Twinsies. Uh Oh. What am I becoming?

10 May

I am still committed to becoming more proficient with knits. I read a pep talk from Rachael this week that reminded me that being good at something typically takes a lot of practice. When I think back to my sewing experience, I cringe a bit about some of the things I’ve made, but in the last couple of years, I’ve really upped my game….at least with wovens. I’m trying to remind myself of this and stay committed to working on knits, even if some of my creations don’t live up to my standards, because I do think it will be rewarding in many ways. And with that….

IMG_0009When Kristin released her free Scoop Top pattern, I thought I should give it a go. I don’t actually have a lot of great knits in my stash, but I did have a remnant of the coral fabric from the Sunki leggings I made a couple of weeks ago. I only had enough of that to cut out one side of the shirt, so I decided to pair it with a tissue knit in black and white stripes, thinking I’d recreate a trend akin to something from Madewell. (Note: in searching for an example of this perceived trend, I found nothing of the sort, so I either can’t remember where I’ve seen this, it was a trend a few seasons back, or it never was a trend. I’d believe any of these scenarios!)

As I was putting together the top, I was super excited about how it was looking. I love the fabrics together, the striped neckline turned out pretty well, and I had no problems with the pocket. The hem is a different story. I used my walking foot and a double needle (though mine is universal and not ball point). I first tried to use The Sewing Rabbit‘s trick that Kristin references, using tissue paper to stabalize the fabric, but that didn’t work for me. I waited a day so I could run out to the store to get stay tape, and that might have been a little helpful, but I still had problems with my bobbin thread – resulting in the image below (wrong side of fabric). (After consulting with my mom, who has the same machine, perhaps this would be solved by doing a thorough cleaning, oiling and lubricating of my machine. That’s next on my list).IMG_9985

The striped fabric was especially challenging, I think because it’s so thin. I finally made it around the bottom hem and both arms, and I’m pleased with the end result. I definitely have much to learn, but I do think this shirt is very wearable.

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As I was making my shirt, my daughter asked if it was for her, and was pretty disappointed to hear that it was for me. Six months ago, my kid never acted like she cared if I made her anything, and she certainly didn’t make it easy to take pictures of her in any handmade clothes, so I was easily swayed by her charm. I made the mistake of suggesting that I had enough fabric to make her one, and she didn’t let me forget it.

So, I used the sleeveless Skater Dress as a template for drafting a simple toddler sized tank. I had the confidence to do this after my experience with the Sweet Tartan dress. Yay! I didn’t actually have a big enough piece of my coral knit to do the front in that fabric alone, so I switched up the look and did the striped fabric on the top and the coral fabric on the bottom. This also would have prevented me from having to hem that lightweight fabric, but it turned out I miscalculated the wonderful toddler belly my kid still has, and it was just a little short for my liking. I added a ribbing in solid black to the bottom to give her another inch and a half of coverage.

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I can’t imagine we’ll ever wear these together except for this sweet selfie demanded by the kid.

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Who am I kidding?

She has me wrapped around her finger.

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Sweet Tartan in purple and pink

6 May

I instantly loved the style of Kristin from Skirt as Top when I saw her Sweet Tartan dress during the first week of PR&P more than a year ago. When she came up with a tutorial (remixed from CINO’s Junebug dress) I put it on my mental list of projects. When I pulled it up again last week, I decided that the size 2/3 she shared might not fit my 3 year old, so I drafted my own pattern as suggested in her post!

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I used the lovely Geranium pattern to draft the bodice pieces, and followed Kristin’s directions for the skirt. I have to say, this was easier than I expected, and I now see the possibilities of playing around with patterns myself. Fun!

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That’s not to say that this dress went together smoothly. I probably shouldn’t have chosen a week when my husband was out of town to work on this. I was exhausted after putting our daughter to sleep in the evenings, but not tired enough to collapse. In my foggy state, I made a few mistakes:

1. I made 2 identical front bodice pieces instead of a right and a left, so ended up making a third.

2. I cut out one of the back bodice pieces in the solid fabric instead of the plaid. This worked out fine, but I would have preferred for the entire back bodice to have been plaid.

3. I struggled through the gathering of both skirt layers. This is not uncommon for me. At some point as I stitch the gathering rows, my thread usually breaks. Maybe I set my tension too high? I don’t know, but with both layers, I finally got one of the two rows sewn, and eventually gave up and made do. This results in uneven gathering and a little bit of cursing, but it works okay. Some day, I want to master this.

