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Summer Style

I’ve come to realize that up until now my summer style has been way too predictable.  Capri leggings with tunics or dresses.  That’s it!  I told myself this had to change.  While comfortable, I needed to branch out of loungewear and wear some real clothes.  Or, as my husband used to call it- daywear into evening wear into sleepwear.  In other words I was wearing clothes that sometimes transitioned into pajamas!  Yikes.  First step in changing this is replacing the leggings with skirts.  Easy.  Using this tutorial from MADE I whipped up a pattern according to my measurements to make a simple knit pencil skirt.  While I’ve attempted to do this myself in the past for some reason I never thought to slice off inches from the top and bottom of the skirt to give it some shape.  What a difference it makes!

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This is made using a navy floral ponte de roma from Girl Charlee.  I had originally purchased 3 yards with the idea of making a dress, but when I washed and went to cut the fabric I noticed horizontal runs through most of the yardage!  What I was able to salvage was not enough to make a dress at all…so this skirt was born.  I’ve already worn it countless times and have recieved many compliments.  Once my attic sewing room cools off a bit I may whip up a few more for when I return to work in the fall.  They are ridiculously easy and quick to make and make me feel put together with virtually no effort.  Just as easy as the capri leggings but much more stylish!

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Ready for Spring

This winter is dragging on, and on.  It’s now mid-February and Spring is around the corner on the calendar but in Buffalo we know we’ve got at least a few months left of frigid temps.  We are in a crazy cold and snow spell- it is -6 degrees out right now, there is a travel advisory and we are hunkering down indoors.  Of course this is a time where I am on vacation for president’s day week and I actually have time to sew but my fabric stash is running low!  Thinking I’m not crazy enough to venture out just to buy fabric I decided to get a little creative with what I’ve got  I had purchased two yards of this pretty Kelly Green peach skin fabric from Girl Charlee a few months back with the idea of making a Staple dress for the spring or summer but thought it might make a great top…so I got to work.  Please excuse the pics…obviously too cold to take pics outside and these were taken by a short photographer- my 8 year old daughter!  Bad angle and pretty blurry.  Oh well.

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I adapted the pattern to be a boxy, simple top by chopping off about 6 inches from the length.  I kept the pockets but did not add the shirring- I wanted to keep it simple and thought that given the shorter length and the busy pattern it would be more flattering without it.  I am so happy with it!  The fit is perfect, so comfortable yet still form fitting.  I can see wearing this with jeans or leggings (as pictured) and would look equally good with a cardigan…because remember- it is 6 degrees below zero outside!  This little project was just enough to get my sewing mojo back on and I look forward to the weather thawing just a bit so that I can make it back out to shop for more fabric.  Or, maybe I should do a little online shopping to hold me over!

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Yet Another Staple Dress…more like Staple top

Quick and easy projects seem to be the way to go these days.  Trying out a new pattern requires time…time I don’t seem to have these days.  So, here is another tried and true pattern- The Staple Dress.  Super simple to sew up when you’ve made several already and the pattern is already printed and pieced together.  All that is left to do is cut it out and sew it up!  I’ve blogged about this pattern a few times, and have probably sewn at least 4 variations already.

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I bought this fabric from Girlcharlee a while ago, I loved the print and colors but was unsure of the fabric since they had just started offering wovens and I was unsure of the weight/quality.  Its called Vintage Confetti Crepe de Chine and is available here.  It is 100% polyester, and other than the static cling that I am contending with I would totally recommend it!

It is a much bolder print than I’d normally go for, but really love how it looks paired with my everyday uniform of skinny pants, boots and a cardigan!  I altered the pattern slightly as I did in this version– cutting the dress straight across the bottom and shortening it a bit to tunic length.  I knew I’d never be wearing this without pants!

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My sewing machine was not cooperating with me when I was trying to shirr the fabric so I opted to zig zag some 1/4 inch elastic to the inside instead and I love how it turned out- so much faster than shirring as well.

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Another Moneta!

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To say I am in love with this pattern would be an understatement.  What is more comfortable than a knit dress with an elasticized waistband and flowy skirt?  Anything?  No- I didn’t think so.  Being able to sew one up in less than a few hours and feel beautiful wearing it= major bonus.  Unfortunately I am on the fence about my fabric choice for this one.  On the one hand I feel like I am wearing a retro floral cocktail dress…on the other hand I feel like a 1980’s Laura Ashley comforter.  The verdict is still out on this one!  Anyways, It feels really good, was easy to make, is comfortable and fits perfectly.

