Saturday, April 30, 2011

Just a Mug Rug for Mother's Day.

Wow, it's been a little while, hasn't it?  I'm sorry about that!  I've been busy and away from my sewing table, but I had yet to complete the April challenge at  The challenge was to sew something for a mother, who couldn't be myself.  I wasn't exactly sure what I wanted to make, but I finally settled on a mug rug. 

Have you heard of mug rugs?  I hadn't either until recently, but essentially, it is quilted mat that can be used as a coaster for a mug of coffee or tea and a snack.  Here is my version.  I'm not a quilter, and I miscalculated when deciding on my method for applying the binding, so I had to improvise.  I think it is cute, and I think Mama will like it, so there you go!

I also made both girls a dress this morning for a photo session.  I did take pictures of them, but they don't really showcase the dresses very well, so I'll show those to you later.

Happy sewing!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

We have baby birds in our bird house and, although the Easter Bunny didn't bring these, we did find this nestled in the back of our satellite dish last weekend.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Pattern Review--Favorite Things Little Smarty Pants

I made some more Little Smarty Pants today, so I thought I'd take the time to write a quick review of the pattern.  Overall, this is one of my favorite summer patterns.  It comes in two lengths--capri and bermuda shorts.  I haven't made the capri length yet, but I will soon.

  • The pattern has plenty of details that give them a more finished look without requiring zippers or buttons. 
  • The flat-front, elastic-waist style means that there isn't a lot of bulk at the waist.
  • I love the bias cut back waistband and the method used to create the cuffs on the bermuda shorts.
  • It is a good unisex pattern although I don't have any boys to make them for.
  • The pocket instructions can be quite confusing and call for 2 extra pattern pieces that you really don't need to use unless you want to use a lighter-weight fabric for your pockets.  Once I figured out that I don't necessarily need the pocket facings, it all worked out fine though.
  • The sizing for children is paired, so any size above a 4 is a combination of two sizes (e.g. 5/6, 7/8).  Allie is between sizes at the moment, so this doesn't work as well for me as it could.
That's really the gist of it.  The results definitely look like the pattern envelope, and the details give them a ready-to-wear feel that you don't always find in patterns. 

I used my black and white seersucker for these.  Jenna's are bermuda length with front and back pockets and cuffs.  I didn't do waistband tabs or belt loops.  Here are some pictures although the details get a little lost in the gingham.   They are a size 4, but are still a little big. . . she will probably grow into them in the next few months!
And another picture just because she's cute!  (This is her model pose.)

For Allie, I decided to use the same pattern to make a skort for her.  I cut her the bermuda shorts in a size 7/8 and shortened them a little bit, and I didn't cut any pockets or side tabs.  I made a simple tiered skirt to go over them and and sewed it to the top of the shorts before attaching the waistband. 

I made each tier of the skirt 1 1/2 times bigger than the tier before and gathered it by hand.  I definitely should have taken the time to get out my ruffler foot, but I didn't, so I spent a lot of time pulling up bobbin threads!  It ended up being very twirly!

I hope you have all had a great weekend!

Monday, April 11, 2011


I love love love, with a twinkly heart surrounded by firecrackers, seersucker.  Seriously.  It may be one of the best fabrics ever made for hot, humid weather.  Unfortunately, good seersucker is hard to find.  There is the fake stuff at Joann's that I'm guessing is about 80% poly since it melts if your iron is too hot. . .don't get me wrong, I've been sucked in by some of the super-cute prints and bought some, but it isn't real seersucker. I've also come across some really thin (read really see-through) stuff, but that isn't what I've been looking for either.

Guess what is in my washing machine as we speak.  Yep, some real seersucker, and if it could be any better, it is black and white gingham seersucker!  I found it at the bottom of a stack of bolts in the very first shop I went in at the garment district.  This particular store had an incredibly pushy salesman who tried to talk me into several different things, including some rainbow striped satin, but all I left with was the gingham seersucker. 

Now, I just need to decide what to make with it.  I may make some Little Smarty Pants or maybe a skirt like this one (without the fish embroideries).  What is your favorite thing to make with seersucker?

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Finished Skirt

I think she likes it!  I think it still needs some distressing, but I'll get to that on another day. . .because now Allie won't take it off. 

If you remember in my previous post, this skirt was my inspiration, but I din't have quite enough denim to do it exactly like the Chasing Fireflies one.  I think I captured the essence though, and Allie never saw the original, so she doesn't know the difference.  I'm fairly sure my version is longer too.  She's only 7, after all!

