Thursday, May 22, 2014

More Hanami Improvisational Pleats

Elena now has another pleated Hanami. This time I went with the adorable crossed back and skirt length. The previous one was pretty and dainty so this time I wanted to make one that was more colorful and fun for my girl that never stops moving. (Please ignore her silly Princess shoes. Pick your battles, I always say.)

I had scraps of this novelty sea creature fabric left from a Halloween costume 12 years ago and I finally found a use for it. The orange polka dots is leftover from this recent dress and purchased at Joann’s in March. The pleated piece at the center front was made to mimic the fins on the sea horse’s back. At first it bothered me that it wasn’t symmetrical – I have a thing about symmetry. But now, I’m good with it because it’s relaxed, playful, and carefree – all qualities I could use more of. I cut the flutter sleeves, but I pleated them instead of gathering to create more fins. The lining is white with orange polka dots from my mom's stash passed on to me.

I love the peek of the seahorse fabric on the back too. In fact, I got a lot of pictures of her back because like I said, this girl never stops moving for long.

This dress suits Elena’s personality so well! The size 2 again fits her perfectly. I didn't modify one thing when cutting and that is rare for me.  This is a pattern I’ll be getting a lot of use out of for many more years to come. 

I can't resist posting one more funny picture. Elena has a serious issue with bugs all of a sudden. Here she is giving her best regards to one.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Japanese Sewing Inspired Dress

Japanese sewing books are super popular and provide great inspiration for going global. They appeal to me for a lot of different reasons, but mostly it's the idea of homemade clothes in simple shapes, usually in simple fabrics like cotton or linen. The whole style is clean from the accessories and make-up to the photography. For example:

I tried to replicate that style with this look. My dress/tunic is made from a linen/cotton blend bought at Joann’s last summer. I started with a basic bodice with darts and a wooden button and loop closure at the back- keeping it simple. It is lined in a tan cotton meant to blend in with my skin. I added a very full gathered skirt with side seam pockets and finished with a machine stitched blind hem. And that's it. Simple. Clean. Homemade.

Truth be told, this was originally going to be for my 16 year old daughter. I showed her pictures of young girls wearing loose dresses layered with jeans and cardigans and she thought it was cute. But when it was all said and done, she didn't feel comfortable in it. She likes her clothes very fitted. Grrrr. If you know me, you know I rarely buy fabric and I can’t bear to see it go to waste. So I tried it on and guess what – I love it!

I feel like an artist in this tunic. It’s too short for me at my size and age to wear as a dress, but paired with jeans, I think it’s fabulous. The darts are also a little high for me (big diff in 16 year old boobs and 45 year old boobs!) so I will have to wear my very best bra. It’s like the children’s song that goes “Do your ears hang low? Do they wobble to and fro? Can you tie them in a knot? Can you tie them in a bow?” But we’re not talking about ears. Lol.

I plan on wearing this all day today running errands but also to our school and church art show tonight.  Two of my kids have pieces in the show, so this will be my piece even if I am the only one who knows it. I prefer it that way. I feel awkward telling people I made something if they ask where I got it. I just realized how hypocritical that is of me. My son’s art work will be displayed if he likes it or not because he is a student there. With my encouragement, my daughter willing took her favorite charcoal drawing in to be displayed in the parish exhibit. I should set a better example and be proud of my sewing. I’ll have to keep working on that.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Plantain Dress

I have now made 4 Deer and Doe Plantain Tees in some form or another. The first was an unblogged muslin that is totally wearable. See number 2 here and 3 here. This is the fourth one and it has been turned into a dress. That's how you get your money's worth out of a pattern - except this one is free to begin with!

This time I shortened the sleeves to just above the elbow and, of course, cut the length to just come to the belly button. I also had to take the sides in about an inch on each side and could still take in more, but a belt looks good with it anyway. For the skirt I didn't want to just cut rectangles, so I used the front skirt piece from Butterick 5781 but made it a little narrower because I didn't have enough fabric. The Butterick one uses pleats which require more fabric and I wanted gathers anyway. The width of my skirt is 1-1/2 times the width of the bodice and I think it's just enough gathers for me. I also used the pattern's side seam pocket piece.

