Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Cherry Blossom- Sneak Preview

Here's a preview of Cherry Blossom. It's not quite done yet- I still need to sew the casing and insert the elastic in the pants, end off some loose threads, and finish handstitching the binding on the left armhole. But that won't take too long. This isn't a great picture. I have the pants pinned to the back of the skirt. I can't wait to get a photo of the Princess in this! It turned out pretty much how I envisioned it, and it feels so good to finally have it made, as opposed to just existing in my mind and in a sketchbook.

I have another little outfit with an Asian flair planned. It was also supposed to be a top and capris, but the Princess has informed me that she would prefer a dress, so we will have to see. But I can tell you, it will be pink and orange!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

I'm Still Here!

I'm still working on Cherry Blossom... in little bits and pieces here and there. It's almost done! Here's a shot of the skirt hems:

Not a great shot, but you can see the underskirt (the stripe) and the overskirt (the cherry blossom print), both of which are finished with 1/2 inch bias binding on the right side. I love the way these fabrics are working together. This should be finished by the weekend, and if the Princess will find her little red ballet flats to wear with it, we'll have pictures soon! After that it's on to my next project for me!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Starting a New Project

This weekend I started a new project. It doesn't really seem like a new project, though, considering that I've had this all planned and "in the line-up" for at least a year. I decided it's finally time to get this made. There's no time like the present, right?

The sketch on the right is my design. (The Princess helped me color it!) It's an Asian inspired top and capri pants. I got the inspiration from a cute little outfit I saw on Ebay some time ago. Then I found the pattern on the left, Simplicity 3900, and it all started coming together. I made this dress last year (the sleeveless non-tiered skirt view not shown) and it was adorable:

I'm using the cherry blossom print as the main fabric, the stripe as the contrast, and the red as trim. I have the bodice put together:

I'm really liking the way the fabrics look together. The pattern is pretty simple except for the front band section. It's not really difficult, just tricky. The pattern instructions have you sew the front bodice pieces together at center front from the bottom to the dot, right sides together. Then you sew your front bands together at center front from the bottom to the dot, lay the right side of the bands against the wrong side of the bodice, stitch from the dot to the top on both sides, then flip the bands to the outside. The problem is, this is impossible if you don't clip the seam allowances of the bodice pieces at the dot, and the instructions fail to mention this. Even if you do figure this out, you're left with raw edges showing inside your bodice. On the red dress from last year, I solved this problem by folding the seam allowances under and stitching them down to the bodice before I sewed the bands down on the outside. It looks okay- no raw edges- but it just looks kinda homemade. On this new version, I sewed my bodice pieces wrong sides together. By doing this, I eliminated the need to clip the seam allowances, and the band flipped to the outside hiding all the raw edges. I made a note on my pattern instructions to do this from now on. (Yeah, I like this pattern enough that I will probably make it again.)

Here is the bodice with the collar and sashes added. The pattern calls for a narrow (1.5 inch), ungathered tie rather than a true sash, but my design features a gathered sash that should flair out a little bit from center front toward the sides. I have my fingers crossed that this will actually work the way I'm imagining.

I also have my upper and lower skirt sections seamed and ready to be basted together and gathered. I'd love to be able to get this top done today. Then I will just need to make the capri pants to have a finished outfit. It would be great if the Princess could wear this to school this week. In order for that to happen, I need to go get to work. Stay tuned for another progress report this week.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

