Monday, December 11, 2017

Art Gallery Dress

My sweet, shy, and sassy Beckers turned 4 in August! I made eyelet dresses for both of her big sisters' 4th birthdays, but they just weren't worn as often as I would have preferred, so I decided to go a different route for Becker's dress. Twirly dresses are always a favorite, and so is knit, so that's what I went with!

  I'd bought a single yard of an Art Gallery knit to test out from Imagine Gnats on Black Friday last year- the Sprinkled Peony Serene from the Garden Dreams, and 1.5 yards of the solid knit in 'Tender Green' to go with it, and when I searched my shelves for just the right fabric for Becker's dress, these two were perfect! Like everyone says, Art Gallery knits are really nice- not quite as thick as I prefer, but really soft and stretchy, and they've worn really well. (Although my solid had a small flaw in it that I didn't notice until I'd cut my pieces, and I didn't have enough to re-cut.)

  I was originally planning to make the entire skirt out of the print, but 1 yard just isn't enough for a full circle skirt on this lanky little girl, so I had to add length with the solid. And the solid wasn't a perfect match for the background of the print, but I had a few yards of dark magenta knit from Nick of Time Textiles that made gorgeous flat piping. I really love the effect- I'm so glad I didn't have enough of the print!

 I also used strips of the magenta between the skirt and bodice, and around the collar, as well as making the neckband and sleeves from it. I decided to do a neckband as well as a collar because my attempts at collars on knits haven't gone well in the past... I don't love the look, but it is an improvement over previous attempts. I really wish I'd interfaced that collar though!

  I gathered the sleeves to bands- also a change for me, since I usually lettuce-edge them and gather them in with elastic thread. But I wanted a bit more of the magenta in there. =)

  The pattern is a very modified Jalie 2805... it's often much quicker to just modify a basic pattern like that to match the idea in my head than to search for a new one!

Beckers loved this dress! And still wears it every time it's clean, even after staining the bodice with dry-erase markers. (I really dislike dry-erase markers- we've lost quite a few garments to them, and all of my attempts at stain removal have been for naught.)

  Beckers is such a fascinating little girl- she's a perfect mixture of sweetness and sass, and has some pretty strange ideas sometimes. She's so enthusiastic that sometimes I forget how shy she can be, and how much she loves her alone time, and just how many hugs she really requires.

  She's been listening while I've been teaching her sisters, and it's amazing sometimes just how quickly she picks things up- like memorizing a poem that her sister was working on, when it looked like she was totally engrossed in drawing! But she can also forget the name of something 20 times in as many minutes.

  Beckers and Foof are best frenemies, sometimes traipsing all around the house hand-in-hand while playing pretend, sometimes fighting like cats! But always giving each other the sweetest hugs and saying, "I'm sorry," when reprimanded.

  And oh, Beckers has such an imagination! She's always telling stories and playing pretend, and just generally dreaming up new things.

  She's a very active little girl, and loves to come up with new 'exercises' to show me. She taught herself how to do a headstand (against a wall, or very briefly in the middle of the room) this year, and it seems like she's upside-down every time I turn around!

  We just love this mischievous, adorable, wonderful, little girl!

  Beckers begged for a party this year, so we planned to meet some family at the park a few days after her birthday, and I was supposed to bring cupcakes, but I also wanted cake for her actual birthday. So I tried something new and made ice cream cake! It has three layers of homemade ice cream- chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla- on top of a chocolate cookie base (that I definitely overcooked and that was quite the job to saw through once frozen!) all covered with semisweet ganache, then decorated with swirls of whipped cream and chocolate-covered almonds.

  Beautiful and delicious!

