Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Soft Mini Elephant

I wanted to make something small to add to a baby shower gift recently, and I thought about making a soft stuffed elephant. I ended up finding this Chinese pattern online, which has pieces for two different sizes - this is the larger one. I used Chrome to translate the page for me, but the pictures are much more helpful for figuring out what to do and in what order. There were a few tricky spots, but it was a relatively quick thing to make, and I think it's totally cute! I'm thinking of making a few more of these and stocking them in the shop. If nothing else, a few more people might be getting these as gifts!

Lime for scale

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Laurel Ideas

So these may not be the best pictures, but they get the idea across. When the Laurel pattern first came out, I started dreaming up different ways to use the pattern because it's such a nice, simple starting point. I'd really love to make another version or two for fall/winter, especially in a tunic or dress length. I'm still working on that whole stashbusting thing, though, so I need to get myself in gear to use up some more stashed fabric instead of buying more. I have to confess, I did buy fabric for a maxi dress that I made but haven't photographed yet. It was something I couldn't make with stashed fabric, though, and was something I "needed" for a wedding and for a vacation - so that's my excuse.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Chambray Laurel Blouse

I don't know if I ever use the word "blouse" in real life... something about it feels weird to say, but I typed it just now without even thinking about it (well, until after I'd read it there on the screen).

But on to the blouse! I bought this chambray two years ago I think? I made this dress from it, wore it once or twice because I was on vacation and had nothing else to wear, and put it away - it was WAY too big, and even though I'd made a muslin, I apparently didn't know what I was looking for in that muslin and felt like I was wearing a maid's uniform or something. I had plans to just take it in, but those changed. It's currently sitting on a shelf in my office half-sewn and altered like nobody's business.

All that to say, I had a big chunk of fabric left over that I really liked and wanted to make something with but wasn't sure what. When the Laurel pattern came out, I decided I really wanted to enter the contest and came up with all sorts of ideas. I decided to actually use fabric that I already owned though (stashbusting!) and made the blouse version in the longest length I could with the fabric I had.

Since the chambray has very little drape but a lot of body, it works decently as a shift. I think I'd choose something with more drape next time because my hips are a size up from my waist and that extra width kind of stands away from my body more than I'd like. This fabric also frays like crazy, so I went ahead and put bias binding on all the seams except the armscye seams, but I think I need to do some extra finishing on those, too. The bias binding came from a vintage pillowcase I thrifted a while back; I love the little bit of pretty floral that I get to see on the inside of the shirt. This is probably the best-detailed garment I've made.

Since it's such a simple shape and straightforward to sew, I didn't rush myself through like I tend to do on certain parts. I set in the sleeves by hand, because I was having trouble getting the chambray to ease in correctly by machine. I had altered the shoulder seams after cutting everything out so they didn't fit together the way they should have anyways.

I also added this detachable Peter Pan collar that I made from a vintage handkerchief. It was in good shape except on the edges, where there was some significant fraying. I made a template and cut the collar from the handkerchief and silk organza, then sewed them together with a little French seam. I've worn it once, and it flips up while I'm walking because I just pinned it into the shoulder seams. It's not really my style anyways, I wasn't sure if Peter Pan collars were "me" and I've decided they're not.

Fabric: Indigo chambray (cotton/poly blend) from the Lisette Spring 2011 fabric collection

Pattern Changes: Made it a little longer (as long as my fabric allowed, which was only a couple of inches). Took in the center back, more so at the top tapering off around the middle. Let out the shoulder seam at an angle - 5/8" at neckline to only about 1/4" at armscye. Rough SBA by cutting out top half smaller size than usual and grading out at waist and hips.

New &/or Improved Techniques: Bias binding inside seams. I didn't do a double-fold, the sheeting is so tightly woven that the bias isn't going to fray any time soon. I just folded it over the seams and stitched a zig-zag down either the center or overlapping the tape's edge. Drafted a Peter Pan collar.

What I Like: The overall look and comfort of this top. It doesn't feel huge, but it's roomy enough that I could eat a big dinner in it!

What I'd Change: Not much. I'd love to make it again in a different fabric, play around with the pattern, etc. I'll make sure to cut out the correctly fitted pattern pieces next time, I didn't make a muslin for this so I altered as I went. The neckline is a little higher than I'd like.

It pulls a little around the armscyes
The back (and my photobomber)
You can see how the back fit isn't great below the waist
Played around with belting it, but the chambray gets deep wrinkles instead of gathering nicely at the belt-line
Side note: I missed the deadline by about 30 minutes for the contest - boo to my bad time management! But I stashbusted AND got a cute top, so that's good enough. And there were a ton of gorgeous entries in there!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Stashbusting Sewalong

I'm a bit late to the party, but I've decided to join in on the Stashbusting Sewalong. In 2013, I will use at least 4 pieces of stashed fabric, and not buy anything new unless I've sewn up the previously-bought fabric. I didn't think I had much of a stash until I started organizing everything. I don't have many pieces that are big enough to actually make an item of clothing from, and that's the type of sewing I like to do best - or at least, most often.

