Monday, May 18, 2015

My first quilt, was HUGE!

This is technically not the only quilt I have ever made. Years ago I made what I would call a t-shirt blanket, but it fell apart and was a bit if a disaster. I also made one baby quilt. So let's call this my first real quilt, since I made it for my bed and we get to keep it. I am sort of amazed it is for real finished and we are sleeping under it.

I found the "Big Bang Theory" fabric and ordered a bunch of it, not sure what I was going to make. Clothes would just be silly and I don't really need any more bags. Therefore I decided to make a King size quilt for my bed. I added the robot and planet fabric to balance it out. Because a whole quilt with just "Big Bang Theory" would be too much, right?

Real life CUTE Physicist!
If you don't know - my husband, Eric Weeks is a real live physicist (the picture on his website is about 10 years old). He looks a little like Sheldon, but is more personable like Leonard. And I like to imagine myself as Penny. Ok I know I do not look like Penny. But I am a non-scientist and feel like she must feel a lot of the time.

Back to the quilt, I asked my mother in law for some easy quilt patterns. She sent me some and I did not think all of them were easy. I like really simple quilt designs in general. But I found this subway tile idea in one of her magazines.

I am going to be honest, I am still not entirely on board with the "cut fabric into tiny pieces to sew it back together again" concept. But I do respect it a lot more now. Even though it is not the type of sewing I plan to do much of in the future.

Last summer I made the top of this quilt. I cut out all the pieces and laid them out in my garage because it is a king size quilt and that is the only place I could lay it all out to look at it.

It was cut and sewed in 1 day back on June 21, 2014 while M was away at sleep away camp.

Then I folded it up and it sat in my studio until April 2015. When I was packing up to go to "The Stash Bash" I decided to throw it in so I could show my new quilt-y friends and see what they thought I should do with it.

Well, there was a long arm machine at the event for us to try. And my new friend Susan ended up buying the machine.

Another new friend, Kassie, encouraged me to quilt my quilt! So I ran to Hobby Lobby and bought batting and backing. Well I did get lost going to Hobby Lobby so that was a little frustrating.

It was a good thing I did this at "The Stash Bash" because I have no idea how I would have gotten this done any other way.

Several people (THANK YOU) helped me through the process of laying out the backing. Then the batting and the top. Lots of people walked by and said "That's the biggest quilt I have ever seen!".
Then I pinned the whole thing together.Susan and I took turns doing the actual quilting on her fancy new machine. She is much better at it than I am.  And it took us about four hours or so to do. But we got it quilted!!!

For the binding I decided it would work to just use the backing. This is a quilt to be used and loved. It will be slept under and washed. Also the thought of adding another fabric to all this craziness was making my head spin.

I had asked a few people and tried to decide what to do with it before "The Stash Bash" but it was tough to get an easy answer out of anyone. Which is weird because I was going to pay these people to quit it for me. I think they assumed I had any idea what I was doing. I did not. But now I do. With many thanks to Chris, Susan and Kassie. Also Debbie, Leslie and all the ladies who gave me pointers and encouragement.

I was nervous about going to The Stash Bash, but I am so glad I went!! I made new friends, had a great time and am much less afraid of quilting than I was before. XOXOXO to all my peeps, I could not have done this with out you!!!

Peace Out - Chrissy

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

More summer clothes!

Hey June Patterns, on Craftsy
 We are getting ready to spend the summer abroad. So this summer we need clothes that are easy to pack and wash and that go well together. I have been making some new things for all of us. But as usual the most fun to make are the clothes for the kiddo.

I found this super cute Racerback Tank Dress from Hey June, on Craftsy.

And it is FREE! Which is a great price. But not only is it free but it is a pretty darn good pattern. It prints beautifully and tapes together nicely.

There are 3 pieces to cut, front, back and the back yoke. There is also a great tutorial on how to put it together. I used store bought binding so, I cannot attest to the binding directions I just did my own thing there. But her construction suggestions are perfect.

So far I have made three of these in tank top length. My kiddo is not really into dresses right now but loves tanks and shorts.

I love how the different size lines printed in rainbow color, very cheerful.

