Saturday, June 30, 2007

My Weekend so Far

Absolutely no progress has been made yet this weekend on the shift dress. I was out all day yesterday with the family. I did manage to pick up the new issue of Sew Beautiful, and I made a quick stop at Hancock Fabrics so I guess you could say I did some sewing related things yesterday. I planned to maybe get some dressmaking fabrics at Hancock's, but my two youngest sons were with me, so I ended up buying for them instead:

The frog fabric will be a pillowcase for DS#4, Bryan, the frog and toad lover. The sheep will be a pillowcase for DS#3, Brendan. He has always been interested in farm animals, especially sheep. When he was younger he had an impressive stuffed sheep collection. Now he raises real ones. He really liked this fabric (it is really cute) but he was worried that it's a little bit too juvenile to make him a shirt. So we are going to make a pillowcase instead. The soccerballs in space and the John Deere fabric will be boxers for Brendan. He said that I could post a picture of the fabrics, but that he would not be modelling the finished boxers for my blog.

And now a new feature here on Frogs in a Bucket. I thought I'd share with you some things from Savannah's Closet. We have a lot of dresses and outfits that I've made for Savannah over the last few years that have been outgrown and are hanging in the closet waiting for the day when, hopefully, a granddaughter will want to wear them. I thought it would be fun to post a picture of them from time to time.

This is a simple little angel sleeve bishop dress out of apple green polycotton microcheck. The smocking plate is Pig 'O My Heart, by Mollie Jane Taylor. I wanted to see if I could adapt a picture smocking plate designed for "straight" smocking into a bishop design. I think it turned out pretty well. The back of the dress looks just like the front with two little piggies facing each other amid pink hearts and yellow flowers. Savannah wore this dress a lot for two summers. The great thing about bishops is that because of the way they're constructed, as long as the neck fits and the length is okay, a child can wear it for a long time. The angel sleeve style is really cool and comfortable during hot weather, especially when made with a lightweight fabric like microcheck. And it's easy, too. Because the sleeve edge is finished before it's sewn into the dress, construction after smocking is over in a snap.
Okay, enough blogging. I'm off to sew!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Progress Report

The sheath dress is still under construction. I have the dress and lining attached at the neck and the contrast neck band is attached at the neck seam, but not stitched down on the right side of the dress yet. So far so good. I was looking forward to getting this dress finished this weekend, but I don't know if that's gonna happen now. DH and the kids have apparently "planned" my weekend for me. I'll have to squeeze some sewing time in but I don't know if I will make a whole lot of progress. Oh well. I should be able to squeeze in a trip to Barnes and Noble tomorrow while we're out and about. Maybe a new sewing magazine or a book will make me feel better about not getting to sew.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Welcome to the Jungle

Okay, here's the finished muslin of Simplicity 3744, the Threads shift dress.

I'm sharing this mainly because someone might get a good laugh out of it. Don't get me wrong, I'm pretty pleased with the dress. (I probably should have ironed it before taking the picture.) But if you were wondering if that's safari print fabric, you'd be right. This is a piece of fabric I've had in my stash for several years. I think I bought it for one of my sons back when they were in their animal loving stage, and then I never made it up. I figured, why not use it for a muslin and stop it from taking up space? It's a pretty bold print, so I decided to use it wrong side out. I figured that way I could concentrate on the fit and the design lines without the crazy print distracting me. It's freaking my kids out, though. They keep asking me why I made the dress inside out!

Well, enough about the crazy fabric, lets talk about the pattern. I'm pretty pleased with the dress. This is one of the Threads patterns with B, C, D cup options, which in my opinion, is a wonderful feature. I wish there were more patterns like this. Actually, I wish all patterns were like this. I cut a 16 through the bodice using the D cup pieces. I gradually tapered out to an 18 at the waist and then to a 20 at the hip. All this was based on my measurements compared to the pattern envelope. When I got the dress sewn, it was okay, but I though it was just a little too big. The silhouette just didn't look like the picture on the front of the envelope. So I went back to the sewing machine and took all the seams in so that it was a 16 through the waist and then tapered out to an 18 at the hip. The look was much better, although I still think it's a little more A-line than the pattern picture. I went ahead and added the neck band just to check to see if it affected the fit at all, and because it can't hurt to make a practice run before the real thing. I sewed the hem bands, too, to check the length. I was afraid it might be a smidge short but I think it's just right.

I've already cut out the real dress and started sewing. I still need to cut the lining. My fabric is kind of thin and princess seams can be kind of messy where the bust curves are sewn, so I figure a lining will neaten up the inside and make it more comfortable. Hopefully, I will finish up this weekend, and by next week I will have a new dress to wear to work.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Hello Kaffe!

So here it is. McCalls 5308 in Kaffe Fassett quilting cotton. I think it turned out pretty cute.

