Sunday, March 18, 2018

Nina Blouse - Blog Tour

Last year around this time I made my first Coffee and Thread pattern, the cub's birthday dress. This year I was thrilled to be asked to participate in a blog tour for their newest pattern, the Nina Blouse! Find a discount code (20% off) near the end of this post!

This little blouse has the sweetest little tucks up by the shoulders, and plenty of options. Long sleeves, short sleeves, rounded collar, scalloped collar and sleeves, etc. I found this darling little floral fabric at Fabric Place Basement and right away envisioned exactly what I wanted to make, and just how I wanted her to wear it - with this pleated suspender skirt that I wore when I was a child, and I believe my own mother wore as well! This turned out exactly how I had first pictured it, but it wasn't without a hiccup or two along the way.

I adore the little scalloped shape on the sleeves and collar, and knew I wanted to do that option. Then I decided that I really wanted to have piping along the edge of the collar and sleeves, to help really define those shapes and not have them get lost in the print of the fabric. Then I tried to pipe them and realized I had no idea how to do piping along a scalloped edge, or if it was even possible (it didn't seem like it)! I was baffled, defeated, and texted my sewing bestie late one night to complain that I have no idea how to sew, everyone in the world besides me probably knows you cannot pipe on a scallop, my Nina was doomed, etc. etc. Late night sewing = more drama. ;)

At first I thought I would just have to change to the basic collar and sleeve shapes, but I really wanted to use the scallops. In the morning I re-examined the problem, and consulted google. I found this wonderful tutorial on piping scallops which was so helpful! I piped on my collar, and it was SO much better, though not perfect still. By the time I finished the second sleeve things were looking even better, so I decided to go ahead and cut another collar and redo that. I remember reading somewhere that when doing a new sewing technique you should really practice at least 10 times before doing your actual garment. That is excellent advice which I should follow. My second collar was a much better attempt than the first, and I'm so happy I redid it.

The rest of the blouse came together easily. The binding on the armholes and neckline makes the inside look so nice. I did french seams on the sides, as well. I really like patterns that help me not feel bad for not having a serger!

If you'd like to make your own Nina, grab the pattern here and use the code 'ninapatterntour' for 25% off!

This little top paired perfectly with my vintage skirt, just like I hoped. She looks darling!

 Favorite past time here at our house is reading, especially Blueberries for Sal.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

PM Pattern Blog Tour - Colombine Top, plus pattern giveaway!

I am so excited to be participating in a blog tour for Pm-Patterns. I tend to really love European patterns, I find a lot of them have that classic look and clean lines that I am drawn to for dressing the cub.

Before I jump into my long-winded (and photo heavy) monologue about this darling top I'm going to first tell you that there is a giveaway to with a pattern down at the bottom of this post! So make sure you get down there somehow to enter. Even if that means scrolling right past everything else. (I always think I shouldn't post quite so many pictures, but then we get so many nice ones that I just can't help myself.)

Choosing which pattern I wanted to make was easy because the Colombine top/dress is just soooo good, but the hard part was figuring out what I actually wanted to do with it! I went back and forth between doing a nice, warm dress or a summer-y top. I even bought a beautiful cotton flannel that looks a lot like wool to make a dress with, then finally decided to do a top since we should hopefully be having nice weather soon, and I figured I could make the dress next fall. Of course our weather has been so cold and wet that I probably could have sewn up the dress and had her get plenty of wear out of it after all! Oh, well. I made a beautiful summer-y top and even if she is having to layer a shirt underneath it for now this winter cannot last forever!

I sewed up the top version with the ruffles. The ruffles took a bit of time to get pinned on nicely, but it was well worth the effort. Plus I did it while catching up on Project Runway: Allstars, so again, time well spent.

I tried a few new-to-me tricks for this project. One, this PDF pattern comes with a copy shop sized file, so I had it printed at Fed-Ex and saved myself all of the trimming and taping. This was so. worth. it. I wish every pattern came with this option, because it saves me so much time (and time is not something I have a lot of when it comes to sewing). 

To push myself I used my narrow hem foot to hem the ruffles. It it usually does. I started the first one, sewing at the most glacial pace ever. Stitch. Stitch. Stitch. I started getting self-congratulatory in my head, thinking Wow! See, practice really does help you get better! Look at how good these are looking! I can do this! Toward the end of the first ruffle I started getting a bit overly confident and picking up some speed. Stitch stitch stitch. Stitch stitch stitch. Then suddenly I realize I've lost it and it's only folding over once, instead of twice. I get back on track and slow down. I finish. Woohoo! Next ruffle. Stitch. Stitch. Stitch. I start to go faster. My mind starts to wander. I'm thinking about what I'm going to make for dinner, or wondering where the cub is and if she's being too quiet (which usually means mischief). I finish the ruffle and realize I lost the double fold like three times throughout. Very small sections, at least! 😑 Oh well. Overall it was better than lots of my attempts and I'll just keep practicing.

