30 April 2018

The Alder Skirt

When I got a prize for FAL2017, I used it to buy the Ishi dress pattern for the girls, some fabric for Trina, and the Alder skirt pattern for me. 

The fabric was gifted from me from a friend, who got it from her father,
who got in on a trip to Thailand!  The waistband was actually the border print.

I was excited to get started, but was a little frustrated with the pattern itself - there are no capital letters in the whole thing!  Upper case letters are important, even just to help find the beginning of sentences.  Annoying, but fine, I can deal with it.  The other hiccup -- no finished length measurement.  I know I can easily customize the length of the skirt, but I had no idea where I was starting from.  Turns out I had to eek in a 1/4" hem to have it stay at my knees.

This was actually skirt I had made years ago, but never liked the way it fit. Not anymore!

Once I actually made the first skirt though, I was happy to make another.  And another!  For me, I didn't need the pleat in the front, and would 100% suggest the flat pockets (big yay for pockets!).  I added two inches to the length, for some wiggle room, and I'm pleased with the way it fits me.  

My husband made me buy this amazing fabric (because I rarely buy for me).
Of course I'm glad he did, because it is awesome and totally my favorite.

The biggest struggle though?  Getting pictures!  I can take a decent picture, but it's quite hard to take a picture of my own self - especially my lower body.  My husband is super tall and always takes pictures at awkward angles, and really doesn't know what he's doing.  And my apartment has horrible lighting.  I really just need to make some photography friends nearby!  (I'll trade them cute skirts like this!)

And bonus: this is part of my 2018FALQ2!  I love it when projects are completed and turn out even better than expected!

April journal

Aren't I so great with post titles? Ha ha!

Major progress on my Alphabet Challenge! I got U, V, and W done just this month! It helped that they were small projects ... X is in process. Y has the fabric washed and ready, just need to trace off the pattern. Z is going to be EPIC. Definitely planning to end this challenge with a bang!

1. U: JE's pillow that matches her quilt.

2. V: Finished my contribution to the doll quilts for A Doll Like Me - the top was complete in March, but I still had to quilt and bind it. All done now. I'll give us a little more time to work on the doll quilts from the girls, but if they're not done by the end of the summer, I'm calling it good and sending what we have.

3. W: JE's white baptism dress.

4. Night Sky quilt: I made a couple of these blocks, called Clay's Choice from 1920. I think it's cool to make old-time blocks, and learn their names. I had planned to do more, but I got sidetracked with making plans for summer clothes for the girls. My new target with this quilt starting in May is one block per week. Otherwise, it's never going to get done.

5. DC map quilt: just a few stitches here and there, but that means I'm a few stitches closer every time I pick up the needle! I have it set out in my bedroom where it's accessible to me, but the kids aren't going to mess it up. I have the entire bottom "row" almost done.

6. English paper piecing (EPP): yet another WIP started! A couple of years ago, I was visiting my bestie Sarah in Utah who was working on EPP at the time. She showed me how to do it and gave me a couple of samples, and they've just been sitting here waiting for me to figure something out with them. Recently, I saw this tote bag online and I. Want. It. My EPP is diamonds, not hexagons, so it will look different ... but the concept will be the same, all the way down to the grommets. I can't buy her pattern because of the money exchange - this a blog in Ireland ... but I've figured out enough about bags by now that I think I can do this one on my own with just the photo for inspiration.

7. Flannel rice bags: we've had some aches and pains this month, and some fussing for a rice bag as a heating pad. We had an old sock filled with rice and tied off with a rubber band, but ... yuck. So in literally 5 minutes, I grabbed a flannel scrap, sewed it around 3 sides, filled it with rice, and then sewed it shut. Bam. Done. I did this twice, including with boy flannel for Adam to have one for himself. We don't need everything pink or floral-printed around here.

8. I attempted to participate in Kid Clothes Week, which is a challenge to sew for one hour every day for a week. I sewed for an hour and 45 minutes ONE day. That's all. But I got a pair of shorts and a quickie nightgown done! They were made from fleece pillowcases, from a sheet set that wore out.

