Friday, May 29, 2015

Summer Shorts Weather - Finally

Our weather is crazy. It was barely in the 50's last week and then this week it's hot and humid for a couple days, then nice (70's) for a couple and now we're expecting 90 tomorrow. I thought Elena was pretty well set for shorts this summer, but she has gotten so tall that they are actually too short. I'm tired of her little bum hanging out when she's lolling around on the floor, grass, couch ....

I traced a pattern from a Japanese sewing book last fall/winter and photocopied the instructions because I had borrowed it from the library. Somehow, I don't have the title of the book on those pages. All I can tell you is that these shorts are "h" and are called Pants with Turned-Up Hems. I liked that they had cute pockets on the back and a yoke. I dug through the upcycle stash and found a nice maternity skirt that hadn't been worn much at all but would be perfect for a muslin that would hopefully be wearable . It had great topstitching and just enough fabric to work with, so off I went.

I sewed them up with no modifications and tried them on her. Yuck. Not good at all. The front rise was ridiculously high and pouchy on her and the side seams bowed out like jodpurs. (Isn't that what those crazy riding pants are called?) The back was good, and I liked the longer length so I cut the waistband off (it's a whole separate piece) and cut the yoke down in a curve on the front. I used my favorite Titchy Threads Twisted Trousers as a guide. I also borrowed the knit waistband from the Twisted Trousers pattern, and ran back to the machine. Oh, and I straightened out that side seam while I was there.

Now they are very comfy. The fabric is lightweight making these perfect for hot days. I love that I could take advantage of the cool top-stitching and the deep hems. We can even roll these up for walking along the beach.

This shirt is one I made for her last year and blogged about here. It is my own reverse applique design on the yoke of a CINO Nessie Top. This may have been the one that started my love affair with the Nessie.

Lately, Elena wants to take a selfie with me during each photoshoot. Guess that can serve as inspiration to dress myself decently. (I'm wearing a Plantain Tee, my TNT t-shirt pattern.)

I don't think I'll bother with this pattern again, since I had to make so many changes in the end. Instead, I'm going to make some more Twisted Trousers shorts so stay tuned for that. I have an idea to change them up just a bit. Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Hello Kitty Gumnut Dress

Have you heard of the Gumnut Dress? It's a new pattern offered by Willow & Stitch. I got a free copy through a giveaway on Instagram so I thought I'd use it for Elena's birthday dress.

Even though we own not ONE Hello Kitty thing, Elena declared a month ago that she wants a Hello Kitty birthday party next month when she turns 4. I came across this Hello Kitty fabric at Walmart in the remnant bin soon after she said that. But knowing how often her tastes/interests change, I got nervous that she won't like Hello Kitty by the time her birthday rolls around so I made it already. Plus, this way she got to wear it to her last day of preschool, where they also celebrated her summer birthday.

It's definitely a twirler! There is a full circle skirt made in 4 pieces so you can incorporate those big pockets into the seams. It attaches to a simple knit bodice that fits Elena great. I followed the size chart and made a 2T top with an added inch in length for my 41" tall girl. The skirt is a 3T and I saved length and sanity by hemming with bias tape. I was in a rush, and I'll always take the easiest path. The path of least resistance, I call it.

For the pockets and bodice, I was able to upcycle a really nice tee. It was a men's large, and I just managed to have enough for all the pieces. And bonus, the sleeves were already hemmed! I found the bias tape at a rummage sale last summer (2 packages for 25 cents) and even though the package said it was "Christmas" bias tape, I thought it coordinated well. 

As for the pattern, I wasn't asked to review it or anything, but I can honestly recommend it. Elena LOVES this dress. I enjoyed making it. The pattern printed easily and was quick to put together - no trimming pages. Man, I love that. Also there is a chart to print only the pieces you need. If I have one complaint, it's that the waist circumference could be smaller. I like the gathers at center front and back, but there could be fewer too and I might like it even better. But I do like it a lot already, so it's not a problem.

