Friday, December 5, 2014

sew it all series - upcycled knit tunic

I know that the projects on the blog haven't been very inspiring (or frequent!) lately.  In fact, boring and almost non-existent may actually be better words!  But I've been swamped with commitments in the non-virtual world, and sewing has really taken a back seat, as it should.  I considered stopping blogging altogether, but I really do enjoy sharing what I sew, so I think I'll keep at it for now.  Just don't expect anything all that special or interesting in the sewing arena for the next few months while I immerse myself in Science to make several teenagers happy!  Although it's possible a banner for our Science Olympiad team may show up on the blog at some point if I decide to sew one :)

Mae's newest top is an upcycled shirt from Salvation Army.  I originally bought the top to use as fabric for another project, but then didn't end up using it.  I put it aside for a few weeks ... ok, maybe more like a few months :) ... and promptly forgot about it.  After making Mae's floral pants, I realized she had no tops to match, so I went digging in my upcycle bin and rediscovered this gem.  At first I considered just cutting it up for the fabric, but in the end I chose to keep some of the features from the original top, like the button tab sleeves and the split hem.

I started with a not-yet-released Wee Muses pattern designed by Anneliese from Aesthetic Nest for the bodice, and then kind of winged it from there.  Honestly, the original design of the shirt pretty much dictated what I could make so it wasn't a very difficult project.  The construction was pretty easy too since the hem and the sleeves were already finished.  All I needed to do was add the neck binding and attach the bodice and sleeves to the skirt and I was done.  Sometimes a simple project like this is exactly what I need to feel like I've accomplished something in an otherwise completely unproductive day!

Here's a close-up of the cute details.  This picture kind of annoys me ... I spent a lot of time aligning all the stripes on the rest of the top, but on this side seam, which was finished by the manufacturer, they don't line up perfectly!  Although, if I'm being honest here, it doesn't annoy me enough to actually fix it :)

Upcycled tee

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

sew it all series - floral ponte pants

There hasn't been much sewing going on around my house lately, so I've been lacking a bit in blog content for the last couple of weeks.  I finally did get around to making something, and I thought I would go ahead and share it here, even though it's not exactly the most exciting project :)  Once again, I used pattern #9 from this Japanese sewing book, which I've already used here and here.  What can I say, once I have a pattern I like already traced and cut out, I'm unlikely to look for a new one!  I  used the size 110 with the 100 length since I was going for knit pants that were not as fitted as your average legging.  If I make this pattern in a size 100, which is Mae's usual size in Japanese patterns, it fits like a traditional tight legging, so the 110 is perfect for a more relaxed fit!

I just love this Ponte Roma floral from, which is unfortunately no longer available :(  The colors are beautiful, and the weight is perfect for a heavier, winter legging.  I just hope it holds up over time - the knits from can be so hit or miss!

Floral Ponte de Roma knit from - no longer available

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

madeIt florence - christmas blog tour

Welcome to my little corner of the Florence Christmas blog tour!  I have to be honest, my little corner almost didn't exist.  I totally got the date for my post wrong, and then I got sick and didn't get anything to Olu on time!  So, I've got to give a huge thank you to Olu (Needle and Ted) and Anna (creator of MadeIt Patterns) for their patience and understanding :)

This blog tour is a little different than most - it is also a competition!  The version of the Florence with the most comments over on Needle and Ted will be the winner.  So, if you like my version (or anyone else's) head over to Needle and Ted and leave a comment! 

For this week only (November 17-23) you can get the Florence Blouse Pattern (and any other pattern from Anna's shop!) for 20% off with the code Tour20.  Just click on the button below!  And (yes, there's more!) if you sew up a Christmas version of the Florence, make sure to post it on Madeit Patterns Facebook page by the end of January 2015 for a chance to win a MadeIt pattern of your choice!

