Friday, January 24, 2014

Jungle January: Bite Size Edition

Aww, she's so wiggly she always comes out blurry!
I never participate in Jungle January, not being much for animal prints, but the making of this top just so happened to coincide with it so I figured I'd steal the catchy name.  I bought a rather large woman's button up shirt from the by-the-pound Goodwill which is the main fabric for this little shirt.  It's not just an animal print, it's some kind of crazy paisley, multi-species animal print.  I saw it and had to have it.  Then I used some of it to make a gal at work a Christmas stocking (which I wish I had a picture of because yes it was awesome!!!)  As such, there wasn't really enough left to do a full garment for myself, so I opted to put it on Baby Girl.

She's such the little model, I know.  If you can't guess, this is another iteration of McCall's 8473.  This time with the matching pants.  The pants pattern for this is weird...  It's designed to have suspenders and snaps in the back and along the legs (obviously for diaper changes, I got that much).  Honestly, though, I just don't have time for that so I simplified it a bit (a lot).  I just use the  main pattern piece with the extra snap overlap fabric cut off (yes I traced the pattern first, geez!)  The pants pattern is a bit big, but she grows so fast I'm not too worried about it.  This way she'll actually get to use them for more than a month or two (hopefully!)

The pants are black velour (I think that's what it is anyway).  It's from a maxi length skirt I had in high school for band concerts.  The skirt was definitely showing some wear (most notably from when I tried to hem it with purple thread WTF?) and had generally seen better days.  There was actually just enough for the pants, collar, and cuffs.  The fabric is stretch so it was rather a bitch to do the collar and cuffs, but the pants were easy peasy and oh so warm and soft.

There are four big black buttons on the back.  I was almost surprised I found that many matching ones.  They're all from the big bag o' buttons I found at the thrift store...  Or in the big bin o' buttons that came from my mom.  They're all pretty well mixed together at this point.  It's nice to have lots of buttons on hand for when you need some, but it gets messy finding a number of matching ones!  I started organizing my buttons by color, but kind of petered out at some point.  I really should finish doing that...

The collar on this one is a little crazy but, again, it was really hard to sew that stretchy velour to the not at all stretchy animal print polyester.  Again, I could probably fix it, I just lack the motivation.  

All materials were from stash (yeah! for shopping the stash) but even considering what the main fabric and buttons cost when I bought them, the whole outfit wasn't even close to costing a whole dollar.  Score one for thrifting!

I really like this outfit.  I feel like it's kind of sophisticated since they're less childish fabrics/prints.  She's more like a real person every day!  (A tiny person, but a walking, talking person nonetheless).

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

FO : Pink Poodle Skirt (sans poodle)

Enter: Hollyburn the third.  (No, you still haven't seen the first one.)  I love this pattern!  It's just the shape I like my skirts... although all the old people I know call them poodle skirts.  Especially this one because, obviously, look how pink and voluminous!  All I need is to applique a poodle on the bottom and I'm set for the sock hop ;-)

I do think it's weird how the grain lines run on this pattern and I don't really understand how things are supposed to hang.  This skirt is cut accurately (I thiiiink) using the pattern grain lines, but there are some weird lines as the front and back seam stick out a little oddly.  The odd thing being that they stick out directly to the side of the seam instead of along it.  WTF?  I don't even know.  My grey Hollyburn doesn't suffer from this problem so much as the fabric is very fluid and drapey.  The fabric used for this one, on the other hand, is a super stiff cotton (cotton twill perhaps?) so it has a lot of body.  Incredibly it doesn't really wrinkle that much; these pictures were taken after I'd been wearing the skirt all day.

My face was actually so scary in this pic I cropped it out.  You're welcome.
This is View B, the medium length.  This one and also my grey one both have pretty sizeable hems (about 2 to 2.5 inches) and this one I still think is a bit long.  I'll probably go back to the shorter version with a nice narrow hem (much easier to ease in!) for the next one.

This being my third rendition, it went pretty quickly with only one big problem....  I forgot to interface the waistband!  If I don't tuck in my shirt you'd never notice it... but for some reason I felt the need to share, so here you go.

My shamefully floppy waistband
 I seriously love the pockets on this skirt.  They're big enough to hold so.much.stuff.  Next time I make a full skirted dress I may well just use the hollyburn skirt and pocket pieces.  The pockets look so oddly shaped, but they are certainly effective.  You can even fit a small orange in there!

Wait...  Is that weird?