We've had an antique cabinet grand piano for a few years that we got for free when an elderly person from our church passed away and their house was being emptied out. We figured out that it was built in 1905, and we tried to get it tuned. That ended up killing it. Adam asked around with piano tuners and shops: we could have a $20,000 restored piano ... after we spent at least half that getting all the pegs, strings and keys replaced ... so Adam decided to turn it into a desk. In about 3 days, he pulled it apart, cleaned the pieces he decided to keep, and put it back together ... ta da! We have an antique cabinet grand desk!

So far this year, the house projects have all been Adam's. Sigh.

22 April 2018

W is for white

Adam wants each of our girls to have their own white dress for their baptisms, and it's JE's turn!

We bounced around a bit on the pattern - the one she chose from my pattern box was too big, both for her and for the fabric that she selected at the store. (It called for making a circle skirt with the fabric out all flat, and the curve didn't fit from side to side between the selveges.) We ended up here: 

Girls Easter Dress Sewing Pattern, Ruffle Petticoat Dress by Handmaiden's Cottage

I was randomly looking at a spring dress round-up, which bounced me around a number of blogs ... and I came across this and thought, "There it is!"

I used my stand-by Oliver+S Playtime Tunic (number 11 of that pattern!) and modified the heck out of it. I:

- used size 7 for the top and size 10 for the bottom so it would be longer and more full.
- left the sleeves off, because the dropped shoulders are enough of a cap sleeve for a spring/summer dress.
- lengthened the bodice by 2 inches so it isn't right under her armpits.
- fully lined the bodice rather than using just the pattern facings.
- lengthened the skirt portion to a dress rather than a tunic top.

- put bias tape over the seam between the bodice and skirt, because wow, that was a crazy itchy edge on JE! I had intended to tuck this between the lining and outer fabrics, but I didn't cut the lining quite long enough. Fortunately, I'd just come across a tutorial about a Hong Kong seam finish. I don't know why it's called that, but I'm glad I found it!

- I didn't worry about stitching from the bias tape showing through, because it was already in the plan to add a band of lace at the divide between the bodice and skirt.

- added ruffles ruffles ruffles! They were first cut at 7 inches wide, and 2 lengths of selvage-to-selvage put together. I looped them all around the base skirt before attaching anything to see how they should be spaced, and I went with 4 inches apart. I started at the bottom, and worked my way up. The base is right side facing up, the ruffle is attached upside down (left side of the picture), and then folded down when it's done so the seam is hidden (right side of the picture).

You gotta be committed when doing ruffles - they take a lot of time, fabric, and thread. The dress would have been done in half a day if it weren't for the ruffles.

10 April 2018

#2018FALQ2 Mindy

It's time for another round of Finish-a-Long!  
I did this for the last round of 2017 and finished 3 of 5 projects.

The lamb fabric used to be part of a dress that tore.
I was able to keep the bodice and Cupcake loves sheep, 
so I wanted to remake it, and I finally will.

2. Baby Toys (three)
Lots of new babies (especially boys) so time to make gifts!
They will look similar to this one.

I actually won a gift certificate from the FAL I did before,
and with it I got the Alder skirt pattern. 
I've made two already and adore them.  This will be one too!

The pattern from #1 (Maggie Mae)
and the MLP fabric from #3.

I love the McKenzie Tunic pattern.
It's my favorite and I've made it many many many times.
Cupcake has now outgrown the pattern, so time to grade up!

6. Abbey Jacket for Cupcake
This is the repeat from the first FAL that never got done.
(The fifth FAL did get finished, just not in conjunction with FAL.)

A UFO I started for Christmas, and realized she was getting enough stuff.
Low priority, but it's always nice to clear out the project box.

8. Christmas Quilt
Not likely to get done, but just in case I get motivated.
I've got about half of the squares sewn together, I think.

08 April 2018

V is for Valentine

We went a little crazy with Valentine's Day this year. We made:

- hearts out of plastic canvas and yarn. We ended up with more than 20 of these, and we looped ribbon and hung them up in windows. TA and JK kept saying they wanted to "knit" and I had to keep correcting them to "sew" or "embroider." They had found some random sheets of plastic canvas that have been kicking around for forever, and I cut every last bit of it into hearts. It was a lot of handstitching. My little girls thought it was awesome.

- cards with cardstock, foam stickers from Target, and ink/stamps. We didn't mail any out this year, just made them for each other.

- envelopes to hold all those cards along with some treats. I trimmed the tabs off manila folders and closed the sides with packing tape. Easy. Even SM, a big middle schooler now, loves our family Valentine party every year.

