October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

This year after much thought, Emily decided to be a witch again this year. But not just any witch, it had to be a witch like the ones in her Johnny Gruelle books. (which are my old ones!) I love these witches too! Here are a few:

halloween inspiration

halloween inspiration

halloween inspiration

The Raggedy Ann witch disguise was the one we were mainly going for. To get the cool border and the Cats On Hat, we went with the previously seen Spoonflower fabric, which was attached to the bottom of the skirt fabric and sewn as part of it. Then I needed to find patterns that would approximate the style of the outfit. I was worried about the lace-up portion of the bodice, but then I realized that a vintage Butterick pattern (8283) I had sitting out was perfect -- it's for a vintage jumper with an inverted box pleat at the center front of the skirt. All I had to do was extend the box pleat into the bodice, then add grommets to the pleat edges and lace it closed. The Spoonflower panel was incorporated into the skirt at the bottom. Ta-da!

The underdress was a pettiblouse made from another vintage pattern (Advance 6936, which I've made the dress from several times). While I wanted the overdress to be close to the original, I didn't want to make an underdress similar to the one in the illustration -- I wanted something less costume-y, since I know from experience that this outfit will be worn regularly for the next year or two. I wanted a much more basic girl's blouse and petticoat look, and the vintage Advance pattern was perfect. I did add some little cat buttons to go with the theme though!

Here's the finished outfit, hanging up:

halloween costume pics

And finally...the hat. I had hoped to find a hat I could buy and just decorate, but I found nothing I could use. I ended up making the hat myself. It was not fun, but I didn't have much choice. I took poplin, fused a very heavy home deco interacing onto the back, made a cone and a "ring" and sewed them together. Before attaching them, I added a band of orange and fused a row of cats into place with some steam-a-seam. Finally, I added bias tape at the edge and ran a wire pulled out of a cheap ($2) witch hat I bought somewhere. I really didn't think it was going to work, but it came out pretty well!

The final result?




Happy Halloween!!

September 30, 2010

spooky sneak peek!

Here's a little peek at the spoonflower order I just received:

spooky sneak peek!

It's one yard, printed with fabric panels that will become part of Emily's Halloween Costume! She has a costume party next weekend, so I may actually try and start this in the next day or two. We'll see.

I am super-pleased with the fabric - not just our design which came out exactly like I'd planned, but the fabric itself. I had it printed on the sateen and it is so much nicer than the quilting-quality cotton. More expensive, yes, but really it is that much nicer. They also somehow got this to me in mere days! I didn't expect it for at least another week, maybe longer. But boom! here it is. (Also included - a swatch of the new silk crepe de chine, which is lovely lovely lovely, but what on earth would I ever use it for?)

Can't wait to get started on Halloween!! And maybe some year I'll sew costumes for myself again!

July 19, 2010

busy busy bees

So far this summer has been HOT (we don't have central air, just two rooms in the house have window units and we're enduring official heatwave after official heatwave - it's been well over 90° in the house more days than I want to think about) but very busy. I've been doing a lot but it feels like I've been spinning my wheels quite a bit. A lot of work and not much to show for it, really. I've also spent a lot of time just contemplating...a ton of things really, and I think some of them may end up here. Someday. I've also spent some time feeling pretty out of sorts, okay, in the dumps really. But I think we're digging our way back out these days.

I did make a set of seven nightgowns for my poor child who'd grown out of every pair of PJs she had (all also made by me). Why seven? I had the knit fabric pieces and now I'll never run out. Also, two of them are too heavy for summer wear. Here are four of them!


Do you notice a theme? Maybe if I decribed the other 3...let's see, there's pink fabric with little hello kitty faces....light pink with pink butterflies....and heck, I can't remember the last one but yep, you guess it, PINK. I use the farbenmix Hannah pattern, just made them long, long, long. She should be able to wear them for years.

I also managed to make three versions of advance 6936, the first polka dot version, a version in moomin fabric, and a version in a pink pirate skull fabric. Too unorganized to have good photos or a post written up, but I'll get to it! Eventually! When it's not so HOT.

Advance 6936

Emily also got some capri-length leggings to go under all the dresses; black and white stripes for the pirate dress, white ones for the moomin dress (it's orange and white). They're the Laguna pattern from Studio Tantrum, just chopped off below the knee and finished with stretch elastic. They went over like gangbusters, no photos have been managed yet though.

Two projects are in the works for Emily, one is this raincoat, the other is the "Rose Dress" that I've been figuring out for her for months now, that's a whole post on its own! I'd hoped to have it done early this month for summer wear, but instead I've been caught up in sloper-making....the little bits of sewing time I've scrounged in the last 2 months have been spent trying to finally get better fit in her clothes and so far? It's like banging my head against the wall. I have high hopes for today's effort though! If it's cool enough tomorrow am downstairs I'll assemble it and fingers crossed I'll be done at last.

Once that's done, it'll be time to finally work on my own sloper so I can at last make my clothes fit with a lot less work. The learning process has been a bit grueling so far but I have no doubt that it'll pay off!

That's maybe half of it, but I'm obviously way behind....stay tuned for actual project posts including a giant FAIL coming soon eventually. I'm also standing firm on my stashbusting! But more about that later, too.

I've also accumulated a ton of interesting links and info I've meant to post, but my organization just goes out the window over about 90°! Here's one that I think is really cool -- I found this on the site for the Smithsonian's libraries. It's a guide put out by Greist in 1957 with info on how to use all their attachments. I have a similar one that was adapted for teenagers that's got slightly different info, but this one is really cool. Click to open! (Note - on the slotted binder attachment, the packaged bias tape they call #5 is the equivalent of today's 1/4" double fold or 1/2" single fold.)


Enjoy and thanks for putting up with my rambling today! I'm off to stand under an avalanche of work that's about to fall on my head -- hope it doesn't hurt too much!

May 17, 2010

1930s sewing amazement!

I stumbled across the most amazing set of ebay listings yesterday -- six portfolios of sewing and design samples by a 1930s (late 1930s, I think) Belgian fashion student named Hilda Servotte. Seriously, you must check them out while they are still up! Two albums are full of her clothing designs, the other four are actual sewn samples of all sorts of things. A few of my favorite pages:


from the "pockets" portfolio (yes, nothing but pockets! and all gorgeous!)


Buttonholes I wish I could make (from the "Intuition" portfolio),


All sorts of detailing techniques on one piece (from the "Lingerie" portfolio), and:


bias application - I love those stripes! Possibly the most amazing portfolio is the one that is nothing but mending. It took me a few minutes to realize what it was, most of the mending is so amazingly clean. It's an incredible display of work!

I do actually have two very different sets of samples -- one is a class notebook from 1913 with some sewing samples and notes (very small, nothing like this) and the other is a 1950s Singer Sewing Center album of techniques with sewn samples. But these are astounding, and they'd be on their way to my house right now if I had that kind of money to casually toss around. I hope they go to a good home! (Preferably one that I can visit to see these in person, ha ha!)

April 29, 2010

the cotton candy dress

cotton candy dress

Isn't it cute? Full post forthcoming.

April 21, 2010

bad luck and then good luck

Emily's dresses are getting underway (she'll need at least one new one within about 2 weeks!) and yesterday disaster struck! I got this pattern (which I'm crazy about) out to trace before adjusting, as the fabric is all ready to go:

Advance 5578

And a major piece was missing. I had just bought this one on ebay, listed as complete and checked. Argh! I wrote the seller to see if they might have it loose from checking and I scanned the pattern diagram to see if I could reconstruct it, but the answers were no and no. (I printed out another piece from the scan and it was so far off the actual pattern piece it was amazing. So much for using pattern diagrams to reconstruct patterns correctly!)

But then good luck kicked in -- the ebay seller immediately refunded me, and then I found the same pattern on etsy for just a little bit more -- one size bigger but since I have to make huge adjustments one way or the other on her clothes it doesn't really matter. And as an added bonus, the seller had this super-cute 1950s pattern for tops in 3 styles, which is exactly what I've been looking for to go with all of my skirts!

In the meantime, I'm about to muslin this dress for her:

Advance 6936

which is simple, but is making me nervous, since it's going to use some irreplacable fabric. Wish me luck!

April 16, 2010

mini wardrobe - done!

I had a last minute substitution, but I made it in to the contest. Not that I expect to win (or need to -- the prize is fabric! eek!) but I'm very happy to have finished my projects. Not to mention, to have focused enough in one month to have finished five pieces of clothing for myself, plus most of another, plus started a round of new clothes for Emily. While doing a kajillion other things! Anyway, here is the result:

Project Spring 1953: wardrobe composite

I actually wore outfit 3 (blue top + denim skirt) yesterday to Emily's Scout meeting, it's a great outfit. The big-pocket skirt pattern is by far the big success story, although I like the black one a bit more than the blue. But it's a fantastic skirt and it makes me want to toss all my non-pocketed skirts out the window! The plaid skirt I'm feeling eh on...I love it in theory, I love the fabric but...everytime I put it with a top I don't love it so much. I think I just prefer darker colored skirts. But I'll make myself wear it and see how it goes.

Now to get to Emily's dresses, and we've got a new entry in the lineup! After I sent all my leftover patterns to Pattern Rescue, I had a big point balance with them. And when the latest round of trades went up, Emily saw a pattern she loved. I requested it and I got it! It's on the way now. I wish I knew how much yardage I needed, I'd get some fabric ready! Seriously, how cute is this? The kid has good taste! (okay, she has taste I also agree with, in any case)


No idea on the fabric yet, but I think cherries may be involved.

April 15, 2010

wait...what's that I see? salvage operation in progress!

So after yesterday's post, I realized that even if my idea to salvage my cardigan worked, it would no longer match the plaid skirt, so the pieces wouldn't make up a coordinated set. So there was no need to rush things (I found fabrics in my stash and had thought about trying to finish -- more about that below). But then I noticed the top I had cut out and was going to sew while I was working on these pieces was...a perfect match!

salvage effort!

You'd think I'd have realized I was making another matching piece, since I was using the same thread and all. But somehow I didn't notice until I had put the skirt down right next to it. So, I finished up the top, and I have four pieces! If I get photos today, I will still enter the wardrobe. Not my original concept but....close enough for me to be happy with it. Plus, of course, more clothes that fit!

Now, on the cardigan, I decided I really did like my idea of the contrast fabric (like this), and went looking to see what I had. I found a knit:

looking for a match

Which I think is too dark. Especially for Spring. I found a woven fabric (I bought this years ago, I mean years ago, as a contrast for a dress I never made):

looking for a match

That photo isn't so good, it really does match in real life. That's probably what I am going with unless I come across something better. Unfortunately, the one perfect match I found in the house:

looking for a match

is my bookbinding tape. Vetoed by the family, so no tape-bound cardigan! I'm really warming up to the idea, and I think I may also do cuffs and a narrow binding at the hem so there are no folded-over edges on that fleece. I"m giving it some time off though, no more mistakes please! Now I'm off to get my entry done before it's time for Daisy Scouts!

April 14, 2010

I'm tapping out!

Well, I was in the final stretch of my Spring 1953 mini-wardrobe, and I thought I'd make the deadline (which kept moving -- 14th? 16th? No, it was the 15th). But last night I did exactly what I swore I wouldn't do -- I had a problem with my cardigan (which is otherwise coming out very cute and fits great) and in my attempt to rework the issue I made, um, a huge mistake.

