Thursday, October 16, 2014

A Little of This, A Little of That: Coming Up With a Fall Dress

My older daughter is 10 years old now. That puts her in the "tween" age category. When trying to come up with sewing plans for her, I felt a bit stumped. This is new territory. Combining her preferences, my "guidelines" (leggings are not pants!), and this new age category in a successful way is a challenge. We talked through some options together and looked at fabrics together and we have a bit of a plan. This dress was the first part of the plan.


We had an idea of what the dress should look like and then combined a couple different Ottobre patterns to get what we wanted. There was a fair bit of basting and fitting as we went and in the end, we both think it was successful.


She picked out the fabric - a purple pique knit. It's pretty stretchy with very good recovery, so it wasn't too difficult to handle. The black trim is a cotton/lycra jersey. I added the keyhole at the front neckline for interest. The binding was done on my sewing machine with a double needle. First I zigzagged the binding to the neckline, then turned it to the back and topstitched with the double needle. I trimmed off the extra on the inside close to the stitching line. The zigzagging and double needle stitching both allow plenty of stretch for getting this on without a zipper or button closure.


My initial plan was to have this ruched waist piece sit on top of the dress and just be attached at the side seams. However, I made an error in tracing the skirt pattern and the front piece was two inches shorter than the back piece. I didn't want a short skirt on this dress, so I decided to insert the back piece to gain back some of the length. It worked well enough.


The bodice back piece is a bit too long and she gets some pooling above the inset piece. Not enough to make any changes on this dress, but it's something I might watch for in the future.


She would like for the skirt to be fuller. She's a big fan of the circle skirt. I'm not such a big fan of buying enough fabric for a circle skirt.

We're both happy with this dress and I think our first real foray into tween clothing was successful. The Oliver + S blog has been doing a series about tween style (specifically related to their patterns) and I've been enjoying following it and picking up some inspiration.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Ottobre 6/2012 #37 - Chambray shirt

Since moving back to the US, I've done some experimenting with ordering fabric online. I had only dabbled with it while living in Canada because of shipping costs, duty charges and the nuisance of return shipping. As expected, it's a bit of a mixed bag. Some purchases are better than expected and some are disappointing. The corduroy for these pants was the former and the chambray for this shirt was the latter. The chambray is nice fabric, it's just different than what I had envisioned. I went ahead with it anyway.


This shirt is for my son and is the partner piece for these pants. I like how the shirt looks with the sleeves rolled up. He will have none of that.


The pattern is just a classic collared button-down shirt from Ottobre (6/2012 #37). I like the two-piece collar, the lined yoke, and the properly scaled front pocket. Breast pockets that are "off" (to my eye, anyway) in size, scale, or placement really bug me.


I used a plaid shirting for contrast on the collar stand, under collar, inner yoke, button placket, inner cuffs and sleeve plackets. I've been doing this with most collared shirts I make lately and I like the small amount of interest it provides.


My plan was to do the topstitching with navy blue thread, but it looked terrible. After trying some other options (gray, tan, white) I chose an off-white. The buttonholes looked too bright with that shade, so I used a light beige thread for them.


I'm such a sucker for a bit of bias plaid.

My son is happy with both of these pieces for fall - how they look and how they feel. I started with these because they are more involved than most of the other things I have planned to make. I know that if I start with the easy things, I'll run out of time for the complex ones. I find it easier to squeeze in the easy ones later.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Ottobre 4/2011 #38 - Rust Corduroy Pants

It happens every September. You'd think I would catch on. The air feels especially chilly on a Sunday morning and my kids still only have their summer clothes for church. Find some tights! Do you have a decent looking sweater? Put a shirt under that! And off we go, looking kind of patched together. Seriously, every year. That was last week Sunday. So, last week I was busy getting some dressier clothes together. I started with my son because I find his clothes takes longer to make. It's easier to squeeze in the faster dresses at the eleventh hour.

I always have success with Ottobre patterns for my son, so that's where I started. This is pattern #38 from issue 4/2011. They are called "Algebra corduroys." Ottobre pattern names are always interesting. I like the narrow legs, the curved yoke and the angled pockets on the front.


They are a bit rumpled from being folded up waiting for their shirt partner.


All of the topstitching is done in tan thread. I copied the rear pocket top-stitching from the pattern.


The waistband turned out to be a little too big, so I added some elastic to the back half. The inner waistband edge is bound with tan bias tape, matching the zipper and stitching. My kids don't like buttons on their pants. Snaps are still their preference, but we've been burned by snaps before. I have yet to find some that are both heavy duty enough for pants and work well consistently. I hate getting all the sewing work done and then ending up with a bum snap. Grrr.


So, for these pants we put in a hook and bar closure. He's had this on other pants and it works fine for him - both fast and secure. The button on the front is just decorative.


My son is the most tactile-aware of my kids. He loves soft, fuzzy clothes. He really likes these pants, even though he said he would prefer that the soft part be on the inside. :)

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Mega Gift Card Wallet

A few years ago I made these little wallets for the gift cards that I used regularly. The new school my kids attend participates in the same program, but it is much bigger here. That little wallet I had wasn't cutting it anymore. Some searching on Pinterest (it'll cure what ails you every time) led me to this tutorial for a pretty large gift card wallet. Mega even! I thought this might be more than I really needed, but I liked the concept of it.


I had been playing around with this braided-look patchwork and decided to incorporate it in this project. I backed the exterior wallet piece with upholstery fabric to give it some extra heft.


You can see some smudges on the back part. I've been using this for a couple of weeks already and can say that I'm really pleased with it. It is indeed more than I need, but I like having the space to keep everything sorted and also keep the loyalty/coupon cards with the gift cards.



And the last page with room for growth!

The tutorial includes instructions for a velcro tab closure. I used this elastic and a button that I had. Not sure that it's an improvement over velcro, but it's working well for me.

I know it takes a lot of time to create these tutorials and I've benefited from many of them. I'm thankful for people that are generous with their time and ideas!

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.