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I chose to use a ponte de roma fabric for this version- it is a nice medium weight jersey with great stretch and is completely opaque so no fear of anything showing through!  I purchased my fabric from girlcharlee.com- and while I love most of what I have purchased from them this already looks a little fuzzy to me- so I am not sure how it will wear in time.  I made the unlined 3/4 sleeve version with no collar.  I think this will be worn pretty frequently with a pair of pumps or boots to work.  If I can get over the feeling of being wrapped in an old floral comforter!

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Jersey Staple Dress

Ok, so I picked up a print pattern copy of the Staple Dress by April Rhodes on a recent trip to Toronto…from The Workroom (love that store!)  I had been thinking about this pattern for a long time after seeing so many versions of it in the blogosphere since it was released.  So even though I may be late on the bandwagon I finally gave in and picked up a copy.

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I really prefer purchasing print patterns rather than downloading the pdf but given the lack of any real great independent fabric shop in the Buffalo area I usually have to download- unless I visit a major city- boo.  Anyways, the pattern was purchased and since then I have made 4 versions- yikes.  Each time I attempted a different fabric choice to see what works best for me.  I kept wanting to try again to make me love it- but not sure if I still do.  I guess I will see once the weather changes and I can style them with boots and cardigans.  I am sure they will be great when I go back to work in the fall, just not sure if they are the greatest silhouette for my body as is.

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So, here is actually my fourth version…but my first to blog about.  Using less than 2 yards of leftover Blue Denim Heather Jersey from Girlcharlee.com I sewed this up last night.  I used a light blue store bought bias tape, and made the pockets out of a scrap of mustard/cream fabric.  I have never used a woven bias tape on a knit fabric before but I think it worked out great and provided some stability to the neckline and armholes.  Unfortunately I did not adjust for the stretch of the jersey and should have sized down a size in the pattern for this fabric.  This is particularly a problem for the armholes- I apologize for the glimpses of my bra in some of these pictures- the armholes are HUGE!  Not sure I will be wearing this much until I can throw on a cardigan.  Or just don’t raise up my arms.  That’s practical right?  I am thinking I might do a post in a few months on how I style all of these summer dresses when the season changes- I am already excited about it!

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I love how this is paired with a wide belt, the ruching on the waist doesn’t really provide enough structure or definition for me but it is super comfy.  I chose to make the drop hem version, and simply serged the hemline.  This is my favorite finish on a light jersey like this, plus I really hate hemming knits so it is a win-win.  Easy and fast as long as you have a matching thread color!

 

 

I really want to love this pattern, it fits well, is super comfortable and easy but not the best for flattering my shape.  I’ve tried it in a heavier denim fabric, a lighweight printed linen/cotton, a voile and now a jersey.  My favorite version by far is the shortened voile version I made…I’ll try to blog it soon!

 

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Kids Clothes Week…for real this time!

Ok, I am so out of it lately.  Oops.  Kids Clothes week wasn’t last week- it is this week.  I only realized this after I felt guilty for only sewing up one item last week and then I saw online that it didn’t even start until April 7th.  Yay!  So, I am not so far behind- actually ahead of the game!  woo hoo.

I have sewn up a bunch of stuff this week, it has been very productive.  I haven’t put any pressure on myself to do so, which has made a world of difference.  You will see that all of my pictures are on a mannequin or have my faces cropped.  This is not because the girls were uncooperative (as usual!), but because of privacy concerns.

I will say though that there have been events locally lately that have made me rethink this blog.  Issues and fears of a man trying to lure children into his car in my neighborhood.   My daughters fears of this “man” have kept her up at night and made us all alert and worried.  All of this attention and discussion has had me think about privacy and protecting my girls from such predators.  I have decided to stop publishing pictures of them on this blog.  I know that there is no direct correlation between what happens on this blog, and what happens in my neighborhood.  I have thought about this for a while…started to when random bloggers (not sewers) started following my posts.  I questioned their motives, was it just for them to get more exposure or something more ominous?  Either way it makes me queasy thinking about it.  Although I love reading other sewing blogs and seeing the posts of the kids and their clothes, and reading into the families lives- I am not comfortable putting mine out there as well.  Call me crazy, but for now I am going to retreat back into our little life and not put my girls out there for the world.

So, we will see how much longer I continue this blog given these new feelings, but for now let me brag about what I accomplished this week!

First, a tried and true pattern- Kitschy coo’s Skater dress.  I cut the long sleeve version shorter at the elbow, and did a mock hem with my serger for the arm hem.  Love how this turned out.  You can read about the technique here.  The fabric is a great knit I picked up at Joann’s recently.

