Monday, November 18, 2013

Thing 1 and Thing 2

Just over a year ago little Mia was born and four days later, her niece Olivia, was born.  I've only had the chance to spend a few days with them since then but from what I hear, these two are unstoppable.  They were both walking well before their first birthdays. 

So, for their birthdays (which fall right before Halloween) I couldn't resist making them these little Thing 1 and Thing 2 outfits.

The top is an envelope T from Ottobre 3/2011. and the leggings are traced from some of Elena's. The fabric is ruby red interlock from Fabric Fairy.  I used two coats of Speedball paint for the white and then Juan wrote in the words with a Sharpie (it cracks me up when he let's me drag him into my silly projects). 

I especially had fun making the little barrettes.  They are just alligator clips covered in red grosgrain and then blue feathers hot glued to a piece of felt.  

Here they are again, up to no good.  Happy birthday sweet girls. 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween 2013: Chancho

Elenita is dressed as her little piggy, affectionately known as "chancho".  I made it a year ago and pretty quickly had to make a second one so she had one at school too.  It's quite loved (and chewed on).

The pattern for the sweatshirt is the Bimaa sweater which I hadn't seen until last week's KCW and it was exactly what I had in mind.  In fact, I was planning on making my own pattern with raglan sleeves (that's where this one is a little different), and a three piece hood--this one was perfect.  The fabric is sort of a stretch terry and it's the same fabric her stuffed pig is made of.

The ears, nose and tail come from the Abby Glassenberg Lovey pattern--I just made the ears and nose a little bigger but left the tail the same size.  I also decided not to stuff the tail and I think it works a little better that way.  

As you can see, Elena loves her chancho costume.  So much so, she kissed the snout as soon as I showed it to her the first time.  

Happy Halloween everyone.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Halloween 2013: Mad Bird Judge

I guess it plays out this way for a lot of parents and kids at this age (check out this volcano!). 

I knew this would be the first year she would have an opinion about what she would dress up as for Halloween.   She started talking about it about two months ago.  A princess.  A “princess of the sea”, aka mermaid.  A pirate.  It changed so often that I figured we would just let her pick on the day of and use her dress-up box to make the costume.  But then one day she came home from school listing a bunch of things she could be, a doctor, a judge…  I jumped on it.  A judge, for Halloween, cool! 

Her first image about a judge was from a Bible book but then I showed her a clip of Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor on Sesame Street several times and she was very excited to be that kind of judge.  I listened to her autobiography earlier this year and I truly admire her—so this costume really makes me happy.

I used Juan’s graduation gown but only the middle placket-thing is really left from the gown. 
The costume uses a rough combination of the Oliver + S Ice Cream dress and the Hopscotch top.  Basically I made the bodice of the Ice Cream Dress turning it around so the opening is in the front for the zipper.  Then I placed the Hopscotch pattern on top and used that to cut out the armscye.   The sleeve is the Hopscotch top too but several inches wider.  I used several rows of gathering stitches on the sleeve head before I sewed it to the bodice. 
The lace at the front is a doily I bought at a garage sale sewn in half to a piece of elastic.  One side is sewn down and the other forms a loop that attaches to a button on the inside. 
She wore it to Halloween party this weekend, it was a hit. 
Oh yeah, the “mad bird” part.  That was her idea just after we agreed to the judge.  She loves Angry Birds even though she has no idea what it is (she calls them Mad Birds).  So to appease her and give her something to do, I printed out an a coloring page of one on card stock and made her a mask after she colored it in.  So now she is a Mad Bird Judge.  If she adds her fire fighter hat she is going to be a “mad bird judge fire cheater”. 
Next, Elena as chancho.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

100% Recycled Cardigan & Headband

We were in the library last week and Lucia received a compliment from an elderly gentleman on her sweater.  That’s when I knew I got the look I was after.

