Thursday, November 29, 2012

Casserole Carriers

So here we are, the end of November. . .
Christmas gift making has begun which leaves little to blog about.

But these should be safe.  They were made for someone else to give as gifts this season.
It's a casserole carrier, the instructions for which can be found in the book "One Yard Wonders".
It came together quite well. The instructions were clear and simple. 
The fabric is one I've had in my stash for a while and just never had quite the right project for.  I think it works well for this because it's pretty but it's busy enough that if you get a little food stain on it it's not going to show.
There is a layer of thermal batting in between the outer fabric and the lining. It's the same stuff used for hot pads so it will keep the dish warm inside without transferring much heat outside.  It makes the carriers somewhat stiff but they should soften up a bit once they are washed.

Quite a useful little project and a great gift for the cooks on your list!


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

School Photo Dress

It has come to my attention that I never posted this dress.

So here it is, The Bug's dress for her Kindergarten school photos.
Gotta love a model with attitude.
The pattern is Kate's Dress from Lily Bird Studios.  The Bug picked it out, as well as the fabric. I totally had her pegged to choose a brighter more flamboyant print but she surprised me by choosing this sweet Kokka fine whale corduroy
The pattern was really well written and easy to follow. I made the size 5 and it fits perfectly.
Since it was school photos I knew the dress would only be seen from the bodice up so I added really thick red piping and these exaggerated vintage buttons.  I also used red thread to do all of my top stitching. I love those details and how they help pull the little bit of red out of the print.
I realized a bit too late that September is generally too chilly for a sleeveless dress in these parts. So reluctantly I paired it up with this sweet little lettuce hemmed turtle neck. (made my The Childrens Place, not me!) I think it looks cute and classic and very sweet.
The little ruffled sleeves are so cute. And you can see the print a bit better here too.
I bought three yards of this on clearance at The Needle Shop several years ago. I remember thinking it was so pricey at around $11 a yard.  I had no idea.
I've hoarded it since then. No project was quite good enough.  
I'm so glad we used it for this.
The back is held together with a few simple buttons.  All brown but somewhat mismatched.  It's hard to find matching buttons in Grandma's button jar!
The sweet little hair bow was made for us by one of the girls in our youth group. She makes these bows and sells them (Crafting Compassion) so that she can support a Compassion child. I love that. And she did a perfect job with it. It looked so cute.
So there we have it.
A sweet, simple little dress for her school photo.
And she must have liked it, because she actually smiled!


Friday, October 12, 2012

KCWC Days 1 & 3 Finishes

I had a chance to photograph my two "finishes" for the KCWC so far.
The first one was a simple "fix" to a too short pair of pants.  It seemed simple and cute.

It wasn't simple. It should have been. But the ruffles weren't long enough if I followed the tutorial. So I wound up cutting and hemming a completely unusable strip of fabric.  I hate hemming.
It's not the patterns fault, I'm sure it was mine. But it made me cranky.
 And then when they were finished? It just wasn't my thing.  I don't think I'm a "boutique clothing" kind of a girl.  But we decided to give them a whirl at Kindergarten today and the Bug likes them.  She said her teacher did too. 
  So obviously, I'm the one with the problem.
This picture is cute. They might be growing on me.
I do love that I'm giving a pair of jeans that were too short before they were ever worn a second life. That appeals enough to my inner cheapskate that I'll keep these in the rotation.
 I feel the complete opposite about this dress.
I'm in love with it.
I want one for myself. 
 The pattern is the cowl neck dress from Heidi & Finn.
I bought it a while back and have been dying to make it.  KCWC was the perfect excuse to give it a go.
I made the 6T and it fits perfectly. Whew! Good thing I made this one up since that's the biggest size it comes in.
 It's super cute for fall with a pair of tights.
I think it would be equally cute dressed down as more of a tunic over leggings or jeans.
 It ties in front. I wasn't sure if I'd like that but once I saw it on, I preferred a front tie to a back tie.
The neck turned out to be more turtle neck than cowl neck but it's still really cute and warm.