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Next is the same pattern, but this time I used Kitschy coo’s tute for a peplum top.  LOVE  IT!  I think I will be making several of these.  So sweet, and paired with this great print from Girl Charlee  it is beautiful.   I did the same sleeve version as above, and even hemmed the neckline in the same way.  Best part- took me less than an hour to make, including cutting out and adapting the peplum pattern.  Sweet.DSCN4525

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Sewing for Isabel: a new favorite pattern

There is nothing more satisfying than sewing multiples of the same pattern.   All of the normal grunt work of preparing the pattern is what I look forward to least- determining the size,  cutting the pattern out pieces out, refolding those tissue paper sheets, the overly complicated directions etc.  Once you have struggled through all of that and sewn up your first item using the pattern it is such a relief!  You know what you are doing, what fits, how to put the pieces together and how it all works.  I always find the second, third, sometimes tenth (skater dress?) try at a pattern goes super quick.  In other words, when i find a pattern that works I get ALOT of use out of it and turn to it again and again.  Is it because I like the pattern, or because I am too lazy to start from the beginning and cut out another style…hmm.

Anways, my new favorite for Isabel is McCalls 6785.  Why all of the McCall’s patterns lately?  A very good sale at Joann’s where they were each like $1 or something- can’t beat that!  Ok…so this is the pattern.  Very versatile- includes two legging styles, and several top/tunic versions including hoods, pockets, ties or a cowl neck.

MC_6785_CCEI bought two copies of the pattern- in a smaller range for eleanor, and a larger range for Isabel.  I started sewing without measuring either one and chose the largest size of the smaller range- a 6 figuring it was bound to fit one of them since it was right in the middle of each of their true sizes.  It fit Isabel…and was actually a bit large on her so I will have to save that larger pattern for a bit!  For this first dress I chose view C, a long sleeve cowl neck dress.  The pink/purple houndstooth is a great substantial knit I picked up on clearance at Joann’s.  It was great to work with, much easier than the lighter weight non-stretch knits I have been purchasing from girl charlee lately.

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Since she loved it so much I made another!  This time I used this fox knit fabric I have been hoarding since i ordered it from girl charlee.  Love the print, but the fabric itself isn’t my favorite- it barely has any stretch and feels like it has alot of poly in it- but Isabel still loves it.  I can see this becoming a real favorite around here…she kept hugging me and dancing around in it.  I have to admit I almost cried, it feels good to see her that happy!

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I’d better get busy sewing something for Eleanor before jealousy sets in…

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Kids Clothes Week…finally

Realistic expectations.  I am too busy now to particpate in an online sewing challenge.  I don’t have it in me; in energy, time or motivation.  I am Ok with that.  Rather than being upset about how little time I had for myself this week to do what I love, I am trying to focus on the chunks of time I WAS able to carve out for sewing over the weekend.  So, even if I wasn’t able to sew for an hour every day this week like the challenge proposes, I was able to sew for 4-5 hours this weekend and knocked out a few tops and a dress for the girls- yay.  The most exciting part is that I finally got to use my Oliver & S Sailboat top pattern I have had printed out for MONTHS.  Woo hoo.  Most of my time was spent learning the pattern, but once I made the first top it was smooth sailing.  There is something really satisfying about assembly line style sewing- when you repeat a pattern it goes so much faster.

For the first top I made a size 6 Sailboat top using an owl print sweatshirt knit and jersey striped facings.  I love how the black and cream striped facings peak out from the neck and bottom…such a nice feature to have a surprise of a contrasting fabric.  I added one large black button at each shoulder.

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For the second top I used a stretchy grey/pink rose sweatshirt fabric, with hot pink jersey facings.  After realizing both of my girls fit into the size 6 I kept the size the same but lengthened the sleeves about an inch to get more wear out of it for Isabel.  So, for now the pink owl print is for Eleanor but they are almost interchangeable.  Isabel picked light pink vintage buttons for the shoulders, and I used 2 per shoulder.  Using a sweatshirt fabric for this top worked out perfectly.  My girs are not sweatshirt kinda girls, neither one has one in their closet and they refuse to wear anything “athletic” or “boy”.  The refined shape with the contrast stitching and button shoulders fits their style, yet still has the cozy and warm feeling of a sweatshirt.  Perfect.

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I don’t know whether to be excited that Isabel likes the top this much, or horrified at how she has started to love to “model”.  Just be glad I didn’t post the pics where she posed at the piano- hilarious.  Both of the sweatshirt fabrics were purchased from girlcharlee.com…but I don’t see that either one are available anymore.  I’ve had them in my stash for a bit since I picked them up for just a few dollars on sale but never knew what to use them for- I couldn’t be happier with how they turned out!

I couldn’t stop at just two tops, and spent time today adapting this pattern into a dress- to be posted later!

