Tuesday, January 28, 2014

I've been slacking!...but not really.

Slacking on my blog, maybe, but in the last two days I've taped together, cut out, and/or traced 4 different patterns (and I still have two to go). I've made seemingly endless yards of bias tape. I've cut out 3 dresses, and they're waiting to be sewn up.

And I have a pile of fabric hanging out on a chair in my living room, just waaaaiiiiting...I keep telling it to be patient, but it's yelling at me. There just aren't enough (working) hours in a day. My kids still want to eat and stuff.

I started a "to-make" list on my KCW profile, and that's as far as it goes! Lucky for me, all this sewing prep work counts for the hour-a-day I'm supposed to be working on kid's clothes (hence the name)...cutting, taping, seam-ripping...*shudder* I'm hoping it doesn't come to that. My seam ripper and I have a love/hate relationship.

Mostly hate. I would actually rather scrap a project entirely - no, wait, I wouldn't. Fabric's not cheap.

You'll have to take my word for it on the patterns (I won't post pictures of patterns, to protect the integrity of the designers' work), but here's my pretty bias tape, my dresses waiting, and the Pile'o'Fabric that just keeps GROWING as I find more things to do...

A thrifted pillowcase and the thinnest gingham ever...perfection. :)

Any guesses what pattern that dress is from?
 CCP Bubblegum, of course! My favorite!

 Do I have enough pink, do you think? Obviously sewing for little girls here!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

I'm tired.

In the past week I've spent a few late, late nights working on my sewalong project (week 4: Make Something! started last Wednesday, and it's all wrapping up on the 29th). I've also gone to bed "early" (1:30 at the latest) a couple of times, after nearly falling asleep at the computer, and tonight's going to be one of those nights. But it's okay, because I'm DONE!

It's the log cabin tote bag! This thing is huge - about 16x20 inches flat, I didn't measure for sure. This bag covered a few firsts for me: first bag, ever. First selfish sew - believe it or not, I never ever ever sew for myself. I don't know why. First item (that I'm happy with) without using a pattern - I made up my own measurements and cut rectangles.

I upcycled again, too! (This is kind of fun, don't know why I never did before!) I used an XL women's jumper dress I found at a thrift store for all the denim, it's nice and soft and light - perfect for quilting with. I will have to get a picture of the inside, it's a pale green flannel with little pastel purses all over it. ;) Kinda cute!

Those log cabin blocks just steal the whole show, don't they? I added another border of white to my too-small blocks (the 4" ones, the first ones I made that were too small for the sewalong rules) so they'd match up with the 4.5" blocks, and then I alternated them on both sides of the bag.

The inside also has a few pockets - I wish I'd done more, but maybe I'll just make myself a removable purse organizer instead. Best of both worlds. :) I made a medium pocket, a big one, and three tiny ones - slots, really, just big enough for a pen or scissor blades to slip in.

Here's the front. I don't love my quilting job here, but I was working around pockets on the inside panel...
I do love that big orange button though! :) It would have been on the inside too but I had to show it off. ;)

And the back! I just carry it backward because I like this side of the quilting much better! The denim is all repurposed, and I used side seams from old jeans wrapped with coordinating Peaches'n'Cream yarn for the handles!
Two more days til KCW starts, and next week I'll be occupied with the Getting Skinny! pincushion swap, so for a couple of days anyway I have no deadlines or set projects, none at all.

I still have a lot to do, but tonight I think I'm going to do something weird, and go to sleep...the night owl has had enough.

Another first - I'm linked up here, too! Go check out all the other cool projects on this week's linky party!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

So much progress!

Productivity is the word of the day! Some days I feel like sewing, some days I don't...most days I don't touch my machine until my girls are in bed. But today they played right alongside me, and I sewed!

I graded (yes, I did that!!!) this free pattern from Climbing the Willow down to roughly a six month size - it runs from 18 mo to 5, but I wanted it for a baby gift! The Izzy Top:

I love everything about this pattern. It's free - can't beat that! With the right attention to pressing, it looks very professional - this is one of the best looking garments I've ever made, in my opinion. The wide armholes make it easy to dress squirmy babies and toddlers; the curved yoke is very feminine; the gathered skirt portion is sweet and girly, plus it's easy to lengthen from a shirt to a tunic or even a dress! I did the elastic option on the hem, but that can be a straight hem as well. There's a little button tab on the back that makes the wide neckline even easier to put on or remove. One button - easy! Now if only I had KAM snaps...

