Tag Archives: Fabric

Handmade Valentine’s Day | A Lesson in How NOT to Sew

14 Feb

In my sewing frenzy, I decided that I’d have a handmade Valentine’s day and celebrate my love for my family by handmaking all our Valentine’s gifts and celebratory stuff.

Quilt

My first piece of inspiration came from my big Reneissance Redwork Fat Quarter Bundle win from the Fat Quarter Shop

image from FatQuarterShop.com

 

17 Fat Quarters and a panel, more than enough to use to take my first stab at quilting.  Then I found a chevron quilt pattern that seemed easy enough on Pinterest, from Crazy Mom Quilts. Even though the directions clearly state the use of regular quarter yards of fabric as opposed to fat quarters, I figured that it would be fine to try anyway.

I started slicing and sewing and slicing and found that the white pieces of fabric were a hair longer than the red, which meant that the last square sliced was always wonky.

I sewed through 6 fat quarters and took an extended break.  When I resumed the quilt project, I thought that I had remembered the measurements correctly and began slicing and sewing away, only to realize that not only had I cut the squares to the wrong dimensions, but that I had also used the wrong seam allowance.

Awesome.

But I plowed on through the project and without rereading the directions, laid out the pieces of my quilt and began sewing my rows. I knew that there was some component that was to be done on the diagonal to make sure that the chevron pattern ran crosswise, but when I liad out my pieces, it seemed like my quilt would be awfully small if I cut on the diagonal, so I skipped that part and just let my chevron run diagonal. (as it turns out it was the sewing not the cutting that was done on the diagonal)

First I worked with the correctly sized squares and those made up pretty even zig zags.  But then I moved on to my incorrectly sized squares and it all went to pot.  Not only did my zigs stop zagging but I also had to sew such big seam allowances to fix the sizing issue, that I had far too much fabric waste for my own liking and my once huge quilt was suddenly VERY small.

At one point I had dreams of making a quilt for each girl and a doll quilt for each girl.  When I saw how small it was becoming, the quilt turned into a family quilt to be used to snuggle under on the couch.

I used the panel and some additional red fabric to make the back of the quilt, then sewed my batting between my layers and quilted all the zig zags.  Good lord did that take FOREVER.  Seriously forever and it doesn’t even look very nice.  Maneuvering the quilt at each turn and stuffing it through the arm was a total PITA.

But my quilt disaster was not to end there.  Because the final piece of a quilt is the binding.  Having run out of red or white fabric I opted to purchase ready made bias tape.  The selection at Wal-Mart wasn’t great so I settled for a navy blue (I wanted robins egg) and sewed the binding on yesterday.

But here’s where I screwed that part up….I completed the first pass of the 2 step binding attachement process only to realize that I hadn’t full unfolded it AND I had sewn down the corners improperly.  Thoroughly deflated with the whole process, I just pulled the tape up and over the edge and force sewed it on.

The whole quilt is horrible to me, but my husband and kids didn’t notice today when they were presented it.

I do not however, foresee me making any more quilts.

Skirts

I saved a few fat quarters from the bundle to use to make a Valentine’s skirt for each girl.  I thought I could figure it out on my own, without a pattern, and perhaps document to add a tutorial to the blog since they’re in short supply here.

I got to work cutting and sewing and very soon realized that the skirts were gonna be uber short, and that sewing appliques is tedious and that perhaps there’s something to be said for all those applique tutorials and their recommended use of iron on stabilizers.  But I couldn’t be slowed down by such details and went on my merry way.

Luckily, I had leftover strips of white fat quarters to add some detail and length to the skirts via a waist band.  And then I made them too big in the waist so that they would sit lower and thus not appear as short.

Cute enough.

And free since that fat quarters were won.

The girls are happy with them too.

Dolls

The piece de resistance to my handmade Valentine’s were to be their dolls.  Once again, I thought, who needs patterns, I can make one for these dolls, and photograph the whole adventure to post as a nice tutorial.

Once again…. WRONG!!

Details, details, details!! They’re to be the death of me. I swear.

