Wednesday, September 29, 2010
I made this top for my daughter earlier this spring (when she was still wearing the clothes that I had made her...now she will only wear her big brother's Spiderman stuff). This fabric is so sweet and juicy, and I used the pattern from Mani Mina.
Fabric - The fabric I used for this top was Alexander Henry Willows Berries in multi. The pattern is for sizes 12 months through 4T, and I made the 3T. I used 1/2 yard of fabric for the top (the dress calls for 1 yard). I did use the smaller berries print for the bodice. The only other notions I needed was the ribbon and 1 button.
Illustrations/Instructions - There were full-color photos for all the steps. I had no problem following along. The only thing that bothered me about this pattern was that there were a lot of spelling and other errors that could have been easily edited with some proofreading before finishing up the pattern instructions. The author also repeatedly referred to the ribbon as 'bows'; I hate to nit-pick, because once I figured out what she was talking about, it was no big deal.
Pattern Pieces - There are no pattern pieces to cut out, as the two pieces of fabric needed for this project are cut from rectangular measurements.
All-in-all, this is a quick, easy, and beautiful pattern. I decided to make the top as opposed to the dress because I wanted my daughter to be able to climb around at the park after her brother without her knees getting caught up on a longer dress. There is no need for serging or zig-zag stitching, as all the seams are enclosed. I liked the button closure and the ribbon straps. When I made this, I treated all ends of the ribbon with Fray-Check liquid to make sure they wouldn't unravel in the wash. The top band encloses the rest of the fabric, which is gathered, so that it has a nice loose fit. I like the style of this top as it isn't too tight nor is there too much fabric around the body, it's just right. I didn't run into anything in the pattern that I needed to change.
Conclusion - This would be a great project for a beginner. It really is adorable, and would make a quick afternoon or evening sewing project.
I learned how to make this soup from my Oma (grandmother), whose idea of giving me her recipe is this: "Oh, I just used a little of it...cut up some of that...oh, whatever you have." Very vague. The great thing about this soup is that you can use whatever you have, and improvise for things you don't. It's not very precise, but no matter what you put into it, it always tastes good. I made a batch last night, and here's what I added.
-2 gigantic carrots
-3 medium-sized potatoes
-1/4 of a leek
-1 kohlrabi (German turnip)
-1 stalk celery
-1 bay leaf
-dash of thyme
-dash of tumeric
-1 can chicken stock
-approx. 4 cups water
-can of pork and beans
I diced everything, as you can see in the first picture. I put everything in except for the pork and beans, brought it to a boil, and simmered until the carrots were tender, about 30 minutes. Then I added the pork and beans and parsley. I know it sounds really weird, but my Oma sometimes puts pork and beans in her soup, and whenever she does, I really like it. It's not like there's pieces of pork in the can, it's just the beans and the sauce. It gives it a tiny bit of a sweet flavor. It's good, trust me.
So anyway, this is 'Fly-By-the-Seat-of-Her-Pants' soup because that's what I feel like it is. If you don't have a potato, add some broccoli. Or some frozen corn. Which reminds me, if you don't have time to chop up some veggies, the frozen stuff will work just as well. I was actually planning on putting in some leftover zucchini and broccoli that we had for dinner yesterday, but I just had too many vegetables in the pot already. I would also have liked to put some pasta into this soup, but again, the pot was full. :-)
So, this is what we'll be having for dinner tonight! I'm actually thinking of trying to figure out a soup that I love from a restaurant here in Chicago...it's Leona's minestrone soup. It's so hearty and so good, it's my favorite. Anyone else like that one?
Monday, September 27, 2010
I'm presenting to you my entry for the A Lemon Squeezy Home purse contest that I first mentioned here. Yep, it's hot off the presses, just took it off my sewing machine. It's a Christmas gift, so hopefully the recipient passes over my post, since it's a surprise. :-) I don't think I'll win, but I wanted to get an entry in anyway.
The exterior fabric is a cotton canvas Alice in Wonderland from Japan, and the interior is Alexander Henry Light Bright in pink (sigh, I love all the Light Bright colorways, they are perfect for everything). The pattern I used is the Mabel Messenger Bag by Jenna Lou Designs that I reviewed earlier this month. I love this pattern. The print on this is so fun, I just love it!
