Monday, January 12, 2015

It's 1.12.15 already let's get this year started

I am not sure entirely why but 2015 has been a slow starter for me. Maybe because I am not writing my blog or doing anything at all to organize my thoughts, but I am going to start doing so now! 

So first off resolutions! I am doing attainable monthly resolutions rather than HUGE year long ones. I hope they build on each other but not going to beat myself up about them. January = NO Cheese! and get to Jazzercise at least twice a week. That's it. February = See my friends more often! Hopefully while continuing not to eat cheese and to get to Jazzercise at least twice a week.  Small goals I can actually achieve.

But you are here to hear about what I have been sewing. The last project I actually finished was right before Christmas. It was "M's Magical Christmas Dress" which is suspiciously similar to the Elsa dresses I made around Halloween.

When M drew out this design, I thought she was nuts. I thought it was going to look ridiculous. But it is her dress so I went with it and I am glad I did. It really did turn out lovely. 

The thing that was throwing me off was that those are tiny silver butterflies on the white overlay. I had it stuck in my mind that it had to be a summery looking dress, or all white or some such nonsense.

In reality they just look like silvery spots that could be snowflakes or whatever. I'm the only one who cares that they are butterflies.

Of course the first time she wore it was to a ornament making party where she promptly got blue paint on the front and did not tell me till two days later. Fortunately I worked my magic and got most of it out. She really does not care and is happy to wear it paint and all whenever she gets the chance.

School has been back for a week, and I really have to get my brain back in shape. All that resting and playing turned me to mush! So I have actual paying jobs due this week that I really must get to!

Hope your 2015 is shaping up ok.

Hugs - C   

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Giselle Dress, Winter Version

We all know I am a huge fan of all things peasant style. I even have a Pinterest board called "Oh Peasants....How do I love Thee!" Where I keep all my inspirational ideas. It is a simple, timeless and flattering style on almost anyone.

You may remember early in the summer (when it mattered that my AC was out) I made a very summery Giselle dress.  It is a dress I wore a lot over the summer.  But the v neck is too low and I did some serious thinking about the changes I wanted to make. The overall concept is great and the pattern was very easy to change. I am a great sewer but a little lazy. No way I am drafting a pattern for something for myself when there are great patterns out there to buy. BTW you can by the Giselle and all her other lovelies here.

Last week I had a fancy dinner party to go to, so about a week before that I realized I did not have anything to wear. Our weather has been unusually cold. So I needed an actual winter dress. I looked through my sewing stash which is huge, and I found some black stretch velvet that I wanted to use. Then I had to decide on a pattern. Giselle came to mind. But I wanted some embellishment, because as much as I love black, this dress deserved a little something.

I picked some stretch lace out of my stash, I like brown and black it is a little unusual as a combination. But not weird and for sure wintery.

For a more comfortable fit, I had to make a few adjustments to the bust. First I made the v neck less deep, then I created a seam down the center from the v to the top of the bodice to accommodate my shallower neckline. Additionally I added about an inch of length to the bust cup to give myself a little more room. Some would call this the "full bust adjustment".

Another change I made, because I have to make it to everything I make for myself, is that I narrowed the shoulder and raised the armhole. I have tiny shoulders in comparison to the rest of me. I know it sounds like a lot of adjustments but I always have to make them so I have gotten good at it. I did all this without measuring just eyeballed it. Plus I was using stretch velvet which is very forgiving.

However one adjustment I forgot to make was making an adjustment to the bodice and the back that accounted for all these bust adjustments. So once again the back was too long. Which the first time I made it I blamed Kati & her pattern (SO sorry!!) but it was me! And my flakiness. This picture is not super easy to see but I had to cut about an inch and a half off the bodice bottom to make it match up with the back. Which actually made the bodice the right length for me so like magic it worked out.

To attach the lace, I first sprayed it with spray-on fabric adhesive. I let that dry and then sewed it on. I tried pinning but the fabric was stretch and the lace was stretch and life is too short to battle with stretch fabrics! I also made a small change in the sleeve band, instead of elastic I used a wide band of the stretch velvet to make a sleeve band.