  Although again, seriously difficult to cut! This was the prettiest slice I managed:

  I'll do something else for the crust next time, but will definitely make ice cream cake again. ;-)

Thanks for stopping by,

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Bear Backpack

Have you seen this unicorn backpack from Sew Much Ado? I came across it earlier this year, and I kept coming back to the idea of a simple animal face backpack for my nephew's 2nd birthday. He was a roly-poly, adorable baby, and everyone said he was just like a teddy bear, so that's what I went with:

  I followed the general method shown in the tutorial from Sew Much Ado, but came up with my own pattern pieces, sized to fit a two-year-old. I had the two corduroys on hand already, the tan leftover from Christmas dresses last year, and the brown from when I was trying to find a good match for the plaid of those same dresses. I decided to use a zipper I had on hand too, but I wish I'd bought a longer one as the opening is a bit on the small side this way:

  I used some buttons I had on hand (I see a theme emerging) for the eyes:

  For the nose, I used a scrap of black leather (also on hand...). I was worried about damaging the muzzle with a leather needle, so I just used the leather needle and no thread to pre-punch holes on the leather only, then hand-turned the wheel with a regular needle to sew into those holes.

  I embroidered the mouth with six strands of black floss and a backstitch:

  I didn't feel like I'd have time to hand-stitch the muzzle on, and wasn't sure it would be sturdy enough if I did anyway, so I did a 'cheater' stitch and used that as a guide for pressing the seam allowances under, then edge-stitched the muzzle onto my interfaced and flex-foamed main face portion. I was really happy with how well that worked!

  I did the ears the same way, but didn't include flex foam in them because I didn't want them to end up bulky.  I top-stitched around the outer edge of the ears before sewing them to the main backpack, to give them a bit more rigidity. I shaped the ears so the base has the same curve as the top of the head when upright, but sewing the opposing curves with the foam in the main was pretty difficult, and I ended up with a couple of puckers.

  The fusible flex foam was easier to work with than I'd expected, once I figured out which needle to use to prevent skipped stitches, and my only issue with it is all the wrinkles in the backpack from turning it right side out. No amount of pressing removed them... possibly a wash and tumble dry would have, but I wasn't willing to risk making it worse! The flex foam was pretty expensive, but this backpack didn't use much- definitely less than a yard!

  The straps though... those were a bugger to sew, with all the layers of corduroy and interfacing. The length of the straps went decently, but my machine just didn't want to deal with the bulk when attaching the sliders, and I broke several needles there:

  The sliders were another on-hand item... I bought these years ago, intending to make a purse for myself, and never got around to it!

  I didn't have rectangle rings to match, and couldn't find any in the right width or color when I was buying the fusible flex foam, so I used some o-rings instead:

    These lower attachment points were also a pain to sew in this fabric. I might try hammering them next time to see if it helps cut down on the bulk at all.

  The whole back:

  I used some fabric leftover from backing this quilt as the lining, and sewed in a tag. I didn't really like how the lining hung down from the zipper inside... I think some piping or interfacing on the inside to give it structure would have helped.

  Once it was all done I had to try it on my own toddler!

  I think I would bring the straps closer together at the top next time, but my nephew has slightly broader shoulders than Foof so it worked a bit better for him, and hopefully will grow with him a bit.

  Foof was reluctant to take it off- I think my little adventurer could use her own backpack. ;-)

   Isn't that adorable though?! I'm so happy with how this turned out!

Thanks for stopping by,

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Modal Nightgown

I don't typically wear pretty pajamas! But when I planned to stay with relatives for a week in June, I knew I'd need something nicer and with a bit more coverage than my usual. So, with that in mind and inspired by one of my daughter's, I made a nightgown:

  I used my knit tee block as a starting point, and lengthened it to floor-length, as well as giving it a slight a-line. I cut a line just above my bust and added width to the lower section for some gathers. Gathers in this fabric, a dusty rose modal knit from So Sew English, were even more of a pain than gathers I've tried in other knits. I want to try interfacing the flat portion before adding the gathered piece next time. This knit is not as lovely as the black stuff I used for this shirt, but still nicer than your average rayon knit, and with a better drape than a cotton knit.