P.S. I link a new finished project every week on Amy Lou Who's Sew and Tell Friday! Come join me and see all the other projects!
Sunday, September 26, 2010
I made these Caramel Apple Cupcakes that I found in the October 2010 issue of Every Day with Rachael Ray. The recipe sounded really good, and I love caramel apples. My son, William, helped me mix all the ingredients, and he put all the cupcake liners in the pan.
They were very easy to make. However, I did not have any heavy cream on hand, so I substituted with milk and butter instead (I just eyed it). I used Golden Delicious apples instead of the Rome apples, and I grated them.
The apple flavor of the cakes is so bold...it is very good. I put the caramel on immediately after I heated it, as it was easier to spread. I tried a cupcake right away, and it was very sticky and stuck to the roof of my mouth, but cooling overnight, the caramel was somehow thinner and more gooey, which was a good thing. I kept mine in an airtight cupcake container at all times so they would be moist. I am definitely making some more again tonight as I made 16 cupcakes and they're almost all gone.
Caramel Apple Cupcakes
- 1 1/4 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 rome apples (about 1 pound), peeled and shredded
- 1 1/2 cups chewy caramel candies
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream
Shred the apple instead of chopping it for even distribution in the batter and to keep the cupcakes moist.
- Arrange a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 350°. Line a cupcake pan with baking liners. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, brown sugar and granulated sugar until smooth. Whisk in the oil and vanilla. Stir into the flour mixture until just combined; stir in the apples. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan until almost full. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.
- In a small, microwavable bowl, combine the caramels and cream. Microwave for 1 minute at medium power, then stir; repeat in 30-second intervals until melted and smooth. Let cool. Spread the frosting generously on the cooled cupcakes.
Saturday, September 25, 2010
I made this T-shirt earlier this summer. I was sad that I couldn't find any of my old band shirts from back in the day; they must have been left behind at my parents house, and who knows what happened then. So I bought a men's Jimmy Eat World T-shirt from ebay and got to work on this great pattern from Evil Needles.
Fabric - The shirt I used was an American Apparel men's size medium. You can see how big it looks on me in the photo. I do love American Apparel, because their shirts are so stretchy and comfortable.
Illustrations/Instructions - This pattern was unusual in the fact that the printed instructions don't come with any illustrations. When you order the pattern, you receive via e-mail a list of text instructions and the hand-drawn pattern pieces. HOWEVER...I have to say that besides that, this was one of the most user-friendly sewing patterns I've ever done. Why? Well, the pattern comes with a website link to a 3-part video. In the video, the designer shows you from beginning to end how to sew the shirt back up once you've cut it apart. So helpful, especially for the beginning sewer. And not only does she show you, but she explains it so that everything is crystal-clear.
Pattern Pieces - The pattern pieces are hand-drawn, which doesn't really bother me at all. The main piece for the back and front of the shirt is 4 printed pages taped together and then cut to your size (small, medium, large).
I loved making this t-shirt. I don't own anything in my wardrobe that is off-the-shoulder, so I think this is really unique. As the designer mentions in the pattern, the bigger the t-shirt the better, as it allows you to better center the graphic as you cut the t-shirt apart. I am glad to have this pattern in my arsenal because honestly a lot of cool t-shirts mostly come in men's sizes, and normally I would never be able to wear those besides as a nightshirt, so this is great.
Conclusion - This pattern would be great for the beginning sewer. If you need someone to hold your hand as you go, this having the bonus of a video instructional, is definitely for you. This is probably the shortest pattern review that I'll ever write because I don't have anything bad to say about it, and it's quick and easy. I'm definitely doing it again when I find another shirt to cut open!
Thursday, September 23, 2010
I got an idea for this cute cardigan from my mom. My mom is a die-hard QVC shopper. My parents have known their UPS driver on a first-name basis for years. She showed me this yellow top on QVC that was going for $52; the top was already sold out. We put our heads together and figured we could make something much cheaper, but just as cute.
So I surfed the internet for awhile and found this tutorial to make the white top pictured above. I already own a sewing pattern for a women's sleeveless top, similar to the cut of the top above. I figured I could use the template in the tutorial to cut the fabric out on the bias, in order to make it flow as in the first image.