Now that all the blog tour details are out of the way (because I totally would have forgotten to include them if I waited until the end!) we can get to my Christmas-ish version of the Florence pattern!  I say Christmas-ish because I don't generally sew holiday specific clothing for my kids.  I prefer sewing things that can be worn for an entire season.  So this jumper is a little less Christmas and a little more winter :)

I know at first glance it looks nothing like the Florence Blouse, but I actually kept most of the pattern pieces as is.  I used the front and back pieces without any modifications and eliminated the collar and sleeves.  Then I doubled the width of the placket to make it double breasted and added a simple pleated rectangle skirt.  It's amazing how small changes can make such a big difference in the end!  Although Mae wears a size two according to the chart included with the pattern, I sewed the size three because I wanted a little bit of room for Mae to wear a shirt under the jumper.  And I would have to say that the pattern fits true to the measurements which is always a good thing!  Obviously, you can't see the fit with these pictures, so you will just have to take my word for it that it is perfect :)

This fabric was a bit of a challenge to work with.  I purchased it at Joann's last year, and it was located in a miscellaneous spot in the store, so I'm not sure where it really belonged.  I don't think the women who worked at Joann's knew either which is why it was stuck on an endcap!  It's a polyester suiting fabric, but it is more of an outerwear weight.  And it frays like crazy!  I accidentally caught a corner of one of the pieces with the button on my sleeve, and suddenly the piece was 1/2" shorter!  I learned really quickly that I had better be careful, or the entire jumper was going to fall apart :)  I thought the fabric felt a bit prickly (although my kids told me it didn't) so I fully lined the bodice with a stretch sateen ... in red of course!  After all, I at least have to give a nod to Christmas since it's the theme of the tour :)

I really love the details included with the pattern!  The princess seams are lovely, as is the back bodice.  I didn't finish this jumper following the directions in the pattern since my version is fully lined, but I did read the pattern through, and I have no doubt that any blouse made with this pattern would be finished beautifully inside and out!

White Suiting from Joann's
Lining - Stretch Sateen from Joann's
Snaps - Kamsnaps

Make sure to check out the other blogs that are part of the tour!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

sew it all series - every girl needs a polka dot dress

As I stated back in my first Sew It All series round up post, Mae needs more dresses since she only has one, and people at church are starting to wonder!  My favorite thing about sewing dresses is that I don't have to make sure that they match anything else.  Or, in other words, I can use any fabric I want!

For this dress I chose Nani Iro Pocho double gauze in Teal.  I used double gauze one other time, and it was one of my favorite fabrics ever to sew!  Plus it rarely needs to be ironed which is always a plus ;)  After I chose the fabric, I moved on to choosing a pattern, which was not quite as easy.  I really wasn't sure what I wanted, and nothing was really appealing to me from my existing pattern collection, so I started with a Japanese pattern basic bodice (used for this dress) and made a few modifications.  And by a few, I mean that I changed everything!  I changed it to front opening, added length to the bodice, added facings, changed the shape and length of the sleeve, and pleated the skirt rather than gathering it.  In other words, I didn't keep anything from the original pattern ;)

My favorite modification is the sleeves.  I added 3" to the width, and then rather than gathering the cap, I made tiny inverted pleats.  It took 12 pleats for each sleeve.  I probably won't use this method again since it took longer than the entire rest of the dress, but it was fun to try it once!  And I love the look since it takes in the fullness without adding a true puff sleeve, which is not really my favorite kind of sleeve anyway.

