Friday, October 7, 2016

Beach Vacation Basics

We realllllyy needed a beach vacation this year, I mean reaaalllyy.  Being in helping professions (my husband and I both fit that category) is a good thing but they MUST be tempered with retreat to keep them going.  This was the year that we decided to start a beach vacation trip tradition.  We chose our spot, held our breath and booked the house, drove the long drive with kids in tow, arrived, after a day began to breathe easier, let our hair down, put on swim suits and then three days later were told we had to evacuate due to hurricane Matthew.  Vacation cut short, but it will not be our last time to go to this beach, it was a perfect location for us.  Neither of us like a commercialized scene and we like a very slow pace when we vacation, we finally found the place, and we will be back!! 

All that aside, you are here for the sewing part of this story so here you go.  Of course I love a deadline and a beach deadline is even sweeter.  So I got to work creating some basics.  I have had a gap in my wardrobe of simple casual basics since beginning work a year and a half ago.  That was when most of my sewing shifted to creating work-wearable items.  This is a small collection of basics that I could live in while on my trip or off time.  

 Tee Shirts:

 This top is McCalls 7286 which is a raglan tee with a split hem.  I ended up making three versions all in different knit fabrics.  On this version I only hemmed the sleeves.  The white tee is a thick cotton spandex blend from Sew Sassy Fabrics in Huntsville Alabama bought almost two years ago.  If you are ever in Huntsville and can make it to Sew Sassy its a fun sewers wonderland.  They have so much elastic and truly every sewing supply you might need for sewing undies.  They were kind enough to let me wander around their shop even though they are predominately a shipping location.  Its a family business and I love that, I hope I can go back one day!

The shirt above was made using left over yardage from a dress made for Fabric Mart.  Its a cotton lycra blend that is thinner than the white one and it has a bad tendency to curl up at the finished edges.  I did not have this problem with the dress I made of this fabric so I think my hems just weren't deep enough.  Its a really good knit and I am glad I could squeeze one more make out of it.

 This tee was made using leftover yardage from a dress made last fall for the Fabric Mart Fabricista challenge.  It has little to no stretch recovery (no spandex content) so the neckline on this version stands a bit off of my neck but no worse than all of my tee's from Target.  I did not hem the sleeves or the hemline on this version, I just let them curl up.  The fabric was found on the bargain yardage table at Hancocks, again, before they went out of business.   

This is such a simple tee to make, when you don't have to set sleeves, the process is so much quicker.  One note on the split hem.  I serged the aztec print tee together and it changed the nature of finishing the split hem so I actually recommend zig zag stitch for this shirt if you plan on hemming it, the serger cuts off the seam allowance you might need to help everything turn up properly for the split hem. 


This kimono is a great show piece to top off plain tees and shorts.  It is Simplicity 1318 which was a Pattern Review Best Pattern of 2015.  I was unsure about how this might come together, would it look like a bath robe or overwhelm my frame?  I think it turned out perfect and had so much fun wearing it out at the beach.  I used two rayon challis fabrics from JoAnn fabrics.  I love contrasting prints like this. 

The pattern is a good one, my favorite thing about the pattern is the neckline area.  It is constructed in such a way that it sits so nicely up around the neck area and doesn't shift or slide off.  Its really subtly contoured to fit well and I so appreciate that detail.  I used a little extra care in constructing the facings, hand sewing them down for a neat finish instead of my usual stitch in the ditch.  I serged all the inside seams. 

After I made this kimono I was so excited to wear it before the beach trip that I threw it over my black maxi t-shirt dress and wore it to work.  Print mixing this kimono really makes me want to try out my hand at print mixing this one by McCall's designer Melissa Watson.   I would love to see this made up in all those pieces of silk I've salvaged from thrift store garments or other projects...

I also made swimsuits for myself and my girls.  I feel cautious about doing a full post on those here- too many wierdos on the internets these days.  So I posted it on Pattern Review, however I feel ok sharing the rash guard pictures.

My suit and the girl's suits were made using McCalls 7417. 

