Wednesday, September 7, 2016

An Adventure in Mishaps OR This Shark Shirt Bites.

They say life's not an adventure until things start going wrong, and if that's the case, this was one adventurous shirt. I knew I wanted to make a fun new shirt for my shark-obsessed daughter, who recently grew out of her My Little Pony Peasant Top. She's an active kid, so I wanted something feminine but practical, and Etsy is full of dress patterns that are easy to modify into tops. Or so I thought. This shirt was a lesson in *not* purchasing your pattern at the start of your allotted sewing time.

No, I will not be linking to the maker of this pattern. You'll see why shortly.
The pattern I selected was the Reese Dress by Pink Poodle Bows - the simplicity of it, and the practical-but-feminine shape appealed in photos. But as soon as I downloaded it, I knew I had a problem: the pattern itself is terrible. First off, the size chart on the dress is determined by length. Length! Not as in "here's what the length should be for it to fall at the calf, here's what it should be for the knee or ankle." but "if you want a dress this length, you should make size 4T." Uh... length is easily the least critical parameter I use when selecting a dress for my kid. What about chest measurement? What about arms? Stuff is way easier to hem than adjust the sleeves on, I'm just saying.

You have to admit the print is beautiful
But, the kids were out with my husband, and this was my opportunity to work, so I pressed on. I cut into a beautiful ($15 a yard, legacy) Robert Kaufman shark print, and hoped upon hope that the pattern's sizing was reasonably close to storebought. Which, it wasn't. Well, maybe on average it was, but the body was way too big, and the arms were just about right for my child, who is a little on the skinny side. If the whole *thing* were big, that'd be liveable - too-big clothing is a problem time can solve in kids. But having sleeves that fit now and a body that will probably fit later... that was no good. Time to modify!

Anyone who's been following this blog for any length of time knows I have made exactly NINE articles of clothing from a pattern in my life. 5 of which were actually variations on the Tie Dye Diva Peasant Dress, leaving my experience limited to 4 unique patterns and an add-a-strap tutorial. So point being, I am not exactly a master sewist. But I don't have infinite time or infinite amounts of this limited-run fabric, so into the woods I went.

Yes, little A, that is the appropriate face to make
The end result involved some pintucks, a major shortening (which was to be expected when transitioning from dress to shirt), a grey contrast band to hide the part of the shirt I couldn't bear to cut off and so pleated for future growth potential. All things told, I'm pretty happy with it. But I will never, EVER be buying a Pink Poodle Bows pattern again! Lesson learned, read the reviews on etsy, don't just look at the star ratings for everyone who's happy the PDF came quickly. At least it came out cute anyway, and I get some of the design credit this way.

And, we got a smile in the end.

Friday, March 11, 2016

More Zombie Fun

When Jen of the Tie Dye Diva patterns said this dress could be made in the last minute, she was not kidding. We play Zombie Board games with another family, and I ordered this Alexander Henry Zombie print over a month in advance, thinking to make a zombie dress for their daughter.

Well, fast forward a bit, and there we are 2 days before the party, and my husband says, "are you picking up a gift for them, or am I?" Uh... panic! Not that I can't think of any other use for Zombie fabric, but this is the gift that's already paid for! Fortunately, I already stash Kona Black, so it was just a matter of cutting this dress out, and sewing it together.

Oh, and guessing the correct size for the recipient.

Operating on such a short timeline, I had to cut the dress out before the recipient's mom could text me back with a size. So, when she came back with a number two sizes larger than I'd guessed, I had to improvise.

Honestly, I think the black stripe down the side looks kind of cute - and thanks to the simple architecture of the dress, it solved the problem without much of a fuss. I may do it again, just for fun.

Our friends were thrilled to receive a handmade (and so not-stereotypically female) gift, and I got just a *little* impromptu bonding time with my sewing machine. Win, win!

