Thursday, October 23, 2014

"Hi, I'm Olaf and I like warm hugs"

This is, of course, Olaf from Frozen.  I'm sure we'll see lots of Olafs, Elsas, Annas and Kristoffs for Halloween this year!  I was surprised but not altogether unhappy when K. told me (in July!) what she wanted to be.  It tends to be quite cool in this part of the world at the end of October but there's no danger that she'll be cold in this!  In fact, I debated about making a second "indoor" costume for school and Sparks and parties but came up with an even better (quicker) solution which you'll see if you make it to the end!

I started with the Roller Skate Dress from Oliver and S and, other than the elastic at the bottom, actually didn't make any changes to it. To accommodate all the extra padding, I made it in size 10 although K. would normally wear a 7 or 8.

I used fleece for both the lining and the outside of the dress, mostly because I was initially going to rely on the dress and the elastic to make it "pouf".  That wasn't enough though so I also stuffed it with batting.  I added strips of tulle in the bottom, too, because I had them and I ran out of batting. I really should have just bought another bag of batting, though.  She loves it but I feel it could have been rounder.

I asked her to let me take a picture of the back and this what I got, complete with a booty shake.  This kid makes me laugh :).  I didn't change anything except that the button is on the inside and that wasn't on purpose -- hey, when the lining and the dress are both the same fabric, it's easy to get them mixed up.

The hat is, of course, the cozy winter hood from Little Things to Sew.  I've lost count of how many time I've made that pattern!  (I think I say that everytime, lol!).  I made it twice for this costume, though.  This is the medium but I made a large, too.  I thought it would look more olaf-y but K.  wouldn't even consider putting it on. She has a thing about hats (and shoes) being small almost to the point of being uncomfortable.   But if she's happy in this one, I'm happy, too.  And I have a hat to send to my nephew for his birthday!

The hood is fleece lined with flannel and the "twigs" are pipe cleaners covered in velour.  I sliced to top pattern piece into two pieces so that I could sew them in.  I don't think they'll make it through the wash but they only have to last through three events.

And the shirt underneath is also Oliver and S -- the Field Trip Tee.  K. just got lucky on this one because I was just going to buy a shirt but I accidentally bought brown velour instead of black for another project (I have no idea how, I could swear it looked black on the cutting table but it most definitely is not!) so I had enough to make her a tee.  I initially made the whole thing brown but it showed at the neckline so I decided to rip it apart and make it white.  Which turned out to be a good decision and it solved my problem a slightly less warm costume for indoors.  Some black circles, and voilĂ  -- an Olaf "inspired" outfit (which will be worn with white leggings when the time comes of course!).

The best part of this costume is how thrilled K. is about it.  It reminds me why I started to sew in the first place -- to be creative and make something unique (or not so unique in this case!!) for the people that I love.  I still haven't gotten over the Kristoff incident (nor have I heard from the person who commissioned me to make that costume!) but I'm happy I can do this for my lovely sweet adorable appreciative daughter :).

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Kristoff Tunic

A few weeks ago, my daughter's teacher approached me after school and asked if I would do her a favour. She used to work with a boy named Tommy.  He has Autism and is an athlete and a runner. He also has a huge love for all things Disney, so much so that his parents take him to Disney World every year.  This year they timed their trip to coincide with Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween party and he wants to go as Kristoff from Frozen.

Sewing for other people makes me nervous but I figured a tunic couldn't be too hard.  Plus I was already making one for my husband so I said yes. I'm happy it's done and I'm hoping Tommy and his mom are happy with it but oh my goodness I was cursing this thing while I was making it!  I redid the collar about a million times (well, six (!!) times but it felt like a million).

And the fur!!  The bound fur trim was $26/metre and the yardage was $19/metre so guess which one I bought, lol?  So not only did I have to try to cut through this stuff, I had to give each piece a hair cut along the seam allowance after I cut it out.  There was fur everywhere!  It took me a good couple of hours to vacuum my sewing room when I finished.  And I'm still finding clumps that I missed (and clumps that I carried through the house on my clothes. Some even ended up in our dinner. oops!).  I will never willingly make anything with fake fur again.  Or I will be smart and track down some that's on a ribbon like this stuff.  Jeez, I wish I'd done a bit of research first!