The bottom of the sleeve is finished with a double cased elastic band with a 1/2" ruffle.  It kind of mimics the look of shirring without having to change every single setting on my sewing machine, so it's 100% better than shirring in my mind :)

Take a closer look at the snaps - each snap is covering a dot that is exactly the same color.  I would love to say that I planned that, but the truth is it was totally a coincidence :)

Nani Iro Double Gauze
Snaps - Kamsnaps

Thursday, November 6, 2014

pattern review - kudzu cargos by charming doodle

Sometimes I struggle with pattern reviews on the blog.  I know I don't have any obligation to only say positive things about a pattern, but it feels kind of mean to focus on the negatives.  On the other hand, I don't want a person to buy a pattern because I gave it a glowing review when it might not have been that great of a pattern, so usually I just skip reviewing any patterns that I'm less than thrilled with.  But not anymore.  I decided that since I took the time to sew it, I'm going to write about it, good or bad!  And, from now on, my reviews will be a bit more technical and include four things:
  • General Review - My overall feeling about the pattern
  • What I like about the pattern
  • Things I would change about the pattern in the future
  • Changes I made this time

The first pattern I am reviewing with this change in mind is the Kudzu Cargos from Charming DoodleGeneral review - Overall, I like the pattern, and I would sew it again, but I would make some changes.

What I like - The design details are visually interesting.  I like that there are several options including diagonal leg seams, pleats at the knee, and cargo pockets.  These look like a well made pair of store bought pants.  Although I didn't like the order of sewing, the directions were quite easy to follow, and I believe that a confident beginner could complete this pattern without any trouble.  The rib knit waist is a nice touch and makes these pants pretty comfortable too.  The pattern includes distinctly patterned lines for each size (in addition to different colors) which I like since my printer is a relic from another age and only prints in black and white :)

Things I would do differently or didn't like - First, the size chart is off.  The pattern clearly states that the hip is the most important measurement, so I cut the size 2 based on the size chart.  Bad idea!  These pants are way too tight.  I felt bad for squeezing Mae into these for pictures.  On the thighs you can actually see where the seams are cutting in to her chub, what little she has :)  Although she must have felt that the pants were still comfortable because she wanted to wear them all day!

Secondly, and I admit this is kind of nitpicky, I wasn't a huge fan of the pattern layout.  There is no way to print only the slim leg or the regular leg option.  You really have to print the entire pattern, and I'm a bit of a scrooge when it comes to using my paper and toner, so I generally only print exactly what I need!

The only other critique I have is the order of the sewing steps.  The pattern doesn't instruct you to sew the back patch pockets on until after you sew the side seams and the inseam.  It would be so much easier to attach them before the side and inseams, which is what I did since I read the whole pattern before starting, thankfully!

Changes I made (no matter how small!) - I added knee patches because they are cute :)  Since I chose not to use the cargo pockets I was able to sew and topstitch the inseams like a typical pair of jeans.  I also opted to topstitch the outseam from the waist to the top of the thigh, both for durability and because I like how it looks.  I sewed the knee pleats toward each other instead of both of the seams pressed down.  I also sewed the diagonal seams on the back pocket down instead of up, because I wanted the pocket seams to match the leg seams.  And the final change (even though it's not visible) was to use 2" elastic inside the rib knit waistband because I like the finish better than a narrower elastic attached to the rib knit with a zigzag stitch like the directions call for.

Denim - Stretch Pacific Denim in Melon from
Grey Knit - Cotton jersey from Joann's

Monday, November 3, 2014

gracie the vampire - part 4: the cape

In case you missed it ... 
gracie the vampire - part 1: the dress
gracie the vampire - part 2: the slip
gracie the vampire - part 3: the jacket

Sorry about the week gap between parts 3 & 4.  Sometimes life just happens and last week was one of those weeks!  Anyway, I'm back with part 4 today, which is the cape.  After all, what's a vampire without a cape!  I used the Red Riding Hood pattern from the Little Things to Sew book by Oliver & S.  I added 10" to the length and opted to line only the hood.  I also omitted the arm openings along the side hem since they made it feel less vampire-ish.  Other than that, I followed the pattern.  I felt that after the complexity of the dress and coat I needed a simple project that required little thought on my part :)  Please excuse the wrinkles in the picture below.  I took it after the cape was worn through a rainy and windy trick-or-treating session!

