Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Cinderella dress - no pattern for Halloween costume??


  Lil' AC has a very long list of princess dresses for me to make her. Of course, I've promised to make each one she's asked for. Since there were lots of sales going on over Labor Day weekend, we hit JoAnn's to buy fabric. I purchased 3 fabrics from the costume fabric rack to make this...

  1. Silver sparkle mesh - 1/3 yard (60'ish inch wide). Used for design on bodice. Regular price $6.99 -30% off = $4.89/yard. Cost for 1/3 yard = $1.63.  I have plenty left over and will be using the rest for the accessories (gloves, headband and possible necklace/choker).
  2. Blue Bell Solid Crushed Velvet Stretch fabric - 1/2 yard (58" width). Used for the bodice. Regular price 5.99 - 30% off = $4.19/yard. Cost for 1/2 yard = $2.10. I have a modest amount of fabric left over and will use this to make accessories (gloves, headband, and choker)
  3. Blue Costume Glitter Satin - 1.5 yards (45" width). Used for sleeves and skirt portion. Regular price $4.99 - 30% off = $3.49/yard. Cost for 1.5 yards = $5.24. I have almost nothing left over. Maybe 4" x 45" strip of fabric. I think it's enough to make the headband with.
The total fabric cost was $7.34 + tax. The remaining supplies I already had on hand (Velcro and bodice embellishment).

Lil' AC is between a 3T and 4T. She's thin (3T) but the length of a 4T is right for her. Use your judgement on the amount of fabric you will need for your Cinderella dress.

Since I had used Ashley's technique to make a colonial dress for my niece, it should be a snap to follower her instructions to actually make her the Cinderella dress. Things went very smoothly and I knocked out the dress in one day. (Well, that's not EXACTLY true... I did hand sew the hem the next morning.) There are a couple of things I would do differently when I go to make my next princess dress. (Remember, lil' AC has a very long list!). Instead of 3 strips of Velcro, I decided to use one long strip. I was happy with that variation but I would attach the Velcro differently next time to avoid those 3 sew lines.
When constructing the back closure, Ashley suggests folding the seam over 1/4" and then another 1/4" and sew in place. That creates the sew line on the far left. Next time, I think I will just fold over 1/2' and glue baste that down and sew the Velcro piece on to permanently hold down that seam. I also decided to eliminate the waist gap between those puffy side panels. To do this, I stitched the back closed at the base of the dress (basically adhered the Velcro and stitched at the bottom). Finding the center back seam and front seam, I lined up the edges of the puffy side panels so that they touched but did not over lap. Also, I started out with a 22"x22" square for my puffy side panels and then made my circles.


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Pattern Review: Oliver + S Little Things to Sew - Bucket Hat


  For the last month or so, I've been seeing the cutest little patterns from Oliver + S. Everything I've seen, I've wanted to try. I happened upon a Sew-a-long for the book Oliver +S Little Things to Sew by Liesel Gibson at A Little Gray. Basically, the sew-a-long is one project per month from the book. The August project is the Bucket Hat. Check out the details here:

I've been wanting to try a sew-a-long for quite some time and this is a great excuse to buy the book! And, I'm soooo glad that I did. My little bucket hat, side 1...

It is reversible (side 2)...
Personally, I just think a tiny hat is adorable, don't you? Infants are great fun to sew for.

Let's get on with the actual pattern review now....

This is the 1st pattern (Reversible Bucket Hat pg 33) I tried from the book. I quickly read through the instructions and they seemed straight forward. Each pattern has a difficulty rating. Reversible Bucket hat has a difficulty of 2 scissors out of 4 (4 being the hardest). Full size patterns are included in the book. However, they are glued (with those clear gel like circles) to both the back and front book covers. I did have some difficulty pealing the pattern away from the front cover and ripped the book cover. As a warning, peel very slowly and be prepared to tear the inside of the book cover. The little gel like circle adhesives came off the pattern sheets very easily. Seems like an envelope for the patterns would of worked better but I consider this a minor annoyance and would still purchase the book. I selected the extra small (18" inside crown measurement that fits 6 - 12 months). There are other sizes (small/19"/12-24 months, med/20"/3-4 years, large/21"/6-8 years). I measured lil' AC who is 3 and she fit right into the book's sizing given her age group. The bucket hat had no layout instructions for this three piece pattern. While cutting it out, I realized that this pattern is GREAT for using up your scraps. It really takes almost no fabric. The instructions call for 1/3 yard of each fabric. Just think of the possibilities of mixing brim, crown and band fabrics to create some great looking hats. I stuck with this fabric scheme because I wanted to add to my Kimono style PJs ensemble my husband had gifted to a friend earlier in the month. It took hardly any time at all to cut out the pattern pieces and attach the interfacing. The directions called for sew-in interfacing but I don't have any and the iron-on worked just fine for me. My fabrics are cotton but seemed lighter than most cottons. The directions only call for interfacing one side of the brim but in retrospect, I think I should of lined both sides. I think I would of liked a little more stiffness in the brim. (Note: the optional top stitching does give the brim more body too.) I followed the directions in the Assemble the Cap portion exactly. I found that it was best to use a lot of pins in step 2 (sewing the crown to the band) and to make lots of clips/slits to ease in that curve.