2nd one I made
The only flaw in the pattern is that the neckline on the front is way too high. The picture above is straight from the pattern. My daughter hated how high the neck was. I cut to original binding off and re-did it after taking about another 1/2 an inch out. But it was a pretty easy fix and I have fixed it on the pattern.

Kid was willing to pose for pictures, but refused to go outside where the light would have been way better.

My favorite part of this pattern in the back, it looks a little girly but still entirely appropriate.

Are we done yet Mama?

She is getting tank tops out of the extra fabric from my clothes, so there are a few more of these in her future.

Hope you are getting ready for a fun summer too, more soon....

Peace Out - C

Friday, May 8, 2015

The Nostalgia and Hope of Buttons

I was working on finishing up some of the projects I started at "The Stash Bash" and just got to a point where I needed a break. And I needed to pick out and plan some buttons to complete a project.

New buttons I got at The Stash Bash! 
Finding some buttons turned into going down the rabbit hole of sorting all my buttons and then writing this post about it.

My giant bag of "white" buttons
Buttons are an interesting thing. If they are sewn to something and actually close your clothing or a bag they are incredibly practical. They can serve a function no matter their size or shape. They can be sewn on and be just decorative. Or they can sit in a jar, on a shelf, "being collected" for generations.

Vintage cover button kits
I was reminded today while sorting my buttons that many of them were once my Nana's. Not only my Nana's but so many people have given me their grandmother's fabric and button stashes that I have the collected buttons and notions of numerous mothers & grandmother's.

All of my blue buttons
And today just a few days before Mother's Day it made me miss them all. I am not usually a very sentimental or sappy person. And I am for sure a purger, I rarely attach sentiment to things. I keep and collect almost nothing.

Vintage buttons, do the red Xs mean they were on sale? 
However, I think that maybe the buttons and notions I have gathered over the years are different. They hold hope of becoming something. Something useful and loved.

The buttons are always the last thing you do. There is nothing like tying off that final knot on that final button. It is such a sense of accomplishment. It means you made something that did not exist before. You created something for someone (or sometimes yourself) to wear or use and have as a part of their life.

My bag of "random" buttons. That are lovely and loved but are a little on their own. 
I no longer get to receive newly made things from my Nana. I still have a few things she made, but not many. But I have a whole bin of buttons that she and other women collected and kept, with the same hope of finishing a project and sewing on that final button.

My bag of black buttons
On top of thinking about all the Nana's and Grandma's who have sewn before me, I wondered, "who will get these buttons when I am no longer here"? I hope my daughter will keep them, and use them. And pass them on to her friends and possibly her own children. Because for some reason there is just a little bit of hope and a little glimpse into both the past and the future in each one.

Metal buttons, the smallest category in my collection.
Even if you are not with your mother or all the mothers who cam before her, I hope you have a great Mother's Day weekend. And that you see the hope in all the jars of buttons you have sitting around your sewing room.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Tank Top 2.0

This morning I tried something new. I went down to my studio and worked on sewing rather than letting myself get sucked into my computer. And I realized that just being in my studio can be inspiring and I got an amazing amount of work done.

I have a basket of "crap that needs to be delt with". Ok let's be honest this morning it was actually two baskets full. But now I am down to 1!

So far today I have:
- finished a pair of cargo pants for the kid
- but the drawstring back in a pair of my lounge pants
- taken in the waist in on my leopard print jeans
- taken in the back seam of a workout top
- totally re-worked a tank top I made about 5 years ago!

All this before noon! All the sudden the kid has a new pair of pants and I have 2 pairs of pants and 2 tops back in my wardrobe, crazy, I know!

So the deal with this tank top is that I LOVE the fabric but have never liked the style and fit.  It was in the basket-o-crap because I did not want to throw or give it away but I did not know what to do with it, until today.

Tank Top Before. Pulling across the chest and arm holes are too tight. 

I did not like the pleats in the front, and the armholes had gotten a little tight. Also there was a facing around the neck that was not put in right and it never stayed put!

The back before.  
 The back was not fitting quite right either. A little tight and what was I thinking with that giant button?

