Tuesday, April 28, 2015

time to travel blog tour - swansea bag

I know that lots of moms of boys feel that there are not enough fun patterns available for boys.  I'm sure I would feel the same if my boys were young enough to actually be willing to wear what I sew ;)  But I have noticed lately that lots of pattern designers are listening to their customers and making a real effort to design more (not-so-basic) boy patterns.  The e-book Time to Travel, which is presented by Sewing With Boys (a group of women focused on creating wonderful things for their boys,) is a great example of fun sewing projects created with boys in mind.  The e-book includes the Swansea Bag, the Just Like Papa briefcase, the Ready Set Go! wallet, an adventure belt, and a few other fun extras!  And it's on sale for the rest of the blog tour, through May 1st!

Disclaimer: I received the Swansea Bag pattern for free as part of the blog tour.  But, as I have stated before, that does not influence my review of the pattern.  I appreciate that anyone who purchases this pattern is choosing to spend real money, and I do not want them to think that I would recommend a pattern that I do not like!  And I would recommend this particular pattern :)

Now, I know if I saw the pictures of this particular bag, I would wonder what it has to do with sewing for boys :)  Honestly, nothing!  But it does show that these patterns are not limited to boys.  After all, girls have adventures too!

The funny thing is, when I started sewing the bag, I wasn't actually sure what I was going to use it for.  But as I sewed, I realized that one of our impossible-to-roll-properly sleeping bags would probably fit perfectly in the child size version of the Swansea Bag.  And, sure enough, it did!  And then I wished I really had sewn a boy version since this particular sleeping bag actually belongs to one of the boys ;)  Oh well, I guess that's a good excuse to sew another one.

I did make a couple changes from the pattern (what's new!) such as creating a color block exterior to show off the adorable umbrella and raindrop fabrics.  I also opted to line it and add x-stitching where the strap connects to the bag for extra strength since I expect my kids to be pretty hard on it over time.  They don't tend to be too gentle with anything, and I'm sure this bag will be used as a weapon several times during it's life ;)  The pattern includes instructions for an unlined bag with french seams (which create stronger seams) rather than a lining, but I chose to skip the french seams since I tend to be lazy when I know that no one is going to see it anyway. 

Sorry, but there aren't any pictures of the inside today since it's solid white and quite boring!  I'm sure you can use your imagination :)

While you're here, enter the giveaway below, and then make sure visit the rest of the blogs participating in the Time to Travel series!

Giveaway info:
Grand prize: $50 gift certificate to FabricWorm and a copy of Time to Travel*
2nd: 1 yard of fabric from Mabel Madison and a copy of Time to Travel*
3rd: a copy of Time to Travel*
*If you buy the eBook and win the giveaway, we will either refund your money, or send the copy on to a friend of your choice.
But that's not all! If you buy the eBook during the tour, you'll be automatically entered to win a $30 gift certificate to Fat Quarter Shop!

April 20: Rachel at Once Upon A Sewing Machine || Michelle at Falafel and the Bee 
April 21: Becca at Free Notion || Heather at All Things Katy! 
April 22: Chelsea at GYCT Designs || Ula at Lulu & Celeste 
April 23: Stephanie at Swoodson Says || Sherri at Thread Riding Hood 
April 24: Meriel at Create3.5 || Sara at Made by Sara 
April 27: Melissa at Oh Sew Boy! || Stacey at Boy, Oh Boy, Oh Boy Crafts 
April 28: Teri at Climbing the Willow || Ajaire at Call Ajaire 
 April 29: Jessica at The Berry Bunch || Dana at Sew Thrifty 
April 30: Stacey at From-a-Box || Maegen at Mae & K 
May 1: Kelly at Handmade Boy || Roxanne at Pen, Seb & Rox

Umbrella and raindrop prints - Rainy Days and Mondays by Riley Blake
White lining - Cotton duck by Premier Prints from fabric.com
Dark grey - Cotton stretch sateen from Joann's
Drawstring, strap and grommets - Joann's

Thursday, April 16, 2015

two years and counting

Today marks two years from my first real blog post.  I don't count the first post which is essentially a "hello world" post - I mark time from the first real project I shared.  It also happens to be my 200th post.  And yes, I am counting the first post this time - after all, it's my blog and I reserve the right to be inconsistent when it suits me ;) Anyway, I thought I would take a moment to look back over the last year and share my favorite and least favorites sewing projects.

Floral Pants
Mae wore these pants whenever they were clean right up until the day she outgrew them. I need to make her more of this style for this year - although perhaps with a different pattern because I wasn't fond of how the pockets would always turn inside out while Mae was wearing them.