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Kids Clothes Week- Winter Challenge

Sooo, today is officially Day 3 of the Winter Kids Clothes Week challenge- a seasonal challenge I have participated in for the last few seasons (since I started this blog) and have really enjoyed and used as an inspiration to get sewing and spend time doing what I love.  The challenge is to spend an hour a day sewing or preparing to sew kids clothes.  I say preparing to sew because that is about all I have done so far this week…nothing has been sewn yet.  ugh.  I blame the full time job, the fact that the kids have been on snow days, and I am just too damn exhausted once I get home from work/do dinner/ bedtime for the girls etc.  Lame.

Anyways, I am determined to participate in this challenge at some point this week and blog about it and post my items to the KCW website– but this may not happen until the weekend…baby steps around here.  Until then I will peruse my patterns and books for inspiration and stare at this pile of fabric I just got delivered and plan what I will sew when I get the energy!

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A big fat pile of knits from Girl Charlee including some for me.  That fox fabric should be motivation enough to get to work.  Hey- I did prewash the fabric already so that counts for something right?

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Playing catch up

I’m back!  Where have I been, has it really been over a month since my last post?  Alot has been happening around here, and unfortunately this blog has been completely neglected.  My daily life has changed drastically, and trying to find that ultimate balance of what I HAVE to do and what I WANT to do has been difficult to manage.  The biggest change is that I started working full time in the beginning of December.  Going from being a part time librarian to a full time one has been a bit of a challenge.  I have worked full time before, but this is the first time I have been full time with two kids- big difference!  This has meant I have had to give something up, and this blog was the obvious choice.

Before I chose to return to work full time I contemplated giving up my career and focusing my energy and time into my crafting by opening up my own shop in town, teaching others to express their creativity by learning to sew and supplying them with the fabric choices I have been unable to find locally.  I really wanted to pursue this dream and would spend hours looking online at retail spaces for rent, exploring wholesale fabric options and imagining the layout and decor of my shop.  This may be a dream I pursue one day but not today.  After considering this at length I started thinking about all of the hours I would have to put in, the financial strain it would incur, and the instability and anxiety it would bring to our family.

Being offered a full time job as a Librarian is a big score- jobs in my field are not easy to come by- especially where I live where there are so many unemployed library graduates.  Being offered a full time job as a librarian with an academic schedule (summers off!) with the possibility of tenure are even more sought after.  So, here I am.  A month with no blog post and still struggling with the balance.  This doesn’t mean I haven’t been creating- I have!  I want to use this post to highlight some of the things I have been working on, hopefully it will inspire me to keep posting, and not give up on what brings me joy- this blog and what I choose to highlight on it.

Ok, so here goes-

First- clothing.  My favorite new book for children’s clothing is Happy Homemade: Sew Chic Kids: 20 Designs That are Fun and Unique-Just Like Your Kid! that I purchased from Amazon.  A few days before Christmas I decided to whip up matching dresses for the girls and went with pattern  A a dress with frilled shoulders.  The pattern is very similar to Rae’s Geranium dress, which I had been eyeing for a while but have yet to get around to purchasing!  I chose to go with an unconventional print for a Christmas dress, I wanted something bold and colorful and chose this Amy Butler print reminiscent of a bold floral from the 40’s.  I absolutely love how they turned out and am sure once the weather warms up around here my girls will get more wear out of these dresses…and they worked perfectly to bring a little sunshine to this cold, snowy and miserable winter we have been having around here!

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Now for me- I purchased  McCall’s pattern 6744 on sale at Joanns over the summer and never got around to making anything with it.  When I purchased my last order of knit fabric from Girl Charlee for the Queen City Market I did last month I stocked up on a few extra yards of this awesome feather fabric to use for this dress.  I picture myself wearing it with leggings and a light cardigan- so comfortable and easy.  The dress was incredibly easy to make, I whipped it up from beginning to end in less than two hours- not bad.  I found the top to be too large though, and may need to shorten the straps at the shoulders to pull the neckline up a bit- but other than that it is perfect!  I believe I used about 2 yards of fabric so this cost less than $15 to make…so of course I have my eye on a number of knit fabrics to make a few more of these babies…I know what I will be wearing this summer!  The pattern also has options for a maxi dress and a pretty cross over bodice version.  I think for my next version (once I choose a fabric) will be the cross over version in a darker print fabric…but we’ll see.

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I have also been knitting a bit.  I find knitting to be very meditative, and starting a new job can certainly be stressful.  Using the Barley pattern from Tin Can Knits I knit a red hat for Isabel and am working on a Blue version for Eleanor.  This is a simple but interesting pattern, and would be perfect for beginners.  I am planning to make cute pom poms to put on top of each when I am done with Eleanor’s, although this is not in the original pattern I think the girls will like them!

Next post will show the details of Isabel’s birthday party…or should I call it the winter wonderland princess tea party that I am so glad is over?