The armholes previously had bias tape facings. Cute but not much give, plus you know my arms some how must be a little bigger then when I first made this shirt.

I basically took the whole neckline, armholes and back seam apart. I took off the facings. For the armholes I simply turned them under and hemmed them. This gave me about 1/2 an inch larger openings for my arms. For the neck I needed a way to gather it that looked better than the pleats. So I turned it and hemmed it as well. Then I attached a piece of frilly elastic to gather the front.

Thank goodness for huge seam allowances, because of the standard 5/8" I was able to open up the back seam and give myself a little more wiggle room.

Sadly the back seam does not entirely match up. But you know what I pretty much never have to look at it so I am not going to sweat it. It is a casual shirt so I am going to let it go. At least now it is wearable.

Not so perfect back seam. 

After! Tank Top 2.0
See how much better it fits. The neckline is a little lower, which is more flattering, and it is not pulling across the chest like it was before. I have to say I am pretty happy I managed to salvage this top. I have always loved this fabric. Now if it would just quit raining and warm up then maybe I could wear it!

Hope you are good today!
Peace Out - C

Friday, March 27, 2015

Easter Dress!

Fabrics for M's Easter Dress
I admit I do not celebrate the Christian aspects of Easter. However the part I do like and celebrate are; the renewal of the earth, new Easter clothes and fun goodies in a basket brought by a bunny.

There is something about Spring that lifts your mood and brings back hope and happiness. You usually celebrate Easter with your friends and family and a big meal and fun things to do. All this along with the fact that Easter candy is the best candy all year and you get new clothes! Seriously what is there not to love.

When I was a child we did go to church, so the tradition of getting a new Easter dress was a new "church dress".  No matter where you wear it, having a new dress in warm spring colors makes everyone feel good.

A couple of weeks ago the kiddo and I were shopping on on a dreary day. And we decided we needed to buy some fun spring fabrics. I tend to buy fabric and then figure out what I want to do with it later. It usually works out just fine.

I found a dress idea on good old Pinteret. It is called the Knot Dress and has a girls dress and doll dress pattern available for free download.

It is sized up to 6T, so I did need to make some size alterations for tall skinny M, but the doll dress works great as is.

It is a digital pattern that you print out and tape together.

The bodice is wide. But I have to take everything in a couple of inches for my kiddo, so I am not a good gauge of what would fit other kids.

Also the skirt as planned would have been way too short. That is an easy fix I simply made it about 4 inches longer.

I took in the bodice 3/4 of an inch on all seams and used 1/2 seam allowance on top of that. Then it was too small to get over her head but fit perfect so I added a side zip.

Invisible zipper added to the side seam. 
Reluctant and Grumpy model. 
Somewhat cooperating, but too focused on the bees outside.

The ties at the shoulders and back are super cute. I used the white with gold dots to line the bodice so that it would show when tied.

And since kiddo is 7 and likes to run and climb and all things kid, I decided she needed some matching little shorts to wear under this dress.

The shorts pattern I used is the City Gym Shorts for all ages, from the Purl Bee, Soho.

I used the contrast fabric for the shorts and store bought white bias tape I found in my stash.

I had high hopes of making my own matching bias tape but sometimes good enough, is good enough.

I also made an American Girl Doll version of the dress and a more simple pair of shorts. I like making easy doll clothes. They are fun but they get abused by my daughter and her friends so I am not going to put a lot of time and detail into them.

Doll Shorts
Now I have about a week to come up with some dress shoes and kiddo will be all set and have a nice Spring dress she can wear to any event that comes up.

Hopefully I can manage to get hubby and myself spruced up a little in the next week too!

Hope you are enjoying Spring!!

Peace Out - Chrissy

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Ideas of March......

Ok so yes I know Ides of March was 2 days ago. But, I have SO many ideas and have had SO little time. Therefore the Ideas of March.

Sick kid, injured husband, sick myself, working out, eating right, cleaning, cleaning, cleaning, grocery shopping and everybody gets sick again. Loop all that and it is basically what this year has felt like so far. Right now I am sitting in my very messy house alone. It is so quiet. Too quiet. So I am putting on some music and writing this blog post and getting some other stuff done around here.

