08 August 2016

I is for INSANE!!!!

So the three older girls and I just wrapped up with a community theater production of "The Music Man" - the girls were in the junior chorus, and I was one of the pick-a-little ladies. About 10 days before the show was scheduled, I asked the producer what we were going to do about the toga costumes for the Grecian Urn sequence ... she didn't know ... I figured it out ... and suddenly I'm charged with making ten togas in a week ... I don't think that's quite what I was offering, but there you go. And glory be - I pulled it off! Just in time for the dress rehearsal! For real. Dress rehearsal was Wednesday. I finished the last one around midnight on Tuesday night.


I used this tutorial for a pillowcase dress, although ours obviously were for adults. My original measurement for the two rectangles of fabric was 36x60 inches, and we adjusted from there. A couple of the ladies needed it wider, a couple more narrow, and some needed to be hemmed a lot more than others - but that was the starting point. For the fabric, I went to Walmart and got the cheapest white top sheets I could find in the bedding section - a twin was 5 bucks and I could get three togas out of two sheets, depending on the measurements. I used a 1-1/2 inch satiny ribbon for the shoulders - a couple of years ago, I got huge spools of ribbon from clearance in the gift wrap section after Christmas and they were still just sitting there. This was a good use of it. That was pretty much it - it just took a lot of time because I had to do them all really fast, and there were so many! I did get some help from a couple of people, which I very much appreciated because at the same time, Adam has been sick all month and we were trying to put up blueberries (frozen) and cucumbers (pickles) (not combined) from the summer harvest.

Anyway, the togas. The insane number of togas:

 "Aaaand a fountain!"

"Triiiiickle trickle trickle trickle!"

03 August 2016

H is for hatinator

My hat for "The Music Man" ...


Th original hat was in a box of random hats, and this was the only one that fit my head over my hair ... but it was too big, and the brim was too floppy. So I cut the dome and settled the top down into it further - you can kind of see the line on the top left in the picture. The stitching was really obvious so I knew I had to cover it with something ... obviously I went with lace. I also cut about a half inch off the brim and that helped A LOT. I originally wanted to get a feather boa and just wind it all around but I never made it to the store to get one. When I was doing the lace, I also pulled out the tulle, thinking I'd make some kind of bow but fortunately (because this was about 3 hours before the dress rehearsal), inspiration struck and I just twisted a long strip of tulle around and around and fluffed it up. Except for the stitching on the dome, the whole thing was done with a heck of a lot of glue in my hot glue gun.

And here we are!!

The hat in action! On stage, I was the Pick-a-little soloist ... "Just melt her down and you'll reveal a lump of lead as cold as steel ..."

And with three of my girls in "Wells Fargo" ...

P.S. This type of big foofy hat, in England anyway, is actually called a Hatinator. Here, we just call it a Kentucky Derby Hat. HA!

30 June 2016

2nd quarter report

I did a first quarter report at the end of March ... so here's the 2nd quarter. Because I'm still sewing like a maniac (well, for me, anyway) but not blogging it. April and May were spent on the two big projects of finishing the Nancy quilt and the Fairy Tale dress.

I also made SM an Artemis dress for her birthday in May - she wanted a Greek mythology themed party, and her favorite goddess is Artemis. The Artemis symbol is a crescent moon, so I put them around the base of the dress edged with silver thread (my applique is a disaster - it got all bunchy), and I added silver ribbon and an embroidery stitch in silver thread at the top. The pattern was my stand-by, the Playtime tunic, turned around backwards. The folded open flaps on her neckline are normally the button-up section on the back. And I left off the long sleeves and just folded the arm holes under.



And since we're talking about the party for a minute ... you want Sue to do cakes for you!! I had nothing to do with this cake, except driving to her house to pick it up. And for one of the activities, SM painted a big picture of a Minotaur (mounted on a board for sturdiness), and the kids made slingshots and other throwing devices to have target practice. This was a big hit with the boys who came to the party.



June has been kid-clothes-catch-up time. JK has a family t-shirt that's too short for her to wear, so it's now a dress with a tiered skirt so I can add another layer later. She's worn it pretty much constantly since I finished it, including on our camping trip (until it was so filthy I hid it in the dirty laundry bag).