4. I messed up twice when stitching on the underskirt. Initially, I sewed the skirt on with the seam of the underskirt coming down on the same side as the short piece of the flounce. I didn’t like seeing that seam, so I ripped it out and made sure to put it under the long side of the overskirt. I had that right the second time I sewed, but ended up sewing on the underskirt wrong side out. The solid fabric doesn’t have a noticeable front and back, but it did mean that the wrong side of my seam was on the outside of the dress! I had sewn a French seam, but still! I couldn’t bear the thought of ripping out this seam a 2nd time, so I just went with it.

5. For some reason, I decided to fold the hem up toward the outside of the skirt (instead of under), thinking it would better hide the French seam, but just ended up looking like the skirt was put on inside out (naturally), so I undid this seam and sewed it properly.

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Needless to say, I was pretty happy when this dress still ended up wearable. Sigh.

I used a woven plaid that I had thrifted long ago, paired with a raspberry quilting cotton that I bought to coordinate. The ribbon and buttons were purchased after the dress was sewn, and even though I intended them to be a better match with the solid fabric, I think they work well (or at least well enough). My little gal is not complaining.

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Pattern: Sweet Tartan from Skirt as Top tutorial

Size: 4t bodice from the Geranium Dress

Fabric: thrifted woven plaid, solid quilting cotton from Pacific Fabrics, buttons and ribbon from Stitches

New Skills: Drafting a pattern from an existing pattern

A Bear Hat for Little Bare

3 May

I was gifted Little Things to Sew from a couple of girlfriends last fall and immediately knew I would make this sweet hat for my gal. This was a pattern that I traced early in 2013, cut out in February and sewed in late March. Not the greatest timing, but it has been worn a couple of times, and hopefully will be in the rotation again in the fall.

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I used a thrifted purple denim in the hopes that her favorite color would encourage her to keep it on her head, and lined it in a white fleece that my husband found and rescued for me 10+ years ago.

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I  bought a lovely gingham ribbon for the tie. I don’t have a lot of ribbon stashed away, and besides, it was a perfect match and reminded me of Japan where we had just traveled as a family of three.

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I love this sweet hood!

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Pattern: Cosy Winter Hood from Little Things to Sew

Size: Medium

Fabric: Thrifted denim and rescued fleece

Skater Dress – KCW Finale

29 Apr

Wow. I’m exhausted, but I managed to complete two more garments during KCW. Really, I finished the final hem at 11:45pm last night! ImageSince I’d finished all 5 garments I’d prepared before the week started and the kid was spending some quality time with her Poppa, I cut out a Skater Dress yesterday morning. I was feeling bold with my semi-success with knits from the day before, and had this cute pattern in the queue since winning it in a Crafterhours giveaway. I also had this crazy plum/white double knit that I’d thrifted (what? no one used this up in the 1960s?) that had no other role. I cut out the 18m/2T size, which is unlike me since I tend to size up for maximum wearing time. The bodice went together quickly, but after an attempt to slip it over my very intelligent (ahem, large headed) 3 year old, I realized there wasn’t a chance this was going to fit her. I went ahead and stitched it up since I’d already cut out the skirt and sleeves; this also gave me time to contemplate what I was going to do for a 2nd version since my daughter had already voiced her love for the fabric.

During naptime, I cut out a 2nd version: I went with the 3T/4T size, but adjusted the neckline to the 5/6 size since the 3/4 didn’t seem like it would be big enough. I’m glad I trusted my instincts with that, because even the 2nd version is snug going over this gal’s head.Image

I’m not sure if it would be different using a jersey knit or something with a bit more stretch – I’ll have to experiment.

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Anyway, this dress is adorable, a breeze to sew, and a hit with the kid!

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I think the skirt is a bit long for great playground mobility, but that really is yet to be tested. I’m just excited about the versatility of this pattern – I think I can even use it as a base for t-shirts, and of course I haven’t tried sewing up the long sleeve and sleeveless versions. Thank goodness for more knits in my stash!Image

Pattern: Skater Dress by Kitshy Coo

Size: 3T/4T with 5/6 neckline

Newish Skills: I got to practice using a double needle for the hemline!

Sunki Leggings

29 Apr

I have a goal to learn to sew with knits.

I’ve been saying this for at least a year. Kid’s Clothes Week was a good excuse to dig right in.