I left both the top and bottom of the band around the bottom unfinished.  I'm guessing it will fray nicely.  (About this picture . . .lol. . please be kind when viewing my newbie attempts at erasing the background.)

And here's a slightly imperfect zipper fly and waistband, but seriously, have you every really studied some of your RTW clothes?  Keeping that in mind, I'm happy with it. :)  See how the band is already starting to fray some!

These started with another Otto pattern. . .the butterfly pants from the Autumn 2009 issue.  The only alteration I made was to remove the lines that would make separate legs and a crotch; I made the rest of the pattern, including the pockets and zipper as drawn. 

Some of you have told me that you also have knock-offs on your sewing table, and I'm really looking forward to seeing them.

Happy Sewing!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

My next knock-off

Allie "needs" a blue-jean skirt. . .you know that kind of "need," right?  Well, she has her heart set on it and I found enough denim in my stash to oblige, so I've been looking around for  some inspiration.

I think this one from Chasing Fireflies is the one I'm going to try to copy.  It looks grown up enough for her taste, and I really like the pleating detail on the back.

The denim I have will need some distressing to achieve this look, so I'm going to research some methods for distressing denim and will try them out as well!

Are you working on a knock-off?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Easter Dresses

I guess it is similar to the proverbial chicken and egg question.  Which comes first:  the pattern or the fabric?  In this case, it was the fabric.  I've had this cream and pink toile in my stash for a relatively short period of time.  It is crinkle fabric, and until I started sewing it up, I thought it was a woven, but it is a knit, and the crinkle effect seems to be created with elastic threads knit into the fabric. 

The crinkle effect reminded me of the fabric used in Olabelhe's Amelia dress pattern picture.  I considered buying the pdf pattern, but I thought I probably had a pattern that I could alter to get the same effect.  Once I got started, I decided that I really like the low back on her Natalie dress , so I decided to incorporate that feature into my dresses.  Then, I decided to forego the elastic bubble hem because I really liked the way the dresses looked on the girls without it.  So, I started out to knock-off Amelia and ended up knocking off Natalie instead. 

I started with an Ottobre pattern from Summer 2008 for a tie-back tunic.  I traced only the bodice of the pattern and shortened it, so it would stop an inch or two below the armpit.  For the back pieces of the pattern, I created the scoop and added 1/2 inch to the center back to allow for my snaps.  I cut the front and back pieces from my toile knit and from a white broadcloth for lining. 

Isn't the back pretty?!

The skirts are simple rectangles.  Jenna's is twice the width of the bodice seam and is gathered to fit.  On Allie's, I did pleats, so it started as 3 times the width of the bodice.  I decided to skip the sash.

Both dresses are twirly, but Allie's is very twirly.  Since they are made of knit, they feel more like a playdress but look dressy.

I challenge you to do your own knock-off.  Choose your inspiration either from RTW (ready to wear) or from a pattern you may not want to buy.  Look through your patterns and find one that has similar details and/or lines, and start from there.  I'd love to see what you come up with!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

More LA garment district fabric

This is another of my finds on my trip to the garment district.  It is nice, mid-weight swimsuit lycra.

I think this is the year I may try my hand at making a swimsuit for me.  I'm thinking Jalie's Tankini pattern .  The bonus will be that I can use the same pattern for my girl's suits although I have 2 TNT swimsuit patterns that I already love for them. 

I wandered into a little hole-in-the-wall store with an entire wall full of laces and trims.  I'm not much of a lace girl, but some of the trims were too cute to pass up, especially since they cost only $.25/yard. 

The top 3 are fold-over elastic, which I've never used, but I want to :) .  The bottom 2 are picot edge elastic.  Isn't the multi-color one fabulous?!  I think I got a whole dollar's worth of that one. . .yep, that's 4 yards. 

And in case you are wondering what happened to that freezer paper stencil, here is the final result.  I had plans to turn the adult size small t-shirt into a night-gown for Allie, but she had other plans.  She wanted a girly cut t-shirt.  I used the Imke pattern and reused the original neckline ribbing and the sleeve hems.  I think it turned out very cute.

I've been busy today working on what will probably end up being Easter dresses, and I can hardly wait to show you.  I'm hoping to get some decent modelled shots tomorrow and get them up. 

I'd also like to hear about your inspirations.  Do you "window shop" in RTW or online catalogs to get inspiration for pieces you ultimately make?  Do you copy a pattern rather than buying it?  Think about it because I will be issuing a challenge related to that tomorrow!