Wednesday, July 23, 2014

KCW Days 1&2: Upcycled Pillowcase Dress and Charlie Tee

Hi!  It's been a while, huh?  I have a bunch of things on my to-blog list, but I've been lazy about it this summer.  Kid's Clothes Week is always good incentive to blog, though, so I'm planning to get back to a little more regular posting again.

Monday was mostly prep, along with pretty much the easiest dress ever for E.  I was inspired by the Tiered Pillowcase-style Dress, but made it from a linen skirt I'd thrifted for myself a couple of years ago and never wore.  Pastel pink is just not a color I wear.  BUT it made for a super cute dress for the girl. 

Since it was already tiered, pretty much all I had to do was cut the arm holes and create the casing for the drawstring.  I even used the original drawstring from the skirt.  Felt a little like cheating!  I hemmed the armholes instead of using bias tape like the original tutorial.  I also kept it the existing width, which is larger than the pattern called for.  It's pretty roomy on Miss Skinny Minnie, but it also comes to mid-calf on her, so she'll be able to wear it for years.

Closer to the actual color

I thought I was done that night, but when I woke up yesterday, I decided I'd like it better with a centered bow.  It looked kind of sad and droopy with that narrow of a drawstring.  I ripped out the front casing, found a scrap of interfacing, and added two buttonholes.  Much better! 

It was crazy hot yesterday, so this was a perfect breezy little dress for E to wear.

Yesterday's make was O's billionth Charlie Tee (okay, really the fifth one, I think).  He found this Adult XL Stonehenge tee when we were at the Goodwill Outlet a couple of weeks ago and asked me to make it into one in his size. 

Speaking of, is there a Goodwill Outlet near you? There's one by my aunt's house, so we go pretty often.  Textiles for $1.79/pound?  Sign me up!  I have a ridiculous pile of things to upcycle, but at least this shirt is one thing done.

Lightened a little, but still looks mostly like a black blob.  Ha.
Not a whole lot to say about something you've made so many times.  I made my usual change of narrowing the neckband to 2".  I also zigzagged the hem this time, since he's been popping the hems I've finished with a twin needle.

Now I should get to work on today's project!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Ottobre Summer Basic Running Top

When I first discovered that you could buy wicking fabric a few years ago, I bought some questionable prints and colors in a coop, just because I was so excited about the existence of such things.  And they've been sitting in my stash ever since, because well, kind of fugly.  But with the convergence of the Spring Top Sewalong and the Spring Race Challenge, I decided to just dig in.  I wear a lot of things when I run that I wouldn't be caught dead in otherwise (see: super short skirts and leggings as pants), so I figured why not make a crazy top?

When I brought this fabric upstairs, Ray gave it the serious side-eye.  I'm still not sure how I feel about it, but I think it's better sewn up than it was as yardage.

I used the Summer Basic top pattern from Ottobre Woman 2/2013.  It doesn't get much simpler than two pattern pieces and some binding!  This is a straight size 36, but for future makes, I will grade to a size 34 from the waist down.  I like my running tops to have a looser fit through the middle, but where it comes in at the hips is just barely snug enough to stay up above my bum.

I followed the instructions as written, other than leaving out the clear elastic on the shoulder seams.  I didn't think it would be necessary with this fabric and also was concerned about potential chafing on long runs.  I even did the binding the Otto way, which I think is only the second time ever that I've done so.  I usually go for the serge on and topstitch method.  I'm really happy with how it turned out, especially the double needle topstitching.

I cut the neckline binding on the crosswise grain (I think? I always get lengthwise & crosswise confused) to get the stripes to to go the other way.  Since this is a 4-way stretch fabric, it worked fine.

I wore it on a 4-miler after I finished it up and was really happy with it.  I can definitely see more of these in my future, both for running and casual wear.

What do you think about this print -- hideous, cute, or somewhere in between? I honestly can't decide.  I also have a pale pink with tiny black flowers (everything about that is so not me) that is destined to be an XYT tank in the near future. 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Birthday Shirt: Lego Hero Factory Splitface Tee [with Template]

Today is O's ninth birthday!  Most years one of his presents is a special tee (earlier shirts: age 5, 7, 8), often one that he designs himself.  We've been talking about this year's for quite a while.  His first idea was a half gunmetal grey, half red shirt, a la the Lego Hero Factory character Splitface.  Easy enough.  Then he showed me the chest plate piece and I said, "Oh, why don't we freezer paper stencil on the design? That would be cool!"  He quickly agreed.  On the one hand, I didn't need to sew a shirt (although I did hem the sleeves of a long-sleeved tee to get one in the right color).  On the other hand, I didn't look closely enough at the piece.  It is super detailed!  I could have simplified it, but O is a detail guy, so I knew he'd appreciate it if I made it as accurate as possible.  I would not necessarily recommend that you try to replicate this in one day or cutting by hand with an x-acto knife.  But that's what I did.

