Saturday, May 2, 2015

Vogue 9091 or Let the Summer of Culottes Begin!

Big girl had to get her photo bomb moment.
 I have joined the culotte fan wagon!  I was very uneasy about how these would turn out- one never knows with something like this- will the sizing be ok? will they look completely goofy, what is a culotte anyway??  I had lots of uneasy feelings while sewing these, therefore it took me much longer to sew them, I just had a hard time motivating myself.  But when I put them on I instantly loved them and need about four more pair for the summer.   Btw you may notice a few photo bombers, they were in full tilt while I was taking these pictures.  
 Pattern:  Vogue 9091 view B.  I should say that I have very specifically included which view I made because I made a muslin of view C and it was pretty awful on me.  It would probably work for someone who hasn't had two children and is still toned in the lower abdomen but for me, no way.  The reason I like view B is because the pleating in the front lies down well and is smoothing for that area.  I sewed a size 12, for reference my hips measure 39 inches and my waist 29.  The waistband is snug, but not uncomfortable at all.  One change I made was to attach the waistband to the culottes with a 3/8 inch seam allowance.  I just wanted a smidge more height on them.  The hips are loose so with sizing there is wiggle room there.  Pattern went together fine, no problems with pieces lining up or strange directions.

Why yes that is a floating pillow next to me, two guesses who's holding it!
Fabric: This is more rayon challis from Hancock, I used it not long ago to make palazzo pants.  I love this print.  
Can you spot the kid?  In fact there are two kids here- find them?
 Styling: Oh my goodness I really searched through pinterest to figure out how to style these since it was new to me and had the potential to go really wrong.  I noticed that some were paired with heels, others with flats and some with booties.  I chose my wedge sandals in the hopes that it would make them look summery.  I like the pairing.  Will probably have to wear flats for work.  The tee I'm wearing here is another me-made.  Its the Maria Denmark Kirsten Kimono Tee which is a free pattern you receive when you sign up for her email newsletter.    It is such an easy make, can't even tell you how fast this one was, I didn't even finish any of the edges because the fabric is nylon spandex and in my opinion looks fine as is. 
So there you go, another work appropriate outfit to put into rotation this summer.  This will not be my last pair of culottes, I'm a convert to them!  Anyone else out there coming over to the culotte dark side??

Friday, April 24, 2015

Back to Work Basics

 The title of this post about sums it up, I'm back to work and need basics that can be mixed and matched without much thought.  I'm working through my stash for these pieces and am trying to make them all play nice together.  Oddly enough, going through my stash to coordinate I've discovered I buy a lot of fabrics in the blue color family.  So I'm trying to stay somewhere within a blue/black/white spectrum.  That way I can easily mix them up and throw in my red shoes for good measure. 
Blue Top (pictured above)
Pattern:  This first top is Simplicity 1690.  Its a basic little top with only three pattern pieces.  I love that!  The pattern went together easily.  I graded the pattern an 8 at the shoulders, 10 at the bust and 12 at the hip line.  The only observation I can think of about this pattern is that the bias binding facing at the neckline is a bit wide but I like the result.  The hemline has a nice touch with a split hem on each side. 
Fabric:  This is a rayon challis from Hancocks fabrics.  It was leftover from my recent maxi skirt make.
Styling: I've paired this top with work pants and this black pencil skirt.  I have enjoyed wearing it more than I initially thought I would.  My first impression when I looked at this top was that I had made a top suitable for scrubs.  But after wearing it I think I will have to make another one!


