Thursday, February 25, 2016

Sister Alley Cats

This is the final week of Project Run and Play, and it has been so much fun to have the typical format back and to see what everyone has done for each week, both contestants and sew alongs. 
I actually took my inspiration for sewing this week directly from a link up from week one. When I saw Turtle Birdies' Mouse Alley Cat I knew that I had to have that pattern (the Alley Cat Romper from the Lil Luxe Collection). I had seen the pattern before and liked it, but once I saw this version, I just had to sew it up. 
Perhaps taking direct inspiration from someone else doesn't sound like I am finding my own signature style (which is the theme for this week). It works in my mind though, because this is how I sew. Inspiration comes  at me from various places, and once it does I don't feel completely satisfied until I have made it a reality. 

Two alleycats, sewn entirely this week. It's a reality!

This also fits my signature style in my mind because of the eclectic sources of materials used. The brown top with the gold was an old tshirt of mine. The purple fabric was gifted to me by a de-stashing friend. The red was leftover from making the girls leotards a couple years ago. (I love buying a little bit too much every time I shop for a project and building a cache of leftovers). The blue / black / white tribal and the brown with blue flowers are both from a knit fix I bought from Girl Charlee in August which I have been ever so gradually working my way through. I have to admit that I love having a large collection of fabric. (Don't tell my husband! I keep saying that I am going to try and rein it in). Most of it is potential upcycles, but splurging on some yardage here and there is my favorite way ever to pamper myself. 

These rompers are a great way to use up a variety of materials. It is fun to mix and match colors and prints and to add other accents if you are running low on something. And they look way cuter on children than on the floor:

         Althea has been wanting to wear nothing but jammies lately. This satisified that itch for her quite well! Daytime jammies, I told her. She bought it. Once she tried them on, she didn't take them off until bedtime. Even caught a little snooze on the dog bed by the fire with it on!

       I love when they love it! And when they look so stinking cute in something that Mama made them.

    I stayed true to the pattern aside from adding on seam side pockets and changing the sleeve length. I am definitely going to make a couple more and try out the sleeveless version.

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

O-oh New England

Last fall, I discovered this wide metallic elastic at JoAnn's that is not only shiny and fun, but is also quite soft (for elastic) on the back. I told Althea I was thinking of using it to make her a skirt or a dress and she declared "overalls!"
That sounded like a brilliant idea. 

So I used the silver elastic and constructed a pair of pink and white striped overalls with a navy floral print (both fabrics were part of an amazing fabric gift I've written about previously) used to line the bib and to create a bib pocket along with some side pockets. 
    The elastic forms straps that go over the shoulder, cross in back and attach to the back of the pants. So there is no need to include any type of buckle or closure, and she can put them on and take them off pretty easily.
    I encased a strip of plain elastic in a facing along the top of the back of the pants to create an easy going paper bag waist look back there. The elastic straps are also sandwiched into that facing.
    The front has a ~1 1/2" waist band necessitated by the side pockets that creates a flat front.
   They look pretty nice inside out as well: I used flat felled seams at the crotch, as well as for attaching the waistband to the front of the pants and bib to the waist; & French seams along the side of the legs.

I did have to construct the front half of the pants twice; after attaching the pocket bag and waist band the first time, I realized my measurements were no good. And after neatly enclosing the front of the elastic straps between the bib and bib lining, I realized the bib was too high and had to be folded over a couple inches and sewn down to avoid choking her. I also realized at that point that CallAjaire had just put out the paneled sunsuit, and using that pattern as a base may have saved me some aggravation.
   But once I finished them, they were adorable! She could even pull them off with no shirt underneath for a country bumpkin outfit on a hot day (the legs are wide and the fabric is very thin, so the pants work well in warm weather).

    Or she could wear a shirt underneath and sweater over and head off to school.

Or to the playground…

Then, before I knew it, she grew a few more inches, & these pants that I made at the start of school were too short by Christmas break. 
So I figured she needed a winter pair, & the others can be capris this spring. When I read the PR&P themes, & saw "metallic" among them, I went right to work. 
This time around I used the gold elastic instead of the silver. And, inspired by the theme, I decided to trim the bib pocket with gold lamé. I also used a gold thread for all the top stitching that I don't think shows up in these photos. 
For the main fabric I used my husbands old jeans (he beats them up good, so I needed two pairs to have enough fabric) and the pocket and lining is an old pair of pajama pants of mine that were covered in cats. 

You can see below that they are a little two-toned (darker in the back) due to the two different pairs of jeans. But, sometimes I feel it's more worth it to use what I have than to match perfectly. 

