Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Sew What! Skirt

I have used the skirt patterns from the Sew What! Skirts book before, but that was a few sizes ago. The coolest thing about this book is you draft your own pattern - literally took about 10 minutes to measure myself and then mock up a piece of wrapping paper with my template. I was so excited because I could control the length. All the skirts currently living in my closet hit just below my knee (I am only 5'2" ) and I want them to hit just above the knee. Thought it would help me not look like calf girl.

Yes - the 6 year old was my fashion photographer again. Guess I should think of getting the feet ready for summer shoes... it has been a long, cold winter :)

I used some of the Tina Givens Zazu fabric I bought a while back - mostly planning to use it to accent other fabrics. Since I had few yards of it, I decided it would be a good trial skirt. Are you sensing the "trial" theme I've mentioned much of late? Guess it makes sense to try things out before using my favorite fabrics... I used the A-Line pattern with a side zipper. I think it is better than just a trial - it will make the cut!

Monday, March 30, 2009

pillowcase dress & a biggerbuttercup bag

OK, I know what you are thinking - and yes - I did it again. I re-purposed household linens into clothing for my daughter. Unlike last time, it seems a bit more socially acceptable this round. At least within the crafty sect, people have been making pillowcase dresses for ages. I've been hoarding pillowcase with dreams of making them into dresses for Rowan after seeing them all over the blog-o-sphere for about a year. I finally kicked myself in the butt this weekend(maybe because my sewing machine is so conveniently located in the entry way?) and used this tutorial and left over bias tape from this apron... and TA DA!

Isn't it cute? And easy...I have more visions of making her a zillion nightgowns (without the bows - maybe spaghetti straps) and swim suit cover ups for this summer. I'm not sure she'll cooperate and wear them all, but a girl can dream, right? Here is a close up of the neck and bias ties....

I must confess I let the kids watch 2 episodes of The Spectacular Spiderman while I cut out fabric tonight. I waited to sew til they were asleep though... but still feel guilty. I had a project that HAD to get done tonight. The reason - somewhat twofold. First, after making a few of Made by Rae's Buttercup bags, I have wanted to try making it a tad bit bigger. I saw on her flickr group that someone enlarged the pattern to 130% and they looked about right. The second (and real reason) for the last minute crafting was because I have a co-worker retiring tomorrow. She is a wonderful person and since she is always so chatty and inquisitive about my crafty endeavors, I wanted to make her a homemade gift. She is a fellow crafter - an avid knitter ..and has been my go-to real live person for my book-taught knitting skills (yes - or lack there of) this winter. I'll miss having her so readily available and encouraging! Here is the bag I made for her using Rae's pattern and enlarging all but the strap to 130%.

I used my left over stash of Amy Butler Lotus fabric and a vintage button from my stash. I hope she likes it!
Here is a shot next to my body to see the how the increase in sizing really looks. Please ignore the gray matchy matchy stretchy stretchy lounge wear. I had no idea it looked like it did until I saw the pictures... I think I've cropped everything scary out, but if not... sorry!!
Like my "Rosie the Riveter" pose?
I used my Sew What! Skirts book this weekend to make an A-line beauty that fits nice and I'm excited to wear... but I'll save that post for another day. I'm sleepy...and off to hit the hay! Well, after I finish the dishes, swap out the laundry and organize the back packs for tomorrow. Nighty night!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Summer Blouse - Take 2

OK - I am obsessed. I admit it. I tried the Weekend Sewing Summer Blouse again - with thrifted fabric again. And that was a good thing, again. I modified things a bit more...and think I may finally have this pattern understood enough to make in some fun, spendy fabric. Or not - I am actually happy with these 2 versions in my el-cheapo thrifted fabrics. What I did not love as fabric I kind of dig as shirts. Maybe it is the pattern itself that looks good in all types of prints?


