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

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

All packed up

We are headed home tomorrow.  I'll get to unpack my sewing room in about two months.

See you in a bit!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Sewing souvenirs

There is a fabric store here that I pass twice a day, on my way to pick up and drop off the girls from school.  Occasionally I'd stop in and browse the fabrics, which are all imported from Dubai.  This past spring, they got in a new collection, and among them was a smooth, lusciously drapey, Burberry-esque plaid rayon challis.  I kept going back to visit it until last month, when I finally gave in and bought two yards.

Sadly I did not think to photograph it until it a few days later, and by then it had wrinkled.  Ironing fabric just for a photo shoot seemed a bit precious, so here you go.

I just can't photograph it in a way that does it justice - and further, I have NO IDEA what I am going to do with it.  But I just couldn't resist.

They had it in three color ways - the one you see here, a hot pink and a black.  I'm still thinking about that black one; I may yet be tempted to go back and buy it and carry it home in my suitcase since all our stuff has already been packed.

In the last couple months I've also done a bit of button shopping.  I haven't been the happiest with the buttons that are available here - they are heavy on novelty buttons without a lot of plain, serviceable quality ones.  But I have collected an assortment that spoke to me.

The cream and light blue ones have sort of an iridescent crackle effect going on.  The polka dot ones are really cute - no idea what I will do with them but - polka dots!  So there you go.  My Georgian sewing souvenirs.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Summer nighties

I love sewing nightgowns for my girls.  My sister and I had a lot of handmade nighties thanks to my grandmother, and I have fond memories of floaty, ruffly summer ones and snuggly flannels for winter.  I'm happy to be able to provide the same for my daughters.

I made these using Kwik Sew 3423, which includes toddler sizes up to size 4.  There used to be a version for older girls, Kwik Sew 3105, but sadly it appears to be out of print.  The toddler version is quite roomy, though - I cut a 2 with added length for both girls - so I think it will do for us for a few more years.

The pattern isn't the most elegant I've used, construction-wise.  The instructions for attaching the lace leave a messy-ish inside, and only 1/4" seam allowances are included.  Since the nightgowns are so long, the girls sometimes step on them, putting pressure on the seam joining the bodice to the skirt.  With delicate voiles or shreddy flannels, this is a problem.  I had to fix holes where the seam shredded apart on the girls' flannel nightgowns multiple times.  I prefer a 3/8" or 1/2" allowance for this pattern, so I can sew a seam on my machine and then serge the edges together without trimming.  More room for error.

I used a floaty voile that I got from FabricMart awhile ago for only $1.99 a yard, and two yards made two nightgowns.  Score!  I really love this fabric - it has plaid, flowers and some sparkly Lurex threads running through it.  What more could a girl ask for?  I trimmed the arms with bias tape rather than lace so that they would not be scratchy against the skin, but I did use lace to trim the neckline.  The girls are thrilled.

These nightgowns were actually sewn weeks ago; currently my sewing room is all packed up.  We are moving in a couple weeks and our stuff won't catch up until August at the earliest.  Most likely there will be no sewing until mid-September! So posting will be sporadic until then.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

What I am doing instead of packing

When I finished up the wedding sewing, I immediately packed up all my fabric into bins.  I thought that would be enough to keep me on task (i.e. organizing and packing, not sewing).  Turns out it wasn't.

In my defense, I did buy big sister some RTW clothes to fill her summer wardrobe gaps.  But the leggings were balloony and the tops slip off her shoulders, yet I can't go down a size without her parading her belly button around for all to see.  Not worth it, even if they were cheap.

So today I assembly-lined some basics.  Two pairs of leggings and two tees for the big sister, and a pair of ardently requested butterfly leggings for little sister.

I used my beloved Oliver+S Playtime pattern for the leggings.  The tops were made using this tutorial.  I made several tops from it last summer.  As big sister has recently decided that skirts can only be worn with tucked-in tops, I didn't flare the tees out at the bottom as the tutorial has you do.

All the fabric came from Girl Charlee except the pink jersey, which is Robert Kaufman Laguna knit.  I used the butterfly jegging fabric for a pair of leggings for big sister last fall, and they have held up spectacularly.  The other knits are a bit thin for leggings, so I hope they last through the fall.

Little sister is wearing a top that I made from the same tutorial last year.

Now I should really pack up those machines ...