There was also a noticeable amount of difference in "give" for each of my fabrics. The solid navy fabric had almost no give and it was harder to ease in and required more work in the form of lots of pins and clipping. The "checkered" fabric had lots of give and the crown and band eased in very nicely. I was working with true scraps as I cut out the fabric pieces and I may not have cut correctly on the grain and that could of influenced "fabric give". Next time, I will give my fabrics a little tug to test the give before making my final choice. I also did the top stitching at the crown. It seems to help keep the hat shape better.

The next section, Making and Attach the Brim, is where I deviated from the instructions. Because I had the wisdom of Jessica at A Little Gray, I only did steps 1 and 2 and did a portion of step 3 (making the brim). I did sew the brim pieces together, as the book suggests, but then I followed Jessica's lead and sewed each brim to its matching cap portion. This gives you 2 hats.

Jessica's method eliminates the need to hand sew the cap (crown and band) to the brim as depicted in Step 2 in Finish the Hat section. Time is always a premium for me and machine sewing is a lot faster.

I added the little baseball patch to the navy side once the brim was attached to the cap. Better... less boring now.

Taking the two hats and placing them right sides together and matching the notches, as Jessica suggests, I sewed the edges of the brims together using a 1/2" seam allowance (as the book directs) but I left a 2.5 gap.
That might be a bit hard to see but take a look here. I trimmed the seam down to 1/8" except where the open gap was. This is an important step in Jessica's deviation... don't trim that un-sewn brim portion (that 2.5" gap). Once I turned it right sides out, I first finger pressed the brim edge as directed by the book. I wasn't pleased with the result and then pressed it with the iron to tuck in the open seam and even out the remaining brim seam.
At this point, you can start making your brim top stitching. I did get some wrinkling in the brim area that I left open for turning but I was able to smooth that out after I pressed the brim. 

In summary, I really like the bucket hat because it went together quickly (maybe an hour of sewing time), the instructions were easy (the ones that I did follow), and I can see lots of great fabric combinations. I'll be sewing another bucket hat for lil' AC next.

Next month's sew-a-long project is that cute little penguin backpack. I hope you can join Jessica's Sew-a-long!!


Amy Butler's Little Stitches for Little Ones - Kimono Style PJs (boy version)


  I was happy with the girl version and the ease of construction with Amy's Kimono style PJs. The hubs liked it too and wanted me to do a boy verison for one of his friend's newborn. Here the boy verison I did.

The fabric is from my stash. I'd had it for quite some time.

I also used French seams to construct the garment.

When constructing this garment the 1st time, I got thrown off by the inside strap/ties. Here's a photo of what that looks like and perhaps this will help others:

It's just a simple bias strap sewn in the right inside seam. However, not so simple if you don't know what they are talking about in the instructions!

Since I sewed this in the summer heat, I just couldn't imagine the parents putting those little booties on the baby. Too hot! I ended up giving the outfit without any booties but I wasn't happy. Just felt like something was missing....


Monday, July 11, 2011

Pattern Review: Amy Butler's Little Stitches for Little Ones - Kimono Style PJs and Cutie Booties


  On Tuesday, I received a baby shower invitation to a party which was happening just 4 days later! That's not a lot of time to really do much of anything BUT that's right up my alley. Nearly all my projects are on the rush. Time to use what I had on hand... Hence, Amy Butler's Little Stitches for Little Ones book.

  I've not tried these patterns before but have read the book several times. The sizes are much too small for lil AC. Every time I look at this book, I'm always drawn to the same 2 patterns, the Kimono Style PJs and the Cutie Booties. Using fabric I had in my stash, I selected 2 fabrics to use for the kimono and booties.