But we may need to wear some shorts underneath!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Project Run & Play- Summer Chevron Shirt

Project Run & Play's May challenge is to use the free pattern for the Summer Chevron Shirt by the Crafty Cupboard. This month's pattern fit well with Elena's wardrobe needs so I found time this weekend to sew one up and I think it turned out really sweet.

I used pink cotton for the yoke and a dainty floral for the rest. I really only changed the back closure. I went with a continuous placket instead of buttons with loops. I used plastic snaps for a modern look to an old fashioned button placket. Then I put it on her to mark where to do the waist elastic only I got overruled by my husband and Olivia. They liked how it looked already and didn't  think Elena would like the feel of the elastic at her waist. Whatever. I think it would have been cute that way too.

To dress up the yoke, I tried a new to me embroidery stitch. It begins with a simple running stitch and then all you do is weave another thread in and out under those and then another one the opposite direction. I think I should have made the stitches a little smaller to get a rounder effect. These are 1/4" long and apart and it makes a flatter line than I really wanted. I also wish the green showed more, but hey, it's still pretty cute.

This little blouse sewed up easily and Elena wanted to wear it right away. After pictures, she wanted to "stay it on" which is always a good sign and then she got chocolate ice cream on the yoke. So it's already back in the wash. Back to the never-ending laundry.

On a sappy note, Elena turns 4 in about a month and I'm not ready for it. Some days, I look at her and think she is looking so grown up and has entered a new phase of being a big kid, and then I see her in this outfit and think she's still my baby. I'm not normally one to hold my kids back, I like to see them gain independence and grow up, but this time is harder because I know she is my last. It's a strange place I'm in these days with my oldest about to be a senior in high school, my second just got his first real job as a lifeguard, and then there is this little one who likes to think she is a teenager too. Sometimes it's a challenge to keep her young and not let her grown up too fast. Slow down kiddo.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Izzy Top - A Favorite Free Pattern from Climbing the Willow

I loved my first Izzy Top made last year, but it was time for a new one. You can find the pattern HERE on the Climbing the Willow website. I traced the 3T and went to look through the stash.(The stash has grown recently due to the generosity of a woman whose children I babysat as a teenager. Vintage fabric and patterns galore. Yay!)


I've been playing around with mixing knits with wovens for tops lately. I like the idea of the knit top portion because then there is no need for linings or closures, and I like the wovens in summer a lot too because I find them to be lighter and breezier than most knits. This top portion was made from the above mentioned recently inherited supply of 1970's green terry cloth. It's pretty lightweight and decently stretchy, with a cool texture. I was a child in the 70's so it reminds me of things I wore. It wasn't stretchy enough to use for the neckband though so I used a scrap of cotton Lycra in purple. The only pattern modification was to remove the center back seam allowance and cut the back piece on the fold as well.

 The skirt portion is made from a thrift store scarf - with fringe! It cost only 50 cents and was just big enough. It was meant to be, right? This skirt is a 3T in width and about a 4 length, plus the fringe, in case you're thinking of checking your thrift store now. (I don't think it would work for any size above 4T.) It is so light, soft, and bohemian looking and I just adore it. Elena loves swinging the fringe around and twirling. I love making something out of nothing. I really get such a kick out of that.

I have come to realize that my favorite part of "sewing" is actually the designing and planning and choosing materials. The actual sewing is just a necessity, but not the best part.

We had a lovely day out at a nearby park. We stopped at the garden center and farmer's market on the way home. Then we worked on planting some of the garden since rain threatens for the next few days. There is so much more to do. We've only planted onions, potatoes, and a fresh strawberry bed so far. We've gone a few years without strawberries, but I love being able to feed my family organic berries so I'm bringing them back. We have red raspberries already, but I'm adding in blackberries this year too. We're already eating our well-established asparagus. Every day at this point, but we still need to plant sugar snap peas, beans, peppers, and lots of tomatoes. So much more to do in the next week or two.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Upcycled & Hacked Aster Cardigan

My 15 year old son recently went through his drawers and contributed to my upcycle stash with a nice thermal knit long sleeved crew neck tee. And although it's been really warm lately, we've had 2 days of 50 degrees thrown in. I wanted to make a quick Aster Cardigan for layering and I wanted to keep it neutral to go with lots of things, but not be white.This oatmeal color is nice.

