Thursday, April 3, 2014

Princess Castle Cross-Front Dress

I thought I'd grab the last bit of daylight to get this photo. Of course, we were being pelted with sleet in the beginning stages of a fresh snow storm. I'm excited to get another 10 inches or so!

This pear print jersey is probably my favorite Chez Ami fabric. Little sister Molly wasn't pleased her older sister was getting it - luckily I do have a yard left.

The pattern is Princess Castle Cross-Front Dress (Ottobre 4-2013-14). It was fun to stitch up and to coordinate the fabrics and, of course, the pockets are the best part.

I used Chez Ami's cotton/lycra jersey for the unusual leggings. They are called "Uncomplicated Leggings" (Ottobre 4-2013-15). And they're even more uncomplicated than your average leggings. They are two pieces: a front and a back. Grace isn't too keen on the fit, as the seat is baggy and hangs low. So, I probably won't make them again.

Monday, March 31, 2014

We'll call this a spring coat

I've been trying to clear out some of my more childish prints before the kids completely outgrow them. It's easy enough to go and buy a cute corduroy, but I don't want them aging unusable in my stash until I have grandkids (eek.) This print isn't super childish, but what was I going to do with bright pink corduroy for anyone older than 5?

So it became a spring coat - made large enough to work for this fall, too.

The coat is kittywampus in this photo, but here's proof she likes it. She has thanked me for it about a hundred times. There's my payment (:

The hood is the best part.

She made sure to turn and give me all the angles in our photo shoot. I didn't think I necessarily needed a back view, hehe.

But there it is. The print hides the front and back yokes. The back yoke even randomly print-matched with the coat back. Good for it.

The front is pieced, so the slit pockets fit nicely in that seam.

And polka-dot flannel (more stash!) fit the bill for the lining.

The pattern is the Rosy Red Velveteen Coat (Ottobre 6-2008-17) and is meant to have batting for use as a true winter coat. I think it's a great pattern and maybe I'll revisit it sometime with a wool coating.

Friday, March 28, 2014

The Trifecta Top

I suppose you can find raglan t-shirts in the archives of most pattern companies - I even have a loose-fit self-drafted one I like pretty well.

But I was quite pleased* when testing Kitschy Coo's Trifecta Top. This red and grey baseball version was made straight out of the package, so to speak. I think the fit is perfect. It's shaped, not-too-tight and not-too-loose, and the shoulders fit well. The neckline is a nice compromise between scoop and crew.

For the purple version, I added a cowl neck and added 1" to the sleeves.

In case you're wondering, yes, that's real snow. We had a fresh snowstorm yesterday. However, I'm rebelling and planning a short-sleeve version of this top...

*"quite pleased" is Minnesotan for "I absolutely loved it!!!!"

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Wherein I try a new fabric paint

The new paint: Pebeo Setacolor (purchased at Blick Art Supplies).

-Applies nicely with a paint brush and looks professional. It's easy to fit a small paint brush into the pot.
-Gets good coverage in the first coat, although more coats on darker fabrics, or touch-up may be necessary.
-Washes and dries well *if* you get good coverage and have sufficiently heat-set the paint.

-Neither the bottle nor the manufacturer's website seem to tell how to do the heat setting.
-The paint has a strong smell when heated.
-More expensive than the craft paint.
-Paint will fade after the first wash if not heat-set enough.

The old paint: Scribbles (purchased at craft/hobby store).

-Less expensive.
-Easy to use. Requires no heat setting and the squeeze bottle could be used to apply paint directly to the fabric (although I always used a paintbrush or sponge.)
-Washes and dries fairly well (i.e. it does not come off.)

-May require multiple coats.
- Paint tends to crack over time after several washes. This is especially true if the paint was thick.
- Looks like craft paint (doesn't look like professional garment paint).
- Paint likes stick to itself.
-The paint descriptions are poorly worded. I accidentally bought a few bottles of translucent paint and couldn't tell by the label.

I tried the new paint first on this shirt for my husband:

Freezer paper stencil.

I used one coat and heat set this with my iron (placing a muslin press cloth in between the fabric and iron.)

Considering the amount of work that stencil took, I was sorely disappointed it faded so much in the first wash. The photo doesn't show the fading very well.

Adding another coat and longer heat setting would have helped.

So, I tried the paint again on a few more shirts, making sure to heat it very, very thoroughly with the iron on both the back and front sides (always with the press cloth). This did the trick, as all of these have now been through the washer and dryer with no fading. Yay!

The finish is smooth and not glossy like the craft paint is. It doesn't stick to itself when the shirt folds over on itself.

Is my 13 year old excited to have his picture taken for my blog? Not so much.

And my stair steps all got birthday shirts, since they have birthdays within 3 weeks of each other.

The mustache is an applique.

The girls' t-shirts are all Ottobre and the boys'/mens' are Jalie.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Deer and Doe Sureau

I took advantage of the warm weather (20F/-7C, yeah!) to snap some outside pics. My usual photo spot is buried in 4 foot drifts, so I chose the driveway which, alas, was too sunny.

