Monday, December 29, 2008

Ringing in the New Year - a bit early

Ok I can't stand it anymore, it's been a week of no-sewing ~ I just had to do something. So I did another blog makeover. It'll be a new year soon, so we needed a new look ~ plus if I didn't do it while I had the free-time there was always the likelihood of the xmas background still being there in July ~ not good.

And while I haven't been sewing, I haven't exactly been idle. I re-established my life-long love-affair with knitting over the holidays, which just so happens to be a handy craft to engage in and be active with your family peeps at the same time. So after a week of that, I now have a new scarf and hat to add to my collection and I'm working on the next scarf.

Here's a little peek. The yarn is silk blend from Manos del Uruguay which is the most fabulous stuff on earth if you haven't tried it.

Ok now back to work...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Happy Holidays to one and all!!

I am pretty much putting the sewing machine on holiday for a few days. I plan to relax and enjoy the holiday season with my family over Christmas. I hope you can do the same. Merry Christmas to all those who celebrate it! Here's to a Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas is coming!

Are you ready? I'm not, but I'm not sure I'm ever ready - seems like I'm scrambling every year and then it comes whether I'm ready or not - usually not. However, we did have a few snow days already, which meant no school or work and therefore, lots of free time stuck in the house. soooo, I took advantage of that and finished up my Christmas baking.

Then it occurred to me as I was finishing up the last of the holiday handmade gifts, including a messenger bag for my mother-in-law (hope she doesn't read this blog),

that my kids didn't even have xmas shirts. Well, of course they don't need them, but my daughter does like to wear a special holiday themed shirt for special occassions.

So off to the machines I go. This is the Drunter and Druber pattern from Farbenmix. And just in time for her Christmas party tomorrow.

Happy Holidays everyone!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Quick little gift ideas

Chalk mats and crayon rolls are all the rage on my sewing discussion groups. You can find them allover Etsy as well. It seems everyone is making one. Where were these chalk mat rolls when my kids were little? These are the best things ever ~ I'm seriously contemplating making another one even though I know my youngest is a bit too old for this. What a life saver this would've been at restaurants, in the car.... Oh well, meanwhile, one of the gals at work had a baby boy a couple of weeks ago so I thought I would whip up a quick little blanket for the new baby and big brother can have the chalk mat. Best of all, I already had all these fabrics in-house and coincidentally, Mom and Dad are surfers. I did have to go buy some chalk. Makes a great Christmas stocking stuffer too...

Monday, December 1, 2008

Holiday Greetings!

The holiday season approaches, for some of us anyway, so I felt a blog-over was needed. As the first day of December, I suppose this is fitting.

I have been wanting to change the look of the blog for awhile and clean it up a bit but you know, life happens, time passes, things sit, yada yada...

Well, no more ~ ta da!! What think you? Hopefully it'll only be up until new year's when I'll switch it over yet again - I say hopefully because it took me 9 months to get around to this redo. I know what I'm doing now though, so it should go quicker. Famous last words!!

Happy December to everyone ~ wherever you are, whatever you celebrate.

Blog elements and pages from Shabby Miss Jenn ~ I love her stuff! Now I gotta go work on the Holiday calendar which is how I got sidetracked into the redo in the first place ~ Hey I had to test out the new photo editing software!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Four Betty's

Christmas gift making continues at my house ~ have I mentioned that I have 6 nieces? The youngest 2 are the recipients of the Feliz dresses I made last week. The older four are getting Betty's for Christmas. Luckily there is plenty of spare fabric in the stash because the Betty's always take up alot of fabric. So here they are, all four. Hubby even helped with ironing and riveting ~ yay.

I'm not actively participating in any kind of handmade holidays challenge, but I usually do make the gifts for my nieces ~ not sure why, it just works out that way - maybe because there are so many of them.
As you might figure from the pictures, they are avid soccer players - so I figure these will get used either to/from soccer practice or swim team. Either way, who can't use a nice tote bag?
I added the outside pocket with their names~ That's not part of the original pattern, but it isn't hard to add on.

I hope they like them. I think that brings my total Betty count to 10 ~ not bad use for one pattern. Off to work on the next gift...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Christmas Henrika

Thanksgiving is almost here - are you ready? I'm not but this year at least it's low key, just family and I won't have alot of crazed prep to do. Yay for that! This year, I'm going to attempt crock pot stuffing as inspired by A year of crockpotting. I'm going to use my own stuffing recipe and just adapt it for the crockpot and halve or possibly even quarter it because my recipe can feed a small army and we don't need that much. Aside from that I might try Sarah's pie recipe for dessert - the rest will be easy peasy. Who knows what else we'll do.

