Thursday, January 30, 2014

Just under the deadline! This afternoon, I finished the pair of pants that broke my sewing machine on Tuesday evening. Perhaps I was inspired by all of the fun curtain projects that showed up in week two with Sound of Music themes, and I went ahead and made Fern some more "skirt pants". These aren't really very wide legged, but they do have a double ruffled layer on the bottom. She had seen a girl in a similar style pant this fall and admired them, so I had been thinking about making something like this. 
I started with this portions of some old curtains that my mom handed down to me: 
I love these fabrics and have used pieces of them for various other projects already. For these pants, I kept the wavy panels of the floral and stripe as the bottom hem of the ruffles, and used the top fabric as the main pants. I kept the existing casing on the top of the curtain and inserted 1/2 " elastic into it for the waist. 
Here is the finished product:
 The floral ruffle on the bottom stays kind of hidden, but peaks out where the striped wave rises up. It also helps the ruffle be little more full. 
    Fern was very happy with them. She put them on right away (after running upstairs to find a shirt that matched) and did a little bit of modeling for me. 

  And there she is with Dad and Jasper (the pooch). The pants really do match the rug quite nicely! I am very proud of how nice the inside of the pants look as well. The pants are a glorified legging pattern that I made myself after dissecting an old pair of pants and have been adapting to make all sorts of pants for the girls. So it is one piece for each leg; the two pieces are sewn together at the crotch and the individuals legs are sewing together up the middle. I used a flat felled seam at the crotch, and french seams on the legs. The panel of curtain I used for the main pants was already lined with white fabric and had that casing attached already. The tricky part of using the existing casing is that you have to sew the outside of the garment together while leaving the inside of the casing open so that you can insert your elastic, then find a neat way to sew the inside of the casing closed after the elastic is inserted. I did a sort of fake flat felled seam for the inside of the casing which worked well for me.

           So ta da! Nice heavy pants that hopefully she will want to wear as we make our way through the rest of the winter. (and she is a happy girl again, now that she is on some meds for her first ear infection).

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

In honor of repurpose week, I am going to share a couple repurpose projects 
that I made over the past year. 
       First up is our original pair of "skirt pants". I love to wear elastic waist, loose, wide-legged, swingy knit pants. I have a few pairs and Fern always things they are very fancy (I love when she thinks I am glamorous going about town in my pajamas; Ha!). "Ooooh, I like your skirt pants Mama!"
      So she started asking for some skirt pants. This basically means to her any wide legged pants. I think elastic waist is probably a criteria as well, but I haven't confirmed that with her. So I made this pair from an old maternity shirt. One that I loved, the fabric is super soft, and has some subtle little stripes that are hard to appreciate in the pictures. My husband used to laugh at it though, and said it looked like I was "hanging a curtain on my belly" when I wore it. So it went into the repurpose pile with no qualms at all. Plus, it was so easy to reuse. The whole waist band on these pants (which is elasticized and almost ruffled) was already present on the shirt, sewn on the outside of the shirt just below the bust. The fancy ruffle cuffs were also part of the original shirt, along with the tassels hanging down the side (which sometimes end up tied in a bow).  She loves these pants, so it's a win. They are very lightweight, so this time of year we try to keep them as jammies or inside pants.

    And here is a maxi skirt that I made for her out of the remnants of a tshirt blanket. I love that they are not only repurposed fabrics, but scraps of repurposed fabrics that made this skirt. Another super easy project. Each section is just a large rectangle, each slightly larger than the one above it, so that there is a little bit of gathering.