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Wedding sneak peek

Way back when my sister-in-law got engaged, I volunteered to sew the ring bearer and flower girl outfits for the five littles in the ceremony (my offspring account for 60 percent of said littles).  I had planned to sew during the end of April and first half of May, but then my mother passed and I went home for the funeral, and honestly I didn't feel much like sewing for awhile.  I finally got started about 12 days ago and after some seriously furious sewing, I am done.

I'll be double-posting this project to provide modeled pictures after the Labor Day wedding, but for now here is a sneak peek.

The ring bearers will be wearing Oliver+S Art Museum ensembles.  The vests are gray-and-white gingham save for the back, which is khaki twill to match the pants.  I really love the effect the gingham has when turned diagonally for the welt pockets.  The shirts are store-bought (I really need to be packing), and I made snap-on bow ties for them.  This was necessary because the shirts have mandarin collars, but I think it is more comfortable for little boys than a band that goes all the way around the neck.

The flower girls will be wearing dresses made from a mishmash of the Oliver+S Music Box Jumper and Bubble Dress patterns.  I used cotton batiste for the outside and voile for the lining.  There is also a tulle layer in between the two  I made up the pleated cummerbunds as I went along (you can see I was not exactly consistent among the dresses) and added knife pleats at the hems.  The cummerbunds become sashes that tie in the back.

Whew!  I am beat.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Birthday Gift

I am still frantically sewing flower girl and ring bearer get-ups (three of the former and two of the latter, with a self-imposed deadline of June 1 - eep!).  But a dear friend's baby girl turned 1 this weekend so I took a break to sew her a gift.  I thought about just buying clothes, but this particular friend is one of those people who truly appreciates sewing, and I really wanted to make something.

So I turned to my new standard baby girl gift - a sundress sewn from the Oliver+S Music Box pattern.  I did not lengthen the bodice this time, but I did gather the skirt again.  I really love how this looks.  I used the quilty FabricMart print that I used for older sister's circle skirt (and I still have more than a yard, so you'll be seeing it again).

I used piping for the first time.  I didn't bother to look up any tutorials, just winged it.  It worked out fine except I was left with a raw edge on either side of the bodice (maybe I was supposed to fold it over?) that I had to stitch over by hand with black thread to secure).  Teach me to try to figure it out on my own!

I did multiple rows of decorative topstitching at the hem in different colors, but the print sort of swallows them up.  I wish I had gone with my original plan of horizontal knife pleats at the hem.  Next time.

To top off the look, I made a quick headband out of fold over elastic with a bow out of the same fabric.

My friend loved it.  I can't wait to see it on the baby!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Summer Togs

As is its wont, this year, spring in Tbilisi has been unable to make up its mind what kind of a season it would like to be.  We alternate between high winds, torrential downpours and unrelenting sun.  The summer preview has been helpful - we ate salads fresh from the garden most days last week AND I realized that the boy had almost no summer clothes.  This realization coincided neatly with the release of the new free Oliver+S pattern, the Sunny Day Shorts.

I had some awesome plaid patchwork fabric that I figured would elevate the shorts from the very basic without having to fuss with making pockets or anything like that.

Little man is 15 months old and needs a 24-month size in RTW to clear his cloth-diapered bottom.  In disposables, he could fit into an 18-month size.  I made the 2T in these shorts and the rise is perfect.  Coupled with elastic cut to his waist measurement (18"), these are the best-fitting shorts he owns.  No gap!

Not surprisingly, the pattern is clearly written and nicely drafted.  I know I will make him many more pairs!

I have also been making him some tshirts using Simplicity 5316.  Somehow the two I have made have ended up too short, even though I added length.  I haven't even finished the second one yet - I need to add a band to the bottom to make it more wearable.  The first one I made using cotton/lycra jersey.  

He mostly wears it under overalls, though he did rock it with denim shorts, sandals and black socks the other day.  This much maligned old-man look is pretty cute on babies, I have to say!

The neck on this pattern features snap tabs on each shoulder, however, I can get his head through without unsnapping them.  So for the second (too short, unblogged) top, I left off the snaps.  

I had plans for a whole wardrobe of these tees, but we are getting ready to move in a little over a month, and I am madly working on some wedding sewing that has to be completed by then.  I made up the shortfall with a quick trip to Target while at home for my mom's funeral ... and I was happier than ever that I sew.  Target has gotten significantly more expensive since I was last in the U.S.!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Finished the blanket!

I finally sewed the dang blanket together.


And ...


I have been carting it up and down the stairs because it is just as good a cuddle-up-on-the-couch blanket as it is a bed blanket. 

