Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Alaska Inspired Sewing

    It's Project Run and Play time again folks! My favorite kids sewing competition, a spoof off Project Runway, kicks off this week. There are 4 weeks of sewing each with a different theme. The contestants all compete against each other and a few get voted off until it comes down to the final three for the last week and ultimately one winner. I am not a contestant, I just like to play along and join the sewalong link up. Which is great, because I can sew for all four weeks without fear of getting voted off! I am excited about all the themes this time around, but I think week one may be my favorite. I certainly had inspiration immediately upon reading it: "It's all about that place."
     This past summer my husband and I embarked on an awesome bit of kid-free traveling to mark our 10 year wedding anniversary. We first flew to CO to visit some old friends and old places  (we lived there for a year and half before we came home to New England / got married / settled down).
Visiting Horsetooth Reservoir in Fort Collins (rocking some P4P: Essential Tank and Biker Pegs)

   THEN we continued onward to Anchorage and stayed with his brother for a week and a half in the 49th state, the land of the midnight sun. It was amazing. Both of us were totally enchanted by the wild, lush, expansive landscape and extreme environment.
We are in this picture, being dwarfed by the mountains, 
the clouds and the layers upon layers of wilderness stacked on top of each other. 

While we saw enough to fall in love with the abundance of interesting and edible wild berries and mushrooms...
This was the most delicious mushroom I have ever tasted. 

The little black crowberries in this picture were the most plentiful berry available when were there in early August and became a favorite trail snack. 

...and chance wildlife encounters....
....we stayed fairly close to Anchorage as we only had so much time available to us. 
We ventured as far south as Seward...
(where we found this little guy snacking and swimming in the turquoise bay water)
...and not much further north than the city, spending some time tramping in the Chugach, checking out the local music and visiting museums and breweries. If we had been there for a year, we would still have left most of the state unexplored. As it was, we are absolutely hooked. We need to go back and continue to delve deeper. 
The girls were also sad to have missed the trip, and we promised to take them there. And we have family there for the time being (Dave's brother has now been there for a year and a half with no plans to leave in the near future) so .....
Alaska here we come!

What does a girl need in her wardrobe when traveling to Alaska? 
Hiking clothes of course!

Fern is wearing a merino wool shirt, plush brushed poly leggings and a skirt repurposed from my old cargo shorts. That trend of wearing skirts to go hiking resonates with me while sewing for young girls. She thought it was kind of funny, but if you are wearing leggings, which are so comfortable and functional, you end up with no pockets - so where do you put all of your treasures? She now has 7 (including that kangaroo pocket on her shirt). 

 Her shirt is the Thatcher pullover pattern by Elliedactyl. It is pieced together to maximize the scraps I had left of the printed wool fabric (which is thicker and softer than the pink). I bought a stack of merino wool from New Zealand Merino and Fabrics last spring. Zero regrets there. I will try to post all of my creations that have come of that stack soon. 
The skirt was repurposed as I said, and I didn't use a pattern. I just cut out the main part of the shorts that I wanted to use, kept the bottom hem and avoided the awkward place that shorts seem to shred on me if I wear them out completely (somehow I ripped the ass, medial to the back pocket on each side! I had patched both of them with iron on patches from the inside but it looked ridiculous. These shorts probably should have ended up in the upcycle pile much sooner than they did!) Then I sewed the two pieces together in the back, gathered the top and proceeded to torture myself by reusing the entire waistband and fly of the original shorts. I used her measurements (halfway between hip and waist measurement since it has a functional fly) and adjusted the length of the waistband at the center back, then sewed awkwardly around all the angles required to connect it all together.  Broken needles, seams finished with a zigzag instead of a serger in places, annoying pucker in the front- lesson learned. If I ever try to reuse a fly again, it will get detached from the waistband first. And I will cut the fly out more carefully. 
But- I did preserve some belt loops! 
All the better to show off this belt made from some trim and a buckle we found at JoAnn's last summer. 

