Thursday, August 26, 2010

Little Girls are made of Sugar and Spice...

...and everything nice, which is why I wanted to make some dresses for our friends' little girl, Citlali. Since I don't have her here to try things on and fit as we go, I opted to start with some pillowcase dresses. Oh my are they simple and absolutely adorable! The great benefit is that they can grow with the child (and we all know how fast toddlers grow)!

If my memory serves me, Citlali will be 2 in November, so while this will be a dress for her now, it can be loosened at the neck and become a top as she gets bigger! I'm hoping to get some pictures of her in the dresses to share with you, too. She is just adorable!

(This dress is made with white pique cotton with multi-colored polka dots - rescued from Mom's stash - and red grossgrain ribbon)

(This dress is actually made from a pillow case with a tie and bias tape I made from white broadcloth)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

My Sewing Double in the Works

I've been eying the adjustable dressforms every time I go to Hancocks for some time now, and really wanting one every time I have to fit a shirt or dress with a zipper and Daniel has to help me. I tried to just bite the bullet and buy one about a month ago when I **thought** Hancock was having a sale on them, only they weren't on sale when I got to the store so I talked myself out of it.

Part of the argument to not buy one yet was the fact that I am curvy, so just adjusting to my numbers would still give a fairly skewed impression of "me."

Then, I started looking into the homemade doubles. I read about the duct tape one, the brown paper tape, and on and on. I wasn't excited enough about any of the methods to jump into it until I came across a plaster cast method. Basically, you use the plaster strips that casts are made from to make a mold of yourself, then use your desired method to make a dummy. I was stoked.

We went out Sunday and bought about 10 yards of 3" rolled gauze and the smaller bucket of plaster of paris....and we used every last bit of it.

  • Standing in a big cardboard box in the kitchen wearing just a bra and undies (and shoes and socks to keep my feet comfy on the hard floor), I had Daniel wrap me in a firm, but not tight, layer of plastic wrap (I helped out along the squishier areas holding things in place so they didn't get smushed).
  • He then whipped up a batch of plaster, cut some strips of gauze, and went to work starting at the top. Since gauze is flexible, getting good curves around my curves wasn't a problem. The plaster of paris was the quick dry (20-30 minutes) kind, so he had to work very quickly covering me in the gauze. Having another set of hands would have been seriously helpful.
  • We let it dry, then he cut me out with pruning shears (a little stressful).
  • The whole process probably took about 45 minutes all together.

(If you could see my feet, you would see the shoes and socks, with little plastic wrap booties)

As a claustrophobic, this was not exactly the most pleasant experience of my life. I kind of had the sensation of being buried alive in something clear (since I could obviously see), especially once the plaster started to dry and I could feel the weight and wasn't able to move. Daniel did well keeping me calm while it was still wet so I could keep my breathing steady and not alter the mold (or pass out, of course, since sitting down wasn't an option).

After cutting me out, we noticed a little spot that was missed in the shoulder, but we'll just tape over it when we fill it. Now all we have to do is go buy some foam insulation to fill it with! Once that's set, I'm just going to buy some fleshy colored tricot or ribbed knit to cover it with, then come up with a name :) Suggestions??

Monday, August 23, 2010

Ready to Buckle Up for My First Sew Along!

This is it! I'm taking the plunge and have "signed-on" for my first Sew Along!

I've been a lurker on Gertie's Blog for Better Sewing for quite some time now, and an avid one at that. As a matter of fact, I take pride in my sneaky, stalkerish, lurking abilities which are not limited to blogs by any means. With one quick post, however, Gertie got the better of me and I caved, leaving an excited, introductory comment on her blog. What was this devious post about? Nothing other than a Sew Along! **gasp** I am so weak.

As a coat lover, I've been itching to make myself some fabulous fall coats (I am not so disillusioned as to believe I could make myself a coat that will keep me toasty warm at -10 degrees F). What could be better than a Sew Along for this fabulous Lady Grey coat by Colette Patterns?? Oh, I know. The sew along PLUS the fact that this gives me an approved excuse to buy more fabric, as the beautiful green/silver plaid and beige/chocolate plaid just aren't right for this. Poor, poor Stephanie - right?

I have the pattern ordered, and it looks like the process will begin mid-September. More to come!!

