Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Just What I Need- A New Project

Have you seen the new (January) issue of Burda Style? It's amazing! I couldn't help myself- I had to make a muslin of this little retro styled flutter sleeve top:
Here's the line drawing so you can see how lovely it is:
For my muslin I cut a 44 through the bodice and a 46 through the peplum. It was way too big, which is odd, since that is my "regular" Burda size. I think this top might run a little bit on the large side. Definitely make a muslin if you are thinking about making this.
This is a 2.5 dot pattern, but beware, it is fussy to make (and I only did a quick and dirty muslin.) You have:
a. The gathered dart thingies on the front of the bodice
b. The inset square sleeves (front and back)
c The gathered bodice sewn to a tiny and seriously curved yoke edge
Now on it's own, none of these things are all that hard, but all of them on one garment are pushing it!
Also, take a good look at the center front in relation to the front edge. They are a full inch apart, which means that you'll end up with two inches of overlap in the front when you finish the edges and match up the CFs. That seems like a lot, especially if you use the buttons and loops as instructed.

I have a new (smaller) pattern all traced and ready to go, and I am going to go for a wearable version using the fabric in the photo above. Wish me luck.
Anybody else making this top?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Break

My Christmas Break has finally begun. I don't have to go back to work until January 3rd! That's next year!

This past week I've really been feeling the itch to stitch. Check out how much I've done on Cider House Garden- in just the last three nights.
Sunday night I completed the trees on either side of the house and began backstitching the house itself. Monday night I finished the back stitching and began working in earnest on the orchard behind (above) the house. Last night I almost completed the orchard. I still need to backstitch and add beads, but I always wait until last to complete any beeading.

The trees on either side of the house are probably the most tedious part of the piece. There are lots of quarter stitches, floating stitches, color changes, and intricate backstitching. But I really didn't mind. I just turned on some Criminal Minds re-runs and enjoyed the process.

I think the finished trees are very striking and really add to the overall effect of the piece.
Tonight I plan to finish backstitching the orchard, and move on to the bottom where I still need to add the pumpkins to the greenery below the fence and backstitch the title. Then all I'll have left is the border. I'm starting to see a light at the end of this tunnel!
In other news, the Burda cover dress is all cut out and ready to be assembled.
I didn't get it done in time for the Christmas party, but I certainly plan to have it ready to wear when I go back to work after the holidays.

So what are you working on in these last couple of days before Christmas?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Picking Up a UFO

Last week I was very much looking forward to the weekend so I could work on the Burda Cover Dress. Unfortunately, I fell prey to a nasty stomach bug on Friday afternoon and I was pretty much wiped out for the whole weekend. I felt too bad to even think about sewing.

Luckily, by Sunday afternoon I was finally starting to feel almost normal again. It was too late to drag out a full blown sewing project, so I pulled out this little UFO instead. Remember Cider House Garden?
I already had quite a bit done, but yesterday I finished backstitching the apple baskets and the quilts. I also finished the fence at the bottom and started on the greenery below it. I added the trees on either side of the house, filled in the barrels in front of the house and added a round of green cross stitches to the roof.

Here's a close-up of the greenery below the fence. I just need to add the pumpkins and it will be done!

I also pulled this sweet little piece out. I think I've shared this before. It's a Christmas design by Just Nan. I need to finish this up as an ornament and hang it on the tree. As you can see from the date stitched on it, it's only been waiting for 9 years to be completed!

I do plan to get back to the cover dress soon, but the stitching bug has ahold of me and I'm going to just see where it takes me.

Happy sewing!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


... But still not much Christmas spirit around here to speak of.

As you can see, the sampler is complete and mounted on a 5 X 7 piece of foam core board. I need to pick up a frame for it, and it can go on display somewhere in my living room.
There's not much to tell. As mentioned before, I used a combination of Sampler Threads (the red, light green and gold) and DMC floss (the dark green in the wreaths and the brown above and below the wreath section.) There are three tiny polymer clay button embellishments- a holly leaf, a wreath, and a star. I stitched it according to the pattern instructions, adding only my initials and the date at the bottom. I used a scrap of 32ct ivory linen from my stash.
I enjoyed stitching this. It was nice to be able to sit down in the evening and work on a small project while "watching" TV. I'm tempted to go dig around in my needlework box and pull out a UFO to work on. Heaven knows I have several!
Stay tuned for an update on the Burda cover dress soon. I'd love to have it done in time to wear it to my company Christmas party next week. Nothing like putting a little pressure on myself...

