Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Sewing with knits.

After the success of the Prism Quilt, and finally getting the second Easter dress completed, I needed a new challenge.  My girls are growing like weeds.  I feel like I've mentioned that before.  There isn't anything from last summer that still fits this summer.  I feel like I've been to the mall 100 times to try to remedy the situation.  But somehow, there is still never enough comfy dresses in the closet!  

My favorite summer dresses from last summer, could still fit, but have been rejected.  My ladies are not fans of the elastic thread summer dresses!  So sad, because they are so easy.  I needed to come up with something new this summer.  I really thought if I was going to make things that were going to become summer staples, it had to be out of knits.  But where do you buy knits?!  Buying them online is so hard because they come in all different weights and handles.  Though I was thoroughly reading descriptions online, I was still nervous about ordering a whole truck load of knits sight unseen (other than virtually).  

I remembered the Chez Ami warehouse sale, where I long ago scored a few great pieces of knit when they open their outlet to the public.  Luckily, right when I thought of it, they were in the middle of an outlet sale!  Normally they sell their cuts of knit in 2 yard increments.  Since they are at least 56" wide, that is a LOT of any one fabric!  But they have an "as-is" table with smaller cuts, and this is where I find the best deals.  

With a new bundle of knits in the sewing garage, I was finally able to tackle the Racerback Dress via the Crafterhours free pdf pattern and tutorial!!  I pinned it as soon as it was posted, and I've been wanting to try it ever since!

I've never been a huge fan of matching my girls, but with two yards of super wide cute knit, and a tutorial that seemed pretty easy, I figured to give it a go!

I was about to make them assembly line style so that I'd have two dresses at the end of the night, but on second thought I decided to make one first, try it on everyone before finishing the second.  Good call!  

I love the gathering detail on the front and the back of the dress, but it was a challenge to get my gathers to stay in place on the front of the first dress.  You are supposed to do a gather stitch, then gather it, then sew across it with a smaller stitch to lock the gather in place.  On the first dress, when I sewed over my gather, I basically un-did the gather as I sewed!  It was such a pain.  

But, without that tight gather, the neckline gaps.  I was a bit distraught when I saw it on Jane (I have since added in a little pleat on the neckline to make it fit tighter).  For the second one, before I sewed across my gather, I pulled my bobbin thread up to the top of the dress and knotted off my two threads.  I was going to make sure that that gather didn't come undone!  It worked better, but probably the third dress will be even better ;-) 

While I had my girls matching like twins, I had them hold up the Quick Change Trousers (that have been showcased on this blog 1000 times) that I finally got to make for my own new babies!  Can you believe I had both of the bicycle fabrics in the stash?!  When I found the boy print, I knew it was meant to be.  

(Girls print is a Heather Ross fabric, boy print is a Sarah Jane fabric)

Despite our bug spray, as soon as I was done taking pictures, these girls were bolting back through the woods to the car.  We live in the South, and we're in the middle of summer!  The bugs are out of control.  I think I counted six mosquito bites when I reached the car.  And yes, I had sprayed my legs too!

There they go!  And I still have a huge stack of knits that I'm determined to turn into summer dresses before we leave on vacation this weekend!  

Monday, June 25, 2012

Birthdays galore!

My baby (if you can call him that) turned one on Saturday. I used, for the last time, the felt letters and numbers to mark the special occasion.  I'm excited about putting all the different photos together to make a book or collage.  Well, I'm excited about the finished product.  Going through and finding all the pictures will not be my favorite job.

Since Baby Hank turned one he needed a birthday shirt, and Hank has a BFF that lives on our street and was born just hours before him.  They share a birthday, so I thought baby Ben needed a birthday shirt too.  Hopefully we can get our little one year olds together for a fancy photo shoot.

 For now I only had the modeling skills of my little one to work with.  

Henry also got a name banner to mark his small space in the children's bedroom at our house.

One other birthday shirt also got made minutes before I had to send Grace off to a birthday party this weekend.  I hope the birthday shirts are as popular with friends as they are at our house.  My kids love their personalized shirts.

Because my kids love their personalized shirts, they get worn a lot and the felt tends to start pilling after washing them so much.  If you find yourself in the same predicament, I've discovered a little tip.  Take a brand new disposable shaving razor and gently go over the felt pills.  It's not a perfect solution, but here's the


and the AFTER.

Not too bad.  It doesn't look brand new, but it cleans it up quite nicely.