I found this fabric at a quilt shop in a nearby town. I spotted it on a shelf behind the cutting table from across the room, and I zoomed in on it. I really don't know what it was that grabbed me. This is not my usual preferred color palatte. The shop even had a similar print in a red/pink/purple colorway, which is right up my alley, but this is the combo that spoke to me. I bought two yard of the paisley and two of the dot fabric. I started to envision this outfit as I got in the car to leave the store. I waited a couple of weeks before I cut the outfit out, and I wavered a little bit about whether to use these fabrics for my daughter. The prints are a little bit sophisticated for a child. But one night, the kitchen table was clean and I just decided to bite the bullet and start cutting. After that, I really had no choice... make the outfit or waste four yards of quilting cotton that I paid full price for. I made the outfit. Savannah likes it. I don't think it's her favorite, but she will wear it, it's cute on her, and I'm pleased with it. It's a comfortable summer outfit, and the colors will take it right into fall with a tee underneath for school. All in all, I'm going to say it's a success.

I started sewing the Sew Stylish dress night before last. All that's left to do is put the zipper in and hem it and it will be ready to wear. So far so good. I'll try to get pictures posted soon. I hope to get a chance to work on at least one more muslin this weekend. I want to add a couple more dresses to my wardrobe. I have the Threads sheath dress in the lineup, as well as another Simplicity dress that's been teasing me for several months:

I'm thinking about making the short sleeved version with the contrast collar and hem. I'll definately start with a muslin for this one, not just to fine tune fit, but to make sure this style will work for my body type.

The V-neck version of this dress has been speaking to me for a while. Although the more I look at it, the more I like the raglan version as well. The jacket doesn't really excite me. I'll have to think about it some more... a different jacket style might work better for me.

Okay, I'm off to sew!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Rookie Mistakes

Well, I sat down at my machine today and decided to go ahead and start sewing the Kaffe Fasset outfit for Savannah rather than my dress. What can I say? The machine was already threaded for it. I thought it would go quickly and smoothly seeing as I've already made the outfit once before (McCalls 5308- The Blues) and I'm using an easy to work with fabric. All did not go as well as planned. The highlight of the evening was after I sewed the bodice to the lining, with the ruffle and straps sandwiched in between, and had graded the seam allowances, and went to turn it right side out. I discovered I had sewn the straps to the center backs of the bodice rather than over by the armholes where they were supposed to go. For a moment I seriously thought about screaming. I started to put it down and walk away. You know... cool off and come back to it later when I was calm and refreshed. Somehow, I just can't do that. I have to fix it now. If I try to lay it aside for later it will either a.) bug the living daylights out of me until I go fix it, and that defeats the whole purpose of trying to go calm down, or b.) it will become a UFO, possibly forever. So the only thing I could do under the circumstances was fix it right then and there. I'm happy to report that it's all right now, and the top will be finished soon, possibly even tomorrow.
This little sewing glitch reminded me of another, even worse experience I had years ago. I must have been about 14 years old and I was making my own Easter Dress. It was made out of what was then, to me, a gorgeous polyester knit the color of lime sherbet with tiny white dots. (This was in the early 80s.) The dress had a full bodice gathered onto a wide round yoke, 3/4 length cuffed sleeves and a dropped waist. It had a seperate wide sash made out of the same fabric which wrapped around my waist and cinched the dress. It was almost finished. I was pressing the yoke, when I smelled something burning- not a good thing when you are using an iron. I snatched the iron up and sure enough, there was a big brown scorch mark right on the front of my Easter Dress. It may have even been melted a little, I'm not sure. The trauma has clouded my memory. My mom came running in to find out what all the cursing was about. That was the first, and only time I remember cursing so that my mom could hear it. At least until after I was married and had kids of my own. Mom was real sweet about it. She blamed it on the "old" iron and tried to make me feel better. After a while she left and I just sat on the floor looking at that horrible scorch mark and wondering how I could have done that and what could I do about it. Luckily, I had leftover fabric. I carefully picked out the stitching and removed just the front yoke piece. I cut another one and sewed it in and finished the dress. it took awhile to do this and later on when I showed my mom, she was amazed. She told me that if that had happened to her, she would have just thrown the dress away and forgotten about it. She was very proud of me for fixing it. I wore that dress with pride for Easter and to church many other times after that until I realized that lime green polyester knit is not exactly the most fashionable fabric and moved on.
So now whenever I have a sewing disaster, and trust me, I still do, I remember that dress and try to fix it.

Ta Daaaaa

Here's the Simplicity 3867 muslin. All in all, I'm pleased.

I used a quilting cotton for this project because it was handy, and because I wanted to test drive the pattern, not the fabric. It's a little stiff for this top, but it's okay. I'll still wear it. The dress I cut last night from this pattern is a much drapier fabric and will look much nicer, I think. When I did my FBA for this top, I added an inch of length through the center front. I decided I definately don't need it, so I went back and took it out for the dress. Of course, I had to do a quick muslin of a muslin... just the bodice pieces, to make sure I could blend my FBA into the shorter center front and it would look okay. So far so good. The dress will have a slightly deeper "V" and the weight of the skirt will pull the center front into place and make the shoulder pleats lie down nicely. I'm so excited to be sewing for myself again!