I really have no excuse for not writing except that I don't get paid to do it (yet) and therefore I let life get in the way.

I have been doing some sewing. Not a ton, but some. I have also been doing some fabric & supply buying and inheriting. All giving me lots of ideas.

Currently I am working on finishing up my commissioned jobs so I can get to our family Spring clothes. My favorite sewing time of the year.

I volunteer once a week at the Decatur Education Foundation aka DEF. They had a whole bunch of old banners laying around. And they asked me if I would turn their banners into tote bags.

Not only is it recycling, but now they have great incentives for their donors or volunteers. They are not sure what they are going to do with them yet.

All the banners were vinyl. The banner with the blue background was super stiff and hard to work with. All the other banners were a much softer, more playable vinyl.

It took me a few bags to get the construction and sewing right. It is a heavy material but no heavier then denim. So I used a denim needle and regular thread.  I have worked on these with both of my moody machines. (One is Italian and the other is about 50 years old, so they have their reasons for being moody).

After a few attempts, I discovered it is much easier to put any binding and handles on while it is still flat and then finish the construction of the bag. Which seems obvious in hindsight, but things always do.

You do not want to have to do a lot of turning it inside out and back because the lettering and color come off the more you handle it. So here are the steps of the best way to put it together.

1. sew the front and back together at the side seam

2. finish the top edge with bias binding, hem or zipper

In some ways the zipper top is easier, it's really just what you are up for. 
I put the zipper in on both sides of the bag and then top stitch it. A separating zipper is way easier for this but a purse zipper works well too. If you use a metal zipper make sure you rub the teeth with beeswax or soap to make it open and close more smoothly. 

Bias binding on the top edge of the bag. 
I use both store bought binding (b/c people give me all sorts of stuff) and binding that I make myself.  Making your own binding makes it so you can use any fabric. But store bought is easier, if you are the sort of person who takes the easy way to do things.

3. attach handles and any pockets

4. sew other side seam

5. sew bottom seam

6. square off corners (if desired)

Measuring the line where you plan to stitch across the bottom can really help get it right. 
Some bag patterns cut out the corners before you sew it, 
but I find folding and stitching the corners easier, just personal preference. 
When you get to the side seam, make sure you back tack over it. 
This helps to make the bottom stronger. 

back tack here at the side seam
Trimming the corners off after you sew them takes the bulk out of the inside of your bag.

7. turn bag right side out

Sometimes this is the hardest part, it feels weird and wrong. 
Depends on how stiff the vinyl is. On the really stiff ones I heated them before turning. 
But you have to be careful not to melt it or get it too hot. 
It starts to warp before it melts so you want to catch it when it is just soft. 
You can iron it with a pressing cloth or use a hair dryer. 

8. Enjoy your fancy new bag

Other tips for sewing on vinyl
- use a teflon sewing foot, helps move the vinyl through your machine more smoothly
- if you don't want to invest in a teflon foot, you can put tissue paper between your sewing foot and the vinyl and then tear it away after you sew. But I find this to be annoying and if you make a lot of things with vinyl the teflon foot is only about $6
- sew once! Vinyl is like leather in that it is unforgiving. Once you sew those holes are there. You do not get a second chance.
- test on a scrap, see above
- plan ahead, really think about how you are putting something together. Vinyl is not forgiving and a lot harder to shove around your sewing machine than most fabrics.

Today I finally feel that there is hope that spring is here for real. The sun is out! The sky is blue! I am on the right side of the ground. So I am going to enjoy a little inspiration and get some work done today!

I hope that spring is coming your way soon too! Be brave and try something new.

Peace Out - C

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The difference between Plus and Regular clothing sizing

Notice a rather stark difference between these two?
It is no secret that I have struggled with my weight my whole life. It is complicated. But the conclusion I have come to these days is you have to live for today and not wait for when you are skinnier.

I have always had a hard time buying store bought clothes that actually fit. Sometimes I would find a brand that would fit flawlessly (Talbots) for a few years and then they re-brand or start cutting their clothes differently and once again nothing fits. 