Tonight I start the Oliver + S Puppet Show Tunic! Wish me luck!

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Thursday, October 11, 2012

KCWC Days 1 - 3 (and a couple of bags)

I imagine I had very typical "first time participant" expectations for this Kids Clothing Week Challenge.  An "eyes bigger than stomach" kind of deal.  
Although I still think my list was fairly realistic (we're talking an hour a day, so seven hours of work here!).

I wanted to finish lengthening a pair of too short jeans (by adding ruffles per this tutorial), make a cowl neck dress and start an Oliver + S pattern (maybe the school days jacket) and then maybe some simple leggings--but only if there was time.
Monday I got a half hour of sewing in. In two 15 minute increments. Yikes. Not what I was expecting. And they were frustrating 15 min. increments because something just wasn't quite right with the ruffle hem jeans. Maybe it's just not my thing? I'm not in love with them. I can't even bring myself to take a picture.

Tuesday I knew I'd have more time because the Bug would be at dance class with her BFF.  But instead of hitting up my list, I worked on some alterations for a friend.  I did manage to get the cowl neck dress cut out but the sewing would have to wait.

So last night. . . finally I got to start sewing the cowl neck dress. It's such a simple sew I'd really planned to be done with it by now. But I'm not.
So here's my 11 pm, thank God it's almost done, Instagram photo of the thing (and my awful, disorganized fabric storage as well).  My dress turned out looking more turtle neck than cowl neck but we'll see how it looks on.  I still need to hem it. Bottom hem and sleeve hems.  It's knit so I could get away with not hemming but that's not really the look I'm going for.  I also am trying to think of something to do with those ties. They are too thick for my liking. I think I may have her tie them in back, not front. Maybe that will help.  I do love the fabric. It's this amazing color (that just doesn't come through on a cell phone photo in the dark of night, imagine that!), a grey-ish purple heather knit. I love it. And I had JUST enough to cut this dress out. There are no scraps left.
Hooray for the Vogue remnant section!

So that's been my Kids Clothing Week thus far. Highs and lows.
I did finally get a chance to take photos of a bag I made for a friend! It's been done for  week (maybe two?) and just waiting to be photographed.  What is my problem?
Anyway, it's the same pattern as my own purse--you know, the Granny Bag?--with just a few changes.

But first, lets all take a moment to appreciate this gorgeous fabric. 
AMH, you are a genius.
The bag is from a pattern in the book, Carry Me.  It's the cover pattern actually.
This time, I made it with a bit stiffer interfacing and way more pockets inside.
She's planning to use this to carry her crochet projects so I made skinny little pockets all down both side for her hooks.
And there is a big zipper pocket too.
I think the bag will be great for carrying some yarn, some hooks and whatever she's working on at the moment.
I also made her a smaller project bag that she can either carry on it's own or put in the big bag as further help organizing everything.  This pattern as well is in the Carry Me book although it's simple enough I think I could have made it without a pattern. 
I did make the bag a bit bigger than the pattern at my friend's request.
Added bonus, this one is reversible.
Totally unintentional. It was a fun little discovery.
(Love that Amy Butler fabric too! Thank you FQS 50% off sale!)

So there you have it. More KCWC info to come I hope! (I hope, I hope, I hope!) 
It can only go up from here, right?


Monday, October 8, 2012

BFF Birthday Gift

It's Kid's Clothing Week over at Elsie Marley! I started on my list a bit this morning and got 15 minutes in before the Bug woke up.  Finding an hour a day to sew is going to be hard but darn it, I'm going to try!

In the meantime, a post that's been in the hopper for a while. . .