Thursday, February 4, 2016


And introducing... my only quilt of 2015, IsaiahSaurus. This beauty was completed *just* under the wire, and I'm excited to show it off!

IsaiahSaurus was designed as the feature quilt for my new baby's nursery. Its artwork comes from the "Have you seen my Dinosaur?" panel by Jennifer Pugh, with coordinating fabrics from the line (purchased at Ethelbird & Eliza ) and some nice pops of color from a local quilt shop.

To design this quilt, I took inspiration from the book Panel Play, and put together my own composition. I started with just the panel, and rearranged the pieces until the proportions looked pleasing, and then filled in with the other elements as I went. The stripes on the top and bottom are pieced in, but the dinosaur "photographs" on the side were sewed on afterwards for a more 3-dimensional look. I'm actually pretty excited about it turned out!

The back was pieced from another coordinating stripe, and moda weave in cheddar and crimson. I have to admit, that stripe on the back was one of the first things that drew me to the line. It was also really fun to work with the bright colors; those are my favorite kind.

I have since added a hand-stitched dedication (that's what took so long - the rest of this quilt was ready to go in October) so now this quilt is up for use. It's probably going to spend most of its time hanging in the nursery, but a baby quilt isn't a baby quilt until it's been used at least once for tummy time.

So, we're off for a test drive. Gotta love that smile :-)

Monday, February 1, 2016

More 'Mingoes

If there is a "Tie Dye Diva Peasant Dress-a-holics anonymous," I almost certainly belong in it. I keep swearing I'm going to try other patterns, but this dress is so quick to sew and so universally appreciated by the recipients, I find myself adding extra projects in at the last minute with this as the pattern. I think I'm down to less than $2 per use on the Baby Tie Dye Diva Dress pattern, so I didn't bat an eye when the girls' version went on sale for 30% off on Cyber Monday, I just bought it.

This particular beauty is for the recipient of last year's Octopus Peasant Dress, who turned two in December. She's loved her first dress since she got it a year 8 months ago, and is as of late obsessed with the Flamingos at the local zoo. As is often the case with me, the fun novelty print is from Equilter, and accents are a Moda Marble from my stash.

As usual, this dress came together quickly and looked great. But best of all, the recipient was old enough (and the dress long enough) that no diaper cover was needed!

Linking up to Sew Cute Tuesday at Blossom Heart Quilts to participate in some community fun!

Monday, January 4, 2016

2015 Completions

This year, I learned to love garment sewing. I didn't anything done between January and March thanks to a rough bout of pregnancy sickness, but I made up for it starting in July when my son was born.  I added three new clothing patterns to my repertoire - approximately doubling the number of garments I'd made before - and changed from quilts to outfits for the babies of my childbearing friends. I've also learned the value of a project with a shorter time to completion, since sewing hours are just that much more precious with two kids than with one.

That said, I am particularly proud of my sole quilty finish this year: a feature quilt for my son's nursery. I started with only a panel and no pattern in mind, and improved my way from start to finish on a quilt whose design and color palate I adore. 

I'm not sure I'll be able to go "up" from here in terms of total productivity (I was assisted this year by maternity leave and a brief stint of unemployment for my husband), but I'm pretty excited about the skills I get to carry into the new year.


IsaiahSaurus (post forthcoming)

Completed: December 2015
Fabric: Have You Seen My Dinosaur by Jennifer Pugh
Designed, Pieced and Quilted by RLQ
A feature quilt for my son's nursery


Octopus Dress (link)

Completed: April 2015
Fabric: Undersea Adventure by Norcott Fabrics
Pattern: Easy Peasant Dress by Tie-Dye Diva
Gifted to a Friend's Daughter on her First Birthday

Rainbow MLP Dress (link)

Completed: April 2015
Fabric: Pre-Rutched MLP print from Hancock's
Pattern: Freestyle from several tutorials
For my own Daughter, a consummate My Little Pony Fan

Origami Peasant Dress (link)