The top is a piece of purple elastic a la her pink fleece pants.
I guess we have a theme going here with color blocked pink and purple. It does seem to match everything in her wardrobe when I do this! 
She also has on a headband made from the scraps of the scraps. It felt great to not waste anything here. I cut the lavender scraps into strips, tied a strip of the darker purple around them to make a sort of a bow, and attached all of that to a wide band of the pink. The pink is sewed together to fit her head. She is funny with headbands and tends to wear them like Rambo or Jane Fonda instead of on the top of her head. She's got it about halfway between both styles here. 
I have more pics, but my computer isn't cooperating with me very well. I need to let it know, a little more firmly I suppose, that I have started a blog and it needs to behave so that I can share all my photos with some hypothetical new friends. Perhaps it is censoring me after I accidentally posted an obscene photo for about 36 hours. My husband tells me that there is something off with my magnetic field that makes all technology within a certain radius of me fail. It does ring true sometimes. I like that theory better than the one in which I am just a mechanical dunce or somehow cursed by some new fangled god of tech.
A sad thing happened. I was sewing last night, making some pants for Fern to hopefully help cheer up my sick little one. I was using some old curtains, so the fabric was thick to begin with. I went over several layers at once, and all of a sudden she got stuck. So stuck that I couldn't turn the wheel manually to get the needle out. Eventually I got it to turn over enough to get the needle out of the fabric. It was then I realized, it wasn't a thread jam problem; the needle wasn't was my machine. She died.
 I brought it to a sewing machine store nearby today, and he told me that either the whole feed mechanism was out of whack and they could take it apart for me and maybe fix that, and that would cost about $80-$90; or it was a broken gear and in that case it wouldn't cost anything, because in that case she was toast. 
So good bye old friend. You have served me well over the past 13 or so years. 

The good things that came out of it were that:
1) I did get a new machine to play with. I think she needs a name. She's pretty basic, as was my other old girl, but the budget definitely doesn't allow for a fancy upgrade at this time. It doesn't exactly allow for a replacement machine in general, but the house can't be without a furnace, washing machine or sewing machine. It doesn't function well without those things.
2) I found a nice little sewing machine shop! Helpful folks and a great place to buy supplies. 
3) I picked up some leather needles without having to venture into Joann's (where who knows what else might have landed in my cart)
4) I had a nice conversation with a man that answered some basic questions for me about my intended forays into quilting.
5) This is a good opportunity for me to read the manual on my new machine and remember some basic things that I was probably forgetting. 
6) My new machine came with a buttonhole foot!! Perhaps I don't hate buttonholes as much as I thought I did...

So instead of sewing today, I added some rhinestones to some of Fern's pants. She hates to wear warm pants. She is not generally practical with her fashion sense. In the winter anyways. She is one of those warm weather people who is so happy when she doesn't have to wear layers. She is perfectly happy to wear bloomers under her dresses, but she pretty much hates any pants that aren't stretch pants. I found a metallic purple pair of jeans for her at H&M that have a heart shaped purple rhinestone snap, and she will wear those. So I figured we needed to do some bedazzling to a few of the plethora of hand me down pants that we have. (The girl literally has dozens of pants to choose from and never wants to wear any of them). 
I had some little heart shaped rhinestones left over from decorating her crown on halloween, and I picked up some Tulip crystal adhesive for a Christmas project. So I went and added some small doses of sparkle to four pairs of pants. We shall see if it increases the wear-ablity factor or not. (I'm having trouble finding some images here, but maybe I'll be able to add some pictures soon). 

A happy sewing thing that I have to share is this lovely pencil:

It is so so beautiful. Two dear friends gave it to me for my birthday, and I swore I was never going to write with it. It is so gorgeous. But that is no way to appreciate a gift. Better to admire the beauty and utilize the function. So I have designated it my pattern drawing pencil. The only time I use it is to draw out sewing patterns. It is perfect. Now I feel like it is a special occasion whenever I take it out; it will hopefully not get abused and destroyed, and I am able to think of my friends whenever I am in the middle of a fun creative moment, which is wonderful. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

So many reasons to sew.... along with Project Run and Play, the Kids Clothes Week sewing challenge began today. I missed last weeks entry day for PR&P, but I did sew something for it. The theme was "Let's go to the Movies." My immediate reaction (Heidi!) was not feasible due to time constraints; but we had recently watched a Care Bears movie and Fern and I both wanted to make Care Bear shirts.