The dress fabric is Prussian Blue Solid Cotton Spandex Knit Fabric from Girl Charlee  and I love it. It has 10% spandex so it's really stretchy. It's my little secret (not anymore ;-)) that the pockets are two different fabrics just for fun. I used scraps of light weight woven navy blue prints to reduce bulk. Cell phones are heavy and I didn't want stretchy fabric there. Probably no one will ever notice even if they get a peek inside one because they won't see both at the same time. For some reason, that little secret makes me really happy. It's one of the fun things about making your own clothes.

My double needle and I have been getting along pretty well lately. The hems on this dress are an inch deep and look fantastic if I do say so myself. My top threads get twisted after a while, so I just know now that I will have to re-thread at some point. It's better if I pick that point myself (side seam) instead of it happening front and center. 

I wore this dress for the 2-1/2 hour drive to Columbus, Ohio for my daughter's volleyball championships on Mother's Day. (I know, heck of a way to spend Mother's Day right?) We went down on Saturday afternoon, went to mass at the cathedral, walked around the city, ate dinner and then I finally had her take some pictures of me. It still looks good and felt so comfortable and stylish to walk around the city in. Well, more than my usual jeans and t-shirt.

I'd like to make another one in a lighter/brighter color for summer and with shorter sleeves or maybe sleeveless. Do you do that too? Make multiples of the same pattern over and over? It's hard not to once you know you like something.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Litany of Humility

Starting a sewing blog has taught me many lessons - technical things about sewing and technology and photography to state the obvious. What I didn't expect was to learn so much about myself.

I began this blog because I wanted to join into the online sewing community that was inspiring me and teaching me things daily. I started following a couple dozen blogs, studying tutorials, buying some patterns... I learned a lot and knew I had something to contribute too that might help someone else out and, dare I say, inspire someone else.

The good about blogging:

  1. Awesome community to be a part of - so much wisdom, help, inspiration...
  2. Explosion of creativity - like to the point of dreaming about sewing ideas.
  3. Motivation to finish projects, sometimes with deadlines to enter contests, sew-alongs, or linky parties.
  4. Affirmation - it's always nice to hear that someone likes what you did. Very cool when they choose to follow you in some way and want to see more.
  5. Definite increase in confidence with sewing skills and technology.
Ah, but like with anything, there is another side.

The dark side of blogging:
  1. Finding out just how much other's opinions matter to me- not getting the comments you hoped for hurts.
  2. Focusing too much on sewing - and not enough on the garden, the house, dinner, exercise, prayer and oh, you know, relationships with real live people.
  3. It brings out the competitive beast in me - Let's just say I will no longer participate in sew-along contests where you have to campaign for votes. I'm not a fan of popularity contests and with my small list of Facebook friends and even fewer blog followers, it's not a good scenario. 
  4. The self-doubt. Oh the self-doubt can creep in so fast. If I like my project enough to post it and I see lots of pageviews, but no comments - what does that mean? 
So when I start to focus too much on wondering what others think of my work, I have to pull out an old Catholic prayer called the Litany of Humility. 

O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed,

Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being loved...
From the desire of being extolled ...
From the desire of being honored ...
From the desire of being praised ...
From the desire of being preferred to others...
From the desire of being consulted ...
From the desire of being approved ...
From the fear of being humiliated ...
From the fear of being despised...
From the fear of suffering rebukes ...
From the fear of being calumniated ...
From the fear of being forgotten ...
From the fear of being ridiculed ...
From the fear of being wronged ...
From the fear of being suspected ...
That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be esteemed more than I ...
That, in the opinion of the world,
others may increase and I may decrease ...
That others may be chosen and I set aside ...
That others may be praised and I unnoticed ...
That others may be preferred to me in everything...
That others may become holier than I,
 provided that I may become as holy as I should…

This prayer is attributed to Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val (1865-1930),
Secretary of State for Pope Saint Pius X

If you find this prayer helpful, there is a beautiful free printable version here at How to Nest for Less. It is the image at the top of this post and prints at 8x11.

