Friday, February 20, 2015

Fi Na Ly - more fleecy fun

   Some time this fall I stocked up on awesome fleece prints when it was crazy cheap at... where else- I need to broaden my horizons in terms of fabric shopping, but JoAnn's is so close by, the sales / coupons are so tempting, I know the layout of the store - for now I'm hooked. 
   And those prints are finally turning into some garments. It's cold enough outside, I'm not too sure what took me so long. I suppose I go in rounds of what I am inspired to do - cooking / baking / preserving; practicing violin (I'm teaching myself and it is slow going but very fun! When this school year ends and we don't have two kids in preschool anymore - because Fern is going into Kindy next year yikes! perhaps I will finally take some lessons); dance / yoga; researching / reading; office time; cleaning ? (am I ever inspired to clean? I don't know if I'd say that, but it has to happen every once in a while); back around to sewing. All the while trying to fit in outdoor time on a regular basis, and of course play time, library time, gymnastics....insert kid activity here. So I guess I do know why things take time. 
    This past week I went on a rampage of hoodies! One for each of the girls, and one for me. They think their father needs one as well, but I explained that his taste doesn't extend to the range of prints and colors that I like to use for the rest of us. He's mostly grey and brown, navy and green, while we are plum and pink with bikes and bright orange with birds and flowers. 
     Here is Fern's: (Althea's is exactly the same except for slightly shorter sleeves and different colors)
        We've got your basic raglan hoodie, drawstring hood and reverse kangaroo pockets.
We've also got thumbholes. Yes! I love thumbholes. The girls are pretty appreciative of them too right now. 

I got some pocket inspiration from Vera luna; I wanted to do something different than your average kangaroo pocket (they love finding their other hand inside the pocket, so the kangaroo was for sure). Especially since this print is so fun, why cover it up?

This was a good way to do it, and you get the added bonus of an extra pop of color at the side. 

It is so simple too; especially with fleece - so forgiving when there is no fray. I held the bodice up to one of the girls, figured where the pocket should go, then cut it out. Then just fold the edge of the pocket over about 1/4 inch and sew it in place. Then I added a big rectangle of the pocket fabric to the inside of the bodice piece as in the picture below. 
     It needed to be stitched across the top, but the sides and bottom were attached when the sweatshirt was sewn together and hemmed. Very simple. 

    I have been finishing my seams with fleece by opening up the fabric in the seam allowance and sewing each side down. I think it looks nice on the outside as well on the inside; it also makes for a flatter and more comfortable seam allowance.

        I made mine very similar to theirs. I traced a loose fitting knit raglan shirt and lengthened the sleeves. I free-styled the hood and made the front edge come out much farther than the one I traced. I also added long "arms" to the front of the hood that wrapped around the front of the shirt for a slight shawl collar feel.
 I also used the reverse pocket idea on mine, but in order to avoid the seam going all the way across the middle of the shirt, and also to save some fabric, I didn't do a full kangaroo pocket. Instead I kept the pockets more like the ones on my inspiration shirt. I have been wearing this hoodie almost every day (ok, I have actually worn it for part of every single day since I finished it - 5 days in a row and counting). The pockets are perfect; nice and deep to just drop stuff into them, they hold my phone without it ever falling out and keep my hands nice and cozy.

         I did actually make a couple things earlier in the season. At the end of November, I made a little dress for my two year old niece's birthday.
     I used the same pattern I had made for Althea's Red Riding Hood dress.  It has side seam pockets, a hood with a drawstring (a ribbon with little froggy buttons tied on!) and is a fleece dress- perfect for winter time. I'm not sure if I love keeping the sleeves attached to the bodice though. It saves a couple steps, but can end up a little hard to take on and off. 
   There were also some elf slippers for the girls, but I think that will wait for another time. I'll sign off with the girls dressed head to toe in this weeks sewing fun! Yay!

Mes Deux Demoiselles

Project Run and Play is really proving to be inspiring and fun for me so far this year, and it is only in its second month! I started this month not sure if I would join in- it is SO COLD here the Mademoiselle Muscle Tee from Living With Punks wasn't speaking to me at first. But having the whole month is enough time to let ideas bounce around in my head and start to meld with other things that have been inspiring me.

