March 21, 2012

Fabric galore!

This past weekend I stopped by the Michael Levine Loft in the fabric district downtown where they sell their "leftover" fabric for $2.50 a pound! I got about 30 yards of fabric for $20! At about 75 cents a yard, I feel much more comfortable about the sure fire possibility of messing up a pattern.

Here are some pics:

March 09, 2012

Sewing Area Revamp

For awhile now I've been decently content with my sewing area.  We do the best we can with the space we have and I'm blessed to have a bit of space in the house and in the garage for all my sewing stuff.  There were a few frustrations that I had:  1)  All of my fabric was in bins and most of it was in the garage so unless I dumped it all out in the living room I really never knew exactly what I have and would often end up buying something then finding out later that I actually had something at home that would have worked just fine.  Also somewhat annoying when I would have the motivation to sew something during the girls' nap time but would have to spend the whole time going through fabric in the garage.  2)  It was very difficult to keep clean.  There was a lot of stuff in one small space and a lot of stacking, bagging, binning, etc. to keep it all organized so if I wanted a zipper, for instance, I'd need to take 3 boxes down to get to the zipper box and when I find I have a few minutes to sew I'm just not going to use up those minutes putting everything back where it belongs.  3)  It took up a lot more space than I wanted.  My sewing area is in front of our sliding back door and would often overspill block part of the door.

All of these things are small and not a huge deal to work around so I have left it the way it was for awhile, in the meantime dreaming up what I would do if I had the time/money to change it.  I was impressed by this idea that I saw on Pinterest:

I think it's cute that the person who originally did this actually considers that amount of fabric an "addiction".  Anyway, last weekend I was given several tubs of fabric from someone who didn't have the space (ironic, I know) so my hand was forced,  something had to be done because I was using up all my allotted space both in the house and in the garage.  So I ran my idea by the Man, got the go ahead and started working... and I mean working!

I wish I had taken some before pictures but honestly the undertaking was HUGE and really had to be taken care of immediately and on top of all that I had a sick daughter and a sick husband at home for most of the week so pictures weren't really on my mind.  But I'm so pleased with how it turned out that I thought it would be fun to share the after pictures at least.

I got a tall bookcase from Target (I wanted to go to Ikea but with the sickos it just wasn't going to happen and I really couldn't wait) and instead of using foam core I just used cut up diaper boxes since I have a ton of them at any given time.  Here's what I ended up with:
I can't even tell you what an improvement this is.  The amount of window we have now, I can't believe how much brighter the room is.

 And I'm really thrilled with the organizational part of it.  It is so helpful to be able to see all of my fabrics at once.
 Since I work with so many different types of fabrics I  labeled them individually so that I just have to pull one out and I know instantly what kind it is and whether or not I have enough of it for a certain project.  I also added info like whether it's dry clean only or if it's been washed before.
 Some other details, ideas and helpful bits that I am really excited about:
 All of my fabrics that are under 1yd but not quite scrap worthy I've put into drawers.  Sometimes what I'm making needs 1/2 yd for contrast or if it's something for the girls I can get by with less than a yard so it's helpful to quickly see what I've got.
 A "catch-all" bowl (on the left) for little things that need a temporary residence (like a zipper I've cut out of some shorts before throwing them out but still need to be seam ripped)
 A cute gift box makes an excellent holder for my favorite go-to patterns.
 A carpenter bag (aka tool bag) is a great place to store my current project and to take it with me to a sewing night I just add whatever tools I'll need to the pockets on the sides.
 Utilizing every available space!  Under the high chair are my travel bag, ribbon bin and actual scraps bag.

 I'm so happy with how this turned out.  I still have a few bins in the garage--mostly winter fabrics (not necessary now as we head into summer) and some clothes to upcycle.  Both of which I'll just bring the whole bin inside when I'm working on those specific things.
I still wish I had a place to keep my sewing machine out all the time but this will definitely cut down on my set-up time.  And now that I'm finished cleaning I can maybe finish my dress!
Happy Sewing!

March 01, 2012

First Skirt... DONE!

So, I (Kristin) sewed my first piece of clothing this weekend in a skirt-making class taught by Adrieanna (the main poster on this blog). It was so fun and the class went great! Adrieanna picked up our patterns when they went on sale for $1! She knows where all the deals are. :) Here's my fabric after some cuts:

The edge that will be "gathered:"

Below are two marks for the elastic, which was the most annoying part. It took a while and my hands started to cramp, but it looks awesome:

And the finished product!
This is Sandra laying out her pattern:

The sweatshop! Adrieanna and Shirley were such good, patient teachers!

