Friday, May 30, 2014

Rockin' Refashion

As I was sorting through my patterns to find something that would work for this month's stash-busting theme -knits- I came across a design that I made years ago, but didn't love.  It is not meant for knits, but I saw the possibility and decided that it would be a simple hack to make this pattern suit my needs.
I have a few t-shirts that I have been hanging on to for special projects, and this shirt was the first thing I thought of when I envisioned myself wearing this design in a knit fabric.
I chopped up a black tee for the bodice, and I went to town.
I pleated the center front bodice, and I cut off about 5 inches of elastic in the neckline. I also added a strip of jersey at the top of the skirt in order to offer more contrast.

I don't know how other sewists feel, but I always consider my homemade clothes "works in progress." I may add some fullness to the skirt by slicing the side seams and inserting triangles of black jersey.  Also, some embellishment to the neckline, maybe?  I don't know. I like how it fits and looks right now, but I can see myself wanting to jazz it up more later.

And now this picture because....that face. Is that how I look when I squint? Geez.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Fast & Furious Flower Girl Frock

My brother sent me a text last week asking if I could whip up a dress for my niece. She was asked to be a flower girl in his friend's wedding, and he thought that I might create something unique for her.  This posed a bit of a challenge since:
A. My niece is in IL, and I am in WY
B. I had to rely on my brother to provide accurate measurements
C. The wedding is on June 6th.
D. I don't have a big fabric store nearby.

Undaunted, I rummaged through my fabric stash to see what I had.  I don't keep satin or crepe around (I have no girls of my own), so I knew I would have to settle for an Easter-style dress made from cotton. I was fortunate to find just over a yard of lavender-ish fabric (that was the color that I was instructed to use), but I only had less than half a yard of my preferred contrast material. That sucked a little bit since I wanted to make a little short-sleeved coat to go with this sundress.
Since I was making such a structurally simple garment, I decided to focus on the craftsmanship.  The bodice lining is all handsewn, the flowers are homemade (with my little Clover Hana-Ami Flower Loom), and there are no raw edges on the seams.
I made a big bow on the back with long tails since I felt that it looked a little more "fancy occasion" rather than "picnic in the park." I had also thought about adding tulle to the hem, but I was worried about the scratchiness, and the color that I had was too plum and not enough violet.
I do wish that I had a larger fabric selection, or a store nearby that I could have perused, but I think I did okay with what I had on hand.  Plus, I wanted to get this done as quickly as possible so that I could ship it off in plenty of time.  If this dress doesn't fit right, my brother will still be able to shop for one that does.  Fingers crossed that my HOURS of hand sewing weren't wasted!!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Tutorial: Shrink Plastic Bookmarks

It's that time of year again. Coffee mugs, pencil holders, Starbuck's gift cards, "World's Best Teacher" magnets - you know...end of the school year teacher appreciation gift time.  Well, I said "PHOOEY!" to the souvenir-shop-style items, and decided to do something for both the teacher AND her students next year.


I thought it would be great to represent a slew of classic(ish) children's books on durable, hard plastic bookmarks.  I decided to make about 20 of these, and present them in a mason jar for the teacher to keep on her desk.  Then, I thought that other people may like this idea, so I made a tutorial.
And, away we go..
   The first thing that you need is some shrink plastic. I had 2 different brands in my craft stash, and the sheets were about 8.5" x 11". I have read a few blogs that say you can recycle take-home meal containers for this kind of project, but I didn't have any of those to try out.

Also needed are - Fine point permanent markers, scissors, small binder clips, a hole punch, and parchment paper.

Instructions (Click on the images to view them larger):
 Lay out a piece of paper that is the same size as your plastic sheet, and measure the halfway mark.

 Draw a vertical line separating the 2 equal sides, and place your plastic sheet on the paper.
 Use the drawn line as a guide for cutting the plastic
This will give you 2 plastic sheets appx 4.25"w x 11"h.

 Use your small binder clips to attach one plastic sheet firmly to the page with the image that you are going to trace.
 This picture shows that I used a black permanent marker for the outlines, and colored markers to fill in some of the details. I definitely suggest illustrations that DO NOT involve a lot of shadowing.
Once you have traced the illustration, repeat the tracing process on the title and author name. Then, punch a hole in the top of the bookmark.  If you forget to punch the hole prior to baking, you will have to use a drilling tool to get it done afterward.
 Heat your OVEN (not toaster oven) to 250 degrees, and place your bookmark on a foil-lined tray covered with parchment paper.
 Lay an additional piece of parchment paper on top of the bookmark to prevent curling, and bake in the oven for 10 minutes.
The finished product comes out about 1/2 the size of the original, but size will vary for each bookmark.
Finally, just add some ribbon or thread through the hole that you punched (you didn't forget to do that before baking, did you???), and you have a great keepsake that any kid would love to get!
Don't forget to put them in a decorated container before you give them to the teacher.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Spending time with my seam ripper...

Have you ever had one of those projects that started with a great idea, but that you just couldn't get to work right? A garment that you construct, then take apart, then reconstruct, only to take apart again?  This is one of those projects for me.  I had no pattern to guide me on measurements here. All I had was an idea and some fabric. This is why I don't draft my own patterns, people.
Believe it or not, the most difficult portion of this dress was NOT the denim bodice. Honestly, if I was shaped like a square, that bodice would have been the easiest part. I mean, obviously the denim presented some challenges, and I still didn't get the side seams in enough to eliminate wrinkling, but this was the one aspect of the dress that never got seam-ripped.
The skirt, on the other hand... I originally wanted pleats, but that didn't work, so I thought I would do an "A" line with jersey fabric, which turned out to be awful, so I finally just gathered a cotton panel skirt. How boring.
Now, after all of the time I have spent building a relationship with this garment, my feelings about it are only lukewarm. I don't love it, I only barely like it, but I am NOT taking this thing apart again.  Maybe I'll add a belt or some embellishments, but the seam ripper will not be an option here. It's time to move on.