Two of my first projects of this year were, maybe not complete failures, but certainly a chance for me to eat my words  (I had told my SIL over Christmas that my sewing is going great and things are generally turning out as I intend them to). I rarely sew for my husband, so I figured for his birthday in January I could whip up a quick pair of grey sweats to replace his favorite, completely worn out, pair of Champions. The combination of that zero stretch sweatshirt fleece (which caught me off guard, I didn't realize there wasn't any stretch at all in something so comfortable) and the fact that I was sewing for him and not a five year old girl really got me off my game. I did finish them and he wears them daily, but they required a full crotch adjustment, several mouthfuls of words I don't want my kids to learn and about five times as much time as I thought I would spend on them.

I am also in the midst of sewing myself a pair of jeans, which I thought I could wing using a pattern I have for stretch pants. Alas, I added much more than necessary to the pattern when I cut it out, used flat felled seams for the crotch when I started sewing and already put in a fancy false zipper with the double needle and have come to realize that the fit is terrible and I am going to have to seam rip those nicely finished areas to make up for it. Ugh.

So I hope these things can just come in twos and that I don't have a third sewing disaster in my near future. In the meantime, I had the excess black stretch denim from my jeans lying next to a spontaneous purchase I had made of a couple yards of this lovely peony print knit that was on a sale rack by the cutting counter (I am such a sucker for this; I just about always impulse buy a yard or so of something whenever I go into JoAnn's). They looked so nice together, I figured they would be making an appearance sooner or later. Then I went back to JoAnn's to take advantage of a sale to get set up for another project I have been dreaming of, and the remnants were 50% their 50% price, so ....
a yard and a half of this lovely stretchy white lace made it into my basket. I also had a red knit shirt in my repurpose pile, which capped off my pile of inspiration (I LOVE being inspired by fabrics):

With all of this coordinating fabric I started planning a mini collection instead of just one item.

So far I have complete three of these items, so without further ado:

Mes Deux Demoiselles

Althea (on the right) is wearing a dress with the muscle tank as the bodice in black stretch denim and an a-line skirt made from the peony knit. 

The bodice has one of the peonies cut out and appliqued to it (with a straight stitch since the knit doesn't fray) on top of an appliqued lace heart (attached with a zigzag of white thread). 

The neck and arm trim is sewn on in the style of quilt binding, meaning that I folded a strip of fabric in half, and first sewed it to the inside of the garment instead of the outside. Then I folded the trim out and over the seam line and sewed it again from the outside of the garment, there by enclosing the seam. (The denim would have frayed otherwise). I used the salvage for the bottom hem of the dress - I like how there is a thin edge of white along this edge (only the opposite salvage bore the designers info).
As you can see, she can move really well in it!

  Fern is wearing two items: a Mademoiselle muscle tank with the front and back pattern pieces cut and pasted a bit. She also has a simple half circle skirt with a two inch waist band.
  She was very jealous when I finished her sister's dress, and was coveting the appliques. Althea declared herself "The rose princess" when she first tried on the dress, and although Fern's skirt was already done, she was so sad that she didn't have a shirt to match. This led to a big discussion of being happy with what you have and choosing happiness over sadness. It also led me to add a flower heart to Fern's shirt. I hadn't been planning to do this; I didn't want them to be total twinsies (although the same print on the skirt and skirt of the dress means they basically already are). But it is a cute addition I think, and this shirt will be great over some stretch pants.
 Worn with the skirt, I think it looks best tucked in. 
 The lace on the shoulders and the back bodice are all one piece: I folded down the arms on the front bodice and cut out the red knit like that. Then, I trace the folded section onto a separate piece of paper, cut it out and taped this onto the back bodice piece. (I know it would have been easier to cut the pattern piece itself, but now I have it still in one piece for next time)

      I added the neck and arm trim the same way I did it on the dress (sewing it to the inside of the shirt, folding over and stitching again to the outside, enclosing the seam) because I thought you would see the red raw edge through the lace. But I actually think I should have just done it as the tutorial recommends. Both of these fabrics are so fine, they laid down nicely along the seam and wouldn't have posed a fraying problem. They weren't very noticeable through the lace either. Seeing as I had already sewed them on backwards though, I proceeded as planned. This resulted in such a thick pile of fabric stacked on top of itself in the hems that there is some bunching now. 

      Well, now I know for next time! This is a great pattern that my girls are still growing into - it fit a little larger than expected on them, but I would always rather have it that way then too small!
      They love their "rose princess outfits" and now will get to enjoy them for years to come!

