January 31, 2013

Sewing for Juniper

I've made a few things for Juniper over the last couple months that I haven't bothered to post or review because they're so simple, but I decided I'll just pile them all into one post so I can move on. Also, I'm sure you're dying to see some pictures of the little doll, who's 11 months old now and trying to walk. She's adorable!

Juniper! 11 months old.

Here she's sporting pink and red (one of my personal favorite color combos), and her new leggings were just finished this morning. They're sewn up in red cotton interlock (leftovers from Lincoln's Halloween costume) using the leggings pattern by Johnny Mango Seed. I could have probably traced a pair she already had, but I found Johnny Mango Seed through the magic of the interwebs, and honestly, I'm more than happy to support this small business. All of the patterns appear to be on sale right now, so go check it out!

This pattern includes sizes ranging from 3M to big girls size 8, so I know I'll be using it for years to come. And there's just one (1!) pattern piece. A leg. There's no outside leg seam, so just sew the inseam, crotch seam, apply elastic, hem if you want, and you're done! There's really no reason not to make a pair in every color of the rainbow, since they take about 20 minutes from start to finish.

And in case you're curious- Juniper is wearing the 12 month size unaltered. She's about 22 lbs, 11 months old, and on the short side. They're a little long on her, but that means she'll be able to wear them longer than 5 minutes, so I'm good with that. I also took up about 1/2" for a hem, which is an optional step in the pattern, but I think it looks cute with a 3-step zig-zag.


This picture is from before Christmas when I made the little Ottobre Pinafore dress/top she's wearing. You might recognize the fabric as the same baby-wale corduroy that I used to make myself a skirt in November. I actually purchased the fabric with this little jumper in mind, but obviously bought way too much (lucky for me).

Vivielle Pinafore Dress

This is another criminally easy pattern. Three pattern pieces (front, back, sleeve) and a little bit of elastic shirring. Easy peasy, and quite cute! It's from Ottobre issue 4/2011, pattern #5, the Vivielle Pinafore Dress. I made Junie size 62 with no alterations and it fits as a top, but even when I first made it it was too short to be a dress.

The only real trouble I had with this pattern was with the shirring. Initially, I made five individual lines across the front and back, but the knots came loose and the elastic threads pulled out after I had the whole thing assembled. I went back and ran my shirring over the same lines, but stepped down to each row with a couple of stitches on the ends, so now it's all one long line of stitching running back and forth instead. I tied those loose ends extra well and added some fray check to glue them and they're holding up just fine.

How do you normally finish the ends of your shirring? I thought that the seam connecting on the sleeves would be enough to hold it, but obviously I was wrong.

Crumpled Leggings

Also from Ottobre (and way back in October), are the Crumpled Leggings (pattern #4 from issue 6/2011). These are also size 62 with no alterations. They look a lot darker in the photos here, but they're actually what is hanging below the corduroy pinafore in the brighter window shots above. They're a raspberry pink interlock that was leftover from a top I made myself long ago.

Crumpled Leggings

Here you can see the cute little ruched detail at the ankle- achieved by sewing a strip of clear elastic to the leg and then covering it with a ribbon. Easy, fun, and looks very RTW, dontcha think?

Toddler Jammies Toddler PJs from jersey nightshirt

And finally, we have two pairs of little PJs that I made by cutting up an old, threadbare set that we had inherited in order to make a pattern. There's nothing special here- it's just a long sleeve tee and fitted pants, but I had to show them to you so you can see my innovation. See, the problem with a teeny little tee like this is that it's just a little square- not much shaping. I realized the morning after I put Juniper to sleep in the red ones that I put the shirt on her backwards! So when I made the pink ones the next day, I added this:

Butterfly tag

I found a whole bag of these little embroidered appliques at the thrift store (almost 100 in various styles for like $2), and I didn't know what I would ever do with them, but now I do!

Embroidered Applique "tag"

Yes, I have tags, but I don't always like to put them in the neck because I don't want to cause irritation. These little embroidered patches are pretty soft though, and bonus points for total cuteness, right?

So there you have it. A capsule-wardrobe for the cutest little thing in the house! While I do enjoy the satisfaction of sewing something complicated, for the kiddos sometimes it's just best to knock out a few quick basics. They grow out of everything so fast, it seems crazy to spend too much time or resources on their clothes. Those are time and resources that are obviously better spent on clothing myself, after all!

January 29, 2013

Merry Christmas to me!

