Thursday, December 22, 2011

A few of her favorite things

Sometimes, I get overly ambitious with my sewing plans, don't we all? But especially during the holidays.
I originally had planned to make a bunch of different things for Liz for Christmas. As the big day approached, I was forced to pare down my list somewhat. Mainly, I really wanted to get her 2 pairs of new PJ's done because it was getting so cold! And those took me a little while.
But, I had 2 must do presents. The Dinosaur Train fabric I had purchased for her at Fabric Depot with my birthday money, I really wanted to use that to make her something. I thought a shirt at first, but realized that would chop up the huge mural-like print. I found Simplicity 2825 in my stash, and thought the backpack would be perfect. Liz could really use something like that (trips, campouts, and maybe even for kindergarden next year), and it would also display the fabric well.

I really like how this turned out! It is very sturdy, and with the adjustable straps, really feels more like RTW. I also made great use of the print both front and back and even on the straps.

On a side note, I just want to say I also love Dinosaur Train. Jim Henson studios still puts out quality children's entertainment! I love that the show is so much fun, (I mean, dinosaurs and trains in the same kid's show? Genius!), but also teaches about evolution and the scientific method. And "Dr. Scott" is funny but smart, and reminds me of Ross from Friends.

Ok, back to the gifts! :)

I also really wanted to make her some hand puppets. All of her favorite stuffies are puppets. I know she likes cats, and also Pink and the Brain, so I thought the cat/mouse combo from Butterick 4209 would be a good way to go. I actually gave her these early (so they don't get overshadowed by her really big gifts), and she loves them!

I also managed to add a ruffle to some pants she has outgrown in height, but still fit in the waist, and I made her a pillowcase for her lovey pillow out of the Dino Train fabric remnant!
I've made a slew of other gifts for other family and friends, but won't post about them here until after the gift giving is done.

I hope Liz has a Merry Christmas, and happy holidays to everyone!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Am I seeing double (sweaters)?

That gorgeous snowflake sweater knit I got during my birthday fabric shopping trip has been well used!

I made my husband a sweater out of it first, as that was the reason I had purchased it. Turns out to be a great fit, but I somehow missed that this fabric says hand wash and lay flat to hubby hates special care fabrics. I hope he doesn't mind too much, I mean I'll be washing it, not him! lol. And it's just for winter after all. :) I had a lot left over after making his sweater, though.

I made a little sweater for Liz from Jalie 2805, but that hardly used any fabric at all! I still had a good amount left though not quite enough to make a long sleeved sweater for myself, and I thought a short sleeved sweater would look tacky on me in this fabric. Then it occured to me; my dad occasionally wears sweater vests! I didn't have a pattern for one, but I thought if I just took the sleeves off of Kwik Sew 3299 (the same pattern I had used for my hubbies sweater) and altered the armsyth a bit, it would work, and it did!

I am really proud of my re-design of that pattern, and the great fit on my dad! So now my loved ones have nice matching holiday sweaters. Liz just loves matching Dad and Grandpa, too. :)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Warm winter PJ's

Happy Christmas and happy Holidays everyone!
"Wait, is that another present?" you may ask. Well, yes it is! Liz really is the best gift. :D
Doesn't that fabric just blend right into the wrapping paper though? It's such a crazy, fun print.

As always, she was happy to be in the spotlight, and played it up for the camera. Honestly though, I never have to take many pictures, she's full of smiles!

So how did I come to actually make a garment out of such insanely bright fabrics?
A couple of months back, Jo-anns was having a really good sale on flannel prints. I got $10 and took Liz shopping to pick out 2 prints to make her some new PJ's. She has grown so much the last few months, she's grown right out of almost all of her jammies.

So what prints does she pick but the cutest cat print, and the loudest, brightest print in the store!!! :D With super neon green and pink buttons to match, lol.
Of course, she does love to read and be read to, and she likes worms and other bugs, so I shouldn't be surprised that she chose this print.

I have to say sewing these PJ's on my new machine was an absolute joy. The topstiching is straighter than anything I've done before, and the buttonholes look expert! One step buttonhole sewing is so awesome!! I also got to sew on the buttons using the machine, that was very easy and fun, too.