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Jasmine Bubble Pants

     Project Run and Play is changing it up a bit this year. They are featuring a previous contestant each month who provides a tutorial and then folks can sew something up and join a link party. Simpler than in past years, but kind of nice. More my speed anyway in terms of participating. Let's see if I can join the party every month this year. I like having really achievable goals that can jumpstart additional inspiration. I will also say that if I do sew along, I will do my best to turn it into an item that is already on my to-sew list. And I will try not to buy fabric. There, a handful of reasonable goals. Excellent.
    This month, they have Alida sharing her bubble dress tutorial. It looked pretty cute. I was thinking about what fabric I would use. How I would personalize it. If it should be a dress or a shirt or what. And then I realized, it would be a great way to make some Princess Jasmine pants! I have to confess that it is more my idea than the girls that they need some Jasmine pants.  I just love that style of huge comfortable pants in fun flowy fabric. So I had told Fern I would make her some recently. This was a great opportunity to make that a reality. 

   Alida's tutorial is great, very easy to follow. I've never made a bubble dress, so it is fun to think about new techniques / styles. In order to make the dress be pants, I cut 2 pieces measuring pretty much the same as she described, but with crotch areas cut out. I forgot to make my liner pieces mirror images of each other (sewing with a head cold, man!), so I ended up with pants that don't have a front or back, since I had to trim the fabric to line up once I pinned the crotch seams together. I was worried that the rise would be too low in the back, but that tall waist band makes up for it! Phew. They are definitely low slung, and her belly pokes out a bit, but hey, they are Jasmine pants after all. 
     I used a two-toned, reversible, shiny, turquoise-gold fabric that was given to me in the incredible fabric stash gift that Althea's nightie came from for the outer fabric. For the liner, I used a woven cotton that I found in a free pile a while ago. So double score, free fun pants!

       The first thing I did was sew the bottom of the outer leg and liner leg together and do the shirring (I did 3 rows instead of two; I also cut the outer pieces wider than the liner gathered it for even more puff). Then I sewed the tops together. Then, turned each leg right side out and sewed the pants together as I would with any pair of pants (flat-felled seams for the crotch, french seams for the inseam). 
    Then I folded the waistband down to reveal the liner fabric, and turned this into a casing for the elastic a la the tutorial from the bubble dress. I kept the waistband the same as Alida's dress; I like the way she inserted her elastic about a half inch below the top of the waistband, creating a ruffle at the top. 
     Many things I've sewn for Fern lately have been too short - she is so tall all of a sudden! So I wanted to make sure that wasn't the case with these. They brush the floor and she thinks it is perfect. She is the sassiest little model, I can't get enough of her. And she loves these pants, so we are both happy. I do enjoy creating costume-ish clothes that are well made (unlike anything you find in stores for kids dress up) and that can be mixed into their wardrobes to add some whimsical fun.
Watching her prance around in them is a special bonus for me!

She replaces the word balance with "bounce". She's always yelling "Hey mom, see my bounce?"

I love her attitude in this one!

Sister photo bomb

 Thanks for the tutorial Alida! This was fun.

Monday, January 19, 2015

First time for everything - a QUILT!!

    My brother got married last fall to an awesome girl and I love them both. My girls were flower girls in their wedding, my dad was the best man, my husband and I were both in the wedding party as well and it was one of the most special days of my life. Her family is great too, my mom was of course on cloud 9, everyone was so happy. The toasts were classic, the setting was gorgeous, the band was amazing, the list of awesome just doesn't stop. 
This is my brother and his wife along with my folks, myself and my hubs and our little girls
What a crew. This picture kind of makes me cry. 

