Saturday, October 18, 2014

Big List 'O Cool Weather Sewing Plans

Every change in seasons results in new sewing plans.  And since our in between seasons here aren't extremely dramatic in temperature change I'm able to ease into sewing new things for me and my children.  I always seem to dream up way more than I'm usually able to accomplish and I'm ok with that, that's part of the sewing fun- dreaming.
I thought this year I might make a list of the things I'd love to sew for cooler weather (and that I may or may not actually complete).  It helps me to know what I have in my stash so that I can better utilize fabric and patterns.  I also thought I'd jot down some of the reasoning behind some of my choices, for example, a dress may not be something I need but I may need to stash bust some fabric that is perfect for a dress. I know this list is forever long, but here it is anyway!

Sewing for Me:

  •  Thurlow Trousers- I've had this pattern for a while and I am going to conquer it, especially since there is this fantastic sewalong to hold my hand.  I am inspired to make them into skinny pants based on this adorable pair.  It seems like its only truly practical to get a great fitting pant I can make since that is what I wear most on a day to day basis.
  • Simplicity 2061 Knit pant- I recently made these and am now obsessed.  I want to change up the pleats to tucks for fun and I love the idea of pseudo pants that feel like pajamas!  I'm really inspired by this pair.   More of these are a must. 
  • I loved wearing my Moss Skirt  last winter with tights and leggings.  I want to make another one with a little more length on it.  I've got some great ikat looking fabric from Fabric Mart I want to use up or maybe some neutral fabric.  
  • I really need new winter pajamas and ugh, I kinda dread making them.  However those quilting cottons absolutely must be busted this year and nothing uses them up like pj pants.  Since I've had success with the knit Simplicity 2061 I think I'll use the included pj pant from it as well.   

  • Liesl and Co. Bistro Dress.  I recently won some prize money from Stitch 56 for their Alder dress competition and I snapped up this pattern along with one for my 2 year old and I am eager to make it since I've been eyeing sheath dress patterns for a year.  I'm undecided on the fabric to use but might just use some red fabric I thrifted recently.
  • I think I need a winter ready Emery Dress.  After all I made all my fitting changes this summer so it should be just right!  This awesome plaid one is my favorite of all I've perused on the interwebs. 
  • Oh my goodness, have you all seen the gorgeous DVF wrap dresses popping up on sewing blogs lately?  I really should make one.  After all I bought my first wrap dress this summer and have LOVED wearing it, sooooo comfy and soooo well fitting.  So I have this Simplicity wrap dress pattern, now I have to figure out what kind of fabric works well with it and how to make it look good!  Realistically I'll probably make this for the spring.
  • This dress has been in my head a while, especially the one with piping and a contrasting panel.  Might just have to move this up the list.
  • I also really wanted to mash up my Alder and Archer and make a long sleeve Alder like the one on the one on Grainline blog.  I know I'd wear that a ton.
  • Realistically I mostly wear pants and tops, so it only makes sense to make more tops!  I am trying to figure out a good winter casual top pattern and find it a challenge.  I'm really considering this one, it looks promising.  I love the idea of raglan sleeves and the comfort of knits.  
  • I have worn my two Archers to death this summer and spring and they are true work horses in my wardrobe.  It seems like they should be at the very top of my sewing list.  I believe a flannel one is in order and maybe some gorgeous voile I've been saving. 

  • Simplicity 1325 I am super obsessed with wool jackets right now and I think its because I've got some beautiful wools in my stash that are ready to be worn.  Also I find outerwear kind of a challenge to make.  I love this one for the cut.  
  • Simplicity 1688 Although I think this jacket is supposed to be more of a spring design I have a lovely cobalt blue cut of linen that I'd love to see turn into this jacket.  I love the simplicity of this jacket and it would be awesome to try to make the striped version.
  • I found this awesome pattern at my Mom's when visiting this summer and she had always planned on making it.  I found tear outs from her women's magazines showing her inspiration for it.  She never made it and the bust measurements are the same as mine- I am totally making this!  It seems like some kind of legacy I should fulfill for her!  I think I'll make the longer version first.  The instructions don't include a lining, only facings so I'll need to figure out how to add a lining to facings.  Anyone, please share your resources for doing that!  
Also can you believe that she bought 6 patterns for 1.00???? I definitely want to do a Chanel inspired version but like I said, I'm gonna have to read a few more good resources for that!  When I lived in Kansas City I went to an estate sale for a man who was a tailor and got some amazing plaid wool that I think would make the perfect long version of this coat.  

