Thursday, July 24, 2014

Knit Fabric Swap for Challenge Create

  Have you seen Challenge Create at Skirt Fixation? This is the Fabric Swap Edition, and I'm joining in! I sent fabric to Call Ajaire, while Karly from Paisley Roots sent me some.

   My daughter immediately fell in love with the button fabric, and requested a dress. I spent some time sketching to determine how best to put the striped and button fabric together. I finally decided to keep them separate, and add some solids so I'd have enough fabric... brown to go with the button fabric, and navy with the stripes.
  Once I had my designs planned, I began drafting. For Booper, I designed a flowy dress with an asymmetrical waist seam. It has a half-circle skirt with gathers on the high end, ruffles and lettuce edging everywhere, and small details of ruching, embroidery, and a button near the neckline.

   This dress truly was a challenge to make the pattern for... since I was making an asymmetrical bodice and a partially gathered half-circle skirt, I had to make a lot of changes to make the hem level for the muslin I made. When it was perfect, I cut it out of the button fabric and some coordinating brown.

   I'd ended up with one full week to sew everything, after drafting and muslins... and that is when my sewing machine broke. Unfortunately, the only repairman around here who can deal with computerized machines was on vacation. 4 days later, I found a second-hand machine, leaving me only 2 days to sew and one for photos.That is also why the photos aren't great... I didn't have time to re-take them, and had to use the ones where my camera was acting poorly.

  My serger also threw a fit, and as a result I had to use tissue paper and starch on EVERY seam. That's why, after all that perfectionistic muslining, the hem is not level. 

  The side seam on the skirt was my first, I didn't use tissue or starch, and it stretched badly... and I didn't realize it until I had the dress mostly sewn and was trying it on my daughter, at which point I didn't have time to pick it out and redo it. I tried steaming it but it only helped a little bit. 

  Machine troubles aside, it came together relatively easily. The embroidery was surprisingly quick and I love the result... as does Booper. She started begging to wear the dress when I was only halfway finished, and continued begging until I was ready to take the photos.

   Next up was a top for me. I decided on a tied collar and half-length tied sleeves. 

  I didn't have time to make muslins for those after all the machine trouble, so I just winged it and I'm really happy they turned out well. The ties on the neck could be a little bit longer, but they are long enough to tie and that's the important part. ;-)

  I'm glad I already had a decently fitting tee sloper! Unfortunately I randomly gained five pounds just before taking the photos, so it's rather tight. (Maybe it was the stress of the sewing machine issues kicking in?)

  I was prepared with the starch this time, and finished off the entire can, as well as several pages of tissue paper.

   The stripes were abysmally slow, since I pinned every stripe, but for my first time ever sewing with stripes I think I did a decent job of matching them. I should have thought about it more while cutting the sleeves, but otherwise it worked out.

  I lettuce-edged the hem of the shirt for a simple and feminine finish.

  I'm wearing it with a knit and stretch lace skirt that I also made, and my husband's belt that is about 6 inches too big for me. ;-) 

  The skirt is part of a pattern test I'm helping with, and that I love.  It's the second one I've made, and I have fabric for at least one more. I'll talk about them more when the pattern is released.

  In retrospect, using a thin, stretchy knit for me probably wasn't the best idea. It's quite clingy and highlights everything, and looks even tighter than it actually is. I'll get a lot of wear out of it once I drop those 5 pounds though!

One more thing: my computer also rebelled.... that's 4 machines acting up at the same time! Something really didn't want me to complete this challenge!

 At any rate, I would LOVE it if you would go vote! And I'm really hoping that this dress and shirt combo is top on your list. ;-)

Thanks for stopping by,

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


  It's been a while since I last posted! I've been sewing quite a bit (1.75 shirts, 2.75 skirts, 1 cropped cardigan, 1 dress) but haven't had much time to take photos where it wasn't either blindingly bright or completely dark. I finally have a few (not great) photos that I will be sharing in a few days for a fun challenge that I joined in. Meanwhile, I thought I'd show you my recent craigslist finds.