The other new thing I did was to use a decorative machine stitch on the edge of the ruffles. My sweet mother-in-law surprised me at the end of last summer with a new sewing machine, The Rachel by Babylock. I feel like I'm still learning about all of the things this machine can do, including it's 50 different stitches. To be completely honest, I'd never really cared for the look of decorative machine stitches. I love hand embroidery, and I feel like it loses some of that charm when done by machine. But when I saw the decorative stitch options on this machine I realized I could see myself actually using some of them. I still had to really push myself to actually go for it on this project, though. I was worried I'd get them on there and completely regret it! My material has a very subtle stripe, so I chose a stitch that had a blocky shape to go with that. I practiced with slightly different thread colors on scraps first, and finally committed to my ruffles (reassuring myself at the same time that I could cut new ones if I hated it). I ended up really loving the result, though, so they stayed!

I decided to add a placket to the back of this top. I did this purely because it reminded me of The Geranium dress with a slightly higher waistline, and I've found I have to add a placket onto that pattern in order to not make getting the cub in and out of the dress/top not be a total fight. However, this top definitely does not need a placket and I won't be adding one in the future. 

I have a few sewing goals for this year, and one of them is to sew a big dent in my fabric stash. Jeff gets really excited when I mention this, so I'm really trying for his sake. So everything on this top was already in my sewing bin! The fabric was formerly a sheet and the buttons were some that I had picked up on clearance a while ago. They aren't a perfect color match but I let the cub choose and she likes them a lot, which was exactly what I assumed would happen when I bought them.

Now, onto the good stuff!!

First, check out the other stops on this blog tour and see more lovely projects made from Pm-patterns. Then once you've fallen in love with several of the designs and realized you need them all you can enter the giveaway to win one!

Pm-Patterns Blog Tour 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, January 8, 2018

Starting off the Year - Sewing Something New

A new year begins, and my first project this year is something different and new to me (not something for the cub to wear, for once)! I'm participating in the January Sewing by Ti Blog Tour, which was a challenge to make something new, so here we go!

I have always loved doing hand embroidery, and while I've dreamed of beautiful hand embroidered dresses I haven't yet really brought my love for embroidery and love for sewing together in a project. So here is something new for this year, and hopefully it will be followed by many projects that incorporate the two together!

Last October my aunt called me up and invited me to go to Sweden with her, and it was an amazing trip in so many ways. One of my favorite parts was when we went out exploring in the woods and found toadstools that looked to be straight out of an Elsa Beskow book (if you haven't read her sweet stories you should do so, especially with children). We found lots of interesting mushrooms, but my favorite were the red ones.

I used the Toadstool Village pattern from Twig and Tale to recreate a little of the magic to send as a thank you gift to my aunt. It was such a fun sew, quite simple and quick apart from the embroidery (and I love to sit and do that sort of work). I used some bits and pieces of felted wool sweaters I had left over from past projects, and put black beans in the bottom to help it stand on its own.

One day on our trip my Morfar (mother's father) was helping repair my great-uncle's mailbox, and they were trying to decide what color to paint it. My aunt and I suggested yellow, and the look on my great-uncle's face was one to remember. So I had to add a little yellow mailbox onto the toadstool in tribute!

Want to see more fun and exciting new projects for the New Year?

Monday, January 1st: Introduction- Sewing by Ti

Sunday, January 7th: Minn's Things
8th Lilla Gumma *** You are here. 😀

Sunday, January 14th: Sew Like a Sloth
19th Ma Moose

Sunday January 21st: Flaxfield Sewing

Sunday January 28th: Sew Haute Blog

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Nutcracker Christmas Dress!

I managed to make a second project from the Nutcracker Christmas fabric I provided with as a Sewing Portfolio Ambassador! (First project here)  This gorgeous Nutcracker fabric is from Sarah Jane's Nutcracker Act 1 line by Michael Miller, and I'm obsessed with all of it. I've seen so many darling dresses made from different fabric combinations from this line that I've saved for inspiration for next year.

I actually was ahead of the game for once and had this dress done at the beginning of the month, just in time for us to go see The Nutcracker at a local ballet school. The cub has since worn it several places - Christmas parties (including her own here at our house), church, Nutcracker story time at the library. It's nice to get so much wear out of the Christmas dress!

I made the Georgia pattern from Violette Field Threads in a size 3. I added a little bit of fullness to the skirt, I think it was about 4 or 5". I only used three buttons down the back and think it could have used another one at least, maybe even two because it tends to pull open a little right at the top of the placket (I really should add a hook and eye now, but I seem to have a hard time going back to work on a project I thought was finished). The gold buttons were ones I already had in my box, which is why there were only 3.

I really wanted to have the ruffles at the neck and sleeves be solid, but was having a hard time finding exactly the right blue. Finally the obvious dawned on me - I just used the wrong side of the fabric! Perfect color.

It's so sweet on her, especially when I can convince her to let me put her hair in a bun (or a "hair donut" as we call it, since the piece we use inside is called a hair donut and she thinks that is so funny).