Everything is from Joann's
Flannel backed satin
Frog closure (not shown) by Dritz - I would not recommend this closure as it fell apart after a single use

Thursday, October 23, 2014

gracie the vampire - part 3: the jacket

In case you missed it ... 
gracie the vampire - part 1: the dress
gracie the vampire - part 2: the slip

And now for part 3 - and I promise it's not boring like part 2 :)

Now that Gracie has a dress and a slip, she needs the next layer, which is the jacket.  Normally, this layer could also be made as part of the dress, but as I explained in part 2, Gracie needs to be able to wear the dress by itself for a couple of Halloween events where a jacket would quite simply be impractical.  Although, I'm not sure there is ever a circumstance where I can call this particular jacket "practical" :)

I drafted the pattern for this jacket based on the bodice for the dress in part 1.  I added a v-front and removed the vampire-ish collar, and I added about 1/2" to both the front and back around the armholes so the jacket would fit comfortably over the dress.  Then I drew up an elbow-length, gathered, high cap sleeve pattern and attached a half circle "skirt" for the bottom portion of the sleeve.  The skirt part of the jacket came entirely from my imagination, and I'm not sure how it even worked out correctly.  I guess fifteen years of sewing with lots of pattern modifications along the way really does come in handy ;)

The sleeves were actually kind of fun to make, although they took way more fabric than I would have thought!  I really should have taken a picture before I sewed them into the jacket, because they looked big enough for an adult's coat :)  But in the end, it was exactly the look I was going for ... you know ... the way over the top, my mom is totally crazy to have spent that much time on a Halloween costume look!

I wanted the skirt to have a lot of volume, but I didn't have a ton of fabric.  I originally bought three yards of the red satin and told myself I wasn't allowed to use any more than that :)  So I decided to cut the lining to the shape I wanted for the final look and use a combination of gathering and pleating to create a modified bubble skirt for the outer layer.  I knew that the satin with the flocked layer on top would have enough body to add the fullness I wanted without a ton of extra fabric.  Okay, if I'm being honest here, I didn't really "know" that it would have enough volume, but I hoped that it would, because I wasn't about to go back to Joann's to buy more fabric in additional to the 15 yards I already bought for this project!

For the final touches I added a velvet & satin trim along the v-front and around the neckline, and I used a frog closure right along the waistline.  I'm not sure that it really needs the closure, but I like the way it looks, so it's there to stay :)  And I already had to attach it a couple different times since I managed to put it on both upside down and sideways before I finally got it right.  There is probably a lesson to be found somewhere about not sewing after midnight, but since I'm pretty sure I'll be up again that late tonight, I don't think I've learned it yet!

Everything is from Joann's
Jacket - Red costume satin
Overlay - Black flocked rose print
Lining - Red sateen
Velvet & satin ribbon trim
Dritz frog closure - I would not recommend this closure as it fell apart after a single use

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

gracie the vampire - part 2: the slip

In case you missed it ... gracie the vampire - part 1: the dress

and what comes next ... gracie the vampire - part 3: the jacket

And now for part 2!  Just a little disclaimer - I realize this is quite possibly the most boring thing I've sewn on this blog, but it is how I spent my hour (or perhaps a bit more!) for Kids Clothes Week yesterday so I'm sharing anyway :)

I would have loved to incorporate the fullness right into Gracie's vampire dress rather than making a separate slip.  But unfortunately, Gracie has a couple of Halloween parties that would make a bulky dress quite unmanageable, so I decided to sew a slip that can be easily removed.  Honestly, I would have skipped it altogether, but Gracie wanted a fuller dress, and how could I possibly say no to that adorable face :)  Just so you know, there really isn't anything special about this slip, so if you continue reading this post hoping for something more interesting or earth shattering, don't bother!  And if you do keep reading, remember that I warned you :)

