Striped Maxi

The 10-minute maxi.

If you’re a mom to little kids, it’s more like the 22-minute maxi.

Either way, it’s fast.  Why didn’t I make 5 of these at the beginning of Summer?

I followed Sew Caroline’s tutorial and it really does take no time at all.  I did add an extra couple of inches to the length- which was good because after I tried it on, I was able to really get the exact length I wanted by cutting it right across the bottom with my rotary cutter.

 No hemming here!  Boom.  Skirt.

Oh, I also used 1″ elastic in the waistband (instead of 1/2″)… which I think gives a better fit to most elastic-waisted things.

My fabric is a striped bamboo knit from Girl Charlee, though I believe it’s a goner… but there are lots of others to choose from.  It’s really soft, but still substantial enough and stretchy without much curling up.  I love it!

We’re at the beach now, and I decided to be a good blogger and schedule this post for today… I’m probably wearing this baby as we speak, strolling on the boardwalk and picking sand out of my hair.  Surely this skirt will end up balled up in my suitcase (er…laundry basket- anyone else travel by basket?  My husband thinks I’m nuts) but that’s what I like about it- no fuss!

-Erin

Another Ruby

 I’ve worn my first Ruby about 4 times already since I made it.  So I sewed up another… This time however, I decided to take it up a notch.

Literally.

The fabric is from Joann, and it’s one I always stopped to look at and never bought… Glad I finally did!  It’s quilting cotton (Denyse Schmidt), so it’s not quite as soft and light as my last Ruby.  As for the notch, I should’ve added a little interfacing before sewing that, since after a day of wear it sort of starts to flap on one side, but I like it anyway!

Happy Spring Top Sewalong-ing!

-Erin

Ruby

Anyone out there sewing for Spring Top Sewalong?

I am excited to do some sewing for myself for a change, and hoping that I actually wear the items I plan on making this time.  It’s a problem of mine.

This Ruby top is definitely one I will rotate through the ole wardrobe cycle.  It is comfy to the max!

I used a basic white cotton for the yoke, and a really lightweight blue and white striped cotton from Joann.

I decided to line the yoke because I thought it would yield a more professional looking finish, as opposed to the bias tape.  There is a great series of videos that Rae put together for you to follow if you’d like to do this, and honestly, I recommend you go that route too.  I set my iPad up on my sewing desk and spent a couple nights hanging out with Rae as she walked me through each step.  Easy.

 

I cut my pattern between the M and L lines, and followed the Large size when it came to length of all pieces.  Next time around I’ll add 1/2″ to all the shoulder seams so it all hangs lower- It’s a teensy bit to high up under my armpits (you can kind of see in that picture)- BUT… this shirt is so comfortable, I will not reject it as I have some other handmade items (a-hem, a-hem)!

 I think the nice thing about sewing for yourself, is that you can fix/tweak those things to custom fit your body.

I’ll also add a full inch to the length next time too- even though I used a 1″ hem as opposed to the suggested 2″.  I’m 5’11″ and I’ve never owned a shirt that wasn’t too short!

#tallgirlproblems.

If you want a pretty easy sew, and a comfy relaxed fit, you should make a Ruby.

I’ve also heard it makes a GREAT maternity shirt!

Ha. Gotcha!  I’m not packing a baby in there….it was a windy day!

-Erin

Return of the Rookie

I’ll admit it guys, I’m in the weeds this holiday season.  Weeded.  Wee-to-the-DED.  And not in a good way.  If you know what I mean by “in the weeds”, you have probably worked as a server in a busy restaurant.  If you haven’t, then I don’t know you.

Basically, I’m overwhelmed.  Who isn’t?  The lofty plans I had for handmade do-dads for every teacher and person my kid high-fives are probably not gonna happen.  The cookies?  Sorry, you’ll have to settle for chocolate dipped pretzel rods… and I’m pretty sure my girl had her tongue in sprinkles before they were sprinkled.  Handmade dresses or jammies?  Maybe in time for Chinese New Year.

Ya, sure, we celebrate that.

I think I’m starting to get that if you are a parent of children (sorry, dogs don’t count) then you’ve got to get your Christmas act together in September.  Get organized, and get cracking!  Or, you can just be normal, and chill out and relax.  But no!  I can’t!  Jessica said it first and said it best, “Craftiness is Not Optional“.  Best blog name in blogland.  Cause its so freaking true.

Crafters are just not normal.

So, I figured that instead of blogging about sewing bias tape on a tree skirt, *yawn*, I’d introduce you to a little someone special…

Our new nephew, Brady!

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Isn’t he adorable?  He arrived 5 weeks early (November 3, MY birthday!), and was healthy, and cherubic even!  We really hope to get our hands on him soon.

