Archive for September, 2009

A Dress for Many Occasions

I just completed Simplicity 2886 (View C without the skirt band) and it was a lot of fun.   I feel like Donna Reed in it.  I feel like making a roast chicken and wearing high heels.  Or feather dusting–the easiest clean around.

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In this dress, you will find gathers, pintucks, and pleats.  I really enjoyed making this because FINALLY all the pieces of a project were fitting together the right way.  And it has a lot of pieces:   20! (Counting all pieces cut out.)

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It has attractive pockets, elastic on the top of the bodice back for some give, and a side zipper that was very hard to put in with all the bodice layers and the tie.  The tie is cute, but you could get away without it.  You might feel a bit less silly that way and have less to iron!

I would like to point out two problems for me with this pattern:  the sizing of the bodice and the lining.  Although I am a 36 bust, I made size 12, (which is for a 34″ bust) because these patterns are always big.  And there is no need to have this kind of bodice loose.  I tried it on while making it, and it fit like a glove.  But after wearing the finished dress, I noticed that the straps would fall down a lot.  The bodice front top is too wide for me, even though I went down a size.  And I can’t move the straps in because they must be placed exactly where they are.  AND there is no way I am tearing it apart, taking it in on the center seam and then reattaching it to the pintuck bodice strip and stitching it back up to the sides.  Egads!  That would be a lot of work.  But now I know–I probably will need to take in an inch on a lot of things like this in the future while leaving enough room lower down on a bodice for my ribcage, and breathing room. 🙂

The other problem I had with this pattern is that although it has a lined bodice, the seams are exposed.  It would have been nice to hide those, but maybe this isn’t possible because of all the layers.

A closer look at the bodice:  great fit on the bottom but the straps are about to fall off my shoulders.

A closer look at the bodice: great fit on the bottom but the straps are about to fall off my shoulders.

I think this dress could fit any occasion depending on the fabric used.  With a satin or silk pintuck bodice and tie, it’s a bridesmaid’s dress!  All in black, as a cocktail dress.  I would consider making this a halter top, too.  Then the straps wouldn’t fall down either!

One more tip:  I followed the suggestions of a reviewer on Patternreview.com and sew the top of the bodice fronts to the contrast bands first, and then sewed the whole thing up the middle.  This made for a perfectly-lined up seam.

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Make this dress and clean your house!

Dress Your Toddler in Corduroy

You know when you are sewing and you reach for your pincushion and it’s not there?  You turn around and see your elfin toddler giggling and pulling out the pins?  That’s when you need Corduroy!  No, not the bear, the fabric!  I just spent the past week stitching up a fall wardrobe of corduroy clothes for Claire Bear.  This way, I can hear her swishing before she sneaks off with the pincushion.

Simplicity 2523 View A, modified to add length in rise and leg

Simplicity 2523 View A, modified to add length in rise and leg. But I forgot to add length to the straps. It's a little close around the neck, but it works. This was not the pocket that came with the pattern. It's one that I made up.

Instead of rick rack, I used a decorative stitching (my first time!) from my machine.  I like the subtle color contrast.  She can wear any shirt with this color.

Instead of rick rack, I used a decorative stitching (my first time!) from my machine. I like the subtle color contrast. She can wear any shirt with this color. And these overalls will be a part of her "Corduroy the Bear" costume for Halloween. I'm going to make some furry feet and ears.

McCall's 3531 view D

McCall's 3531 view D I added a velvet ribbon tie to the bodice. It is a little big on Claire, but the tie makes it fit nice. She can wear this now through winter until spring without outgrowing it.

Same pattern as above.  This is a great pattern for embellishing.  It has three buttons on the back bodice--another way to add interest.  I added ties in the back to this one, also, in the heart fabric.

Same pattern as above. This is a great pattern for embellishing. It has three buttons on the back bodice--another way to add interest. I added ties in the back to this one, also, in the heart fabric. By the way, on both dresses, I topstitched the bodice bottom instead of handsewing the lining down. It's a little tricky because I had to pin the inside and then sew the outside, but my machine handles pins well and this was much faster and looks fine, to me.

Oliver + S sailboat pants, size 2T

Oliver + S sailboat pants, size 2T. Notice that I did not put the buttons where the pattern indicated and since they are not on the edge, the flaps flare out a bit, pushed by the belly bulge. Next time I will be more careful!

I LOVE these pants!  I wish I could have a pair.  I did not modify them for the cloth diaper, but they are accommodating it pretty well.  I might experiment with the next pair.  This lightweight pinwale corduroy is great for these pants.  The drape and swish of the wide legs are so cute.  My punkin has petite legs so I would expect these pants to be shorter on other children.