Next on my sewing To Do List is my Flea Market Fancy quilt idea.  I was struck with inspiration last night, and I'm still feeling excited about my idea today, so tonight I'm hoping to finally start cutting into my FMF stash.  Stay tuned!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Ice Cream Dress

Summer time has freed me from driving around and dropping my kids off at school and activities, but for some reason I feel busier.  It might be that my baby who is not so much a baby any more is in constant motion.  He's a walking hazard.  Sure he takes naps, but then the big Gs need me and my attention, and well, there's not so much sewing go on these days.  I'm not complaining.  As I look at my little ones practically growing before my eyes, I'm just trying to embrace the busyness.  

However, a week ago I got the urge along with a serge of energy to sew a dress for Grace.  I've now sewn this pattern three times (practice does make perfect), so the dress came together in under 3 hours from cutting to finished stitch.  I used the pattern I used for the Bow Dress.

I used Liesl Gibson's Lisette fabric found at JoAnn's.  I walk past her display all the time at JoAnn's and I've eyed this fabric several times wondering if I liked it or not.  I do.  It's cute, and I think it's perfect for my growing little girl.

I also found a dress in the Mini Boden catalogue that used the extra large rick rack, and I knew I needed to incorporate it into a dress for Grace.

I fully lined the dress.  I've decided this is my favorite way to finish this sleeveless A-line number.  I don't enjoy making bias tape work around the arm holes.  One day when I make another one, I'll show you how I line it.  I'm also getting pretty darn good at zippers.

Of course when you wear an ice cream dress you have to eat ice cream!!  Grace will tell you this was the best photo shoot ever.  George would agree because he too got an ice cream.

 Here's to more summer freedom and more ice cream cones!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

It's only taken me since Easter...

At Easter I had the idea of making two seersucker bow dresses for my ladies.  Unfortunately, after making a navy blue prototype, and then one green seersucker final draft dress, I was out of time.  The second/third one never got made.  As the weeks passed after Easter, I never felt excited about making a third dress that was exactly the same.  I get burned out easily from making the same thing over and over again.  It's why my girls aren't often matching.

But I still had enough yardage of a red seersucker to make another dress.  I've just been waiting to think of what style dress I wanted to make.  I decided to incorporate a bow somehow, so that when the sisters wear them side-by-side they will still look like a set.  Here's what I came up with:

Maybe you recognize the pattern?  

I had to enlarge the pattern, since I had actually cut out the pattern pieces from the original pattern.  The original pattern is  Simplicity pattern #2825.  

I am so happy to have finally finished my Easter project!!  I am slowly but surely getting things checked off the list.  Feels good.  

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The end of the school year!!

I don't know if everyone else is as excited about school being out, but let me just say, I was DONE with the 2011-2012 school year.  I crave flexibility.  The non-scheduled life.  Being able to wake-up early if that's what's happening.  Or being able to leisurely get out of bed at 9, if that's on tap for the day.  The 6:30 alarm clock, packing of lunches, clothing, feeding, shoe finding for four kids was making me utterly exhausted.

But, with the end of the school year comes birthday parties, end of my quiet house, and thank-you gifts for teachers.

As I watched the calendar days zoom by towards the end of May and into June, I knew that my Patchwork Prism Quilt needed to be finished before the school year ended.  I'm dying to get out and do some sort of proper photo shoot to commenmorate the accoplishment of it all, but here is a sneak peak, just to prove it got finished!

(Blurry Iphone photo)

We had a birthday party fall on a super busy weekend.  Though for some that means picking up something quickly from a store, we actually live far away from the big stores, Target, Walmart, a mall, etc.  So I turned to my sewing garage.  Thank goodness for Liz's crayon bag tutorial.  I finally got to make one.  I think I increased the size by about an inch on all sides.  And I thought it would be cute to add a felt monogram.  Also, with the bigger size, I figured I'd better just make some handles.  Other than those changes, I followed Liz's instructions.  It took just barely over an hour!  Perfect amount of time.  We filled it with a few treasures, and of course some crayons and called it good!

Right as the school year was coming to an end, and I was getting daily emails about group gifts for teachers, I realized we had just used our last check!  I had to opt out of all group gifts!  Never fear, my fabric stash seems to be full of surprises.  And little scrappy make-up bags hardly take anytime at all.  I followed Anna's tutorial over at Noodlehead.

