Monday, February 28, 2011

Sewing Clothes Kids Love

I bought myself the book "Sewing Clothes Kids Love" after checking it out at the library. I love that our library has a decent selection of some of the newest sewing and crafting books. Most of the time, it saves me a lot of money because I can check out the couple of ideas I like and not have to shell out the cash for the whole book. But once in a while, there is a book that I know I need in my own collection because I can see myself using it again and again. Plus, this book has patterns in it and I always am a little afraid to pull the patterns out of the envelope lest they not go back in as nicely.

It has already paid for itself.
There are ten patterns in this book. To date, I've only used two of them.
Don't let the over the top styling and embellishments turn you off. These patterns are simple and basic. They lend themselves nicely to improvisations and you can embellish them as simply or as over the top as you wish.

Take the IMKE shirt for instance.
It's the first pattern in the book. It is a simple tee shirt that can be made for a boy or a girl, short sleeved or long sleeved, hood or no hood. It can be made from knit off the bolt or thrifted tee shirts.
This was my first attempt at the IMKE.
Have I mentioned that the Bug is in an exclusive dress wearing phase?
Yeah. She is. Shirts and pants are useless in this house. At least those of the 4T variety.
So I added a few inches to the hem of the shirt and Presto chango, the IMKE shirt becomes the IMKE dress.

The hearts I appliqued on to add some interest. I am not in love with this dress but the Bug adores it.
Did I mention it has a hood?
The little heart applique has a coordinating heart on the inside of the hood as well. That was the hubsters addition. He wanted me to tell you.
It also has a cute loopdy loop topstich along the edge of the hood.

A good first attempt.
It was easy enough that I knew I needed to try again.
It's a shirt.
Yeah, it was doomed from the start.
I couldn't even convince her that cowboy on the front was from Toy Story.

I believe her exact words were, "MOM, you KNOW I like pink and purple"
But I love this shirt. The yellow knit is from one of her Daddy's old tee shirts. The stripe was from a tee shirt that never fit and the tie dye is from a shirt I made with our youth group girls like ten years ago.
What can I say, I'm sentimental.

This time I added the accent panels in the side. I really like the interest it adds.
And of course, we have another lined hood.

I hope someday she will wear it.
She tells me she might.
When she is four.

Forgive the horrible picture. There is no excuse.

I took a short break from the IMKE to make Riviera leggings. The cuff was my idea.
Again, the Bug won't wear these.
They don't spin like a skirt after all.

I really should know better.

The most recent incarnation of the IMKE was inspired by a shirt we found at Target.
Didn't line the hood this time but I think I will in the future.
When I was digging through my stash of knits looking for an accent fabric I happened upon the gray and blue stripe. The Bug immediately said, "Ooooh YEAH! Yeah, yeah, yeah. . . Oh yeah!"

I think we have a winner.
You might remember this fabric from a dress I made her about a year and a half ago. It remains one of her favorites. I must have made it big.
And here is the shirt that made the Bug temporarily forget her pink and purple allegiance.
Third time's the charm.


Friday, February 25, 2011

Crafting Hope

A spark of an idea ignited when I read this post on the Little Lizard King blog.
And when I flipped through this book, a plan formed.
Last night seven of us met with pillowcases in hand.
We had varying levels of sewing expertise but a like-minded goal: to make dresses for little girls in Africa.

If you aren't familiar with the group Little Dresses for Africa, check them out. Their goal is to distribute these simple hand made dresses to little girls in Africa to help them feel WORTHY.
I love that.

So we all lugged our sewing machines down to the library and set up shop.
We cut.
We sewed.
And in the end, we had some beautiful dresses.
Beautiful because of the love that was sewn into them.

Thank you ladies.
Thank you for facing your fears Shannan.
Thank you for being willing to hone your skills Brooke.
Thank you for dusting off your home ec skills Kim (like riding a bike, yes?).
Thank you for stepping out of the box Maggie.
Thank you for your enthusiasm Heather.
And Jess, thanks for your help and encouragement along the way.

You all truly blessed my heart with your willingness to give a bit of yourselves and your time.
And I can't help thinking how blessed seven little girls we may never meet this side of Heaven will be when they receive these lovely frocks.