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

An Evergreen Dress

I bought myself a pine green dress last month, jersey knit with a gathered skirt. Then I found a similar jersey fabric and decided the cub and I need a little more mommy and me matching in our lives, so I decided to make her a dress to go with mine.

I used Little Lizard King's newest pattern, the Wimberly dress. It has a ruched detail option for the sleeves and there are two skirt options, a gathered circle with a ruffle and a simple skirt. I did the simple skirt for this one, primarily because I'm not super great with knit fabric and "simple" sounded more my speed. This dress also has a sweet little scoop in the back that I just love.

I made a size 2 with a little extra length added (little cub falls right between 2 and 3 for height on the size chart).

I'm fairly happy with how this turned out. I still see tons of areas where I need improvement when sewing with knits, but the only way to get better is to keep going, so I refuse to be discouraged. I need to work more on not having wavy hems and not letting my fabric stretch a little bit as I go! I think my next move will be buying a double needle and seeing if that helps my hems, if anyone has any more advice on things to try please share!

The cub has decided this dress is comfortable, and she's happy with it. Jeff thinks the sleeves give it a bit of an 80s vibe - not a bad thing, right? Now I need to get my dress on and we can go out and paint the town green!

Monday, November 20, 2017

Twig + Tale Trailblazer Vests

For several months now my husband has been asking me when I'm planning to sew something for him. We'd even looked through a few patterns, but nothing had really stood out to either of us, so I continued just making things for the cub.

But then Twig and Tale came out with their Trailblazer Vest in Men's sizes, and I knew that finally the time had come. This pattern is awesome, such a classic design with some nice variations (wind flap, snaps/buttons/zipper, even a fisherman add on) and is something my husband will actually wear. Best of all there is a matching kids' version, so the two of them can match!

Michael Miller provided beautiful fabrics for me to work with, and I chose this beautiful pine green cotton couture fabric for Jeff's vest. For the cub's I decided to go with a print, and their Say Yes to New Adventures from their Words of Wisdom line is the perfect mix of sweet and spunky! We love the little tree doodles.

What really makes the vests is the lovely organic sherpa, also from Michael Miller. It is so incredibly soft. The cub loves to touch the inside of her vest and says, "It feels like a kitten, or a blanket." I hesitated just a little cutting into it because I wanted to just wrap myself up in it and take a nap! It still looks beautiful after being washed and dried (a must when a toddler is wearing it).

This was my first time using a separating zipper, but Lisa's instructions (and video!) make it a complete breeze. Every time I do a zipper I wonder why I don't do them more often, they really aren't hard to do when you have good instructions! I actually think the hardest thing about zippers is finding the right color for your project.

I quilted both of the vests (more on the smaller vest, because quilting is so new to me and it seemed more doable on something small!) onto a thin wool batting for extra warmth, since we are starting to see our temperatures drop. I also added a little color blocking on the cub's vest, so you can really see the nice seams there that help give these vests a nice shape (nothing boxy here!)

These two are such pals, especially since I went to Sweden without them in October. Came back to find that perhaps they don't actually need me after all, they were so on top of things! Hopefully they enjoy having me around, at least.

The cub is such a satisfying person to sew for right now. She seriously loves this vest, and tells me so all the time. When I first put it on her she went over to the mirror and was looking at herself with the most satisfied little smile, it was so cute. Makes finishing something extra rewarding!

Such a handsome guy. :)

Such a big girl!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Toddler-sized backpack!

The cub and I were flying this summer together, and a few weeks before the trip it dawned on me that since she was now old enough to need her own seat, she was also old enough to carry on her own little bag. That way she could carry some of her own snacks, books, etc. At last some of that space in the diaper bag will be filled up for me to stick in my own snacks and books!

I pulled out my copy of "Little Things to Sew" from Oliver + S and used the backpack pattern found in there. I've read reviews of this backpack being a little small, but once I put it on the cub I found it was the perfect size for her little 2-year-old body. Anything thing bigger would probably knock her over. I didn't add any of the penguin details, instead I used some beautiful Michael Miller Sarah Jane Sommer canvas fabric I had on hand (was earmarked for a different project, we'll see if I'll have enough left or need to buy more now!) and a remnant of solid pink canvas I had picked up somewhere a few years ago. I love love love the Sommer fabric line, but this is the first thing I've actually made with any of the fabric! I lined the inside with a yellow cotton.

Honestly, I'm a little amazed that I made this. It looks really good and I don't think it screams homemade. I did want to try to add a water bottle pocket on the side, but I was intimidated and figured I needed to try just following the instructions as written first, since I've never made anything like this. I would highly recommend this pattern, especially to anyone who is brand new to bags (like me)!

Luckily the cub loves it, she looks so cute wandering around in it. It was used on the airplane, and after we returned from our trip she started preschool one day a week and has been taking it there, too. I think I should be able to just throw it in the washing machine (I hope?) which it's going to need sooner rather than later.

She styled herself for these photos, adding on the sunglasses, hat, and boots. The girl has style.

 A good size for carrying around stuffed friends!