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Lola, lola…love

I have been in a bit of a sewing slump lately.  So busy with work and the girls school and activities and my running that I have pushed it to the back burner…until now!   I used my lunch hour at work last week to run to Joann’s to buy specific fabric to force myself to finally MAKE SOMETHING.  I knew once I had the fabric and was in my space I would feel great and get my sewing mojo back.  And I did!

I recently subscribed to Seamwork magazine and have fallen in love with several of the patterns and was determined to make an Astoria top and Oslo sweater so I picked up 2 yards of a few different substantial knits from Joanns and got to work.  I have been incredibly frustrated with my serger not working, or seeming to work and then going to hell after 20 seconds.  ARGH.  I finally spent some time in my sewing studio and sat down and worked on my serger.  Sewing knits on my sewing machine is a total pain for me…that little lightning stitch takes forever compared to the serger so I knew I had to figure what the hell was going on to avoid totally getting aggravated.  Turns out it was my needle…or my mistake of buying the wrong needle.  Once I changed it to the correct one I was all set to serge away! I am so happy it was something simple and I didn’t need to take it in for repair, but I am annoyed with myself for letting it sit for so long before I figured it out!

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I sewed up a quick animal print ( so unlike me!) Astoria, and was about to make another with my new fave fabric- this amazing almost woven backed windowpane knit when I switched it up and realized I don’t really need more than one cropped sweater at this point and realized I had enough of the fabric to make my ultimate fall/winter favorite- the Lola by Victory Patterns.  I am so happy with the pattern switch- and I was able to whip this baby up with a bit less than 2 yards of fabric. I love love the comfortable style, the ridiculously deep pockets and the princess seams that give it some body skimming structure.

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It took much longer than the Seamwork patterns, and even though I had made it a few times before it still stumped me when trying to put it together.  It is a simple sew if you actually follow directions and pay attention to what piece lines up to what- but it is constructed of many more pattern pieces than most knit patterns so it takes some patience.  I am very excited that I was able to use the pattern with no adjustments this time.  In my past versions I had to increase the center panel by 1inch on the fold to add 2 inches to both the front center panel and back center panel since my measurements were above the included size…but this time I did not enlarge it and it works great.   I have lost almost 30lbs now and feel amazing.  Running has changed my life and I feel so much healthier and strong than I have in years.  Woo hoo.

I even had enough left to sew up a quick infinity scarf with the leftover fabric=easy future gift!  Once I figure out what to wear with the new cropped top I will blog it- but it is a different style for me and doesn’t work with my wardrobe of leggings and slim plants at this point.  I guess it is an excuse to sew some sort of skirt or get out of my comfort zone to become more comfortable wearing something that doesn’t cover my stomach and shows off my hips and waist.  Hmm.  We’ll see.  So for now here is the Lola.  Love.

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Running, running, running.

This is all I feel like I have been doing these days!  Running.  Both figuratively and literally.  I joined a local running group (No Boundaries- Fleet Feet) to get myself in shape to run a 5k.  We’ve been running 3-4 times a week and it has been amazing.  Life changing.  What started out as short intervals of  walk/run has morphed into me running 3 miles straight multiple times a week!  Who am I?  I did two 5k’s last summer, but felt like I failed miserably since I had to stop and walk multiple times and finished exhausted and defeated.  I know that this time will be different as I am so much better prepared.  I have been battling shin splints like crazy though, and have even been going to physical therapy to deal with them.  With a combination of compression sleeves, icing my legs after every run and buying new sneakers I am slowly healing.  I am serious about this running business I guess.  Our group 5K was this Sunday and I am psyched at how well I did considering my “injury”.

Unfortunately, given my crazy schedule with the girls, work and now my new running obsession I have had very little time to devote to my other passion- sewing.  So, I guess this is why I haven’t been posting these days.  Oh well, you can’t do it all and I am pretty stinkin’ excited about getting out there and feeling very accomplished at how far I have come with my endurance and abilities.  Running rocks!

Anyways, back to the sewing blog.  I have been sewing- somewhat.  I have sewn a few new versions of one of my favorite knit patterns- McCalls 6744.   I have made this multiple times already and love how versatile it is.

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For this version I chose view C , but swapped out the skirt of View A and lengthened it by about 5 inches.  I find that view A fits me more like a tunic than a dress, and I wanted to avoid having to worry about a gust of wind coming and flashing my underwear to innocent bystanders!

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I really like the faux wrap of view C, but really don’t like worrying about both the top and bottom of the dress exposing too much…so a combination of A and C work best for me.  I have done this in a maxi version in the past as well.

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This version was made using a great Aztec like print I picked up on clearance at Joann’s last week.  I absolutely love it.  The top wrap pieces are cut at an angle, and unfortunately I am not completely happy with how the “stripe” of the pattern looks on top but I love the dress so much I am going with it.  A few features I like about this pattern are the elastic at the shoulders, the drape of the top and the elastic waist that I customize to fit just perfectly.  This allows the dress to be worn with or without a belt and it still has some shape to it.  I can see myself wearing this all summer long, and come fall throwing on a pair of boots and a cardigan and going to work in it as well!

IMG_2056Of course my favorite picture of me includes the girls…love.