This fabric reminds me of a country-esque burberry print. Rowan choreographed my photo shoot. After snapping 4 shots she said "I'm done"... moody fashionista photographer:)


Here is how I modified, then re-modified this one. I made the shirt about 2 inches longer than the pattern indicated. I also took things in about 1/2 an inch from any side on the pattern and took about 3" off of the sleeves. Otherwise I kept to the book. Oh - and I figured out how to sew on the bias tape appropriately. When I was trying to fix the shirt from yesterday, I googled for help and found a zillion tutorials that offered some assistance. Though the neck is still not perfect, the stay stitch and lots of steam iron helped a lot. After all this, I tried it on I thought it was a bit too "flowy" still. That was my downfall. Do not modify your garments at 11 pm people. I used the existing arm pit hole and just cut down the side. But then it got too fitted/tight around the waist. So, then I improvised a slit in each side so it would be wearable/comfortable. I'm good with it now - and think I've finally got the general shape of both the pattern and myself down. I may go for a cap sleeve or sleeveless version next time... but it I've got the Cabo Halter up next on my list!

Oh - I also made Miss Rowan a tooth fairy pillow this weekend. It is a matyroshka doll pillow and I found the pattern here. She has a tooth that is basically hanging at an odd angle in her mouth. We are all bugging her to yank it out, but I think she is enjoying wiggling it with her tongue too much!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Summer Blouse - Take 1

I've been antsy to try the Summer Blouse pattern from Heather Ross's Weekend Sewing book. In fact, I purchased the book after seeing this blog post from Ashley because I loved her version so much. I decided to go for it Thursday night, but did not realize that the patterns that were included in the book needed to be traced. They could not be cut out, or you would destroy the other patterns, since they all overlap on large pieces of paper. Not a deal breaker, mind you, just something I had not caught on to while reading the book. I ran out Friday and got a dressmakers wheel and some tracing paper today and opted to use some thrifted fabric for my first try. Good call. I'm finally learning! While things are not perfect, here is my first try.

(Dave took the picture from a horrible angle below me... arg... or at least that is what I'm telling myself)

First off, I'd like to start out declaring that I do like this shirt a lot. This version does not fit quite right yet, but that is the purpose of a trial version, right? It went together fast (like an hour) and the book was easy to understand and anticipate.
Now my issues and/or future changes I'd make are as follows:

  • I did not have enough fabric to make the long sleeves, but actually I like this length. I would do it this way again probably....
  • I had to take in the sides a lot - I measured about 2 inches in from each side of the hem and then tapered it up to meet the normal sleeve. Before I did this modification it was REALLY bell shaped and baggy. I still think it is a bit baggy, so I think next time I'll take it in some more all over and a bit more length would/could help this too.
  • OK - the length...I had read on a few other blogs that people thought it should be a bit longer, so this was a dumb call on my part not to add a few inches. I was thinking that because I'm only 5'2" it would work on me. It is fine until I stretch - so I think next time I'll do about 2 more inches.
  • I'm not happy with the red bias tape, but was too lazy to make my own today. Since it was thrifted fabric, I was not caring overly much about how it turned out, but I may re-do this part so it is wearable. I actually like the country-esque fabric more as a shirt than I thought I would!
  • Lastly, the "placket". I wish I has used contrasting fabric, as the book recommended. It is a bit boring like this. Next version, I will probably modify this a bit as well, either to the "v" that Ashley did or zig zag stitch it up 3/4 of the way like I saw Erin do here. As of today, my bottom button is a bit wonky and it creates a bit of a gap. I plan to fix this when I fix the bias.... maybe tomorrow? We'll see...
All in all - good stuff and I am excited to try again, as well as fix this one up. You can see below that it stood up well to an impromptu wrestling match that broke out during my glamorous photo shoot!

Dish Towel skirt - for reals...

I've seen dishtowels stretched into lots of different services of late. See here, here and here for my favorite examples. This might help explain why, when perusing the basement of my favorite Salvation Army, and finding the cutest dish towels EVER(that were, at the time and maybe still are?, currently available at Target for double the price) I immediately snatched up 3 of them. Oh, and a matching oven mitt, but that is beside the point. Here is a picture of the cute towel "before".

