Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Alice in Cotton

Thank goodness for babies that grow! Apparently my newest Niece, V, is quite the grower. At 5 months old, she had already blown through all her 6-month-sized clothing, including her Dress for a Darryl Fan. Not optimal, but also not a bad excuse to go buy more fabric either. Like a good auntie, I headed straight for Custom Knit Destash on Facebook.

V's Dad loves horror movies, and V is her Mom's third daughter, so I've been given the green light to indulge Dad's taste. Which I did. This Dark Alice print was originally from BerryPosh Custom Designs, and I was in a hurry, so Tie Dye Diva Baby Peasant it was.

I think the most important thing I learned with this dress is, don't do a folded ruffle with 12oz Jersey spandex. Even with topstitching, the resulting ruffle had a life of its own, and it took me several minutes with the iron to tame it for pictures. Not the optimal gift for a couple with 5 children.

But on the bright side, if my BIL loves this dress as much as I think he will, I'm betting he will ALSO learn to love the iron: at least when it comes to ironing the ruffles on his little girl's dress, anyway. And someone else to do the ironing is a gift V's mom can get behind, I'm sure!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

A Dress for a Rebel Princess

My daughter had such a blast trying on her friend's dress that I knew I had to repeat the experience, ASAP. I know I sound like a broken record touting Sweet N Charmed fabric, but they really had my number earlier this year. Hilariously, I was actually going to skip this fabric until my daughter saw it, and SHE was the one who asked me to preorder it, back in July.


Also in the "Gee, where have I heard of THAT before" category is Simple Life Pattern Co; Originally I wanted to do a Paisley with this fabric (like the dress I made for my friend's kid), but the Rebel Princess in this panel was just too tall to make it work in my daughter's size. I had to go back to the Isla with the dropped waist option if I wanted to keep both the death star and the princess' feet, which I did.

The Isla also doesn't have a pattern for a contrasting neck band per se (it's intended to be lined), but someone in the facebook group was kind enough to share her method for making a neck band. It basically consisted of cutting a strip that was 1.75" wide by 85% of the total neckline length + Seam allowance, sewing it closed and then attaching it to the shirt as you would a regular neckband. Which I did, and I ended up very happy with the result.

So was my daughter! She's a size 5 on a good day and I made it a size 6 to give her room to grow. I am really happy with how the fabric placement worked out, and I forgot to take a picture but as with every dress I make for her, this too has pockets.

Little A has charmed me by treating this as a special occasion dress, wearing it to parties at daycare and declaring it her "Comic Con Dress" because the first time she wore it was, in fact, when I took the kids to Wizard World Comic Con earlier this year. As it happens (and yes, it was totally unplanned), all our best nerd outfits were handmade by me. A was especially excited to meet not just Rey, but also the inspiration for the fabric of her dress.

I'm not sure I quite met the initial goal of this project - I don't think it ended up with the same whirling, twirling, swingy-skirt factor as the Power Up Dress, probably because of the dropped waist - but that's the kind of problem that can always be solved with more sewing later. In the meantime, it's fun to see this dress be loved.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

A Superhero Shirt

Sewing for boys is hard. Not hard to do, but hard to decide. It sometimes feels like "girlie" fabrics outnumber the boyish ones, 3:1, and most of the good fun sewing pattern shops I find online are geared towards girls. There's a lot you can do by adding frills and ruffles to a girl's top or dress, but typically all the boys' patterns I find are for basics: the kind of stuff it's cheaper to buy in the store unless you manage to find Just the Right Fabric(tm).

Fortunately, thanks again to Sweet N Charmed, I got a hold of this lovely comic-book character print in a Cotton Jersey stretch knit.

When I pulled it out of the box, my son grabbed it and started dragging it around with it like a blanket. Well, OK: I can take a hint. I haven't made him anything since his Chompers Hoodie over a year ago, and my daughter has scored a Shark Dress and a Shark Shirt (which she never wears, sigh) during that time. Plus, I'd already put together a raglan for myself: how hard could a raglan for a toddler be?

