Sunday, July 16, 2017

Simple Knit Shirts

  Earlier this year, after another occasion in which I sewed a shirt only to find that it was way too tight, I decided it was time to update my knit shirt block. I tried to keep the shape of the curves the same, and added enough width so that it would have no negative ease. Then I tested it out with some heathered grey 12oz cotton Lycra knit from Nick Of Time Textiles.

  I kept it pretty basic with half-length sleeves and plain twin-needled hems.

  While the new pattern was a huge improvement over the original, in that I could actually fit into it, a little tweaking seemed like it wouldn't hurt!

  But first, I decided to relieve this shirt of its extreme plainness with some freezer-paper stenciling.

  I hand-drew the letters, then scanned them into my computer and traced them with the Silhouette software, then cut them from freezer paper with the Silhouette. Once I had it ironed on to the shirt, I painted a base layer of dark blue acrylic paint mixed with textile medium, then painted tiny roses and buds all over in pink with some dark green leaves, and finally removed the stencil and heat-set the paint with my iron. I really love the results!

  I had tested the idea out with just a heart on a scrap of knit, and then didn't want to waste the heart, so I cut it out and added some Heat'n Bond UltraHold to it, and ironed it to the back shoulder.

   Unfortunately it came off in the first wash and disappeared, so I wish I'd sewn it on instead. But it was cute for a day!

  For version two I changed a few of the curves, brought the shoulders in a bit, and added some width to the back of the shirt at the hip line, and a tiny bit to the front at the bust line.

  I sewed version two in brown 12oz cotton Lycra knit, also from Nick of Time Textiles.

  This was also an improvement! Although there were still a lot of things that weren't quite right.

  I added a lot of vinyl to make this one interesting! The lettering was once again hand-drawn, then scanned, tweaked in Illustrator, and cut with my Silhouette. The swirls were slightly modified from some free ones I found on The Noun Project, and the butterflies were modified (using the offset tool) from a free one I downloaded from the Silhouette Store years ago.

  I used Siser EasyWeed in Tiffany Blue and Turquoise for this. In some lighting situations the colors work together perfectly, and in others they just don't.

  I didn't realize until it was too late that the vinyl I'd bought wasn't actually a full 12" wide, and I had the pieces laid out to just within 12", so a couple of pieces have straight edges where the blade went off the edge of the vinyl.

  I didn't do a lot of planning as to where the vinyl would go, and I was in a bit of a rush to get it all applied, so there are quite a few spots where it doesn't look quite as balanced as it could.

  I still like it though.

  Rushing is also why I missed that swirl above the lettering until it was already ironed on... that wasn't supposed to be there!

  The vinyl hasn't stuck to this shirt as well as I'd hoped it would, and I ironed just as long as usual in spite of my hurry, so I think it might have something to do with the fabric thickness- or possibly my iron isn't heating up as well as it used to.

  On to version 3! In addition to a few small tweaks to get the side seams more balanced, I did a swayback adjustment on this one, thinking it would help with the lower back wrinkles. Now I suspect that having a swayback isn't the main cause of them, because it didn't help!

  I might need to raise the back waist height? Or add width to the upper hip area? I really don't know. The adjustment ended up causing other issues, because it changed the shoulder slope in the back and made it too square for me.

  In the end, version 3 was a downgrade.

  I do prefer the shape of the hem on this one though. I used more 12 oz cotton Lycra knit for this one- I used the same weight and stretch of knit for all three so it wouldn't skew the fit.

  I kept the decoration pretty simple on this one and just sewed some buttons on by machine around the neckline. It gives it a fun nautical sort of look!

  My husband finds it absolutely hilarious to push my buttons though.

    I don't need any more basic shirts, so I've mostly reverted back to version 2 to make a couple of more interesting things, and will hopefully return to this block and get it fitted properly at some point in the future, provided I haven't changed shape again! I have a feeling that the answer is 'darts' but I really don't want that to be the answer because I dislike the way darts look on knit shirts.

  If you've got any fitting suggestions for me, I'd love to hear them! I'm clearly still a beginner in this department, and need all of the help I can get!

Thanks for stopping by,

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Eyelet-Trimmed Tiered Dress

  I didn't make matching Easter dresses for the girls this year... three of them already had cute dresses that would work perfectly well. Beckers' dresses were all looking pretty worn-in though, so I made this for her:

  I used the Round Neck Ruffle Dress pattern from "Sew Classic Clothes for Girls" by Lindsay Wilkes, which was a birthday gift from my sweet mother-in-law last year. =) (Thank you, mama!)
I bought the pretty butterfly hair clip from my friend Tricia of LeafyTreetopLeather. =)
  I sewed a size 2 in width and 6 in height plus a bit extra so it would be just-below knee length, and switched up the height of the tiers somewhat to work better with the fabrics I had, and so I could use eyelet trim instead of the bottom tier. I prefer the proportions of the original pattern though. I didn't have to buy anything to make this dress!

  The pretty handkerchief-look fabric on the bottom was from my friend Karen a while back (thank you, Karen!), as was the pink linen sort of fabric I used for the bodice. The collar and green gingham were both from a set of fabric I found on Craigslist a few years ago... I've used the green before!