- "suncatchers" (although obviously without the SUN) with contact paper, tissue paper, and a Sharpie.

I'm in a bit of a craft-like-crazy mode this year, just to clear out a lot of old supplies that have been sitting around for forever. This was helpful with the plastic canvas and the contact paper.

And even though we moved into March and now April, I was still in heart mode when I made my little quilt for A Doll Like Me. I was trying to get it done for Project Quilting, but I got just the top done. Finally did some light quilting and the binding today. I outlined the hearts with stitch-in-the-ditch to make them stand out more, and then the loops down the side. I didn't want it too dense because I'm learning that dense quilting makes things stiff. This is for a child so it needs to be soft. The back is the same flannel that I used on the doll quilt TA made.

06 April 2018

Ishi Dress

Remember the finish-a-long from October?  It is hosted on many blogs, but it was Marci who contacted me to let me know I was one of the winners!  I think Trina hates me for all the things I've won (the fat quarters for the Woven Star, a jelly roll for the Jelly Dot, and more recently some Christmas layer cakes), so I decided to share my gift certificate to Imagine Gnats.  She got fabric, and I got more patterns: Alder skirt for me and Ishi dress for the girls.

I had seen the Ishi dress pattern long before I bought it, and thought it looked like a lot of fun.  I was happy to have the opportunity to use it to make some as Easter dresses for my girls.  As I sewed though, I was happier that I didn't have to pay for the pattern because there were some tricky parts.

-The weight of fabric is important.  The blue is a lighter weight, so I feel like Cupcake's dress loses a bit of the shape.  And the pockets (plus lining) are heavier, so hemming that was ridiculous and didn't go well at all. 

-Those princess seams are a bugger.

-Set-in sleeves are not my favorite.  I did manage to do two of them without puckers though.

-Zippers. Yuck. This was my first time actually following a pattern to put zippers in an article of clothing.  Add the lining in there, and it was a bit finicky.  I did Cupcake's dress first, and sewed too close to the zipper so the fabric keeps getting caught.  At least I learned from my mistake so Snowflake's zipper runs smooth.

I let myself get distracted by a lot of other projects in the middle of making these, but I forced myself to get them finished in time for Easter.  After trying the size 10 on Cupcake I worried it looked too big (but not too long), she loved it anyway and didn't want to take it off.  And I'm glad I made the size 2T for Snowflake, because it fit her perfectly. The longer they wore them, the more I liked them.

-Cupcake loves sheep, and I had just picked up some fat quarters with sheep on them.  I was just barely able to eek out the pockets from that fat quarter!  Yay!

-It was fun to pick out a variety of fabrics - that sunshiney yellow! - even if I would pair things up differently in the future.  (I like less contrast between the side and the pocket.)

-Can we talk about those pockets?  Although Cupcake said it was too hard to reach them, she certainly loved having them.  Because it was EASTER!  She had a place to put all her eggs and candy!  I felt like such a genius when I noticed that.  

So in the end, I was happy I made them,  It was a pattern I had been wanting to try, and the girls got new dresses.  Will I make it again?  I'm not sure.  There are other patterns that I would repeat first, but this one may pop up again in the future.

05 April 2018

U is for UFO

A UFO in sewing-speak is UnFinished Object. This is different from WIP - Work In Progress. A UFO is something that is just sitting there unfinished. A WIP is actually progressing, even if it's suuuuuper slow.

Over a year ago, I finished the Pink Babies quilt for JE. I had some blocks left over, so I put them together into a rail-fence big block and bordered it with the same fabric as the quilt border. And it's just sat there ever since, moved around from this shelf to that shelf.

I finally made it into a pillow this week.

The swirly pink top edge of the quilt is also the fabric for the back of the pillow. I was going to make a matching pillow case with it, but I cut it wrong so now it won't work for that. So it's the pillow back, and the last of it is into the scrap bin.

03 April 2018

T is for travel

More zip bags! This makes 11. (I need a card on the wall to make tally marks - I'm going to lose track one of these days.) I made these as a set - they're reversed from each other with the inside/outside fabrics.

The larger tan/red one is identical to the one I made for RG's teacher at school - my sister-in-law saw it and wanted one too. She didn't have toiletry bags for traveling, and her birthday was coming up anyway ...

And here they are in her luggage ready for their spring break trip.