Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Tiny Dancer Geranium

I've actually been doing quite a bit of sewing here, I've just not been really good at getting pictures. I took a bunch of recent projects today, so hopefully I'll have more to show here soon. Especially since the closer I get to that due date (July 21st!), the harder is for me to lean over a cutting table, the less sewing I'll be doing. Today, I (just about) finished up the first thing for my baby girl. I still have to put some fasteners of some sort on the back, but other than that, I'm calling it done.

This is the Geranium dress pattern by Made by Rae. For awhile she was offering the 0-3 month size pattern for free, so I snatched it up, since that's the first size I was going to make anyway. I also thought it would be a good way to try the pattern. Well, I think it's adorable and so easy, so I'll definitely be buying the whole pattern soon.

I made the tunic option, thinking that would be the most useful for a newborn. Won't it look cute with a purple diaper cover peeking out? The fabric is Cotorienne Can-Can in aqua by Anyan for Yuwa, which I picked up from Pink Castle when it was on sale. I loved the print and knew it would make the cutest girl clothes without being over-the-top GIRL.

I almost left those pockets off thinking they would be a) useless for a newborn and b) too much on such a little piece of clothing. In the end, I decided to put them on as I really feel the pockets are the cutest part of this pattern and what makes it different from other dresses out there. I'm so glad I did, because I think they really take the top up a notch.

As you can see, I still need a method of closure on the back. I was going to do buttons, but they'd have to be tiny, and I think snaps will be easier to maneuver on a wiggly newborn. I've never done snaps before, so it'll be a new skill learned, too.

I can't wait to see some chubby little legs sticking out from this top!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Mother's Day pillows

I've had this idea floating around in my head for awhile, but originally it was meant to be a full scale quilt. Since I had sort of missed my mom's birthday and Mother's Day was looming, I decided to jump in and just make a couple of pillows instead. I'd still like to do a quilt this way, but I'm pretty ecstatic with how these turned out.

My original idea for a Hawaiian shirt quilt included collecting thrifted and donated old Hawaiian shirts. I do have a basket that is collecting shirts for that purpose, but I didn't have enough for these pillows. So I rolled on down to my local Jo-Ann's (which is much more local now, hurray!) Who knew they would have so many different kinds of tropical shirting fabrics? And there were even more in their on-line store, though I stuck to the ones at my store here. By the way, the 100% cotton shirting fabric was so dense, I had to use a denim needle to sew these - anything smaller just pushed the fabric into my throat plate!

I thought the best way to put all of these crazy fabrics together in one place would be a giant log cabin block, so that's what I did. I wanted the two pillows to be slightly different, so I fussy-cut the centers from 2 different fabrics and then followed the same order of the logs. I ran out of fabric at the end, it was just short of the size I needed, so I pulled some Kona black from the stash to sort of frame it all in. I actually love how the black fabric kind of grounds all of the craziness going on.

The palm tree fabric really reminded me of my parents' beach house (where these are meant to live), so I bought enough extra of that fabric to make a nice envelope back. I also thought it would still work if they ended up turned around on her green couch. The pillow forms were leftovers from Christmas sewing. They are down and I got them from for a great price. I love how squishy they are, but they still have a little firmness to them since I made the covers a 1/2" smaller than the form (my favorite pillow making trick!).

Unfortunately, I was so excited to give them to my mom, who happened to be visiting over Mother's Day, that I forgot to take any pictures before they left. So Mom graciously snapped some shots pool side. Thanks, Mom!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Giving the serger a go

This past Christmas, my parents and in-laws got together and generously bought me the serger I had been eyeballing on Amazon. As excited as was to receive it, though, I'm afraid it sat in its box for a good 3 months before I got up the courage to get it out and give it a whirl. Because of all the doom-and-gloom postings about finicky sergers on the interwebs, I was afraid to use it before I even got it! I saw a Beginner Serging class on Craftsy and decided to purchase it. I got my Brother 1034D and completed most of the lessons, though I haven't attempted the projects made in the class yet. And surprise, surprise, it's pretty easy! The thing most people find difficult on the serger, the threading, was actually a piece of cake! I mean, there are even step by step pictures on the machine to help you out.

After I got comfortable enough with the serger, I decided to make some clothes for my friends' daughter's birthday. The shorts are the oliver and s puppet show pattern, made with some cute twill I got at Joann's. I mainly used the serger just to finish the seams.

