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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Strawberry Fields



I'm finishing up a few summer things I cut out for Sara, but fall is definitely in the air. Some leaves are on the ground and cooler weather is in the forecast. But wait! Our tomatoes haven't even turned red yet... Basil's ready for picking, though.



Hopefully Sara will get some good wear out of this, even into next year. The pattern is a tunic and I lengthened it quite a bit. The front and back bodices are gathered to yokes. The front placket seems really long to me, but I'm happy that it's the best one I've done. I think Ottobre's extra pictorial instructions are really good for this one. The self-fabric neck binding cut per the pattern was way too short, so I added a bias tape binding instead. I left off the arm hem elastic since Sara finds it uncomfortable (so do I).



And there's a tie in back. Even with the tie it's a little nightgownesque.

Sources:
Cotton: Fabric.com
Pattern: Kehra Tunic (Ottobre 1-2009-35)
Buttons: Chez Ami

Next up? Alter the skirt I just made Sara. Oops, I forgot to do a final waist fitting and there's no elastic in this one.

And then to get cracking on Ren Fest costumes for the kids, if costumes are really going to happen this year.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Yoga Pants, Shorts, Shorts, and More Shorts

Actually, I should call them Pilates shorts and pants, since that's my exercise of choice. Either way, in cotton/lycra jersey or rib knit (the gray), they're super comfy and very quick to make. That's why I made several pairs of shorts, which is more than strictly necessary.


I employed the smooth waistband technique I mentioned before. I find the wide, firm elastic cut to the exact measurement of the waist at that point to be more comfortable than thinner elastic cut with negative ease.

I cut the shorts pattern from the pants pattern, but flared the leg hems just a little.

The fit is slim (hence the use of lycra) and there is a very slight bootleg cut.

I love these - the fit is closer to what I wanted than what I got from the BurdaStyle download Corinne Yoga Pants.

Sources:
Pattern: Jazz Pants (Ottobre 1-2008-5)
Cotton lycra jerseys: Mill End Textiles (black) and Chez Ami (blue)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Two Tops and Lake Superior

I wanted to make myself two new tops for our vacation last week, but ended up finishing just one.

Above, I'm standing in front of Lake Superior. Have you heard of it? It's the world's largest freshwater lake (and holds 10% of the world's freshwater).

I made this tank top pattern a year ago, and it's one of my most worn summer items. The front stripe is curved (as you can see) and incorporates the dart shaping. The back stripe goes straight across. You can see back and side views of top #1 here. That first version was made out of stable interlock, which wasn't the best choice. I used cotton jersey for #2 (above) and lycra jersey for #3.

Pattern: Ottobre 2-2008-4. Note that the armhole runs tight on this pattern; possibly it's higher so it can accomodate the sleeve option.

Which brings me to another point. The pattern has two main views: sleeveless top and short sleeve top. I tried the sleeves and they did not work at ALL. There was no shoulder room. In fact the sleeve is super tiny. So I switched it out for another Ottobre sleeve that fits me well and it still didn't work. I think the slight cut-in shape of this tank top armhole is pulling the sleeve inwards. Come to think of it, sleeveless armscyes and sleeved armscyes are not normally interchangeable. I wonder if anyone else has made this top with the sleeves.

Now, I said in a previous post that we were going "Up North" for vacation. Minnesota has around 12,000 lakes. Apparently there's no official number!?! So when Minnesotans go Up North, they go to the northern half of the state, or possibly into Canada, and hang out near a lake. Many people have a lake cabin in the family, or they will tent or rent a cabin. We rented a cabin on a lake near Lake Superior and spent many hours canoeing, boating, kayaking, fishing, hiking, and sitting around.

If you find Duluth on the map and follow the shore north along Lake Superior, you have the "North Shore" where we did a little hiking one day (if you can call it hiking with a 2 year old).

Here's a river which flows into Lake Superior. The photos don't capture the dizzying height of the bridge I'm standing on.

The water of Lake Superior is frigid even in the middle of summer so you don't see many people trying to swim here.

The shoreline is very rocky and is a popular place to hunt for agates.

We had fun finding wild raspberries along the trail.


Stopping for mid-trail snack.

Apparently people will camp just anywhere, since they felt the need to post signs.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Cargo Pockets on The Train to Crazy


I just got back from vacation, but before I put in a load of laundry and decide what to do with the overripe bananas, I thought I'd let you know about the series Andrea is doing at The Train to Crazy. I think perhaps sewing for older boys is underrepresented in sewingblogland, so it's great Andrea decided to dedicate a week to it. Check out her blog for pattern ideas and a number of garment tutorials.

And while you're there, take a look at my cargo pocket tutorial. You know I love cargo pockets!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Yoga Shorts for Up North

I've been cooking all day, with a few sewing breaks in between, preparing for vacation next week. We're going "Up North" which is what any True Minnesotan does for vacation. Whenever our neighbors disappear for a week, it turns out they were "up north". If someone you know isn't staying home for the holiday weekend, it's because they are "heading up north".

