Crafting Con! Season four began in April, and they have been hosting a new theme for friendly competition and tutorials each month throughout the spring and summer. I competed there back in May, which was Star Wars month. This season is culminating this month with a twist: the usual idea is that all clothes made for each theme must be inspired by the theme and sewn up in everyday clothes; in October, in honor of Halloween, it will be all full-on costumes all the time! Hurray! Also, there is no competition this month, and all the voting for each previous month of the season will be happening during this final month. So be sure to keep an eye on Crafting Con for some awesome costume inspiration and the results of all the fantastic sewing that went on this year.

     So, as  we find ourselves on the opening day of October, it's all about costumes. My blog was pretty sparse last year, and I never even posted the girls Halloween costumes! Which is ironic, because they may have been the best costumes I've created to date. (although I was pretty fond of Robin Hood and Maid Marion the year before). Sometimes it seems that all the sewing and the life-living just gets in the way of computer time. We sure had fun with those costumes though!
They were Fawn

 and the Neverbeast, 
and they were each so excited to play their role.

   Althea was Gruff (the Neverbeast) of course. She still to this day loves animal role play above all other games (panda, cheetah, wolf, ewok, Neverbeast, joey, cat, monkey-you name it). This has been going on for years, and it's amazing to watch. Her feline and canine personas even have names (Nora and Stella, respectively).  She loved all the versions of Gruff in the movie, although she did need some reassuring when things started to get intense towards the end and Gruff transforms to his super hero self.
She knew that she wanted to be Gruff as soon as she saw him. And I was pretty into the challenge of recreating that awesome character for her. Finding the fur was the first obstacle. He looks pretty grey to me. I couldn't find any grey fur however, so I decided to see if I could create some by dyeing white fake fur. The catch is, that most dyes are aimed at natural fabrics, which this certainly is not. I read some tutorials and cosplay discussion boards and found this tutorial the most helpful.  I decided that since I wanted to achieve a pastel color, I would probably be okay. They make a special kind of dye for synthetic fabric, so I bought the black RIT for polyester and went to work. Unfortunately, there were some unexpected undertones to the dye and when I took my fur out of the dye bath, it was a very dark green color. Yikes! I began washing it out in hot water as much as I could and it finally dulled down to this more subtle greyish blue. 
The moral of this story I believe, is that simpler is probably better sometimes. We could have certainly pulled off a white Gruff especially since I also painted black stripes and swirls onto the costume with black fabric paint once it was all sewn up. (That was another adventure; I ended up hanging the costume from the ceiling to paint it, so that I could do it all in one shot instead of flipping it over and letting it dry between sides.) But if I hadn't done it, I would have wished that I had, not knowing what the end result would have been. 
I wanted to make her at least one piece that would be wearable outside of the costume setting and debated doing a hoodie with pants for the final look, but ended up with a fur suit and a hat. So she is able to wear the hat on its own throughout the cold weather.
     I used the hood from the same pattern in Ottobre 06/2013 that I used for Althea's popsicle coat to make the hat. I added two snaps to the chin strap to keep it closed (velcro would have been too rough on her chin; I abhor buttonholes, so snaps it was. They worked well. It actually stays snapped most of the time and she just slides it on that way, so perhaps I could have avoided closures altogether). The ears are fur with some fleece for the inner ear. They each have a pipe cleaner stuffed inside to give them a little bit of shape and are hand sewn onto the hat. The horns came out great. They are made of two pieces of fleece each and are stuffed with fleece scraps. The key though, is that they are hand sewn on and so have a wide round base that is attached to the hat. I have made a few unicorn hats in the past and attached the horn by sandwiching it into the midline of the hat and no matter how much you tack the seam allowance down and stuff the horn, there is just no way that it will ever stand up properly. They need to be hand sewn with a round base. Totally worth the time, and with fabric like this, you can't see the stitches no matter how sloppy they are!
   The last thing I would like to point out on the hat, are the teeth. I thought I was done with that at one point, and was asking Althea how she liked it, and she told me "Good, Mommy, just needs teeth". This had not even been on my radar at all, but as soon as she said it I realized it was the perfect detail. So I added the teeth along with a black "lower lip" around them to finish it off.
    I ended up drafting the rest of the fur suit myself, and I have since decided to use patterns as often as possible. Saving a few bucks is not worth the aggravation. I ended up having to add in a big crotch gusset, which would have been much easier to do before I sewed the whole thing together.
It worked out in the end though, and really only cost me some extra time. Both the body and the hat are lined with an old soft bed sheet so that it isn't itchy at all. This also gives a little extra warmth.  I added flaps to cover her shoes and mitts that can go over her hands (the mitts can also be slipped off to leave the hands free). There is a zipper for entry, and several hidden pockets to stash battery packs.
    Battery packs you say? What do you need battery packs for? Well no Gruff costume would be complete without taking into account his superhero self. I thought I was going to use green Christmas lights, but a friend of mine clued me in about electroluminescent aka EL wire and I bought some off Amazon for amazingly cheap. It was perfect!!! They had so many colors to choose from and came in four foot strands that run off a small battery pack with two double A's. The battery packs had little clips on the back, but they all broke off (I seriously paid about $4 for each package though, so I wasn't expecting much; and to their credit the fur was too thick for the plastic clips). This was no biggie though; I had plenty of extra fur, so I sewed on some patch pockets in key locations and we just tucked those battery packs in and hid them. Also, the battery packs are detachable from the line of wire and so I can remove them completely to store the costume. I hand sewed the wire to the costume - green all along the black stripes and orange outlining the wings. I have a better picture over at Crafting Con, but here is a blurry shot that gives an idea of how bright she was:
     Light up Halloween costumes are the best! We are always trying to make them visible and therefore safe when they run around at night. Dave has had the genius idea of dropping a headlamp or lit flashlight or powerful glow stick into their candy-holding plastic pumpkins, but Gruff could be seen down the entire street. She was pretty easy to find in a crowd as well!
    Althea was so happy with her costume, and I was so happy watching her play in it. The way that Halloween sparks the imagination is one of the most magical parts about it.

