Thursday, September 18, 2014

Bombers Moon Ball

Hey, I finally have some sewing to share with you!  Lately it has been all talk as I've shared my process for planning out my fall sewing.  Right as I was about to actually start on my fall sewing something came up that put a huge halt to the entire thing.  My parents mentioned that they were going to the Fall Bombers Moon Ball.

What?  An event where people dress up in 1940's attire and get to listen to a live swing band.  Sign me up!  I did sign me up, and my husband as well.  Then I decided that I simply must have a new . . . um old . . . oh yes, vintage dress to wear.  All this occurred a week before the dance!  If you know me, then you know I have never really sewed anything from start to finish in a week.  Never.  Not ever.

Except, I did it this time (with many, many, many thanks to my hubby who spent all his free time watching our daughter, so I could spend all my free time sewing).  But can I tell you how close I cut it? When the babysitter arrived at 5:30 I hadn't showered or eaten and was still pinning the hem on my dress, with the lining to follow.  Needless to say, I did not do a hand-stitched blind hem as originally intended, but I did leaved the house in my dress and managed to do a sort of wonky victory roll-esque hairstyle with totally wet hair.

Enough with the dramatic introduction, what about the dress?  The dress is Butterick 5281, which I've had in my pattern stash forever.  I honestly wasn't even sure I liked the pattern and probably would not have sewn it up at all.  But, I was on such a tight time schedule that I needed to start with something in my stash, this was one of my only reproduction patterns that was era appropriate.  I had a few actual vintage patterns, but knew I didn't have the time for the more careful handling that actual vintage patterns require.

I love the fabric.  I used a black rayon with tiny pink flowers all over.  Not sure if hot pink was used back in the forties, but floral rayon was definitely used.  This dress is fully lined, and my lining is a hot pink silk!  It matches the flowers in my fabric perfectly.  The dress is so light weight and perfect for dancing (which for the record, both my hubby and I are terrible at, but we don't let it get in the way).

I really haven't done any vintage sewing since this dress almost two years ago!  Oh my goodness, I do miss it.  This gives me extra motivation to make sure I finish the McCall's skirt from my fall mood board.  What about you, do you prefer sewing from vintage or modern patterns?  For those of you who sew both, do you find yourself in phases of one or the other at times?  


Thursday, September 11, 2014

My Favorite Part!

After creating my fall mood board and getting excited about creating a fall mini wardrobe, I began the process of figuring out the details (my favorite part)!  Since I haven't done a lot of sewing lately, I decide that I wanted all of the fabric and most of the patterns to come from my stash.  I don't have a huge fabric stash, but enough of one where I knew that my rule wouldn't be too limiting.

I keep a small swatch of all of my fabric because it is much easier to pull out the swatches when trying to decide what fabric I want to use.  I have always liked this method, but it really came in handy with making these plans.  I started by pulling out all of the fabric I owned that could even remotely tie into my mood board.  Here was the result:

Next, I went to my pattern stash and pulled out all of the patterns that I've been wanting to make, or that  I thought might be good for fall.  I did go out and buy one pattern (McCall's 6993).

Then, I decided that the floral rayon absolutely had to be used as it was the most representative of my mood board, and I love sewing with rayon.  I knew that I had about three yards of it, so it really could be used with just about any of the above patterns.  The fabric seemed perfect for Belcarra, the flowers may be a bit large scale, but I am willing to give it a try.

The next fabric that really caught my eye was the chocolate-rapsberry-oatmeal stripe knit.  I have absolutely no me-made items with long sleeves, so I decided that this must become a long-sleeved Renfrew.

With two bold patterned fabrics selected, and both destined for tops, I then selected three more fabrics that were more neutral.  The chocolate brown fabric is pretty much an exact match to the striped knit and the dark accents in the floral rayon.  The brown cotton or khaki cotton would both make a great Beignet, or McCalls 6891.  The red silk is left over from an Alma blouse that I made a while back.  I feel like I could squeeze a Beignet or Belcarra out of it - but need to have some very thoughtful piecing.

