July 18, 2013

Apron of Oppression

I took a break from my refashion dress to sew something quick and fun. The moment I saw this fabric of 1950's women in the kitchen, I knew I had to make an apron out of it. Perfect, right?? It was a lot of fun to make (no pattern) and I think it came out well.

July 08, 2013

July Refashion Dress

My before pics:

So now that I put it on, I realize that I basically picked the ugliest thing at Goodwill to work with. I highly doubt that it'll be cute after I'm done with it, if it's even wearable! It's at least good practice with sheer, flowy fabric.

July 05, 2013

July Thrift Store Challenge

Well this is my second choice to redo. Adrieanna vetoed the first piece which was a floral dress. She couldn't envision the beautiful masterpiece I had planned for it.  Not sure what to make with this but the print is nice. It will definitely be a shirt of some sort and since it has been cooler in my oven than outside I will make it short sleeve.
Hmm that's not what the print looks like. It looks like I'm in front of a carnival mirror, but you get the idea of the style. I think it added 20 pounds also. lol
wow I wish the print did look like that. LOL The print is like the picture without me in it.
More to come. I need to put my creative cap on for this one.

Sewing LOL

Ok I buy fabric pretty much whenever and wherever I can find a good deal. I saw this at Salvation Army today with Adrieanna.
Its pretty and I've seen lots of shirts lately with this pattern, It was only .75. Good price and I envisioned a t-shirt upstyle. Well I opened it up to discover how many yards I had purchased. Did I mention that it was just as you see it but with a piece of tape around it? I opened it up and showed it to Adrieanna and we started cracking up. The above image is the inside.
This is the outside. LOL
Hmmm I think I will make me some shorts with this. 

Thrift store redo

Amy visited our house last month and we were talking about what has turned into "refashion month". I had an old dress that I had bought just for that and so I needed a tank top and here it is.
I took off the sleeves and the bottom. It was pretty easy, however, this is a tough material to serge but since I am new to serging and rather lazy I thought I would give it a whirl. Turns out my initial instinct to NOT serge it was right, as it would have had a nicer finish with a regular stitch. But it will work for this summer.
Hmm I cant figure out how to turn this picture.
I think it turned out pretty good.

June 08, 2013

Short-ish Skirt

Feeling a little more confident after my first skirt, I decided to make another one. This one took me about 90 minutes start to finish, and most of that was because the fabric was much easier to work with.

Overall, I think it came out pretty cute!

Here is a close up of the waistband. As you can see, in order for it to lay flat I did elastic on the front and back only.

And for my next one, chiffon!

The "20 Minute Maxi"...that took me 5 hours

I decided it was time to start sewing clothes, like real, wearable garments that might actually even be cute. Easier said than done, but I learned a TON of valuable lessons and I feel so much more confident now.
I found the best new fabric store right down the street, and I managed to dig through the piles and find seven full yards of fabric, three yards of elastic, and thread for 24 bucks! Even if I screwed up completely it wasn't that big of a loss!
SO, I found a tutorial for a maxi skirt, read the instructions like 80 times, and dove in. Here was the first lesson I learned:
The picture on the right is using a ballpoint needle, like the tutorial mentioned, but no walking foot. The one on the left is using a walking foot. I realized quickly that the walking foot made a big difference.

Aaaand here is my first "finished" product:

My measurements were a bit off, wouldn't you say? And yes, that is a cut up NOSM shirt I am wearing :)

I started chopping and decided to switch to an elastic waistband since I was having so much trouble with the yoga waistband. Supposedly it is super easy, but I struggled nonetheless.

Here was my first eleastic waistband fail:

And thus commenced some major seam ripping and a tad bit-o swearing.
Fast forward another hour, and I finally had a wearable product. Not perfect by any means, but wearable.

Lessons I learned:
1. I can sew knits! They are frustrating, but I figured it out by the end.
2. My sewing machine does not like super stretchy fabric. I broke a needle and the thread like thirty times along the way. I know some of that is probably my fault, but I followed all the suggestions on sewing blogs regarding tension, thread quality, using a ballpoint needle, etc.

On to the next one!

