October 31, 2012

The 'Credible Hulk!

So, you may recall that Lincoln was torn between dressing as Captain America and The Incredible Hulk for Halloween, and he finally decided on Captain America. Well, he then suggested that maybe Sister could be the Hulk. We had a good laugh at that, because obviously it's just silly. And we would never. And then...


somehow I found myself in my sewing room searching for a suitable pattern to make a wee superhero of my baby girl. And not just any superhero, but the raging green Hulk. By the way, with a little coaching, Lincoln is finally able to pronounce "Hulk" instead of "Hork" but he still doesn't quite get all the syllables in "Incredible", hence the title.


So, I have two little superheroes this Halloween. And when I suggested that this might be a little mean, David reminded me that we'll have plenty of time for princess dresses and all that sparkly stuff. And besides, we're giving her great material to blog about someday during her angsty teenage years.

In case you would like to humiliate your baby daughter similarly, the bodysuit is based on Butterick 5896. It's view E, simple envelope-neck pj's, with the feet from view F added for warmth. It's an okay pattern I guess, just a bunch of baby basics. I made size medium and shortened the body by two inches, and I could have taken in the width too, but I was originally planning to pad it into a muscle suit so I didn't mind it being a little too big.

I do think that the way they have you do the neckline is kind of weird- it's bound in regular woven bias tape. If I were to make this pattern again I would use ribbing instead. I also added cuffs to the sleeves instead of the turn-and-stitch hem that was called for. It just seemed easier that way, and more comfy. And instead of snap tape in the inseam I used my snap press to set some acid green resin snaps. The fabric is a nice rayon jersey, very soft and quite a hulk-ey color. The feet are too small. I don't think Juniper has particularly large feet, so I didn't even think to check that they would be big enough before I started sewing.

Baby Hulk

The pants are just a simple elastic waist number, hastily stitched together with the serger because I knew that as soon as I was finished with them I would just be chopping them up. The fabric is left over from my Grimace Maternity top, and just happened to be the perfect shade of purple for Hulk's pants.

And finally, the hat/wig is based on the hat included in McCall's 8574, another baby layette set. I made the hat from the green fabric and then stitched on a strip of fake fur around the sides, adding a roundish patch on top. Voila! Baby Hulk.

We got the kiddos dressed up in their outfits today to go Trick-or-Treat at Daddy's work, which is sometimes an event. Not so much this year though, and Lincoln left empty-pumpkin-ed. There was actually a lone desk with candy, but Lincoln was too shy to say "Trick-or-Treat" and wouldn't even take a piece of candy when it was offered to him with no strings attached. (Thanks anyway Cathy!) We did get a nice shot of the kiddos and David in this fantastic fur throne though, so it was worth the trip. Also donuts!

We tried again after dinner on a nearby street that goes all-out with the Halloween excitement (ours is lame and every house on our block is dark) and came home with a pumpkin full of sugary cavity-inducing goodness. Luckily, Lincoln is still too young to really care much about the haul, so he won't notice as it slowly disappears over the next few days. He also managed to score the whole lot without saying "Trick-or-Treat" once, so if you ask me, he hardly deserves it anyway. He almost wouldn't even wear his costume, saying that he preferred to go as "just plain Lincoln" but we managed to convince him otherwise.

Hopefully you all had a happy and safe Halloween! Ours was solidly okay, but next year we'll be taking a cue from the big groups of parents we saw following their hoards of kids around with Solo cups of wine in hand. Treats for everyone! Those guys know how to Halloween!

The First Avenger

Like many a three-year-old boy, Lincoln has become slightly obsessed with superheroes lately. Now, I'm pretty sure he hasn't actually ever seen a comic book, and he only watched a few minutes of The Avengers before proclaiming it too scary, but that doesn't seem to matter. There are superheroes on his underwear and his Popsicles, and therefore superheroes are where it's at.

So when we first started asking Lincoln what he wanted to be for Halloween, it came as no surprise that his answer was "a superhero". No specific superhero at first, and then gradually depending on the day he would answer Captain America or The Incredible Hork (turns out that Hulk is a pretty hard word for a toddler to say, although he's getting it now). We finally told him the clock was ticking and he needed to make up his mind, and he decided on Captain America once we told him that we would buy him a cool shield to go with his outfit.

