Friday, September 27, 2013

pattern review friday - busy lizzie by sew like my mom

I had the pleasure of testing the Busy Lizzie dress pattern that was released this week!  Melissa, the brains and creativity behind Sew Like My Mom, is a wonderful woman to work with.  She truly cares about the patterns she creates and makes sure they are perfect (and that every testing issue has been addressed) before she releases anything for sale :)  This is her second pattern with hopefully many more to come!


The first version I made ended up too small, but that was entirely my fault!  I chose to make an 18 months (Mae just turned 2 yesterday) since so many patterns end up being too wide, but I should have chosen her usual size in ready-to-wear which is a 2.  I did put it on her to take picture (I only got one!) but the shirt was a bit tight across the back and she let me know in no uncertain terms that she wanted it off because it was impeding her coloring abilities :)  At least I think that was what she was saying ... almost everything that comes out of her mouth still sounds a lot like gibberish to me!  But I am good at interpreting her oh-so-subtle body language like, you know, yanking on the front of the shirt while contorting her entire body and yelling rather loudly.  I may not be the sharpest person out there, but sometimes I do figure things out :)

For the second version, I sized up to the 2, although I kept the 18 months sleeve length since I like the look of elbow length sleeves.  I posted plenty of pictures in this post yesterday, but I'll add one here too just for size reference.  You can see that there is no pulling along the top and the neck binding lays nice and flat when I actually use the correct pattern size :)


I would most definitely recommend this pattern for any sewing level.  For the beginning sewer, the pattern has a dress and top option and three different sleeves lengths.  For the advanced sewer, this pattern is a lovely blank slate that could easily be customized to achieve many different looks.  I personally look forward to using it again since it is a really quick and easy sew with great looking results ... with customizations as usual ... I just can't seem to help myself :)

Materials for first shirt:
Fabric - Rosette by Fabric Traditions from Joann's (lovely fabric to work with!)

Thursday, September 26, 2013

pr&p - mad for plaid busy lizzie

Mae is 2 today!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I can't believe it's been two years since we welcomed that little squirmy bundle of joy into the world, but in some ways it feels like she's been part of our lives forever.  She completes our family in a way I never even would have dreamed possible :)


Mae's outfit today is brought to you courtesy of Project Run & Play Mad about Plaid week :)  Yes, I actually completed two projects for this particular theme.  For a person who really doesn't like plaid all that much, I certainly do like to sew with it!


Mae's top is my take on the Sew Like my Mom Busy Lizzie dress, which is a brand new pattern on the market this week.  I'll share an official review (and another version) tomorrow, but for now I'll just say that's a quick and easy pattern with very cute results :)  I did make a couple changes like adding a high-low hem by cutting the back as a size 4 and the front as a size 2 and then curving the pieces to match.  I also pleated the sleeves rather than gathering both to match the front and to give the sleeves a little more modern feel.  Then I closed to top with a bright yellow button for a little pop of color on a mostly neutral palette.


For the pants, I started with a pattern from an Ottobre magazine from 2010, and then I proceeded to make so many changes to it that the only thing that remains from the original pattern is the cute little side detail at the hem.  Even though the pattern called for a knit fabric (and I was using linen), the pants were so huge that I would have been able to put a Mae in each leg :)  Thankfully I discovered this (I compared it to a leggings pattern I drafted) before sewing everything together!  So I cut about 3" off the width of each leg and about 2" off the waist, and I also changed the shape a bit.  I wanted a harem-ish slouchy shape with looser hips and thighs, but a fitted lower leg.  The original pattern called for a folded, fully elastic waist, but I like flat front pants better (especially with a toddler belly ... so cute!) so I added a 3/4 elastic paper bag waist with a buttoned flat front.  You can see the waist better in the picture at the end of this post since Mae's shirt covers it when she's wearing the pants.  I tried to take a picture of the waist while Mae had the pants on, but every time I tried, she giggled like crazy and grabbed her belly :)


One of my favorite things about sewing is that I can design separates that can go with lots of items in Mae's closet.  The plaid top looks so cute with this dress that I blogged about in April and transitions it very nicely into fall.