Progress... Finally

Okay! The Sew Stylish dress, Simplicity 3867, is all cut out. I was finally able to take over the kitchen table long enough to get the job done! I hope I get a chance to start sewing it tomorrow. Well, today I guess. It is after midnight. Guess I better go get some rest so I'll be all fresh and motivated when I sit down at the machine!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

I'm Still Alive!!!

I'm still alive, I've just been unable to post lately. I'm on dial-up and I've needed to keep my phone lines open for my oldest son who has been traveling. He'll be home tomorrow, thank goodness, and I will be back to posting more regularly. I haven't sewn much this past week. I'm still mulling over design possibilities for the smocked top, and I just haven't been able to get enough free time with the kitchen table to get the Sew Stylish dress cut out yet. With five kids you can imagine that table sees a lot of action during the day, not to mention a lot of mess. I still need to get pictures of the muslins to share.
I have been busy, though. I've been working on this:

This is Heirloom Birth Sampler by Thea Dueck, my favorite Needlework Designer. You can check out her site here: I've made the larger version of this design so many times I can't even count. I've done several as birth samplers, but most, like the one I'm working on now, I've modified to be wedding samplers. I'm doing the smaller design this time, the one pictured here, in the same colors shown on the sample. The bride's favorite color is pink. I've replaced the baby's name with the bride and groom's names and the birthdate with the wedding date. Instead of "Bless this Child", I've stitched "To Have and To Hold." It looks really lovely. All I have left to do is the silk ribbon work at the top and to add all of the seed beads.

I used to do lots of needlework. When I had to go to work full time several years ago, my stitching time was severely curtailed and I'm nowhere near as prolific as I used to be. In fact, when I have time I usually sew, and I really haven't done much needlework in some time. I had forgotten how much I enjoy it. This sampler is so simple and works up so quickly. I did almost all of it while sitting in my favorite chair "watching" Law and Order SVU. I particularly enjoyed the bottom hardanger section. I had forgotten how relaxing it is to stitch kloster blocks. Those are the little satin stitch blocks that outline the open work portions. Even cutting and removing the fabric threads and weaving the bars inside was relaxing and satisfying.

I've made a committment to myself to get back to needlework. I have a small but significant stash of patterns, linens, and threads that need to be put to good use, not to mention some original designs, some complete and others still waiting to be completed. I've even been published several years ago, and I'd like to do it again sometime. That means I will have to stitch sometime.

I've had this crazy idea floating around in my head for awhile about a sampler featuring frogs...

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Merry Christmas... Ribbit!!!

My son, Bryan, wanted to get in on the sewing blog action. He asked me to post this picture of him in his Santa Frog PJs.

I made these last winter, alas, not quite in time for Christmas, but he didn't mind. I found this adorable fabric at Hancock's. It has frogs wearing Santa hats all over it. When I saw it I had to buy it. What could be better for a little boy who loves frogs? I found the striped piping fabric later at Hobby Lobby. I had planned to use a plain red and white striped fabric for a "candy cane" effect, but all I could find was this stripe with two shades of green, two shades of red, and white. Actually, I think it turned out even better than I thought it would. I used a New Look pattern, I can't remember the number right now, and it was super quick and easy. The only change I made was adding the piping to the sleeves and the neck and front edges. We also made a flannel pair with, you guessed it, frogs all over, and a Star Wars pair featuring Darth Vader and Storm Troopers. Somewhere around here, I have some Spiderman fabric waiting for its turn.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Show and Tell

Wow. It was so nice to have a long weekend. I was able to get a few things accomplished. Most noticeably these:

These are the bishop dresses for my niece, Julia. Both dresses were made from Ellen McCarn's Ultimate Bishop Pattern. The white dress is an angel sleeve bishop edged with narrow lace. The floral bishop is smocked with "Baby Blue" from AS&E #47, and the white dress is smocked with "Camille" by Ellen McCarn.

When I cleaned out my closet this weekend, I found this:

I made this Mary Dee for Savannah over a year ago. It still fits her, though. I just had to let out the hem and it's ready to wear again! It's smocked with a Little Memories plate, I think it's called "Fly Byes." The six flies are flying in formation between the two frogs. The frog fabric came from Walmart. It also came in pink, and somewhere in my stash several yards of it are hiding.

And here is a picture of one of my favorite projects:

This is Children's Corner Abbey. I made it last fall, but it still fits and Savannah loves it, so she still wears it. Sometime I'd like to make it again, but with full length pants and long sleeves for cooler weather. I have some periwinkle blue corduroy and a floral print all picked out... but that's a project for another day.

I didn't spend my whole weekend working on little girl dresses. I finished Muslin #2 for the smocked top. It turned out great. I made the size 16 with a FBA and it looked just right. I'm thinking about making the final top out of the ecru lawn, and smocking it in cream with dusty green and rose. I have two smocking plates I'm trying to morph together, so it may be a little while before I get started on it. It has to be just right.

I also made a muslin for Simplicity 3867, the Sewstylish top. Once again, I made a 16 with a FBA and it worked great. I want to make the dress version, but I figured for the purposes of a muslin, the top would work just fine. It turned out so well, I'll probably wear the muslin! If I can get one of my kids to take a picture, I'll share later. I'm so psyched to be sewing for myself again!