4.29.2013

Rocking My World



Have you ever discovered something that just rocked your world?

That's how I felt when I first found Knitting From The Top.  The whole process of designing a sweater was laid out so simply that I felt like a whole new world of knitting was now open to me.

And that's also how I felt when I found this tutorial for how to copy your favorite t-shirt.  Suddenly I found myself looking through my closet at all my favorite knit shirts and thinking "I can make more of you!"

You see, it all started with a trip to Anthropologie where I found a t-shirt that I fell in love with.  Three quarter length sleeves with a fitted top but a more flowy bottom (is that even a word?).  I was in love and soon became obsessed with the idea of learning how to copy it so that I could have more.


I ended up copying the shirt using pins, parchment paper, a flattened diaper box, and the method described in the tutorial (What?  You don't consider an old diaper box a sewing notion?).  And what do you know?  It totally worked.  I was a little worried that this top wasn't going to work because the original shirt is made out of 100% cotton jersey and this fabric is a rayon/spandex blend, but in the end all that meant was that this top is incredibly soft and drapes beautifully.  I opted to leave the sleeves and the hem raw and I bound the neck using this tutorial (my new favorite way to finish a knit neckline).  In looking at the shirt, I wish I had made it a bit longer (maybe 3/4 of an inch or so) but this version is definitely very wearable.  And this in itself is a miracle because in trimming the neckline I cut a hole in the shirt about an inch below the neckline.  I cannot tell you how mad I was when I realized what I had done.  In the end I ended up smacking a tiny bit of fusible interfacing behind the hole, pulling the neck binding down as much as I could to cover up some of the hole, and putting some tiny stitches in the shirt to sew up what couldn't be hidden.  The fix isn't perfect but it's good enough.  And I haven't seen anybody pointing at my shirt and laughing when I've worn it out, so that's gotta be a good sign, right?

Don't have the time/energy/effort to trace your own favorite shirt?  Check out Kristin's new (free!) pattern - the Scoop Top!  And don't say I never did anything for you.

4.28.2013

KCW: Sailboat Top

Alright, KCW, it's official - you done kicked my butt once again.

All you asked is for me to sew for one hour a day and I couldn't even do that.  I lay down with C to nurse her every night and on most weekday nights it is nearly impossible for me to get out of bed after my head hits that pillow.  Needless to say there may have been one or two nights that I didn't get around to sewing.  Eh, what are you going to do?


I did manage to bang out one more top before the end of KCW.  It's yet another Oliver and  S pattern that I've been meaning to get around to making for ages - the Sailboat Top.  I cut out a size 12-18 months hoping that it would fit perfectly like the Class Picnic Blouse did, but this one seems to be a bit big on C.  But that just means that it'll fit her for longer, right?

The pattern itself is fabulous (like all Oliver and S patterns) but I had a hell of a time making buttonholes this time around (damn you, sewing machine!).  I ended up having to rip two of them out and that is a total pain in the butt (it ranks up there with ripping out a serged seam).  At one point I gave up and tried to install snaps but that ended up being a bit of disaster too so I ripped those out as well (also, not fun).  In the end I went back to buttonholes and finally got four perfect little button holes.  Cue the singing of angels.

The fabric is a cotton sateen fabric from the Lisette collection that I purchased at Joann Fabrics many, many moons ago.  It has a nice hand to it and I just love the color.  The buttons are from the stash (although the button stash is quickly decreasing.   What will I do when I have to go out and buy buttons like the regular folk do?).

Alright, that's it for me and KCW.  Now on to Me Made May!

4.27.2013

KCW: So Nice I Made It Twice

It's confession time around here.

First confession: I've barely sewn anything for my littlest nugget.

It just so hard to get motivated to make something for her when she has a ton of clothes already thanks to having an older sister and two older girl cousins who have given generously to her (I believe that this is what's known as a first-world problem...).

But as a third child I'm well aware that non-first children deserve some new things too.

So may I present to you, a little shirt made just for C.


If it looks familiar it's because it's Oliver and S's Class Picnic Blouse - the same shirt that I made for O the other day.  It was so nice, I made it twice.


The fabric for C's shirt is also a cotton lawn from Fashion Fabrics Club (obviously I went a little crazy when they offered free shipping a couple of weeks ago).  I cut out a size 12-18 months for my 13 month old and I was worried that it would be a bit big, but it seems to fit perfectly.  Woo-hoo!

Second-born children unite!

PS - this is what happens when I try to take pictures of the girls together.  Somebody doesn't like sitting still for any significant period of time.


PPS - Enjoy this picture of C smiling.  She chipped one of her front teeth after this picture was taken  so in all future pictures she'll be looking like a welter-weight boxing champion of the world.  Super.