These came together very quickly and I am quite happy with how they turned out!

For this skirt, I kind of, well, just winged it. BUT, I used my serger to ruffle the knit fabric (also picked up at Joann's) as well as to put the whole thing together. I had to do some finagling with the ruffle layers, and it came out a little heavy in the end, but I think it's cute and wearable.

I was going to attempt some t-shirts to go with, but I decided these cute ones from Kohl's were easier and cheaper than making them myself. Call me lazy.

I've actually been doing tons of sewing and knitting, but either they are gifts I don't want to be in the public domain yet, or they are in a state of unfinish that is not really photographable. I have my mom's Mother's Day/birthday presents done, though, and I'm pretty proud of them, I'll show them next weekish!

Friday, April 19, 2013

New Quilty Love

I've been looking for interesting blocks, modern but not too modern, that I can piece, frame and hang on the big blank wall in my living room. As I decorate the not-so-new-anymore house, I'm trying to make as many pieces as I can. I'm not really the hang-a-quilt-on-the-wall kind of person (more of a snuggle-underneath-a-quilt person), but I thought showcasing some really cool blocks would be a good way to incorporate my love of quilting into the house. I started cruising through Pinterest and my quilt blogs, but every time I found a block that met my criteria, I would find that it's part of the Lucky Stars Block of the Month class.

January Block - Funky Star

Finally, I just caved and joined the class. So far, the blocks have been beautiful, and exactly what I was looking for. I've never done paper piecing before, but now I'm hooked. There's just something that warms my little ocd heart about the precision of paper piecing and the perfectly placed seams it creates. Granted, it takes a little extra thought and planning, and seam ripping is no fun, but the results are soooo worth it.

February Block - Exploding Star

Because I'm impatient to get something up, I pieced the first 3 blocks and pulled greens, teals, yellows, oranges and aquas from my stash to bring some color into the living room. The background for all three is Robert Kaufman Yarn Dyed Essex Linen in black. I love this fabric and the way colors pop off of it. I would love to make a whole quilt with this as the background someday. I'm even thinking about making Jack a pair of pants or a shirt with it! Yes, I'm a little obsessed.

March Block - Ninja Star
These pictures really don't do these blocks justice - the colors are gorgeous in person. Now I just have to figure out how I want to hang them. I was originally thinking I would pop them in a black frame and that would be that, but I'm not so sure that would work. My most recent idea is to put a black border on them, quilt them with some really thin batting and wrap them on a canvas. Hmmm....

Monday, March 25, 2013

A Washi Tunic

The past few weeks I've been on a selfish sewing bender. I think it's kind of a backlash from the (little bit of) Christmas sewing I did and the fact that I no longer feel like laying on the couch 24 hours a day and puking my brains out (thank you, second trimester!) Also, I've finally hit the point in pregnancy when I can no longer deny the fact that my belly hangs out just a little bit from the bottom of most of my non-pregnancy shirts.

Maternity clothes are expensive and they never go on sale, because stores don't need to put them on sale - we pretty much have to buy them. You also only wear them for about 6 months, times however many kids you have. Unless you're a Duggar, that's a pretty high cost per wear. With my son, I didn't go crazy with the maternity clothes - I worked through most of my pregnancy and scrubs are comfy and fairly forgiving. I did buy several pairs of maternity pants (jeans, cords, khakis), a few tees and tanks, which I am happily using this time around. But coming off of a long, cold winter, I decided I wanted, no, needed some cute, springy, comfy clothes. So I've been slowly building my "maternity" wardrobe. I put maternity in quotes, because I am trying to make things that will look just as cute without a bun in the oven - trying to drive down that cost per wear...

Last year, when I made my Washi dress, I immediately knew I wanted to make a tunic version. In fact, I bought fabric to make 2 tunics. But I also knew I needed to do a Full Bust Adjustment, or FBA, and I was daunted. All of the blog posts and tutorials I read seemed really involved and confusing. A couple months later, I did work up the courage to attempt it and managed to come up with a pretty well-fitting Washi bodice muslin. And then it got shifted to the bottom of the pile again to make way for Christmas sewing. I've always thought the Washi would work well for maternity as well as non-maternity, so I pulled out my yardage and got to work.