Sewing for my children: 

  • I want to make the Ayashe blouse for both my 2 year old and 6 year old.  I have the pattern traced and cut out now to cut the fabric and sew them!  I'm always on the look out for cute long sleeve tops for my girls for winter and find it a bit of a challenge to find ones I like.  I really love this woven Boden top and the 6 year old gave a thumbs up to the one with birds.  
  • The Flashback Skinny Tee has been a tried and true for me but I've found that as my eldest has grown that the fit just isn't quite right.  I think that its a bit too skin tight on her and her measurements aren't out of the norm for a child of her age.  So rethinking this one for her- will need to make some adjustments.  It fits the 2 year old just fine. 
  • If I make the Ayashe blouse, I have to make the Ayashe Skirt since I bought the two together at Pink Chalk Fabrics.  
  • Pants for my children is an area where I've always been at a quandary, they don't want anything they have to button or zip, they need to be durable and a dark color that absorbs/masks stains.  I don't really want to make a bunch of leggings for them (booorrriinnngg) but I also don't want to spend a ton of time making pants with a fly and button that no one will appreciate but me.  I've used the Parsley Pants in the past with great success.  But like the flashback tee I find the more my child grows the less I like the fit.  The fit is ok, but I really would rather they be closer to perfect so as not to appear too "my Mom made these and now I have to wear them."   
  • I love McCall 6781 for both my girls.  It reminds me of this Oliver and S dress and I love the way you can use a contrasting fabric for the hem and neckline inset.  
  • I also like McCall's 6786 for my eldest.   I usually like things that look more on the side of young child but think this one may be worth checking out.
  • Of course the ever popular Geranium dress will make a few appearances, especially since I am still on my mission to stash bust my quilting cottons.
  • McCall's 6982 is cut out for my eldest and she's given it the thumbs up.
  • I love Simplicity 2157 for my 2 year old.  I have the pattern already cut out.  I have a goal of making taffeta dresses for my girls this Christmas and I'll probably use this pattern for the 2 year old's taffeta dress.  
  • The Oliver and S Forest Path Cape was the other pattern I picked up from Stitch 56 and I plan on making it for my 2 year old.  It uses so little fabric and I have a yard of beautiful wool I've been holding on to for a few years now for just such a pattern as this!  Its a gorgeous burgundy and pink plaid wool from a quilt shop in Kansas City and was never enough for a pattern for me but is perfect for the 2 year old. 
  • I made this Simplicity Coat for my then 5 year old last year and it was adorable.  here's the link.  I might have to make it for her again this year since she loved it too.  Again I have to whine about the big pattern companies putting patterns out of print far too soon for me!
  • I have a goal to draft a coat for my 2 year old but I am doubtful of completing it any time soon. I tried a couple of times already and it-was-huge...back to the drawing board. 
I know this list is impossibly long....and unrealistic, I'll probably only get to a quarter of it but I like to put all this down to be able to go back to as I work through my stash.  

So how do you organize your sewing plans?  Or do you organize your sewing plans?  I'd be interested to know!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Revisiting Simplicity

One of my sewing goals for this year is to revisit pant making with the thought that I'd finally figure out how to fit them properly to my body.  Here enters Simplicity 2061- a pattern that requires very little fitting!  I made the view without cuffs and used a knit from my stash purchased at Hancock fabrics.  The pattern was super easy having only three pattern pieces and sewing with knits is always so forgiving since there are no seams to finish.  A truly fast make if there ever was one! 

