October 29, 2011

Baby Size Button Down - Kwik Sew 3730

Baby Button Down

Everyone say "awww!!"

My co-worker and his wife are having a baby next March and they just found out it's a boy. So, keeping with my goal of a handmade Christmas I made them a baby shirt!

Baby Button Down

This is the first time I've ever made kid clothes and I think this little shirt is adorable!

I didn't know how to display this tiny shirt. Obviously I don't have a baby available nor did I have a tiny baby size hanger so I just taped the shirt to the wall, ha!

Baby Button Down

The fabric is a vintage plaid I got from the store where I intern. The base color is a yellowy-cream that doesn't come through well in these pictures.


The pattern, which I got for free from the store (sweet!) is Kwik Sew 3730. I liked the pattern because it had 1/4in seam allowances which made it easy to sew with my serger.

Baby Button Down

I cut the back yoke and the front pocket on the bias for a little extra interest and topstitched my seams.
I made the 3 to 6 months size because I figure they've already accumulated enough newborn size clothes from friends and family already.

I make so much clothing for myself that it's fun to make something for someone else and with a baby I don't have to worry about fitting and picking the right size because he'll just grow into it.

Have you ever made clothes for other people's kids?

October 26, 2011

Sleeve Experiments - Simplicity 2956

Simplicity 2956

A few weeks ago, the lovely Rachel from Always a Project sent me a few patterns in the mail. Thanks Rachel!!


So of course I had to try them out starting with Simplicity 2956.

I wanted to try this sleeve design which I had seen on some RTW shirts but that I had never worn or made.

Simplicity 2956

I changed a couple parts of the pattern, though. I made the basic v-neck t-shirt design but I nixed the empire waist (because I usually end up looking preggers) and the bubble hem because it was just easier not to.

Simplicity 2956

This is the third garment I've made from this pink jersey. The first was a failed skirt and the second was a failed top with fancy flounces. I didn't have much luck with either which left me with not much leftover fabric so the sleeves are about 2 inches shorter than they are in the pattern. I had to make due with what I had left.

What I like about the shirt - the v-neck and the little shoulder gathers are a fun touch. Unfortunately I can't say that I like the sleeves.

Simplicity 2956

Just like with the last top I made I feel like I'm constantly messing with the shirt to get it to lay right. The sleeves don't look as drapey as in the pattern photo and they seem too poofy at the top. Maybe I don't like ruffles and flounces and gathers as much as I thought. Maybe I should have worn a shirt in a store with sleeves like this? Maybe I should have made a bigger size for the sleeves?? Maybe it was the curse of the pink jersey!?!

Simplicity 2956

It's frustrating when things don't work out when you put so much effort and time into it but I'm not giving up completely. There are other design elements of this pattern that I'd like to try out and I have a couple other patterns that Rachel sent that I can work with. All hope is not lost and at least I used up all that darn pink fabric!

October 23, 2011

First Coat of the Season

Simplicity 4109

Well, sort of. This is more like a slightly cropped, three quarter sleeve jacket, but since it never gets too cold in Texas, this counts as a coat!


Can you believe that with all my undying love for Wendy Mullin's designs that I didn't own this pattern (Simplicity 4109)? Now it is out of print so I tracked it down on ebay. There is another one of the Built by You coat patterns out there that I simply cannot find for less than $30, whoa!

Simplicity 4109

I used this wool fabric that I bought at a recent estate sale and while I did "pre-steam" it ala Sewaholic's tips for sewing coats, I should have dry cleaned the fabric because it still smelled musty. Instead I dry cleaned the finished coat at an eco-cleaners in Austin (which I prefer to regular dry cleaning because they don't use such harsh chemicals and therefore it doesn't have that terrible nasty chemical smell that I despise).

Simplicity 4109

I loved the pattern. It is a boxy shape (no darts or curves) so I know some might not like it but to me it's modern and it's a coat so I don't expect to look super svelte. I really liked the bell sleeves (cut on the bias) with the front facing seam (as opposed to a regular under arm seam). Some may not like the big sleeves either but it fits my style and I like how it shows off the plaid pattern.

Simplicity 4109 Simplicity 4109

The only change I made was to add a lining which was difficult for me because I rarely make linings. I worked with the facings included in the pattern so I had to cut my new lining pieces to fit. First I finished the raw edges of the facing with black bias tape, serged the edges of the lining, then layered the facings over the lining (wrong side to right side) and stitched through. If the wool hadn't been so itchy I could have gotten away without the lining.

Simplicity 4109

I think the design is cute and different from a regular jacket or coat. It almost has the look of a cape and I think it would be cute in a heavy knit with an added hood.

I want to make the other version of this pattern maybe in a nice twill, something that I wouldn't have to line.

I love the Built by Wendy asthetic - sort of casual refined with modern cuts that are youthful and easy to make your own. Maybe I will shell out the $30 for that other BbW coat pattern? I suddenly feel the need to complete my pattern collection!

Simplicity 4109

Have you ever sewn a coat or jacket? What is your favorite coat pattern? I'm looking to make a few different designs for this season.

