Thursday, May 31, 2007

Free Time... How Sweet

Today is the second day of four days off. I desperately needed this. I needed to get caught up on some housework and some sewing projects. I needed to spend some quality time with my husband and kids. But mostly I just needed some time to relax a little. Sometimes I feel like I'm just going and going and going all the time and I miss out on important things because I'm trying so hard to keep up with work and obligations. Thank goodness for Vacation Days!
Yesterday I spent most of the day cleaning out my closet. It was a major undertaking. I found several boxes of old sewing projects stashed away on the top shelf. There were several things that had been cut out long ago, but never finished. There were a couple of baby projects, and a sundress I made and almost finished for myself. I tossed it all out since the kids have long since outgrown anything that was in there, and so have I. I did keep the patterns. I found several old New Look dress patterns that are out of print, but just as cute now as they were in the mid nineties when I bought them. I also went through a box of stash fabric. There were mostly animal prints that the boys picked out years ago, but I did find a couple of cute florals and a nice piece of apple green fabic that I have no idea what the fiber content was. It was kind of like opening a time capsule straight back to 1997. Where has all the time gone? Sometimes I feel like if I blink, I'll open my eyes and it will be 2017. The older I get, the faster it goes.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

First Muslin

After posting yesterday about Simplicity 3788 possibly being suitable for a smocked project, I was inspired to go ahead and make a muslin to get started on the project. Let me just start by saying that this top is easy! There are only six pieces including the straps and ties. It went together quickly and the instructions were very clear.
Having said all that, the first muslin did not work. I am however, still excited about the project and very optimistic. I cut a size 20 straight from the envelope. I usually start with an 18 and do a FBA, but I figured this top has no shoulders, and my full bust measurement matched the bust measurement of the 20, so I decided to just sew it up and see. It was way too big. There was gaping under the arms and in back, and the straps were too far apart in back. The front was okay, but I think I could use a smidge more length to go over the bust.
So it seems I will have to use my high bust measurement and do a FBA anyway. I measured myself again last night just to be on the safe side, and my high bust measurement has gone down! I can start with a 16 instead of an 18. I've been seriously dieting for the past month, and it has begun to pay off! So I will cut a 16. The back of the top is all one piece. Instead of trimming at the side seams, I think I will move the fold line in a corresponding distance and see if that will bring the straps in to the right place. Interestingly, the center front pieces are the same for all sizes except the top section varies slightly in length among sizes. I haven't decided yet, but I may need to add a tiny bit of length overall to the top. I'm very long through the body and I want to make sure the top covers everything and looks stylish.
I'm thinking this top could work well for the smocked version I have in mind. The only issue I can forsee right now is finishing the top edge and covering the seams around the insert with the lining. For now I'm looking at it as a challenge, not a problem.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Another New Project

I've been wanting to make a smocked garment for myself for some time now. Something besides a nightgown or a peasant blouse. I've considered a couple of patterns, but I want something comfortable, flattering, and stylish. Something I could wear to work. I think I may have found a pattern I can work with:

The view on the model, or better yet, the one on the lower right with the lace overlay could very well work for this idea. The center front section could be modified to consist of a smocked insert. The size is right (I could easily pleat it) and the placement is as well.

Of course, the first step is to make a muslin to get the fit right, and to check the mechanics of the pattern to see if this idea will really work. Once that's done, then the hard part comes... choosing fabrics, threads, etc. I can see this done several ways.

1. White or cream solid cotton or polycotton smocked with a sweet geometric pattern with some delicate embroidery like bullion roses and lazy daisy buds and leaves.

2. Vividly colored solid cotton or polycotton with a striking geometric smocking design.

3. A softly colored cotton print with coordinating colored smocking and embroidery.

4. Soft voile or chiffon smocked with beads.

5. Silk dupioni or similar fabric smocked in silk and/or silk ribbon with beads.

I think this would be a really nice top. Depending on the fabric and smocking design used, it could be very casual and cute and suitable for work (with a jacket or sweater, of course) or it could be very elegant and romantic. As you can see, I've been thinking about this for a while. Now I just need to take some vacation time and get started.