My last step was to narrow down my patterns.  I've chosen five patterns that will work well together: one dress, two skirts, and two tops.  I think both tops would pair well with both skirts depending on fabric choices - meaning I would have a mini wardrobe that could actually be worn together.

So while only two patterns have been matched with fabric, I have a nice collection of fabric that coordinates with one another and some patterns that I am looking forward to sewing with.  I am certain that as I start the sewing process, I will be able to identify the remaining fabric-pattern matches.

Do you have any tips on sewing a mini wardrobe?  How do you coordinate patterns and fabric?


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Fall Sewing Mood Board

I have participated in the Colette Spring and Fall Palette challenges in the past and always enjoyed the process.  While they seem to have stopped hosting them, I still like to follow their general structure when it comes to planning out my sewing.  I admit that in the past I have not done a very good job with planning or follow through.  This is partly due to the fact that I have not created an actual wardrobe with either of my challenges (my fall challenge had a blouse and a skirt, but they did not go together really well, and my spring challenge had two dresses).

I am going to do things differently this year, starting with a beautiful mood board.  Fall is so beautiful, one of the things I love about this time of year is taking a walk through nature and my neighborhood.  I love stumbling upon a deer in quiet of the morning, or seeing cattails along the water.  When the fall flowers start to bloom, it truly is a beautiful sight.

Photo credit (clockwise from top left) 1. Flowers 2. Flowers 3. Fawn  4. Cattails 5. Flowers 6. Flowers

I am going to look for shades of brown as my neutral, and accent it with shades of purples, pinks, reds, and gold.  What images of fall inspire you the most?  For those sewists in the northern hemisphere, are you planning a fall wardrobe?  Now I'm off to start sorting through my fabric stash and pattern collection!


P.S.  Thank you to everyone who shared their thoughts on what I should do about my two sweaters.  You all are an optimistic bunch as I assumed they would both be frogged!  Thanks to you, I have decided to finish the yellow sweater and possibly start over on the plum cardigan.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

WIP: Wonder if I can Proceed?

Having my knitting needles all organized and looking so pretty in my new needle case, I've been wanting to pick up some knitting again.  Recently, I was able to make a few baby hats for some expecting friends, as well as a fall hat for my baby girl.  It's so nice to accomplish something before you face a more daunting task.  The daunting task I speak of is deciding what to do about my two knitting UFOs.

UFO numero uno is the 1950's sweater that I started as part of a knit along on ravelry.  I was making great progress, and even planned to have it completed by the deadline until work went crazy and I was too tired to even knit on the bus.  So with a finished front and almost finished back the sweater sits.

While I really like the pattern, and I love the yarn colors that I selected, but I can't decide if I should forge ahead and finish the project or frog it.  The reasons I don't want to keep knitting are:
  • I made this when I was still working in an office environment.  It was perfect for wearing with all of my high waisted pencil skirts.  Now I never wear high waisted pencil skirts, and this does not really go with my more casual "mommy" clothes.
  • While I have never had a lot of waist definition from having a more boyish figure, my post baby body has even less waist definition.  This sweater is made for that lovely 1950's hour glass figure, and I can see that it just won't suit me so well.
  • I started this as part of a knit along, because I love being part of a community.  The knit along has been over for a year and half now . . .

While these are all legitimate reason to begin unraveling, I can't get past the fact that I have already put so much work into this sweater!  Now that my free time is less than ever, I wonder if it's even possible to unravel this and start AND finish a new sweater from scratch.

My second UFO is the lovely Georgia by Jane Richmond.  This sweater was started when I needed something to do at 2 AM every morning.  Yes, you read that right, 2 AM.  The first four months of nursing, I used to get up in the middle of the night and pump for forty five minutes.  I have chronic low milk supply (it's a real thing), so this was one way to help make up for it.

