Thursday, December 12, 2013

Crazy Plans and Christmas Dresses {needle & thREAD}

Well friends, in the spirit of cra-cra-crazy we are celebrating Christmas, buying a house, moving to a different city, and having our fourth child in the next month and a half -- possibly not in that order!  It's all good.  At least that is what I tell myself when trying to wrap my brain around what all of this is going to involve.  Something tells me there won't be much sewing going on around here in the near future.

I admit I am sad to miss out on a full season of gift-sewing this year.  I'm consoling myself with the knowledge that I might just be able to carve out a dedicated sewing space in our new place (God-willing everything moves forward and we close on the house mid-January as planned) .  Since I don't share much personal information here, you may or may not know that my little family of five currently lives in a two bedroom, four room rental house.  Originally it was a three bedroom house but sometime in the last forty years they knocked out the wall between the third bedroom and the living room to create a bigger living space.  The extra running room is great for little people, but my "sewing room" is also a living room, office, toy room, rec room, and den. It's a bit impractical and unfortunately stuff of every kind has a habit of taking over any work space I've attempted to claim as my own.  Definitely hoping to carve out a better sewing nook next year!

I'm sure you didn't come here to hear me blab on and on about all of that though.  Time to break out pictures of the flower girl dresses that I've turned into Christmas dresses for my four and six year old.

I swapped out the ivory satin sashes for red velvet ones that I put together from scraps I had in my stash.  This is what the dresses looked like before:

The girls will be wearing sweaters and there wasn't enough fabric for tie-able bows so I sewed velvet bows front and center to add a bit of interest.

There is some zipper peak-through at the center back with the way I attached the sashes onto the dresses but I'm not sure it's worth the time to re-work it with buttons or something.

Anywho-ha,  the bottom of these dresses begged for red petals and I simply had to comply.  I found a box at Hobby Lobby for half off which means altogether I spent about $2.50 on each dress.  Not bad for holiday attire, if I do say so myself!

I left the cream petals and I didn't sew up the opening (near the waistline) in the tulle either. No doubt I'll need to get back in there to rearrange the petals eventually.

Now all we have to do is locate two pairs of respectable ivory tights and rustle up some dress shoes that fit.  Gosh I love to see little ones all dressed up for Christmas.  I have to relish these days of sashes and tulle and twirly girlies.

needle and thREAD

I'm linking up with needle and thREAD today.

As far as reading goes, I'm taking in little bits here and there.   Compelled by nesting instinct, I inhaled a couple of ebooks last month on organization that fueled a whirlwind of household purging.  Now I am at various stages of reading The Ordinary Path To Holiness (Thomas) and Holy Sex (Popcak).  I'm trying to keep up with the Magnificat Advent Companion this year too.  I'm only a week behind, lol.  It's awfully hard to concentrate these days.  Can I blame it on pregnancy brain?  Or perhaps the fact that most of my reading involves pages containing stuff like "Sharky the Shark was always afraid." and "Does the kangaroo have a mother too?"? (According to my almost two-year-old, the answer to that last question is always a resounding and mischievous "NO".)

Maybe I should drop everything and get a really good novel from the library.  Any Christmas-y suggestions?

Thank you for stopping by -- see you again in 2014!  Please keep our family in your prayers.  And don't forget to head on over to In the Heart of My Home for more needle and thREAD.  Thank you for hosting Elizabeth!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Mechanics of a Stitch -- Cool Visual!

Ever wonder exactly how a sewing machine makes stitches?

Check out this awesome little visual:  How a Sewing Machine Works, Explained in a GIF.

God bless the internet :o).

Friday, November 8, 2013

Is It Too Early To Talk Christmas?

Do you have big Christmas sewing plans?

Matryoshka Ornament (Christmas 2012)

I've been toying with a few project ideas myself.  I'm thinking perhaps some fleecy robes or blankets and maybe some additions to the resident doll clothing collections.  My sewing motivation right at this moment is not great because my husband has been working a lot of overtime and I tend to hit the couch after the kids go to bed instead of setting up the machine.  But a girl can always dream right?