Here I am all dressed and ready to go. 

These shoes where a mistake! My feet hurt the whole time!

These will be the ones I wear with it in the future. 

Slightly blurry b/c taken by the kiddo. 
I hear that Kati is making a wool Giselle. Hmmm....... I may have to borrow her inspiration and make myself a couple more winter versions. Now I just need to figure out how to carve a little time out to work on something for myself!

Happy Sewing,


Saturday, November 1, 2014

Halloween Wrap up

Today is November 1. It is cold and windy and I have on a sweatshirt. I was sure it was never going to happen. I was sure this was going to be the year that summer lasted forever. Since I live in GA there is a good chance we will see a weird 80 degree day again before the end of they year, but I think I can finally steadily wear long pants and sleeves safely.

Halloween night went about like it always does. We met up in the front yard, took pictures, hit a few houses and then the youngest kids started to melt. So we were home by 7pm.

M really like the colors and general wintery-ness of Frozen, but she wanted to be herself and not someone else. She wanted to be Marion the Winter Fairy. I was totally supportive of the self confident decision and dove into making the fairy costume. M picked out the pattern McCall's M4887. Which was super simple to make. But turn out pretty.

I did not like the plan for the wings that the pattern included so I had to make my own wings.

I used a layer of mirror organza and a layer of netting to create the base of the wings. Then I sewed wire to create the veins of the wings.

I did a satin or zig zag stitch over the wire to make each row so that the wings would be stiff but flexible.

Yes it took a lot of time to make them this way. Be careful not to hit the wire because then it gets forced down into your machine. And you have to stop and pull it out and fix it and start sewing again.

But it is worth the work because they come out beautiful.

 It is usually a safe bet to make a "skimpy" costume here in GA. However last night was the first cold Halloween of M's life. Which happened to coincide with her first "skimpy" costume.

While she ended up with leggings and a sweatshirt on under her costume, at least I was not carrying a bug furry costume around.
What is it about a criss cross strap that is so appealing? Not sure but it is lovely. It i a detail that no one but me saw. But I still like that it was there.

Last weekend we went to the Halloween parade and were able to wear our costumes without extra clothes under. For my Autumn Fairy, I used the same pattern form M's costume and made it bigger. And I used a different skirt pattern that deserves a whole post to it's self. I made my wings the same way but used black and gold stretch net and some brown tulle as the base for my autumn colored wings.

 Fairy make-up was added to M's costume. I like the giant snowflake on her face and she also has snowflake buttons in her hair.

A few people mistook her for Elsa. I was like "Does Elsa have wings?" and they would just look at me all big eyed and blinky. Well does she? NO she does not. Have a little imagination kid, she's a winter fairy.

I was mistook for a gypsy, but that I get I did sort of look like a gypsy with wings. But who knows maybe that is what an Autumn fairy looks like?

I did Eric's makeup too. We threw together a last minute scarecrow costume for him. It actually turned out pretty cool for just being stuff we had around the house.

 M and I both wore cowboy boots with our costumes. Hers were the perfect color to accent her costume. I was going for comfort and warmth, but they worked for looks too.

All in all another fun Halloween was had by all. And we are going to another party tonight. May get another chance to wear costumes?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

I like Anna, from FROZEN

Ahhh.... the question Elsa or Anna? Well as alluring and glamorous as Elsa is, there is something
From the cover of the pattern package

about Anna that I like better. Anna is the one who is actually brave and loyal. Elsa starts out hiding
from her problems. Anna is just more fun and realistic, with all her quirky weirdness. Plus she is a doer. She gets the job done, my kind of gal.

So it was very fun to get to make an Anna costume. I used the McCalls M7000 again. Since I had already used it a few times I knew it would go together smoothly.

The basics of the outfit are the same as the Elsa dresses. But I used very different fabrics and I got to make a cape! I love a good cape!

The little girl who ordered it picked it up yesterday and she was squealing and clapping with delight. It was SOOOOO cute. Her older sister got an Elsa dress. Her reaction to the Elsa dress was cute too "it's just so realistic", is actually a pretty good compliment from a Frozen obsessed seven year old girl.

