Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Catching up

I realized that I've done some sewing in the past 6 months-1 year or so that hadn't gotten recorded, so I thought I'd take the time over the weekend and document them. I'm really bad at remembering to take photos of the things I make - mostly because I end up finishing them late at night and the light is awful at that time for taking photos. I always promise myself that I'll take pictures of them in the morning but I often forget and then weeks go by before I remember - usually because one of my kids is wearing whatever it is that I've made and that triggers the memory.

Anyway, here are the things I've done and only just now documented.

Pajamas for Maeve:

These are really spring-summer pajamas. The top is the Brooklyn tank top from Sewing Clothes Kids Love and the bottoms are the "Darla" pajama pants from the 6/2009 issue of Ottobre. These pants were meant to be longer but because I was making warm-weather pajamas, I decided to make them slightly cropped.
The tank is made from a cotton-lycra knit stripe from Sewzanne's Fabrics that I purchased about 5 years ago. The binding is a light-yellow cotton-lycra ribbing from JoAnn's. The pants are 100% cotton voile in a light pink. I'd originally purchased the voile for the lining of a dress I had planned for Maeve and I used the leftover voile for the pants. These are actually made from 2 layers of fabric because the voile was so see-through that I felt 2 layers were needed. It doesn't add a lot of weight to the pants and provides just the right amount of opacity.

I used some ribbon that I got online several years ago. The seller said it was a farbenmix ribbon but I've never seen it anywhere else. Then again, I didn't really look for it back then and it may have been sold at the farbenmix website at that time, but I didn't really look for it until I used it for these pants. The manufacturer doesn't really matter, though - what matters is that the ribbon is the perfect accent for tying the pants to the tank top. The drawstring at the waist is a recycled pink twill-tape drawstring from an old pair of lounge pants of mine. It was the perfect length and color. I think these were done in October 2010. You'll notice that I've used quite a bit of stuff from my "stash" for this - I'm trying to be good and not buy new unless it's absolutely necessary, since every pound counts when moving via the army. You're only allowed a certain amount of weight depending on rank and number of dependents, so I'm making an effort to make things from what I have.

Overalls for Tallon
I have a terrible time finding pants that fit over cloth diapers. It's truly the bane of my existence when it comes to my children's clothing. Thank goodness for Ottobre patterns! These overalls fit fine over cloth diapers, as you can see. These are from the 1/2007 issue of Ottobre, which is actually the first issue I ever got. I've always liked these overalls and was really excited to be able to make them. They're made from a fine wale corduroy in a sort of teal color that I got at JoAnn's. If you look at the magazine you'll see that the overalls are very similar in color, with theirs being slightly brighter. I was hoping this color would match the darker teal-grey stripe in his shirt; unfortunately the lighting in the store was deceiving and I didn't have the shirt with me. I've got plans for another shirt to go with this, though, so no worries.

What I like most about these overalls is the way that the legs are pieced together. It just makes sense to me, somehow. And the legs are baggy but with the elastic at the ankles, which I like, for some reason. There was quite a bit of topstitching on these and I alternated between using a reinforced stitch and simply stitching twice. I'm not sure which effect I like better. I chose to use a thread that matched the fabric, as opposed to a contrasting one, as shown in the magazine. It probably makes them slightly plainer and maybe even makes them look more home-sewn but I felt like the color I chose was already limiting in a way and I didn't want to lock myself into certain colors of shirts because they would look better with whatever contrasting thread color I'd chosen.

Not sure if you can see it in this photo, but I did have a problem with one of the buttons for the clips. These are the sort that you have to use a hammer with in order to get the button attached. Well, somehow I hit it on an angle and bent the button as well as the backing part. I had a bit of trouble but was able to remove it and find another back in my button stash. However, I had no more buttons that matched this color so I had to use it in its bent state. It works fine, though, and isn't too noticeable.