I had a gift certificate from Etsy, so while I drooled a bit over the boys' raglan from New Horizon Designs, I ultimately went with the Explorer Raglan Pattern from Made by Jack's Mum. I had to contact MBJM to ask about imperial/metric (she's from the UK) and she responded quickly to assure me the pattern contained English units, so I bought the pattern. But when I printed it out, the proportions of the pattern were... well, they weren't very toddler-like.

My son wears an 18-24m on top, and so I thought I'd make a 2T. But when I went to double-check the measurements, I found that his waist measurement went with a 3T which, OK, that's reasonably close. But then the length measurement indicated by the pattern was FOUR INCHES longer than the top he was wearing. That's a long shirt on a kid who's under 36"!

I ended up making the shirt in a 3T as indicated, and hemming it under by about an inch and a half, rather than the recommended 1/4". It's still a long shirt, but not SO long that it looks out of touch with the style. I'm just lucky he's long & lean for his age, or I'd be hemming it a LOT more.

Also, I've gotta say - not a big fan of 1/4" seams with knits... It's a little nervewracking to manipulate a stretchy fabric with so little room for error - although I guess it does make for efficient cutting!

That said, I am very pleased with the end result. The shirt turned out super cute, and it was incredibly, amazingly fast to make. Like, I cut it out one evening after dinner and sewed it entirely the next, which NEVER happens with my busy schedule. Plus, it looks good on: and little I is thrilled to have a "Hulk" shirt made by his mother. I think my only mistake was making short sleeves in September, but that's easily corrected, as I will certainly be making this raglan again.

Linking up to Let's Bee Sewcial for fun.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

A Super Alternative for a Quilt-worthy Friend

Despite the title of this blog, I haven't really had much time for quilting since my son was born in 2015. I'm making slow, on-again-off-again progress on my Christmas Traditions quilt, but with the tiny windows I have to sew, large projects have taken a backseat to smaller, more manageable things that can be done in 3-4 sittings or so.

So, friends who used to be quilt-worthy are now getting garments. Like this gem. We've been good friends with this couple pretty much since their daughter was born a year after ours, and they're even bigger "classic" gamers than we are. So when I saw this print on Memorial Day sale at Sweet N Charmed, I knew it was time for their "quilt alternative."

For the pattern, I decided on the Paisley by Simple Life Pattern Co, because 1) I'd had such amazing success with the Isla and 2) the Paisley has an open-backed detail that's to die for, which I knew their daughter would love (see the photo from the SLPCo site below)

One of the fun parts of this dress (and this fabric) was doing a lot of fussy cutting. The repeat was such that I could easily make sure the scene was centered, and this dress did rely fairly heavily on clever cutting and placement of bricks.

The finished product has a fussycut brick neckline (no exposed seam method), and some clever placement of the brick fabric to create the illusion of a brick binding on the sleeve.

I also used the short sleeve option, the regular back (as opposed to the modest cut which is ALSO included), and the full circle skirt. I briefly considered dropping the waist a bit (my daughter's friend is tall), but was glad I ultimately didn't because keeping it where it was meant more long, flowy skirt to play with.

Entertainingly, my daughter came across me as I was cutting it out, and asked who the dress was for. When I told her, wrinkled her nose and said "I don't think my friend will like that fabric very much." Oh, my sweet summer child, I thought, you have no idea who I am trying to please with this gift. Of course, once she saw the completed project she was very happy to model it for me.

Twirling and playing in that skirt certainly made her day, and, I think she might be suffering a little dress envy! I did have one major Dress!Fail that I do hope to correct next time: when I topstitched the back it stretched the fabric and produced some puckering. I'm hoping the puckering will be less visible on my daughter's friend (A is a little smaller than her), but per the SLPCo fan page on facebook,  I'm definitely going to have to try a longer stitch length on topstitching if/when I make this again. 

Which - I think I need to. It's such a versatile pattern, and look at that face!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

A Selfish Sew

Even though I'm a second-generation quilter, I resisted learning sewing from my mom for a long, long while. Actually, I only relented in my mid-20s when I joined a middle-eastern dance troupe, and wanted to advance beyond circle and simple petal skirts. THEN Mom was back in favor. Of course, then she introduced me to quilting, and costume-making fell by the wayside entirely.