Guys, I'm not gonna lie. I kind of hate January. I've been really feeling the cold and grey this year, and it's just making everything feel so blah. Doesn't help that it's tax time- but I've already complained about that so I won't whine further. And after publicly proclaiming that 2012 was sewing-fail-free, the first thing to come off my machine in 2013 was awful. Ugh! Then my sewing machine broke down, we all got sick, and it should be obvious now why I've stayed away from this space for a little bit. You're welcome!

I think we're mostly recovered from our illnesses now, I picked my machine up from service yesterday, and the taxes are mostly done. I have been sewing despite it all, and I even have a couple of finished garments to show you. But not today- no pictures yet, and the items are in the wash. We got winners this time though, so hooray! Still trying to figure out what to do with the loser from the beginning of the month. It's salvageable, but I'm just not sure how yet.

So, what the hell am I doing here? I just popped in to show you the amazing gift that David made me for Christmas this year! I've been wanting to for weeks, but the dreary grey weather would not provide enough light for decent pics, and they really deserve decent pics. See:

Sewing Machine

It's impossible to tell scale here with no reference in the picture, but these are little dollhouse miniatures in a 4.5" x 6.5" frame. Hubby hand painted the models and even padded out the wire dress form with batting and fabric to make it look more realistic! Each model is mounted to a different damask fabric background.

Dress Form

I love them and can't wait to give them an honored spot in my sewing room. They're resting on the mantle right now so I can enjoy them until that happens, because honestly it might be awhile!

Ironing Board

Aren't they awesome?!? He was inspired by an artist that we saw at a craft show here in Seattle- it might have been the Etsy Rain show a couple years back? Anyway, Deviant Decor is all about mounting tiny little strange things like plastic rhino heads to make awesome art. We saw a piece she made with a sewing machine on it, and I thought it was so cool I even went back and pinned it a year later. He pays attention, and now I have my own custom collection of sewing-themed art!

I admit that I didn't make anything half as cool for David this year (poor guy), but I did stitch up a gift for Lincoln that I've been meaning to show you. I'll get some pics and write up a review of the pattern I used sometime soon.

Hope you're coping with the winter better than I am! Is it grey and depressing where you live, too? I love the Pacific Northwest in general, but man- it really does suck this time of year. Stay warm!

January 4, 2013

Top 5 2012- Goals & Inspiration

I've been a little preoccupied the last week or so trying to catch up on my accounting for the year (poke me in the eye, please) but I don't want to wait too long to post my final thoughts on 2012 and Gillian's wrap up. I've decided to combine the last two parts of the Top 5 posts into one, so what follows are my thoughts on my goals for 2013, as well as a roundup of my favorite sewing inspirations from 2012.

Like many before me have noted, it was really hard to narrow the field of inspiring blogs down to just five, but I just went with my first instincts. I'm still discovering new blogs all the time, and I try to keep my blogroll on my front page up to date with who I'm currently reading if you're looking for more inspiring seamsters or just good reads.

When I started brainstorming this list, Steph C. of 3 Hours Past and Cake Patterns came to mind immediately. She's got more talent than I could ever dream of having, and I love how she uses her blog to philosophize about things related to sewing and fashion (sustainability, color, body image) in addition to all the pattern hacks and construction tips and helpful sewing tutorials that she shares. Her posts are always interesting and I always learn something new.

Tasia of Sewaholic and Sunni at A Fashionable Stitch certainly belong on this list as well. Not only do I love Tasia's patterns, but I also admire the helpful tutorials she posts and have spent quite a bit of time perusing her archives learning various techniques. They've both got an impressive collection of tips and tricks posted on their sites, and they've been a great reference when I've needed help with something specific. Writing helpful tutorials is no easy feat, and both of these ladies have it figured out. I really appreciate that they're so willing to share their knowledge with the rest of us.

Lauren of Lladybird inspires me with her impeccable taste and impressive skills, but also because she's so damn prolific in her production! She posted her 2012 recap recently and revealed that she made 52 garments last year! She sews AND she knits (sweaters, not just scarves) AND she has a full time job and I'm 100% sure she has a much more interesting social life than I do. I don't know how she does it, but I find it inspiring, indeed. If I could manage to produce half as much that was half as great as she does I would be a happy lady!

And finally, another prolific lady. Tempest of fanbloomingtastic gets my huge round of applause for sewing her way through the entire Sew Weekly year. As an early drop-out myself, I appreciate and admire her tenacity and always enjoyed seeing what she was up to. Check out her full range of projects on The Sew Weekly here.