I'm going to assume you're thinking about my new dress and not making any snarky remarks about the correlation between the snow and my complexion.

This is Deer and Doe's Sureau Dress (sureau = elderberry). The bodice is gathered to a faux button placket. A zip is in the side seam. The skirt is also gathered.

I took the time to do a real muslin of the bodice (something I rarely do) and worked on some general fit issues I've been wanting to tackle. So, my list of standard bodice adjustments grew longer, blech, but they are all very simple to do. The amazing thing is that a tiny adjustment can make such a huge difference in fit.

In case you're interested, I improved my square shoulder adjustment (thanks Jen!) and added a small rounded upper back adjustment. Do you see the diagonal drag lines running from the back neck to the underarm? Well, they were much worse. Only now that I see the back bodice in a photo (and not just in the mirror) do I see I could increase my adjustment a little. (Edited to add a link. I slashed horizontally across the very upper back, added at the center back, tapering to 0 at the armscye. Here's a more complicated version of what I did: Rounded Upper Back Alteration. Type "pattern alteration" into the search engine in this resource for excellent illustrated instructions for other adjustments.)

As for the dress itself, I'm very pleased with it. After my usual fit adjustments, it fits great and is super comfortable.

I did make 4 changes to the pattern:
1. raised the neckline almost 2", which had the side effect of altering the neckline shape a little
2. did a 1" anti-gaping tuck in the upper bodice
3. flattened the sleeve cap (see photo below)
4. lined the skirt since I used a lawn

In future, I will lengthen the skirt a tad (I'm 5'4".) I used a hem facing to get this length.

Look to my sidebar on the left for a tutorial on flattening your sleeve cap (aka removing the ease), but this photo shows what I cut off. The difference in fit between the altered and unaltered is negligible, but one is more pleasant to sew.

Oh, and yes, I did make one of those ubiquitous Plantain t-shirts, also from Deer and Doe.

Monday, February 24, 2014

A Sweatshirt with Easy Welt Pockets (Really?)

The more I sew clothes for my cohorts, the more specific their requests. Alex wanted a zippered, hooded sweatshirt with pockets attached so they didn't flop around, and NO drawstring. Well, yay, this pattern fit the bill.

The sweatshirt is Ottobre 3-2005-29. I bought this old magazine issue because it actually has a few men's garments. This particular pattern comes in both children's and men's sizes.

Alex also likes the higher, but not tight, neckline since it's warm and cozy. The hood is lined with black jersey.

I added some extra orange reverse-coverstitch topstitching which coordinated somewhat with my rust zipper. My stash is happy to have rid itself of this ridiculous two-way zipper. It was so long, I had to cut about 2 feet off. No, sewing a rust-colored sleeping bag is not in my future.

Now, did I really say sewing welt pockets (in polar fleece, no less) was easy? Precision sewing in fluff when you can't see your needle wasn't the easy part, but this clever pocket design made the welt easy:

See those vertical dotted lines on the pattern piece? Those are pleat (or fold) lines.

Here is the procedure in steps:
1. (not shown) After marking the rectangle, place the pocket piece right sides together with the garment. Stitch the rectangle. Slash and clip to the corners. Turn to the inside and press unless you have polyester fleece. [Normal welt procedure.]

Reverse side.

2. Pleat or fold the pocket piece over so it just covers the rectangular opening.

I haven't done any topstitching here yet, but that sure formed a great welt!

And lastly, since I didn't want to risk melting my fabric, I "interfaced" my zipper facing with some strips of woven fabric. I serged the long raw edge and serged the other edge to the wrong side of the fabric.

Thursday, February 20, 2014


I made these before Christmas, but it still seems appropriate to think about balaclavas, since we've had the good fortune to get another snowstorm as we speak.

Scarves have a place in this world, but sending my kids outside without scarves this year has been a time-saving experience. No searching for and tying scarves. No one complaining the scarf is choking them. No one coming to have their snow-encrusted scarf retied. No one losing their scarf in a snowbank.

My boys quickly found the ninja side of balaclava.

The balaclava was fairly simple to sew once I wrapped my mind around which pieces went where, and my assembly-line method made subsequent ones go that much more quickly.

I used leftover fleece scraps. The main hat is one piece (partly cut on fold and partly stitched) connected to a double layer ear portion. The face mask is a separate piece attached inside to the hat's seam allowances. The binding, made from nylon-lycra (swimsuit fabric), was probably the trickiest part to sew, but was easier the stretchier the fabric used.

My stairsteps also got balaclavas.

And the facemask pulled down.

4 of the 5 kids have worn these all the time. I guess you can't win them all.

One kid asked me to sew him another one because he thinks his should be washed since he's breathing into it all the time. Hahaha. I agree.

The pattern is Green Pepper 550 and comes in all sizes from toddler to (large) adult head.