I started by taking a photo of the chest plate using a macro filter.  Then I used this tutorial (more or less) to make a stencil in Photoshop.  I decided to stencil the black outlines and fill in the rest with a paintbrush.  I'm sure there are simpler ways to do this, and you could definitely leave out more of the details and still get the general idea, but that's what I thought would work best for how we wanted it to look.  We decided to leave out the part below the belt.

Cutting took around 2 1/2 hours, even leaving out some of the smallest details.  My tips for such intricate freezer paper stencils (other than giving yourself a lot more time than I did) are to: 
  • Print out a copy on regular paper to use as a map of sorts to keep track of the pieces as you cut.
  • Keep the map and pieces on a tray so nothing gets lost.  I used a jelly roll pan.
  • A hole punch works great for the tiny circles.
  • Have a tweezers handy! 

After all that time cutting, I was pretty worried I would screw it up, but the outline turned out great.  Then I used a small -- very small -- paint brush to fill in the red and silver.   You could also cut the stencil so that you're painting the silver and red parts and then add the outline after.  It would be easier cutting for sure, but I wanted the placement of all the black elements to be exact.  Yes, I may have a problem.  The painting was actually really fun.  If I had spread this project out over a few days, I would have enjoyed it a lot.  It was cool to see it all come together.  O was home by the time I was painting, and he was really encouraging about how it was looking.  That was pretty adorable.

He went to bed before I had finished the silver, though, so the final product reveal this morning.  He was thrilled, which made the many hours so worth it.  We both agreed that the image could have been a bit larger, but that it looks good anyway.

He commented many times on how accurate all the details were and how I had only left out a few tiny things.  He said something like, "Anyone who knows Lego Hero Factory would know right away that this is Splitface's chest plate!"  Haha.  I think that's a small target audience, especially since it's a discontinued model, but I'm so happy that he loves it.

I can't imagine there are a lot of people out there who want a Splitface shirt and would like to put several hours into making one, but since I made the stencil template, I put it up here.  If anyone DOES make one, I'd love to see it!

Happy Birthday, O!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

A Trio of Lady Skaters

I might have a bit of a Kitschy Coo Lady Skater addiction.  I made my first one back in March out of a jersey sheet, thinking it would just be a muslin, but it turned out so cute that I ended up finishing it up. The fabric's a bit thin, but it'll be great for around the house in the summer and is wearable in public with a slip.  O took a quick phone pic for me when I made it. 

The size 3 fit almost perfectly right off the bat; I just decided to add 1/2" to the shoulders for future makes.  RTW shirts hardly ever have shoulders wide enough for me, so this whole sewing for myself thing has some exciting benefits.  :)  The waist on RTW dresses is nearly always about an inch too high, too, but this one is spot on.

I used some charcoal stretch french terry that's been in my stash for a shamefully long time for a long sleeved version.

Accessorizing with my boot toppers!
The widened shoulders fit perfectly now, but I should have (and since have) added another inch to the sleeve length.  I measured the pattern pieces, but forgot to think about them riding up when bend my elbow.  Obviously still new to this whole fitting thing.  Ha.  This knit is also firmer than the sheet I used for the muslin, so it's a little snugger than I wanted through the torso.  Ray said it was fine, but he has never, ever thought anything was too tight or too short, so he's not overly reliable.  A friend who I trust to be brutally honest said it's fine, so I'm hoping she's right.  

See?  Kinda tight.  I think some of the problem is that I feel completely awkward and am therefore standing funny.

Snugness aside, I really like this one.  I said on Instagram that I was planning on wearing it every day and just changing tights and accessories.  I was only sort of kidding.

Photo by O.  He was directing me and was pretty funny about it.
My third and favorite I just made today for Selfish Sewing Week.  I'm totally in love with it, so there are lots of pictures.  I used a leopard print knit from that was listed as primarily cotton, but it felt off and then melted when I used a hot iron, so I think it's mostly poly.   I'm more of a natural fibers girl, so I was kind of bummed, but it doesn't really wrinkle, so that's a bonus.

