Monday, February 27, 2012

New Purses

Over winter break, I had to sew myself a new purse. A hole had worn through my old one, and holes in purses don't really work. My aunt had bought me and Nora a gift certificate to my favorite fabric store for our birthdays, and we had already purchased fabric for both. I just hadn't had a chance to sew yet. 

This is a lot brighter and way more fun than my old purse, which was gray, black and red. I LOVE the bold, modern flowers and the unexpected color combinations. 

I also made myself this silly fox purse. I felt like I needed something cute, and when I saw this fabric I couldn't pass it up. I love the oranges and purples together. Sadly, I finished this purse and went to zip it up, and the zipper was broken. Deep sigh. I am in the process of ripping out stitches so I can install a higher quality zipper. Maybe over spring break. 

This is what Nora selected, which really surprised me. I never would have guessed she would choose red, black and white, or a geometric fabric. But it turned out great and she loves it. I made the strap about a foot shorter than my strap, and it is the perfect length for her. Isn't is awesome that she chose a red strap instead of a black strap? Spunky, that girl. 

Dana, of course, felt that it was quite unjust that Nora had a new purse and I had TWO! She had a good point, so I took her to select 3 fat quarters, and after much deliberation, this is what she chose. I never would have selected ponies, guitars and polka dots for her, though the purple sure didn't surprise me. It is vivid and adventurous, just like Dana.

I miss sewing so much when school is in session. I can still knit because it's easy to knit a few rows here and there. Knitting is so portable! But sewing requires space, an ironing board, a sewing machine, and mess. Those are harder to accommodate when I am focused on school. I may have overindulged with 4 purses, but it sure was fun!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

My New Clutch

In May, Kevin and I attended Robert Burns Night at his Masonic Lodge. This is a rather fancy affair, with the men sporting tuxedos, smoking cigars and drinking Scotch.

Fancy but also fun, as you can see.

As someone who spent 5 years as an at-home mom, swiftly followed by a return to college, where coming to class in pajamas and flip flops is the norm*, my wardrobe wasn't really going to work for this affair.

*Note: I do not wear pajamas or flip flops to class, but considering the number of people who do, I sometimes feel overdressed in jeans.

As you can see, I was able to come up with a suitable dress, but I knew that my mini-messenger purse was not going to work. So I made this:

It's Amy Butler's Stash and Dash Bag pattern. I made the large size, and, as noted in the pattern, it makes a great clutch.

It is just big enough to fit my wallet, some lipstick and my little Canon PowerShot.

I think this would also be great for someone who usually travels with a diaper bag. I often wished I had a small purse that held the essentials that I could throw in the diaper bag when traveling with my sidekicks, or grab out of the diaper bag when venturing off on my own. It's such a pain to carry a purse and a diaper bag.

This was a really easy pattern and a quick sew. It took me a couple of hours, but I am a little crazy about pressing and the girls were keeping me company while I sewed. Amy Butler is such a genius!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Hot Pack


I have made some stuff in the past 6 months, but I sure haven't taken any photos. Planning to do that now that the rain has stopped (I was all ready to make an arc, too!), but for now, here's my latest. And I will tell you what: this is the first time ever I have just whipped up something I needed, with nothing but scraps from the bin and no plan, and I was rather impressed with myself.

OK, so it's just a rice bag hot pack, but still.

See, Nora has had strep throat and a sinus infection for 2 weeks. Yes, two whole weeks. She got sick the first day of summer vacation, which was 2 weeks ago today. She went through 8 days of one antibiotic, initially improving and then getting much worse, and then got a new antibiotic. Last night, after she cried in pain for over an hour, I called my cousin/neighbor, who knows a few things about sinus infections, and she suggested a hot pack. And since Nora is a petite eight year old, I figured she needed an appropriately-sized hot pack. I think the finished size is 4 1/2 inches wide by 8 1/2 inches long. We microwave it for 90 seconds and she can hold it against her cheeks, her ears, her head, her eyes, etc. All of those things hurt right now. She loves this little thing so much that I had to promise Dana I will make her one, too, once I remember to buy more rice.

