Tuesday, May 26, 2015

"Are you making my pink dress, mama?"

Cotton + Steel Geranium dress


As you know, little Maggie has become increasingly opinionated about the clothing she wears. Namely, she wants everything to be pink, pink, pink! Initially I resisted the pink-everything trend, and to be honest, I am still looking forward to a time in the future when I can sew blue, or red, or orange, or green, or yellow things for Maggie. But in the meantime, when I see a pink fabric that I like, I've been picking up a yard or two, because you know, Maggie might like a dress from it. This Cotton + Steel Cookie Book Mini Flowers was one such impulse purchase. I love it and it's pink, so, BOOM. Two yards please. Kthxbai.


Maggie has also recently become a lot more interested in my sewing, and frequently stops by to ask me "What are you making, mama? Are you making a dress for me?" And by "frequently," I mean, "once every five minutes for days." This can make a selfish sewing project seem like it's taking a lot longer than it actually is. When I find myself repeating "No, I'm still making a shirt for Mama" a hundred times in one day, I start to feel like I must be pretty darn slow at this sewing business. 

At one point, to buy myself some more time, I gave Maggie a little stack of pink fabrics in stash and asked her to pick her favorite for "a pink dress." She happily busied herself with the pile and the Cookie Book Mini Flowers emerged a clear winner for a "pink dress for me." Great! No problem, Maggie, I'll make you a pink dress ... soon!




Well, that predictably backfired because after Maggie had chosen her fabric, her question changed to "Are you making my pink dress, Mama?" And when I'd explain that no, I was still making things for myself, she would respond with disappointment and a "When will you make my pink dress?" Rinse, repeat. Every five minutes for days. You have to love toddlers and their persistence, right?



Well, you can guess how this ended. I got to work on Maggie's dress! Persistence pays off! I chose the Geranium Dress for a couple reasons: (1) Maggie loves the last one I made her and chooses it every chance she gets; (2) I already had the pattern cut out in her size and I knew it fit; and (3) I have been wanting to do another "fully piped" Geranium since the one I made for Maggie as a baby and this fabric just really seemed to cry for some piping.



Cotton + Steel Geranium 
dress

And look, she loves it! While being asked about Maggie's pink dress repeatedly can get to be a bit tiresome, I am thrilled (THRILLED, I tell you!) to sew for such a grateful and enthusiastic recipient! It's definitely very different than sewing for Joe has been in recent years (although he has softened a bit as of late, I notice). It's hard to understate how fun it is to sew something to order for an appreciative kid. 



Cotton + Steel Geranium dress


If I had let Maggie choose the piping and buttons, you know how that would have gone, right? PINK PINK PINK PIIIIIIIIIIINK!!!!! So I did not consult with her on these points, ahem, and picked a dramatically dark navy piping and red buttons, to bring out the primary colors of the flowers in this fabric and play down the pink-pastel-ness.



Cotton + Steel Geranium 
dress


At this point, I'm thinking this isn't the first Geranium you've seen on a sewing blog (I've sewn a half-dozen, I think!), but just for good record keeping purposes, this is view A (gathered skirt), sleeveless, with patch pockets and piping all around the neckline, back facings, waist seam, and armholes. The only modification I made to size 18-25 months was to lengthen the dress by about three inches, and then make a nice deep three inch hem. The end result of this was slightly longer than my last version. 

My love affair with piping continues, obviously. It provides such a nice, clean finish. It does take a little bit longer than a regular finish, but it also prevents linings and facings from peeking out and gives a bodice like the Geranium bodice a bit more body and firmness. Plus, it just looks very sweetly traditional. As with my last version, I slipstitched the bodice lining to the waist and hemmed the dress by hand. It's such a small dress, it really doesn't take very long, and it gives a much more traditional look than topstitching, which I think is in keeping with this style of dress. So far I haven't had any problems with hems ripping out on the dresses I've made for Maggie.


Cotton + Steel Geranium dress

This girl loves to spin around on the lawn in a new dress! Can you guess what else she loves?


Cotton + Steel Geranium dress

POCKETS. Maggie is now at the age where pockets are all the rage. She's been filling up these pockets with softies, Lego minifigs, cars, and other useful and necessary items.  


Cotton + Steel Geranium dress

I finished your pink dress, Maggie! Now can I get a little time to sew for myself?

Friday, May 22, 2015

A couple of awesome basics, or "I sew all the cropped things."