June 01, 2013

Week 9: Knit Skirt

This week's project was fun and super easy.  My mom found this knit on her last trip to the fabric district and thought I might make something for the girls out of it.  I promise I really did consider making some leggings for them but every time I pulled out this fabric I saw a maxi skirt.  The fabric had made its decision and who am I to argue with destiny?  Turns out, however, that the skirt was a bit more ambitious than its length and the final product was an A-line that falls just below the knee on most people and halfway down the calf on me.

For it's construction I just pulled out my cutting mat and went for it.  The only measurement I payed any attention to was my waist and then (since it was a small piece of fabric) I just cut a diagonal down to the widest and longest point at the bottom.  The waist is a rib knit from my stash and I did a fold-over yoga band instead of elastic.

If I had an abundance of medium-thick weight knit fabrics I would make about half a dozen knit skirts.  They are comfortable, easy to sew, and look great.  I think this took me all of 2 hours start to finish (including folding and cutting) which was nice because I needed a week of less sewing.

Week 10:  Running Shirt Issues

May 31, 2013

Distractions and Frustrations

I had this idea to combine notions with Adrieanna so I raided my storage and brought all my sewing stuff to the house from storage. This was a great idea and so very fun to go through all this stuff. I found several unfinished projects in the process and my policy is to have  0 unfinished projects. This brings me to the frustration. I chose a simple 15 minute project to finish up, which is pictured above. I must add that I was in a hurry so I could wear it today to breakfast. Again, I was in a hurry. Do you know what happens when you sew in a hurry? Even simple projects become frustrating and time consuming. Hence the dress. I picked this up as a piece of fabric meant to be sewn on the sides and an instant dress. 50 cents was a good price so I was game. Well it was really big and I had to size it down 4 times. Then I decided I wanted straps. Great idea, but like I said I was in a hurry so I eyeballed how long they should be. Bad idea. Too short. I had to add length on them and in the process my serger stuck and cut into the fabric back. I attempted to machine sew the repair, also bad idea and had to get out the dreaded seam ripper. I should have hand sewed it in the first place. Good thing my hair goes half way down my back. My 15 minute project took 1 1/2 hours. All in all pretty happy. It was over 100 today and I wore it to breakfast with my friends.

Next project, I think I will start my checkered blouse, but we will see. I am sewing based on mood lately, so I will see where that takes me next.

May 27, 2013

Week 8: School Shorts

This was another week of school clothes.  Abs starts summer school 1 week from today and she now has a full summer school wardrobe (except for the school shirts... which are required... which I should probably pick up this week).  It was my third week in a row of multiple items in a single week and I am relieved to have finished it all.  

I made 4 pairs of elastic-waist shorts this week.  I might make her some zippered ones later but:  1)  elastic is much easier and faster to sew, 2)  Abs is a fan of convenience and comfort and 3)  I can't find a decent zipper pants pattern in her size and probably won't until she gets to a size 6.  The first two come from a book that I absolutely love called Making Children's Clothes by Emma Hardy.  I have made several things for Abs and Stella from this book and am always pleased with the results.  It has a few things for boys but I have only made the girly things for obvious reasons.  Seriously, if you wanted to make some cute, simple clothes for young kids (up to size 5T) this is a great book.

Shorts #1 from the book is a prettiful (as Stella would say) vintage pink velvet from the generous ladies in Yuma.  I made them a bit longer (the minimum requirement at school is finger length) because I think she can play more freely in them.  The pockets are some scraps leftover from a quilt I made for my good friend Becky's little girl.

Shorts #2 from the book are made from a thick brown corduroy from my "a yard or less" stash.  The pockets are scraps from a gumdrop pillow I made for Abs right after Stella was born and I put them on the sides just to make them look a bit different than the pink ones.

I used Burda 9491 for the next two pairs of shorts.  The first pair is an adorable elephant print that I have used for a couple of different projects the past few years.  I used 1/4" bias tape on the pockets just to break up the print a bit and I think it gives it a very clean look.  You can't see in this picture but instead of elastic I used some bright blue spandex for the waistband.