Natalie wasn't agreeable to modeling with her dolly, and I can't find her pants - but I made her basic PJ pants out of a super soft cuddle fleece in the same light pink as the doll's. And here's her hoodie - my favorite Comfy Hoodie by the Sewing Geek again!

I realized too late that I'd cut the front piece upside down, and didn't have enough fabric to fix it. Well, actually I do. I have another big cut of the Winnie-the-Pooh fleece, but it's big enough to back a blanket with so I don't want to cut into it! :) Natalie doesn't care, anyway - she was happy that it was "Pooh", and it's so soft and cozy! I also fussy-cut Pooh out of a scrap piece and appliqued him on the pocket, though I'm afraid he looks a big funny with the upside down image right above him. Oh well. She looks adorable wearing it, but I can't prove that! ;)

Finally, my works-in-progress: 
I'm using a shirt from (another) sister to make a fun little summery dress for Natalie. Odd choice given that the average temp right now is going to be around 2 degrees F for the next week+, but I can dream...

I cut the sleeves and some of the width off of the top, above the gathered middle - left the gathering intact, and the hood. The hood actually fits Natalie quite well, and it's adorable. I wish I could have used the original hem, but I had to cut about 5 inches off the bottom, and now it will fall just above the knees. 
Very little sewing to do here, for a sweet new dress! Can't wait to get it done. :) Plus, another upcycle! Yay! 
 This cute little guy is getting paired up with that colorful dot print to make a little baby lovey - he came off of a baby mobile. The flannel on the left and the cotton Mr Frog is sitting on will make an adorable bib! The recipient of these is already a few months old, I'm a little late on my baby gifts!
And more baby gifts in progress. Along with that sweet Izzy, I'm planning an adorable pair of skinny jeans and some precious Pleated Mary Janes, using a free baby shoe pattern and tutorial from Shwin&Shwin. There's some white felt there, and some pink in the other pile for another pair to go with some leggings made from that pink jersey knit in the back. From those two crazy cute florals I'm doing an Olive Dress, a cute little peasant top/dress that I'm making about knee length, also from Sewing Geek Patterns. There are two baby girls waiting for these as well! 

Whew! I'd better get moving! :)

psst...I'm finishing my log cabin blocks tonight too. No more sneak peeks, but I'm halfway there!

Monday, January 20, 2014

KCW and Getting Skinny!

I posted about my sewing goals before, but along with those comes a personal goal - to get more involved in the sewing communities online. One of the ways I'm doing this is via Facebook, where I'm a member in several sewing and designer's groups. Another is by linking and connecting with other blogs and personal websites via my blog, such as using the "buttons" on my sidebar. Tonight I'm adding two - KCW (Kid's Clothes Week) and the first ever Getting Skinny! sewing swap.

You can read more about Kid's Clothes Week here on their blog, but basically it's a giant sewalong, and the basic premise is to spend one hour a day, for one week, sewing clothing for kids! I do a lot of that, anyway - but the specific week starting on January 27th will ensure that I get at least ONE project finished! I'm very good at starting things and not finishing them, although this blog has helped with that (if nothing else, I have to sew so I have something to post!) 

I've read about KCW but never participated, so this is a first for me. My user profile is here, and I'll be posting photos of my project(s) there! If you've been debating on joining in yourself, do it - we all can use that little bit of extra motivation that an organized event gives us, right?

The Getting Skinny! sewing swap is hosted by Amy from Amy Made That!. I discovered her blog just tonight! - following a recommendation from another person on a Facebook group I belong to. I read about the sewing swap, and it sounds like so much fun! How could I resist? I'll be making a skinny pincushion (free tutorial here) and sending it off to another participant somewhere in the U.S. - and someone else - could be in the States, could be international - will be sending me one! (I might be finding some other little presents to include as well - we'll see!) If you sew, go to the blog and email Amy to join in! Sign up is open until January 31st!