God, bless the hands of your servants.
Bless the fruit of their labors.
Bless the recipients of their generosity.
And thank You for the opportunity to give, even a small piece, of ourselves. 
We who have been so blessed.


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Sewing Room Organization

I really, really like to see the studios and nooks where people create. I suppose I'm a bit voyeuristic in that way. But I like to see how other people set things up and get ideas that might work for me.

So when I found a bunch of bins at WalMart on President's Day and decided to reorganize all my junk I knew a post about the new and improved sewing room was in order.  However, I have no "Before" pictures. Suffice it to say, it would have been humiliating. Fabric everywhere. Total chaos and clutter. You might, even, have questioned the existence of my floor.
First, my "new" curtains. I opted to just use the valance and therefore let in optimal amounts of light.
And bonus, I now have four panels that I can sew with!
Here are a few of the things I bought. The three drawer bin holds my scrap fabric which I actually sorted and folded nicely several weeks ago. The bottom drawer is interfacings. Boring stuff that it's nice to have tucked away.  

On the right, you see an open bin/laundry basket that I'm using to store my batting and fiber fill. That stuff gets out of control fast and my old "toss it in a cardboard box" method just wasn't working well for anyone.

The three bins on top hold works in progress.
They look so much nicer there than they did strewn about my table and draped over the curtain rod.
This bin holds all my patterns and tutorials that I've printed. I probably should have purchased two of these. All that paper sort of grows out of control quickly.
The addition of just a few new bins allowed me to tidy things up elsewhere in the room quite a bit.
You'll see I've taken full advantage of the under the table space.

Have I mentioned that this is a TINY room?? How they got away with calling it a third bedroom is beyond me. But it works. And by golly I am so, so very thankful to have this little nook.
Here's the table top with all my sewing books and magazines tucked away there in that back space that is totally useless as work surface because of the sloped ceiling. Those magazine holders were free--perk of working at a library--and covering them in something pretty is on my "to do" list. The trays hold seasonal fabrics mostly because I didn't know what else to do with them and the baskets hold a mish mash of notions that I like to keep close at hand. 

The glitter shoes? Well, those belong to the Bug and were awaiting a fresh coat of glitter on the worn toes.
I just realized I didn't photograph my sewing machine. Ha! Oops! Well, trust me, it's just to the left of this frame.  More little notions and tools are organized nicely in this sweet little wooden crate that one of the Bug's Melissa and Doug craft kit came in.
And the top shelf of the sewing desk. I took this picture simply so I could profess my love of that nifty bobbin holder. If you don't have one, you need one. It will revolutionize your life and will whip your bobbins into shape.

I am amused by the foreshortening of the nasty toothbrush I use to clean the lint out of my machine. Gross but necessary. It gets crazy dusty in there. Just keeping it real I guess.

And here you have the motherload.
If you want a laugh, compare these photos to the photos in the post I made right after we set up this room for my sewing.  Oh how things have changed in a year and a half.

In fairness, the majority of the fabric I have now was inherited. I swear.

On the wooden shelf (microwave cart) you have vintage sheets, apparel fabrics, knits, felt, pre-cuts, upholstery weight fabric, linen and muslin.

The wire shelf holds mostly cottons with my satins up there on top (next to packing boxes). Yeah, I know it ain't pretty. I know that my stacks (and stacks, and stacks) of fabric could be more neatly folded. But I ran out of steam. And the reality is, they don't need to be neatly folded because as much as I pull things in and out of there it would never stay neat. So long as I can see everything (and my floor) I am a happy camper.

So I hope you've enjoyed that little glimpse into my world.  It's not perfect. There's still a lot of stuff I'd like to change and do. But it's morphing into a really usable little space where I love to spend my time.

And did I mention how happy I am to see the floor?


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

What I did on President's Day

It happens once a year.
The hubs has to work and the Bug has school but the library is closed.
I Love President's Day.
I'm sorry George, but it's what I call a "Me" day and I look forward to it like you wouldn't believe.

This year I had determined that I would go thrifting. It's not something you can do well with a three year old in tow. Nor a husband really. The perfect "me" day activity.

