Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Pattern Overview: Ficus and Fern Cardigans from Sew Like My Mom

Hi! I recently tested a couple of patterns from Sew Like My Mom, and I wanted to share them with you (plus a cute little surprise!)

Melissa is one of my favorite designers (style, but personality too - so nice to buy from someone who is so helpful and sweet!) and I knew her Fern Cardigan would be perfect for my girls. The first one I made in testing used this hacci sweater knit from Girl Charlee; soft, not overly stretchy, and the perfect amount of drape. It is a lighter fabric, so the peplum isn't weighing down the top. We found the long sleeves to be a little tight, and Melissa ended up widening them. I cut these down to elbow length, and they're perfect.

The second round I used a stretchier (and a bit heavier) interlock knit from - well, from the thrift store! I don't know the fiber content as a result, but I really wish I knew where it had originally come from, because I LOVE IT! The floral print is just beautiful (I'm a sucker for florals, I really am); the colors are so bright and pretty, and it's thick, stretchy, and soft. If anyone knows where it came from, please tell me so I can buy ALL OF IT. 

I made a size 6 again; my girls are two years apart, but wear basically the same size (Sam, here, is just a bit shorter and has slightly narrower shoulders than Nat, but their chest measurements and waists are the same).

As it so happens, the size 6 is generally the right size for printing at 50% to make doll clothes for 18" dolls! It doesn't always work perfectly - here, the sleeves were a bit long, and usually it is the length that is an issue and requires a little tweaking. The peplum and bodice came out perfectly this time, and I am in love with this sweet little dolly version. I used the ties for the doll, but cut the piece in half and sewed them directly into the side seams for a simpler style for little hands (no danger, either, and no risk of losing it somewhere else!)

Finally - Melissa released Ficus! I was able to test this Mama version as well, and I love having this in my wardrobe. I'm not a small person ;) and have always avoided peplums, since I've never thought they were particularly flattering to my body type. Upon testing the subtle curve on Ficus, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I actually really like the look, and the length keeps it from being a poofy mess around my waist and hips. The sleeves were narrowed this time (Exhibit A, the crazy chevron print, has the initial wider sleeves). I made elbow sleeves for myself; my favorite length.

That colorful print is - I believe - a poly rayon blend. Incredibly stretchy, fantastic drape, and though it's thin it was surprisingly easy to put through my serger. My sewing machine didn't like it quite as much. Where's it from, you ask? Oh...the bargain lots at Walmart! $1.50/yd - can't beat it for a muslin! And you know? I really like it. I've worn it several times now, and I just love the feel of it. It's so soft, and though the colors are crazier than what I usually wear, it looks great with a black tee underneath. (And don't mind those pictures!! My husband thinks our garage and sundry items make a great background!)

My second cardigan was my final, and I used a beautiful cotton blend jersey from Girl Charlee (you can find it here). Not nearly as much stretch and drape as the poly blend before it, but the new structure it provides to the pattern is lovely. Still colorful, but in a different way, and I can wear any number of my rainbow of tank tops from Target underneath! Perfect.

I'm thinking of making myself a third right now, if I can squeeze one out of the rest of that floral interlock...(psst. You can find Fern and Ficus bundled here.)

If you'd like to order a custom doll cardigan, please find me on Instagram @elliandnels, or on facebook (http://facebook.com/ellinels.institches); or contact me via email: ellinels.institches@gmail.com. Thank you!

Friday, February 3, 2017

First Stocking!

Hey guys!

As you may know (or maybe you didn't! - don't worry, there'll be others!) I recently had a giveaway, and I have one sweet little Valentine's Day dress left from that (with a matching headband!) I was secretly glad it didn't go anywhere, because - shh - it's my favorite! But...I'm offering it up now for sale, because I had a few minutes here and there this past week to get a couple more outfits together to accompany it!

These are one-of-a-kind (I won't make another outfit just like it, though I may use the patterns/fabric in other ways!) Making the same thing in the same fabrics over and over is kind of boring, and I love coming up with different pattern and fabric combos to create new looks for your favorite doll friend!


