Friday, July 31, 2009

Ottobre 02/2005-05

The more I sew from Ottobre, the more I love it!! Not only do they have the coolest boy clothes ever, the patterns are well designed and the instructions, even without diagrams, are easy to follow. I may never buy another children's pattern again.

I finished Logan's first birthday shirt. Obviously, he can't model it for you yet, but here it is.
And a close up of the cool sleeve detail.
No, I didn't have another difficultly with ripply hems. What the poor picture can't tell you is that this is a sleeve band rather than a hem, and it is just right! Thanks to good quality fabric, I had no trouble with this tee at all, despite the fact that the sleeves are rib knit. The design is great! The curved shoulder seam is so cute and goes together easily. All of the seams are top stitched. I used a double needle on the regular sewing machine, but coverstitching would work as well.

Now on to more birthday sewing!

Thursday, July 30, 2009


It came! My Mini Mod pattern from Kitschy Coo came!!Isn't it lovely? The instructions are printed in color on cardstock. Each pattern piece hand drawn individually on heavy butcher paper. I could cut them out and use them, but I don't think I can bring myself to actually cut into them, so I'll trace. I have great plans for this pattern...

If you want one (or one of her other beautiful patterns - I'm sorely tempted by the puff sleeve smocky top myself!) shipping is from the states right now, so head on over!!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Birthday planning

August is an utterly ridiculous month around here. Starting at the end of July we have a birthday marathon. My mom, both kids, hubby and my sister, all within about 35 days. And somehow, it always sneaks up on me! Mom has already passed. I sent her this cool pattern. I can't wait too see how it comes together! Myra is next up. I've had a few thoughts about what to make for her, but between my sewing and hand me downs from friends she has WAAAY too many clothes, so I think I'll be going on a sewing hiatus for Myra for a while! After that is Mitch, but that will just have to be a surprise... Rina comes next. She reads my blog, so no spoilers for her, either.
Then we have Logan. Between his summer growth spurt and how rough and tumble he is, he actually does need some tees and pants/shorts. He could particularly use some nicer bottoms that would be church appropriate. So far, here is what I have -
These pants are from Ottobre 02/2005. Aren't they cute? I'm planning the body in the striped poplin with knee patches in the blue twill. That blue twill may earn it's own blog post soon. I think this will be the 4th project I've used it in!
Boys always need tee shirts. I ordered this one and this one from Kitschy Coo, and I am going to make this Ottobre (also from 02/2005) with the body in the stripe and sleeves and bands in the solid blue. I'm also thinking he needs some red twill shorts, but haven't decided which pattern to make. So many good options!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


I finally finished my first Burda WOF! And I even did it in the month it was published (which means, of course, that I have several past issues to get working on!). This poor top has quite a story, actually. I have been a little nervous about diving into BWOF, mostly because I think of myself as a novice to early intermediate level sewist, but think of BWOF as rather advanced. I was also afraid of the lack of diagrams. Now that I have a few (also diagram-less) Ottobre items under my belt I was a little less worried about that, but I still opted for this months "Extra Pattern" which includes diagrams in the instructions. Yippee!
So, here it is. Now, in my head, this top has had many permutations. Initially, I planned to make it as a nursing-friendly PJ top. I had this length of blue rib knit - stretchy and soft - that just said comfy PJs to me. Then, after making my Hawaiian skirt, I thought it would be great to go with that, but some design changes were needed, although I planned to use the rib knit still, since it was a nice blue.
Here is the line drawing. I think the low, keyhole back is pretty, but there is no way that is going to cover the underthings, so I raised the back neckline, eliminating the keyhole altogether so that I could wear it out of the house.
Here is the new back neckline. I tried to preserve a bit of the V shape. I like the way that it echoes the front V. So far, so good. Alas that it all goes downhill from here. That comfy, stretchy rib knit was a very poor plan. Look at this sleeve!!! All ripply and gross from stretching in the machine. And that is with the differential feed at 2!
I stabilized all of the other seam and hemlines with French Fuse cut on the crossgrain. Worked great, as you can see from the lack of ripples elsewhere. I neglected the sleeve hems. Then, while twin needle stitching the last few inches of the second sleeve hem, Janome chewed it up. She was doing fine, too. I was compensating for the stretch by feeding the fabric slowly and bracing behind the presser foot with my finger, so I had a nice, ripple free hem. Then the fabric dove down into the feed dogs and shredded. I had to add a band to get the length I needed, and I didn't stabilize the sleeve like I should have. Oh well. After the fact I realized that this blue is too light for my skirt anyway, so it's PJs. I wore it last night, and it was perfect. Myra spent all night rubbing the fabric on her cheek, so at least she likes it!