    Her sister was just as excited for her costume! Fern was Fawn, Gruff's closest fairy friend. We started by recreating the dress Fawn wears in the Neverbeast movie. The one shoulder look is a little beyond her years though, and she has agreed to wear the tan long sleeve shirt I made to go with it whenever she wears it out of the house. The shirt was made from that same Ottobre magazine (I have gotten some serious miles from this!) and the dress is essentially self drafted but the bodice began with the same pattern as the shirt.
   Halloween is a chilly time of year in New England (usually) though, so we couldn't stop there. I went back to the Ottobre mag for a pants pattern, and made her some tan fleece leggings. Having tan, close-enough-to-flesh-tone garments to go underneath all the dress up clothes is great. These two garments will get some use in a variety of situations.
    She had the perfect pair of tall brown boots, so I was off the hook for making her a pair (which she totally thought I was capable of; love that girl). But she did need a warm coat that was part of her look as well. So we went back to The Secret of the Wings for some inspiration and tried to mimic the coat Fawn wears when they travel to winter.
   This coat was a lot of fun and ended up being the real heart of the costume.
I used the same pattern from that Ottobre (again!) that I used as a base for Fern's lollipop coat. This coat is not only fully lined with another layer of fleece, but it is fully reversible to increase the options for wearing this after Halloween. 
For closures, it has a button near the top and a waist band that is actually two part; half is sewn down to the coat and the other half is loose and tucks through a slit in the side seam to wrap around and secure the coat closed. There are two buttons; one on each side of the coat, and also two sets of snaps on the waistband to complete the reverse-ability. 
The coat also has a whimsical collar and a fun hem to match Fawn's coat. 
And in order to keep those hands warm, we have thumbholes and a pointed cuff that extends down over the top of her hand in the style of all of your favorite princess gowns. 
This coat was so toasty, and she wore it all winter long, unless it was a total snow day. 
But to complete the Fawn look, we needed a couple more key items. 
    How can you be a fairy without wings? There are some incredible cosplayers out there, that are wonderful about sharing tips on creating their favorite looks. I found the flying fox on Deviant Art through pinterest, and completely relied on her tutorial to make these wings. They are made using Fantasy Film, which was unavailable in the large sheets the last time I checked and was only available in rolls 4"x10'. Hopefully they will restock though, because this stuff is truly magical!
Watching the light catch and shine through them was so captivating. 
They ended up being rather fragile and big for her. She kept bumping people with them, and some of her friends poked a hole in part with their fondling and aggressive ogling. But we still have them, and she wore them with pride multiple times throughout that Halloween season. 
The final detail was one my of absolute favorites. In order to keep her head warm, I made some pixie ear muffs! These are awesome in their simplicity and ability to be worn to enhance so many different costumes. Or whenever you feel like being an elf!
She kills me in this one!
The ears are so simple. It is a headband made to fit her head, with the ears sewn on. The ears are two layers of fleece sewn together with an left open to turn them right-side out. Once they were turned rightside out and the tip of the ear was pushed all the up, the open inch was sewn shut with seam allowance tucked in.  Then, I just sewed the ears to the headband with a spiral shape to give the ears a quilted look that mimics the curvature of the inside of the ear pinna. 