I didn't need a pattern for this slip since it's just rectangles sewn together and gathered with cased elastic.  I didn't think it was necessary to make anything more complicated than that for a costume!  The netting fabric I used has just the right amount of stiffness (with two layers) to provide fullness without too much weight, but unfortunately, it's incredibly pokey on the ends.  If you accidentally brush up against a cut end, it feels like someone is jabbing you with a bunch of tiny thorns.  Really not the sensation I was going for!  So, to save myself from having the whiniest vampire on the block, I lined the waistband and the inside of the skirt with the same black satin that I used for the dress :) 

Everything is from Joann's
Outer - Black Netting
Lining/Waistband - Black costume satin

And, if you got this far all I have to say is I told you it was boring!  Maybe next time you will listen ;)

Monday, October 20, 2014

gracie the vampire - part 1: the dress

Edited to add links for the rest of the costume:
gracie the vampire - part 2: the slip
gracie the vampire - part 3: the jacket

I'm sure most of you already know, but this week is Kids Clothes Week.  Usually I like to sew along, but the last couple of times I haven't exactly dedicated an hour a day.  I guess I kind of figure that since I sew for my kids all year long (often for hours at a time!) I've probably made my quota for Kids Sewing Week for the next few years or so :)  Anyway, the theme for this season is Storybook, but I am leaning towards a slightly different theme - I call it "Gracie needs her Halloween costume by Saturday, so I'd better get sewing."  It's real catchy sounding, isn't it ;)

This year Gracie wants to be a vampire, but not just any vampire, more specifically a "I found it in a catalog and I'm sure my mom has $200 to spend on a costume that will only be worn twice" kind of vampire :)  So, like any other mom that sews, when my kids give me that sad puppy dog face, I hear the words "sure, I can make that" and immediately wonder who said it, until I realize it was me!  And unless I want to be "the worst mom in the whole entire world and even the moon" I'm going to have to sew that costume :) The problem is, once I commit to sewing a costume, I go nuts, both literally and figuratively speaking.  I go totally overboard with planning, buying and sewing until it consumes all of my time and sleep deprivation sets in.  Not to mention, my house (due to sheer neglect) ends up looking like a bomb went off.  I just figure if any adults give my house the side-eye while trick-or-treating with their kids, I can very creatively explain how we decorated our house as a disaster zone this year :)

Now before you say that the costume doesn't look very complicated, take a look at the title of this part and make note of the part 1.  Because this costume comes complete with parts 2, 3, 4 and 5 as well!  And yes, this costume is absolutely going to consume the entire week on the blog, so if you don't want to see a vampire costume one piece at a time, I'll see you next week :)

The bodice of this dress is self drafted.  It took two muslins to get the right shape, and if it was anything other than a Halloween costume, I probably would have done a third.  But even I'm not nuts enough to do three muslins for a Halloween costume.  My limit is definitely two ;)  I had never drafted a stand up collar that was integrated into the bodice rather than being a separate pattern piece, so that was an interesting challenge.  In fact, the final shape of the bodice pattern almost seems counter intuitive, but it really does fit perfectly and I'm thrilled with how it turned out!  I promise I will have pictures of Gracie wearing the costume in part 5 ... stay tuned!

I thought the drafting would be the complicated part, but it turns out the construction was worse.  I hate working with costume satin in the first place since it frays badly and shifts all over the place while sewing (even with a walking foot!)  But add in a slightly stretchy tulle overlay and it becomes a nightmare.  I couldn't even guess how many times I had to change the settings on both my sewing machine and serger to accommodate the satin on it's own, the tulle on it's own, or the two fabrics together, all of which required different settings.  Then attaching the lining required a forth setting.  If I was smart I would have written down the settings each time I changed them so I would have them for the next time, but obviously I'm not that smart!  It goes without saying that my seam ripper and I saw each other more often than usual while constructing this dress :)

Everything is from Joann's
Dress - Black costume satin
Overlay - Black tulle with glitter dots
Lining - Red sateen
Black invisible zipper

Thursday, October 16, 2014

sew it all series link up - let's see what you made!