Basically, the sweaterknit is just too bulky for any sort of facing approach. I attempted to add a band around the opening, which almost worked but is really just still too bulky for my taste. It looks pretty good, but I don't think I'll ever wear it if it leave it that way. Worst of all though....after applying the band, I trimmed it too far. I think I know how to fix it but I don't want to rush it again. If I'd thought for five minutes, I'd have realized that I should have just bound the raw edge, that would have worked perfectly! My new plan is to go with a contrasting band like the one in this similar pattern:


The good news is, the blouse and three new skirts are done! Here's some more pics of the blouse on its own:

Spring 1953 project: jewelry-necked blouse

Spring 1953 project: blouse buttons

And now I can get back to sewing for Emily (as she has hinted a few times that I really should just be doing that instead!)

April 10, 2010

one pattern leaves, another pattern enters

So, what happens when I give away a pattern? I win a new one!! But, as Zoe pointed out to me, upgrading to the things that you will use and that will fit you is a definite positive move. And isn't this dress cute? I want to make it this summer, and definitely in stripes!


I also wanted to further the stash busting cause (instead of stash building) by reminding you all of Zoe's fabric swap - de-stash something you won't use and trade for something you will! Also, in the giveaway comments, Caelyn let me know about the Kateri Circle Sewing Group, a women's sewing group at the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, which can use just about any sewing item you can imagine (there is a complete list at their site). I've already started a box of things to send them.

And now, proof I have been sewing:

IMG_9019 - Copy

There's my 1953 blouse, as well as the black version of my 1953 skirt. The blue skirt (and the gathered skirt) are all cut and ready to go, I hope to have them done by tomorrow. The cardigan? Well, I'll finish it but I don't think I'll do it by the deadline! But I'm still going to give it a shot -- I just think my workload at the moment is too heavy for much sewing time. (We're even skipping the Mocca art show this weekend for the first time since it began!!)

Finally - we were discussing tracing materials over on Mikhaela's blog and I wanted to show you all what my favorite paper looks like:

tracing paper

On the right is the standard "pattern tracing paper" I've had for ever. On the left is what I use now, Border & Riley's "Sun-Glo" paper. Super strong, you can write with anything on it, very durable and really, pretty inexpensive. I have the 36" x 50 yard roll and I don't expect to replace it for a long, long time. You can't sew it like you can the swedish-tracing paper type stuff. But for everything else I love it.

And now, it's time for me to stop -- it's Saturday and that means biscuit day! I'm off to the kitchen!

April 06, 2010

a winner! and sewing confessions...

I have a confession to make. I have been cheating on my mini-wardrobe! Horribly!

It all started because my jewel-necked blouse gave me so much trouble (actually, they call it "jewelry-necked"). The pattern is fine, but the project was cursed! First my iron coughed up rusty water all over it. I was able to get it out, but when it dried overnight, the dampness from the spot I'd cleaned spread into the entire blouse -- and I'd left pins in a facing. Yes, "rustproof" pins. That rusted. I tried to get that rust out, and ended up with a giant yellow stain. Got that out, ran it through the wash, where it picked up -- can you guess? More rust. Got that out, yellow again, wash again....argh! I spent far more time cleaning that blouse than sewing it. It's done now, and very clean. But I don't even want to look at it.

So then, instead of working on the rest of the mini-wardrobe, I, uh, didn't. I made my "simple-to-make" skirt out of black denim instead. Not to test the pattern, but just because I wanted a black skirt now! Which I do like a lot, and making the blue one should be a snap 2nd time around, right?

Then, I started tracing patterns for a new top for me, and for Emily's spring wardrobe. (She's picked some really cute dresses!) Finally last night I did trace my cardigan, and maybe I'll even muslin it today. Or...maybe I'll make my new knit top. We'll see if I can stay on the straight and narrow!

And now to the giveaway! I re-numbered the comments leaving out the non-entries and the winner is:


Stef! Please drop me a line, Stef, and thanks to everyone else who came to play! I'll have another pattern to de-stash when I make next month's stash busting report, so I hope you try again!

April 02, 2010

stashbusting report - March

Whoops, a few days behind there! Anyway, it's time for my report on project:


On the pattern front, I purged well over 100 patterns last month -- I'm thinking it was close to 200? I don't actually have an accurate count, but I know that well over 120 of them were vintage. A bunch went on ebay, and the rest just got donated to Pattern Rescue. I confess I've restocked a little bit, but the patterns coming in are in my size (or Emily's, or close) and the patterns that left would have never been used. And I certainly have not added anything near 200 patterns! Not even 20. I've also starting scanning all my patterns so I can refer to them more quickly and use them better.

As far as fabric goes? I've been keeping a spreadsheet of fabric in and out, and my net for February was -24! Woohoo! 24 yards out, one way or another!

But then came March. I had to cash in the gift certificate I won in the wool sewing contest, I put up some flannels for Emily's Fall PJs (Hello Kitty flannel on sale, couldn't pass it up!) and I needed specific fabrics that I didn't have for the mini-wardrobe contest. (This is one problem with my fabric, a lot of it was bought for kid's clothes and I can't use it on much else!). And since I didn't get my mini-wardobe done in net is +17. Making my total since I started +7. Sigh.

But, a lot of that is already cut out (or even sewn, just not finished), so I'm hoping April's total is a lot better!

Now, in the interest of reducing, I have a few more patterns I don't need, so here's a lovely Simplicity dress from about 1954, size 14 (32" bust) that can be yours!

Simplicity 4881

Just leave a comment and tell me what you've used up or cleared out in the past month from your sewing stash! I'll pick a random name next Monday night (okay, well maybe Tuesday morning), so don't forget to leave your email address! (It won't post, don't worry). And don't forget to pop over to Zoe's and sign up to stash bust along with the rest of us!

March 30, 2010

mini-wardrobe lack-of-progress report + some Very Important Sewing

The good news: my skirt pattern is back with me, my zippers have arrived (along with my seam binding, which isn't the right color, so that's bad news), and my blouse is almost done.

The bad news? The blouse is making me crazy. The facings didn't seem to line up and I had to rip out a long seam I'd already trimmed and overcast to fix it; then it fit together perfectly but my wretched Rowenta iron puked rusty water all over the back. Luckily, the salt-and-vinegar method I tried got almost everything out, and a little cream of tartar seems to have finished off the last stubborn stain. It's drying now, and if it's all clear tomorrow I'll be finishing it off as soon as I pick out buttons. The further bad news -- removing the stain revealed just how transparent the fabric is if it gets the slightest bit wet. Looks like I'll be making a camisole while I'm at it.

But I can't get too upset, because I spent most of my sewing time today doing some really important sewing. Behold:

some very important sewing

And cropped out of that shot? One very excited brand-new Daisy Scout. Who needs a blouse when you can make your little girl smile like crazy?

March 28, 2010

mini-wardrobe mini-update!

A quick status report to keep me honest:

The short-sleeved blouse: it's well underway! A tissue fit went well, a full muslin revealed that I needed a little more shaping in the waist (and to remove the shoulder pad allowance), the fabric is cut and it's proceeding nicely. I'm surprised at how little alteration I needed to do on it. I used the muslin to do a little experimenting with pattern marking and I've decided that I really hate the tracing wheel/transfer paper system. Back to tailor's tacks for me unless a better idea comes along.

The cardigan: I've gone over the pattern and figured out what I need to do differently, as my fabric is a lot thicker than the fabrics the pattern calls for. I think I'll be lining to the edge instead of facing it, and that should work. I also need to pick out my buttons! I have some on my desk I think will be perfect but I should go through them all before deciding.

The skirts I'm leaving until last because they are going to be so simple. And because I haven't got my zippers (they should be waiting in the post office box right now). And because ....I went to tissue fit my simple-to-make skirt and only then did I discover the envelope contents of two sizes had been switched! And the size I needed (not my size either, but much closer) was in the envelope that I'd just donated to Pattern Rescue!! Luckily, it arrived there safely a few days ago and they graciously popped it right back in the mail to me. It should be here Monday.

So, a few bumps in the road but I might actually pull this off by the deadline!

Finally, it may be cold but we have photographic proof that Spring is here, at least technically:

no, spring is really here

I hope it's lovely where you are, whether it's Spring or Fall!

March 16, 2010

when is a vintage vogue not a vintage vogue?

When it's a New York Pattern Co. pattern, that's when! When I saw the new Spring Vogue patterns I thought the new Vintage Vogue apron was pretty, but familiar -- so I assumed that I'd seen the original Vogue pattern online at some point. But I was looking in my folder of apron images (madly downloaded in last year's free trial of the Commercial Pattern Archive) I spotted the original -- and it's a New York design from 1953! See them side-by-side:

new york apron.jpg

So, I don't know if this means that Vogue actually owns the New York Pattern Co. library (my guess is no), or if they've just decided that NY patterns are fair game, but it's certainly interesting either way. If they think they're fair game, that's pretty good backup for the people who are independently reproducing vintage patterns -- and if they own them, maybe we'll see more of them! The idea of more pattern lines getting a shot at reproduction is pretty cool. I love vintage patterns, but cheap multisized repros certainly have their appeal, don't they? The other two views of this apron are also from the NY Pattern Co. original; I don't recognize the other pattern included in the reissue so I don't know who originally put it out.

Since I went through all my patterns recently to destash I looked over my own collection of reproductions, and now I've started spotting them all over. Here are just a few of the matchups I've found (when I've uploaded some images I'll post more!):

Vogue 2903 was originally S-4579 (the "s" tells you it's a "Special Design"). (Dated 1955 by CoPA, 1957 by Vogue).
Vogue 2267 was 8223.
Vogue 1083 was S-4291.
And 1043 was yet another Special Design, S-4382.
Butterick 4792 was 7714.
Butterick 6582 was 9365.

I'd love to see all the reproductions matched up and compared to their originals! One thing that makes it difficult is the dating -- for example, CoPA and Vogue differ on a lot of those pattern dates. The Vogue 2903 reissue, for example, is dated 1957, but CoPA (who I trust more, to be honest) place the original in 1955. So you can't just look at the supposed original year.

Speaking of comparisons, I found these really cool pattern posts on the Pins and Needles blog about a few different reissues: Simplicity 1734 vs 3673, Vogue S-4382 vs 1043, and Vogue S-4007 vs 2239. Really great info (and support for Vogue's assertion that they barely change patterns!).

And not to ramble any more disjointedly than I already have, but I thought it was interesting to see that for all the things people say about vintage patterns and their "impossible" illustrations -- the modern one actually has the less realistic figure, I think! Her waist looks the same (although they narrowed the hip ruffles) but her neck, arms and legs look like they're about to snap.

Anyway, I'll be keeping my eye out for more matchups!

March 11, 2010

got a vintage vogue?

vogue 6441

I submitted some patterns to the Vogue Patterns vintage search recently (the one above, plus a handful more), but I wasn't really sure what would happen to them (you don't submit the patterns, just scans or photocopies). Luckily Pattern Junkie did more than just wonder, she actually wrote them to get the details! Check out the info she got from Vogue's Carolyne Cafaro here. The biggest eye-opener for me was that they do not redraft the patterns for "modern bodies", they simply grade them into multi-size patterns and write modern instructions.

Interested in submitting? Send a photocopy of the envelope to Vintage Vogue Search, Vogue Patterns Magazine, 120 Broadway, New York, NY 10271; send a scan of it to, putting 'Vintage Vogue Search' in the subject line. I'm not 100% sure but I believe they only use patterns from the 50s and earlier, and no designer names (I would assume that's because of trademark issues). If they decide to use your pattern, they'll ask you to send it in (for about 9 months) and you'll be credited on the envelope and get your original pattern back, plus 5 free Vogue patterns of your choice. According to the info on Pattern Junkie, they pick 4 a year, usually from their archive of submissions. And the bigger their archive, the more choice they'll have! Personally, I'd love to see more daywear, coats, and some kid's patterns!! Like this one:

vogue 2615

What would you like to see them bring back?

