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.

Monday, June 29, 2015

70's Stripes

 A few weeks ago, I picked up some knits on Etsy for a SONG. One of the fabrics, in particular, I am very excited to sew with:
 It's a flannel backed sweatshirt knit and I love it. I only have about a yard and a half, though, so I need to choose exactly the right pattern for this baby.  When I saw McCall's 5637 circa 1977, I may have squeaked a little bit. Or a lot bit. Tell me that this isn't the cutest top EVER!?!?!
I love view "B" with the pockets in the seams and the giant cuffs on the sleeves. Adorable.

Of course, I am not so arrogant to think that I would sew this up properly the first time around, so I grabbed some drapey knit to make a practice top. Which was a HUGE mistake. Ugh! When will I learn to be more thoughtful about fabric choices?
 #1-This material does not press well, and a lot of the instructions involve pressing seam allowances.
#2 - YOU CANNOT CUFF LIGHTWEIGHT KNIT. Duh. I knew that, but I was temporarily insane, apparently.
#3 - Without the bulk of the sweatshirt knit, this top is too big.
Regardless of the dopey muslin fabric choice, I love this style. The pockets are awesome and convenient, the sleeves are a perfect length, and the subtle boat-like neck keeps me from feeling choked.
I will have to make a new muslin with some scraps of sweatshirt that I have lying around, and see how it goes. There will definitely be a few tweaks to the fit -shoulders, sleeves, and side seams, but I think the heavier fabric will be MUCH easier to work with for this pattern.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Karma Capris

With summer in full swing here, I thought it was time to bite the bullet and make some capris. This is a big deal, because I am pretty scared of sewing pants. Skirts - no problem, shorts - sure, why not? But, pants? Yikes!  So, I pulled out a pattern that looked pretty dummy-proof to ease the way a little.
 This pattern lists just about every fabric imaginable in the suggested list, the waist for view B is elastic, and the style seemed like it could be flattering on just about anyone. So, I dove in with a cotton print that I have yards and yards of.
 Surprisingly, I am extremely pleased with this first attempt!! I made the garment almost exactly according to the envelope size and instructions. The main thing that I changed was the length - removing about 2 inches at the shorten line.  It appears that I could probably take another inch or so..
 The ribbon drawstrings allow for this gypsy-style hem (my son's term), but I don't love that look, and the hanging ribbon keeps making me think that bugs are crawling on my legs, so I think I'm just going to take them out and leave it as a slit.
There are some excess fabric issues in the front between crotch and waist, but the back is actually pretty good. Everything is wrinkled because I took these photos after wearing the capris all day. Sorry.

All in all, this was a quick sew. I traced out the pattern this time which will make it a lot easier to adjust my next attempt. I am thinking of modifying it to be a fitted waist, definitely adding pockets, and thinning out the legs just a tad. This could easily become a TNT with a little more tweaking. How exciting!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Skort

 So, I made a skort. This is my wearable muslin, and I think I will definitely size down the waist and add some more length next time. I may also try to make it a fitted waist (instead of elastic) in the future. We'll see.
The wind aided me in showing the shorts underneath.
I committed a couple of "sewing sins" during this project - cutting the pattern right from the tissue paper instead of tracing and not changing my black serger thread for the seam finishes. In my defense, I was in a sewing mood, and I didn't want to lose my mojo. ;)

There isn't much more to say about this one. The garment came together quickly (it's just shorts with a panel on the front, so...), there were very few fitting issues, and I just wanted to get something off of my sewing to-do list today.

P.S. Sorry for the crap pictures. I was in a hurry, and my camera remote wasn't allowing me to stray more than 2 feet from the lens. Argh! 

Monday, June 1, 2015

Let's Talk Leggings..

This is a "What was I thinking?" project, for sure. I got it into my head that I would like some homemade leggings. Keep in mind - I don't actually own any RTW leggings, but I somehow thought that I needed leggings in my life.  Also, I hate tight-fitting things. So, totally makes sense that I would embark on the leggings journey, right?
Knowing myself as I do (HA!), I accepted that my first attempt would not be perfect, and I stitched together some scrap t-shirts to substitute for muslin. I also used this Kwik Sew pattern that was already in my stash (how did that even get there?).
I admit, I actually love this patchwork look even though it makes my husband cringe. Of course, the weird crotch sagging makes ME cringe, so it was off to make alterations.....