 A few notes on this pattern:
  • I made my top in a small at the bust grading out to a medium at the waist. I needed a smidge extra room in the bust line so I let that out a little at the princess seams on the suit with the blue inset.
  • I made the bottoms in a medium and let out the back princess seams a bit around the fullest part of my bum. 
  • Fabrics were from Hancocks and were nylon lycra swimwear with the exception of a few panels on the suit with a blue inset.  
  • I fully lined the bottoms and really recommend that you line them.  It adds extra support (tummy control) and feels more substantial. 
  • The top is unlined, I wore a bikini top under mine. 
  • I found the short sleeve more comfortable but the long sleeve definitely gives more protection against sun.
  • I did not hem the sleeves or bottom of the tops, just couldn't be bothered! 
  • The bottoms cover my belly button but don't touch my rib cage, that gives you some idea of how high they are.

I love this suit and had so much fun wearing it.  It stayed put perfectly, the bottoms felt like a huge accomplishment since they fit better than many of my ready to wear suit bottoms.  I was so proud to finally make a suit for myself, I've made them for my girls but this suit gave me a sewing high since fitting myself is a little trickier than fitting them.

That's my beach vacation basics, I was so glad to get so many of them finished for my trip and am especially proud of the swimsuits.  I was pretty scared that the suit would be a fail but gave myself a "have no fear of sewing" talk and it all worked out!  Now I feel like its time to tackle another sewing fear and get on with pant making....shudder.  Or in the near future jean making!!

Thanks for reading and happy sewing!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

September Shorts

I need more shorts for our upcoming trip to the beach and this is the result!  After seeing a few bloggers and Pattern Reviewers make these shorts up I thought I would give them a try.  

 Everyone's review basically stated that these shorts have too much design ease and you should make one or two sizes down from your normal size.  I would recommend that as well, with the addendum that you need to be sure that the top portion will slide up over the widest part of your hips.  If not then regardless of the fact that they have an elastic back you still won't be able to get them pulled up.  So that being said, I cut a size 10 around the leg opening and a 12 at the waist.  I would normally sew a size 14.  I also had to let out the side seams a bit at the top to make sure I could indeed stretch the top over my widest point.   

 Don't judge this picture, its for sewey people who care about back fit, so the poofing at the center top is probably my fault, I added a wedge up there for a small fuller seat adjustment and will have to shave some off next time.  Heres a picture illustrating what I did to the pattern.  My pointer finger is pointing to the wedge:

 I also lowered the lower crotch curve a bit and cut at the size 14 for the pointy bit of the crotch above the inseam. This was all in an effort to accommodate my tush.  Worked pretty well.  These shorts don't have the most flattering back view but meh, can't win them all and they were a relatively quick make. 

 Fabric used is a thrifted cotton that I think is a cross weave, it really wanted to unravel but is really soft.  Good for casual beach time.  I serged almost all the inner seams.  The top is a Megan Nielsen Briar from a few years ago.  Its a soft drapey rayon knit.  Well that's the long and short of this make, I am hoping to get a few more things sewn before I leave but they may be more for the small ones than for me, and that's ok.

Thanks for reading and happy sewing!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

A New Dress for Little Girl

My little one turned four this summer, which means I have been combing through my children's pattern stash trying to make up everything that she is about to age out of!! I have quite a few and I will be doing well if a finish say, three....we'll see how it goes!  My days, weeks, months can get away from me in the fall!

This dress is the Oliver and S Badminton Dress.  I love this sweet little dress, its like a really spruced up pillowcase dress.  The pattern, like all Oliver and S patterns, is very thorough and any mistakes I made were usually from inattention.  Whenever I complete an Oliver and S I want to make it right away again because the results are so great, now I'm thinking of a brightly colored one!

The fabric for this was from my stash for children's wear and I have to say I have been very intentional in the last few years to widdle this stash.  These prints are fall inspired prints that I have been holding on to for the right make, only to realize that there is no time like the present!  How much longer will they willingly wear squirrels and foxes?

My thought in the fall theme was that she can wear it with leggings and a long sleeve t-shirt when the weather begins to turn. 

I am going to enter this in the Pattern Review Sewing for Children contest just because I enjoy participating in their contests.  I don't expect to win since there are always amazing entries. 

