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Sunday, October 15, 2017

The Swingy Leaf Shirt (That I Now Like)

Some how in my quest to sew most of my World Race wardrobe I sewed a few to many things. Once I  was all done sewing and started packing (less than 12 hours before leaving home. I need to get better at time management!) I realized that all the shirts I'd sewn just wouldn't fit in my packing cube. Something would have to be left behind.

So, I unpacked all my shirts, considered which ones I'd wear the most, and then packed just those shirts. A couple really cute shirts didn't make the cut. Like this one:

I made this fun, swingy, top using Kwik Sew 4157 and some cotton/lycra jersey I'd picked up over a year earlier for a project that never happened.

Once I finished sewing the shirt I tried it on then worried that maybe it was a little too swingy. I felt like it was baggy and made me look shapeless. Thus, when I needed to pick shirts to leave home this one got booted out of my pack pretty quick.

Fast forward 7 months and my mom was coming to Romania to see me. I'd begun to grow a little tired of the clothes I packed at the beginning of the year. So, I decided to have my mom bring me some "new" clothes - such as this shirt.

The first time I wore the shirt after my mom brought it to me I wondered what I'd been thinking in January. The shirt wasn't baggy at all! Rather I found it to be just the right amount of "swingy"

Yes, just in case you were wondering, this shirt "twirls" well
Now this is one of my favorite shirts! It gets worn a couple times a week!

I already plan on making a couple more from this pattern when I go home!

But before I start compiling too much of a project list, I still have 6 more weeks to go on World Race. To keep up with what I'm up to during this last month and a half check out my World Race blog!

I'm looking forward to being back home with my family (and my sewing machine!), but right now I'm really excited to see what God has in store for me these last 6 weeks! He's taught me so much over the past 10 months, and I know He's gonna continue to do more in my life - both on the Race, and after it!
All the fabulous photos courtesy of my teammate, Kelsay Singleton 

Monday, October 9, 2017

The African-Romanian Birthday Dress Refashion

A month and a half ago my baby sister officially became a teenager.

Now, I'm sure most people would agree that 13 is a rather monumental birthday. 

A monumental birthday that a big sister would prefer to be around for. Well, due to the fact I'm on the World Race this year, I was in Romania on this girl's birthday. And I wasn't the only one. No, my little sister's birthday fell during the one week of the year where parents of World Racers are invited to come out to the field and join their kids for a week of 'Life on the Race'. Thus, my mom was in Romania with me, and the two of us missed my little sister's birthday together. 

Of course, my little sister was rather disappointed and frustrated that both my mom and I would be out of the country for her 13th birthday, and she would be left at home with just Dad and the brothers. I tried to ease this disappointment as much as possible by making a birthday surprise for my mom to take home to this nearly grown-up sister of mine - a new dress!!

A couple weeks before my mom came to see me I was blessed with a sewing machine for a weekend. So, I had my mom send me my little sister's measurements and I went rummaging around in my pack for material to refashion into a dress for my sister.

I decided the maroon dress I acquired while in Africa would be just the thing for this birthday present project. 

So out of my pack and onto the cutting table the dress went. The bottom of the dress would become the skirt of the new dress. I cut it so that the new dress would have a fun hi-low hemline.

The bodice and yoke portion of the original dress would become the bodice, sleeves, and cuffs of the new dress.

And the original elastic shoulder straps became a new elastic waistband!

I finished the dress in one afternoon, wrapped it up, and put it away to send home with my mom, just hoping it would fit my little sister!

Well, a few weeks later I had my answer! The morning after my mom returned home from Romania she sent me a video of my little sister unwrapping the dress. This was soon followed by a skype call verifying that the dress did indeed fit! 

I really wish I could have been there for my little sister's 13th birthday, but since that was impossible I'm so glad I got to make her a birthday present and send it home to her with my mom! Less than two months to go now until I get to see this girl in person!

To keep up with what I'm doing over these last two months check out my World Race blog!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

My First Civil War Dress

When I was 13 I had one request on my Christmas wishlist: a Civil War dress. I wanted a pretty dress that required a hoop skirt, and my grandma delivered. On Christmas I received from her a small gift bag containing McCall's 5132 and a note saying she would take me fabric shopping the next week to pick out fabric for my Civil War dress.
The next week she and I went to Joann's and picked out a pretty purple calico. Then over the next 6 months she and I worked together to make that dress. She did most of the work, but I got to assist with cutting the dress out and gathering the skirt. As we ended the dressmaking process my mom pulled out her wedding hoop skirt for me to wear under the dress. She'd made the petticoat herself and my dad had made the hoops for her - out of #9 fencing wire!

Murder Mystery Party (I think I was 17)
The completed dress consisted of a skirt, a bodice, and a set of under sleeves.

Halloween Party - I was around 15

When the dress was finally done I got to wear it the following week to a costume party. I was Mary Todd Lincoln. The following spring I found another excuse to wear the dress: the costume contest at a goat show. My goat Leola and I were President and Mrs. Lincoln. I don't recall how we placed in the costume contest, but I do remember that Leola won grand champion at that show!

14 year old Alyssa and 'Abraham Leolakin'
And so it continued. All throughout high school I took every opportunity I got to wear my Civil War Dress. It was my outfit of choice for every Halloween and costume party.

