A sewing blog about building a functional, cohesive handmade wardrobe, one garment at a time.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Kirsten Kimonos in rayon

Three months postpartum, the most comfortable thing to wear is still my assortment of ribbed maternity tank tops.  So right before our beach trip I decided to round out the wardrobe with a couple of Maria Denmark's Kirsten Kimono tees (sign up for her newsletter to get the free pattern).  

Despite having sewn eight of these tees over the last two years (1, 2, 3), I had never actually sewn the pattern without modifications.  I always scoop out the neckline, and for my maternity Kimono tees I either lengthened or trapeze-d them.  This time I decided to sew the pattern with the neckline as drafted.  

As I had to retrace the pattern to do this, I decided to do a dartless t-shirt FBA using the instructions on Maria Denmark's website.  I used a medium as my starting size and added a 2.5" FBA (yikes), grading the hips out to XL. 

I sewed up two tees using some stashed rayon jersey.  I picked up the blue fabric off the $2.97 table at G Street Fabrics last spring.  I am pretty sure the tie-dye effect is the result of the dye running when I pre-washed the fabric, but I don't mind it.  That spot by the neckline is just water, which did not leave any marks after it dried.  I did not finish the neckline with a band this time.  Instead I just turned over and zigzagged the neckline.  I had read about people doing this before and was skeptical that it would work without stretching out, but it has actually held up just fine.

The black is a rayon/lycra remnant from Joann's; I think it was a little less than a yard. I finished that neckline with a raw-edge band.

These photos were taken on our vacation which, sadly, is now over.  It was a nice escape, and the whole family enjoyed the sand and the surf.  I'm suffering from a mild case of post-holiday blues now.  The girls asked me today why we can't just live at the beach.  Now I'm wondering the same thing.

I did not finish the hems (or even even out the bottoms very well) of these tees, as I plan to hem them once I get my new coverstitch machine out of its box :) There isn't much more to note about these projects, other than that I finally invested in clear elastic, which works much better for stabilizing the shoulder seams than the regular old 1/4" elastic I had been using.  I should have done that a long time ago!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo

A few weeks ago I received a lovely package in the mail.

The package was from our sewing fairy godmother, a sweet lady who wanted to do something to help during our time of hardship, and it was filled to bursting with gorgeous clothing sewn from Oliver + S patterns.

Four perfect little bucket hats.

Reversible for fickle beachcombers.

Two adorable Puppet Show dresses.

With matching shorts.

A dapper Sketchbook set (which I somehow managed to leave out of the vacation suitcases).

And a fully lined Lullaby bodysuit in breezy seersucker,

Perfect stripe matching across the snaps.

And on the side seams.

There were even some lovely gifts for me - a beautiful pair of embroidery scissors with a handmade beaded fob, a handmade pincushion and a box of pins.

We are thoroughly spoiled!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Euro Swim Trunks

During my swimsuit-making frenzy, I made one more set of swim trunks for Gabriel.  That brings my count to seven swimsuits this year! Given the number of little people running around my house, I'd say it's safe to say I'll be sewing as many suits every year.  Good thing I enjoy it.

I used the Euro Swim Trunks pattern from Running With Scissors in size 3T.  After I'd ordered it I noticed that the Peekaboo Patterns Monaco Swim Trunks pattern is very similar, and has a much wider size range (3mo-12 as opposed to the Euro's 2T-5).  It doesn't have the cute curve variation that I used here, but I may buy it next year so that I can make a pair for Niko.

The royal blue is a sturdy nylon/lycra, bought during the month that I passed Hancock Fabrics every day on my way to visit my husband in the rehab hospital. The aqua contrast is from the same FabricMart yardage that I used for Z's tankini. The royal blue is very stable for a 4-way stretch, while the aqua is a lot thinner and silkier.  I was worried about how they would work together, but they paired just fine.

The rash guard is from the thrift store.  Next year I would like to try making my own.  Others have done it to good effect using the Oliver+S Field Trip, a pattern I already own and love.

These were a super-quick sew using my serger.  My zigzag hemming has already started to come loose (grrrrr), but I plan to fix that with the coverstitch machine (!!!!!) I got for my birthday.  It's still sitting in the box at home and I am not sure when I will have time to play with it. Its mere presence, though, helps me be less frustrated hemming knits.  I know I'll be able to redo the hems when they break.

The trunks pattern includes a small lining that just covers the front seam and an inch or two in either direction.  I sewed it in, but wonder about its utility - I feel like it should be a bit wider.  I have never seen a pair of RTW trunks like this, though, so I don't know what they usually look like on the inside.

In any case, they are stinking adorable and I plan to make most, if not all, of his swimsuits like these as long as he will let me.  

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Quilty Aspirations

I often drool over photos of gorgeous quilts online, though I myself have never been very good at putting fabrics together. I made this quilted table runner with matching napkins three years ago, but I drew all my fabrics from the same collection (Valori Wells Karavan), figuring that would be foolproof.

Then last week I read a great post at Stitched In Color where Rachel took her readers through her fabric selection process, step-by-step.  It was fascinating.  I realized that, while I very well just may not have a knack for pairing fabrics, I definitely do not spend enough time on it.

We are on vacation right now, and today the stars aligned.  Rachel announced a fabric mosaic contest, and I was stuck inside with a napping infant and a sick toddler while my girls were down on the beach with family.  I spent about 90 minutes making two mosaics.  The theme is "almost primary, as in primary colors."  I spent the bulk of my time on the second mosaic, and I really love how that one turned out.  So much so, that I am seriously considering trying to turn it into a quilt.

