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Archive for the ‘sewing’ Category

I was so excited to be selected as a pattern-tester for the Blank Slate Patterns’ new Barton shorts!  I’ve always wanted to be a pattern tester: I find the process of developing a pattern to be fascinating.

So in about a week, I made four different versions, and I had so much fun. Something about working under a deadline is exhilarating for me (as long as it’s not that way every day!) I find that I am more efficient with my time, and it is so satisfying. Even more satisfying was that this time around, I literally had everything on hand that I needed to make all four pairs!  Fabric, trim, elastic, thread.  No trips to the fabric store to break my momentum! Yippee!

In this post, I’m going to share my two final versions!  They were both actually made from extra fabric from other projects I’ve made.

These shorts are ridiculously comfortable, and in my opinion, they are super cute!  I love the lace-trim version (I was assigned the 3″ inseam, lace-trimmed variation for my testing– the pattern includes two inseam lengths–3″ and 5″, and both a hemmed and trimmed version!!).  I don’t usually wear elastic-waist shorts for everyday going-out, but these are not at all sloppy looking.  They look casual and trim, and I really love them!  And the best part of all– they are a very quick sew!!  The fabric selection took the longest (of course), and once I had that figured out, I estimate that I could make these in 2-3 hours per pair.

First up: my comic book shorts!  These are made with the Barton pattern pretty much as-is, but I did make a rise adjustment in the front so that they fit my body better.

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Do you recognize the fabric?  It’s extra from when I made my comic book dress!  I also used some vintage bias tape with a lace edge to trim the shorts.  The bias tape came from a large stash of trims that were my Grandma’s.

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Oh yeah, did I mention that there are pockets?!!

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For my next version, which is probably my favorite (so far), I used some excess lightweight denim from a strapless sheath I made a couple of summers ago.  As soon as I saw this in my scrap stash, I knew I had to turn it into these shorts… and I was just able to eke them out!  I made the waistband and the pockets from a blue batik (also from my stash), and I trimmed the shorts with some heart-shaped lace– also from my Grandma’s collection.

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For this version, I also adjusted the front rise (the same as for the comic book shorts), and I also made these with a slightly decreased thigh circumference for a slimmer look.

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And pockets!!  The interior of the pockets is the same batik cotton as the waistband.

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These are seriously the perfect casual shorts.  SO easy to make– and I imagine that there will be more! 😉

Find the pattern at the Blank Slate Patterns website HERE!

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Easter frills

I jokingly blame this dress on my friend.  We were invited to her family’s Easter celebration, and on the invitation, it said “dress casually or in Easter frills.”  I had the invitation stuck on my refrigerator, and as I looked at it each time I passed by, I started thinking… boy, it’s been a long time since I had a new dress for Easter!

At about the same time, my wonderful Husband put new shelving into my craft room closets (I will write a post about them later on…).  As I pulled out my stash so that he could install the shelves, I had another chance to consider what I’d squirreled away in those closets in bins and just plain piles.  It was mostly fabric in the left-hand closet, and in one of those bins was a large piece of yardage that I’d purchased for a different dress quite a few years ago.  Thankfully I’d made a muslin of that pattern and discovered that the dress shape was terrible for my body shape, but ever since then, I’d been hoping to find just the right project to make with this pretty mint cotton print.

So thinking about the invitation and the closet reorganization connected the fabric with Butterick 6094.  I made it before–my comic book dress!–so I knew it fit.  In fact, even though I said in my previous post about this pattern that I would petite the bodice, when I actually tested this (very scientifically, of course: by pinching a little pleat while I considered myself in the mirror, haha), I decided in the end to leave the bodice pieces as-is.  I also only shortened the skirt by about an inch from the original pattern length, as well.

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As you can see, I also decided to add some brown bias tape to the seam lines to add a little flair and definition.

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I also added it to the hem and neckline, and used it to define the fold-over back.

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Even though I absolutely love this fabric, I know that pale mint green is not a color that flatters my coloring, so the dark brown edging set it off from a direct contrast to my skin.

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The pattern calls for an attached petticoat, and when I made the comic book dress, I debated for a while over whether I should actually make a separate petticoat slip so that I could wear it under other dresses.  In the end, the comic book dress’ petticoat is attached, and I was kicking myself for that a little bit for this dress! …especially since I was up until midnight the night before Easter to get it finished in time 🙂

So this petticoat is a separate garment.  I made it out of lining fabric (mostly because it’s inexpensive, and also because it’s lightweight).  Instead of having it rest at my waist, I actually added the lower bodice pieces (the “midriff”) to the petticoat skirt.  I think it makes for a bit of a smoother line under the dress.  I think I’ll be able to wear this petticoat with another full-skirted dress that I already own, and I wouldn’t put it past me to make another one or two in the future!