So pocket happy!
Speaking of the pockets... I actually didn't have enough fabric to cut the pockets out of my main fabric, so the pocket front is a contrast fabric.  I found this fabric at the thrift store (so obviously the skirt was uber cheap, just like my last one).  Much to my chagrin, that contrast fabric peeks out just a bit.  Next time I'll do it the way the Thurlow pattern does it (that's right, next up: pants!).

 Let's get real about zippers for a second.  Look how awesome my zipper is.  Since this is my third time making this pattern it should be perfect (which it isn't, obviously the waistband is maybe half a centimeter off at the center back GAAAAAAHHHHH!) but I only had to sew the zipper in once and it looks pretty friggin good if I do say so myself.  It miiiiight not look as nice on the inside, but I'll never tell ;-) 

I'm getting closer!
What else is there to say?  The only thing I can think of is: expect more of these in the future.  In a far-off, warmer future where there's sunlight past 5pm and tights don't have to be worn all the time perhaps... but they will certainly happen.  I'm not sure it's possible for me to have too many Hollyburn skirts.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Dusty Rose Baby Shirt

The second iteration of McCall's 8473.  Can I just tell you briefly how completely in love I am with this pattern?  There are gathers, a peter pan collar...  It's just so damn cute.  Fortunately Baby Girl is a pretty good sport about being dressed up and photographed (so far).

The actual pattern
And she's so cute!  In pictures, especially, as she's much quieter in that form.  I had just a little bit of this brown fabric left after I made myself a button up shirt.  We have not had a chance to dress up in our matching shirts yet, but we will I'm sure.  The piping is a pink and white plaid I used on Baby Girl's Christmas stocking (oh no!  I just realized that one hasn't been blogged yet.  I'm working on it, promise!)

I didn't have enough of the brown or the pink to do matching pants, so this time it's just the shirt.  I used the same view because, well, basically because I love it.  I do want to try it with the poofy sleeves sometime, though.

The collar sort of sticks up oddly and I'm not sure why.  It's done the exact same way as the first one and I didn't have any problems with it.  Actually, now that I think of it that is a lie.  I couldn't find any interfacing when I was sewing this, so I just doubled up on the fabric on one side.  Maybe that's why we use interfacing... I think if I tack it down it will probably be ok.  Now I just need to work up the motivation to do so.

I'll admit that the back is an epic fail.  I forgot to make sure the hem lined up on either side... and then one button turned out to be sewn on just a little bit off.  In case you ever wondered why most button holes are vertical instead of horizontal: here's your answer!  Vertical button holes are infinitely more forgiving.  I have ripped off the offending button and not bothered to sew it back on.  After all, the hem will still be uneven.  Le sigh.

But that's ok, it's still too cute from the front!  Even with the wonky back and collar I still love how adorable she is in this.  That's two projects completed for small people this year, so far (actually, three: one you haven't seen yet!)

Friday, January 17, 2014


My first knitted FO of 2014.  This year is already off to a good start knitting-wise.  This is the Steggie pattern from  I didn't like the super baggy fit and the Boy is rather on the thin side so I opted for the smallest size but lengthened the sleeves and the body by an inch.  I do wish I'd lengthened the body by a couple more inches, though.  

My goal with this sweater was just to use up some age old acrylic in my stash (bought for baby sweaters when the Boy actually was a baby!)  I stumbled across this pattern searching Ravelry and knew it had to be. As you may recall, the boy loves dinosaurs.  I did manage to use up almost all of the dark blue and the turquoise, but had to buy the variegated for the spikes (doh!).  Two steps forward, one step back.

He was pretty enamored with it the night I finished it (and the entire time I was knitting it) but since that night it's sat pretty much unloved.  Of course, he hasn't wanted to keep his clothes on for most of that time, so apparently we're regressing to that phase.  Oh good, just what we need in the middle of winter.  A preschooler who lives in his socks and undies.

At least he kept it on long enough for me to snap some photos.  The original motivation, now that I think of it, was to knit the boy a sweater upon which to sew these car buttons.  He's been going through my big button collection to pull these out and play with and I decided it was probably time to actually use them.  Big plastic car buttons are only cute up to a certain age, after all.  

He really seemed to like it when I took these pictures, so hopefully I'll get him to wear it (and pants) again.  I would like to see this sweater gets lots of love before it's retired to the hand-me-down pile.  And of course, don't forget the Sewing for Small People Sewalong hosted by Leah over at Struggle Sews a Straight Seam.  I plan on doing a round up post about the time things wrap up in May to see what all I've managed for the small people over the course of four months.  And if you don't follow Struggle Sews a Straight Seam check it out, Leah's hilarious!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

WIP Wednesday: Is it spring yet?