March 06, 2010

the out-of-this-world robe

So, I completely forgot I had never posted about this! Emily and I decided that Evan needed a new robe for Xmas (believe me, he did) and we wanted to make him one. I actually had a couple of vintage patterns for men's robes and picked this one to make:

Simplicity 2312

It's Simplicity 2312 from 1957 - note that it comes with a smoking jacket version! Fancy! Emily picked out a flannel at Joann's that she liked (a cool outer-space theme) and we got to work. There were a few surprises along the way - for one, I hadn't bothered to actually look at the pattern's instructions or anything (I'm lucky the pieces were all there!) and it was a lot more detailed than I realized. The sleeves are cut in two pieces and fitted at elbow and shoulder, and the belt is permanently fastened on carriers instead of threaded through loops. I didn't think that would hold up, but it's actually much nicer than the usual loop system. In general the pattern was much easier to use and better designed than I expected (or would have gotten from a modern pattern). It's almost scary how easily a truly well-drafted pattern goes together!

The bad surprise -- the fabric we picked from Joanns was not as nice as we thought -- it was narrower than it was supposed to be and shrank like crazy! I had to go back for more, and lucky for us there was some left. I also ended up interfacing and topstitching it to reinforce the fabric. As it is, I'm not sure how long it'll hold up. But so far it's doing pretty well.

And the end result made everyone happy!

Xmas robe

I really loved making up this pattern, and unless Evan is lying, he loves the robe. Emily loved helping! A win-win all around. And maybe next year....the smoking jacket!

February 27, 2010


I got this awesome vintage skirt sewing kit this week...when I saw it I thought, "a vintage skirt under $10? no-brainer!" (actually, any decent skirt under $10, no-brainer, right?)

Sew-A-Skirt kit

And when I got it, I thought it was even cooler, and in such great shape! Here's the back:

Sew-A-Skirt kit

But here's the problem: it's a little too cool. I don't know if I can bring myself to actually use the kit! I could trace the pattern and make it up in a different fabric, but that kind of defeats the point of buying it. I could steel myself, and go ahead and make it like I planned. Or, I could just hang on the kit and, you know, think about it for a while. What would you do?

And don't forget, I'm de-stashing this weekend! Loads of vintage patterns are on ebay, ending in just a bit; and this fabric is available in the stash bustin' swap until tomorrow night!

February 23, 2010

would you like this lovely fabric?

stashbustin' swap fabric

I actually won the first draw of the stash busting swap! A lovely piece of aubergine (that's eggplant to us americans) cotton is coming my way all the way from Spain...and above is my offering! If you'd like a chance to win it, head on over to Zo's and submit your own stash entry! Deadline is midnight Spanish time, which is 6pm EST. Good luck!! UPDATE: the deadline is midnight Sunday! Head on over and check it out!

February 22, 2010

stashbusting begins!

Step one - finally, I have finished sorting through the patterns I've been collecting for years; pulled a great big lot to say goodbye to; scanned them, sorted them, and listed them on ebay. This is a project I started months and months ago, but finally, it's done! So hopefully by this weekend 120 vintage patterns (and a handful of newer ones) will be off to new homes! I'm also letting go of my near-complete run of Atomic Magazine issues and some cool fashion books by Edith Head, Carmel Snow (famous Harper's Bazaar editor), and Dorian Leigh. You can see all the auctions here, or if you just want to look at the vintage patterns, sit back and enjoy this slideshow!

Step two - the Stashbustin' group has a stash busting swap going on starting today -- I'm going to dig out some fabric and join in! Each day a different fabric is up for grabs - deadline for the random draw is 6pm EST. Of course, the net is zero since fabric will come back in....but the idea is to have something fresh and inspiring come in to your house, while getting rid of letting go of something you really don't have any use for. So I say it counts. Now I'm off to rummage through my stash and pick a candidate or two!

February 20, 2010

stash busting!

Purging and destashing are big in our house right now, and one of the areas I've needed to tackle is my sewing stash. I've been slowly working at it, buttons are organized; notions are organized and cleared out. I'm just about to finish a huge purge of my vintage pattern collection, and next I need to start tackling the fabric. Now, I have nothing compared to serious fabric stashers, believe me. But, I need to get it moving out of here. See this?

fabric organization

I took that almost two years ago. And I still have probably 75% of that fabric (no, that isn't my stash! it's just one shelf I photographed.)

And as it turns out, destashing seems to be in the air....tons of people have gotten the urge to purge. And now, there's even a support group/pledge going -- and I've taken the pledge! Everyone's doing it in their own fashion -- my personal goal is to work through everything I've got and either sew it up, sell it off or donate it. All I want left at the end of this year are fabric lengths that are for a specific project; basics that are good to have on hand; and I'm sure I will give a pass to a few import/vintage fabrics that I just can't let go of. And from now on, only buy fabric I have a definite use for. No more stashing! If you have more fabric than you know what to do with, why don't you join us in...


February 18, 2010

I've got a notion...

Several of them, in fact. I love vintage sewing notions (although, I rarely find them around here) but it's hard to use them! There's something about opening up a package that's lasted this long that makes me hesitate. But...using them is also a lot of fun! So, to encourage myself to actually use my vintage notions, I started taking photos of them to "preserve" the packaged versions. Here's what I've photographed so far:

You can also see them all here. Now, which one shall I use first?

February 09, 2010

pattern project! (or, Emily gets more aprons)

hedgehog apron

Last year I found out about the Commercial Pattern Archive at the University of Rhode Island (I thought I had blogged about it, but I can't find anything -- I found out about it on when they had a week of free access. If you've never heard of the collection, it's an archive of sewing patterns from the 1860s to the present -- I believe they have something like 50,000 patterns! The original (complete) patterns are in their archives and available to researchers, but you can access a good bit of info online. Membership isn't cheap, but I got in on a group membership and have been wasting time there ever since!

I've often wondered if I would ever be able to recreate a pattern from the information they have online (usually you get an image from the front of the pattern, plus a "pattern schematic"; you get some text info but no instructions). I'm sure if I could draft patterns I could do it just by looking at the picture but, well, I can't draft patterns! But I finally decided to give it a go as a reward for all the boring utilitarian sewing I've been doing.

I thought an apron would be easy, and making it for Emily would keep it smaller in case I had trouble. (Plus, she is low on aprons having grown out of all but 1 baking apron.) To my surprise, it was a pretty simple operation! Within a couple days, Emily had a new vintage-y apron! It's super-cute, functional and very girly, so she loves it.

In fact, a second one is already cut out and ready to sew -- but this time, it's made from some Tenggren Saggy Baggy Elephant fabric! So cute! Now I think I have to make one for myself.

If you want details on the probably boring technical process, keep reading; otherwise, have a good week and stay tuned for a cool chocolate dessert recipe coming soon!

My unwieldy reconstruction process:

The first thing I did was to just google the pattern (Simplicity 7091) and see what I could find -- I was able to find images of the pattern envelope, which I printed out and used as visual reference (not to mention, to help estimate the amount of bias binding I'd need!)

Next, I edited the pattern schematic in photoshop to only contain the pieces for the view I was making (view C), overlapping the pieces so that they would take up less room when printed (here's the image).

I then enlarged my resulting image to fill an 8-1/2" x 11" piece of paper, and printed it. I chose a key line (in this case the center front fold line), measured it, figured out how long it should be on the final pattern, and then used a proportion calculator to find out how much more it needed to be enlarged to print out at the size I wanted it. (At this point, I also scattered little "x" marks all over the image so I'd have an easier time matching everything up when I blew it up further.)

Finally, I enlarged the image again by the percentage the calculator gave me, printed it out in pieces and then taped it all together. Here you can see the 8-1/2"x11" version next to the full-size printout after assembling it.

From that point on, I did what I'd do with any pattern you need to trace -- I traced it onto pattern paper and did a tissue fit, I went ahead and did a muslin, to make sure it really would work, and at last I made up the final version.

Definitely a fun challenge, although a lot of people might not think so!

January 26, 2010

sew kinda boring

Since the excitement of making Emily's coat ended, sewing has been more than a little mundane...I darned socks. (really!) I have lengthened every pair of pajamas that Emily owns. I have attempted to alter a favorite dress that got way too small (just didn't work out). And I have made draft stoppers.

kitchen draft stopper

Boring to make, but actually kind of exciting to have finished, because they have made a huge difference! Our house was built in 1919 and still has a lot of original windows, some of which are soooooo drafty. Every year I'd say "I ought to figure out to make some draft stoppers for those" but then I never got around to doing it. Finally, after a week of high winds coming up from the water, I did it.

I didn't bother to even look for any directions online, I'm sure there are plenty. But I just forged ahead and did what I thought would work -- and it did! I measured the windows and then cut rectangles that were the width of each window plus 1-1/2" long; and 7-1/2" wide. I used french seams for extra strength, and seamed the rectangles along the long edge and one short edge. Emily and I then filled them with play sand using a kitchen funnel (that was fun, if a little messy!), and then I rolled the open ends over, pinned them and then very carefully brought them back upstairs and sewed them closed. We put them in the windows and seriously, the temperature in the house climbed within just 2 or 3 hours.

Sewing hasn't been all boring though, Emily has her own machine now and has started making things! But more on that later. Ha ha, and I totally forgot, I made a new flannel robe from a vintage pattern for Evan...where is my brain? More on that later, too!

January 18, 2010

project princess update

So the princess coat has been a huge success. Emily wears her coat every time we go out, without any arguing or whining. She loves it, it keeps her warm, and I don't have to put up with the comments from strangers I used to get for letting her run around coatless in winter. So it's been a total win-win. In fact, it's been a win-win-win, because I entered a sewing contest with it and I won 2nd prize! (And by just 1 vote difference between 2nd and 1st!)

I won 2nd prize in the sewing with wool contest

Pretty exciting. And, now I think I'm ready to tackle a coat for myself after thinking it over for a year or two!

So far, 2010 itself has been pretty alright. Here's hoping it keeps on going that way.

December 12, 2009

project princess is complete!

Remember the pattern I posted about a while back, the one Emily wanted for her winter coat? The one I wasn't really sure I could pull off?

princess coat pattern

Well guess what..I decided to go full speed ahead and just do it -- and it's finished!!

emily's coat

The process was some learning curve, I tell you. The amount of redrafting I had to do in order to make it fit her was insane. But, as you can see, it ended up working out! The one big drawback is that because it's fitted closely at the waist there's no way it will fit her next year (I'm just hoping it lasts out the winter!). So I'll be making a new coat next year. I got a really nice wool melton for the body, lined it with a silk twill (in orange, Emily's pick!) and Emily picked out some vintage-y black buttons (she really wanted a vintage set I have but there weren't enough of them).

But what really makes this coat a success is that she loves it. She was asking to wear it the day it was done, and when she's worn it out she's kept it on every second.

dreary day at mitsuwa

This from the girl who last year would drop her coat magically right from her shoulders and take off in short sleeves because she "hates jackets" so much! And while it was a lot of work, I really enjoyed making it (and finishing it!). I even want to make a coat for myself now.

Lots more photos are on flickr if you want to see, and for more detailed sewing info you can check out the write up on Pattern Review.