Recycled wool: This little sweater was made from a sweater vest Juan’s ex-girlfriend gave him.  Obviously, I don’t get jealous easily, because when he was ready to throw it out I put it aside for a future project.  No good fabric, especially wool, gets thrown out in my house.    Since it was a vest, I barely had enough fabric to make the sweater and that also meant I had to make a seam down the middle of the back.  

Recycled leather: The purple leather elbow patches came from this funny purple purse I bought at a thrift store.  I meant it for the dress-up box, but one day I decided to cut it up.  I actually made the flower for this headband out of the leather first.  The pattern comes from this book and I loved how it turned out.  I was looking at all of the oversized flower necklaces in various catalogues and planned to make several for a necklace.  But after one, I was done and it sat in my drawer until the sweater was done and the idea for the headband came.

Recycled buttons: Buttons don’t get thrown out much either.  These came from one of Juan’s old shirts.  I actually planned to make leather buttons from the same purse, but after trying one, I gave up.  Maybe a punch would work—but that would require a purchase, which this project was not about.

Recylced pattern: Actually, I didn't really use a pattern for the cardigan.  I used the armscye from this pattern and one of Lucia's jackets to figure out how long and wide to make the sweater.  Now I need to trace the sweater onto paper so I can make a second one.  
What do you think?  Any other elderly men out there?  (If so, what are you doing reading my blog?)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Sewing in black and white

I often find myself sewing in all white thread.  It's convenient because then I don't have to change the thread on my machine or my serger.  But recently, it's been all black around here.  Maybe it's due to the change in seasons, or maybe it's just coincidence.  Either way, here is a sneak peak at a few of my works in progress.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Oliver + S in Dewberry, Take 2

Back when I was pregnant with Elena, I made this dress for some friends as a baby gift.  It was the Oliver + S Puppet Show tunic and shorts.  The fabric is Joel Dewberry Heirloom Voile in Opal and a yellow linen.  I loved how it turned out so much that I knew I wanted to make a second one for my own little girl.  I made the shorts at that time and ordered the fabric, but it just sat there along with all of the other projects in my studio waiting to become reality.

A couple weeks ago, we received a note from daycare that picture day was coming up.  I decided it was a good time to make that little top.  But I've made the Puppet Show tunic a bunch of times and I hadn't yet tackled the Family Reunion Dress so I decided to make that instead.

This pattern is quite a bit simpler.  Fewer pieces. so less matching. The neck is a little wide, but I do really love this design.

Wanna play soccer?

Eating figs straight off the tree.

To make it even simpler and avoid problems matching, I cut the back in one piece and used a placket instead of the back button band. 

Here mom. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Lucia and the three pairs

Once upon a time there was a little girl named Lucia.

Her mother decided she needed new undies and stitched her up a pair, size 6.

But they were too big.  
So, her mother made her another pair, size 4.
But they were too small.
So, her mother resized the pattern and made size 5,
And they were just right.

And then the real work began and she made 8 more.  Because no little girl (or grown girl for that matter) can survive with just one.

And they all lived happily ever after.

The specifics for those who care:

The pattern is That Darn Kat's Childrens Undies pattern.  It's a great pattern, but it would be nice if it came in every size (it comes in 2, 4, 6,...).  The fabric all came from my stash, from my friend's scraps and from old onesies.  The last pair has decorative elastic, because I just couldn't do one more pair.

The funny thing is that, even though Lucia wears them, they are really for Juan.  I'm pretty sure that when I first made her a pair a year ago it was the most excited I've ever seen him about something I made.  What can I say, he's practical.  And, the underwear you buy for little girls is so skimpy.  That said, I will not make another pair of these underwear until I own a new serger with a coverstitch (Juki, if you're listening, I would be happy to review the Juki MO-735).  

What's the most practical sewing you've done lately?

Sunday, August 18, 2013

A new outfit worthy of her first trip to the theatre

I've been meaning to post this outfit for a couple months and I thought I could play it off like I just finished it, but looking at my last post I realize I can't--Lucia has changed so much in just a few months.