Lace and pastels...  Is it spring yet?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

New Year's Resolutions

I know some people think New Year's resolutions are, for whatever reason, silly.  Not I.  I love the feeling that this year could be the year.  The year you get organized or lose weight or learn Chinese.  Whatever.  And the way I see it, you've got most of January to decide what's most important to you to work on this year.

Umm... Obviously.  But what about crafty/bloggy goals?
 I've got some personal goals, of course... but I'm sure you're most interested in the bloggy/crafty ones so I thought I'd share.  First of all, I'm sure I didn't quite reach my goals last year.  That's fine with me.  Goals are just that: something to work toward.  Even if you don't make it, it's the journey that counts.  I think that's enough trite expressions for one post.  On to the goals:

1. Knit more.  Last year was not a good year for me in knitting.  I had projects go terribly wrong, run short of yarn, and even get lost.  I think it was hard for me to work knitting into my new full time working schedule.  I feel like I've finally got the hang of it now: I knit smaller projects on the bus and at lunch with some time in the evening for larger projects (Anna Karenina, I'm looking at you!).  Specifically, I would like to finish Anna Karenina sometime in 2015.  That might not sound like much of a goal, but I've got a good couple of feet to get done this year if I have any hope of finishing it next year.  Right now I'm probably half way done.  Progress is slow.

18" ruler for sense of scale.  It's clear, though, so boo.
 2. Sort, use, and organize the stash.  Oh my gawd I need to get organized.  I'm tired of never being able to find anything and, to be quite frank, I've got too much stuff (fabric and possibly yarn included) lying around.  A lot of it I'm really not in love with and some of it is small quantities (think baby stuff).  I have an idea of how to make this work so that I can start 2015 with significantly less stuff than I have right now. I am going to bribe myself with new fabric (wait, that seems backwards right?).  The plan:

I must finish five complete sewing projects and do any required fixing/mending before I can buy fabric.  Fabric must have a purpose in mind and it must be used immediately.  I don't know how I'll deal with thrift store finds in this framework, yet, but unless it's something I specifically know I'll need (like backing for a quilt or Christmas fabric) I'll try and let it go.

For every two pairs of completed socks I can buy one skein of sock yarn.

For every two (or three?) completed sweaters I can buy one sweater quantity of yarn.  This one's tricky as sweaters do take a lot of yarn, but I know I've got enough yarn to do a fair few sweaters this year.

3. Make an advent calendar.  I'm particularly fond of this one, but I've seen lots of cool ones through the sew-a-long late last year.  I want to do a mix of activities and treats.  I feel like this year there were so many things I wanted to do during the holiday season that we just never got around to.  Having the advent calendar would help keep me accountable.

4. Sew better.  I feel like I sewed a lot last year, but this year I really want to get better at fitting and finishing stuff including linings (I'm looking at you Bemberg I will defeat you!!!) and zippers (I think I've mentioned my ill success in this department recently.  Also using apparel fabric more and quilting cotton/sheets less.  Not that there's anything wrong with those, I just want to focus on making clothes that I will love and will last.

5. Blog more!  I don't feel like I've quite figured out how blogging fits into my crazy schedule but I like doing it and I'd like to be more consistent.

I feel like those are all pretty vague/attainable goals for the coming year.  Now let's get on with it!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

More (exceedingly late) Christmas makings

I'm just getting overwhelmed by all the makes there are to be blogged.  There's just so much stuff... plenty of it from Christmas.  Therefore, this post will (hopefully) be a more or less wrap-up of Christmas gifts, with an emphasis on the BIG ASS CHRISTMAS QUILT (OF DEATH?)  Why do I always feel the need to add "of death" to the end of my quilt names?  

Why do I always
I think quilts are kind of like young children....  Everything is sweeter in retrospect.  Let's be honest, a two year old can make you tear your hair out... but so can a quilt of this dimension on a regular (i.e. not a long-arm) machine.  Honestly, the quilting on it is pretty half-assed.  I started out doing two lines on each side of each seam.... but it's only one line towards the middle.  It was reeeally hard to maneuver this behemoth.  It's something like 7x9 feet...  I can't remember the exact dimensions but it's pretty frickin' big.

I tried to focus on purple, blue, and grey for this quilt, as well as plaids... but it's a scrap quilt so I worked with what I had.  The only things I had to buy were two sheets from Goodwill for the backing and, of course, the batting.  All in all, maybe $30... pretty cheap for a blanket of this size.  This was actually a special request from my mom.  She really wanted a blanket to cover their bigger than king size bed.  I told her no, and then I felt really bad about it so here's her blanket.  

