Thursday, May 30, 2013

Scrap Busting with Doll Clothes

Do you have a go to scrap busting project? For me it’s doll clothes. Every month I participate in Karen Mom of Three’s doll clothes sew along.  Each month she links to a different free doll clothes pattern and then posts pictures of everyone’s completed work on her Facebook page.

In May we made a reversible wrap skirt with a Velcro closure. Another sewalonger used a button in place of the Velcro, a great option for people who don’t keep Velcro on hand. It was so quick and easy to make, I have no idea why I put it off until the end of the month.

I threw together this bonus tank top at the last minute as well.  It’s made with a free Liberty Jane pattern and a tank top that my girls had outgrown years ago. I cut out of a size 4/5 and  had just enough fabric, so anything smaller probably wouldn't work.

Doll clothes sewing is picking up in my house this summer. My  youngest daughter just got a new doll for her 7th  birthday, bringing our total up to 4 dolls; one American Girl Doll and 3 Madame Alexander Dolls. Then in September my older daughter will be making a trip to the American Girl Store, so we may expand our collection again.

I have two matching girl and doll projects coming up. One of the projects will be skinny jeans using this matching girl and doll pattern. The second will be skirts. I’ll give you more details later in the month.

In the meantime tell me about your favorite scrap busting project.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Saving Time Money and Gas - Quicker Summer Tops

Supposedly there is a heat wave on the way. I say supposedly because the news hasn't been very good at predicting the weather lately. But, just in case I am trying to get prepared.

My summer sewing got off to a good start last week, when I made these quick summer tops. Now I need a few quicker summer tops, because this heat wave is supposed to start tomorrow.

Living out in the middle of nowhere means that a trip to the store is a 45 minute drive each way, plus the time it takes to shop. I could sew a shirt in that amount of time. In fact I could do better than that.

½ hour + sharp scissors + thread = three summer tops

Here’s how.

I cut the sleeves off three long sleeve shirts. They’ll grow out of these before they need long sleeves again.

Then I hemmed the sleeves with a simple straight stitch on my machine.

I cut a Hello Kitty Applique out of an old pair of winter pajamas. 
It already had a border so I used a straight stitch again to attach it to the black t- shirt.

There you go, 30 minutes to three quick and free summer tops. Save your gas. Don’t go to the store, you have everything you need at home.

Monday, May 27, 2013

My Evolving Signature Style

Project Sewn has once again forced me ask myself some tough questions. I wonder if they knew from the start that they were leading their followers on a journey of self discovery. This week I had to ask myself what my signature style was.

How do the clothes I choose to wear define who I am? What message do I tell the people around me without ever saying a word?

A signature style is what you are known for. It says something about you. Classic, sporty, earthy… It could be anything.

Most days I just throw on one of my six pairs of black yoga pants and whatever stretched out t-shirt happens to be at the top of the drawer. So what does my style say about me? The only word that comes to mind is "indifferent". Not exactly the message I want to portray, and it doesn't reflect who I feel I am either.

This article is getting some attention from the sewing and fashion communities. It is about how people dress now compared to the past, and what it says about them.

Personally, I won’t be wearing gloves and a hat on my next trip to the grocery store, but I will think twice before wearing something that could pass for pajamas.

Despite all of the thinking and reading I've done, I still have no clue what my signature style is.

Because this is a sewing completion, I am bound mostly by my sewing ability.

I started with a simple refashion for the pants. They're a mix of the skinny jeans that are popular now and a retro high-water style pant. I think I  hit the mark with them. I love the style and the fit, and they work great with my lifestyle.

Coming up with a top was much more frustrating. It took three attempts to find a pattern that I could actually sew and that fit me well with the few adjustment I know how to make.

I ended up using a free Colette pattern, which was amazing. It was more professional than most of the paid patterns I have used, and reading it felt like being taught how to sew by a friend. Since I also own her  book, I used that as a reference for adjustments.

Despite loving the pattern, I don’t think I would call this shirt my signature.  I’m sure that my style will evolve as my sewing skills improve. But for now I will call this look my signature style in progress.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Joining In June

June Sewing Events

So if you've read my blog at all, you may have noticed that I have a slight obsession with sew-alongs. I just can't seem to help myself.

Here's a look at the upcoming events in the sewing blog world.

Flip This Pattern 

Flip This Pattern - This is a year long event featuring a different pattern each month starting in June, with the  Bubble Pocket Shorts. Giveaways, Voting, Sew Along linkies; just about everything you could wish for in a sewing event.