The hack was to lengthen the sleeves, change the shape of the bottom hem to reuse the cool shirt-tail hem the tee had, and change the closure. I interfaced some woven floral cotton to make a strong tab, and  and sewed it to one side and added a snap to the other side. Easy for Elena to do and adds some needed femininity to a boyish tee.

One cool thing about this quick project is that I finally tried my walking foot and it's AWESOME! I'm going to leave it on there a while and experiment a little.

Also new here, are these wide-leg knit capri pants made during Kids Clothes Week and shown on Instagram, but not here. They are also upcycled  from an old tee. The tee had the large rose print on most of the front but the sleeves and back were the lighter leafy print. It makes for some interesting pants. I used the Ananda Pants pattern again in a 2T and shortened them. Super comfy and the short length gives an Asian feel to the outfit. (The tunic was previously posted here.)

I get such a thrill from making clothes for Elena out of nothing. I may or may not have initially paid for that thermal tee. I can't remember at this point if I bought it or if it was a gift to Andrew, but it will live on with Elena. The rose tee had been my mom's so there was no cost there. The only real costs here were my time (the most valuable), some thread, and a snap. (Though the tunic is made from fabric from Girl Charlee and a bit of a thrifted lace tee. And a scrap of that tunic fabric makes up the pant's yoga waistband.)

I just love that I can get away with this recycling for now for her. It's so easy to upcycle items when the new item is a small size. That is much harder for the 4 adult sized people that make up the rest of the family. I'll keep doing it as long as I can just because.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Slow Sewing - Hand Embroidered Knit Sally Tunic

This past Kids Clothes Week I made 8 pieces for Elena and 2 for myself. After all that, I took a couple days off from sewing. But I can never stay away for long.

This little tunic was made using the Sally Dress pattern (my third I think) but I used a knit for the top. I still lined it (same knit) so that the backside of the embroidery wouldn't be irritating The bottom half is cotton voile from my inherited stash. This top is light and breezy. The other obvious change from the Sally dress pattern is that I did large pleats instead of gathers. I made it as long as I could with what fabric I had left but this tunic length is confusing to Elena. She would prefer it as a dress I think. That's an assumption based on how much she argued about having to wear shorts or leggings under it.

The embroidery is from this book and adds a sweet folk touch. I'm just mad that I didn't get it in the center somehow. Not sure how that happened. Is it better to embroider first and cut the pieces out afterward? Seems more fool-proof that way and I am feeling quite the fool.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

The Ready for Anything Outfit

I was super productive this past Kids Clothes Week and have more to brag blog about. Actually, these aren't anything very special, but good grief, they are comfy and I want some.

The top is my go-to CINO Nessie Top made from a scrap of floral interlock Doodles from Joann's a couple years ago and a white box tee cleaned out of my oldest daughter's room recently. That is the quickest way to make a tee. I cut the neckband off and reused it and reused the sleeve hems too. So fast.

The pants are shortened Ananda Pants, a pattern from Chopstix that was part of the SewFab Bundle in Fall 2013. I made a 2T and shortened them a lot, partly because that's all the fabric I had. Last year I had cut a maxi skirt down to knee length for Olivia and had this piece left. It's super soft and drapey rayon spandex. I didn't hem them because they are just for play and it's so thin I didn't think it would be any fun to do.

And now Elena is ready for anything a beautiful spring day can throw at her.

Long walks on the fishing pier.



Jumping, running and rolling down hills.

Ignoring her photo-bombing cousin.

Keeping half an eye on that cutie cousin creeeeping up on you again, trying to steel your spotlight.

Bring it on spring. We're ready for anything.
(And it cost us NOTHING but an hour of my time and some thread.)