(and haha, I didn't mean actually getting skinny. Although that should probably be a goal too ;) )

Tomorrow I'll post a few things I've been working on (and hopefully finishing tonight!) Plus, the final stage of the SewCanShe log cabin sewalong is coming up on Wednesday - need to finish up my second set of blocks. :) Back to work!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Thrift store gold!

Sometimes money can buy happiness...like today. Approximately $30 got me
nearly 15 yards of various fabrics, knits and wovens...

quilt blocks and pieces, in gorgeous vintage-y prints and colors...

and a grocery bag of vintage lace trims, lace collars, ribbon trims, and buttons!

So, so (sew) happy! ;)

Friday, January 17, 2014

One down, 999,999 more to go...

Since I'm not testing anything at the moment, and the sewalong is moving at a slower pace, I'm not rushing to meet any deadlines right now. This should be a good thing, but being a procrastinator (not to mention my self-diagnosed ADD), I find that deadlines are one of the only things that can get me motivated enough to finish a project in a timely fashion. It's far too easy to get distracted...

Last night I finished (and actually pressed) my log cabin blocks for the sew along, and earlier this afternoon I trimmed them down - and found that they're a half inch short all around. This could have been avoided, I'm certain, had I been squaring and pressing as I went, but -

here's a semi-terrible confession. Semi- because it's really not that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things, but terrible indeed for someone who sews...I hate ironing. I hate pressing. And I avoid it any time I think I can *possibly* get away with it, even when I know that I really, really should. And yes, I won an enormous beast of a fancy iron - oh, I didn't mention that. Well, I won an enormous beast of a fancy iron - this one, actually, a Rowenta SteamForce DW9280. This. thing. is. HUGE. And kind of scary, with the amount of steam it puts out. I'm a little bit afraid of it, actually.

Anyway. I was extremely grateful to win it, because I needed one. Badly. (Thanks again, Rowenta and Create Kids Couture!) My super awesome Black&Decker (cheapest one Target had to offer) was throwing sparks. (probably protesting against my disdain for irons in general but actually I don't even know why it was whining, I liked that one) 

I still don't like ironing.

Also, I can't find my square ruler which is supposed to be helping me here, so that's an excuse. Right?

They did turn out kinda pretty though. As I was sewing each one together I was thinking that once they're finished they look SO much nicer than just being laid out - I kept falling in love with them. I kind of just want to keep them how they are right now and JUST LOOK AT THEM.

They are a bit wonky, and I'm claiming I meant to do that. Shh.

I had so much fun, today I also cut strips (more carefully) to do 12 more, same themes, slightly different fabrics. All you get is a sneak peek, you have to wait to see the finished product this time because I'm too lazy to lay them all out again.

I was a little more careful with my fabric selections this time, and I followed the traditional light/dark layout for most of them. They don't have such a crazy, scrappy look this time - not that that's a bad thing, either!

I also cut out the hoodie I've been promising Natalie for a few months (remember my test for Sewing Geek Patterns that I blogged about way back in 2013?) I love that pattern, and since Sam has one (and wears it allthetime) I thought Natalie'd better have one too, and some fleece pants to match, and then they're both getting a pair of flannel PJ pants too.

 I had the cute heart flannel in my stash and it was JUST enough to cut out two pairs of Taylor's Pajama Pants (free pattern by Create Kids Couture, just scroll down!) The print is perfect for Valentine's Day coming up, and that's all the special sewing I'll be doing for that one! ;)

The tiny ones are a doll pajama pattern (Mini Snug-as-a-Bug) by Ellie Inspired - to browse her patterns, just click the button on my sidebar! She recently bundled her dolly patterns with the matching girl patterns, and had a New Year's sale - all doll patterns were $1 before the redo, so I bought six really fast. :) Also, I cut out a Mini Jammin' Hoodie to go with Natalie's, so she can coordinate with Dolly!