Girl's Night Out! A stunning black and gold combination. A scallop-trimmed crop top is perfectly paired with a high-waist skirt, and in case it gets chilly (it is February, after all!) there's a silky soft knit cardigan to accompany the look, with just a hint of gold thread running through it.

Beach Perfect! Hi-low skirts are so fashionable, and this one made in a soft textured chiffon from Girl Charlee is no exception. The underskirt is cotton, adding a ladylike opaque layer, but the chiffon falls lower and can brush against her legs in the ocean breeze. Perfect for spring break! Back skirt is maxi length, front skirt falls barely to the knees. Along with it is a Velcro-back tank top, with a gently swooping boatneck silhouette from the straps. Art Gallery cottons were used for the top, and they are soft and crisp! Spring is calling! **The skirt pictured at the bottom of this post is closer to the actual color - a soft peach, rather than pale pink. It coordinates perfectly with the flowers on this print.**

And of course, Be My Valentine - featuring a beautiful Moda print and a delicate pindot coordinate. Comes with matching bow attached to fold-over elastic for easy wear. 

Make sure you're following me on Facebook and Instagram for purchasing details!!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Hello Again!!

create3.5 blog took a break after Christmas, to rethink the direction the business was heading, and that meant putting the blog on hiatus. I'm so pleased to announce the new blog, page, and IG: 
elli & nels *in stitches*!

elli & nels comes from a mashup of bits of my name (el), my niece's name (li), and the four first letters of my children's names (n,e,l,s, not necessarily in that order.) *in stitches* refers to - well, what I do (stitching, heh), and, of course, the fact that my funny kids keep me laughing a lot! ;) 

I really feel that this is a fresh start, and to kick things off I've opened up a giveaway on my facebook page and Instagram! I'm giving away a few ready to ship dolly outfits - dresses from a pattern by Ruby Jean's Closet, headbands made by me. Also, a couple of custom slots are up for grabs if you'd prefer - design your own dress and headband set for dolly (from available fabrics) and I'll make it for you! Shipping is included in the US only.

So glad to be back!

Friday, November 11, 2016

One Thimble Issue 13: Sofilantjes' Orbis Skinny Harems and Cut Sew Love Appliques

SEW excited to be back! The amount of sewing I've got done the past couple of months has been pathetically low, but then that happens when you're busy having a baby! ;)

I still wanted to join the One Thimble tour, though, and we can all thank my little boy for being a sweet enough baby to sleep a few hours here and there to give his mom time to sew up a pair of the Orbis Skinny Harems from Sofilantjes, and a couple of the adorable applique designs from Cut Sew Love!

These pants really made me wish I had a coverstitch for the fun way the pocket wraps all the way around - such a great way to show off some fun detail stitching! I made do with a pop of contrast thread. Also, the faux fly is a wonderful place to show off bright snaps or unique buttons! I chose my snaps after I'd done the appliques, basing my choices off the colors in the fabrics I pulled.

I left the drawstring off the waistband and opted for a simple elastic-only band. These pants are amazingly quick, and not being a huge harem pants fan, I love how slim they are and how they work with different knit fabrics. This particular fabric was something I found at Walmart (surprisingly nice and thick, decent to work with!) of unknown fiber content, and it has a good bit of stretch so I was able to use the same fabric for the pocket bindings, waistband, and cuffs.

My next pair need to have that drawstring (grommets!!) and some fun buttons!

The pattern is clear (like all Sofilantjes' patterns) and well thought out, and the pocket construction/application is truely something unique - I've never seen one like it. The pants come in sizes 12m-14y, so a huge size range, and two lengths - Natalie has long length, as our cold weather is setting in, and there's a 3/4 (capri) length as well. You'll need a knit with at least 30% stretch - I think I might have to try a little pair in a cozy French terry for my older son next! I love unisex patterns, with both boys and girls to sew for.