For the first one, I focused more on colors than on prints. I ended up with more of a rainbow effect than a primary colored one.  I like it, but looking at it compared to the second one now, it definitely looks a bit more krafty than I think I actually like.

This is the one I spent most of my time on.  I had it in my head that I should avoid using multiple color ways of the same print - and yet, as you can see, I did it twice! Turns out I really love the Alison Glass Handcrafted line - I could not leave out any of the pluses or the flying geese.  I particularly love the chartreuse pluses in the bottom left hand corner and the storm geese in the top center.

The contest is open through August 18, and winners will be chosen by popular vote! Go make your own mosaic or just check out the beautiful mosaics people have put together. And if you like mine, they are #24 and #25 in the linkup ;)

Monday, August 10, 2015

Cosi swimsuits #4 and #5

My husband's stroke will teach us a lot of things, I am sure.  Right now, though, I am learning a lesson in patience and delayed self-gratification.  Having four children under 6, I thought I had already demonstrated mastery of both.  But it turns out there is much more to learn.

If you had told me last year that I would be able to complete garments by sewing 30 minutes at a time, I would not have believed you.  But it is possible!  My sewing mostly gets done in fits and starts, and I am learning to use the heck out of a 10-minute chunk of time.  Much more importantly, I am learning not to get frustrated or angry when my sewing time is cut shorter than I'd like.  It all requires a great deal more patience than I previously possessed.

We are on our annual beach trip right now.  Zoia has been packing for this trip since we returned from the last one a year ago.  My husband has been talking about it since the day of his stroke.  Literally - even in the ER, while he was still lucid and before his left side had completely ceased moving, he was talking about how much he was looking forward to coming here.  After everything went down, we were so worried that the therapists would not let him go, but they agreed with us that it would be great for him.  And it has been.  He is walking, with the aid of his cane, on the sand considerably more gracefully than we had anticipated.  It's good for his balance.  And it's good for the spirit.

Today I have two more Cosi swimsuits to show you.  I sewed these over a period of about three weeks.  I've really enjoyed sewing swimsuits this spring and summer. My girls finally have suits that actually fit them properly, and as a result my sewing confidence is up.  So when it came time for the last round of suits for the year, I decided to improvise on the pattern and make tankinis.

I could have started with one of the bikini patterns, but as I had already drafted View D (the skirted one-piece) I decided to use that one. Having chopped up view D of the suit on my last iteration, I had a good base from which to work.  I used the view D pattern pieces, but lengthened the top by several inches, and raised the waist of the bottom part an inch and a half.  Then I just sewed up per instructions.

Natasha's ties are blue because I had originally made blue bottoms to match, in a size 4.  Those bottoms were a bit too big, however, so they became the bottoms for Z's suit.  By that time N had decided she wanted bottoms that matched the top, so I dug out the striped fabric and sewed a slightly smaller set of bottoms with the leg frills, just to try them out. The frills are cute but I found them fiddly and they added quite a bit of time to construction.

For Z's suit I used an aqua swimsuit fabric I bought from FabricMart earlier this year.  It is very silky but thinner and more see-through than the fabrics from The Fabric Fairy.  You can especially see how thin it is on the back of her tankini top.  As I was running low on lining (I bought one yard back in the spring and used it for all the suits I made this summer) I only lined the front on this one.  I think was a mistake, as I don't like how you can see the bottoms through the top in the back.

She had wanted a skirted suit, but since I had to repurpose the aqua bottoms originally meant for Natasha, I decided to add a ruffle to the tankini top.  The top is the same length as Natasha's but it is considerably longer on Z even though they are only about 2.5 inches apart in height.  I think more of Z's height must be in her legs.

I don't mind the length - it almost looks ruched in the front.  And I hope that means she will be able to wear the suit for two more years after this.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Late to the Mabel Party

I was on the fence about Colette's Mabel when it came out last year.  I liked the idea, but the modeled photos on the web site just weren't doing it for me.  Meg made a couple that I liked, at which time I added the pattern to my mental shopping list.  I didn't actually buy it until a couple of weeks ago when it was on sale for $10 at Fabric Mart.

I used a gray ponte with flocked back diamonds that I bought a year ago for $5/yard (also from Fabricmart - I seriously love that site).  I sewed the XL according to my current measurements.

It seemed to fit pretty well, but after a few hours' wear it had stretched out significantly.  Hate that.  The ponte felt like it had pretty good recovery so I figured the skirt was too big, size chart notwithstanding.  I took it apart and took in the waistband seams and the top of the skirt seams 5/8" inch for a total decrease of 2.5" around (basically the L size with an XL hip).  I tapered the seam to nothing about five inches down.  It fits better but still stretches out more than I'd like with wear.

As you can see, I photographed this skirt on a number of occasions.  I used my self-timer (reasonable), my husband (best quality photos but he stinks at looking critically at the clothes to make sure they aren't on crooked/have a flipped up hem/etc), my 5-year-old (use your imagination) and the old standby mirror shot.

As others have noted, the kick pleat does not behave well in knit fabric.  The ponte would not hold a press, so I edge-stitched the outer fold of the pleat.  It works but still is not perfect.

The skirt really doesn't need the pleat for purposes of wear but I like the idea of it, or something similar, to give the skirt a little flair.  I think I will definitely make another of these*, so I'll have to mull over what to do in back next time.

I did not notice until I uploaded these photos to the blog, that the skirt pulls in front, looking too small.  It doesn't feel too small at all, it feels comfy and snug, but maybe I will grade out the next one a little at the widest point of my hip.  Or maybe some of this baby weight will come off and I will have to resize :)

*Am I the only one who is always blogging that she will "definitely make another one" but then rarely does it?  I should go cut another Mabel right now to avoid making a liar of myself.