Tuesday, July 30, 2013

McCalls 5353 -- Baby Sunsuit and Hat

With my daughter making all these baby gifts, I decided to get in on the action, too.  It's been awhile since I had the time or the inclination to make something for a baby.  I have made baby gowns in the past, but they were usually from heirloom-style patterns. This is the first time I've made baby clothes from a mainstream commercial pattern.

I chose McCalls 5353, mainly because I love the criss-cross back.  I remember my sister and I wearing little outfits like this (mine was a turquoise dotted swiss, if my memory is correct:).

I made the size small.  Unfortunately, I did not read the sizing information in detail, or I would have noticed that a size small is for an infant that weighs 13-15 lbs.  Oh well, the baby will have to grow into this one.

I used two matching cotton fabrics from Joann:  purple with white polka dots and white with purple polka dots.  I sandwiched white rickrack between the layers rather than sewing the rickrack directly on top per the pattern photo (although I think it could look cute with the rickrack on top, and it would be a little easier;)
The most fiddly part was that hat.  I am not the best at reading the line drawings on patterns, so I'm not sure if I did everything exactly right.  However, it's finished and hopefully will work.

Here's a view of the back (my favorite feature):
Since I had enough fabric I made two pairs of bloomers.  I trimmed the purple ones with the rickrack and left the white ones plain.  The pattern gave no measurements for the elastic.  You are supposed to put your elastic around the baby and cut it to size.  This is a problem when said baby has not even been born yet.  I searched the internet for some guidelines but was not successful, so I took a guess and told the mother-to-be that the elastic can be adjusted later if needed.

I also bought a yard of purple seersucker to make a light blanket.  For once the fabric was cut almost perfectly straight, so all I had to do was turn up the sides 1/2", then another 1/2" and sew them down.  One of the few things I made for my own babies was some of these blankets.  I've always lived in the south, and this weight of blanket is perfect for hanging over a carseat while baby is napping, or for discreetly nursing, or for a light protection from the cool evening air.

Except for the hat, this was fun sewing.  It's not every day I get to sew for a baby:)

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Bunny (and Monkey) Love

The third installment of my daughter's summer projects is this adorable white bunny who, along with the previous post's rag quilt, is a gift for a soon-to-be-born baby girl.

Here's a close-up of Bunny's face.  I really like the droopy ears.

And a back view of the cottontail.   Yarn used is a DK cotton/linen blend from KnitPicks.

Directions for knitting this bunny are in the book Itty-Bitty Toys by Susan B. Anderson, a book which is chock full of cute little animals to knit.  Plus it has great directions -- this book gets the credit for teaching my daughter how to knit in the round.  My daughter has already made most of the animals in the book, however (which you can see here and some more here).  She is now on the lookout for some other cute patterns to add to her repertoire.

In the meantime, Bunny was a hit with the small fry at the baby shower, getting broken in with a lot of toddler love -- thankfully, said toddler was able to gracefully give Bunny up at the end of the shower:)

Taking a break before the baby gets here

And while we're on the subject of knitted toys, I just discovered a cutie that I had neglected to blog about:
This little fellow (also from the Itty-Bitty Toys book) was knitted back in the spring by my daughter.  He has now gone to a little boy who is a grandson of a friend of mine (her first grandson also got one of my daughter's monkeys).  It's hard to tell from the photos, but Bunny is a substantial size, while Monkey is fairly small (think good-sized baby doll to small baby doll).
I love his topknot
The yarn used for Mr. Monkey was sock yarn from KnitPicks.  He's cute as can be, but this is the third monkey my daughter has made in the past year, and she says it will be a LOOOONG time before she will be able to make another one;)
Well-satisfied with life at the moment

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A Sunny Rag Quilt

This baby quilt is another one of my daughter's summer projects:

This is her very first quilt (although she didn't put batting inside -- it was heavy enough -- so I'm not sure if it can technically be called a quilt).  Whatever you want to call it, it is very cute.  Here is a close-up of the fabric (all of which was purchased at our local Joann Fabrics).

I love the little birdies!  Also, if you look closer, you can see the yellow embroidery thread she used to tie the front and back together.  The fabrics on the front side are all flannels, with the seams on the outside and clipped, so that they will fluff up.

This picture shows the yellow minkee fabric on the back.

It's a very cuddly blanket.  My daughter loosely used these directions.  I say "loosely" because she took those directions and then did them her way.  First, she sketched her design out on paper and decided to use 6-inch squares of flannel.  She then sewed them together in rows, then sewed the rows together.  (I was surprised at how quickly she did all this.  My daughter is not plagued by my slowness:).  Then she cut the minkee to fit the back.  She decided against using a binding and instead just sewed the minkee all the way around, leaving a hole for turning.  She then turned it all right side out and sewed up the hole. Also, because the blanket was a good weight without the batting, she left it out.  Lastly, she opted to tie the blanket instead of quilting it.

