Friday, December 13, 2013

Homemade Holidays

Like many, I get a little nuts around the holidays. I get this idea in my head that I am Wonder Woman, and I completely overextend myself. Usually, it involves food preparations, or the number of people I am buying gifts for. This year, though, the distance from my family and my desire to personalize the gift giving has caused me to go sew crazy. Although I am pleased that I am giving people things that I put love and effort in to, I think I could have scaled back my ambitions a little. 

I started off before Thanksgiving by churning out 3 or 4 portable first aid kits (like this one for my brother):

After that, I decided to whip up a shopping bag holder/dispenser, and from there I spiraled out of control...

In addition to the following sewing projects, I crocheted 2 scarves and one hooded cowl.

A jumper for my 6 year old niece:
 A jacket (fully lined) and a pair of corduroy pants for my 3 year old niece. (How freaking awesome are those buttons?!?):
 A fabric gift bag (also fully lined -Why??) for all the 3 year old's clothes:
 A hoodie for the 3 year old that I now hate because it looks shoddy and wide in these pics:
 A jumper with front pocket for the 3 year old:
 Of course, I procrastinated horribly and ended up doing most of these projects in the last 4 days. Surprisingly, the only issues that I experienced were one foul-up with a hem and my serger quitting on me at the end. I consider myself very lucky that the stress of the task I set for myself wasn't exacerbated by endless seam ripping and technical issues. Maybe I am a little bit Wonder Woman, after all.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Dr. Who Tardis Board Shorts..

The Bear grew like a weed this summer, and I decided to make him some new "adjustable" shorts that could be let out in the waist and hem so that he can wear them through next summer.  Of course, now that he is 10 years old, he makes his own fashion choices. So, I took him to the fabric store to select the material that his shorts would be made out of.  I admit that I was a little skeptical about the criteria that his decisions were based on ("Ooh, this one looks kind of spacey!"), but the fabric reflects who he is, so I am not going to complain.

Obviously, I had to pick up a pattern since I don't measure. Ever. And, luckily, the fabric shop that I went to had this on one of their racks:
 All was well when I traced out the pattern for a 10 year old, and cut all of the pieces. But as I prepared to construct the shorts, I stumbled upon the MOST RIDICULOUS POCKET INSTRUCTIONS EVER!
 Dear Patterns by Figgy,
Your pocket instructions suck.
Sincerely, SewGlam.

5 hours later, I was at my wits end trying to figure these pockets out. So, I did what I always do - I ignored the instructions and did my own thing. Unfortunately, that means that I paid $12 for pattern pieces. Oh well.  The shorts came out pretty great, and my kid is happy.
 Now, trying to get a 10 year old away from the video games long enough to take a few pictures is a real task.  Especially if you want to get it done without having to deal with attitude.
 Oh, and as the title mentioned, I took some artistic liberty with the "spacey" fabric.
 My son is a Dr. Who nut. These are the only pair that I did side pockets on, and my hand embroidery leaves something to be desired, but he has a pretty unique pair of Tardis shorts now.  After 3 pair of very boring board shorts, I needed to do something more exciting. You would not believe the amount of work that went in to these pockets, but it was a labor of love:
 "Sharp looking shorts, kid!"
"Whatever, mom. Are we done now??"
*sigh* "Yes."
Ingrate. ;)

Friday, August 2, 2013

Summer Shifts and Serger Stress

Sewing projects have been piling up on my idea sheet these past few weeks, and I can't seem to sew fast enough to satisfy my ambitions.

I have had a pattern for a stretch knit summer dress that I've been wanting to make for awhile, and I finally found some fabric that inspired me to give it a go.  I decided on a "criss-cross" technique for the front of the dress, and I am SO GLAD that I own a serger. Jersey is a nightmare for me, and, without a serger, I would have never completed this garment.  With the serger, the sewing part of this project only took me 20 minutes.  Cutting, on the other hand...Grr.
 I will definitely have to adjust the pattern in the future, now that I know how the fit is a little "off" on my body type. I already had to shave a couple of inches on each shoulder strap, but it looks like I will have to take in the waist in order to give it more shape. For a lightweight summer shift, this dress is awesome. I could (and might) sleep in this thing!