And for our camping trip, in a week, I blasted out 8 pairs of shorts and a skirt in less than 2 weeks, which have not been photographed because there's another way I'm lacking. Not blogging, and not taking pictures either. (Of course, half the shorts were for pajamas, but still.) But it is gratifying that every day, there's at least one handmade item being worn somewhere! Usually two or three!

19 June 2016

I is for invisible zipper

At long last! I have finished the Fairy Tale dress by Oliver + S that I started last October. Major UFO in my sewing area. (UnFinished Object)

The long and drawn-out saga of this dress is ... last fall, I needed to make RG's baptism dress and I had just bought this pattern as a gift for Mindy, but not sent it to her yet. So when RG said she wanted this for her baptism dress, I pulled out this cute lightweight blue cotton to use for a mockup. If it got messed up, oh well. If it worked, she'd end up with 2 dresses. I got the bodice most of the way done when I ran out of time, so I switched to a different pattern I already knew for the baptism dress. And this got set aside until after Christmas.

Spring rolls around. RG could use another church dress, so I picked it back up. I have now put in darts, and my first zipper! An invisible zipper is tucked in behind the fabric, as you can see, rather than exposed up the back. I obviously didn't get it lined up perfectly - I have no idea how that happened - but her hair covers it when she wears it so whatever.


I was going to put the sleeves on it but by the time I got around to finishing it, RG had grown a bit more. I had to cut the neckline lower so it wasn't choking her, and cut the arm holes bigger. They wouldn't match the sleeve pattern, so I just did the sleeveless binding for the arm hole edges. It was ... weird. I don't even know how to explain how that worked. You'd just have to try it.

This dress also took FOR-EV-ER because adding the lining, along with a layer of tulle in the skirt, got complicated. It looks like such a basic dress! But it's not! I read the directions a million times and still didn't understand what was going to happen until I was actually doing it. And then I put the skirt lining in backwards/inside out, so I had to take it apart and do it again. Another delay.


I finally got it done in May and RG wore it to church in New York. The next Sunday, JE decided she wanted to wear it (they wear close to the same size), and literally 10 minutes later, she got black acrylic paint on the front bodice. I still have no words ... the most complicated dress I've ever sewn, SO many hours on it, and it was worn once before it was basically ruined. I soaked the dress in rubbing alcohol for darn near a month, scrubbed at the paint, and washed it about 5 times, and it's finally scrubbed and faded out enough to be unnoticed. It's not entirely gone.

So. Whew. The letter I is done. Moving on.

18 June 2016

Repeat: pleated tunic

After the fairy shirt and paisley dress, I have now made a third pleated tunic from the free pattern on Shwin & Shwin.  I may have to buy the official McKenzie Tunic pattern at some point, since I like it so much.  The pleats are adorable, and I really like the square neckline.  And of course, I used yet another vintage sheet - super cute Minnie Mouse - that I'm sure we'll see again next summer.

curtsy and bow

17 June 2016

Repeat: keyhole top and leggings

Shirt look familar?  It's the same Keyhole Top as last year, only sized up for my growing girl.  I love how fast this shirt comes together.  Adding the bias tape (the same as this project) takes the longest, but I've had lots of practice, so it goes on smoother now.  The fabric was yet another thrift store find.  

I may have said this all before, but: Someone told me once that sewing clothes for my kids was not a way to save money.  When you get fabric as cheap as I can (thrift stores or given to me), and learn to draft free patterns (like this!) then how is this not better?  My child gets to wear one-of-a-kind clothes made specifically for her!  I may be able to buy her t-shirts at Walmart for $4, but I bought this sheet for $6, and I'll be able to make more than one article of clothing out of it!  Besides, this is not about saving money, but about my need for a creative outlet for my sanity.  It just also happens to clothe my child.  And I love it.  This may not work for everyone, but for me, right now, with my one child, this makes us both happy.

These leggings are a new pattern.  Thanks again, Trina, for the Playtime Tunic and Leggings pattern from Oliver + S.  I haven't used the tunic part yet (probably this fall when I need long sleeves), but I've made three pairs of leggings!  All three from knit sheets at the thrift store (seriously folks, I get all my fabric there).  Without planning it, I LOVE how they all go so beautifully with the Keyhole top!  The purple one is actually super fine stripes (and what I made my maxi skirt out of), while the pink and yellow are solid.  I'm getting more comfortable with knit, and these were not overly complicated to make.  The only thing I'd do different next time is make a bigger size, because while the size 6 fits her now, it probably won't for long.