And I actually miss knitting it.  It was my eternal project. 

 Maybe this means I will make another?  Or perhaps I'll fulfill my husband's wishes and add another strip or two to make it king-sized. 

I'm not promising anything, but it is possible this is not my last Lizard Ridge

Wednesday, May 21, 2014


A few days after my last blog post, my mother died.  She had cancer.  

I don't have any eloquent words about cancer and what it means or doesn't mean.  I only have faith that my mother is with God, looking out for her children and grandchildren as she did while she was on earth.

We miss her.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Selfish Sewing Week: Kirsten Kimono Tee

If we're honest, I have been quite busy with the selfish sewing for all of 2014 thus far.  But I have a lot of trouble resisting a new dedicated Flickr group in which to post my FOs, and I also need some tshirts for summer, so here I am.

Yesterday I made a Kirsten Kimono Tee, a free pattern from Maria Denmark.  I made three of these last summer while tinkering with the fit - one was way too big, the second a touch too big, the third too small (but I can now wear it with cardigans on top).  Such is the peril when sewing with different kinds of knits; the same size fits differently when you are dealing with different degrees of stretch and recovery.

Anyway, this time I decided to just cut a straight M and add the seam allowances (since they are not included in the pattern).  I used a lovely drapey cotton/lycra that actually feels like it has some rayon in it, from Girl Charlee.  I had bought this thinking my girls would like leggings out of it, but they have not been that interested so I snatched it for myself.  Selfish sewing, indeed!

I really love the fit of the top 2/3 of the top, especially the neckline (which I lowered a bit) and the kimono sleeves.  The bottom doesn't fit so well, though, around the donut of stubborn post-baby fluff that encircles my middle just below my belly button. It works ok with my higher-waisted skirts, but I won't be able to wear it with jeans without unsightly bulges.

I used an older version of the pattern, that I had downloaded in spring 2013.  There is a new version that promises 'improved fit' but I couldn't be bothered to print it out yesterday.  I am curious now, though, to see whether it would fit better around my hips.

After I made this top, I cut a second one, allowing more room in the hips.  I had such high hopes for it.  It was going to be super-trendy: I used striped fabric to create a chevron in the front, I put in a decorative zipper at the back.  I also completely botched the neck binding when I tried to sew it on with a wider seam allowance - now the neckline is too low and wide (is there even any fix for that?).  Aand my stripes did not match across the zipper.  I don't even think it is salvageable.  I hate wasting fabric like that - ugh.  Teach me to try to be trendy!

Maybe I will have better luck today.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Moss, modified

I did not know that April had been declared Moss Making Month, so it was a happy accident that I sewed my second Moss skirt a couple weeks ago.  Coming off of my first, too-big Moss, I decided to size down.  Since I had taken the other, initially size 12, Moss in a whole inch on each side, I cut an 8 this time.  I had my doubts about that - I haven't been an 8 since, like, junior high school - and it turns out those doubts were well-founded.  The skirt was way too tight - like Mariah Carey tight.

My husband insisted that it looked good (wink wink, of course he did), but there was no way I was going out in public like that.

What to do?  I took off the waistband and added a wedge of fabric in between the front and back skirt pieces on each side.

Being wider at the bottom than the top, the wedge gave the skirt an a-line shape, and I like it.

I used a navy and white pinstriped stretch cotton from Fabric Mart.  While I love the pinstripes, the fabric itself is quite thin and crisp, causing it to crumple like an empty bag of potato chips.  The interfacing at the waistband and fly also completely bubbled up after just two washes.  I guess it's time to find an alternative to Pellon (though sadly, I still have half a bolt of the stuff in my sewing room!).  Any recommendations?

I decided not to face the hem band for no reason other than laziness (since I had to cut out new hem bands after adding my side-wedges).  Instead I used some 1.5" chevron twill ribbon to face the hem.  I think it is adorable, though it causes the hem to not be stretchy when the rest of the skirt is stretchy.  That is kind of a "duh" revelation, but nevertheless one that I had not considered ahead of time.

Rumply fabric, bubbly fly and firm hem notwithstanding, this is exactly the kind of skirt I would buy in a store, and I may keep the side-wedges on future iterations.  Though I will have to think carefully about sizing again on the next one - it seems that the stretchiness of the fabrics I have chosen thus far make a big difference in the size I should cut.  