  When we first moved into this house, I found this cutting table and mat for a great deal. I love that it's large enough for me to cut the full length of a dress! The table is a little wobbly, but it has drop-leafs on either side to save room. I'd probably make a table or find something more sturdy instead next time, but it does work for my purposes, and I love the cutting mat.

  Next up! I used to play piano for hours when I was a teen... I was never great at it, but I really enjoyed it. When we moved from Oregon to Arizona, I had to leave my piano behind, and I've been searching for one since. Usually the lowest price I see on pianos is about $500 used, so imagine my surprise when I found a baby grand piano for $100! That is a deal you don't see every day. The finish is pretty messed up, but there are only two things on it that are actually broken... one of the hinges for the lid is missing, and the key cover is splitting on one side. Otherwise, it's in beautiful shape and is even in tune!

  And finally, my sister-in-love accidentally broke my sewing machine again when she was visiting last week. Since the only repairman around here who can work on computerized sewing machines is on vacation (again, I swear he has been on vacation or about to go on vacation every time I've brought a machine in there), it isn't repaired yet, and I needed a backup to complete that challenge. I figured I could spend a small amount on a garbage machine that would break in a few months, or invest in a machine that has already lasted for decades. I chose the latter, and ended up with a Singer 401a, the 'Slant-O-Matic', in a cabinet.

  It works beautifully! I'm really glad I chose this instead of a new, cheap one. It does have two problems: the spool pins are broken off and the thread goes flying while I'm sewing, and the rubber gasket on the bobbin winder is cracked and broken from age, so I can't wind any bobbins.

  It came with the original plastic cams and some bobbins and feet:

  As well as a buttonholer, which I haven't had a chance to test out yet:

  If you were reading this blog back then, you know that I also bought my DSLR on craigslist, and since then various bags of fabric and other furniture. Some people go to yardsales, I look on craigslist. ;-)

  Please visit again in a few days to see what I made for the challenge I keep talking about!

Thanks for stopping by,

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Sunflower Wedding: The Decorations

  I've shown you the cake, the flower girl dress, and the twirl skirts I made (and the sunflower crowns) for my sister-in-love's wedding, and now it's time for some things I did not make. Most of these were made by my sister-in-love, mother-in-love, and Tia Eva.

  The ceremony was held inside the church sanctuary, and the reception was held outdoors. This was the view as I stepped inside the building:

    Then I popped through another set of doors and saw the card table on my left:

  On the right was a gift table, with a cute banner hanging above it. It said Mr. & Mrs. with the last name, which I've cropped out for privacy:

 I didn't get a photo of the center aisle, but the view from the front of the sanctuary looking out was this. The 'Reserved' signs as well as the invitations and table signs were designed by my brother-in-law. He doesn't have an online presence, but if you live in the Prescott, AZ area and need some graphics work done I can get you in touch with him... he does pretty good work and is willing to listen to what you really want.

  On the platform were more flower arrangements:

  As well as a unity candle/communion table. A Bible was added to this before the ceremony began, and they read out of it and prayed together. =)

  Now outside, for the reception area! There were pretty lights everywhere, and tiny lit paper lanterns hung along the arches. I photographed it all before the wedding began, but by the time the reception started it was dusk, so it was all even prettier:

  These sunflower balls were also hung in one of the arches:

  Tia Eva, who is the bride's aunt as well as mine, made not only favors for all the guests, but little little things to keep the kids who were attending entertained. =)

  Next to them was a chalkboard sign and some wood chunks:

  Next to that, the favors for the adults... The sign said 'Take one and watch love grow' but it was covered up a little by the favors:

  On the other side of the favors were wishes for the guests to fill out.

  And on the far side of the wheelbarrow and kid's packets was a bench for all the guests to sign with Sharpies, and the bride and groom's initials and the date woodburned into it. I love that idea!

  I only took this one photo of how the dessert tables were set up, but it was really cute.

  In between the twin dessert tables is where I set up the cake and where the big buckets for water bottles were.

  And on every table where guests would sit was a layout like this, with either a blue, yellow, or coral table square. Oh, and I actually did help with one set of the mason jar vases. =) We had originally planned to put the cake on a wood slice like that, but we couldn't find any that were big enough. I did find them for sale online a day AFTER the wedding. ;-)

  Now imagine all of those pretty decorations, combined with lots of twinkling lights:

  Wasn't that a darling, rustic-style wedding?