Here it is displayed on the fence, piquing the curiosity of a couple of onlookers.

Let's move in for a closer look:

Oops!  A little too close!

Ahh!  The quilt is safely back with its maker:)

My daughter didn't get to keep it for long.  She made it for a baby girl at our church who has not yet arrived.  Hopefully, she (the baby) will spend many happy hours cuddled up with it:)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

New Look 6184 -- China Dress

I have been on something of a creative hiatus since early June, but my daughter has not.  On the contrary, she has been working hard on some beautiful projects.  This dress is the first one:

I titled this the "China Dress" because the fabric is reminiscent of blue china to me.  It is a gorgeous cotton with subtle metallic highlights (like gold or silver leaf on china:) purchased from Hobby Lobby.
It feels as pretty as it looks
For her pattern she chose New Look 6184 view B and made an unaltered size 10.  Features include pleats at the neck, darts at the waistline, and a circle skirt made of several panels sewn together.  She tried adding a white belt and bow out of satin (per view B), but it made the dress feel too little-girly and took away from its effect, so she left it off.

The dress is not lined.  The neckline is finished with a facing, and the armholes are finished with bias tape, which makes the inside tidy.  She did finish all other seams by sewing a line in each seam allowance and then pinking the edges.

It closes with a lapped zipper at the back.

She didn't add any to the length (she is 5'9" for reference), so there was not much room to turn up a hem.  A circle skirt should have a very narrow hem anyway, so we used hem tape sewn to the edge and turned up.  I think that also added a little weight and helped the hem to hold its shape.

As sometimes happens, a new dress necessitates new shoes and purse:), but thankfully we found both quickly and very reasonably.

I love the retro feel of this, and the fit is spot-on.  Truly it looks lovely on her. As I did not make this dress myself I cannot offer my opinion, but my daughter says that this pattern is quite easy and not hard to understand at all.  I will let her results speak for themselves.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

McCalls 6559 -- Black and White Maxi

Squinting into the sun
I made this dress at the very beginning of June.  I was away from home most of the month and I wanted to take this dress with me.  The pattern is McCalls 6559, and it was ranked as one of the Best Patterns of 2012 at Pattern Review.  I have to agree since this is the fourth time I've made it myself (here are versions onetwo and three), which is a little surprising since the pattern is really just one basic design.  But, with the exception of my version two, which has been relegated to a swimsuit coverup, I wear the other three all the time.  I wear the short silver one with a pink denim jacket and I wear the two maxis just as they are.

I love to wear maxi dresses.  They are so comfortable and cool, they look nice, and you don't have to worry about what your legs look like.  Long live the maxi!

This particular dress is view F the stripe version, but minus the appliqued star.  I had been wanting a dress like this since last summer but had to wait to find a suitable fabric.  On my one trip to Golden D'or I picked up some black T-shirt-like fabric and some black-and-white brushed knit fabric, both from the remnant table.  There was not enough of either one to make a whole dress, but I thought it would be fun to combine the stripe manipulation with the black and white trend.

The front is mostly striped, with one black panel.  It is very difficult to photograph stripes, especially narrow ones, so here are a couple of close-ups.

The back is solid black.  I did have to piece the back because the fabric wasn't long enough.  And I used the regular back piece, NOT the racerback version.

Semi-technical information for fellow sewing geeks;):  I made a size 14 but added an inch to the side seams, tapering out from under the arm.  This was a little more of a pain than usual thanks to the number of front pieces.  I reinforced all the front seams with knit stay tape since I was sewing two different kinds of knits together.  I cut away the seam allowance on the neckline and sleeves because I used knit binding to finish them.

Because this was the fourth time I had made this dress, I was zipping along and feeling good until.....I put the binding on.  I made the binding by cutting two-inch wide strips across the black fabric.  I had used binding on version number two, but everything turned out too big.  I was determined not to let that happen this time, so I pinned that binding on TIGHT.  So tight that the dress, which fit beautifully before, was suddenly too small in the armholes when I tried it on:( I realized I had done TOO good of a job and had to unpick both armholes and redo them.  I did not unpick the neckline because it was working okay and unpicking stitches on knit fabric IS NOT FUN, especially when the fabric is black.

This dress is funky but is so comfortable it feels like I'm wearing pajamas.  Plus it rolls up in my suitcase easily, and then emerges from its cramped quarters looking as good as new.  That makes it a winner for me.