Wednesday, September 10, 2014

How a hat makes a costume; Pioneer Bonnet!

Liz modeled the bonnet for me, and she's just too cute in it!  It really is one size fits all.  Although it's for me, I may have to save it for her for some later use.

I've so enjoyed being a volunteer for Girl Scouts this last year, so when I was invited to Fall Camp to teach 5th and 6th graders a little sewing (and help with some outdoor cooking) of course I said yes!

They asked if I could wear a costume for their theme of Women of the Oregon Trail, because they know I have quite a costume stash. Sadly I don't own any pioneer themed stuff. I looked into making a full costume, but it is very fabric and time intensive.  Camp is at the end of the month, and I don't have another use for a full pioneer costume anyway.

I do have a sideless surcoat in a small print that kind of passes as a possible full apron over a loose dress that looks kind of Oregon Trail-ish, but it needed something if it was going to work.....
And then it hit me, a bonnet!  It's just what I think of when I think of pioneer women (and girls).

I asked around and did a little research, and found a nice Free bonnet pattern from Sew Chic

I have a couple of cotton prints in my stash, and they are really perfect for this project.  I picked one I thought would stand out and be fun. 

The pattern is very nice, but reading over the instructions, I noticed it does leave some unfinished edges on the inside.  For a costume I suppose this isn't a huge deal, but I made my first costumes with unfinished seams on the inside, and every time I look at them, I wish I'd known more and made them more polished.

I made a number of changes in the sewing order and other things to create a clean finished project.
First I finished the bottom edge of the crown, which to be fair is listed a as a suggestion on the pattern.

The instructions have the ties just sewn on at the end. I knew that would leave a real mess inside, so I sewed the ties on the way I'd done on aprons in the past.  Yay for experience!

After basting them on facing inward, I folded up the back as instructed, and Viola, clean ties!

The instructions also have you sew on the crown to the brim after the brim is finished, so the inner edge of the crown would be totally raw. Also from past experience making shirt yokes and collars, I knew how to sandwich the edge inside instead, so I did that (though it was quite a lot of extra work, I am really happy with the result!

So here is the fully finished inside of the bonnet, clean and neat as the outside!

I didn't wear any make-up or anything for the picture of myself in the full costume, which I guess makes it more authentic, but man I look old to myself now!  lol.  Ah, life.  All the same, I just love the finished bonnet, and it really does make the entire costume!

I have no real need for this bonnet for the future, so even though it is tempting to keep it for some vague future use, I think I'll donate it to the Girl Scouts after camp.  I'm sure pioneer women comes up as a theme often enough they will get some use out of it. :)  If I really need one, I can always make another.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Detachable Wings!

Short blog today, but with extra pictures!  Leading up to Grandma's 70'th birthday party, I've been sewing my heart out finishing grandma's present, and also finishing up Liz's new party dress.  This is the second variation I've done with this dress, and it all worked very well.  She wore it all day out of the house, and enjoyed using the pretend wings to amuse herself when all the grown-ups were gabbing.
The idea of this dress is to be usable as a regular dress, but also to be a play-pretend dragon dress.  My daughter wanted an ice/water dragon look.  So I colorblocked the front and added flounces at the armholes in leftover blue knit with silver sparkle.  I did't do a great job on the sleeve flounces, I've never made them before and was just going from directions on the internet.  I needed to make the spread wider, because there isn't a lot of flounce in these flounces.
I used a knit trim on the blue hem, and a ribbon trim on the white part of the dress. It's pretty subtle but if you look it's there.
Liz seems pretty happy overall with the dress. :D

Earlier this summer at Girl Scout Camp, we saw a girl wearing wings, and it gave Liz this idea.  I just had to figure out HOW to do it.
I ended up using buttons so the wings are detachable! (Thanks Arianna from Pattern Review for that idea!)
These will come off to easily wash the dress alone.  Also, it worked well to wear them all day, which she did in the car, at Grandma's house, and around the mall without any issues.
She's not smiling here, I think I wore her patience out for pictures when we were supposed to be on the way to a birthday party, lol.

The dress does have great twirl factor!  I love the handkerchief style hem, lots of shape and flare.