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Still Trying...

... To find that Christmas Spirit.
As you can see, I've finished the wreaths and added a few more rows of stitches. This little piece is really fun and relaxing to stitch. I guess because it's small, I don't feel pressure like I sometimes do with a larger project.

We're going to put our Christmas tree up this afternoon, and then later this evening when the dust settles, I'll stitch another row or two. It will be done before I know it.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Trying to Find a Little Bit of Christmas Spirit

I feel like I've just barely recovered from Thanksgiving, so in an attempt to muster up a little excitement about Christmas, I pulled out this tiny sampler titled "Season's Greetings" by The Trilogy.
I have several other "big" projects I could have chosen, but I figured I'd stay small- this piece will measure approximatley 3" by 4" when finished- because if there's one thing I don't need around here, it's another UFO.

I'm stitching this in a combination of Sampler Threads and DMC floss that I had on hand. The finished sampler will feature several rows of specialty stitches and will be embellished with three tiny polymer clay buttons. It will be very cute when it's done. And hopefully I will be all ready for Christmas!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Getting Back Into the Swing of Things

The sewing swing, that is.

Now that things have sort of calmed down and we're in that "lull" between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I've been back in the sewing room. Hopefully, I'll have a few things to share this month.

The first project up is Burda Style 09-2010-122, better known as the September cover dress.

I have made a successful muslin and I'm about to begin making the real thing. I'll be using red point-de-roma from Hancock Fabrics, and my version will most likely not have the controversial sleeve flaps. I really do like them, but I'm afraid they will quickly become "so last year" and I'd like to get some mileage out of this dress. Besides, I'm planning to wear this with a black turtleneck underneath, and I think it will look better without the flaps. (And is it me, or do the ones in the photo look a little... droopy?)

Check back soon for a progress report. What could be better than a new red dress just in time for Christmas?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Quilt Top!

All of the cooking and cleaning and things that have been keeping me from sewing are now over (for now at least), so yesterday I ran to my sewing room and worked on this:

I have been itching to sew, but I didn't want to bother with laying out a pattern or cutting it out, or making adjustments, so I decided I'd work on Dolce Bento blocks.

Imagine my delight when I laid them all out and discovered I had enough to make a quilt top!

I'm not 100% pleased with this top. I'm not sure that using two prints in each block was a good idea. I'm wondering now if I should have just used one per block. But it's too late now. It's going to stay like this.

I still plan to add a 2" white border around the outside, and maybe a pieced border made up of 2" print squares around that. The backing will most likely be plain white, or perhaps a coordinating solid. I would love to use one of the prints in the top, but I've been unable to track down any more of this line for sale online. At least not the prints I really like.

The princess is very impressed with this top, however, and has claimed it for herself. Now I just need to start practicing machine quilting again so I can get it (and the other three tops folded up in a box in my sewing room) finished.

Happy Sewing!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The No Sew Zone

There has been no sewing going on around here in almost two weeks. I think I am starting to go into withdrawal. I itch to go sit down at my machine and sew something. Anything. Even just a straight seam.

Work has been really hectic lately, although the worst is over now and things should start slowing down for the holidays. Every spare moment here at home has been spent giving the house a thorough cleaning in anticipation of the holidays and my youngest brother coming to spend Thanksgiving with us. And I'm not done yet. And you can see from my NaNo widget that I'm hopelessly behind on my novel writing with no way to catch up by the end of the month. (It's okay, NaNo is all for fun and it has been effective in getting me to write more consistently.)

So the only sewing I have to show right now is the turquoise and brown version of M6065:

Once again, I used a corduroy print I found at Walmart, and I lined the bodice with some quilting cotton from my stash. The piping is made of the same fabric.