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Attempting to balance it all…and failing

I knew that once I went back to work this semester finding time for myself would be difficult.  I knew that when school started back up and fall activities began that sewing would take a backseat to everything else.  I knew that finding time to sew, take photographs and blog would be a challenge.  I did not know it would be almost 2 full months before I’d post again- wow.  I guess alot of this has to do with the constant revolving door of illness in our house…colds, fevers, sore throats back and forth between the girls since school started.  The biggest time suck?  The two weeks+ of me battling pneumonia…yep, pneumonia.  I couldn’t stand up for more than two minutes to walk to the bathroom I was so exhausted and weak and spent days and days in bed.  Horrible. Thank god for Netflix and my husband taking care of the girls!  So, I guess I need to make some allowances for myself and just hop back in to my creative self as time permits and not worry about how long it has been, or feeling guilty for not doing things for myself etc.  Because in the end all that does is make this blog one more responsiblity or one more thing I feel like I am dropping the ball on, when it is really supposed to be a creative outlet for me to express myself and relax!

So, even though things have been crazy busy I have found time to sew and knit a few things, but no blogging going on.  I haven’t been able to stay away from the trusty Moneta pattern and made this lovely dress using an incredibly soft grey knit (from Joann’s if you can believe it).  You can’t tell in photos but the knit has a bit of sparkle to it and it appears to have some sort of angora or something that resembles it…not your typical knit jersey although I can’t describe what it is!  Anyways, it is super soft and feels a bit fancy even though walking around in it is so ridiculously comfy I feel like I am wearing my pj’s.

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I also sewed up a purple flannel version of the Cecelia dress from the Magic Pattern Book, that will not be blogged. Horrible.  Me in a flannel peasant dress is not going to be published online.  Yikes.  If only I had thought that one through a bit more, I would have saved myself alot of time and fabric.  Ok, moving on.

I have purchased a few new patterns in the hopes that I will find time to sew them…including Colette’s new Dahlia dress, and Victory Pattern’s Lola. I can’t wait to get started on these!  AlsoI celebrated my big 38th birthday!  woo hoo.  The perfect present?  A new camera…I finally entered the DSLR club and got a Rebel.  I am still learning how to use some of the features – including the timer as you might be able to tell from my pics above…but I am so excited.

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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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My Moneta

I was on the verge of abandoning this blog.  I questioned my motives- why even blog at all?  Why spend hours sewing for the girls now that much of what I was making ended up unworn in their closets now that they have their own ideas of fashion!  Their changing ideals, and my concerns over cyber saftey and honestly the lack of energy to force them to pose for the pictures left me feeling tired and just “over it” with blogging.  Altough I plan on posting the occasional “small” sewn item here, I have decided to ressurect this blog and feature items I have sewn for myself.  yay!  I have decided to conquer my self doubt, body issues and feeling like an idiot posting for photographs.  Yikes.  But really, I like blogging.  I love sewing.  I love connecting with others with the same passion for it and I have been missing it these past few months.  Inspired by the new site Curvy Sewing Collective and some recently acquired patterns (with extended sizes!) I have discovered I love sewing my own clothes.  While I miss being able to whip up a kids dress in under an hour with 1 yard of fabric, I love being able to tell people the clothes I am wearing I made myself- even at my 20 year High School Reunion.  So cool.  So- for my first post about my selfish sewing….Here we go!

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What feels better than wearing your pajamas?  Wearing a hot red dress that makes you appear put together and bold but feels like you are wearing your favorite nightgown!  My new favorite pattern- Collette’s Moneta dress.  When I started thinking about what to wear for my upcoming Reunion (it was this past weekend- so fun!) I knew I wanted to be comfortable, classic and modest enough that I felt good about myself and my figure.  Taking a risk by sewing up a pattern I have never tried before I dove right in ordering the pdf version of the Moneta dress online and spending hours the next night cutting and taping together the pattern pieces.  What a pain.  I really hate pdf patterns for this reason but nothing beats the instant gratification of not having to wait days for a pattern to be shipped right?  Anyways, one night spent taping and cutting, another night spent cutting the fabric pieces and the following afternoon sewing up the dress and voila!  I chose to make the sleevless version pictured with the lined bodice and collar.  My all time favorite dress EVER!

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I find that the first time I use a pattern I am super duper slow at putting it together…this took around 3 hours of sewing time- but I am confident that the next one I make will take far less since I won’t be so nervous about making a mistake.  For the fabric I purchased 3 yards of a red jersey fabric from Joann’s (on sale)- unfortunatley the only fabric store in town with a selection of knit fabric.  It worked out perfectly- had great stretch and drape and lightweight enough for a summer event.  I even purchased matching thread and serger thread- I didn’t cheapen out and try to use what I have at home- what a difference.  The clear elastic used I found at Tuesday morning- it is 3/8 inch instead of the 1/4 inch noted in the pattern but it worked out well and was surprisingly easy to use…I think I have found  a new method to gather skirts from now on.  The only change I made was to simply serged the hem rather than spending time figuring out how to use my twin needle.  It wasn’t noticable since I matched the thread and the skirt is so swingy and full but I plan on doing it the right way next time for sure.  The fit of this dress was pretty spot on- except for the armhole area which I have heard is a common problem.  Gaping arms- ugh.  I think I am going to have to alter the pattern a bit if I make another sleeveless version to avoid having to constantly do a bra check.  I already can’t wait to whip up another one and am eagerly awaiting a shipment of ponte fabric from girlcharlee.com.  Next up- a 3/4 sleeve version.  Seriously I might end up with an entire wardrobe of these.

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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?