     They are fully lined this time, not just the bib, so that they will be nice and soft on the inside and extra warm. 
     The second time around was so much easier though, because I saved all my adjusted pattern pieces. The only thing I did different was add several inches of length.

    She put a kitty in the kitty pocket right away.

    These overalls remind me of being in college. I went to school in Burlington, VT. A style that I call "Vermont formal" remains my favorite to this day. I love the way that people in VT, along with other areas of New England and other mountain towns around the country, dress for function first, but don't hesitate to layer style over it.
    It is completely normal to see folks out for a nice dinner or at a concert in the midst of winter in clunky snow boots and wool tights paired with a nice skirt, warm sweater and a beanie. Instead of fancy hair, you find fancy earrings. This level of comfortable dressed down fancy/ dressed up outerwear (however you want to look at it) suits me to a tee.
    I definitely spent a good amount of time walking my college campus in lined carhart overalls, with said cat pajama pants on underneath, paired with gigantic hoop earrings and a sequin-trimmed long john shirt.
    This mash up of comfort and fancy fun is absolutely perfect when constructing kids clothes.
    I love how those are the two qualities that appeal most to them (instead of being on trend / fitting in, etc.)
I'm hoping that my kids will value comfort and originality in their clothes for a long time to come. 

      Thanks for stopping by!

* This was my first time posting from my phone- I will update this post with appropriate links and enlarged photos next week!  Thanks for your patience waiting for me to add all appropriate links and larger photos!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Rey inspired knit fix

     Whew! That last post took a lot out of me. Cosplay time at PR&P is exciting stuff. So we decided to do Star Wars themed outfits; and I was trying to get them to pick out an example from a picture book we have with some Jakku villagers in these long flowy ensembles. Fern did not hesitate one second however when I asked her if any of those images inspired her. "I want to be Rey!" she informed me, although the heroine was not pictured anywhere on the picture we were looking at. Well, when she is that vehement about what she wants, who am I to interfere? Rey is another Jakku resident after all, so she technically answered the question asked. I was a little nervous that she would be peeved that I wasn't making an exact replica of Rey's gear, but Fern didn't mind a bit.
     After thinking about Rey, and also the fabrics I have and want to use, I settled on a striped knit from that August knitfix stash I have been wanting to use up. I drew these two pictures while thinking about it:

   I ended up going with the second one. I added some measurements that also came from the Maid Marion dress I mapped out while drafting Althea's hooded dress. The big difference though, was that this dress was made of knit fabrics (which I am still not totally used to) while the other two were both woven.  The fabric has a distinct two way stretch, not four, though, which I thought was a good thing. I was excited to try cutting the stripe at different angles to create some visual interest. I kept the waistband horizontal though, so that the stretch would go in the proper direction and the fabric would hopefully not be sagging down with the weight of the skirt. 
   When I designed this, I thought it was a dress. As it turns out, it is a tunic. There is virtually no underwear coverage involved in this design. But the sides of the tunic hang down low and she thinks it is really fun. 
 As you can see, the back drapes open (due to me not taking the stretch of the knit into account as much as I should have) but I like that element. This will be such a cool breezy top for her to wear this summer. (And next week when we are in Florida.....fingers crossed for some warm days!)
 I am pretty happy with that pattern matching!

 These orange striped leggings she had already; we had forgotten about them but they are the perfect match to this top! She loves that they are the right length to be "Rey" pants.

 The front was pretty drapey as well, but I sewed on a button (it is purely decorative; no button holes involved) and that solved that problem. I had an orange one that I thought would bring a BB8 element into the picture here, but she preferred the yellow one.
 We had to get some shots with Rey hair as well. And with her power staff.

      It is hard to see in these pictures, but the tops of the sleeves are slightly gathered. I have a serger now (glory be!) and I am slowly working my way through  trying / learning / increasing my comfort level with the different stitches and options. So I used the differential feed dog feature to try it out. Since this was the first time I had done this, I obviously was going to need to practice on some scrap fabric first, before I did it on my garment. But I decided, instead of scrap fabric, why not cut some little pieces out and make a version of this for her doll? I just held all the pieces up to the doll and did some snipping; no measuring, no stress. And practiced on the little doll dress. The gathering thing is actually super easy, but the gathers aren't that dramatic. I think I might still use my regular sewing machine for gathering in the future if I want larger gathers. But this certainly was easy and quick. 
So.... here she is with her doll twin

There is a glimpse to be had in this picture of how she looked a few years ago. Looking down gives the illusion of the chubbier cheeks of days gone by. sniff. 