Pencil Skirt (in all pictures)
Pattern:  The pencil skirt is Simplicity 2154.  This is one of Simplicity's vintage patterns.  It went together great.  I used a size 12 at the waist, 14 in the hips and graded back to a 12 below the hips.  It has a side zipper, waistband, and vent in the back.  The instructions don't include lining and I didn't use a lining.  In the summer it gets pretty hot here and I like wearing slips under skirts because they are easier to launder and it saves my garments from over washing.  It seems I need an adjustment for a bit of a full tummy but I've tried some tutorials that address this problem with other skirts and didn't have great results.  If anyone knows a really good method for that fix I'd love to hear it!  I'm inclined to just ignore the problem since its only a minor nuisance and just pick a more relaxed fabric next time I make this skirt!
Fabric:  My Mom gave me this fabric, it is a cotton with stretch.  Not sure what exactly it is but it feels like bottom weight and is crisp. 
Styling:  A pencil skirt like this is so versatile.  I made mine on the longer end.  I might shorten it a smidge next time.  I'm not sure what this skirt won't go with since its a basic black pencil skirt, I know I'll get a lot of use out of it. 
Light Blue Top (both above and below)
Pattern: The top above is Simplicity 1366.  I've made this pattern twice before and its very easy.  It has a boxy shape and dropped shoulders.  This one is a size 8, which I think I should've graded to at least a size ten in the bust and waist.  I like the shape of this top and have been considering trying a different pattern like this one except without the dropped shoulder- mainly this one from Butterick.  I'm just curious about the differences between the two patterns and really like this way this top looks and would like to see if I can copy it.  

Fabric:  The fabric was given to me and I'm not sure of its content, I think it is mostly polyester with some cotton.  It looks like chambray and feels like a light weight cotton.  It doesn't wrinkle easily which is great. 

Styling:  I've made this top a couple times before and made the hem narrower on this one.  I wanted a bit more length so that I can tuck it into the skirt.  This type of top is a great blank canvas for a statement piece necklace.  I have only one statement piece necklace so I might have to do something about that!
So there we are, three more back to work basics to add to the rotation of work wear! 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Easter Dress #2 and My "Go to" Outfit

This is my 6 year old's Easter dress.  Its the same dress that I made her last Easter, the Oliver and S Fairytale Dress.   Actually this dress was mostly completely constructed because last year I started sewing a size 6 for her by accident and when I was just almost done I realized my mistake, she needed a size 5! Wah so I was pretty frustrated but put everything in a bag and threw it up on a high shelf out of sight until this year.  So this Easter I was excited that I was just almost done when I started= happy Mom.  

Pattern:  Like last year, I added piping to the peter pan collar.  We decided to forgo a sash or any waist details, mostly because some how I had used up all the coordinating coral fabric and couldn't find any more to match.  I added the called for layer of tulle under the skirt, this fabric needed the support.  This is one of the best written patterns I think I've ever used and it just looks adorable on.  I need to make another for her because she loves wearing it.  Most of what I have to say about this pattern I've said previously here.  But this is such an awesome little pattern, fussy- but the result is always good.  

Fabric:  The fabric is a seersucker from Hancocks fabrics purchased last year.  This girl loves rainbows and chose the fabric.  Its a pretty thin seersucker and when I laundered it before sewing, the hot pink stripe bled on the fabric..arghhh.  It was faint but enough that I could see it, of course my daughter still loved the fabric.  The dress is lined with a coral cotton poly/cotton fabric from my stash.   
Will she wear it?  Yes, she loves it and wears it willingly.  

Now on to my new "go to" outfit.  

Pattern: 
You can receive the pattern for free when you sign up for the newsletter.  Its a very fast sew since there are no sleeves to set in and with knits, no seams to finish.  I used the size small in the shoulders and graded out to a medium at the waist.  The pattern doesn't include seam allowances so you have to add those, I added 3/8  inch seams all around and I probably should've read the instructions because there are specifications for the seam allowances.   As far as finishing the edges I simply turned under the sleeves and neck by 1/4 and straight stitched them down.  I left the hem unfinished.  There are instructions for a neck binding but I didn't really want to fiddle with it.   