A few times over the years the dress had to be let out, and a new button placket was added so that the dress would actually fit me as I grew. 

Then, when I was  17, I got a little bored with my dress and decided it needed some accessorizing - a new bonnet was just the thing!

I spend a week sitting on my bedroom floor working on this bonnet - it's made out of mystery fabric from Wal-mart, bailing wire, and some rope I found in the barn! I think it turned out quite well!

While I was making the bonnet I decided that I needed a cloak as well - so whipped one up in about 30 minutes. Out of polar fleece. Historical accuracy was not a priority for me at the time.

Now this dress doesn't get worn as much as my newer historical dresses do, but it's had it's outings in recent years. (It actually fits perfectly over my corset and other proper under pinnings)

My friend Erentry actually wore the dress to the Heritage Festival a couple years ago!

Then, a couple months ago my mom sent me this picture:

Yes, that's my little sister wearing my very first Civil War dress. Apparently the dress I made with my grandma when I was 13 (and my sister was only 2) now fits my 13 year old sister! When did she grow up? How did that happen?

Over 10 years later, and I'd have to say that this dress is one of the best Christmas presents I've ever received. It was so special to get to help my grandma make it - and now it's the most worn historical dress I've got! 

Saturday, September 23, 2017

This Jacket Suits Me! #therefashioners2017

It's no secret that I've missed my sewing machine this year. Like really missed it. Never more so than at the end of July however. As July neared it's end I was mindful of the fact that The Refashioners 2017 would be beginning soon, and that I might have a hard time participating this year - you know, moving countries every month and my lack of a sewing machine really gets in the way of refashioning.

Then The Refashioners was actually announced. My days of trying to guess the theme and wondering if there was any way I would be able to participate were over. I had my questions answered! Well, one of them any way.

The Refashioners 2017 theme is Suits You! Yes, the challenge is to refashion a suit. I had mixed feeling about this - how would I manage to refashion a suit on the World Race? Refashion a T-shirt? No problem! Refashion an African mu-mu? I've got that! Refashion a suit? What? How could I manage that?
But on the other hand - what a fun challenge! Suits are often made out of wool - my favorite fiber! So if there was any way I could take part in the challenge this year I would!

Following the theme announcement, there was another announcement over at Makery, the hosting blog of the challenge: rather than running from August 1 to September 30, like past years, this year the challenge would run from September 1 through October 31. This meant if I started my project at the beginning of August I would have an entire 3 months to complete it! Considering at this point I thought I would have to completely hand sew my entry, this was perfect! My decision was made. I would be participating in The Refashioners 2017.

That decided, my first step was to actually find a suit to refashion. Easier said than done when you're in a foreign country where you don't know the language, don't know where to find a thrift store, have no car, and are on a very limited budget.

Well, I completely lucked out one day when I was exploring the city of Oradea, Romania, with my teammates. As we were walking down the street I caught sight of a thrift store, so I checked it out. Inside, I found no 2 piece suits - but I did find this pretty blue wool/rayon blend suit jacket! And it was only 20 lui ($5 USD)! I snatched it up, took it back to my home for the month, and began dismantling it - while video chatting with my little sister one night.

Now as soon as the Refashioners was announced I knew exactly what I wanted to make out of a suit coat - a bomber style jacket. Something like this:


With sleeve "cuffs" like this:


And front detailing similar to this suit jacket I saw at the Oradea mall:

So once my suit coat was dismantled I started draping my bomber jacket right onto myself. 

As I draped I pinned all my seams together so that I could sit down and hand sew them - but then I received a fantastic blessing!

The sewing room I got to work with in Romania? They loaned me a sewing machine over a 4 day weekend!!!! I borrowed an iron and ironing board from the hotel laundry and I was set! One end of the hotel dinning room became my sewing room and the jacket refashioning began in earnest.

The back of the suit coat became the back of my jacket.

The front of the suit coat was completely cut up and sewed back together in a way that made use of all the pockets and added fun details.

I used as much of the original lining as possible to line my new jacket, but the suit coat wasn't fully lined so I had to add some "new" lining as well; rayon left over from a dress I refashioned into a shirt.

The original sleeves became my new sleeves. I just shortened them from the top, took them in a bit, and added elastic cuffs using some elastic left over from an African mu-mu I refashioned into a shirt for a friend.

I made the hem band and neck band out of a scrap of polyester knit left over from refashioning a jumpsuit into a dress for another friend. (Dang, I've done more refashioning this year than I realized!)

The zipper? I picked that up for 50 cents at a discount store in Montenegro!

Once I brought that sewing machine 'home' it took me less than 2 days to sew all the pieces together and have a brand new jacket!

Photo Credit: Katy Herder
One that I'm absolutely in love with! 

I am beyond thrilled that I was actually able to get this jacket made on the race!

And I am equally thrilled with these pictures my teammate, Kelsay Singleton, took of the completed jacket! Aren't they amazing?

Now, if you wanna know what else I've been up to on the race (other than sewing), and especially what I've been up to in Cambodia this month (other than getting photographed) check out my World Race blog

And if you wanna take part in The Refashioners 2017 - do it! Head over to Makery to read all the details! I highly recommend participating! It's a ton of fun!