16 June 2016

Repeat: Pepper Pinafore

Remember this dress?  The Pepper Pinafore.  Well, I did it again.  When Aaron's grandmother died, I wanted to make Cupcake something appropriate to wear to a formal Catholic funeral.  I had been given yards of the black eyelet and knew this was just the thing to use it for.  (And I still have lots more, so maybe something eventually for me.)  Black for the funeral, and pink because she is only three.



08 June 2016

the letter Q

I finished the letter P at Christmas.  It is now JUNE.  I ended up with seven different P projects in that time - pajama pants, pillowcases, purses, pleats, Pinwheel, a pair of pink pajamas, and paisley pleats.  So I say, it is about time I finished Q!  Since I have been wanting to do a quilt, it was really the only option for my Q.  But I haven't taken the time in the last five months, and I have projects piling up, so it was time for a different approach.


As soon as I saw this on Pinterest, I knew I wanted to try it.  I didn't want to do the complete quilt the way she did, but the method looked easy enough.  And it was!  String piecing is fun and fast, and I will definitely be doing more in the future.  


Trimming my first piece was so cool.  A pile of fabric turned into something quilt-like.  


And then I got real fancy with my new rotary cutter and more pieces and got this!

But what did it become??

A sewing machine cover!

It has a pocket, inspired by this.

And a slot for the handle, that I learned how to do here.

Simple ties on the side to keep it on.

I used my homemade bias tape for all the edges and along the pocket.

And a view from the back.

Hooray for completing a project, for making my house beautiful, and the letter Q!

28 May 2016

H is for heritage quilt

Just over 3 years ago, Adam's mom passed away from cancer and we helped to clean out her house. Her fabric stash was pointed out to me, and I was told I could take whatever I wanted. I remember a couple of things specifically - I found a large cut of flannel that I (eventually, this past winter) made into pajama pants for Adam. And this completed quilt top. 


I was interested in making quilts, but hadn't started yet when I found the quilt top. I liked all the blue, so I put it in the box with everything else ... and promptly forgot about it because in the next couple of months after the funeral, we had a new baby, moved from Mississippi to Connecticut, and bought a house. It was a year before I dug into the fabric boxes. This past winter, I came across the quilt top again. Some of the seams were frayed, so I did some repair work to the top, and then tackled quilting it - my first! I learned how to use the walking foot on the machine, and for quilting, just followed the edges of the squares in a grid. You can see it on the back. The back is a pale lavender knit top sheet that my kids never used. For binding, I just wrapped the sashing fabric around to the back, folded it under, and stitched everything together.


I'm glad we have this quilt because my kids were never able to even meet their grandmother. This is definitely a piece of our history - I hope it helps the girls feel connected to our extended family.

17 May 2016

Paisley Pleats


Project: Run & Play has a summer sewing challenge right now, and I just happened to be sewing up some summer clothes for Cupcake!  After growing out of all of her dresses, she was in desperate need of more - for church or play.  I had already made a pleated Fairy Shirt from this free Shwin & Shwin pattern, but it was just too cute and easy to not make another.


I have sewn a few Shwin & Shwin patterns now, and have loved them all - the Pepper Pinafore and Michelle Jacket.  I've purchased a few others but haven't tried them yet.  The patterns are easy to follow, the finished projects fit well and are seriously the cutest.  Great for beginners like me!


The paisley fabric was given to me. I love it, but the greenish hue is just not my color, so I was happy to find a place to use it!  And the purple was won in a giveaway on Thread Riding Hood a while back.  I would love using stuff in my stash - I try not to be a hoarder, but my stash never seems to get smaller!


In the end, happy girl, happy Mommy.  I love to sew for her.  I hope to instill in her a love for creating.  She talks about making clothes for me, when she gets a sewing machine from Papa.  I don't think Papa knows this, but basic sewing lessons will be in her future - perhaps after she turns four.


Our conversation just now...
Me: Cupcake, do you want to sew like mommy?
C: Yes.
Me: What would you make?
C: Pumpkin pie.