Friday, April 29, 2016

My Mom's Easter Shirt

Getting around to taking pictures of what I sew is, quite possibly, the hardest part of keeping this blog. I'll sew something for myself, my mom, my sister, my friends, and then fail to get pictures of it for weeks or occasionally months. Getting two, or more, people and a camera to be in the same place, at the same time, with decent lighting is easier said than done. For example, my mom's Easter shirt this year. 

Yes, she got an Easter shirt to match my sister's and my dresses, it just took a while for use to get around to photographing it. Finally one day recently I noticed she was wearing it, so it was picture time! 

Those green striped sheets went a long way, and (in my opinion) all three finished products turned out fabulous! 

At a pattern sale I stumbled upon Simplicity 1064 and picked it up on a whim.

This was the same pattern sale where I picked up Simplicity 0169 (the pattern I used to make my black daisy dress) so I guess that day I was just drawn to the cross-over bodice design. 

Fast forward a month and I was planning Easter outfits. I asked my mom if she wanted a dress or a shirt and she said shirt. So I pulled out this pattern and asked my mom which view she liked best. She picked view D (bottom right corner), which was also my favorite, then requested I add sleeves to it. No problem! 

We didn't think the straight sleeves included in the pattern would look quite right with the flounces on the front of the shirt, but the sleeves from Simplicity 1801, the pattern I used for my dress, those would be perfect!

I found some matching green and white ribbon at Hobby Lobby to use as the waist tie, and that was it! The shirt was done in time for Easter Sunday Services. (And it has been worn multiple times since, as these pictures prove!)

So, once again, Happy Easter! Jesus is still risen so we are free!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Sparkles, Owls, and Wagon Wheels

It was a sister day. Just me and my little sister. A trip to the fabric store, the library, and finally the thrift store. Thread for me from the fabric store, a couple dozen books for my sister from the library, and then there was this skirt at the thrift store.

My sister found it, fell in love with it, and begged me to get it for her and turn it into a dress. I agreed.

The sparkles and owls perched on wagon wheels were just too much for a girl to say no too.
Thus the skirt came home. My sister suggested I just add ribbon straps to it, but no. I had another plan. The waistband of the skirt got chopped off.

Then what was left of the not-gold-lace shirt got pulled out of the refashion bin.

From the shirt I cut a yoke for this new dress, using McCall's M7150  as my template (just because I liked the shape of the back).

The yoke got sewn together. The edges got trimmed with black lace. Onto the skirt the yoke was sewn.  Scraps from the skirt waistband and some more black lace got used to fill in the too-low neckline (oops, don't forget to measure before you cut!). Then, the dress was done.

My sister had her sparkly, owl-y, dressy dress. Perfect for church and her end of the year school presentation!

She can envision how to turn a skirt into a dress and tell you all about the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

That's my sister.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Several Shift Dresses

What do you do when your sister want to wear her 18th century underwear all the time?  You make her more of course!

As part of a school presentation, my sister needed an 18th century costume (which I'll get around to blogging about one of these days). I decided she needed a shift to go under said costume. A quick google search brought me to this excellent tutorial for a regency shift. The shift went together in under an hour and my sister loved it! It was, quite possibly, her favorite item from the entire 7 piece costume.  She wore the shift as a night gown. She tried to wear it as a dress.  Yep, after a few days, I realized she needed a couple more shifts, just not to wear as shifts.

I cut two more plain white shifts out of a flat sheet in my stash (my favorite source of white fabric: flat sheets from the thrift store). These would be night gowns Then I dug around some more in my stash and found some green striped fabric and a blue print seersucker-ish fabric. These would be dresses.

Two days later all four shifts were done, complete with flat-felled seams and underarm gussets, just like the original. The underarm gussets were extremely easy to sew and make the shift very comfortable. The flat-felled seams also help with the comfort factor, but they took forever! Midway through sewing I remembered why I don't do flat-felled seams. They take forever. They look really nice when the garment is done and add lots of strength, but have I mentioned? They take forever! 

Now that that has been established, there were also a couple changes I made on these shifts compared to the first one. All four necklines are elastic, rather than the historically accurate drawstring. Easier and much safer for children's clothes. (plus, these four frocks are for everyday wear, not historical events.) 
Then there is the other "change". Trim, lots of trim. I made the first of these four, a white one, and decided it was a bit boring. So, out came the ribbon, ruffles, lace, rick-rack, and buttons for the next three. These were fun to trim!

I decided the yellow ruffle on the blue shift would be the perfect place to try out corded gathers, following this tutorial.

I zig-zaged over a piece of thick thread and it worked! So much easier than normal gathers.

The next shifts got trimmed with eyelet from my stash. A random band of eyelet fabric (that came from who-knows-where) finished off the hem of the remaining white shift. The green striped shift got trimmed with rick-rack and some apple eyelet I've had a while.