(Side note: Of course, I had a flummox getting a batch of bobbins for my new machine, because it only came with 3. I had to order them online, and I ordered the wrong ones. Doh! Now I have 50 bobbins that do not fit any of the 3 machines I own, lol. I do have the correct ones now, as well.)

So, I chose a simple pattern for this busy print, Simplicity 3987, very standard button front PJ's. I didn't like the facings, but the fit was very good, not as huge as most PJ's, and overall they are what I wanted. Next time I do this style, I would like a collar I think, though.

Of course, I had made up the cat print jammies earlier, because she wanted the same style as a pattern I had used before: Butterick (See&Sew) 4005. This really is my favorite PJ pattern that I have made, not that I've done THAT many yet. But I love how the tucks keep it shaped up top, but give lots of room everywhere else. It's also a very cute pattern with neat details. I hope to use this pattern for her for years.

So now she has a couple of pairs of warm PJ's her size for the winter, and it is getting very cold already, so it's just in time.

I haven't posted anything in a while because I have been working hard on presents. I don't want to post pics of presents as yet ungiven, and spoil the surprise for anyone. I plan on posting pics of some of them at last around the New Years.

Next up, a pair of fleece hand puppets for Liz for Christmas. She adores puppets and likes to have puppet shows with the others she already owns almost every day. I hope to make a cat and mouse and maybe a dog. Adding to her puppet collection will make her happy. :)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Holiday Tunic

As soon as I saw this gorgeous knit at Fabric Depot, I knew what I wanted to make with it, and I already had the perfect pattern for it, Simplicity 2852. I thought it would make a beautiful holiday tunic, to be worn over my green, white or black turtlneck's. Of course, I now also plan on making a red turtleneck....we'll see how that works out soon.

I adore the way this fabric gradates between 3 tones with different prints on each area. Is this what is called "ombre"?
I was very diligent in laying out and cutting to get the color pattern to line up across the entire garment, from yoke to sleeve to body to sleeve. It looks great when moving!
The bell sleeves are very lovely, a little bit retro 70's, but something I love about this pattern. So far, the only complaint is that the shoulders sit pretty wide. With a shirt under it, it isn't a problem, it doesn't slide or come off the shoulder. Worn alone, this would not work as well. All the same, if I ever made it again, I would try and bring each shoulder in about 1/2".

I also got a chance to use the stretch stitch setting on my new Brother. Wow, that makes sewing knits a joy! I even used it on the hem, and I love it. I have gained a lot more confidence for working on future, more ravely style knits.

My husband told me that with the black turtleneck and wide sleeves, I looked like a hippie pagan priestess. I told him thank you. :D Honestly, I love the look, and really can't wait for some holiday events so I can wear it. As a matter of fact, I may just wear it out to the is December now! :)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Happy PR day, shopping trip!

Happy 10th Anniversary PR, and all the wonderful members who have helped make it such a wonderful site.

After missing the chance to get up to Seattle for PR day, my family took me out to Fabric Depot in Portland. That place is amazingly huge! It really is the largest fabric store int he nation, with almost 1.5 acres of floor space! It was great fun to spend a couple of hours checking out all the fashion fabrics and sale items (because at heart I'm always a bargain shopper).
I had a list of patterns I was shopping for fabric for, mostly I wanted knits. So here is what I ended up with:

The white print on the left (not a great pic, but it has the same dusky blue in it as the solid above it) is a Moda 1930's reproduction. The soft blue is a drapy poly blend.

I plan to use these 2 to make this vintage jeans top, with the white as the bodice, and the blue for the sleeves and skirt. I think I want to use the pretty butterfly sleeves, though, I tend to dislike sleeve bands on my biceps.

I got a little over 3 yards of the maroon, it is a 2 way knit, pretty heavy with a nice soft hand. I hope to make the tie front cardigan from McCall's 6408. With the remainder, I am pretty sure I can squeeze out a basic long sleeved T, or perhaps a Jalie Sweatheart top.