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Of course, I had to take it for a spin!  😉

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Vehicle quilt

My little boy has been needing a larger blanket for his bed for a while now.  One night in the fall, I realized that it really wouldn’t be hard to make him a quilt like the ones I made last spring (here and here).  I went on a hunt to find fabrics he would love.  Since (of course), I started the quilt two weeks before Christmas (remember, I mentioned that I was pretty busy, and I still had a princess dress to make, too!), I was limited to the local selection, and I was surprised how hard it was to find non-character vehicle prints that were not too babyish.  But I did find one!  It’s a navy cotton with white line drawings of different kinds of vehicles: airplanes, cars, trains, helicopters, busses.  (No trucks! What?!  But it’s okay, because thankfully my boy likes all kinds of vehicles.)  I teamed it up with a multicolored, striped cotton and a solid red cotton to piece the top.

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The back is one large piece of navy cotton printed with white stars.

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Like the previous quilts I’ve made with this design, I used flannel as batting and machine quilted it along the piecing seams.  And of course, I made a scrappy binding.

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And a dedication tag.

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The quilt is just the right size for his toddler bed (a converted crib).  Later on when he has a larger bed, he could use it as a reading or TV-watching cuddle blanket.

Becker's quilt (sewn for him for Christmas 2016) on his bed

Becker's quilt (sewn for him for Christmas 2016) on his bed

Becker's quilt (sewn for him for Christmas 2016) on his bed

These aren’t super-high-quality fabrics, but that is okay for now.  They are good enough for some hard use (we’ve already washed this quilt several times!)  I’ll make my son a better “big-boy-bed” quilt when he’s a bit older.  This one is for him to enjoy right now 🙂  And he is!  I loved his reaction on Christmas morning– he immediately wanted to lay down and snuggle on it.  The perfect endorsement from my vehicle-loving little boy.

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Becker's new quilt

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So, it turns out, I wasn’t done with Project Princess Dress.  No, we aren’t going to Disney World any time soon that I know of, but V really, really, really wanted a Princess Elena dress for her birthday or Christmas.  She saw one of her friends receive one at a birthday party, and instantly from that point onward, Elena was her favorite princess.  “A princess-superhero, Mommy!”

http://disney.wikia.com/wiki/Princess_Elena

Vivian’s birthday is a whole ‘nother story (to be blogged soon!), but as Christmas approached, I started looking at purchasing an Elena dress.  And I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.  I had to make it myself.  It couldn’t be that hard.  Ha!

I had only about a week to make the dress.  I’d already committed to making a quilt for my son for Christmas, and the PhD ornaments went later into December than I’d been expecting.  I worked on the dress in every spare moment that I could eke out of that last week before Christmas day.  But it was absolutely and completely worth it in the end.  The joy on my daughter’s face when she opened the box on Christmas morning was priceless.  (She even said, as she started unwrapping the gift, her last one of the morning, “I hope this is an Elena dress!”  Thank goodness it was!)

Elena dress: designed and sewn for Vivian for Christmas 2016

Elena dress: designed and sewn for Vivian for Christmas 2016

I began by using the bodice pattern pieces from Simplicity 1507 and grading them up to an approximate size 5 (My pattern is the set of smallest sizes) by mimicking the spacing between sizes shown on the printed pattern (does that make sense?).  Then I cut the neckline wider and slightly deeper in the front and back.

Elena dress: designed and sewn for Vivian for Christmas 2016

Elena dress: designed and sewn for Vivian for Christmas 2016

To shape the skirt, I started with the petal panels Husband and I drafted for the Sofia dress (modified for the increased bodice size) and basically created a full A-line underskirt by redrafting them and changing the angle.  Husband was moral support as I eyeballed the side slit featured on Elena’s overskirt.

I had the red fabric on hand, and I turned to my old-faithful collection of white sheets for the underskirt and bodice lining.  The ruffle was another story.  I spent quite a bit of time in the fabric store trying to find just the right material.  In the end, I layered a pale pink glitter organza over a bright coral crepe for just the right color– and the abstract glittered roses gave just the right swirly look.

Elena dress: designed and sewn for Vivian for Christmas 2016

But it was also a royal pain to gather!  I kept the layers together by doing a rolled hem on the outer edge and a narrow overlock on the inner, to-be-gathered edge.  Since I don’t have a ruffling foot, I gathered all of those ruffles by hand with a double basting stitch!  Thankfully my math worked out right and everything looks good in the end.  I tapered the ruffles at the top of the side slit so that they wouldn’t be too floofy.  Oh, and the glitter.  Good heavens.  It is not glued onto the fabric securely, so my craft room looked as though a glitter bomb had detonated!

Elena dress: designed and sewn for Vivian for Christmas 2016

Last (well, almost) came the belt.  Before I inserted the zipper,  I secured two layers of ribbon around the waistline.  The gold striped ribbon is actually lightly wired!  It came from a gift package we received this season–it was so perfect, I couldn’t not use it, so I machine-stitched it into place.  Along the center of the gold ribbon, I used fusable tape to adhere a narrow coral ribbon.  Finally, I hand-stitched a rhinestone buckle to the dress using clear thread (that was a bear!!).  Husband used wire clippers to remove the central bar, since it went lengthwise rather than along the short direction that I needed.