As far as my goals for 2013 go, I'm hesitant to make too many proclamations because I know the way my brain works and I'll be off on some very different tangent in a heartbeat. I do have some vague directions in mind though- for life, sewing, and my business (which are all related, essentially).

My number one biggest goal for 2013 is to settle on the next direction for my business(es). Plot a course, make a plan, follow through, etc. I launched twilltapeshop.com in July, and thanks to the craziness that is life and the particular brand of limbo that we've found ourselves in for the last few months (details potentially forthcoming), I have yet to fully develop the site or determine its future. It's just kind of "there" and that's not really good enough for me. I think it's also time to accept that if I'm going to continue to grow as a business person, I'm going to need some specialized help. I need to decide if I plan to continue doing all the sewing for twilltape myself, or if there are other solutions. I've been researching contract sewing, but can't seem to get a response from anyone that I've contacted so far. I want to sort that out soon. I also need bookkeeping help or professional accounting advice. I've been muddling my way through everything solo, as is my way, but here's a pro tip: that's not a very sustainable way to run a business. All these things take money though, and that's in short supply in these parts. I know that the solution is out there, and this year it's my goal to figure it all out.

Next, I have a general goal to keep learning about sewing (and fitting in particular). I was gifted two Craftsy courses for Christmas from my generous Sister-in-law, and I think this will be a good start on this road. I'm having a hard time deciding what to take though! I think I have it narrowed down to Sew the Perfect Fit and Pant Fitting Techniques to start, but I also really want to take Jeanius, The Couture Dress, Pant Construction Techniques, Tailoring Ready to Wear, and the Sassy Librarian Blouse (among others). I would love to work my way through them all this year, but I don't know how realistic that is. I'll start with my two gifted classes (if I can ever decide which ones to take), and see how it goes. I would really like to expand my understanding of fit so I can make clothes that fit me well, and learn more about altering patterns to really fit my body.

On a much more specific note, I would love to learn to sew lingerie this year too. I've been admiring the bra-sewing skills of many bloggers for a long time, but haven't tried myself yet (for good reason). I'm actually ashamed to admit that I haven't even purchased any new bras since I was pregnant with Lincoln (he's three), and I've recently thrown those ones out because my non-pregnant body did not quite *ahem* fill them out anymore. So yes, that means that all my bras are older than my offspring, and the fit of the best fitting among them is questionable to say the very least. Now don't get me wrong, I don't have grand plans to make all of my lingerie from here on, but I would like to at least give it a try. And yes, I will be buying myself some new pieces too, don't worry (or call the health department). I'm just waiting to be all done breastfeeding and let things settle in at their new dimensions before I do. But I'm excited to try something new. Maybe this will be a project for Spring?

I also want to keep busting my way through my stash of fabric and patterns, and keep creating wearable garments for myself and my kiddos (maybe even David). I got a little bit organized on this front a couple months ago and pulled out some of the most promising cuts from my fabric shelves so I could match them up to patterns I already owned and make some plans. I've got a few big zip top bags organized with patterns, fabric, and notions for assorted projects, but that's as far as I've gotten. I have a tendency to get distracted by shiny things and rather than reaching for a project that's all ready to go, I find myself digging through the fabric drawers and pattern boxes looking for something new to inspire me. I guess that makes sense because I'm a total commitment-phobe, but I love planning and organizing things! I've got to try to reign that in this year, and develop some focus.

Lastly, I have a few little projects that I keep ignoring that I just really want to clear from my list. They include mostly mending and altering types of projects- like some jeans I need to hem and a skirt I need to shorten, and some other things that I have piled up in my sewing room in a corner (on the floor). Shameful! I also need to replace the lining in the pockets of my winter coats, as they all have holes. It makes me crazy because I can't put my keys in my pocket or they'll fall through to the hem of my coat. I haven't tackled this because I'm kind of afraid to rip my coats open, but I think it will be easy enough to do. I just need to find the motivation to do it! I know from experience that it will feel so good to clear that pile up though, so it's going on my list in this official capacity. Consider it done! Probably pretty soon(ish)...

So that's it! No specific number of garments or grand plans to join in on any special happenings that I can later abandon. I'm just going to play it by ear and try to keep on sewing good stuff. Learn and grow, right? Thanks again to Gillian for creating this end-of-year wrap up. It was fun to look back on what happened this year, and make some plans for the future too! I'm still catching up on reading everyone's posts, thanks to the other end-of-year business I've been attending to in Quickbooks lately, but I'll get there! And thanks to everyone for sharing and for reading along! Hope we all have a great 2013!