Sunday, February 27, 2011

My Shiny New Pants

Most every blogger bemoans the poor marriage of photography and black fabric, so it was amusing me to hear my 10 year old photographer go on about the poor lighting and say, "Plus, the pants are black!" as if he has years of experience. It is interesting to note the difference between seeing your pants in a mirror and looking at them more objectively via the computer screen. I love the comfort of this stretch sateen fabric, but now I realize that because it's stiff and doesn't drape, it adds to the appearance of excess fabric in the legs.

Besides that, I'm well pleased with the pants; perhaps I'd add some welt pockets in the back in another version. There's an invisible zip on the left side and the pockets are great because they are large and roomy without appearing bulky. Perfect for hand storage.

I can't remember where I got the fabric; all the black fabrics in stash tend to meld together in my mind.
The pattern is Burda 2-2010-102.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Double Feature

Two birthday shirts for another birthday girl. Everybody keeps getting older at our house, and we're not done yet. I really like the striped version. When Sara opened her gift, she hugged it and said, "I KNEW you would make me something! I KNEW it!" Now can I ever get away without homemade gifts?

The pastel version of course matches sister's shirt, which I've been seeing a lot of lately, so I'm not so enthused about this fabric combination any more.

When big brother, whose birthday is coming up, saw Sara open her matching age shirt, he nervously requested that his shirt (he assumes he getting one ?!?) NOT match his sisters'. I think I'll oblige him.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Me and My Velour Pantsuit

After getting socked with 14 inches of snow, a velour pantsuit is the perfect thing to snuggle up in. I'll just have to assume that's true, since I didn't make one in my size...yet. I can say, however, that beveloured toddlers are snuggly themselves, when they're in the mood to be snuggled.

The toddler silhouette.

The rear view. I made this in the smallest size (86 cm) and Molly is 83 cm. The fit in the torso length is just right for her, diaper and all. I tried the pantsuit on Molly for a final fitting before hemming and she was highly offended that the zipper was missing.

23 months is old enough to appreciate pockets, apparently.
Pattern: Jumpin' In Velour Coverall (Ottobre 6-2010-13).
Velour: Fashion Fabrics Club.
Zip: stash

This picture is from before our recent snowstorm. Clearing the roof of snow is a two step process: shovel the roof, shovel wherever the snow landed. Here my husband is trying to maneuver the snowblower around in the front walkway. It looked pretty awkward, but was certainly faster than shoveling it all by hand.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

All Wrapped Up

Sewing with spring colors is mood lifting, but doesn't actually melt snow. You can't see my boots or the snow drift I'm standing in. Snow aside, I'm loving this wrap blouse. I had trouble deciding which stash fabric to use, but the amount of yardage required (2 1/3 yards) helped make the decision - I don't usually buy more than 2 yards of blouse fabrics. However, I got this coral linen during a nice sale at Mill End and came away with 4 yards.

It's a unique design, but simple to sew. There are no closures, just a mile of narrow hemming to do. Super long ties are attached to both sides of the bodice. The left tie goes through a slit in the right side and wraps around the back. The right tie wraps goes to the left and wraps around the back. The top has your usual assortment of darts and a collar stand and collar and back yoke. The sleeves are meant to be VERY long and skinny and worn pushed up. I ended up cutting 9 inches (!) off the length to make them wearable.

I think I could've gone down a size to tighten up the wrap front and the back. I'm between sizes on their chart and have to make the call based on how fitted I think the garment will be. Although this time I chose the bigger size so I didn't have to downgrade.
The newest adjustment I added to my sewing arsenal - the "square shoulder" - has been doing wonders. Burda sizing is consistent enough that I feel I can sew their tops with confidence now.
Pattern: Burda Magazine (3-2010-122).
Linen: Mill End Textiles.

Monday, February 14, 2011

First Flop of the Year

Flops have to happen once in a while. It's part of the process, right? The flop here was fabric choice, even though I knew better. This super stiff, thick corduroy is perhaps my oldest stash fabric and I have lots of it leftover from oh, about 8 years ago, when hubby and I recovered our couch. Yes, we did it in $2 a yard navy corduroy from Wal-Mart. It was the best (albeit time-consuming and brain-wracking) budget-friendly couch replacement option. We chose the corduroy because it was cheap and we thought a corduroy couch would be cool. It was! Except it was a terrible lint collector. We donated it to our lucky neighbors when we moved...