So, our boy, along with a million other boys I'm sure, will be proudly dressed as The First Avenger tonight:

The First Avenger

But unlike some of those other boys, he'll be in a fully mama-made costume because, you know, of course he will. Why buy a $20 costume at Target when you can spend a few hours of your own precious time on something that will be worn for 1/4 the time it took to make it? That's just how we roll around here. Gotta earn my sewing street-cred somehow.

Captain America

Aside from the time investment, I was determined to do this on the cheap though, so I scoured my library of patterns and raided my stash to create this ensemble. The fabric is just basic jersey and 1x1 rib knits from JoAnn that I picked up in the remnants bin. When I see a good size chunk of knit in there I usually grab it, because you can easily make a kid-sized tee shirt or pants from the lengths typically in the remnants bin. And since remnants are 50%-75% off the already cheap price, you can usually make said tee or pants for less than you can buy a garment at Old Navy or Target. But anyway- enough justification of fabric hoarding- back to the costume!

Captain America Shirt

I used a tee shirt pattern from Ottobre Magazine issue 3/2011 as the base for the top. It's pattern #24, and it was a short sleeve tee but that was easy enough to remedy. I lengthened the short sleeve pattern by 2" to add the folded hem and layered it over a long sleeve with a ribbed cuff to provide some warmth and mimic Captain America's layered look. I just stitched both sleeves to the body together, handling them as one.

To make the body, I first stitched up the striped section (2.5" strips of red and white ribbing serged together to make 2" stripes) then stitched that to the navy jersey to make one piece of fabric. I cut the front and back pieces from it, making sure to line up the stripes on the front and back, then constructed the rest of the shirt as usual. The pattern calls for a turned and stitched hem, but with all the seams in the striped ribbing section on the bottom I was afraid there would be too much bulk so I added a ribbed band instead.

Captain America Helmet

The helmet is another Ottobre mutation. It's based on #8 from issue 6/2011, but I took some liberties in creating it. The Nikita hat as drafted has a brim and a chin strap, but I left those off. It's also made of (non-stretch) corduroy and lined, but I wanted to use jersey, so I just made it up without adding seam allowances (to account for the stretch) and added a ribbed binding to the edges. The applique is just white felt that I cut out and machine stitched on. I found a photo of Captain America's helmet on google images, blew it up 200%, and traced. Easy.

I actually first made up the Sweet Pea Pilot cap (free download from Sew Liberated) but even after I added some width and length to the largest size it was too small. Crazy-huge head strikes again! I could have added more width and made it again, but I tried the Ottobre version instead mostly because I get bored making the same thing more than once. The end result is essentially the same, and I did use the Sew Liberated construction method (detailed in the tutorial) to attach the side panels as it results in a nice flat seam.

Then I had some trouble deciding how to handle Captain America's pants/boots situation. The comic sketches show a dramatically cuffed pair of red knee-high boots paired with blue skin-tight pants (naturally- what kind of comic book hero would he be without his spandex?)

And just as naturally, I wasn't too keen on the idea of putting my three year old boy in tights. Instead, I decided to just make him a pair of sweatpants from the same navy jersey I used to make the shirt. They're loosely based on New Look 6719- just your basic pull-on elastic waist (girl) pants- but I took out lots of width and added length to fit my tall skinny boy.

Captain America

I was going to leave it at that, but there was this nagging voice in my head that said that Captain America's look wouldn't be complete without the red boots. Or that could have been David. Either way, there was a last-minute addition of red boots to the ensemble. Sort of. It's really just a tube of red ribbing with a cuff sewn in (interfaced with Peltex 70 to make it hold shape) and hand-stitched onto the leg of the pants. I figure I can always cut it off after Halloween and we'll have a pair of plain navy pants to add to the rotation.

But wait- there's more! Captain America has a sidekick, doesn't he? Of course he does! I'll be back in a bit with Juniper's costume. It's adorable. Also perhaps the cruelest thing we've yet done to our poor defenseless infant daughter. But also hilarious. You'll love it.

What are you doing for Halloween? Do you make costumes?

October 22, 2012

Sewaholic Cambie

I finally made a Cambie! After seeing so many beautiful versions around the web, my covetous nature got the best of me and I just had to make one of my very own. (Go! Just look at them all!)

I made View A, with the A-line skirt. I think it suited my heavy-ish fabric better than the fuller gathered skirt of view B would have. The fabric is a linen/rayon blend and the white dots aren't printed- they're embroidered. I'm a sucker for texture. And bargains. I picked it up during a 50% off red tag sale for just $3.50/yd.

