Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Back to School Sewing

My kids start school tomorrow. The first day at a new school. They're all excited. It seems like I'm the only nervous one. The backpacks are packed, the lunches made, the clothes laid out. Everything's ready to go!

These two little items are the only back-to-school sewing I've done this year. My younger daughter and I worked on this pencil case together. She sat on my lap and did some of the steering while we were sewing the seams. The fabric choices are hers.


This is a boxy zippered pouch made with this pattern, A Little Duffle Do It. The pattern gives cutting dimensions for four sizes, but I needed one to fit a set of colored pencils and based the dimensions on that. So, this one is longer and thinner than any of the four given choices.


I quilted the outer fabric and lining together with fusible fleece in between. The pattern gives good instructions for cleanly finishing the inside seams using binding, but I was trying to be quick and just zigzagged them instead.


I like how wide it opens and the ribbon tabs on each end make it easy to open and close the zipper.


My son needed a set of ear buds to have at school. They didn't come with a case and I thought we could do better than a ziplock bag. I nabbed this Straight Stitch Society pattern when they were on sale recently and gave my son his choice of animals.


As with all the Liesl + Co patterns, this one is well designed and has great instructions. It is cleanly finished on the inside with only a couple inches of hand stitching to close it up.


It doesn't show up very well against the white background, but I love the little bone zipper pull. My son picked all the fabrics and buttons for the eyes. I wasn't sure I could get that little red one to work inside the orange one, but it was really important to him. And it does look pretty cool, doesn't it?


The finished size is about 4" in diameter and 1.25" in height. I wish the edges were a little crisper. There is a layer of batting between the outer fabric and lining. The batting was trimmed from all seam allowances, but maybe using a canvas or upholstery fabric would provide the heft without the bulk.

In the side view pic above, you can see the small stitches used to keep the ears folded over. It looks like a rabbit before that step. It sure turns out to be a cute little pup!

There will be some school clothes sewing coming up, but for now I'm happy to be sending my kids off to school with these fun little projects of their choosing.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Simplicity 2406 - Black Cold-Shoulder Dress

This dress was a very quick project, made shortly after my new sewing room was unpacked. I had this project in my mind for awhile, but the need for kids' clothes and then the moving project meant that it got pushed to the bottom of the list. This was a wardrobe-driven project, meaning neither the fabric nor the pattern are new or compelling, but I knew I would appreciate having it in my closet.


This is the third time I've used this pattern, Simplicity 2406 (first here, second here). For this version, I used a drapey knit. I modified the sleeves to be longer and have slightly more of a slit sleeve than a cut out shape. The pattern instructions would have you line the sleeves, which makes for a very nice finish, but I wanted to maintain the drape of the fabric and not add bulk, so I just hemmed the edges of the slit and finished the neckline edge of the sleeve piece with bias tape. I included lingerie guards as described here. Such helpful little things those are.


In terms of construction, this dress was very easy to make and it is very easy to wear. I feel like it hits the right spot on the casual-dressy continuum for my setting and lifestyle. Win!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Kaleidoscope Quilt Top

A couple of years ago I started assembling these quilt blocks with my daughter. It was a good project to work on together and my scrap bins were over flowing. We worked on it on and off in between other projects, usually eight or ten blocks at a time. I figured we'd do it until we had enough for a twin size quilt and then see if we wanted to keep working on it.


This is twin size and we are done. The original inspiration is here and the accompanying tutorial for paper piecing the blocks is here. We made our blocks 8.5" square because we used the 8.5" x 11" printer paper we had on hand. I just eyeballed the placement of the white strips, so those don't all line up precisely, but I'm okay with it.


I really like the variety of colors combined with the white strips. The diamond shapes and variety of stripe widths keep the eye moving, but the white provides some grounding, too.


I don't have plans to finish this in the immediate future because I haven't decided exactly what we'll use it for. That might affect how I want to finish it. For now, I'm happy we got it to this stage. Believe it or not, it didn't seem to make much of a difference in the size of my scrap collection.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Back at it...

July was a busy month for our family. We moved back to the States and have been busy getting settled in our new community. It's been a good move so far but the changes and adjustments have consumed a lot of time and energy. I am very grateful to once again have a dedicated sewing space and have that all unpacked. There is still some arranging to do and things to get to make the space as efficient as I'd like it. That will come in time.