I really like this version better than the black/pink one, but the princess prefers the other one. She will wear this with a white t-shirt underneath (short sleeve, or long sleeve turtleneck depending on the weather) and brown ribbed tights. I have my eyes open for a turquoise/aqua turtleneck, but I haven't found one yet.

Two weeks ago, before the epic housecleaning battle began, I muslined a pair of "tall" Burda Style pants. There's a story to go with the experience, which I'll share soon. I am hoping to have some quality sewing time during the Thanksgiving weekend in which to make a wearable pair. I'll be off and the house cleaning will be over, so keep your fingers crossed for me.
Happy Sewing!

Monday, November 8, 2010

McCalls 6065- I Really Have Been Sewing

You may have noticed the posts have been few and far between lately. I've been taking a semi-blog break and trying to get things done around the house and spend time with the family. I have been sewing, just not as much as I'd like.

In addition to all the everyday stuff that is going on, I decided to participate in National Novel Writing Month this year. You can click on the NaNoWriMo badge in my sidebar if you want to go to the site and see what NaNo is all about. And you can check out my wordcount widget right below the NaNo badge if you want to see just how far behind I am in my writing. Real life not only makes it hard to find time to sew, it makes it hard to find time to write, too. There's also a link (in the sidebar) to my other blog, where I talk about writing. Just don't expect too much blogging over there this month- I'm trying to work on the novel, not the writing blog!

But back to sewing.

Here is my latest finished project, McCalls 6065:

As you can see, the pattern is actually for a little summer dress or top and shorts. But I figured, why not make it out of corduroy and put a tee and tights under it? So I did. And it makes an excellent cool weather dress.

Here's the back.

This is a super simple pattern. There are no buttons or zipper- the dress is loose fitting and goes over the child's head. The bodice is fully lined. I used a hot pink dot quilting cotton. The corduroy was a lucky (and totally unexpected) find at my local Walmart. It's lightweight and very soft.

It's kind of hard to tell in the photos, but the empire seam is quite curved in front (the pattern drawings are accurate) and that's my favorite feature of the dress. The pattern does not call for piping the seam, but I just couldn't leave well enough alone and added a strip of mini-piping for a little extra pop.

I cut a size 10 with size 14 length. It turned out just right. If I had used the skirt lining with attached ruffle, I would have cut it shorter, but I wanted a plain skirt.
This is actually the second dress I've made from this pattern. The first is a chocolate brown corduroy with turquoise and aqua medallions on it. I like that one even better, but the princess prefers this one- probably because it has pink in it.
Now that the time has changed and darkness falls so early, my photo sessions will be mostly confined to weekends, so it will probably be a few days before I can get pics of the brown version. Yet another excuse for the sporadic blog posts.

And now I'm off to work on the NaNo novel. Happy Sewing!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Simplicity 2836- Getting My Money's Worth

Well, I guess this pattern qualifies as a TNT now. I've made the boy's version twice for my son, and this is the second girl's version. I just love it when I can use a pattern over and over. It makes me really feel like I'm getting my money's worth out of it.

This time I used the cap sleeves and the applied front trim (again.) I originally planned on using a contrasting yellow fabric to make the shoulder yokes, but I got to looking at my fabrics and trims, and they really wanted to be this version. Sometimes you just have to listen to your materials when they speak.

Everything you see here is from stash (yay!) except the white "pansy" lace. I found that the last time I went to Hancock's. I thought it was perfect for this fabric.

The Princess specially requested that the trim be applied "round" as opposed to square on this one. I drew the original placement lines with chalk and then traced around a plastic lid to round the corners off. Worked like a charm. It gives the shirt a whole different look.

Here's the back. Nothing special- just two vertical darts that you can't really see in the photo.
I used a bias facing on the hem and on the sleeves. The pattern actually includes a piece for the sleeve facing, which I used. The instructions would have you sew it on single thickness, press everything to the inside, then fold the other edge under and stitch. That seemed too fiddly for me so I just folded it in half, pressed, sewed it on (raw edges together,) pressed it to the inside, and then stitched it down close to the fold. It worked fine.