Mini Thor Cape Tee
This was hand's down Mae's favorite thing to wear. She spent an awful lot of days this winter "flying" around the house :)

Geometric Dress
I'm pretty sure Mae wore this to every event that required her to wear a dress, including church every week! I love the fit of this pattern, and it must be comfortable because Mae was always willing to wear it (which isn't necessarily true for the things I make!)

Plaid Tunic
This is perhaps the closest I have ever come to producing something that is exactly what I imagined before I started.  In all honesty, it turned out even better than I thought it would ;)  Mae wears it at least once a week, and since I made it a bit big, she will probably wear it at least once a week all of next winter as well!

Floral Easter Dress
I know I just made this, and most likely it will not be worn again until next Easter, but I can't help but love it.  I truly enjoyed the challenge of sewing a garment that required actual fitting, not just taking a few basic measurements and sewing the appropriate size with minimal changes.  Child size clothing rarely presents a challenge as a seamstress, so this dress was a welcome change :)

Color Block Tunic
I knew I didn't like this one before I even posted it.  It wasn't at all what I imagined when I started.  Lesson learned - Maybe if I hadn't accidentally run the bodice through my serger I would have been happier with it ;)

Love Tunic and Striped Pants
Mae's "Love" tunic met a quick end when she got blueberries all over the front of it. And I, in my infinite wisdom, decided to use Oxi-Clean which removed most of the yellow color leaving the shirt a dingy off-white with a barely visible tie dyed heart! But don't worry, the blueberry stains were still there ;) I liked the striped pants until I washed them and was less than impressed with the amount the fabric paint faded. Lesson learned - I should never create my own fabric again!

Denim Suspender Skirt
All that really needs to be said about this one is it's a skirt, and Mae doesn't wear skirts because Mae doesn't wear tights.  Of course she didn't inform me of this until after I was done sewing ;) Lesson learned - No skirts!

Floral Knit Pants
I actually love this pattern, and I love how these pants look on Mae.  What I don;t love is the awful, pilly fabric that I used to make them.  As soon as I received the fabric I pre-washed like usual and it looked fine, so I went ahead and made the pants.  I washed it a second time, and I swear it looked like the pants had been worn and washed about 100 times. Lesson learned - No knit fabric from fabric.com because I can't count on it being a decent quality.

Various Unphotographed Projects
Just like anyone else who sews, I have projects that are not worthy of being worn, let alone photographed and blogged about. You never saw them, but you will have to trust me that they were very, very bad ;)

But seriously - Real Lesson Learned
I have no idea what the next year will bring, but I do know that as my kids get older, I find I have significantly less time to devote to sewing and blogging.  Since I enjoy sewing so much, I don't ever see myself truly quitting, but I can't see myself continuing at this pace either.  Last year I had lots of plans for this past year, but life, as it always does, got in the way of most of them.  So this year I'm just going to take it as it comes.  If I have time to sew, then I will gladly sew, and I will blog about it whenever possible.  And if I don't, then I won't!  Life is too short for me to worry about something so small :)

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

pattern review - mccall's 7117

I have a confession to make - I only made one Easter dress this year.  Gracie had an old dress that used to belong to Ruth, and I bought Mae's dress from H&M because it was adorable, cheap, and I was out of time :)  And the reason why I was out of time was this dress that I made for Ruth (and perhaps the stomach bug that went through our whole house in the two weeks before Easter, but I chose to block out that particular memory!) 

I started with McCall's 7117 view D with the shorter length from the other views as the base pattern.  I totally ignored the sizing on the envelope, pulled out the pattern pieces to find the finished garment measurements and determined Ruth's base size from these measurements.  And I'm glad I did, because if I had started with the size suggested on the envelope based on Ruth's measurements, the dress would have been way too big. I sewed the first muslin of the bodice as is, without any modifications at all.  Then, after making Ruth try it on (which was way more of a pain than it should have been!) I made two additional muslins to get the correct fit.  In the end, I made at least one change to every single pattern piece of the bodice.  I also chose to fully line the bodice and run the zipper all the way to the top of the dress instead of leaving the top part open and finishing it with a hook and eye. The skirt was sewn without any changes to the pattern.