So it was great for a couch, but how is it for a skirt? Not so great. Couch fabric doesn't need drape, but skirts do well with it. I was intrigued by this clever skirt design in my Japanese magaine Pochee, vol. 10. It's elastic waisted with a yoke, and the lower back panel has a cute row of buttons.

The clever part is that, if the buttons are left undone, the skirt is supposed to naturally hang open to reveal the partial underskirt. No natural hanging is happening in this one, though.

I may try this again in other fabrics. It's a fun skirt idea. But this skirt is relegated to the costume bin, since it's hard not to laugh at its stick-outishness and Grace doesn't appreciate it when people laugh as she's walking past.

Pattern: Pochee, vol. 10 #18.
Corduroy: Wal-mart
Calico: Aunt Gracie's Around the World print

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Green Dragon

Our household style guru has been dreaming of a dragon sweatshirt - specifically a hooded, pullover sweatshirt with a green dragon. He could hardly wait for the paint to dry to wear this. But besides the dragon, he discovered another great and unexpected feature: the sides of the pockets are high enough to keep Playmobil guys from falling out. Bonus!!!

This is a pretty basic sweatshirt but the striped inner hood fabric is fun. And the hood front is very slightly gathered with elastic.
Pattern: "Pocket" hooded sweatshirt (Ottobre 1-2008-28)
Black sweatshirt fabric:
Striped jersey: Hobby Lobby

And unrelated to sewing is this interesting symmetrical sock hole pattern. It seems I buy my boys socks nearly every week. It certainly discourages me from thinking I should ever try knitting socks for my family.

Friday, February 11, 2011


Xin Nian Kuai Le! In other words, Happy New Year. I'm about a week late in posting this for Chinese New Year.

Come to think of it, I haven't celebrated Chinese New Year since my college days, when I studied Chinese. But this banner has been rolling around in my brain for a couple of years and I thought I'd better just make it already. Maybe someday I'll make myself one, but this version is destined for my sil, L. [I'll give it to you in person . . .]

Xin = New

Nian = Year
Kuai Le = Happy
Instead of freehanding the characters, I copy and pasted from the internet, enlarged and printed them, then traced with chalk onto regular black felt. I then pinned all those tiny pieces down and zigzagged around the edges.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

I Spotted a Pinafore

Can you tell I just wet and smoothed Grace's hair? A minute ago it was standing up on all ends due to static electricity. The moisture is just zapped out of the air when it's -10 F (-33 C) outside. I know the rest of the US is getting some cold temperatures, but we've actually had a pretty mild winter overall (tons of snow, but no long stretches of bitter cold). Good news - the warm front coming in should heat us up close to freezing tomorrow!

The spotted pinafore was another birthday present for Grace. She wore the previous version until it was hopelessly too small and I had to hide it away. Last time, I used a contrasting thread for all the topstitching; I wish I had done that this time to match the green polka dots.
The details: a bunch of interesting pleats on the skirt; a plain bodice with invisible back zip and buttoned tab shoulders; a full lining.
Pattern: BWOF 11-2008-39 [Yes, this is before the identity crisis that resulted in "BurdaStyle".]
Brown baby wale corduroy with green polka dots: Hobby Lobby
Green broadcloth: Mill End Textiles
Zip: Cleaner's Supply
Buttons from stash

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Half a Decade Shirt

Someone in our house has just turned "5". She just lost her first tooth, too, so that makes 2 milestones in one week. Her tooth was very loose for several days, and she kept telling us there was a piece of metal wiggling around in her mouth, but she never swallowed it. She ignored us (as 5 year olds do) whenever we explained it was actually her tooth. Well, at supper, the tooth came out. She held it up and exclaimed, "It was my tooth after all!"

Even though I didn't really need back and side views of the shirt, Grace is used to going through the motions of modeling her new clothes for the camera.

I appliqued the number 5 on the front. Now that I'm looking at it, it turned out kind of huge. I like contrast of the fabrics I used, although I was really unsure about the combo until it was stitched up.

Mint green interlock:
Pink polka dotted cotton jersey: Hobby Lobby.
Pattern: Viserrys T-shirt (Ottobre 4-2008-11).