Linden Sweatshirt and Lisette Top


Today I'm here to share a couple of pieces that I've made this month but haven't blogged ... mostly because I've been wearing them all the time! Isn't that the best? Especially since it's Me-Made-May, and I need all the comfy and practical me-mades I can get right now.

First up, above, is my new Linden Sweatshirt. Since I made this a couple weeks ago, I've been wearing it as often as I can! I love it!

As you know, I made my first Linden from a thrifted Izod sweatshirt, and while it's not perfect, I wear it often. It's perfect for lounging on cool Oakland evenings. So I knew I wanted to make more of these. For this Linden, I used a really nice marbled red hemp/cotton french terry that I bought at Stonemountain. This stuff was not cheap (it's this but in a different color) but it just screams "quality." It washed and sewed beautifully, and had a nicer drape than 100% cotton sweatshirt fleece. I normally could care less about "hemp" in my fabric but this stuff is so nice. The marbled color gives the fabric a lot of depth and it feels wonderful on.

When I saw that Kelly at Cut Cut Sew made a shorter sleeved cropped version of the Linden with what looks like this exact fabric (but in blue), I knew I had to copy her exactly! So this is the Linden Sweatshirt in the cropped length and short sleeves, with a hem band and sleeve cuffs. I know I've expressed some skepticism about "cropped" shirts, but the length of this sweatshirt is just perfect. It dips down so slightly in the back ... very flattering.


This is such a simple, great pattern! I need more! I have already bought another piece of really luxurious french terry, this time a remnant at Harts Fabrics in Santa Cruz (I just so happened to be traveling to Monterey for a business trip, and ... the rest is history), and I'm ready to make another one.

So here's where I pretend to be Jen from Grainline:

Linden Sweatshirt and Lisette Top



What do you think? Not bad, right? Hehe. That was fun.

Linden Sweatshirt and Lisette Top


Okay, next up is another practical cropped item: the top from Lisette's Butterick 6182. I made the skirt recently, and I love it. I knew I wanted to make the top ASAP, in a drapey material. So I went hunting through my pile of rayon challis, and found a yard of Anna Maria Horner's rayon challis "Sinister Swarm" (I can't find any online sources to link to right now, but I think it's still obtainable if you're willing to search). I love this fabric, and figured it would be perfect for a simple slouchy top.

Right?

Yeah, well ... not so much. Major fabric choice error here! See, this pattern has seams down the center front and center back, with cute little darts emanating from the center front. I would not recommend choosing a large scale print for this pattern! When I first cut it out, I thought, "no problem, I don't need to match the patterns, random will be fine."


And this is what happened. Um. Not matched. Also not random. At all. DOH!!!

I was really frustrated and put it aside for a while. But the fabric was too good to spoil, so eventually I just sucked it up and ordered another yard of this fabric and actually matched it across the front and replaced that piece. Major waste of fabric here! Argh. Never again!

Then the project turned out to be double-cursed, when I mistakenly serged part of the front onto the CF seam allowance. At that point I just about cried. I carefully unpicked as much as I could, but there was an area with a very small tear. I wasn't about to replace that piece AGAIN, so I decided to iron a little fusible interfacing on the back and call it a day.

Here, I sloppily circled the area of fraying right near the CF seam. It's there, but it's pretty unnoticeable right now. I just hope it doesn't get worse!

Linden Sweatshirt and Lisette Top

Luckily with such a busy print, it's pretty unnoticeable and the top is still wearable. We'll see how it holds up over time ... have you ever had a project that just seemed cursed? This was one of those.

Linden Sweatshirt and Lisette Top


The thing is, even though this particular project was a bit cursed, I really love this top and I will absolutely be making more of these. I used a straight size 12 and made no modifications to the top besides adding about 2 inches to the length. Even with that extra length I would consider this a "cropped" top.  The surprise is how wearable I'm finding it. It looks really great with my high waisted skirts and jeans. When I make it again, I may add a couple more inches to the length, to allow for tucking in, but I actually really like the short length just to shake things up. I already have a really nice piece of solid (!!!) burgundy rayon twill set aside for another one of these tops. I think a solid will really show off the unusual lines of the top.

Once again, sometimes it's the simplest and easiest sewing projects that get the most wear. What I'm learning is that I can make myself a whole wardrobe of relatively simple pieces, and I'm actually as likely to love those pieces as the more complex items. 

Have you ever had a relatively simple project (or fabric) that carried some kind of evil curse?