Honestly, I took this shot after the craft detailed below was done - when I wanted to show how cute the towels were starting out. This is truly a shot of Towel #3, the "faulty" towel that did not have a separated ruffle and had odd colors. The other 2 were normal, but this one actually did belong in the SA basement for 1/2 price...
It took a while to find the perfect role for these towels.. but I finally decided that they should be a skirt for Rowan. The ruffles were perfect - and the colors so springy and fun. So, although I felt a bit like Scarlet making a dress from curtains, I whipped this up for Miss Rowan last night.

To tell the truth, the first version of the skirt is not pictured here. The photo above is the re-vamped version due to her highness wanting it "shorter" and "not as puffy" on top. Turns out her mods made it much cuter! Fiddle Dee Dee...
How funny is this, BTW... while searching the net for a picture of the towels to link to (which I never found, which is why I had to take a picture of the "reject" towel above, which is... just kidding) I ran into this blog and found another savvy woman who made her daughters dishtowel skirts too! I guess the ruffles just screamed out "Skirt!" to both of us... great minds and all...

Got my charming handbag!!

Hooray for the mail man... or woman, not sure who came today. Regardless, they brought me my Charming Handbag from the BTRS swap I joined. Traci from Portland made me the sweetest bag. I love it!

Now I'll gush about a couple things that made me extra happy with my charming handbag. I love that Traci wrapped the ribbon (which was velvet ric rac people... how cool is that?) all the way around the bag. While I did not add the ribbon to the one I sent off, I remember thinking as I was reading that part that I would not like such an obvious "front" to the bag, since I don't have my act together enough usually to pay attention to things like that. OK, that said, I love that on one side of my bag, there is a crocheted flower with buttons inside- adorable! So yes - technically my bag does have a front side, but not an obvious one that looks bad if it is backwards :) Traci added a magnetic clasp too- another necessity for me and greatly appreciated. I'm a bit clumsy and things tend to fall out when not secured from my bags. The fabric and colors she chose are great as well. Funny that my own daughter does not normally care for ANY fabric I purchase, but when she caught a glimpse of my new bag, she was all ga ga over it. I may have to hide this from her :)

Oh - and all my goodies....An embroidered felt needle book in the shape of a strawberry and needles. She must have telepathically known I need a place to store my needles, but have not gotten around to making one on my own...

Check out the beadwork on the needle book -I am SO excited to fill it with needles! A cute mini tape measure and a bracelet (which I have on my wrist as I type) were also included. Lucky me... thanks Traci!! I could not be happier with this swap!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

umm...more buttercups and headbands

I had a short turn time to produce some gifts for Rowan's school carnival. Like 2 days. Seriously. Since the last Buttercup bag went over so well (Jen liked it, she really liked it!) I decided to make a couple more from scrap fabric I had on hand. Again, can I express my love of the pattern? It is really fun and easy and I think it is fantastic that Rae first of all created it and then posted it on her blog for free. To keep things interesting, I changed things up a bit and did fabric loops around the buttons as clasps instead of the magnetic snaps, and this time I "tucked" the straps inside the bag. Kept the facing and flannel in the straps. These really feel nice and sturdy. Here they are...



Note: if these look vaguely familiar, I probably posted pictures of things made out of the same fabric in the past year...(hello aprons, baby shoes and Brianna's shirt).

I also committed to making more of the 10 minute headbands. Here are a bunch of them in sizes varying from what I hope is toddler/infant to large adult. I did not have any guinea pigs of the toddler/infant variety at 11 pm last night, so I'm crossing my fingers on the sizing! (Yes- I do know that large adults fit just fine for those of us with large brain capacity).