One of the things I like about this book is that all the projects have difficulty levels. The most difficult are rated a 5 while the easiest are rated a 1. Both the kimono and booties were rated a 3. Personally, I found the pattern rating to be quite accurate. They were not difficult nor super easy. I stumbled slightly in 1 place for each of the patterns. For the kimono top, I stumbled at bit with the bias ties that go around the neckline. At 1st, I did not realize that there are ties in the inside of the kimono as well as one on the outside. Clearly it's been a while since I looked at a kimono or I would of remembered about the ties. If you forget too, this portion of the instructions will make no sense and there is not a photo of the inside of the top to remind you.  Sorry, I should of taken one to post here. Here's a photo of the inside ties from a 2nd boy version I did.) Also, when attaching the sleeves to the top front panels, be sure to mark the "Attach Sleeve" side to your fabric. I do have a serger but decided to use french seams for both the top and pants. It's a little extra work but really like the look because it looks so polished and a bit couture.

I embellished the kimono top with 3 crotchet flowers. I attached them with my machine by sewing a circle in the white portion of the flower to ensure they were secure.

 The construction of the kimono bottoms was very easy and straight forward. I'd probably give the little pants a difficulty rating of a 2 and not a 3. I attached a matching flower in the front of the pants.

Next came the Cutie Bootie... I've never sewn shoes before and I was a little apprehensive of the curves. I think they turned out fine for my 1st attempt.

I marked the placement of the Velcro on both the lining and exterior fabric. This helped both with Velcro placement and the placement of the flower. I added the flower before I sewed the lining and exterior fabrics together.

 Sewing the lining and the exterior fabric together is where I stumbled. I misunderstood the directions and sewed too much around the upper panel piece.
I deviated from the instructions in regards to the fusible fleece and fusible interfacing. I kept thinking this was going to get really bulky and sewing that curve around the toes was going to be tricky. I decided to leave out the fusible interfacing. I didn't have any fusible fleece on hand and it was 10pm on Friday when I was sewing the booties. As always, I used what I had which turned out to be Warm and Natural and some fusible hem tape. Here's a brand that is sold at JoAnn's. Basically, it's double sided fusible web tape. I used strips to attach the Warm and Natural to the fabric. It seemed to work just fine for me.
Here's what the description says: "The great no-sew iron-on adhesive makes hemming easy without a needle or thread! It creates clean, secure hems in seconds with no sewing¿ and is completely machine washable! Available in regular and super weight. Use with cotton poly blends, cotton, rayon, acrylic, linings and much more. Machine washable and dryable. Paper backed.". My hem tape was not paper backed nor do I know if it is regular or super weight. I've had this hem tape for quite some time now.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Toddler Jacket - McCall's M5697 (view B)


  I'm been organizing... My sewing room was in real need of some help. It took me several weekends of sorting, purging and organizing to get it in a reasonable state. I'm not done yet but the room is so much more usable and I don't have to clean up anything to start a sewing project. In the process, I learned a few things like... I honestly thought I didn't have a lot of fabric until I went to organize my fabric. It became very clear that I had too much sitting around and not being used. Surprisingly, I have way more fleece than I thought. We all know how bulky fleece can be. So, I'm on a mission to get rid of the fleece by sewing up whatever I can. Well, I'm not interested in making blankets out of the fleeced but just about anything else will probably work. Got any ideas for fleece sewing projects? Leave me a comment. I would love to hear your ideas. Well... I've had this cute little jacket pattern, McCall's 5697, which I had bought to use with some cute corduroy fabric.

Well, instead I got out some grey fleece and went to work. I decided to do View B, with the elbow length and ruffle sleeves. The jacket is unlined. I found the instructions easy to follow. Since I used fleece fabric I wasn't concerned about finishing the edges, as fleece will not unravel and cause a messy hem. I do like finished seam and I'd like to try a french seam on my next attempt. I think I might try View D (long sleeves with button tabs). The fleece might be too bulky but for the thin corduroy fabric I have, a french seam might work. For the most part, I followed the directions. I did add a small black braided trim to the collar, sleeve hem, and pockets. I used approximately 65" of braid for a size 3T jacket. If you're going to buy trim for this jacket, I would just get 2 yards to ensure you have enough trim.