In any case, I love this pattern.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Dotted Traveler

I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter.  I took breaks from both sewing and blogging during Holy Week - it was hard to unplug at first, but I feel rejuvenated after a week of prayer and reflection and the joy of Sunday!

So this week I'll be blogging a few things I made before KCW but never posted.

I made another Lisette Traveler shirt a couple weeks ago.  I used the same modifications that I made for my second Traveler back in January - size 14+FBA with two fisheye darts in the back and French darts in the front.  I did forget that I had wanted to do a forward shoulder adjustment on this shirt - I need one as I keep shrugging it back to the front. I have to remember to do that next time.

I used a gray Swiss dot from Fabric.com, and used the mandarin collar.  It's a very light and comfortable shirt to throw on.  I do wish I had chosen a color other than gray in the Swiss dot - this would have been nice in a brighter hue.  I have to keep that in mind next time I fabric shop.

I did not choose my topstitching thread well - it shows up more than I would like.  And this fabric is so nice and light, but it wrinkles like crazy.

Not much else to say about this make - I love the pattern and will make it a fourth time, I'm sure.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

KCW Day 5

I managed to sew on Day 4, but I was still feeling queasy at the sight of the fabric I had cut earlier (so weird!).  I decided to make circle skirts for the girls.  I have never been a huge fan of the circle skirt, honestly - it is not a look that is attractive on my shape, and I think a lot of times it looks silly on grown women.  But on girls it can be cute.  I decided on impulse to make the skirts while the girls were at preschool, so I just based the measurements off the corduroy tiered skirts I made them for Christmas.

I consulted a couple different tutorials online to get the basic method for making a circle skirt - it is very easy.  I didn't want to use wide elastic for the waistband because I thought that would irritate my older daughter's sensitive skin.  I didn't want to mess with a casing either, figuring it would be a pain to get the circular seam to lie nicely.  I had some foldover elastic in my stash that I had bought intending to make the baby some diaper covers.  I never made the covers, and now we use pocket diapers, which don't require covers.  So I had four yards of FOE in various colors.  

I folded the FOE over the raw edge of the skirt's waistband, sandwiching the fabric between two layers of elastic. I divided both skirt and FOE into quarters, pinning four times, and then stretched the FOE to fit, making sure to keep the skirt fabric inside the sandwich.  I used a three-step zigzag to attach it.    And it worked!  The FOE is very stretchy, so I actually needed to shorten the waist a bit beyond my usual elastic length after the girls tried the skirts on.

The pink fabric is some really lovely, high-thread-count stretch poplin that I got in the $2.97 section of G Street Fabrics awhile back.  I figured it would come handy sometime because, pink.  But it was TOO pink for most patterns with which I had tried to pair it.  I actually think it might be too pink for this skirt.  I couldn't get a single photo that didn't look like the skirt was glowing neon.  It's not really neon pink - it's just really really really pink.  Little Sister has requested that I put "something" on the skirt - we settled on "bubbles" - and the appliques might make it a little less pink.  Whenever I get to them, anyway.

The floral is a print I picked up from FabricMart.  I love the print and had actually bought enough in quantity for a shirtdress for myself.  When the fabric arrived, though, I was disappointed in how quilty it felt.  It is wide fabric - like 58", I think - so I figured it would be apparel fabric, but it feels more like quilting cotton.  In any case, it worked well for this skirt.

The skirts turned out way longer than I intended them to, mostly because the gils insist on pushing the waistbands down to their hips.  Between the length and the stretchiness of the FOE, these should last a LONG time!

Which is good, since the girls are really digging the twirly factor.  In fact, this morning Big Sister complained that the Ice Cream Dress I had laid out for her to wear church wasn't twirly enough!

Friday, April 11, 2014

KCW Day 4

So, as predicted, I spent all of day 3 in bed feeling utterly queasy and as though someone had run me over with a truck.  There was no thought of sewing.  Yesterday I woke up feeling much better, but the thought of returning to the Izzy Top, which I had blogged about while nauseated, made me feel nauseated again.  Does that happen to you?  The thing that you eat, or watch, or do, while nauseated, nauseates you when you do it again later?  This happened to me with knitting, of all things, during my pregnancy with my second daughter - I was not able to knit again for months after the morning sickness passed.

Anyway, thankfully, I had another project cut out and waiting to be sewn - a cotton interlock sleep sack for my son for the spring and summer.  I used Kwik Sew 3809, which I used last fall to make a couple of fleece sacks.  It's a sleep sack pattern, folks.  There really isn't much to say about it, except I appreciate that Kwik Sew uses a thicker, sturdier paper for their patterns than other companies (*coughcoughSimplicitycoughcough*).  The sleeveless variation, which is the only one I have made, is super-quick to sew up.