The main fabric is Native Foliage in cocoa from Hello Pilgrim by Lizzy House. I love this collection for its bright Spring-y colors, but this fabric in particular because the beautiful colors pop right off the dark background. That's kind of my thing.

I added a band of Kaffe Fassett Shot Cotton in Clementine to the bottom, kind of as an afterthought. I tried it on before I hemmed it and decided that, while it was long enough now, I might want a little extra length in the home stretch, when my belly goes from this:

to this:

I was pretty amazed I had something in the stash that matched. I love how the shot cotton picks up the little coral and pink strawberries in the fabric. I had tossed around using an emerald tonal print I have, but I am so glad I went with the shot cotton. I love the stuff!

I also did the simple U neckline this time, instead of the U-shaped cutout. I can't decide which I like more. The cut-out definitely gives it a little more interest, but this way was easier. I stitched down the facing as well, so that the stitching is visible. I'm not sure it added enough to the top, especially considering it seems to highlight some facing issues I had. The fabric is dark enough to hide it for the most part.

All in all, I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. Now I need to knit a cute Spring cardigan to go over it! I have some voile fabric earmarked for another Washi, but I think I'm going to try out a new knit pattern first...

Friday, March 1, 2013

Chirp Chirp...

Sorry about the sound of crickets around here - seems like Christmas came and went and turned right into March! And as the 2 people who actually read this blog pointed out to me, I haven't posted in about 3 months. Yikes.

Well, I made lots of wonderful things for Christmas, some of them so last minute I was actually casting off as the plane was touching down on my way to see the intended recipient. And there was one gift I was working on into January. However, everything managed to come off mostly without a hitch.


That was months ago. In the interested of moving on to better and brighter (and warmer) things, I'll just post a few pictures in this post with a little description and we'll move on. By the way, this has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I forgot to take pictures of a lot of my handmade gifts. Nope, nothing at all.

This is the pillow I made for my friend in New Mexico. It was super last minute, considering it had to be done in time to mail it without paying to overnight it. I didn't follow a pattern or tutorial, just kind of came up with it on my own with some visual inspiration from Pinterest. This Christmas I made a huge effort to use what I already had - this started as a charm pack of V & Co's Simply Color I had been hoarding. I loved the rainbow of colors. I had a bit of trouble with the back, and the pieces that make up the envelope are not as long as I like, but it works. I used an amazing down pillow form I got at for WAAAYYY cheap. I bought several for future pillow endeavors.

Excuse the wrinkles :) This is the Little Red Riding Hood cape I made for my niece. I used the pattern from the oliver and s book Little Things to Sew. I gussied it up a little by making it with red wool coating - I wanted it to be both something she could play dress up in and something nice to wear out. I lined it with some pretty navy and white dots and added a wooden button. I also top stitched around the whole thing, even though that wasn't in the pattern. I think it made a huge difference in the polish. I added a beautifully illustrated version of Little Red Riding Hood to the package - I had no idea how, um, graphic the original story is! Don't worry, I read it to my own son first to make sure it wasn't too scary...

This lonely fella is half of a pair of boot cuffs I knitted for my SIL. Yes, I did make 2, I just didn't get around to taking a picture of both! I used the Boot Candy Boot Toppers pattern by Sara Gresbach, found here on Ravelry. I used stash yarn and I thought they turned out pretty cute, though I did have an issue trying to decided on a bind-off.

And finally, the sort-of finished product I had been working on in this post. This is the gift I finished on the plane. Well, I bound off on the plane. I hadn't finished the crocheted edge on the button band you see above, sewn on the buttons, or blocked. But I wrapped it up and gave it to my mom and - hold your breath - she seemed to like it! She really seemed to like it! I told her she could pick the buttons and she surprised me by picking these red ones we found at the little fiber shop in Southport, NC. Unfortunately, I haven't seen it on her yet, since that blocking picture above was taken on the day we left to come home. She did email me the first time she wore it to work to tell me everyone loved it and thought it was store-bought, which is apparently one of the highest compliments you can get as a sweater knitter. With this cardigan, I now feel that I have finally knit my first real sweater, and though this one was a bear, I am working on another for myself right now, so I guess it didn't scar me for life.

So, that's it for Christmas. I suppose if my (many) neighbors can leave their lights up into March, I can blog about it in March, right? Next time, some more current stuff, promise.