Friday, August 20, 2010


Again at Daniel's suggestion, I went for some more instant-gratification projects and turned two of his button-down shirts that I don't think I've ever seen on him into casual skirts for me. Neither are quite finished since I was missing notions (can you imagine that?), but I'll get the finishing touches on them this weekend. Here's where they are so far:

Skirt front

Skirt back

As much as I really wanted the buttons/pockets in the front, once it was on I just liked the way everything laid with them in the back. It was matching thread that held up this process (that and a hook/bar closure), so I'll finish off the bottom with a straight hem, sew down the line of buttons so there are no surprises during wearing, attach the closure, and it will be ready to wear!

This one is much closer to being finished - it just needs the closure. I'm intentionally not showing you the darts in the back because they're off center. After many goes trying to get the darts in the right place and the correct length, I finally thought they looked good, but the skirt was just a little bit too big still. So, I decided to take in the sides, took the first one in a little too much so that I couldn't do the other, and now have lopsided darts in the back. I'm counting on no one noticing when it's on. Plus, it's such a casual skirt, I'm not too terribly concerned...somehow I can only get darts to go successfully when I end up deciding I don't want them...

Monday, August 16, 2010

The same, yet very different...

In efforts to clear out the stash quickly, Daniel suggested that I make some of the skirts in the "to-do" pile since they're quick to whip together. Pencil skirts are super easy, but life can get frustrating when you don't have a pattern that you really like.
So far, I'm not a huge fan of my one pencil skirt pattern, but I hesitate to buy another because it might just be the same. Part of the problem is that it's from a business suit, so it comes up to my true waist and I'm just not sold on that being a good look for me. With my fearless comfort rigging patterns into something else, I've just been modifying it into something more "me."
I started out with some stretch denim (originally purchased to make a purse...but I kept staring at it thinking what a great skirt it would make). I managed to eek out a pencil skirt from half a yard of fabric, and it went pretty smoothly. This was my first attempt at the vent in the back (which was a stumper for a couple of minutes, then the lightbulb lit up and it was a breeze), and the invisible zipper went in without a hitch. And of course, it doesn't look like a big rectangle when I wear it - it's actually quite cute - and since I'm child-size, it's not nearly as short as it looks on the hanger.



My second go at the pencil skirt (same pattern, and same initial modifications) was drastically different. This one was made from a beautiful poly brocade. It was my long-anticipated, first time ever working with brocade. I've been dreaming of making myself all sorts of beautiful brocade pieces for months now but couldn't until I discovered the incredible selection of brocades at the JoAnns by my parents. No one around me sells them, and my trusty doesn't carry much either.
Needless to say, I was dancing with excitement when I pulled out my fabric to start the process. I was quickly met with frustration when I discovered the odd way brocade acts when it's stretched and there's a zipper thrown into the mix. I had a nice wave down my backside from where the zipper pulled just a little. After a second unsuccessful try to make things lay right, I decided it would have to be loose and I'd have to put in darts. Normally I manage to fore-go all darts since I like skirts/pants to ride at my hips rather than my waist. I've also been a little confused how to use darts on the front of a skirt/pants when I don't have that little "female pooch" but do have a teeny bit of a spare tire. Seems backwards. Regardless, after many, many, tries, I worked four darts into my skirt and love it. I tried a blind hem, but it didn't turn out well. I'm guessing it's because the fabric won't fold as flat as others? I'm working on ideas for how to fix it. In the meantime, I wore it dancing Friday and got lots of compliments!



More to come!! I'm a busy little bee!

Thursday, August 12, 2010


It's clearly past time to share some finished products with you. A couple weeks ago I completed my first two dresses! I used Simplicity 2886, view A, for both with a guess-work full bust adjustment. Not a single book that I have for fitting talks about adjusting this kind of a bodice, but I made it happen.

This was the first one I made (you may remember that fabric from the earlier post that instigated my fitting research). Since I used such a light/thin cotton, I went ahead and added lining for the skirt. Looking back, that was a serious headache that I regret. With the pockets not actually being hidden in the side seams, I had to work out lining with the pocket yoke (nightmare when you're still trying to figure out how the dress goes together), and when all was said and done the lining made the skirt kind of bulky at the waist seam. It was my first encounter with the invisible zipper (which I love), I learned how to do a blind hem with my machine (which I also love, depending on the cooperativeness of the fabric), I played with some decorative stitches on the hem of my lining, and managed to have to sew nearly every seam twice. But, it was a great learning experience and the second dress went much more smoothly.

