Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Barrel Bike Bag

I don't know if I mentioned it, but a couple of months ago I went through a sewing-book-buying-frenzy on Ebay.  One of the books that I snagged was this One Yard Wonders that I got for a steal because the included patterns were missing.

My main reason for buying books like these is to get inspired by the projects that they picture, and there were quite a few that tickled my fancy in here - including the Bicycle Duffle Bag (duffel?duffle?).
It's true that I already have a basket on my bike, but sometimes I don't need that much cargo space. I mean, it's great when I ride up to the store for milk, but when I am just pleasure-riding it seems like overkill to have my wallet and keys sitting in there. So, I thought this would be a useful little bag to put together.
Everything seemed straightforward when I started, but as the project came together I felt that there were some errors in the measurements.  I wont get into specifics, but I definitely suspect that the designer did not have the instructions independently tested before they were published.
Ultimately, I worked out the instructional kinks and am pretty happy with the result. The velcro straps that attach it to my bike are awesome, and the bag is the perfect size for the small items that I need when I'm biking to the park with my son. Maybe I'll throw one of these together for him too...

Thursday, April 10, 2014

"T" Tote Upcycle

Man, have I been lay-zee lately!! No post last week? Shame on me. I've been so good at keeping to my blogging and sewing goals this year, but I just wasn't feeling the sew-jo last week, you know? But, I dragged myself away from my Gilmore Girls 7 season marathon, and I whipped up an easy tote yesterday.


The t-shirt that I used for this project was bought off the clearance rack some time last year. It was one of those "fits like a second skin" type garments, and it is made of such a lightweight jersey that it highlighted everything short of my spleen when I wore it. No thank you.  So, I tossed it in the "upcycle" pile and there it has sat for many a moon.

I finally rescued this shirt because I desperately, desperately need some produce totes now that farmer's market season is peeking around the corner. (All of the "reusables" that I have been using for the past few years were pretty well destroyed by a mini-flood in the cabinet under my kitchen sink. *sigh*)

I played kind of "fast and loose" with this whole thing. I just chopped off the top of the tee, left the side seams, used the cut tee as the template for the lining, boxed the hem, and threw some straps on. 20 minutes, tops.

Instant gratification is the way to go when I'm not feeling inspired. This project provided a necessary jolt to my mojo, and I am excited about getting back in to my sewing room. Well, between episodes of Gilmore Girls.....I only have 2 seasons to go!! ;)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Diner Dress

While sorting through my patterns for this month's stashbusting theme, I came across Simplicity's 5914 circa 1973.

I chose this because of the bodice construction (have I discussed my love of darts?), but I also realized that I don't own any items with collars and cuffs. Originally, I was going to do contrasting fabric for the bodice and skirt, but I eventually decided that I would minimize the contrast with just the cuffs and collar. At the time that I made that decision, it did not occur to me that if I slapped an apron on this I could be asking people how they want their eggs.
Roods Creek Diner © Leland BobbĂ©
Oy. Dilemma. The hem is not finished yet because I can't decide if I want to add a contrast trim there. I think it would make it look less waitress-y, but I'm not feeling the motivation to make a few yards of thick bias tape right now.
Other than my ineptitude at fabric coordination, I love this pattern. The pattern designers of the 70's were speaking my body language. I made a small mistake while sewing the front bodice pieces together, but it is not that noticeable, and I will do better next time. This design fits my bust perfectly, and I adore the nip in the waist (which I did have to take in by over an inch on each side).
Also, I installed the 22" zipper like a rockstar!

I wouldn't recommend this pattern for beginners since the instructions are definitely put together for someone that has experience with sewing garments. I struggled a little with finishing the seams because there are no instructions for that, and the construction can be somewhat confusing. Also, I'm not sure why they didn't include a pocket option on this dress. It would have been pretty easy to add to the existing design. I may make that adjustment in the future.

