Monday, April 14, 2014

Blog Absence

Dear Friends,

I've been absent from this space for a little while just because of life being a bit busy and overwhelming at the moment.  Sadly, I will be absent a little longer because my dear mother passed away very unexpectedly this Sunday.

It feels a lot like a repeat of my mother-in-law's death just over a year ago, except my mother was a lot younger.  No matter how old you are, when a parent dies you still feel like an orphan.  My siblings and I are very sad.

We are traveling this week for the services.  Any prayers are appreciated.

Thank you,


Saturday, March 22, 2014

New Look 6071 -- Blue Sweater Dress

While my daughter has been sewing for spring ever since January, I still had a couple of winter things that I wanted to finish.  First up is this blue sweater dress I completed in late February/early March.
The pattern is New Look 6071, a Workroom/Project Runway pattern that just went out of print, so if you're interested in purchasing it, do it soon.  I really was not that interested in it myself until I saw Andrea of Fabric Epiphanies great series on this pattern: number 1number 2number 3number 4, and number 5!

Inspired by her flattering versions, I bought the pattern myself.  I had some blue sweater knit fabric from Joann Fabric that I thought would be a good match.  I cut a 14 at the neckline and added an inch to the side seams, tapering out from under the arms.  Tissue-fitting revealed that the sleeves were very narrow and I actually added almost an inch to the width all the way down the sleeve to the wrist.  I also added a little to the length of the sleeves and the skirt.

I liked the interest added at the bodice with the twist and the pleats.  Instructions were good on this.  The neckline is finished with a facing.  After reading some reviews and fearing gaping issues, I shortened the facing to somewhere between the size 10 and size 12.  I'm really glad I did, and if I make this again I will shorten that even more, which helps snug up the neckline.  The neckline still ended up a little lower than I am comfortable with, so I hand-tacked it together, giving me another inch of coverage.
The back fits very well.  I made no adjustments to that other than lengthening the skirt slightly.

All in all, this dress is okay.  I like the interest in the bodice, and the slightly A-line skirt is a nice change for me.  Definitely wearable.  The main thing I don't like about it is that it shows how thick I've gotten this winter while I was bundled up under my giant sweatshirts, and how much work I'm going to have to do to keep from getting thicker.  That's a little discouraging.  However, I do think I will try it again.  I think it might look nice in a stripe and as a top.

As for the photos, I didn't use the self-timer, but I set the tripod up and set the shots up myself.  Then I set my husband behind the camera and told him to just push the button.  I still don't understand how I can take more flattering shots of myself than he can take of me....... Anyway, these shots were taken outside, where I was constantly getting photo-bombed by my furry friends and my youngest son,

who was lovingly mocking me (now you can understand why it is so hard for me to look at ease).  But it's only fitting he should have his own photo (even though he's making a face), because this week he was the last of my offspring to pass from childhood into teen-age-hood.  Happy birthday - and yes, we did celebrate with ice cream cake!!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

New Look 6035 -- A Good Top for Swinging into Spring

Finally spring is just around the corner!  In eager anticipation of this happy event my daughter began making warm weather clothes in February.  She finished this little sleeveless shell from New Look 6035 view C.  I say 'finished" because she started this top over a year ago and stalled out because she didn't know how to do the binding.  The top languished waited patiently in a little bundle until her skills and confidence caught up, and she felt ready to tackle it.  Plus, sometimes you just want to get that project that's been hanging over your head out of the way.
The top is made of a cotton fabric covered all over in tiny white flowers that I've had in my stash for well over ten years.  I don't remember what I originally thought I would make but I'm glad the fabric is finally getting to be worn:)  The cotton does wrinkle -- these photos were taken after it had been worn all day -- but wrinkles are a second consideration to comfort and coolness when you live in a hot climate.

Here you can see the tone-on-tone flowers, which add visual texture to the fabric. The neckline and armholes are bound with self-fabric bias, and the neckline also has small pleats.

Here's a view of the back:
And here is a view of the side.  The side seams are finished off with a slit, which gives the top a little more movement.  She made a straight size 10.  The underarms are a little snug, so next time we will deepen the underarm seams half an inch or so.

It's a great top for summer, but also for cooler weather because it's perfect underneath a jacket.

