Saturday, April 20, 2013

Chantilly in Blue

Chantilly for me

On the first of the two days I had sans kids on Spring Break, I decided to run by the thrift store. It turned out to be a major score. Apparently some lady who was a pretty serious seamstress in the '40s/'50s had her stash donated. In addition to various tools, there was tons of GOOD fabric, not that nasty, unfortunate poly '70s knit that seems to be the most common fabric to turn up from such old stashes, and it was marked with rock bottom prices, even for the thrift store. As I was checking out, the lady at the cash register told me there was so much fabric she was getting desperate marking it, which maybe explains the crazy low prices? Anyway, I got like 4 yards of emerald silk, a couple yards of rayon lining, 5 yards of some kind of linen, 1.5 yards of some vintage giraffe child's print, and 4 yards of a very sweet, vintage blue rose-print voile or batiste (I'm not sure how to tell the difference). The rose-print just screamed Chantilly at me, and so I decided I'd try to make myself one in time for Easter.

Because I was short on time, I just went for it without muslining. I spent an entire morning (about 4 solid hours) trimming and taping the silly e-pattern together. I was debating on sizes, and I think I cut a 12 and prayed it would work.

I had just enough fabric to eek it out. It was a good thing I was planning to do the waistband and yolk in contrast fabric, because I wouldn't have had enough fabric otherwise (my vintage fabric was pretty narrow, even though I technically had enough yardage--I couldn't double it to cut the big skirt pieces).

I was hoping the gathers in the bodice would allow me to skip doing an FBA (part of the reason I chose this dress to try to whip out quickly), which they did. Of course, the style also ends up making me look really busty, so maybe it's not the best choice for those of us who are top-heavy....

I thought the pattern was really easy to follow, and I didn't really have trouble with any of it, aside from stupid errors. I've never sewn a lining before, so I thought I'd just be doing the same dress twice, once in lining and once in shell fabric. Turns out they should be mirror images, so I ended up having to rip out one side of the stitching in the lining and ended up with the zipper on the "wrong" side.

This was also my first time doing a zipper that didn't end at the top of the garment, so that was....interesting. It looks pretty good from the outside (pretty well invisible), but I don't know that it's actually in there so securely. I also did my first hand-stitched hem. I'm not sure if it made much of a difference in looks (the skirt is so full, I doubt anyone ever notices the hem), but the silk thread I used was SO nice for hand stitching.

I think it turned out really cute. I'm not sure about the style for me. All the gathers  right at the waist definitely make my hips look big, and my mom said it makes me look like a little girl. Ah well, hopefully the cuteness makes up for that!

Chantilly for me

Pattern notes: Without alternation, the length of this is pretty short. I'm only BARELY 5'4" with average leg length, and this is kinda short on me, despite taking a very small hem (I turned 1/4" and then applied hem lace). I think I would have liked it maybe another 1-2" longer so that it hit me right at/just a smidge above the knee. I'm also unsure if the waistband is supposed to hit at the natural waist, because mine is just a bit above. I'm not sure if I should have lengthened the bodice or if it's supposed to be that way?

Chantilly for me

Total cost for this one was under $5. The shell-fabric was $1.39, the sheet for the lining was .99, and the zipper was also thrifted, so probably 25 cents or less. I did buy teal broadcloth for the contrast, but used a coupon, so it was like $1.25.

Chantilly for me
Easter Sunday was super windy!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Happy Easter!

We had a very nice, loooong Easter weekend. The boys and I went down Thursday night, so Granny could keep the boys and I could run get my haircut on Friday. The weather was glorious on Friday, and the boys had great fun playing in the yard, chasing butterflies. However, we had a huge little scare when the boys got left outside on their own for just a minute and Soren wandered off. We spent 20-30 minutes looking for him, with me running all over the property. I kept expecting that he was going to turn up right around the house, and when we couldn't find him anywhere, I was so afraid the worst might have happened and he had wandered to the pond. Finally, just as I was about to head back and call the police, I realized we hadn't looked out by the garden, and that's where I found him, happily playing in the dirt, completely unfazed. Needless to say, I was quite relieved to find him and will definitely not be leaving him untended outside anymore! Unlike Will, Soren doesn't mind being alone, so he'll merrily go off by himself. Eek!