I'm thinking I could do this one of several different ways. a) I could take a ready-made cardigan sweater and sew the ruffles on, finishing the top with bias tape, b) I could make the sleeveless top and serge on the ruffles, c) I could put the ruffles on a tank top instead and have them flow down from the straps.
I like the idea of the ruffled cardigan, but I think the yellow number has a bit too many ruffles for my taste. Maybe a few running down one side would be better.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
I just found out about this contest while looking at some other sewing blogs. I think I am going to enter my Chicago Cubs clutch that I finished a couple weeks ago, and maybe I can finish another bag before then, too. I don't think I'll win, but it would be nice just to enter.
I made this dress for the Amy Lou Who Amy Butler Sew and Tell Challenge that I wrote about in my last post. I really love it! I was nervous about the print, but I wanted to use something that I already had in my stash. I think it was a relief as well as a pleasant surprise to see how the final product turned out.
Fabric - I made the tunic version of the pattern, and this called for 2-1/4 yards of exterior fabric and 7/8 yard of coordinating fabric, as well as a lining fabric. I used an Alexander Henry cotton lawn fabric called Como, multi colorway. The coordinating fabric, which was Anna Maria Horner's Fortune from Good Folks, was supposed to be used for the detail and binding on the sleeves, as well as the belt (more on the belt later). Since I like to read sewing pattern reviews before I buy a pattern, in order to see if it would work out for me or if others who came before me found any things to complain about, I knew that Amy Butler's patterns call for too much fabric than is actually needed. Way to sell more fabric, Amy. So I held off on my fabric until I had the pattern in hand, and I actually laid out my pieces on the fabric to see if I had enough with a 2 yard cut for the exterior. I ended up having about a half-quarter of leftover fabric. I hate spending money on extra fabric I don't need, I'm trying to live frugally and the fact that I spent $13.50/yard on the exterior fabric almost makes me want to cry. I mean, no one made me buy it, but still.
Illustrations - The illustrations in this pattern were adequate. If you've done one of Amy Butler's patterns before, she is wordy, but in a good way. I feel like her illustrations and explanations are good. I have never made darts on clothing before, and I felt like her illustration for the darts was confusing, but I just watched this video on YouTube which explained how to sew darts (several different kinds in fact), and I was ready to go.
|Darts on the back panels of the tunic.|
This doesn't apply to the sewing instructions, but I was extremely peeved at the lack of photos of the finished product. The cover of the pattern shows the finished tunic, and the materials list section shows a color photo of the front and back of the cami, but there isn't a picture of what the dress looks like. When I started cutting out my pattern pieces, I realized the dress was just a longer version of the tunic (and even though the cover picture is of a knee-length piece of clothing, that one was the tunic), I would have appreciated a picture of the dress. And there is no picture of the belt on anything. They show one little illustration when it is explained to sew the belt loops on, but other than that, nothing. WHY?? Thank goodness I had read a review that said the belt looked silly, otherwise I know that I would have sewn it on and kicked myself. The 'mystery belt' wasn't optional in the instructions...but I digress. Let me just say that as soon as I cut my pattern pieces out I promptly threw the belt piece in the garbage. I plan to use a belt of my own, or a thicker elastic belt, when I wear this dress (or even no belt at all would be fine).
Pattern Pieces - The pattern pieces were great, I had no problem with those. Everything was marked nicely for where each piece needed to be sewn onto corresponding pieces. I threw the cami pieces out because I was not crazy about the cami and I know I'll never make it. I'm not crazy about tissue paper, but I guess since this was an apparel item, I understand. If I had a big enough printer I would have just copied it on paper to make myself happy.
|Taking in the area up top by the sleeve an extra 1/4".|
This pattern was a pleasure to sew together. I know I sound like a broken record, but since I had read previews reviews on this one, I knew to try it on as I went along. The main complaint was the area that attaches the sleeves to the neckline, making the front of the top too loose or flappy around the chest. Mine wasn't too loose, but I took my seam in an extra 1/4" for good measure and I was happy with how that turned out. When I tried the exterior on after I had finished sewing it, I took in the area around the bust by about an extra 1/2" on each side (sort of making a mini dart where the side panels hit the front panel near the chest). I do something like this on just about every piece of clothing I make for myself. I don't have that big of a chest, and ladies, let's face it, we all have our one "area". Mine is my boobs. Whatever, I'm not too ashamed to admit it. Anything that is loose in the chest area makes me look like a 12-year-old boy. Other than that (and leaving out the belt), I didn't make any other modifications to the pattern instructions.