I definitely thought I had the stripes lined up at the fold when I cut the pieces, but I was rather obviously wrong. Oh well. I left out the skirt lining and made myself a slip to wear under it (much easier!!). I was contemplating a baby hem, but tried out the rolled hem on my serger instead and LOVE it! I used the white thread (all I have at the moment) and it works, but I keep thinking how great it would have been in a gold metallic thread to match the gold threads that run through the fabric.

They're both super comfy and cute on. You'll get pictures of them on when it's not so insanely hot!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Stash...

I don't know about you, but my stash is a living, breathing, and most importantly growing organism. At least, it was.

Daniel recently addressed my (not-so) clandestine relationship with, gave me a very disappointed frown, and guilted me into "going on a break" from that relationship (sound familiar, Friends fans?). I can feel my poor stash's breathing growing weaker as it inches toward suspended animation; I have two orders in the mail (tomorrow and Friday will be bittersweet days - the last two deliveries for quite some time), and am not allowed any more fabric purchases until I've finished every project I have fabric for...and that's a LOT:

12 Christmas presents - that's as specific as I'll get online ;)
Brown and ivory floral pattern dress
Red knit dress
Navy knit dress
Teal dress (can you tell I'm enjoying the dress making?)
Plaid jacket
Plaid coat
Gunmetal satin dress
Yellow knit top
Striped knit top
Golden knit top
Brown spaghetti strap shirt
Brick knit sweater
Blue shorts
Daniel's gold shorts
Daniels' green pants
Green button down for Daniel
Brown button down for Daniel
Yellow button down for me
Yellow button down for Sherry
Blue button down for me
Blue button down for Sherry
Burgundy pencil skirt for Sherry
Lilac suit for Sherry
Sand poplin button down for Sherry
Blue floral dress
Gold floral jewel neck shell for Sherry (suggestions on patterns? I can't find one I like)
White floral button down for Sherry
Tan suit for Sherry
Pink corduroy outfit for Citlali
Pillowcase dress for Citlali

...I think that's everything. I hope it is at least! Now, I know this makes me look like a serious stasher, but a considerable chunk of that fabric did come from my mom. I'm sure she will tell you what a sweet daughter I am to rescue her from 2/3 of her stash that's been growing since the 80s!

Geez! I need to get to work!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

My New Toy

Yes, I have been neglecting you. No, it's not your fault.

Two weeks ago today was a beautiful day. That glorious UPS man that I have come to adore brought me yet another life-altering package: my new serger. Who knew it could get better than shoes and fabric??

Yes, friends. I bought a new Janome MyLock634D and have been consumed with it: reading the book (then re-reading because I was, of course, too excited to retain anything), experimenting, and making wonderful seams!! My only complaint at this point is a sore back from switching back and forth between my sewing machine and the serger (I lack the ability to do all sewing in one clump, then all serging and just go back and forth the whole time).

Threading is difficult, but definitely doable and no worse than the Berninas I sat with (yes, it came threaded, but I managed to unwittingly pull the threads out while trying to tie them to the spools - very bright, I know). I made Daniel check my threading before I would try using it and only had one thing twisted my first try.

It's super easy to switch back and forth between a standard overlock and a rolled hem; you just have to remember all the steps. :)

All in all, I'm pretty much in love. *sigh*

I've been using it everywhere I can think to - I even did rolled hems on my fabrics before prewashing them. Love it. Love it. Love it!

Thanks to my obsession with my new little toy, I've been getting much accomplished. Unfortunately, thanks to my keen ability to lose anything and everything (read: sewing needles), I have no finished products to share with you right now. Three are waiting for that needle to finish up loose threads, tacking zippers, etc and some others are waiting for notions. I'll be buying some needles this afternoon, but I'm holding off on the rest since Hancock is having a 50% sale next weekend on all notions. ...I also wouldn't mind a heat index under 110 degrees F to go outside and take pictures. You'll see them soon though! Promise!