OK, not the most original post. I get it- these are the same 2 crafts that I posted about last time, just more of them :) Hey, I already said I only had like 2 days to create - they are donations/gifts, for goodness sake, not expressions or proof of my creativity (or lack there of). Hope they go over well!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Buttercup Bag and more headbands

I (and everyone else in crafty blog land) saw Made by Rae's Buttercup Bag a little while back. Immediately, I knew although I loved it, it could never be mine. Too dang small for this huge purse totin' mama. But ADORABLE. (And how fantastic that Rae posted the pattern for free? Amazingly generous crafty people out there.) While it could not be mine, it COULD very well be a birthday gift for my friend Jen. It was her birthday yesterday, and I threw this cutie together in about 2 hours. I (read) that others were whipping it up faster, but I'm still a bit of a rookie (when will I stop saying that?) and I interfaced the entire bag so it could have a nice stiff shape. Honestly, since I knew it was a gift, I probably spent more time than had it been for little old me too. She'll get this tomorrow at work, hopefully before she reads this blog post :)

Remember the headband I made Friday from Blue Bird Studio's tutorial? I decided Jen needed a headband for her birthday too. Oh, and I decided I needed another. Here is a picture of my first one (brown), hers (blue and smaller since she has a normal size head, not my big melon) and my new one (pink and white) to match my orange shirt for tomorrow. Yes - rather sad that I'm crafting the night before to wear something new to work...

This is a flattened view to show the hair binder sewed in. This provides the "stretch" and looks better than normal elastic.

Next up, for my mother and aunt, who are having a hard time envisioning my sewing armoire in the entry way, I took a few pictures today standing outside on the front stoop.
Here is the armoire opened up. Obviously this would not be an easy way to greet people to our humble abode. Lucky for me (?) I seldom have time to sew when there would be visitors arriving. (The tin on top is full of my vintage sheets and linens. Sneaky, huh?)
Here is the armoire closed up...how most would see it upon arriving. Yes Nancy, a lot of my "kitsch" is gone, but I'm thinking up ways to make it better. For now I'm just glad that the movement of furniture is done for a while...

That is all the craftiness I have in me to post today. I spent the majority of the day cleaning. Arg. Though I'm exhausted it feels good now to have it clean- and since I had the windows open all day the house smells amazing! Love the spring after a freezing cold winter. Despite the mud I know will begin to invade our house, it feels like we somehow made it through a rough time and are at the silver lining part. Yes - cheesy, but I guess the additional hour or so of sun I'm seeing each day is starting to rub off on me.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

More Sewing from my new station

Thursday night, while Dave mourned the Gopher's loss, I buckled down to put together my new craft armoire. I turned this...

Into this....
The directions were fairly easy to follow, but there were a TON of pieces. After much hemming and hawing, we did opt to set up my sewing "station" in the entry way. Seems odd, but I actually love being in the middle of the house and able to hear what is going on. This wasn't the case when I was in my basement "cave". I also love walking into the house and INSTANTLY thinking about the things I can create! Finally, it will force me to clean up when I'm done. I'm not always good at this and I think it is much easier to start a new project when things are nice and organized.

An example would be these headbands. Found the tutorial a while back, but haven't had the time to build them. But, as claimed by Heather from the Blue Bird Studio, they really do take only a few minutes. Since craft land was all in order, I threw it together before dropping Rowan at kindergarten on Friday and wore it all day. I made her one too, but, par for the course, Rowan did not like it after it was finished... hmmm.... things are only going to get more difficult as she ages I'm guessing :)
Please ignore the gray hair...and the big fat man hand. How come it always looks like I have hefty fingers?? They are a bit square, but not that large...
I was able to also craft/sew a half apron for my sister in law Jody. She wanted a hand made gift for a friend's birthday next week. She chose the fabric and I used my same method from the Half Hula aprons, but did a square/rectangle pocket on both sides. The apron is reversible, with coordinating pockets. Imagine the other side, striped with paisley pocket... sorry, I did not take another picture. Oh, sorry for the busy rug as well. This would be best photographed on a clothesline outside, but I've as of yet convinced my husband that a clothesline is a good backyard aesthetic.
This (and the cozy below) went into the mailbox today. A day late from my plan, but still in good time for the birthday gifting~
I then matched the coffee cozy (tute here) to the apron. Used a vintage button from my stash. While I doubt they'll be "worn" together, this fabric is gorgeous. Love it.