Just so happens that my gauge at 2 AM is a bit tighter than my gauge during normal awake hours.  I guess I was focusing so hard on not focusing on how much that I was pumping, that I just pulled that yarn tighter and tighter.  I still have my original gauge swatch, prepared during the day, and the gauge on my sweater is much tighter than the gauge on my swatch.  This has resulted in a sweater that is too tiny.  Can blocking correct this?  I've never needed to change a sweater much through blocking.

Look at all that gaping where the buttons should close!  Not looking so good.
So my lovely readers, take a walk in my shoes (actually, I'm barefoot at the moment).  What would you do about these two wips?  Does it make sense to press on and finish?  Rip them out and start over?  Rip them out and start a completely new project?  I am not used to having UFOs, so this is actually very tough for me.  Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

Oh, and because I cannot end my post with just negative feelings, I did complete something!  I made my mom a cowl just like the one I made my sister for Christmas last year.  My mom really liked it, and she has always been so supportive of my crafting hobbies that I thought it was about time she was the beneficiary of my work.  Here it is modeled by the best looking person in my house:

Ahh, her cuteness kills me!


Thursday, August 21, 2014

What Gets Worn the Most?

Now that summer is nearing an end and fall is just around the corner, I thought I would take a critical look at my handmade wardrobe and see what truly gets worn.  Prior to mommy hood, all of my handmades got worn pretty frequently; however that is not the case any more.  By taking an honest look at what I wear the most, I want to know how to edit down my "to do" list to only items that will get a lot of wear.

There are two items that currently get worn all the time; my Renfrew top and shirt dress.  Renfrew gets worn a lot because I don't have many t-shirts, yet I often want to wear a t-shirt.  I love the cheery colors in the fabric and a basic t-shirt is a perfect mommy staple.  My shirt dress actually gets more wear than my Renfrew.  It was the first thing I wore out of the house after my daughter was born.  It got a lot of wear this past year because it was my only handmade dress that was nursing accessible.  I also love the nod to the 1950's from this classic style.

Then there are three items that get worn a lot, but not all the time.  I am including my Gabriola skirt here even though it was just made, it gets worn a lot (like I wore it to church two weeks in a row, plus during the week).  I love the way the rayon fabric feels against my skin, and the bright colors are my style.  My Alma blouse actually gets quite a bit of wear as well (though when I was still nursing during the day, I would wear it if I was going somewhere, then change as soon as I got home to make nursing easier).  My 1960's floral shift dress has always been a favorite.  This one gets worn when ever I need to dress up (though like my Alma blouse, it wasn't nursing friendly).

So what trends have I noticed with the things that truly get the most wear?  First, it has to be comfortable and easy to wear - which can be accomplished in fabrics other than knits.  Second, I really do love bright colors, and it seems that pink is a color that I wear a lot of.  Pink isn't necessarily my favorite color, but I do think it looks good on me, and I often find it to be associated with other bright colors.  Third, I like a good mix of dresses and separates - in my top five I have two dresses, two shirts and one skirt.

As I look to start planning a fall wardrobe, I am going to look for patterns that are casual and easy to wear.  I will also look for a mix of modern and vintage silhouettes and fabrics like cotton and rayon.

Have you taken a critical look at your hand made wardrobe before?  What trends do you notice?


Thursday, August 7, 2014

Summer Romance

Oh my word, I am so excited to share my newest sewing with you!  Way back in February, I mentioned that I won a pattern through a giveaway on Vicki's blog.  That Vicki, she is so sweet and kind.  Well, I let her pick out a pattern for me, since I really had no idea what I wanted for myself.  Vicki selected the Gabriola Skirt from Sewaholic.  

I have to be completely honest here and say that when Tasia first released the pattern I thought it was cute, but just not for me.  Aside from my wedding dress, I have never worn a skirt or dress that went past my knees.  Also, I sort of felt like maxi skirts were too trendy for me - like I'm not cool enough to pull one off!  However, when the pattern arrived, I felt that I had the perfect fabric in my stash - and I liked the idea of stepping out of my comfort zone and trying something I normally wouldn't.  I am so glad I gave this pattern a try (thanks a million Vicki!).  I love wearing this skirt.