Skirt Week - This is the second event I am participating in June. I've already entered one skirt into the competition, and I'm thinking about doing a second (You can enter up to three skirts per category).

Update - I will also be sewing up a pencil skirt for the Stitch Once, Rip Twice challenge. Thanks for the tip Amy.

What June events are you excited about. Did I miss anything?

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Quick Summer Tops

I am really good at making plans. Not so great at following through. I made a lot of plans for this month.

In the month of May I wanted to:

  • Sew along with all four weeks of Project Sewn
  • Make two outfits for the Knock It Off Sew Along
  • Finish a complete summer outfit for every member of the family
  • Sew three baby blankets for the triplets.
  • Finish two doll skirts and possibly matching shirts

Simple, right? I should be able to get them done with plenty of time to spare.

Oh crap, I just remembered. I don’t have super powers.

What’s a mere mortal supposed to do when they realize the month is 2/3 of the way over and she’s not even half way done with her list? Oh yea, cheat.

Ashley pinned this photo of a denim tie front tank top from DKNY a little while back, and my favorite pattern shop  just happened to release a pattern that would work well for recreating it.

So I got the first Knock it off project done, and summer tops for both the girls in one swoop.

More about the Tank Tops

Pattern: Hattie Button Up Tank Top 
Fabric: Denim and Medium Weight Animal Print Twill.
Pattern Alterations:
  • Skipped the ruffle on both
  • Added One inch length to both
  • Skipped the bias tape on the denim version. My machine just couldn’t handle it.

I automatically add an inch to the length to any Peek A Boo Pattern I use for my daughters. They are such skinny little waifs, my girls.

I like that I am so comfortable with a pattern company that I know exactly what changes will need to be made before I even start to sew.

If you are planning to sew the Hattie Tank Top  pattern make sure you take a look at the Susie Sundress as well. It's half price today only.  The half price sale is over for this week, but don't worry, she puts a different pattern on sale every Thursday!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

How to Mark Buttons and Buttonholes for a Perfect Match

How was everyone's weekend? Did you get a lot accomplished?  One of my goals was to start sewing some summer clothes for the kids. The first project in my summer sewing line up is the Hattie button up tank top from Peek a Boo Patterns in some denim and twill that I have in my stash. 

The shirts aren't quite ready to show you just yet but I did want to give you this quick photo tutorial of how I get my buttons and buttonholes to match perfectly the first time. 

Feel free to ask questions or make suggestions in the comments. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Me In The 80's

I've decided to sit out 80's week on Project Sewn. At least I was able to participate in the first two weeks.

...Don't be sad, cause two out of three ain't bad...

Now that I've got that out of my system, I can let you know that I still plan to submit something for week 4. In the meantime I'll be catching up on a few other sewing projects, including summer clothes for the kids, baby gifts for the triplets, and maybe helping my sister with some mending and refashions. 

I have a bad habit of planning more than I actually have time to accomplish  so don't be surprised if all I get done is the summer clothes.

Finally, In honer of Project Sewn Inspired by the 80's week, here is a picture of me and two of my sisters in the 80's. My youngest sister wasn't born yet so you'll have to wait till someone does a 90's week to see her.

Good Luck to all of the contestants and Sew Alongers! I can't wait to see what you all come up with!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

My First Grown Up Dress

I wore a skirt to my own wedding. It was a beautiful day. I was surrounded by the people I love. I wouldn't change a thing. Except maybe I would wear a dress.

It occurred to me while making this dress for Project Sewn, that I am 29 years old and I haven't owned a dress at any point in my adult life. Is that normal?

I felt incredibly awkward when I first put it on. Especially in the red heels that I borrowed from my sister (by the way Marie, I borrowed your shoes). I almost thought about not entering this week. That was until I saw the pictures. 

I am not sure if it is the fact that I live in one of the most beautiful places in the entire world, or the fact that my husband is an amazing photographer, but I love these pictures. They make me feel like a princess in a fairy tale. 

All of my fears from last week completely vanished. I couldn't wait to post these pictures.

I used a jersey knit from Walmart. I know some of you are cringing, but I gotta respect the budget. 

The bodice started out as a ready to wear copy cat. I made the pattern using the pin and cardboard method. Then I changed everything at the last minute and raised the neckline changed the armholes, and removed the twist detail so that I could add the ruched waist band. 