    I wanted to do something special for them. One of my favorite gifts from my own wedding was a beautiful quilt sewn for us by a close family friend. So I decided I would make them a quilt.  
    I have also been planning to make quilts for each of my girls. It might change by the time it actually happens, but I picked out a quilt block that I planned to use as the design for each quilt. I like the idea of big designs, so just one massive quilt block. I have the fabric purchased (although I have since been dipping into it for other projects) and everything. So I figured that I would sew those quilts first and I would get some practice in making quilts and I would be an old pro by the time I worked my way onto their wedding quilt. 
    But those practice quilts weren't happening, and as other sewing projects lined up and time kept on ticking by I could tell that if I wanted the quilt to be completed before their five year anniversary, I needed to just START SEWING IT. Because I wasn't going easy on myself for my first ever quilting project, and this was going to take some time. 
    I had my quilt image already mapped out. The first time my husband and I ever met my sister in law, she accompanied my brother on a family vacation to Cape Cod with my folks and ourselves. We stayed at a place called the Lighthouse Inn. It doesn't have a very picturesque lighthouse attached, but the idea of a lighthouse stuck with me as I thought about designs. Currently, the happy couple live in Boston, so I ended up going with the Boston Harbor Lighthouse. It is a cool one, located on a little island off the coast. I used this image as my inspiration:
   I drew this image in a pencil sketch. Then I drew it again trying to make it as simple as possible. The paper I was using was 9 x 11, which was pretty close to 1:10 to the life size of the quilt, which was convenient, so I went with that. I considered making a life size drawing of it. My husband brings home large sheets of paper from work (they are used as packing material for inventory sent to him) which I use for patterns etc. It was three sheets wide for the length and four high for the width. It was absurd to do this though, so I ended up only doing it for the island / base of the lighthouse and again for the skyline and lighthouse light. 
    I did postpone a couple weeks waiting for the big sale dates to line up with my coupons at JoAnn's to go buy my fabric. I had to though. I couldn't not get 50% off of everything. So I finally had all my supplies in hand the week before Thanksgiving.
    But then I could really start! I would measure each piece on my life size drawing and cut out its fabric equivalent with 1/4 inch seam allowance added on. A lot of time was spent measuring and cutting! I also tried to mark places on the smaller drawing where trapezoids and rhombuses came together to make some sort of rectangle so I could keep track of the best order in which to sew all these pieces together.  And slowly but surely, it all came together. 
    I only had to go back to the fabric store once. Not too bad. I had picked up a roll of high loft batting sometime over the summer. I wanted it to be really cozy, so the high loft was exciting for me.
One thing I regret is that I didn't take any in progress pictures. And by the time I finished it (Christmas Eve morning I believe) I had to wrap it up right away so I didn't take too many pics of it completed either. It is gigantic. It ended up being 96" x 93" I believe. Somewhere around there. So a generous queen sized quilt. It will work on a king too, just won't hang down the sides quite as low. 
So I had to stand on the couch and use the panoramic feature on my phone to capture it! 
Here she is:
    The water actually extend down another inch or two beyond what the picture shows

       I had a lot of fun choosing the fabrics for this. I knew I wanted a chevron for the water, but the rest of the patterns were chosen on the fly at the store. You can never tell until you stand there and look at all of the colors / patterns together. I like the theme though of all of the blues and neutrals and the little pop of red on the roofs. (I don't even have closeups of the fabric details! Sheesh. I suppose photography: more of it and better light - is my blogging resolution of the year). I used the same red fabric from the roof to make my own 3" wide bias tape to bind the quilt. I used this tutorial, and was so thankful that I did. It was so clear and was so much simpler than how I would have done it otherwise; a huge time and headache saver. It is hard to see in the picture, because of the rug it is laid out on, but I love the way the red comes back into play with the binding. It also plays well with the backing fabric I chose:

         I just love cherry blossoms. This was the perfect color combo and such a sweet print. I did have to cut a strip of sky off the top and of water off the bottom to sew to the back along with the cherry blossoms in order to not make another trip to the fabric store. Oh well, I still think it came out lovely. 
         The quilting is very simple. Stitch in the ditch style for most of it. Some lines mimicking the way the sky comes together in sunburst styles. I followed the chevron pattern across the ocean a few times. Getting that high loft batting and all those inches of quilt rolled up tight enough to fit in my 6" arm machine was no joke! Phew. Glad that is over. I was looking at quilting machines online after that for kicks and was shocked at the price tag on some of those babies! There are some reasonable ones out there for hobbyists such as myself though, so I am left to mull over what I need more - a serger or a quilter. Fact is, my babylock is serving me well on all projects right now. But if I win the lottery sometimes soon, it will probably be a serger first. Then a longarm! (If we can't dream, what's the point....)
        One thing I would do differently if I were starting over right now, would be add a border. The quilt is so large that if you actually put it on a bed, the island detail is completely draped over the end of the bed and is lost a bit. Oh well again. It's a wrap-around image quilt. Now I will hopefully remember to incorporate that into my measurements for future projects. 
       I do believe there will be future projects. I think garment sewing is still my favorite, but I did catch the quilting bug a bit here. My babylock has a darning plate, so I can go free motion the next time if I'm so inclined. I have 3 more ideas brewing away right now....