Friday, October 23, 2015

An Asymmetrical, Faux Wrap, Zipperless, Black Skirt with Lace and Buttons

A black skirt. Such a versatile garment. Something every woman ought to have in her wardrobe. Thus, I decided I needed one, that is another one. I had a black skirt or two in my closet, but not one I had made. Given the choice I always prefer to wear clothes made by me, rather than store bought. So, I gave away one of my store bought black skirts to make room for a made-by-me black skirt in my closet.

I had a specific plan in mind, after all to justify making a garment that I technically already owned, it had to be unique. I wanted an asymmetrical black, faux wrap, zipper-less, button up, lacy, skirt. So I sketched out my idea and got to work. I had some incredibly soft, drape-y, black fabric and embroidered lace, given to me by a friend. It was perfect for this skirt.

I used combined bits and pieces from 3 different commercial patterns to make my pattern. Then, once I got the skirt cut out, I added an embroidered lace appliqué to one of my front panels.  

This cat (Suzie Q.) insisted on helping every step of the way. It's a thing good this she and my fabric were the same color!

I used a zigzag stitch to attach the lace to the skirt panel, then sewed the skirt together. To get the shape I wanted, the skirt front had to be made from three different panels. 

The skirt fastens with 3 buttons (from my HUGE thrifted collection) at the waistband, similar to my brown maxi skirt from last year. I made the front waistband piece extra long so that the entire waistband, once sewn together, would fit easily over my hips. Then I added buttons and button holes so that the waistband fastens by folding over itself. I love making skirts with this type of closure, easy peasy, fun button detail, and no zipper to have to hide!

This is such a fun and flow-y skirt to wear, perfect for wearing all my pretty shirts with.

Plus, it looks great with boots! (This is pretty much a requirement for anything in my wardrobe. I'm not sure I even own any other types of foot wear.)

As much as I love making and wearing dresses, I'm realizing it's much more practical for me to make separates for myself. I've got plenty of store-bought clothes that I like, but don't wear much since I prefer the me-made clothes. Thus, me-made separates like this skirt are just what I need. Something I made that looks great with my store-bought clothes, giving everything in my closet equal chance of being worn. (or maybe I should clean out my closet again, ehhh, no, well, maybe, I'll work on it.)

Monday, October 19, 2015

Purple Plaid Wool: In Modern Reversible Cape Form

While some of my sewing project are the result of weeks of planning, coming up with an idea, finding (or making) the perfect pattern, searching out the perfect fabrics, most aren't. Often I happen across something and think, I want to make that! Such was my "creative process" with this cape.

I happened across this cape on the So Zo. . . blog and immediately fell in love.

(image source: Oliver + S)

Even though I'd never thought of making myself a cape for everyday wear I knew I needed one like this. I already had the perfect fabric for it. My leftover purple plaid wool! So I followed some links to the company that makes the pattern for this cape, and discovered, hey, that's a pretty simple shape, I can come up with my own pattern! So I taped together a bunch of pink construction paper (what I had on hand that day) and got to work.

I started with Butterick B5265 (already in my stash) to get approximately the right dimensions.

I traced the Butterick pattern onto the construction paper, then changed the shape until I had the pattern I needed. Finally I cut the cape out of my purple plaid wool, then went to cut out the lining.

Now, I wanted this cape to be reversible, so I wanted another wool for the lining. Well, wool fabric is expensive, so I found this brown wool/cotton blend skirt at a thrift store. $3, approximately 2 yards of fabric, dreamily soft, perfect! Only I didn't realize exactly how big my pattern piece was going to be. Once I was ready to cut out the lining, some piecing was required.

At first the piecing was relatively easy, nice big pieces, only a couple of seams. Then I got to the last 2-4 inches, and all that was left was a pile of scrapes.

So little scrapes got sewn together, and finally I had a complete, very pieced together, lining for my cape. It even included the original skirt back pockets!

A little messy on the inside, but not half bad on the outside, if I do say so myself! 

Once the lining was done the cape went together quickly, and all that I had left to do was choosing some buttons for the closure.

A couple weeks ago I found about 800 (yes, eight hundred!) vintage buttons at a thrift store. So I snatched them all up, for only $4 (yep, four bucks!)! I'm slowly working on getting them all organised. I won't be needing any more buttons for a while!

