Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Gingham Portfolio Top

I'm back with a little selfish sewing today. I made my first Simplicity 2245 Lisette Portfolio Tunic. This pattern has been covered extensively all over the internet already, so I'm not going to bore you with too many details.

I made a top for my first go-round. Of course, this means the coolest feature (the awesome front pocket structure) is missing, but I wanted to check the fit before committing the extra time and fabric on a dress version. I'm glad I did, because I don't feel like the chest fit is quite spot-on yet.

I did add a little length (2 inches, I think), because I like my tops to be a little on the long side. That was definitely a wise choice, because I wouldn't wear this if it were any shorter.

And if I'm ever again thinking of making this pattern in gingham, please stop me. The pattern matching is not possible (or maybe it is, but don't tell me about it, because I don't want to know that it's just me) -- I made some effort but eventually gave up -- and the non-matching kind of drives me bonkers.

Overall, I'm fairly happy with this top, though. It's not perfect, and I'd investigate a few tweaks before making it again to see if I could make it a bit more flattering, but it's comfortable and breezy and I'm a sucker for gingham. It's a good just-a-bit-dressier-than-a-T-shirt summer option.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014


I like sewing pajamas for the kids. There are just so many upsides:

1. Instant gratification: Most pajamas are a pretty quick sew. They're not complicated. They don't involve a lot of extra fuss. Some rather basic knit or woven fabric, a bit of elastic, and half an hour...ta-da!

2. Low-pressure sewing situation: They're pajamas, so they don't have to be perfect. As long as they're comfortable and don't fall apart, it's a win. Cute is a nice bonus, but if it doesn't work out, I'll live.

3. Frugality: The pajamas in the post were really inexpensive to make. Like free (well, unless you factor in my time, but even that wasn't a lot). Pajama sewing is perfect for recycling old grown-up clothes. It's not always (or even that often) that sewing is really "cheaper" than buying (not that it should be or needs to be!), and it's a nice bonus when I can make a summer pajama wardrobe for nothing rather than shelling out $ at Old Navy or Target or some other god forsaken hell hole.

4. Guaranteed wear time: Sewing for the kids is a risk. I've made some cute things that live exclusively in the closet. BUT! Take the number of pajama items in Adelaide's drawer, factor in the tossing turning toddler sweat and the spilled breakfast items, and multiply by the (ir)regularity of my laundry routine. All the jammies get worn at some point. ALL OF THEM.

Okay, on to the show-and-tell.

Adelaide already had the polka dot pajama shirt, but the matching pants are getting too small now. Luckily, I had leftover fabric...just enough for some shorts. These are the Sleeping Johns from Growing Up Sew Liberated, just shorter. I made them in a 4T so my little 3-year-old would have some room to grow.

The green and pink shorts were made from some of my old (huge and falling apart at the waistband) pajama pants. I used the free Oliver + S Sunny Day Shorts pattern in a 4T. (Adelaide measured between the 2T and 3T, but for pajamas I wanted to err on the side of baggy. I think it was definitely the right choice here.) It was a super easy and quick pattern, and they look really comfortable. Oh, and let's talk useful stuff for a sec: flat felled seams. Not that difficult on something like this and makes the shorts so much more sturdy. It's a little extra step I'm glad I took.

The pink shirt was just one of my old ill-fitting tops. I think I got it in high school and stopped wearing it about shortly post-college, but I held onto it hoping to re-purpose it one day. Only a decade and several moves later, that day has finally come. TOTALLY WORTH IT.

I took the seam ripper to the sides and some of the ribbing, then I redrafted the armholes and took the sides in (not quite enough, though). And then I reattached the ribbing I had undone and crossed the straps at the back. It was still too baggy, so I pinched a little pleat into the back. I didn't want to re-hem it, so it ended up really long. More of a nightgown. But that's cool, because why not?

Pajama sewing for the win.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Q is for Quinn

I've actually been sewing up a storm lately, not that I've managed to post about it for my millions of adoring fans handful of occasional readers. Sometimes there's only time for the sewing OR the blogging, and the sewing is going to win about 87% of the time (highly scientific/mathematical reasoning behind that number, by the way). This is why I love Instagram so much: fast and easy sharing of the things. (I'm @DilettanteSarah. Say hello!)

I've got some backlogged projects is what I'm saying, and I have already taken pictures of some of them even. So let's get rolling. Today I bring you a throw pillow for the rocking chair in Quinn's room. I made this way back in March, back when my baby still occasionally let me rock him before bed, back when he was only at a 10 on the squirmy wormy ball of energy scale. Now he has turned the dial up to 11 and the chair goes untouched. But hey, at least it's got a pillow on it, am I right?