 And with her sister.

Thanks for stopping by!

My little Jakku girl

    Wow! Project run and play is well underway, and the designers looks are amazing this week. The theme is "Inspired by Cosplay", and I have had so much fun with it! I was confused by that word for a while (including the pronunciation - I was saying co-splay in my head for the longest time) but I guess it is just a shorter way to say playing dress up (costume play). Typically, though, cosplay involves adults wearing extremely detailed and elaborate costumes, often worn in conjunction with "con" events (ie. comic / anime / renaissance / medieval / etc. conventions).
    I love this theme. Costumes are one of my favorite things to sew, and my kids can role play for weeks at a time. They get really into it and become their characters in an intense way that is really awesome to watch.
    The theme here though, is to be inspired by cosplay, not to sew a costume itself. It took me a bit to think of exactly what direction we should take it. In the end, we are in the same place as many others, but it is fun to see how different people interpret things even when using the same movie / characters as inspiration. Our house, along with much of the country, is obsessed with Star Wars at the moment. The movies themselves are certainly on the violent side (although there is no gore), but it is so fun to have a sage that spans generations and that sparks imagination the way this does. It is also a nice change of pace from princesses.
    I love the flowy clothes that a lot of Star Wars characters wear, and had been thinking that it would be fun to make something in that style a while ago. When I remembered that, this became the perfect opportunity! One of my daughters got a Star Wars picture book for Christmas that has a spread of "Jakku villagers fleeing from invading Storm Troopers". I know. Not the most uplifting of messages being related here. I totally drew inspiration from these pages though. I love the style of clothes that these poor cartoon characters are wearing. I asked Althea if she had a favorite dress on the page and she chose the lady circled in red.

She said she chose it because she liked the color and the long skirt. So I thought it would be ok to add a hood in the vein of the lady circled in yellow. I felt like these extras in the Star Wars book were obscure enough that if I closely replicated their clothes it wouldn't be too much of a costume. No one will recognize her character when she walks down the street.

   I love the way this came out so much!
   I had the green fabric draped over my sewing chair forever with the intention of making myself a shirt with it (I did that this week as well! Yay!). It is actually an old sheet of my moms, and along with the great color, it has a pretty row of faux piping that is actually very simple embroidery about three inches from one end.  Also, the fabric has a great sheen to it on one side, and it is nice and thick and not see through.

       I used Fern's Maid Marion dress as a base, and drew this sketch based off its measurements:

Then I cut the skirt which was 2 identical pieces cut on the fold that look like so:
And then cut the front bodice using the following measurements: 
I just sort of fudged that arm hole curve based on the other measurements I have there. 

    The back bodice piece was cut exactly like the front bodice, but with a slightly rounded neck dipping down about 1.5" instead of the v-neck. 
    The grey fabric was a shirt that was given to me and never fit well (as seen below).
It is this really slinky soft 100% rayon material with some white dashes on it to give it almost a heathered look. I was thinking it might make a good hood. The sewing goddess* was smiling down on me apparently, because as I twisted and turned it, I realized that the wide wing like sleeve might make a perfect hood as is. When I slipped it over her head, it almost did! It was just a tad too short to really sit properly on her head without falling off.

      So I cut off the entire sleeve as it was:
  This is showing half of the sleeve laying on the cutting matt. It measures about 14.5" x 24". The dotted line represents my ideal measurements for a collar for this dress.  

       If it had been 18" x 24" (cut on the fold) it probably would have been perfect. As it was, I ended up cutting an extra ~4" strip from the bodice of the grey shirt and added it to the middle 9" of this piece on the bottom to preserve the existing hem. Then I sewed this collar to the vneck opening. I lined the center of the collar up with the center back of the dress first, then pinned all the way around. Both sides of the collar went around the back, down one side of the v and up the other side. So both sides of the vneck have overlapping pieces of collar attached. 
    The beauty of this, is that when the hood is not up as a hood, it either looks like a loose infinity scarf, or it drapes over her shoulders like a shawl! (Here comes the picture overload!)

And again with her hood up: 

     For the waistband, I sewed some elastic in a loop about 21" long, scooched it up over the outside of the waist of the dress and sewed on some of the grey fabric to make a casing for the elastic and to look like a belt. The grey fabric was a 30" loop about 4" wide. I sewed the casing to the dress at the top and bottom, and also did a row of stitching on either side of the elastic to keep it from moving around and twisting in there, so there are four rows of stitching all together.
         And I will have to leave you with my favorite image as a parting shot:

Thanks for visiting!  I am about to share her sister's Star Wars inspired look as well!