Monday, February 7, 2011

Keepin' 'em in Britches

Sewing boys' pants is perhaps not the most exciting sewing I do. On a practical level, though, it makes sense:
1. It's definitely cheaper - I have a good source for inexpensive fabrics (mill ends, not designer stuff) and I don't need to buy any new patterns.
2. It's possibly more time-consuming to alter (skinnify) pants than to make a brand new pair.
3. I don't have to go shopping with 5 kids in tow, except of course to buy fabric.

On the other hand:
1. As I said, boys' pants aren't too exciting after the hundredth pair.
2. I'm getting bored of the 10 yards of khaki twill which has produced these and several other pairs. But I'm not complaining too much, since it was $1.60 a yard. Stay tuned for more khaki!

On the other hand again:
1. Interesting details make boys' trousers more fun. In this case, there are knee panels with darts, a back yoke, and unique mismatched pockets. Per request, I fauxed the fly and made the waistband look like it really buttons (that was tricky and poorly executed because it was done as an afterthought).
2. The pants were received with exuberance, and that, I suppose, makes the effort worthwhile.
This oldest of mine has a couple of chronic illnesses. I've heard that sometimes people who have chronic illness and experience a lot of tests and treatments feel so out of control of their own selves, that they try to find some area in which they feel a measure of control. For my 10 year old, that area is his wardrobe. Obviously, I'm the one doing the sewing, but he has lots of exacting requests. His biggest concern: having no metal on his pants. That way, he can wear his pants inside an MRI machine or for an x-ray and not have to wear hospital pants. It breaks my heart to know this is a worry of his, but that's why I make him zipperless pants.

Khaki twill: Mill End Textiles
Pattern: "Frogs Pants" Ottobre 1-2008-25

Friday, February 4, 2011

Shirts for the Little Men

I'm not exaggerating when I say my boys wear their clothes out as soon as I make them. Boy #2 (in green) is happy to wear store bought or mom-made. Boy #1 (in red) refuses to wear RTW. He goes on about poor fit, bad design features, undesirable fabric (I wonder where he learned that...). So he's willing to rotate 4 or so shirts and wear holey pants, if necessary. Peer pressure is lost on him (that's good, right?) Lately my husband has been making known his desire to see boy #1 in something OTHER THAN STRIPES. Well, my solution was something with fewer stripes, anyway.

My well-used pattern, Jalie 2918, came to the rescue again, this time in the form of a v-neck. I've never done a v-neck t-shirt before, so it was an interesting venture. Jalie's instructions illustrate the method well and it's actually easier to serge a v-neck than a circle.

The fabric was a bargain find on I'd been keeping my eye out for knit with chest stripes and figured that'd be impossible to find, but one day I spotted this poly blend pique knit for .99 or 1.99 a yard. I was nervous about the quality at that price, but it's not too bad after all.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Shirts for the Man

My husband really gets the short end of the stick when it comes to my stitching. Good thing he doesn't notice. But I had a little fun lately with some embellished birthday t-shirts. I was a leetle unsure whether he'd think the "age number" shirt was as funny as I did, but he reasons that nobody will know the meaning of the large number emblazoned on his shirt.

The second shirt hearkens back to his Viking roots. I had to apply three coats of fabric paint (drying in between) to get a solid red over that dark grey.
Both t-shirts are from Jalie 2918 - basic t-shirts for boys and men.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

She Has Lost Her Sheep

Remember the Blue Flower Power Shirt I just made? I had cut out a white version at the same time, but was a little disappointed in the fit of the floral top. For this white version I gathered the neckline twice as much and narrowed the sides a little. It's much improved, I think.

The sleeves have lower panels gathered to the upper sleeves.

And for a quick item to go with Sara's white shirt, I dug (literally) through my stash and found some lightweight twill for another version of the skirt I made for her over Thanksgiving (in denim, shown here.)

I really like the fit of this, which makes sense since it is drafted according to her measurements. Happily, growing an inch !!! between Thanksgiving and now didn't throw the fit off too much.

I had a little fun with embellishment, making good use of my portable, bionic embroidery machine. I gave Sara two design choices, and Little Bo Beep made the cut. But the question is, where are the sheep?

Lightweight pink twill:
White cotton jersey:
Shirt: Ottobre 4-2008-22
Skirt: Self-drafted


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