Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Weekend Sewing Huck Finn pants

My poor little neglected boy tore a hole in his very favorite "Kitty" shorts, so after I repaired the hole, I decided to make him a new pair of shorts, out of this fun fireman print that he picked out.
I've had great luck with the Huck Finn pant from Heather Ross's Weekend Sewing, and so I wanted to use it, but Logan is currently wearing the largest size, and they are way too short and a wee bit snug, so I decided to sort of cheater grade them up by adding 1/2 inch (for a total of 2 inches around) to the width of each pattern piece and 2 inches total to the length.  I think it worked well and preserved the cute shape of these pants.

Now, if only I could get him to wear them!!!  Kids!

ETA: He wore them!!  Apparently, they are swimming shorts.  Silly me...  When I told him to go get his shorts for the Splash Park, he came back with these in hand.  Who was I to argue?
They fit just as they are supposed to - long and full (so he can wear them a while!!)
I'm pretty sure he ISN'T peeing in the sprinkler here...  I love the slight bell shape that the legs have.  Totally fun pants!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

New Look 6932

What can I say - the kid needs jammies...
Pardon the just-had-my-bath-but-haven't-been-combed-yet hair.  She tried to pull these off the sewing table while I was still making them, so I think they are a winner!
The pattern is New Look 6932, which I made before here.  They are a simple design, although attaching the yoke is a bit fussy, as it has a fairly sharp curve.  I didn't have quite enough fabric to squeeze out the flounce for the pant, but the pants are plenty long without it.
I love this fabric!!  Isn't it the cutest?!  My mother brought it home from Expo for Myra.  At first glance, I thought that the print was owls and cupcakes, but maybe they are mushrooms?  Whatever they are, it made for snuggly soft jammies that Myra loves!

Sunday, June 20, 2010


You may have noticed a recent dearth of sewing for myself lately, although I've been catching up on much promised hubby and kiddo sewing.  I had been going great guns working on my summer 6PAC.  In fact, I have actually finished four of the seven pieces.
Then I hit a bit of a snag, you might say.  I have patterns, fabric, notions, even time and desire.  Unfortunately, due to a temporary medical condition, my waistline seems to have disappeared...  Don't worry - it'll be back!   But in the meantime, it looks like my summer wardrobe will need to have lots of elastic and by winter, well let's just say it's a good thing that Burda's June issue had a maternity section.  I'll be needing it.

In light of this new development, I'm going to put the white Simplicity top and the Colette dress on the backburner.  I think the Vogue jacket will actually still be quite useful, since it is cropped and unfitted.  This is my first non-summer pregnancy, so I'll be needing a jacket.  I'm also excited about sewing a maternity coat, and how convenient that the June Burda has a great one!
I have some lightweight wool (all I'll need for December in Texas) in a pretty baby blue and wouldn't it be cute to line it in pink?  Although I have a good collection of maternity clothes from my first two pregnancies, I will need some more colder weather appropriate things, so there will be some sewing along those lines, and naturally baby sewing.  Once we know pink or blue that is.

For those of you who may crave details, I am currently 12 weeks along (Why has my waistline already gone???), and the wee one will be due December 31.  And yes, we're really excited!!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

New Look 6638

Myra has been in need of new jammies for some time, as she's rapidly growing out of the Logan hand-me-downs.  I let her pick out some flannel at Hancock a few weeks ago.
She loves Ariel...  
The pattern is New Look 6638, which I have used before to make the short sleeved view.   We didn't completely love the way they worked out.  The gathered legs tended to ride up, and the short sleeves left her arms cold.  This time, I skipped the elastic at the ankles and made the longer sleeve.  Hopefully these will keep her nice and cozy.
She picked out these cute fishie buttons to go with the Little Mermaid fabric.  I think they are too adorable!  Since they are sew through buttons, I decided to match the thread to the button rather than use the garment thread.  I think this gives a more professional appearance (inasmuch as fishie buttons on Ariel PJs are professional).  What do you do when you have a contrasting button?  Do you match thread to the button or the garment?
Parting shot:
She's going to make the next pair!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Tag - I'm it.

Judy at Everything Just Sew tagged my in this 8 question meme.  If you haven't been by her blog, click now!  She is currently working on an amazing Vogue design which she has embellished with some amazing stenciling.  You have to see it to believe it!!  She also designs adorable children's clothing with beautiful and interesting style lines.  Very drool-worthy!