So I dropped the Bug off at school and braved the ice in search of treasures.  The day did not disappoint. I found a thrift store that somehow in eleven year here I have never known about. Not that I'm an avid thrifter. If I were, I probably would have found long ago.  Pretty nifty little site I must say. I especially appreciate the reviews. One reviewer said that a store in our area always smelled of ammonia. I appreciate that warning, it would have been a waste of time to go there.

What in the world did we do before the internet?
After a quick trip to WalMart I hit up Goodwill just in time for a 75% off sale on most of their vintage sheets. Score! That top one is my favorite. So colorful. It's a little rough around the edges but it was 50 cents. Can.Not.Beat.That.
I also found these very retro curtain panels. There were four panels and a valance. I bought them all. It was the turquoise blue that got me. And the sunshiney yellow. So happy and bright.

Feeling pretty darn good about life I paid my bill at Goodwill and headed out toward the Depot Thrift Shops. I had no idea what to expect once I got there. I think I was expecting something in a church basement and grumpy old church ladies and the smell of mothballs. That was so not the case.

At first glance, it was the most neatly kept thrift store I have ever been in though I wasn't super impressed with their stock and their inventory seemed a bit lower than a Goodwill or Salvation Army store.

And then I saw the sign.
I can't be sure but I think maybe the heavens parted and an angel choir sang.


In big letters.
My heart skipped a beat and I tried to nonchalantly meander my way over without letting anyone see my excitement. Why I thought anyone would care, I don't know. Sometimes I'm just weird like that.

Rolls of upholstery fabric. Piles of yardage. Spools of lace and trim. And notions. . . oh the notions. . .
Fabric $1 a yard. Trim a quarter.
Are you kidding me??? Remind me why I didn't grab a cart.
Little baggies of lace were 50 cents. Fiddy Cents, my friend.
And there is at least a yard in each one.
Vintage trims. Yes please.
I bought every last inch of that floral.
It feels like a shoelace. But it's so darn cute.
The pom poms were too crazy cool to pass up. 4 yards please. I was showing restraint, there were at least four more on the bolt.

And seam binding. I can't tell you how irked I am that I walked away with only three packages of seam binding. A nasty lady pushed in and snatched up almost all of it while I was distracted with the lace below. 
O.k., she probably was a very nice lady and considering our shared interest in sewing we probably COULD have struck up a lovely conversation had I not been so busy glaring icy daggers at her hoping she would take the hint and put back the binding.
She did not.
I need to work on my glare.
To go with my pom pom trim I picked up this graphic print.
I am just now realizing how reminiscent of my first 4-H sewing project this is.
I'm not sure what to say.
It's probably unforgivable.
But I like it.
And then there were these.
A French Curve.
Oh how I have been wanting one. 
And a pants ruler. Which I didn't know existed or that I needed until I saw it sitting on the shelf.

So do I know how to use them? 
But I will learn.
I promise.

I was so giddy when I got home.
Completely and totally geeked out.
More poor husband may or may not have gotten several dorky text messages from his overly excited wife.
I have issues.
Thankfully, it waited to do this until after I got home.
Darn you winter.

At least I have plenty of sewing to do until the snow clears and the grass turns green again!


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Quilts in Progress (Spoiler Alert to my sisters!!)

If you are my sister Michelle or my sister in law Heidi and you do not want to see your quilt, close your eyes! Shut down your browser! Stop scrolling! Do not read any farther!

Are they gone??

So I promised my Sister in Law a lap quilt about a year ago.
The top has been done for months but I've been waging an internal debate over how to quilt it.

There is no denying my fierce love of hand quilting.
I love doing it.
I love the way it looks.
But I have a love/hate relationship with the time it takes. I don't mind taking the time to do it but I feel a little bad making people wait for their quilt. I'm not a fast quilter. I go in spurts. I inevitably miss gifting deadlines because of it.
But my Sister in law is gracious and told me to take my time.
So, hand quilting won out once again.
After I found this AMH tutorial I knew that was it. It seemed like a happy medium of sorts, quilting with embroidery floss and bigger stitches felt like it wouldn't take nearly as much time as the more traditional needle and thread. 
I really, really love the look of it.
I'm just simply stitching around each square with a sort of random color pattern.

Browns and greens and yellows just like this Dewberry Deer Valley fabric.
And here's how those squares are looking on the back.
Super cool.
I can't wait to see how it looks once it's finished and I can wash it.
This may be my new go-to quilting method.

