Thursday, February 4, 2016

Don't Go Chasing Waterfalls

 I wear t-shirts all of the time. I pair them with hooded sweatshirts in the cold weather which means that I am basically a grown woman that dresses like a lazy teenager because knits are just SO COMFORTABLE!! So, I thought I would make myself a knit top that was a little more adult.
 This McCall's pattern was just as easy as the claim on the envelope. I made view "F" which has these beautiful drapey folds that cascade down from a low neck.
 There is a band at the bottom that creates a "blouson" effect (McCall's word, not mine) which also hugs my hips just right. The medium size fit really well with no alterations.
 This top requires a tank top or camisole underneath. Any lining top with a sleeve gets caught up at the shoulders and makes the drape weird. I'm wearing a tank in the photos. (Ignore the wonky shoulder. I have no mirror in my sewing room). 
 Sadly, the side view is a little too "maternity" looking for my taste.
I don't know about this one, guys. It's very comfortable in a lightweight knit, but the shape that it gives me makes me self-conscious. If I settle the band higher on my hips it looks frumpy, but if I pull it down I get a belly pooch that looks like a baby bump. This is what happens when I try to adult!!!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Ain't Yo Momma's Jean Skirt

A couple of weeks ago, I was introduced to the free PDF patterns on the Lekala Sewing Patterns website. Upon perusal, I came across this gem of a skirt:

 Swirls and twirls!!! I needed it in my life immediately.

 So, I embarked on my very first PDF pattern journey. The process of printing out this pattern was pretty simple since it is only 2 pattern pieces, and I traced it on to some end of roll newsprint paper to add the seam allowances. I was patting myself on the back the whole time and thinking that I was such a badass for conquering my fear of PDF patterns.
 Funny story, though....As I was putting together a wearable muslin out of some quilting cotton in my stash, I had gotten into such a blissful sewing groove that I forgot to fit the skirt until I was just about finished.
 D'Oh! When I finally tried it on, the waist was WAY TOO BIG! I mean, like, 4+ inches too big. Whoops. It turns out that my late-night internet surfing resulted in mixing up measurements and creating a PDF pattern for a MUCH, MUCH larger waist than I needed. Yikes.
 Measuring ensued, the pattern was marked up with my changes, and the muslin skirt was taken in as much as possible.  It is still too big for me, but I'm okay with letting this one go. It was just a practice skirt, after all.
The final product, on the other hand, came together like a dream. Well, a weird, crazy dream where you are on a train that follows tracks through space, or something... 
 You see, I don't buy denim yardage. I buy thrift store jeans, or use old, unworn jeans for my denim projects. What that means, is that I had to cut up 4 pair of jeans and sew them together in order to make panels that I could cut this pattern out of. I dealt with different denim colors, weights, and grains. Super loads of fun.
 In the end, though, recycling the denim meant that I could create a sort of ombre effect, which turned out beautifully on the finished skirt.
So fun, right!?!? The waist could come in a tad more, but everything else is perfect. I love that the denim creates a stiffer hem that feels like one of those bell gowns, and I could just twirl in this thing all day. I am excited to add this all-season, versatile skirt to my wardrobe this year.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Boys Don't Cry Birthday Bag

 A couple of months ago, a friend that I work with told me that she was going to a Cure concert this year. Obviously, my first reaction was, "Are they still touring!?!? How old is Robert Smith??" But, after getting over the shock of knowing that a band that I loved in high school is still around, I remembered that I had a few Cure T-Shirts (circa 1990's) hanging out in the bottom of my stash. I kind of filed it away in my brain as a future project, but then I found out that her birthday is this month and decided to get to making something for her.
 I have this messenger bag pattern that I have made many, many, many times because it is easy to customize and quick to sew. I actually whipped one up for myself over the holiday since it is a convenient bag to sling over a mountain of winter wear.
 I added homemade piping for the very first time, and extended the strap attachment for additional support and a super cool sporty look.
 I had some initial trouble deciding on a coordinating fabric for this t-shirt, but my Facebook Stashbusting group came to the rescue. They suggested that I use the hand-dyed yellow cotton that I showed them since it was being used for the lining, and lighter colors make it easier to see the stuff in your bag. You can't see the lining in these pics, but I also used the fabric on the underside of the strap.
 Speaking of the strap, the top side is made from some flannel-backed vinyl that I bought for my son's Invention Convention project last year (Cellphone Gauntlet - in case you were wondering), and I am so glad that I found a project to use up the bulk of that fabric that has been sitting - forgotten - on my shelf! As you can see from this picture without the front flap, I used the vinyl on the bottom of the bag as well:
Have we had enough of the terrible cell phone pictures on this blog? Maybe I should quit being a lazy and pull out my nice camera from now on. 

I really hope that my friend likes the gift. I always get really insecure about gifting things that I have made to people that don't understand the care and effort that goes into it. But, if nothing else, at least it is thoughtful - right?