I carefully drew my pattern pieces and cut them out.  I stitched up Isabelle’s doll first and wouldn’t you know it, I couldn’t pull the foot through the neck for the life of me.  A project that I thought I could finish in an hour was dragging into it’s third hour before I cried uncle and walked away.

When I returned, I pulled and tugged a little more and finally righted the doll.  Only to discover that I had sewn her pigtails up inside of her and that she’d popped a few seams in the struggle. Thankfully, my husband suggested that instead of clipping of her pig tails and reattaching them on the outside, that I simply, rip a few seams and pull them through.

It worked, I fixed her popped seams and stuffed the rest of her all up. She’s a little funky but she’ll do.  I altered the pattern a bit for Lelia’s,and was able to pull her legs through her neck for righting her without incident, but I decided that my pattern making and tutorial should be left for another project down the road.

The girls like their dolls, and they like the little touches each has, that were made just for them.

Lelia’s doll got a blue dress that matches one of hers, some red undies, and brown shoes because Lelia says she doesn’t like pink.  Her dolly got blonde hair and blue eyes to match Lelia.  While Isabelle’s doll is all pinked up, Pink hair and shoes, pink floral undies, and purple eyes with a dress to match her candy dress.

 

 

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Pattern Testing | Jackie Dress from Peek-A-Boo Pattern Shop

9 Feb

 

Being on Facebook all day long pays off! The Peek-A-Boo Pattern Shop needed pattern testers again and this dress looked too cute to pass up.  Plus it’s called the Jackie and the style is totally Jackie O influenced.

This time she needed a size 5 so I got to make a dress for Isabelle.  I had everything I needed on hand except for a zipper, and this style was on my bucket list of dresses to make for the girls.

When I bought the zipper, I thought I was going to use a solid kelly green cotton with this Dear Stella Wildflower fabric as the collar.

But then when it came time to sew I changed my mind for two reasons. 1) I want to use the kelly green fabric to make a simple A Line Jumper and have it monogrammed in pink.  2) I forgot I had this Dena Designs Taza fabric, which was perfect for a 60’s inspired dress.

I am so glad that I used it, because it came out better than I could have thought and it just might turn out to be their Easter Dresses.

The pattern was easy peasy!  3 pieces: collar, sleeve, and body of dress. Once you’ve cut out the back of the dress and the lining, then you cut up the additional line on the pattern where the piping will go and place it on your fabric allowing for a half inch seam allowance.  So basically, place it on the fold the same as you did before it was cut, but leave a 1 inch gap between the middle piece and now side piece of the pattern.

A note on collars

I once found them incredibly intimidating and would never have dreamt of tackling them. But since I’ve taken the full on sewing plunge, I sewed my first collar with the Peek-A-Boo Pattern Shop’s Olivia Pea Coat which I used for the Chevron Coat. And let me tell you, there is nothing to be afraid of, nothing at all. It’s like making a round pocket or something simple like that.  And the addition of the piping on this collar, made it super uber cute, and again, easy!

The sleeves were pleated and not gathered, which while a little time consuming, because they are tiny, was a nice change from gathering the sleeve.

The same sleeve sewing technique was applied here as on the Isabella dress, and once again I don’t entirely get it. There must be an easier way to finish the sleeves. But alas, I couldn’t find one so I sewed one sleeve one way and the other another.  Prefering the second method, which was to only attach the lining to the dress in the pit area.

This time around for the zipper, as it was suggested in the Isabella pattern, I chose to sew the zipper using the invisible method instead of exposed, it just seemed easier to me and since my zipper wasn’t an exact match for my fabric, it worked out nicely to have it hidden.

All around the pattern was thorough, with lots of pictures, and I am pleased a punch with the finished product. I’ll definitely be making one for Lelia.  I’d love to be able to pull this look off myself, but I believe that at 35 I might be a tad old for the adorable peter pan collar.

I made Isabelle pose for these pictures this morning and she was less than pleased with my request.  So she made cranky faces the whole time.  As revenge, I’m posting them here for all the world to see.  Because I’m a kind and thoughtful mother, who might be a tad passive aggressive.

 

 

Classic Shift from Lisette Continental Blouse Pattern

6 Feb

Remember how I said I had simplified the back of the Lisette Continental Blouse and elongated the whole pattern to make a dress pattern?  Well this is the first iteration of that pattern!