I hand drew the Q, and I'm quite pleased with it. My appliqueing skills are not stellar, but I tried to really take my time and I think it turned out okay. My decision to use some leftover baby-wale corduroy with a bit of stretch, on the other had, turned out less okay. At least, that's what I'm blaming for the rather ill-fitting nature of the cover. Although, now that I think of it, the pillow cover I made for Adelaide's room back in the day didn't fit that well or snugly either, so maybe I just have problems.

Anyway: Pillow cover! Sewn! Photographed! And bloggily delivered to you with love!

I hope to be back very soon with some summer pajamas for Adelaide (already have photographs, so that should be easy enough one would think) and a blouse for myself (that I have already worn out into the world twice but have not yet photographed*).

*This may very well be the first time since I started blogging that I've gone about wearing something (or, heaven forbid, allowed the children to wear something) before photographing it. I mean, I am a mess. I just cannot be trusted to wear something without ruining it. BUT. I actually need some new summery shirts and it takes me ages to get photographs of myself wearing anything. Because it is the worst. Adam is a good sport and will happily snap away any time, any place, so I've got that going for me. But the rest of the process is me scrambling to find some clean pants that aren't ill-fitting and that at least kind of go with the top I made, me trying to decide whether my unwashed hair is too unwashed, children sitting at our feet (best-case scenario) fussing about the lack of attention they are getting for FIFTEEN WHOLE MINUTES OH MY GOD THE HORROR, and the supreme awkwardness of feeling like the neighbors are watching the whole thing and wondering what the hell I am doing with my life. So, yeah, I kind of procrastinate the photo shoot a bit.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Navy Plantain Tee

I love sewing for myself, but I'm rarely overly pleased with the results, at least not in that I-wear-it-all-the-time way. I have no use for clothes that aren't really darn comfortable, at least not on a regular basis. And I also don't really like to have to spend time each day thinking about putting an outfit together. What I really want to be able to sew for myself are just some good, flattering basics. But, man, that's hard. At least for me.

That photographer of mine, he sure has a good sense of humor.

With that in mind, I decided it was high time I tried sewing myself a T-shirt. I had seen some really cute versions of the free Plantain Tee by Doe and Deer, so I decided to go with that. It's a scoop-neck tee with a slightly flared bottom. I used a very stretchy jersey from my stash, bought at JoAnn fabrics. I don't remember exactly what it is, but it's one of those Sew Classics types that they always have in stock.

I had fun sewing it up. It was fairly easy, once I get my machine settings right for the crazy stretchy fabric.

I'm not sure how I feel about the results though. It's just not quite right on me. For one thing, the fabric is just too slinky. It's comfy, but it's not very flattering and shows every bump and undergarment strap. I'm breastfeeding and wearing nursing tanks, I've grown two kids, that level of detail is not really going to work for me. (These pictures are the least lumpy of the bunch, and it took some doing to weed the others out.)

Photobomber Adelaide, kind of staring at my butt.

I also think the armholes may be too big. Actually, I may have wanted a smaller size altogether. I don't know. I definitely think the flared bottom is just a bit too unfitted for me and I'd be better off with something with a more defined waist.

But I don't know...It feels nice on even if I'm not happy with how it looks in the pictures. And I'm very happy with how the sewing went. I may try again with a few modifications, or even modify this one a bit to see how it goes. At any rate, it'll be fine around the house or with a cardigan over it (and I love me a cardigan).

For the record, I have no idea what I'm Vanna-White-ing it about here.
I'm in the middle of sewing another shirt for myself right now, this one a woven tunic, and I'm having some of the same issues. I'm finding it really difficult to find patterns that look comfortable and fuss-free but also flattering on me (is it the C-cup? the hips? just the nursing tanks?). Sigh. If you have any awesome pattern suggestions, please, help me!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

KCW Project 2: Space Ranger Bimaa Hoodie

kid's clothes week
Hey! I'm finally wrapping up my Kids Clothes Week posts! Go me!

There's something I neglected to mention about Adelaide in my last post: Toy Story 2.

She is freaking gonzo for that movie. As in, she is constantly pretending to be Woody or Buzz or Jessie (but usually Buzz these days) and assigning everyone else around her roles as well. (Poor Quinn is often relegated to the role of Mister Potato Head, but such is the plight of a little brother, I suppose.)