They are such a fun accessory, your sister will probably want to borrow them. 
 She will start with a sneaky photobomb....
 get caught in the act....
                                      and end up wearing them all night long. Literally. Sleeping with them on. 

But when you have a great costume you might as well get some miles out of it, right? 

Happy Halloween!

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Margot Dress and Daphne Knickers

I mentioned the other day that I scooped up multiple Violette Fields Threads patterns during their summer sale. I've got two more of them in action today. One is the Margot dress and tunic, which is one of the few VFT patterns drafted to be used with knit fabric. Since I have been on a knit kick this summer, I felt I needed that one. It is typical VFT in that it is a simple pattern that is dressed up with a few key details that make it special. Margot has a high-low hem with an added ruffle on the bottom and comes in two lengths; tunic and dress. It also has a fancy french cuff sleeve that can be made to coordinate with the ruffle for lovely additional detail. The cuff and ruffle are great places to mix in some woven fabric. I made my version in the softest, most gorgeous french terry fabric from Knitpop however, and I wanted to wrap her in as much of this luscious fabric as possible, so I made the long sleeve version with no cuff. For the same reason, I made the dress length. 

I fully intended to do some selfish sewing when I bought this fabric, but the girls couldn't stop petting it and raving about its softness, so I ended up sewing small clothes with it instead. 
I can make a single yard go much further when it is in size 5t however. She got a matching pair of Bonny Leggings to complete her outfit (they really love having super coordinated clothes in ways that almost make me cringe; I wasn't really thinking these needed to be worn together, but she feels otherwise. The ruffle helps me with this; breaks up the visual a little bit so it doesn't appear quite as pajama-y or jogging suit-y or something. Honestly though, I understand why she loves to dress head to toe in this fabric. She is awful huggable in this!)
 There will be more of these dresses / tunic in our future for sure. 

The other pattern I used recently was the Daphne Knickers. 
Cue googly eyes! I love this pattern. These little pants are so cute. They create the perfect balance of a structured pant with gorgeous details, whimsy, vintage charm and comfort. 
The pant is drafted for woven fabrics and can be made for all season depending on the thickness of your fabric selection. I actually used a knit fabric though, because I had this lovely liverpool (from a knitpop scrap pack)that I felt needed to be used for this. I didn't adjust the pattern at all to account for the stretch in my fabric, because I used a woven fabric to make the ruffles and I sewed the ruffles on with a straight stitch that won't stretch. It worked out fine. 
The one thing I would do differently next time, is probably not make the ruffling strips quite as long. Lining them up and sewing them onto the cuffs and waist was by far the most challenging part of the whole process. 
I actually made two pairs, one for each of them, and they both enjoy wearing them.
 They are soft on the inside and have a comfortable elastic waist which is key in getting these girls to enjoy a pair of pants. We inherit so many pairs of adorable jeans / corduroys / pants with fly's that go unworn. 
It's a comfort thing. I get it. 
I love the compromise these pants provide. They have a button cuff on the bottom that adds a structured detail to the pants without hampering the all important comfort of the waist. (I just sewed the buttons onto both layers of the cuff and omitted the buttonholes. They slide on over their little legs with no problem, and I avoided sewing several buttonholes- hurray!)
 I might even go back and top stitch the cuff down completely instead of leaving the buttons as the only thing holding the cuff closed. Then there will be less of a chance of a button popping off and the cuff flapping open. 

So there you have it! Two of my new favorite patterns for kids.

 I kind of want to make myself a pair of knickers like this, but I haven't convinced myself I can pull it off without looking like I'm off to a renaissance fair. But who cares, right? If I want to wear it and think it is cute, why not. I specifically remember discussing with friends while in high school my style goal for myself: to be able to pull off anything. I wanted to be able to rock any trend no matter how extreme or mundane, no matter what decade it was popular in. 
I think it is probably rare that we look back at the wisdom of our high school selves, but I am going to try to draw inspiration from her on this one. 
I did make myself an adult romper. I am actually wearing it right now, and wore it out in public already today. 
I will have to share that with you soon!