One husband and two kids later, I'm not dancing any more, and most of the clothes I need you can buy off the shelf. That said, occasionally I do see a fabric that just makes me WANT to wear it... I don't really have the tailoring/fitting skills to make flattering wear out of wovens. But, my recent foray into custom knits has opened a whole new world for me - suddenly I am shopping for fabric (and patterns) for *myself* again. There's so much good stuff out there!

We are a nerdy family, and so when I saw this "Robopanel" fabric from Sweet N Charmed Knits, I had to have it. I paired it with Lane Raglan by Hey June, a pattern I hope to get much more use out of.

I fussycut the heck out of my robotic print (that's the fun of custom clothing, right?), and paired it with a nice royal blue jersey solid from the same site. I'm 5'7" with a long torso, so I added a little length (which I think worked out) but I also ended up taking in the sides a bit (and shortening the sleeves) because the shirt came out kind of bulky. Perhaps I should have considered sizing down, but pear shape that I am, the sizing was dictated by my hips. I thought the neck band instructions were kind of confusing - and I'm pretty sure I did it wrong, but hey it worked out: and now I think I know what to do next time.

And there will definitely be a next time! This pattern is too quick and too versatile not to use again. I suspect as long as those custom knits are calling me, this will be one of my go-to patterns. Do you have any go-to patterns for knits?

Linking up to Let's Bee Sewcial for fun.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

A Magical Gift

My Dad Is an epically hard man to shop for. His garage is full of tools, his train collection is already brimming with trains, he's not big into clothes, or shoes, or robes or coffee mugs - heck, he doesn't even drink coffee.  I've pretty much given up on trying to get him a gift every Father's Day/Birthday/Christmas, because after many years of acquisition, I have come to suspect my dad likes getting stuff OUT of the house more than he likes having it come in.

But if there's one thing my Dad does love (besides experiences with his wife, kids, and grandkids) It's Harry Potter - not so much the books and movies themselves, but when I first moved halfway across the country, that's how he and I would *connect*; I flew home "for the movies," and with each new book, Dad and I would agree to specific stopping points, and then call each other at regular intervals to discuss what we'd just read. It was a way to have something in common when we were so many miles away.

Sadly, it's been a few years since the last book, and the last movie came out, and while we've certainly found other things to have in common (like the kids/grandkids), we do sometimes miss the magic of  HP-related bonding that was "our thing" and no-one else's. So one day, when I logged into a beloved custom knit site and saw this, I knew it was a chance to recapture that moment again;

Technically, this is a woven (which is good, I don't think my Dad wears knit shirts), but one look at it, with all our favorite characters, and I knew I had to have it. Dad is 6' 2" with a long torso, and he is forever in need of shirts that are long enough. Well, when you're sewing your OWN shirt, you can make it as long as you want to.

My mom assisted me in picking out the pattern, and getting the sizing right - It's a McCall's 2149, and she had me add 4 inches to the bottom. My parents are both retired and around each other most of the time, so we had to be sneaky to communicate.

Or so we thought: We did have one major slip-up, where my daughter grabbed ahold of the phone and announced "Grandpa! Mommy is making you a Harry Potter Quilt!" in that high-pitched voice that only a 4-year-old girl can manage. Fortunately, she said it so fast that my dad *claims* he didn't actually understand her, but "sewing room with doors I can close" just advanced 2-3 spaces on my "things to buy if I ever win the lottery" list. Ah, children.

Anyways, I was actually lucky enough to be able to deliver this gift in person. Work sent me to the area, and I was able to sneak a night in at "home" (aka my parents' house), so If I look tired in the photo below it's because I had worked both night & morning shifts to be off in time for the visit.

But, here I am with my dad, who is modeling my handmade gift of love. It's not *quite* as much fun as a new Harry Potter book, but it definitely brings back memories of one!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

A Simple Shark Dress

After the easy construction and amazing results of my first Isla Dress by Simple Life Pattern Co., I knew I had to try again, and soon.