4.24.2013

KCW: Pretty On The Inside

I should probably warn you that there's no method to my madness this KCW.  Just a whole lot of sewing of random patterns that I somehow hadn't gotten around to making yet. 

Like the Class Picnic Blouse from Oliver and S.


I should probably admit that when I first saw this pattern I wasn't too interested, but the more that I saw it sewn up, the more that I became convinced that it is a ridiculously adorable shirt.  Both simple and sweet.  And perfect for O.

I cut a size 4T out of some cotton lawn that I recently bought from Fashion Fabrics Club.  The fabric is ever-so-slightly sheer so I opted not to serge the seams since they're visible through the shirt and I only have gray thread in my serger (yes, I could change the thread but I can't be the only person who thinks that changing the thread on a serger is a major pain in the butt...).  After a couple of minutes of deliberation I decided to bind the armhole seams with matching fabric but half-way through I realized that that was utterly stupid and I should have just done french seams for the entire blouse including the armholes.  It would have taken half as much time and about a quarter as much effort.  Oh well.


On the upside, those little bound seams sure are awfully pretty.

4.23.2013

KCW: Easy-Peasy Knit Dress


With last week full of sewing mishaps I knew that I needed to begin KCW with a win or I was going to end up chucking the whole idea of participating (a girl can only take so much disappointment, you know).  I settled on the idea of making the Anywhere Dress from Go To Patterns mostly because it's advertised as an easy knit dress.

Easy.

Now that's a word that I dig.


There are a bunch of different sleeves to chose from in making this dress but in the end I went with an elbow length sleeve for a bit of warmth and I finished it with a cuff because I happen to love what a neat finish cuffs give to homemade knit garments.  And to keep it even neater, I opted to sew up the sleeve and then attach the cuff rather than sewing it all at the end.  I also chose to bind the neck using this tutorial because I really like the way that this neck finish looks - especially when I actually take my time when sewing the binding on.


O loves the fabric that this dress is made out of of, although to be honest it's not what I would have chosen.  I bought it at Joann Fabrics over a year ago and when I look at it now I think "eh" but it really is a fabric that appeals to O.   In fact, it was probably the fabric that made her more than happy to slip this little dress on to take a few pictures.

And to wear it the next day.


As she was heading over to the babysitter's house this morning she told me "You don't tell them who made my dress!  I'm going to tell them!"

Ahh, my little girl is both super-bossy and super-proud of what her mom makes.

In the spirit of full disclosure, this post contains affiliate links, but, as always, all opinions are my own.

4.21.2013

Sewing Amnesia

C in the middle of teething hell
I've recently come to the conclusion that I have a severe case of a sewing amnesia because despite the fact that I've spent the last six years sewing all sorts of crap, I apparently can't remember the most basic sewing knowledge.

In the past week I have:

1. Cut out a knit garment with the stretch running the wrong way.
2. Cut a hole in a nearly completed garment when trimming a seam.
3. Sewn pieces right-sides together when they were supposed to be sewn wrong-sides together.
4. Sewn pieces together upside down and only figured out my mistake after trimming the seam (ugh!).
5. Fused interfacing to the wrong side of cloth.
6. Lost pattern pieces in the middle of a sewing project.

I had big plans to spend this weekend preparing for KCW but instead I've spent the majority of my time ripping things apart and attempting to put them back together.  It's been slightly maddening because there's nothing like wasting precious free time when you have so little of it.

The silver lining in all of this though is that I've been able to spend a great deal of time coming up with new sewing-related cuss words for when things go wrong.

My new favorite?  Mother pucker!

<<<< I just want to add that I know that this post is slightly flip and perhaps even obnoxious given the events of this last week.  My complaining endlessly about sewing is not meant to downplay what's occurred and my thoughts are with the people of Boston and their loved ones.  I'm just incredibly saddened by the whole situation.  May our problems always be as simple as a seam sewn inside out.  With love, Carolyn. >>>>

4.15.2013

A Place for Everything and Everything In Its Place

It seems like every weekend I have some new plan to finally clean up a disaster area in our house, but by the time the weekend is over I quickly realize that my plan was an epic fail.  I can't even tell you how long I've been trying to clean off the top of my dresser and yet when Sunday rolls around it's always piled  high with clothes that need to be folded and put away.  How does that happen?

My plan last weekend to clean the top off of C's bureau/changing table fortunately was a bit more manageable since in addition to being a much smaller space it's not where our piles of laundry go to die at the end of the week.