The dress fits beautifully, but unfortunately you will just have to take my word for it, because Ruth doesn't have any interest in being on the blog.  Not that I blame her.  You won't see me too often on here either ;) 

The fabric I used for the dress was a very pleasant surprise.  I let Ruth pick any fabric she wanted from Joann's, and this was the only design and color scheme that appealed to her.  I was leery of anything from Joann's called Easy Wash & Care fabric, but it really is a lovely, soft fabric with beautiful drape once it's washed. I don't know exactly how to describe it other than to say it is not as stiff as a quilting cotton, but has a similar weight, and it is heavier than a rayon challis but has a similar drape.  Regardless, I would definitely use it again!

For this dress, a single picture of the inside isn't enough to show all the construction details, so instead you get three :)  Please ignore the fact the every picture looks crooked.  Either the dress form is not quite straight, which is possible since the kids love to dress it up.  Or, the more likely reason is just that I take crooked pictures!

As hard as I tried to get everything lined up with the zipper, you can see in this next picture that the lining is slightly off.  I probably could have fixed it, but I had already unpicked that zipper a few times due to not using the correct settings on my sewing machine, and I was just done!  That, and the fact that it was about 10 PM on the night before Easter and I still needed to fill about 200 plastic eggs before I went to bed ;)

The skirt is incredibly full.  It really didn't look that full on the pattern envelope, but it ended up having more volume than a complete circle skirt.  Gracie told me that she wants a dress like this too so she can twirl all the time!

Floral - Joann's Easy Wash & Care Pansies
Coats & Clark 20-22" Invisible Zipper

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

a little ottobre elephant tee

This top is barely even worthy of a blog post, but it's what I've been sewing, so I'm sharing it anyway!  This is pattern no. 5 from Ottobre 1/2015.  I started with the size 92 (largest size for this particular pattern) and added about 2" to the length.  I opted for short sleeves and a narrow bias binding on the sleeves and neckline rather than the long hemmed sleeves and neck band that are shown in the magazine. This is a very basic tee pattern, and I'm not sure I even like it, but Mae loves her elephant shirt, so I'm guessing it will get worn quite a bit!

I'm trying to get a feel for the sizing and ease of Ottobre patterns.  So far, they seem to run a bit wide, but so do most sewing patterns (both paper and pdf) in my experience.  I've been sewing the size 98 (roughly equivalent to a 3T) but for pants I know I need to start with the 92 and add length for a better fit.  For reference, Mae wears a 3T in most store bought clothes, or 2-3 years (2-4 years in dresses) in European brands like H&M.  I have several more Ottobre patterns traced and ready to sew, so I'm interested to see if the sizing holds true for other styles such as outerwear.

And, last but not least, the wrong side of the tee.  I thought the inside of the last thing I sewed was boring, but this is even worse!  Four seams, three bindings, and a hem ... how exciting ;)

Elephant knit - 100% cotton jersey found on etsy
Jeggings - Osh Kosh

Thursday, April 9, 2015

time to pretend it's actually spring :)

I am as done as done gets with winter!  Every year I hear people talk about this mythical season called spring, and I have to look out my window and just wonder if it will even come to Michigan this year :)  Usually, we just skip right from winter to summer with wild swings back and forth from one day to the next until summer finally settles in right around the Fourth of July!  So this year, I refuse to accept it, and we are celebrating faux spring at our house with lots of bright floral prints.  Or, in other words, we're going to "fake it until you make it" with the weather :)

This lovely floral print is from the custom knit Facebook group Fabric Geeks.  I did receive this 1/2 yard piece for free to review (on Facebook, not on the blog), but I'll just say now that I love it so much that I already ordered more in other colors!  The fabric has over 75% stretch in both directions, minimal shrinking and fading after several washes, and it sews beautifully.  I really wish I could find knits locally that are this nice, but for now I think I'm going to have to rely on Facebook groups.

The pattern is No. 23, Peplum Jersey Tunic from Ottobre Magazine issue 1/2015. The only changes I made were short rather than long sleeves (faux spring and all!) and a slightly wider neck binding just because I prefer the look.  The pattern is pretty simple to sew, fits perfectly, and is just a little nicer than a basic tee.  I'll probably make a few more of these for summer and then try it again with long sleeves next fall since I absolutely refuse to make any more long sleeve tops this year!

You'll have to ignore Mae's sad face in this next picture!  She was too busy looking at something to even pay attention to me, but it's the best picture of the shape and fit of the top, so I'm posting it anyway.  After all, this is a sewing blog, so it's probably more helpful to be able to see the garment than to have cute expressions in every picture :)

And here's the promised picture of the inside.  Nothing too exciting on this one since it's just serged and hemmed with a double needle.

Floral knit - custom print 95/5 cotton/spandex from Fabric Geeks on Facebook