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Love for Violette Fields Threads

     Well, it happened again. I got busy and neglected my blog. Here we are at the end of summer and a wonderful summer it was. We stayed busy for sure, and I even did some traveling with my husband sans kids. We made sure to really appreciate the kid-free aspect and to pack our days with long hikes that the kids wouldn't have been able to handle. But man, I missed those girls. I've been married to this amazing man for ten years this fall though, so it was good for us to go off the two of us like newlyweds, visiting friends and family and both familiar and new exciting places along the way.
      I have actually heard from a friend though, that she has been missing my posts. I have a reader. That feels quite special, thanks Amy. And my sewing machines have stayed a-whirring so there are always things to share. 
       Since I had been showing some love for my favorite sewing businesses when I left off, I figured I would continue in that vein with the always lovely Violette Fields Threads pattern company. I could spend hours scrolling through their website admiring not only their patterns, but their adorable models, the gorgeous photography, and especially the fantastic vintage / bohemian vibe in which it is all styled and pulled together. Even if you don't sew, you will appreciate the gorgeous looks they create for little girls and come away with some style inspiration.
          Most of their patterns are for woven fabrics as opposed to knits, which I think is where most people begin their sewing adventures. This is also nice because it enables a good deal of upcycling vintage fabrics, i.e. pillowcases and table cloths. Most of my good upcycle scores are wovens, I know that. Plus, it can be sew hard to resist the wild and wonderful prints that they put out on quilting cottons. While these fabrics have terrible drape, VFT offers many patterns that feature a panel in the bodice or some other just right place to include quilting cottons and incorporate them into a more complete garment that utilizes different appropriate fabrics in other areas. 
        In case my ramblings are getting confusing, I will try illustrate my point. 
     The Matilda pattern is your basic peasant dress. It has an oversized raglan style top with an elasticized neckline and waistband fitting it to size. I have made dresses like this before without a pattern. But VFT's version has a flutter sleeve option that I was drawn to, along with multiple other sleeve lengths and I have really been appreciating having pattern pieces to trace instead of revisiting tutorials and repeating math and guessing at armscye curves. Plus, they had a sale this summer, so I scooped up a few patterns that I had been ogling. 
       I'm not sure you can do better for a basic summer dress pattern. I always feel like the girls need a fun new dress each summer. We have been heading to a bluegrass festival each year, and it is such a good deadline / excuse to sew each of us something fun to dance in. 
Two Matildas
      Althea's dress is a great example of using a quilting cotton mixed with other fabrics. I could not resist this lilac print when I saw it. 

I also new that I had this purple cutout fabric sitting around waiting to be turned into something, so it didn't take much to succumb to the lilacs. 

I did restrain myself to a 1/2 yard of the lilacs though, and it worked out perfectly for the bodice and flutter sleeves of this dress. It is lined from top to bottom with the (nice and soft) old bed sheet that I used for Fern's Maid Marion dress and I was able to reuse the hem on that. 

The bottom of the punched purple fabric was not going to fray, but didn't look very polished, so I added a purple grosgrain ribbon that I had as a bit of trim detail. 

Since the bodice has black and dark colors and two layers, the dress can get a little hot when it is 95 degrees, but Oh. My. Word. Both she and I LOVE this dress. 
         It has been a go-to for her all summer long and she wears it at least 3 times a week (for part of the day anyway; my kids are outfit changers!) Sure makes a sewing mama's heart smile.
     It's not bad for twirling either.

         Fern's dress worked out better in the heat. A white dress is really the thing for summer time. Especially when you are camping and dancing and sweating for 5 days straight. The thing about white of course, is that it gets dirty. There is no difference between the front and back of this dress however, so she took advantage of that by putting it on backwards for this dress's second showing at our festival! Smart kid. This is a really fun fabric that I bought at Knack, a great little store in my area selling repurposed craft materials. They sell fabric by the pound. Which is amazing. I got yards and yards of this awesome white stuff with teal flowers embroidered on it for about $5. Totally guestimating there, because it has been a while but I'm telling you, this is a great place to find treasures and deals.

Anyways, I did the short sleeved version here. The dress is unlined and I cut the skirt on the selvage to avoid hemming. Man, I love doing that. This had a plain white selvage that worked perfect.

 And I think this became the perfect dress for strumming a ukulele....

Or for watching Rushad Eggleston with your girlfriends...

Or banging on a drum with a large kitchen spoon with your sister...

Or giving said sister a bath with a bubble gun.
Reinventing the bubble bath right here. 

    I will continue with some more VFT love in a more fall related fashion. Soon. I promise.
Thanks for stopping by!