Note ...I did just invest in 4 more packages of hair binders, since both the cozy and headbands used up my last pack. Bought a bit thinner ones this time - should work great! Who knew they were such a versatile craft medium??

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Charming Handbag - BTRS Swap

Since I've declared my love so publicly for my Bend the Rules Sewing book by Amy Karol, you will find it no surprise that I broke my "no swap" rule and participated in one where you create things from my Favorite Book Ever (well, I liked Little Women and The Thorn Birds too, but I'm referring to crafty books). Now, to clarify, my "no swapping" promise made in November of last year was not due to not liking the act of swapping - rather the overwhelming volume of things I have in the hopper to make for friends, relatives, etc. I still do have things lined up to make... but decided it would be fun to do just this one swap.... (ha!). The premise was to make the Charming Handbag from the book... here is my version!

Since Adrienne is the host of the swap (*THANK YOU* in case you visit here, Adrienne - love your crafting and your quote about not belonging in the 'burbs - I feel the exact same way!!) she already knows that I'm making her bag... so while I don't normally like to post until the package is received, I decided I'd do it a bit early this time. It is really going in the mail from the office tomorrow... I promise.

So - onto the bag itself. My partner let me know she has a love of bright, big prints. She stated a love for a few of the fabric gurus that I know and love as well, and I'm hoping that the Valori Wells Olive Rose fabrics I chose work for her as well. They seemed to fit the bill pretty well- both bright and big- and I think they made a fun bag! I modified the pattern a bit, as usual. I did not include the velvet ribbon, though I had it on hand. It just did not seem to work well with this print. I also added the clasp, button (vintage found in my antique sewing machine) and a magnetic snap holding the clasp closed. I think this pattern is adorable...while it is a bit small for my normal day to day life, I think it would be a great "going out" purse or perfect for those who don't have to haul Pull-Ups and Spider man around with them wherever they go.

We were to make/buy something crafty for around $5 as well, so I used this tutorial and made a pin cushion to go with the bag. I need to make myself a few of these too, they were quick and easy!

I then found some pretty pins from Joann's and some cute little mints (they say "Crafty Girl") on them and they seemed to want to belong inside this handbag and travel via US Mail to Adrienne's house. Fine by me...

I've got to run now - I've got fabric in the dryer for an apron that was commissioned by my sister-in-law as a gift for her friend. I'd like to get it all cut out tonight so I can sew it tomorrow and get it to her by the weekend. I had the main fabrics delivered on Monday, but did not get the tie fabric picked out until tonight. Thought I'd get to it earlier, but we are having a bit of an issue with frantic schedules and then the problem craft armoire that got delivered on Monday (this one here). I had moved all my crafting gear upstairs thinking it would be a slam dunk to put together and then I could get on with my crafting. Turns out it is in 1 zillion pieces. And we can't get the computer hutch (that sits where I wanted to craft) upstairs. Not that we did not try - and swear, and gouge holes into the wall. Oh, did I mention the swearing? So now we are waiting til the weekend to finish building it and decide where it will go. Dave thinks I could set it up in the entry way and sew. huh. Maybe he could play his guitar in the entry way and I could sew in his band's space. JUST KIDDING...or not :) For now I'm sewing on the dining room table since the former craft room was re-converted to the play room. Looks like I'm NOT going to be ergonomically correct for a bit...

