Sunday, August 29, 2010

Happy Birthday!

My son celebrated his fourth birthday yesterday, but I got all the presents!!  (OK, maybe he got a few, but I know y'all aren't interested in the expansion of his Thomas the Train and Veggie Tales collections.)
My parents came for the day, which was great in and of itself, but Mom brought me a bag full of patterns that a friend of her's had given her!  They were left over from her garment sewing days, which appear to have been in the late 80s or early 90s...  There were a lot of cute kids patterns though.
Here is the haul.  Most of them won't fit my kiddos for a couple of years, but they've been waiting this long...
This one is my favorite.  I love the wrap pinafore.  It reminds me a little of an Ottobre.

Then we got the mail, and I got a package from Amber!
She had two copies of this sweet little pattern and she sent me one!  How sweet was that!!  Thanks so much for thinking of me!  My ultrasound is in two weeks, so I'll let you know then whether we'll be making the sweet little pink dress or the blue sailor suit...

Friday, August 27, 2010

What next?

I wish I had something cute to show you, but I don't.  I haven't hit my machine for a week.  I'm ready to cut out my black silk to make pants, but I think I'm afraid of it.  I have no excuse!  I've made these pants twice and wear both versions constantly, so the pattern has been well tested.  It's just more expensive fabric than I'm used to.  I don't want to mess it up!!  In the meantime, I did sew a bunch (like 16) Lightning McQueen beanbags for Logan's upcoming 4th birthday party.
Watch out for those lentils.  They break needles.

While I get over my fear, I have been blog surfing and I ran across this post by Myrna that really resonated with me.  (Actually, a LOT of what Myrna writes really resonates with me.  Have you been by her blog??)  I have a ton of gorgeous patterns and fabulous fabric that keep getting pushed to the back of the queue as I sew, and I really want some of those garments in my wardrobe, and not in my sewing closet.  So, I am going to commit to my own self-imposed sewing club.  I've pulled 12 patterns that I already have fabric for and have been really wanting to sew, but haven't for some reason or another.  I'm bagging them up, and each month (starting in September) I'll pull one out and sew it.  At the rate I've been going, that may be the only thing I sew that month, but I really want to sew these things and get them out of my stash!!  I also reserve the right to a sabbatical around the time that baby is born.  Newborns seem to slow down my sewing...

So what do I have in the queue?  I decided to limit to envelope patterns, mostly because I didn't want to sort through my burdas.  I know lazy, but there it is.  Since I also want this to be a bit of a stashbusting venture as well, I am only including projects for which I already have fabric, although I will allow linings or underlinings and notions to be purchased, since I don't tend to stash those.  I sorted through my envelope patterns and chose 12 that I really want to sew, but have been putting off.  Then I hit the stash, and pulled fabrics for each pattern.  In some cases I already had linings as well, which is nice.  Each pattern/fabric combo went into a 2 1/2 gallon zipper bag.  I'll number them and then choose a number at random in order to select the one to be sewn each month.
In the bags: (in no particular order)
Simplicity 2614, made from a printed green and white lawn from FFC
Vogue 8603, made from a lovely brown RPL, with coordinating brown and green floral lining both from Gorgeous fabrics
Vogue 1027, made from a brown ITY, origin forgotten - (Yes, I am totally plagiarizing Elizabeth's gorgeous brown version of this dress!)
Vogue 1050, made from navy and turquoise peachskin from Joann
Colette Ceylon, made from black and white polka dot lawn from FFC
Vogue 1099, made from turquoise cotton pique with a paisley lining both from Hancock
Vogue 8601, made from pink wool from Pendleton Mills, lined with a green shoe print charmeuse from Joann
burda 7738, made from stretch denim from
Vogue 8604, made from black stretch wool from
Vogue 8322, made from a black and white houndstooth print charmeuse from Hancock
Vogue 8543, made from a black and silver suiting from FabricMart, lining TBD
Simplicity 2764, made from a black and white houndstooth wool coating from Hancock with pink acetate lining from Buttons & Bolts

So, what will be first?  I'll let you know September 1st!  Hopefully, with an online commitment, I'll be able to stick closely to my plan.  Help me out and bug me if you see me falling of the wagon, will you??  But first, I must go cut up some silk!

