Saturday, January 25, 2014

Christmas bags for Mom

So I just found this blog post buried in my folder.
I made this reversible sling style purse for my mom for Christmas 2012. 
Unfortunately I don't remember anything about what pattern I used or what fabrics these are.
The strap ties with a cute knot on top.
Since it is reversible I didn't put in a whole lot of pockets, just one little zipper pocket.

How's that for a throwback post, huh? Better late than never.
And though I don't have great photos of the bag I made for my mom this year, I'm going to post them anyway so that I don't forget about this for another year.

Mom got a new laptop for her birthday back in October and heavily hinted that her eldest daughter could make her a laptop bag for Christmas.
 Forgive the messy bedroom, bad cell phone photos.  

This bag is made from the Spencer pattern from Swoon.  It was hard to find a laptop bag pattern! This was the only one I could find that was big enough but it was really cute so I went with it.

The fabric is a home decor weight that I found at  It was my second or third choice since the first fabric I chose came and was just all wrong texture and scale wise. But I like it.
 The piping detail really adds a professional, very finished look to the bag.
 This was the first, and possibly the last, Swoon pattern I have tried.  While I did eventually come out with a very professional looking bag, I found myself agonizing over the pattern and instructions from the get go.  It seemed incomplete in several places. I don't know if the problem was with me or with the pattern ultimately but it was an exercise in frustration. The worst part was trying to wrangle this bag through my machine.  There is a lot of stiff interfacing in this thing. It helps it maintain it's shape and hopefully will help the bag stand up to abuse but golly was it a pain.  I ended up hand sewing quite a few parts that the instructions said to sew on the machine because I just couldn't get it to work.

I hear lots of great feedback for Swoon Patterns in blog land and on facebook so perhaps this particular pattern was just not a good place to start?  Maybe I will forget the pain, like with childbirth. We'll see. They do have a lot of really nice bag patterns that look very polished and professional.  How cute is this Stella Weekender?  Or Betty Bowler?
The lining is made from another find. It's kind of a sketchy gray chevron twill. I had a hard time deciding which of the two fabrics should be the outer and which the inner. I decided this one was probably too light in color for the outside of a bag and would get too dirty. But I do think it's super cute.

Ultimately, the bag turned out great and my mom loves it so the blood, sweat and tears were totally worth it.  I just won't be taking special orders!


Friday, January 17, 2014

Pattern Testing for Ana Davis

I recently participated in some pattern testing for fabric designer, Ana Davis. She is releasing a new line of sewing patterns through her Etsy shop, AnaDavisLtd.

This pattern testing was unlike tests I've done in the past because Ana sent all of her testers lovely yardage from her fabric collections Pippa, Animal Parade and Spring Promise to sew these things up in.

Forgive my photos, in the Christmas rush of things the best I could manage was quick snapshots on my phone. But at least I made it outside to catch some good light on most of them! That's something, right?
This sweet little dress is the Dorothy Dress, sewn in 18 mo. size and gifted to my sweet little niece. It will be a while before she is big enough to model for us since she's just a wee little thing.  I think it will look nice summer or winter with long sleeves and tights underneath.

The yoke was a little tricky but I figured it out with only minor trouble and since the test, the instructions and diagrams have been updated a bit to aid in the process.  It's such a nicely finished little dress. So sweet.
This is the Pia Pleat Skirt, an adult sized pattern, made from the Pippa line of fabrics.  My test version has an extra wide waistband because that pattern piece was mis-sized but it's kind of a neat effect anyway.

If you know me, sewing for myself (or any adult for that matter) is out of my comfort zone but Ana's instructions, even in the "rough" pre-tested stage walked me through the process with confidence. The few hiccups I came across have been fixed in the final pattern (along with a slimmer waistband).

This skirt is so cute, my photos don't do it justice as you can hardly see the peak of contrasting fabric inside those pleats.  
This pillow... the Dorm Pillow, is the easiest pattern I tested.  Even so, I messed it up. This is what happens when I think I know what I'm doing and don't consult the pattern every single step.  There are supposed to be three narrow stripes in the middle but I put two of them on the outside.  Doesn't effect the functionality in any way, and in this case, I like it.  I didn't notice until my sister, who was testing the same pattern, brought hers to my house for Christmas.  She, of course, did it the right way.


I still love it. This is the one project of the four that I kept for myself.  It doesn't particularly go with my living room but it's there anyway.  It's a nice big 20" x 20" size.  When I took these photos, my pillow form hadn't come yet so you are only seeing the pillow cover and it's hard to see the scale. Sorry about that.

The last thing I tested was the Isabella Tunic.  I think I was most nervous about this one. It's been a long time since I've sewn a ladies top.  The style of this one is simple and classic.  I fell in love with the green accent fabric. Go figure, it's from an older line and impossible to find now.

The tunic really is super cute. 

If you are on the lookout for some new things to sew, check out Ana's Etsy shop.  The patterns are reasonably priced and they are PDF downloads (which rocks for the immediate gratification factor).  She has these above patterns and also some really cute pillow patterns that would be GREAT for a beginning seamstress.

And if you are on the lookout for some cute fabric (and really, aren't we all?), check out these lines and her newer ones, Clementine and True Blue.


Saturday, January 11, 2014

Christmas Princess

The Bug got to choose her own Christmas dress this year. 
She picked the Ballerina Girl pattern from Ellie Inspired. This is the first Ellie Inspired pattern I've used and it was a little different than what I'm used to but it turned out beautifully.
The Bug's favorite color is this shade of blue. Not the most traditional Christmas color but lovely none the less.  The bodice and sash and nice slippery satin and the skirt is about 9 yards of tulle layered and gathered over a satin underskirt. It has a very "princess" effect doesn't it?
We paired the dress up with a gold cardigan and some gold glitter flats from Ruum (they had some super pre-Christmas sales).  The perfectly matched hairbow is a gift from a friend and the necklace is mine.  She felt very fancy.
Ellie Inpired is currently in the processes of adding American Girl doll patterns to all of their big girl patterns but since I bought my ballerina girl pattern before that format change, I had to figure out a coordinating doll dress on my own.  I found a book at the library with some great 18" doll patterns, "Doll Fashion Studio" by Joan Hinds. 
I was out of satin so I used this similarly colored corduroy that I had on hand.  I found just two of these little vintage rhinestone buttons in grandma's button jar. They are purely decorative, not functional since the dress closes up with a narrow strip of velcro. 

I made this dress in a size 7 hoping it would fit for a while. It will for sure, it's plenty long and there is enough room for a year or maybe even two of growth in the waist and bodice.