While we were at the park taking pictures today, Mae discovered the bleachers at the baseball diamond, so we spent a bit of time walking up and down each row just.  After all, you never know, one row might be so much more fun than the last one :)


The whole reason I chose this pants pattern in the first place is because of the cute little gathered detail at the hemline.  I can see making a few more pairs of these in the future :)


I just want to take a moment and point out that my plaid lines up along the sides of the top.  It sounds so easy, but cheap Joann's fabric (combined with an aline shaped top) doesn't always, shall we say, stay in line like it's supposed to.  Kinda sounds like my kids :)  One of the reasons I tend to like more expensive fabric is because it is normally printed straight on the grain and tends to be quite a bit easier to sew than cheaper fabrics.  This fabric is no exception to the normal Joann's plaid, and is not quite straight, but I was able to manipulate it enough to make it look like it is.  Although I spent way too much time on it since I'm probably the only one who would have noticed if it wasn't lined up perfectly!  But now you all know so I feel much better about the time wasted well spent :)


Materials:
Top - Joann's
Pants - Black Robert Kaufman Essex Yarn Dyed Linen Blend from fabric.com
Binding/piping - Black 21-wale corduroy by Robert Kaufman
Buttons - Joann's
Shoes - Dawna in Black from Target

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

pr&p - mad for plaid drop waist dress

I have two Project Run & Play Mad for Plaid projects to share this week.  The first is this drop waist dress that I finished a while ago but never really blogged about.  How lucky for me that plaid is the theme this week!


I started with a basic bodice pattern from one of my Japanese sewing books.  I believe it was this one:


Then I made a few changes like lengthening the bodice and sleeves, adding cuffs to the sleeves and making a double layer skirt.  I cut the top of the bodice on the bias for no better reason that I just felt like it :)  It's not really an ideal plaid to cut on the bias, but I'm stubborn, so I made it work anyway!


The bodice is fully lined in a pink polka dot.  Over all I really like the dress (Mae already wore it to church!) but it's a bit heavy with all the layers and the lining.  Mae doesn't seem to mind so I guess I won't worry about it either :)


It was a beautiful day today so Mae and I spent some time enjoying it before it's gone.  On our walk, Mae discovered these scarecrows at a neighbor's house, so we went home, grabbed the camera and snapped a couple of pictures.  This is my favorite even though she's not looking at the camera.  She made sure she was sitting with her feet straight out since they were too :)


Material:
Plaid - Joann's remnant
Lining - Riley Blake Isabella Pink Dot
Buttons - Pink flowers from Joann's
Tights and boots - H&M

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

the path to blogging ... it all started with a diaper

A few years ago, I had absolutely no idea what a blog was.  I was busy with five little kids, and my computer time (what little there was) was spent mostly on message boards like BabyCenter or doing crazy things like reading the news so I didn't sound like a complete imbecile in one of my rare adult conversations :)  If someone had used the word blog in a conversation, I'm pretty sure I would have nodded and mumbled something as if I knew what they were talking about. By the way, that totally doesn't work.  My kids are old enough that they have started to do this to me, and I now know that you have to be a really good actor to pull it off convincingly.  And obviously none of my kids are going to win an Oscar anytime soon!

Insert some harp music and a flashback here :)  Then, in a "where has this been my whole life" kind of moment, while reading about cloth diapers, I discovered that this whole virtual blogging world existed.

I'm pretty sure that in the next few weeks after this "discovery" my house turned into a disaster zone, my kids ran around like heathens and I accomplished absolutely nothing.  I miss those days :)  Oh wait, that's still my life! 