Thanks for stopping by,

Friday, June 27, 2014

Sunflower Wedding: Twirl Skirts

 In addition to the cake and flower girl dress, I wanted to make dresses for my younger daughters to wear. I ended up short on time, as usual, so I made them skirts instead.
The skirts and dress
  As with the flower girl dress, I made these out of satin and chiffon from the Casa Collection at Joann's. They only had these colors online, so the blue is quite a bit darker than the blue the bridesmaids were wearing, but it was still cute. The colors are Sunshine and Bluebird (it appears that the bluebird is no longer available in satin), and they are very different in person from the pictures on the website.

  I wanted there to be a sash on these like on the flower girl dress, so I decided to try something new and make the sash be elasticized in the front and run through the waistband.

  The bow is fake again, so they wouldn't be able to untie it.

  It worked on Becker's version (the yellow) but on Gaiw's skirt the front gaped a lot when worn.

  I'm not sure why it was different, but Gaiw's skirt was a little tighter on her, so that may account for it. There's another thing I didn't love about the blue skirt.... the chiffon layer. This time I placed the whole satin piece on top of the chiffon to cut it with a rotary cutter, so I knew I had a perfect circle. However, after I finished sewing it all together, the chiffon stretched more in some areas than others and it looks rather odd. I'm debating trimming it down and re-hemming.

  Ah well, she still looked adorable in that and her crown and her too-small shirt. (I didn't realize it was too small until we were at the church)

  For Becker's skirt, I gently pulled the chiffon past the satin and trimmed it before hemming, so it's much more even.

  We were in a room with a bunch of people besides me, so she was bawling from terror in most of the photos I took of her. Poor girl. Either I or her papa held her for almost the entire wedding.

  She didn't get a full sunflower crown, as there was no way that would stay on her head, but I did tie a sunflower on to a piece of elastic for a headband. =)

  Isn't she cute though?

  I decided to put two pieces of elastic in the back waistband, since all I had was 1" wide and the waistbands were 2.5" wide. I kind of like the effect.

  I sewed the entire waistband and skirt layers separately, then attached them with a French seam.
Inside of the skirt
  I'm thinking that next time I work with chiffon, especially narrow rolled hems, I'm going to try the gelatine method of making the fabric firmer. I didn't have enough on hand this go-around.

   The waistbands took a lot of brain-wrangling to figure out their construction... I was planning on sharing a tutorial, but I think it needs tweaking so it doesn't gape first.

  The final thing I sewed for the wedding I didn't sew alone. My sister-in-love wanted a lace addition to her dress, with short sleeves rather than just a strapless dress, so she found some pretty 4" wide lace on Etsy and brought it over to my house. Since she came with the lace, I decided to try draping for the first time. I cut strips of fabric to 4" so I wouldn't waste any lace, and carefully pinned them on her over a tight tee. It came out a little weird at the underarm area, so I think that would have worked better with just undergarments, but that would have been awkward for both of us. Once I had the draped pattern, we hand-sewed strips of lace together for all of the pieces- front, two back sides, and both sleeves. Then I French-seamed those together while she covered a button with a tiny bit of white fabric and lace and hand-sewed the back slit hems, and we hand-sewed a thread loop. This is how it looks with the dress:

  She was going to take it home and hand-sew it to the lining of the dress, but I think she got really busy and didn't have time to finish the hand-sewing, so it's just tucked in. It definitely isn't perfect, but it worked and made the dress a little more like she wanted. =)
Edit: Apparently it is sewn in! Just at the waist rather than the top of the dress like I expected. And it turns out it didn't really work either.... it had to have two more layers of lace sewn at the underarm to make it work. D'oh!

  Draping is pretty un-involved compared to drafting! This really made me realize how useful a dress form would be for me... as long as it matched me well.

 Just a few more photos:
This is another beautiful sis-in-love, who was one of the bridesmaids.

  And that's it! I may post a few photos of the decorations my sis-in-love and other relatives made in a few days here.

Thanks for stopping by!