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Cold Weather Cap

 Wyoming is a state of weather extremes. In the summer it can get ridiculously hot (think desert), and in the winter it is often frigidly cold (we are not strangers to negative numbers on the thermometer). So, when I came across this McCall's pattern last winter-ish, I thought I could sew up something that would keep the heat from escaping my head while also looking stylish!
 Of course, style is in the eye of the beholder, and I have never sewn this pattern before, so I chose some flannel and felt that had been languishing in my stash for awhile and that I wouldn't miss if this turned in to a disaster.
 Fortunately, I have sewn hats in the past and was comfortable with the pattern pieces provided with this design. I have never actually made a cap style before, but it is not so different from sun hat construction. One additional effort that I made for this project was to actually hand sew the lining in. HAND-SEWN, you guys! I'm pretty proud of myself.
 The shape came together beautifully even though I only interfaced the flannel. I thought that the felt had enough body to stand on its own. I was right, I think.
 The button accessories are one of the features that I liked most about this pattern, so I dove in to my neutral color button stash joyfully. I really need to sew more items with buttons because the picture below only represents about 10% of my total button inventory.
 The instructions said to use a covered button for the top of the cap, but I found this beautiful faux-wood-grain button that was too glorious to pass up.
 The side buttons are more of a pearlescent tiger's eye design.
 I love the orange bio-hazard look on the top of that hat.
 The front is pretty boring, but the scorpions give it a little pizzazz.
 Those side buttons are so super cute on this!
The fit on this is perfect (I mean, how hard is it to measure a head??), but I have no pictures of me wearing it. I almost think that this cap could be worn by either my son or myself, so this will be a valuable addition to our winter gear. Also, I'm thinking my family may be getting sick of knit hats and scarves for Christmas, so maybe caps for next year!?!?

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Nail Polish Caddy

Holiday gift crafting is in full swing over here, and I can never seem to just stick to my list and save myself some stress. 

For example, I made a planned project for my mom last week (which I can't talk about because she may read this), which led to an unplanned project for my sister (who doesn't read this blog, so we're good). 
The  most time consuming part of this project was figuring out how to divide a circle in to 10 equal parts.

It all started with an order of color changing nail polish that was delivered in ugly, cheap brown boxes. I couldn't fathom wrapping them up and presenting them to my sister, so I thought I would make my own gift box for her.
Adding binding to vinyl makes it a heck of a lot easier to sew.

 But then, I realized that all the work I would put into a gift box would be wasted when she tossed it out, so I racked my brain for an alternative that would please us both.

A nail polish caddy! Of course! Much math ensued...  :(  But, once I finally figured it all out, I was pretty proud of myself for creating something fun and functional. It holds all 10 bottles of polish, plus a center cavity for nail accessories, and it has a drawstring to close it all up!
Those are cotton balls in the middle,  which I swapped out for a jar of  remover w/ a sponge.

 And then, I took some crappy cell phone pics and posted them to the internet. The end.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Blood, Sweat, and Tears..

Let's start at the beginning with this one... It began with a trip to the thrift store where I came across this New Look pattern for a quarter.
Why was I looking at patterns, you wonder? Because I am wild and crazy and very bad at remembering how much space is actually in my pattern drawers (none, btw). 

If I had known about the horrors to come, I probably wouldn't have opened this package.

First up, pieces upon pieces upon pieces of fabric to cut. SO MANY PIECES!! And then, after all of the cutting, I got to spend 30 minutes yelling at my machine because it wouldn't pick up the bobbin thread. Eventually, I figured out that I had the needle in backwards, which is why I never change the needle. Nothing good ever comes from it!
Then, I thought I would be so clever and put piping in at the seam between the bodice and the skirt - until I got stabbed by the machine needle while trying to keep everything lined up properly. WHY DO YOU HATE ME, NEEDLE??
That seam matching is the stuff of dreams.
After being assaulted by the machine needle, I decided to give my Singer a chance to think about its behavior and started making miles and miles of ruffled bias tape. 10 years of gathering later (ruffle foot, you say? I will not give in to dark sorcery!), the migraine that had been building all morning finally had me doubled over and crying. That ended sewing for that day.
Finally, my finger healed a little, my headache was gone, and I got down to business - zippers were expertly installed, linings were hand-sewn, and ruffles were stitched to hems. Everything came together beautifully. The only thing that bugs me a little is some gaping at the neckline in back. It's not very noticeable, and it corrects itself when I'm sitting, but you can see it in this picture:
A little bothersome, but not enough to make me love this dress any less.

It turns out that New Look patterns are a great fit for me. I have yet to try a New Look that needed a lot of adjustment. The secret may be in all of the extra work that goes in to the construction of these patterns, but apparently my body requires multiple pieces and lots of darts for a proper fit. I sincerely feel like the end result here was worth all of the pain and torment.
Oh, and did I mention that it is a thousand degrees and excruciatingly sunny here? Because it is. Pictures were a sweaty, squinty mess.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Imagine me and you, and you and me..

 Moons and moons ago, I blogged a skirt from "The Essential A-Line" book that I had finally mastered. But, as much as I love the skirt, I had no tops that really coordinated in color or style. So, I dug through my patterns to try and find something that would work, and I landed on this one:
I felt like a collared button front with a little flare at the lower waist would work well with the peasant-style layered skirt.  Of course, I did not consider how much I LOATHE buttons and buttonholes. LOATHE THEM!!
 Collars are also an extreme struggle for me since I'm more of a comfy pullover gal. Nevertheless, I soldiered through this pattern and have to admit that the fit is pretty amazing.
 Darts, darts everywhere. I love darts, and this pattern has 4 in the front and 2 in the back. Can you see how it shapes the shirt perfectly? Darts are magic.
 Let's talk about the length, though. Um...when I raise my arms the world gets to see that my skin stretched around an 8lb 7oz baby once upon a time.  No thank you. In future versions, this will be fixed. For now, I just keep my arms down. ;)
And, I think it looks pretty awesome with the skirt. I've been wearing this outfit all day, and I am actually a little impressed with myself about it. Who knew that I was capable of coordinating separates??? Not me.