Friday, December 25, 2015

handmade presents: tiny cacti pin-cushions!

Merry Christmas and happy celebrations of all kinds! Now that presents have been gifted at my house, I can finally show you what I've been making for other's over the last few (more than few) months. First up, these RIDICULOUSLY CUTE TINY CACTI PIN-CUSHIONS! I saw the tutorial here on the A Beautiful Mess blog, so you can make some,too!

One for my mom, and my sister, and my gramma..... and one for me :)

Monday, September 28, 2015

scout dress success!

Hello sewing world! I've actually made a couple of items in the past month, but have been bad about photographing and blogging them. BUT here is my latest make which I'm very pleased with: a Grainline Scout DRESS!

I really liked the fit of my first Scout Tee, and it is so easy to make with only 4 pattern pieces and no darts. I just lengthened the hemline, continuing the slight A-line of the side seams. I made this in a polyester crepe-like-fabric, which is medium weight and just the tiniest bit spongy. I actually used the wrong side as my right side. The "right side" had a little too much sheen, and the wrong side was a lovely matte black. I think the matte side looks like a much more expensive fabric, and way more wearable day to day.  It was great to sew with, although it didn't hold a press well at all. My first hem was about an inch, which without being able to press a nice edge just puffed out and looked awful. I unpicked it and did a narrow hem that came out beautifully, as it did on the sleeves. It's funny how you learn that each fabric has it's own preferences in how it wants to be handled and finished.

I had a hard time getting the neck facing to fit all the way around, so you can seem some puckering (but no gathers!) in the back. It turns out, I had cut the facing two sizes smaller! Oops! Well, it doesn't bother me enough to unpick it at this point, because overall this was a very successful dress!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

stuff i've made for my sister

Hello again! Today is a quick post to show you a couple things I've made for my sister in Philly. She always sends me pictures of what I send her, so I hope she doesn't mind that I share them with you! This first is a picture of something I didn't sew, but did design and screenprint as part of my Filbert & Maggie line:

She sent it too me, because someone told her she looked like a Mainer today with her Maggie May t-shirt, jeans and Birkenstocks. Well, she is from Maine...

The other picture is another McCalls 6744. I made her a feather-print version for her birthday last summer, and she wears it all the time so she asked me to make her another. This time I used some polyester (I think?) knit fabric I had in my stash. It has a black lace print, which was just the perfect scale for this dress. This pattern is super easy to sew, with only 4 pattern pieces and about 3 hours start to finish. For her, it fits perfect right out of the envelope... I don't even have to alter the hem length. 

Monday, August 17, 2015

inside a papercut printed pattern

Hello again! I've got another neat independent pattern to share with you today, this time from Papercut Patterns! I'll admit, I've not really considered purchasing their patterns before, in part because of the $25 (NZD) price tag and also... I'm not a big fan of their styling in their pattern photos. It's just not my vibe... but after a lot of though on what to make with my fabulous Italian silk splurge, and with their free international shipping and a favorable USD to NZD exchange rate, suddenly I found myself with a beautiful, Papercut Patterns Midsummer Night's Dream Dress pattern! Want to see what one of these looks like? Take a peek!

Here is how it arrived, all the way from New Zealand!



A nice, thick box to hold all the pieces.

Inside: a large single, craft-paper-style sheet with printed pattern and instructions, and a piece of string to keep all your pieces together once they are cut out.

Instructions to cut out and assemble a booklet with sewing instructions and information. (and my foot) 

The box turns into a hanger, and included instructions to hang your pattern pieces all together after using. I will most likely trace my pattern pieces, and keep the sheet in-tack a and store in the box.

Friday, August 14, 2015

fall sewing ideas

I'm not going to be so confident to call this a fall sewing plan... because let's be real, I don't really know what my fall schedule will allow for sewing time now that I'm back to work and school. So here's a reasonable "wish-list" of things I'd like to make for me! You'll notice a lot of basics in basic colors, kinda boring for you I suspect, but I've noticed some wardrobe gaps and wanted to make things I know will get a lot of wear using some of my newly-determined tried-and-true patterns.

1.) Scout Tee

I bought some black, white and ivory rayon fabrics to make few of these, as well as a poly with a slight luster to attempt a dressier version. The fabric has the same look as the cotton/silk blend I used for my black maxi-dress, but was 1/4 of the cost. If it comes out well I'll splurge on some more of that lovely fabric for winter!

2. simple tops

I purchased some lightweight, crinkly bright coral poly (I know...) and a soft, semi-shear, grey-scale print to make into and easy  Megan Nielsen Eucalypt Tank. I wear my cotton version all the time, so it;s time to make some more!

I may also use some leftover fabric from the Scout Tee for a Lemon Drop Top by SBCC Patterns. They make patterns specifically designed for petites... I need shop from them more often!

3. Jeans! Burda 7214

I've been itching to make jeans ever since the Ginger Jeans popped up all over the blog-o-sphere. They all look so good! But they still seemed a little scary... with all the fancy jeans details (even though all the blogs assure me she makes it super simple!). Then a few days ago One Small Stitch posted her Burda 7214 success, and I decided these were the next pants I want to try! She talks about how easy it was to fit this pattern, which is something I can have challenges with. The pattern is discontinued and it took me a few days to track down a copy online. I would make a plain and simple version without any extra fancy details in denim first, and if that goes well maybe black. 

