Thursday, June 23, 2011

Shirred skirt with pockets (for me!)

I've been concentrating on sewing so much for the kids that I haven't done much for myself or my husband lately. I just ordered some shirting fabric for him (there is a ton on sale at for $1.95 a yard!) and so I wanted to whip up something for myself before that arrived and I was elbow deep in trying to make a man's shirt.

The tutorial is here at Running with Scissors
. It was easy to follow, and as I didn't notice a seam allowance listed, I asked and she replied she used 1/2". I made it from a quilting cotton I had-don't you just love the retro owls? I made each of my skirt pieces 34" wide, and looking back, I should have made them 32" each, because the skirt is just a little too full and has a bit of a pouf in the front under the shirring. It was pretty quick and easy, and I'd definitely like to make more (she has examples of others she made with bias tape and contrasting thread) with some changes. I'll make the pockets deeper, for one thing. I still need to hem it, but I'm trying to decide if I like it this length or not. I may make it more knee length. What do you think?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Pirate outfit in action

Zboy adores his new pirate T and shorts set. Just for fun, here are some action pics! (I always like to see what the clothes look like on)

Showing off the flat front-I really like it this way, instead of an entire elastic waistband.
Sunday, June 19, 2011

I fear buttonholes no more! (or Zboy's new whale shorts)

Be warned, this post has a lot of pics. I wanted to explain what I was doing as I did it.

To go with the shirred whale print dress I made for Zgirl, I sewed up a pair of shorts with cargo pockets and matching T for Zboy.

I've never really done pockets before, and as you may have noticed, I had a huge hate for buttonholes. My old machine was a 4 step process, and it always looked terrible. With my new machine and it's 1 step automatic buttonhole, be prepared to see lots of buttons coming!

I again followed my altered version of the basic pants/shorts pattern found here. I sewed the crotch seam together, and then the outer leg seam. I figured this would be the easiest way to add pockets. Measure the size of pocket you want, then iron under the raw edges. I should have serged them first, but I didn't. Now is the time to add a button if you want to sew it on with your machine. Mark the spot for the pocket, making sure both sides match. Topstitch the sides and bottom (I used a contrasting thread to add interest).
Then you want to measure for your flap. You want it to extend a little beyond each side of the pocket. Sew the short sides and one long side, leaving the other open. Trim the corners. Turn, and use a crochet hook or something to push the corners out. Iron it carefully. It should look something like this.

Then, if you want, topstitch the flap, leaving the unsewn side still open.

If you want a buttonhole, now is a good time to add it! Lay it with the side you want on top against the right side of the fabric. Match it up with the pocket and sew a straight line across.

Iron it down carefully, folding it over where you have sewn. Then, topstitch. This isn't necessary, but it helps keep the fold in place.

Then, sew the inner leg seam together, and follow the rest of the tutorial for adding elastic. Cute cargo pockets (with buttonhole! and handsewn buttons, because I forgot that step) on a cute pair of shorts.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Fussy cut applique

How to do a fussy cut applique
(onto a knit fabric)
Cut out your piece, and apply some fusible webbing (like wonder under). I left a tiny bit of white around. You can do this, or just cut it out completely. Iron onto your fabric. I was aiming for a logo type look (like Le Tigre)

Tip #1-When appliqueing onto a knit fabric, put interfacing on the back of it! I forgot this all important step, and ended up with a satin stitch mess that took forever to rip out. You could also use tear away stabilizer, or a piece of tracing/tissue paper underneath. I ended up using some lightweight interfacing and tracing paper.

Tip #2-Practice on a scrap piece first so you can figure out where you want your stitches to lay. I got halfway through and realized, hey, this would look so much better here-so again, I had to rip out a bunch of stitches.

It's still not perfect, but this is a pretty small piece to work with. I added the spout detail with the triple stitch on my machine. It didn't work as well as I hoped on the stretchy knit, but you don't notice unless it's close up like this picture!

What can you do with your recycling bin?

I realized today that I've gotten away from the kid activities part of my blog, because I've been so craft-focused, and with the nice summer weather, we aren't doing much. We mostly hang outside with the baby pool and our sand/water table. But we have to find some inside activities for when it's just too hot out, or it's raining. Today's inspiration came from my recycling bin.

We have a ton of sour cream containers (and yogurt, and similar things) I run these through the dishwasher because they are really handy for a lot of things. One of those is playtime! Today, with several containers and lids, Zboy and I-
- had an impromptu "shell" game (he is too little to even notice the different containers, and is always surprised by where the "shell" ends up. He also likes to take charge and uses 2 containers-he always tells me where it is before I guess. Pretty funny.)
- throw them down the hall where he can race them and pick them up (great for tiring them out)
- throw them up in the air and see where they land (obviously, watch so you aren't hitting anyone with them)
-took them outside and used them to play in the pool water and sand table

Zgirl entertained herself trying to put the lid on a container for almost half an hour.

There's lots of other things you can do with them, but when you're feeling hot and lazy, these are some easy things to do. We are trying to watch a lot less tv, and need simple activities that don't require a lot of prep work or effort.