The doll hoodie laid out so you can tell what the big pile of pieces on the right is supposed to be :)

Now I've got my work (literally) cut out for me sorry - to the machine I go!

btw in case I haven't mentioned this - I will tell you if ever someone asks me to advertise for them, but otherwise just assume they didn't, because they didn't. I wouldn't share links to something I didn't like or believe in, so I'm just sharing with everyone because I want you all to have as much fun as I do :)

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Meeting sewing goals: Upcycle #1, (mostly) successful!

Remember my sewing goals? One of them was to do more upcycling with materials I have on hand, rather than buying new fabric. Well, tonight I finally tried it out, and with knit fabric no less - a tee shirt of my sister's (she didn't like the fit). I thought that I could cut it down and make a little nightshirt for Natalie with it.

It's a little darker chocolate brown than shown here. The rhinestone detailing I left completely intact, and just cut the shape out of it that I wanted. Originally, I was going to put sleeves on the nightshirt, and use the original hem. Then I found a better use for the scrap fabric, and decided I needed to make some changes to the shirt...

So I scrapped the hem and sleeves completely. (Most) knit fabric is nice, tees in particular, in that it doesn't need to be hemmed, as it won't fray and shred like woven cloth will. I could have re-hemmed, but I'm lazy and since there was no need (and, I mean, it's a nightshirt), I left it alone. I curved the "hem" a little, and left the sides unsewn a couple of inches at the bottom. I left the sleeveless armholes unfinished as well, again because there was no need to finish them (and I might be lazy). The fabric curls a bit, so I think it has a nice "comfy" look to it.

And with the bigger scraps I got from using less fabric on the nightshirt? Natalie is currently obsessed with Curious George, so (don't judge, I didn't have a pattern - totally winging it tonight!) I made her a little stuffed monkey out of tee shirt and felt scraps and Polyfil!

I know it's a little funny looking - the body is too big for the rest of it, but I figure that just makes it extra huggable! And I know she'll love it, she's all about "muckys" right now. I almost - almost - can't wait for morning to show her. So lucky to have good sleepers - when would I get anything done otherwise??

Monday, January 13, 2014

Swizzle Sticks Sleeves Revealed!

This needs its own post! Over the past week I've been working on another test for my favorite Candy Castle Patterns. Rebecca, the owner and talented designer, just released the pattern today for the Swizzle Sticks Sleeves add-on. Remember my Princess dresses (another of her patterns)? The Swizzle Sticks Sleeves fit those, as well as the Peppermint Swirl, which is the dress I made in order to have something to put the sleeves on! Rebecca generously provided that pattern to me as well, so now Natalie and Sam both have a gorgeous mega-twirl dress to add to their closet!

We attempted a "photo shoot", but I'm not so skilled in that department and - well, neither are they. Sam is a bit of a ham, but Nat wanted nothing to do with the camera.

Natalie wants to know why she's being subjected to this.
Sam just thinks it's all good fun.

The split second before she spun around and ran...

Oh, Mom, can we just be DONE already? I'm so TIRED!

Hmm, yes, I know I'm adorable.

Love her little dimpled elbows!

The pattern has six sleeve options: short, like Sam's; short with elastic hem, gathered closer to the arm; long with elastic or shirring in the middle of the sleeve, to create a gather and then a sort of "bell" on the end, similar to what you see on many peasant dresses; long and plain; long with a ruffle on the end, like Natalie's; and long with a ruffle AND elastic/shirring.

And check out Natalie's skirt! (I guess I didn't have a great one of Sam's?) That Peppermint Swirl pattern is time consuming but oh so worth it in the end...the twirl factor is unmatched, and it's truly one of the prettiest skirts I've ever seen.

I am crossing my fingers that the girls will be able to wear these for Easter!

Inching along!

I love being busy and having multiple projects going, but I don't love it when I have so many fun projects that I just can't decide which one to work on! I feel like if it weren't for the sew-along I'd be doing nothing but spinning my wheels...

The sew-along will move onto step three on Wednesday, so sewing will begin then! I could move along on my own, but it keeps me grounded to follow the group - gives me something to come back to when I start getting bogged down in my own head.

Currently I'm working on two doll patterns/tutorials simultaneously. One of them I started several weeks ago, and over Christmas it got completely forgotten. When I came up with my second idea, I realized - I'd better finish the first one, too! So here we are...plus I had another idea pop into my head last night, and I've been resisting the urge to sketch. I'll never get past the sketches if I do that!