I like this little calico print. I think I got it at Walmart- years ago, back when the local store had a decent fabric section. I originally planned to make a little bishop dress smocked in yellow, purple, and turquoise. I liked that the fabric has a black background, and I wanted the challenge of making a "darker" fabric work for a baby dress. Unfortunately, I never got around to it, but it's okay because the Princess is very happy with this shirt now.

I'm glad she likes it because I just cut out another version today (with shoulder yokes and pockets) and I've got several more pieces of fabric pulled out for a couple more versions. I also pulled out some rocketship fabric for my son. I'll be making a larger version for him, too. It's a long weekend for me, so maybe I'll actually make some progress on them.

How about you? What are you up to?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Simplicity 2836- The High School Musical Shirt

I spent most of this past weekend making this little blouse for the Princess to make up for the stupid tunic that turned out too small. Please excuse the crappy photos. The sun was going down and the Princess wasn't feeling much like modeling.

This is View D, the girl's short sleeve version with sleeve band ties and applied trim.

I really like the way this pattern has you apply the trim right onto the front pieces. It looks like a yoke, but it's not. You simply mark your placement lines, pin (or baste, or use Wash Away Wonder Tape) and stitch it down. There are no angled seams to worry about, and you don't have to worry about matching the fabric like you would have to do if it was a separate yoke.
I pinned my lace and then stitched along the header. I hand basted the rick rack (for better control) and then used a zig zag stitch to sew it down. It was easy!

You can also see in the photo above that I added mini piping along the front bands. The pattern doesn't call for this, but I thought it added a little extra pop.

Here is a shot of the sleeve band. The sleeve is gathered onto the band, and the band extends on both ends to form the ties. It took a little extra time to make them, but they weren't difficult and they are cute.

Here is the back. This pattern is for boys and girls. I made the boy's version a couple of years ago and was very pleased with it. The boy's and girl's versions use the same main pieces, you simply omit the darts (two in front and two in back) for the boy's.

This time I went with my gut and sewed the size 10. I'm glad I did. The pattern includes sizes 8 through 16. I have another copy of this one, so I'm thinking about making a larger one for my son.

I'm pleased with the finished blouse and the Princess is, too. I've already prepped some fabric for View E (cap sleeves, shoulder yokes, and front pockets) so hopefully you'll be seeing that one soon.
Happy Sewing!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

This Season's "Must Have" Wardrobe Item

I was thrilled to find out that one of the trends for Fall this year is the "military" look. It has always been a favorite of mine, whether it's currently popular or not, and I have been wanting to make a military jacket for, well, forever. I took it as a sign when I read about how it's going to be "in" this year that I should go ahead and do it now.

I have two candidates in mind. The first is Burda 8020, an envelope pattern I've had in my stash for several years now.
I have a suitable stash fabric in mind, and I've already purchased a large, brass, separating zipper for it.
The only "problem" I see with this pattern is that I'll have to find 24(!) matching buttons for it. My local stores almost never have that many of one style of buttons on hand, so I'm thinking I'll have to order.
The second candidate is Simplicity 2341, view D.

This one is super cool, too, and only requires 10 buttons. It appears to not require a zipper, either.

Actually, I'd like to make both of these jackets, and I probably will at some point. The final choice will come down to fabric requirements. If I have enough of the stash fabric, I will go with the Burda pattern. If not, I will make S2341 out of it and I'll purchase something else for the Burda pattern.
The August issue of Burda Style featured a little girl's military jacket.
Some folks mockingly referred to it as a "Michael Jackson 80's throwback," but I like it a lot and I'd love to make it for my daughter. She would be thrilled to have a jacket "like Mom's" and I'd love to try one of Burda Style's kids' patterns. Besides, I owe her another item to replace the tunic that turned out too small.
So. What is your "must have" piece this fall?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

MCall's 6156- Not Quite a Wadder

I spent the whole weekend working on M6156, hoping I could get it done in time for the Princess to wear it Monday morning.
Imagine my disgust when I got it all done and had her try it on, only to find out it's too small!

What happened? I don't know. I measured her right before I started. She measured right at a size 7 at the chest, a size 8 at the waist, and right between the 8 and the 10 at the hip. I chose the 8. I even checked the finished measurements on the tissue and everything seemed fine. For a brief moment I considered going up to a 10 just in case, but I decided not to, since the last McCalls size 10 I made turned out way too wide for her through the bodice.