The main fabric is from my stash - Brussels Washer Linen blend in charcoal.  Good thing I had it because I couldn't find anything locally that would be suitable for Florida weather!

Anyway, I started with Thread Theory's Finlayson sweater then extended the shoulders, made the neckline more a v-shape, lengthened it and added the shaping.  Then drafted (and re-drafted and re-drafted) a new collar.  So really, it's not much of a Finlayson anymore!

edited to add:  Wow.  I'm completely floored and devastated.  The woman who asked me to make this for her son feels it's not close enough to the original for his needs.  According to her it would okay for a casual party or trick or treating but not for someone who would be making YouTube videos at the "actual Disney World".  She offered to pay for it if I needed her to but said she'd sell it on kijiji!!

I'm not a professional but agreed to do this as favour.  She didn't give me any criteria and even asked me to source all the fabric and materials without her input.  I agonized over every detail and it didn't turn out exactly as I pictured it but I thought it was pretty good.  I am honestly hurt.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Vogue 1387 View A . . . and my first attempt at dyeing fabric

I've had this fabric for oh about a year.  It's a cotton-silk blend from Dharma Trading Co. but although it's not overly lightweight, it was fairly sheer.  Since I dislike wearing layers, every time I would pull it out to make something I would end up putting it away.

Late last Saturday night, I was itching to make something for myself -- we had been away from home for over three weeks and the weeks leading up to our trip were taken up with sewing flower girl dresses -- so I pulled this fabric out once again.  I couldn't find anything that would work for a lining, so I decided spur of the moment to dye it. My husband offered to at least do the dishes before I started but I just pushed everything to the side and pulled out my stock pot and dye.  I wasn't really sure what I was doing and I definitely used way too much dye (1 1/2 tsps for 2 yards of fabric) but the only casualty of the whole experience was the wooden spoon I used to stir, now permanently blue.  Not bad considering that I'm a horribly messy cook and was not at all organized.  (I once mangled the blade to my mom's stand mixer -- I put the spatula down on the mess on the counter.  When I picked it up again I didn't notice that a pencil stuck to it so it ended up in the mix.  Oops!)

This is Vogue 1387.  I bought this pattern for view B and actually started that one months ago.  I like it but it's waiting for snaps. Sometimes -- especially late at night -- it's more fun to start a new project than sew on snaps!

Here are the changes I made:
I cut the front on the fold along the centre front to eliminate the wrap.  There are a few nice versions online but the fact that even the pattern cover has the blouse tacked in place turned me off.  I added a button hole to the front before I sewed up the casing so that I could still include the tie.

I had some trouble with the underarm insets (a quick look at showed me that I wasn't the only one!).  The instructions would have you sew up the side seam and then the armbands and then you're supposed to somehow fit the gusset neatly in place.  Doesn't work.  I tried three times!  Didn't help that the notches for the gusset are not correct and the armbands are too long.  So instead of sewing the side seams all the way, sew only to the circle so that when you add the armbands they're enclosed in the seam. Trim off the excess armbands and ignore the notches on the insert.  Once I did that it was easy.

Overall, I like it.  I'd like to make it again but with some changes:
- lower the neckline slightly
- add an inch or so to the bodice so the ties hit me lower on the body
- use a fabric with even more drape

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Glow in the Dark Party outfit

We are having a glow in the dark party for J's 9th birthday so have been hunting for all sorts of things that actually glow and others that are "UV reactive".  Who knew blacklights were so much fun??  Well, probably lots of people but we've just discovered it and have been having a blast :)

We found this super bright neon twill on clearance a few weeks ago so I bought enough to make clutches for party favours and an outfit for each of my girls.  It's bright under normal light but under blacklight it's awesome.  Just to add to the awesomeness, I used glow in the dark thread for the topstitching.   It's not super noticiable in full dark but the blacklight really brings it out.

The tank is a modified Oliver and S pinwheel dress.  I moved the pattern piece over at angle, keeping the neckline the same but taking a pie shaped cut out of the width to make it less of an A-line shape.  I found the dress to be fairly short on my tall skinny girls when I made it the last time so I cut it full length (this is size 10) just smoothing out the bottom to be gently curved as I was leaving off the flounce.