After going through all my buttons I picked some out for the cape. A few mother-of-pearl buttons from the thrift store haul, and some rainbow/marbled ones left over from a previous project. I sewed the mother-of pearl buttons on the brown side of the cape, and the rainbow ones on the purple. One button on either side to keep the sides closed, and four down the front.

Then I had a cape, perfect for this nippy fall weather!

I anticipate this cape getting lots of wear throughout the fall and winter, and even into the spring.

I never would have thought I needed a modern cape if I hadn't happened across the original picture, but now that I have one, I love it! Anyone want a cape like this for Christmas? I think I may need an excuse to make another one!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Meet Ratatouille - Breeding Season

This year I decided to do breeding season the easy way. Pick one buck and breed all my does to him. No playing musical goats. No setting up countless breeding pens. Just picking one buck and sticking him out in the pasture with all my does. Easy Peasy. Except that none of my bucks can be bred to every one of my does.

Down in the buck pen live Lucky (farthest away) and Louie (closest). Lucky was born here, I still own his great grandmother, countless cousins, and a half-sister or two. He's a great buck, and definitely worth keeping, but he can only be bred to half my herd.

Louie, on the other hand, I bought as a baby, so he came into the herd completely unrelated to all my does. That was 8 years ago. So now I have his daughters, granddaughters, great granddaughters, and so on. Heck, he's even Lucky's great grandfather. So every year the pool of does I can breed him to shrinks.

With this in mind, I leased them both out.

"See you two in a few months!"

Even with those two gone, I wasn't completely out of bucks. I still had Sombrita's son, Domino.

I have a couple does he can't breed, his mother and sisters, but he can breed more of my does than the other bucks can. However, he's still a little on the young side, just having been born in May, so I didn't want to stunt his growth by putting him to work too young. Thus, I did a temporary buck swap with my friend. Domino went over to her house, and she sent back her new buck, completely unrelated to all my does.

Meet Ratatouille, Mr. impossible-to-get-a-halfway-decent-picture-of. He's got great show and milk bloodlines and gorgeous coloring. 

My does seem to really like him! I can't wait to see his babies come February.

How about this year's babies? Those doelings are too small to be bred this year, so the week before Ratatouille came over I bought some cattle panels and fenced in a very overgrown area for them.

They made short work of all the gigantic weeds!

So every few weeks we have to move their pen to another overgrown area.

The doelings make great weed-eaters!

Now that everything is set up, and all the bucks are where they need to be, breeding season has been rather painless. No escaping bucks running around the back yard this year!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Reading Dress: Pockets, Buttons, Lace, Zippers, and Apples

It seems like every time I turn around my little sister has outgrown a dress, again. On one hand this is frustrating, I want the clothes I make her to get lots of wear. On the other hand, it's fun, this gives me an excuse to sew her more dresses, which I really enjoy doing. So, I guess it's a draw. Old favorites have to be retired, but at least I get to make more!
Now the really frustrating thing is that  most kids patterns only go up to size 8. After that there is a very limited, boring selection. So I'm always on the look out for cute dress ideas that I can make with the very basic patterns available in my sister's size. A few weeks ago, while browsing sewing blogs I happened across this dress on So Zo, What Do You Know, and instantly fell in love.

I had to recreate it! Luckily I had the perfect pattern to start from.

McCall's 2074 had the right silhouette, I just had to add the fun details, specifically the pockets. So I traced the dress front on to white paper.

Then I drew the pockets on to the traced pattern, and made 3 different pattern pieces. The top, the skirt/pocket piece, and the pocket lining. I cut the dress out of some salmon colored, apple print, cotton that my grandma gave me a while back. Then I got to sewing and adding other fun details.

I found this piece of vintage lace in my stash. It was about 9 inches long and I thought it was perfect for this dress. I considered putting it at the neckline, as a collar, but that didn't look quite right.

 So, it went across the front of the pockets instead, along with some white piping I found in my stash. I also added some pretty pink and white buttons that I found at Hobby Lobby.

While cute, the dress was pretty shapeless once sewn together, so I added some tucks at the waist to give it a bit more shape. I covered the tucks with some flat eyelet to help visually define the waist.