I used elastic thread in the bobbin and sewed a straight vertical line every inch and a half.  Making the waistband was easy. Attaching it was not. The ends kept curling up. I had to resew the darn thing on twice. The skirt is pretty basic. just some gathering at the waistline.

I've been looking at everyone else's work for this week. There is some tough competition but I hope that you will consider voting for me starting Friday.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

I've Got the Creativity, Now Give Me the Skills!

I have been nursing a horrible stomach flu all week and haven't gotten any sewing done so I have no new projects to post. But while I was lying in bed I was looking through some drafts that I never posted and thought this one would be perfect. I am new to the amazon affiliate program so this post does contain affiliate links.

Sewing is all about creativity, the problem is that sometimes our creativity can surpass our skill level. Luckily I am way to stubborn to let a pesky little thing like lack of know how stand in my way. Whenever I'm not sure exactly how to achieve the design I want, I turn to books.

There are 2 books in particular that I refer to most often when I run into trouble, or just have a general sewing question.

The first is The Colette Sewing Handbook: Inspired Styles and Classic Techniques for the New Seamstress . I'll admit that I haven't actually used any of the patterns in this book yet, even though I've had it for a year.  But believe it or not, the 5 patterns included in the book are not where most of the value lies.

The book is an amazing reference book. There is a chart for choosing the right sewing needle for your fabric, instructions on making your own bias tape, diagrams of different fabrics and their drapes. The list goes on and on. I consider this book indispensable and refer to it at least once on almost every sewing project.

The second book I couldn't live without is More Fabric Savvy: A Quick Resource Guide to Selecting and Sewing Fabric. I use this book whenever I am shopping for fabric online, so there are no surprises when the fabric arrives. On the rare occasion that I make the hour and a half drive to my nearest fabric store, I also take it with me.

On top of sharing all of the gritty details about every type of fabric you can imagine, and what it can be used for, it also offers tips on sewing with the fabrics. So I consider it another must have book.

There are also a few books on my wishlist that I haven't been able to purchase yet.

The Complete Photo Guide to Perfect Fitting : I've just ventured into the world of sewing clothe's for myself and need to make a few perfectly fitting sloppers to help boost my confidence.

Doodle Stitching: Embroidery & Beyond: Crewel, Cross Stitch, Sashiko & More : Embroidery is another skill I would like to master. I have a six year old who is learning and doing quite well. Her skill level has already surpassed mine! Something has to be done about that.

Patchwork, Please!: Colorful Zakka Projects to Stitch and Give:
I thought this would be a great book for shrinking the huge piles of scrap fabric that I just can't seem to part with. I hate  to throw away any fabric, but I really don't have room to keep piles of scraps, so I need some fun scrap busting projects to use it up.

If you own any of these books please let me know what you think of them in the comments section below.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Skirt That Gave Me Courage

Cheeta Print Skirt

I hesitate before putting my foot on the floor when the room is dark. I check the backseat of the car before getting in when I'm driving alone. I avoid places that are crowded, with exits that may be hard to find in an emergency. I also avoid places with clowns ... ugh, I HATE clowns.

But the one fear that tops them all, is the fear of being seen. If I am never seen then I am never vulnerable. I am in control. I can't be judged or ridiculed because I am invisible and I have all the power. 

Now the creative geniuses behind Project Run and Play and Project Sewn have asked me to do the exact opposite of what I have spent my entire life trying to achieve.  Not only do they want me to give up my powers of invisibility and post a picture of myself online. Then they want me to put it in a competition to be judged! 

To be fair to them all they really said was "Today we will open the linky party for all you [our wonderful sew-alongers!] so you can begin linking up your outfits as of right now." But what I heard was. " Come on you wimp. Why haven't you posted the pictures yet. They've been finished for days." And then the mom from Carry started chanting "There all gonna laugh at you"

Okay, I just made that last part up, but you get the point. This was  really scary for me. Still, I was grateful for the push to help me face my fears. This post helped as well. I strongly recommend you read it if you think there is something holding you back, in your blog or in life.  Warning: It is not a family friendly blog... unless your family swears a lot. Then I guess it's okay.

I chose the twill animal print fabric because it looked fierce to me, and fierce is what I needed. This was my first time ordering from Vouge Fabrics and I was quite impressed. Many of the fabrics have very reasonable pricing,  but the true charm was in the shipping. 3 Days! That's it. After waiting 3 weeks for my fabric the last time I tried new a fabric site I almost jumped for joy when it arrived.