November 12, 2009

how to make a muno dress

One of the most common questions I get is, "how'd you make those Yo Gabba Gabba dresses?" I can't help you with the Brobee dress, that's made from a cast & crew shirt (although you could certainly make a dress out of any cool YGG tee!) But I can help you with the Muno dress (or whatever character you want) -- and here's a little how-to.

muno dress

First you need your dress pattern. Any simple, a-line dress with a one-piece front will work. I used this cute dress pattern, Butterick 3772. Here's another Butterick dress/top pattern, that wraps and ties instead of fastening at the shoulder. The Farbenmix Anna dress would also be perfect, although a little harder to find. And here's a simple McCall's dress with no fasteners at all!

Now for your YGG design -- there are lots of goodies you can work with in Nick jr's YGG papercraft section. They have a full set of iron-ons you can just print out onto transfer paper if you don't feel up to applique -- just pick one, print it and transfer it to your dress front!

If you do want to do an applique, or something else crafty, there are plenty of templates on those printable pages. For full-body images, look for the coloring pages, and for large heads, go for the masks. I used the Muno mask for my applique!

I printed it out at the size I wanted it to be on the dress -- you should be able to print the page larger or smaller when you print it. I actually "printed" the mask as a pdfs using Cute PDF Writer and saved it so I could print it as much as I wanted without going back to the Nick site. I added some more Muno at the bottom and then redrew the mouth, fixing it where it was crooked and adding in the teeth (and yes, his teeth aren't pointy -- anymore. This is how they looked in the pilot, which Emily was used to at the time. Now she thinks it's freaky.)

I cut the pieces out of cotton knit (old t-shirts, actually) -- since knits don't unravel, you don't have to finish the edges of the applique. I assembled the whole thing first using some fusible interfacing (you could also use something like Steam-A-Seam , which I've used on other appliques). If you look close you can see that I overlapped everything -- for example, the teeth are under the upper part of the mouth, and over the bottom part. This made it a lot easier, since I wasn't matching edges up.

Finally, I placed the finished Muno on the dress where I wanted him, and stitched all around. (I assembled the dress most of the way, but did the lining and hem after adding the applique. If I was going to use an iron-on or maybe use fabric paint, I would probably have completely finished the dress first.)

There's only one bad thing about this Muno's too small! But I think a Foofa dress may be in the offing (and I don't mean her costume). We'll see. Who will be on your Yo Gabba Gabba dress?

November 07, 2009

halloween was happy!

halloween pics

Emily has been choosing her own costumes since she was 2, and until now it was always simple. Two years ago, after seeing the Halloween episode of Yo Gabba Gabba, she just declared, "I will be a pirate, like Brobee!" After Halloween that year, she told me that the following year she would be a witch like Toodee, then after that, a fairy like Foofa (and then a cat, not sure where she got that from). She stuck to her plan last year and was a witch. But this year, as summer went on, she started wavering...

She wanted to be a fairy. Then, maybe a witch again. Or maybe, Foofa. Then back to the fairy. And so on. Finally, as we got closer and closer to Halloween I sat her down and told her she had to pick one. And finally...Foofa won out. (I admit, I pushed a little for Foofa since I don't know if she'll want to be her when she's much older. You can be a witch or fairy at any age.) And here's the final result:

halloween pics

I went with a dress, kind of interpreting the character a bit. I know my girl, and if she wasn't totally comfortable she wouldn't be happy. This outfit is actually leggings (studio tantrum Laguna), a long-sleeved shirt (farbenmix Zoe), a sleeveless dress (my own pattern) and a vintage hat pattern. I made everything out of pink cotton velour, with flowers out of some cotton, stiffened with this stuff I found called "InnerFuse". We all gave it two thumbs up!

And I got it done just barely in time for the festivities -- we had a decent time at the Zoo Spooktacular (although it poured the whole time, cancelling out some of the fun), a great time at the Museum's free Halloween fest, and then a fantastic time trick-or-treating. And even after tossing out half of it, Emily's got enough candy to last her a month! I hope everyone's Halloween was as much fun!

October 31, 2009

project princess coat

So, Emily has this thing about jackets and coats. "Thing" meaning that she hates them. It has to be freezing, literally, for her to even wear long sleeves. This year, I thought that making a coat that she helped me out with might encourage her to wear it, so I asked her what kind of a coat she would like. The answer was that it had to be red (or orange), and "look like a dress". We went through my pattern collection and looked at some patterns online, and here's what she picked out (view B, in a red wool):

princess coat pattern

And all I can say right now is what was I thinking?! Now I understand why the boxy coats have endured in children's wear, because this thing is about to defeat me. I am on the 2nd full muslin and seriously considering throwing in the towel -- the problem being that Emily is the width of a size 2 or 3 but the height of a size 5. So I have lengthened and narrowed and redrafted this pattern like crazy, and it is still too short. (Although, happily, it is still working and makes a very cute coat!)

It has also struck me that there's a good chance that she'll grow out of it before the end of winter if I'm not careful. So I'm looking at some cute raglan-sleeved swing coat patterns and wondering if she would actually wear one of them (since they don't really look like dresses). Now I just have to decide if I should switch to something easier, or if I should just forge ahead and make her the princess coat! (Truthfully...I think she will be much happier with the princess coat, but the selfish lazy part of me is starting to balk.)

In other news -- Happy Halloween!! Emily's costume came out great (panics over the fabric not showing up in time aside) and hopefully I'll get some good pics today.

Also, thanks to everyone for your kind words and thoughts. They are much appreciated!

September 03, 2009

my dress is yellow


One of the things that is cool about vintage patterns is that, like cookbooks, they often have notes from former owners on them. Personally, I think they add to the value, although I'm sure "true" collectors would disagree. This pattern I spotted on ebay has, I think, my favorite notes ever! "This one" (I wonder why she picked that one? Maybe she was afraid that the other version would make everyone hunch over like the model.) "My dress is yellow [something, I guess the type of fabric]" (I like the way she underlines "my dress") and finally, "leave all hems for me to do" which tells me that someone else was given this pattern and the yellow fabric to make the dress for our pattern owner. I've often wondered if pattern notes were for the owner or someone else and it's interesting to see one where you can be sure. Anyway, this dress is not for me, but it's available on ebay (ends on the 6th) if you're interested! And I hope that your dress will be yellow, too.

August 24, 2009

one day left!

The vintage pattern archive at the University of Rhode Island granted free access to all comers for one week; ending tomorrow unfortunately! I haven't even scratched the surface. Check it out here (you need to use Firefox, everyone says). They've got over 48,000 patterns, dating from 1868 to the present, and you can see details on each including year, cover and construction drawings. If you're super-talented you could probably work out the pattern from the drawings, but for the rest of us it's an amazing reference guide and wish-list producer. Also, loads of fun! I've found lots of patterns I want, but also there's lots of stuff that's just fun to look at. Check out this crazy envelope art from 1966 for aprons:


And this "Yeah Yeah Yeah Jacket" from 1965, with skirt or pants. Hmmm...what could this be referencing?


I could spend days just browsing and writing down pattern numbers. Go check it out while you still can!

August 14, 2009

some sewing....

Emily after the library

Here's a dress I managed to finish off in between the two MASSIVE FLOODS we just went through (a week apart -- the first was due to a broken washing machine, which was at least easily fixed -- it just flooded out our storage space and caused plenty of grief; the second was our water heater going bad -- which called for a new heater, ouch! But at least we hadn't put anything back into the storage space. And did I mention the mouse that tried to break the refrigerator? My house is trying to kill me, seriously)

Anyway, where was I? This was originally a Hannah blouse I'd cut out in early spring, just from the apple fabric. I never sewed it up because Emily went all-dresses-all-the-time, but finally I converted it into a dress by adding the huge ruffle and changing the sleeves to match. FOE (fold over elastic) trims and gathers the sleeves and neck; I also added a band of FOE across the chest to make it more fitted. It came out very cute, and I would definitely make this dress conversion again!

All accessories by Emily, check out the flickr photo page for notes!

August 09, 2009

eye spy...inspiration

A recent inspiration I have found is Gertie's New Blog for Better Sewing -- it's the saga of a young New Yorker who is working her way through the 1952 edition of Vogue's Book for Better Sewing, a sort of Julie & Julia for vintage sewing as she reluctantly admits. I don't remember how I first found it, but following Gertie's sewing has re-inspired me to sew more for myself AND to start tackling my vintage patterns again. Here's a recent favorite of mine from her blog:

full skirt 002.jpg

That is her "full, gathered skirt", in a lovely large-scale gingham silk -- a.k.a. project two from VoNBBS, and it's the one that finally pushed me into digging out my patterns (purging over half of them) and picking a few to sew. We'll see how that goes! In the meantime, I'll keep reading Gertie and hopefully she'll keep on blogging!

This week's eye spy theme brought to you by Cindy of Bug and Pop!

May 03, 2009

tying one on again!

I haven't made an apron for Tie One On in ages (we didn't need any more!) but it's time to make some more -- for the growing creature that is my child, and also eventually for myself as I wear them out. So, I decided to take on the No$$ challenge and make something for Emily that would actually be big enough! And here's the result:

emily's squirrel apron

The front fabric is some Japanese craft canvas I bought maybe a year ago from a seller who neglected to tell me it was it sat and sat. The lining is some leftover white cotton or poly/cotton that I think originally lined a dress. And all the notions came out of my leftover notions bag -- when you make tiny dresses, you never use up the whole pack of rick-rack or ribbon! The colors are so cheery:

emily's squirrel apron

And I love the little squirrels who look like they're running down the paths!!

emily's squirrel apron

When it was done, it was heavier than I expected, but she's worn it a few times with no complaints! Now I just wish I had enough to make one for me!

February 01, 2009

so much sewing!

I've actually gotten loads of sewing done while we've all been recuperating from the stomach flu (not to mention cooped up quite a bit from the weather. Here are the highlights:

blue knut dress detail

Emily's 2nd Knut dress, the one she asked for in blue! Same pattern I drafted myself, same Hilco fleece in the same print -- just blue instead of pink! We're just as happy with it as the pink one, and the two dresses are in heavy rotation. (full length photo here.)

anoushka zoela

For me, another farbenmix Zoela, this one made from a Hilco fabric called "smoothie", which is not much to look at (kind of oatmealy in fact) but is so warm and soft -- if I could get this in brighter colors I'd dress in nothing else all winter! The applique is cut from a corduroy print called "Anoushka" -- it reminded me of the Rose Princess from Oz, or maybe the living flowers in Alice...just so pretty! The neckline is a wee bit of campan -- I actually co-ordinated these 3 fabrics by accident while moving some stacks of fabric around; and now all three are set aside for an outfit for next Fall for Emily. (I'm thinking a skirt of the corduroy, with a top that has more of the stripes than mine does.)

deer zoe

For Emily, a Zoe as well, this in blue and pink striped campan with an awesome velour iron-on -- I like this one so much I may have to make a Zoela for myself to match!

I've also made Evan another Föhr this time from a heavy cotton rib knit -- it came out like a sweater, really, but I'm happy with it (and so is he!) I lengthened the sleeves a bit this time and it fits much better.

I've also been turning out pajamas left and right for all three of us -- maybe when the next set are done I'll stack them all up and take one big photo!

And now....which sewing project to tackle next?!

all fabrics (except the knit I used for Evan's Föhr) and the velour iron-on from Buntefabrics.

January 10, 2009

polar bear pullover!