So, the questions -
1. Which pattern/vintage style have you been thinking the most about lately?
Hmmm, good question.  I have a few vintage patterns in my lineup that I am looking forward to sewing.  The front runner at the moment is a 70s era dress that I got from Myra.  I have a lovely piece of paisley/floral lawn that sings to me every time I spot it in the closet.
I can just picture wearing this dress and lounging on a breezy porch with a cool lemonade.  Yes, I must sew this soon...

2. What's the one place that you want to visit that you've never been before?
I can only choose one??  Although as a child, I lived for several years in Germany, I've actually not in my adult life ever left the States (unless you count Spring Break in Mexico, but I don't!).  I'd actually really love to see some of "Old World" Europe, particularly the British Isles.
So green and beautiful!  Makes me want to go watch the Hollywood version of Pride and Prejudice, just for the scenery!

3. How do you relax?
Well I sew, of course!  I'm not really a lay around and do nothing sort of person, so I don't find it relaxing to "just chill out".  I prefer to be busy.

4. What is your favorite holiday?
Oh, I don't know that I have a single favorite.  I like the winter holidays - Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years, because it seems that those are the times that we are the most likely to be able to get our family all together.  Other times of the year it is more difficult, if not impossible!  I also really enjoy Halloween, because I love to dress up and make believe, and I'm far too grown up to do that every day.  :-)

5. What is one sewing skill you want to learn/try out?
I've been very interested in learning classical tailoring skills.  I've done a lot of reading and practiced a few of the techniques.  I need to just buckle down and make a jacket, but I can't convince myself to sew wool coating when it is 95 degrees every day.  Perhaps when it's cooler...

6. Can you knit? crochet? other crafting talents?
I have recently learned to knit (Thank you, Beth!), but am really slow!  I do have a project on my needles right now that will hopefully get finished soon.  I don't really do any other crafty things.  Mostly I sew.

7. What garment/accessory do you wear the most?
Easy, my Jalie jeans.  I pull them out of the closet at least weekly.
I also get a lot of wear out of my Simplicity 2808 jacket.
Even in the summer, I can throw it on if it's rainy and it isn't too hot.

8. How much time do you spend reading blogs? (per day or week)
Hmm, doubtless too much.  I usually hit the computer while I'm waiting for the iron to heat up, but sometimes by the time I've browsed all my favorite blogs it has already turned itself off again...  I really love to read about what other sewists are doing and I find a lot of inspiration and comradarie out there in blogland.

So, now I'm supposed to tag 8 other bloggers, but I'm going to be a party pooper.  Many of those I may have tagged have been already.  Still, if you haven't been, I'd love to see your answers to these questions!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Butterick 4222 - Stars!

Every time we pass the fabric department at our Walmart, Logan gently reminds me that he wants star jammies to match to pants that I made here.  I guess he finally nagged enough...
You can see how faded the pants are.  He wears them all the time.
The pattern is Butterick 4222, which I love.  It's such a great basic PJ pattern.
Logan selected both fabric and buttons, and I think they are a great match.  He really has quite the eye.
He was so pleased with his PJs that after I gave them to him, he danced around the living room, showing everyone his star buttons, and then curled up with them in our bed.  That's one happy kid!
On a personal note, today is the day of the fellowship match, so at noon we should be finding out where we'll be going next year.  Yesterday I was quite placid about it.  We have good options, so I shouldn't have any reason to worry, but I'm sort of on pins and needles now!  I'll update this post when we get the word...

ETA: We got the official word and we will be going to Salt Lake City, to the program at University of Utah!  It is a really great program and we are really excited, although it will be really hard to leave Texas and all of the family and friends that we have here.  But I won't lie, it's about 900 degrees outside right now, so I'm really excited about some milder summers!!  We won't be leaving for another year, as the fellowship begins in 2011.

Monday, June 14, 2010

McCall's 5560

Since my fabric closet is currently overflowing, I have a pile of refashionables sitting on the floor of the sewing room, one of which was a Tinkerbelle scrub top given to me by a friend.  Every time Myra comes in, she brings me the top, as a reminder that it still isn't a dress for her...
So now it is.
Here is the scrub top "before".  In order to get the dress out of this top, I did have to unpick the pockets and the hem.  This left a slight fade line, but I just used the front of the scrubs for the back of the dress, and it really isn't noticeable in the finished article.
Here is the dress.  I used McCall's 5560, which is a "Stitch 'n save" pattern.  I didn't have very high expectations for the quality of the instructions, but considering the simplicity of the dress, I didn't think it would matter much.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that they did include the little things like trimming seams and understitching the facing.  I've noticed that the "easy" patterns tend to skip things like that, even though I think they are pretty essential.  My only objection was the hand sewn hem.  Kidding, right?  This is a play dress...
I didn't have enough Tinkerbelle to do the facings, so I just used a scrap from my stash.  Other than the 2 bucks for the pattern, which I hadn't used before, I bought nothing for this dress.  Not bad!
I think Myra likes it.  She spent all morning saying, ""Belle, pretty!".  I'm not sure why she is carting around that binky today.  She found it in a box of baby toys, but never took one before.  Whatever.  She's a weird child.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Kwik Sew 2881 - 6th time's a charm...