In case you can't tell, the white muslin is filled with rice, and the floral and dots flannels are a removable and washable cover with a Velcro closure. I don't know about Velcro in the microwave, so we pull off the cover before heating it up.

Nora needed a little treat last night, and of all the things in she could choose (I would have bought her anything in the entire grocery store at that point), she chose Panda black licorice. Where did this lovely creature come from? Grandpa Don loves this stuff, too.

I'll post some of my winter and spring projects soon. I promise.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Sewing and Knitting 2010

This year, I kept my Christmas crafting to a minimal. And then I forgot to take photos of a bunch of things. But nobody had to open an unfinished gift, so I still consider the whole endeavor a success.

First, I made five scarves for people I love. I used the Misti Chunky Ribs and Ruffles pattern and Plymouth Yarn Baby Alpaca from my local yarn shop. And I managed to take photos of Dana's purple scarf and Nora's blue scarf. I did not block these though it's now clear that I should have.

Dana wore hers outside today and Nora didn't. They both came inside thoroughly saturated, and, as you can see in the photo, Dana's scarf grew. Frankly, the added length is welcome, and I plan to soak them both tomorrow and block them properly.

I have to say two things: this pattern is fantastic, and the yarn is super plush and soft. I am thinking of making just one more of these for myself. But we'll see. I just cast on for my first pair of mittens. They are for me, and I wish they were already done because I don't own mittens. I only own gloves, and they just don't do it for me when it's really cold out. My fingers need to mingle to keep warm.

I also made pajamas for my three loves. I have been sewing long enough and regularly enough that I already had all of the necessary patterns in my stash, and I had the right colors of thread, plenty of 1" elastic, and a roll of Wonder Under. And I am dorky enough that all of that made me incredibly happy.

First up: Kevin's flannel frog pajamas. My lovely neighborhood fabric store has a large selection of gorgeous flannel, but most of it is pretty girly. This was as manly as I could get.

I bought a brown tee at Target, then turned it into a pajama top. I found frog clipart online, printed it onto regular paper, traced it onto Wonder Under, fused the Wonder Under onto leftover froggy fabric, cut it out, fused it onto the tee, then stitched all around the perimeter to secure it. I have learned through trial and error that Wonder Under alone will hold fabric on for a while, but eventually it starts to peel off. The stitching looks cute and holds the decal on securely.

I totally lucked out with this gorgeous flannel. Nora's favorite color is turquoise. Dana's favorite color is purple. This fabric has both turquoise and purple, and my girls are still young enough that they get a kick out of wearing matching pajamas.

I found the long sleeved tees at Target and found flower clipart online. Same process with Wonder Under and stitching.

I added ornamental bows on the fronts of the girls' jammies. The ribbon is turquoise with chocolate brown stripes and it matches perfectly.

I also made 2 flannel kimono tops for my niece, Elsa, but I forgot to take photos of them. And we made these handy coasters as gifts for some special people, too. The girls had a lot of fun sifting through my scrap boxes, looking for fabrics that appealed to them. And then I forgot to take pictures. Oh well.

I hope you had a lovely, relaxing holiday!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

French Seam Tutorial

In my last post, I mentioned that I did French seams on the nighties I made for my friend Jessica's daughter Sophie.

French seams are pretty awesome. I don't have a serger, and while I do have a mock overlock stitch on my machine, it uses a ton of thread and the fabric still looks sort of messy. French seams are cool because they completely encase the raw edges inside of the seam so they are totally hidden. They can't fray and they look clean and crisp. They look deviously tricky, but they are really so very simple.