The skirt is McCalls 7096.  I made the size 14 but probably could go down to a size 12, luckily this skirt is not hard to alter.   I also chopped about 3 1/2 inches off the bottom.  It has a side zipper and a contoured waistband (again, why why why don't all skirts have contoured waistbands?).  I am hoping to do some color blocking on this skirt down the road because why not?  I didn't have any problems with construction.
Fabric:
For the Tee I used a remnant piece of jersey with one way stretch leftover from another project.  It was a value fabric at Hancock fabrics and the skirt is rayon challis from Hancocks as well.  I love it when they clear out last summer's fabrics and you can get them for a steal on the spot the bolt table.  I love rayon challis because it is so breathable in the summer and so soft on the skin.  I serged all the raw edges because rayon challis likes to fray.     
Styling: These two pieces are easy to wear and here I have on birkenstocks but for work (going back to work in a few weeks after 6 years of being a SAHM!)  I'll probably wear flats.  I call this my new "go to" outfit because of the comfort and ease of it and because I will be able to translate it into work wear very easily.  Also these two patterns are relatively simple to whip out and since I start work soon I'm trying to crank out as many separates as possilble.  So my question for anyone reading is, do you have any tried and true patterns that are easy to whip out and also move seamlessly between work and home?   

Linking up to Gray All Day Sew Chic in a Week. 

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Easter Dress #1 and Stash Busting Top

 Here's the first of two Easter dresses as per the request of my Mom.  She has been asking for an Easter preview and with the help of a few whoppers malt balls I was able to capture these pictures.  Big girl is pretty sick right now so she is in no shape for a photo shoot. 
 The Pattern:
This is McCall 5964, an out of print pattern that I used for little bit's Christmas dress (here's the link to the Pattern Review).  I never blogged about her Christmas dress but it was adorable and fit great.  This is a solid little pattern and I have no idea why these simple, solid patterns get discontinued so often.
I lengthened the dress since she's taller now.  I added 1/2 inch to the bodice and 3/4 length to the skirt pieces.  Width wise it still fit her perfectly (she'll be three in June for size reference).  As far as construction, I love the way this pattern is put together, it is fully lined with the skirt lining shaped to be narrower than the skirt which allows for the tulle floofyness underneath.  The sleeves have sweet gathers that make the sleeves stand out from the dress. 

One thing about the accent around the waist, I am always trying to figure out how exactly to finish the waist accent on dresses, I've used piping, ribbon sashes, fabric sashes, etc and the thing I like about this version is it is nicely contoured to the waist and hugs it just enough.  There are no loops to worry with or bows to come undone, although I love a big bow in the back of a child's dress its nice not to have to worry about it coming untied. 
 The Fabric: 
The eyelet is some I've had in my stash bought years ago at Joann's fabrics.  I used it for big girl's Easter dress last year blogged here.  I love eyelet but I've had a difficult time finding eyelet that is good quality.  The pink fabric used for the accents and lining was thrifted and has a pretty cross weave.  The tulle is some pink sparkly stuff and I have no idea when or where I bought it or for what purpose.  The girls use it for dress up but now its a great little hidden sparkly layer to this dress. 
Will she wear it?
Indeed she will.  She loves the specialness of a new floofy dress and was so cooperative about her Christmas dress that I think this one will be a hit too.  

Now on to a stash busting top for me.
You have no idea the shenanigans that were going on while I took these pictures, bitty girl was pretending to be a ghost with a blanket over her head and in nothing but a diaper.  Hilarious.

This is the Made by Rae Ruby top I've made once before.   This time I wanted to try the Ruby pattern on a men's silk shirt refashion.  I thought this silk shirt would make a great Ruby top since the weight of the fabric is similar to rayon challis which I tried before.  I cut the back of the Ruby top on the fold of the front of the men's shirt and now the buttons are a decorative accent down the back of the Ruby. 
The back of the men's shirt is the new front of my Ruby top.  I didn't even have to hem this shirt because I used the existing hems.  The black yoke and cap sleeves are another silk from a refashioned shirt.  The piping is some homemade flat bias tape piping.  
 I love the way the fabrics feel and I have plans to make more of these when I can find the time.  The cap sleeves are not a part of the original Ruby pattern but a part of the Washi Expansion Pack from Made by Rae.  I didn't like the pointy part of the sleeve on the front of my blouse so I just tucked in the front part of the sleeve to make it rounded in the front.  The back of the sleeves, as you can see above, I left pointy. 