If Thanksgiving is here that must mean that Christmas is right around the corner - eek!! I'm never prepared for this, and it's no different this year. We'll see how it goes. In the spirit of the season, I whipped up - yes whipped 'cause this dress takes no time to make - a little christmassy cheer ~ Henrika dress. Who knows if i'll get another year where my daughter will consent to holiday themed clothing. As always I have to tone things down for her a bit, but this was easy to do and the slightly christmas themed fabric will be easy to wear to school without the horror of over-the-top embarrassing overtly holiday-ness, err something like that.... Hey the fabric has skis on it - I am powerless to resist anything with skis on it! But I like the results. Jury's still out - well actually she is sleeping now. Let's hope she likes it.

And now I really should start working on the handmade holiday gifts...

Monday, November 24, 2008

A Collaborative Effort

Once again the mother-daughter design duo teams up. In this case it's the next generation. My daughter picked the fabrics for this one and the colors for the hedgehog applique. I really love this Woodland embroidery set from Claudia Diesner, so I had to find an excuse to use it. Perfect for a pocket on this Drunter and Druber (Under and Over ) shirt from Farbenmix. In this case I'm making the over shirt or the sweatshirt part of the pattern except I used cotton-lycra and rib for the shirt and it's being worn more as a t-shirt than a sweatshirt. The striped fabric is Campan and the dots are US made cotton lycra from my local shop. Fun pattern to make!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Feliz Sew-along: Straps and Final Assembly

Various parts of this sew-along can be found here:

Feliz part 1: Yardage
Feliz part 2: Prep
Feliz part 3:Overdress
Feliz part 4: Underdress
Feliz part 5: Straps and final assembly

Okay, today we will sew together the straps and finish off the dress. To start, i'll align one front strap and one back strap together as shown here. Sew the center seam.

Then I'll sew the side seams (the long edges) of the strap, with right sides facing. Then turn the straps right side out and press.
Next, topstitch the straps on the long-edges. Set the straps aside for a moment.
Now we're going to put the over and underdress sections together. To do this, align the top edges of the overdress and underdress sections with the right side of the overdress facing the wrong side of the underdress.
Now we are going to insert the straps in between these two dress layers, so that the straps are sandwiched in between. The strap will attach at the marking from the pattern piece. Sandwich the strap so that the straight edge of the strap facing towards the center of the front panels of the dress and the curved edge faces out towards the sides of the dress. Pin or baste the strap in place. Now you will need to curve that strap towards the back of the dress and pin in place as well. Be sure you aren't twisting the strap, you want it to lie flat once you are done. This diagram will hopefully explain the strap positioning between the dress layers. The strap is the shaded outline.
Pin the rest of the top edges of the two dresses together and then sew.
Be careful not to catch the ties in your seam.
Remember that 1/2" overhang you left when you assembled the underdress? Well now you are going to trim that off. I usually trim the corner here so that it doesn't show once the dress is right-side out. I just nip off the corner at a diagonal as shown by the scissor point.

Now turn the dress right side out. It should look like this.
Press the top edge with your iron and topstitch. Now we're ready to make the casings for the ties. I align my dress so that it lies flat, positioning the strap where it should line between the two dress layers. I mark the sewing line using my ruler. Make sure the casing is wide enough for the strap to fit and not catch in the seam. On mine, I mark the lines about 1/4" from the edge of the strap. Pin the strap in place so it doesn't move while you are sewing.

It should look like this when you are done. We're almost done with this dress. I'm going to attach the ruffle to the bottom edge of the underdress, fold the seam allowance up and topstitch in place.
That's it!! The Feliz is ready to go! Press and enjoy :)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Feliz ~ The Underdress

Various parts of this sew-along can be found here:

Feliz part 1: Yardage
Feliz part 2: Prep
Feliz part 3:Overdress
Feliz part 4: Underdress
Feliz part 5: Straps and final assembly

Ruffles Ruffles Ruffles - that's up next.