Friday, August 20, 2010

BWOF 02/2009-124 : Lady in Red

I'm such a sucker for a red dress...
This is BWOF 02/2009-124 again, this time made from a lipstick red ponte knit from Fabric Mart.  I wear this version all the time, but the wide stripes make it feel a bit casual, so I decided I wanted a dressier one for church and other occasions.  And in case you don't have my due date stenciled somewhere (and why don't you??), I am 21 weeks in these pictures.  More than halfway!!
This time to ramp up the dressy factor, I avoided any topstitching, so the neckline is finished with a self fabric band and the hems are hand blindstitched, which is soooo easy on a double knit.  I think it has a nice va-va-voom factor on it's own, but maybe a skinny black belt with a bow at the empire waist?  What say you?

I was also inspired by Amber's awesome knit dress, and I explored some of the other stretch stitches that my machine offers.  Usually when I sew knits I stick with the straight lightning stitch or the triple stitch, but check this out...
This awesome stitch combines the straight triple stitch, which has a ton of stretch, with a quick overcast every third stitch!  So it seams and finishes the edges in one step, while still retaining elasticity and giving a smooth seam on the outside!  I don't have a serger, so I am loving this!  I can't wait to try it out on some less stable knits and see how it performs.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Simplicity 2563 : Pink Cinderella

We all know Cinderella's dress is blue, but when you are 2 years old, everything has to be pink!
So, here is our pink Cinderella.
Her dress is made from Simplicity 2563, which is an official Disney Princess costume pattern.  Simplicity also publishes this pattern in the girls and misses size ranges, for all of your princess needs.  As far as costume patterns go, this one is pretty good.  The bodice is faux lined (that is, you sew the shoulder seams of bodice and lining separately, attach them at the neckline and then treat them as one).  I'm not a fan of that, since part of the point of lining to me is to have a clean finish on the inside, so I lined it the traditional way.  It does run a bit large.  Myra is currently between a size 1 and 2, so I made the 2.  I had to pin it up in back to keep in on her shoulders.  Part of that is that the neckline is quite low, but then so was Cinderella's.  It is also drafted with a VERY long skirt.  The photos on the pattern envelope would have you believe that this is a knee length dress.  In fact, in order to get the length you see, which drags the floor on Myra, I had to remove 5 inches and do a 2 inch deep hem.
Here is the inside.  The lining is a dark pink poly crepe that my mother gave me.  I did get a bit lazy and set in the sleeves with bodice and lining as one, then bound those ugly seam allowances with bias tape.  Of course, I used an invisible zip.  I'm not sure I'll ever center a zipper again.  I'm not very good at it, and invisible zips are so easy.  To finish the skirt seams (which I didn't line), I double stitched and pinked, and I pinked the seam at center back under the zipper tape.
This dress was actually pretty fun to sew, or at least it would have been if I had not been using wretched polyester.  I have nothing good to say about this fabric.  Ick.
Myra is delighted with her dress though.  In the end, that is all that really matters.

Friday, August 13, 2010

New Look 6816, just the pants...

