Friday, August 27, 2010

Quickie Birthday (Kid) Skirt

If you've slacked off - yet again - and need a quick birthday present for a small girl, I'm here to save the day. This skirt is like Rice Crispy treats.  Sinfully quick and easy. 

Grab 1/2 yard of fabric, whatever double fold bias tape you have on hand and let's begin....

If you have a skirt to use as a guide, lay it on your fabric (folded double with selvage edges together) and trace along the bottom edge of the skirt. 

The finished skirt will be gathered at the top, so you will want to cut a piece wider at the top than your sample skirt.  I used a ruler and marked the waistline out 15" above the hem line.  Since I had a skirt (more details to make that skirt here) to use as a guide, I went ahead and created more of a 'poodle' type skirt.  The other option would have been to cut out two rectangles 22"x15" each.  Next time, I am totally cutting out rectangles!  None of this time consuming tracing funny business.

If you can see it, here is my 'tracing':

In order to make sure both sides of the pattern were the same, I cut out one half, folded over the extra fabric and used that as my guide for the other half:

Notice that there is a V-like dip in the center.  Not grooving that.  I tweeked mine.  If you have this problem, tweek yours (It's better to tweek BEFORE you cut, btw.)  Once it's cut, you will have two pieces - a front skirt piece and a back skirt piece.

Now would be the time to 'decorate' the skirt.
Clearly, I had too many trim choices, because my brain shut down and I decided to procrastinate.

Moving on...

With right sides together, pin the side seams.

Sew a 1/4" seam and then serge the seam closed.

Press open one side of double fold bias tape.

Using steam, press a curve into the bias tape and press over one end 1/4 inch.

Pin unfolded edge to the waistline, and finish off like this:

Sew and clip:

Press under and create a casing for your elastic:

Almost done!  Tuck the extra elastic in.

Last step is to create a hem.  Depending on your PLL (personal laziness level), you can press under and sew a quarter inch hem, or you can grab some (quarter inch) double fold bias tape and sit your butt down at the machine. 

I did the latter.  It felt so good to sit down.

Stay tuned for the 'Trimmings'.....

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Fashion Design Chatty Cathy?

I'm thinking about submitting an entry for the Shabby Apple "Dare to Design" contest.  And oh my goodness, the creative ideas are flowing.  Maybe not in a good way.  I feel like there is a fashion designing Chatty Cathy let loose in my head.  One minute I'm fixated on piping, the next minute I'm cursing bias cut patterns, then I'm off in a la la land of cobblers aprons and calico pockets.  Wait....piping around calico pockets....brilliant!  And just like that, I'm back on the merry-go-round again.  Somebody help me!!!

Thankfully, I have some parameters.  First off, the design must be a dress, to the knee or below, sleeves, no cleavage.  The contest allows you to draw, computer render, or create and photograph your design.  I'm a create and photograph kind of a girl, so thaT  (SORRY, MY MUNCHKIN THINKS the caps lock key is the best thing ever.  Phew, that's better.) decision is made.  Ever the lover of exponentially increasing the difficulty factor, I plan to spend less than $5 and create something I might actually wear.  Waste not!

The decision to compete seems like a good idea for a bunch of reasons - creative incentive, blogging fodder, competition, and the potential of getting a garment into their Spring 2011 line.  The winner gets 3% of every dress sold.  That'd be like $30!  Or maybe $3.  Who cares when bragging rights are on the line?

So far, I'm off to a sad start.  But I plan to rally myself and forge on.   Oddly enough, I'm beginning to resent the time I'm spending on this silly dress (or should I say, becoming a bona fide head case) instead of making felt food, and trying out a pj pattern I found in a box in the basement.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Apron Pattern - Simplicity Archives

Lookey - here.  You don't have to inherit patterns from granny to get the apron pattern in the previous post.  It has been reprinted:  Simplicity Pattern #2592.  Can't lie, the original envelope was much more appealing!!!

By the way, Joann Fabric has Simplicity patterns on sale this weekend. 5 for $5.  Sorry for the late notice!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Aprons Are All the Rage

Almost all of the ladies in my Thursday night sewing class decided to do aprons for their class project.  Forget the pajama pants and simple skirts of old, aprons are all the rage!  And why not?  Add some lace and Ric Rac and you can't go wrong.  Who could ever fault a woman in a pretty apron for having love handles and a bubble butt?  Unthinkable.