Little girl seems ok with the dress, she's a little hard to impress these days but meh, that's ok I'm hoping when I make big sister something in this same print that she'll be motivated by the matchy matchy sister factor! Fingers crossed!
Thanks for reading!

Saturday, August 6, 2016

A Sewing Legacy

This is my August post for Fabric Mart Fabrics.  

I have posted it here for those of you who predominately follow this blog- meaning my family and friends ha ha!  So here it is...

While visiting my parents this summer I discovered a little piece of my family sewing history!  My Mom asked me to go through a few boxes of old patterns she was thinking of getting rid of and being the pattern hoarder collector that I am, I dug through them and found some family history that even my Mom had forgotten.

I found this pattern with awesome 70's styling (look at those espadrilles) and when I pulled it out of the envelope I recognized my Mom's handwriting.  The note says "You can send this back in your next letter."

My Mom said that she and her Mother often wrote letters (weekly) and that she was sure she sent the pattern to her Mom to make.  She also said this pattern was a favorite of hers and she made it for friends as well.  Back in the day she added hand painted embellishments around the bottom of the skirt.  She was a wrap skirt fanatic and has passed that love to me! 

After discovering that this pattern had not only been sewn by Mom but also my Grandmother I knew I had to make it up!  While laying out the pattern I even found their alteration notes written on the pattern.  My Mom and Grandmother were a good bit taller than me so they had to add a couple of inches to the bottom of the pattern, not me! I did however included that 1/2 inch they suggested to the waist line!

Around this time of year I also love to sew something on the fancier side since my husband and I try to go out somewhere nice for our wedding anniversary.  So I chose to make this up in a gorgeous, and I mean gorgeous, bronze charmeuse.  It is like liquid chocolate, I love browns and a brown that shimmers, even better! 

I feel I would be doing any new sewist a disservice if I did not put out a disclaimer that silk charmeuse can be a real booger to sew if you don't have a few tricks up your sleeves.  My biggest and best trick is Sullivan's Spray stabilizer.  I seriously wouldn't even look at silk charmeuse without this stuff- it helps that much.  When you apply it, it dries transforming your fabric into a well behaved sewing participant, otherwise phhbtt, it runs amuck.  The texture it gives you is closer to a cotton voile and after you complete your project you simply hand wash it and voila, back to slinky, flowy fabric!

I originally heard of the magic of this stabilizer from Colette patterns blog.  It can be a little pricey but for the money and time you will invest in sewing silk, it's totally worth it.  I have heard/read of other methods that may be a little less expensive but so far this is the method I prefer.

Another tool to incorporate are silk pins.  I really would not use anything but silk pins when working with charmeuse because the silk is very fine and it is actually difficult to get regular craft sewing pins to pierce the fabric. This is the kind I use.

Another thing that I have learned through trial and error in working with silk charmeuse is that choosing patterns that don't require too much fiddly handling of the pattern pieces or too many design details will make your life easier and increase the chances of your project's success.  Now maybe I am speaking as a less skilled sewist, but for me these guidelines have saved me some headaches and some silk!
For the top, I used Simplicity 1366, a Cynthia Rowley pattern.  This is a really simple pattern, the front and back are cut from the same pattern piece.  For interest I cut the top out with the matte side of the fabric as the right side.  I omitted the facings and chose to make the tiniest hem, this tutorial by Megan Nielsen details how to make a rolled hem and is essentially the method I used.

I caught a small breeze!
For the wrap skirt I used the shiny side of the charmeuse and converted the gathers at the waist line to inverted box pleats.  I also used french seams throughout and lace hem tape to finish the hem and hand stitched the hem in place.

Sewing charmeuse is not for the faint of heart but it yields such elegant and special results.  And the vintage family pattern just elevated the experience for me. Handling this pattern, smoothing it out on my fabric, pinning it where they pinned it, and folding it back up, I felt a connection to the women before me who have infused me with a love of sewing, and that is an awesome feeling!