The skirt is made from an old tutorial by From an Igloo (it was called the Tea Party Skirt) but the link seems to be broken.  I've made it before here and here.  J. loves it.  Give her a few tea party skirts, a couple of circle skirts and some t-shirts and she's happy.

The clutch is just three rectangles, a strap and a button.  I wanted it to be simple to mass produce and easy enough for J. to help out with.  She's been stitching up the sides and I'm going to get her to add the buttons, too. We'll use them as loot bags for the girls.

The other thing I made for the girls to take home is a sleep mask.  We were initially going to make headbands but the neon orange fabric we bought doesn't "glow" under blacklight.  It's bright alright but just doesn't have the right punch for the party.  So for $1.83, I splurged on 50cm of this super fuzzy minky-type stuff.  It's lovely and soft but I should've worn a face mask when making these; I was coughing up neon fluff for hours afterwards!  Again, just a self-drafted pattern -- two layers of minky, one layer cut from an old white t-shirt and a length of fold over elastic.  I used the FOE just because it is super soft and stretchy.

And here's everything under just blacklight.  Cool, hey?

The girls have been wearing their sleep masks to sleep at night since I finished them.  And K. even wore it one day after school.  She's a kid that needs her sleep.  She'd been up late the night before and had a tiff with J. so took herself off to her room.  When I went to find her, she'd fallen asleep :)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Denim Kelly Skirt

My local fabric shop is renovating --actually they're demolishing then rebuilding -- so as of the end of June, and for an indefinite period of time, I will have to travel much farther to shop.  This store doesn't generally have a great selection of fabric but I do go their fairly often for zippers, thread, etc.  The thought of being without it makes me slightly anxious but, in the meantime, they do have some good deals.

I made this skirt from part of a $5.00 remnant.  It's a nice colour and weight and, once I put a denim needle on my machine, it was really easy to work with.  The only problem is that it's stiff.  Really stiff.  I knew that and I prewashed (as always) but it was still super stiff.  I debated about making vogue 1247 or a grainline moss but really wanted to try the Kelly skirt.

I made it during KCW last week and if my kids had been into it, I would have made a hopscotch skirt or two to coordinate -- the theme was mini-me after all! -- but, according to both my daughters, putting buttons down the front of a skirt makes it completely unappealing. So too bad for them, I sewed for myself when everyone else was sewing for their kids!

Considering I only had half hour blocks of time to work on this, it came together quickly and it's super comfortable.  I'm not sure it's actually "universally flattering" despite it's reviews.  Maybe it's this fabric.  Or maybe it's the extra 10lbs I gained since I hurt my back.  Or maybe it's the strange way the pleats sit (especially at the back).  I'm really hoping the pleats calm down after a few washes/wears because right now they're pretty darn unflattering.  The only changes I made were to extend the waistband 1" add 1/4" to each of the front and back pieces.

I think if I were to make it again, I would copy the way the placket is done on the hopscotch skirt (the placket goes all the way to top instead of stopping at the waistband).  I'm pretty sure I've got my buttons in the right place but waistband doesn't lay properly when I'm wearing it.

Pattern: Megan Nielsen Kelly Skirt $9.60
Fabric: ~$5.00
Buttons: Stash

Total: $14.60

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

KCW: Croquet in Black and White

K. (age 5) insisted before Christmas that her favourite colour was no longer purple but black (!!) so when Form and Fabric had their free shipping promotion, I let her pick a couple of prints.  I think she has a good eye!  This is Stylized Flower and Damask from the Shades of Black line.

I made size 7 because this kid is growing like crazy and I want it to fit in the spring, too.  I'm going to try to save it for a trip we're taking but that might be tough because she knows I've been working on it and is always excited to get a new dress.

She's having a tough time choosing a button so the back is not finished yet.  (our collection is so huge now we *almost* have too many choices!)  And the skirt looks strange because the elastic is all bunched at the back but I didn't have the patience to fiddle with it today.

It might be the only project I get time to work in in Kids Clothing Week -- we have a case of lice in the house so I've been spending lots of extra time cleaning and washing hair, etc. Yuck.