And then finally, I was struck with some last minute inspiration for a pair of great first grade teachers!  Remember the library skirt from last year?  It became a favorite among the teachers as well.  I figured if I made them library tote bags inspired by the same design, it might be a cute way for them to remember the girls through the years as well.  I loved making these bags.  The bags themselves take no time at all to make.  I used some super thick leftover canvas type material that my living room couch is upholstered in.  I had to use my leather needles to make it through all that canvas, but it certainly means there was no need for any lining.  Of course, the handles were the biggest pain.  After making one set with the canvas, you see I changed my mind about that idea!  It was just too many layers of thick canvas.

I hope the teachers have fun with them over the summer, and find time to relax and read some books.  

Once these were done, I'll admit they were kind of hard to give away.  My girls and I both thought we could love them very well ourselves.  But those are the best gifts in my opinion.  I love giving away something that I love so much myself.  Makes me feel good about the giving.

Not like these teachers haven't given my girls SO MUCH throughout the school year.


Friday, June 1, 2012

I'm alive.

I really thought it had been a whole month since I'd sewn.  Scrolling through posts it looks like I maybe sewed something at the beginning of the month, but it might have been the end of April when I sewed something and then posted it here in May.  Anyway, it feels like a month since my sewing machine and I have had some quality time together.  Life pretty much took over, and as much as I love sewing, there was just no time for it.  May turned out to be totally busy.

I did sew stuff this month, but nothing too big.  One friend asked me to help with some decor for a school event.  I made the bunting.  Some other crazy creative mom made the lemonade stand.

I also made a camera strap for a friend.  If you have a SLR camera, may I suggest you sew yourself a camera strap?  Honestly this came together in probably under an hour. The hardest part?  It was probably seam ripping the camera strap leather ends off of the original strap.  Still wasn't that hard.  Again, you should try this if you haven't already.

Then finally this week I got my act together.  Or at least tried.  And, on Monday I went to Old Navy and the plain ribbed tank tops for girls were $2 each.  Only $2.  These plain tanks needed cute, colorful skirts or shorts to go with them.  This was Grace E Belle's last week of school.  On Sunday I thought I'd start sewing and have something new for her to wear every day this week.  It didn't happen.  But I did finally kind of get my groove back Tuesday night, so Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday she got to wear cute handmade outfits to school because that is what matters most!

The line up...


I sewed this skirt in March but it wasn't my favorite, so I never posted it.  

Grace loves it though, so it got to be handmade item number one of the week. 

 I used the Lazy Day free tutorial and just doubled it.  

I basically cut two Lazy Day Skirts and sewed them together to make the skirt extra bouncy.  


I had anticipated that Grace would wear this on Wednesday, but the skirt is kind of narrow and Wednesday was P.E. and she needed maximum stretching abilities for P.E.  The pattern for this is from Dana at Made.  It's called the Layered Skirt.

Annee first tipped me off to it.  Maybe she'll share the one she made days before I did.  I tried it mainly because months ago I pinned a pin on Pinterest on how to use my serger to make ruffles quickly.  Let me tell you this link and what it taught me about my serger pretty much blew my mind.  I'm serious.  I made this entire skirt in 1 hour and 20 minutes.  Does that blow your mind?!?

As fast as I could send my strips through my serger they were perfectly ruffled.  Now it did make the ruffles tighter then I needed them to be, but just like when you do basting stitches and then gather by hand if you gather your ruffle to tight you just slowly unruffle it.  That's what I did with my ruffles for this project, and I'd say the ruffles look darn good if I do say so myself!

So if you have a brother serger follow this LINK.  It will change your life.  It's pretty much changed mine.  I will never hand gather again.  Never.

Lastly, Friday...

I wanted to use this fabric originally for the layered ruffle skirt, but I didn't have enough.  I've been searching for a chambray to make Knot Shorts out of, but as per usual my JoAnn's let me down.  How can JoAnn's have so much of the wrong kinds of fabric?!  So, then it hit me that I should just make the knot shorts out of this cute blue fabric I've had in my stash for way too long.

Kind of loving these shorts.  When my husband saw me making them, he asked if they were for me.  I totally started laughing.  I stand a whopping 5 feet 2 inches off the ground.  I guess maybe they could be for me if I were into the daisy duke look.  Thank heavens I'm knot.

I'm loving the knot shorts for Grace.  I did make them reversible even though the reverse side isn't my favorite, but it gives Grace variety which I've learned it totally important when you are 5 and three quarters as she likes to be called.

A little heart on the back since there is no tag in the shorts.  That and a reminder that they were made with love. 

And that's all for now!  I guess I did have something to show for my hiatus.  Now that it's summer time, who knows what will happen.  I'll be sure to keep you posted.

Long live summer vacation!
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