Did you used to love the Care Bears too? It is fun to watch movies from my childhood with them. I had forgotten a few of the details of the Care Bears and it was fun to recall. They all "care" so much they wear their emotions on their tummies, and when they get together they can puff their tummies out and light shines out of them and they can make magic happen. She had decided we could make up our own emotion themes to put on the shirt instead of mimicking the characters already created.
So I asked each girl what she wanted on her shirt. Althea answered immediately "A horse!" Perfect. She is a crazy child, so she is the wild horsey care bear. Fern wanted a castle on hers. Hmm. Very princessy, not surprising, but what emotion is a castle? I asked her how castles make her feel and she answered, "beautiful, safe and brave". Done. I will definitely make her a shirt that makes her feel that way. She has named herself "Princess Magita Care Bear". This is her favorite princess name at the moment. She named her sister Princess Soweeta, and I get to be Queen Aleen. No creative names for Dad, though, he is King David.
I thought a raglan shirt with the front panel done in white and the rest of the shirt done in a solid color would be a simple casual way to present the care bear theme. Their designs on the tummies and a little heart on the lower right corner of the back of the shirt (remember those little hearts on the care bears' bums?) finish it off.
I used this tutorial for making them some raglan shirts. The fabric was all upcycled. Althea's horse shirt was made from an old maternity tshirt; I was actually wearing it when I gave birth to Fern-there we are!

Fern's pink fabric was from a hand-me-down size 6 girls shirt that she would have eventually grown into. I think this makes it much more personal and fun though. It has sparkly pink trim on the hems:

The lighter fabric on the tummies were both scraps from a tshirt blanket I made last summer (to be posted at a later date). I ended up using grey instead of white for the tummy on Fern's. I wanted to use the grey for Thea's as well, but didn't have enough so I ended up having to use a piece of white that has black lettering on the opposite side that shows through. A little nod to the fact that it is upcycled I suppose.
On Fern's I actually just straight up cut the sleeves off of the original shirt; I didn't cut them open at all because I didn't want to be too tight if I lost fabric by sewing them up again. I had to cut the top of the sleeve at a much steeper angle after I cut it off to fit with my raglan pattern. Her shirt therefore ended up basically shoulderless because of this, but while it looks a little funny lying down on the ground, it fits her fine.

I wanted to avoid hemming, so I used all the old hems on the bottom of Thea's sleeves and at the bottom of the shirts. The collar of Fern's shirt is reused from the original pink shirt. Althea's collar is the hem of one of the sleeves of the maternity shirt.

 At first I thought about trying the freezer paper stencil technique everyone is doing for the designs on the tummies, but I didn't want to go buy freezer paper. I did have some wonder under on hand though, so I used that to applique some knit fabric onto each shirt and top stitched it down for good measure. The horse is the same fabric as the rest of the shirt; Fern's castle was from an old shirt of mine that had a hole in it. This weeks theme for PR and P is upcycle, so that works out quite well!

 The castle was something I drew myself, but the horse I printed from this page and then traced it onto my wonder under. It's amazing what you can find when you google an image idea with the words clip art at the end.
 We are a bit under the weather here, so the shirts made great loungewear for today.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