Style Cats!

Okay, without further ado, here is Style Cats!

This is Simplicity 5580, View C, in a size seven. The front of the dress is cute, but it's the back that makes it fabulous:

I love the cascading ruffles and the adorable bow in back. To me it makes the dress! This is the second time I have sewn this dress. I made it last year out of a cute Hello Kitty print and pink cotton with white polka dots. It was absolutely adorable, but Miss Savannah outgrew it over the school year, so it was time for a new one. This fabric was perfect. It's Style Cats by Michael Miller. I got it and the coordinating aqua swirl print at my local quilt store. It's perfect for my cat-loving princess.

I made several changes to the pattern. I hate facings, so I eliminated the facing around the neck and lined the bodice instead. Because the print is so bold, I left off the pockets. I also omitted the piping around the neck and down the front and inserted a half inch ruffle instead. I'm pleased with the way it looks. I kind of wish I had also added some pink mini-piping, but at the time I was concerned about bulk, so I just did the ruffle. Looking at the finished dress, I think I could have done piping also, I just would have had to trim really well.

This pattern goes up to a size eight, so I am sure I will make it again. Although this size seven is plenty roomy so Savannah should be able to wear it for a while. I think I might try one of the sundress versions. This pattern offers lots of opportunities for design experimentation. I'd like to use the pockets next time. I think they could add a cute pop of interest on the front of the dress.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Princess Cats

That's what my daughter called this dress. I finished up sewing buttons on this one last night, but it is not the one she wore today for kindergarten graduation. I'll have to post that one tomorrow after it's been washed (it had an unfortunate run-in with breakfast this morning right before graduation) and I can get some good pics.

This is Children's Corner Emma, a fully lined, sleeveless dress with a slightly raised waistline that curves up in front, but is straight in back. The pattern also includes a collarless version that doesn't cut in at the shoulder like this view. I love Children's Corner patterns. They are always easy to sew and are finished inside as well as out. Did I mention my daughter loves cats? She picked out this fabric at Hancock's on one of our many excursions. At the time I didn't know what I would do with it and I only bought a yard and a half. Turns out that was just enough to make the dress, but not quite enough to match the pattern repeat across the front of the dress. Luckily, Savannah doesn't seem to notice. I used a red and white "irregular" dot print to line it and pipe the collar and waist seam. Irregular as in the dots aren't all evenly spaced- there's nothing wrong with the fabric. I wish now I had just used plain red for the piping, as you can see the piping on the right side of the dress looks a little "spotty" while the other side looks like a solid. Oh, well. Savannah doesn't seem to care. Overall, I'm pleased with this pattern and I will make it again for school in the fall. I think it would even look cute shortened to a top with a pair of shorts or capris. And I'm pretty sure it could even be modified to be a reversible dress, which would be really cool, too.

Stay tuned for pics of the graduation dress- Style Cats!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Best Laid Plans...

Well, my weekend is over, and I didn't get to any of the activities I wanted to get to. I did get to peruse my new knitting book briefly... while I was slouched in an armchair boneless with fatigue. There was a lot of housework to get caught up on this weekend, and sewing had to wait. Such is life.
I did realize all of a sudden that Tuesday is kindergarten graduation, and Savannah needs a new dress. Fortunately, I have one all ready to go- except for buttonholes and buttons. It shouldn't be too hard to get those buttonholes done this evening, and then I can sew the buttons on while watching CSI. I can only hope my plans don't get hijacked again by dishes or laundry.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Finally, A Day Off