Anyway (the flashback is over now) once Mae was born I relied on several blogs (along with other sewing resources) to learn how to properly sew a diaper. I tried a couple of commercial diaper patterns, most of which were excellent patterns, but I never found one that fit Mae quite like I wanted.  So I decided to create my first digital sewing pattern which eventually led me to create a blog of my own once I realized how much fun it is to share my creations with other sewing crazies lunatics enthusiasts :)

I know that this diaper pattern won't be useful for a lot of people since the cloth diaper sewing community is still rather small, but hopefully someone will be able to use this :)  It should fit from approximately 12 - 25 pounds depending on build.  Mae is about 25 pounds right now and isn't on the loosest snap setting yet, but I don't think she represents the average baby :)



The pattern doesn't include any directions, but there are a multitude of diaper sewing tutorials, and I don't believe that any tutorial I write will improve upon the existing ones, several of which are very thorough and easy to follow.  I'll try to come back later and add a few links to this post :)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

a change of address

My blog has a new address!

www.climbingthewillow.com

I'm so excited!  I have my own domain and I am queen :)  Although I think my kids have quite a different opinion than I do ... and they are probably right ... the minions do seem to have taken over!

If you follow me on Bloglovin' you should still get updates as usual.  And for anyone who has a bookmark, the sight should automatically redirect you to the new domain.

So, really no change for my readers.  But a big deal for me since I still can't sew and this is what I did to keep myself busy while I sat on my butt for the better part of a week.  Oh, and the doctor told me I have lumbago, which is the medical term (and yes, I did have to look it up!) for back pain :)  But at least I now know that the pain is caused by an old (now healed) compression fracture of some disc in my lower back.  And yes, the doctor did tell me which one, but I have absolutely no memory whatsoever for details like that.  Hopefully, some stretching and strengthening my core muscles should help prevent future pain which is all I care about anyway :)

And since I'm not sewing, that's all from me today.  Happy hump day!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

back pain = no sewing :(

After spending several hours in urgent care on Sunday afternoon, I've been officially diagnosed with back pain.  It's a good thing I spent my time (and money!) seeing a highly trained individual so he could determine that I have back pain :)  Because, after all, I might not have figured that out on my own.  And I'm not pregnant and I don't have a urinary tract infection, which they tested for, even though I told them I had been having the pain off and on since my last pregnancy (over two years now!), which pretty much ruled out both options without further testing.  What a great use of medical resources!  But he did get me some pretty strong pain relievers (that I won't take anyway) and told me to see my family doctor to run more tests.  Next time, I think I'll skip urgent care!

So, since I can't bend over or sit comfortably unless my feet are up, I can't sew.  Trust me, I tried.  And then I tried again, just in case I was wrong the first time :)  I guess I'm not a very quick learner!

My back is slowly getting better, but it will probably be a few days before I get to use my machine again, so no Project Run & Play sew along this week :(  Although you should definitely go check out the great looks from both the contestants and sew along participants which are amazing as always!

I am taking this forced inactivity opportunity to get some pattern drafting done.  Here's a couple of (not-so-great) pictures of the next pattern I plan to share:


It's based in the Izzy dress that I shared here, or not here ... fascinating, my original post ... and the pictures in the post ... all seem to have disappeared from the blog.  Oh well, here's a picture of the original dress:


The shirt can be finished on the bottom with an elastic casing to create a bubble effect or can simply be hemmed.  I'll also include an option to make a dress with a double hem like the one above, but that will probably have to wait until another day :)  Hopefully I'll have the shirt pattern ready by next week :)

The Izzy Top pattern is now available here in sizes 18 months - 5.

Friday, September 13, 2013

pattern review friday - japanese pattern book

I'm pretty sure I will slowly but surely sew every Japanese pattern I can get my hands on :) Today's pattern is from this Japanese sewing book:


This is actually the first pattern I used in this book, and like all the other Japanese patterns I have sewn so far, I found it to be very straight forward as long as you are familiar with basic sewing techniques.  This is pattern M in size 100.  Mae really wears a size 90, but the smallest size included in this book is 100, and I really wanted to try out one of the patterns, so the end result is a bit big.  Patience is not really my forte, so waiting for her to grow enough for the pattern to fit properly was not going to happen :)


I wish I could say that I made the star jeggings as well, but I'm going to have to give the credit to Old Navy :)  Here's the link if your little one needs a pair of her (or his!) own.