This is mostly finished, but I'm still in the process of tacking down the collar and facings, and I am working up the energy to make a decision on the hem. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Funky Frankenstein Jeans and Skully Skirt

 After the last 2 weeks of sewing for myself from patterns, I decided that it was time to go back to my comfort zone and take a look at what I could revamp in my current RTW wardrobe. I recalled an image that I had come across in "AlterNation" that involved transforming a pair of pants with coordinating fabric, and I finally pulled from my excessive jeans collection to try out this project.
 Instead of piecing stash fabrics to the garment, I chose to cut out a section of each leg, flip it inside-out, and sew it back on. The jeans that I picked for this project have a nice contrast of light gray on the inside, and they were desperately in need of a hem, so I thought that they would work perfectly. They did.  But, there wasn't enough pizzazz. So, I remembered this zig-zag embellishment tutorial on Make It Do that I pinned a while back, and I went to town.
Now, I chose a coordinating fabric for the zig-zag because I didn't wanted to be limited by the colors or print when matching these jeans with a top.  And, really, I don't "match" as much as I just "grab whatever t-shirt is at the front of the drawer", so I depend on my jeans to be fairly neutral.  These turned out perfect for my needs. Understated, yet unique.

Upcycling and re-fashioning clothes is one of my favorite applications for my sewing skills, and while I was sorting through my clothes, I came across another pair of jeans (am I the only one that owns 500 jeans, but only wears 2 or 3 pair regularly??) that screamed "PANEL SKIRT!!" I obliged:
The thing about this skirt is that the denim is lightweight enough for warm weather, but the length allows me to wear it in cold weather with boots and tights. Also, I used up THE LAST YARD of some stash material that has been sitting around for about 3 years on this project. Phew! Huge weight off my back. ;)

Seriously, though, I am not a fabric-purchasing addict. The majority of my raw fabric stash has been given to me. I prefer to spend $2 on a good quality pair of jeans at the thrift store rather than $15/yard for denim at a fabric store. Plus, it's really gratifying to see a boring old pair of jeans transformed in to something quirky and me.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Retro Butterick Attempt..


During Sew Grateful week, I came across a giveaway that included a pattern that spoke to me the minute I laid eyes on it. It said, "Go to EBay immediately and purchase me in your size. You would look fabulous in this design." So, I did.
I finally received the pattern after about 4 million years of waiting on the Pony Express, and I cleared my entire sewing schedule to whip this baby up. I was confident that I would pull this off. I mean, 3 pattern pieces?? How hard could this be?

Well, it was really hard finding enough of one kind of fabric to complete this dress. The pattern calls for about 5 yards, and I don't keep that kind of yardage around. I have lots and lots of fabric under 2 yards, but that was not helpful considering the size of the skirt that needed to be cut out here.

Also, I thought I had LOADS of black bias tape, but apparently I don't. So, I had to tweak the design a little to accommodate 2 coordinating fabrics, AND 2 colors of double-fold bias tape.  I'll tell you what, this became a project of "just enoughs." As in, I literally had JUST ENOUGH fabric and bias tape to finish this dress.

This bodice is darted up, my friends. 6 darts in front, and 2 darts in back. Being of the "big boobs, small waist" tribe, I love me some darts. Next time, I will take in the back darts a little more since I seem to have an uncommonly narrow back.
How amazing is the scoop in the back? So 50's. I think it is my favorite part of this dress.


I am disappointed that the underskirt isn't more visible. The picture on the pattern envelope was misleading there. Either that, or these 50's chicks had some goofy posture. Altering the skirt pattern should fix that for the next go, and I promise to use a more contemporary print. Hello 80's!

 Overall, I really like the potential of this dress on me. With a few modifications, I could see this design becoming a staple in my spring/summer wardrobe.

Although this turned out okay, I have had enough of fighting with adult apparel patterns. Next week I will have a fun refashion to share that is more within my comfort zone.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Faux Wrap (or Why I Suck at Making My Own Clothes..)


This month's stashbusting theme - "Seasonal Change and Wardrobe Building" - is going to be a rough one for me. I am TERRIBLE at making clothes for myself. I just don't have the patience for all of the measuring, fitting, re-measuring, re-fitting, etc... I'm not ashamed to admit that I am an instant gratification kind of gal, and making my own clothes is time consuming.