My Little Astronaut

This is my son, Bryan, in his new Astronaut shirt. I used Simplicity 5581 and a 100% cotton astronaut border print that I'm pretty sure I picked up at Hancock Fabrics last year. Bryan likes his shirt, but we both agree it's a little bit too small. It's kind of odd, because we measured him carefully and used the correct size according to the back of the pattern envelope. The pattern has boys' sizes S-L and mens' sizes S-XL. We used the boys' Large. The shoulder seams seem to be in the right place, but I think the sleeves are too short and the shirt length is definately too short. Bryan says that the shirt is too tight if he bends over or raises his arms. Translation: not enough ease. So this pattern is pretty much useless for us because it jumps from this size to mens' Small, which is way too big for Bryan. We'll be searching my stash for a new pattern for our next project. I've made lots of boys' shirts and I know there are more suitable patterns we can use. Aside from the size issues, this shirt is quick and easy. There are only four pattern pieces- five if you use the patch pocket. You could easily make this in an evening. If you have a little boy who is smaller than a size 8 RTW, go for it!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Oh Yeah, I'm Gonna Make it Again!

I wore my new skirt, Simplicity 3794, to work today.

It was quite a hit. Several people at work told me I looked very nice today and some random woman at Walmart commented on how snazzy my outfit was. I just don't get comments like this every day. So yeah, I'm gonna make another one of these!

I really do like this skirt. It's cute, it's comfortable, and it's quick and easy to put together. I highly recommend it. I made view C out of 100% quilting cotton. The pattern calls for lining, but I didn't do it. I figured the fabric is opaque and I'm going to be wearing a slip with it so I don't need it. But after a couple of hours of sitting at a desk, I did get some wrinkles across my lap, so I might line the next one just to see if it helps cut down on the wrinkles. I love that this skirt has a waist band. This particular waistband is cut on the bias and that coupled with the knit interfacing I used gave it a bit of "give" which I think added to the comfort level. You can't see the waistband in my picture, but trust me, I felt better having it even though it can't be seen.

I may search my stash later tonight for other suitable skirt fabrics. In the meantime, I have a project to work on for my son. He wants to get in on the sewing blog action, too. I figure I better take advantage before he decides he's too grown up to have mom sewing for him.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Yes, I Started a New Project

So I was all set to begin smocking the Golden Sands skirt yesterday, when I realized I have about two feet of black floss left- nowhere near enough to smock the whole skirt. I'll have to make a run to the fabric store this weekend since there's nowhere to buy floss in a 60 mile radius of where I live. So the skirt is on hold.

But, I was all ready to smock, and I've had this little insert pleated and ready to go for months, so I decided to just get started on Temily #5.

This is what I have so far of "Make a Ladybug Wish" by Frances Messina Jones. The original plate has three ladybugs and of course, due to size, I opted to do one. I got all this smocked last night while watching a movie on TV. This evening I added antennas, another row of smocking above the bottom pink row, and two rows at the top. I also started backsmocking. I fully intend to complete the smocking tonight and hopefully begin construction tomorrow evening. I can't wait to get this done so the Princess can wear it. Hopefully I can have it complete before the weekend so that work can resume on Golden Sands.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Sneak Peek

Here's a sneak peek at the finished Golden Sands top.

I'm still working on the skirt, so I will wait until the outfit is complete before doing a review. I'm just so happy to be done with this. It turned out rather cute and the Princess loves it, but it turned into an ordeal before all was said and done. Don't you just love it when a seemingly simple project turns into a nightmare? The pattern itself is okay, it was the fabric I used- cheap Walmart broadcloth- which caused all the problems. I tried every different type and size of needle I own trying to get this little top constructed, and none of them worked very well. This fabric is like iron! I should have known there would be problems when I bent a pleater needle trying to get this pleated, but I went right on ahead. It wasn't until all the smocking and embroidery was done and I tried to attach the front binding to the smocked area that the real problems began. I kept getting skipped stitches. And not just one or two or even three skipped stitches in a row- I'm talking an inch or two of skipped stitches! I was afraid I'd never get the binding attached. I was able to sew the fabric okay when there were just two or three flat layers to sew through, but the smocked area and anywhere where there were seam allowances was almost impossible. When I got to the straps I was almost in tears. The only reason I didn't toss this top in the trash and start over was the fact that I had spent all that time on the smocking and I felt like I had to make it work. I was able to get the straps attached- after about three or four passes through the sewing machine- but what should have been a simple matter of folding the straps over on themselves and topstitching to hide the raw edges turned into an aggravating bout of handsewing. Ugh! I will never use this fabric again. In fact, I took two other pieces of it out of my stash and just tossed it in the garbage. I don't even want to fight with this stuff to make a muslin.