Again I can't wait to refashion more thrifted silks this way, the biggest challenge is finding a men's shirt large enough and without front pockets.  I might have to try some other thrifted silks in the future!  You really can't beat the price of a thrifted silk and you won't cry if your project crashes and burns!  How about you, do you have any patterns you use for men's shirt refashions? 

Linking up to "Sew it Chic in a Week" at Gray All Day

Monday, March 2, 2015

Getting things done...one contest at a time...

Lately my motivation, time and energy has just waned a bit so it seems to take a contest to get me moving.  Pattern Review is having a Travel Wardrobe Contest and I didn't think I would get everything done but amazingly I did!  Sometimes with sewing you end up doing the same kinds of things over and over with little variation, say for example, cute dresses are easier for me to motivate myself to make but really their versatility can be limited.  So its good to have a contest like this to help motivate me to think outside my usual sewing box- plus its great for stash busting my fabric.
I made five garments total for the collection, that sounds impressive but the knits I chose were straightforward and fast to sew.  I loved the idea of making a collection of clothes based on the theme of a trip, my trip is a fictional one, its called "Elizabeth's (Momma needs a vacation) Fabric Tour of the South East."  You are supposed to see how many outfits you can make with six garments.  I made nine!    

Simplicity 2054: Knit dress designed by Cynthia Rowley.  I made this from stretchy french terry that I bought with a gift certificate from Fabric Mart.  I was a little stumped by the four way stretch and have ruined four way stretch fabric in the past so I was careful about pairing pattern and fabric this time.  This dress is super comfy.  I made a size 8 and the shoulders and graded to a 10 for the rest of the dress. 
Sew U Built by Wendy book A Line Skirt pattern: This is the only pattern I've ever used from this book (I need to make the others!) but I love it, I consider it a tried and true pattern for me.  I first made it for the Pattern Review Sewing Bee the link is here. It has all the construction details for this skirt.  This is such a comfy skirt too.  The fabric was the last yard of sateen I had in this print.  I love this print (thanks Mom for showing me its potential) and made this dress out of it which I love to wear.  So it made sense that I needed to get this fabric in my clothing rotation. 
  McCall 6965: I have wanted to make palazzo pants for a while and I don't think I'll stop at this pair.  Now to be fair I'm sure this style isn't for everyone, in fact my husband (whom I consider a beacon of fashion sense har har) calls them my "Hammer Time" pants.  However, sometimes you make something because YOU like it.  I made changes to the pattern, lengthening the crotch seam (I wanted them higher waisted), taking some of the volume off of the side seam and as far as the fit, I measured for a size 14 but most certainly could've gone down one size and maybe even two.  The hips are very roomy. 
Simplicity 1468: A disclaimer on this one, this is a maternity pattern, but no I am not pregnant.  I like the designer of this pattern and knew that I would be able to alter her design to get the aesthetic I wanted in a wrap style cardigan.  I wanted a cardigan I could throw over tops for warmth, so I used sketched/drafted long triagle-ish shaped wrap ties and sewed them to the side seams.  I used a spandex blend from Hancock fabrics from my stash.  I didn't do any finishing to the raw edges but I might go back and finish the neckline a bit.  I kind of winged it with this project but really love the result.
Grainline Linden: I made this piece with sweatshirt fleece using the fuzzy side as the outside of the garment.  This is such a quick make and comfy sweatshirt.  I always love Grainline patterns and this one is no exception to the rule.  I used a size four at the shoulders, size 6 at the bust and 8 at the waist.  I probably could've made the waist a size 6 as well since it turned out a little bigger than I anticipated but I still love it.  I might have to hand wash this one simply to avoid pilling.  I made another sweater out of this same fabric using the right side out and it kind of pilling up, not terrible but enough for me to notice and start obsessively picking the pill off, not good.  The fabric is from Hancock Fabrics. 
So there's my collection for my imaginary "Elizabeth's (Momma needs a vacation) Fabric Store Tour of the South East.  In case you're interested here's a few places I'd go, Alabama Chanin in Florence Alabama,  Fabric World in Stone Mountain Georgia, Gail K fabrics in Atlanta, and Textile Fabrics in Nashville TN.   A Momma's gotta dream right?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A Warm Coat with McCall 6641

This bitty girl is growing all the time and she really needed a cozy winter coat, especially to wear over dresses on Sundays.  After making a winter coat for my big girl last year (found here) in this same fabric I thought it would be fun to see if I could make one for my two year old as well.  The length of plaid I had left was on the smaller side so a pattern with less design lines was in order. 