The problem with cooking for the last fifty or so years is that the wrong kind of aprons have been in vogue.  If some of the most flirty and feminine creations came from the era that said "Have your hair in order, powder and lipstick put on with care.  Looking attractive is a very important part of sewing..." (Singer Sewing Book, Mary Brooks Picken), imagine what great aprons could do for the art of cooking! IMO, it's a wonder a single tasty morsel of food can be found in the commercial kitchen.  Have you seen those abysmal outfits female chefs wear?

Of course, I don't like to cook nor do I feel the need to like to cook right at this moment, so I make aprons as gifts for other people.  They do make great bridal shower gifts.  Wrap one up with a string of pearls (fake ones, obviously) and a cookbook from their registry or put one in a mixing bowl with a scrumptious brownie mix.  The options are endless and cute, cute, cute.

This spring I got my hands on my grandmother's apron patterns.  I can't wait to make more!  Hmmmm....maybe for my sisters for Christmas...

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Quote of the Day

Sewing advice from the 1950s:

“Never approach sewing with a sigh or lackadaisically. Good results are difficult when indifference predominates. Never try to sew with the sink full of dishes or a bed unmade. When there are urgent housekeeping chores, do these first so that your mind is free to enjoy your sewing.”

Singer Sewing Book by Mary Brooks Picken, 1953 and 1954

Monday, August 16, 2010

More Felt Food

Can't say I didn't warn you that felt food is going to be my new obsession.

I have big plans for lunch and dinner.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Felt Food

Found this idea on one of my favorite websites (here's the link to the website) and thought I'd try my hand at cookies.   You realize, this is only the beginning of my next obsession....felt food.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Hospital Booties turned Super Hero Booties!

This was a problem:

Not only too dirty, but too small!

What to use for the sole?

I knew those hospital booties would come in handy eventually.
Add some lining fabric and padding:

Skin a green and white zebra:

Go the extra mile:

Indulge that weird urge to hand sew a blanket stitch:

Duh da da!  And there you have 'um!
As my husband says, after observing me attach the stars, our daughter will be the prettiest super hero on the block.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Three-Quarter Yard Challenge! What can you make? Part II

My little sweetie is sporting the second half of my 3/4 yard fabric challenge.  After cutting out her sister's skirt, I became slightly concerned because there seemed to be more pattern than fabric, but somehow it all came together.  There was not even enough left of the pink fabric to pad a mouse nest.

Do you ever just need to stretch your creative 'legs' and throw caution to the wind.  That feeling has been a permanent fixture in my sewing room lately.  Patterns?  Ha!  Who needs um?  I don't...well...I kinda do.  I just don't have time to hunt them down.  No matter!  I learned a few things in design school that are serving me quite well right now.  The trick is to copy clothes out of your closet - or in this case, your 10 month old's closet.  You don't copy them exactly, of course (that would be redundant), but you copy them enough to get the dimensions in the tough areas.  Here's how you do it and it works best with small items because they don't require much maneuvering:

As you can see, you pin around the pattern piece.  The point?  Underneath the shirt is a piece of paper.  The pins create holes in the paper.  Connect the dots, add the proper seam allowances and markings, and voila!  Homemade patterns.  I tried a new method with this top.  Instead of creating the tiers in rectangles, I modified each rectangle so that it was longer on the top and shorter on the bottom.  The idea was to create the illusion of adding to the width, without actually adding too much to the circumfrence.  Not sure if I'd do it again, but it worked out okay in the end. 

Pictured above was the back of the top I used as a guide.  I don't like buttons on the back of clothes (seriously, they can't possibly be comfortable in a carseat), so I switched the opening to the front and made a single button closure.

Isn't that button adorable?!  La mode has come out with a new line of crafty-er buttons that are totally irresistable.  I saw them first at the specialty store and then found an even better selection at my run-of-the-mill fabric store....where I bought them because I had a 40% off coupon.

Fun trick I learned while making the button closure:  If you put your machine on a 'satin' stitch, you can 'cover' white elastic cording with a thread color that matches your project.  Custom colored cording in a snap!  You can't tell in the pic, but the elastic 'loop' side of the closure is a light teal color.  It's the details that count!!!