You might remember meeting Brady’s Mom, our big sister Erika, in this post from a while back, when she surprised, okay, shocked us all by learning how to sew during a summer visit.  Since many of you have wondered what became of the “Rookie Seamstress”  (okay, well at least Kristin inquired ;)- girl you always got our back!)  I’m here with the update!

Guess what?  She made this.

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A hospital gown so that she could deliver Brady in style!

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Over the course of a year or so, Erika has sewn a little with her machine- more bibs, a pair of toddler pants.  But, when she found out she was expecting #2, she was on a mission to duplicate a handmade hospital gown that she was given a few years ago before her #1.  Erin and I each borrowed said gown for our #3s.  It really does make you feel special to change into something with a pop of color while you are snuggling up to your brand new baby and paparazzi is in full force.  There’s a little Kardashian in all of us, no?

In order to create this green gown, Erika pretty much deconstructed the gifted one to get a basic pattern.

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Its a pretty basic shape, but, she had to figure out the snaps and openings which got a little tricky for her.

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Erika got some help from our mom with the finishings, and she might have declared that she would NEVER SEW AGAIN, but seriously, how good is this? Please help us convince her not to Craigslist her machine!

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By the way, these photos were taken this summer when E was visiting.  I wanted her to guest blog like she did the first time, her perspective is so blunt honest, but she just kept avoiding me when I’d ask.  Its not for everyone.

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Maybe looking back on this project after its been a few months, will help her to realize how great of a job she did.  Its empowering to make a wearable garment!  Awesome work Erika- on that gown, and even more so, on this little guy!

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We love him already!

~Caroline

Washi #1

I titled this post ‘Washi #1′ because there will be a #2.  And a #3.  Aaaaannnd probably a #4.

Really.  I love it that much!

If you follow any action in sewing-blog land, you’ll have seen many Washi dressses and tunics floating around.   It’s a thoughtful pattern created by Rae.  Rae has some great patterns and tutorials out there- I’ve learned a LOT from her site, so it was no question that I’d give this pattern a try.  The back of the dress/tunic has several rows of shirring that help to keep the bodice fitting comfortable, yet snug at the same time….the skirt piece is pleated….and I’m convinced this would look good on anyone.

I solicited some advice from Kristin (thanks girl!) who’s two Washis are some of my favorites.  (You can check out tons in the Washi Flickr pool)

I especially loved her second (who didn’t?) which has a lovely scooped out neckline.  I took her advice and cut about 1″ more into the pattern and shaped it a bit wider at the bottom to give it a fuller U shape.  I lengthened my bodice 1″ since I’m tall (as in 5’11″ kind of tall)… I’m so glad i did- it pretty much fits perfectly.  I also lengthened my skirt piece by a good 1 1/2 ” to hit right where I wanted it to.  Better to give yourself a little wiggle room if you’re not sure…I added 2 1/2 inches to the pattern and then cut about an inch off before I hemmed it.

 P.S., if you think you need to lengthen your bodice too, add the inch on the back piece above the highest shirring lines… the bottom shirring line should be right at the seam where the bodice meets the skirt.  It seemed to work out nicely for me anyway.

My fabric choice is one I’m super happy with. It’s Marqueterie in Berry from Pat Bravo’s Indie line. I don’t own a whole lot of floral in my wardrobe, so I wasn’t too sure when I ordered it, but it spoke to me, so I went with it and crossed my fingers. I think it’s fallish, but at the same time i think the colors lend themselves to any season. Oh, I also cut my fabric pieces out oppostie than way Rae suggests, just because I liked the flowery parts to go across my body instead of up and down, just perferred it that way when I took a long look at it.

Oh, and don’t get ahead of yourself- make a muslin to make sure it’ll fit before you cut into your nice fabric.  All you need to do is cut the bodice out and sew the bust darts…. depending on your chest size, you may need to do an FBA or SBA (as in a full or small bust adjustment).  I did not have to make any adjustments… but I’m still nursing.  Believe me when i tell you I will be making an SBA on this pattern when i stop!  Bye, bye boobage….

I would say the ONLY thing I would change next time around is the armholes, which for me and my somewhat broad upper-body, fit just a little too snug- I’ll blame that on my years of competetive (update: *cough*…highschool) swimming growing up- not the pattern!  I’ll probably cut into the armholes an extra 1/2″ next time around.  No biggie.  I’m still gonna wear the heck out of this.

It’s so satisfying to sew for ME!  I’m still somewhat of a novice sewer (got 2 1/2 years of practice under my belt)… so if I can make one of these, so can you. After the last couple of dresses for Ell got hung up in the closet- probably for good- it was really nice to focus on my own wardrobe… which is now hurting just a little bit less thanks to this shirt.  :)

I am envisioning a few more… one with long sleeves (Rae is working on that, yay!), A dress version, a mini version… yup, I said mini…. check out Kristin and Rae’s MINI Washi dresses for their girls…. riDONKulous!  The possibilities are endless, which is the mark of such a great pattern- props to Rae for perfecting the design and sharing it with all of us who love to sew!