But, I am never going to get better at sewing my own garments if I keep avoiding them. So, I thought I would ease in to the wardrobe building theme with a quick knit top from a pattern that I picked up at the thrift store a few months ago. I never would have had the courage to put this together for myself if it weren't for Jagoda over at Fitnottofit inspiring me with a recent wrap-style top she made.
First, let's talk about thrift store patterns. How great is it to find patterns for under $1? And, I feel like a treasure hunter - sorting through the racks and bins, finding designs that have been out of print for 30 years or more! But, how much does it suck to open the envelope at home to find that pieces have been cut to a size too small for you? Yeah, that's what happened here. :( Fortunately, the pattern pieces were only one size below me, so it was a pretty easy alteration.

I don't keep many raw knits around. I generally recycle t-shirts when I make a project that calls for stretch knit, but I had this VonDutch jersey on hand from a shift I made last year. This is a very lightweight jersey, and I think that may have affected the fit more than I anticipated - especially the gaping in the bust and looseness in the sleeves.

I tried out a belt under the bust to see if it helped the shape, but it just created bulges under the arms.

Fit issues that I will have to correct the next time around.
- Shoulders are too wide
- Neckline is too big
- Hem is too short
- Sleeves are too loose
(Basically...everything.)


I think I should have kept the original size that the pieces were cut to, but I went by the measurements on the envelope. Plus, the pattern is printed on heavy paper, so it wasn't easy to fit to myself before I cut. Oh, well. It's still wearable, I just don't know if I will make it again. I definitely don't plan to buy more jersey specifically for this project. Maybe a candidate for upcycling some t-shirts later?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Sew Grateful Week - Scrapbusting Project: Water Bottle Carrier

Did you know that it is Sew Grateful Week? This link party event is hosted by My Happy Sewing Place, and it involves crafters from all over the world. There are dozens of generous giveaways, and it's a great way to connect with some fantastic bloggers in the online sewing community. Today is the projects link party, and I would like to show my gratitude by creating and sharing another craft blogger's tutorial.


I have been obsessed with interested in scrap/stash-busting ideas lately, which has added quite a few projects to my, already lengthy, list. One of the tutorials that I came across recently was this Water Bottle Carrier at Pink Chalk Studio.

The reason that this project jumped to the top of the list is because:
A - It is quick.
B - I need it.
I am VERY familiar with being everyone's camel during the hiking/biking/festival months, and when I saw this simple solution I was like, "Hell, yes! So smart!"

Unfortunately, I don't stock any insulated batting and I would have to travel a few hours to get some. So, I started hunting around my house for an alternative.  My husband actually came up with the idea of using one of his neoprene-like Under Armour shirts. I was like, "Cut up clothes? Totally!" I know that the shirt isn't the same when it comes to retaining the cold temperature of the water bottle, but I don't care about that. Water is hydrating whether it is cold or warm. I just needed something that would keep the condensation from making the carrier a soggy mess, and this should work fine for that.
I wouldn't recommend this tutorial for beginners because of the french seams and attaching the circular bottom, but an intermediate sewer could handle this without an issue. I cranked these out, assembly-line-style, in just a couple of hours.
Besides the insulation, I followed the specifications of the tutorial exactly. I thought the process was explained really well, and the design was genius.  I actually had a lot of fun machine-quilting these carriers. It was my first experience with this technique, and I love the freedom and creativity of stitching my own shapes.
These make great gifts for just about anyone since they are handy for so many things - hiking (my son), biking (me), trips to the zoo (my nieces), metal-detecting (my dad), or just taking a walk around the neighborhood on a warm day (we will have warm days again, wont we??).

I am "sew grateful" to all of the creative, brilliant, inspiring, dedicated bloggers out there that post free tutorials. I know how much work can go in to drafting patterns or instructions, and I love the feeling of community I get when people share their efforts with the rest of the world. It makes the internet seem a little cozier. ;)