Monday, May 18, 2015

A Myrtle Dress and Me-Made-May Part 1.

So far, May has been a month of selfish sewing and wearing! Since I'm participating in Me-Made-May, where I wear and photograph something me-made every day of the month, I've been even more motivated to make new things for myself to wear. So far I've made a sweatshirt, a top, and a dress, and I have several more items in the queue.

My first item to share is the Colette Myrtle, a knit dress with a cowl neckline.

Colette Myrtle

I bought this pattern when it was first released. I love knit dresses, and I love cowl necklines, so I was sold immediately. But the pattern didn't get rave reviews - it seems it runs very large and the cowl neckline doesn't sit right on a lot of people.  So when I finally got around to making this, I did some research before deciding on a size. Although I measure between sizes Medium and Large according to the pattern, my knit was very soft and slinky and stretchy, so I cut out a size Small.

Colette Myrtle

And I'm glad I did! I actually think I could go with an Extra Small in this pattern, at least for the bodice. Which is crazy! (I mean, if I'm an XS, then what are the actually really small people going to wear?) This dress has plenty of ease. I wish it had a little less fabric in the neckline, honestly, but it does have a very "Grecian Goddess" look, doesn't it?

Colette Myrtle

The fabric I used here is a tomato-red slub rayon jersey. It is a lovely color and feels very soft and light, but it was squirrelly to sew. Very tissue fine and prone to getting eaten up by the feed dogs or stretched out. It also shows every lump and bump on the body. Wearing a little half slips helps a lot with that, though.

Colette Myrtle

The dress has pockets, which I am on the fence about. Yes, it's fun to have a place to put your hands, but in this lightweight fabric, I feel that they flap around and distort the side seams a little bit. And in such a light fabric, they are not useful for actually holding anything. If I were to make this dress again, I would probably skip the pockets.

So that is all the good stuff. Now, onto the ugly: the back.

Colette Myrtle

Okay, yeah. It's bad. Several things going on here:

(1) The back bodice is unlined, and the pattern has you turn over and stitch down the neckline and armholes. Well, that might work for a much more stable fabric, but it was a no-go for this light tissue weight jersey. The hems flop all over the place and look super messy.

(2) I, like other reviewers of this pattern, felt that the back bodice piece was ENORMOUS. Way too big. Part of the issue may be that I am narrow of back relative to my bust size, but remember, I cut out a size Small, which should have been too small on me (going by the envelope). I feel like something was just wrong with that back piece. I ended up taking it in by well over two inches, creating a seamline down the center-back. This contributed to the general disaster that is the top back neckline of this dress. At this point, I am unclear if it is possible for me to fix this. I think I'll just wear my hair down or a cardigan over it.

 Colette Myrtle

Okay, take it from me. If you make a Myrtle, check the width of the back piece compared to your body and adjust accordingly. And I would strongly recommend lining the back piece like the front piece. (The way the pattern is constructed would make this very easy, actually.

More weirdness happened with the cute little shoulder tab. I honestly cannot figure out where the button is supposed to attach on the tab, and anyway, the tab turned out really long (is the button supposed to attach under the dress? total lack of clarity here). I finally just sewed the tab on. I don't get it. Doesn't matter that much, it's still cute, but ... whaaaaaa? What am I missing?

Colette Myrtle

Okay, so that was quite a bit of grousing, I know. When I first finished the dress, I felt pretty frustrated and wondered if I would ever wear it and doubted I would ever try to make it again. Having slept on it and tried it on again, I think I will wear it ... it is a beautiful color, very comfortable, and besides that disaster of a back neckline, looks pretty nice and well made. Perhaps with a few more night's sleep, I'll go back and make a little facing for the back neckline and see if I can improve its appearance.

And then the question of whether I will make it again ... I don't know. Maybe? I still really love the cowl neck, and in a more smooth and stable fabric, and knowing what I now know, I think I could make myself a much better fitting Myrtle. I love this style of dress so much and patterns for cowl neck tops and dresses are rare enough that I might just be up for giving it another shot. I do not think I would try this in a woven, though - even in a very drapey light fabric, I think it would just be way too much fabric on my frame!

So there's my honest review of the Myrtle: Love the concept of this dress, but this pattern seems much bigger than the measurements indicated on the envelope, and the execution was, frankly, not as straightforward as it could have been.