|My 3-1/2 year old son took this picture all by himself|
Conclusion - This pattern would be great for an intermediate sewer. Some of the other skills called for are sewing a dart, gathering the sleeves, sewing in a zipper, slip-stitching; and there were other stitches I had never done before (stitch-in-the-ditch and understitching). I am definitely going to sew this up again, I am already on the look-out for my next fabric.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
My sewing pattern finally came in the mail last night. I'm talking about the pattern for the Amy Butler Lotus Tunic and Cami. I was awaiting this because I am going to enter this project in Amy Lou Who's Amy Butler Sew and Tell Challenge. The project needs to be completed by September 24th, and must have an element in it...either using an Amy Butler sewing pattern, Amy Butler fabric, or both. There are a bunch of prizes, including sewing patterns, fabric, and a gift certificate to fabricworm.com!
For my main fabric, I decided to use some beautiful Alexander Henry cotton lawn fabric (Como multi, it's the fabric on the left) that I got a couple months ago. I'm using an Anna Maria Horner fabric, Fortune from the Good Folks line, for the detail at the top of the sleeves. I was debating whether the Alexander Henry would be too busy; maybe I should buy another fabric? But you know what, I'm going to have to learn to sew with what I already have in my stash, so I'm going to go for it! I'm going to a Jimmy Eat World concert in a couple weeks and I think I would like to wear this tunic with a pair of cowboy boots. I cut all the fabric out last night, so I'm ready to start tonight when the kids are in bed.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
I made this play tent for my daughter, Violet's, 2nd birthday, which was yesterday. I thought it would be a great present to make myself, because I have seen some tents that looked similar to this one, selling for $200-300. This is definitely something I would have liked to own as a child. :-)
Fabric - This tent calls for a lot of fabric. I spent around $50 on all the supplies, but thinking back, you could probably make it very inexpensively using old bed sheets, etc. The roof of the tent calls for 3-5/8 yards, the tent about 10 yards, the door and windows 3 yards, and the mat on the bottom calls for 3-5/8 yards. I skipped the batting for the mat, and it also called for 3 yards of high-density foam. I actually bought the foam from Joann Fabrics, but even with my 50% off coupon, the foam cost $50. I just couldn't bear the thought of spending so much on the supplies, so I returned the foam and bought a cheap bag of bean bag filling at Kmart.
Illustrations - The instructions to this McCalls pattern were very straight-forward and easy. The only thing that had me thinking was how to assemble the windows, but as soon as I visualized that, I was good to go.
Pattern Pieces - I hate tissue paper pattern pieces. I guess I am new school and just used to DIY patterns and printing patterns from Etsy. That said, some of these pieces were humongous. Some of the panels for the side of the tent were nearly 2 yards tall (2 pieces taped together). They were really tricky to trace and cut out, especially the doors and windows (which were made of organza fabric). Geez, that organza was a pain in the you-know-what because it was flimsy. But oh well.
My big grievance was using Velcro that was sticky on one side of the tape. That's the only kind of that width that I could find at Joann's, and I would NEVER USE IT AGAIN. It seemed great when I first stuck it all the way around the vinyl mat that goes on the bottom of the tent (the Velcro on the mat holds the bottom of the tent all the way around, so it sort of flows in an A-line). Wow, easy right? Well, when I was all finished sewing up the tent and went to get the mat out to stick it all together, the Velcro on the mat had puckered and become a horrible, sticky mess. I got sticky stuff in my hair, on my sewing machine foot, everywhere. Grrrrr.
The tent instructions also called for 3 pockets to be sewn onto the back of the tent on the inside. I skipped these because I could just imagine my kids fighting or putting toys into the pockets and ripping the tent out through the ceiling.