Thanks so much to everyone for your sweet comments about my dress and for all of the congratulations.  It was such a departure from my usual mommy wardrobe and what I usually sew.  I really enjoyed making and wearing it.  I'm glad that all of you liked it, too!
Really, I have made these shorts 6 times, and Mitch loves everything about them, so I'm pretty sure there will be more.
Here are the 5 that he can still wear.  The first pair was a muslin of sorts, since I had never sewn anything like this before.  I used cheap spandex and whatever elastic I had lying around.  Despite that, Mitch wore them so much that he put holes in them.  Literal holes in the fabric.  So, I bought better spandex, nice elastic and made some more.  This post is mostly to document what I have learned as I've made them, so that I can remember for the next pair(s).  But if you skim down to the end, I'm adding a photo tutorial for attaching gripper elastic, so hey, it's not all about me.
So, first of all, I really love the instructions in this pattern, and I follow them.  There are a few places I deviate, and that is all I'm documenting here.
Supplies: Kwik Sew 2881
Heavyweight, slick spandex.  I like the Moleskin Matte from Spandex World.  It is an 8 oz. weight and has a nice feel.
Poly thread.  I use Mettler Metrosene.
Stretch 70/10 needles.  Jersey needles will work in a pinch, but I get a more consistent seam with stretch.
3/4 inch knitted elastic for the waistband
gripper elastic for the legs
Machine settings:
For seams: triple stretch stitch
For attaching elastic and topstitching: triple zigzag
Here is Janome, showing you her triple stretch stitch (15).  Next to it (16) is the triple zigzag.  Of note, since these stitches are self-locking, you don't have to backstitch, which is nice, since 1/4 inch seam allowances+slippery fabric=a meal for your feed dogs.
Construction notes:
Be sure to double check each seam as you go to make sure that the fabric didn't slip.  Just stretch the seam open and look for gaps in the seamline.
These work up quickly, but the inner leg panel is tricky to attach.  Here's what worked best for me:
Pin the CF/CB notches first, then stretch out the pieces together and pin 1 inch on either side.  Be sure to sew with the panel facing down so that you can see the CB/CF panel as you sew, as that side has the sharpest curve, and you want to keep an eye on it as you sew it.  Go slow and readjust at each pin.
For the waistband, I like to give myself about a 1/8 inch "header" over the top of the elastic,
then sew it with an overcast foot.
The foot turns under the "header" and gives a really nice finish to the waistband with no elastic showing.
(This picture is before I turned under the waistband the second time.  In the finished product, the elastic doesn't show at all.)

OK, now on the the Gripper Elastic Tutorial...  The pattern calls for a traditional elastic finish on the legs, but that tends to ride up, so I used gripper elastic instead, which is what you'll find on RTW biking shorts.  Installing it isn't hard, but I've picked up a few tricks along the way that have made it easier for me.  Here is how I do it.
First, construct your garment.  Installing the elastic will be in the round and should be pretty much your last step.  Now, you need to decide how much elastic you need.  Gripper elastic is very "stretchy" and doesn't have quite the same recovery as regular knitted elastic, so you want to use a slightly shorter piece, as it will stretch out a little as you sew it.  Pull it quite snugly around the body part it will eventually be on, and don't allow for any overlap.  To join the ends of the elastic, I found that it was more comfortable to seam it, rather than overlapping and stitching.
Here you can see the elastic for the waistband (on the left) which has been overlapped and zigzagged together, and the gripper elastic on the right, which was seamed (you're looking at the right side, with the seam allowances behind the elastic).  This way once the elastic is installed there is no raw edge to rub.
Once you have a loop of elastic, place it wrong side down on the right side of your garment.
The edge of the elastic should land at the "hemline" ie wherever you want your garment to end.  You'll be flipping it under in a bit and so that line will be the bottom, finished edge of your garment.  Now, using the triple zigzag, you want to stitch the elastic to the garment along that "hemline".
I like to sew it with the elastic up so that I can stitch right along the edge of the elastic, which gives it a very clean finish.  Stitch it around, then flip the elastic to the wrong side of the garment, so the the elastic and the garment are now wrong sides together.  If there is any fabric sticking out below the elastic, trim it off.  You want to encase the raw edge with the elastic.
Like so.  Pull it taut and pin around the circumference.  I like to pin at each seam and then again anywhere there is a longish gap.  Lots of pins are really helpful at this point, since you don't want this to end up baggy.  Notice I didn't do any sort of seam finish.  We found that this was the most comfortable, as it had the least bulk and was the least likely to chafe while Mitch ran.  I do try to sew the seams open, although this can be tricky with a narrow SA like this.  OK, next stitch along the unsewn edge of the elastic.
Try to keep the fabric as tight against the elastic as possible to get as smooth a finish as you can.  Again, I like the triple zigzag for this, but it does show on the outside, so if you want a very RTW look, the triple straight stitch or a coverstitch would work.  I wouldn't use a twin needle, as I don't think it would stretch enough.
And that is it!  No riding up for you!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Sew Chic 9005 - the Fantasia