Here's another successful bit of December sewing -- the "perfect" winter dress for Emily. I worked the pattern out myself based on features of all her favorite dresses, and here's what it's got that she loves: very short cap sleeves, which qualifies it as short/no sleeves (although I can get her to wear a long-sleeved tee underneath); a comfy elasticized neck that just pops on and off (based on a Japanese tunic that she loves and is rapidly growing out of); a snug fit in the torso; and a bit of swing to the skirt. And of course, a really cute fabric!

polar bear pullover

When I first saw this Hilco "Knut" sweater knit (that's sweatshirt fleece to us North Americans) I knew I had to make something out of it for her, it is just so cute. And she loves polar bears, and she has even seen video of Knut himself (although she likes Flocke better). So I grabbed a yard of the pink and thought about it for a bit...and this was what I came up with. Here's a closer look at the neckline and cap sleeve.

polar bear pullover - detail

The fabric is so soft and warm, I feel a little better about the fact that she won't wear a jacket. And she loves it so much, the 2nd one (same print, but in blue) is already cut out. I'll be trying it in a jersey when it warms up as well and see if it works as a warm-weather pattern too!

I am supposed to be doing my Eye Spy today, but the topic was "something I want to try in 2009" and my answer is....nothing! (taking "try" to mean try out or attempt for the first time, not "hope to finish", because I've got plenty of that). 2009 is going to be the year of tying up loose ends and focusing on my favorite things to do. So, no plans to try any new crafts or activities in the next 12 months! Maybe in 2010....

Hilco "knut" fabric in pink from Buntefabrics.

January 05, 2009

popping in with some sewing!

Just popping my head up long enough to say happy new year! and to show off a little sewing I couldn't blog about before, as it was one of evan's xmas presents! This is not a good photo (I was being sneaky) but here is my first Föhr!

first fohr

Now Evan has a farbenmix garment, too!! I made this one up from some orangy-red cotton ribknit I'd bought on sale, plus orange bits and an applique cut from an Aquabats shirt that didn't fir any of us. The fit is near-perfect -- I will lengthen the sleeves on the next one a tiny bit, but this one fits fine. The pattern went together so quickly; I was able to put this together while Evan was home! (Well, if he'd been hanging out downstairs with us I couldn't have gotten away with it). We all approve!! And more Föhrs are definitely in the offing.

November 22, 2008

barnslig borkum, a.k.a. the litle bear bathrobe

This bathrobe, I'm sorry to say, is my first farbenmix failure. not a total failure, it's still cute! But basically....FAIL.

borkum front

borkum back

The pattern is KleinBorkum, and my motivation for making it was this design example, which as you can see I totally just knocked off!

We already had been using the ikea barnslig bath towels for Emily, and loved them, so when I saw the robe made out of them, I thought it was just too cute (and so did Emily!). I wasn't sure how I'd trim it, but when I picked up the towels to make the robe (a size 98/104 took two towels), I saw these matching barnslig burp cloths in the next bin and ended up getting those to make the belt and the appliques (you can see them in close up here and here), which worked out really well.

Here's what didn't work: first, this was the first farbenmix pattern I've used where the pattern pieces didn't actually match up. I had to really work at getting it to all go together at the shoulders and the sleeves. Then, I realized that I had never checked the measurements since Emily always fits into a 98/104 so well, and the robe is really short! If you look at the design examples a little more closely than I, you can see that the longer robes all have the sleeves rolled up quite a bit. I'm guessing that everyone sized up quite a bit on this pattern. And it's really far too short for her. But the final blow? The bathrobe has been added to the Great Clothing Boycott list of 2008. She loved it in photos, and she thinks it's cute....but she does not like wearing it. Sigh.

I still think the final result is actually quite nice. And if the boycott ever ends, I will actually tackle this pattern once again, this time measuring for proper length and checking all pattern pieces against each other before cutting.

And I did get an awesome bonus -- tons of new household goods made from my leftovers! I have a big set of lovely half-washcloths made from the towel remnants, cute coasters made from the burp cloth leftovers (backed with felt), and as a super-extra bonus, discovered that the burp cloths make the best kitchen towels I have ever had. So good, in fact, that I bought more just for that purpose (and so did my brother)!

the only non-ikea element is the red gingham westfalen bias tape from bunte fabrics.

November 06, 2008

forest friends muriel

The fall sewing checklist continues! Next to be finished was this forest friends muriel, made with some corduroy Emily picked out herself and trimmed with some lovely farbenmix ribbons.

forest friends muriel

I honestly bought the corduroy she wanted without the slightest clue what i was going to do with it. It was only after getting the ribbons and realizing they were a perfect match for the colors in the fabric that the idea for this dress developed.

forest friends muriel - detail

And I have to say, thank goodness for's generous cuts -- I actually only ordered a half yard of the green and without the extra few inches that were actually there I could not have made the dress!! I added an applique based on the adorable deer designed by paulapü to match her ribbons. Someday I'd like to get some of the iron-on motifs made from her designs, or the fabric! So cute!! I am so envious, to have all these cool notions and things made from your designs must be so awesome! (At least I can make fabric, thank you Spoonflower!) Anyway, the applique:

forest friends muriel - applique

Emily declared it cute and then...asked when I would make her "orange stripey dress". Which I didn't know I was making! So...have to start figuring that one out next!

And today (yesterday, actually, I fell asleep before posting this after writing it!), I am thankful for too many things to list. I will just say..yes we did. and yes we will.

the fabrics are Robert Kaufman "cool cords" from; the ribbons were a gift but can be bought at bunte fabrics.

October 31, 2008

bubbling insa and halloween tidbits

Halloween week has been very busy! (And it's not over yet!) We went to the zoo for their Halloween "Spooktacular" where Emily gave cotton candy another try and decided that she does in fact, love it (she had it at the shore this summer and hated it). And, she won 3rd place in the costume contest, which was an experience*.

I dug out her TUK knockoff kitty shoes that match my Tredairs and discovered that the size marked on them was wrong -- if I'd waited to pull them out she'd have never worn them! So, whew. And she loves them!

kitty shoes!!

I finished up this experimental Insa skirt and learned that black corduroy is really, really hard to photograph:

bubbling insa

I made this Insa to see what it would look like without the overskirt, just as a basic skirt, and I was very pleased. I also was experimenting with some bias tape used as trim rather than ribbon. It even has some little bows at the back, which were much harder to make from bias tape than from ribbon!

bubbling insa - back view

Here's a closeup of the bows. I don't love them, but like I said, it was largely an experiment so I'm not going to worry about it. Much!

I also realized I have never posted the shirt I made for myself! It's from the Zoela pattern (the women's version of Zoe, which I've made before)

totally 80s zoela

The body is a very soft cotton baby rib, the sleeves a blend of some sort I picked up a while back. Unfortunately, while the stripes are cool, the fabric is already pilling from the synthetic content it must have. Also unfortunately, I kind of hacked out the applique because I just wanted to be done. But, it fits great and is very comfortable. More Zoelas for me are on my sewing list already!! Maybe even one in velour like Emily's Halloween Zoe!

And now, it's time to get some lunch into a hyper Halloween witch so she has the energy to get through several events today!! Happy Halloween, everybody!!

*To make a very long story not-quite-so-long, I misunderstood the contest and thought it was more of the little kid costume parade type thing I am used to -- no, it was actually a 3-winners-only highly competitive display of bad parenting. A small group of mothers climbed onto the stage and blocked several kids from the judge's view, including Emily -- but the MC called the kids up anyway. Then, these same mothers booed when the last winner -- Emily -- was announced, as none of their kids won. Booed!! All these kids were under 5! I was horrified at their behavior, not to mention the lessons they were teaching their kids, but luckily Emily was oblivious to it and was excited to win when she had misunderstood the contest to be just going up to the judges to see what they thought of your costume.

October 22, 2008


Do you think I might have a little too much single-fold binding there? Considering I just need to edge a tablecloth?

too much binding?

Yup. Too much.

yup, too much binding.

Note the finished tablecloth underneath the apparently untouched mound of binding. I'll be making Halloween-themed linens for the next decade.

October 21, 2008

a bewitching Feliz

So, the famous Feliz! I thought this pattern was stunning when I saw the first examples of it, but I wasn't sure what to do with it -- we have zero call for party dresses around here. But then I realized, I needed to make a dress for Emily's witch costume, and it would be perfect! Here is the result:

Bewitching Feliz

Bewitching Feliz

And here is the little witch making a "witch face":

Halloween Witch

That is not actually her complete outfit -- she is dressed up here for the Halloween party at her playgym (to which I wore this) I am making a heavy top for outdoor events, but I knew it would be a bit warm at the gym so I just put a black tee underneath. There's also a broom and a black cat around here somewhere....I should get complete outfit photos this weekend!

The Feliz is nowhere near as difficult to put together as it might look. There is a lot to do (especially if you go for the ruffled look and have to make and apply them all!), but if you go slowly and carefully it comes together very easily. I only did a few things differently: I hemmed the underskirt before assembling the dress; I basted the straps to the overdress before assembling; and I followed the suggestions here for adding the elastic into the side casings and adding interfacing to the back opening of the overdress. That was definitely necessary -- not only does it make the dress go on and off more easily, but it keeps the dress in place when the sash comes loose. Which will happen a lot, if your Feliz-wearer is like mine:

the witch at the playgym

The twirl on this dress is amazing. Emily is seriously enamored of it -- she insisted on wearing the dress right up until bedtime. So, I think there will be more Felizes in our future, whether or not we need any party dresses! The only things I would do differently: I would cut the overskirt longer and check the length before hemming, after assembly. I also might think about adding facings to the sides of the underdress, while it would make the dress even heavier there, I didn't like the wrong side of the fabric showing at the sides. Not a big deal, and if it wasn't all on black I probably wouldn't even notice. I also might make the whole thing a bit shorter since it will end up in the garden...but for now, we're just enjoying this witchy Feliz!

Halloween Witch

October 18, 2008

spooky skirts and birthday fabric

Matching halloween skirts for me and Emily!

Spooky Rømøs

Both skirts are made using the Rømø pattern I've used before. The base fabric is a "Spooky Hollow for Joann's" cotton I bought years ago and stashed when it went on sale - I've waited all this time for a good reason to use it! Finally! The orange dotted fabric was left over from making Emily's Halloween costume dress (in fact, the ruffle on her skirt was actually made for her dress, I had a big length of ruffle left over and she asked me to put it on her skirt). Here's my skirt alone, and Emily's. Honestly, I think this is my favorite skirt pattern, so simple to put together (both versions) and also so easy to dress up. I just did a facing this time on mine (instead of a full lining) since I will probably not wear it as much, which made it come together even quicker. The girl's version is so easy I'd make Emily 10 of them....if I didn't suspect she is planning to boycott skirts now (as well as pants and sleeves).

I also have to show off this adorable cotton fleece (think really nice sweatshirt) I got for my birthday from my brother! (Well, with the gift certificate he got me from Bunte Fabrics.)

hilco knut fleece

It's called Knut, after the famous polar bear, obviously. So cute!! I think it will be used for a copy of a favored dress Emily is on the verge of growing out of. I will almost hate cutting into it!! I also got the corduroy you can see in this photo, Emily picked that one out from the choices I gave her. NO idea what that's going to be. It's so adorable. I should also note that Bunte Fabrics is having a great sale right now on Japanese canvas fabric as well as lots of other stuff -- if I hadn't already known what I wanted it might have taken me forever to decide what to get!