The Pattern:
Here enters McCalls 6641  sadly its now out of print, but its a straight forward pattern with minimal style lines which made it easier to match plaids.  One thing about the pattern that bears mentioning is that the facings on the front of the coat are designed as a kind of overlay rather than sewn as part of the lining.  That bugged me because its just less finished looking and messy so I redrafted the facings to be a part of the lining.  Sounds complicated but only a little more so and it makes the inside look so much better. 

I used the size 3 (she's 2 1/2) since that is as small as the pattern goes that's what I used.  The sleeves are a bit long and the shoulders a bit wide but its nice to know it can go through two winters especially since winters here are so mild.  
 We keep our dog's food in a small trash can and one of her jobs is to feed the dog.  This is how she spends about a third of her outside time, reaching down into that can to get dog food. 



The Fabrics: 
The fabrics are from Hancock Fabrics, the plaid from last year is a wool blend.  One side of the plaid is kind of fuzzy like mohair and that's the side I used for this coat.  I have to say that matching plaids is easier to me now that I've done it over and over and over.  If you're new to matching plaids I recommend this post.  It never hurts to have some good tips on plaid matching. 

I used a black fusible tricot interfacing that is very pliable on the cuffs, facings and collar.  I purchased mine at Joann fabrics but you can pick it up at Hancock's too.  Suffice it to say it is superior to the cheaper, stiffer interfacings I've used in the past.  I don't think I'll go back to the cheaper stuff anymore!

The contrast black fabric was bought out of necessity,  I ran out of the plaid fabric!  The black is a polyester suiting from Hancock Fabrics.  I wanted a wool blend but it was no where to be found so this had to do!  I also used it to make the fabric covered buttons.  One thing I have learned about making coats for children is that there's a lot of struggling to get the coat on and off and buttonholes may not always be a very prudent choice.  A better option is to sew in these large snaps.  
 This avoids the stretching out of buttonholes and is so much easier to put on and take off quickly. 
Here's a pocket peeking out!

Momma's made with love tag.
 Will she wear it?
Weelllll considering that she is 2 1/2 and doesn't like change she puts up a little fuss when I want to put this coat on her.  She now prefers the plaid cape I made her in the fall (since that's what she knows) but I think once the newness of this coat wears off she'll like it just fine. 

In all this is a simple and sweet pattern for a child's coat and I can see using it for many years to come- that is until she sizes out of it!  We get good wear out of little warm coats like this since I encourage them to wear them any chance we get- what I mean to say is that I don't save coats like this for Sunday, we wear them on a daily basis if its cold enough.  The fabric is durable enough and its just so fun to see them in handmade garments.   
 





 
She loves to pull the berries off the trees and "feed them to the birds." 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Christmas Dress for my 6 Year Old

One of my sewing goals listed here was to sew Christmas dresses out of taffeta for my daughters.  I've never sewn with taffeta and have wanted to try it for some time.  I've also never sewn an overlay or a tulle underskirt so there were several unknown variables for me in this make.  One thing I love about sewing garments is that there is always something new to learn- be it a new fabric, a new technique etc and that keeps my mind whirring- in a good way.  

The Pattern:
This is the first of the two Christmas dresses and I used Simplicity 1507.  I made a size 6 and changed the length of the skirt.  I was going for tea length instead of the longer length featured on the pattern cover.  I used another pattern with the skirt length I wanted to help decide how much to remove from the length.  I think I removed about 4 1/2 inches.  I also wanted the overlay and skirt to be about the same length rather than the way the pattern had it with the overlay noticeably shorter.  Construction wise, I don't know if it was me or the instructions but in some places I had a bit of a tough time discerning the directions.  Granted some of these technique's are new to me so something new always sounds foreign at first.  The skirt has quite a few layers to contend with (overlay, skirt and lining with tulle attached.)  I was confused by the directions when referring to the lining because they call it both a lining and a slip.  This isn't a difficult dress to make just fiddly which is to be expected with the floofiness of it.  