This time I went with 3/4 length sleeves (with the additional inch added, and I'm so glad I did that) and a keyhole cut out in back using this tutorial.  I felt like Goldilocks applying the binding because it took me three tries. The first time was too loose, the second was two tight, but the third was just right!

I ran into some bulk issues where the seam allowances from the keyhole binding meet the neckline binding.  It doesn't look too bad from the right side, but the inside is ugly.  Good thing no one inspects my clothing.


This fabric was a little firmer than the muslin too, so I sewed the side seams at 1/4" instead of 3/8" and it's about perfect. 

So yeah, kind of obsessed with this pattern. I want to make another short sleeved one in nicer fabric, and then a sleeveless one, and maybe one with a gathered skirt...


Friday, May 2, 2014

Selfish Sewing (er, Knitting) Week: Thicket Hat

It's Selfish Sewing Week hosted by Rachael of Imagine Gnats!  It's perfect for my 2014 goal of making more things for myself, so when I saw a call out for knitters, I jumped at the chance.  One can never have too many hats.  I chose to knit up Thicket by Brooklyn Tweed, since you know I'm all about cables.

My first try, though, was a fail.  I should have gone with my gut, along with a few Ravelry projects that said the pattern runs big.  I tend to be all, "Oh, I'll knit this up and even though it seems like way too many stitches for a worsted weight hat, it'll be fine!"  And then no.  Ginormous.  It's kind of cute from the back and side, but just silly from the front, not to mention in danger of falling off any second.  I know some people wear hats this slouchy and look adorable, but it doesn't work for me.

Shoddy bathroom selfie
I absolutely LOVE the cable pattern, though, so I sat down and figured out how I wanted to size it down.  How great is this detail?  I love how twisted stitches pop.

I dug through my stash and found this Knit Picks Merino Style, which was sold as DK weight, but knits up as more of a light worsted.  Then I cast on only 110 stitches and did five repeats of the pattern instead of six.  I also skipped to row 36 after I finished knitting row 27.  That did the trick.

Just the right amount of slouch

I love how the top comes together and forms petal-like shapes.  Having five sections makes it look like a star.

The main pattern is a chart only, not written out.  When I first started knitting, I thought charts were super intimidating, but once I used one, I was sold on them.  It's much easier to "read" your knitting, especially if you have to rip back a few rows.  Not that I ever have to do that because I was distracted while binge-watching Supernatural on Netflix...

One of the cables requires you to hold one stitch to the front and one to the back, so if you don't already know how to cable without a cable needle, I would highly recommend learning.  It made things much simpler.

Now that I've finished up my selfish knitting, I have some selfish sewing lined up.  I've been so inspired by the other SSW projects on the Kollabora page, as well as these participating bloggers:

milkybeer · Behind the Hedgerow · jm_subrn · Sew What, Sherlock? Lladybird · sew Amy sew · the Brodrick Design Studio · adirondack inspired The Crooked Banana · Sewbon · Idle Fancy · girl like the sea oona aloona · Lauren Dahl · verypurpleperson · la inglesita Groovybaby...and mama · Buzzmills · La Pantigana · sew a straight line Dandelion Drift · JustMeJay · B Yazoo · Disaster In A Dress the quirky peach · Fishsticks Designs · Seamstress Erin · a happy stitch Casa Crafty · Sarah Jane Sews · YoSaMi · Call Ajaire · miss matatabi
There's also a fantastic giveaway that you can enter below!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

It's Sew Dolly Clackett!

As soon as I read about Sew Dolly Clackett, I knew I wanted in.  I've been reading Roisin's blog for quite a while and envying her dresses.  I even pinned a few as inspiration.  Since one of my goals for this year is to sew more for myself, this challenge presented the perfect opportunity to actually do that.

When I think about Roisin's style, I first think of fit and flare dresses in polka dots or novelty prints, all things I love -- but generally using wovens.  I haven't sewn clothing for myself out of a woven since the wrap skirt I made in sewing class my senior year of high school to wear to Homecoming.  Back then I'd never heard of a muslin or pattern adjustments and generally just picked a size and winged it.  That skirt ended up fitting pretty decently, but only after I managed to serge a hole through the front piece the day before the dance and had to talk my physics teacher into letting me leave class to go to the home ec. room to finish it up.  Somehow that worked.