What do you like to do with these containers or other recyclables that is easy?
Thursday, June 16, 2011

sewing machine tip

Help keep your machine out of the shop! I read this recently on Prudent Baby (her post is here)

When switching threads, instead of just pulling the spool up and the thread out of your machine, cut the thread at the top, raise your presser foot, and gently pull the cut thread out through the bottom. I don't know if you're like me, but I'd always just yank it out attached to the spool. I'm hoping this helps my new machine stay nice and out of the shop for longer!
Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Still organizing

I read a tip somewhere that a lot of people use comic book boards to help organize their stash. Being cheap, I enlisted my husband's help (he's a much straighter cutter than I am) to cut up some sturdy cardboard pieces. Then I chose my smallest cuts of fabrics-half yards, fat quarters, etc. and wrapped them around the cardboard. I secured them with a tiny pin, and wow, does that make everything look neater!

I really love this set from Ikea. We have another currently in use for our cloth diapers, and I can't wait until the children are potty trained so I can take them over! The stuff on the top right is all the kids' craft supplies-foam stickers, manila paper, a box full of recyclables-I need some way to make that look better. Cardboard box just isn't cutting it.
I still have a long way to go, but it's looking a lot neater in here. Now if I can only keep it up...
Monday, June 13, 2011

Easy embellished t-shirt

Have a plain shirt, or a shirt with a stain? Make it fun again by adding some embellishment! I had this robot applique cut out from an old shirt, and with a little wonder-under and a zigzag stitch, we have a fun new shirt!
Sunday, June 12, 2011

Shirred whale print dress

I found a tutorial at "A Lemon Squeezy Home" for an adorable shirred dress. I love the effect of shirring, but it was such a challenge with my old machine that I had given up. Luckily, it is super easy with my new machine (even though it has a drop in bobbin-check here for tips on dealing with that) I wound my bobbin both by hand and by machine, and didn't notice a difference in either. My problem was getting the bobbin thread up out of the casing.

It is a super easy tutorial to follow. She even includes a great link on shirring, in case you're nervous about trying. (don't be!)

All told, this didn't take me long-a few hours (but with kids, that is probably 1 hour kid-free time) I love the idea of adding details to the dress, especially if you have a simple solid color. The hardest part was measuring Zgirl. She kept wanting to play with the measuring tape =)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Piratey goodness

Zboy's friend turned 3 this week, and we were invited to his birthday party! As you all know, I have an unabashed love of all things piratical. I made a set for Zboy as testers, and as they're mostly the same size, I'm hoping it will fit the birthday boy well!
I made the shorts using the tutorial here (I just adore this blog) and the first pair was way too small. I ended up adding 3" total around to the pattern. I added my favorite cut-out applique, and piratey goodness ensued.

The fabric is an odd shade, so I decided to make matching initial appliqued shirts as well. Done on my new machine with the applique/blanket stitch-so super fast and easy!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Taking a deep breath here...

I want to show you the mess that I am working within. Yes, I am a packrat, and a slob. I try not to be, but I just get overwhelmed. This is the only room the children aren't allowed in, so that means a lot of stuff just gets tossed in here. I had to try and get a little organized because I was waiting for my new sewing machine!
What tips do you have for organizing on a budget? (Of course, we'd all like rooms like the above, but realistically, it's not going to happen!)
Here are the hideous before pictures:

And here is the halfway done/my machine came and I just want to try it out so I quit for now. I have a few boxes of things that need to get put downstairs that are kids' things for an upcoming consignment sale. That will free up some room. I had intentions of painting the room cotton candy pink, but that obviously hasn't been done yet, and as our lease is close to up, will wait.

And here is my new machine! I started off sewing test stitches of all available, and there are some awesome ones. The one I am most excited about is the applique/blanket stitch. I have already done some of the small pieces on the monster quilt and was really pleased with the results. I did a test quilt square with the walking foot, and was amazed at the difference.

Mostly, I have been working on what's in this package. Shh-it's for a birthday party tomorrow! I'll post pics of what it is after the birthday boy has gotten his present. Not as exciting as toys, but fun for the parents, right?
Sunday, June 5, 2011

Oliver + S Jump Rope Dress

I recently finished the jump rope dress (view A) (pattern by Oliver +S) This is an adorable pattern, and as well laid out and written as the seashore dress.

The main issue I have with this is that it is SO HARD to get on! Reading the Oliver + S forums, I found this is a common problem, even with older children. I left off the belt and pockets, as I didn't see any need for them on a dress for a baby. I was afraid it would throw off the fit, but I think it worked out fine. The placket (can I just say I never even knew what a placket was before this?) was the most fidgety part, followed by the sleeve tabs. With careful attention to the instructions, however, (no googling necessary!) I was able to complete these fairly easily.

I made this with butterfly snaps (like I did on the seashore dress), because I obviously had to!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Rhythm of the home

I love Rhythm of the Home magazine! If you remember, I was chosen to be a pattern tester for this digital magazine a while back. Their summer edition is now live and can be viewed here. This is a wonderful (and free!) resource for families with children, especially if you're interested in the Waldorf-style, natural type thing. Check it out! (and they're having a giveaway that ends June 6th!)

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