The official plans:

The April stashbusting theme is Vibrant Color, and I actually have a piece of fabric that works! I ordered it online and when it arrived on my doorstep, I decided it might be a little too bright for me. (That was when I first learned that has a good selection but that their colors are much brighter in person than displayed on my monitor.) I even think I might be able to get away with using the wrong side, which isn't as bright but is still colorful and summery. The fabric is a stretchy ITY knit; the weight is similar to a maxi coverup dress I tried on last year but didn't buy. I'm thinking I might try to mimic it.

Wrong side - see end of post for the right side
I used chambray in the dress below, but there's still a good sized piece left (and the dress is no longer a dress). It's destined to become a Laurel shirt (already cut out, not sewn).

I have a blue cotton knit (seen below, bottom left) from Stonemountain and Daughter in Berkeley that I got for my birthday last year; I'm planning to sew it up into a boatneck tunic.

I also have a pretty piece of greyish-lavender silk (pictured above, top right), navy Pendleton wool (also in the photo, with sandy silk habotai lining), a black and white linen/cotton blend (shown up there with the chambray), and possibly something I'm forgetting. I have vague plans for each of those, but we'll see what actually makes the cut. The silk was bought with Gertie's portrait blouse in mind, and the wool for a lined pencil skirt. I'm pretty sure I'll do something different with the wool, and I'm not sure about the silk.

And, I've already used a stashed piece! There's a shirt I made last month that I haven't shared yet which used up that cream knit shown above.

Bonus: This is the right side of the ITY shown above.

Friday, April 12, 2013


(This post went up last week but the photos weren't showing up - I took it down and tried to fix it, so hopefully they're working now).

I saw a few of these pictures over at Orchid Grey. I clicked over to the Life website to look at the full set - they're great. These are my two favorites:

We have multiple blank and partially stenciled skateboard decks laying around our house and garage. Last year, my husband began making designs for skateboards, and it's a good creative side project for him. I think of crochet and sewing projects as being "old" hobbies, but I tend to think about skateboards as being so modern. It's fun to see them as vintage.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Colette Truffle

I cannot believe it's April already. We had to deal with some health stuff in January/February (everything's fine now, but it kind of absorbed all my time and attention), and March was just a chance to settle back down. I finally got back to the sewing machine, and I finally finished and WORE my Truffle dress!

It was originally supposed to be my dress for a Delfeayo Marsalis Octect concert, but it became my dress for a Wynton Marsalis with JLCO concert. The concert and the dress each had a long process. I'd heard Wynton Marsalis was going to be in the area this March and knew my husband had been wanting to see him. However, the tickets to the local concert were sold out to subscribers before they even went on sale to the general public. It was such a bummer! Then in December, I was looking online and saw there was a show added in Napa! So I bought those tickets right away. We went to dinner at Celadon beforehand, and it was good. If you're looking for a  The concert was at the Napa Valley Opera House, which was built around 1880, closed down in the early 1900's, and renovated 10 years ago. It's a small, pretty venue. It was a very fun date.

The dress itself:

As I mentioned, this was supposed to be worn to a different concert way back in October. I got fed up with it and didn't pull it back out until last month. All it needed was a hem for the lining and a wash to remove the stabilizer.


Fabric: 3 yards Silk georgette from Mood, self-dyed silk crepe de chine from Dharma Trading used to underline bodice (1 yard, 12 mm, 55") and to line skirt (1 yard, 16 mm, 55")

Pattern Changes: Fit alterations. I changed the bodice front darts to angled French darts. Added a lining to the skirt. Underlined the bodice, omitted lining, added all-in-one facing. Changed zipper to side; made back bodice one piece.

New &/or Improved Techniques: I handrolled the hem on the skirt lining - not very well, mind you, but you can't see it and I wanted to practice. First time sewing with silk - Sullivan's stabilizer helped. First time underlining; I hand-basted quite a bit and it was a little tricky to keep everything where I wanted it but I think it worked out.

What I Like: The silk! I don't know that I've ever really worn silk, but I quite like it. And the color is very pretty. The drape/ruffle is fun.

What I'd Change: The fit as far as the darts go.The zipper isn't great - I did a machine lapped zipper on the side and it doesn't lie flat (I blame the georgette's "bounce") but it's better than my last lapped zip! The fabric doesn't really work well with the bodice - that "bounce" that the georgette has makes the darts a little pokey, plus I didn't adjust them to the right spot. The muslin looked fine but they're not quite right in the silk. And I didn't take my time with the hems (they aren't even doubled on the drape, it's just a single press up) and they're going to fray. I also misaligned the drapey part of the skirt and kind of tacked it up, which you can see where it starts angling out from the waist. It's not as noticeable when I wear it.

A cardigan covers the dart issues and gives me a chance to wear my new-to-me vintage sweater guard! So in the end, it's a good-enough dress that feels nice to wear, and I feel like I learned a lot making it.