That was a really long time ago, though, so it was time to tackle the wovens once again.  I actually bought fabric for three dresses, but not surprisingly only just finished the first one this afternoon.  Expect to see some more Dolly Clackett inspired dresses coming soon!  For this first one, I went with a fun polka dot bird print and the By Hand London Anna bodice (I picked up the pattern at Grey's Fabrics when I was in Boston) with the New Look 6824 skirt, a combo I blatantly copied from Roisin.  I'm calling it the Polka Dot Peeps dress.

Please ignore the state of my knees.  I tripped on a run a while ago, skinning one and bruising them both.  Classy.

I sewed up a muslin of the bodice and decided to lengthen it 1.25" and do a 1/2" swayback adjustment.  There was some diagonal wrinkling in the back that I thought meant it was too snug, so I also decided to use a 1/2" seam allowance just for the side seams for a bit more ease.  It's pretty much impossible to see your back, and the wrinkling there was my biggest concern, so I kept making Ray take pictures of it as I was tweaking things.  Heh.

Overall, I'm quite happy with the fit, although I think sticking to the 5/8" seam allowance throughout would have been better.  It's a smidge looser than I'd like.  Next time I will probably sew the bodice and skirt pieces together at the waist before sewing up the sides, so it will be easier to alter.

Another thing I would do differently is to stay-stitch the neckline.  I stretched it some when I was sewing the facing on and had to steam the crap out of it to get it more or less back to how it was supposed to be.  I had a minor panic attack about that one.  I believe I yelled, "THIS is why I stick to KNITS!"  Then I got over myself.

I wanted the skirt pleats to line up with the pleats on the front bodice, which took some putzing.  If anyone else should happen to want to do the same thing with US 6 Anna bodice (or really, for myself when I inevitably lose my notes), I cut a size 8 skirt, did the center pleat as marked, then for the next one folded the size 16 line to the 14 dashed line, and the third was the size 12 line to the 10 dashed line.  To make the back fit, I again did the center pleat as marked, but for the other two, I used the 8-10 line folded to the 16-18 dashed line. I didn't attempt to line these up with the back darts.

All lined up on the first try!
I had originally topstitched the neckline, but then couldn't envision how I could neatly insert the zipper, so I ripped it out.  It definitely would not have worked with the method I used, which was very similar to the Ottobre method I'd used on E's Rosy Posy dress.  Another note to myself for next time: hold off on the facing until zipper installation time.

I also forgot to iron the invisible zipper flat, so it's not quite as invisible as I'd have liked.  It's not terrible, though, and the wrinkles that were in my muslin don't seem to be a problem, so I'm psyched about that.  I do have a tiny bit of gaping of the back neckline and the shoulder seams sit a little further back than they should, so I will have to do a bit more adjusting for further Annas.

And since Roisin's known for her front door shots and her shoes, I'm ending with the obligatory pics of those!
It was way too sunny in the front yard, so this was a quick snap by the 8-year-old.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Spring KCW: Samu Fleece Jacket

Kids Clothes Week last week turned into Sick Kid Week on top of an already busy schedule, so I gave myself an extension (handy thing about voluntary challenges) and just finished up my one measly project today.  O's fleece jacket is getting pretty small, so I really wanted to make him a new one.  He looked through my stash and picked the camo.  Shocker.

I used the Samu Sweat Jacket pattern from Ottobre 6/2007 in size 140, which is a size up from his current size.  I usually buy or make the kids' outerwear in a size too big, especially for spring and fall items.  Otherwise it seems like they outgrow things before they've even worn them much.

The primary design feature is that the pockets and top of collar have raw edges.  I'm pretty indifferent to it with fleece, although it sure was simple!  I think it is a more effective look with the recommended sweater/sweatshirt knit.

The inside collar seam is finished with bias tape.  I love that, and I'm sure O will appreciate it too, since he tends to be sensitive about seams and tags near his neck.

Overall it went together well.  Some of my topstitching is a bit wonky, but it doesn't show much on fleece.  I also could have done a better job with lining things up across the zipper (the hem band, pockets, collar, topstitching).  Everything is just a little bit off, but no one else is likely to notice that when he's wearing it. But now you all know because I mentioned it.  

He tried it on last night before I had the zipper in and declared it a success.  Now it just needs to warm up again so he can actually wear it! It was pretty springy last week, but got cold again and snowed yesterday.  I'm so over it.


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