That pretty red and gold ombre that gradiates from lilac to wine is also a knit, about 20%, and was so pretty I couldn't pass it up. I want to make myself a holiday top, so I'm going to make the square neck tunic from Simplicity 2852. I have a black turtleneck that will go perfectly under it.

Last in this pic but certainly not least is a pretty green sheer knit with floral emroidery. I got the crochet lace to the far right to edge it for this vintage Simplicity 6971 cardigan, view 2 (but without the clasp). There was 2-1/4 yards on the bolt, so I got the whole piece. I am hoping there might be enough to make a tank as well, but if not, I'm sure I can find a use for that remnant someday. :)

I also got a couple of character prints, the Dinosaur Train print is going to be a button front shirt for Liz. It is her favorite cartoon. The Spongebob print is actually for my husband's eldest brother (who is 60-something), but LOVES Spongebob. I am just making him a fun zipper pouch with extra pockets.

I also picked up a thread spool rack, something I've wanted for ages! It really helps organize the sewing area, I love it. There are a few nearly empty spools on here, so there is room for a few new ones if I need them.

I also wanted to share my new shears! Ok, I didn't buy these today, they were actually a birthday gift from James, along with the sewing machine. Isn't he great!? These are GREAT shears, 1000 times better than my old cheapo things. I love feeling like I'm actually getting good tools for doing all this, now. Oh, I got a very nice glue gun, too, but I don't think we need pics of that, lol.
Alright, back to the fabric and shopping day!

Next I had to stop at Jo-anns, since I had 2 really great coupons. I got the fleece on the left for part of a mouse puppet I plan to make for Liz, and perhaps another stuffie as well. The snowflake sweater knit in the middle was my big buy there (50% off, 2-1/2 yards), it's a wonderful cotton/poly mix. I plan to make a pullover sweater for James, and a matching one for Liz.
The red on the right is a true jersey knit (at 60%off!) which I've never sewn with before. I want to make Liz and myself both long sleeved tops for winter.

Now, after I was done shopping, my father wanted me to come over and visit my great aunt and uncle. I haven't seen them since I was probably 20 (over 15 years), but they were very excited to have company. My great aunt is 92, and my great uncle is 90, but they were both sharp as tacks and completely physically active. They are both very into all sorts of crafting, she actually used to teach sewing, so she gave me an old book she taught from for sewing knits. It's really great, actually! My great aunt also wanted to share some of her fabric stash with me.
From left to right: About 3 yards of pink fleece, the blue I am not sure, a cotton challis?, yellow floral jersey knit, the autumn print is poly or rayon and very drapey, then 2 beige sweater knits, one kind of knobbly feeling, and one striped (good for James!), then a sky blue sport knit, and a dark pink....I don't know what! It is pretty heavy, like pantweight, but very drapey. A really great grab bag she shared with me!
Overall it was a very successful day. I almost doubled my fabric stash in a single day! Well, if you don't count the old sheets in there, lol. I now have enough projects lined up to last me until next summer at least.

I hope everyone else had a fun and productive PR day, weather you were shopping with a group, doing fittings, or home sewing, or just being with family.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

My birthday vest

I got all those wonderful vintage patterns as a prize recently, and I really wanted to give one a try. I originally wanted to have something new to wear to PR day in Seattle, but now that I won't be going (snow + 6hour round trip drive = no :(), I decided to make something for myself for my birthday.

Burda 3386 is designed for faux furs and fabrics with a nap.
Jilly was kind enough recently to pass on to me some beautiful dark purple velveteen. When I got it, I wasn't sure what to do with it, but when I saw this vest pattern, I thought it was a perfect match for the zippered view C.

I know they aren't traditional welt pockets, but I'm not sure what else you would call those diagonal zipper pockets. They are created the same way as a welt (from what I've read, this is my first time making anything like these), only instead of using a fabric rectangle or flap over the top, it has the zipper.
I spent so much time making sure those were perfectly lined up and sewn, I didn't pay enough attention to the fit on the shoulders, which turned out too wide. They stick out a bit, I should have thought to look carefully at the shoulder size of any 80's pattern!! lol

Because it is such a dark purple, it can be worn with quite a lot of tops. I own a number of turtlenecks, and now that winter is on the way, I'll be happy to have this vest to add another layer for warmth. I do hate to wear coats inside shops or restaurants, but I'm often too cold to just wear a long sleeved top. This will help keep me warm, and hopefully still stylish, despite the too wide shoulders.