Yesterday Mitch and I had a double celebration, both of his graduation from Residency and our 9th wedding anniversary.  I needed a spectacular dress!  So, I was doubly excited when Laura of Sew Chic patterns asked me to test run the Fantasia.  It is perfect!!  And I've loved the design since I first laid eyes on it on her blog.  I love the turn of the century/Asian fusion feel that it has.  Since I was in a bit of a hurry, I had to make do with locally acquired fabric, so the dress is a lightweight poly satin, and the sash is rayon challis.  The challis was lovely, but the satin was very tricky to work with.  It would have been much easier with a natural fiber that took a press better.
Here is a shot on the hanger (and without the sash, which I think really makes the dress).  I love the faux wrap bodice, which is repeated in the back.  The shaping is done with armholes princess seams, which I love for the soft shape it gives as well as the ease of alteration.  Although another thing I love about this pattern is that it fit me straight out of the envelope!  How amazing is that??
Close up of the bodice you can see that the facings are cut on, which gives the neckline a very smooth look.  It also made for a pretty simple construction, despite the complex look of the dress.  I was pleasantly surprised at how easily it went together.  The instructions were fantastic and the pattern pieces marked so well that the bodice could have been assembled completely without instructions.  Very nice!
This dress gave me the chance to install my first side seam zipper, and was only my second lapped zipper.  I usually use a secondary reference for zipper installation, but the instructions with the pattern were very easy to follow, so I didn't need one.  I'm very happy with the way that the waist seam lines up, although since it is covered with the sash, an oopsie here wouldn't be visible.  I do wish that I had interfaced the zipper area though.  My fabric was very lightweight and I got a little rippling under the lap.  It isn't visible, but I know it's there.
Although lovely from the front, the real action of this dress is from the back.  The back wrap bodice is lovely, and I wore my hair up to show it off.  The train in back is so amazing, and try as I might, I just couldn't get a picture that really did justice the the way that it moves as you do.  It is amazing!
You can see here how gracefully it falls.  So beautiful!  It is princess seamed with flared gores from knee down and a back inset that also shapes it.  Amazing!  I felt so graceful walking in it.
For the hem of the train, I wanted it to have a tiny bit of body, to give it some sweep, so I used a hemming technique from the current (July 2010) issue of Threads.  It was in an article called Better Basics by Louise Cutting.  Basically, you sew a narrow hem in three steps, with each step contributing another "layer" of stitching to weight and stiffen the hem.  It's subtle, but I think it made a real difference in this dress.
Here you can see that two lines of stitching are visible on the inside of the hem although if I'd been more careful and stitched along the previous line of stitching it would have been less obvious.
The lovely scenery in the pictures was courtesy of the Inn on the Creek in Salado, TX.  As you can see, it has a timeless feel that was perfect for this.  The food was amazing and we had a wonderful time there.