Friday, March 6, 2009

the Rowan tree

Rowan's name still makes me happy just to hear or see it. I remember my college roommate and close friend Jodie telling me about this book series where the main female character had a fantastic name - Rowan. This must have been 1997 or 1998? She was referring to Ann Rice's Mayfair Witch series. I immediately read the whole series and loved them all. And fell in love with the name Rowan. Yes - I am the type of girl who always would hear names and think "that one is on my list" - but honestly there was no physical list. Not until I met Dave, married him and we started seriously thinking of babies, then there was a list. Well, Rowan blew away all the girl options, because months before she was actually born we knew we were going to name our daughter Rowan. I remember about 20 hours into my labor, the midwife wrote "Waiting for Miss Rowan" on the dry erase board in our hospital room. I was almost giddy to see her name in writing and knowing that it was her name. My daughter - who was in the process of entering the world. I think this thought probably helped to keep me going for the next 16 hours until she FINALLY made her debut.

After Rowan was born, I then did a bit more research and found out that various sites and books indicate "Rowan" means "the red one". Huh, who knew? And what to make of the odd fact that she actually has red hair? From blond (dirty - that would be Dave) and brunette (OK, so it is really gray) haired parents? Quite the coincidence, huh? Now, I don't attest to believe that our choosing that name turned her hair red, but it is still a bit freaky. More research led me to discover that in Europe, the Mountain Ash tree is referred to as a Rowan Tree. Mystically, it is said to protect children and ward off the evil fairies. Cool, huh? Her bedroom is still decorated with fairies - though she is in process of designing her own "big girl" room. Sigh.

Sorry, back on topic. I've wanted to plant a Rowan tree in our yard for a while, but we've never gotten around to it. Since we are now in the middle of winter still, I decided to create a Rowan tree of my own, but using fabric and thread. I googled and did some ink drawings of what the tree looked like. Then I embroidered my drawing onto a dress that I had found on the clearance rack. I actually found the dress before Christmas, but "misplaced" it in the holiday rush.
Here is my Rowan in her Rowan Tree dress. She picked out the thread colors. I'm still quite the embroidery novice, and the silver metallic thread was a bit rough to work with, but I'm telling myself that is the beauty of a handmade gift. Both of us actually love it - which is not the norm here - so I'll try to pretend that I don't so she will wear it for me a bit.

A close up of the tree...

Here is her sassy pose..
A little branch detail on the neckline.

Oh - one disclaimer - the Rowan tree usually has red Rowan berries -and I thought of adding some beadwork to this, but for now this works. I've done another version of this embroidery to make a pillow for the living room. It will go with one I make for Griffin. I'm working on a drawing of the mythical eagle/lion Gryphon to make for his pillow It was either that or I read that Griffin means hooked nose. I guess it is lucky we did not pick out his name til he was almost born, huh?

Sunday, March 1, 2009

again with the Pleated Beauty...

Yep - 5th times a charm. And selfishly, this one is for me. I had ordered some fat quarters of Anna Marie Horner's Good Folks fabric. I love how fun and crazy the prints are - and how the line fits together - and yet doesn't. Does that make sense? They are not TOO matchy matchy. All that said (written?) I was hemming and hawing about what to build with the fabric - a fat quarter is really not that much of any one given fabric - when Dave of all people suggested I make myself a purse. He may have even said "make that one bag that you made that I liked". Helpful, isn't he? Of course I knew what one he was referring to, since I've made 4 others like it (see here and here for a few of them) - the Pleated Beauty from my trusty Bend the Rules Sewing book. So despite the fact that my list is long of things to make for others, I'm keeping this one. In fact, it is already all full of my normal purse stuff/paraphernalia and ready to be brought to work tomorrow. I love it. Sigh. For reals.


I modified things a smidge - mainly due to what has worked well for me in the past or what I've read that others have done. Here are my changes:
1) I added a magnetic clasp, 2) I narrowed the bag a bit due to the fact that I was working mainly with Fat Quarters of fabric, 3) like last time, I did not pleat the lining... I just trimmed it up to fit perfectly inside, 4) I doubled the flannel facing inside, since the thrifted fabric lining is a thin shiny fabric that was not very sturdy, 5) I added an extra pocket inside the bag and divided it for my phone and 6) I modified the straps - pretty much winged them - they are longer and thinner than the pattern calls for and I lined them with flannel inside.
Here are the pockets and the inside...