After not sewing anything for six weeks, I was honestly a little stumped by the question of what to sew first. My older daughter needed some more warm-weather pajamas and I could do that with stash fabric, so that's what I did.


I used two Ottobre patterns for this set, both of which were designed for knits. To make them work for this woven poplin, I sized up before cutting and then had to do some tweaking during assembly.


The top is Ottobre 3/2011 #33. I like the envelope-style neckline and I loved doing the bias binding. The yellow looks like a better match in real life. I preferred a grey binding, but my daughter liked the yellow better.


After I basted the side seams, the top was too loose under the shoulders and too tight at the hem. So, we took it in at the top and added a 1.5" gusset to the lower part of the side seams. It makes it much more comfortable and easier to get on and off. If it wasn't pajamas, I maybe would have worked harder to make it an interesting design feature, but plain is fine for pajamas.


I did a fair bit of modifying to the shorts pattern to make them work for this fabric. Since these were completed, I came across a link to this free (!) Purl Bee pattern, which would give very similar results.

I don't have any pictures of these on my daughter, but they look pretty cute on her. Perfect for warm summer nights!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Ottobre T-shirt blitz

Much like I did for my son, I quickly made a handful of T-shirts for my daughter to meet her clothing needs for the season. They were all fast and easy.

Ottobre 3/2013 #32

Ottobre 4/2012 #28

Ottobre 1/2014 #28 
(I thought I could just eyeball that button placement. Yes, they are crooked and no, I probably won't fix it).

Ottobre 3/2013 #39 (Birthday shirt!)

My sewing room has been packed up for a couple of weeks now. We're moving next week. So, this space will be quiet for awhile (intentionally this time!) until I get my new sewing space unpacked and set up. 

Friday, May 30, 2014

Taking a Risk (or I Made Harem Pants)

My sewing lately has been quite intentional, planned, and purpose-driven. I typically work well that way, but last week I needed a bit of a break and wanted to just sew something for fun. If it didn't turn out to be a runaway success, I wasn't going to worry about it.

I pulled out a piece of black ponte knit fabric that was in my stash. I know it isn't the best quality and I didn't want to be tempted to use it for something that I would invest a lot of time in or would want to last awhile. It's a fairly heavyweight knit, but has quite a lot of stretch and decent drape.

I don't know made me want to make harem pants, but after I had the thought I really wanted to go ahead with it. After looking for a pattern to download from Burdastyle, I remembered that I already had an issue with a suitable pattern in it (1/2011 #124).



I didn't think I would like that deep yoke, so I modified that to be narrower and straighter across and also changed the front and back leg pieces to compensate. I do like pockets in pants, so I added those. I chose the pattern size based on my hip measurement, but I don't think it really matters in this style! I did decrease the fullness at the lower CF/CB seams. There's still plenty left! 


Burda would have you interface the yoke and insert a zipper. I didn't like that idea. Instead, I added elastic at the top of the yoke so they would be easy, comfy, pull-on pants.

Here they are slightly "in motion" (head cropped because I was making a funny face).


They are indeed very comfortable. They are not conventionally flattering, but sometimes it's fun to try something different. I wore them this week with a black top and this jacket and got a few compliments. I also got a few puzzled looks. :)

Whatever you think of the pants, I'm convinced that the top is a winner. This is the Maria Denmark Kirsten Kimono T-shirt. This is a free pattern (you need to sign up for the newsletter to get it, but it's a good newsletter!) and it couldn't be easier to make. It's also easy to make and looks good on just about everyone.


The harem pants pattern will probably not see the light of day again, but I'm sure I'll make more of these tops.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Filling the Gaps

My son didn't have major wardrobe needs this season. A quick assessment showed that a few T-shirts would do it. Last week was a busy week and T-shirts were about all I could handle in the sewing room. I finished four (from two very basic Ottobre patterns and stash fabric) and hemmed a pair of pants with holes in the knees - one project for each of the weekdays.


The navy stripes are fused and then topstitched.


I just eeked this out from an old T-shirt of mine. The neckband had to be pieced.


I love this little gecko. It's from an Ottobre pattern.

Back view:


Finally, a new age number T-shirt. I like the baseball style shirt, but the sleeves ended up an awkward length. The pattern had narrow bands at the hem. I left them off and added length to compensate, but it isn't quite right. Still wearable, though.