The last pair of shorts is also the Burda pattern.  It's a black stretch corduroy that I have actually used for a pair of shorts for Abs from the other pattern when she was a 3T.  I picked up a bunch of it in the back room of M&L Fabrics in Anaheim several years ago and it is very hardy and comfortable (Stella now fits in the original shorts and wears them all the time).  I added a ruffle to the pockets from the same beautiful vintage floral I used for the double layered tiered skirt in last week's project.  I think it adds a lot to an otherwise pretty plain pair of shorts.  The waistband in this pair is from an old pair of yoga pants.

I am glad to be finished with school clothes for a bit and I think it will be awhile before I tackle multiple items in a single project again.  

Week 9:  A simple knit skirt for myself

Asymetrical Top

well I took a little detour because my youngest daughter Mattie got a job at a salon called Aveda in Flagstaff. Quite the upscale salon . I was so proud of her and since the attire is mainly black and she could really rock this, I whipped this out for her real quick. I love working with knits. The original
pattern had quite the belly exposure and I think that wouldnt work with the health standards of a salon.Its still cute though. On to other projects. I have had a one at a time policy before this but I am going to break tradition and work on my sleeveless shirt, a craft for the girls and a headscarf all at once. Not sure if this new willie nillie lifestyle will work for me but I am throwing caution to the wind and giving it a try. lol

May 21, 2013

Itty Bitty Baby Skirts

So in the shadow of Adrieanna's post about skirts, I thought I'd share a bit about my own experience. I have always really wanted to sew myself some flowy summer skirts, but this always seemed so daunting. My solution? Sew a couple of basic skirts for a friend's baby and see how they turned out. Turns out the whole process is so much less intimidating when you do it for a 15 pound infant. I found a basic elastic waisted skirt pattern online and checked out standard sizes for 6 month olds and went from there. I also used a build a bear for size reference. I apologize profusely that I don't have a picture of the bear in the skirt :)

The two skirts took me about two hours to make start to finish. That may seem like a long time, but this was the first article of clothing that I tackled (other than an ugly shirt that I threw away). The pink one I left plain, but I got a little adventurous with the teal one and put a ribbon lining in the bottom. Overall, I am pretty proud of myself. My next project is a basic skirt for myself using a cotton voile fabric.

As you can see, one of my students wanted to model the pink one.

May 20, 2013

Week 7: School Skorts

She sews six school skorts for Stella's sassy sibling to skip and squirm in at summer school.  Ha!  That took me longer than I care to admit.

This week's project makes me extra thankful to everyone who has gifted me with fabric over the years.  One of the reasons I sew is to save our family money.  However, fabric can be just as expensive as clothing which is why I buy discount, shop at thrift stores, use coupons and gratefully (ecstatically is a better word for it) accept any and all fabric offered to me.  I enjoy the challenge of making it work with what I've got (a discipline I'm trying to apply in other areas of my life) and I am usually very pleased with the results.

Abs starts summer school in 2 weeks!  I am so excited/nervous for her.  I was a little nervous about this week's project because while I love making things for my kids and they always love what I make I am also a bit insecure about them wearing handmade clothes to school.  I am ok with my kids not being the "cool kids" (at least I think I'm ok with that).  They're already very into Star Wars and Zelda and they are PKs so they might end up with the nerdy crew--and like I said, I'm ok with that.  But if they are nerds I want them to be well dressed nerds and I want them to have earned their nerd-dom themselves rather than being automatically ostracized from a group because they are wearing weird, ugly, out of fashion, obviously homemade clothes.  And there's the rub.  Clothes say a lot about a person (whether we want them to or not) and I want my kids clothes to be unique, stylish, well-fitting, comfortable and cool.  Honestly, I want my kids to feel confident in the clothes I make them and to be proud of wearing handmade items.  I think it's totally possible, even without buying all the new, trendy fabrics.  Part of the solution is their attitude toward their clothes (back to the whole confident thing).  If they are insecure and ashamed of their clothes it doesn't matter how cute, amazing, fashionable, etc they are--it won't work--and I am very aware that Mom's opinion doesn't count.  So here is part of the solution:  Remember the fashion drawing Abs made last month...
She found some gold fabric in Grandma's stash and asked me to make the gold skirt from her picture.  It was a stretchy fabric so I tried a new knit pattern from a book I got for my birthday last year called Sewing MODKID Style.  It's an A-line gored skirt with a yoga-type fold over band on top ("super comfy" as Abs calls it).
I don't know why but she insisted on posing holding up a huge rock for this skirt.  Anyway, how much cooler do you get than wearing something that you designed?  I strayed from the drawing a bit by making it a skort but she actually likes that more.  Not my personal favorite but, again, my opinion doesn't really weigh much.