While I was shopping for the fabric that ultimately became my nieces' kaleidoscope dresses, I brought my daughter with me to my LQS, and she made a find: a Jason Yenter shark print, from the Return to Atlantis line. Did I mention she likes sharks?

At the time I had no idea what I would do with it, so I only bought one yard. But, it turns out the Isla only needs one yard for the skirt if you choose the gathered option. Serendipity? Perhaps. My daughter certainly thinks so.

To make this dress, I chose the drop waist option, 3/4 sleeves, and a gathered skirt. Also, I did size up a bit (6) to give my daughter room to grow. I'm hoping this will be a fall staple, even though when I sewed it temperatures were in the triple digits.

As always, there was no resisting the heart cutout in the back, which my daughter was also impressed with.  Having now topstitched the heart both with regular stitched (Dress for a Darryl Fan) and with Stretch stitches (this one), I can honestly say I like the "regular" topstitching option better.

And of course I have saved the best for last (at least as far as my daughter is concerned)...this dress has pockets! They're included in the instructions, and although they did add to the time needed to make the dress, they were definitely worth it. Just look at the smile on that face!

It's my reward for a Pocket-y, Heart-y, Shark Dress well-sewed, and I will take it.  Linking up to Let's Bee Social and Linky Tuesday to share the joy.

Sew Fresh Quilts

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Even MORE Mingoes

Or, More Mingoes the encore!

Among the new babies in my life is a little sister for the recipient of More Mingoes and the Octopus Dress. I had been so consumed with making my way through Walking Dead: the Ruffles Edition that I pretty much looked up from that completed project and said "What? My friend is due in a week?" and then immediately entered a panic of "but I haven't even *thought* about what to make for her baby!"

Fortunately for me, when the baby came 4 days later I didn't *have* to think. Immediately upon learning the newborn child was a girl (my friend had declined a gender reveal at the ultrasound), I was struck by inspiration; Older sis had a flamingo dress she loved, and whenever I fussycut something, I overbuy. Did I have enough scraps to make a second dress work?

The answer: definitely yes. It took some creative seaming in the back (and a dip into my OTHER half-yard of pink Moda Marbles), but I managed a second, six-month sized Tie Dye Diva Peasant Dress to match the first. Sisters in matching outfits!

It'll be a few months before little sis' dress fits (and hopefully, older sis can still get into hers by then), but as with Zombie Ruffles, one well-loved turn deserves another!

Monday, July 3, 2017

Resurrecting the Zombie Fabric

Once upon a time, I made a Zombie Peasant Dress for a friend's one-year-old. It was a huge success, and worn many, MANY times. Beleaguered, it showed back up at my doorstep a couple months ago, with a request that I "just let out the sleeves a little bit, and maybe she can use it as a shirt."

Well, the way the dress was constructed, I would have had to pretty much take the whole thing apart to re-do the sleeves, and honestly, the way their child (now a lively two-year-old) was growing I didn't think that was going to buy them much time. I didn't want to destroy the dress - just in case its owner ever gets a smaller sibling - but fortunately, I had some scraps left over from the first run.

Not enough for another Tie Dye Diva Peasant Dress, definitely, but... hmmm. With some creative seaming, I was able to make it work with the much-more-efficient Foo Foo Threads Easy Peasant Top pattern I used for A's third-birthday My Little Pony Shirt. The FFT pattern is constructed entirely from blocks, and also has the benefit of being more "forgiving" in size since it's got a ribbon sash, ginormous sleeves, and a gathered skirt-bottom. That's helpful for a growing child.

Here's how it turned out! It took some creative seaming in the back, and the skirt isn't *quite* as full as the pattern calls for due to lack of fabric, but overall, I am very pleased with the result. It's just as Zombie-tastic, and even more femininely fun than its predecessor! I was also able to incorporate the ONE design element I loved from the Pattern Which Gave Me Such Fits - the contrast bands around the arm elastic. I think they're a really nice touch.