Completed: July 2015
Fabric: Origami Oasis by Michael Miller
Pattern: Easy Peasant dress by Tie Dye Diva
Gifted to my Niece shortly after her first birthday

My Little Pony Birthday Shirt (link)

Completed: October 2015
Fabric: My Little Pony fabric from Hancock's
Pattern: Easy Peasant top by Foo Foo Threads
A top for my daughter to wear to her MLP-themed third birthday party

Easy Peasy Umbrellas (link)

Completed: November 2015
Fabric: April Showers by Bonnie and Camille
Pattern: Easy Peasant dress by Tie Dye Diva
Gifted to the newborn daughter of a friend

Star Wars Romper (link)

Completed: December 2015
Fabric: Star Wars by Camelot
Pattern: Sweet Comfy Romper by Puperita
First Garment for my son, made to commemorate the opening of Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Quilts: 1
Other: 6

WiPs that made it from 2012 2013 2015 to 2016 with progress but no completion: Christmas Traditions
WiPs without any progress in 2015: Star Wars II

Monday, December 21, 2015

May the Romper be with You

Anybody who's followed this blog for any length of time know's I'm kind of a nerdy sewist. I've also given birth to a son this year, and picked up garment sewing as a less-time-consuming alternative to quilting. So while all my friends on all my message boards were putting together christmas dresses for their daughters (and yes, I do have one: she is 3) I was sewing a decidedly NON-christmas-y first outfit for my son: a Star Wars romper for him to wear in celebration of Star Wars: The Force Awakens (premiering Dec 18 in the US).

To start with, I decided on a pattern I've been eyeballing for a while, the Sweet Comfy Romper by Puperita. And I picked up a great Star Wars Print on eQuilter, which is even greater in person. The fun thing about Puperita's Romper is that there are contrast pockets and cuffs show the lining fabric, giving me a great excuse to trot out my manipulable color card and pick the exactly *perfect* shade of Kona cotton to go with my feature fabric.

I spent *hours* on this card last year when I took a "Color Intensive" course (currently being offered again - I highly recommend it), and it was nice to see it pay off.  (I settled on Kona Copen in the end).

Putting this together was definitely more time-consuming than I'd expected. I probably spent a good 10-12 (interrupted) hours cutting it out, sewing it together, and fussing with buttons and seams. Admittedly, part of this was putting together the PDF pattern (which I usually keep) and learning my buttonhole foot, which hopefully I won't have to figure out again. And, while wrestling with legholes on a 6-month sized outfit wasn't exactly my favorite, at least it wasn't another diaper cover.

Overall, I am pleased with the results! The romper did turn out bigger than the advertised size (perhaps due in part to the touted "relaxed fit"), but I was able to get out 6-month-onesie wearing son into a 6-month sized romper (more or less) by adding a second set of buttons on the shoulder straps. And, I can always cut off the buttons/unroll the legs as he grows!

He seems to like it fine, and I am one proud mama: in every sense of the word.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

A Dress for A Rainy Day

A few weeks ago we got our first rain of the season, and it got me in the mood for a project I've been meaning to complete. One of my dearest friends from high school had a daughter this past March, and I've been meaning to make her a "welcome to the world" gift.

My friend lives in San Francisco - and it's always raining there, so close to the ocean - so I simply couldn't resist using these colorful umbrellas from Bonnie & Camille's April Showers (Moda) for the feature fabric. I used the Tie Dye Diva Easy Peasant Dress pattern again (for those counting, this is time #3) and this time, I did it with 3/4 length sleeves and a ruffle. The accent fabric is Moda Weave in Crimson.

I also added a unique personal touch for the first time: since this is my fifth garment, I celebrated its completion with some custom twill tape labels from MommieMadeIt on Etsy. It took a little while to get these beauties in (and I designed them myself using MSPaint), but they were totally worth it.

Now, to send this off to its intended wearer. Hopefully it will brighten a rainy day for her!