Soon I hope to have a post on a new Oliver and S dress that I just completed for my 4 year old!  It was made with the idea of it being transeasonal since we are still pretty hot here, until then, happy sewing
Thanks for reading!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Summer sewing

 This girl needed a special outfit this summer.  She was recognized for a story she wrote for a state competition and I wanted her to feel special.  I used NewLook 6465. 

She approved of the fabrics, both stash fabrics, and I was able to make the skirt reversible, which she loves. 

The pattern is a good one, for my tall girl I had to add at least 1 and 1/2 inches to the length of the top.  I slashed it midway and lengthened there.  I love simple little outfits like these.  The pictures were taken on the run which is the pace of our lives these days! 

Accepting her awards.
My sewing has been productive but I have been taking my time to make sure my projects are nice inside and out, so the sewing seems to go slower.  This shell top is from a silk sent to me in a mystery bundle by FabricMart.  I hand washed it beforehand and it behaved nicely when sewn up.  It was a really short length and narrow as well so I found a pattern that I thought I could squeeze a top out of.  The pattern is McCalls 7322

I can't decide if it looks better tucked in or out.  My husband says out.  Its very flowy and soft and slightly sheer so I wore a silk camisole (made for an upcoming Fabric Mart post) underneath.

I love simple luxurious things like carefully made silk shell tops.  I used french seams through out and for the neck and arms I finished them with bias binding made from the fabric.  I used a pattern piece dug out of an old vogue pattern that helps guide the bias binding making process.

There are tutorials out there for this method but I love having the pattern piece.  It makes the process more accurate for me when working with silk. 

Well that's what I've been up to lately and I am looking forward to making a few more special items for my daughters- especially since the eldest has already started school (!) and soon my Fabric Mart post will be up!  Happy sewing!

Thursday, June 2, 2016


 I haven't been posting much but I have been sewing, maybe not as much as my normal but still sewing.  Projects like this one have been on my mind and finding time to complete them, scarce. 

I have had this Fabric Mart plaid for maybe a couple of years.  Its a JCrew fabric, cotton with a crinkle to it.  I actually had to iron the fabric with starch to get it to submit to cutting and sewing.  But it is a really nice light weight, soft cotton- perfect for summer heat. 

I had my husband snap these pictures really quickly before work so I wasn't thinking about changing the camera settings, that's why there's a blue tint. 

The pattern for this top is a good one,  it took some concentration to figure out the fly button closure but in all the instructions are good.  I love the details of this top and truly hope I can make one more before the summer is up. 

Other projects are slowly being completed but sometimes there's too many other fun things to do when your children are small and the summer days are long... so until next time, happy sewing!!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Easter Dresses

These are the Easter dresses for my girlies, they are posted late here, made on time for Easter and one was not even worn out until the Sunday after Easter because of illness!!  So it goes...

These were made entirely from my stash which made me feel proud since I have desperately been trying to bust that stash of all kid related fabrics.  Who bought all that fabric anyway?!

 First up is my seven year old.  She is wearing Simplicity 8064.  
It went together very well, and the only real issue I have with it is the elastic configuration at the small of the back.  Some how it plus the button at the back of the neckline are supposed to hold the dress up but in reality it all relies on the button at the neckline.  That is a lot of dress to hold up on your neck.  I even cinched the elastic and took it up a good bit but in the photo below you can see it needs more taken up.

There's a cute little peter pan collar hidden under the neck bow, but I felt the dress really needed that extra green splash of fabric to break up the pink.  

I used a cute little heart button for the neck.  Seven year old approves of the dress which is a win!  I fully underlined the skirt and the top portion includes a lining. 

Next is the three year old.  This is an out of print McCall's pattern that I made for my other daughter when she was three.  It is pretty adorable and I probably should've made the front a sash instead of a bow but the fabric was cut out and people, Easter was coming fast and this needed to get done!  So two bows it was, one in the front and one in the back!  

Two year old approved and I love this tea set fabric, love it.  So not too much to say this pattern is OOP, it was a good one with a full lining which I love.  You can't tell it from this picture but the bodice has a lapped front and the illusion of being a wrap.  Sweet dresses like this are my absolute favorite for my kids.  Ok thats about all I have to say!