Thursday, February 27, 2014

Liberty Jane Dress Form for 18 Inch Dolls: A Review

This past weekend I took a little bit of time to sew up the 18 inch doll dress form pattern by Liberty Jane. The pattern has been sitting unused in my stash for a while. Now that Isabelle, the 2014 American Girl Doll of the year, has come out with a dress form as part of her collection, I thought it was time to make one for myself.

The Fit

The pattern description says that it is perfectly proportioned to fit 18 inch doll clothes, which is something I have to disagree with. The clothes do fit on the dress form, and it works well enough for a doll prop or even making some small changes on an existing doll outfit, but it's not quite right for draping and drafting your own doll patterns, if that is what you are interested in. I used an American Girl Doll for the test, but the proportions may be better on a different brand.

After trying the same dress on our American Girl Doll and then on the dress form, it was clear that the dress form was slightly different in both size and distribution. 

The Supplies

I found this awesome candlestick at a thrift store for $2 and fell in love with it. While I was there I picked up a teddy bear for $1 and murdered it for it's stuffing. Thank goodness the kids didn't see or there would have been some serious drama. The fabric and other supplies I already had on hand. This dress form is held to the base with hot glue but I think I will use something stronger for the next one.

The Difficulty Level

This was a fairly easy project to sew. The most difficult part was attaching the top part of the side panel to the shoulder seam, which requires you to sew very slowly and accurately. I would recommend basting that part by hand before machine sewing to keep your fabric edges lined up. Liberty Jane describes the skill level as easy. I would say it is a project for an ambitious beginner who already has a few projects under their belt.

My girls have asked me to make them a dress form to play with. I'm going to see what changes I can make to correct the fit. Once I'm done I'll report back for anyone interested in a more functional doll dress form. If you've tried the pattern please share what you liked or didn't like or changed about it in the comments.

Another doll sewing enthusiast whose blog I love to read, also made this pattern recently. Check out GiGi's Doll and Craft Creations for some more great idea's on design and supplies for the dress form.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

This is Not How Camouflage is Supposed To Work

I am completely aware that dark green and brown camouflage against the purest form of white will make you stand out like a sore thumb. Still there is something to be said for using what you have on hand, and I happened to have camouflage fabric with the perfect amount of water resistance and a fuzzy warm lining for snow pants. I also have an 11 year old son with no snow pants and gigantic irresistible piles of snow outside my house.

It’s a good thing that 11 year old boys are incredibly weird and are drawn like a magnet to things that make no sense, like a talking sponge that drives a boat under water, and camouflage prints that don’t blend in with their intended environment.

This refashion project has been nearly 10 years in the making. The pants began their life as a terribly uncomfortable pair of pajama bottoms. When I first started learning how to sew my husband asked me to make him something warm to sleep in. So off I went to the fabric store with a credit card in hand and no clue what I was looking for. I grabbed a few yards of fabric that had a smooth almost plastic feel on one side and a thick fuzzy back.  He did ask for warm after all.

I used a simplicity pattern and even added my own creative touch with a few pockets, because who doesn't need a few bulky pockets while their trying to sleep. He suffered a few sweaty nights in the hot, slightly lumpy pants that didn't breathe before casting them aside. They then took on that magical property that allows clothes that are never worn to make their way back to the hamper almost every time you do the laundry.

Re-sizing the pants was fairly simple. I only needed to adjust the waistband, take in the crotch and inseam, and adjust the hem. Okay it sounds like a lot, but honestly it only took about an hour. 10 years of taking these clean pants out of the hamper, refolding them, and putting them back in a drawer where they did nothing but take up space, all solved in one hour.

Of course had they been any other pair of pants they would have been tossed in the trash a long time ago, but hand sewn items have a sentimental hold over me that make them so much more difficult to get rid of.

If your looking to make a pair of snow pants and you don't have a refashion project to start with, you can find a great tutorial here. I'm thinking about using it next year for the girls. Here's to hoping we don't get anymore snow this year.