Part of the reason for taking a while to sew this project up, is that I knew I would really need to concentrate on the cutting of this fabric.  My fabric is a rayon challis, which tends to slip right out of my hands as I cut it.  I wanted to make sure that each of those gorgeous points lined up perfectly, and knew this would require precision during the cutting of my fabric.  The extra time and effort paid off; all of my points do indeed match up perfectly.

Tasia likes to use the word "dramatic" to describe this skirt, but to me it feels very romantic.  Maybe it's the combination of the whimsical floral print and the way the fabric swishes when I walk, but I just feel like I could be swept off my feet at any moment.  Honey, can you put down the camera for a second and sweep me off my feet?

Have you ever been surprised by sewing up a pattern that you didn't think was your style?  Seriously, I think I need experiment with this again.  For now, I am just going to frolic around in my yard and be the princess that lived happily ever after . . .


Thursday, July 31, 2014

Pool Party

Hi everyone, guess who just turned one recently?  Yes, my sweet baby girl is now one whole year old.  Where did the time go?  I know I don't typically talk about events that I have hosted when it comes to blogging, but I really enjoyed planning this party and want to share some of the fun with you.

The invites were made using a fun photo I took of my daughter.
I wanted to plan a party that would be fun, but was still simple.  I mean, she's one, it's not like she is even going to remember the party anyway.  Plus, every minute I spent working on the party was time away from sewing (so I texted my invites, grabbed a few frozen pizzas and picked up a cake from the grocery store - haha, just kidding).  

I got some help making the desserts!
Once summer hit, my girl loved spending time in her kiddie pool, so it was an obvious choice to have a pool party theme.  When it came to planning the food, I couldn't believe how easy it was to find some ideas on pinterest.  I really should use pinterest more.  The first idea I came across that I loved was a beach ball themed cake.  It's actually a dessert pizza.  This was perfect for the birthday, because my daughter loves fruit.  Also, I think the cake presents an "ooh-ahh" factor, but it was really, really easy to make.

Yum!  Everyone got to choose a piece with their favorite fruit.
But then, I found a cute idea for making a sand cake.  This seemed completely appropriate since everything goes in my daughter's mouth - including sand and dirt.  We had a guest list of about 20 (and that's immediate family only!), so I decided that two desserts would be okay.  I just cut the recipe in half, so I wouldn't spend the next week eating sand cake.

Sand Cake.
And because I have an insatiable sweet tooth and cannot resist making something that is cute, I decided we needed to have rice crispy ice cream cones.  The idea came from pinterest, though the picture just showed some teeny, tiny ice cream cones in the far back of the picture, and the link did not add much more information.  Luckily, it's pretty intuitive to figure out how they were made, and I already had an ice cream cone shaped cookie cutter.  In the eleventh hour before the guests arrived I found myself whipping up tiny batches of ice cream flavored icing for the bars.  There is peppermint bon-bon (with peppermint extract, tiny chocolate shavings and a bit of food coloring), strawberry (I squeezed fresh strawberry into the frosting, added some finely chopped strawberries and a dot of food coloring), and chocolate (from this frosting recipe).

These were so much fun to make.
We kept the rest of the food pretty simple: colorful veggie tray, chips, salsa, pasta salad and grilled chicken.  To make things a bit more fun, we used sand buckets for things like the sand cake, salsa, pasta salad and silver wear.

The pasta salads hadn't yet been put in the blue buckets.
My last touch were some simple decorations of beach balls cut out of scrapbook paper.  I just used the same general layout from the cake.  We also had two beach balls for the party that were in these colors - so it helped tie things together.

This was a really easy party to throw together, but I think it looks like a bit of effort went into it.  The only money I spent (other than food costs) was $7.00 on buckets and shovels (which are now used as pool toys) and $5.00 on beach balls (also used as pool toys).  

What are some of your party planning secrets?  Do you have any great recipes or decoration ideas to share?