Archive for June 2014

Staple Top and Why I Sew

Sunday, June 29, 2014

I remember the first knit t-shirt that I made on the kitchen table with my mother's help.  It was a basic salmon colored t-shirt but I was really proud of it.  Proud that I made it, proud of the flaws, proud that I had something different.
Fast forward to end of grad school (PhD finally done!) and accepting a university job.  My family and I moved so I could start a new job in a medium size southern town.  It is the smallest place I have ever lived and it was culture shock (My husband and I grew up in large cities in the north).  Gone were the big city days (well now, holidays are devoted to a city!).  Things that I used to enjoy were no longer as fun.  Shopping became such a chore because the shops/boutiques did not carry the styles I liked.  If a shop happened to carry something I did like, I rarely found it in my size or it was outrageously expensive.

Santa Claus was nice enough to gift me with a sewing machine.  My husband was also happy Santa gifted the sewing machine so my complaining about clothes would stop!   My mom would be proud that I didn't even need to look at the manual to thread the machine or get it started.  Within a couple of days, I made a tunic dress (quite hideous on many levels: fabric choice, style, and the fact that I was getting back into the groove with sewing!).  I was smitten.

I sew for me.  I sew for my family and friends.  I sew to let go of stress.  I sew to learn new things.  I sew for style.  I sew because I can do it better and cheaper than RTW.  I sew because I like it.  I like having clothes for my family and I that are unique, fun, and special.

And sewing I did.  A couple of weekends ago I stopped at an estate sale and picked up oodles of fabric!  In this bounty was a yard of striped polyester fabric.  I figured I could squeeze a top out of it since (a.) it was girly colors  and (b.) between tops and shorts I cannot come up with anything else to do with a 1 yard of fabric (any clothing suggestions are welcome).

Experiment:
April Rhodes Staple Dress, pattern hack
Size: XS

Material:
1 yard stripe polyester fabric
Gutterman gray thread

Procedure:

I loved the simplicity of the April Rhodes' Staple dress.  I wear it at least once a week for convenience and comfort.  Hence, the lightbulb went off when I saw this fabric -- a summery blouse to be worn with jeans or capris.  I have professed this before but I am really in need of blouses or tops.  My closets is full of dresses and skirts.  I have a few go-to blouses and several comfy knit tees.  That means a giant void begins to slowly close when I sew a blouse.

I folded the material twice so that I could squeeze a front and back out of it.  In fact, I only used the back piece of the pattern to cut, then on one of the pieces I deepened the neckline for the front.    I also didn't have enough material for the bias neck tape or the arms so I improvised.  The neckline is finished with little bias strips that I hacked together, not the most elegant approach.  The arm holes are finished with a rolled hem (Thanks to that handy little sewing machine foot!).
Ironically, I didn't even aim to match stripes. I mean, I had very little fabric and I thought it would just be a funky shirt if they didn't line up.  But the sewing stars aligned and I got lucky.  Shoulder and side seams matched!  Huzzah!
I orignially put in some elastic shirring in the back of the shirt to give it some structure.  I wore it out and it felt really uncomfortable.  That evening I ripped it out (Hello! Why did I think it would be easy!?). It was time consuming!  I kind of like the boxy structure of the blouse and the fabric has a lot of drape so it is a bit billowy.
This was incredibly easy.  I am loving it.  I am still lusting after Sewaholic's Belcarra blouse.   Since, I am a Sewaholic virgin. *gasp* I haven't found a reason to order it yet.  It is sort of the same style shirt with some neat details in the sleeve area.  Should I get it?


Happy Sewing!!
Annie

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I Hope I Don't Embarass My Son in These

Saturday, June 14, 2014

My son (and husband) love sports.  I, on the otherhand, was not gifted the athletic gene.  However, now that my son plays baseball (and soccer) I really enjoy watching sports (or rather him!).  It's a mom thang.  This season of baseball I find myself in the role of dugout mom -- making sure the boys are ready to bat and ensuring everything in the dugout is a-okay.  The job is fun.  It is a hot, sweaty job especially when you have a late afternoon game.  Enter Made with Moxie's Prefontaine Shorts.

Experiments:
Prefontaine shorts
Size 0

Materials:
Pair #1:
1 yard of Dinosaur cotton
Orange homemade bias tape
1.25 inch elastic

Pair #2:
1 yard of grey cotton
Blue and pink bias tape
1.25 inch elastic

Procedure:

As my title suggest, I could go crazy with this pattern using up 1 yard of this and 1 yard of that.   I could go crazy and probably make shorts that would embarrass my son (Have you seen some of the Alexander Henry fabrics?) 

I had a 2 yards of random fabric in my stash that I had no idea what to do with but when this pattern came along the light-bulb went off.   Now I am no-shorts-wearing-gal.  Dress, skirts, and pants: check. But shorts!?! -- I didn't even own a pair until I made these. Now I have two and am plotting how to use scraps for make more.