I made the vest from an old sweater knit maternity dress of mine.  Then I lined it with a fuchsia pink cotton velour.  I would not recommend that combo to anyone, because it was a bear to sew :)  The sweater knit wanted to fray and would not hold it's shape, and the velour is really, really, really (did I say really?) stretchy and slippery.  I did my best, but when I washed and dried the finished vest (yes, I machine dry almost all of the clothes we own) the lining was slightly larger than the sweater knit.  That makes the seams roll a bit toward the outside, but I kind of like seeing the bright pink around all the edges, so I'll just say that I planned it that way :)


I love this picture!  Mae and I spent lots of time this summer walking down to the neighborhood pool and playing in the parking lot and on the basketball court.  So Mae was a bit surprised this morning to come face to face with one of the more unwelcome realities of fall ... i.e. a locked gate across the entrance to the pool parking lot :)  She stood there for a few minutes trying to figure out what to do before I convinced her that we just had to turn around and go home.  Luckily, there were lots of yummy raspberries at home to ease her disappointment!


Materials:
Sweater knit - Re-purposed maternity dress
Lining - Pink cotton velour
Buttons - Metal shank buttons from Joann's

Thursday, September 12, 2013

ruffled kangaroo pocket FREE pattern & tutorial

I'm back with the free pattern and tutorial for the ruffled kangaroo pocket.  It's a really easy project and looks so cute when finished :)

Materials:
Pattern - Click on link below
Main fabric - 11" x 6 3/8" rectangle
Accent fabric for ruffles - 15" x 2" strips - Cut 2
Double fold bias tape - 7" - Cut 2
Matching (or contrasting if desired) thread





1. Cut pocket from main fabric.


2. Cut two 15" x 2" strips across the grain.  These will be the pocket ruffles.


3.  Fold the strips in half lengthwise.


4.  Gather the ruffles along the non-folded edge.  I use two rows of lengthened stitches to gather, but you can use the gathering method you prefer and it will work equally well.


5. Gather the strips to approximately the size of the pocket and pin.  Make sure that the last 1/2 - 3/4" on either end isn't gathered because it will be folded over later.


6. Line up the edge of the bias strip on top of the ruffle with the edges flush.  The bias tape will be a little longer than the edge of the pocket and will be trimmed later.  The ruffle should be sandwiched in between the pocket and the bias strip. Sew with a 1/4" seam.


7.  Fold the bias strip over to the back.  Sometimes it helps to iron the bias strip to get it to lay flat since their are several fabric layers.


8.  Topstitch the bias trim about 1/8" from the edge of the ruffle.  Make sure to sew through the back layer of bias trim as well.


9.  Flip the pocket over and trim the edges of the bias strip as shown in the picture below.


10.  Optional - Finish/serge the edges of the pocket so the fabric doesn't fray on the inside of the pocket.


11. Fold the sides under 1/2" and press.  Then fold the top and bottom edges under and press as well.


12.  Here's what the pocket should look like from the front.  Now all that's left is to attach it to your dress/top.


13.  Pin the pocket to your garment.  I used the original pocket pattern to mark my dress so I knew where to place the pocket.  I recommend doing this before completing the garment.  I didn't and I'm sure it would have been easier to sew the pocket on if I had :)


14.  Sew about 1/8" away from the folded edges making sure to backstitch at all the beginning and end so the pocket stays attached :)  And you're done!  It's such a simple little addition to a dress, but it' so cute and happy :)


