Friday, September 28, 2012

It's Flannel Time


The cold has moved into my neck of the Midwestern woods and I'm waging war against flimsy summer bedtime attire with cozy long-sleeved nightgowns.  Mmmmm Mmmm, flannel!

Before I continue talking about these nightgowns I need to tell you that I'm never buying white flannel again.  All you have to do is look at it and it becomes dingy and gross.  So much so that you'll be tempted to sanitize every picture you take.

That being said, here come the color pictures.

Now lets talk shop.

I'm very careful these days about getting in over my head (time-wise), therefore I wanted a nightgown pattern without any buttons or zippers.  I knew an elastic peasant-style neckline was my best bet and I found this pattern:

It had me at "fast" and "easy."  Unfortunately I couldn't get my hands on it locally and was forced to pull out this pattern which was not quite as fast or as easy.

One of these days I need to use it to make the clothing pictured, huh?

Pleasantly, I was surprised to find that the sash is superficial to the design.  All I had to do was lengthen the pattern pieces at the hem and get rid of the sash and pockets.

I made my older daughter's nightgown first.

Seasonal clothing confusion Exhibit A.  Bathing suits not appropriate.

There was a problem with it.  The neckline was too bulky.  Not only did it have separate elastic casings, but there was too much excess fabric in the design.

For the second nightgown, I eliminated all of the casings and removed a few inches of bulk from the center front and center back.

This picture doesn't do it much justice.  The second neckline looks and feels more proportional.  The only problem, which I anticipated but decided to go ahead anyway, was that the difference in circumferences when I folded over the neckline was such that I had to fudge it a bit, like this:

No worries.  The gathering hid the tucks and pulls as I hoped it would.  FYI, the larger nightgown has 1/2 inch elastic and the smaller one has 3/8 inch elastic.

Awww, I remember pulling my legs into my homemade flannel nightgowns when I was a kid!

When I went to the fabric store originally, I planned to make one nightgown until there was a remnant at the end of the bolt.  You know I can't resist a 7/8 yard at an additional 50% off!  There was a tiny pile of scraps by the time both nightgowns were squeaked out of less than 2.5 yards.  I had to piece the sleeves on the smaller nightgown.

Shhhhhhh.  The sideways kitties will be our little secret.

All in all, I spent $7.11 on two nightgowns tailor-made for my little ladies.

Sewing. Is. Awesome.  


Oh, and before I forget, a ribbon is a good way to mark the back of an item when you don't have a tag.  If you have a colorfast pen, you can mark the size.

Now, go forth and sew!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

My How Things Have Changed

I took a trip down memory lane this week and thought about the education I received to complete my bachelor degree in "Apparel and Textile Design."  What a different world it was in 2001!!!

Friends, I studied apparel design before Project Runway was a twinkle in Heidi's eye.  I made "inspiration" pages using magazine cut-outs!

You could feel changes coming, though.  Internet use was on the verge of snowballing. I'm crazy curious what fashion design courses are like now that blogs and Pinterest and Etsy (and smart phones and Twitter and Facebook) are mainstream, aren't you?

I can only imagine what sort of role technology is playing right now in forming new designers.  There are a million venues for success through the great wide interwebs.  Fabric designers especially are making names for themselves like never before.

In fact, have you noticed how designer-conscious sewers are lately?  People say oh, this fabric is called such-n-such, by so-n-so from their whatever collection.  It's very strange to hear because I grew up heading to the nearest "Minnesota Fabrics" and never knowing where the fabric came from.  I remember visiting a high-end fabric store with fabrics from hot designers such as Vera Wang and Calvin Klein but that was the extent of my experience with named fabrics.

My gut tells me that people like Amy Butler paved the way for this new trend of name-recognition in the world of fabric and the internet has enabled designers to 'put a face to a name' through websites, blogs, and online fabric sales.

(On the downside, designer labels are sold at a premium and I hate to see a class-system develop in the world of sewers between those who can afford designer fabrics and those who can't.)

I do love seeing the explosion of talent in fabric design!  Inspiration galore.

Did you know that you don't have to be a designer anymore to produce your own fabrics?  Anyone -- you, me, my three-year-old -- can download an image to a website such as and they will print it for you on the fabric of your choice!  How exciting is that?

These are pretty amazing times, dear friends.  

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Vinyl Tablecloth Alterations

I was over the moon when I found a round vinyl tablecloth for my kitchen for $1.99 at Ollie's Bargain Outlet.

Ollie's is a high class place and I'm a high class kind of gal -- the kind that needs a vinyl table cloth.  Never mind my reasons. As for print choice, if you recall my kitchen curtains, you know why I couldn't resist more stick figure leaves. (I'd call it serendipitous if if weren't for the that darn mustard color.)

As much as I love trying to salvage my poor wooden tabletop, I can't handle tablecloths hanging off of the table and getting all askew.  Therefore, I sewed a small casing around the edge of the vinyl and pulled a cord through in order to gather the hem of the tablecloth up and under the table.  (If you are having a hard time picturing this, hang in there, I'll show a pic in a minute.)

Warning:  Pulling a cord through a casing around a 60" vinyl tablecloth is not for the faint of heart! Or for people with arthritis.