One more feature of the Orbis pattern that I was happy to see - a pictorial tutorial! (haha!) At the end of the written out instructions is a simpler "quick sew" option with only illustrations for each step, so that once you've gone through the pattern once you can print off that simple part for quick reference and sew even more Orbis', even faster!

I've done quite a bit of applique in the past, and I love that the patterns for these adorable food shapes include cute little faces and details. I kept things simple, and while the watermelon slice was small enough as is, I printed the donut at 80% to make sure it was small enough to work as a knee patch. Then I chose fabrics with small prints on them to make the details for me.

I'm loving the other applique options (milkshake, and the watermelon was borrowed from a fruit kebab that includes a strawberry and kiwi slice). The pattern has great instructions, explaining the process of applying and stitching down the appliques, and placement markings for button eyes and hand stitched details (though some quick free motion stitching would work as well!) Natalie's favorite fruit is watermelon so we just went with the one for the pants.

I finished off her look with a fabric-painted tee (I made a bunch of plain tees a while back and snagged one for this outfit) - "donut bug me"! (Get it??) The shoes are from WalMart - guess what her favorite color is?

Get your copy of One Thimble Issue 13 today, and enjoy these two wonderful patterns as well as 8(!) more, and a ton of articles (as always) to make your sewing experience even more amazing! To see more, follow the tour - schedule below! So many beautiful patterns and talented sewists.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Sew Back To School!

I'm sewing back to school!

Miss Natalie is over the moon excited about her first day of Kindergarten. After a year and a half of preschool, she's been itching to be a "big kid" in the elementary school, get a "big" backpack, ride the bus home...

After searching locally and being disappointed with the selection of backpacks available, not to mention reluctant to buy her something with a particular character on it (they never last - neither the backpack nor the child's love for the characters!), I finally settled on the idea of making her one - never mind that I'm not a bag sewist, at all! But after seeing pictures of the Star Student backpack from Peekaboo Pattern Shop, and having experience with Amy's patterns, I decided I'd better give it a try. Natalie picked her fabric, basing it off her favorite color (pink!) and favorite animal (cow!)

Well, why not. The love for cows is sure to last longer than the love for Frozen!

When I went to grab the backpack pattern, I noticed the Star Student Lunch Box too. And - if you buy both - there's a discount? Oh, well then - if you insist! Spoiler alert: size wise, the backpack seems more intimidating, but it was easier than the lunch box! The backpack was a BREEZE. I was shocked at how easy it was - even for someone like me, who sews clothing primarily and normally doesn't touch fusible fleece or foam - I had the best time sewing! I finished in one day (stopping for momming, you know, with all the kids at home) and stayed up until 2 am because I just couldn't stand to walk away from it.

Don't let me scare you away from the lunchbox, though. That was fun, too! It incorporates Insul-Bright (the stuff found in oven mitts) for thermal qualities, and PUL or something waterproof for the lining (who wants to be washing a lunchbox with spilled applesauce every day?) Both of those CAN be tricky, but Amy's step-by-step made the process pretty painless. The end result is so amazing - and despite the materials not being the easiest, the whole thing comes together in less than 20 steps (and if you make the backpack first, a lot of it will be intuitive)! The trickiest part was my fault (on both bags) - I somehow ended up with two SEPARATING zippers! With metal teeth!

But - we did it. I conquered, and I have to say, those metal teeth look awesome!

I love that the straps are padded on the backpack, all of the webbing ends are neatly stitched inside with a "barn door" or "x box" pattern for stability, and everything is neatly lined, enclosed, and professionally finished. Plus, there's the option to add some heavy duty snaps, so the lunchbox can be attached to the backpack - no more forgetting your lunch or leaving the empty box on the bus! Results to be proud of!

Natalie is so happy, and told her teacher very proudly on Open House night that "Mom made it!" *aww, shucks, kid*

Here's today's Host Post at Lulu & Celeste - make sure you check there for the big sew along link up and grand prize (details here)!! The sew along link up runs until September 4th, so any back to school sewing you're doing, make sure you enter! Also, enter today's giveaway below with the Rafflecopter - you can win 1 PDF pattern from Modkid AND 1 PDF pattern from Audrey & Tiffany!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Today's bloggers have more Back to School sewing inspiration for you - check them out, show them some love!