October 16, 2008

sweet cherry insa!

cherry insa detail

Here's the latest installment in the Autumn sewing blitz -- a cherry corduroy Insa for Emily! This has actually been in the works for ages, ever since we (Emily and I) saw Sara's cherry cord Insa on flickr and Emily insisted that she wanted THAT SKIRT. So, I decided to simply clone Sara's idea and used the exact same Robert Kaufman babywale corduroys for mine! Here's the full view:

cherry insa

Plus, here's a shot of it on the dressform, as the weather has gotten warm again and there's no chance of getting it onto Emily anytime soon. (Also note the completely inconsistent light we have this time of year -- every room a different color.) I ended up almost trimming it identically -- I brought home a very similar green ribbon along with my pink rick rack! But the ribbon didn't wash well so I waited, and then I found that perfect jacquard cherry mini-ribbon. I did not copy the trim on the yoke seam from Sara (she said it is always covered up anyway), and I also added a little medallion that I made from scraps. So, it's not a perfect clone...but it sure is close! Luckily we're continents apart, so no chance of an embarrassing playground faux pas.

The pattern went together incredibly well -- it is a bit long, and definitely too long for a girl who plays in the dirt in her skirts and dresses, so I shortened the yoke quite a bit, and truthfully, I'm happier with the proportions this way. The resulting skirt is really nice, full without much bulk. We like it so much there's a second one underway already!

October 09, 2008

jump rope roxy

Another project has been marked off my Fall sewing list!

roxy in action

This is the farbenmix Roxy tunic/dress pattern, made with some really cute "Katie Jump Rope" Denise Schmidt fabric I got last Xmas (thanks, Hallie!), which I have been itching to use. It's paired with a dot fabric from Quilt Gate I bought a ton of early this year (it went out of print, but I love it as an accent or trim so I stocked up). Unfortunately, I couldn't get an invisible zipper in the orange, so I used a regular one, and I really am not thrilled with that. But, it's not like Emily cares!

Front view:


Back view:


It's finished with some eyelet trim I ran through my new ruffler foot. I also used some rick rack edged elastic on the sleeves, which is cute but was a bit of a pain. I love the pattern -- no adjustments necessary, and the fit is fantastic. The princess seams went together like magic, and the bit of flare it has at the hem is just perfect. I might try puffing the sleeves a bit more next time, but that's just for fun, not because it needs it. And it got raves from Emily! A Roxy will definitely be on the Spring planning list (if I go that long without making another!)

October 01, 2008

fall sewing: the purple edition

I've gotten fall sewing underway, with several projects finished (although, unfortunately the light changes this time of year, making the house glow but making photographs hard to get!) Here are two, both purple at Emily's request. First up is the recycled Henrika:

recycled Henrika

Henrika pattern from Farbenmix, made from some navy cotton rib and a recycled Hanna Andersson playdress (the dotted purple stuff). The skirt is really the original playdress skirt grafted on to the Henrika top. I think it came out really cute, but Emily has declared war on all sleeves, so it may be a while before I get her into it. I had very little trouble with the pattern; the sleeves I chose are long by design but I shortened them a tad anyway.

Also purple, and thankfully without sleeves, is this Noelle skirt, also Farbenmix:


Here it is from the back:

Noelle - back

I love the lacing detail -- I did the topstitching in a decorative stitch that echoed it. Black velvet ribbon trim, sparkly plastic pony beads on the laces for extra oomph! I did run into some trouble with the Noelle pattern, I think this is the first thing I've made for Emily that actually is a bit fitted -- and now I realize that she is a size smaller in width than she is in height. Everything up until now has been slightly boxy in the cut, so it hasn't been noticeable, but to my surprise, the skirt slipped right off! I have it laced as tightly as possible now, and I think over tights it will be fine. But I will have to watch out for this in the future. It was a "shocking surprise" (as Emily likes to say) because I still think of her as the roly-poly bundle she once was, but that was about 2 years ago now....oops! I will definitely use this pattern again, but I will measure more carefully on all fitted patterns from now on! (And I've already recut one I was working on.)

September 25, 2008

wiki wiki wiki wiki!

Just a quick note to let all you sewists out there know -- I've started a wiki at wikia for farbenmix and studioTantrum/Fledge patterns, and if you have made even one, please come by and add some info! Take a few minutes to fill in an entry, or add links to your blog or even your sewing notes! If enough people help fill it all in, we'll have a great resource for everyone who loves these patterns!!

And now, because Nancy went and put it into my head, the original "wiki" song:

September 16, 2008

what's up, baby cheetah?

Here's a possibly-finished work-in-progress:

cheetah quiara

It's a top for Emily, made from some cotton baby rib and some recycled fabric from a favored pair of "cheetah" PJs (which I know some of you will recognize!). The pattern is QUIARA from Farbenmix, which I have made before and really like. The problem? The kitty's face. We all have different opinions on how to finish it. I was thinking maybe button eyes, but I couldn't find any buttons I liked. Evan likes it the way it is. And Emily thinks every little detail should be embroidered in. Any suggestions? (I'm starting to think that if it sits long enough, my lazy streak will win out the more we will all get used to it and decide to leave it as is.)

By the way, this shirt was the start of my Fall/Winter sewing! And if it's done, it's the first thing I finished on my Fall sewing list. Yay!

September 10, 2008

the end of summer...sewing, that is

I recently wrapped up the last stragglers from my summer sewing pile and now that's all done. First, I finally finished this butterfly pinafore and matching Hannah top that had been sitting for a while; I had run out of the dot fabric and had to track another half a yard down! The butterfly fabric I picked up a while back, Emily picked it out off my fabric shelf. (There's plenty left so I think we'll be seeing it again next year!) The top I trimmed with FOE (fold-over elastic), which I have been using for a few years, but not on clothes. I didn't like it as much as just a regular inserted elastic, but I may warm up to the effect. Overall, not an outfit I am in love with, but Emily's happy so I'm happy.

And finally, my very last Summer 2008 sewing project: the mini-Rømø!


After I made mine, Emily wanted one to match. She also wanted a ruffle just like her doll Lilli's (it's hard to see in that pic, but the doll's top has a pleated organza ruffle). And a different ribbon. (The demands ended there, thank goodness.) The hard part was getting her to settle on what she wanted, once that was done, the skirt went together super-fast, and she was wearing it that day:

mini-römö in action

Note the coordinated pajama top and garden hose!!

And's time to get cracking on fall and winter...a few things are done, and more are in the pipeline...I can't wait!

August 10, 2008

this is... a work in progress

I've just recently discovered this is... and have decided to join in the fun! This is my favorite work in progress at the moment, or at least the most photogenic...part of Emily's fall wardrobe! I don't usually get that into the trim, but she's been asking for it more and more as she gets increasingly girly these days. This is the piece I'm most excited about from my fall sewing slate. What is it? You'll have to wait and see!! (And no, orange and black doesn't mean Halloween, either. Just two of her favorite colors!)

this is...sunday aug 9th

July 14, 2008

the horizontal dart

I'm getting questions and comments about the horizontal dart, so here's a pic:

RÖMÖ skirt -- the dart

Okay, that's an online edit of the original, not a new detail photo but I think you can see the dart clearly? So basically, every a-line skirt I've ever seen had vertical darts that led to the waist. This pattern has four horizontal darts that hit around the hip area, left and right, front and back. The waist curve is much deeper than usual, but when you sew the dart, it all pulls into this nice curvy shape. Honestly, I didn't think it would work since I'd never seen it done before (and found no examples on google of such a thing) but it actually fits better than patterns I've used in the past with the usual darts to the waist. I'm totally sold!!

I made no adjustments to the pattern at all, just figured out my european pattern size (on Ottobre's size charts, which you can download as a pdf here, btw) and cut the pattern out. So far, farbenmix has yet to disappoint! (if you're interested, take a look at the official design gallery.)

July 13, 2008

skirts ahoy!

So, we're (mostly) back to speed now. Emily was luckily only sick briefly; Evan and I developed horrible (and I mean horrible) sinus infections that are just now finally winding down. So now the catching up begins in earnest!

I got my replacement Spoonflower fabric quickly and the grainline is much straighter -- still a bit off but nothing like that first batch. One thing I did notice -- the colors are slightly different on the monster fabric (not on the milk & cheese fabric), not obviously, but just a tiny bit brighter. So you're definitely going to want to treat each print run as a new dye lot and don't expect to piece them together. Although, sometimes you'll be able to (just like different dye lots of regular fabric, yarn or whatever). Order the amount you need in one go! And what's happening to all this lovely fabric? Well, I haven't been able to get back to making any more stuff (sorry for those of you waiting!) but Emily finally got her wish. It's not a dress, but I think it may work even better than my original idea:

monster skirt

The pattern is the same Japanese pattern I used for her brown polka dot skirt; the solid tiers are a pink denim I've had forever (which was still slightly less stiff than the spoonflower fabric), and the trim is a "mauve" velvet ribbon. She was wearing it within oh....15 minutes of it being finished? The fabric works well pieced in like this, I think I will keep trying to come up with ways to work with it.

Then I decided that I really needed to start trying to sew for myself as well..and this is the result:

RÖMÖ skirt

It's the farbenmix Rømø skirt pattern (which is actually a mother-daughter pattern in all sizes!), made out of some....ah! Amy Butler fabric. I bought this from someone I knew because I liked the color and the silhouette pattern. It's lined instead of faced, and trimmed with more velvet ribbon (plum, this time). It's very comfortable, and fits well. The horizontal darts kind of freaked me out but they actually work! The only thing I don't like about it is that I had to use a regular zipper as my local hellhole Joanns had invisible zippers in about NO sizes and NO colors. I'm thinking this'll be great as a winter skirt in something heavier, too! But first...Emily wants a matching skirt. Luckily, I have fabric leftover and this pattern includes her size! If the kid version is as easy as the mom version it'll be done in no time at all.

Anyway, more later as we slowly catch up!

June 10, 2008

mocca and the moomin dress

This past weekend we had a heatwave -- and the 2008 Mocca art fest to attend (see pics!). Spending two days of the heatwave inside a nice air-conditioned hall was pretty alright. Until the building was evacuated on Sunday, that is. In what was supposedly over 100 degrees. But still, a good show for us, and lots of fun for Emily -- this was her fourth and she's not jaded yet!

Friday I finished her Moomin dress (using the farbenmix pattern Vida, with panels made of vintage finnish Moomin fabric, and heck was that hard to get hold of). We all love Moomins here (more on that some other day), but she is crazy for them in the way only a 3-year-old can be (note the "mymble knot" hairstyle -- this alternates with "pippi tails", i.e. pigtails as her regular style). She was so excited that her dress (starring! Little! My!) was done she insisted on wearing it to Mocca on Saturday (and then again today, to tell the truth!). I was really happy with the dress, the pattern is excellent. But here, I'll just show you! I got some cute pics of it while she was running around in our little corner.


the moomin dress!


the moomin dress!

I did not get a photo of the faced hem, which was a fun detail to add. if you see the underside of the skirt there is a very wide band of bright yellow dotted fabric. I needed to do a faced hem because of the Moomin fabric (I was barely ekeing those panels out as it was and couldn't afford a hem allowance!) so I decided to have some fun with it. It came out pretty cute -- even though it was extra work I will definitely do it again! The pattern was a little intimidating (so many pieces!) but actually incredibly easy and quick to put together. And lots of room to grow -- I think this dress will wear out before she grows out of it!

As an added bonus, she ate lunch out of her Moomin bento box both days (thanks uncle tim!!!) -- no photos, but it was nothing exciting (grapes, macaroni, and cutout pancakes). She was a happy Moomin-loving girl all weekend. And to the shore to get out of this heat!!

June 04, 2008

it's strawberry season!

