Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Yee Haw!

   Fern's class had a fun time celebrating the week of the young child back in April with a different theme for each day of the week. On Wild West Wednesday they were encouraged to dress as cowboys and girls if they wished, or to at least wear some jeans. I love how young kids love to dress up; I hope mine always do and never feel self conscious about having a good time. 
  She usually won't wear jeans, but she does have a pair with a few sequins stitched down the front that she found acceptable enough for the occasion. She also has a great button down white shirt with some pretty details (both shirt and jeans are hand me downs) and a fun red hat that my folks bought her sister as a gift to wear on her rocking horse:

   So she had the basics covered. But I couldn't help creating one piece to top off the outfit. My mom had these amazing buckskin hip hugging bell bottoms in the 70's that she had handed down to me in the 90's. I had recenetly found them and they weren't in the greatest shape. I regret not having a picture to share, these pants were truly amazing in their prime. They were beyond repair in their current state however, so I was looking for a fun leather project with which to repurpose them. This seemed like the perfect opportunity!
   I used a pattern from another project that has yet to be blogged and made a quick vest. Leather is thrilling to me, because it seems like a regular sewing machine shouldn't be able to handle it, but it is actually no problem at all. (Just remember your leather needle) I love it. It demonstrates how many things are possible with a basic sturdy machine, like this Baby Lock that I am in love with. So here it is:

The seam down the middle of the back is the original side leg seam of the pants. I used a flat felled seam at the shoulders, then realized that was complete overkill on many levels. The leather doesn't fray, so it is unnecessary to hide the edge of the fabric; it just made extra work for my machine sewing through three layers of leather instead of two. So the side seams of the vest are just over lapped and the sewn with two rows of straight stitching in what I will call a mock flat felled seam. 
No leather cowgirl garment would be complete without some fringe, either, so I added a couple rows of that across the chest on each side of the front. Fringe is so fun to make. Fabric with zero fray opens up so many possibilities, and sews up so quick! No hemming, no real finishing. Angled seams and rounded edges are a breeze. Did I mention how much I love sewing leather? One of the girls may need a full length fringe skirt at some point. That would be a warm item to wear on Halloween!
And here she is! 
Stick em up!
 I love this curly little ham. 

We've got another good sport in our house:


Friday, May 2, 2014

I have been sewing a lot more than I have been blogging lately. (You would hope so, right?) 
I have been battling a respiratory thing along with my kids for upwards of a month, which is horrifying to say. I try to boost our immune systems and eat healthy foods but we are really having a hard time shaking it. It seems like it is not just us though; the wacky weather of this spring is catching up with a lot of folks around us as well. My point here is however, that I have been spending a lot more time sleeping at night than I usually do. And when I find some time to work on something, it is either outside in the yard / garden; cleaning the house; or SEWING. Not spending time on the computer. I knew blogging was going to be a challenge for me because I don't enjoy screen time very much (with a key exception being Game of Thrones) and am usually trying to limit it more than expand it. But the online sewing community is so inspiring and motivating and educational that I can't help myself. 
I am going to try to post at least once a week for the rest of the year. 
There, I said it. So now that it is in writing perhaps it will come true. 

So here is a project I finished last month. And a major reason I love to sew. Look at that fabric! Isn't it fabulous? I made Althea some overalls to replace a pair that she has grown out of. 
I used an outdoor fabric from JoAnn's. I love that stuff! They have so many amazing prints. And the fabric is very sturdy without being too stiff or heavy. Perfect for this project (and another project I will share soon!) So when it was on sale a while back I couldn't resist. 
I drafted the overalls myself by looking at the pair she already had. I included front slash pockets:
and a pocket in the middle of the bib. 
I learned a few things along the way. 
#1: Installing those big buttons for the overall hardware is fun: you wack away at it with a hammer. Those buttons are pretty heavy duty however, and even though I used a sturdy fabric, I should have had more layers where the buttons are; next time I would either line the whole bib or use a wide hem or facing on the top so there are more layers of fabric at the buttons. 
#2: I need to keep reminding myself: Flat felled seams are wonderful but very difficult to install on the inside of a garment with narrow room to work like a sleeve or leg hole! That's what french seams are for. Or does anyone have other suggestions for a favorite inseam stitch?
#3: My original bib pattern pieces was way too small. See how low it is on her chest here?
 That led to the straps falling off of her shoulders constantly; plus it looks a little funny. So I removed the bib and added about a 4" strip of fabric to it. Which made it way too big (but I didn't want to be too small again!). So then I folded it down and basted it at the proper height; now if she starts to grow out of them, I can just rip that basted seam and adjust. Ta da!
#4: I got a little lucky with the width of the top of the bib; that is a measurement that I should have paid more attention to. If that is too wide or narrow, the straps won't stay put on their shoulders very well. I was considering adding a strip of elastic between the shoulder straps in the back, but once I added the extra length to the bottom of the bib, they began to stay put better. They are still a little wider than ideal on Althea (above, 2 yrs). The straps hit her 4 year old sister perfectly (below), although the inseam is a bit short on her!
She is a goof, but she is a much more willing model than little sister!
  So of course, now that I made them, Althea is growing into a phase of needing to wear a pink dress every day so that she can be Sleeping Beauty. She introduced herself as Sleeping Beauty to a friendly stranger the other day. Perhaps there will be a new pink dress in her future.