Create 3.5 - Sew Sophie Lynn - Sweeter Than Cupcakes - The Wining Wife - Paisley Roots - The Eli Monster

Still looking for inspiration? Let some sale codes drive your creativity! Read this post at Sprouting Jube Jube for the details - a lot of wonderful sponsors have offered up prizes and discounts for this amazing tour!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

One Thimble: Issue 12 Review

One Thimble is on Issue 12! I can't believe I'm fortunate enough to review this amazing magazine again - they just get better and better.

Isn't this cover gorgeous? The theme this time around is Watercolors, which brings to mind softness, elegance, and stunning details - all of which are encompassed by the patterns in this issue. I sewed up two of them, the Flutterby Kite by Molly & Mama, and the Azure Party Dress from Ainslee Fox Boutique.

The Azure Party Dress can be made with all cotton or a mix of cotton and special occasion fabrics. I chose to do a single layer skirt, all cotton, for simplicity's sake - that, and the fact that I knew as soon as I finished one for one daughter, the other would be asking! (I was right - I've since made another for my younger girl. ;) ) But even with a simpler skirt, the dress is still a showstopper. The pieced bodice allows for insertion of piping (tutorial included in the pattern) or various trims to make any fabric pop! I love that the solid piping I used brings out the powerful colors in the pattern of my Riley Blake fabrics.

All those pieces seem intimidating, but the pattern is matter of fact and takes the construction step by simple step. Even inserting an invisible zipper is broken down to make it as foolproof as possible - and did I mention, this was my first one? I've had it on my to-do list for so long, and when I saw this pattern had one I had to snap it up. I hope to make them even more invisible in the future, but not bad for a first try!

I made the strap back option (there is also a full back) and loved watching it come together. It's always a little bit magical, like those unicorns, when all those little two dimensional pieces of fabric become something this gorgeous! Of course I had to throw together a quick "unicorn horn" for photos, and Natalie couldn't be happier. She's deemed this her first day of school outfit, though I'm not sure how they'll feel about the accessorizing! ;)

The kites by Molly & Mama are a simple, quick intro to quilted decor that anyone can do. There are two options here as well - strip piecing or a simpler four piece block kite. I chose strips simply because I recently got my hands on a bunch of Art Gallery fat quarters, and wanted to put as many of them together as I could! I used a simple solid cotton (from Wal-Mart!) as my backing, and dug through my little totes of trims for laces and tapes - I had just a little of the gold left, and it makes a lovely tail!

Natalie has also claimed the kite - not to hang in their room, as I'd intended, but to actually race around the yard with! I explained that it's quilted over fleece (for stability) and might be too heavy, but she is unperturbed by that. I love her imagination.

Issue 12 has, as always, a mix of patterns including boys, girls, womens, and decor/accessory. Included are the Cozumel Shirt (beautiful pintucks!) and Oswald, Pond, and Williams Bow Ties (yes, that's three views in one pattern); #111, a sweetly simple knit dress, the Azure Party Dress, the hi-low Brook Blossom Skirt for women and girls, the Melbourne Romper (unisex!), Calla Lily Crop Top, Flutterby Kite, and Darling Daisy bag! That's a total of 10 - plus, if you're familiar with One Thimble, there's a mix of articles, with tips, tricks, and valuable information  - not to mention just some great reading for any sewist/seamstress/sewer/whatever you call yourself!

From Call Ajaire, an in-depth tutorial on making fabric (yes, your own textile) using scraps! That's right, all those little bits your serger cuts off - the selvages or "useless" bits you trim from around pattern pieces...they can all be used to make a textured, interesting detail point on a garment, bag, or whatever it is you'd like to use it on. A must read (and do) for anyone who gets a little sick thinking of all those gorgeous bits that get throw out! A technique like this could really be fun on the Flutterby Kite, too - it'd be so easy to use the included template to design your own kite decor with scraps from previous projects.