Stylized Flower 1 yard (with just scraps left over, yay!)  $7.56
Damask 1/2 yard $3.78

elastic: $1
button: stash

Croquet Dress: $11.95

Total:  $24.29

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Valentines 2+2 Blouse

In December, Form and Fabric had a free shipping promotion.  Usually when online companies advertise **FREE SHIPPING!!** the small print says something like "in the continental United States" and it still costs an arm and a leg to ship to Canada but that wasn't the case with this sale.  So I placed an order.  Then I placed another order.  Then I sent an email asking if I could purchase an extra 1/2 yard of one of the fabrics (sale items were only available in one yard increments but this was the last yard and a half of that fabric) and they sent it to me without charging me for it.  So all in all, I was a very happy camper.

The fabric is Lacy Heart from the Flirt Collection and I love it.  It's cutesy but subtle and perfect for Valentines Day and hopefully beyond.   The pattern is the 2+2 Blouse from Oliver and S and I think it was one of the first of their patterns that I bought.  I've made the skirt a couple of times but never the top.  I'm happy with how it turned out but had a couple of head-scratching moments along the way.  The instructions are good but the newer O+S patterns do a bit more hand-holding (or maybe it was just me!).

I also had some confusion over the sleeve shape and didn't see any discussions in the forum about it.  So I went to Nicole's blog (fiveandcounting-motherof5) and of course, being the fantastic and generous sewing resource that she is, she had an explanation and pictures.  (I guess I have an early print of the pattern and there is a triangle cut out to reduce bulk at the seams).  Thanks Nicole!

It's a size 6 with some extra length.  I only used one button and stitched up the rest of the back placket because my girl likes the back of her clothes to be free from any lumpy bits (!).  I think (I hope) that it will still fit over her head.

2+2 Blouse, used before: $0 (cost per use about $6)

Lacy Heart, used just over a yard: $8.20 US
blue polka dots: stash

button: stash!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Hopscotch Month!

I seem to be on a hopscotch kick: my first three projects of the year have been made from this pattern -- last week the skirt, and this week a top and a dress.  But as a special bonus, this weeks' projects have already both been worn, yay!

I was originally going to make J. some leggings but when I gave her a choice of fabrics, she chose this one and asked me to make her a dress.  I had my doubts about her wearing a dress in this print but I try never to turn down requests if I can help it. So I traced my patterns and started laying things out.

I only had 1.1m but thought I could squeeze something for K. out, too.  Unfortunately (or fortunately if my hunch was right!) I grabbed the wrong piece and the first thing I cut out was a size 7 hopscotch dress back.  Since I knew I didn't have enough for two dresses, I called J. in and told her what I'd done.  She said she was okay with a shirt instead.  With some wrangling, I managed to cut a size 10 top and a size 7 dress out of my yardage and was just left with scraps.  It's so satisfying when that happens!

No modeled pics but here's J.'s top:

And K. is always a moving target or a goofball so here are some stellar ones of her.  This print is dizzying at high speed!

And following the wise advice of Lightening McStitch, I will take this opportunity to gloat about how little these cost me to make -- $4.24 for the pair of them!

Fabric: Heaven and Helsinki from Fabricland $4.24
Pattern: Hopscotch Skirt and Top used before $0 (cost per use: $4.03)

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Hopscotch Skirt

Unless you count the three fleece neckwarmers I whipped off minutes before we were due to head out the door for a skate on the canal on New Year's Day (which I don't), this is my first sewing project of the new year.  Not a very auspicious start but it can only get better!

The fabric is corduroy but some kind of blend that resists pressing, which made making this pockets for this skirt a pain in the *&%. It also attracts lint like crazy and still smells musty even though I washed it twice.  I bought it a couple of years ago when Darrell Thomas Textiles was having a charity fundraiser - they were selling random lengths of fabric for $2.00 a piece.  I guess you get what you pay for in this case!

I had just enough to cut the whole skirt but then my plackets were too short (I must have lengthened the skirt but forgot to lengthen the plackets) so I had to recut them the wrong way.  Bad idea!  I should have just increased the hem.  The new plackets stretched all out of whack when I was sewing them no matter how many pins I used and are wonky at the top and bottom.

The buttons were part of the collection sent to me by my mom's friend.  J. had admired them and asked for them to be used on something for her.  With the way this skirt was going, I couldn't face doing all those buttonholes so only the top one opens. Because of the elastic at the back (and the lack of hips!), it slips on just fine.