Friday, June 4, 2010


Hey y'all!  Pop over to my Mom's blog and help her choose a tee pattern to go with a super cute pair of pants she just made.
Isn't she cute!?  Click here!!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Simplicity 2520

Well, I'm trying to get back in the saddle, sewing wise.  This skirt has been waiting for a zipper for several days, but I wanted to demo an invisible zipper to my sewing group, so it just had to wait!  The demo went well, and I think we may have a few more invisible zip converts out there now.  We also did centered zips and lining insertion (since that was the next step for the skirt).
The pattern I used is Simplicity 2520, which is a cute wardrobe pattern with quite a few nice pieces.  The skirt is a basic 6 gore, unlined and with a twill tape waist finish.  I like that much better than facings!  Mine is made from a linen/rayon blend from Hancock's and lined with Pongee lining from Joann's.
Of course, a white linen skirt does have to be lined, no matter what the pattern thinks!  I did still stabilize the waist with twill tape, so that it wouldn't stretch out.
Lining and body hems are trimmed with lace.  I really love lace for the lining hem especially.  It is so pretty and so easy.  This lace came from a bundle pack from Sew Sassy.  Such an economical way to get hem lace!  I always toss a bundle into my cart when I shop there (which is far too often!), so I have a nice collection of lace to choose from.
As I mentioned, I used an invisible zip, rather than the centered zip the pattern called for.  I really don't understand why the Big 4 is afraid of invisible zippers!  So much nicer!!  You can also see the texture of the fabric here.  Isn't it pretty?  It's going to be such a great skirt for summer!  I'm so glad I got it finished.
Here it is on me.  The waist is a bit lower than the pattern intended, as I sewed the waistline with a 5/8 SA, rather than the 3/8 allowed.  I like a slightly lower waistline though, so it was a happy accident.  I love the shape of the skirt, with the slight flare from below the hip to the hem, which I think is quite flattering.  Overall, I think it is going to be a great addition to my wardrobe.  Here's hoping this a a good start for a better month of sewing in June!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Monthly Roundup - May 2010

Whew!  May was a bit crazy around here!  I'm a bit glad that it is over.  Despite all of the great inspiration I was getting from the Me Made May flickr pool, my mojo took a total nose dive this month.  Witness?  The totals for the month.  I made:

1) Simplicity 2609 skirt for me
2) Butterick 5284 blouse for me
3) Kwik Sew 2881 top for Mitch
4) Lace-up dress as a gift
5) Jalie 2794 top as a gift
6) Kwik Sew Easy Sewing PJ pant for me
7) BWOF 02/2009-117 capri for me
8) Butterick 3344 top for me
9) Kwik Sew 2881 shorts for Mitch, although I have 2 more pair of these cut out...

Yes, that's right folks.  Only 9 items sewn this month.  That's a bit less than my usual baker's dozen, although considering how little it felt like I've been sewing this month, it's better than I thought.  Most of the items were for me (5), with two for Mitch and two gifts.  I sewed 11.25 yards, but only 4.75 of those were from my stash.  We won't talk about the fabric I bought.  I was definitely at a positive balance this month...

I can't even report any new techniques this month - blah.  I did at least sew a burda magazine pattern, and I am working on sewing more coordinated wardrobe, in fact, I made 3 of the items from my summer 6PAC!  I'm going to continue sewing with the 6PAC plan and also try to fill a few more wardrobe holes, and rescue a few orphans from the closet.  There might be a surprise or two coming in the next month or so.  Stay tuned...

Me Made May was really fun, although I admit that there are a few RTW items that I am really looking forward to wearing again.  It was more of a challenge than I thought it would be to dress in entirely Me Made clothing for a full month, but I managed it!  I am happy to say that while I did repeat some individual pieces (I'm looking at you, Jalie jeans!!), I did not repeat any outfits for the entire month.  How fun is that?  I definitely am feeling the wardrobe holes, but also got a feel for what items I really wear, which I think will really help direct future sewing.  It was all in all a great exercise.  I'm really grateful to Zoe for hosting it and all of the wonderful ladies who contributed.  Now, I need to get back to my machines!!!  Ladies, any help for my flagging mojo??

MMM, the last day!!

For the last day of Me Made May, I thought about trolling through the back of the closet for something I hadn't yet worn, but all that stuff is back there for a reason...  So, here a couple of favorites, both by Jalie.  The top is Jalie 2787 (also worn on Day 16) and the jeans are my favorite Jalie 2908.  I'm really glad that I participated in Me Made May.  I learned a lot about the way I like to dress, as well as what I like to sew, and that the two things don't always coincide!  I'm not sure that that is a bad thing, though.  I sew for the fun of it, and if I make something that I don't wear, but have learned something from, I still think it is a win.  Still, it has definitely helped me identify some serious wardrobe holes that I will have a ton of fun filling.  I'll be glad to wear some RTW tomorrow, though!
If you'd like to troll through all of my Me Made May days, click here for the blog posts and here for the Flickr set.