After that project, I started on a dress inspired by this DIY Crop Top tutorial that I found.  Now, I don't DO crop tops. Quite frankly, I am perplexed by the concept behind a crop top. As far as I am concerned, my stomach is MY business. Not yours, or anyone else's.  So, although I love the idea of using denim scrap for the top, I decided to add a skirt on it and make it a dress.

Everything started off beautifully. I measured my little heart out, added straps that match the lining (denim seams rubbing against my torso skin?? I don't think so.), and started sewing the skirt strips together.
 And then my serger FREAKED THE EFF OUT, and I almost went on a city-wide stabbing spree to vent my frustration. Needless to say, the machine is currently "out of order" until I am sane enough to deal with it again.

The worst thing about the serger situation is that I have all kinds of creative motivation, and no outlet for it. I actually did some cross stitch this week (BORING), and started a crochet project (IN THE SUMMER?), but all I want to do is finish the crop-top-turned-dress, whip up the faux headboard that has been percolating in my head, and make a seat-back organizer for my new behemoth of an SUV. This machine is really inconveniencing me right now.  >:(

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Retro Visor

So, I went to the thrift store for a meat slicer, and walked out with a dozen sewing patterns and an arm full of books. And no meat slicer. 
But, the patterns that I found were all priced under a dollar, and they included this gem that begged to be taken home:
 Now, I am normally not a hat or visor wearer, but summer in Wyoming is no joke.  The sun is fierce here!! So, I was excited to start on this project right when I got home.

First of all, I was BLOWN AWAY by the fact that this pattern had never been used.  The package dates to 1974, and the paper was as crisp as when it was new! Unheard of for me.  So, I decided to preserve the original pattern and use some special pattern transfer fabric stuff that I've had lying around for a while.  The nice thing about these older patterns is that the ink is really dark, and it is super easy to trace:
 I don't like that tracing wheel and chalk transfer paper stuff that I've seen people use. It's time consuming and hard to work with (for me). This process only took a few minutes, and now I have pattern pieces that I can reuse for a long time:
 Of course, I used a fabric that I don't really care about for my first attempt at the "visor scarf." (I have learned my lesson about wasting good fabric on new patterns.)  The cutting was a breeze, but the sewing had a few false starts that almost forced me screaming from my machine.  It's my fault for skimming the instructions instead of paying attention. When they say "match up small dots," they mean it, dammit!

The final piece came out really well, and I know what to tweak for my future visors.  I love that this is a "one size fits all" hat, and it actually looks pretty good on me! Not that you'll ever know, of course.  I used my good friend Simon (a.k.a "simone" - when modeling female head apparel):

I had to use a double layer of interfacing for the brim since all I have is "lightweight" fusible, but I like that it isn't too stiff.
 The band part above the brim can also be folded to reduce the height, but "Simone" has a big forehead and was able to use the extra coverage:

I think that it will be loads of fun playing around with different fabric combinations on this pattern. Also, I plan to make the cap from this package as well. This was a fantastic find for me!

Friday, May 10, 2013

T-Shirt to Drawstring Backpack

So, I was at the store the other day and I saw a cute Nike or Adidas or some-sports-related-brand drawstring backpack on sale. Considering that I was juggling an armful of household necessities, trying to figure out how I would fit my purchases AND my purse in my bike basket for the ride home, this backpack looked like heaven to me.  But, as I calculated the discount percentage off of the retail price (I rely pretty heavily on those little signs that list the "before and after" pricing), I realized that this bag would be easy to make on my own.  Of course, that didn't help me while I was precariously balancing a small mountain of items on the bike ride home, but I felt good that I didn't waste the 40% off of $14.99 (Yeah. YOU figure that out on your own).