Felt Mitten Ornaments (Christmas 2011)

We're anticipating a very low key Christmas this year.  We won't be traveling to visit relatives because I'll be about thirty-six weeks pregnant and both sides of our family live almost four hours away.  Instead, I'll be preparing a cozy little Christmas for five.  Delightfully intimate and simple!  We hope.

One thing that is definitely on my to-do list is to get a second wearing out of one set of the flower girl dresses my daughters wore this fall.  We are going to need to spice them up for Christmas Mass with a bit of festive color, don't you think?

Can you guess my plan for the red silk petals?  They may or may not be paired with new red sashes -- depending on if I decide to get off of the couch sometime between now and December 25th ;o).

I can't wait to hear what everyone else has planned for the rest of the year (hint, hint).  I'm ready to be inspired!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Maternity Jean Make-Over -- Photo Update

Remember how I said I would check back in to let you know of the maternity jeans worked out once the belly got a bit bigger?

Well, they won't fit for too much longer, so quick!  Here are some pics before my derriere requires the next size up.

A belt with these is a definite must because they don't have maternity-specific ease through the seat area.  For me there's still plenty of room in the belly, but the rest of the jeans are getting too tight. 

I'm very tempted to hit up the thrift stores and get a larger pair to alter for the third trimester.  I love the feel and look of "normal" jeans!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Packing Up My Etsy Things For Now

Yesterday I carefully wrapped and packed away the things from my Etsy shop.  I couldn't quite decide whether I should be happy or depressed.  You know how sometimes you make a decision and you just know it is right and the rightness makes you happy but the sadness is still there?

Though I only began selling online a year ago, I'm in a different season of life now than I was when I started and I've decided to carve out more space for myself and put aside my business venture for a time.

I'm not gonna lie -- it drives the German pride in me crazy not to keep my shop open come hell or high water, but I'm trying to grow in humility and create healthy boundaries for body and mind.  That's more important.

When I first opened shop, numerous friends reacted with awe.  How in the world do you do all of that sewing when you have three small children??? they wanted to know. "Oh, I make time!" I'd say.  But I seem to have lost the time-making-machine.  I think it disappeared the day my toddler son learned to move chairs across the kitchen floor and it hasn't turned up since.

There are other personal reasons why I feel like the time is right to set aside my Etsy things.  I won't go into the details, but I want you to know that I will miss my customers and the privilege to share my work.  I sincerely hope this is not a permanent hiatus.  I even purposefully packed away some untouched designer yardage for future projects along with my other supplies.  I'm counting on that gorgeous fabric to lure me back into creating for Sparrow and Twig before too long.

Perhaps the new baby and I will sew together come January?  Hey, ya never know.  In the meantime, you can find me here blogging like usual. The holidays are fast approaching...

Thursday, October 3, 2013

How to Hem Chiffon the Easy Way {needle and thREAD}

By popular demand, this week's needle and thREAD post is dedicated to the "easy and neat little way to hem chiffon" I mentioned in last week's post.

I worked in a bridal shop for a few years and picked up some valuable sewing tricks from the in-house seamstress.  Hands-down the most practical and versatile thing I learned was how to make a hem suitable for chiffon.

Meet my very best friend, the narrow hem:

I'm going to get into all of the juicy hemming details here, so feel free to skip on down to the thREAD portion of things if learning bridal seamstress trade-secrets is not your cup of tea :o).

For those of you waiting impatiently to get your hands on my fool-proof method, let's get going:

Before you begin, pin your chiffon hem at whatever length you want it -- this is always the hardest part I think!  For a full-length dress, pin it 3/4 inches to 1 inch off of the ground (with your fancy shmancy shoes on) if you want a standard length hem.

1)  With the pins in, press your hem.

2)  Sew a straight stitch right up next to the fold (1/8 inch from the edge at the most). 

Use a smaller machine needle on chiffon.  Either size 70/10 or 75/11.

3)  VERY CAREFULLY trim off the extra fabric, leaving a tiny bit of fabric next to the stitching.

4) Fold up and press.  No need to pin.

5) Sew.  I like to move my needle to the right one notch and run the fabric next to the feed.  

6).  Done.  Press it and go!