I tried to find something strong for a cording, but all I had was yarn and the cording you see above.  (For the love, I've looked everywhere to find the name of this cord -- it looks like a fishtail braid.  I know I used it for draping in fashion design but that's as far as my brain will take me.)  Anyway, don't use it!  It is not strong enough!

Long story short, this is what I ended up with:  

My apologies for the grainy pictures.  Natural light is hard to come by in this rental house.

From adult height, the underside is not really that noticeable.  Is it?  Humor me?

No worries, we're not about glamour around here.  Obviously.  We're about keeping little people from pulling off tablecloths and making my life that much easier.

I think it makes my vinyl floors look dirtier, don't you?  Good thing I don't run a home decorating blog!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Five Reasons Fabric Wallets Are Fabulous

Okay, I've toted around the wallet you see pictured here (which I posted as Adventures In Wallet Making) for a couple of weeks now and I feel compelled to write a second post extolling it's utter awesomeness.  Even I was taken aback by my great affection for this baby.

I am in love.  Let me count the ways:

1. Fabric wallets are roomie. This wallet technically has the same amount of space as the old store-bought vinyl wallet I used as a pattern, but the fabric isn't stiff so I can tuck my keys and phone right inside of it.  I like to use the pocket behind my credit cards, but the zippered coin pocket would work too.

2.  Fabric wallets can be customized.  Need more pockets?  Make more! Need less?  Well, you get the picture.

3. Pretty. Pretty. Prints.  And colors.  And textures.  And ahhhhh....seasonal goodness.  There are a million fantastic fabrics out there!  Home dec fabric comes to mind.

4. Throw on a removable strap and you have yourself a wallet-y purse-y accessory thingy.  (I know, a fashion design graduate should be better at talking shop, but alas...I have no brain for that sort of thing.)  I really wish I had thought to add a removable strap to mine.

5. Supplies are cheap!  Let's face it, not all sewing is cost effective. Clothing, for example, can be quite expensive, but small projects like this?  Won't set you back any more than a latte and scone. You have to be able to sew, of course.  So that's something, but maybe the non-sewers among you have a doting aunt or gullible friend who might accept the challenge.  Couldn't hurt to ask!  I suggest bribery in Godiva form, but that's just me.

What do you think?  Are you feeling the fabric wallet love yet?

In the interest of full disclosure, I should probably note that despite shameless public flaunting on my part, this particular wallet has received not a single hint of stranger admiration.

It appears the masses are unimpressed.  But you guys get me, right?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Fabric Rapunzel Hair -- needle and thREAD

So excited to be able to join in again this week with needle and thREAD over at In The Heart Of My Home.
needle and thREAD

I could have waited to post some of my other sewing from earlier this week but clearly I have an instant gratification problem and compulsively share my projects before my machine even has time to cool.

Today, I'm here to unveil what can only be described as pure sewing silliness.

Yes, Rapunzel hair made out of fabric and yarn.

So silly.

I made it split into three pieces so it could be braided, but the braiding idea didn't go over well with Rapunzel.

Yesterday my Roo had this dress on and I told her she looked like Rapunzel -- all she needed was some hair.

My brown haired girl had it on and she was rather hysterical, but she's too fast for photos!

For a second there, I bet you thought I never sewed with anything but cotton.

Oh no - here's living proof that I own purple satin!  It's leftover from this dress which I think was before this blog's time.

As far as reading goes (this is needle and thREAD after all), I picked up Secrets of the Baby Whisperer by Tracy Hogg for a few minutes this week.  I can't remember where I got it and I'm pretty sure I won't make it through it, but I can tell you that reading the first few words was good for me.  She talks about respecting your baby and treating your baby like a person.  So simple, but why so easy to forget?

Gotta go, I think I hear the kids fighting over the Rapunzel hair in the yard -- check out everyone else's links through needle and thREAD.  I'm always inspired when I do.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Adventures In Wallet Making

I could never remember I needed a new wallet until I was in the checkout line fishing through my tattered old one with the ripped lining and embarrassingly dirty exterior.

I needed something fresh -- preferably made out of happy colors and fibers found in nature.  

Old & New

Improvement?  I think so.

I didn't get it perfect, but it's functional and cute IMHO.

Wallet making is basically a layering game. Starting at the top and working downward through the sections helped simplify it. I did everything I could think of to eliminate bulk, but seam grading is something I need to figure out in the future.  I interfaced almost everything, used some thin batting, and tucked in two pieces of cardboard for shaping purposes -- one on either end.

I couldn't find any clear vinyl in my stash for the license sleeve and had to use packaging. I was able to cut out the piece from the little vinyl pocket and keep the rest of the bag intact.  

The packaging was less flexible than the kind of vinyl you find at the store. It got ever-so-slightly damaged when I attached the front of the wallet to the back. I should have used something to protect it when I put the pieces together.

An orange zipper from my stash added some punch.  You know what would have looked cool?  One of those fancy colorful aluminum zippers that are popular these days.  This one did the trick, though.  No complaints here.

I had snaps from that camo duvet and I was going to use them but I lost the instructions.  It did not go well.

I gotta tell ya, it was a bit touch and go until a large metal snap saved the day.


If you recall, I have a soft spot for this large retro print fabric and I'm a longtime fan of pin dot (the fancy name for this orange fabric with the tiny white spots).

The button is just for looks.  It was pretty much the only large one I had hanging around.

Good enough for me.

Gosh I love this crazy vintage fabric.