Moving on- I was just as inspired in the aesthetic of the garments as the functionality.
The first thing that came to my mind when thinking about Alaskan inspiration (aside from the obvious need for high performance items) was the Aurora Borealis. Which led me to think of Zenith and Quasar's vapors fabric. It was of course sold out, but when I asked if it would be restocked on the facebook group, a sweet lady offered to sell me a yard from her stash! (Thanks again Robyn!) And from there, I bring you Fern's Northern Lights leggings (Bonny leggings from Made for Mermaids) along with her sister's Aurora shirt. 

Althea is wearing a Lianna Ruched Sleeve shirt, also by Elliedactyl. I have been really enjoying their patterns lately. They have a great fit and there are so many fun details to appreciate, like the shawl collar on the Thatcher and the sleeves here. 

The sleeves are gathered and ruched and I think it's such a great touch. It adds a bit of whimsy to a practical item, but also they are not so poofy that they look ridiculous or would be too bunchy underneath another layer. 
Her pants are another upcycle. These nylon Northface pants were my favorite hiking / outdoor / anytime pants for a long time. 
There they are, on our honeymoon in Hawaii. 

Alas, I now have two kids and they don't fit. I decided to let go of the idea of hanging onto them, just in case my body miraculously changes shape on me. I am so happy to see them put to use and to free space in my own wardrobe to make myself something similar in the future.
I heeded the lesson learned during Fern's skirt by completely ditching the original waistband and fly, and adding a knit waistband (measurements straight from the M4M bonny's) to these woven pants. The rest of the pant was based on the Daphne Knickers pattern by Violette Field Threads, because it was the only elastic waisted woven pant pattern I have! I was surprised by that. I used Althea's inseam measurement and measured up from the hem of the pants to decide where to lay the pattern. I had to narrow the legs a bit to fit everything on there. Once I had them cut and sewn together aside from the waist, I realized one of the pockets would have made much more sense if the front / back were reversed. 
Can you tell that the one she has her hand in here zips open? If that zipper was in the back, it wouldn't be very useful!

So- I added a yoke to convert the front of the pants to the back and then proceeded with the waistband (using some nebula scraps, also from Z & Q) and they fit PERFECTLY! 
So happy. They have all the fun technical details of the original pants (drawstring cinched leg openings, three fun cargo pockets, quick dry fabric) with a soft knit waistband- I don't think pants get better than that. I heard her declaring to her sister while putting them on, "Fern! These will be great ninja pants!" Awesome. 

Which brings us to my grand finale and probably most inspired piece- 
Althea's fleece Alaskan flag vest. 
Alaska has one of the best state flags. 
I bought a hat with it emblazoned on it while we were there:
I'm not sure how well my hat shows up here but I can't resist sharing another day in the Chugach.

Royal blue background with the big dipper and polaris depicted in the same angle that they point at each other in the sky. I love the simplicity and distinctiveness of it. Even if you don't know it's Alaska's flag, it still makes a great image. 
I had the blue fleece leftover from her Halloween costume (yet more proof that it is always a good idea to buy extra). The stars are cut from some Mustard Liverpool from Knitpop - leftovers from my Halloween costume. They were sewn on by hand. The lining is another Knitpop scrap; a blue and white tie dye that is probably rayon spandex (and very soft). 

I adapted the vest from a sweatshirt pattern in the latest kids Ottobre magazine (I got a year subscription for my birthday- so exciting!). I am pretty proud of my work here. Changes I made include fully lining it; ditching the sleeves and instead making some binding out of the fleece to finish the armholes and make it a vest, and adding some elastic to the back of the bottom hem for a more snug fit (I had sized up a bit).  Details that I love that were already a part of the pattern include the front and back yokes, the welt pockets and the zipper that slants to the right instead of vertical. The zipper is inset in a panel on the right side of the vest.
which creates a snug wrap around type of hood when it is zipped up.
I also decided to quilt the yokes a bit in order to draw attention to them as a detail and also to hold the liner securely to the outside and prevent things from sliding around.
And so there you have it! Cute, fun, Alaska inspired clothes they can move in!

Thanks for stopping by!