  I changed the sewing order a bit too... instead of sandwiching the bodice between the two collar pieces, then finishing the neckline edge with bias tape, I sewed the collar pieces together at the neckline and back edges and flipped it right side out. I basted the eyelet to the outer side of the collar, and sewed the bodice to the lining side, then pinned the top layer down to enclose the seam allowances and edge-stitched it down. I just love the collar fabric!

  I used KAM snaps for the back of the bodice. This dress doesn't have an opening in the top of the skirt below the bodice, so the skirt is sewn to both layers of the bodice at once, then finished and top-stitched. I was a little bit concerned that my serger wouldn't make it through all of those layers at the back! Also, please ignore the top-stitching on the bodice and focus on that lovely collar edge-stitching instead, okay?

  I would definitely add an opening to the skirt next time, and enclose the skirt seam, instead of following the pattern instructions.

   I wish the eyelet I'd had for the hem was wider (and the gathering, more even- clearly I rushed too much on this dress!) but it still worked.

  As for the fit- the measurement chart seems pretty accurate, and it fits Beckers pretty well! I think the collar shape isn't quite right for her somewhat more square than average shoulders, as it bunches up after it has been worn for a while, and a tiny bit wider would probably work better for her as well, but the bodice has just enough ease to pull on even without an opening in the skirt. The pattern wasn't trued, and the grading looked pretty uneven. However, I still plan to make more things from this book!

  And although I wish I'd been able to leave the proportions of the tiers like the original, I love these fabrics together, and on Beckers!

Thanks for stopping by,

Friday, June 16, 2017

Stuffed Flannel Cat

  My niece loves cats right now, so something catty was in order for her 3rd birthday in April. I did loads of searching for a stuffed cat pattern, but everything I found was too one-dimensional or cartoon-ish. I finally came across this super-cute pattern, but at 17" long it was almost double the size I wanted. I might buy and make that one at some point anyway, but it wasn't right for my niece.

  Eventually, I gave up and made my own pattern!

 Trying to make this pattern definitely stretched my drafting and 3-dimensional thinking skills! I referenced the book "Stuffed Animals: From Concept to Construction" by Abigail Patner Glassenberg (affiliate link), and it had lots of useful information, but my first version still turned out laughably bad... too wide in the neck, too skinny in the legs and tail, with a very splayed-leg stance, and tiny crooked ears. I couldn't even bring myself to finish it!
Photo from my Instagram. ;-)
  At this point I was pretty sure I would have to resort to a gathered skirt with cat-head shaped patch pockets, but I re-drafted it and tried again, and the second version was much better!

  I was originally planning to hand-sew the little footpads (this cat is only 9" long, so the footpads are about the size of a quarter each) but my hand-stitching isn't as sturdy as I'd like it to be, and this was going to be a gift for a 3-year-old, so I decided to machine-stitch them. I didn't even think of hand-basting before stitching though, and I really wish I had because trying to wrangle these little pieces around with 10 or so pins in each was no easy task! And they didn't end up as even as I would have liked either.

  I ended up modifying the underbody gusset shown in the book (it's also on the author's blog, here) because I wanted the gusset to extend up to the cat's chin/ mouth area. I also went with totally separate pieces for the inner legs, instead of darts, because for some reason that's easier for me to sew. I left a pretty big opening to stuff the cat through, and ladder-stitched it closed.

  I used grey and pink flannel for this... I'm really not sure how well it's going to hold up. It doesn't feel as sturdy as quilting cotton or fleece, although it is pretty cuddly.

  I embroidered the eyes and nose with brown, green, black, and pink embroidery floss. I really wish I'd canted the eyes more, and it would have been a lot easier to embroider them before sewing the entire cat, but overall I'm pretty happy with the face. The cheeks and nose were another really fiddly, difficult part to sew!

  The underbody gusset extends to the base of the tail in the back:

  She also has a head gusset, with a dart across the top and extending into the side face for inserting the ears. I think just a bit wider on the head gusset would have been better.

  I'm really happy with the way this turned out!

  I think the pattern could still use some tweaking but for only two drafts I don't think it's bad at all. =)

  My cat-obsessed little girls begged for one of their own, but since they already have 4 or 5 stuffed cats I haven't sewn one up yet... although it would give me a chance to try some more tweaks!

  Thanks for stopping by,

Friday, June 9, 2017

Marshmallow Shooters

  This isn't what I was originally planning to make for my brother-in-law's birthday in March. Unfortunately, my first plan ended up totally not working (after I'd spent several days on it...), and since I was already making one of these for his younger brother's birthday a week later, I decided they could just use them together!

  I've seen a lot of different versions of marshmallow shooters, but I mostly followed the directions for this one, which is just PVC pipe and fittings. I added a length of pipe to the top fitting for the mouthpiece, because it was a bit awkward to access without it, and I painted all of the fittings with Rustoleum Universal Metallic spray paint in Dark Stainless Steel before assembling everything.

  I wrapped the pipes with black and camouflage patterned Duck tape.

  I divided a bag of marshmallows between two plastic sandwich bags, wrapped the tops with some of the camouflage patterned tape, and stapled on a quick tag made with some black cardstock and silver embossing powder for the ammunition:

  These were a hit... my husband (who cut all of the pipes for me) had to test them out before he let me gift them and didn't want to give them up! They have a surprisingly long range, and are pretty accurate for shooting what basically amounts to tiny pillows. ;-)

 They were better than my first plan, for sure! =)

Thanks for stopping by,