Some of the fabrics were from the Goodwill Outlet, some are old clothes that have outlived any usefulness as clothing, and some are scraps leftover from previous projects.  I love that each fabric has a story, at least for me.  Some of the fabrics are my parents old clothes, too.  Whether or not they recognize them is a different story though.

The binding, as well as a lot of the squares, are made from the leftover sheet from my garden gate dress.  The back is pieced... there are two big pieces.  I'm not going to show you the whole thing, though, as it's horrendously ugly.  But it's pretty on the right side and so soft and warm so I'll call it a win and just be happy it's all over.

Aside from the quilt (it's somehow hard for me to believe I made more than just the quilt, but continuing on) I made hubby a new undershirt with my precious pirate fabric (that is true love) and a new pair of PJ pants.  The boy has matching PJs, but of course.  The fabric is from a flannel sheet I originally bought to back above quilt, but I just loved it so much it had to become pants.

Hubby hasn't worn his PJ pants yet, but he's sitting on them in this pic...  Not quite the reaction I had hoped for I guess but he loves the shirt.  The Boy's pants are waaay too long, but I'll eventually cuff them til he grows into them (hopefully before he grows into them!).

I guess that's all that'll make it to this post.  There's more (quite a bit more, actually) but it can wait til next time.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Baby Girl's Christmas Outfit

Opening pressies
Stealing strawberries
Twas two days before Christmas when, emboldened by success,
Mom decided baby girl needed a new Christmas dress!
Something white, green, and red with a round little collar
Something vintage, with ric-rac for my little crawler.

The pattern, the fabric; twas all in the stash
But the buttons Mom had, how they all did clash
So off to the store after work Christmas Eve
She found ric rac and buttons and fabric she couldn't leave

Christmas morning found her threading elastic
Surrounded by boxes, paper, and plastic
Just in time for the presents, candy and food
The outfit was finished and it sure did look good

So excited for hot chocolate pants!
Ugh.  Sorry for the totally unnecessary thing that just happened.  I'll try not to do it again...  I will probably fail, but I will try.  The holidays put holes in my brain, I swear.  In case you need further proof, the Sunday before Christmas I became convinced that Baby Girl must have a new Christmas outfit.  You know, because The Boy got new clothes for Christmas... and that's what kids really want for Christmas: homemade clothes.  Yeah.... ok.

I happened to have this lovely little vintage pattern that is just exactly Baby Girl's size (it's size 2 years and she's pretty big for her 18 months).  I got a big package of little people patterns together at Goodwill for $2 and this is only the second one I've used....  Unfortunately I better get crackin' on the rest of these if I want to use them, for as we all know, size 2 years is not a lengthy visitor.

I picked up the fabric for the top at the thrift store on the cheap; $4 for 4 yards.  Once it was made up it just begged for matching pants.  I'd been eyeing this hot chocolate print fabric since they got it in at the fabric store and just couldn't justify buying it with no project in mind...  problem solved!  I love the way the two fabrics look together.  The print on the top is so tiny and the cups of hot chocolate are so big.  Combined with the big red buttons and teeny little ric-rac....  well, it's starting to sound a little unbalanced but I think it comes together perfectly.

The fiddliest part of this pattern is piping and attaching the collar.  The neck edge is bound in bias tape, which  (being an adamant facing-hater, I dig) but gah, them's some thick rolls to try and bind with bias tape.  I think the trick is to just clip the seam allowances close, stitch the tape down, then iron the shit out of the whole thing to keep the collar in place.  That's really all I've got.

As you can see it's already covered in food
The pattern didn't call for the piping at the bottom of the front bodice piece, but it was easy enough to add and I think it looks really cute.  It's a little weird how close it is to the huuuge collar, but I think it makes the gathering pop a little bit.  And, you know, yay piping!

Look how well the bottom and ric-rac match up.  Boo-ya!
Oddly, I never seem to have red anything so I definitely didn't have any big red buttons.  Fortunately when I went to buy big red buttons, I also found the hot chocolate fabric 30% off..  Meant to be?  I think so.  Anyway, I think that's about all there is to say about this set.  I've already made up another one of these tops and there will be more (one is already cut out!).

Dear Baby Girl: You just get cuter and more loveable every day.  Stay sweet and happy please :)

Thursday, January 2, 2014

New Year's Day Skirt

Here's hoping you all had a wonderful New Year holiday (and will go on to have a wonderful 2014 in general).  I had a nice relaxing New Year's Day off of work and got some sewing (and some cleaning, yeesh!) done.  I managed to just barely finish a Hollyburn skirt from start to finish.  The only thing I had left to do after the kiddies got up was handstitch the hem (and boy what a hem that is!  It just keeps going and going and....)