If I had it to do again, I think I'd make those bands just a *little* bit wider (they're 1/2" on a size 5 top), but I actually didn't miss the extra fabric in the skirt portion at all; it's still plenty ruffle-ey, and the bow tie in the back hides my extra seam. You also can't argue with a pattern that is flexible enough to be a dress while the wearer is young, and then a top as she lengthens out. Really, it's a win all around.

And, the recipient loved it! Just for fun, here's the little one in her "original" Zombie Dress (Easy Peasant Dress by TDD) ....

... and her new one made using Foo Foo Threads Easy Peasant pattern. Fabric in both cases is Walking Dead by Alexander Henry, and then a basic Kona (or maybe Michael Miller) black.

It's good to see your sewing be so well loved.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Dress for Darryl Fans (Walking Dead)

I am blessed with a family that keeps on growing, so given my time constraints, I have pretty much switched from quilts to clothing items for new-baby sewing projects. And my love affair with knits in general (and Knitorious in particular) continues.

This time the lucky recipient is a brand-new niece, on my husband's side. Her father and my husband are both consummate Zombie-lovers, so when he and his girlfriend announced that they were expecting, I knew I had to do something zombie-themed. My original Robert Kaufman Walking Dead print was running out, though, so I was very, very happy to luck into this:

Honestly, I may have retail-stalked a little bit at Knitorious to score it. 

Originally, I though I was going to make another hoodie (a la Chompers Hoodie) for a boy - the expectant mother "had a feeling." but I'm glad I didn't cut in, because the ultrasound revealed that the upcoming child was very much a girl. And here's where my tendency to overbuy served me well: 

Why make a boring, gender-neutral hoodie out of zombie fabric, when you can make a delightfully tongue-in-cheek, whimsical, and maybe just a little bit frilly Zombie dress for a girl? I mean seriously: try finding that in the store! It took a fair amount of searching for the exact right pattern (and my husband nixed some of the frillier things) but once we saw the Baby Islas Infinity Dress, from Simple Life Pattern Co, we were both in love. I think it was the heart cutout in the back that pushed us over the edge. Fortunately, the reviews checked out, and I bought the pattern off Etsy.

To make this particular dress I chose the "straight" waist, heart cutout on back, a full-on circle skirt, and 3/4 sleeves. I made it in size 6-12, but since part of my learning curve on this item was learning what a "stretch stitch" is - which I only learned after sewing half the neckline without one - it's probably more of a "newborn" or "3-6 month" garment in terms of head size. Ooops. 

Fortunately for me, other than that the dress came together incredibly well. It was a quick sew, the instructions were easy to follow, and thanks to the high-quality fabric the end result looks good, feels good, and moves nicely. I cannot wait to see it on my niece!

Monday, March 13, 2017

2016 Completions

Ah the joys of a busy mom! Two kids meant not a lot of time to sew this year, and a surprise bathroom remodel (thanks to hardwood floors and a leaky toilet) meant lots of watching the kids while my husband got all the project time.

Nonetheless, I did have two milestones this year - one, my first winging it on a terrible PDF pattern (I have nothing nice to say about the Pink Poodle Reese Dress Tutorial), and my second, working with knits! Both experiences turned out alright in the end, and I think I may be turning into a knits/clothing addict, at least until my kids are more self-sufficient on the weekend. 

No quilts this year, but here's the non-quilt roundup. 


More 'Mingoes (link)

Completed: February 2016
Fabric: Novelty Print, Moda Marbles
Pattern: Easy Peasant Dress by Tie-Dye Diva

More Zombie Fun (link)

Completed: February 2016
Fabric: Walking Dead by Alexander Henry
Pattern: Easy Peasant Dress by Tie-Dye Diva

Shark Shirt (link)

Completed: August 2016
Fabric: Smithsonian print by Robert Kaufman
Pattern: Semi-Freestyle after purchased pattern left lots of holes and ambiguities
For my own Daughter

Chompers Hoodie (link)

Completed: September 2016
Fabric: "Chompers" from Knitorious
Pattern: Dragon Hoodie by Puperita
My first Foray into working with Knits; given to my son

Quilts: 0
Other: 4

WiPs that made it from 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 to 2017 with progress but no completion: Christmas Traditions
WiPs without any progress in 2016Star Wars II