Here you see all of the topstitching required for these overalls and all of the little details: pockets on the front of the legs, a pocket on the bib portion, the belt loops, the faux fly. I chose to stitch the faux-fly down because it kept poofing out in a semi-open state and it looked odd. I don't do that for all faux fly pants, only if it seems to pop open frequently. All in all I'm quite pleased with the way that these turned out, though if I made them again I'd make the elastic at the ankles slightly shorter than called for. I did that portion while T was asleep and was unable to measure the length against the circumference of his ankle. I went with what the directions said was the proper length for the size but the legs don't always stay down and frequently I find him playing with the ankle parts up around his knees, as though they're meant to be knee-pants. These were finished a few days after Christmas 2010.

Puppet theatre for Gwyneth

I'd been meaning to make a puppet theatre for the kids since Maeve was an only child. In fact, I've had this pattern for years(Simplicity, sadly out of print now) but never gotten around to it. Silly, really, because it's so easy to make. This was Gwyneth's homemade Christmas present this year. What makes it even more special is that I only had to buy the red velveteen, gold ric-rac, gold lamé for the star and the gold tassels. Yeah, that sounds like a lot but it really wasn't. So the main stage portion that hangs down is made from a dark red cotton velveteen from JoAnn's and is trimmed with gold ric-rac. The valance at the top is from a beautiful purple cotton velveteen I had in my stash, with a gold lamé star fixed to the velveteen with fusible web and then zig-zagged on the edges. The ribbon trim is something that I had in my stash of trims. The curtains are made from purple taffeta left over from the pirate skirts and they get tied back with gold tassels on gold-colored rat tail trim, which hooks onto gold buttons from my stash. In fact, these are the buttons I originally wanted for Maeve's pirate frock coat but couldn't find enough of. I tension rod in the top and a piece of wood trim at the bottom of the "stage opening" to stabilize it and ta-da! A puppet theatre.

This present turned out to be more popular than I thought it would be and has already shown many performances of short "plays".

Farbenmix "Roxy" dress for Maeve:

This is probably the oldest thing that I have documented in this post. I made this back in 2009, around the time we were getting ready to move from WV to our current digs in Rockville. Maeve likes dresses for summer and this seemed like a quick, easy dress that she could run around and play in without worrying about getting it dirty or torn. It's a floral print rib-knit, purchased on ebay. There was a ton of this fabric and it was really cheap. I made a sundress for Gwyn out of it around the same time but Gwyn is now far too big for it. So they had matching dresses for a while. Luckily, this one was long-ish and seemed to run a bit bigger than I expected, so she's been able to wear it for 2 summers. Not sure if it will get through a 3rd but we shall see.

Instead of doing a facing at the neckline, I chose to bind it with lavender fold-over elastic because I didn't want any bulk at the neckline. And just to make sure that Maeve was able to get it over her head, I did the back placket option with purple snaps.

"Olivia" blouse and "Dora" skirt for Maeve:

The Olivia blouse is #13 and the Dora skirt is #14 in the 6/2007 issue of Ottobre. Originally these were to be a part of the SWAP that I was doing for Maeve back in Fall 2009. Due to several problems I never ended up finishing it but I'm still working on parts of it. The blouse is made from a Liberty of London cotton lawn and a lovely cotton calico in a coordinating color. I really enjoyed making this blouse and working with this fabric - I also used it for a tunic that was part of the SWAP.
Like the tunic, I used the floral for the main blouse pieces and the coordinating calico in the smaller areas - here the yoke and the inner collar are the parts made from the calico. Also, the buttons are a very cool iridescent magenta-purple color. This blouse was specifically made to go with the skirt and in the very top photo you can see how they look together. I really like that the blouse shape is very demure but the skirt is more fun, with the poufy shape and the fabric choice.
The skirt is made from a tie-dye fine wale corduroy that I fell in love with at JoAnn's and knew I had to buy and use for this skirt pattern. I think the tie-dye keeps the outfit from looking too fussy and gives a hipper vibe to the skirt. The lining is made from a very high-quality cotton shirting in a sort of mauve and burgundy/plum gingham/laid that I got for a steal at G Street Fabrics. I found it on the remnant table for $2.97/yard. For a shirting it's not thin at all and has a really tight weave. I also used it for the waistband on the skirt itself. And then, of course, I had to do the little ribbon embellishment they show in Ottobre. Actually, the skirt looked unfinished without it. I was able to find velvet ribbon in 2 colors similar to the tones in the corduroy and the blouse; not matching exactly but similar enough that they don't look out of place. Because this was for a SWAP and potentially Maeve would wear the skirt with different tops, I felt that anything that contrasted too much would keep her from wearing it with anything but the blouse, even though I thought the moss green tones in the floral print would have been lovely as ribbon trim and made a beautiful contrast.