Sneak peek :) Just so you can see part of the crazy going on here.

On tonight's agenda is making a muslin from my pattern pieces I drafted earlier today, so I can stick pins in my poor model dolly and see if my fit of creative genius panned out or not! I've never done this before, so I'm hoping for the best!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

SewCanShe Sewalong: Mini Log Cabin Blocks, Week 2

I mentioned last post that I'm doing the New Year Sewalong at SewCanShe (there's the Week 2 link). This week we cut all our fabric into strips for the blocks, and next week sewing starts! (Though I may have to jump ahead on that a little, since I just finished my pattern tests! I need something else to do!)

I'm working with 4 and 5 inch squares, precuts that I bought off of ebay almost a year ago. They've been sitting in a drawer, waiting for me to figure out something to do with them, and when I saw that the finished size of these blocks will be 4.5 inches, I thought - perfect! The small size allows me to mix and match, and throw in a few of my 2.5 inch squares, too (I don't know why I bought those, I wasn't paying attention at all!)

I have a lot of crazy prints and bright shout-y colors. I didn't pay any attention to the more traditional layouts of log cabin blocks, which feature "light" colors on one side, and "dark" colors on the other. This produces a very cool effect when put all together in a quilt, but mine have a slightly different purpose and I have a plan in mind of how I will be putting them together that will help them make sense. I don't intend for them to make a pattern together - rather, they'll stand alone and tell their own stories! Here's a little peek, though...

Besides all that, I've been working on writing a tutorial for a pattern I'm in the process of drafting! (Never mind that I haven't written the tutorial for the other pattern that I already have drafted...just have to pretty it all up.) I'll get there!

Monday, January 6, 2014

crafting with toddler.

I'll admit it. I'm that mom.

The mom who doesn't like to do crafts with her kid. It's not that I don't like her, I hope you realize. ;) I just would rather "help" (read: doitallmyself) than have a mess. And with Natalie, there will be a mess. She's bright and busy, very busy, and she likes to doitallherself too.

Today I started out punching holes in some cardstock and tried to get her interested in threading embroidery floss through them with a yarn needle, but try as we might she couldn't quite grasp the concept. Future sewist is a bit young still, I think! She tried, though, I'll give her that. :) So we moved on to bigger and better things...

Buttons + glue = happy busy toddler

She needed a little help with the glue, but the buttons she picked out and stuck on allbyherself.
Good thing I have a jar full of cheap buttons. She was in her glory, exclaiming over every button she picked up - calling out colors, crying "Woooow!" "Pwetty!"
And after each button she glued down, she would compliment herself - "Goot JOB!" "I sho SHMART!" (I love her "esshes".)

Yes, Natalie. You ARE so smart. And funny. And busy, and wonderful. We had a happy birthday for Mom, didn't we? I will save all four of the button birthday cards you made me. Thank you!

I didn't even mind the sticky hands and buttons all over the floor. We just had fun. Maybe crafting-with-toddler isn't the worst thing, Miss Type A. I'm learning.

(Where was Sam, all this time? Napping, thankfully, so she didn't get a chance to eat any of the buttons dropped on the floor.)

Oh, and sorry for the terrible cell phone pics. One of the girls broke my camera, so until I can get another (or a loaner) this is how it has to be!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Picky, picky...

It only took me an hour, but I think I have the fabric for my blocks chosen.

Yeah. Blocks. I'm making 12 of them, because I'm crazy. Apparently. From what I've seen of log cabins, though, once you get one down they shouldn't take that long (I hope).

There's a theme here. Any guesses? :)

I'll tell you at the end of the post just so I don't ruin it yet, if you're thinking. Some of the fabric choices are obvious, some are just trying to make something work...but I think I'll get my point across.

If you sew and have any interest in making a block this month, click the Sew Can She button on my sidebar or click here to get the details and join the sewalong! Just posted my fabrics in the Facebook group (only a few days late), and cutting begins in a couple of days. The more, the merrier!