For these shorts, I modified an Ottobre sweatpants pattern which looks like yoga pants. I like the wide waistband. The Ottobre instructions have you attach a piece of clear elastic down the center of the knit waistband. I tried that technique once (in boys' sweatpants) and, let me tell you, it's wretched. Clear elastic is not strong enough, nor does all that waistband look nice gathered with such a narrow piece of elastic.

So I used 2" wide waistband elastic for a yoga waistband look. Sara didn't like how tight the waistband was in the first (light gray) pair. That wide elastic is so strong, you can't go with the same negative ease you would with 3/4" elastic.

So for the second pair, I cut the elastic to the same size her waist was (at the waistband location) AND altered both the waistband and the pants so they were both the same measurement as the elastic. That meant lengthening the waistband piece and reducing the width of the pants at the side seams. Now the top of the pants don't have to be gathered to the waistband and it's possible to get a smooth waistband. If you're interested, Ikat Bag did a tutorial for the Smooth Waistband.

I like these shorts and they're very simple to whip up. I'm sure I'll make a few more colors, but that may have to wait until after our trip.


Here's a photo of the wide elastic, available at Cleaner's Supply.

Pattern: Jump Sweatpants (Ottobre 1-2008-19).

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

I Present to You... the Kindleope

Kindleope: An envelope for my Kindle. I coined a new word and got kindle case in the bargain.

There's not much to say about this. It was one of those things I made up as I went along, basing the size and shape of the case on the scrap of car fabric I had. For the inside, I used two layers of white flannel.

I love having a kindle more than I thought I would. It's very portable (with the protective case), easy to hold, and I don't have to decide on just one book to carry along. When I'm not chatting with another mom at gymnastics, for instance, I can whip it out.


Speaking of gymnastics...

This is 5 year old Grace demonstrating a few moves. It's not as easy as it looks (I tried).


Friday, August 5, 2011

Draft me some flowers and pindots

This week I thought I'd make a bodice sloper for Sara. I don't know why I did this since I'm feeling the crunch of end-of-summer activities and I really just wanted a simple dress pattern. But then - believe it or not - I do not have a peasant dress pattern, so there you go. I had to make one.

I've made several bodice slopers for myself - two from the Japanese magazine Mrs. Stylebook, and a couple of variations from Metric Pattern Cutting for Women's Wear. I based Sara's sloper here on directions from Metric Pattern Cutting for Children's Wear but used How to Make Your Own Dress Patterns for its clearly illustrated raglan sleeve method.

I liked the raglan sleeve method - it seemed simple to do. But it's not an exact science and there's some freehanding involved. So, while the front sleeve-to-bodice seams matched up fine the back seams required a little easing.

The designs for these two dresses really evolved even as I was stitching and finishing them. For a second while I was stitching #1 (the flowered version) I paused to check the pattern line drawing for its topstitching recommendation. Oops. My scrawled idea sketch didn't indicate any topstitching.

Both versions pull nicely over the head, but the floral version gapes a little at the neck without the elastic to pull it in. I used 1/4" elastic to pull in the empire waist.

I shirred the blue version, but I think the shirring it a little too high in the back.

Sara picked out both fabrics and insisted there be no elastic in the armholes. So uncomfortable!


I was feeling the late 1970s or maybe early 80s with the blue, pindots and peasant style, so I had to complete the effect with some nice red rick rack. This is something I would have worn at her age.

I also whipped out some white bike shorts to wear under her new dresses. Of course I forgot I already made her a white pair about two months ago.

Sources:
Floral broadcloth: Chez Ami
Blue pindot cotton: Fabric.com
White jersey

Monday, August 1, 2011

Out with the Grey; In with the Aqua

My old gray sweatshirt has been begging to be replaced for years. I think it must be a decade old. The zipper likes to come apart at the bottom and holes are appearing. I'm glad this ultra soft aqua fleece shouted to me at the fabric store because I know I'll feel much cheerier wearing this one. I might even wear it out of the house.

From my stash, I unearthed this jersey with the perfectly matching stripe for the hood lining.

The lingering question is ... is it VERY noticeable the zipper is too short? Should I break down and actually buy a zipper for a specific project (instead of using the "good enough" one from my zipper box)?

Besides the zip, I love the sweatshirt. It's slimmer fitting than I thought it'd be - something worth noting if you're between sizes or tend toward an FBA, which I obviously don't.

Sources:
Fleece: Mill End Textiles
Striped jersey: Chez Ami
Hooded Sweat Jacket: Ottobre 5-2007-19

Here is a view from my non-sewing life (except that IS the washer which so kindly prewashes all my fabric).

It became necessary that I wash Molly's beloved pillow case. It was most traumatic.


 

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