The task was also a bit more fun than my usual attempts at organization because it involved a bit of sewing - namely the whipping up a Divided Basket.  With a divided main compartment and a divided outside pocket it made it easy to find the perfect space to put all of C's crap stuff.  Like her diapers and lotions and creams and sprays and medicated ointments and vitamins.


Apparently our one year old is a very high maintenance child.


God help us when she's a teenager.

Pattern: Anna's Divided Basket Pattern

Fabrics: Main fabric - Cruzin by Barbara Jones for Henry Glass and Co.
             Accent fabric - Clown Stripe Red by Michael Miller

Modifications: I interfacing the outside pocket to make it a bit more substantial and I made the handles narrower (because I'm a dumb-butt and used the wrong pattern piece to make the handles.  I'm obviously incapable of reading instructions properly sometimes).

4.11.2013

Me Made May 2013


me-made-may'13

I'm always up for a little selfish sewing (or in this case the wearing of selfish sewing projects) but I have to say that I'm even more excited for this year's Me-Made-May - mostly because I've missed my me-made-clothes.

First there was the pregnancy and not fitting into anything because of my ever-expanding belly.  Then there were the pounds that stick around for a while after you actually have the baby.  And then there's your chest that ends up about two sizes bigger than normal when you nurse.  And while this might sound like an awesome thing for someone like me who barely has a chest, it was completely frustrating to find that all of my shirts were either too tight or too short to be worn.  With my body growing and shrinking and changing in so many ways over the last year and a half, about three-quarters of the clothes in my closest haven't fit me at one time or another and many of them are either packed away in a chest or collecting dust from being unworn.

But with the pregnancy weight finally gone most of the pants and skirts are fitting once again.  And after a year of lugging the breast pump to and from work everyday, I've finally parted ways with it for good and things seem to be shrinking back down to their normal size (if you catch my drift).

Which is all just to say that I'm ridiculously excited to unpack and dust off my me-made-clothes and participate in this year's Me-Made-May.  Who's with me?

4.05.2013

Sewing for Men: Ben's Cycling Jersey

This post originally appeared over at The Train To Crazy as part of Andrea's Sewing for Men Mini-Series.  Be sure to check out the other great posts that were part of this series - Melissa's self-drafted men's shirt, Rachael's after dinner pants, and Andrea's man shorts.

First of all, I'd like to thank Andrea for inviting me to be part of this series.  I am constantly amazed by the fact that someone else would want to hear me babble on about my sewing projects.  So thank you, Andrea!  And I can't wait to see what the other ladies have made!


Of all the things that I've made over the last decade or so (and there have probably been hundreds), I've made only three things specifically for my husband. I blame this on the fact that I was probably a bit put off when Ben accidentally destroyed the very first thing that I made for him - a knit hat made out of some ridiculously expensive Italian merino yarn that he accidentally threw in in the washing machine thereby shrinking it up to about the size of a yarmulke.  Needless to say it was years before I made him something again and when I finally got around to it I was much smarter.  And by much smarter, I mean that the hat that I sewed for him that time was entirely machine washable.  And despite that hat being a hit (much loved and much worn) it was years before I considered making something else for him.  This probably comes down to the fact that women's clothes just seem so much more interesting to make but after seeing Kelli's amazing versions of McCalls 6044 I knew that I was wrong in believing that men's clothes had to be boring and I knew that it was time to finally sew something again for my long-suffering husband.  Fast forward a couple of weeks and Ben got his very own version of McCalls 6044 and I was once again reminded that he is a very worthy recipient of handmade clothes given that he posed for the most ridiculous photos known to human-kind and he wears this shirt often.  So when Andrea asked me to be part of a series involving sewing for men I jumped right on board and asked Ben what he would like me to make for him. He immediately said "a bike jersey" to which I responded by giving him some sort of obnoxious face and saying "No seriously.  What do you want me to make for you?"  But the more that I thought about it the more that I realized that I probably could make him a bike jersey and gosh darn it, with a little  effort I could probably make him a fantastic one.


At first I considered just tracing one of the bike jerseys that he currently owns for a pattern, but after scouring the internet I came across a Green Peppers pattern that was just what Ben was looking for so I ended up opting for the lazy busy woman's route and I purchased the pattern.  The pattern itself is great but there are no finished measurements on the pattern so I ended up laying out the pattern pieces and measuring three different sizes to figure out which one to make.  A word of warning here - this pattern is designed to have very little ease (and perhaps even negative ease) so choose your size carefully.  In the end, even though Ben measures around 36 inches for his chest, I sewed up the size for a 40 inch chest and that ended up being just the fit that Ben's was looking for.