What do you do with your failed sewing projects? Do you toss them out or hold on to them until you find a way to reuse the fabric? What is the longest time you have ever held onto a piece of clothing (homemade or store bought) that you never wear?

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Queen of Hearts Ball

Last week my daughter attended a Queen of Hearts Ball. It’s a fun little event that a local party planner runs from time to time. It involves 30 or so little girls getting together to play dress up, dance, have some tea, and beat up a pirate, who I’m fairly certain has the world’s worst job. Little girls can be pretty rough when it comes to stealing pirate treasure.

The girls loved the ball, and it gave me a reason to try to sew again. I didn't want to take on a huge project right away so I decided to start small with an accessory. 

If you look down in the bottom corner of the picture you may recognize a project that was recently posted on MellySews. Obviously there was way too much fun to be had, and not enough time for posing, so I wasn't able to get a good shot of the bag in action, but if you scroll down a bit you will find a close up.

Melly’s flower clutch was exactly what I need to reignite my passion for sewing. The project was fun and relaxing at the same time and there was plenty of work to be done without the sewing machine, so I could keep busy while waiting for someone to help me set it up.

Did I mention that it involves playing with fire? I will admit that was my favorite step, but I took my time with every part of the process, and enjoyed making the bag as much as I enjoyed seeing the end result.

My version turned out looking more like a succulent plant than Melly’s delicate flower, but I still love the overall look of it. If I were to make it again the only thing I would change would be to add a little bit of interfacing for structure, especially around the zipper.

The best thing about this project is that it has me wanting to sew again. I think I will stick to smaller projects for a while and focus on enjoying the process. I don't want to push myself to take on big projects right away or I risk getting overwhelmed and giving it up all together.

Maybe I’ll get through some of the scraps and craft fabric in my stash before I buy anything new. Maybe I’ll even try some new techniques to see if any of them are as much fun as singeing fabric.

What is your favorite part of the process of sewing? What technique have you had the most fun with?

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Wardrobe Building Exorcises

How often do you wear the things you sew?

 Every once in a while I'll get lucky and sew something for myself that becomes a regular part of my wardrobe, but most of the stuff I make is only worn once or twice. It really is quite frustrating if you think about it.

It’s not just a matter of the time and money I put into a project, but it also adds to the clutter and waste that I have to deal with. I happen to hate clutter and waste so this is very troubling. 

It’s a problem that has been plaguing me for most of my adult life. Not just with sewing but with clothing in general. I am a victim of the disposable clothing mindset.

I keep hearing over and over again that the solution is to by quality over quantity, but that isn't always possible. Sure I would love to by a $200 ethically made designer silk shirt, but I would also like to pay my electric bill.

Another solution that is popular among bloggers is refashioning. I have made some amazing outfits for the kids with this method, and they are things that get worn over and over again all year round. 

However it doesn't seem to work out that well when sewing for myself. I have had some great luck finding shoes in thrift stores but never any clothes that I can see myself turning into something I would wear.

The way I usually acquire a new item is to see it on a blog or in a store and then purchase it (or the materials to make it), just like most people. But what if I turned things around a bit. Maybe the solution is to figure out what I like to wear first, and then buy or make only what fits that description.

I’ve been following a series on The Colleterie (My most favoritist blog ever) called WardrobeArchitect. It’s designed to make you think about designing a wardrobe that fits your tastes, body shape, and lifestyle. As the series goes on I believe she will also talk more about making it all work together.

Each week Sarai posts a new topic that builds on the previous weeks and an assignment to help you work towards building your perfect wardrobe. Part of the assignment involves collecting pictures to help you get a visual idea of the look you want. I've been using a Pinterest board that I named Core Style. Hopefully by the time I am ready to take on my next big sewing project I’ll be better equipped to make something that will get used over and over again.

If anyone else decides to make a Pinterest board and follow along with the Wardrobe Architech series be sure to add a link to it in the comments section of this post so I can follow along with your progress. 
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