Thursday, April 24, 2014

September Tunic

This has to be one of the sweetest little things I've sewn in a while. The September tunic in turquoise gingham - oh man, it doesn't get any better than that. I made another top this week too and it's lovely in a different way, a fussy way, and I'll talk about it another day. This gingham top just makes me smile. Less is more a lot of times.

2 photo shoots attempted and neither one very successful so this is all I've got. I love sewing and writing, but photographing a moody 2 year old, I could do without. Better keep sewing for myself or I'll have nothing to blog about. ;-)

The mug shots first.

Haha. Oh man, what a stinker. So we tried outside in her element, lots of distractions from the camera.

The pictures do not do this top justice, but I couldn't let the week go by without posting something.

This pattern makes a really adorable top and I can recommend it with a big smile on my face. Measure carefully and follow the sizing chart because this is a 2T and it just fits my string bean. It's a nice slim cut which works perfectly for her.

Here's hoping for better photo shoots in our future.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A Vintage Easter Dress

This is my vintage inspired Easter dress. I've never sewn myself anything this involved before so I am thrilled that it turned out this well. It's almost exactly like I envisioned. I started with a modern pattern, McCall's 6599 from the Fashion Star line, but I made changes, of course. I shortened the sleeves even more and changed the smallish (quarter maybe) circle skirt to a full gathered and color blocked skirt. I added the belt with 4 yellow buttons on my own too. It seemed too plain without it.

The princess seams provide a great opportunity for color-blocking on the bodice. When I found this double-sided fabric at Joann's back in February, I had this vision right away, even before knowing about the vintage challenge at Challenge Create - Adult Edition at Skirtfixation. After searching the internet for more inspiration, I felt like a full gathered skirt would be more fitting with the 50's to 60's era. It also made it a lot less stressful to make the color-blocking changes to the skirt without having to be so exact.

I think I have a thing for gray lately. My skirt last week was gray, this dress is gray, (I'm sitting on our new gray sofa), and last night I sewed myself another gray skirt and top!! What is up with that? Something to do with the never-ending winter around here maybe?

So to combat the gray-ness, we went down to our local beach to try to take pictures but the wind was too strong and the light was too harsh. I had bribed my 14 year old son (home on spring break) to take pictures of his mom out in public wearing her June Cleaver dress. Heehee. It cost me $8.46 at Wendy's to get no usable pictures. Arrrrg.

Back home with my lousy 12 year old point and shoot camera and it's timer, I was able to get some pictures of the details.

My nearly invisible zipper

Cap sleeves.

Machine stitched blind hem and buttoned belt

I can't remember being this excited about an Easter Dress since I was a little kid. I have been trying like to crazy to finish up this post so I can focus more on Holy Week. See you next week and have a blessed Easter!! Alleluia!!

P.S. Voting is now open if you want to follow this link and scroll all the way down to vote for me!??

Monday, April 14, 2014

PRP - Signature Style (with a Z thrown in for Sew All 26)

Time to kill two birds with one stone here. I have sewn along with Katy of No Big Dill since letter H, I think, so I wanted to finish that out, even if it's not the most creative use of Z. It's a cheat  because it doesn't even begin with Z but it has two Z's in the middle - the Izzy top!

This free pattern from Climbing the Willow is adorable, and popular, so I wanted to try it. I have a top myself that is the same cut (Simplicity 1620 if you want a mommy and me look), so I already knew I'd like it. I used some ancient rayon challis leftover from the early 90's along with some super soft peach gauze. It's definitely a little bit country, but I think that's me.

My signature style would have to incorporate recycling and de-stashing. Also, something feminine, but not pink or sparkly (though Elena does like that sort of thing). As much as I like contemporary style in magazines, and I even did purchase a pretty modern sofa recently, I am traditional to the core. I like antiques, real wood, gardens full of daisies and black-eyed Susans, casual country style. I know this because once a month when my subscription to Country Living Magazine arrives, I look at the pictures and I feel like everything is right in the world. Gorgeous gardens; homegrown, home-cooked food; modern country decorating (i.e. no pine furniture with heart cut-outs or doilies); and scenes of sweet children playing in the flowers. (That's Elena in our front garden last fall and it makes me melt.)

I also made a tiered denim skirt out of thrift store denim yardage- score! The underskirt makes me laugh every time I look at it because it is made from is the top piece of my neighbor's new bathroom curtains. Lol. She asked me to shorten her new curtains by cutting off the top and making a new rod pocket. For some reason, I didn't throw away the top piece. All I had to do was sew one seam up the back, feed elastic through the old rod pocket, and gather and sew some lace trim to the bottom. That was a 10 minute job, if that!

I wanted to keep the lace separate from the denim skirt so it would be versatile, because I am really, really practical. I can't help it. There is only so much time and so much money in the world and that's my signature style too.

And now a few pictures in action, on a windy day as spring is finally starting to arrive here.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

PRP Week 3 - Create Your Own Fabric

I couldn't have been happier to find out that Project Run and Play's week 3 challenge was to create your own fabric to use in a garment. Sometimes things just work out so well, it's amazing. Back in February, I had a library book out called something like Alabama Chanin Studio Style. I loved the look and studied the technique. I tried it out first on a small scale on this project for No Big Dill's Sew All 26 (it was my "T" is for texture). That gave me the confidence to try it on a large scale as a present for my oldest daughter's 16th birthday.

She chose the fabrics from Joann's and the stencil is straight off the Alabama Chanin website. It is called "Anna's Garden." They say they recognize the fact that very many people aren't going to be able to pay $830 for a completely hand sewn organic cotton tank top so they also sell kits and have their stencils available for free download for the total DIY experience. Free sounds good to me! Our materials cost less than $25 and we have leftovers. 

The basic steps are as follows:
1.  Enlarge the stencil to the desired size.
2.  Trace onto freezer paper.
3.  Cut 2 front pieces of your top using 2 contrasting knit fabrics.
4.  Iron your stencil to the top layer and paint it with a sponge or air gun if you are lucky enough to have one.
     The dark paint will actually leave a cool shadow effect around the edges after cutting out the centers.
5.  Baste them together around all of the edges.
6.  Choose another color of something like embroidery floss or I used darning thread.
7.  Outline every shape and then oh so carefully cut away the top layer.

This dress was a labor of love. It was proof to my oldest that she is just as important to me as her little 2 year old sister. It was a risk and a leap of faith because sometimes I sew her things and she winds up not liking them for reasons I never understand. It was a meditation. It was a relief when it was done.

The Alabama Chanin style is pretty rustic and not really my thing. I finished the neck and armholes with bindings machine stitched to the outside, turned and handsewn inside. I used a basic bodice and made it nice and long to attach a dropped-waisted skirt. She and I watch a lot of Downtown Abbey together so we wanted a nod to the 20's with the drop-waist and straight bodice.

I snuck her initials, "O.K." onto her hip as a surprise.
Olivia really doesn't enjoy being photographed. She felt awkward about her knees in the next pictures so let me explain - she is a volleyball player, ok? That means lots of bruises and floor burns - always, even with knee pads. Pretty much year round. She just played a 2 day out of town tournament this past weekend too so we have fresh bruises. But let me also say that volleyball tournaments are an excellent place to do handwork like this, as are my son's swimming meets, and in front of the television.

The skirt and the back are simple and unembellished.

This dress suits her so, so well. It's creative and unique. One of a kind for a one of a kind girl.