Vivian is Elena of Avalor!

Elena dress: designed and sewn for Vivian for Christmas 2016

It makes my heart happy to hear this girl go charging through the house to save the day!

 

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Christmas reds pillow

At the beginning of December, in a tiny lull between PhD ornaments, I decided to take a little bit of “selfish sewing” time for myself and make a new pillow cover for a small rectangular pillow that I have in our living room for myself.

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This particular pillow was originally in my daughter’s nursery, and it fits behind my back just perfectly to keep me comfortable when I’m sitting on the couch.  Even though I’ve wanted to make a (more than one, really!) new cover for it, I just haven’t in all of this time!  Now that our house is decorated for Christmas (for at least the second or third year since that pillow stopped being used on the nursery rocking chair…ha!), I decided it really was time.

I love the “pattern” for the pillow covers I made for my daughter and son’s nurseries (my son’s is still on the rocking chair)– a pieced strip between two solid strips.  I’ve made two of them already, and I still hadn’t written down those silly measurements!  Now there is a sticky note in my home decor pattern binder for the next time I make one.  Phew!

Christmas pillow cover-- made from leftover strips from my tree skirt!

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As I thought about what fabrics to use for my Christmas pillow cover, I remembered that I have a bag of strips left from making my quilted tree skirt (finished in 2007!).  I pieced them straight-up-and-down across the central strip (rather than improv/wonky shapes) to mimic the tree skirt, which still graces our tree.  I added some strips of red fine-wale corduroy that was handed down to me from a friend, and voila!  The pillow only took a couple hours to complete (those strips are quite narrow, so piecing them wasn’t super quick ;-))

Christmas pillow cover-- made from leftover strips from my tree skirt!

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How long do you think it will be until I make another cover for this pillow?!

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Christmas pillow band

Before it gets too late in the year, I’m going to share some Christmas projects!

During Sew Mama Sew’s Handmade Holidays series, I saw this idea and wanted to try it out!  I made this pillow as a gift for friends of ours.  The pillowcase itself is a basic envelope made from a red fine wale corduroy.  But the fun comes in with the reversible band!

The first side is dark green upholstery fabric with a stylized Christmas tree design machine-embroidered onto it.  I added a faux piping using some red and gold striped fabric.

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The other side of the band is a red and gold snowflake pattern that in my opinion can be used in November and January– and maybe into February for Valentine’s day!

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Since the pattern doesn’t have a particular orientation, this side of band can also be used vertically.

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The cool thing about the pillow band is that it can be removed, and you could add another one– I was imagining hearts for February, blue and white stripes or stars for July, colorful leaves for fall… Or even a family monogram…

 

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Last but not least, possibly my very favorite of our costumes this year– Husband as Flynn Rider.

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The main part of this costume is the vest Flynn wears, of course.  I started with Simplicity 4059, view B and made some pretty significant modifications.

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I found a woman who made a Flynn Rider costume beginning with the same pattern and blogged about it in 2011, and her documentation of the modifications she made to the vest pattern (she also started with Simplicity 4059) were extremely helpful, as were her detailed notes on the vest Flynn wears in the movies.

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We chose a faux suede in a slate blue that I found on clearance+sale at JoAnn.  I bought two yards and spent about $9 on it!  I consider that a good deal.  We pored over screenshots of Flynn’s vest and analyzed and studied it some more.  I added some width and length to the pattern so that the front would overlap and the torso would be long enough for my tall Husband.  I also “drafted” faux yoke pieces for the front and back and we marked out what seemed to be miles of topstitching lines.  To give the vest the loft in its quilting, I padded the main torso section with a layer of flannel (an old sheet!)  and the yoke sections with an additional double layer of flannel before doing the quilting. Husband drafted the collar (my brain was fried)

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We collaborated to figure out how to recreate the hook closures.  Husband bought a short length of brass chain at Home Depot and took apart the links– half of them were twisted to form hooks, and we left the other half of the links “whole.”  We devised fabric mounts (for lack of a better word) that involved tiny buttonholes and fabric loops…I was glad to finish that portion of the vest!

Husband wore khaki pants and a white button-up shirt he already owned, but we wanted him to have the rakish adventuring boots that Flynn has–without having to buy much.  Husband had the brilliant idea to turn an old pair of brown pants into a spat-like device that covered boots he already owned to give them to floppy fold-over top (they are also lined with pieces of yet another old sheet!).  We used a swatch of pleather to make Flynn’s spats.  I sewed elastic to the corners to make loops, and we added large brads from my scrapbook stash to look like the studs on Flynn’s.  I didn’t have brass brads, so we used a yellow permanent marker to color some silver ones.  I was amazed what a difference they made!

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To top it all off, Husband grew a beard and shaved it to a goatee for Halloween weekend.  Look at that smolder!

 

 

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