An all-around do-it-yourself-er, my daughter also made the swing in the photos:)  She used these plans from Lowe's, spent an afternoon or so on construction, and then hung the swing in the huge live oak tree that is in my front yard.  It's very sturdy (supposedly up to 500 lbs.!) so any of us can enjoy it, not just small kids, something that all my tall people appreciate:)

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Butterick 5907 -- Another Cozy Pullover

Sewing-wise, I accomplished very little in December and January, but for some reason February, the shortest month, has seen a rise in my productivity.  I think it is partly the pressure of winter soon being over and all my winter ideas having to be put aside until September.  It's also that I have been making things that are relatively quick and easy, like this top from Butterick 5907, view B.
It's a little hard to see in the photo (these were taken before Vee's tip of lowering the ISO on my camera - which I will try to figure out for next time), but the fabric is a soft, comfy chocolate leopard print double-knit that I think I got on sale at Hancock Fabrics.  At the time I bought it, I thought it might make a good top so I bought 2 yards.  This would normally be enough, even for a long sleeve top, but the cowl on the top is rather large and cut on the bias, and I did not have enough fabric:( I've had the fabric for awhile so I wasn't sure if the store would still have more in stock, plus I really didn't want to spend any more money, so I put my thinking cap on for awhile and came up with this.

I took the scraps and sewed them together until I had a piece of fabric large enough to cut the cowl out.  The cowl is doubled so all the wonky seams ended up hidden underneath the top layer and are in the back.  The busy print means that the seams are almost unnoticeable.  I am the most proud of this part of the whole project;)

As for the pattern itself, it has dropped shoulders, a huge but lovely cowl, and a pleat at center front, which is a nice feature that adds a little interest to an otherwise plain front.  The whole pattern went together beautifully and I love it.  I made a size medium, adding my usual one inch to the side seams, tapering out from under the arms. I lengthened the sleeves 1/2 inch and added 1 inch to the length.  I usually lengthen sleeves a lot more and often have to widen the bicep area.  I did not have to do that here, which makes me think the pattern may run a bit large, so if you are between sizes, go down a size.  (Take into consideration that I used a knit, but some of the other recommended fabrics are wovens.  If you are using a woven, it may not run so large, so proceed with caution).
Not the greatest view from the back, but at least you can see the coverage helps keep your backside warm:)
The cowl is luscious.
Anyway, it's another top I will wear often.  Like the top in my last post, I have already worn this multiple times.  If this is a shape you like to wear, I highly recommend Butterick 5907.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Simplicity 2289 -- Cozy Pullover

I don't know if it really has been or not, but this winter feels colder than usual.  I have been sleeping in knee socks, long flannel pants, a giant T-shirt, and on top of that, an even giant-et sweatshirt -- yes, quite alluring, I know;).  During the day I've often worn a coat or jacket while I go about my business inside the house.  And I don't live in the great white north -- I live in Texas!

Our temperatures seem to go up and down willy-nilly, even within a couple of days, but we have been known to have snowstorms in March, so I am keeping on with sewing warm garments through the end of February.

This top is my version of a wearable blanket.  The fabric is a lightweight sweater knit from Hancock Fabrics value selection.  It has a lot of stretch in it.  It is the color of dusty miller leaves, kind of a gray-green.  Even though it is lightweight, it is very soft, warm and cozy, just what I was hoping for.

The pattern is Simplicity 2289.  I've had it since last year, but it took me awhile to find a fabric similar to what I had in mind.  The cover fabric is fleece, but I was looking for something more drapey.  I wanted something you would pull on over a T-shirt if you were outside and the sun went down.  I'm wearing it over a T-shirt here.

I did make a few changes.  This pattern came in sizes small, medium and large.  I made the medium but added one inch to the side pieces, tapering out from under the arm.  After checking Pattern Review to find out what others may have thought about the pattern, I found out that the consensus seemed to be that the sleeves ran tight and short (which is interesting, because the body is quite wide).

So, I lengthened the sleeves by 4 1/2 inches.  I would have done more - they are still not full-length on me, but the sleeve is cut as one with the body and 4 1/2 inches was as much length as I could fit on my fabric.  Be aware that the sleeve cuffs don't really add much to the length.  I also gave myself a little more sleeve width by using only a 3/8 inch seam allowance on the underside of the sleeve (making the same adjustment on the cuff).  This was fine because my fabric had so much stretch, but you could give yourself even more room in the sleeve by using a 3/8 inch seam allowance on the top seam as well.

After reading the reviews, I decided to make the collar a double, rather than a single, layer, since my fabric was so lightweight.  That adds warmth at the neck, almost like wearing a light scarf.  It also prevents any raw edges from showing and adds some body to the collar.