Shift. Nightgown. Play dress. Definitely a useful pattern!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

One Purse, Two Purse. . . John Deere Camo Purse?

My mom wanted a new purse. I needed a new purse.

My mom's purse was the test version of the Anya bag I made last fall. While very cute, it lacked pockets, making it very difficult to find things, like keys when in a hurry. After 6 months of that, it was time for a change.

My purse was an altered (read, pockets added) version of the Anya bag. I loved it, but, after 6 months of use, the pleather I made it out of was peeling apart. Not good.

So, about two weeks ago I decided to make my mom and I each a new purse. My sister heard of this plan and requested her own Anya bag. (apparently the bag I made her a couple months ago wound up being a bit smaller than she needed.)

So, three purses. I could get those done in a day, right? Well, life (read, truck needing new breaks so lots of trips to the parts store on a day I planned to sew), got in the way, so it took a bit more time than that. Finally, as of yesterday, all three purses were finished and in use!

First up, my mom's.

After looking through my stash of purse patterns she decided she really liked the shape of Simplicity 1439, view B (upper right corner).

She pretty quickly decided against all the ruffles and just requested lots of pockets. No problem! She picked out some home decor weight plaid cotton fabric from my stash and I got to work.

I cut 4 pockets. Two for the outside, one with a flap and one with a zipper. Then two for the inside, one with a zipper and one without. I sewed the pockets to the bag, then decided it needed something else. A zipper at the top of the bag. That would do it.

Now, I had never put a zipper in a bag before, and this pattern didn't call for one, thus had no instructions for one, so I just winged it. Well it came out ok, not perfect, but it works! Next time I'll do better.

My mom was very pleased with her new purse and extremely happy with all the pockets (and the zipper)! One purse down, two to go!

Next up, mine.

I loved my old purse. The Anya bag with added pockets worked great for what I needed. So, I saw no reason to change it, I just picked out new fabrics. 

I picked up some green home decor fabric at a thrift store, intending to make my purse of  it. I brought it home and loved how it looked next to some camouflage-ish cotton twill in my stash. Not a fabric I would have thought to make a purse out of, but hey, why not?

I combined the two fabrics and added some lace to the front pockets to make it a bit more feminine.

Then, like with my mom's purse, I decided to add a top zipper. I tried a slightly different method for this one.

First, I encased the edges of the zipper in my camo-ish fabric. Then I sewed that into the top band of my purse. It worked just as I'd hoped!

There are two pockets on the inside of the purse, one with a zipper, to hold things I really don't want to loose, and one without.

My perfect purse pattern, version two. It works just as well as version one did! Only one more purse left.

Finally, my sister's.

She requested a purse and told me what pattern to use, the Anya bag with a cross body strap and pockets added. I sent her to the sewing room to pick out fabric. After going through three containers of fabric, she picked this. Yep, camouflage with John Deere tractors on it, a remnant left over from a pair of P.J. pants I made my brother years ago. To go with that, she picked out an old pair of jeans to use for the bag yoke and strap.

Next, I had her pick a lining fabric. She did so, then came up with the brilliant idea of making the bag reversible! So, one way it's John Deer tractors and camo, with an open pocket on the front and a zipper pocket on the back.

Then flipped inside out, it's white lacey looking cotton with the same pocket arrangement.

The perfect bag for any occasion, whether she needs to be a farm girl or a young lady. I have a smart little sister, just say'n.

Friday, April 15, 2016

The Diagonally Woven Rag-Rug

A diagonally woven T-shirt rag rug. I came up with that idea one evening and decided to see if it would work. Well, it did!

. . .but not without a few hiccups. I came up with the idea and started putting the T-shirt loops on my loom. Approximately 20 loops later my loom was misshapen. Oops? About a quarter of the way through weaving the rug, my loom broke. Yeah, oops. Apparently my loom wasn't built for diagonally woven rugs. 

My dad fixed the loom and I got back to weaving, and really hoping the rug would turn out well (and fearing it wouldn't). A couple weeks later (yes, this one took forever compared to my previous rugs), it was done! 

I'm happy to report that I really, really like it! It was worth making! 

One thing about this rug that surprised me, once I got it off of the loom, was the size. It's several inches bigger on each side than other, standard-ly woven, rugs I made on this loom! Now why is that? Well, the diagonally woven rug has twice as many loops in it as the as the standard rug does. It has 80 loops running diagonally one way, and 80 running diagonally the other way. The standard rugs have 40 running up and down and 40 running left to right. Thus this diagonal rug is very tightly woven, so it didn't shrink down as much as the others when I took it off the loom. No wonder this rug took me so long to make!

As I was making this rug I didn't pay much attention to what color loops I was using. I was more concerned with having enough loops of the correct sizes, than of a specific color. Thus, I was very pleased once the rug was off the loom to see that the color combination didn't look horrible! 