Liz wanted to get in the pictures, and wish me a super happy birthday. She was so cute singing to me, and I had a great day!

And although I won't be able to attend PR day, my family is going to take me out to lunch and then to Fabric Depot (The largest fabric store in the USA!) in Portland for our own little PR shopping day.
I'll post pictures of any interesting finds I bring home from my shopping trip. And to everyone who is getting to attend their local PR days, I hope you all have a wonderful and productive day!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Brotherly love

Ever have one of those days that starts out bad but ends up good?
Today I was working on a vest I'm hoping to finish in time to wear to PR Day Seattle, and my sewing machine simply would NOT sew the tricot lining, no matter that I had stretch needles, or what tension setting I used, or anything. It was beyond frustrating, and I couldn't figure out what to do.

Well, my husband lugs this giant blue bag out with a huge bow, and tells me he can't wait until my birthday in 2 days, just to open it now. And look what I got!!! It is a Brother 7500, with all the trimmings.

He says he read up on dozens of machines, probably hundreds of reviews, and even took a quiz for what sewing machine would best fit :D Isn't he the best hubby ever?

My oldest machine was great, honestly, for a $75, 10 year old machine, it was a champ. It is a heavy duty, has 9 stitches, no way to change the stitch width or presser foot tension or anything. Very solid little guy, but very basic. It has got me through every project for years. And it will be a perfect little back-up machine, I'll keep it.

But my new machine? It has everything!
Out of idle curiosity, after getting it threaded and figuring out a few basics, I decided to try it on the tricot, and with a regular sharp needle, and no special setting, it sewed the tricot without missing a single stitch! I was instantly in love!

And it has so many decorative and quilt stitches. It has multiple one step buttonholes, automatic needle threading, and an extended table! It even came with many specialty feet, including a walking foot and a quilting foot.
But just look at all these stitches. Leaves! Hearts! Flowers! I can't wait to get some more creative projects ready and really put this new gal to work.

Isn't it so pretty? Sigh....
I am having a very good day. And a very very good (early) birthday. :D

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Halloween family fun

Happy Halloween everyone! I do hope everyone had a great one.
This is the first year Liz was old enough to go door to door. We still hit the mall first, since it was too cold to wear her wings outside. She got a lot of great comments, and one store even went a little nuts over her, all the employees started yelling "ding ding ding! We have a winner!" And they went back and got her a big package of Tinker bell shaped sweet tarts. That was pretty entertaining.
Dad came over early and spent most of the day with us. It was also nice, we got a lot of comments on having the whole family dressed up, because so many people only dress up their kids.
I'm glad dad still likes his pirate costume, too. :)

And James was pretty thrilled a couple of young people stopped him to ask about is costume, and he got a lot of interested looks. So overall, a very fun and happy Halloween.
She got SO much candy from the neighborhood though, her bucket was so full, we had to help her carry it between houses at the end. Now who do you think will eat most of that candy? Hint: it won't be Liz, or me. lol
Oh, she'll get her share, of course. We just have to dole it out a little bit at a time for a week or so, letting her have her favorites.

Some of the more interesting other costumes we saw included Waldo (cane, backpack and all), and Mario and Luigi. Also, a giant robot with flashing eyes. I love seeing all the other costumes, that is why this is my second favorite holiday! :)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Steampunk, a truly cool aesthetic

My husband's Halloween costume is finally finished! And by finished, I mean "for now". We have many things we'll be adding for future Halloweens, such as a proper Victorian shirt, a button vest, some long leather side button spats, and more. But for now, I think we have the most basic elements that he really wanted.
Right now, it's a bit of a fantasy/sci-fi version of Steampunk, since we had to make due with what we had in some places.
A LOT of work went into this costume, from both of us, and James is beyond thrilled to finally be Steampunked out. He has even been growing out his beard in a Franz Josef style to try and get a more Victorian look.
I have to say one thing, the costume (and his beard) look much better in person than in the pictures.