We all love strawberries here -- we eat them in season, and I freeze them in sugar for strawberry bread and as puree for Emily's yogurt. Hopefully we will get a chance to go and pick them this year, but our June is pretty packed so maybe it'll have to wait. (Someday, I'll have a deep freeze full of berries all year!) Emily also loves strawberries on her clothes, so I made her this shirt this week:

strawberry shirt

Some polka-dot jersey and pink interlock, plus a little green baby-rib from an old t-shirt. The pattern is Zoe from Farbenmix -- it looks a little like a rashguard to me, but it came out pretty cute. Emily certainly loves it! Strawberry and stem were freehanded and then cut out. (Is that even English?) I also tried the Farbenmix-recommended triple zig-zag on the hems, and I actually really like it a lot. I will definitely be doing that on knits from here on out! I did not try the recommended ironing-the-shirt-before-you-take-a-photo technique there, apparently. Oops!

If you are in a strawberry locale, I hope you enjoy your June berries as much as we do!!

April 27, 2008

new clothes for emily! and; why there aren't more...

Finished up two new projects over the last couple weeks while all the deadline craziness was going on. First up was this dress:

cherry dress

The pattern is from the Spring 2008 Ottobre Design magazine, and it was my first Ottobre project. Really very simple and I was really happy with the results. The dress came out a bit short, but we found leggings that went with it perfectly and the outfit has already been worn to a friend's wedding and looked great. Emily actually spotted this cherry print online and asked for it! She was happy to finally get her "cherry dress".

And want to know why don't I get more done? Look at this photo and check out that print lined up on that back seam. Why did I do that? That's called being totally anal overly meticulous. I mean, it's a kid's dress. She'll have grown out of it by Fall. Note to self: relax.

Then I finished up this little top:

a top like Nele's

it's another farbenmix pattern, "Hannah". I shortened the sleeves, accidentally cut off part of the seam allowance and Emily made me cut off almost 4" from the bottom. And it's still a bit blousy on her, so I'm going to say this one runs kinda big. Still cute on, though! It was originally just going to be a plain basic for wearing under jumpers, but she insisted on a heart applique so she would have a top "like her Nele doll".

Next up: if Emily has her way, it will be Robot Pajamas. She asks for them every day. The fabric is here, now I'd best get looking through my patterns!

March 06, 2008

the bunny dress!

After the muno dress, I was ready to do more experimenting with appliques, and this was my next project: the bunny dress!

bunny dress!

The dress itself is the "Anna" pattern from Farbenmix, it's a wrap dress that's basically two aprons attached at the shoulders -- sounds weird, but works well and will grow with her really well. And a great canvas for doing things like this! The front section is more of the pink fabric left over from the muno dress; the back is a cotton dot I got from someone I know, Emily specifically asked me to use it in her next dress.

The bunny is based on an applique design from a vintage pattern I have -- I redrew it a bit and had to totally redo the dress pattern because the original didn't fit on the bunny's body!! (I felt sorry for all the 50s mom's who tried to make that pattern work and had to go throw back a martini after a couple hours struggling with it.) I was pretty happy with this, it was my first "mixed media" attempt in sewing -- the bunny is a cotton knit, the faces (there's a little bunny face on the back as well) are all embroidered, then the dress was sewn as a flat piece and applied on top.

Embroidering the faces was interesting -- I hadn't embroidered anything in years (and I mean years) so I was totally winging it. I didn't honestly even know what stitch I was using, I just sort of did it intuitively. (It turned out to be a split stitch, which later experiments prove to be my favorite for linework.) And I used some sort of sloppy satin stitch on the eyes, which turned out okay but sent me to the computer to request a couple of embroidery books from the library (I do have some needlework books, but they're packed up...somewhere...). But I think they came out fine, regardless of my less-than-precise approach. Here's a detail of the front bunny, and here's the little bunny face on the back.

I really love the pattern, in fact I've already used it again for Emily's Girl's Day dress! I'll be taking a break from it for a bit, but I'll definitely be making more Annas. And I will definitely be doing more embroidery!! I'd forgotten how much fun it can be!

February 07, 2008

The Secret Of The Hidden Dress!

We had a lot of things go missing this year. Some turned up, some didn't...but one of the most frustrating near-losses was this dress! least the story has a happy ending:

the long-lost dress

I bought the fabric right before or after Emily was born, thinking I'd make a little dress (it's the out-of-print and actually hard to get Alexander Henry Flora de los Muertos print). When I finally had time to sew, I decided to hold off since she was growing our of her clothes so fast. This spring, I finally cut it out, found matching leggings and got ready to sew it together for the warm weather. vanished! I looked everywhere, on and off for months. I re-opened packed boxes, checked with people I'd shipped things to, you name it. I finally decided to write it off and spent months tracking down just 1 single yard of the same fabric to re-do the dress. Before I could cut it out -- Evan found the pieces of this one! I'd packed them all up (I keep projects I'm working on in ziploc bags to keep from losing pieces) and the whole bag had slipped behind the china cabinet in the dining room. Yay!! And luckily, a generous enough pattern that it'll still fit this year. I put it all together, made some matching buttons and at last...the hidden dress comes out of the shadows!

January 24, 2008

the brobee dress has a friend!

muno dress

Emily has been asking for a "real" muno dress ever since I designed one for her Animal Crossing character. Finally I figured out how best to do it and let her pick out a dress pattern and fabric color for the base. Muno is appliqued with raw edges out of knit fabrics (the black is actually from a t-shirt that was too big!). She loves it, and it's super-cute on! Unfortunately for me, she immediately listed off for me the 10 or so characters she wants dresses of, including a Yo Gabba Gabba character that's been seen twice for mere seconds!! Yikes!! I told her, maybe later.....

(update: I've finally finished up a Yo Gabba Gabba dress how-to entry, if you're looking for tips on making your own, check it out!)

November 02, 2007

pirate baby!

why is she so happy?

Our happy little pirate, trick-or-treating! What you can't see in this photo: the cute little pirate cutlass, her skull-face trick-or-treat bag (from Target!), her dog's eyepatch and matching bag. You can see a little bit more here.

The costume has two main pieces: first, a real dress she can keep wearing, with a skull-and-bones bodice and pirate-striped skirt. I had a lot of trouble with the dress, actually, but finally found a pattern that worked perfectly. (Thank you Joann's 99 cent pattern sales!) Easy, buttons instead of a zipper, and very finished-looking when done. I'll definitely be making more dresses from it. My only problem? They were sold out of her size, and I had to scale down a size 4 pattern. It worked out alright, luckily.

On top of the dress is a separate jacket -- big thanks to Jenna (of Glamarama and Tartlette fame) who sent me lots of pirate advice and a link to a McCall's fairy costume pattern that I was able to adapt by adding sleeves and a belt. I lined it in taffeta to try and make it more comfortable (Emily is anti-top-layers) and also did a faux buckle effect with velcro underneath so she could get out of it fast if it really bothered her. I don't think she'll be wearing it for fun, but she did tolerate it long enough to actually trick-or-treat.

The hat was a cheapo hat from Joann's, doctored up with gold trim and a copy of the skull-and-bones from Brobee's hat. All in all, a costume we were all happy with. And Emily now has a pirate dress to wear until she grows out of it -- or wears it out, she is crazy for her pirate dress, I think is it now 2nd only to the Brobee dress in her wardrobe hierarchy!

I hope you all had a Halloween as fun as Emily's!!

August 16, 2007

Yo Gabba Crafty!

Okay, so yes, obviously I need to change the name of this site to "I PIMP FOR YO GABBA GABBA", I know. But this one actually isn't exactly about the's about Emily's favorite new dress!

the brobee dress!

Presenting -- the Brobee Dress! Somehow I bent time and space to sew this up for Emily while we were working...

How it happened is this: a little while back, we got our season 1 crew shirts. Emily kept asking if she could have one, and so I decided to turn one of them into a dress for her! No pattern, I freehanded it on paper and then draped it on her dressform (and I have to tell you, having a dressform for her made making this a breeze!), and I was really happy with the result. The contrasting bits are some cotton blend jersey that I thought would match, the main body of the dress is all cut from a M sized shirt. I was even able to cut around the logo on the back, thank goodness for today's oversized shirts! The dress has been a huge success -- too huge, in fact. She would wear it every single day, no joke, if I could somehow let her. It is going to wear out long before she grows out of it. After we get back from Toronto I'm going to see about making a Muno dress from the same pattern, this time there's no shirt so I'll probably applique him on.

Speaking of getting back, we are packing up as I type and getting ready to leave for the Toronto Comic Art Festival -- we're looking forward to the semi-vacation and hope to see some of you there!

And if you're not going, don't forget to tune in next Monday to the premiere episode of Yo Gabba Gabba! I'm not 100% sure what ended up in which episode, but I think one or two of the segments we worked on will air next week.

See you next week!

(update: I've finally finished up a Yo Gabba Gabba dress how-to entry, if you're looking for tips on making your own, check it out!)

April 17, 2007

apron swap update

emily's apron

Here's the apron we got from Megan for the swap - finally got a decent photo of it out of the little imp! Isn't it adorable? And HUGE POCKETS!! It also reverses to the opposite color scheme. Thanks again, Megan!!

April 09, 2007

my mini swap!

Our third What's Cookin' apron swap has come to a close, and I think it was my favorite one yet! The theme was mini aprons, made for each other's kids. I was really happy with what I made, and Emily and I were both thrilled with what we got!

First, my apron. I was making this apron for six-year old Ada, and after reading her likes and dislikes, my idea came together almost instantly for once. I scaled up this apron I'd designed for Emily, and used this adorable bunny fabric I had on hand (okay, actually I ordered more to use later and used what I had here while I waited for my order!). I thought the resulting apron was really cute, and apparently so does Ada!

swap apron

I also made little sister Esme a matching bib she can wear while she watches Ada cook:

swap bib

And here are the matching recipe cards to go with the apron!

swap recipe cards

I included one of our family's favorite recipes, one for strawberry bread. Imagine my surprise -- they grow strawberries and will have plenty of opportunity to make this bread come (real) spring!)

And as for Emily's apron, well, she is a reluctant model this week. So hopefully Megan will be posting a photo, because it's an adorable art smock with polka dots (one of Em's favorite motifs)! Megan and her little boy Canaan also included recipes chosen by Canaan and a book, Joey and Jet In Space, which Emily is in love with. (She loves rockets and space!)

Thanks to everyone who participated and made our swap so much fun!

December 02, 2006

more apron swap goodness

And this is the apron that I made for the swap, which I made for Sara:

winter swap apron

I went with a winter theme and tried to follow her likes (sparkly, blue, not too foofy). I had some serious moments of doubt - first, when I got the giant snowflake fabric I began to think I was insane for coming up with this idea. Then of course, we were gone for a good bit of the month, and I didn't think I'd be able to finish it. But, somehow I did, and I was really happy with the final result! Here's a closeup of the under-layer with its loose snowflakes:

winter apron detail

And here's a pic of the recipe cards and a few extras (a matching goody bag with gelt, and some rose tea for relaxing):

winter swap extras

So all-in-all, two very successful swaps so far. Can't wait til the next one! (of course, I know what the theme is, hahahaha!)

December 01, 2006

it's my party...

and while I'm not really in the party mood, as hostess I kind of have to show up, don't I? Today is the big reveal day (well, weekend, starting today) for the second What's Cookin' apron swap and I have to say, I am pleased as punch about the fabulous apron that I got! Check it out:

what's cookin' swap apron

the theme was "holiday hostess" -- a party/hostess apron with either a holiday (of the recipient's choosing) or winter theme. Debi drew my name and obviously went with the winter theme. And seriously, those fabrics look like I chose them myself! Vintage-y blues and yellows to go with my kitchen, a cool mid-century asterisk pattern on the yellow and snowflakes (and I love snowflakes) on the overlay. Here's a closeup of the pocket so you can see the fabrics better:

swap apron pocket

That pocket detail makes me think this may have been made from a vintage pattern, or is inspired by a vintage apron. But I'm just guessing here. Debi also sent me matching recipe cards with 2 great-looking holiday recipes, and a little ornament which was immediately stolen from me by a little baby! So all-in-all, fabulous guesswork and/or research by Debi to make an apron that I seriously might have made myself. I mean, it's scary how totally "me" it is. Thanks, Debi!!