If you've looked back in my blog you'll see I've made both of these patterns recently (plus one more skirt yet to blog!) and like them a lot. I have 1.5 yards of dark khaki bottom-weight cotton with ab it of stretch, and think it should be come on of these two patterns. If I decided on shorts I better make them soon before it gets too cold! If I make the skirt, it would be view C but with the ties from A, and maybe add a center front and back seam to get a more RTW look. What do you think I should make?

5. Tilly and the Buttons Fifi Set!

Because I deserve some pretty pjs! And this grey challis is sooo soft!

6.) Pencil Skirts

A grey wool and a black, quilted leather(ish) pencil skirt using my custom-drafted skirt pattern. I know... quilted leather? But they had a fabric at Joann's that look very cool.

7. Black A-line or sheath dress.

I'm thinking about either extending the length of the Scout Tee (that I love so much!), or trying the Laurel by Colette Patterns (which I hear nothing but praise for!). I have yet to find the right fabric, so that my determine my pattern choice and timeline for making it.

8. A Sport Coat for Mr. SewRachel

He's been asking for one for a while (does he understand how hard a men's jacket it?!?!), and now he has a job where he will need to wear one once in a while... but lets look at the list above and be real... probably not going to happen. Haven't even picked out a pattern....

This winter....

When I was visiting Italy this summer I splurged on some fun, designer Italian silk! I was only going to buy a meter to make a top, because it was a little pricey, but he ended up selling me what was left on the bolt for a meter and a half... so now I have 2.5 yards! i can make a dress! I think this print would be great as a Papercut Patterns Midsummer Night's Dream Dress. This dress is not something I'll need for my fall/winter wardrobe, so it's not too high on the priority list. Maybe I'll make it when I'm on winter break, as I'll was time to make a mock-up first before I cut into my lovely silk!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

summer taylor shorts

Last year I made a pair of printed GreenStyle Creation's Taylor Shorts and loved them, but sadly this year they are a little too snug to wear. That pattern fit so well before, that I printed off another copy (a plus to PDF patterns!) and just cut the next size up.
Check them out here:
You need very little fabric for the 2" inseam version, so I was able to cut a pair our of leftover black cotton/poly twill in my stash from the foldover tote bag I had made form  my sister way-back-when. The only things I had to purchase for this project was a zipper and some trouser hook & eyes, for a grand total of about $3.50!

Ignore the bunny fur... it's a constant in our house.

Sorry for the over-exposure... but it helps to see the details on a black garment! I adjusted the waistband to sit a little lower over the front of my hips, as the fabric was really pooling across the pockets. That might be why the hemlines got a little uneven along the sides, but not so badly that I'm going to unpick and re-sew them.

As I mentioned when I blogged my last pair of Taylor shorts, the pattern comes with great instructions with lots of photos. And this time I only had to unpick one seam when sewing in the fly! (I sewed the zipper all on one side....)

Aside from lowering the waistband in the front, the only other change I made to the pattern instructions was to understitch the pocket lining, so my fun, light-colored cotton lining wouldn't peak out!

oooo look at that nice top stitching!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

the good, bad and ugly scout tee

Cheap, synthetic, silky fabrics are yucky. They are yucky to work with and often yucky to wear... so why are they so irresistible in the fabric store?!?! I bought this blue "simply silky print" at Joann Fabrics, because "look how pretty it is!". I knew it should be another Grainline Scout Tee.

It came out looking pretty good overall! Fits nicely, sleeves set well. And actually, this particular silky synthetic feels nice to wear.

I made a mistake. After spending quite a bit of time laying out the wiggly, wobbly fabric so my lines would lie straight across the body and the little waves/fishy scales lay in the correct directions... I cut the back piece upside down. I really wanted the print to lay like fish scales all around the top (I know, who actually WANTS to look like a fish? Me, it turns out.). It doesn't look that bad, but does kinda spoil the effect I was super excited for.

Remember how silky synthetics are not fun to sew with? Well, this fabric certainly had it's challenges. As I mentioned, it wiggled and wobbled, taking a lot of time and concentration to cut out the pieces accurately. It also wiggled and wobbled as it went under the machine, so the sides seams have a little puckering. They all really falls more under "bad"... the ugly is the neck binding:

Yuck! It slipped under my machine, it puckered the neckline, and just wouldn't lay flat! Thankfully, I was able to hand stitch down the areas that slipped out from the machine's needle without it showing too badly, and could iron most of the puckering out, getting it to lay flat(ter). Also, the sheen on the fabric is actually working with me by hiding some of these less-than-perfect bits when I wear it. 

My narrow hems on both the bottom of the shirt and sleeves came out really, really well! It was nice to end this sewing with a real high note, otherwise this top may have ended up in the trash. I could say the fabric behaved well for the narrow hem.... but I'm going to go ahead and think that is was just the seamstress demonstrating some especially nice sewing skills. :)