7.22.2014

How Many Times Do You Have To Sew The Waikiki Swimsuit Before You Get To Go To Waikiki?


We're doing things a little backwards around here today, because the fabric that I used to sew this latest little swimsuit is actually leftover from a swimsuit that I sewed for myself.  In case you're wondering where that swimsuit is - it's around and I definitely plan to post about it at some point, but we have people staying at our house for the next couple of weeks and I'd rather avoid the awkward conversation that inevitably comes about when people see you taking picture of yourself in a bathing suit.  So, for the time being you're left with pictures of C in her new swimsuit.  Fortunately, she's the cuter of the two of us. 


If you're thinking that this swimsuit pattern looks familiar, you're definitely right because I've made it four (!) times already (twice in some vintage rainbow fabric and twice in some yummy cherry fabric.  I'll admit that I may just have an issue when it comes to matching bathing suits for the girls).  The pattern is the Waikiki Swimsuit pattern from Peekaboo patterns and in case it isn't obvious, I'm kind of in love with it.  It's super-simple to sew, the ruffle and binding allows for some fun fabric combinations, and the halter design makes it really easy to fit to your child.

Child too small?  Tie the ties a little shorter.
Child grows?  Tie the ties a little longer.

Now, that's an alteration that I can do!  I've been tempted to sew the straps down to change the look of the bathing suit since I've made it with a halter neck so many times, but I think I'd miss how adjustable the ties are. 


Now I may be a bit of a hypocrite because I just mentioned how this bathing suit allows for fun fabric combinations, but if you look at this suit you'll notice that I made it using only one fabric (a lovely print from Spandex House).  What can I say?  I was trying to use leftovers.  I also made the suit in a fabric that is pretty fantastic for adults, but perhaps a little boring for a little kid's suit.  Honestly, I think my child does find it a bit lackluster (after all, it doesn't look like Disney threw up all over it - her preferred look), but I kind of love the simplicity of the look.  And I think it might be growing on her too because while she absolutely refused to try the swimsuit on when I first finished it, she only had to be bribed with gummy bears to take these pictures 

Now that's what I call progress.

7.21.2014

Just Like The Old Days


When I first started sewing, I sewed dresses almost exclusively.

Fitted dresses.  Flared dresses.  Long dresses.  Short dresses.

You name it, I spent all night sewing it.


But overtime I kind of lost my love of sewing dresses.  Possibly because I really don't wear a ton of dresses in everyday life.  Probably because nowadays I tend to be drawn to simpler projects and fitting clothes kind of gives me a headache.  And honestly, I'm not particularly good at fitting clothes to my body.  I totally use cheater methods and anybody who knows anything about proper fitting techniques would no doubt shake their head at my lack of skills.

But despite all this, I did it anyway.  Sew a dress, that is.


Don't be too impressed, though, because I basically sewed this dress (New Look 6557) once already -although that dress died an unfortunate death at the hands of my serger.  Knowing that it fit fairly well the first time around, though, gave me the motivation to try my hand at sewing dresses once again.  Plus, once I decided to make this dress, I found that I had the perfect amount of an ombre batik fabric in my stash.  It's almost like it was meant to be.

Just like last time the dress came together fairly easily although I did find myself scratching my head at the point where I was supposed to sew on the back facings.  In the end, I'm pretty sure that I didn't do it right but I've come to realize that pattern instructions are not the end all, be all and if I can figure out an alternative method that works just as well, then good for me.  In making the dress I also opted to interface the front of the midriff and I added a facing for that piece as well to cover the interfacing.  Also, I took off about three and a half inches in the length of the skirt after it was all sewn up because it hit at a weird point on my leg and I like the look of a knee-length skirt better.  I also hand-sewed the hem because I wanted to avoid a visible hem, but it ended up being a fortuitous decision because it helped with easing in the flared skirt at the hem.


As for fitting modifications, I used my cheater methods once again and took about an inch off of the upper back through the placement of the invisible zipper.  And because you fit the straps at the very end of making the dress I was able to make sure that the dress fit around the bust by adjusting the length of the straps.  Part of me wonders if I should have fit the dress better around the bust, but another part of me knows that I tend to over-fit dresses which makes them fit perfectly when you're standing straight up, but makes them way too tight when you do anything else (like bend, or walk, or engage in anything that requires even a small range of motion).


In any case, it's done.  I sewed a dress.  It's just like the old days.

Only with a few more wrinkles and gray hairs.

7.13.2014

You Biked 200 Miles? Well, I Sewed A Dress. It Looks Like We're Even.

A wonderful thing happened this weekend.


I found my sewing mojo.

Because while Ben spent all day Saturday biking the STP, (in his handmade jersey, thank you very much) I spent all day Saturday holed up in my basement sewing like a machine.