This happened ages ago. A whole month.
The Bug's BFF turned 5 and had a party! A Hula party!
These two! They are just right for each other. Equal parts silly and fun loving. The Bug is bossy and a tad overbearing at times and Miss K is full of grace and patience.  They are like sisters, full of fierce love for each other while at the same time bickering and giving out the silent treatment like no ones business.  They always make up though.  They can't stay mad for long. And always they remain, "Bestest Best Friends".  What a blessing that these two "onlies" have each other.
I made a sweet dress for the Birthday Girl with a matching dress for her brand new American Girl doll.  The dress is made from the Little Lizard King, Catie Dress pattern.  I chose it because it was the only dress pattern I have in my stash that came with instructions to make a matching doll dress!
Going into fall, it's not the most practical thing in the world to make a sweet little sun dress, but I figured it would be cute over a long sleeved tee shirt with tights too.
I hand sewed a bit of pom pom trim around the bottom just for a fun little detail.
The doll dress was made with similar trim.
The two dresses are similar but not identical. I like them that way.
The fit under the arms seems to be a bit of an issue for poor Molly here. It's the same for Miss K unfortunately. Darn that ruffle. I made a few changes to LLK's pattern by shirring the bodice instead of using an elastic casing so that's probably where the fit error came in.  No worries though, I have some ideas for a fix that shouldn't be too difficult. Perhaps then we'll have Miss K model hers as well.

If the Catie Dress looks familiar. . . it was one of our very first Crafting Hope projects! We made a slew of them for a mission in Haiti. It's a great beginner sewing project!


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Tooth Pillow

We are finding a new groove around here.
The Bug started Kindergarten in August and with that schedules change and I'm still trying to find my new pockets of time to spend in the sewing room.  It's been tough.

But last night when the Bug came home from her class apple orchard field trip proudly sporting one very loose bottom tooth (courtesy of a Golden Delicious) I knew I had to ignore the dishes, the laundry and the cookies that needed to be baked.

Thank goodness I had some unused wool felt in my stash. It was supposed to be a birthday crown but that never happened. 
This sweet little pillow was inspired by one I saw years ago on mmmcrafts. Since I was working quickly, I didn't print out her tutorial or pattern, I worked from memory.  

I drew my own tooth free hand in disappearing ink right on the felt and then cut out two identical pieces.  From there it was just a matter of adding the mouth pocket and embellishing.  Since it's felt and won't fray I didn't bother with sewing right sides together and then turning. I just sewed it wrong sides together and left the seams exposed.  It was a huge time saver and I don't mind the look of it.

I'm still debating adding embroidered eyelashes. If I can find my embroidery floss.

The whole deal took about an hour.  Thank goodness the Bug had a friend over to keep her occupied. Although they both periodically checked in to the sewing room to see my progress.
I hand sewed the tutu on in the evening. It's a nylon chiffon ruffle left over from a CanCan Skirt. I really throw nothing away. Ever. But it made the perfect little ruffly skirt didn't it?

The best thing ever is that the Bug loves it. She gave it a big hug this morning and was all smiles.
A smile that will soon be one tooth shy.


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Tee Shirt Skirt Tutorial

I realize posting two maxi skirt tutorials in a row runs the risk of seeming a bit like a one trick pony.
But I have a good reason!
We needed a Crafting Hope project for September. My friend Jessica mentioned that she had some connections with a mission in Africa where we could send some women's skirts. She also mentioned that she'd like to learn to make a simple tee shirt skirt.

As I searched on-line for good tutorials I found a couple that were great.
However. . . the skirts were all too short to be appropriate for that culture.
So, I decided to play around a little and see what I could come up with on my own.
I owe a huge debt to Sew Like My Mom's Shirt skirt for inspiring this maxi as well as to Ashley at Make it Love it for her very clear instructions for sewing with elastic thread (shirring).


2 XXL or larger mens tee shirts
          They don't need to be new shirts. Raid your husband's closet or head to the Goodwill. 
          Just find something that's in good shape in a color that you like. Pattern on the front or no.
          You could even use a knit polo shirt.
Rotary cutter and ruler (or good old fashioned scissors)
Elastic thread--I found mine in the notions aisle with the elastic and not with the thread
Iron and Ironing board
Straight pins
Fusible Webbing (optional)


1.    Cut your tee shirts in a straight line right under the arms.
You'll want to be sure that the shirts are laying flat with no wrinkles so that you get a clean, straight cut. If you have to, iron the shirt, just be careful you don't melt the image on the front.
Decide which shirt you want to be on the top of the skirt and cut the hem off of that one. Scissors are probably easier to use here than a rotary cutter. It doesn't have to be perfect but you do want it to be fairly straight. Just cut right above the top line of stitching and you will be fine.