I mostly cut and sewed a straight size 8, which in Sewaholic's special pear-shaped land isn't exactly a perfect match to my measurements, but it was close enough. I used a 1/2" seam allowance up top in lieu of a full-bust adjustment, and just sewed the skirt up as instructed. I'm happy with the fit, although it is quite roomy in the hips and I think next time I might try to grade down a size to fix that.

I had to shorten the shoulder straps a couple of inches to get a good fit up top. Thanks to the way the bodice is constructed though, that's easy to do and it's no big thing to pin and adjust as necessary before you sew it together. I played with it for a bit, tightening and loosening until the fit was best, trying not to poke the valuable real estate up there with too many pins in the process.

The sweetheart neckline still gapes a bit, but I think that's all my fault. I probably should have just gone down a size and made a full bust adjustment instead of cheating and cutting the eight, but I was too anxious to get going and couldn't be bothered to make another bodice muslin.

For the record, I did make a muslin from an old duvet cover, but the fit of my final product ended up being completely different anyway. The duvet was really tightly woven cotton, and my muslin was actually a little tight in the bodice. My fashion fabric is loosely woven and behaves very differently, so my finished dress is looser. There's something to be said for the recommendation that you make a muslin in a similar fabric, eh? Oh well.

I had originally planned to make the lining from some ivory mystery fabric that I had stuffed away, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. It was just so... blah. I decided on this springy green mystery fabric instead- also from my stash and of dubious origins. It's certainly a poly blended with something, and it's obnoxiously shiny on the right side. I used the more sedate wrong side for my lining because it was just nicer to look at. And hooray for stash-busting!

Hmm... I'm honestly not sure what all that wrinkling to the left of the zip is about. I think it might be due to the fact that I sat on it for an hour during the car ride to the pumpkin patch, but it could also be my zipper insertion. I'll have to double check now that I've noticed it. And perhaps I should have shortened the back bodice just a bit? Just 1/2" or so? I'm pretty happy with the back fit, but the more I look at that center seam the more bothered I am. It really looks like it's pulling all kinds of crazy. Might have to open that seam up and stitch it back up again.

I couldn't stop myself from using this lemon yellow rayon seam binding on the hems. I took a 3" hem on the outer skirt because I'm a shorty, and then cut 3" off the lining and stitched up a narrow hem there. The binding is machine stitched to the black fabric then catch-stitched down. On the lining I serged the raw edge first, stitched the binding right on the serge line by machine, then folded it up and blind-stitched it in place by hand. Both fabrics were pretty fray-tastic, so this keeps things nice and tidy inside. Oh, and I just pinked all the raw edges. I didn't want to add any bulk to the already heavy outer fabric by serging or binding the seam allowances, and I couldn't be bothered to do anything else on the lining. Why?

I LOVE the fact that there are pockets in this dress! I do find them a tad small (lengthwise- maybe I have big hands), but it's nice to have them anyway. Good for the cell phone or chapstick or whatever.

I paired it with my rain boots and my wool coat for a trip to the pumpkin patch, and I felt appropriately adorned for the fall weather. The linen keeps it casual and comfortable and the whole look was Halloween-ey enough once I added my black crow necklace and the purple striped knee socks that Lincoln picked out for me.

Consensus? I like it! I wasn't really sure about the sweetheart neckline at first, but I think the fabric and color keep the dress from reading too sugary sweet. It's a nice addition to my fall wardrobe, and it was fully stash-busted for a grand total cost of less than $10!

And speaking of things that are cheap and/or free- you might notice that I'm sporting new frames in these pics. I recently took advantage of Firmoo's free glasses promotion, and this is what I picked. I'll be honest, I actually really hate the whole get-something-free-for-blogging-about-it system, but for whatever reason I threw my moral standards out the window for a minute and let Asia send me some free $8 glasses after I saw that VeryPurplePerson did it too.

I'll admit I giggled a little bit at the rough English translations on the website and in the emails that I received from the customer service team, but overall I was really very pleased with my transaction. My free glasses application was processed and approved very quickly (within 24 hours) and my glasses were in my hand in just over two weeks. Pretty impressive!

The fit is comfortable, and they feel much more substantial and well made than I was expecting $8 glasses to feel. I would be confident building my wardrobe of eyeglasses inexpensively with frames from Firmoo. From my experience, the customer service is great, the quality is better than you would expect, and the shipping was quick!