Friday night, Jimmie, Rachel, and the girls came down, and we had a crawfish boil. Papa supposedly fixed them some "unspicy" crawfish and corn, but you sure couldn't tell he'd gone "light" on the spice, and we had to rinse their food several times before they could eat it. I'm not sure either of my boys ate the Cajun food, but the girls did!

Granny & Papa's church had a big Easter celebration on Saturday, and the kids had a great time on the bounce equipment and the egg hunt. The adults had fun too, as several of the adult children of family friends brought their kids down, so we had a kind of impromptu reunion.

The kids were worn out from the festivities; Soren crashed and slept for almost 3 full hours, so he was being quite the little show off when he woke up feeling fine and rested! I had to threaten Will to email the Easter Bunny if he didn't stop talking and be still when I was trying to get him to sleep. It worked, mostly. We also discovered that Taulbee apparently considers my kids her "wards." Soren was trying to pet Krebs, who lunged at him, and Taulbee went after Krebs. She was definitely taking up for Soren!

For Easter, Will got a Darth Mal figurine (Bil thought that maybe that was a bit sacriligeous, but Will loved it!) and Soren got some sidewalk chalk, which he promptly ate. He also ate through the wrapper of a Cadbury egg. Oops!

Before church, we attempted some nice family pics, but Will was not feeling cooperative. Too bad!

We had a nice lunch with the family, and then headed back home. A very fine Easter.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Huck Finn Cap: A Review

So dapper!

I decided the boys' Easter outfits would be a bit dull with just bottoms and some kind of shirts, so I thought I'd "whip up" a couple of the Huck Finn Caps (pattern by Sew Liberated). I bought the pattern back at her Cyber Monday sale and thought it was about time I got to using it. I looked for reviews of the pattern but didn't turn up much except a couple of very adorable examples of the completed caps. Both the (very brief) posts on them just said they were pretty quick to complete, so I thought it would be a good project.

I cut out all my pieces and sewed them up on a Sunday afternoon during the Walking Dead marathon we had while Will was in Georgia. Cutting was quick since the pieces were small and there weren't too many. Sewing these suckers was tedious though, since I had to do everything 4 times (I was making two, and they are lined). I always forget how boring assembly line sewing is until I do it again!

So dapper!

The instructions were clear and the pattern fit together very well. The only bit I didn't really get (and basically ignored) were the instructions about the arrows overlapping as you are attaching the sides to the top of the hat. I just fiddled with it till I figured out how it was supposed to go together. (Confession--I didn't transfer the markings from the pattern at all--I thought they were grainline markings! Oops.)

One problem I did have was with my bill edges fraying very badly by the time I got to the point of actually inserting it, so on the second cap, I made sure to go surge my bill edges immediately before it could start raveling. This probably wouldn't have been as much of an issue in another fabric, but the seersucker I was using ravels like crazy. I also did not use two layers of bill insert material, and I think it's just fine without the extra layer.

I also wasn't quite sure why the sweatband isn't tacked down on the inside at all. I'm not sure if I did something wrong or what, but mine flips out/open quite badly where the bill is inserted, so I plan to tack it down by hand to the lining to keep it flat, at least at the front. I think the back will be fine without.

Although as I said, these caps seemed very fiddly while I was sewing them up, overall, they were a fairly quick project (I'd guess maybe 3-4 hours for the first and a bit less for the second?), and they look just adorable. I'm very pleased with my final product, and I give this pattern an enthusiastic two-thumbs up!

I can do it myself!

Easter Outfits for All (Almost)


I managed to make both of the boys and myself new outfits for Easter this year! The boys' were stashbusters (at least partly). The seersucker I used for theirs was from a yardage I got at the thrift store back in December, so it counts toward the stashbusting challenge. I did have to purchase the navy blue knit in order to make shirts. Oops.

