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.

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.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Travel Sewing & Knitting

During our spring break a few weeks ago, my aunt and I took a train trip to Boston. The train itself was a bit of an adventure. We started at a small station near(ish) her town in Wisconsin and took a train to Chicago, where we caught the train that we stayed on all the way to Boston.  We were on that one for about 23 hours, and while we had a sleeper car, I apparently can't sleep in a moving train, despite the fact that I have no problems sleeping in cars or on a plane.  Lesson learned.  I wasn't quite as crabby about it on the way back, both because I knew what to expect and the timing worked out better.  I'm not sure whether I would take that long of a train trip again, but it was a cool experience. 

Before we left, I made a few travel accessories.  More coffee cozies, one for my aunt and one for myself, as well as a hot chocolate cozy for O.  I used the same tutorial as the other times I've made them.

Guess which one is O's.
I also made an earbud pouch to throw in my purse.  It's been on my mental to-do list for quite a while, but I kept putting it off, thinking it would be putzy.  Not so; it was quite quick and is super handy.  It and the cozies are great uses for scraps.

We broke out the cozies in the Chicago train station while we were waiting for train #2.

I packed three knitting projects, thinking I'd knit a ton on the train, but I only ended up finishing one and a half.

The first project was some boot toppers for myself.  It was a different pattern than the last two pairs I made, but the same yarn and a similar feel (Details on Ravelry). I am still all about the cables.  I finished them on the way out and wore them a couple of times on the trip.

I also wore them today.

On the way back I worked on a cabled -- of course -- headband to wear running, but I was pretty tired by then and wasn't able to either memorize the cable repeat or manage to keep track of where I was on the chart despite the use of sticky notes and marking the row.  It's called Bamboozled, and that's a pretty accurate description of my state by that point, so I finished it at home (Ravelry details).  I'm quite pleased with it.  I'm more of a hat-wearer in the winter, but like a headband for running in the in-between weather.

This is unrelated to my trip, but my oldest nephew's birthday was shortly before we left.  He recently declared that he should have been named Zebulon, so I broke out the freezer paper and xacto knife and made him this.  Hopefully he found it half as amusing as I did!

And now I need to make a dent in my hour for Spring Kids' Clothes Week.  I have a lot of projects to work on and really only one is something for the kids (a new fleece jacket for O), so I'm going to stick to just an hour a day this time.  Of course I have a long list of things I'd like to make if I have extra time, but that's probably overly optimistic...

Friday, March 7, 2014

Hats and mittens and cowls! Oh my!

*Post title brought to you by our recent startling realization that O has not seen The Wizard of Oz.  This will be remedied soon.

I've been trying to look on the bright side with the whole polar vortex/longest, coldest winter in my lifetime thing and am mostly failing miserably (although it's actually a miraculous 33F right now -- woohoo!  I'm almost ready to break out the flip flops and sundresses).  I do, however, really like winter accessories, which are a bit of consolation.  And I really like being able to cover my badly-in-need-of-a-cut hair with a hat anytime I'm out in public and being able to act like it's because of the weather.

One pattern I have fallen in love with is the Kitschy Coo bibbed cowl.  Perfect for kids, and I have been known to swipe O's for myself also.  Here's his, which is made from the same camo fleece as his hat and convertible mitts.  The other side is black microfleece. I liked this so much that I actually handstitched the opening for turning so it would be reversible.  Shocking, I know!

He's actually not going spelunking; we were going for a walk and it was getting dark.

I was so happy with the cowl that I made one for E also, even though I'd already made her a mini version of my ruffled cowl.  I also made her another pair of Sew Baby Mitten Wraps from two layers of fleece.  I lengthened the cuff for more wrist coverage.  She has teeny wrists, so I really need to move the velcro over, but the cuff of her winter coat holds them in place okay for now.  This fleece is an exact color match of her coat; I should have taken a picture.

And, of course, she needed a new hat.  I had just enough yarn left from this soaker sack that never made it onto the blog to knit her an earflap hat with a crocheted flower.  I'm pretty terrible at following crochet patterns, so I was quite pleased that I managed that little embellishment.

More recently, I made myself a Vrida Cabled Slouch hat, after I realized that the last time I knitted myself something was in 2009.  Yikes.  One of my goals for the year is more sewing and knitting for myself.  I love to make things for the kids and to give as gifts, but I've been stockpiling patterns and fabric and yarn for myself for years, and I need to make a dent in that stash!  Plus I know I'll be a grateful recipient.  ;)

This was also made to match the awesome felted sweater mittens that my sister made me for my birthday.  I meant to photograph them together, but apparently never did.  So imagine teal and charcoal sweater mittens, okay?

I am very happy with how this turned out.  I was running out of yarn and had to cut down on the body a little, so I was worried it wouldn't be slouchy enough, but it blocked nicely.  If I know you IRL, you probably either have already seen me wearing this or will soon enough!  