Cheeta Print Skirt

I used a tutorial that you can find here to make a basic skirt block, and then adjusted it from there. It is an amazing tutorial that can be customized in just about any way you can imagine.

This skirt has four darts in the back along with an exposed black zipper, and another two darts in the front. I used a wide waistband just in case I decide that I want to add belt loops one day.

 I think next time I am going to make a skirt that is a little bit longer and taper the ends for a vintage look. 

The top was thrown together with some crushed velvet that I had left over from making my daughters school concert skirt (Post coming this week).  The goal was to keep it simple so as not to take attention away from the animal print. I basically cut two rectangles with arm and neck holes and then sewed them together and hemmed. 

Cheeta Print Skirt

Did any one else feel afraid the first time they posted a picture of themselves on their blog? Tell me what helps make you brave.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Make It or Buy It - Bonpoint Tank Top and Shorts

For the second week of Make it or buy it, I've found another expensive children's boutique item.  I'm starting to see a trend here. I have no idea how I ended up with such expensive tastes, especially since I've never actually purchased any expensive children's clothing.

I couldn't help but fall in love with this adorable little summer outfit from Bonpoint. Sadly, the price is likely to bring tears to your eyes, and for play clothes! $165 for the shirt alone. No way.

So I studied the images on the stores site for a little while and I think I have come up with the simplest way to recreate the look. I haven't actually sewn it yet, because I can barely keep up with my current to do list, but when I do I will post a full tutorial.

In the meantime if you would like to do it yourself here is what I recommend.

Tank Top:
Fabric and Notions

Kaufman Cambridge Cotton Lawn Red - $7.95

Embroidery Floss in Shades of Green $2.00

Elastic Thread $3.00

3 matching buttons

Pattern - Not needed

  • The top is made of two rectangles, each twice the width of a good fitting non stretch shirt and an inch or two longer for hemming. 
  • The top area is shirred with elastic thread and then embroidered in a simple zig zag pattern using three different shades of green. It can be done by machine or by hand. 
  • Once that is done sew up the side seams and make two tubes of fabric for the the spaghetti straps. 
  • After the shiring is secured by the embroidery or top stitching sew two straight lines down the shirred portion of the back for additional securing then cut right between them.
  • Hem the edges and attach buttons to onside and make button holes on the other. Another option is hook and eyes.


I plan to make the shorts out of cutoff jeans, and use the the left over denim to make the flaps for faux welt pockets.

Skill Level: Advanced Beginner

Most of this is incredibly easy but working with elastic thread may seem a bit scary to a beginner until they try it. If the embroidery makes you nervous just top stitch in a zig zag pattern with a thick thread. Or use regular thread and go over it a few times.

The Verdict
Let me think about this. Pay over $165 + international shipping or pay $10 and spend a few hours on my favorite hobby, sewing. It's a tough call but I think I'll go with Make It.

Please let me know if you make this look so that I can link to it, and I promise to post a full tutorial once I catch up on my other sewing projects.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Spring 2013 Dream Fabrics

In a perfect world I would go fabric shopping at least once a week, browse through the isles of gorgeous seasonal fabrics, running my finger tips along the smooth finishes and holding them up to experience their drape. Then I would come home with piles upon piles of vibrant colored silks, wool, and organic Cotton. Maybe even a little bamboo.

But alas, I live in the real world, and here I am bound by a budget and the laws of physics. Not only can I not afford to live that dream, I also have no room for it.

But there is nothing wrong with dreaming, right? So here are a few of the fabrics I have been dreaming about for the spring 2013.

Click the picture or link to see the prices. Or don't, if like me you would rather keep the dream alive!

Dupioni Silk Fabric Iridescent Violet Purple

I see myself wearing this iridescent Dupioni silk as a 3/4 sleeve spring jacket, perhaps while wondering around Paris on a cool spring morning. Oh, it is fun to dream!

Now in this part of the dream I am standing at the edge of the ocean, with the wind blowing my hair perfectly, just like in the movies, not all in my face like real life. My much taller and thinner self is wearing this flowing Oscer de la Renta Organza as a beach cover up. It is shear so that I can show off my perfect dream abs!

Of course after a vacation in Paris and then a trip to the beach I would need to take some time to rest up. Why not sew up some luxurious comfy lounge wear in this dusty mint linen.

Do you ever dream about fabric, or am I as crazy as my family seems to think? Let me know in the comments!
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