In other news, Me-Made-May!! I haven't had time to do weekly summaries, so here's a mid-month round-up of my Instagram posts so far. Although I committed to wearing me-mades only five days a week, I've actually managed it every day of May so far. I think I had almost forgotten how much of my wardrobe is now handmade. I don't anticipate any problem continuing it for the whole month!


From left to right starting at the top left: 1. Grainline Archer, 2. Bess Top and Mabel Skirt 3. Grainline Alder Dress, 4. Josephine Blouse, 5. Briar Top, 6. Upcycled tee and Linden Sweatshirt, 7. Plantain Tank, 8. Breton Top and Everyday Skirt, 9. Unblogged Linden Sweatshirt, 10. Unblogged Short sleeved Plantain Tee, 11. Long sleeved Plantain Tee, 12. Bess Top, 13. Kelly Skirt, 14. Bess Top and Everyday Skirt, 15. Kelly Skirt and Plantain Tank, 16. Unblogged Linden Sweatshirt.

Mostly for my own notes, here's what I've learned so far: (1) I have a lot of me-made tops, but you can never have too many! I wear my me-made tops very consistently, with Plantain and Bess being my faves. (2) I make a lot of skirts. I haven't worn all of my me-made skirts yet. I could probably chill out on the skirts. Except the Mabel and Everyday Skirt, that is. I need more comfy elastic-waisted skirts! (3) I don't wear dresses very often but it would be nice to have a few more, especially loose comfy dresses like the Alder dress. (4) Things I love to wear but have not sewn for myself and should: Cardigans and trousers. I am eyeing some of the cute elastic waist trousers out there thinking they might be a good starting point for the ever scary "trouser sewing."

Okay, that's it for today! Hopefully I'll be back later this week to blog my new Lisette top and Linden sweatshirt.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Joe is SIX! Plus, the best thing I ever made him.

Well, it happened: Joe turned six this past Monday. Remember when he was just a little baby? Yeah, me too. We had a little party for him on Sunday - just a small get together with family and Joe best friend from school. A fun time was had by all. Joe is announcing "I am six now." Yes, you are. Sniffle. Love ya so much, kiddo. 

Sir Joseph


My stepmom, known as Mimi to the kids, gave Joe the Imaginext Battle Castle for Christmas, and Joe has been castle-obsessed ever since. A couple weeks before his birthday, Joe announced that he would like a knight costume. Me being me, I decided that I would make him the costume for his birthday. Nothing like a self-imposed deadline, right? Let's just say I was kind of stressed about whether I was going to finish this in time.

Sir Joseph


I gave it to him on his birthday with a toy (foam) shield and sword.

Sir Joseph


Sir Joseph


Yeah, I think he loves it!!! This might be one of the best things I've ever made for Joe. I mean  ... Sir Joseph of Roscoe, that is. He looks intimidating, but he's really a softie at heart.

Sir Joseph


There's not a ton to say about construction here. I took my inspiration from this fleece knight costume made by an amazing Etsy seller, Tree House Kid. I feel a little bad copying an Etsy seller - her work is totally amazing, a lot more nicely done than mine, and totally worth every penny. I should have just bought the dang costume! But it was the eleventh hour and I just loved it so much! With the idea in my mind, I pretty much winged it.

Sir Joseph


I traced a heraldic lion from some internet clip art and cut it out in yellow felt, which I hand embroidered to a red oval using running stitch, just to give the costume a little something special. Then I layered the pieces onto the breastplate/tunic, and rigged some straps to velcro in the back.

Sir Joseph


To make the helmet, I traced the hood from one of Joe's hoodies, adding a "neck flap" to the bottom of the hood piece. I out an outer and inner hood in gray fleece. The red plume pieces are just red felt cut into rectangles and topstitched, then sewn into the top seam of the hood. The visor has black felt pieces sewn on it and I affixed it to the hood with fancy heraldic buttons. Initially I had imagined a visor that could move up and down, but that didn't quite work out, so I just tacked the middle of the visor to the top of the hood.

Sir Joseph


There was one rough moment. I made the helmet early on the morning of the day before Joe's party, while he was still asleep. I was worried it was too small, so I tried it on Maggie for size. It was way too small for Maggie. Ugh! So I re-cut and re-sewed the helmet after Joe woke up. Every time he walked by, I quickly shoved the helmet under a pile of fleece. Super stealth!

I finished the helmet and the breastplate and secreted them away in a closet, and congratulated myself on making something for Joe right under his nose! Yay me!

Then, the next morning, while I was drinking my coffee, Joe said nonchalantly, "Where is that knight hat you were working on?"