The next skirt is courtesy of my mother-in-law's friends in Yuma.  It is a double layered tiered skirt from my Girly Skirts board on Pinterest.  I am proud to say that I did in fact get around to doing some of the things I have on Pinterest!
I separated the tiers with a cute heart ribbon (also from the amazing ladies in Yuma).  The top layer is a gorgeous vintage floral and the under layer is a sweet pink fabric with tiny white polka-hearts.  This is the only skirt without attached shorts.  I just couldn't make it work so I made them separate and she can just wear them together.

The third skirt is also from the wonderful ladies in Yuma.  It's a pink picnic table fabric (I am sure there's a technical name for it I just don't know what it is) in a double layer gathered skirt (also from my Pinterest board).
This skirt had to have a pony in the picture for some reason.  I separated the layers with a dainty white lace (Miss Mary from Yuma gave me an entire BAG of lace trims! Seriously, how blessed am I?) and attached shorts to make it a skort.  I used old t-shirts and the Skort pattern from Lil Blue Boo for the shorts part of all the skorts.  It's hard to tell if Abs likes this one, she was in one of those moods where she makes obnoxious sounds instead of using words (drives me crazy!) so she was either excited or pretending to burp--which could still be excited, I'm not sure.

The fourth skirt is from some fabric that has been in my stash for years now.  It's this odd, stretchy, fuzzy pink stuff that reminds me of ice skating costumes.
Chosen for its obvious twirlability.  Good thing I attached shorts underneath.  This is a basic circle skirt from my Pinterest board.  The tutorial is from a blog called Made and I've made them before for the girls.  Always a favorite because they are so very, very twirly.  I used some stretchy fabric from an old pair of yoga pants instead of elastic for the band and it fits so well, stays in place and is so comfortable that I will probably do that for most elastic skirts and shorts from now on.

The fifth skirt is another circle skirt, this one with a beautiful butterfly woven that I got from my friend Andrea on my trip to OC last weekend.  She gave me a bag of scraps for my yo-yo obsession and I found this beautiful piece that was just large enough for a size 5 circle skirt and (of course) a few small yo-yos.
This is one of my favorites.  I used a bright green 1/4" bias tape to finish the hem and a bright blue elastic for the band.  It's such a playful skirt!  I attached purple shorts underneath so she can twirl until she falls over dizzy.

The sixth (and final) skirt is my actual favorite skirt out of all of them.  Probably because it was a maternity dress that I wore to my baby shower for Liv.
And she insisted on smelling a flower for this skirt's picture.  I love the paper bag skirts!  For the pockets I used more of the scraps I had leftover from the wrap I made for Liv a couple of years ago.  So cute!  I used another maternity shirt for the attached shorts and I must have been into this color that pregnancy because they happen to match the skirt exactly.

Needless to say, this week's project was a beast.  I tried to keep it contained and organized as best I could.  She tends to prefer skirts which is why I made so many.  I didn't make them to match the orange or grey uniform shirts but grey goes with everything so I think it will be ok.  My opinion might not count for much but I think they're super-cute.  A very successful week of sewing!

Week 8:  School Shorts for Abs

May 13, 2013

Week 6: Baby Skirts

Today is a reset day.  We had an amazing weekend of partying it up OC church-style and this morning SKP woke up with a runny nose and I woke up with a bit of a heart-ache.  We are so blessed here in Bullhead City and I am not complaining about how things are here, simply missing how things are/were there.  It was a super-fun, super-busy, too-short visit full of worship, parties, fellowship, and mostly riding in the car.  So today is a day of rest, laundry, cartoons, cleaning, cooking (which is how I reset) and hopefully some sewing.