I keep trying new brands. I went to Torrid for the first time a few weeks ago. (In case you don't know Torrid is plus size clothes for younger gals) I found a few things I liked. But I discovered; 
a. I may be too old to be shopping there, 
b. their smallest size top (a self esteem boosting 0) is too big on me, and 
c. their size 0 pants are too tight in the leg while the size 1 about fell off. 

Over the past few years, through making my own clothes,  I have learned why it is so hard to find clothes that fit off the rack (or even fit enough to alter). 

1. I have TINY shoulders.
2. I have big boobs
3. I have a long torso relative to my overall height
4. I have a big butt and a small waist (well relative to the butt any way) 
5. I have "thick" some would call them, legs. 
6. I am exactly on the borderline between "regular" and "petite" as well as currently being trapped in the canyon between "regular" and "plus". More on that canyon below. 

These are body issues that the clothing industry does not cater to. However I have a hard time believing I am the only one. 

Recently I decided rather than fight these battles I would focus on making my own clothes, a luxury not everyone has. I have found a pattern I love! Even though I had to make a few rather large adjustments. 

Recently Colette Patterns embarked on changing their pattern line to include up to size 3X. Read more about this HERE. And while I loudly applaud their efforts, there are some interesting things I discovered while making one of their recent patterns. 

This is the lovely Moneta pattern. As you can see it is designed for knits and sized XS - 3X. 

This is a great start. It is a simple flattering shape that can look good on anyone. Their patterns are packaged beautifully and I love that the directions are in a little booklet attached to the envelope rather then another huge sheet to deal with. 

However the issue I have is why is there 1/4 - 3/4 inch difference between each size in the "regular" range but you get up to plus and there is about two inches between the sizes? 

Colette points out on their blog that there are challenges to making plus size patterns. Maybe, but I think it's really just that they are used to what they are used to and there is a learning curve. Just like on Project Runway when they have a "real people" challenge and all the designers are thrown off their game by anyone over a size two. 

Now are you starting to see the canyon between the two?  
XS - S = 1/2 inch 
S - M= 1/2 inch
M-L = 3/4 inch
L-XL = 3/4 inch
XL - 2X = 1 1/2
2X - 3X = 1 7/8 

This is the top of the sleeve. That's a big jump, in comparison. 

My pink line is a much different shape than the pattern 
On the show "What Not to Wear", they often pointed out to people that their body was not the problem. The clothes that they were trying to wear simply did not fit. Their philosophy of try on a million things and spend $5,000 was all well and good but is hard to do in real life. 

This is the bottom of the bodice. The bodice is longer on the larger sizes to allow for room for the "girls". I actually found this length to be just right, still the difference is noticeable. 

These are the differences in the measurements of the skirt pieces
Two inches is a big difference. Especially when you consider that you are really gaining a total of 8 inches (2 each side which gives you a total of 4 front and 4 back). Between a XS and a S you only gain a total of 4 inches. Why such regular increments and then such a huge jump? Thus creating the canyon I referred to in my list of clothing difficulties.

All that said, it is a lovely dress pattern, sews up easily and is one of my new favorites. And in some ways I feel a lot better about why nothing at stores fit me. Because if this pattern (which they put tons of thought and effort into) does not work out of the envelope, chances are slim of finding any that do. 

Finished version no. 1, I have a few more Moneta's planned now that I have worked out the fit issues. I have also used the lovely bodice to draft a tunic / t-shirt and made a test one of those. 

I will have to do a different post on how to measure and make these changes. To be honest I have done it so many times I can draw it out from memory and do not measure. But I know how to and can explain it so that other peeps can benefit from all I have learned. 

Another question people ask me is "why do you even use patterns"? The short answer is I am a seamstress, not a designer. Also my two favorite pattern companies are Colette and Kate and Rose and I really like supporting them. They have done all the lovely design work, makes it easier for me to make it fit from their starting point.  

I plan for my next few posts to be more about the technical aspects of changing the pattern to make it fit. Let me know if you have specific questions. 

Peace Out 
- C