There's an article that most of us may find useful (though maybe a little painful) on "spring cleaning" your fabric stash, plus a very handy project chart template to help keep you organized and mindful in your sewing. Also something to use if you're ever feeling uninspired - I know for myself, having a list to fall back on when I just can't think what to sew next helps, even if it's something vague like "pants for Natalie". Just a hint of something one of my kids needs or wants can get the creative juices flowing again and get me started paging through my patterns (or past One Thimble issues) to find just the right thing! Having a chart handy to print and fill out makes it easy to tack or tape on your sewing room wall so you don't have to go searching, and often the simple act of writing things down physically with a pen and paper can help our memories retain and get ideas running.

There are helpful business articles on trending fabrics, exploring the Brother Scan & Cut, tips for any level sewist on sewing with leather and other specialty fabrics, some gorgeous flatlay pics (am I the only one who can't get enough of those??), helpful hints on increasing prices, and making sure your business language speaks to your customers the way you need it to.

The tour continues for a couple more days - be sure to use the schedule below if you've missed a post for inspiration or eye candy, and don't forget to pick up your own copy of Issue 12 if you haven't already!









Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Refashion Month with House of Estrela

Every year, Magda from House of Estrela hosts a refashion month, and this year I took the opportunity to jump in.

One of my favorite things about sewing is being able to save money. Now I know that 90% of the time, I'm not saving money by sewing clothes! Fabric costs are higher, the time you put in, all the accessories and notions needed (or wanted) for the desired effect...but once in a while, you can save some money, and the best way to do that is by refashioning and making over thrifted items.

I, like many people, have fluctuated clothing sizes over the years. Whenever I have an item of clothing that is suddenly too large (or too small), it goes into a bin to be reused (provided it's still in good condition)! Old t-shirts of my husband's, jeans that I've torn too many holes in - nothing is wasted, if I can see a garment hiding in it.

Not even the khakis my husband wore for our wedding! As you can see, they were once nice dress pants. A few years down the road, and they no longer fit him - but the legs, when cut off, made the perfect amount of fabric for a little pair of cargo shorts for our baby son! (I'm sure I had fabric left over from those, as well!)

Pattern: Noisy Dirt Cargo Shorts by Koda Baby
Fabric: Refashioned wedding pants!

Thrift store and clearance sheets are another great way to get a lot of clothing out of a little bit of money. I love to get my hands on discounted sheet sets from Target. The cotton/poly blend is soft and comfortable, and though I don't like to sleep on poly blends, I'll wear them as shirts! My kids as well - can you tell these cute little play dresses were once twin-XL sheets?

Pattern: Dress No 15 by E+M Patterns
Fabric: Refashioned Target sheet set

This grey dolman is still one of my favorite shirts, two years later. It's not a maternity pattern, but it's one of the few items of clothing I have that fits me well through an entire pregnancy! 

Pattern: Delilah by Golden Rippy
Fabric: Refashioned thrift store sheet

A t-shirt that I found on a Wal-Mart clearance rack and decided I didn't like the color on myself became a t-shirt for my daughter. Turning shirts into shirts is the easiest refashioning I've done. The sleeves of an adult t-shirt are usually the perfect size to cut a kid's shirt sleeves out of, and you can retain the existing hem - less work for you!

Pattern: Deep Sea V Neck by Patterns for Pirates
Fabric: Oversized Wal-Mart clearance tee

A post I did a few months ago shows another way to use shirts, if you don't need more of the same. I used up some outgrown t-shirts to make little cotton play skirts for my girls! Since they're little and energetic, they can be hard on clothes, and I love that something I once wore and loved can be worn and loved by them too (and once we do have to throw it out, I don't feel as bad - it's done double duty!)

Pattern: no pattern used
Fabric: outgrown t-shirts

There are more elaborate refashions out there (keep an eye on Magda's blog, for more posts), but I wanted to show just a few of the easiest and quickest refashions you can do, without going further than your own closet!