Monica, modeling her honeymoon skirt:

Sandra's skirt matched her top!

Shirley has been sewing since she was 12!

Veronica didn't quite finish during the class because she took the extra time to do some cute pockets! But she did finish it later that evening:

And Jaime showing off her masterpiece!

This is Adrieanna wearing her super hot knit mini dress, posted about in the blogpost below... And check out those heels!

I love your new haircut, Anna! And we had the privilege of the adorable Olivia attending. Danger, she will suck you in to wanting kids, she's so precious:
It was such a wonderful day of sewing!

February 25, 2012

Knit Mini Dress

I have had this pattern for about a year... or maybe several years.  I originally bought it to convert into a maternity shirt (can't remember for which kid) but never got around to it.

I found this soft burgundy jersey knit in my stash and decided to make "D" (the one in yellow).  Turns out I didn't have as much as I thought because I ran out for the belt.  I had my heart set on a contrasting grey but could NOT find it anywhere!  So I had to settle with dark blue which turned out awesome because for the buttons I wanted to use these glass buttons that my mom made for me and I found a set of three that were burgundy and dark blue!  I added some blue to the bottom as a trim mainly because it's a pain in the butt to hem jersey but I think it actually adds a lot to the dress.

 A couple of things I didn't like about this pattern:  One of the fabric options was jersey which tends to be very stretchy, thin and snags easily.  This pattern in particular called for buttons and I didn't think anything of it until I realized that the belt is actually separate from the dress and is held on by the buttons.  Not a problem except that the pattern didn't call for and I didn't think to add fusible interfacing where the buttons go to add stability.  The belt pulls on the buttons especially when I move around so I'm pretty sure they're going to pop off within a few wears and take the buttons with them.  A friend of mine suggested that I actually hand stitch the belt to the dress so that it takes some of the pressure off the buttons and I think I'll do that.  I'll probably still have to hand-wash it but it should give me a few more wears.
Can you believe my mom made these buttons?!  She actually made the glass part and everything!
I'm also not a fan of the sleeves--especially with jersey.  It's a fold under, iron and sew down hem on the armhole instead of some sort of trim or sleeve.  I don't care for it because it's harder to do and doesn't look as clean in my opinion (at least when I do it).  But I did it and it turned out fine.

One thing I had never done before was a thread loop which I found out is the little thread you see on dresses that have belts.  It's meant to hold the belt in place but is less visible than an actual belt loop.  I totally cheated on this one and just took 3 strands of embroidery thread and made a braided cord.  I think it looks nice but I still don't know how to make a thread loop.
 I'm not sure I'll make this pattern again.  I don't care for the others in the envelope and I'm not a fan of the elastic inverted V without the belt to cover it.  The man is a fan of it--probably because it's so short--and I think it turned out cute so we'll see, I might.  In the meantime I'm headed to Old Navy for my first pair of skinny jeans to go with it!

February 24, 2012

Pleated Skirt

Awhile. back I made the pleated skirt from Butterick B5613 that I had thought about for the sewing class.  I decided against it for the sewing class for a number of reasons but I'm happy with the way mine turned out and it's super comfortable.  I've already worn it a few times and even walked aroudn my race expo in it (I had just come from a bridal shower and didn't want to change).

I used a "suiting" fabric that I got in the Red Tag section of Joann Fabrics for an additional 50% off then 20% off that so I think I paid around $2/yd.  It turned out a bit more "poofy" than I expected but still cute.

I wasn't going to line it but I hate when you can see the silhouette of my legs so...
 I used some fabric from Ikea that used to be a couch cover back when we lived in Arrowhead.  Yay for upcycling!  I'm so glad I lined it because I had to add a couple inches to accommodate my, ahem, belly so I also had to add a couple of pleats which made the skirt very twirly.  Not a bad thing except that I have a Merilyn Monroe moment any time there is the slightest breeze (not exaggerating).  I added the lining after finishing the rest of the skirt though so it doesn't lie quite right where it meets the waistband but oh well.

I wasn't sure what to do with the bottom.  The pattern called for a blind hem but either I'm not that good at it or it doesn't work with this fabric because it left little dents across the bottom.  It's not very ironable fabric and I didn't want a line of stitches along the bottom anyway because I didn't have exact matching thread.  So I serged the bottom and left it that way.  Not too bad--I think it helps pull away from the office look of the fabric a bit.

 I decided against this pattern for the class for a couple of reasons:  I thought a zipper was a little too advanced for some of the people in the class and the pattern really required a lot of marks and I didn't want to try to teach about transfer paper and lining up dots and stuff when there is so much else to cover in the first class.