The teal fabric was the inspiration for the whole outfit and is pretty special.  Lucia's two teachers in her last classroom were always commenting on the clothing I made for her and one day one of them offered to bring me some fabric.  It was fabric she had brought back from India and she specifically told me to use it to make something for Lucia.

When I saw the embroidered borders with the lovely lace scallops I knew exactly what pattern I'd use.  It needed to be something that would show off the border.  So I made the skort from this Japanese pattern book.  Not needing to hem anything made it super quick.

For the coordinating top I made the Hopscotch Dress by Oliver + S again but this time I finished the neck edge with a bias strip from the skirt fabric.  I've been wanting to try a woven edge on a knit so this seemed like a good idea.

In case you want to try something like this, I took a 1 inch bias strip and sewed a zig zag along both edges.  Then I folded it in half and serged the folded edge to the neck edge stretching the shirt slightly as I went along.  Then I folded it up and top stitched.

And the play, a sweet version of Charlotte's Web.  Just right for a three year old.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

My favorite color is yellow.

For about two weeks way back in April almost every other thing she said was, "my favorite color is yellow".  She got excited about every yellow car or food or anything, she saw.  And so I started on this little outfit that had been on my list of things to make for a long time.

Unfortunately, I just finished it last night.  I guess it got pushed back in line behind Elena's fairy tale dress for one, but the biggest drawback was with my equipment.

The skirt is the Oliver + S Hopscotch skirt again.  This time with the take out box pockets (which I love!).  It all went smoothly until I went to cut the last buttonhole, or the top one last rather.  And this happened.  The seam ripper sliced right through the buttonhole and I ended up with a huge hole.

The shirt is the Oliver + S Ice Cream Dress.   I wanted to try it in a knit and bought the pattern with this top in mind.  I debated whether to make it lined, like the pattern or to use binding at the neck and opted to line it.  That was a disaster.  The yoke and skirt seam was so wavy.  I thought it would be okay, until I had Lucia try it on, and it just looked terrible.  But I had done all that work so I just decided to cut my losses and hem it, knowing I still had to go back and fix the skirt.   That's when I put a double needle in my sewing machine, pressed on the foot peddle and heard a terrible sound.  I broke the single stitch lever on the throat plate (I have a Janome Horizon).

This happened sometime near mid-June.  I took my machine to the shop and was without one for about three weeks while they repaired it and replaced the throat plate.

I got my machine back just in time to fulfill a special order for my shop.  I fixed the waistband on the skirt (I simply cut a new waistband that went all the way to the corner to include the top button).  But when I tried to sew the buttonhole the machine stopped working.

So back to the repair shop for another two weeks.  It came back home on Friday.

In the meantime, I decided to cut a new yoke for the shirt and try the binding this time.   This time it worked much better.  So last night I finished the shirt, sewed the buttonhole on the skirt,  and cut it open with my new buttonhole cutter.  Then sat down to watch Project Runway.  After watching Dom's critique with Top Gunn (I mean, Tim Gunn), I decided that the front skirt piece in the shirt needed replacing--the stripes were crooked.  So, I stayed up a little more and replaced that piece.  So, of the original shirt, only the back skirt and arm bands are in the final top.

The back doesn't match perfectly and there's a little bubble and iron stain on the left--but after the problems this shirt gave me, neither of those things bother me. 
Here's a little more info about what I did to alter the pattern for a knit.  I wanted 1 inch bands on the sleeves, so I reduced the sleeve length by 1 1/4 inches.  Since there isn't a lining in the yoke I sewed the back up to the dot then ironed the seam allowance open turned it in and sewed it down all the way from the top edge.  I then serged binding around the neck opening and sewed that down with a little button loop on one side.

So, maybe it wasn't the easy, quick project I envisioned, but it sure was satisfying.  The best part, Lucia loves it.  She sat on my lap for a little while yesterday while I worked on the shirt, so today she told everyone that she helped make it.  I love that. Even if she declared today that her favorite color is... purple.

This photo reminds me of a Japanese pattern book.  The kids look a little distraught, but the clothes are cute.  