October 22, 2011

Over my head

So many pieces!

Have you ever had a sewing project where you were way in over your head? I'm in the middle of that right now.

To backtrack - I decided to make this year a Handmade Christmas where I make all my presents (or most of them...).

That began with this quilt. A monster quilt - in that it features 9 fuzzy monsters and that it is taking up a ridiculous amount of my time. I've got to cut out dozens of tiny teeth, eyes, pupils, scales and spots and fuse them to my fleece monster bodies; stuff the monsters' arms, legs, horns and tails; hand stitch their mouths then attach all the monsters to their coresponding squares on the quilt top.

Monster mouth and monster cat
A partially finished monster, and I'm not talking about the cat

I have been plagued with problems. I can't find my fiber fill stuffing for the feet. I lost my felt (and then found it again), ran out of embroidery thread and I can't for the life of me get the paper backing off the double sided fusible webbing. UGH!

I know that when it is all said and done it will be an adorable quilt which I will be very proud of, but right now I can't see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Tiny monster eyeballs
So many tiny monster eyeball and teeth pieces!

Have you ever been engulfed by a project so large and tedious? Did you give up or plow right through to the end? Do you find yourself often getting into projects like this? Do you ever underestimate the amount of work involved (which seems to be my problem)?

Well, I'll be back tomorrow with a finished project of a different sort - as for tonight I'll be stitching monster mouths until my thumbs fall off.

October 18, 2011

Rorschach Blazer

 Crazy Print Jacket

I may have a contender for the prize of craziest fabric ever sewn. I don't know what compelled me to buy this fabric. I think I found it at Hancock Fabrics although I bought it sometime in July and now I can't remember very well where it is from. I do know that I was smitten immediately and at the time I wanted to make a printed blazer and thought this would do the trick.

Crazy Print Jacket

It is a medium weight twill with a green and orange on white print that reminds me of a Rorschach test. Pretty wild!

Crazy Print Jacket

I made the jacket using a blend of two patterns: Simplicity 2250 (I made a denim version last April) and Simplicity 2340 (for the curved collar on version C, which I realize is difficult to see in these photos, sorry!).


The 2340 jacket design was a little too boxy for me and I love the more curvy shape of 2250.

Crazy Print Jacket

Basically, I layered the front pattern piece of 2340 over the front piece of 2250 and matched up the shoulder seams. I also shortened the overall length by about 4 inches to make it more wearable with different outfits.

Crazy Print Jacket

The jacket isn't lined because it never gets extremely cold here in Texas so I wanted to get some wear out of it in the warmer months as well as fall/winter. That's also convenient because both patterns I used aren't lined either (well, version C is lined but it is a vest not a full jacket) and I'm too lazy to make my own lining, ha!

Crazy Print Jacket

October 17, 2011

Colette Macaron

Colette Macaron 

Colette's Macaron dress is a popular pattern and there's no wonder why - great design, cute sleeves, sweetheart shape, and interesting pocket placement. I knew I had to try it eventually but I was waiting for the right fabric combo.

Colette Macaron 

And then I found it! Wait, back tracking a little - a few weeks ago I started interning at one of my favorite local fabric stores for a few hours a week. I pretty much get paid in discounts and free remnants and magazines but that's fine by me. I'm really enjoying learning about what it takes to a run a real brick and mortar fabric store. 

Anyway, I found these two fabrics at the store. The upper part is a white eyelet and the lower part is a lovely floral voile. Since the voile was semi transparent I underlined that portion of the dress with white batiste. Instead of facings I trimmed the edges of the eyelet with white bias tape for a clean finish. 

Colette Macaron 

If I would make any changes next time it would be to add some light interfacing at the waistband. The pattern doesn't call for any and I think with such light weight fabric (even with the two layers) it could have used a little more structure.

Colette Macaron 

I would also take some of the length out of the back bodice. I swear my upper back isn't that round! 

Inside Colette Macaron 

Regardless, this dress came out fantastic! With no major need for alterations and a relatively stress free invisible zipper insertion, the hardest part was making the underlining because the pattern isn't lined and I had to figure out how to work in the pockets with the lining.

Colette Macaron 

This is the perfect dress for spring or summer weddings or if I just want to look super cute when buying groceries. And I'm trying to make more dresses because simple, easy to throw on dresses are a rarity in my wardrobe right now. I love this dress so much!

October 15, 2011

Do I really need to make a muslin?

Asymmetrical Neckline Dress Muslin
(sloppily made muslin for a dress)

It has been awhile since I wrote one of these "Do I really need to..?" posts but recent muslin making has this topic on my mind.

A muslin (or toile as some call it) is essentially a trial version of a garment using cheap fabric. You make a muslin to test a pattern's fit and avoid making big adjustments to a garment made from your fancy fashion fabric.

Any adjustments made during the muslin process are transferred back to your pattern so you can easily apply them to your final garment.

Most people (myself included) would rather not have to make a muslin because of the extra time dedicated to sewing something you don't intend to wear. Sometimes it is worth the trouble and other times you can get away without one.