It is a classic A-line shift, with darts.  It is seriously, my most favorite dress and shirt shape ever. Not too fitted so as to hide my middle, and thanks to the darts, it fits my bust line nicely, without bursting at the seams. For this particular version, I stuck with the oval -not quite boat-neck line and used one solid color fabric.  I found the fabric on clearance at Joann’s for a mere $6/yard and since it was a 58″ wide fabric, I used about 1/5 yards to make it.  So that means this lovely dress cost me about $9!!!

I wore it to an event for a client, The Heavy Seas AleHouse, and was complimented on it!  Woo hoo!

Colin and I at the Heavy Seas AleHouse

 

I can change the neckline and this will work as the basis for a tunic top, and if I add back in the gathered back detailing, will make for a nice cocktail dress, if I find the right fabric.

If I add cuffs to the long sleeves and some button detailing, that would be nice too.  Or shorten the sleeves and add color blocking.  There are so many possibilities for this dress, I’m super excited about it.

And over the weekend I was able to test out the pattern that I scooped up  for a maxi dress at the 99 cent Joann Pattern Sale, on a shorter version, and that turned out great too.

My handmade clothing collection is expanding nicely! And the freedom to create exactly what I want is ever more enticing.

The thing I’ve learned from this sewing adventure, is that it never hurts to try. I could really only sew in a straight line up until a couple months ago and now I can sew sleeves, and button holes and zippers and knits.  If you’re reading this and are thinking about busting out the sewing machine and giving it a whirl, or if you are sewing but haven’t tried things because it looks hard, just try it, and you’ll see.

 

 

Chevron Trench Coat

1 Feb

This coat might just be my crowning achievement in my sewing career!  Not only did it turn out better than I could have ever anticipated, but I also adapted a pattern to construct it!

The basis for the jacket is the Amy Butler Sandlewood Jacket pattern that I used to make my elephant coat.  I then used what I had learned sewing the Olivia Pea Coat from Peek-A-Boo Patterns for Lelia’s Chevron Coat, to add a collar and extend the front panels.

I decided to use the sash option that comes with the jacket pattern and made it extra long, but this time around, I did not use interfacing. I felt that the 54” Wide Premier Prints ZigZag Slub Yellow/White Fabric By The Yard was of a heavy enough weight, that any extra stabilization would result in an overly stiff jacket. I want this to be my go to coat for Spring so I’d rather it be comfy.

I used Michael Miller Garden Pin Dot Carnation Fabric for the lining on the back and the arms, and as per the Olivia Pea Coat Pattern, I used more zig zag for the front panel lining, since when you fold it open the inside lining shows.

The jacket has darts at the back and the bust and then has an aline shape from the waist down.  A-lines are my dream shape as they conceal my less than lovely mid section and highlight my curves. I’m now desperately trying to figure out how to size this pattern to a dress because it’d make a beautiful dress for me!

 

Since the weather is so nice, I’ve already worn it several times.  Last night, a very fashionable friend of mine told me that she loved my coat and then asked me who’s it was, as in who was the designer!!!!!!  Yeah, she thought my hand sewn coat was a professionally made, brand name, article of clothing!!!!!

And that my friends, is all the fuel I need to keep up with this sewing adventure!

 

The Perfect Bag has Been Made!

21 Jan

I’ve been on a quest my whole life to find the perfect bag.  But what makes up the perfect bag is always changing so I’ve never found it.

Until now!

I’ve been collecting ideas on Pinterest. And making test bags and scouring my books, like Fabric-by-Fabric One-Yard Wonders, One-Yard Wonders, BurdaStyle , Oliver + S Little Things to Sew, and looking at my Sweet Harmony Handbag and Tote pattern to gather pieces.