I really do have a total love/hate relationship with the coat pattern, though! Simplicity 2517 really makes a great coat (haha, a great coat, and a Greatcoat..get it?), but the trials getting to the finished product were very painful.
I have never worked with a pattern containing so many errors and misprints. In one place, I was at a complete loss at how to proceed, and if it wasn't for some great advice from my friend Sheila, I don't know what I would have done.
Sewing that thing took me 12 days of very hard work to make. But I don't want to be ALL negative about the coat. The pattern has great details; I love the pockets with the decorative welts, the hang of the capelet, the full lining, the fake sleeve placket (hidden by the bracers, sadly) is even a nice touch on a costume. I also think the yards of faux leather trim I added make it look much less costume-y. That fabric was expensive, and a bit of work to make into binding strips, but well worth the extra effort. It is like doeskin, so soft to the touch it almost feels trimmed in fur.
I have to share a picture of the details. The gorgeous paisley lining, soft leather trim, and cool brass buttons.

So the final product is excellent, much better than a cheap costume coat.
For more information on the details and construction of the coat, and more pictures of the coat from side and back, please see my PR Review.

Moving on. :D
My husband really took the coat I made for him and ran with it, making a ton of very cool accessories for his costume.

The cane was my idea in a general way, but it was James that really made it cool. Would you believe that copper tubing wrapped around it is copper spray painted old coax cable?
The green power source is a tabasco bottle filled with green food colored water, lit with a penlight from underneath.
The light on top is an old motion sensor we used to have in the hallway in our old house, but no longer need in the new place. It's also carefully painted, and decorated with nuts (the metal sort, not the edible kind!).

It looks really cool at night, when the green bottle gives off nice eerie glow, and the top light is bright bluish white.

On a side note, those are his old SCA leather bracers, previously serving for 1500's period looks, they work well for this anachronistic costume, too!

The goggles are purchased (only about $6), but much altered. Also painted with copper spray paint, and decorated by James. The movable (and completely functional) magnifying eyepiece is also his own addition, somewhat modeled after the eyepiece worn by Johnny Depp in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.
The hat is one of many he already owned, being a big hat collector. It is a very nice traditional fedora, felt with a leather band.

To add even MORE detail to the goggles, he also took some old wristwatch gears and glued them artfully on the sides, along with a few more nuts and bolts around the rims.
Overall, I think it's a really great costume, and lots of fun. It has the potential to be even cooler, as both of us plan on making additions to it over the years. I really like this style so much, I'm hoping to make my own steampunk costume next year, something I can also wear and build upon for years to come.

Well, Halloween is only 2 days away! I have cookies to bake and a pumpkin to carve, and a few other details to take care of.
I hope everyone has a VERY happy Halloween!!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

If the shoe fits, buy it!

Pumps, and flats and sandals, oh my!
I really want to share these new (to me) shoes I just got.

In my recent post and review of McCall's Palmer Pletsch Perfect Knit Dress, you may have noticed that my feet weren't showing in any of the pictures.
There is a very good reason for that, I don't own any matching dress shoes! Well, I didn't, until yesterday. :)

Once upon a time, I had a half dozen or more pairs of lovely shoes, but things change, and now I was down to one pair of black tennies, and some black sandals.
Yes, my lack of dress shoes was downright sad.

At a recent trip to Goodwill to hunt up a straw hat for a friend, I found 2 very cute pair of shoes! I didn't really "need" black shoes as desperately as white ones, but these were just too cute NOT to get!! Black suede with silver studs, yet I don't think they look too punk. And they look good with jeans, too.

And I did find a pair of pale cream shoes with gold fastenings, so now I have shoes to match all of my recently sewn outfits, yay!