I applied the applique to the flat cut out pattern pieces, which you should always do if possible. I also simplified the applique design a little. There are only so many hours in the day and it gives you the basic idea. The applique pieces are fleece. You know to go with the whole winter theme.

This is the front bodice piece. I used stretch sparkle velvet which is soft and cozy.

For the skirt I used blue satin and the white top is actually a fabric very similar to tights. It is stretch and soft.

I am going to be super honest and admit that there is not supposed to be a center seam in the skirt. The first one I burned. But that is what I get for being lazy and trying to use Heat & Bond instead of sewing. They look better sewn and they will stay on forever.

A trick for holding the applique pieces in place is to use glue stick. But you have to let it dry for a while before you sew. If you sew while the glue is still wet you just gum up your needle. And your fabric will still move on you.

Since I had burned the first piece I had to start over on the skirt front. Sadly I did not have enough fabric to do it in one piece. However I think it worked out just as lovely. And actually I think the dress looks nicely balanced with the one flower on the bodice and two on the skirt. I think more would have over powered the tiny gal who will be wearing this lovely gown. I simply serged the bottom of the skirt in pink the accent the pink in the flowers.

The cape is my very favorite part. I love the style, the color the whole thing is just fun. This is the same stretch sparkle velvet that I used for the bodice, but in fuchsia.

For the trim I used GIANT black ric rack, per request. And it turned out way better than I thought it would. The closure at the neck is a satin "frog" that is the same color. I bought a bunch of these when I was in China, this is the first one I have used.

I have to admit there is a little part of me that wants to make one of these capes for myself. And ironically I have already taken a different kids pattern and scaled it up for myself for my own personal Halloween costume.

Which hints at YES there are more costumes to come. Next I will show you my kiddo's costume and then my own. Hope you have pics of all the cuties who now own these costumes shortly after Halloween.

Only eight more days til the big day!!! Are you ready for trick-or-treaters? It's on a Friday this year, which means CHAOS will ensue........

p.s. If you have not yet seen this drag queen rocking out to "Let it Go" you really have to see it  (Kid friendly) 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Elsa Dresses!

What do I love so much about Halloween. Well honestly the fact that it is a low pressure fun holiday.  Except that I manage to create my own pressure. I LOVE costumes, making them, wearing them, just the fact that costumes exist in the world makes me happy. So I end up making lots of them.

Back in August I thought it would be fun to make some Frozen costumes. And a couple of my friends took me up on it and I made two Elsa Costumes (Anna is in the works).

I did use a pattern because, they exist so I thought I would take the easy way out.

McCalls has out M700 with Elsa and Anna dresses though they don't have the Disney rights so it does not have any names on it.

I like that Elsa and Anna are in the same envelope and are made on the same basic pattern.

The Elsa dress is A LOT of fabric. And the sizing on this runs BIG. As all McCalls patterns there is way too much ease in them. I started cutting a 7/8 but in the end used the 3/4 for girls who wear a store bought 7 slim.

I chose the McCalls pattern because it is more simple to put together than the Simplicity (ironic?).

I bought the Simplicity one too. So if I end up making more I may try  that one too and see which one is better.

But just based on the line drawings and the number of pattern pieces I would say McCalls wins.

I used 5 different fabrics in this dress. And I made more than one and tried different fabrics in the other one. I wanted to try some new things and see what worked best.

This version is a light blue chiffon, which was amazingly easy to work with. But is not as sheer as I would have liked.

The bodice is glitter dot tulle lined with lingerie mesh. Which yes is the stuff you make bras out of. But I had to line it with something and I thought that would be soft and comfortable.

This is my daughter modeling it for me. I hope the final recipient enjoys it more. But she is close to the same size so I got her to try it on for fit.

I still need to hand sew some hooks into the tops of this and the other Elsa dress I have made. Those are the last little steps and then I can send them out into the world.

Sometimes it is hard to translate a cartoon into a costume. In cartoons they don't need silly things like zippers.