Anyway, fun skirt.  I'll be making the gathered one of it soon and I'm really excited about that one--I even ordered fabric for it specifically rather than use something I've got!  Happy Sewing!

February 07, 2012

Romper conversion?

I bought this romper online (it was on clearance), and it definitely doesn't look good on me. Sort of like a curtain. I don't know how this model looks so cute in it, but I guess I just can't pull it off. To return it would have cost about the same as the romper cost, about $10, so that was out of the question. Now I'm just wondering if there's something I can do with it to make it work.

I wouldn't mind making it into a long shirt or a dress (albeit would probably be too short, unless I added some sort of dark gray fabric around the ribs, which might work), but I have no idea where to start. I was also considering a dar gray fabric from the waist down, but the top may look too busy. What do you think? Any suggestions?

One thing to keep in mind is that the bottom is sewn together in the middle to separate the "shorts." So that might make a smaller adjustment more difficult... looks-wise at least. Anyway, I've not really made adjustments to clothes before, so I'd love input before I cut it up! ;)

February 01, 2012

Burda Tempts Me

My first pattern ever was a Burda--a maternity shirt with an empire waist, a crossover neckline and a tie in the back. It was my first pattern and my first pregnancy so I didn't exactly know what I was doing. I used the wrong kind of fabric and tried to make it for the size I might be instead of the size I was. Suffice it to say, it didn't turn out well. Burda patterns intrigue and intimidate me as much as Vogue patterns. While other brands primarily offer simple, classic, basic and often cookie-cutter patterns, Vogue and Burda have unique shapes and unusual details. I find myself both intimidated to make and to wear them if they did turn out well.

For this one, however, I think I might overcome my fear and at least give it a go.

My goodness it's such a fun design! I love the wide, angled draping at the waist and the slit in the neckline is so sexy. And it's all in jersey so it would be super comfy. I don't know about the matching pants or skirt. The skirt is way too long for my height but could easily be made shorter. The pants look sort of like pjs but maybe in shorts? I've considered the whole jumpsuit thing. Anyway, I really like this pattern. Burda goes on sale very rarely but I think I might pick this one up when it does. In the meantime I certainly have plenty to keep me occupied.

January 13, 2012

Make It, Wear It: American Apparel Knockoff

A couple of weeks ago I decided to send a care package to my sister in AZ. The usual stuff--banana bread, a magazine, a shirt that just won't fit me--and I thought I'd include one of those infinity scarf things everyone seems to be wearing. I looked up how to make them and came across this tutorial for an American Apparel circle scarf knockoff by ComeonIlene:

Her post has inspired me to brave the LA fashion (and/or fabric?) district one of these days.

The scarf itself might be the easiest thing I've ever sewn... really. It is literally 2yds of jersey knit sewn together at the ends with a simple straight stitch. Seriously it's that easy. I pulled the fabric a tad while sewing so that it had some stretch at the seam. Personally I find the scarf a bit ridiculous BUT
a) I don't wear scarves often so I always feel a bit self-conscious in them
b) I'm not usually wearing the kinds of outfits that make a scarf like this look good
c) It's not for me so who cares what I think
That being said the scarf leaves for Flagstaff on Monday and even though I didn't make it for myself I thought I'd still have some fun showing it off--American Apparel style.

This was supposed to be my mustache but I don't think I came across.

In retrospect I should have been wearing some serious heels but the full body picture was a last minute decision so please forgive the fopaux.

January 09, 2012

Maybe a Skirt?

Ok so the shirt I picked for the class is a no-go. My mom got to it first and said it was much more complicated than she expected. It also took her a long time to finish and though I haven't seen it she calls it "old-lady" looking so I'm guessing I would agree. I looked through other shirt patterns but the only "easy" ones I could find are knit--which I'm trying to avoid because it can be so difficult to work with for beginners.
I asked around and it looks like everyone would be fine with a skirt instead so here's a few options:

Simple circle skirt with a side zipper. Seems easy enough and would probably be decently flattering on anyone.

Pockets and an elastic waist so it should be super simple. I'm not the hugest fan of the style but I think with a good belt like in the picture or a tucked-out shirt it would be fine and the style might fit everyone better than a zipper.
I believe this one also has a side zipper. I like the belt loops. Though it might take a bit longer than the other circle skirt I think I like the look better.
I find myself really drawn to these skirts. I like all the options available: puffball vs flowey, pleated or gathered, sash or smooth front. Not sure if I would need to just choose one for everyone to do or if the differences are small enough that everyone could pick their own variation.

So those are the ones that I think would be easiest based on the info provided. I'd love any input or opinion on them.