  I added two rows of wide gathered stretch lace to the upper front portion, one zig-zagged on:

  And the other tucked into the neckband seam, with both tucked into the shoulder seam.

  I split the back piece at around the same level as the front, and added an un-gathered strip of lace to the upper portion- I did a narrow zig-zag along the top edge, and tucked the lower edge into the seam.

I also used this seam to adjust for the pooling I get at my lower back, and added some length to the bottom of the lower piece to compensate.

I made the sleeves longer than wrist-length, and widened them at the hem slightly (not enough) then added gathered lace there too- I serged it on, and used a zig-zag to top-stitch right at the seam so it stay pressed toward the sleeve. The sleeves are extra-long so the lace almost grazes my knuckles, which is fun and totally impractical.

  I gathered the sleeve with elastic thread at the wrist- it's a bit too gathered there, but was still wearable.

  And finally, because it clearly wasn't frilly or feminine enough yet (I'm sure you can imagine how much my husband hates this nightgown) I added a bow:

  I had a lot of fun with this, and it was perfect for that relative visit, so I'm glad I made it, even if I can't wear it at home! ;-)

Thanks for stopping by,


Saturday, November 11, 2017

Rayon Challis Alma Blouse

  Ever since making this shirt for my mother's birthday last year, I wanted to make one for myself, and had some fabric set aside for it. I just kept putting it off because I needed to muslin it, but didn't have a fabric I wanted to use for that. Eventually, I decided to just make the changes I'd noted when I tried my mom's on and sew it up without a muslin. That wasn't a good decision.

  It's technically wearable, but that fit needs some work! I adjusted for a gaping neckline, which seemed like it worked okay, although I think I may have overdone the adjustment a bit. I should have widened the shoulders a tad. I raised the underarm seam, which I might do again, but a bit less, and I'd double-check the sleeve-to-armscye ratio, because it definitely wasn't right afterward! There's a ton of pooling at the lower back that would have been evident in a muslin.

  I added length, at the hem because I prefer a longer shirt but my torso length is average, but I didn't add any width to accommodate my hips. I made shorter sleeves with a cuff, but I made the cuff just a bit too slim, and I should have widened the sleeves by at least an inch. And the darts aren't right either! They are too wide-set, although the height is fine. And unfortunately unpicking and re-sewing in this fabric leaves holes. So yes, the fit needs work.

  I do really like how these fabrics look together! They are from Imagine Gnats sometime last year- I  think in their Black Friday sale. Both are rayon challis, although the solid is unpleasantly thin and shifty, and wrinkles with a glance, while the floral was much more manageable to sew with, and stays smooth a little better.

  I really love the look of the shorter sleeves with the cuffs! I definitely want to try that again- but wide enough. ;-) I used some cover buttons and the solid to button the cuffs- and I actually sewed buttonholes for them, since I had a cam for my buttonholer that fit the buttons!

  I under-stitched the neckline again, and it made a huge difference in how the collar sat. I also used a very light interfacing that played better with the hand of the challis than the lightweight Pellon stuff I usually have available. I've lost a few pounds since taking these photos, and the shirt fits a tiny bit better now, but aside from occasionally trying it on, I haven't worn it even once. I really should have made that muslin!

  The skirt turned out a bit better though! It's a half-circle knit skirt with the waistband from the free Mountain Pose Pants pattern, because who wouldn't want a cute overlapping waistband?

  I do wish I'd gone a size smaller with the waistband though, and interfaced the inside of it instead of the outside, as the knit interfacing stretches oddly. I might remove the waistband, overlap it more, and sew it back on the other way around at some point. This has still been worn a lot more than the shirt though!

  I used black 12oz cotton spandex knit from Nick of Time Textiles for this. It's a nice weight for this, and that's about all I have to say about the skirt! (I just noticed how much better the shirt looks tucked in than un-tucked. Maybe I should try wearing it that way.)

Thanks for stopping by,