For my next diagonally woven rug (which is already on the loom) I've figured out another way to make the loops. Color coordinated diagonal rug, here I come! I've also thought through how to make this next rug with only 80 total loops rather than 160, so I'm really looking forward to seeing how it turns out!

Now, ignoring the colors, Which rug style do you like best? The standard rug or the diagonally woven rug? Let me know in the comments!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

My Secret Thread Stash

I don't know about you, but I'm always running out of thread. White? "I just bought 5 spools! How can I be out already???" Dark green? "Where did all my thread go? I just bought a spool last week!" Navy? "How can this gigantic spool be nearly empty? Hopefully there's enough for this alteration I need to make!"

Yep, that happens. At least once a week. Most recently with the navy, as I was altering this dress for a friend.

I love the lace on this dress! As did my friend when she picked it up at a thrift store. She brought it home, then discovered it wouldn't zip all the way up. Dangit. So, She asked for my help, and I suggested changing the zipper to a corset/lace up back. She approved the plan, so I took the dress home to get started. Then, half way through adding the corset back I ran out of navy thread. I didn't have time to run into town to buy more navy thread! Slight freak-out, then I remembered my "Secret Stash" of thread.

 Ok, so it's not a secret At all. It's just a box of thread, kept separate from the rest of my thread. You know, out of sight of of mind? Yep, for me that's this box of thread, which has saved me from countless "emergency" trips to town to buy more thread.

I bought it once upon a time when I had a 50% coupon for Joann's and nothing I particularly needed to use it on. 26 colors of Guttermann thread. Not quiet every color I could possibly need, but close enough. I run out of thread, or need a color I don't have for something simple like a hem, start to contemplate a "quick" trip into town, then remember this thread box. 9 times out of 10 it has a color that will work. I can pull that spool of thread out and finish my project.

It had navy! I was able to finish adding the corset back to my friend's dress!

My friend is now happy with how the dress fits. I'm happy with how the corset back turned out and the fact I didn't have to run into town to buy more thread in the middle of the project!

Now next time I'm in town I'll pick up another huge spool of navy thread, and any other color I may be out of. My little spool of navy thread will go back in the thread box, to be pulled out again next time I run out of navy. That's the secret of the thread box, it's kept separate from the rest of the thread and forgotten about until I actually need it. Never used as my primary thread, just the back-up until I can get another large spool of what ever color thread I need.

This thread? Probably one of the best sewing buys I've made. I'm sure I've already saved more in gas, by not needing to run into town every time I run out of thread, than I spent on the thread to begin with.

Anyone else have a sewing item they keep as a back up? What are you always running out of? Thread or something else entirely?

*not an advertisement, just sharing my solution to always running out of thread

Monday, April 4, 2016

Serging Away: The Cat Dress

It took a week. A week of threading, re-threading, and broken threads before I finally mastered it. Apparently figuring out exactly what each little lever does is important when threading and using a serger. After a week of frustration, I finally had it down. The serger works! (or rather it has always had the ability to work, I just finally know how to thread it properly)

This is my mom's serger. She bought it new about 15 years ago, but hasn't had time to sew with it in nearly 10. Last fall I started thinking a serger would be a good addition to my sewing room, so my mom suggested I get this one serviced. I finally got around to doing so about 2 weeks ago.  The serger came home and I started using it, or trying to at  least. Like I said, the threading took some time to figure out. 

I picked out this red poly crape with little cats on it for my first project. I cut it into a few rectangles and a couple of half circles.

I cut a rather large neckline in the largest rectangles. Then I discovered just how useful the serger could be! I serged up the side seams, then around all the raw edges that needed to be finished. It was then really easy to fold over the serged edges for a quick hem, even on the half circles!

This thin poly crape would have been a nightmare to hem had it not been for the serger! A little lace added, then some elastic thread shirring around the neckline with my regular machine, and my first serger project was done. 

My sister had another dress with half-circle sleeves! I've made her several shift-type dresses lately, and she'd requested a red one. So when I happened across red fabric with cats on it at a great price, I couldn't resist.

The dress wound up a bit shorter than I'd intended (the shirring at the neck pulled it up quite a bit), but, as long as my sister remembers to wear leggings, it's an ok length.

Now on one side the serging shows. I'm calling that a design choice. I added the lace to make that side even more intentionally different from the other. I rather like the over all effect.

My sister mentioned the dress could have a bit more lace on it, but as she's worn it two days in a row, I think she likes it just fine as is. No more lace required.

I'm so glad I pulled the serger out! It made sewing this thin, possibly tricky, fabric a dream. Anybody have a suggestion for my next project with it? I'm hoping it makes sewing with knits much easier!

Goat chores are waiting though this morning, so I should probably stop dreaming about future projects and get to milking. Outside to the goats, and away from the serger I go (for now. . .).