Now to get working on some other stuff - it's only 12:30 a.m., plenty of time left to work! ;)

Oh, and start from the bottom right and go up the rows, right to left - there are 12 blocks, one for each month! I haven't completely decided on what they're going to become, but I have some ideas. I just have to decide on one - but I have a couple of weeks to do that yet!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Start the new year off running...

and flailing madly, hoping to catch myself up before I fail magnificently! ;) See? I'm optimistic!

Nah, it's not that bad. My sewing machine will be working overtime, though - I really owe her one. Maybe she'd like a cute quilted cover. (I'll get around to it, if I ever stop picking up other projects.)

I'm making not one, but two beautiful garments for a test, and picking fabrics for those has been - let's say, interesting. See, along with not buying any more patterns, I'm also not buying fabric. Working out of my stash *should* be easy, but as any sewist knows, it's much easier said than done. There's always that print or bold, beautiful solid that you just can't let get away...

I'm not even allowing myself to LOOK.

The other problem with my stash is that it's made up of a lot of smaller pieces. I don't have a lot of yardage - most of my impulse buys are remnants from Walmart (not everyone's favorite place to buy fabric, but it works for me) or Joann's.  Typically these remnants are between 1/2 and 3/4 of a yard, although sometimes I'll get lucky and find a yard or even a little more than. It doesn't leave me a lot of wiggle room, especially if I'm trying to make clothing without a scrappy look.

I think that's why doll clothes are so much easier for me. I can get away with a LOT less.

Luckily these garments allow me a lot of freedom in picking fabrics - I can even use several different ones, but then the trick is coordinating them! And when you're like me and just grab remnants based not on "Oh, that would look good with (specific fabric)" but "Oh, that would look good STUFFED IN MY FABRIC BINS". Well. You come up with some *different* combinations. That's all I'm saying.

Maybe I should take up crazy quilting.

Speaking of quilting! SewCanShe is hosting a New Year Sewalong, and this month's project is one (or multiple) log cabin blocks! Click the link, or the button on my sidebar to find out more. I've never sewn an actual quilt block before, but I love the look and many possible variations of the log cabin, and already my mind is spinning coming up with different projects to use my block(s) for. I'm thinking small and useful, so I don't come up short - no use overextending myself in the first week of January! The blog suffers when I do that, and I can't have that. Mustn't disappoint anyone. ;)

I'm so excited for these new projects! Can't wait to go dig through the Bins of Crazy to find some log cabin-worthy prints!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

And the final project of 2013 was...

TA-DA! :) A wall hanging!

Okay, not that exciting. But it was a lot of fun to make!

Getting the girls' handprints was a little bit difficult, especially Sam's - she kept wanting to close her hand up, and I had to have Dave trace really fast while I held her hand down. :p Natalie was slightly easier, all I had to do was bribe her to hold still with a piece of candy. ;) Needless to say I'm holding onto those paper templates for a while (until their hands grow, anyway) just in case - I don't want to have to do that all over again if I should need them for some reason.

I backed the fabric hand cutouts with Heat'n'Bond, and applied them to my hand-embroidered fabric. The words up top don't look quite as wonky in person (the camera angle - NO I'M NOT JUST BLAMING THE CAMERA - the angle and the way the hanging lies made it a little curvy) but I did freehand them completely so they're not perfectly straight anyway. And they may not be 100% evenly sizes and spaced. Plus also that's supposed to be a heart between them, but I think it could have used a few more lines...? But I like it so there.

The back is red cotton, and I found a piece of felt for the batting - keeps it a little stiffer, so I think it'll hang nicely. Plus it's not too thick and puffy, I wanted it to look more like one piece of fabric than like a pillow.

I (briefly) considered hand quilting the cutouts down, and then I considered, also briefly, machine stitching them and the machine won, because a) I've never hand quilted anything, b) my hand stitching is abysmal, and c) I'm kind of lazy. I mean. Busy. *ahem* Right.

Oh, well. I'm still trying to figure out what I want to do as far as attaching something to hang it with, and then I'll have to find a place for it.

Goodbye, 2013! Now onto the first sewing project of 2014, as soon as I stop dithering around (that's a fun word, right?) and settle on something. So many projects, so much time, such a small attention span!