These poor pants have been sitting for 3 days waiting for thread!  Can you believe that I didn't have navy thread around here??  Well, I finally got some, hemmed and stitched the casing, and these babies are ready to go!
This is New Look 6816 (again), which I have also made in brown jersey here.  This is my wearable muslin for the silk crepe and habotai that I got for my birthday.  This fabric is an inexpensive poly crepe suiting from Hancock, that I grabbed without looking at too closely.  I knew it was crepe and had a similar weight to my silk and that it was navy.  What I didn't notice was that the pinstripes are hot pink!  Bonus!!  They are a perfect match to this Jalie 2787 top I made in February.  Jalie markets this as appropriate for maternity as long as you use a fabric with sufficient 4 way stretch.  At 20 weeks, it's good to go!  I may need another...
From the back you can see how very wide the legs are.  I love them!!  For this pair, I lengthened the legs 1 1/2 inch to wear with heels, and I again did the buttonhole elastic waist treatment.  I really like the way that is working out.  Buttonhole elastic is quite soft, so it is really comfortable, even when tight enough to keep the pants up.  Awesome for maternity!!  I think I am pretty much ready to cut into my silk.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Circle Skirt tutorial, part 2: 1/2 and 3/4 circles

According to Google Analytics, my Circle Skirt tutorial is the second most popular hit on my blog, and gets more searches than any other page.  How fun is that?  I'm pleased that there is so much interest!  I recently had a question regarding drafting a pattern for a 3/4 or 1/2 circle skirt, and how that would differ.  Since there is a bit more math involved, I thought that it deserved a post of it's own.
As you probably have surmised, a circle skirt is just a big doughnut, with the waist measurement as the circumference of the inner circle and the length as the distance between the inner and outer circles.  When you change this to a skirt that is less than a full circle, you now have just a segment of a circle (an arc) as your inner and outer measurements, so instead of using the formula for the circumference of a circle to find the radius of your inner arc, you need the formula for arc length.  I'm not going to bore you with derivations and reductions (although if you are interested, here is where I got my geometry refresher), but the formula you'll need to draft your pattern is this:
r(radius)=360l(arc length)/2 pi m(angle).
If that makes you nervous, don't worry!  I'm going to take you through the steps for a 1/2 or 3/4 circle skirt.  It'll be easy!  Stick with me.

OK, here is the info that you will need: Your waist measurement (That is, where you want the skirt to sit) and the final length that you want your skirt.  Measure this from your waist to wherever you want the skirt to end.  Let's get to work!  I'm going to show you how to draft the waist part of the1/2 and 3/4 circle skirt.

If you've already watched the video on the Circle Skirt tutorial, then you are ready to start.  If you haven't please go there and watch it, so that you know what I'm talking about.  Don't worry, it's short.  The first thing that we need to calculate is the radius of our inner arc.  The formula up there will give it to us.  For the 1/2 circle m=180 and for the 3/4 circle m=270.  The formula you will need to use is:
r=l/pi for the 1/2 circle
r=(2l)/(3 pi) for the 3/4 circle
where l=your waist measurement.
For example, if your waist measurement is 26, you would have a 8.3 inch radius for your 1/2 circle skirt and a 5.5 inch radius for your 3/4 circle skirt.
Now, we have to draft.  The first thing to do is choose a midpoint on your drafting paper, and draw lines representing the edges of your skirt.  For the 1/2 circle, that would be a straight line (that is a 180 degree angle)
and for the 3/4 circle, you would draw a 90 degree (270 on the skirt side) angle.  This is easier if you are working on or with gridded paper.
You'll use these lines as the boundary of your pattern piece, since you aren't making a full circle, so draw them as long as you plan your skirt to be, plus the radius you calculated.  This will be the total size of your pattern piece and the full size of your skirt, if you seamed the long edges together.  You'll probably need a pretty big piece of tracing paper for this...
For the waist measurement, you already know what to do if you watched the video.  Use the radius you calculated to draw the arc you need for your waist measurement.  Here's what it looks like with our hypothetical 26 inch waist.
For the 1/2 circle,
and for the 3/4 circle.
Now to complete the pattern piece, make your outer arc, using the length of your finished skirt plus the radius.  Since you drew your initial lines to this measurement, you should just have to connect the endpoints, but with a semicircle.  Your final pattern pieces should look like either a half circle or a 3/4 circle.  You can even try it on to see how your skirt will fit!  To get a pattern piece, fold this giant thing in half.  You can either make this cut on the fold (if your fabric is wide enough) or you can cut two and use one as the front of your skirt and one as the back.
Now to finish your skirt, head over to the original tutorial to see how to subdivide your pattern piece into panels, and how to construct your skirt.  I hope this is helpful!
Happy sewing!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Simplicity 5695 again...