     The top is Simplicity 1366 and I searched sewing blogs (in particular this one  and this one) and Pattern Review for versions of this top and any hints on the fit.  I decided on a size 10 which I think I just guessed at for my size since my bust measures 34.  The fit is great for a boxy relaxed top.  I almost made the size 8 but thought it might alter the boxy look of the blouse too much.  One thing I love about this top is where it hits on the hipline.  Its a little higher than some of my other loose tops which I think makes it more flattering. Its an incredibly easy and simple pattern and I am already planning another one.     
     This fabric was the DEVIL to sew, I tell ya, crazy uncooperative.  Its kind of a wonder that it looks as good as it does here because it was all kinds of wonky to cut and sew.  Its a salvaged/failed maxi skirt that I made last winter and just couldn't part with.  I love the feel and look of this fabric and just didn't want to waste it on a failed skirt.  Its thrifted so I really have no idea about the content and type of fabric it is but its not synthetic and incredibly soft and I loved the texture.  

I made this outfit with a few things in mind.  Number 1, I will be heading off to visit Hanni soon and really wanted knit pants to wear while flying.  Number 2, Fabric Mart is having a sew-along contest where you are to make something inspired by art. and Number 3, I am still trying to bust my stash. So as far as these makes go there are a lot of win-wins here.  In case you're interested the Fabric Mart contest asks that you be inspired by art for your make and my inspiration came from a Mary Cassatt painting called Autumn.  I love Cassatt and drew inspiration from the colors in her painting otherwise I probably would have gone with a boring black top for this ensemble.

 One final thing, my Mom came to visit for my eldest's birthday and helped me line up all the stripes for these pants which I REALLY appreciate.  She has always been so sweet to go along with my making obsessions when she visits and for that I will always be grateful to her.  So good to have a Mom who jumps right in on whatever interests you, such a good friend and Mom.
 I think she and I were both incredibly surprised at how well the pants turned out.  I haven't worn knit pants since junior high when stirrup pants were a thing...anyone remember those?  In case you have no idea what stirrup pants are here's a link to remind you how to style them.
So here's to the new, modern stirrup pants that feel like a pajama but I hope look like a step up from them!  And a top pattern that helped rescue my fabric from ugly maxi skirt status.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Bubble, Bubble

Toil and Trouble.  Some days, that's exactly what staying at home with a three year old feels like. 

This is the first year that my daughter is old enough to be excited about Halloween and wearing a costume.  About a month ago we started asking her what she wanted to be for Halloween, and each time it was a different answer:  Cinderella.  A cat.  Queen Elsa.  The only rule was that once I bought the fabric, she could not change her mind.  So when she finally gave the same answer for an entire week, "a witch", we finally went ahead with the costume.

I have to say, I am really, REALLY proud that I completed this project a full three weeks before Halloween, and not at 1 a.m. the night before (or, more realistically, at 3 in the afternoon before Trick or Treating).

 For the pattern I used the Chole Dress pattern from Violette Field Threads.  I used the same pattern in August to make a flower girl dress, and decided that I was going to be brave (crazy?) enough to try it again for a witch's outfit.  And fortunately for my sanity, it was sooo much easier this time around.  The pattern calls for three layers in the skirt:  a layer of chiffon, a layer of netting, and a layer of tulle.  After struggling with the chiffon in the flower girl dress, I decided not to use it for this dress.  I didn't think the chiffon added much to the shape or the look of the skirt (at least for the tea length version), and so it didn't seem worth it to mess with it this time.  So for the three layers I used netting, tulle, and then a Halloween mesh fabric from Joann's for the top layer. 

Two quick notes about this pattern:  First, the picture on the patten cover shows a much, much fuller skirt on the tea length version.   After making it twice, I have never been able to achieve that look.  So I don't know if I'm missing something, or if there were extra layers beyond what the instructions call for that were added to those dresses.  Secondly, the pattern says that a lining is "optional", but both dresses required lining so as not to be really see-through.  So if anybody else has had any experience making this dress, I'd love to hear about it. 

Here's the back of the dress:

And voila, a perfect witch's dress for a three year old who likes to be fancy!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Two (fairly) quick and satisfying makes.

I have lacked motivation to sew for myself lately and I think its because making clothes for myself is more time consuming and technical than making clothes for my children.  Children are fairly simple to sew clothes for, after all they are mostly straight tubes and there is very little fussing with the dart here or letting out a seam line there and I never make muslins for them.  So there are times when I just can't be bothered with starting a project for myself because I know it will require so much more from me.    