I would love to see what everyone has been sewing lately!  If you would like to share (and agree to let me post the pictures on my blog at a later date if I do a roundup) please add your link below.  I will add all the projects to my Pinterest board as well.  Remember, anything goes as long as you sewed it!  And it doesn't have to be limited to kid's clothes ... I would love to see adult clothes or non-clothing items as well :)  Feel free to link up as many projects as you would like!

sew it all series - my progress report

Since it's been over a month since I started the Sew It All series, I decided it was time to look back at what I've sewn for Mae so far and lay out a general sewing plan for the coming month.  Last week my kids brought home their first progress reports from school and it was great to see a snapshot of the year, highlighting not only their strengths, but also the areas where they might need to work a bit harder.  That's what I'm hoping this post will be for me, a progress report of sorts, or whatever it's called when you evaluate your own performance.  Obviously I haven't worked in an office environment in a loooooooooong time, or I would remember what those things are called :)

Before I get to that, I wanted to let you all know that I'm going to add a monthly link up to the blog so I can see what you have been sewing.  Then I'll feature a few of the projects at the beginning of next month.  If you choose to add a link, I'm going to assume that you are ok with me sharing your creation on the blog.  Or, if you prefer to share in a less public matter, I always love getting pictures through email!  You can find my email on the "About Me" page.  But for those of you that do wish to share on the blog, I will add the link up later today.

Second, I'm going to post all of Mae's clothing that I've sewn as part of the Sew It All series in one place.  I don't know about you, but I like seeing all of my projects in one place and not having to click through multiple posts.  Plus it gives me a picture of what might still be missing from Mae's wardrobe.  I realize it's still quite a bit at this point, but I have lots more to share in the next few months :)  If you would like to read more about any of these projects, including patterns and materials used, just click on the picture.

Seeing these pictures in one place has been great!  Here are a few things that stand out to me:
  1. Every single top is made from a knit.  Although I love knits, I do like other fabrics as well :)
  2. There are a lot of blue pants.  I know I've finished two non-blue pairs that I haven't blogged about yet, so maybe that will help.
  3. Mae needs more looser fitting pants such as sweatpants because she really needs to start learning how to get herself dressed.
  4. Mae needs more dresses ... enough said!
  5. I need to get working on a fall coat before it's too cold to wear it.  I think I might sew a winter dress coat as well.
  6. There's no pink to be found.  Although I'm not a huge pink fan, Mae does like it, so I should try to incorporate it a little.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

pattern review - nessie top by craftiness is not optional

I realized that even though I've already made the Nessie Top by Craftiness is Not Optional and featured it on the blog here, I've never actually written a review!  And since I sewed another version for the Sew It All series, I thought this would be perfect time :)

Honestly there's not too much to say about this pattern beyond how much I love it!  It fits perfectly, it's easy to sew, it has a cute subtle high-low hem and there are lots of options included in the pattern.  The first time I made it, I chose the color block version, but this time I actually opted to make the basic version since I was planning on working with two different jersey knits.  I figured there was enough going on with my fabric choices that the top probably shouldn't have too many extra details aside from the coral pocket.

I cut out the size two width with the size three length.  I like how fitted it is, but I'm afraid Mae might outgrow it through the shoulders before winter is over.  I probably should have gone with the size three, but it works out this way because now I have an excuse to make another one :)  I think I might have to try the peter pan collar the next time since I haven't done that yet.  In fact, I foresee Mae having a cute stripe top with a sequin collar in the not so distant future!

I love this color combination!  Coral and aqua are two of my favorite colors for kid's clothing because they quite simply feel happy and summery.  And I think anything that reminds me of summer is a very, very good thing during our long cold winters :)

Aqua Stripe - Cotton/Lycra jersey from Funkaliscious Fabrics
Coral Dot - Cotton jersey from
Pocket - Stretch denim from