Do you wear glasses? Do you have more than one pair? I have three now, and while I used to think that was silly, I'll admit that I'm glad for it now. It's nice to have an option to match an outfit, and this way there's a better chance that I'll actually have a pair in my bag when I need one.

Oh, and the virtual try-on feature is all kinds of fun too. I never would have been able to choose glasses online if not for that. You should try it! Unlike some places where you have to upload a picture, you can use your computer camera to take a pic right on the website there. It's easy and fun!

October 10, 2012

thanks kollabora!

Somehow, somebody at kollabora recently decided that I was a good candidate for a little treat courtesy of the fine folks at Mood Fabrics. I have no idea how on earth I even appeared on their radar, but I'm sure glad I did! My package arrived yesterday, and I can't wait to stitch it up!

I had my choice of sewing kits, including a pattern, fabric, and notions. I chose this pencil skirt pattern (New Look 6103), because it's a great basic that will play nicely with my in-progress working girl wardrobe. And surprisingly, I didn't already have a pencil skirt pattern in my stash.

I was also given the opportunity to choose any fabric from Mood to substitute into my kit, but I admit, I suffered from a bit of overabundance-of-options anxiety when it came time to pick something. I have a hard time envisioning something from a computer screen swatch, and even though there are a million great options, I took the easy way out and just went with the awesome fabric that Team Kollabora chose. It's a Nicole Miller Rayon/Wool blend, and I think that the border print is such an interesting way to elevate a simple pencil skirt shape like this. I love it!

Thanks so much to Kollabora and Mood for inviting me to play along! I'm excited to dig into the community and see what others are making too!

I've got another garment in progress right now (Cambie, baby!) but I'll be back to share my own pencil skirt soon! I can't promise I'll style it as *ahem* creatively as you see it above, but we'll see! I just might surprise you.

October 8, 2012

Butterick 5598- trench dress

I've been quiet, but there's been quite a bit of sewing happening here lately. Most of it's not for me, but I did manage to sneak in a dress last week. I'm trying to work through my stash of apparel fabrics and get them transformed into something I can use, or move them along to someone who will.

I also felt inspired to create a work wardrobe pinterest board to collect inspiration for the way "grown up me" will dress if I ever have a reason to do so again (perhaps sooner than later). I spent an afternoon scanning ModCloth and Anthro and Banana and all my favorites, just pinning what spoke to me. Then I went through my patterns and tried to find a way to make something come to life with what I already had on hand.

I ended up with quite a few shirt dresses on the board, like Made in the Shade and Crepe Shop, and decided that a solid olive green cotton sateen from my stash was the best candidate for this kind of style.  It's not exactly the same, but Butterick 5598 is the pattern I decided to try, despite my concerns that I might look like a member of the armed forces or the leader of a safari when I was done.

And here's where I ended up. It's a double-breasted trench dress style, fully lined and complete with pockets. It's admittedly a touch militaristic, but I don't mind. I think the pop of bright lining peeking out at the sleeve opening keeps it light, and my wise decision to refrain from adding gold buttons probably helps too.

The lining is left over from my Garden Tour Dress, and I think the contrast of the watermelon against the olive is awesome, if perhaps a bit unconventional. I was too lazy and impatient to get started to wait until I had matching olive thread, so I decided to topstitch the whole thing in black instead. It was a bold choice, but I think it works. Slow and steady is definitely the name of the game when it comes to the miles (and miles) of topstitching that this dress requires.

I really do own an iron, promise.

I love the full skirt and pockets, and thanks to the princess seams it's a great fit all around. I made a size 8 based on the finished garment measurements, although according to the pattern envelope and my own measurements I should have made at least a 10. I didn't want it to fit loosely, because I thought it would really look more like a jacket if it did. I also skipped the tie for the same reason, although that decision was aided by the fact that I ran out of fabric and would have had to piece it together or cut off-grain if I wanted to make it.

Thank the sewing gods this dress calls for a machine-stitched hem, because I don't think we'd be looking at a finished garment if I would have had to hand-stitch that thing down after sewing on the 14 buttons and making 7 buttonholes.

This thing did take a lot of work and time, but I'm pretty happy with the finished product. And I think grown-up me looks pretty fancy, too.

While I was being all organized I also planned a couple more stash-bustin' garments, so I'll be back soon with another installment. I may even follow along with Lladybird's Thurlow Extravaganza, as I think I have the perfect fabric for a pair of trousers. If I end up wearing them half as much as I wore my pink Thurlow shorts this summer, that will be a huge win. If you haven't tried Thurlow yet, you should!