I don't know why the skirt appears to be glowing in this picture!
So here enters these two pieces.  The top is one of my favorite patterns, the Briar top by Megan Nielsen.  I've made it many times before and this one is made up in a stretchy knit I believe with some lycra content- purchased from Hancock fabrics..  Its the XS with 3/8" seam allowances on the side seams rather than the called for 5/8".  I've found with knits that depending on the stretchiness of the knit the pattern can greatly vary in fit.  For example I've made this top in a ponte and since ponte's have next to no stretch I have to go up a size in the pattern, see that version here.  This is a quick make as far as tops go.  The neckline finish sometimes isn't as clean as I wish for it to be- I have some trouble getting an even looking top stitch on the neckband- but its still good.  

The skirt is the Sewaholic Hollyburn from Pink Chalk Fabrics.  I made a size 8 letting the waistband out by 1/2" (my waist measures 29" for reference).  The fabric is a thrifted find that I believe is some sort of rayon and poly blend.  It drapes like challis but is a lot less fussy to work with than challis.  I really wish I knew what it was because I would only work with this type of fabric if I had my druthers.  I love rayon challis but it can have a mind of its own- puckering and fraying for what seems like no good reason and stretching out on the bias like crazy.  But this fabric behaved itself which was wonderful- minimal stretching on the bias!

As for the pattern It was very straightforward and I can't think of any difficult spots.  I did not sew the zipper according to the directions but basted the seam closed and then basted the zipper in place before sewing it down.  This is my "go-to" method.  I also hand stitched the hem since I didn't want to mess up the smoothness of the fabric and I hand stitched down the waistband on the inside for the same reason.

So, there we go, two (fairly) quick makes for me that required minimal fitting- I love that!
As for you, do you sew children's clothes to take a break from sewing/fitting garments for yourself as well?

Linking up to Frontier Dreams: Keep Calm and Craft On.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Still stash bustin' with Simplicity 2064

I am still stash busting over here and my latest stash busting bff is Simplicity 2064.  It was a Little Lisette pattern that is sadly discontinued.  Why oh why do the big four pattern companies phase patterns out so quickly?  I mean I've only had this one sitting in my pattern stash for about 3 years (that's a spring chicken pattern to me) before I made it!  So I really wish they would bring back some of the Lisette patterns and especially the Built by Wendy patterns....please,please bring those back!  
 My hope with this pattern was to gobble up a few pieces of fabric that weren't quite big enough for dresses or tops.  The first skirt is made from a Heather Ross design for Hancock Fabrics.  Its from her Crafty Chloe series.  I've said it here before, I think this book series and pattern series is adorable and so does my 5 year old who is kind of hard to impress with fabric.
 This pink skirt is made up in size 5 and is just perfect the denim one below is a size 6 and a bit to big and long for her just yet.  These will be perfect to wear over leggings in cool weather.
 This girl's so full of antics these days...they include laughing loudly, phpptttt noises, making up jokes that she believes are hi-larious, pouncing on you and rarely smiling for pictures instead she sticks that tongue out as far as possible!  I'm so glad she is who she is- my equal parts silly and tenderhearted sweetie!

Monday, September 22, 2014

"Eggplant Purple Retro Reproduction Dress" or "How I Stash Bust"

Once again I've made a Retro Reproduction dress!  Surprise! Surprise!  This is another circle pocket version made up in corduroy.  The length of corduroy was left over from a project last year and I didn't have enough length to cut out the front and back of the dress so I slashed the front across the breast and added piping.  This is a great way to eek out another dress from a small or odd shaped piece of fabric.  

The piping and bias tape are me-made and are the reverse side of black and white striped fabric.  I started to use the right side but didn't like how sharp the contrast was, when I turned the fabric over I realized the stripes appeared to be gray which I loved.  This is one of the sewing tricks I like to use when I'm not 100% satisfied with a fabric in my stash, I just turn it over and see if I like the reverse side or "wrong" side better.
 I'm thinking that the next iteration of this dress might just have to have some gather or pleats on the center front under that slash line...  The bottom is bias tape finished and that adds a little extra length that this growing tidbit needs.