Despite the buttons, this skirt went over like a lead balloon.  I'm not sure if it's the colour, the style or the fabric but I don't think J. will wear it.  And K. told me flat out not to expect her to ever wear it because she doesn't like buttons down the front of skirts (!!).

I've always admired this design and as I was sewing this up, I was making plans for another in an easier fabric like chambray or quilting cotton. Unless I can think of someone else who might like a cute skirt, it wont be happening any time soon!  bummer.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2013 Recap

This year I started keeping track of how much I spent on supplies thinking that would keep me from "overspending".  And it did for awhile.  I used an excel chart so I could easily total it up and did that monthly for the first few months.  But then I stopped adding it up and got a little crazy with some of my projects (like ordering three different fabric options for my attache dress!).  Now the amounts are so shocking that I was only able to glance at the totals without really absorbing them.

I will continue to keep track even though it didn't really make me stick to a budget.  I do like being able to figure out approximately how much my projects cost to make.  It's also made me realize that when I don't have time to sew, I don't stop buying fabric (in fact, I tend to buy more fabric when I'm spending hours sitting at my computer working because I order lots of fabric online) so lots of what I've bought this year is still waiting for me to turn it into to something. Unfortunately, I also seem to have a short attention span so will often be distracted by something new before getting to the "old" (usually not even started) projects.  So, I will not be publishing what I spent (or even really acknowledging it to myself!) but here are my sewing totals for this year, (83 items all together!):

Clothes for my kids:
dresses: 12
summer hats: 2
skirts: 3
t-shirts: 4
tops: 5
jackets: 1
shorts: 2
costume: 1
leggings: 4
winter hood:  2
pjs: 4

Items for me:
tops: 7
skirt: 1
dress: 1
purse: 2
scarf: 1

loot bags: 10
dress: 1
purse: 1
winter hood: 3
placemats: 1
tissue cozies: 14

curtains: 1

Of the things I made for the kids, the most popular by far were the dresses, most of which I made for J. but ended up in K's closet.

Topping the list would have to be the dotty ombre fairy tale dress.  J. wore it for a couple of months and loved it but it got tight under the arms quite quickly. K. happily adopted it and wears it for everything from playing with flubber to playing outside to going to the theatre.


Another dress that's been worn lots is the pinwheel slip dress.  Not by J., though.  She seemed excited about it at first but never wore it so one day K. asked if she could.  The speed with which J. gave it up made me realize that she wasn't really comfortable in it.  Generally K. just wears the slip without the top.

K. also adopted the ombre seashore dress after I added huge snaps and even bigger buttons to the straps.

(gotta love pinterest for photo ideas!)

K. definitely likes novelty -- I think I've got a hit on my hands but it turn that it's just because it's new.  She loved her class picnic dress and her birthday dress at first but then hasn't worn them in months.  I'm hoping the same thing doesn't happen with the chambray playtime dress or the knit playtime dress.  She wore the Sally dress in the summer and wore it the other day with a sweater so it seems to be a winner.

I've had a hard time sewing for J. this year.  She likes the t-shirts, especially the banyan tees, and the circle skirts.

She also loves her secret agent trench.  She felt really special when she started grade three and learned that the "theme" for her class for the year was spies!

The dresses have all gone to K.   She hardly wore any of the woven tops I made or the two pairs of shorts.  She didn't like the pleats in the banyan shorts and didn't even try on the linen field trip shorts.

We'll have to see whether the essex linen playtime dress was just a one-time wear.  She seemed excited about it but hasn't worn it since Christmas Eve even though it's been washed and hanging in her closet.  She also seemed thrilled with the tea party ruffle skirt I made her for Christmas and has worn it a couple of times already.  

As for the things I made for myself, I'm calling my attache dress a success even though I've only worn it twice.  And I live in my tovas in the summer, spring and fall.  I made another linen one this summer with a yoke in the back.  It wasn't in quite the right spot but I wore it lots (just didn't get a picture of it).  I love, love, love my renfrews, especially my first.

I haven't touched my machine in over a week as I was feeling burnt out with all the Christmas rush but going through all the stuff I made in the last year is inspiring me to get back at it!