I really, really love making quilts. Oh to have unlimited time and resources. . .

I also promised a housewarming throw to my sister and her husband. I finally got started piecing that one last week.
My first stack of blocks turned out really well I think.
I'm using the OhFransson tutorial for the crazy nine patch.

Elizabeth Hartman rocks my world. If you are a fan of modern quilting her blog is a must read and her book was one of my favorite Christmas gifts this year. Love.It.
The fabric I used for these is the High Society line by Khristin Howell and it is perfecto for the Waggoner orange and grey living room.

I did have to sneak in a print from my stash (the orange base with the white, yellow and grey leaves) because I only had eight from High Society and I needed nine unique fabrics for these blocks. I couldn't believe how well it fit and the colors matched though.

I'm really not sure how I'm going to assemble this one. I don't love the lattice design that Hartman uses for her Crazy Nine Patch quilt but all these crazy squares side by side are a bit too busy even for me. So we'll wait and see. For now, I am loving making these random wonky blocks. So fun. And such a great result. I'm excited to see where it leads!


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A Winter Purse

I've been thinking for a few months now that I needed a purse that was a bit more seasonally appropriate. Something about those pink flowers just wasn't working for me in the dead of winter.

So I set out with the same pattern as before, but with a few tweaks this time.
This one is a bit smaller. The first time around I thought it was sort of ridiculous to do the pleats on the inside as well as on the outside. It seemed like a waste of time, not to mention it made the pockets lay funny.

However, I didn't even consider that without the pleats the lining would be significantly smaller than the outside of the bag. Ah well, live and learn. I wanted smaller, I got smaller.
I used this gorgeous grey wool. I'm pretty sure I'm allergic to it since my eyes get all itchy if I touch them after touching the fabric. But isn't it pretty? Oh the price I will pay for fashion.
My eyes may be red and swollen, but look! Isn't my purse cute?

The lace is courtesy of Grandma. The age makes it just a love shade of ecru.  And I love the pointy scallops. It adds such a nice feminine touch up against the somewhat cold, masculine grey wool.
Another slight pattern adaptation, I went with one long strap rather than two short straps.
I absolutely hate when my purse slips off my shoulder. Most of the time, I am carrying far too much stuff (Mother = Pack Mule) to deal with a runaway purse. So this strap is long enough to sling across my body. Locked and loaded. It's not going anywhere.

You can barely see, but I also did a nice decorative scallop stitch down each side of the strap. I think it's one of my favorite little touches.
And inside? Well, I couldn't help but add just a touch of Spring.
We are super anxious for it around here!
This paisley fabric is one of my favorites from my stash. I love the unexpected drama it adds to a fairly simple bag.

I won't say having a new bag has made me wish for winter to stick around any longer than it needs to.
But it might have softened the blow a bit when I woke up to even more snow on the ground this morning.


Thursday, February 3, 2011

Birthday Party Dress

The night before Grandma's memorial service the hubby was out playing cards with friends, the Bug went to bed and I was alone with my thoughts.
So I turned to the sewing room and found this tutorial printed out and laying on the table.

And I had found my muse.

(Please excuse the snow flying in these photos. You take what you can get in these parts. The sun was out so I ignored the flurries)
I knew i wanted to make this dress for the Bug for Easter and maybe even her Birthday so I grabbed two inexpensive pieces of yardage from my stash and gave the pattern a test run.

And so I sewed. Until the wee hours.
I'm not sure why the urgency but I really wanted to see it finished that night.

It came together beautifully.
I don't know if it fits. The Bug tells me she will wear it some day. That remains to be seen.
It's not the most little girl friendly color scheme. I was sort of surprised she liked it.

Although that super full skirt does show promise of some serious twirl.
My only slight hitch was with the sash. Somehow I cut way too much fabric for this. I cut it down a bit but it's still too long. It's not too problematic, just something I'll correct the next time.
My favorite thing about this dress is the little touches that make it feel more polished than a lot of the free tutorials out there. The bodice is fully lined. I love how clean that looks. And there is a row of these large covered buttons down the back that are just charming. I love covered buttons.

Maybe someday we'll get to see it's loveliness modeled.
For now, I guess I'm just glad I made a 5T. The Bug should have some time before she grows out of it.