I LOVE these pants! I wish I could have a pair. I did not modify them for the cloth diaper, but they are accommodating it pretty well. I might experiment with the next pair. This lightweight pinwale corduroy is great for these pants. The drape and swish of the wide legs are so cute. My punkin has petite legs so I would expect these pants to be shorter on other children.

The Big Reveal: My First Quilt

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Ah, I am done!  Claire slept with it last night.  I have spent a few evenings covered with it while slipstitching the binding to the back.  (No one warned of this last, time-consuming step!)  (Okay, my fault for not reading the book all the through first.:)  I conclude it will be the soft, comfiest quilt I will ever make.  Because I am never making a quilt out of japanese double cotton gauze ever again!  It stretches and it unravels.  What I mean by stretches is that when you slightly move it, it becomes uneven.  I don’t know how to describes this better.  It is a loose weave (good for handquilting?) and when you manhandle it, it does not keep the the weave at the 90 degrees angles, so it gets all wonky.  But it is done, and I am happy with it.  I just had to include a picture of it all pinned.  Over 300 safety pins!  I will never forget doing that with a toddler and corgi hovering at the sides, wanting to pounce on it.

The fabric is from the Far, Far Away line by Heather Ross for Kokka.  The backing is also double cotton gauze that I bought from Fabric Tales.  The batting is Quilter’s Dream Select.  It is very warm!  I was surprised because it isn’t too thick.  I did a simple grid machine quilting because this was my first time.  I am very happy with the results.  There was a lot going on with the color and design, so it didn’t need a crazy stitch pattern.  The quilt pattern itself is from AllPeopleQuilt.com.  It is “Sherbert Rail Fence” by Alice Kennedy.  It is 62×62 and I think I will never make something this big again!  It is a throw size and big enough for two to snuggle under on the couch and big enough to drape over a full size bed as a decorative blanket.  It is quite big enough for little Claire and she loves it.  I hope it can withstand all the years she will use it.  If not, I’ve got scraps to fix it with!

Iraqi Bundles of Love

I just found out about this last night.  Tuesday, September 8th is the last day to ship.  It’s a great cause and really touched me.  A man stationed in Iraq set up a way to get sewing resources to the people of Iraqi before his unit is removed from the area.  He said he has never seen more resourcefulness than when he first came to Iraq.  I remember some people I met in Turkey who also were resourceful and could make anything out of nothing.  I loved his “About Me” page.  He describes himself as the son of a quilter, the husband of a quilter, the brother of a quilter and the father of a future quilter.  He said in another part of his site that he has known knitters and sewists to be of the most generous spirit and that you hardly meet a quilter that has sewn a quilt for their own bed.  So, before any more time runs out, I am headed to the post office to pack up some fabrics and yarn that have been shoved to the back of my closet, waiting someday to be used.  Now I know they will definitely be used.

For the address to ship to, leave a comment at the website: Iraqi Bundles of Love.

Knittercise!

For the past three weeks I have been exercising 3 times a week.  It’s a good effort, but it hasn’t been glorious to fit in this new habit. It’s not like when I first decided to spend Claire’s nap time on making things instead of cleaning the house or whatever I did B.S. (before sewing).  That was exciting and satisfying and opened up a new world!  Unfortunately, my favorite new occupation has not been kind to my body.  I have to admit something not so nice to you:  I have gained weight.

Gaining weight is a reason many people start exercise.  Especially when diabetes runs in the family. But not me!  What is truly motivating me is the neck and shoulder pain I have been having from overuse of my knitting and sewing and cutting muscles.  They are not in any anatomy book, but that’s what I call them.   This means knitting and sewing has become uncomfortable.

An afternoon workout always involves my "spotter."

An afternoon workout always involves my "spotter."

Before the recent pain, I could sit and knit for hours.  I used to read for hours, too.  I never get ants in my pants, I just shift positions, and I’m fine.  My sister on the other hand can’t sit for long and she is go, go, go all day long.  She is also thin and strong and has good posture.  I am soft around the edges and ALWAYS fall off the step if I dare go to an aerobics class.  A weight in my hand looks very precarious.  But put some needles in my hand and I am very coordinated.  Now, my friends and family who know me, don’t be nice and say I’m exaggerating.  🙂  It is the truth.

Now that I know the truth about myself and my inclination to do sedentary, though productive activities, I have to exercise.  And it has to happen pre-dawn because I am never giving up my naptime crafting until Claire gives up her nap!  I’ve been following the advice in this book, Your Best Body Ever by Anita Goa, which I will sum up:  do yoga, and cardio, and strength training in balance.   Do it 3 times a week for one month, then increase intensity and add a day for another month, and during the third month and the rest of your life, do it for 5 days a week for about 90 minutes.