In other exciting news, my sister has also decided to jump on the blogging bandwagon and has started her own sewing blog! How fun is that! Check her out at Varina's Costume Shop and Haberdashery.

Monday, July 27, 2009


Happy 100th post! I can't believe we are already here. For my 100th post, I thought I'd share something old...I had a hard time choosing my favorite project that I've done for myself, but I think this is it. This dress is Vogue 8379. I made it for Easter. I love it because it is such a breeze to wear. It always looks fabulous and put together. It is jersey, so it is comfortable and never wrinkles. It is Vogue, so the fit is great and all of the little things that make a thing great were attended to.

And for something new - I learned to make boutique-style hair bows! How cute are they?
My friend Elisabeth let me come over and crash at her house all Friday morning to teach me. Now for Myra to grow just a bit more hair...

Another cool something new is that my mother, who taught me to sew, has just debuted her own sewing blog!! There isn't much to see there yet, but I'm confident that she will amaze us. Check her out at SarahbelleSews!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Thank you!

Look what came in the mail the other day! I won it in Rae Gun's giveaway, and it is going to be a perfect birthday gift for my almost 3-year old little man. I envision hours of quiet coloring in church (although I'll happily accept just a few minutes!!). Thanks, Marissa! It's perfect.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Cheap living room re-do

I mentioned in a previous post that we are starting a sewing group at my church. For our first meeting we will be making pillowcovers, and I am teaching, so I thought I'd get some practice by making a few and writing a tutorial for all of you. So, please if you have any feedback, I'd appreciate it.

So, on to the meat. You will need:
an old pillow (16 inches or smaller for our purposes)
5/8 yard of quilting cotton that matches the room in which you plan to use your pillow
matching thread (although it won't really show so the matching isn't really critical)
a measuring tape or yardstick
a hard edge for drawing lines (like the yardstick!)
a sewing machine with needle and bobbin

1) Measure your pillow. This is hard to do while also holding a camera to make a tutorial. Do measure along the seamline to get a nice straight line. Measure both sides, even if you think that it is square. You never know!
2) Now for a little math. You need to make a rectangle with dimensions that are equal to your pillow's short side on one side and equal to your pillow's long side times 2 (Pillow back and front) plus 6(for overlap). I know you want to add a seam allowance, but don't unless your pillow is REALLY fat. You want a nice tight fit.
For example, my pillow is 17 x17 inches. For the short side, I need 17 inches. On the long side I need (17*2)=34 +6=40.
Measure your rectangle on your piece of fabric. Just write on the fabric with a pencil or fabric marker. Use the selvage for one of the short edges so that you don't have to clean finish that edge. Cut out your rectangle!
3) Now we need to figure out how to fold our big rectangle to make it into a pouch for our pillow. Lay your pillow down on the RIGHT side of your fabric and fold it over so that the selvage is around the middle of the pillow. Pull it tight! Put a couple of pins on the two folds to mark them.
4) Now fold over the other edge so that it overlaps the selvage edge. Again, pull tight and mark the folds with pins.
5) Now, head to the sewing machine. Our first step is to clean finish the raw edge. If you have a serger, just serge the edge. I used a zigzag stitch (since we won't have any sergers with us at our meeting) and an overcast foot. You can hem it, but this edge doesn't show in the final product and a hem could be bulky.
6) Now fold it again along the lines you marked with your pins in step 3 and 4. Be sure that the fabric is RIGHT sides together and that the edge you serged or zigzagged is on the outside as you seam. Sew seam with a 1/2 inch seam allowance along both open edges.
7) Clip your corners and turn right side out. Give the seams a quick press for a professional look.
8) Enjoy your new pillows!!
These pillow covers are very basic, but could easily be embellished for a more fun look. Stick some trim into the side seams, stitch on some ribbon, buttons or applique, go wild! This is fun!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Awesome pants!