Saturday, July 27, 2013

NY Whirlwind

I finally made it to NY, NY earlier this month.  My awesome dad was in town and on a whim we decided to drive up to NY City for a day, get in whatever we could and drive back.  Some people (who shall not be named) thought we were nuts, but we did it anyway.

We did a little bit of planning ahead of time.  We knew we wanted to go to the theatre, so we bought tickets to see Phantom of the Opera.  We reserved a parking spot.  And we got in touch with my sweet cousin who lives there so we could meet up with her for dinner.

At my dad's insistence (I told you he was awesome, right?) we went to Mood.  Having never been to The City before I didn't know the proximity of the Garment District to Broadway, so when I found out, it was a no brainer.  And, of course, why should I go to just one fabric store, when there are so many others so close?  That's right, we squeezed in one more that always gets rave reviews in the blogosphere--B&J Fabrics.

My first time in a fabric store can be really overwhelming, especially when I'm not looking for something in particular, so I was a bit apprehensive at first.  But B&J is really great because of the way it is organized.  They hang about a half-yard of each fabric on a hanger with a label and grouped together based on some sort of logic.  This really helps make looking through the fabrics so much easier.

The Liberties
I knew ahead of time that they carry designer prints and, in particular, Liberty Fabrics.  So I went straight for those.  I've never owned any Liberty fabric before, so it was really lovely to get my hands on some.  I ended up buying a bit of this wonderful print (second one from the left below).  I'm a little surprised that I didn't go for a classic mini-flower print, but this purchase doesn't surprise me one bit--I'm drawn to fabric that has a painterly feel.  They also carry Liberty corduroy and knits.  I've always wanted some  Liberty cord, but I ended up deciding not to buy any (I have lots of corduroy in my stash that hasn't been used.  But I have lots of cotton lawn too, so I'm not sure that is a good reason.)... this time.

I also ended up buying some lovely Ikat, this cute quilting cotton print of kids playing dress up, and this AMH butterfly print I've been wanting to order for the back of Elena's quilt.

Then we braved the rain and made it over to Mood.  The first person I saw when I got off the elevator was Koon!  I wanted a picture, but chickened out, telling myself that he was busy working and it would have been rude.  Oh well.

That store sure has become a tourist destination (at least I assume it has) since Project Runway.  They have all sorts of memorabilia and they were buzzing.  I walked the aisles and took in all the fabric.  I shop fabric with my eyes but mostly my hands. There was a lot to touch in there.

I ended up buying this piece of navy eyelet (the picture is terrible and doesn't so the color well at all, but isn't the design cool?).  I love it because the shapes are non-traditional.  I also bought some navy gauze for lining and a zipper.  I really want to make a simple shift dress with unlined elbow-length sleeves, I think a simple design would show off this fabric nicely.  The staff there is so nice.  I was looking for lining and one woman insisted that striped shirting would be perfect.  I disagreed and told her I'd get lining elsewhere.  But then another person who cut my fabric recommended the gauze and I thought it was a great idea.

When we left Mood my dad surprised me with a book he picked up there, Tim Gunn's Fashion Bible, signed by Mr. Gunn himself.  To tell you the truth, I'm a little worried about reading the book--I might need to go out and buy a whole new wardrobe.

Dressforms--kinda creepy, that's why I had to take a picture.
Dad, waiting for me while I was upstairs at B & J.
I always say that all the best fabric stores have a good couch.  If you own a fabric store, listen up.  It gives the people accompanying the shopper (husbands, dads, friends...) a comfortable place to sit, which makes the shopping experience for the shopper all that better.  Less pressure.  These two shops were no exception, Mood had a table with chairs, but that makes perfect sense too, it's too busy for a couch.  B&J not only has a couch, there is a Starbucks downstairs too.

Well, on to the rest of the trip.  Phantom was awesome!  The sites were super cool.  And dinner at The Smith was delicious and all the better with some wonderful company.

Thanks Dad!  Let's do it again.