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I used this leggings pattern from Figgy’s (I made the dress over a year ago) and I think I’ll use it again and again. There are only 2 pattern pieces total. I love a pattern that takes so little time to cut out! I bought this coral fabric at Pacific Fabrics just before the start of KCW. Yes, I had wanted to use my stash for this week of sewing, but in my defense, I’d been looking for a pair of coral leggings for the kid with no success. At $10 for the yard I bought, this was a pretty good deal, not to mention I still have enough fabric to make another pair.Image

While I said these went together quickly, it’s worth mentioned that I actually did end up sewing them twice. Yes, that’s right. I made them once, and then as I hoisted them up over my daughter’s rear on Thursday morning, I heard the dreadful sound of breaking threads. So, like I indicated, I don’t have a lot of experience with knits. I tried to follow the directions for sewing knits with a regular machine, but the directions are for people with modern sewing machines. I sew on a vintage Singer from the 60s, and it wasn’t until I googled what my stitch should look like that I realized I needed to do some trial and error to get a good, stretchy stitch.

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I had to rip out all of my seams (pretty easy, actually, with just a stretch of the fabric!) and redo. It was well worth the effort – these pants are well fitted, super comfy and the perfect shade of coral. And I know I’m biased, but I’d say they look pretty great under that sweet belly.Image

Pattern: Sunki Leggings

Size: 2/3

Fabric: Coral jersey knit from Pacific Fabrics

New Skills: Learned that a great stretchy stitch for knits on my machines is a zigzag with a width of 3.5 and a length of 15.

 

Scirocco – KCW Day 6

27 Apr

ImageConsidering this is the 2nd time I’ve made this dress, it was a bit of a struggle. Most of my mistakes were silly errors: I ended up ripping out several seams after sewing wrong seams together and catching one of the many ruffles in my thread. I also had a lot of trouble getting the shoulder seams correct, even though I was referencing the very good tutorial from Figgy’s blog. I’m going to chalk it up to being tired near the end of a very full week of Kids Clothes Week, but the truth is, I perservered and am quite proud of the final product!

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I used a fabric I had in my stash: Petals by Michael Miller which I picked up at Esther’s during a day trip to Bainbridge Island last year. I love it for this pattern. I used a lovely coordinating ribbon for the trim that runs down the middle of the bodice. I had no reason to make a Scirocco, other than the fact that I already had the pattern traced in size 2/3, and the one I made for my gal was getting a bit short. Note that I only used the top and middle ruffles for the dress I made last summer as I didn’t have enough fabric for the bottom one; however, it was a good length last August for my then 2.5 year old to wear with a pair of leggings. Now that dress fits like a tunic. See here for a picture when it was a dress.

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I worked hard to make sure my seams were nicely finished. Not bad for my vintage Singer (who needs a serger?). ImageThere are so many things that are right about this dress. The style is unique, edgy and adorable and the ruffles are very appealing for a little gal who likes to boogie. My one disappointment is with the fit of the bodice. Maybe it’s because my daughter is on the wee side, but it rides up a bit and then the straps hover over her shoulders. Image

Perhaps once she stretches out a bit more it’ll be better. Time will tell on that.

Regardless, she loves it and didn’t want to take it off before lunch so I could get a few more detailed photos. That is a win. Image

Pattern: Scirocco by Figgy’s

Size: 2/3

Fabric: Petals by Michael Miller from Ether’s Fabrics, Bainbridge Island

oliver & s bucket hat – KCW Day 3

26 Apr
I had extra material from The Michelle Jacket and thought I’d love to see it as a hat, too. Not wanting a perfect match with the jacket, I switched up the coordinating fabric and used a lively bee print (Locally Grown) by this gal. How perfect that my gal was watering her garden while modeling.
This was a fun hat to make. I found the top stitching around the brim meditative and used different colored thread in my bobbin (yellow as opposed to dark pink) to ensure a perfect match on both sides.

IMG_9767 IMG_9766IMG_9775 I was a bit flummoxed to find the directive to hand stitch the 2nd cap onto the rest (I’ve never been good at reading the directions all the way through before starting something), but with a 2 hour meeting for preschool on Wednesday, it turned out to be just fine. The hand stitching wasn’t as bad a I thought it would be and I was able to fit the cap in a way that I didn’t think possible when first slipping it over the rest of the hat (it actually seemed like it was going to be way too big). I wouldn’t have liked the results had I skipped that step; I tried, believe me.

Next time I make this, I plan to use the modifications made by Jessica, cutting a longer brim and avoiding the hand stitching. Yes, I do think there will be a next time as I don’t think it will fit my kid for much longer.

Pattern: reversible bucket hat from Little Things to Sew
Size: Medium. This fits daughter perfectly, so next time (and there will be one) I’ll make a large.
Compliments: my sweetie said it looked store bought, and then apologized that that’s even a compliment. I’ll take it!