This pattern is great!  It is chalk full of fabulous directions with pictures for those who love the pictorial guidance.  Then only thing that I could not find was an overall seam allowance. At specific places, seam allowance is defined, however, I went with the standard 5/8 inch and it worked fine.   I made my own bias tape (as I found a fancy never-used bias tape maker at an estate sale for next to nothing).

The pattern allows you to add a welt pocket to the back or a back patch pocket.  I opted to not add bum-pockets as the pockets in front are generous enough.  I also wanted to highlight the dinosaurs.  I mean, how many ladies are brave enough to cover their behinds with a patchwork of dinosaurs!!  The old-school look of the shorts are great and they are the perfect length for me.  You can shorten them if you like and Jill from Made with Moxie includes directions on how to do so.

Go get this pattern for summer!!

Happy Stitching --
Annie

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A Summer Staple

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Squeal!  Perfect Pattern Parcel #3 arrived and a snatched it up quickly.  As I have previously said, the Bombshell has been on my radar.  I am happy to report that it is cut and ready to be sewn.  Errr, as soon as I run to the fabric shop for lining.  My local fabric shop is crap when it comes to carrying knits which means putting off the Jorna until I find fab fabric (say that three times! Whew!).  In the meantime, I turned to April Rhodes Staple Dress.

Experiment:
April Rhodes Staple Dress
Size: XS

Materials:
2 yard of floral cotton fabric
Elastic Thread
Coats and Clark Tan All-Purpose Thread

Procedure:
Ok, ok, I'll admit it:  I was skeptical about this dress.  The shape, the elastic shirring.  My main worry was that tiny ole' me would look like she was wearing a hospital gown or, worse, a paper bag.  It did have a wonderful appeal -- designed by an Ohio lady (Woo-who to my home state!), breezy design, high-low hemline, pockets.  Hmmmm, what did I leave out!?  Oh -- roomy for summer.
The directions are superb and I have a couple of new techniques under my belt because of this dress.  First time for proper French seams (done here on the shoulders) and shirring (all along the waist).  In the directions, April suggests trying on the dress to figure out where to located the shirring and she even warns you not to be alarm because of the hospital gown look!  The shirring was easy-peasy although once I tried it on, I knew it needed something else.
I made a simple bow belt in a contrasting teal fabric to cover the shirring and add something interesting to the dress.  I love this fabric with the very simple tiny sweet flowers but the Staple dress, in my opinion, probably needs a louder larger print.  The belt helped to compliment the fabric.  I also learned to use hammer on snaps (Another technique - heck yeah!  Who knew a simple dress would yield this much learning?!).  I choose these pearly snaps that I had bought for a forlorn project.
My husband also suggested a necklace to make the neckline more interesting.  You see, we are Project Runway addicts and he always reminds me to choose the right styling before I take photos for the blog (or go to work or dinner for that matter!).  

I deviated from the directions by using a larger hem to bring the front of the dress just above my knobby knees.  I also didn't cuff the sleeves.  Instead, I folded it over 1/4 inch, pressed, and folded the press again, then stitched.  I think I got a bit lazy and didn't want to fiddle with the cuff bias tape.
I have zipped all over town in this and can wholeheartedly recommend it for ease, comfort, and cuteness.  It is no wonder why she named it the Staple dress.  Thank you Perfect Pattern Parcel for introducing me to this designer. 

Happy Stitches!
Annie


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Giveaway Winner and Me-Made-May Reflection

Tuesday, June 3, 2014




My pledge was to wear three outfits a week in May.   I got shy about daily pictures and certainly felt super self-conscience posting the pictures daily.   I ended up Instagraming a few.... I did well the first half of the month but by the middle, I was unmotivated to snap photos.  It was also becoming harder to convince my son to take a picture of me.  Even though I did wear 3 garments a week in May, I failed to document.  There is always next year :)

What I did learn was that I need more me-made basics.  Basics like cardigans,  shirts/blouses, under-garments, etc...  This seals the deal that I will have to tackle my nemesis: pants!   My last encounter with pants was a 3 muslin disaster with only yoga pants to show for it.  I have got to muster up the courage to attempt it again.  I also want to revisit patterns that I love -- remake the garment and make it better (with construction wise or creative wise).  Gulp -- this is tall order before next May.  I spent the weekend organizing - no sewing but organizing patterns, fabrics, notions, and so forth - in hopes of preparing to carry out:
My "Rest-of-the-Year-Pledge":

For every dress (which I adore wearing and making), I must also make a staple to either go with the dress or supplement the wardrobe.  


____________________________________________________________________
And the winner of the fabric.com giftcard is ......

Debbie I.

Please watch your email.



Happy Sewing --
Annie

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