The picture that I took of our tent doesn't even do it justice. I made the side panels of the tent each in a different color (blue, green, pink, purple, and orange). There are two side windows that hold open and closed with Velcro, and the flaps of the door also hold open with Velcro. And yes, the roof of the tent is sparkly! The ceiling of the kids' play room is also a little low; the tent is held up with an s-hook screwed into the ceiling and tied in place, but the tent could have actually been held up another foot or so off the ground if the ceiling wasn't so low. Because of this, the tent more so hangs straight down as opposed to the A-line shape that I was going for.
Despite all this, the kids love playing in it!
Conclusion - This does look like a huge project, but it's pretty much all straight sewing. If you can be patient and work with large amounts of fabric, then you can do this!
Saturday, September 11, 2010
I just finished up this bag tonight! I was waiting for the purse hardware to come in the mail. :-)
This clutch is actually a Christmas gift for a huge Cubs fan. At this point in time, apparently all the cotton Chicago Cubs fabric is out of print. I saw that they had it on ebay at $30 for 1/4 yard. Huh. At $120/yard, the fabric better have some real gold in it. So, I got inventive and used fabric from these bad boys...
Yeah, that's right baby, I used a pair of men's 2XXL boxer shorts (I left the tag on as proof that they haven't been worn, haha).
The pattern that I used to make the clutch was the Curvy Clutch/Wristlet from Keyka Lou on Etsy.
Description from the pattern - This clutch is super cute in a print, chic in a solid, or it can be very elegant when made from silk, or other luxury fabrics. It makes a great handbag for a night out, cosmetic bag, special gift for a friend, or a pretty clutch for your DIY wedding. The pattern include instructions for two styles--clutch or wristlet--and THREE SIZES.
Fabrics - There are 3 different sizes of bag that you can choose from, and it takes 1/2-1/4 yards of the exterior fabric and 1/4 yard of the lining fabric, as well as 2 different types of interfacing. I used the fabric from the boxer shorts, as well as some red polka dot scrap fabric that I had.
Illustrations - The photos that accompanied the steps were okay; I sort of wished that there had been more, as a few of the steps I just guessed what exactly I was supposed to do. Maybe that's just me.
Pattern Pieces - There were only 2 pattern pieces to cut (2 for each of the 3 sizes), and no taping together of pieces needed. The pockets and straps are just rectangular cuts.
I wanted the bag to be stiff, so instead of the canvas or fleece sew-in lining, I use fusible Pellon Peltex. I am happy the bag holds its own shape, but it was a pain to sew around the top of the bag...I had to smash it and crunch it just so that it could fit on my machine since it wouldn't slip over the arm of my sewing machine. I am not sure if I would do that again....I would probably use the Peltex for the bag body but not for the flap. For the interlining of the red fabric, I just used a fusible woven.
The other modification I had to make, since the bag was so stiff, was that I had to make a hole in the bottom of the lining fabric to pull the exterior out from after I had sewn around on the top of the bag to finish it. The pattern instructions called for leaving a 3" opening on the top of the bag to pull the exterior through the lining fabric, but my bag was so stiff there was no way it was coming through.
Conclusion - This would be great for a beginner. I was very happy with how the bag turned out. It was a quick sew (except for my stresses over fitting it through my machine at the end). I am planning on making another one for an additional Christmas gift.
P.S. I'm also posting this as Amy Lou Who's Sew and Tell! Come post a project every week!
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
I was in Joann Fabrics today picking up some magnetic snaps for a clutch purse that I'm making, and my kids actually sat quietly in the shopping cart long enough for me to browse the magazines (gasp!). I flipped through all the sewing magazines that I saw, and they didn't really grab my interest (Threads, Altered Couture, etc.).
Then I noticed on the bottom shelf that there was a sewing magazine from the UK called Sew Hip. This was the September issue, and there are 12 patterns included. A couple of the projects I wasn't interested in (like the slippers and the tea cozy), but a few I really wanted to make.
In particular was the upcycled women's tank top as pictured on the bottom right-hand corner of the magazine cover (the blond woman with the white tank). I really love the flower detail on this, and the gathered fabric actually continues on to the back of the shirt. I'm going to make this one for sure.
The fabrics showcased in the magazine are actually fabrics that I would buy (or already have), so that is nice to see as well.