As for the apron that I made...I'll post about that as soon as I know it's been safely received!

November 01, 2006

halloween baby!

big and little cheburashkas

Emily's 2nd Halloween, and her first one with a slight clue what was going on. I made her this Cheburashka costume, which has great significance to us but which I knew would be interpreted by most people as a teddy bear (although a few people thought she was a puppy!) I had a serious moment of doubt working on this costume...I didn't think I could pull it off since I was winging most of it. But then everything clicked and it ended up working out fine. Furry felt is pretty awesome, although I feel like washing it would destroy it completely. And I'm not sure how comfortable it actually was -- but she didn't complain a bit, and even kept her hands inside the little paw-mittens!

We took her to the mall for their big trick-or-treat thing. She liked looking at the other kids a lot, didn't like adults talking to her so much, and ended up pretty overwhelmed:

cheburashka at the mall

She sure looked cute though! Next year: real door-to-door trick-or-treating! Well, maybe.

Best costumes at the mall: two little asian boys dressed as yellow-track-suit Bruce Lee and a Shaolin Monk. Their mom was really happy that Evan recognized both costumes!

July 27, 2006

finishing projects

Ah! Got a few things finished off that had been hanging around the house, making me feel guilty. First up, my matching craft (or beet-cutting, or tomato-sauce-making) apron to go with Emily's:

big dot apron

This was an easy one, it was cut out and all I needed to do was stitch the bias tape around all the edges (and I just left extra at the corners for the ties!). I still have some of this laminated fabric left, and now I'm thinking...matching placemats!!

I also finished up this crossover top I had made for Emily:

ladybug top

It's modified from one of the many patterns that are out there for this perennial -- I altered it to copy a top I had as a kid. I don't have the original top or pattern, but what I did have was a little copy of it that one of my parents made for a doll I had! The main change is that the front is straight across, and in the back the wrap part is cut at a different angle. Mmmm, hard to describe actually, you'll just have to take my word for it. Anyway, it had been done for a bit, just needed buttonholes and buttons. Check out the cute little ladybug buttons I'd forgotten I had!

July 16, 2006

aprons, aprons, everywhere!

So this weekend was the big (if virtual) apron swapping party! I hope everyone who participated was as happy with the results as I was -- I loved the apron I made and the apron that I got! First, here's what I made:

what's cookin' 1 - baking theme

I drew Heather, who loves to bake, and ended up going with a baking theme for my apron and recipes. I happened to have this really cute baking themed retro fabric in a wishlist, without any idea what to use it for. And when Heather posted a link to this apron (as a "dream" apron) I was totally inspired by the ruffle motif, and came up with the design you see above. I was really happy with the ruffle on mine, although I didn't get a good pic before sending it off. I was so happy with this apron, in fact, that I made one for myself as well! And then...I made a little matching one for Emily!

baking apron mini!

I was already in a mini-apron mood, because I made a craft/play apron for Emily's pal Tess' birthday gift -- it's a reversible apron, with one side laminated for messy crafts:

reversible mini apron - craft side

and the other side a pretty floral to go with her kitchen when she "cooks":

reversible mini apron - cooking side

And yes, Emily has a match of that one, too!

Finally, here's the apron I got from my partner, Crystal:

my apron!

It's so cute! And it really is exactly what I was hoping people would get from this swap -- something that you really like that you would never think to make for yourself. She also sent me some recipes I'm dying to try (well, the empanadas will have to wait, the oven is verboten for the next month or so) and some other goodies. See?


Now you might think that's enough aprons for now but...I think I need an apron to match the mini craft apron. And Emily needs (for real) an art smock or something, because those washable crayons? Guess what, they don't always wash out! So stay tuned for more aprony goodness!

May 15, 2006

All Purpose and Kitchen Tested!!


I'm excited to finally unveil a project my galpal Mary and I have been working on for literally months -- What's Cookin', an apron & recipe swap. The idea is to swap handmade aprons and some of your favorite recipes with like-minded crafty types. I think it'll be lots of fun, so if the idea sounds at all interesting, come on over and read all about it. And maybe I'll see you in the sign-up list!

March 24, 2006

clothing make-overs!

boba jumper

I've always been really into the idea of cutting down old clothes that still had some wear left in them into kid's clothes -- but until now, I didn't have a kid to re-make anything for! Now that I do, I've started experimenting with the idea. I already had cut down some old pajamas into a pair of pants, which worked out great (and also remade a pair of footed leggings into cuffed pants, making them last an extra 3-4 months!). And this week I finished the best project so far, this cute little geek-baby Boba Fett jumper! The pattern came from a Japanese pattern magazine; the fabric came from this ILM staff shirt someone gave Evan a while back. It was very cool, but big and starting to wear around the collar. So I decided it was the perfect subject.

First, I made a test jumper, using a very old and raggedy cotton shirt I'd bought at Pearl River Mart maybe a decade ago. It came out cute, but halfway through I realized the fabric was worse off than I'd thought, so I cheated and used velcro on the tabs. It looks good on her anyway. And once that came out well, I went for the Boba shirt.

I only had two real challenges: first, the back had the ILM logo across it, so I had to piece the jumper's back to avoid it. Second, I haven't sewn a buttonhole in so long, I apparently forgot how. Several test buttonholes later, I decided to cheat! So those are actually fakes, with snaps sewn on underneath. Maybe next time...

Now we have a small stack of favorite-but-worn t-shirts to be made-over for the next few years. Evan can't wait til I get to his Batboy shirt, but it's so huge, I don't think she'll be getting that one til she's 3 or 4. Jumpers ahoy!

November 22, 2005

this apron has a story

Since the Tie One On holiday theme was extended to December 1st (whew!) for November I want to share this apron with you instead. Now, if you know me well enough to know how I dress, you're probably thinking "white eyelet? that doesn't seem like you..." and you'd be right. No, I'd never pick white eyelet for an apron -- too lacy, too frou frou, too white (me and white clothes are a bad thing together...can you say immediate food spill?). But the thing is, I didn't pick it out. I bought this pattern because I'd been wanting this particular design for an apron project I had in mind (and still haven't started!), but the copy I found came complete with someone's pinned and cut fabric! I decided to go ahead and complete the apron on behalf of the original owner, and it was a really cool thing to do. There's no way to know when the fabric was cut out or why it was never sewn together, but I had a lot of fun speculating and thinking about the idea of finishing someone else's project for them. I hope someone would do the same for me!

I did have to make one alteration in the pattern though -- the shoulder straps are meant to cross over the back and button to the waistband, but when I tried on the apron to figure out where the buttons should go I discovered that the straps didn't get anywhere near the waistband! This pattern was definitely not meant for someone who's 5'10". So I converted the straps to a halter and it worked out just fine.

Here's to whoever started this apron -- glad I could finish that up for you!

this apron has a storysimplicity 1756
(photos link to larger images)

October 31, 2005

tie one on - October!

apron-oct-thumb.jpgThe theme for this month was mixed media and my apron is done! Update: Gallery is up!

I worked my way through a ton of plans on this one, unlike the other two. Originally, I wanted to do potato prints of kitcheny icons. But, I couldn't find fabric paint in the colors I wanted, and I couldn't find fabric I thought was suitable for making the actual apron. So I had just about resigned myself to not doing it at all.

But then, on the way back from the symposium at Duke, we stopped to get gas and found this huge thrift store (where I bought a bunch of cookbooks and some baby clothes for Emily) -- and in the linen section was the perfect dishtowel for making an apron! And amazingly. still clean and white (it was from a linen service, and the others were all stained) So I brought it home and did a quick-and-easy dishtowel apron. But then, what to put on it?

The potato prints were out, I had never found the colors I wanted. At first I thought of doing a comic (maybe of someone making a recipe or something) but I realized I'd never have the time to write it, much less draw it. Then I got the idea to do a mini-version of our House of Fun classic series "Life's Great Rewards" (these strips are pages of small panels, each containing iconic things we love. Evan and I have both done them.) but I couldn't settle on which things to draw. As I was trying to make a list in my head, I realized I was mostly thinking of food. And mostly, food that started with a "C"!

So, thus was born this month's apron, "C Is For...". Drawn freehand on a dishtowel apron in marker (panels ruled with a piece of junk mail) and colored in design markers.

Tie one on OctoberTie one on OctoberTie one on October
(photos link to larger images)

September 28, 2005

tie one on - September

toosept-thumb.jpg This month's tie one on assignment was to make an apron from a tea towel (or dish towel, kitchen towel, bar towel, etc.) Easy as pie, and after one false start (okay, maybe not as easy as pie) I had this cute pink apron made from a vintage kitchen towel.

Continue reading "tie one on - September" »

September 22, 2005

Instant baby bibs!

Well, practically instant, anyway, and depending on the materials you use, they may even be free!

Continue reading "Instant baby bibs!" »

September 02, 2005

the apron!

Sarah's apron on flickr
Originally uploaded by angry chicken.
So, here's the apron. Obviously, the full-size one is on the left. It's based on a vintage "hostess apron" pattern that I have. Unfortunately, the photo is not so good and Crushy slept on the apron for a few hours before I took the photo, making things worse. (Cats and fabric -- argh!!) The mini apron is for a Gene-sized doll, and fared much better -- no sleepy cat laying all over it, for one thing. The scale of the smaller one makes the fabric much stiffer, and makes me want to redo the pattern in a taffeta or something, I think it looks much better. I also like the bows better on the smaller one -- I did them that way because it was easier but they turned out nicer. It's a nice size and the pockets are great, if a bit deep. So I think I'll definitely rework this pattern in the future. Still, even though I'm not 100% happy with the results here, it was just pretty exciting to participate in something for the first time since that BABY arrived. ^_^

September 01, 2005

a project!

OMG! Like, a project! Very little in the way of projecty stuff has been going on around here since the arrival of the E.M.I.L.Y. cyborg. But, a friend of mine came across the very cool tie one on site and since I love sewing, love aprons (but, oddly, never remember to actually wear them) and have recently actually started two pretty major apron projects it seemed like a perfect thing to try. I've submitted my very badly photographed results and hopefully they'll make it into the August gallery. Sheesh, some people can pull off a gorgeous illustration every week in their spare time, me, I'm excited about a simple apron once a month. Or less.

July 04, 2002

schoolkid's smocks

Ugh. Jury duty awaits me Monday. I live in fear of somehow getting put on some 2-month trial. Even after trying to work ahead I still will have to start working again by the middle of the week. Blech. In good news, even in the rotten heat I finished a new project yesterday -- the adult-size-japanese-kindergarten-smock project. I love those smocks and I needed some sort of loose and light long-sleeved cover up for gardening and messy jobs. Unfortunately I had to extrapolate the pattern myself from tiny directions in a Japanese sewing book -- but attempt #2 came out great. It's just cheap muslin with some leftover purple linen for pockets and trim, very comfortable, will protect my arms and clothes perfectly. Not exactly flattering but that's not the point. Now that the pattern is worked out I want to make one up in cute fabric or with silly pockets. And I want my nephew to get bigger so I can make him one -- I have instructions for making one that looks like an Ultraman costume!




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