My favorite features of this dress are the collar, the tie back sash and the sleeves. I.love.those.sleeves!  I wasn't sure how they would come out but they are beautiful.  They have this tulip like feel to the gathers at the top that are so sweet and the cut out shaping is gorgeous.  Now I want sleeves like this on a dress!  The collar is also adorable in my opinion- one thing to note the instructions don't tell you to interface the collar- so interface the collar.  It needs it.  Believe me, I didn't and had to tack the collar down in a few spots because it looked a bit floppy.  I should've trusted my intuition to interface it but oh well.  I love the sash but I always love sashes on girls dresses.  My only beef with this one is that the placement markings on the bodice pattern piece that are supposed to correspond with the front sash don't line up properly so you are left to guess at the correct placement.  I think I could've moved mine a smidge down toward the waist but I was worried it would then get caught in the waistband stitching.  

The Fabric
The taffeta is from Hancock Fabrics and I prewashed it in a cool wash and tumbled dry low. I read about taffeta in my Vogue sewing book and it was somewhat helpful.  I was really careful to take my time when making the dress and to serge any of the taffeta's raw edges because taffeta likes to fray.  It frays into this webby type stuff that sticks like mad to dry winter fingers. ugh.  I used the smallest needle I could find to sew and in a few spots if you held the fabric toward the light you could see minuscule thread catches.  It was so minor I didn't worry about it but it made me wonder what professionals use since the size 8 needle was the smallest Hancock had in stock.  I wouldn't have thought to go down that small but one of the ladies who works at Hancock's suggested that I do.  One other note about taffeta is that if you baste and remove your basting stitches you might have some small evidence in the fabric.  So baste inside of the seam lines and you can avoid those holes.    

The overlay and tulle I hand washed before using as well.  The overlay is a delicate mesh, I think nylon but it said on the bolt to hand wash it.  So if this dress gets dirty I will have to hand wash it- but that's to be expected and I don't mind hand washing, its dry cleaning that I loathe. The overlay is also from Hancock Fabrics.  To hem this overlay I stitched 1/4 inch from the edge then folded on that line and then once again and stitched down the roll.  So in essence a rolled hem.  I lined the dress with some poly lining from Joann Fabrics and the tulle is from Hancock too.  What can I say Hancock's is down the street from my house!  
  



Will she wear it? 
Lately when I blog I've been using the headings "The Pattern, The Fabric, Styling" but I think now for kids clothes I won't worry with styling but instead talk about weather or not I think my child will wear it.  I ALWAYS wonder that about the things people sew for their children because, quite honestly my daughter would NOT wear some of the adorable artsy stuff I see people sew for their kids (I've tried it to no avail).  So for me figuring out if my child will actually wear the garment is part of the puzzle.  You won't see a lot of artsy, edgy stuff from me here, it never leaves the dresser drawers in our house.  

So all that to say, yes, she will wear it to church, she begged to play in it after we took pictures and I made her put her hand over her heart and swear not to roll around on the floor in it and to try to the best of her ability to take care of it.  She laughed but there was no rolling around.  She played in it for a while and tested out the twirlability and loves it.  She said she feels like a princess.  And that is just what I was hoping for, its the whole reason I picked out that glittery overlay because I knew she would love it.  She stood in the sunshine and said "I sparkle!"  It makes it sooooo worth it when she loves a dress and feels special in it.  She is a great muse for me since I probably wouldn't have picked that sparkly overlay out without her preferences in mind and it really jazzy's up the dress.          
 A few more shots of the skirts.  Below is the skirt under the overlay.

The lining with two rows of tulle attached for floofiness.
So one taffeta dress down and now one to go!!!  Fingers crossed this next one won't be quite as fussy but hopefully just as adorable!