The only downside is that a year subscription in the U.S. costs around $120 (yikes), but Joann's has the magazine for $9.99, and if you have a 40% off coupon from the Sunday paper or printed from the internet, it comes out to around $6. If you are interested in the projects, like I was, then I think $6 is worth it (I'm just thinking of what I spend on .pdf patterns on Etsy, lol!).
Sunday, September 5, 2010
I made several of these bags for myself at the beginning of the year, but I am getting ready to revisit this pattern for some Christmas gifts, so I thought I would do a little write-up on it now.
I got this pattern delivered conveniently to my e-mail by purchasing it on Etsy from Jenna Lou Designs. I just love her bags and wallets, and she has great taste when it comes to fabric.
Description from the pattern - Mabel is a very versatile bag. Her strap shortens to become the perfect professional bag for work, school, or everyday.... or lengthens all the way out for a messenger style so you can go hands free. Closes with a magnetic snap and is fully lined. This is a great afternoon project that will leave you smiling with it's quick professional results. Learn to make a lined zipper pocket and adjustable strap.
Fabrics - I made 3 different bags as soon as I got the pattern, two with Echino fabrics and one with a Japanese import (the green with animals). The pattern called for 3/4 yard for the outside of the bag and 1/2 yard for the inside of the bag, as well as several interfacings to make the bag stiff. For one of the bags I made, I only had 1/2 yard of fabric, so I just made the straps out of a different fabric and it worked out just fine.
Illustrations - There were actually several photos for each step. The photos were also labeled to correspond to the step, so it was crystal clear what I was supposed to do.
Pattern Pieces - There were only 2 pattern pieces to print and cut out (one of the pieces was printed on 2 sheets, so it just needed to be taped together before cutting). The straps and pocket were just rectangles that needed to be measured out. Again, I love paper pattern pieces!
I just love the simple yet stylish design of this bag. I feel like it allows the fabric to be the focus, which is really what I want anyway since I spend so much time looking for fabric online. Simple = easy to sew.
This bag has gussets on the bottom, and if you have never sewn a gusset before, this is a great explanation on how to do it. I remember learning how to sew a gusset from an Amy Butler bag pattern, and her explanations were so wordy that I was really confused; but Jenna Lou's instructions were a breeze to follow.
The pattern calls for a zippered pocket, but I put 2 pockets in each of my bags (I just like having extra room for storing things), one on each side. I messed up the pocket on the first try by sewing it closed, so just give yourself plenty of mental time to lay your fabrics out and visualize what you're going to do before you start sewing, or perhaps look up a tutorial on the internet for sewing a zippered pocket to give you a little back-up. Or, if you're not into zippers, I suppose you could sew a pocket onto the interior or just skip the pocket altogether.
As I mentioned earlier, the pattern calls for two different interfacings in order to make the bag stiffer. The first two bags both had a canvas exterior, so I thought that I might just use a fusible fleece to back the exterior. These bags ended up being slouchy hobo bags (which is actually okay, they still look and work fine), but when I made the third bag with the Pellon Peltex as this pattern actually called for, I found that I liked the look and feel of the stiff bag much better. The bag holds its shape even with a lot of heavy things inside. I'll admit I was sweating for a little sewing over all that interfacing, but I didn't break a needle or anything.
|The first Mabel bag I made using Echino bird ball brick...wish I had more of this fabric :-)|
|Echino grassy plain raspberry fabric. This is the one that I only had 1/2 yard of, but I think it still looks great with the strap that matches the interior fabric!|
|The inside of the bag...and the zippered pockets.|
One last helpful nugget about this sewing pattern...I tried a couple different sewing/craft stores looking for the purse hardware that is required for the adjustable straps (which I love). If you just visit Jenna Lou's shop, you can save yourself the trip and the headache.
Conclusion - The pattern designer notes this as a pattern for the intermediate beginner, and I would have to agree. This is a great pattern, an easy project, and a purse that I know I will be sewing over and over and over again (yes, I do have that Echino scooter fabric in the top picture, I am saving it to make another bag haha!).
Saturday, September 4, 2010
One of my favorite ways to waste time is to read the blog, New Dress A Day. This girl vowed to spend 365 days and $365 converting hideous thrift store finds into cute outfits. As of today, she has 88 days and $89 to go.