A couple of my husband's paintings are on the wall behind me
The pockets were added after the shoulder seam was stitched, so I could check their placement relative to where my hands needed to be.  I think my pockets are lower.  I also took 3 inches off the length, but I decided that after I tried it on.  Both the shoulder seams and the hem are reinforced with knit stay tape.

Here you can see how it is finished at the sides.  After ironing the knit stay tape on,  I just turned up the hem and sewed a 5/8 inch seam at the bottom.
(A word about these photos:  My family does not really enjoy fashion shoots;) I took all these myself  using my little camera's self-timer and a tripod.  While I'm happy with their composition, the downside is when the camera is in self-timer mode I don't know how to make other adjustments, so the quality is a lot grainier.  Something else to figure out.......)

I have to say that this top is a piece of clothing I will wear to death.  In fact, I already wore it three days last week.  I finally had to stop because I spilled something on it and it needed to go in the wash.  It looks good but it is so comfortable you could curl up in a chair and go to sleep while wearing it. Not a bad idea.....

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Simplicity 2054 - Take Two

I made this dress back in November/December, but I had been thinking about making it since last winter, when I saw Erica Bunker's version here (from 2011).  Erica is one of the best-dressed sewing bloggers out there, and I love her style.  When I saw her version, I thought "hey, I've already got that pattern - Simplicity 2054!" In fact, I already made it (here).  However, Erica's dress has faux leather sleeves and I could not figure out how I would wash something like that.  So the idea kind of sat on the back burner.

Finally (over a year later -- this just shows the long, slow journey ideas in my head take before they actually materialize, IF they materialize at all) I saw some black dance knit in Joann Fabrics and thought, that's the fabric I've been looking for.  The body of the dress is a gray rib-knit, also from Joann.  This fabric came formed in a tube and was quite a bit narrower than regular knit fabric.  But it was the right weight and is very comfortable and worked great for this dress.
Now that I have made essentially the same dress twice, I want to repeat that this pattern goes together beautifully.  I made a size 14 and did my usual adjustment of adding an inch to each side, tapering out from under the arms.  I added to the length to make it knee-length.  It looks longer in this photo, perhaps because of the angle of the picture.
I used the black dance fabric for the arms and the neckband. This time I made view C, with the sleeve slits.  I added 2 inches of length to the upper part of the sleeve, and 3 more inches of length at the bottom of the wrist.  This seems like a LOT, but the sleeves fit, so maybe they run short?  Anyway, these sleeves make me feel like a superhero;)
This is one of the simplest dresses to make, just a plain front and back with neck binding and sleeves.  But I find that it is the simplest things that I tend to wear the most:  they are easy to put on, easy to care for, and easy to wear.
These photos were taken before winter had completely taken hold, hence the semi-green grass.  Now everything is cold, cold, cold and all that grass is brown and muddy.  When weather conditions are less than ideal, this dress can take you through the winter - both versions I've made are warm, cozy and comfortable.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

New Bunny - "Cottontail"

This is another little project my daughter worked on this winter.  It is the "Cottontail" bunny from the  gorgeous book Storybook Toys by Jill Hamor.  We originally purchased this book because it has great directions for sewing beautiful doll faces and hair.  But there are other nice projects tucked within the book as well, and Cottontail was one of them.

My daughter has just begun a collection of china teacups (three so far) and we placed the bunny on a shelf next to one to give you an idea of his size.  He is about 9 inches tall.  He is made out of "fur" from Joann Fabrics.  This fur was very difficult to wrangle under the sewing machine, so my daughter resorted to hand sewing the whole thing. However, she was nervous about how durable he would be, so we stuffed him in a pillowcase and washed him in the washing machine on delicate cycle, then tumbled him in the dryer, also on delicate cycle.  Happily, he came out unscathed, which is good.

He needs to be sturdy and washable because he is a gift to a teacher's not-yet-arrived baby boy (her fourth boy, no less!).  Although the fur was tricky to sew, it gives him such a soft, squishy feel it was worth it.  Also, his eyes were made out of embroidered felt pieces, so you don't have to worry about little ones playing with him.

From the back you can get a tiny glimpse of his cottontail.

I also love his floppy ears.  My daughter has made quite a few stuffed toys before (you can see some by looking under the label 'toys' on my sidebar), but each one has its own personality.  This one reminds me just a little of the Velveteen Rabbit.  I hope he gets loved that much:)