Leave the hem on your second shirt. Since this shirt will be on the bottom of the skirt we are going to re-use that tee shirt hem as our skirt hem. Big time saver.
2. Sew the two shirts together.
With right sides together, match the top of the bottom shirt and the bottom of the top shirt (clear as mud?).  It helps if you put one tee shirt tube inside the other. It doesn't matter which one so long as you are matching right sides you'll be fine.
When you are sewing with knit fabric you want to pin. Life will be easier if you do, trust me. Pin all the way around the tube.

These are ball point needles.  They are specifically made for sewing knit fabric.  I don't always use them when I sew knit (because honestly, sometimes I'm too lazy to change my needle) but I should. They go in and out of knit fabric more smoothly than a standard needle. But if you don't have ball point needles and JoAnn's is closed (or is 20 miles away, ahem. . .) don't let that stop you. In my experience, the type of stitch you use is more important than the type of needle.

Speaking of the right type of stitch. . .
You want to set your machine to a stitch that will stretch when the fabric stretches. Otherwise, the thread will break and your garment will tear.

On my machine, the "right" stitch is number 03.  It looks like a slanted zig zag stitch.  If your machine doesn't have a special stretch stitch (check your manual) just use a narrow zig zag stitch. It's the next best thing.
Now that you have the right stitch setting and the right needle, go ahead and sew your two tubes together where you pinned. Take it slow and steady.  You want to make sure the knit doesn't stretch as it's feeding through or things will get all wonky.  I used about a 1/2" seam allowance.

Sometimes when I'm sewing wovens I will sew right over my pins. It's fine. You're supposed to be able to do that. But with knits I try to remove the pin before it feeds under the presser foot. I've found that sometimes my machine gets hung up and kind of "stuck" on pins. So, avoid that and just take them out as you go.
Once you've sewn all the way around your tube of fabric go ahead and iron that seam.  If you have a shirt with a logo printed on it, be careful. You may want to use a pressing cloth in that area or press on the wrong side of the shirt. I'd hate for you to melt that ink onto the plate of your iron.

Now you have a long, wide tube of fabric that is starting to maybe look like it could be a skirt for an elephant. Never fear! The next step will cinch it all in.
3. Shir the top of the skirt.
Shirring is simply sewing straight lines with elastic thread in the bobbin chamber and regular thread on top.  It can be intimidating because different machines take elastic thread differently. But it is well worth getting over the fear and using trial and error to figure out how your own machine works.

As I mentioned, there is a great, photo heavy shirring tutorial over at Make it Love it.  Be sure to check that out, especially if you are having trouble.

I have a Brother sewing machine and they are notoriously stinkers when it comes to shirring. You'd better believe I threw a small party celebrating the moment I figured it out.  If you have a Brother too, here's what you do (if you don't have a Brother the steps are similar, I'll try and put them in parenthesis as we go along)

First you need to hand wind the elastic thread on your bobbin. Don't try to use your machines self winding bobbin feature, it won't work.  As you wind pull the elastic tight.  Not stretched to the point of breaking tight, just good and taught. You can see my bobbin above.  (This is a major difference between Brothers and other machines, if you have another brand of machine, you will wind your bobbin loosely, but securely.  Follow the Make it Love it link above for a great photo of what it should look like)
Next you need to drop your bobbin into the bobbin chamber. The elastic will unwind a little and you will probably panic, you might shed a tear, but don't worry! I promise it's o.k. (If you don't have a drop in bobbin, just go ahead and load your bobbin in the bobbin case or however you would load a "normal" bobbin)
Make sure the elastic thread catches under the little tension spring thingy--this is, of course the technical name--and draw it out through the little thread channel but DO NOT cut it.  Just let the tail end drag out like in the picture above. (If  you have a different machine, you can likely go ahead and pull the bobbin thread up through the bottom like you would a normal bobbin thread)
Set your sewing machine to a normal straight stitch.  All machines are a little different, but I've found setting it to the longest stitch length works the best for me.  No matter what kind of machine you have, take some time right now to play around with it on some scrap fabric. It might take a couple of times to get it just right.
This is what your first line of shirring should look like. When you achieve this on your scrap fabric, do a little happy dance and then go grab your skirt.