I like everything about this blog. I like how the first image you see each day is of the pre-chopped up article of clothing (and yes, they are all completely gross...I wonder how long most of these sat in the thrift store before she bought them). A lot of them have at least something going for them (usually, an interesting fabric print). When you see her wearing each outfit, it looks like you could fit 3 or 4 of her in them.
I also like that she illustrates how she alters them, and explains what she did. Obviously, these are one-of-a-kind pieces, but the basic ideas can be replicated. I was particularly interested in her 'grab and cinch' technique where she gathers fabrics in the shoulder strap area and cinches them in with a safety pin.
Years ago, I altered a few thrift store finds with mostly success. I still have some of those tops and dresses today. I think the trick is to not shy away from clothing that is definitely too large for your body, because those pieces give you the most options as far as being able to cut away fabric to make them sorter or whatever.
Here is a top that I altered from a dress. Not too bad, right?
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
I made this little top for Violet's 2nd birthday, which is next week! Gosh, I can't believe she's going to be 2 already. I wanted her to have a special outfit for the big day, so I made up this top. It only took me one evening of sewing, which I love; I am an instant gratification type of girl.
I purchased a .pdf pattern and instructions from Frog Legs and Ponytails on Etsy...gosh I love Etsy, what did people ever do before Etsy...the Carson Ruffle shirt.
Description from the pattern - Simple instructions and lovely color photos. Make it sweet or sassy! This little ruffled number is sure to turn heads! 8 sizes included(12-24 Months, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 & 8)
Fabrics - I made size 3T, and the pattern called for 1 yard of fabric #1, 1/4 yard of fabric #2 (the center ruffle), and 1/2 yard of fabric #3 (the bottom ruffle). I had some extra of fabrics #2 and #3, which can be expected, but for fabric #1, I only used 1/2 yard since I had the store-bought bias tape. The fabrics I used were 1) Robert Kaufman Tossed Cupcakes in pink 2) Alexander Henry Kleo in sage 3) Robert Kaufman Strawberry Metro Market. The back of the top is just the cupcakes fabric, with the strawberry fabric ruffle at the bottom.
Illustrations - There was about 1 photo for each step, which was sufficient, because this pattern is pretty straight-forward. I appreciated all the action photos at the end.
Pattern Pieces - I love .pdf patterns because I get a kick out of printing the pattern pieces and knowing that I can print them as many times as I need to, for example, if I am going to be making this again in the future in a bigger size. There were only 3 pattern pieces (one of them was assembled from 4 printed pages taped together), and the ruffles were all cut from rectangular measurements. Score!
The pattern called for either store-bought bias tape or homemade bias tape, and even though I do think it would look better with a homemade bias tape in a coordinating fabric, tough, because I just don't have the patience for that (although, this project did cause me to look at the snazzy bias tape maker made by Simplicity, but would I really make $60 worth of bias tape on it in my lifetime? Doubtful.). I really enjoyed the bias tape along the top and for the straps, it makes the shirt look really polished and pretty.
Maybe this pattern looks a little complicated for a beginner, but it was super-easy. Practically all the seams are straight, and I just used a zig-zag stitch to finish the seams. If you can sew a basting stitch and pull a thread with your fingers, then you can make the ruffles. The hardest part for me was matching up which fabric was supposed to be which piece/ruffle, but once I wrapped my head around that I was good to go.
The top looked just beautiful sitting on my ironing board, but the real test was trying it on my little subject. As the terrible two's are setting in, Violet has become extremely choosy with her clothing. If she doesn't like it, she sends you away like the princess she is. I did manage to mind-control her into putting it on one time, and there is way too much fabric around the body (it sort of seems like she is wearing a smooshed hula hoop around the bottom), so I did a little tweek and took it in on the sides. I still have to try it on her again tomorrow, but I figure I am more likely to be able to convince her older brother to help me out, so I'm probably going to do that (after Daddy goes to work, so he doesn't have to see his son wearing such finery).
Conclusion - Difficulty level advanced beginner. Would I make this top again? I wouldn't make it for Violet to wear as an every-day item, but it is terribly cute, for say, a birthday party.