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I haven’t lost weight yet, but I have lost the pain.  I have more energy as long as I don’t overdo it.  My wicked trainer wants me to overdo it because he does when he works out (Crossfit), but whenever I try too hard, I end up on the floor and he has to make dinner.  “Know thyself” and I do.  I know that I WILL NOT exercise 5 days a week for 90 minutes during the third month.  I don’t especially recommend this book because the charts are confusing and a couple exercises require gym machines, but I do recommend the entire premise of doing all three types of exercise.  I do them all on the same day, so there is a lot of variety and one of the days I just do yoga, which I enjoy a lot.  What I recommend is my friend’s new blog “Fit Britt”.  She is motivating me a lot just by osmosis through the computer. 🙂  Check it out!

Find the right time of day (first thing in the morning) and the right book or video and you can do it!  Until my Knittercise video comes out, we will just have to do what these naturally athletic people tell us to do. And then we can show them how to blindstitch a hem.

Simplicity 2593

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Simplicity 2593 in japanese double cotton gauze, AFTER washing. See the crinkles?

I first saw this pattern on Angry Chicken and put it in the back of my mind.  Then I saw it for a dollar at Jo-Ann’s and bought it to experiment with some leftover fabric from my Far, Far Away quilt. I needed another white shirt (don’t we all?) and I thought maybe this was the application in which double cotton gauze could shine.

I have been messing around with the double gauze ever since I got into sewing this spring.  I made the nightgown and saw how it stuck to my undies.  I made jimbei pjs for Claire and saw how it got almost spongy after washing.  I wondered if it would launder well as a shirt.  I didn’t want to iron out the comfy sponginess.

This pattern is very simple–no shaping or interfacing.  The only trick is to get the rolled neck to look the way you want and then hope it comes out in the wash okay.  Because you can’t iron it, really.  I conclude that the double gauze worked well.  It has a relaxed feel, like linen which is supposed to get wrinkled, and that makes it a great summer top.  The rolled neck just gives it a little something extra special, with little extra effort.

One word of caution using double gauze:  it ravels easily, which caused some difficulty in cutting and ironing and applying the bias tape for the armholes and neckline.  If you could use a different fabric for that, it would save you some frustration AND fabric.

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Does it look like I tried to bandage myself? But I do like the texture.

How to apply blanket binding

So, you think you will make a quick blanket as a gift and you buy some cute flannel and fuzzy fabric and want to add the classic satin blanket binding.  Then you get frustrated because it bunches and snags and you can’t find any help on the internet!  I recently scoured the net for directions on how to apply blanket binding with mitered corners.  I found a couple sites, but none with many details.  So here are some more details to help you put satin blanket binding on the edge of fabric.   I wanted to put the binding on the edge, overlapping the fabric just 1/2 inch.  I also didn’t want to fold it in half again, as you would for a quilt binding.  I came up with this through trial and error, and perhaps there is a different way, but this worked for me.   One more thing, I used a straight stitch with a walking foot.  If you don’t have a walking foot, and you can’t get the tension right on your machine (which happened on my old machine and one reason why I have a new one), you can do a wide zig-zag on the very edge, with half the zig zag on the binding and half on the fabric.  It looks nice, too, and holds up just as well.

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I applied the binding to the edge of the fabric, about 1/2 inch in.  You can put it at any distance you like, maybe even all the way in so that the edge of the fabric is touching the inside of the fold of the binding.  You will sandwich the fabric between the binding.  Sew down the length of it and stop 1/2 inch (or however far you have sandwiched it in) from the edge.

(Excuse my blurry macro shot.  Still figuring out how to take good pictures.)

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Next, fold the binding up, as shown, to form a 45 degree angle.  Finger press this a lot.  You will need this fold to guide you.  You could even use an iron, but I would rather not have such a permanent crease in case I need to adjust it for whatever reason.

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Open up the binding and lay it down in front of you .  Push up the left side of the binding until it touches the inside of the top fold.  You will now have a mitered corner on the front.  Pin that through the first three layers to keep it in place while you do the back.  Fold the back in the same way.  Then put the straight pin through all the layers.

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Pull the binding down to sandwich the next side to be stitched.  Pin it in place.

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Go back to where you stopped sewing, backstitch and sew the corner and continue sewing until you get to the next corner.

And that is how I mitered the corners of the Daycare Baby Blanket I made for my niece.  Good luck with your blanket!