When I did the edge stitching, I did increase my Design Diamond stitch width to 4.5 because of the thick fleece. The longer stitch length seem to allow for a more defined edge stitch, meaning the stitch did not get lost in the fleece. Also, the jacket calls for 1 1/4" hem but I only did a 1" inch hem by simply folding up the bottom jacket edge. There just didn't seem a need to turn the hem under and tuck it in the hem allowance since I was using fleece. The only part I was not completely happy with was the lack of fullness in the sleeve ruffle. I'm not sure if the pattern was not sufficient to have a more substantial ruffle or if it is the fleece the inhibits the ruffle. If I were to make the fleece ruffled sleeve again, I think I would add more fabric to increase the ruffle. In general, I would recommend this pattern because it was fairly easy to put together, cute and there a lots of ways to make this jacket unique by adding trims/embellishments.


Monday, May 2, 2011

Beginner quilt - Free quilt pattern


  I was so thrilled when I found Pat Bravo's site. She's got a great fabric and pattern line. As I browsed her site, I found a free quilt pattern (Le Petite Garden) that I thought I could make fairly quickly.

Well, "fairly quickly" is a relative term when speaking about quilt making, right? The quilt was to be made as a gift. As always, I was short on time. The design seemed simple because there were no seams to match-up. No, points to connect. Just plain straight 1/4" seams. I was pretty sure I could do that successfully. I believe the beauty of the quilt can come from the fabric selection. The quilt is basically cut from 6.5" fabric strips. Although the pattern did not have any cutting layout instructions, it's straight forward to figure out because everything is based on that 6.5" strip. There are 6 different fabrics that are cut into 6.5" strips. The cotton fabric I selected is by Riley Blake Designs, Summer Song from My Mind's Eye. I loved it because it was bright, cheery and had bold colors.

I washed and dried my fabric before I began to make my strips and I'm glad I did. I measured the fabric to get a rough idea of how many pieces I could cut from each 6.5" strip of fabric. After the washing and drying, the width ranged from 40" to 42" and it was originally 44"/45" wide. Here's my guideline for cutting out the quilt pieces based on my washed/dried size (yours may differ):

I started making the quilt on a Tuesday night. I spent about 2 hours cutting the fabric out and getting it stacked and in the right order.

On Saturday, I spent almost 6 hours sewing the quilt top together. The directions were very clear but I decided to deviate slightly in hopes of speeding up the processes. I started by sewing the 38 blocks, as directed. I chain stitched the strips to produce the block. I placed one green strip on the button and then placed the center strip on top, centering the strips.

And then fed it through my sewing machine like so...

When all the middle strips where gone, I knew it was time to stop my chain stitching (cut my thread) and take it to the ironing board and iron. My pile looked like this.
One more strip and the block is done.
The blocks end up looking like this

These blocks are used throughout the quilt, alternating between the remaining rectangles. All odd rows will use the large rectangles, (11"x 6.5") and will have 4 of these rectangles alternating between the 3-strip blocks using 3 3-strip blocks/row. For instance, all rows will begin with a cut rectangle (large or small) and then followed by the 3-strip block pictured above. The even rows will contain the 5 of the smaller (7 3/4" x 6.5") rectangles alternating with the 3-strip blocks using a total of 4 3-strip blocks. The rows are laid out as follows:
Row 1: B, F, C, G (11"x 6.5")
Row 2: G, D, B, F, C (7 3/4" x 6.5")
Row 3: F,C, H, B (11" 6.5"0
Row 4: D, G, C, H, D (73/4" x 6.5")
Row 5: G, H, F, B (11"x 6.5")
Row 6: H, F, D, G, C ( 7 3/4" x 6.5")
Row 7: C, B, C, H (11"x 6.5")

Row 8:  F, C, H, D, F (7 3/4" x 6.5")
Row 9: G, F, C, D (11"x 6.5")

Row 10: B, H, E, H, G ( 7 3/4" x 6.5")
Row 11: F, G, B, C (11"x 6.5")

I stacked up all my rows and started to sew the blocks so that the block was on the right side:
I continued to take a rectangle from my sorted stack and sew a 3-strip block on the right. As I pulled a rectangle from my sorted stack, I checked the next size rectangle to see if it was a different size. If it was, that was my signal that the rectangle I had in my hand was the last one in the row and  I needed to open what I had just sewn and sew that rectangle to the 3-strip block making sure the last rectangle in the row was sewn to the right of the 3-strip block.

My rows started to look like this:

When I was through with my sorted stack, I re-stacked my rows as I clipped the threads. My next pass was to completely connect each row, making sure to each rectangle sandwiched in between a 3-strip block.

In the end, this is what my finished quilt top looks like. Sorry about the poor photo.