I bought the material at Land of Oh while pregnant with my son, intending to sew up some tiny baby sleep-n-plays, but it never happened.  I figured I'd better use it up now, as the print, while totally adorable, is a little on the juvenile side.  Also, I never noticed until now, that the hot-air balloons say "Basic Elle" on them.  Land of Oh is in South Korea so I'm guessing this fabric is of Asian origin.  I have seen other fabrics from Asia (like some Kokka prints) with strange words on them.  That roll of label twill-tape that I got (also from Land of Oh) and used on my recent Class Picnics, has some labels on it that say "Sunbonnet" instead of "Handmade."  ?

What looks like pill on the picture above is actually just graininess - the fabric is lovely and smooth.

Actually, Land of Oh knits seem to be a really nice quality so even though they are quite pricey, I think I will order from them again.  I have been let down by the vast majority of my reasonably-priced purchases from a very popular Stateside knit fabric purveyor (pill city!) so I'm ready to spring for better quality.  I can't stop thinking about this gorgeous floral cotton-lycra jersey.  (Note, I am not affiliated with them in any way; I was just really happy with my fabric purchase last year and plan to buy there again).

I have some of the interlock left so I'll probably use it for tshirts for him this summer.  I used a dark teal cotton-lycra jersey for the neckband, and the zipper is a local purchase.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

KCW Day 2

I sewed another Izzy Top yesterday.  The yoke was cut from more scraps of Little Folks voile and the skirt is a slubby linen of remnant bin origin.  I did not seek her input on fabric choice - the first time in awhile I have gambled so - but she liked it and wanted to wear it immediately.  It is cold here today, though, hence the layering.  I would have chosen different items ... but you win some, you lose some.

This linen looked awful when I gathered it.  I guess it is too set in its ways to gather docilely, so I pleated it instead - four pleats in the front and an inverted box pleat in the back.

I made my button-loop modification again, and finally found a use for this adorable button I bought a couple years ago without a purpose in mind.

I did try to modify the pattern to produce a clean inside finish, but it is going to be a little trickier than I had thought - I have to make modifications while sewing the bodice pieces together.

I do have two more of these cut out but I'm not sure when I will get to them - I am blogging from my bed where I am laying sick, feeling as though someone hit me repeatedly with a baseball bat all night, so KCW Day 3 will definitely be a bust.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

KCW Day 1

I was hard pressed to get my hour's sewing in yesterday afternoon, and I didn't think I would have anything to share today.  But then the husband got distracted by work in the evening and I had a chance to sneak back to the machine and finish off my first KCW project: an Izzy Top using the free pattern from Climbing the Willow.  I had actually cut four of these tops despite never having sewn one before.  It is similar to my beloved Ice Cream pattern, but has a curved yoke that I think is really sweet.

This top is made entirely of cotton voile scraps - the yoke is from Anna Maria Horner's Little Folks line and the lining and skirt are Fabric.com voile (the difference is big, folks).  I had to piece together the front and the back skirts, an act that I decided to embrace with topstitching emphasis.  The back yoke has a surprise (also due to fabric shortage).  I had been hoarding these AMH scraps for two years, since my first KCW, actually, and I'm glad I found a use for them before the girls grew any more!

I changed up the pattern slightly by swapping out the button tab for a button loop (made out of a bias strip of fabric).

This is a very poofy shirt/tunic and I am very glad I used the voile.  Quilting cotton would work fine for the yoke but I think it would be a hot mess in the skirt.  I wouldn't want it any poofier, though I think it looks adorable on my 3-year-old.  I sewed her a size 3T with 5T length PLUS a couple inches.  It will be great with capri-length leggings for summer and hopefully she'll get another year or two out of it.

My only beef with the pattern is the way the inside is finished.  When I see a pattern with a lined yoke, I generally expect a very clean inside finish (yes, I am very spoiled and possibly have unrealistic expectations).  In this pattern, the yoke is sewn to the skirt in one piece, leaving an exposed seam, which I think might irritate my older daughter's sensitive skin.  I don't think it would be that hard to adapt this pattern by using the sewing technique for the Ice Cream top (though, spoiler alert, I sewed a second Izzy for KCW Day 2 and after a little bit of fiddling I gave up and made it according to the pattern instructions).