This hem can be used for satin and works great for almost any kind of a-line bridesmaid dress.  I use it for linings*.  And wedding dresses.  You can make shawls with this method, too.  Versatile, I tell ya.

The best part about this hem is that it doesn't require a specialized sewing machine foot.  A win for simplicity!

In regard to reading this week, I'm still working on the Esolen book and the Trelease book I mentioned last week. The girls and I are doing FIAR and enjoying a colorful book by Marjorie Priceman.

Mmmm.  I could really go for a warm piece of apple pie right now.

Thanks for stopping by! For more needle and thREAD, head on over to In the Heart of My Home and see what everyone is up to!

If you need me in the next few days, I'll be fixing the halter strap on this dress and prepping for my sister's wedding on Saturday.  Prayers for safe travel and beautiful weather much appreciated!


*To cut down on time when hemming linings (there are usually two of them and who has time for that???), I am less meticulous about trimming off the extra fabric and I don't do any pressing until after the hem is finished.

Love. This. Hem.

Friday, September 27, 2013

How to Make a Child's Sash With 1/2 Yard of Fabric

I had been meaning to throw up a quick post on how to put together a three-piece sash for a child's dress.

In order to make a child's sash like the ones pictured here, you need 1/2 yard of fabric at least 44/45 inches wide.  The finished sash has a 2.5 inch band across the front and 4 inch wide ties.

1)  The first thing you need to do is measure the width of the front of the dress from seam to seam and add one inch for 0.5 inch seam allowances. (On this dress, width of front waist = 12.75 inches + 1 inch seam allowance = 13.75 inches)

You want to measure across the dress at the spot where the top of the sash will be -- approximately 2.5 inches above the waist seam.

2)  Cut the fabric.  There are three pieces.  (The width of the front waist is the measurement you got in step 1.)

These measurements will work up to about a child's size 5.  I found that 22 inches is the minimum tie length needed to make a good bow.  Larger sizes will need longer tie pieces!

3)  After cutting, take the tie pieces (9 x 22.5 inches) one at a time. Fold the first piece in half.

I used some pins to hold it in place since the fabric is slippery -- the side with the two pins is the folded side.

4) Take a ruler and cut the end of the tie on an angle.  Make sure the fold is on the long side.

4) Do the same thing with the other tie piece.  Make sure the angle is the same.

Once you take out the pins and open them up, each tie piece will look like this:

5) Before sewing, fold over each tie piece and pin it along the long open side, down to the point.  It's hard to tell in the picture, but pin and sew on the wrong side of the fabric.  (You'll turn it right side out in Step 8.)

6) Using 1/2 inch seams, sew along the long side of each tie all of the way down to the point. Leave the short end of the ties open. (Sorry, I forgot to take a picture of the open end of the tie.)

7) Trim the corners and the points.

8) Turn the ties right side out.

I used this little tool (I believe it's called a point turner) to turn the corners, but you can (carefully!) use something else -- a knitting needle works pretty well.

9) Press.

10)  Clean up the other side of the ties if they need it.

11)  Take the front piece of fabric.

12)  On either side of this piece, make two marks on the right side of the fabric.  This piece is 6 inches wide, so make a mark at 3 inches and at 1/2 inches.

13)  Pin the ties to the front piece -- just inside of the marks.  First pin the outside of the tie, then pinch the fabric and pin the inside.

14) Baste the ties.

15) Pin each side like this.  (It will make sense in a moment.)

16)  Fold the top half of the front piece over the bottom half and pin it in place, matching the sides and corners.  The ties can hang out right in the center front.

17)  Sew around the pinned edges, leaving a space open in the middle about 6 inches wide (where the ties hang out).  It is VERY important that you only catch the tie pieces in the end seams! That's why we pinned the tie out of the way in step 15.

18)  Clip the corners.

19)  Pull on the ties to turn the whole thing right side out.

20)  Sew the opening shut.  I used a whipstitch.

Phew!  Can you believe something so seemingly simple takes twenty steps?

I tacked the sashes down at the side seams (at the top edge of the sash, not the bottom) and in the center front in a place where the stitches wouldn't show.  

My models wore size 4 and size 6 dresses.

Let me know if you have any questions about the process!  ~  Liz