The pattern itself is fine. It's drafted pretty well and goes together easily. I roll hemmed the front ruffle and the sleeve cuffs (rather than doing a 5/8" hem as the pattern instructed.) I also left off the waist ties (too narrow and fiddly for me) and just used elastic all the way around the waist seam.

The pattern called for elastic in the sleeves. I used the "zig zag over 1/8" elastic" method rather than making a casing and inserting the elastic. I thought the contrasting thread on the cuffs and front ruffle added a little pizzaz.

I love the trendy tunic style and I thought this would be cute with jeans or leggings. I guess I'll ask one of my daughter's smaller friends if they want it.
Now I have to decide if I want to bother with making it again. I cut the size 8 so all the larger sizes are gone- I'll have to buy another copy, and unfortunately, this was the very last copy my local fabric store had. Yeah, I can order one, or wait and see if the store re-stocks, but right now, honestly, I'm so irritated, I might just throw it away and forget about it.

I guess I'm going to have to start making muslins, or at least tissue fitting my daughter. It's a cute pattern, but if you're considering making it- double check the sizing before cutting!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Burda Style "Perfectly Sculpted" Skirt

I finished this skirt up last week ,but as usual, I had to wait for the perfect opportunity to take photos (available photographer and adequate light.)

This is the "Perfectly Sculpted" pencil skirt from the September issue of Burda Style (an issue that is quickly becoming one of my favorites.)

Here is what Burda had to say about it: "Instead of a waistband, three horizontal section seams curve around the top of this pencil skirt, giving it lovely shape and fit over the hips."

I love it shown here with the Ruffle Shoulder Blouse.

Here is the back. I can see that I have a few ripples, but that has to be due at least in part to the fact that my poly suiting fabric was almost impossible to press.

Here you can see the curved seams where they meet the side back seams- the only two vertical seams I might add. The pattern called for one vent below the zipper but I went ahead and added one on the left side, too. (Just ignore the chalk marks at the top of the vents- those will wash out.)

I really like the way this looks. The fit isn't perfect, but it'll do. The pattern only went up to a size 44 and I need a 46 to fit my hips. I graded the pattern up one size and hoped for the best. I really should have left the waist at the size 44, it's a tiny bit loose, but I didn't feel like trying to blend sizes with so many curved seams going on. I ended up taking the side back seams in about 1/2" on each side. If I make this again, and I might, I'll definitely go down to a 44 through the waist and high hip area.

I pretty much followed Burda's instructions. The only changes I made were to add some twill tape to the waist seam (the lining is sewn to the top of the skirt and understitched- there are no facings), and I added 1/4" elastic to the waist in the back between the vertical seams. It helps the skirt to stay in place since the waist is a little loose. If I had made the correct size, I wouldn't have had to do this.

Burda kindly included a separate lining pattern piece (I would never have made a lining with all those curved seams) and instead of sewing the darts that were marked, I converted them to pleats as was suggested in a recent Threads article about lining skirts. It worked out perfectly.

I would like to make this again in a more stable (and iron friendly) fabric. I think it might be fun to use a denim or twill and topstitch the unusual seams. I really like the look of the finished skirt, but I have to be honest, the side back seams are a tiny bit awkward to fit and to get into. I'm not used to zipping myself up behind my hip! And I have to use my mirror to make sure I've got my seams in the right place.
The curved seams are where all the shaping occurs. I found the top of my skirt to be very curvy, even in the belly area (lucky for me since I have a tummy!) I was actually quite surprised, because most of the Burda patterns I've made seem to have been drafted for someone with minimal curves. I definitely recommend making a muslin of this one.

I really like the similar dress pattern in the same issue. I'm toying with the idea of attempting to make it, but I'm not sure I want to go to all the trouble. I'll have to grade up 1 size on top and 2 on the bottom, and I'll have to convert from petite sizing to tall through the torso. That's a lot of work.

In other news, I got up this morning and found a cold wind blowing. Then I opened my email and found an ad for Bath and Bodyworks' new Christmas line. I guess it is definitely Fall now. So long summer. May we meet again...