Now here is another reason to happy dance. . . since this skirt is knit, it won't fray and therefore there is no need to finish the rough top edge of your skirt in any way. You certainly could. But for this skirt, I like the slightly raw look.

So load your skirt in your machine. You are going to sew a straight line of shirring all the way around the top of your skirt. I like it at about 1/2" from the edge but it's up to you.  When you start your line of stitches make sure you back stitch to lock that line of stitches in.

This first line might not gather it up a whole lot but don't worry. It will gather up more as you add more lines of the shirring and then even more when you steam it.
When you've finished your first line, back stitch, cut your thread and start your second line. Your spacing is up to you. For ease, I like to just line up the inside of my presser foot with the lint of stitching I just took.

As you sew your second line of shirring and all of those after you want to pull the fabric flat before it goes under the presser foot. You don't want to sew gathers in the fabric, you want the elastic to gather the fabric on it's own naturally.  Use a gentle touch, you don't want to fight with your machine, you're just looking to flatten the sewing surface.
You can see how even the second line of stitches starts to gather things up even more. This is where I really, really started to get excited.

Keep on sewing, row after row until you have 10 to 15 rows.  How many rows is really up to you but I like the way 10 to 15 looks.
And this is the way the elastic should look on the back. It should be pretty smooth, no loops.

When you've finished all of your rows of shirring, go back to your iron and just steam the waistband.  You don't need to push the iron down on the stitching, just hold it over top of it and push your steam button. You will see the gathers shrink up even more. It's like magic. I dare you not to ooh and ahh.
4. Applique the logo onto the top part of the skirt. (optional)
When I put my skirt layers together, I bisected the logo on the front of the one shirt. It just looks weird like this in my opinion.

 Sooooo. . . rather than leave it be, I got out my fusible webbing and prepared to do some applique.

If your shirts didn't have logos or if the cutting of them doesn't look weird to you, you can skip these next steps. You are done.

If you do have a logo, cut it out of the discarded shirt right now. Leave a little bit of an edge all the way around.  Lay your logo on your fusible web and cut a piece of webbing to fit.  Follow the instructions on the webbing to attach the logo to the shirt skirt.  Match it all up so it looks purty.  It will be a hair off just because you have lost a little logo in the seam allowance but it won't be enough to make a huge difference in most logos.
Iron your applique to set the fuse in the webbing.  I had to use a pressing cloth because this logo was very melty. Yes, that is the technical word. I made a real mess of my iron in discovering this fact. Thank God for plate cleaner.
Your fusible webbing will work kind of like double stick tape to hold the applique down to the skirt. Once it's ironed it's a pretty firm bond, but you will want to sew around the appliqued piece for extra security.  You can use any stitch you like. Since this is knit, the edges won't fray.
I used a straight stitch to sew this applique on. You can see how that allows the edges to curl just a bit. It's a fun, kind of raw look that I really like.
And here you can see how the waist band looks on. It's super comfortable. This is one of those skirts you can wear on a fat day or a skinny day.  It's going to conform to a large range of sizes--about as "one size fits all" as you can get.
Now, go forth and make more! Lots more! 
If you are so inclined make one or two or a dozen to donate.
Happy shirring!!


Crafting Hope is scheduled to meet at the Nappanee Public Library on Thursday, September 6 at 6:30 pm.
Anyone is welcome!  Follow the link for more information or contact me for details.
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