Be sure to check out the Project Run & Play website tomorrow to see which contestants are moving on the week 2!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

pr&p - popover bow dress

Before I get into my post for Project Run & Play week 1, I want to take a moment to remember all those who lost their lives on 9/11 and all those who serve our country now or have served in the past.  Like most people, I remember exactly what I was doing that day, and when I stop to really think about the experience, I find myself not remembering it, but reliving it.  My oldest (who had just turned three a couple of weeks before 9/11) is supposed to interview me tonight for his history class to find out what I was doing on 9/11 and my memories of that day.  I don't believe there is any way to put into words what I was feeling at that time, especially the gut-wrenching fear that overwhelmed me as I looked at my 3-year-old son and held my 9-month-old daughter and wondered what kind of world I was raising them in.  Then, in the days following 9/11, I watched the country come together, I remembered that Christ is the center of our home, and my hope and optimism returned.  And it must have returned with a vengeance, because I went on to have four more kids :)

So one more giant Thank You to those currently serving in the military or in public service and to all those (and their families) who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom!!!!


On to Project Run & Play!

This week marks the beginning of season 7 of PR&P, and the theme for week 1 is to remix the Oliver & S Popover sundress, pattern found here.  Link up your own project here!


I was inspired by this pin and wanted to create something similar.  I love the bow shaped bodice and the polka dots, although I did want something sleeveless rather than short sleeved so Mae can wear it now and then with a sweater in the fall/winter.  I think I would like to try the pattern again but out of a knit like the original.


I made a few changes to the original pattern to suit my needs.  I used the original bodice but changed the shape to make it look like a bow and lengthened it so the shoulders can close with snaps.  It took a couple of tries to get it right, but it was actually easier than I thought, which is always a good thing!  I also added some width to the skirt portion to make the dress a little fuller and I shortened the length to be more of a tunic than a dress.

I was originally planning on stopping at that point, but the front of the dress needed something to distinguish it from the back.  Otherwise, my husband would never be able to figure out which way it goes on and Mae would never get to wear it :)  So I drafted a ruffled kangaroo pocket pattern and attached it to the front.  Tomorrow I will share the pattern and a quick and easy tutorial to add a kangaroo pocket to any dress or top :)

Update: The pattern and tutorial are now available HERE


I have no idea what Mae was doing in this picture :)  I looked at the other pictures I took to see if there were any clues, but I'm at a loss.  Whatever it was, she never stopped walking :)


Mae kept putting her hand over her ear ... not ears :) ... she only covered the left one for some reason.  I guess she didn't like the loud bugs and frogs along the path at the park!  And I have to admit that the noise was almost overwhelming.


Mae loved going down the little slides.  She also walked up to edge of the bigger slides, looked down, shook her head and said "no" at each one.  But she was fearless if they were less than four feet tall!  And take a look at her hair!  What can I say, Mae has an electric personality :)


Mae and I took a little trip to a local park to take pictures today.  It's a lovely place, and lots of fun for the kids, but it was so hot today that we were the only people there!  I found out really quickly that Mae likes the park much better when it's full of kids :)  Usually I have to drag her back to the car, but today all I had to do was mention a cookie and she was ready to leave!  Store bought cookies are a rare treat in our house, but somehow, my not yet two-year-old knows how to open an Oreo and lick the frosting just like on the commercials :)


Materials:
Polka dot -Summer in the City by Urban Chiks
Yellow accent - Cotton Broadcloth
Snaps - Kamsnaps

Monday, September 9, 2013

the beginning of a bad joke

You know when your kids come up to you and tug on your arm or shirt and say Mama! Mama! Mama!  My friend told me a joke today.  Do ya wanna hear it? Normally at this point, I ask which friend and I get a blank look and an answer something along the lines of "that girl who sits next to me."  Then I ask the girl's names and there's another blank look, and we normally have a little conversation about introducing yourself and learning people's names.  I swear my kids use the words person and friend interchangeably.  Essentially, anyone they meet is their friend :)   So anyway, after our quick little lesson in etiquette (which I'm sure went in one ear and out the other since they make new "friends" every day) I tell them I would love to hear their joke.  They usually go something like this:

Kid: What do a goose and a newspaper have in common?