Finally, I put the zipper in, while not a cute detail, it is a necessary one, and I'm rather proud of this zipper. It's an invisible zipper that is actually nearly invisible! This is the first time I've achieved putting in a zipper invisibly. It's not perfect, but now that I've done this well I anticipate the next zipper I put in turning out even better!

Once the zipper was in I gave the dress to my sister and discovered what a success it was. Pretty and comfortable, perfect for playing in and curling up on the couch with a book. The challenge for me was getting her away from the book and outside for some pictures.

Well, I got her outside, along with the book. (She is quite a bookworm, which is a good thing, except when she's supposed to be doing something else.)

Good thing this dress has a big front pocket where she can keep that book! (and side pockets for anything else she might need)

Yep, I would definitely categorize this dress as a success. She likes it, and it fits her well now, but still has room to grow as well. This way it should last her till spring!

In fact, this dress turned out so well I'm considering making a second one, with it's own unique details. After all, I spent the time making this pattern, making another dress or two from it will definitely make that time well spent!


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Cobbled Together Costumes (Renaissance Festival Edition)

If an opportunity arises to dress up, I take it.
After several years of having it in the back of our minds, my friends and I finally got around to going to the Ren Fest. And of course, we dressed up for it. Two days before we went, Erentry and I got together to figure out our costumes, consisting of skirts, peasant blouses, and lace-up bodices from previous costumes. Erentry got to work sewing pockets in to skirts.

I started looking at pictures of renaissance clothing.

Erentry got her costume all figured out. I decided to make myself a dress. Erentry went home. I pulled out a drape someone had given me.

In the back of my pattern dresser I found this pattern, McCalls 4696, that a friend gave me a while back. I used it to turn the drape into a dress, by sewing up the side seams and sewing on the sleeves, rather than lacing things in place, and adding a full pleated skirt.

I used a solid green drape, given to me by the same person as the patterned drape, for the sleeves.

From my stash I pulled a green sheet, given to me by Erentry's mom, and used it to line the dress.

Less than a day later I had a renaissance dress. Far from historically accurate, and with a 25 cent thrifted  zipper down the back, but a renaissance dress all the same. (That only cost me 25 cents!)

I pulled out an overdress I made a few years ago for a Halloween costume, and I was good to go! Well, except I still needed a headdress of some sort, as did Erentry. She also still needed an apron. And Tori? She still needed a complete costume. (Darned work, she hadn't been able to join us the night we planned out outfits)
So the night before we went, I cut myself a veil from an old bed skirt.

 For Erentry I cut a head kerchief from an old curtain and sewed up an apron to complete her outfit. It consisted of a colorful skirt, a peasant top and the lace-up bodice from my Japanese festival costume 3 years ago.

Then all that was left was Tori's costume. The morning of the Ren Fest she tried on outfit after outfit. Nothing was quite right. Then Erentry pulled an everyday shirt out of my closet and said, "This would be perfect with the maroon skirt!" (she's awesome at putting together costumes that way.) So we pulled the maroon skirt from the costume pile (my mom or grandma made it for me once upon a time, 8 - 10 years ago, and it had been worn for countless costumes since) Tori put on the shirt with the skirt, then added the under-bust corset/Swiss waist that I made for last year's Japanese festival. Perfect! All that was missing from her outfit was a head dress, so once we got to the festival, we kept our eyes open for one to buy.

This leather top hat was awesome, but maybe not quite right for this outfit, so it got left.

All lovely hats, but maybe not for what we need.

Ah ha! A tiara with rosebuds, perfect!

Now, onto enjoying the Festival!

We got to see Robin Hood and Little John meet on a log, and both get soaked.

Maid Marian got the crowd cheering during the fight.

We admired other people's outfits. I especially liked this one.

We wandered through shops, and I got a few new sewing project ideas.

These sweaters were fascinating, I may have to make one.

This one was Erentry's favorite. Now we just need to get our hands on an overlocker, so we can make one.

We got a few compliments on our outfits, and I managed to avoid taking anyone out with my hoop skirt.

Eventually (after seeing everything at least twice) it got chilly out so we headed home. Now I'm already planning more historically accurate costumes for next year! But for this year, I'm thinking we did pretty awesome with only two days preparation.