I thought I would write a little tutorial on how to do French seams, in case you are interested. Just keep in mind that I am pretty much self-taught in my sewing skills. I took a class in 10th grade, but for the most part, what I know I have learned by trial and error. This tutorial uses a finished 5/8' seam allowance, so you may have to adjust for your own project. One more thing: I have never written a tutorial before, so if you use it, please leave me a note in the comments and be brutally honest about whether it was helpful and what improvements I could make. Thank you!


Step 1: Place the WRONG sides of your fabric together (opposite of what you would normally do). Stitch fabric together using a 1/4" seam allowance. It will seem weird, but you should be sewing on the right side of the fabric.

Step 2: Fold stitched fabric along seam line, this time with the right sides together. Press well. You want your seam nice and flat. Remember, you will be pressing the WRONG side of the fabric. Just go with it.

Step 3: Stitch on the wrong side of the fabric, stitching 3/8" from your first pressed seam. You are encasing the raw edge inside with this second seam.

That's it! This is how it will look on the wrong side:

And this is how it will look on the right side:

OK-that's how it normally looks, so this photo is not that impressive.

I hope you try French seams sometime. They are easy and quick, and kind of magical. Good luck!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Nighties for Sophie

About a month ago, my friend Jessica emailed me and asked if I would be interested in sewing a nightie for her daughter, Sophie, for Christmas. She gave me a list of things Sophie likes, including dinosaurs, moons, cats, turtles and fairies. I found a bunch of options and eventually Jessica narrowed it down to two choices. Oddly, when you are sewing two of the same thing, it only takes a little longer than it would to sew one, when you would assume it would take twice as long. So I suggested that I just make two nighties, and Jessica thought that sounded like a solid plan.

I used McCall's 5969. And all I could think of the whole time I was sewing it is, why doesn't somebody make a ravelry-type website for sewing? This pattern had issues.

This is Nora, who is 8, wearing the size 7 nightie. Notice how her toes barely peek out the bottom, as the nightie goes all the way to the floor. When they first saw the finished nightie hanging up, the girls thought I had made myself a nice flannel dinosaur gown-that's how big it was. Oddly, the sleeve length is fine. I am trying to imagine the very tall child with freakishly short arms who served as the fit model for this pattern.

The casing on the sleeves was super weird, too. And the illustrations didn't exactly match the directions. I really hate that.

Here's Nora in the turtle nightie. It's a much better fit. I did French seams on both nighties wherever I could, as I do not own a serger. It worked really slick.

I shipped these off to New Hampshire on Wednesday and hope they arrive Saturday. I am really anxious to hear how they fit. I love how they turned out, with the soft flannel, the girly eyelet trim and the bows. I really hope Sophie is pleased with them.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Shirt Dress

A few weeks ago, I spent a couple of days cleaning out our closets and delivering garbage bags of clothes and toys to friends and to the thrift store. It's shocking how much stuff I got rid of, and shocking how much stuff we still own! Where does it all come from?!

Anyhoo, Kevin went through his dress shirts and made a big pile to donate. Among them was a plain black button up that I couldn't stop thinking about. It wasn't anything special, which was the whole point: it was plain. See, I bookmarked this tutorial forever ago and have had it in the back of my mind ever since. And so, when the closets were all shiny and clean, I got out the sewing machine and scissors and went to work.

I found some lemon-lime Fairy Frost fabric in the scrap bin and thought it would be perfect for accent.

And it is perfect, as long as you have a thing for fire fighters. Which I don't. Not that I am against fire fighters or anything, but I sure don't need to dress my daughter like one.

So I went back to the scrap bin and found some pale blue Fairy Frost to add.

Much improved, but still lacking in the charm I was going for.

At this point, Dana and I took a little trip to the fabric store, where we found cute ribbon and fancy buttons.


I am still not totally in love, but considering it used to be a man's shirt, it looks pretty great. I love the idea that my girls could wear dresses made from Daddy's shirts, but I think I made some weird choices on this, starting with the black shirt itself. I will probably try this project again at some point, as it was really fun. I like the idea of a nice, cozy flannel dress. Hopefully Kevin won't mind if I raid his closet again.