So I had the idea to make her a space ranger hoodie, and I immediately knew that I wanted to go with the Bimaa pattern by Lou Bee Clothing. I found some awesome quick-dry jersey at JoAnn Fabrics for the blue, green, and purple. The white is just the stretchiest white jersey the store had, but it's not as great as the quick-dry stuff.

The shirt sewed up pretty quickly, and I'm very happy with it, though the 3T fits a little long on my smallish almost-three-year-old. I didn't do the suggested edge stitching around the face opening, but I think I might go back and do it, because it's looking pretty floppy. On the other hand, Adelaide doesn't mind it, so maybe I won't bother.

I drew and cut a freezer paper stencil for the control panel on the front. Rather than paint all the buttons on, I decided to sew on a few real buttons, which I think worked out well. Plus it's an extra selling point for Miss Picky. A hood, buttons, AND a space ranger theme is pretty much hitting up her whole want list. All that's missing is a set of pockets and a matching shirt for her brother -- then this would be the holy grail.

I'm happy to report that Adelaide loves it! It's probably my biggest sewing win for her so far. She's wearing it right now, even. Hooray!

Yet, despite the fact that she loves wearing it, the photo shoot was nutso. She was happy enough to stand in front of the camera in exchange for some fudge, but not without some pretty intense hamming. I took about 100 photos, and the ones above are pretty much the only ones in which she played it straight. Mostly, it was like the photos below: crazy cakes. But, I must admit, they're pretty awesome. Maybe she knew exactly what she was doing.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

KCW Project 1: There's Always Room For Ice Cream Tunic

kid's clothes week

Kids Clothes Week is, of course, over by now. But it takes me awhile to get a post up these days, so here you go.

First, let me just tell you a little bit about Adelaide. She is almost three. She loves digging. She loves dancing all crazy to Michael Jackson tunes. She loves wearing jeans because that's what cowboys wear. She has very strong opinions. And she never wants to wear anything fussy, meaning she's kind of a T-shirt girl (chalk it up as a "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree" thing).

Yeah, that's a wrinkly sheet taped up as a backdrop. Winning.

Before I knew her so well, way back when she was either in utero or a teeny tiny baby (I can't remember for sure), I saw this super cute Lisette ice cream/popsicle fabric at JoAnn's. I snapped it up with plans for making an adorable little dress at some point. Well, once that kid got on the move and vocal about her likes and dislikes, I decided not to waste the time or fabric on something she probably wouldn't enjoy wearing.

These days, particularly during Quinn's naptimes, Adelaide likes to hang out in my sewing room with me, playing with fabric scraps and wooden spools while I work. It is fantastic, seriously, one of my dreams come true. Sure, I end up getting less done than I would all by myself, but the other day she asked if she could sew something on my machine and my heart melted into a gloriously mushy puddle.

Pockets are serious business.

One day, she spotted the ice cream fabric. And it was love. Cue weeks of asking if I'd made her an "ice cream shirt" yet, even with some very polite "please" action thrown in for good measure. That kind of request just cannot be ignored. So, despite my reservations, I decided to place Adelaide's Ice Cream Tunic at the top of this season's KCW list.

Not sure what she's doing to Big Bird here, but it seems menacing.

I went with the Made By Rae Geranium pattern, making it with the cap sleeves, tunic length, side seam pockets, and plain neckline. It sewed up really nicely. The pattern was great, very clear. And the size 3 is a great fit for my smallish nearly-3-year-old.

It's pretty stinking cute too, though I may be biased.

Will she wear it? Time will tell.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Quinny's floor blanket

I always like to lay Quinn out on a blanket for his floor time, partly to keep him out of whatever crumbs and fuzz are hanging around our floor, partly to help define a safe zone for Adelaide to reference (no riding the bike on the blanket! no jumping on the blanket! gah!), and partly to protect the rugs from the inevitable spitting up that Quinny brings to the party. Of course, now with all the rolling and scooting going on, he finds his way off that blanket pretty quickly, but still.

Six months in, I figured it was time to make the poor neglected second child his own floor blanket like the one I made Adelaide when she was a baby. Super easy, super quick, and very functional. 

I thought I had batting left over from Adelaide's blanket, but it wasn't quite enough, so I used some mystery batting that I had inherited. I kind of melted it with the iron a bit, and it puckered up a bit differently than the stuff I'm used to. Also, if you take a close look at my "quilting," it is a hot mess--just a few oddly placed lines of stitching in the middles of a few of the squares to hold things together. 

But who's looking that closely, right? Well, except for the baby playing on it.