They are both in excellent shape. The black ones especially look like they were not worn much, almost new, no scuffing even on the soles. The cream ones have a little wear, but are in very good shape. And how lucky was I to find these, they fit me perfectly, too!
Who can beat 2 pairs of shoes for a total of $16? I'm too thrilled! :D

Monday, October 17, 2011

I won! Well, Tinker Bell won for me :)

Costume Contest Large

Hurray, I actually won a contest!
You may or may not know, I just love entering PR contests. They are fun, great inspiration, and mostly great company (like a sew along with a chance of a prize). But I've never won first place before. It is a really great feeling. :D
Thanks to everyone who voted for me, or for Liz as Tinker Bell, that is.

I received a $100 gift certificate to Patterns From the Past, and that's quite a lot of money to spend on vintage patterns!

I spent hours and hours picking out patterns, changing my mind numerous times, and it was all so much fun! I've only ever sewn one vintage pattern (some children's pants), and I'm very much looking forward to trying out some more interesting ones.
I'll be getting my first ever Burda patterns (both vests...hmmm), and also my very first ever Vogue pattern.
When will I ever have a chance to make or wear this Vogue evening gown you ask? well, SOMEday (my 20th wedding anniversary??), I am sure I will, and this gown looks timeless.

Here are a couple of my other favorite patterns that I selected:

If you'd like to see more (or all) of the patterns I picked out, you can check out my Vintage Pattern Album.

Again, thanks everyone, for your votes, for your very nice comments, and everything. :D I hope everyone has a very Happy Halloween!!

Friday, October 14, 2011

It really is the perfect knit dress!

McCall's 5974, a Palmer Pletsch classic fit design, calls itself "The Perfect Knit Dress", and I have to agree!

The pattern has wonderful pleated details, a lovely mock-obi wrap tie that covers common trouble spots, and detailed instructions for making many fit alterations for different body types.

It was a joy to sew up, with the biggest challenge for me being the pattern placement on my insane fuchsia print fabric, to avoid getting circles in inappropriate locations.

I am VERY happy with the finished dress! It is a great fit, and I think will work for both every-day wear and for some dressier occasions.

I could really go on and on about how great this pattern and dress are, but my husband has given me a new project which I really need to get cracking on! He wants an elaborate steampunk costume for Halloween, and I really must get started on the coat for it.
Oh, time, would that I had more for sewing! :)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Summer's gone but not forgotten

Remember not too long ago when it was summer, and it was hot??? You know, hot enough to sit for hours in a pool of cool water?

Well folks, here comes fall, like it or not!
I've noticed since we moved back to the valley that the weather here is VERY literal. On the coast, it was kind of warm and partly sunny, partly rainy half the year, and kind of cold and rarely sunny, mostly rainy the other half. Not a huge difference though.
Here, it was HOT in the summer. Hot enough to go sit in a cold pool of water all afternoon! Something that just never happened on the coast! lol.

And now that it is Autumn, the leaves are already falling, and the weather has turned cool and rainy, I wanted to look back on some of the best moments of summer.

Near summers end, Grandpa took us all to the Enchanted Forest, a great little theme park that is only about 20 minutes from our new house, where almost all of the rides and activities are aimed at a small children, not older ones. We had SO much fun. There is a storybook lane with tons of fun activities.

Also, kiddie rides galore!

There was also a haunted house, a dragon and monster shooting ride, Medieval village, a live comedy play of Little Red Riding Hood, western town (where Liz got her picture taken with Honest Abe),

and lots more. We forgot to bring our nice Camera :( but Grandpa was smart enough to snap a few shots on his camera phone,
It was fun for the whole family! :)

The hottest day out was at the Air and Art festival. During the day, we had lots of fun feeding the ducks, wondering around the art booths and displays, and playing in the kids art area.

It was sooo hot that day, I mean sweating in the shade, red faced hot! We all tried to stay in the shade during the hottest part, while Liz crafted her alien/bug own antenna.

Later that evening when it started getting dark there was a very cool air balloon light show.

And after that, there was a cool laser light show. That was a really great day!

Yeah, so this has absolutely nothing to do with sewing, but no worries, I'll get back to that soon enough!
In the meantime, stay warm and dry, and enjoy the new season, but remember the fun of summer!