Have I mentioned that I LOVE this pattern??
It is Simplicity 5695.  I think this is the sixth time I've used it, making everything from knit tee shirts to a flower girl dress.  If you sew for a little girl, you should have this pattern.  Simplicity also just expanded the size range to include bigger girls from size 3 to 8.  The larger size pattern is number 2377 and includes some cute sleeve variations as well.  Myra is sporting a size 2 here, and I think it gives her a little room to grow, which is good, since she's been busily growing out of all her dresses!
I was planning to sew this dress with my sewing group, but the fabric was sitting on my table just calling to me, so I had to sew it.  I think it will be easier to teach pattern layout without the added complexity of multiple fabrics anyway, so I'm telling myself that it's better this way.  And I have an excuse to sew it again!  I love this pattern.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Simplicity 2907

This sweet little dress was inspired by my friend Laurie, who has two little girls the ages of my kids.  She dresses them in the most adorable clothes, and one day her youngest came to playgroup in a little shirtdress.  Aaah, a baby shirtdress!!  Myra needs one!!!
Of course, Myra's had to have Elmo on it, but as you can see, she's happy!
The pattern is Simplicity 2907, which I originally purchased for Logan.  There are so few good boy patterns.
This is the shirt and shorts I made for Logan about 2 years ago.  They are reasonably cute, but the shirt is unabashedly girlie, even with a soccer ball on the pocket.  The sleeves are too short and the collar too wide for a man-shirt.  The shorts pattern is great, though.  There are several fun pocket and topstitching options that can be mixed up for a great little man wardrobe.
It may not be great for a man-shirt, but it makes a great base for a girlie shirtdress!  The pattern is literally the collared shirt with a circular skirt sewn to the "hemline" of the shirt, giving it a dropped waist.  The only modification to the pattern I made was to narrow the collar slightly.
It includes quite a few girlie details.  The sleeves have a gathered section and the pockets and collar are lace trimmed.  The pattern itself is well written and the instructions are clear.  This would be a great project for a reasonably new sewist who is looking to expand her repertoire to include buttons and collars.  It does run a wee bit large, even for a Big 4 children's pattern.  I made this one in a size 1, which is getting a bit small for her in most patterns, but the fit here is excellent.
I think it needs a tie belt, though, for an added bit of cuteness.  What do you think?

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Monthly Roundup - July '10

My sewing was at a total standstill for the first three weeks of this month.  I finally managed a burst of energy this last week and actually sewed a few simple things.  The tally for the month stands thusly:

1) Knitted Threefold Blessing Shawl for my Mom
2) No-sew purple tutu for Myra
3) BWOF 02/2009-124 dress for me
4) New Look 6816 top for me
5) New Look 6816 pants for me

The only new technique I used this month was to move some darts into the side seam, but I did use all stash fabrics!  Even if it was only 5 yards and some tulle scraps.

I'm busily at work on a dress for Myra with Simplicity 2907 and some adorable Elmo fabric.  If you have a toddler girl, don't show her this one, or an immediate trip to Hobby Lobby will be in order!
I am also making good progress on her Red Riding Hood cape.
I've made a personal goal to knit at least two rows each day.  It isn't much, but it adds up.  It's really fun to see progress being made.  I find knitting very restful.  The progress is glacial compared to sewing, but that makes it OK to just go slow and enjoy the process, which is not something that I always let myself do when I sew.  It is so nice to just sit on the couch or porch, listen to my kids play and knit.

I'm going to just go with the flow this month and sew whatever strikes my fancy.  There may be a good quantity of knitwear on the horizon!  We should have an ultrasound this month, so maybe I'll feel like some baby sewing.  We'll see...