In spite of all the aggravation, I'm pretty pleased with this little top. The smocking plate is Roseanne, by Ellen McCarn, smocked in charcoal and silver grey with pink cable rosettes and green lazy daisy leaves. I'm waiting for the weather to get just a little bit warmer and then I will take some pictures of the Princess wearing her new top.

In other news, Simplicity 3794 is done and is a success. I'll try and take pictures tomorrow after church. I may make this one again. It's simple, quick, and I think it's going to be cute and comfortable. And now I'm off to get back to work on the Golden Sands skirt.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Sewing for Me!

I'm sewing for me again! I really should be working on the Pretty in Pink and Black Wardrobe for the Princess, but I so desperately want some new things for spring. I've been seeing some really cute, simple cotton skirts at the mall lately, and since I have tons of cotton fabric and skirt patterns in my stash, I thought I'd just go ahead and make one.

I chose Simplicity 3794. This pattern is OOP, but it's still available on the Simplicity website. I like that it has three different lengths- short, medium, and long- and it can be made with or without the waistband. I'm making view C, the knee length version with the waistband pictured on the model- without the eyelet trim at the hem. Y'all know how I am about having skirts come up to my waist- I think it's a better look for me and it's more comfortable.

I'm using the new aqua and black cotton print that I blogged about a few posts ago. To me, this print is kind of a retro-futuristic dsign. I can totally see this in the background on the Jetsons- maybe on their couch! So far I have sewn the skirt panels together and interfaced and attached the waistband. I've tried it on for a preliminary fit and so far- so good. I need to install the zipper, attach the waistband facing, and hem it. I hope to finish up the project and have a real review sometime this weekend. Then it's back to the wardrobe!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Flower Power

Flower Power, the third top and bottom in my Wardrobe Plan are done!

I'm sorry the pictures aren't so great, but the Princess has had a stomach bug this weekend and she didn't feel like getting dressed up and posing.

Flower Power is from the book Designer Smocking for Tots to Teens, from the folks who publish AS&E. I love this book! I fell in love with this little outfit as soon as I saw it, and I'm pretty pleased with my version. The Princess also likes it. I used white batiste for the top and smocked it with black floss. I followed the smocking graph and the embroidery guide exactly, except for the bolder colors. Instead of sewing and embroidering the straps, I used black grosgrain ribbon with white dots. It was faster, and I think the black and white adds to the vibe I was going for with this little outfit.

The capri pants are finished with two rows of ruffles and are made out of the flamingo print fabric which I blogged about in a previous post.

This little outfit is cute and easy. I may make it again, but I will have to size it up. I made the largest size offered, a four, and the pants just barely fit the Princess. But I can totally see this top in blue batiste, smocked in white with yellow roses, and trimmed in dainty lace.

Now I'm off to get to work on the Golden Sands Skirt. The top is almost completely done and pictures will follow soon.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Poodle Bishop- Done!

There's nothing quite as satisfying as putting the finishing touches on a project that's taken awhile. I was starting to think I'd never get this little dress done! I was so happy to finish it and so eager to box it up and send it to it's destined owner, that I took these pictures on a wet dreary morning. Oh well, at least it wasn't cold, too.

That's 297 French knots, y'all. Take a good look because I'll probably never do another project with that many knots. It really wasn't that bad once I got into a rhythm, but still- I'm not planning on smocking this plate again.

I'm off to give this dress a final pressing, fold it up just so, and put it in a box filled with pink tissue paper. Then it's off to the post office tomorrow! And then back to work on the Wardrobe.