 One of the parties was a baby shower for my good friend Veronica.  She is having her first girl in a house full of boys so whatever I made had to be ultra-girly.  I decided on skirts and made 3 different skirts each in a different size.

For the first skirt I used some of the awesome vintage floral that I had leftover from a dress I made Abs last year and stuck with blues for all the trims.  Gathered tulle underneath gives it a little lift and since tulle can be scratchy I added a light blue liner that is slightly shorter than the outer layer.

The second skirt is an upcycle of a fun maternity shirt I saved from my pregnancy with Liv.  The print was so cheerful I thought it would be perfect for a little girl skirt.  I like how the pink bias tape breaks up each layer.  I love the paper-bag waist but thought it would look better with a solid band so I sort of mashed them up into a paper-bag band.

The third skirt turned out huge for some reason.  I tried it on Liv and it is still a tad loose so it might be awhile before they get to this one.  It's made from the same fabric I used for a baby wrap I made for Liv.  I love this fabric!  It's very sweet so I thought a little lace trim would be perfect.

A few things I learned from this project: 
1.  Put the trim on after sewing the side seams.  It makes for easier sewing and cleaner lines.
2.  Treat each layer individually and sew them together only at the top.
3.  Bias tape is amazing and I will be using it frequently from here on out.

This was a week of skirts leading into a week of skirts.  I am a few days behind because we were out of town this weekend but the fabric is washing and hopefully the kids will let me do a little catching up this afternoon.

Week 7:  School Skorts for Abs (yes, it's that time already).

May 05, 2013

Awesome pants

I loved this pattern, I couldnt wait to make it. In my haste I made a few "adjustments". I was tempted to take a  picture of Adrieanna and I with our seam rippers but would not want anyone to see those angry faces. The main things to note about these pants are that the band is huge, by huge I mean about 5 inches after it is sewn on. Well that brought it to about bust height and well that wasnt going to work. I discovered this after I sewed it on, hence the seamripper, I used a great knit on this with just a small amount of stretch, except for the band which called for ribbed knit, which makes me want to live in these pants. Enough talk here are the pictures, did I mention it has pockets, I love pockets in everything.
These are wide leg, which I initially was not sure about, but love now
My next project is a sleeveless button shirt with a collar. I decided on this because I already cut it out last year.

Week 5: Party Time!

It's my birthday and I'll sew if I want to!  Ok, I was a day late on this week's project.  Well, remember last week when I made an "interview shirt"?  It totally worked!*  I had an interview this week with a follow up mini-interview a couple days later and another scheduled for later this month.  I wore the interview shirt to the first and my purple bow blouse to the mini-interview.  It was so fun to wear something I made to such an important situation and still feel totally confident and professional.

This week's project was a party dress.  I called it my birthday party dress but you have to read it birthday---party-dress.  I didn't wear it for my birthday celebration for a couple reasons:
1.  Jared made me tons of greasy, drippy, messy food all day and ribs don't go well with a dress.
2.  I spent my b-day at home with my greasy, drippy, messy girls and loved it!

I made Simplicity 1801 by Cynthia Rowley:

I made the sleeveless version with the shorter skirt since it's so warm here already.  I used another Micheal Levine Loft find--a one-off.  That made it a little challenging to cut and I still ended up with a bit of the "off" part here and there but it's tough to see if you're not looking for it and the gathered skirt hides most of it.

Doesn't the back look so Mad Men?  The zipper was a mess... again.  I did not, as I previously stated I should, look up tutorials on zipper insertion and while I love this dress as is I might redo the zipper after I get around to doing some research.