I finally got around to the last item on my sewing plan from earlier this month. Here are Logan's "awesome pants" from Ottobre.
I love all of the details! The pockets are really cool. It is hard to tell from the picture, but besides being bound on the edge - nice! - the pocket bag itself is actually topstitched to the wrong side of the pant front. It looked a little complicated, but wasn't and turned out really cool, especially since I used a print. It looks like I have mad pattern matching skills, when really it is all one piece. Sweet. I did have a little trouble with the waistband, but it was my own dinginess, and no fault of the pattern. Despite my issues, they turned out pretty well and Logan really likes them.
Here you can see the contrast strip up the side as well. Such great details in these simple knit comfy pants. I love Ottobre!
Logan loves the pockets. Every boy needs a place for "stuff".

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Entrepreneurial ventures

I know I mentioned briefly that I had opened an Etsy account to sell some patterns, and I am excited to report that I just had my first sale! Yay! It is kind of exciting and has gotten me thinking more about the possibility of sewing some simple things for the shop. It's still in the thinking stage, but I found myself at Target today looking in the baby department and thinking how easily I could make cuter and better made kiddo clothes. OK, maybe not THAT easily. I'm still thinking about it.

But, while my entrepreneurial zest hasn't yet fully been kindled, my sister has gone and set herself up an online Mark Cosmetics shop! Go check it out! I have been reading a lot about this line but hadn't explored it myself, so here was my excuse to place an order this morning!
And while you are shopping online, be sure to hit Kitschy Coo's blog for info about an enormous sale that she is having on the cutest kids clothes ever. Hey, you can't buy them from me yet...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

So pretty...

It's not every day that my laundry pile is this lovely.I finally gave in and washed my Lecien and Free Spirit that I have been staring at for weeks. Now what to do with it?? I think that the blue Woodland Friends mushroom print (on the right next to the cherries) is going to be the inside pleat on the Mini Mod dress from Kitschy Coo. I am thinking that I need some pink linen the color of the mushroom caps for the body of the dress, though. Hee hee. Must buy fabric...

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Sewing Tote

I am so excited about a new sewing group that is forming at my church! We are all going to get together and teach each other how to sew from patterns. I am really looking forward to it, but I realized that I need to get some things ready. My first task was to make a tote to carry all of my supplies. I found this cute tutorial for a Quilted Garden Tote on Sew, Mama, Sew and thought - Perfect!The front has some little quilted pockets for buttons and small notions.
Roomy interior for fabric and other big notions and tools. I added a pocket for patterns to the lining.
Here is the back. That big pocket is exactly the right size for my shears. I am mostly happy with it, although I'm not sure I'm in love with the handle length and placement. Ah well. I can't wait to put it to use!

This is my first real attempt at quilting anything. First may I ask, What is with the 1/4 inch seam allowances!?! I am so not that precise! Other than that, it all went OK. I can really see where a long arm quilting machine would come in handy for a big quilt. Even for quilting this small bag, I was bunching up fabric under my machine.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Looky, looky

...what I won!! I know, it's not nice to gloat, but I can't help it!!

I am so excited to have this pattern! I have been thinking about it for days. I may even be ready to cut up some of my pretty Woodland Friends mushroom fabric for it. I must REALLY like it...

You know that you want one of your own. Well, you are in luck. Go to Kitschy Coo's shop and buy it! You can't have mine.


I got Anna Maria Horner's book, Seams to Me a bit ago and finally got around to trying out a project in it. I have great plans for it, as there are some ever so cute bags and tops and such in it, but I thought I'd start slow, and my poor old tomato is sadly battered, so I decided to make the pin cushion caddy.I love how it turned out! I used scraps from all sorts of other projects, so now I can remember them each time I use it. There is a lot of hand sewing involved, but although I usually hate that, I actually enjoyed working on this little guy. It also went together much more quickly than I thought. How fun! Now to tackle the One of Everything Bag...

Sunday, July 19, 2009

I couldn't help myself!

After making Mitch's shirt and staring for days at that retina numbing color, I decided I really needed a here it is. I had 3 1/2 yards of fabric left after making his shirt, so I thought I'd make the Yard Sale skirt from Weekend Sewing, but neglected to recalculate fabric needs for the fact that it was a border print and I added six inches to the length to take it to the ankles. After cutting the first two panels I realized that there was no way I was going to get six, so I just made a basic elastic waist skirt with the four panels that I did get. I decided to make it interesting and make two skinny and two fat panels. I also gave french seams a try. The Yard Sale skirt pattern calls for them, so I just followed those instructions.
Nice, eh? There isn't an exposed raw edge anywhere in the whole skirt. It is very pretty, and it wasn't all that much more work, since there are only 4 seams on this skirt. A lot of pressing was involved, though!
When all is said and done, I LOVE IT, crazy wild pattern and all.