First up in my weekend creations - a Popover Dress by Oliver and S (which just so happens to be a free pattern on their website).  You see, O's all-time favorite dress is a super-simple sundress that her grandma brought back for her from Cambodia.  She started wearing it several years ago when it was way too long but now it's almost too short for her so I figured that it was time to attempt to create a replacement.  Fortunately, the Popover Dress is pretty similar in design to O's current favorite dress, making it the perfect pattern for operation "dress replacement."


I really didn't make many any big changes to the pattern except that I added 6 inches of width to both the front and back panels because I knew that I wanted the dress to be nice and flowy.  I just gathered up the extra fabric when sewing the pieces together and it worked out perfectly.  I kind of wish that the straps were a bit thinner but I'll just have to remember that for next time around.  And like most Oliver and S patterns, the dress came together like a dream.


But let's talk about this fabric because that's what I'm most excited about.  You see, quite a while ago my sister brought me a packet of fabric from Pakistan with three different cotton lawns in it.  One fabric was a solid color and the others had two different patterns on them.  According to the picture on the packet I guess I was supposed to use the fabric to sew this...


...but I didn't because I'm a total rebel.  I used the super soft plain cotton to line these shorts last year and I've been scheming about what to make with the other fabrics ever since.  And if I'm being completely honest, I was also greedily holding onto the fabrics because I wanted to make myself something with them.


In the end, though, I knew that a fabric with such a beautiful border print would make a kick-ass sundress (and sadly the fabric piece wasn't big enough to make a sundress for me).  So in an attempt to be a good mom, I cut into my beautiful fabric and made this little sundress for O.


Fortunately, O is a really great recipient of handmade goods.   Every time I make something for her, she always asks if she can wear it the rest of the day.  My other one, however, is a less grateful recipient and often has to be bribed to even try on handmade clothes.  If it were up to her she'd wear polyester clothes with Disney princesses and My Little Ponies on them all day.

You win some, you lose some.

7.10.2014

What To Title Your Post When You Have So Little Motivation That You Can't Even Come Up With A Title


Well, it appears that I've lost the ability to do two things recently:

1) Get anything done and
2) Put together a semi-complete sentence.

I had high hopes of being a master of productivity in my time off between school quarters but I seem to have lost all motivation to do anything that requires a modicum of brain power.  If anybody happens to find my missing motivation, let me know.  But in the meantime, just know that we are loving the beginning of summer around here and are looking forward to the months to come.


You hear that summer?

Bring it.

And by "it" I mean ice cream.

Okay, glad we cleared that up.



6.21.2014

The Post That Will Cause My Mother To Shake Her Head Disapprovingly


So,  I'm essentially posting pictures of myself in my underwear on the internet.   I think that officially qualifies as a new low.  Even Ben, who's usually up for anything, seemed somewhat skeptical when I asked him to take these pictures.  And as I press publish on this post all I can hear is my mom yelling, "Carolynnnnn!"


But enough about my internal dilemmas.  Let's talk about bathing suits because I've been thinking about them for quite some time now.  You see, Ben and I just booked a trip to Mexico for our ten year anniversary and that got me thinking about how my newest bathing suit is actually older than my marriage.  And with that I figured that it was about time for a new swimsuit.  I ended up taking advantage of an on-line sale and ordered about 10 suits to try on at home and I had settled on keeping one when I came across this post, resulting in me becoming slightly obsessed with the idea of sewing my own swimsuit (something that I said that I would never do).  The next day I packed up all 10 swimsuits that I had ordered and sent them back to the store.  And a week later I bought the Soma Swimsuit Pattern by Papercut Patterns.  I decided to make version 1.0 (a wearable muslin) with leftover swimsuit fabric from the girls' bathing suits and I was on my way.  I hope to eventually make both versions of the two piece bathing suits because I think that they're both incredibly cute, but I started with version one because it seemed simpler and luckily it ended up being pretty straightforward.  And that's the thing about swimsuits - they're actually much easier to sew that you would think.  But in case you're looking for any tips for sewing your own swimsuit (do it!), here's what I learned along the way.


1) Cut your lining ever so slightly smaller than your outer fabric.  I didn't and I ended up with some bunching on the outer fabric on both the tops and the bottom of the bathing suit (although it's much more noticeable on the tops).  Not attractive.

2) The pattern calls for bra strapping but you'll be fine if you can't get your hands on some.  I ended up contacting Papercut Patterns for alternative suggestions to bra strapping but I never heard back from them so instead I relied on my experience from sewing the girls' bathing suits and I just sandwiched 1/4 elastic between fold over elastic and it seemed to work great.  Definitely more time intensive than just cutting bra strapping but sometimes you just have to use what's on hand.  On a side note, I did eventually end up ordering bra strapping and a couple other bathing suit making supplies from Sew Sassy and I was incredibly happy with their service.