Today is my day off. I started it out with a trip to Barnes and Noble where I treated myself to a new knitting book. I don't really knit. I've never been able to really get the hang of it and become really good at it. At least not yet. I can cast on and bind off, knit and purl, and I've even tried a couple of fancy stitches. I just haven't ever had the time to devote to practicing and getting really good at it. So I make a lot of scarves. I get to enjoy the look and the feel of great yarns and I get to experience the relaxation of sitting in front of the TV while I work the needles. But one of these days I'd like to knit a nice sweater. In the meantime, I still like to buy knitting books and magazines. I guess I'm hoping one of them will inspire me to buckle down and really learn how to do more than knit a big rectangle.
So what's up for the rest of my weekend, besides leafing through my new knitting book? I guess I will get the baby bishop finished up. Then I'd like to cut out another top and capri set for Savannah. I also think I might make a run to my Local Quilt Store tomorrow to see if they have anything I just can't live without. There are also a couple of items in the "almost finished" pile that just need some buttons to be complete. Maybe I'll even have some photos before the weekend is over....

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Works in Progress...

So what am I working on right now? Well... this bishop dress.
It's for my brand new baby niece, Julia. It's made out of a sweet little floral print cotton and smocked in rose, lavender, and green. And it has a ton of bullion roses on it. I don't really like to make bullions, but I have to admit, they sure look good when they're done. I just need to hand-stitch the inside of the neckband down and add four little buttons to the back and it will be done and ready to be mailed.
Then I will get to work on this one.

This is for my little princess. I still need to embroider some daisies on the green band above the ladybugs and the smocking will be done. This will be made up into a pattern called Larkin, by Maja's Heirloom Treasures. It looks like a bishop bodice, but with an empire waist seam and an A-line skirt. It's a nice alternative for older girls who are too grown up for a classic bishop dress. At five years old, Savannah will still wear a bishop, but I wanted to go ahead and give this pattern a try. I'll be sure and share pictures when the dress is done.

Monday, May 14, 2007

About the blues...

I thought I'd share a little bit more about the McCall's outfit. It's a great pattern for a little girl. I love the slight vee of the neckline and the adorable little ruffle along the top. The ruffle is what drew me to this pattern. The ruffle is repeated on the hems of the capri pants, which ties the outfit together. I pretty much made the whole thing according to the pattern instructions. I think the only change I made was to cut the top ruffle out of contrast fabric rather than the same fabric as the top. I love the sash, too. It uses contrast fabric on the inside, which you can see when the sash is tied. It gives a really nice effect. The bodice is fully lined, which is really nice, and somewhat unusual for a big four childrens' pattern. The top is cute and cool for warm weather. I also bought a solid turquoise tee to go underneath to keep the Princess warm in the late spring weather and to make it a little bit more modest for school. I do plan to make this again, probably out of a really cool Kaffe Fassett fabric combo.

Here's another recently completed outfit. This one is Simplicity 3900, view D. It's funny, but I never really noticed this pattern until I saw it made up in a Hancock's sale flier. It was really cute and had an Asian flair to it, so I bought it. This is my first version of it. I used two cute Asian inspired prints from Hancock's. They coordinate, but don't match exactly, but they work for me. I have a thing about borders, or lines of demarkation. I found that once the dress was almost complete, I needed some borders between the two fabrics. So I added the grosgrain ribbon along the outer edges of the front bands and along the hem band. That provided a nice separation between the fabrics and added some interest to the dress. I used Wash Away Wonder tape to put the ribbon where I wanted it, and then I carefully sewed it down along both edges. Worked like a charm. And the WAWT came right out in the first washing with no problem. I really like this dress. It was pretty easy to sew, with the only tricky part being the front bands. They weren't hard to add to the bodice, but it was awkward, and the instructions neglected to advise you to clip the seam allowances right at the vee. Once I clipped, the bands turned to the outside and laid right down. It left a raw seam right inside the bodice, though, with no suggestions for finishing. I turned the edges of the seam allowance under and stitched them down to the bodice. The stitching lines are hidden on the right side by the bands themselves, and the inside looks much neater.
I already have plans to make this pattern again. Stay tuned for when I turn it into a top with capri pants!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

I got the blues...

This is one of my recently completed projects, McCall's 5308, modeled by my daughter, Savannah. Most of the things I make are for her.

Frogs in a Bucket, Buckets of Frogs!

I finally did it. I started this blog I've been talking about for weeks. Bear with me while I get the hang of it.