I got down to it almost right away. I have had this jersey tank sitting around, waiting for a re-fashion for a long time now, and I thought it would be awesome for a drawstring back pack.
I looked up a few tutorials online, but I couldn't find any that were exactly what I wanted.  Considering that this is stretchy jersey fabric, I knew that I needed a lining inside for strength, and I couldn't find too many instructions for this bag that included interfacing and a lining.  I decided to just wing it, and went about matching up some fabrics.
A few problems that I had right off  the bat:
-The graphic on this tank was so close to the neckline that I had to put a strip of fabric at the top in order to keep the image from being distorted by the casing for the straps.
- I do not own cording of any kind, and the selection in my little town is super-limited, so I had to buy this thick shoe-lace type nylon weave stuff for the straps. Not my first choice.
- I really liked the grommet idea that I had seen on another blog, but I only have teeny ones for apparel uses (which I have never used), so I found those weird "D" loops that I re-purposed from another bag.
- The question of whether or not to add a pocket kept me up at night. In the end, I decided against it because this is more of a bike-riding knapsack rather than a daily purse.

Ultimately, this project took longer than it should have because I was being really picky about its construction.  I know myself pretty well, and I tend to put a lot of heavy stuff in my bags.  This pack needs to hold up to water bottles, sunscreen, bug spray, and whatever else I can cram in there, and I wasn't going to cut corners just to get it done quickly.  I am really proud of how it turned out (having not used any instructions), and I know that it will last me a long time. Plus, there are so many ways to add to this design that I could make a hundred of these and never have two of them be the same. I can't wait to make a child-sized one for The Bear now that I ordered grommets and cording from an online sewing supplier. Let the obsession begin!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Where have you been??

So,  here I am. New year, new state, new sewing room, and new projects.  I have actually been doing stuff since my last post (a million years ago), I just haven't been posting it.  Now that I have a nice, bright, non-creepy-spidery-basement area to work in, I have been spending a little more time sewing.  Of course, I still do the requisite hemming and patch work that seems to stick to you like stink when you own a sewing machine, but I have made a promise to myself to actually make some stuff for ME this year.  For example,
 KAPOW! I have had this fabric laying around FOREVER, and I picked up a backpack pattern last year that I knew would be perfect for this! Does anyone else buy patterns to go with fabric they already own? No? Only me? Well, whatever, Beetle Bailey comic strip fabric deserves to be respected that way. So, I turned it in to this:
The lighting was crap in my house on picture day, so this is the best I've got. I swear it is a backpack. I haven't quite gotten around to installing the lining yet, but the pieces are all cut and just waiting to be assembled. Possibly forever. I was pretty bored with this project by the time I finished the body... I'll get to it eventually.  In the meantime, I was looking to make myself some new spring/summer clothes since my new state gets pretty warm, and I came across this pattern in my stash:
Even though I am anti-sleeveless-tops, I thought I would be daring and make the long, sleeveless tunic ("c"). I had a great asian-style fabric that I thought would be awesome, so I gave it a go.
Why am I not modeling this, you ask? Well, because this pattern was constructed for people with tiny heads.  I mean, like, shrunken head tiny. I did my best to adjust the neck hole, but it's still a tight fight, and I hate putting it on and taking it off.  Plus, the sun was low in the sky, I have no good picture spots scoped out in my new yard yet, and I just wasn't feeling it. So, deal with the ebay-style pic.  This pattern sucked, and I will never wear this top. :(

After the tunic disappointment, I consoled myself by taking a trip to one of the 2 local thrift shops and found this truly heinous men's shirt:
I don't want to know who bought this shirt retail. I prefer to think that they were drunk and naked and needed something, so they grabbed the first shirt they saw. The fabric is pretty gross in a fake silk kind of way, but I instantly recognized the very cute skirt hiding in this fashion atrocity.
See? There it is! Again, no modeling pic because this was done on the same day as "the tunic that shall not be named," and I've already explained my attitude for that day. This project takes less than a half hour to throw together.  Just Google "Men's shirt to skirt," and you'll see 4 billion tutorials showing you how easy this is.

And, there you have it, proof that I have not been a total sewing slacker.  I have some shorts that I will attempt in the next few days, and I might, possibly start a quilt. Maybe.

I promise not to wait another century before my next post.