3) Speaking of bra strapping and bra rings I don't think the pattern notes what size to buy.  I bought 3/8" bra strapping and 1/2" bra rings and I'm happy with both sizes.

4) I ended up sewing cups into this version because Lord knows that I can use all the help I can get in the chest department.  I literally just sewed them onto the lining.  Not sure if that's technically how you're supposed to do it but it seems to have worked.  Unfortunately, you can ever-so-slightly see the cups through bits of the white fabric.  Better that you can see the cups than something else I suppose.


Oh, and in case you're wondering, the fabric and lining are both originally from Girl Charlee and I sewed 95% of the suit on my regular sewing machine.  I just used my serger to sew the outer and lining fabric together but you could definitely do that on your regular machine if needed.  Also, I ended up sewing a size XXS for the top and XS for the bottom.  I was in between sizes on the bottoms but closer to the XS size so I ended up going with that.  Not sure if that was the right decision or not, but it seems to have worked out okay.

All in all, I think that my swimsuit obsession will continue.  Prepare to see lots of picture of me in my underwear swimsuit!

PS - Taking pictures of yourself in a bathing suit kind of sucks.  Also, having to take pictures of your wife in a bathing suit also sucks.  At some point Ben yelled "I kind of want to fire myself!"  Sorry, Ben.  I promise to be nicer next time.

PPS - I'd like to thank iPhoto for fixing my pasty white skin - otherwise known as my "Pacific Northwest Tan"

6.10.2014

Catching Up

In an effort to play catch up, let's discuss what happened while I was gone.

O turned five.  (What!?!)


And we painted birdhouses at her party.


We (unsuccessfully) went geoducking again.


And I became a master at finding moon snails.


Ben took over "dressing the kids duty" and they often came out looking like this.


And I participated in exactly two days of Me Made May.  How's that for commitment?


Okay, we're all caught up.  Carry on.

6.04.2014

The End Is Near

By this time next week I will have finished my final and my evenings and weekends will once again belong to me.  Well, mostly.  I have to take the GREs in late July so "Hello high school geometry!  We meet again!"  (many, many, many, many years later)  But for now, I'm focusing on the positive which includes no more catching whiffs of ever-so-stinky bacteria in the evening and no more spending my weekends doing homework.


Also on the positive side?  This dress.  Which I actually made quite some time ago.  I waited to blog about it, though, because

1) I'm lazy and
2) I had to wait for it to reach it's intended recipient...in Greece!

Remember this dress that I made back in 2012?  Well, this one was destined for the same sweet, little girl. Her mom was nice enough to send me some pictures of her wearing it (how's that for an awesome recipient?), but I also happen to have some of C trying it on.  Fortunately, she's a very willing model - when you bribe her with lollipops, which I'm obviously not opposed to doing. 


The pattern is the Hanami dress pattern, version number 3 for those who are counting.  And the fabric is part of the Silent Cinema line (JM48) that I purchased at our local fabric store.  I kept the pattern vertical on the bodice and switched it up to horizontal on the skirt and I have to say that I love the way that it came out.  


And of course I threw a little piping on the arms and the waist because everything's better with piping, right? The zipper is a pink invisible zipper which can't really be seen from the outside but really pops on the inside against the gray and white polka dot lining.  And as for that hem - hand stitched, baby!  It's the little things, right?


5.05.2014

Because sometimes you kick butt...


...and sometimes you get your butt kicked.   And my life right now is firmly situated in the latter category.  Apparently I bit off way more than I can chew over the last couple of weeks (and in the next couple of weeks to come) and I've had a constant feeling that I'm holding things together by a very fine thread.  And honestly, I'm doing that with far less grace than I should be.  I'm a little more snappy and a little less pleasant to be around nowadays.  But the fact is that everything that I'm finding overwhelming at the moment are things that I've signed for or agreed to so the pity party stops here.  Yes, there will be no more sewing (aside from obligation sewing) for the next couple of weeks.  And yes, I find myself constantly carrying around a stack of note cards that I should be studying from.  And yes, I'm tired.  Oh so tired.  But things should be calming down around mid June and that is going to make this summer that much sweeter. 

Right? 

Or at least that's what I keep telling myself.

4.10.2014

Hanami #2 (We Should Probably Just Start A Running Tally)


You didn't think that I would make just one Raccoon Hanami, did you?  Oh no!  Each girl has to have her own, of course.  So allow me to introduce you to Raccoon Hanami #2 - worn by C at her second birthday party.