When deciding whether to sew a muslin or not, consider these questions:

Does the fashion fabric cost more than $XX? (X being whatever number you think is expensive enough to make you nervous while cutting it). For me that might be anywhere between $5 and $10 depending on how much fabric I am using. If it is expensive, make the muslin. How sad would you be if you made an unfixable fitting mistake on your $25/yd fabric?

Have you sewn this pattern before? If yes, you probably already know the pattern's quirks and issues and probably don't need to make a muslin.

Is it a difficult design? If yes, make the muslin. You don't want to mess up with your good fabric.

Is the pattern design very fitted with lots of curves and darts? If yes, make the muslin, especially if you know you have adjustments you need to make with almost every pattern - full bust, swayback, short torso, etc. If the pattern is a simple gathered skirt for example and the only important measurement is the waist, then you can probably forgo the muslin.

Are you sewing with a fabric you've never used before or is difficult to work with? Make the muslin, it will ease frustration when you make the final garment. However, when sewing the muslin try to use a similar weight and drape of fabric as your fashion fabric. It won't do you any good to make a fitted muslin in quilting cotton when your fashion fabric is a silk charmuse. Your muslin and final garment won't look the same.


Is the pattern made by a company whose designs consistently fit you well (so you know you won't have to make many changes to patterns printed from that company)? In this case you may be able to get away with not making a muslin but refer to the questions above before you take the plunge sans muslin.

Muslin of shirtFinal Shirt  
(muslin and final shirt. changes made from muslin to final: lengthened hem and sleeves, made armhole larger)

Just because you sew a muslin doesn't mean you double your entire sewing time. When sewing a muslin you don't have to finish seams or hems, sew in linings or facings, add zippers or buttons and generally you may not even have to sew in sleeves or cuffs.

Another bonus is that once you sew a muslin, the second time you sew the pattern it is a breeze because you already know how to put all the pieces together!

Muslin 2.0

You could even get away with only sewing a partial muslin. If only the bodice of a dress needs precise fitting and the skirt is loose you can just sew the bodice like I did in the muslin above.
How do you decide whether to sew a muslin?

October 14, 2011

Learn how to alter one of my patterns


Sarah from Emmyloubeedoo wrote a guest post on A Couple of Craft Addicts showing how to alter my free Loose Fit Top pattern (with lots of pictures!). She made a longer, hankercheif hem and slighty longer sleeves - a perfect way to transition the pattern from summer to early fall.

Thanks Sarah! Go see how to make your own version!


***PS: I'm back from Boston and I'm sewing up a storm. Being away from my sewing machine for so long makes me antsy. Off to the craft room!

October 7, 2011

I'm in Boston!

Tourist Dress

I'm visiting a friend over the long weekend in Boston and I'm in a new dress!

Tourist Dress

This dress, which I am dubbing, the Tourist Dress, is a variation on the dress I made last week. This dress has a natural waistline and a slightly longer hem length.

***Hey! This dress now has a multi-size PDF pattern! Go check it out!

Tourist Dress

The chevron fabric is a poly/rayon sweater knit and it is quite stretchy. I was worried it would stretch too much with the weight of the black jersey skirt but it works perfectly and the dress is awesome for trekking around a big city all day.

Tourist Dress

I'll be back next week with more sewing. Being in a different climate is making me want to sew a coat now!

October 4, 2011

Estate Sales

Estate Sale

Like most sewers I have dreams of stumbling upon the estate sale of some master seamstress with boat loads of vintage fabric, notions and patterns and then pack up the back of my car to the brim with supplies all for one crumpled twenty dollar bill.

Yeah, that hasn't happened to me. I've been to a handful of estate sales and walked out with zip and while I don't always look out for sweet estate sales I did this weekend. I drove out to one that looked promising and while it wasn't amazing I did walk out with some loot.

Since it was the last day of the sale I got the fabric for half off. Both are wool that I plan on using for coat making.

The patterns at the sale were mostly from the 70s and 80s. There were only a few 60s pattern. Maybe there were more and someone beat me to them?

The two on the lower left side are fun 70s patterns and the skirt is a really classic style. The one on the upper right is a recent retro reprint pattern that I bought because it was brand new and never cut. The others are 80s patterns with styles that are still pretty contemporary.

What's your best crafty estate sale score?

October 1, 2011

Oh, Fall! Where have you been all my life?

Fall Wreath

We've had cooler weather for about two days now and by that I mean it is currently 83 degrees and not 105. I'm not complaining, though. This feels perfectly like Fall to me.

I have this Micheal's gift card and if you have a Michael's store in you're area you'll know that they don't carry any sewing related products so I had to spend my card on other craftiness.

Fall Wreath

So to celebrate the season I made a Fall wreath. And yes, my front door is painted orange. This is my first traditional style wreath complete with flowers, leaves, pine cones and fake plastic veggies.

What crafty things are you doing for Fall?

PS: I'll be back later this week with another dress for Fall based on my ballet dress!