 I felt the back was a little boring, just white with a hint of blue from the bottom trim and the sleeve flounces.  I had a crazy idea about making diamonds down the back, but Liz asked it she could just have a strip of something like dragon spines.  I let her pick out the buttons at Jo-anns, which she loves to do.  They are opalescent half circle buttons, and I think look very pretty down the center back ribbon.  And look, white is terrible for kids, already she got something on it.  Sigh. Lol. Good think I made sure it would be easy to wash. :)

Saturday, August 23, 2014

OOOO(h)! Making Lei's

Sometimes it is amazing when we realize how much life is running right by us.  My daughter just turned 7, and in a few weeks my mother will be turning 70!  I am so glad that she moved closer recently so I can visit her more. :D

For her birthday, there is a Luau with another group of people, then the family is planning something special for her afterwards. 
Mom wanted to go to the Luau, but was unhappy with her clothing options.  Hey, finally something I can help with!  So I told her I'd make her a pretty floral shirt, and then Liz and I got the idea to make a few nice leis.  Something people will want to keep.  We have a couple of cheap plastic ones, but I wanted to make something nice for mom and the family to wear to the party.

So I went to Jo-anns, and they have 40% off their fall floral. Lots of reds, dark yellows and oranges. I was hoping for purples, bright yellows, and whites. Well, we make do with what we can find.   We ended up with one bunch of yellow/brown and one bunch of red. At first I was worried about the yellow/brown, but I think the variety inside that one bundle allowed us to make some very unique leis for each person.

After disassembling the flower parts at home and organizing them by color, we started making moms lei first. Her outfit is black with red and white flowers on it, so I decided to go all read with a touch of green to break it up.  I wasn't really sure how to proceed, and I looked up a couple of internet tutorials, and just tried out things.

For this one I ended up stringing 5 flowers and one leaf, then tying and knot, repeat until the end.  This made a VERY full Leigh, and the spacing can be a little erratic.  I think I may redo this one to be longer, and have more even spacing.
I used the same technique on the orange/gold/red one for Liz.  Although hers is also bunched up, she's fine with it and plans to disassemble it for crafting materials after the party.  :)

I wanted to space them out more so I could make 2 more leis out of the final flowers, so I made mine next (dark yellow and white). I tied a knot on every single flower, keeping any flowers from bunching up.  It took a while, but it made a necklace with a LOT less flowers than the first two.

After finishing, I realized I had spaced them out a little too much, and also that I had still done a bit of an uneven job, but that I'm happy enough with it as is.

Lastly I made my hubbies, and I spaced his out nicely and evenly I think (again, by tying each and every flower and leaf in place).  I also really like how the brown/gold and green works well for making a more masculine lei.

In the end, I used up all but a small handful of the blossoms.  I really hope mom likes it all!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Summer/Fall "Dragon" Wardrobe

I've done more sewing in the last 15 days than I have in the last 15 weeks! I've posted pics of some of the wardrobe as I've gone along. Here it is, all together now that I finally, I got it done. 

It's all knits, but they vary a bit in type.  There are 3 nice cotton jerseys (though the magenta is a really heavy one).  The pink floral top is a slippery, poly blend with very little in the way of stretch. The dress is a lycra blend with lots of stretch in all directions, for a sporty feel, which makes a great play dress.
If you look carefully, you'll see that she posed her toy dragon for each different shot.  He was her "accessory".

Here is the composite, showing all 7 looks we got from the 5 items made.  I hope it all lasts her well into her next school year!
For information on sewing any of these, please check out my review HERE.

 This outfit seemed to bring out her inner Movie Star.

 Here she is simply having fun and playing with her favorite toy, Icy the Dragon.
This dress is certainly her favorite piece of the wardrobe (and she's happy to wear it alone or with leggings)

 I loved sewing this matching outfit of gathered sleeves and gathered leggings from the same pattern.  The fact that both of these fabrics were actually in my stash made me even happier!

She also really loves this top.  It's long sleeved, so will hopefully also serve her into winter and possibly even next spring!
 Here you can see the sleeve gather detail.

And here is the outer leg gather.  There is an inner leg gather as well.
So there it all is.  I'm really glad I took the time to do this for her, and I'm so happy there was a great contest out there to help inspire me when my sewing mojo was low!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Kids pick the darndest fabrics!

First off, I'd like to say how happy I am to be back at my sewing machine!  And with a new serger to use on knits, making Liz a 5 piece all knit wardrobe is proving to be fun AND a good learning experience with the new machine.

So you can see here the second fabric Liz picked out at Joanns. It's pretty crazy, but really pretty too.  There are lots of colors to mix and match in it, so it goes with a lot of other things.  I felt pretty lucky to have the magenta in my stash (thanks to my great aunt Barb!)  I have enough of it left (and more of this magenta solid too) to make one other item out of eventually.

I lengthened the sleeves and added a contrasting cuff so this will hopefully work well into fall and winter, but still be useful on the random cool summer days and evenings.

I also made the back leggings, another piece of fabric I've had in my stash from Aunt Barb.  These turned out great, and will be useful with so many things!  I expect she will get a LOT of wear out of them.  No, they aren't that exciting, but they are super practical for a girl who is suddenly into leggings with everything.