I am so pleased with how this dress turned out.  I was worried that the floral design would give it too much of a hawaiian feel but I think adding the black to the band and the yoke gives it a classic look.  What I am most proud of in this dress is the top.  As is the pattern is too big for my chest size so I made a small (technically hallow--so flattering) chest adjustment since it is made for a bigger cup size.  I made a muslin to see where I would need to take it in, made the changes on the pattern then made another muslin to see if the changes worked:

And the Star Wars fabric makes another appearance.  I actually wore this around the house for awhile pretending to be Jeannie from I Dream of Jeannie.  Making a muslin was extra work but definitely worth it as it raised the neckline to an appropriate depth and allowed me to bend over without showing anything (a necessity with little ones).  It's also much more flattering when it fits correctly.  I followed the advise of some other people who had made this pattern and took 2" out of the skirt front and back gathering so it wouldn't be too bulky and I am glad I did.

Awesome dress, awesome birthday.  I got a few sewing-oriented things for my birthday that I might write about later this week.  Look for my mom's post in the next couple days--she made some pants!

Week 6:  Baby Shower Gift

*Disclaimer:  I do not actually believe that making an interview shirt has anything to do with employment opportunities and will NOT be making a presidential dinner dress expecting to get a call from the White House.  At least not until I try it out on something less involved first, like reality show audition pants.*

*Disclaimer #2:  I do not actually believe that making reality show audition pants would score me an audition for a reality show but if they did I think I would like to be on that Road Race one.  I'm thinking red cigarette pants...

April 26, 2013

Week 4: A (possible) Interview Shirt

"Build it and they will come" as they say, so I built it and here's hoping. This week's project is from Vogue V1282:

I like the skirt and might make it when we start getting into fall weather but the shirt is the reason I bought the pattern.  It's so classy and sexy.  I really like cowl necks and I love that this one has a v-neck leading into it. 

This pattern was one of the strangest I've worked with.  It's an "easy" pattern by Vogue and it was once I got started.  The weird part was the pattern itself.  It was one pattern piece (unless you count the strips for the armhole support) and it was massive.  Here it is taking up pretty much my whole bed:

It looks like one of those ugly dolls.  I studied the directions, I manipulated the paper, I drew it all out and I still couldn't see how this giant wombat of blue fabric would become a shirt.  In the end I just had to trust the directions and go with it.  It felt more like origami than sewing but Donna Karan (the designer) knew what she was doing and it turned out well:
The fabric is from Michael Levine Loft in LA and is super soft and slinky (is that the right word?) feeling.  I had to take it in at the shoulder seams but other than that it was really very easy to put together and I feel very professional in it.

Week 5:  A party dress for my birthday!

April 20, 2013

Week 3: Wear Your Vegetables

I finished my shorts!  I have seen floral shorts all over Pinterest and in Lucky magazine and thought "I'm not too old for that!".  I found this pair on Pinterest and it acted not so much as inspiration but more confirmation for the type of shorts I had in mind:
I think they're cute, even if they do sort of remind me of 90's swim trunks.  Anywho, when I found these shorts I figured maybe my version might actually qualify as... in style?  I went with Simplicity 1879 by Lisette.  I'm not really interested in the dress or shirt but the shorts looked cute, comfy and a good length (you don't want too long with a floral or it can look like you're wearing curtains):

So hard to tell from the envelope but they seemed worth a try.  So the fabric.  I think I have mentioned before that I have been massively blessed with fabric.  This amazing vintage radish patterned fabric was given to me by a friend of my mother-in-law.  It's a mid-weight cotton that works perfect for these shorts--just thick enough not to show through but still flexible. 
Seriously, how rockin' is this fabric?  I love vintage botanical.  I don't think shorts are what the designers had in mind but it's their loss because they turned out so cute and have inspired a new category of clothing I like to call "Veg-tro Awesome".

 In this last picture you can just barely see the side zipper.  I don't know why but I have been zipper challenged lately and this week's project was no exception.  It required a slightly lapped zipper that for some reason took me forever to figure out.  I think the next project requiring a zipper will be preceded by some online tutorials on zipper insertion.  I also cut the wrong pattern size out but since I trace all my patterns onto dressmaker's paper first it wasn't as huge a blunder as it could have been and I am so glad I measured it out before I cut the fabric.  The yoke has a facing that is supposed to be the same fabric as the rest but I ran out so:
The inside of my shorts is lined with Star Wars.
Week 4:  a sleeveless shirt for me.