As for the fabric, I knew that we needed something that would be well-suited for a biking jersey - in this case, a stretch fabric that wicks moisture away from the body - and I found two fabrics that fit the bill at Seattle Outdoor Fabrics.  Can I just say how entertaining it is to watch a grown man stand in front of a line of fabrics saying "I want the blue with the yellow.  No, the red with the blue.  No, I think the red with the gray.  Uh, I can't decide!"  It's nice to know that I married someone as indecisive as myself.


In the end we went with a reddish-orange for the main color and a gray for the contrasting fabric. I also opted to make the collar in the contrasting color and I added some bands to finish the arms rather than just hemming them.  And as for the length of the jersey, according to Ben it's perfect and apparently that's something that's pretty important in a cycling jersey given that you're bent over the whole time that you're wearing it.


Now that' it's done I think that I can firmly put this cycling jersey in the "success" category given that Ben has already requested another one - this time with long sleeves and made out of wool jersey.   He's come a long way from accidentally destroying my handmade goods and I'm thinking that he may have earned one or two more items (that is, of course, if he manages not to get bike grease all over this one).

4.02.2013

Split-Back Tank


I took a little personal time the other month and left work early to shop at the marketplace at the Sewing and Stichery Expo.  Unfortunately, I had forgotten that I have an extremely low tolerance for crowds and after about one hour all I could think was "get me the hell out of here!"  Fortunately, I was able to pick up one or two great things before I high-tailed it for the closest door.  My favorite find was some ombre batik fabric.  Not only are the colors gorgeous, but the hand on this fabric is lovely and much less stiff than regular quilting cotton.  In fact, I fell so madly in love with this fabric that I bought one yard in this color way (which is bluish) and then I finished off a bolt in a gray color way.  I'm hoping that the gray fabric will one day magically be turned into a dress for me.  I'll add it to the ever-expanding list of things that I'd like to get around to making one day. 


But back to this little top.  It's based off of Grainline Studios Tiny Pocket Tank but it's altered to have a split-back to make it a wee bit more fun (yet another "business in the front, party in the back" top).  I followed this tutorial on how to turn the tank into a split-back and based on what was written in the tutorial I cut out one size smaller than was recommended because I was concerned about the top being too loose because of the open back.  I was still worried about this when sewing the top up and I ended up taking an additional 1/4 of an inch in on each side.  Even though I cut out a size 2 this time though, I kept the tank a size 8 in length because after two pregnancies I don't need to be showing anybody my stomach, thank you very much.


After sewing everything up it became apparent that even with the modifications the tank still appeared too loose and shapeless because of the open back, so sewed up half of the back opening by stitching down the back hemline (just like Natasha did in the tutorial).  Problem solved!   In fact - note to self - this would have been a much better solution than trying to sew a significantly smaller size in the first place.  You live, you learn.


Now go and enter your own shirt in Rae's Spring Top Sewalong!  Go on now!

4.01.2013

Four Things

1.  We took some time the other weekend to celebrate C's first birthday.  I know that there are many moms around the internet (I'm looking at you Jess and Gail!) who can decorate for a party like nobody's business but C's party decorations?  Well, they consisted of whatever I could pick up on my lunch break at the local party store.  Hey, she didn't seem to mind!


We tried to keep the party simple (simple location - our house, simple food - pizza, simple present requests - please don't bring any!) but it still ended up chaotic and just like O's first birthday I barely found a second to snap a picture.  Oops.  And once all the guests had left and everything was cleaned up and put away  all I could think was "we have to this again in another month and a half?!?"

Apparently C felt the same way because this was her during the party (looking like "who the hell are all these people in my house?")


And this was her after the party.


2.  The weather has been stunningly beautiful around here lately which allowed us to have an outside Easter egg hunt (for the second year in a row, people!).


And yes, O picked out her awesome Easter outfit.

And yes, her bangs do look incredibly greasy.  She somehow ended up getting a huge glob of sap in her hair the other day and so we lathered her up with coconut oil to get it out and what do you know...it worked!  Thank you Google for having the answer to every question I've ever had.

3.  A couple of months ago I was able to cut my hours at work so that I only work four days a week now and that extra day has been a life saver for my sanity.  The best thing about it though is that it's allowed us to spend the weekend doing things together rather than of only doing chores (which is what we were doing before).  This past weekend we were able to explore some of the trails around Point Defiance and we followed that up by a meal in which I ate my weight in fried catfish at the Southern Kitchen.  Yum.  Of course, that means that today I'm trying to work my way through a humongous pile of laundry but it in the end it's all worth it.  Oh yes it is.

4.  And this would be a picture of me going jogging with O.  I like to jog with three year olds because they're the only people on this earth with less stamina than me.


Want to feel like an exercising bad-ass?  Pick your jogging partners accordingly.
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