I am making 4" wide ruffles to put on the back center piece to create the bustle and to edge the hem of the dress. I'm alternating fabrics with all the prints in my dress, so I have alot to make. First I'm going to sew my 45" strips into one long strip ~ well one for each fabric print. Next I'm going to roll hem my edge to finish it off nicely - you can do a standard hem if you prefer, serge it with contrasting thread, or use a bias tape on the edge instead which also looks very nice ~ the options are endless, use your creativity.

On the raw edge of my ruffles, I'm going to run a line of serging just to finish off the raw edge. You can run a line of zigzag stitches in place of a serger if you like, or you can just omit this step as well.

Next, I take out my handy dandy ruffler attachment for my sewing machine.
You don't need to have one of these, you can just run a couple of lines of basting along the edge of the fabric and pull on those basting threads carefully to gather up the fabric. Another option is the zig zag or dental floss method which Sandi Henderson (Portabellopixie) did a great job of explaining. However, if you plan to sew alot of ruffles a ruffler is a worthwhile attachment. I use mine extensively ~ love that thing. I set my ruffler to a setting that will essentially give me a 2X gathering so the ruffle will end up being exactly 1/2 the length it was unruffled. This gives me the desired fullness but you can add more or less gathers depending on your tastes.

Ok ruffles done, I'm now going to cut them to fit the back panel of the dress, layering them and pinning in place. First i'm going to draw lines on my center panel piece to help in sewing on the ruffles. I use a disappearing ink marker and draw a line about 3.5" up from the hem, then 3 more lines, each about 3" up from the previous line. You can make them as far apart as you want to stack them more if you like.

I'm going to baste the serged edge of the ruffles in place on the back panel, attaching them upside down - ie they are facing up not down and I'm using the line I drew as a placement guide. Then I fold the ruffle down over the seam I just basted and topstitch them in place. Repeat for all your ruffles until you are done. NOTE: I didn't add any ruffles to the very bottom edge of the dress, we'll do that later when we finish off the hem.

You can space the ruffles as far apart as you want and add as many layers as you want ~ or leave them off entirely. My 7 year-old doesn't really like all those ruffles, so her Feliz dresses don't have the bustle at all.

Now to attach the center back facing to the back center panel of the dress. I finish off the straight edge of the facing piece with a serger, fold it over, press and stitch this down. Next i'm going to attach the facing to the center panel. Place the pieces right sides together, then stitch.
Turn the facing towards the back of the dress center panel, enclosing the seam you just made. Press and topstich the top edge.
Next i'm going to draw lines on my center back panel to mark the casing for the elastic. The pattern doesn't really specify how long to make the elastics or how far apart to sew the casings. In this case, i'm making the smallest size dress (86) so I'm going to use narrower elastic (1/4") and therefore make a narrower casing. In this example, I place my lines 3/4" apart and started them at the top of the facing piece as shown. On the larger (134) size dress I have sewn before I was able to use a wider elastic (1/2") because the back panel is much larger. In that case I made my lines 1" apart and started them a bit lower down the facing panel. It's really up to you. I have done 3 lines of elastic, you can do more or less, it's really just a matter of preference. Now sew lines of stiching along the lines you drew on the panel pieces to create an elastic casing.

Next cut your elastic. The length of the elastic will just depend upon the size of your child. Measure the chest of your child and allow at least and inch or two for give and a comfortable fit. I cut my elastic about 1.5" shorter than the width of my center panel. You might want to add more or less.

Now using a safety pin on one end of the elastic, I inserted the elastic into the casing and secured the end with a pin. Repeat for the remaining casings.

Next I will run a line of stitching over the ends of the elastic to secure them in the casing. Do this about a 1/4" in from the raw edge of the fabric so it doesn't rip out.

Next draw the elastics through to the other edge of the casing and expose a bit of the elastic end so that you can tack it down. I use pins to hold the elastics in place until they are sewn down.

Now we are ready to assemble the pieces of our underdress. Sew the front center and side panels together as you did for the overdress.

Then sew the back center panel to the side panels but leave the back center panel down about 1/2" from the side panels.

This will provide the extra seam allowance we will need to attach the over- and underdress pieces together at the last step. Be careful when you sew the center back panel that you don't catch in too much of the ruffle in your seam, and similarly you do want to catch at least the raw edge of the ruffle in the seam. You might want to baste the raw ruffle edges to the side of the back center piece before you sew the seam. Ok now sew the center front panel to the side pieces as you did for the overdress. Top stitch along the seams.

Whew - ok that's enough for today.