There has been A LOT of sewing this week - not a lot of success, and very little documenting because Elena is sick with a cold and  high fevers and I'm preparing to take Olivia to volleyball championships out of town this weekend. Too much life happening - I won't say getting in the way. My first priority is to my family. Blogging is supposed to be fun, right?

Have a wonderful weekend full of love, and time with special people, and maybe just a little sewing.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Project Sewn - Leading Ladies

The first week of Project Sewn's Leading Ladies Challenge is a tough one for me. I know almost nothing about movies and celebrities in general. Of course these ladies can look sexy and glamorous with their money and their stylists and Photoshop, but I'm more drawn to the girl next door images of them. One who inspires me with her down to earth, easy style is Julia Roberts - plus we're about the same age and I have grown up on her movies and love them all. 

AND BABY MAKES THREE  photo | Julia Roberts

JULIA ROBERTS photo | Julia Roberts

If you combine elements of the above 2 pictures of her, I get my outfit - a comfy tee with a knit maxi skirt. The tee is a short sleeved Plaintain from Deer and Doe (my third one now). I wore it plain on Sunday with a nice scarf, but I was thinking that wouldn't be very good for summer and a certain 2 year old doesn't let me wear necklaces without harassing me all day so I wanted to embellish it somehow. So last night I hand stitched on some knit applique curly-Q's to dress it up. I used navy blue darning thread to add contrast. The tee also has a hi-low hem to cover my tush.

The skirt is a narrow A-line with a wide knit waistband with no elastic - for now. I may go back and add some. I just feel more secure with nice wide elastic across my tummy - just in case a certain 2 year old tugs at my skirt too hard. This outfit is super comfy and good for almost anything - except maybe riding a bike. Other than that, I can get through my day of parenting a toddler and 2 teens in comfort and I hope some bit of style.

I guess I can't keep avoiding including my head in some photos. I just get so sick of looking at my face when editing photos. I've been sewing for myself a lot lately so you'd think I'd get more comfortable with this.

Do you think Julia Roberts would wear this? Call me Julia, we'll have lunch (I cook too), the kids can play, and I'll make you an outfit. If you need other celebrity references I've sewn for the only one I have is Peter Cottontail -a local man who does his yard up BIGTIME for Easter and I make him a new vest and bow tie every year - he does make the local news so I think he's considered a celebrity in these parts.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Hanami Love - Improvisational Pleats

I have wanted the Hanami pattern since the day it came out. StraightGrain was one of the first blogs I came across a year ago when I discovered this incredible online sewing world. I was pretty sure that my little Elena would look great in any of An's patterns because she is built just like her daughter - rather slight, very feminine little body and face. I didn't buy until recently as part of the Perfect Pattern Parcel #2. This one's being in the parcel clinched the deal.

And then if I wasn't happy enough already just to get the pattern, An came out with a contest to use her improvisational pleating techniques. Oh, I love a good contest. I am way too competitive sometimes. I will be linking up later in May when the time comes. You can read all about it here.

This top is just beautiful, inside and out. I added the improvisational pleats to the bodice - no measuring or pre-planning. I hope they're irregular enough to look intentional and not just wonky. I was not drinking, I promise. I wanted the top third of the entire top to be pleated. The fabrics are things from my mom's old stash. All very lightweight cottons. I went with the zipper back (but not an invisible zip), the peplum length, the peter pan collar, and the tulip sleeves. Too much cuteness.

It might be just a little too dainty for Elena. As pretty as it is, if you know Elena, she is much more of a firecracker than this top would suggest. It is light and comfy so she isn't complaining at all, but she would probably prefer one in a brighter color. I'm thinking of some orange with tiny white polka dots I have leftover from this dress. I think I'll try the crossback and the flutter sleeves. That will be more her style.

The leggings are homemade too out of cotton lycra knit from Girl Charlee last year. I used elastic to ruche the sides a bit. They match the zipper.

Do you know what she is doing in the above picture? She is counting how many marshmallows she is going to get for these photos. Ah, the cost of doing business with a 2 year old.