Me: I don't know. what?

Kid: Neither of them are cats.

Insert another blank stare here ... although it belongs to me this time instead of the kids.  Then I laugh as if it's the funniest joke I ever heard.  Confession time ... in moments like these I can't help but think that their should be a test you have to take before becoming a parent.  It would require you to learn to laugh at things that are not remotely funny, like a 4-year-old's "joke" and to laugh when any sane person's response would be to cry, like when said 4-year-old decides to give his or her little brother a haircut.  My mom still says I will look back on that day and laugh, but it's been 7 years and I'm not holding out much hope :)

So in the spirit of kid jokes ... what do football, Dora the Explorer and a junk room have in common?

Answer: I can see all three from where I am sitting right now.

You can all wipe the blank stares off your faces now while I explain :)

My oldest just turned 15 at the end of last month, and Mae turns two at the end of this month, so we had a family get together to celebrate the kids.  My mother-in-law very generously made two themed cakes, the Detroit Lions (they won yesterday, it's a miracle!) for Seth and Dora the Explorer for Mae.  I bought each one of them a Mylar balloon, Seth a football and Mae a giant Dora, and Ruthie hung a Happy Birthday banner on the wall.  And that was pretty much the extent of the decorating.  Themed parties are not really my thing, although I am very jealous of anyone who can pull one off.  It pretty much takes all my free time just to clean the house before the party :)


Mae had no idea what to do with the candles on her cake, so the other kids had to help her blow them out.  But she certainly knew how to eat the cake!


I just love the contrast between 2-year-old and 15-year-old gifts.  Seth got two video games, a calendar of his favorite NCAA team, Lions tickets and gift cards.  Everything is so small and took no time at all to open.  Mae, on the other hand, got a bike, a picnic table, a broom set, two Disney play sets and some play kitchen stuff.  I feel like I need to build an addition just for her stuff (and she doesn't even have much compared to most kids I know!)

And that brings me to the last part of the "joke."  Our JUNK room ... with a capital J. U. N. K.  We have cleaned out every other room in our house (even the basement storage area) and this is the only room left.  It's where we put all the "maybe I should sell this instead of just giving it away" stuff.  Last year, I made a promise to myself to have the room cleaned out by Mae's 2nd birthday, which is in exactly 17 days.  That's right ... 2 weeks and 3 days to make a playroom of out this:


So here's my never ending, goes on forever, eternally long to do list:
  1. Empty out room
  2. Sell Bolts of Fabric - Anyone need any fabric circa 2005-2006?????
  3. Sell excess craft stuff - I don't scrapbook or make jewelry any more so it has to go
  4. Sell cloth diapers, many of which were never used since I had enough to diaper a small country (insert a what in the world was I thinking moment here!)
  5. Sell sewing cabinet I no longer use
  6. Sort through misc electronic equipment and sell what we don't use
  7. Have hubby go through photography equipment (including backdrops) and determine what to keep and what to sell/donate
  8. Clean out cabinet (not shown in picture) built by my grandpa and find a new home for it
  9. Finish Base boards
  10. Repair walls
  11. Paint trim
  12. Paint walls
  13. Make and hang curtains
  14. Go to IKEA to buy storage furniture (probably the only fun thing I get to do!)
  15. Put together IKEA furniture
  16. Hang coat/backpack hooks along long wall
  17. Install high shelf for photography storage
  18. Move all the toys into the room
In a nutshell, I have 17 days, and 18 items on my to do list.  No problem! After all, I have nothing else to do with my time, since my perfect kids make their own food, always take showers and brush their teeth without being told and always do their homework when they are supposed to ;)  Definitely the beginning of a bad joke!!!!

I'll be back sometime in the next couple of days to share my Oliver & S Popover Sundress flip that I made as part of the Project Run & Play sew-along, but for now, here's a little peek :)