The only problem is - What in the world do I wear with it??? Coconut bras are out of the question! I think I am going to need something new. What should I make?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

McCall's 3439 - Vintage

I know, wild, huh? It may actually be brighter in real life... Mitch picked it out - to be fair, it was in my stash, so I actually picked it first - so that I could muslin this shirt pattern. To be honest, I like it, and I hope he actually wears it. We'll see.
It does fit, as you can see, although the collar is decidedly seventies in style, which is unsurprising, since the pattern is from the 70s!
This is my first attempt at a button down shirt from a vintage pattern, although I've made many from modern patterns. There were a few significant differences, but the one that made me grin was the lack of fusible interfacing. Of course, it wasn't available then. I actually had to construct the facing slightly differently for fusible. Not too tricky. There were also some instructions about how to finish your seams that began with "If you have a zigzag machine..." Cute, huh? Overall, I really love this pattern and it is perfect for Mitch, once I modernize the collar. A new TNT! Yay!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Once I was a Whirl-Away

Yes, you've met this dress before. I really love the IDEA of this dress. It is cute and easy to make. I added nursing openings and they worked great. Unfortunately, even after much tweaking and adjusting, I just couldn't get the shoulders and upper chest to fit. The armholes were too wide and sagged. The underskirt was too short and the overskirt too long. All in all, it wasn't wearable. It has been sitting on the floor of my sewing closet for months making me grumpy.
But I was inspired by clevergirl's awesome remake of her 4790. So, now it is a fun wrap skirt!! I took off 4 inches from the top, which lengthened the waistline to the point that it wraps around me twice. I added a waistband per the instructions in Sew What! Skirts. The waistband fabric was salvaged from the too short underskirt. There was just enough to match plaids and go around me thrice. Perfect!
An added bonus - this fabric was too sheer to wear without a slip (I hate slips!!), but now that it is double layered, it is fine.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Knits, according to me

Since I have had Beth's serger visiting me, I've been sewing a lot of knits. I LOVE knits. They are a pleasure to wear, and to sew. I know that a lot of people are intimidated by knit/stretchy fabrics, and they are very different to work with than the woven fabrics that we are all used to. It is many of the properties that make them different that also make them well worth getting to know! After all, what is more comfortable than your favorite tee and yoga pants on a lazy Saturday?

So, first - the tools. There are a few things that you will want to do differently when you are sewing with a stretchy fabric. First, when you are cutting out your fabric, be aware that it does stretch. As such, use caution as you cut that you are not stretching it out as you go. Although I haven't tried it, I have heard that a rotary cutter can give you better control of this, but if you don't have one already, don't worry about it. I do fine with my shears, but do be sure that they are nice and sharp. Nothing stretches out fabric like dull shears. You also want to use care when you are laying out your pattern that the fabric isn't draping off your cutting table, as this can stretch it out, too.
Pins and needles should all be ball-point. Since knits are well, knitted, you don't want sharp points breaking individual threads in your fabric. This can lead to runs and a ruined garment. Look for the words "ball point" or "Stretch" on both your pins and your needles.
(from Sandra Betzina's More Fabric Savvy)
Sewing - For me, the best case scenario would be to serge every seam I can. A serged seam stretches with your fabric. Doesn't it look nice here on this tee shirt? A second choice for those of you who, like me, don't have a serger is to use a stretch or narrow zigzag stitch.
See, they stretch a bit.
Don't use a straight stitch and stretch the fabric. You will create ripples like the ones you see below. There is no blocking or pressing those out, folks. They're here to stay.
For a nice clean, professional hem, a twin needle is your best friend. This one is also bound with FOE (my new best friend!), but you can see the twin needle stitching. I once was afraid of these babies, but no more! They couldn't be easier and you get an amazing looking result! Go get one and play around with it. You'll love it!!On the back it looks like a zigzag, and it has all of the friendly properties of one.
Check out that stretch!Another option, if you have the appropriate machine, is to do a coverstitched hem. Looks wonderful and stretches like a dream!As you can see, it "covers" the raw edge for you as well. Nice!So, I hope I have convinced you to at least give knits a chance! They are such versatile and wonderful fabrics. You can make anything from a classic DVF style wrap dress. (This one is Vogue 8379.)
To your hubby and kiddos favorite tees - and everything in between!!