  It's an exciting time of year in the land of sewing blogs! Project Run and Play time! (A really fun spoof on Project Runway that takes place online as a sew-off between bloggers that sew for their kids). The main reason I started this blog was to be able to participate in sew alongs like this one, and to be able to comment on all the amazing things that I see others posting. There are so many incredibly inspirational acts of sewing happening out there! I don't know if I will be able to sew along every week since we have a little trip coming up, but I will try for at least three out of four.
   I was a little late catching on to the start date and themes of this season, but fortunately the theme for week one is "Winter Wonderland." This fit nicely with some sewing projects that I already had planned and designed and was set to sew. I mentioned before that I went a little nuts at Joann's during a fleece sale they had in early November. Dresses for all of us was what I had in mind, and potentially some leggings as well, because who doesn't want a pair of fleece leggings when it is 5 degrees outside?
So here are the girls in their dresses!
I posted about Althea's Red Riding Hood dress already, so I will just talk about Fern's Unicorn dress right now. I was trying to encourage them to pick a solid color of fleece at the store, but she fell in love with the unicorn print instantly (not surprised!) and was so enthusiastic about it that we compromised and got about 1/2 yard of the print and picked a coordinating color to make up the rest of the yardage. I love the result! I drafted the pattern myself and gave it a shawl collar, wide Aline skirt, on seam pockets and color blocked cuffs and skirt length. I also decided to make her a unicorn hat to match the one I made her sister for halloween, since she wears that hat all the time. You can't tell from the above picture since she wisely decided to wear her mud boots outside for these pictures, but she also has some color blocked fleece leggings to go along with the outfit. (Somehow head-to-toe fleece seems less absurd to me when I dress them in it then if I were to do the same for myself)
This was the first time I added a shawl collar to anything and it came together much more simply than I had been bracing myself for. I should have been focusing more attention on the sleeves probably, than the collar because they ended up getting a little bit awkward on me. It looks like there are some shoulder pads in there. This is a case where it would probably have been easier on myself if I were not too cheap to buy a pattern like the Bimaa Pattern I have read so many wonderful things about (which isn't expensive, but I have this stubborn streak where I always want to try figuring out the math of sewing myself instead of forking it over for patterns).
Nonetheless, she is so enamored with this fabric that she loves the dress no matter what. And that is why she gets to come to the store to pick out fabric with me! I am happy I got that white unicorn front and center right beneath the collar.
The dress is very long as you can see, and the cuffs are folded in half right now, so hopefully it will continue to fit her for a while!
Here she is in our "winter wonderland" reality: our muddy / wet / frozen ice skating rink of a back yard. She was quite excited to be Princess Unicorn out there though, on her Unicorn Skating Rink (until she fell in a big puddle and completely soaked herself; then indoors we went for some hot chocolate).

Here are her leggings poking out under her dress:  

And here they are on their own:
I didn't have enough pink fleece for the pants, but fortunately I had one scrap left over from the purple fleece dress I made Fern last year that was big enough to make up the difference. I like that it goes along with the pink / purple theme of the outfit but is a little bit different and continues the theme of color blocking. I used some purple elastic for the waist which is basically just top-stitched right onto the waist line. I modified a pattern I made for her last summer which was created by disecting a pair of stained pants that fit her well. I did end up adding a little bit extra to the top of the rear of the pants before adding the waist band after having her try them on and squat down for me. She's a princess, not a plumber. I didn't hem the cuffs on these pants. I love how fleece provides that option. I did use a flat felled seam for the crotch, and am very happy with that. It looks neat, lays flat on the inside and hopefully will hold up to wear well.

 And Althea of course needed to try on her sister's unicorn hat

Althea also got some fleecies to go under that red dress. It's hard to read the coloring here, but the pants are a dark hunter green which was the fleece that I chose for my dress. The hearts are red scraps from her dress. So now she can where them together without being too ridiculously matchy matchy. I love these little pants. They look much more finished than Fern's - although you can get away without hemming fleece, it does look nice when you do. There is a couple inches of extra length basted up in a hem on the bottom of the leg (I probably wouldn't have bothered doing it, but the extra length was sliding under her feet when she tried them on). I didn't want to lose any of the height of the waist, so I added a fleece waist band that is encasing a 1/2 " wide elastic which is a slightly shorter length than the rest of the waist band. These pants have a flat felled seam at the crotch as well. I'm hoping to get a few years out of them! 

Here's a little parting shot of the back pleat on the red dress!
I hope to be posting a little more frequently now that the holidays are over. Let's see what the new year will bring!