Requirements for the bag were as follows:

  1.  have a long cross body strap
  2. involves the Premier Prints ZigZag Yellow/White Fabric  from the Spring Chevron Coat
  3. exterior pockets to hold phone/keys/chapstick
  4. interior pockets to hold little things
  5. have pink somewhere on the exterior
  6. large enough to carry kid junk
  7. fit my ipad
  8. square or vertical rectangle shape
  9. not look dowdy or frumpy
  10. not be too large

Originally I thought more of a messenger bag style was what I was looking for but after creating the test bag, I realized that I wanted the bag to be able to be carried over the shoulder or on my wrist as well.  The cross body style is great for when I’ve got my kids b/c it’s easy to keep on while holding them.  But sometimes I just want to grab the bag and go. Also I needed smaller exterior pockets to hold the little stuff that I need to grab quickly without rooting through a whole bag or a deep pocket. As such, a complete overhaul was needed and I looked for some fresh perspective.

The lightbulb went off when I found this bag on Pinterest.

The Elessa bag from Milloo, image from Milloo on Etsy

 

It’s larger than I wanted to but the shape was right and the idea of side pockets instead of front pockets was perfect.

I had made side pockets with the Oliver + S Messenger Bag, and I had seen a pleated bag called the Folklore bag in One Yard Wonders. And so that pattern was the basis for my bag creation.

I added a zipper instead of a magnetic closure, and another interior pocket as well as exterior side pockets.  But the piece de resistance, was my brilliant (if I do say so myself) upcycling of the handles from my JPK bag! That gave me both of the handle lengths that I was looking for and added an element of pink.  To tie them in, I piped the yolk and pockets in pink as well.

The downer to the JPK handles is that the shorter handles have such thick leather that I had to hand sew them on, and the long, cross body handles are SCREWED into the fabric, so I had to do a little handiwork to affix them to the bag.

The Folklore pattern itself, was a BREEZE to sew.  There were only 4 pattern pieces plus the pocket to work with.  (If I had followed it exactly, I would have had to cut the straps too) And the pieces were all EASY PEASY to cut out.  The directions were clear as day and I bet I could have cut and sewn the exact purse in well under 2 hours.  Even with my additions it wasn’t very time consuming.  The zipper and the hand stitching were the hardest parts.

Now I can move on to MY own Spring Chevron Coat, I think I am going to take the Amy Butler Sandlewood Jacket pattern and turn it into a mid thigh length trench.  Either that or a collarless mid thigh coat that has 1 row of buttons.   What do you think?


 

 

My Favorite Dress Ever from the O Tunic

16 Jan

I am soooooo excited!! I went on a fabric buying bender right before Christmas and I had a specific style dress in mind for one of the fabrics.  When I found the O Tunic from Fabric-by-Fabric One-Yard Wonders, I knew it would be the right pattern.

The fabric is Hoodie’s Collection Bistro Menu and I love it!

I made a few changes to the pattern: I made butterfly like cap sleeves, I added a kangaroo pocket to the new front of the dress and I added 6 inches to the original pattern. I got inspiration for the pocket from Pinterest of course.

Kangaroo pocket dress from Pinterest

 

Lelia’s pretty happy about how it turned out too and Isabelle wants one of her own, but in reverse.  I’ll take pictures and make a little how to when I make hers to show you how to make it yourself.  And next go round, I think I’ll add more fabric to the dress to make it a little more flowy and full.

CHEEEEESSSSEEE!!!!!

 

Shiny button on the back of Dress

 

Butterfly/Cap Sleeve

 

Kangaroo pocket

 

 

 

 

 

Image

A Line for Iz

12 Jan

I had a little of the Heather Bailey Pop Garden Zig Zag fabric leftover and I finally bought the Alexander Henry Lemon fabric from Joann’s that I drooled over during several visits. So I combined the two to make Iz a fun, funky, a line of her own.

Lelia will get one too, but here’s will have a yellow and white chevron print to go with the Lemon print.

Once again, I’m using the Carla C A-line Jumper Pattern for this dress.  It has got to be one of the more simple dresses to sew, I’m fairly sure I knocked this one out in under an hour.

The spring wardrobe is coming together for the girls!  They’ve each got 2-3 dresses now and more coming down the pike!  There are several more patterns that I’d like to try my hand at for spring, and then there are some one’s I’d like to kind of create on my own for the girls.

Again, I have to say that this really is a nice creative outlet for me and it’s so satisfying to see a project through from start to finish.  Plus I love that my girls have clothes to wear that were made with love.