I was originally going to make the leggings in grey, and I still may do that, though I have a magenta pair (yes, THAT same magenta) already cut out.  You'd be surprised at how much of her existing wardrobe matches that bright magenta, lol.

Well, I'm off to cook dinner, and then back to my machine,  Yay!!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Summer knit dress, she loves dragons!

Here is Liz's new summer dress, part one of her Summer/Fall wardrobe I'm hoping to make her this month.

While out doing errands the other day, we stopped by Jo-anns to pick up some thread for another project, and I noticed they had a McCall's pattern sale.  I told Liz she could pick a pattern, and I would pick one for myself.  She selected McCall's 6915.
I realized I didn't have much in the way of knits in my stash, so and looked and saw their fun knits were on a good sale.  Liz picked 2 fabrics, one a purple and pink crinkle dye that she says looks like a dragon egg (looks like an Easter Egg at least.).  The other she selected is the crazy bird and floral pattern which will be my next project.

So she wanted the pink and purple made into the dress, and the other into a shirt.  I started with the dress, and saw that a previous reviewer mentioned it runs large.  I have about 4 yards of this plain grey knit, so I decided to put it to good use making a wearable muslin before cutting into the fancy fashion knit.

I'm so glad I did, the muslin was quite large.  Wearable, but wide in the body. 
After measuring the amount I needed to remove, I graded the pattern down to a size 2 in the shoulders, and 1 in the body.  The pattern only goes down to a 3, but I just kept going.
This meant I had to add a lot of length to the bodice, 2".  I left the skirt length at 6.  I think I should have added 3" to the bodice, and added another inch to the skirt.  The length is ok as it is, but I had to make a narrow hem to prevent it from being too short, and there is little room for her to grow taller in it.  Though one can always add ruffles, lol.

I didn't like the idea of the tied ribbon (it would just come off an active child), so I told her she could pick a knit trim.  Well, she picked this crazy sequin stuff because it looks like dragons scales to her, and has purple and pink in it to match the dress, and I do like the final effect.

She is so into dragons right now, this outfit may not look like it at first glance, but was entirely inspired by dragons, and mostly designed by Liz. :)

I finished hand sewing on the knit sequin trim early this evening, and we went outside to take pictures.  Ahh, summer.  Long afternoons, still warm and light outside at 7pm.

I think the back illustrates how much I improved the fit of the body.  That and the fact that she wanted to wear it to bed!  lol.  I had to tell her no (mostly because of the sequins in bed...seems less than comfy), but she can wear it as much as she wants in the daytime for the rest of the summer.

It's really good to be back to sewing.  Last month I started on a jacket for myself.  I got the base part assembled, but stopped at the point where I would start attaching the lining.  I think the heat killed my desire.  I hope to finish it next month though.  I hate UFO's.
But my spirits are really up, and I'm enjoying making this wardrobe for Liz.  I'm especially enjoying using my new serger!  I got it for Christmas but haven't had much opportunity to use it.  the next 5 projects are all knits, so it should get a lot of use.  I even broke a thread right after I started using it, and was able to re-thread it correctly!  That makes me feel much more comfortable with it, which is great because I'm still a little intimidated by sergers.
Here is my Pattern Review of the dress, for more technical sewing information.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Birthday Dress, Liz is Elsa!

My little girl is turning 7! Where does the time go.  I mean seriously, I have "Sunrise, Sunset" going through my head tonight, lol.

So Liz requested a costume party for her birthday, and she wanted to dress as Elsa from Frozen.  She said she wanted it for her birthday, and then for Halloween as well.

To start with, I had to learn how to French Braid (that's right, I'm almost 40 and have never learned how).  But a few Youtube tutorials and about 10 practice sessions later, I got the hang of it enough to pass at least.  Liz also found these AMAZING snowflake beads at Joans, and we wove them into her braid.

This posed a number of challenges for me.  First, I wanted to make her something comfy.  second, I wanted to make her something warm (I learned my lesson with Tinkerbelle, she WAS Frozen in that costume!  Poor thing.)

So I set about drafting a simple knit dress that would both look enough like Elsa's ice dress to make her happy, but also be comfy and warm enough to keep her happy. :)  I feel like I succeeded.  It's not the best looking or most accurate costume I've ever made, but Liz loves it and that is what really counts!  See, she's already pretending to do magic. :D

The final product is intentionally a bit large, as it does need to still fit her in 5 months for Halloween.  The cape isn't to extreme, as I wanted her to be able to run and play without tripping.  But it has some swing, and lots of sparkle!

I asked her to pose for me, and somehow she ended up looking like a runway model.  Just a chance of photography, but striking.

So, happy birthday to our little girl!!