-Erin

Two by Heather Ross

So, I’ve been MIA for a while, and I don’t have much to show for it.  It was the end of June, on a dark and stormy night, when I sat down at my machine to start the Mendocino Sundress I’d been planning for weeks.  Just as I secured my fabric beneath the presser foot, the lights flickered and the power went out!  Our power was out for EIGHT days! When we were finally able to come back home, it was time to pack for California.  I took the kids by myself to visit my husband’s family for a 15 day trip.  I brought my knitting, but didn’t get to it much.  Maybe because I became a Words With Friends geek while I was out there?  This game is truly coming between me and my crafting!  Make me stop!  I’m neglecting my fellow bloggers! August now, and I finally got back to that dress, still pinned and waiting patiently in a cluttered corner of the house.  Here it is:

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Happy happy with the results!  I just knew this pretty lawn cotton would be worth the wait.  I also knew that getting some shirring practice in before attempting it on this expensive stuff was a smart move.

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I purchased the fabric at a local shop called Les Fabriques.  A 50% off Living Social coupon made it a sweet deal!  There was no other info on the bolt besides “lawn cotton”.  I was told it comes from their vendor in New York, which I jotted down, but can’t seem to locate now.

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It is so light weight and comfortable.  I definitely recommend buying the Gutterman elastic thread over the cheaper stuff, if you want to shirr something more special (Though practice with the cheaper stuff for sureshirr!). I probably went through 3 spools, but it was worth it.  Also, a busy pattern helps to hide wobbly rows :).

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Check it out, I made pockets!  The pattern (which is a free download) includes pockets, but does not give much instruction.  You have to really have to think things through before you sew up your inside seams.  I can see how easy it would be to wind up wrong side fabric peeking out of your pockets.  Watch a video first.

Image That’s my 6 month bump there.  I probably haven’t mentioned yet that it’s a BOY!  I will have to get to work on some Big Butt Baby Pants!  I like this dress for maternity wear, but think it will fit just fine next spring when baby is on my hip instead.

Next up, is the “Trapeze Sundress” from Weekend Sewing by Heather Ross.  I wound up with this adorable frock after our dear friend, and domestic goddess, Grayson, sewed it up for herself, and then decided the results were undeniably pregnant.  I win!

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I just love this color and the big peonies!  Grayson is not sure where she picked up this fabric (Jo-ann, she thinks). It is a heavy weight cotton though, not something I find much at Jo Jos.  Might be able to update this info for you later.

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I also have this Heather Ross book, but haven’t tried much from it.  I’ve heard that the errata page is extensive.  Any thoughts out there?

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I have to thank my Gungie sister, Erin, for putting up with such an awkward model.  This is not my favorite part about sewing/blogging for myself!

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Big thank you to Grayson for passing this dress along to me!  We’d love to feature more of your work here!  This woman has mad skillz! Have a good weekend ya’ll! ~Caroline

Rest a-shirred…

…I figured it out!  Shirring (pronounced sure-ing), or smocking, is a skill that I have been wanting to learn for quite some time now.  Erin has made some cute shirred dresses for the girls, and has expressed how fun and simple the technique is.  The idea is that you fill your bobbin with elastic thread while keeping regular thread up top, sew rows and rows, and watch it pucker!  I chose The Mendocino Sundress pattern, by Heather Ross, as my first shirred project.  As our blogger guru Rae often suggests, I made a muslin version first, before subjecting my special lawn cotton to this unfamiliar pattern.  I thought this pretty old sarong would be so-right for practicing (I know, so many puns, so little time).  The edges already with a rolled hem!

Pretty, yes, but also a pain in the you-know-what to work with!  It was like sewing with gauze!  Things didn’t go well in the beginning.  I think I had cut the pattern too small, and as soon as I got going I knew I would not be able to stretch this thing over my bust.  So, I chopped off the top, and that became a skirt for Avery!

Starting over,  I hopped online to watch some shirring tutorials.  After gathering some handy tips and visuals, I got back to my dress, er… tunic.  A couple of days, and a whole lot of elastic thread later, I was done!

Cute, right?  I want to live in this easy, breezy top!  It is so comfy and pregnant friendly!  Here’s a close-up of the shirring.

There are tons of flaws, but who can tell?  Shirring is evidently very forgiving.  Which is why I’m in LOVE!

In keeping with my tan lines, I opted for halter straps.  I can always change that later.  Thanks to my mom, who happened by as I was finishing, I got a proper shoot with a real photographer!

If only there were a tropical vacation in my future!   I am now fully confident in cutting up my nice fabric for the smocked sundress I have planned.  Be back with that in a few days!  Thanks for coming by.

~Caroline