 You may notice those awful bug bites on little girl's arms and legs - those are from the massive amount of mosquitoes in our back yard.  We have battled and battled those darn critters but they are the meanest mosquitoes I've encountered.  They care nothing about any kind of "gentle" kid friendly repellent.  Hopefully they will subside soon when the weather cools.  
I just had to include this picture of little bit bending down, it really puts me in the mind of Eloise Wilkin drawings.  Her illustrations are always my favorite.  Well, here's to one more Retro Reproduction dress to transition into fall, I'll say it again, its such a quick make that its really sew little trouble to add pockets and bias tape.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Bubble Pockets Pattern and Tutorial

Back in July, I used the Retro Reproduction pattern to make a corduroy jumper for my daughter.  To change it up a little I added bright "bubble" pockets:  large pockets that had an exposed lining and were gathered at the bottom, and were accented by piping.  After reading lots of positive feedback (thank you!), it seems that many of you would like to be able to add bubble pockets to your Retro Reproduction dresses as well-- so here's the pattern and tutorial.

Click here for the pattern.

Just as a note, I only drafted one size bubble pocket, and it was originally used on the size 4 Retro Reproduction dress.  Since the pockets don't affect the fit of the dress at all, they can really be any size you'd like.  So to make the pockets larger or smaller, simply change the scale when you print the pattern pieces.

So without further ado...

Bubble Pocket Tutorial 
The pockets should be added to the Retro Reproduction Dress before the side seams are sewn together

1.  Print and cut out the patten pieces.   For each pocket you will need one pocket lining and two pocket exteriors.  For the lining: fold your fabric with wrong sides together.  Place pattern piece on top of the two layers, pin, and cut.  Now you should have two pieces, mirror images, for the left and right pockets.
For the exterior:   Fold your fabric with wrong sides together. Place the pattern piece on top of the two layers, pin, and cut.  Repeat for the pieces for the second pocket.  You should have four exterior pieces, two sets of mirror images. 
Be sure to cut the notches in the exterior pieces, this is where your gathering stitches will go (see step 2). 

2.  On the top edge of the pocket lining, fold over 1/2 inch towards the wrong side and press.

3.  On both exterior pieces use a gathering stitch and sew between the notches, 1/4" from the edge.  Do not gather the stitches yet.

4.  Next prepare your piping. At one end of the piping, pull the cord out approximately 1/2 inch, and then clip the cord.  This will allow you to tuck the piping into the seam allowances later on.

5.   With the right side of the fabric up, line up the unfinished edge of the piping with the unfinished straight edge of the exterior piece.  The end of the cord that you clipped should be inside the casing.  This end should line up with the end of the straight edge, with the empty casing extending beyond the fabric. 

6. Baste the piping to the exterior pocket piece.  Using the stitch lines on the piping as a guide, sew as close to the cording as you can without stitching on it.

7.  With ride sides together, pin the two pieces of the exterior pocket together.  Make sure the side with the piping is on top.  The piping will now be sandwiched between the two pieces.  Sew the two pieces together, stitching on top of the basting stitches.  This will allow you to sew as closely as possible to the piping without seeing it.

8.  Open the two pieces, fold so that the wrong sides are together, and press. 

9.  Pull the gathering stitches on both the top and bottom pieces so that the exterior pieces fit the curve of the lining.  The straight edge of the exterior pieces should run diagonally through the lining, meeting at the opposite corners.  On the top corner, tuck the piping casing behind the lining.  Using a 1/4 inch seam allowance, baste from the top right corner all the way around to the bottom left corner.

10.  Prepare the piping by again pulling out the cording and cutting off approximately 1/2 inch.   Line up the piping with the top right corner, with the empty casing extending beyond the top of the fabric .  With unfinished edges aligned, pin the piping along the entire curved edge of the pocket.  Baste.

11.  On the front of your Retro Reproduction dress, mark along the side seam where you want your pocket to be placed.  Pin the unfinished straight edge of the pocket along the side seam of the dress.  Baste.  Turn the edges of the piping and pocket to the wrong side, so that the seam allowance is in-between the pocket and dress, and just the piping is exposed.  Pin.

12.   Starting at the top inside corner, top stitch along the folded top edge of the pocket, and then "stitch in the ditch" between the pocket and the piping. 

And you're done!  When you sew the front and back of the dress together the raw edges of the pocket will be enclosed in the seam allowance. 

We'd love to see what you're creating with the Retro Reproduction pattern!  So feel free to link up your creations to our flickr page, found here.