I also made my dad a hat.  When I saw him before Christmas, he complimented Ray and me on our red hats (the aforementioned 2009 knit for myself) and mentioned that he recently lost the hat I'd knit for him before.  And by before, I mean before O was born, so he was due for a new one!  Since I'm currently obsessed with cables, I went with the MacDuff hat and totally love it.  I made the M/L because he has a biggish head, and it's little large on me, but you get the idea.

It's a darker red in real life, but I have a lot of trouble getting reds and purples right with my camera.  User error, I'm sure.

Man, I do love a good cable, especially now that I relearned how to cable without a cable needle.  So slick.

In other news, I finally got a smart phone and am on Instagram now!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Sew Baby Travel High Chair

While E's sitting skills have improved dramatically in the past couple of years, she's still not reliable enough that she can sit at the table unrestrained.  I suspect that would be a head injury waiting to happen.  At home she uses a booster seat and at restaurants we usually just take her in her adaptive stroller.  Most people's houses, though, aren't handicapped-accessible (ours included so far), so we tend to run into issues when we're visiting people at mealtimes and forget to bring along the booster seat.  We're usually about an hour down the road before one of us realizes it's still strapped to her chair at the table.  We also run into space issues when we're taking longer trips.  We are continually putting off the purchase of a minivan, although that day is coming soon.  I saw a few tutorials for fabric high chairs and thought that would be the answer to our various seating and bulk issues, but I wasn't 100% sold on the design of any of them. 

Enter the Sew Baby Travel High Chair pattern, which I happened to see at Joann Fabrics a couple of weeks ago.  While it's more of a fabric-hog than some of the tutorials, I also thought it would work out better for E.  I dug out some ancient stash fabric --  I remember buying this when O. was a baby with the intention of making a pouch sling, but never got around to it.  (Believe me, there was no shortage of baby carriers around here, so that wasn't a big loss. I made at least three other pouches, not to mention mei tais and ring slings.  I was a bit of a babywearing hoarder.)  I think it's a stretch twill.

Cutting out the pattern piece, fabric, and batting may have taken longer than sewing it up.  The only change I made was to use 1.5" hook & loop left over from my cloth diaper making days instead of the recommended 3/4".

I'm quite happy with how it turned out.  It's sized for up to 2T, but E is skinny and can still wear 2T pants as capris, so I decided to just go with it as-is.  She has some growing room, but it would be quite easy to size up for a larger child who needs positioning help.

It folds up even smaller than I'd hoped and fits easily in the side pocket of the Thirty-one bag that we usually use for her things.

Something like this has been on my to-sew list for about a year, so I'm pretty psyched to finally be able to cross it off! 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Tooth Fairy Pillow

A couple of weeks ago, E lost her first tooth.  It caught me completely by surprise and she ended up swallowing it (along with her second loose tooth last weekend, despite the fact that I kept checking that one!  Oh well).  Sometimes I forget that even though her development is nothing like a typical six-year-old, things like losing teeth are still going to happen at the normal times. 

As soon as I saw that little gap, though, I decided to sew up a tooth fairy pillow for her.  O has one, but I wanted her to have her own also.

I based it on these super cute ones on Etsy.  It was a quick little project.  Sewing on the buttons and embroidering the smile took the longest, and even that was fast.

It makes me smile every time I look at it. 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Birthday Knits!

I've been all about knitting lately -- I think because it's been obnoxiously cold here for so long that I'm drawn to things I can do while I'm on the couch wrapped up in a blanket.  Heh.  There are a few February birthdays in my family, and everyone received something that I knit.  (Knitted?  Apparently they're both correct, but they also both sound wrong to me.)

In reverse chronological order, here's E's birthday sweater.  Since her birthday's today -- Valentine's Day -- it seems appropriate to start with her.

Sarah Jane Sews: Heart Cable Pullover Sweater

This was a top-down seamless raglan that I changed from a different cable to use this cute heart cable, making it sort of Valentine-y without going over the top.  I started it on Saturday and finished it in time for her to wear it to school yesterday, since she doesn't go on Fridays.  I would not recommend this short of a time frame.  I think my hands are still recovering.  It's a little roomier than I necessarily wanted, but I don't think she looks like she's swimming in it, and it'll give her some growing room.

She's been showing a preference for purple lately and was all smiles when I showed it to her and put it on, so I think she approves!

For my sister, I made another pair of boot toppers.  I used the same pattern as last time, but made a few changes

Ray had requested some slippers for around the house, which I was pretty excited about.  He rarely asks me to make him anything.  I decided to make felted slippers, which is always fun, and also less likely to be traumatic if they accidentally get mixed in with the laundry. They looked impossibly huge before I threw them in the washer!

They felted to the perfect size, though, which always seems rather miraculous to me.

Happy Valentine's Day!  I'm off to finish E's birthday cake and finish a few other last minute birthday details while the girl naps.  :)


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