Monday, January 3, 2011

You say you want a resolution...

New Year's resolutions. I usually don't make any because they always seem so trivial and I never stick to them anyway. But given the impending move, I have decided that I should make some sewing resolutions. Sewing resolutions have actually worked for me in the past and in a funny way. In 2005 I was pregnant and working on a wall-hanging that I'd started in 2000 when Maeve was an infant. I'd forgotten all about it and then came across all of the parts and I really wanted to finish it. I'd also started a baby quilt. Then I had a still birth at 22 weeks and I put it away because I couldn't deal with looking at it. New Year's was tough for me that year because it had been my due date. But after New Year I resolved to catch up on some projects and finish them and the wall-hanging was one of them. I told myself that I had to finish it by March so that I could get pregnant again. I finished it around March 1st and ended up getting pregnant later that month, the result of which was Gwyneth. That wall-hanging is in Tallon's room now and I always get compliments on it. I eventually dug out the quilt I'd started in 2005 and it became Gwyn's baby quilt.

1. I will complete all mending tasks by the end of January.
Right now I've got a huge pile of mending that needs to be done and which I've been putting off because, let's face it - mending is boring. However, I don't really want to move with an entire footlocker full of mending/repairs that are waiting to be done. Yes, there really are that many. So I'm committed to doing them all before the end of the month. Realistically it should take about a week or so. I think. Most of it is hand-sewing stuff, lots of darning and repairing of small holes, so it should go fairly quickly.

2. I will finish T-bird's quilt by Valentine's Day.
I'm a lazy schmuck. Okay that's not really true, though I have my moments. But seriously, I really should finish my son's baby quilt before he turns 2, don't you think? It's true that I started it late - I was wrapped up in making the girls their Easter dresses when I was pregnant with him and he did arrive about 10 days ahead of schedule. But in all honesty I could have gotten it started sooner. I didn't even bother to put the top together until two days before he was born! I just haven't been in the mood to quilt. But now I've really got to finish it because my brother and his wife are expecting their first child and I really have to make a quilt for that baby, so Tallon's has to get finished.

3. I will complete all of the pre-cut projects that are on my list.
RIght now this consists of only 1 dress for Maeve and a skirt for Gwyn, but I have other things I want to complete. The thing is that moving will not make things easy on my sewing stash and I need to put together all of the things that are currently cut out so that I won't lose any pieces.

4. I will actually sew something for myself.
I have lots that I want to make from Ottobre Woman but I've been so caught up in sewing for the other 3 that I haven't put anything together. I really want to make a couple of t-shirts and at least 1 skirt and 1 dress. I have the fabrics, it's merely a question of doing it. I think that this is the hardest thing to stick to, since I don't have a dressmaker's form and I hate having to measure myself. But I am determined to make something cute for me.

I'm always curious about other people's resolutions. Almost everyone I know resolves to lose weight, which they then feel guilty about because there is always something that gets in the way. I've done that in the past and it never seems to work out, so I'm going to try to be more active and be more mindful of what I eat but I'm not setting any specific goals. That way I won't beat myself up about not hitting my weight loss goals. What I would really like is to be able to exercise the way I did back in 2002-20034. Yes, the ultimate goal was weight loss but I wasn't really paying that much attention to the scale. Instead I was focusing on how often I exercised and for how long and how I felt afterward. I ended up losing a good deal of weight and made a formal dress that was fabulous. I can't fit in that dress now but I'd like to. What I'd really like, though, is to be able to get on my elliptical trainer and go 3 miles in 40 minutes and feel all sweaty and tired but exhilarated at the same time. It's a goal worth reaching. I sort of fell out of the habit of exercising when I had foot surgery in 2004 and never really got back into it. I want to, though, because I really did feel great after the workouts. And the side benefit of weight loss/toning is always something to smile about.