I actually just love how awkward this picture is
This is my second Hollyburn skirt (the first remains unblogged, as of yet).  Apparently I've gotten rusty when it comes to garment sewing because this thing just killed.  I started cutting this skirt out right after Halloween.  I cut one back piece with the grain running vertically instead of on the diagonal *facepalm* and was so disgusted with myself I had to shove it out of sight until after Christmas.  Of course, I had other, more Christmassy things to be working on at that point, so that was just as well.  It's easier to face the epic quilt of Christmas when you've just failed at a skirt.  Cuz, duh, if you fail at a skirt then why are you sewing dumbass?  Obviously because I can't take a hint.  But what else is new?

I pulled it back out New Year's Day, determined to either make it or trash it.  I went ahead and cut the other back piece the same way.  It actually turned out to be just fine... I'm not sure that it's detrimental in any way.  I think it actually looks better than my first Hollyburn.  I won't go so far as to attribute that completely to my "design feature" though.

My theory is that consistency is key.  Consistency is what turns a mistake into a design feature. I kept the original grain lines for the fronts since I didn't know how the grain change would make things flow.  An ugly skirt front is much more bothersome than an ugly skirt back.  Speaking of which...

This might actually be my best zipper ever.  Look how pretty
Zipper!  One of my sewing goals in the coming year is to figure out zippers.  I never can seem to install one without tears (and possibly the occasional blood and/or sweat).  As a matter of fact, the only reason this one looks passable is that my thread really is that great of a match.  In truth I had to rip out about an inch on one side because the zipper would.not.shut.  At all.  Ahem, I have a problem of sewing too close to the zipper teeth and then, obviously, the zipper pull can't move :(

I will explain why my kitchen looks like this very soon...
Ahh well, at least it's more or less working now.  It may still stick just a wee bit in one spot, but I'll call it passable.  I bought this fabric second hand quite some time ago.  I  It's very textural and rather thick, but stretch and a little bit sheer.  It's really weird.  On first sight I immediately thought "pants!" but once I brought it home and examined it I realized it's definitely not right for that.  Of course the interfacing in the waistband negates the stretchiness that might otherwise allow an especially large lunch, but that's probably for the best.  (Damn New Year's and it's silly resolutions.  It always makes me want to be better all at once, and that's kind of exhausting).

Awesomely large pockets!
I made view B, the medium length, and the hem is about two inches (or maybe a little more).  It hits a little below the knee, so it's just perfect for work.  I was afraid that the mystery fabric would be difficult to hem, but in fact the width eased in beautifully because of the vertical ridges running through the fabric.  Would that it could always be that easy!

My pretty handstitched hem... and not so pretty zigzagged SAs
 The side seams are French seamed, the pocket raw seams are bound with bias tape, and the front and back seams are zigzagged then pressed flat :P  That's what the pattern recommended so that's what I tried.  They're both such awkward seams to finish because you've got to press them flat (so definitely no flat-felled seams) and they're so visible.  You don't want anything that will interrupt the fluidity and drape of the fabric (at least that seams to make sense to me).  Next time, if the fabric is thick enough, I'll try bias tape.  For reasons I can't quite explain, I just hate zig-zagged seams.  I hate the way they look and I feel lazy using them.

Center front cut with the original grain lines
As it turns out, I love this skirt.  Having the center back on the straight of grain made it waaay easier to put in the zipper without weird ruffliness at the edges.  A plight that, sadly, my first Hollyburn skirt suffers from.  The whole zipper area on that one is kind of a clusterfuck as a matter of fact.  Plus, I never got around to the hook and eye.  Because, obviously, who has time for sewing on hooks and eyes?  Oh wait!  Apparently I do!  (For this skirt anyway.)  

I promise there's a reason for that big pile :(
End result: I love it!  It's my new favorite skirt.  I'm already eyeing all the pieces of fabric in my stash that might be suitable for Hollyburn skirts.  Muuust haaave moooore!  By the way, with all the supplies this skirt couldn't have cost more than $5 to make.  Which is pretty exciting.  I know that this post is about the least exciting garment on the planet (dark grey A line skirt anyone?) and it probably doesn't warrant as many photos as it got... but what can I say?  I'm kind of excited about it.

Don't I look so excited?
Now I just have to figure out my bloggy resolutions (and maybe some top 5s?) and get that post together.  I like to think of January as a grace period....  It's a new year all month long right?