Speaking of details, I try to make clothing that looks like it could have been purchased at the store (I promise to explore that topic more someday).  With that goal in mind, I've begun to take note of the things that separate store bought items from items made at home.  I've noticed that store bought clothes often have subtle embellishments such as embroidery or small trims.  To incorporate a subtle detail into this top, I added the lace at the neck and hem.  It also added a touch of nostalgia to the design, because somewhere around this house is a Barbie doll wearing a teal dress I trimmed with that same lace....when I was twelve.

And here's another picture because she's such a stellar model:

Isn't it awesome what you can make with three 1/4 yard cuts of fabric?

Monday, August 9, 2010

Three-Quarter Yard Challenge! What can you make? Part I

If you haven't been in a quilt shop recently, do go!  The prints are delicious and don't scream "quilt me!"  Instead, they whisper sweet nothings into your ears until they melt all of your defenses and you are forced to buy very small quantities....because they aren't priced like they were in the old days.  Such is the story of the prints pictured below.  I purchased 1/4 yard of three different colorful cottons, totalling $7.95.  My plan was to make something for each of my little girlies - a skirt for my oldest and a shirt for the baby.  It was a tight squeeze. 

I made the skirt first because it used the most fabric and was the simplest - just a series of gathered rectangles with an elastic waistband.

If you would like to make this skirt (about a 2T size), you need:

2 rectangles of fabric 15" x 6" (green fabric pictured above)
2 rectangles of fabric 20" x 4.5" (orange fabric pictured above)
2 rectangles of fabric 25" x 4.5" (pink fabric pictured above)
1/2" no-roll elastic (one package or enough to go around waist)
1.5 yards of narrow lace (to trim hem)


A picture of the innards:

The project in action:

Aren't kid's clothes crazy cute?  If working uninterrupted, I betcha this skirt could be thrown together in a couple of hours.   If made in five minute intervals, it takes a tad bit longer!

Stay tuned for Part II...

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Sewing to Distraction

Is it wrong that I spent most of church this morning fantisizing about making a sundress from the tropical print skirt being worn by a women two rows in front of me????  Probably.

In my defense, I tried to drag my mind back to the present as often as I could!  Which was a good thing, because the homily was on Luke 12:32:
        "Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom"

Can't get better than that!

Though it was a splendid fabric...

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Pink Plaid Pants Remake

The pictures I promised in Tutorial Woes.  This shirt was made from cutting up a pair of 'pants.'

The Ultimate Thrifty Snipper Find

Tell everyone you know that you love to sew and that you are looking for cheap sewing supplies!  Because someday, somewhere, somebody is going to see something wonderful and think of you.  And should that somebody be your mother, she might just fork over $4 for it and buy it on the spot.

Doesn't it make your heart go pitter patter?  You might not be able to tell, but this bin of trims and lace is GINORMOUS.  We are well on our way to having the greatest granny stash of sewing supplies you've ever seen!

When my mother brought me her purchase, I finished my husband's birthday cake, left her the kids, and rushed right back over to the estate sale where she found it.  I scored a grocery bag full of bias tape, vintage Barbie clothing patterns, and some other random stuff I'll have to post about later.  Then I saw a room full of very creepy dolls for sale and I ran for my life.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Tutorial Woes

So, I have a whole new appreciation for sewers who post tutorials on their blogs.  I had a brilliant (I thought) and easy (I thought) idea for using those lovely pink plaid pantsThis tank top idea will be so simple, I'll make a tutorial for my new sewing blog!  My mind was all made up, I calculated everything in my head, the camera sat ready.  And then I started measuring and cutting and walking step-by-step through the process.  It wasn't pretty!!!  The camera pictures blurred in the bad light.  I cut the pieces too small because my calculations were flawed (not surprising considering that the moment I start doing math, my brain moves in slow motion and my eyes glaze over).  The plaid in the fabric was printed off-kilter and the stripes came out cockeyed.  My methods were squirrely.  The serger bunched.  The natives awoke.  They got restless...

It was all I could do to salvage my dignity enough to rethink, recalculate, recut, resew and complete the dang shirt - tutorial or no tutorial!  It actually turned out cute.  I'll take a pic of it tomorrow when the sun is out and the natives are sleeping.  I've had enough punishment for one day.  Here's a teaser from the ill-fortuned tutorial.  Maaaayyyybbeee, someday, we'll revisit the tutorial idea.  Or maybe it's better that I don't teach anyone anything, ever again.