So the overlay is sewn in between the two bodice sections and I had to leave an opening for the zipper.

If this were a professional costume I might have done that differently. But it is for a child who will outgrow it so I just went with what the pattern suggested.

This is the first Elsa dress I made. See how wispy and thin that overlay fabric is. I love the look but it was a mess to cut and sew.

Next I am working on Anna. There are more smaller pieces to that one. But it is in some ways more fun to make. After that I only have three more costumes to finish. Two are almost done and one (my own) is not even cut out yet.

But I will get them done, I will!

Happy Halloween preparations to you!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Deadline is looming.....

This is a pile of fabric and cut out pieces that really is starting to take shape as several costumes. I have spent hours and hours thinking about costumes and honestly several less hours actually making them.

My first deadline was this Octonauts costume. In case you are not up on your toddler TV shows, it is a Disney Jr. show that is not entirely annoying but is not main stream enough to have "store bought" costumes.

This one was pretty easy. I started with a toddler jogging suit pattern. I added ears and attached the hat to the hood. That way it won't get lost.

To get the logo on the hat I used Inko-Dye which is always fun to work with. I made my own pattern for it and used ultra weight sew in interfacing to make sure it keeps its shape.

I added the collar and faux zipper to the shirt, and made a little utility belt. The pocket on the utility belt is a working pocket so I hope he does not leave anything in there that could melt. But the compass is just for looks.

Add a pair of blue pants with a polar bear tail and there you have it "Captain Barnacles".

I hope that my little 4 year old pal who ordered this will enjoy it. He had it on when he left my place so that is a good sign.

I hope after Halloween I will have some cute pictures of him wearing it.

Will post more pics this week as I get more costumes done.

Starting to get excited! Our first Halloween event is this weekend.

Later Peeps!

Monday, October 6, 2014


I don't know about you but when I am a little fearful of a project, I find anything else in the world to work on. I will give you a little insight to my multi-page to do list here in a moment but, what did I do this morning? I made a new cover for my ironing board. Why? You ask. Because it felt like something I could accomplish and it NEEDED to be done.

On Friday I spiled a bunch of orange dye on my ironing board. I was working on a project and knew in my heart that a short cup and a long brush was a bad combination. Moments before the spill I said "that is sort of dumb". Did I listen to myself? No I did not. And the old ironing board cover did not fit and needed to be replaced for other reasons as well. So.... I justify spending an hour this morning making a new cover.

So since this is supposed to be a sewing blog and not a whine about crap blog here is how I made the cover.

First I looked on Pinterest for inspiration. 
Here was the one that I "used"

Insul-Bright Insulating Fabric
Cover fabric - I used an Alexander Henry print cotton
*how much you need depends on length and width of your board. Mine is long and extra wide so I am not giving measurements or amount of fabric.

  1. Take old cover off. 
  2. Find some inspiring music, I am listening to the "Hipster Halloween" station on Pandora right now
  3. Set up your naked ironing board and use the Insul-Bright to make a template. you want about a 2 inch overhang all around the edges of your board surface. 
  4. Use your template to cut out your fleece and your cover fabric. 
  5. Cover on top, Insul-Bright in the middle, fleece on the bottom, pin your layers together. 
  6. Serge your 3 layers together, taking the pins out as you go. 
  7. Measure your elastic to be 2/3 the size of the circumference of your board. 
  8. Stretch your elastic on as you sew it to the edge of your new snazzy cover. Use a wide zig-zag stitch
  9. Put your new cover on so you can stand back and admire it. 
Underside & elastic

From the top. It matches nothing! But it is so cheerful!
I know I could be way more specific about how to do this. But I really think you need to experiment and work with fabric and learn that every project is different and gaining skills and making it work is what you need. You can do it!! 

Plus lots of other people have put specific directions on this here internet-y thingy and I am sort of lazy. So just get out there and try this, it is a super simple one that I will be shocked if you mess up. You have permission to email me and yell at me if you do. 

Ok off to do some real work... well ... ok yeah I really have to now.
- C