....Which I didn't even bother doing. I just bought a new leggings pattern. Because I am a glutton for punishment, apparently.
This Cake pattern is actually pretty neat. It has this "connect the dots" method that supposedly allows you to maximize the success of your fit.
Except when you are a lazy punk that measures like a monkey. Yikes. This was my first attempt at this pattern. I had to add some additional scrap knit to the waist since I was WAY OFF on my front and back rise measurements.

But, I marched on and tore up a jersey dress that I made last year (which I never wear) to make a new muslin with more front and back rise. Ummm.....nope. Although, to be fair, I think a lot of the issues with this third muslin revolve around how unflattering this fabric pattern is on me. Gross.
Final verdict - My thighs are not meant to be showcased in leggings. And, I still hate how tight-fitting clothes feel on my skin.

Also, I am burning every scrap of  that pink and gray Von Dutch jersey that I have in my fabric stash.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Round 2...FIGHT!

I have officially conquered the "Essential A-Line" master pattern that gave me such a headache in my last post!

There was no way that I was going to let this project defeat me. I really want some new skirts for the summer, and I was determined to find a TNT that would eat up some of this cotton fabric that I have amassed over the years.
For the second time around with this pattern, I used an old bed sheet for the under layer and some hard-to-match quilting cotton that I wouldn't miss. I also scrounged up a few yards of orangey-red lace that I had no intention of using on anything in the immediate future.
I cut a "medium" based on the hip measurements, but had to cut 2" off the waist for a proper fit. Last time, I only took out an inch, and it is amazing what a difference this extra inch made!! Fits like a dream...
There was a bee getting ready to "photo bomb" me here. 
I am so relieved that I was able (and willing) to tweak this pattern in to something that I love. There are several variations of this master that I can play around with, which will help me build a "me made" summer wardrobe this year!
I was going to wait to photograph the skirt until next week, but the light this evening was so awesome that I threw on the skirt and grabbed my 12 year old to act as photographer. As soon as I got outside....cloudy. Seriously, sky?? 2 minutes!?!? I only took 2 minutes!! 
Changed out of the skirt, and then the sun came back out.  Of course. :(

Sunday, April 26, 2015

I Loathe Linings

After more than a month, I finally dusted off my sewing machine and got down to sewing something for fun!
I have dozens of projects on my list, but this book has been sitting on my cutting table for about 2 months waiting for me to feel motivated. Can you believe that I only paid $2 for this at the thrift shop?
I've had my eye on the Triple Ruffle Skirt, but the instructions seemed so daunting - flipping through several different pages for construction details, tracing the main pattern, making adjustments, fussing with a lining, etc.... It seemed like a lot of work for a simple skirt.

 I started the project Saturday morning with high hopes and lots of enthusiasm.  By late Saturday afternoon, I was convinced that this skirt pattern was created by demons.  It all came down to the lining. The problems began when I constructed the lining inside out, and continued when I tried to install the zipper. I am normally a zipper rockstar, but I just.could. not. get. it. right. Argh! After HOURS of sewing and stitch ripping, I finally had to walk away and start anew Sunday morning.
It went.....better. I decided to take it all in stride and just get it done. Things that I am trying to be zen about:
- The lining is inside out
- The zipper looks like it was installed by a monkey
- I only had enough lace for 2 "tiers"
- The waist needs to be brought in another inch
- The bottom tier did not match up properly with the main skirt
- This took me 2 DAYS!!
See how zen I am in that picture?? I am not even phased by the gray day, the crap lighting in my sewing area, or the fact that I had to move a bunch of stuff around to make room for the photo shoot. SUPER ZEN!

Ultimately, I know how to fix all of the problems for the next skirt, and this pattern is pretty good. I have already made a note to use bias tape as a waist band facing so that I don't ever have to deal with lining again. And, there are a ton of cute skirts in this book that I can see myself wearing, so I really want to not hate this pattern. Just have to work out the kinks, right?