In cutting out these two dresses I had a realization as to why I end up making the girls so many matching items - you need much less fabric to make two dresses out of the same fabric than you do out of two different fabrics because if you cut them out at the same time you can squeeze in the little pattern pieces here and there and save a bunch of fabric.  And I'm all for saving a bunch of fabric.


There is a downside to this, however, and that would be that if you don't label your  pieces correctly you could end up cutting out too many size four bodices and not enough size two bodices and then you might end up lining your size two bodice with a size four lining (after all your piping is sewn in and your seam allowances are trimmed) and then you might wonder why your lining isn't fitting properly.  And then, once you figure out what went wrong, you might slap yourself and realize that you're an idiot that apparently can't count correctly.  This is all just hypothetically speaking of course.


So, yes, the front lining of this dress is a bit bumpy and lumpy inside, but you can't tell from the outside so I'm going to pretend that that problem doesn't exist.  Denial, people.  Embrace it.  It's your friend.


So for this version of the Hanami I decided to leave off the optional collar and sleeves and to instead add piping to every seam in sight.  One of the things that I really love about this dress is that it's really easy to add piping to the waist without worrying that it'll interfere with the zipper because of the placement of the zipper.  Unfortunately I still worried about this in adding piping to the neck and because of all my hand wringing I cut one side of my piping too short.  Oops.  We'll just keep C's hair nice and long so nobody sees that mistake.

And I don't know what it is about piping, but it just makes everything better.

Oddly enough, I feel the same way about butter.


And here's one of my favorite things about this version of the dress - the contrast back panels.  I should probably admit that this was born out of necessity since I mixed up how many size four and two pieces I needed out of each fabric and by the time I realized my mistake I had run out of fabric but the contrast back is actually one of my favorite things about this dress.  Well, that and the piping of course, but that's a given, right?


The pattern is one of five patterns (with a bonus 6th pattern if you pay $24 or more) offered as part of the Perfect Pattern Parcel, but don't forget that it's only offered for a limited amount of time so go check it out!

4.08.2014

September Tunic


I have to admit that I rarely buy clothes for my kids.  Not because I'm some sewing badass that has handmade their entire wardrobe but because we have been the lucky recipients of many hand-me-downs from family and friends.  And because I rarely purchase any clothes for my kids there's not a whole lot of though about how I would like my to dress my them, but in case you were ever wondering,  this is how I would like to dress my kids.


Comfy but cool.  Stylish but still age appropriate.  Unique but something that she won't refuse to wear (because girlfriend's definitely got some opinions when it comes to what she will and won't wear).


The top is the September Tunic (that can also be made into a dress) and it's currently available as part of the Perfect Pattern Parcel.  The fabric is a swiss dot fabric that is leftover from my most recent Tova Top.  Based on the pattern recommendations I made a straight size five for my almost five year old and the fit seems to be right on.  The front has a pretty high neckline and as I was making it I wondered if that would drive her crazy but I'm happy to report that it doesn't seem to bother her at all.


The pattern calls for binding to finish the neckline but since I'm not a big fan of store-bought binding I ended up using some leftover binding from this project.  I find making binding to be kind of a pain in the butt so I always try to keep leftovers in the hope that I can avoid making binding for some other project.  The pattern construction is pretty straight forward so there are no real surprises in putting it together.  The pattern recommends finishing the hems with a blind hem and considering how I spoke of my love of blind hems just the other day you might find it ironic that I just finished all the hems on this top with top stitching.  I figured that there was already some top stitching down the back for the button plackets so some additional top stitching would fit in perfectly.  Oh yeah, the button plackets.


Bam!  Look at that!  Buttons down the back!  I love that detail!

And I love the look of yellow and green together. 

And I love O in this shirt.


So much love, so little time.

Perfect Pattern Parcel #2

Be sure to check out the other bloggers who are part of the Perfect Pattern Parcel tour!

Shawnta Sews // P comme Plimplim // CailaMade // While she was sleeping // YoSaMi // stitched together // Sew Like My Mom // Marina Bebe // lexi.made // sewVery // Call Ajaire // I Married Superman // Girl like the sea // Stitched // Compagnie M. // Buzzmills // floating world // fake it while you make it // Sewing Mama RaeAnna // Our Chez Nous // NeurosesGalore // Behind the Hedgerow // Needle and Ted // Kadiddlehopper // 2 little hooligans // Max-California.com // Siestas & Sewing // So Cal Sewing Mom // lauren dahl // La gang à Nat // Frances Suzanne // Radiant Home Studio // Modern Handmade // A Jennuine Life // It's Always Autumn // lea & lars // I Seam Stressed // So, Zo... What do you know? // Andrea's Notebook // Steph Skardal // Nutta! // Sewpony Made With Moxie // imagine gnats // Inder Loves Folk Art // Pienkel
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