DRRRRAAAAAAT.

I was a little upset, but I just said, "I was making that for your birthday, so you can open it in a present later. I hope you like it!" He wasn't upset, I think it kind of blew his mind that I was actually working on his birthday presents before his birthday! Dang you, Joe, for being such an observant and smart kid!

So it wasn't a surprise. But it makes him feel like a badass, so all is well.

Sir Joseph

So, Joe is six now, and we have a big year ahead! Sir Joseph is ready for it!

Friday, May 1, 2015

KCW Spring 2015, Part 2: Purple with Pink Flowers!

Okay, I know KCW is now pretty much a distant memory (that was five days ago!), but I'm here with my second installment: a purple dress for little Maggie!

Franklin Dress


I've had my eye on Brooklyn Pattern's Franklin Dress for a while - I love the old fashioned look of the curved yoke and pintucks. But I'm on a pattern diet, right? Well, when the pattern was chosen for Flip That Pattern, it briefly went on sale, and er ... I bought it. So it goes. I love this dress!


This was my Maggie project for KCW, and I spent most of the middle of the week working on it for a few minutes at a time in the evenings. These days, Maggie often asks me, "What are you making, mama?" Here, I told her, "I'm making you a purple dress, but it will have pink buttons and flowers." To my delight, she seemed happy about wearing a not-entirely-pink dress. She then proceeded to ask "What are you making?" approximately ten times a day for several days, making this dress feel like a longer project than it really was: "I'm still working on your purple dress." "With pink flowers?" "Yes, with pink flowers." Rinse, repeat.

Franklin Dress


And she likes it!! I'm hopeful that Maggie is slowly emerging from her pink-only phase and may be expanding her color horizons a bit? I never thought I'd be thrilled to make Maggie a purple dress (purple isn't my favorite color) but this beautiful purple shot cotton really almost glows. Photographs don't do it justice. It's the perfect fabric for a breezy lightweight summer Franklin dress. The pink buttons definitely help, of course!

Franklin Dress

As does the trim I sewed along the bottom, which is lime green with pink flowers. I've had this ribbon in my stash for years, waiting for the right application, and when I saw Gail's Franklin Dress with ribbon along the hem, I decided to steal copy her idea for this dress. I love the way the lime green looks against the purple shot cotton. Such a rich color combination!

Franklin Dress

The Franklin Dress is a pretty straightforward sew. The curved yoke and puffed sleeves are really sweet and old fashioned. I like that the yoke buttons are functioning and no other closures are required, making it an easy dress to get in and out of (this goes over Maggie's head with just the top two buttons undone).

Franklin Dress


Maggie likes that it has pockets!

Franklin Dress

Franklin Dress


Franklin Dress

Oh Maggie, you could not be any cuter if you tried.

Maggie is full of language these days, plays imaginative games with Joe all day, and already makes poop jokes! She's potty training herself right before our eyes and it's probably only a matter of weeks or maybe a couple months before she's diaper free. (So unlike Joe, who was in diapers until he was almost four!) But she's still a baby in many ways as well, coming to get her "owies" kissed, snuggling in the evenings ("mow mows" make everything better), and answering to "baby." I am not usually one to sentimentally exclaim that my children grow too fast; in general, I feel pretty good about my children growing older, and I find each new age to have its delights and benefits. But this age - 2 years and 9 months - is very sweet. I don't want to stop time, but I do wish I could hold onto these memories forever. It's upsetting how quickly they fade! For her part, I hope she'll remember how very loved she is.

---------------------------------

All in all, I'm calling this a productive KCW week! I had a lot of fun participating. Since Sunday, I've been working on a top secret birthday project for Joe, which I hope to share next week (his birthday party is Sunday). That's right, my baby bull (Taurus) is turning six (SIX!!!). Eeek!

And that also means it's May! And look at me, I'm wearing some me-mades today ... which means ... yes, you guessed it, for the first time ever, I'm going to participate in Me Made May this year! It may be pretty low key, since my handmade items are still a small part of my wardrobe, but I think I have achieved the critical mass necessary to participate. With that:

I, Inder, am signing up for Me Made May 2015 with the goal of wearing something Me-Made 5 days a week. I am sure I will repeating a lot and I will not try to wear head-to-toe Me-Mades although who knows? I'll post my photos on Instagram and maybe do some round ups on the blog too. 

What about you? Are you participating in Me Made May this year?