For Will, I made the TNT Little Heartbreaker Pants from Sewing for Boys. I used the same 2/3 size but added length because he is FINALLY starting to get too long-legged for their 3T size (now that he's almost 4!).

Will's Easter Outfit

I didn't want to worry about all that stripes matching nonsense, so I cut the waistband, pocket backs, and cuffs on the bias. A subtle effect, but nice.

Will's Easter Outfit 2013

For Soren, I didn't have a TNT pants pattern, and I thought I'd do something a little more babyish for him (since I can, for a few more months, call him a baby!). I decided to face down the terror of the Ottobre pattern sheets, and selected the "Back to the '70s" Overalls from the Spring 2012 issue. I know I should have measured him to find out what size to cut, but, let's just say measuring a squalling, uncooperative child is not my idea of a good time, so I used the size conversion chart here, and according to it, a 2T is an 86 cm. Well, 2Ts are still big on Soren with plenty of growing room, so I was very surprised when I put this on him, and it BARELY fit. I mean, barely. If he grows any which way, up or out, it's not going on.

Soren's Easter Outfit

This was only my second attempt at an Otto, and I probably should have picked something that didn't involve a zipper, since the directions are minimal, but I finally got through it. I actually woke up in the middle of the night and figured out what I was supposed to be doing on the zipper placket (I had stitched it down incorrectly the first time and knew something was wrong, but not what).

Soren's Easter Outfit 2013

As everyone always says about Ottobre, it was nicely drafted and went together very well, and I am really pleased with the final product. I also did all bias-cut details for this one.

 Soren's Easter Outfit

Soren's Easter Outfit

Unfortunately, as we were getting Soren dressed, one of his giant hobbit feet got stuck crosswise in the pants, and instead of backing his foot out to turn it vertical, Bil just yanked on the pants, and the side seam ripped open down near the bottom. Wail! Ah well, I will cut them off into shortalls, which will be more practical for the spring/summer anyway.

I made both boys navy T-shirts with reverse applique animals on them. Will picked a monkey for his, and I picked a hedgehog for Soren. I LOVE the hedgehog. They both turned out really cute, though. I used the SFB Raglan T pattern (of course!). I used the same size (2/3) for both boys. I wasn't sure how it would be on Soren, but it turned out OK. A bit long, but it gives him some growing room.

As I was making them, my serger broke a needle and then I couldn't get it working right, so I had to finish them up on my mom's machine, and consequently, they only got serged without the final topstitching or hemming. Hopefully I'll get around to it..... We'll see! I also didn't get pictures of the shirts by themselves, and after a day of hard play, they are filthy. Maybe after the wash. I must show off the hedgehog at some point.

I'll save my Chantilly dress for another post.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

"Godzilla": Sew in Tune Challenge

sewintunebuttonwinter200pxWhen I read about the Sew in Tune Series, run by Melly Sews and Boy, Oh Boy, Oh Boy, I wasn't super sure if I would participate. I haven't ever tried an "interpretation" challenge rather than a straight-up sewalong. I felt like I had no good ideas, but now that it's all said and done I'm glad I decided to give it a go, since sewing to a concept turned out to be a lot of fun.

"Godzilla" outfit for Sew in Tune

Inspiration: Will loves Godzilla (he watches the short-lived 1980 cartoon-series Godzilla on Netflix All.The.Time), so I thought I'd use the classic rock, "Godzilla" by Blue Oyster Cult as my inspiration song. I cut out a raglan T (my much-loved Sewing for Boys version) and applied a heat-transfer silhouette of the Tokyo skyline to the front before sewing it up.

Concept: My "vision" (hee, hee--the terminology is a little grandiose for this small project, but still...) was to have Godzilla on a separate piece of clothing to get the whole "There goes Tokyo" aspect of the song. So, I dug out the files for the 2 Little Hooligan's Hooded Vest Tutorial, which I thankfully downloaded when I ran across it last year, as it does not seem to be available anymore.

 "Godzilla" outfit for Sew in Tune challenge
This was the best action pic I could manage of the vest with skyline showing. My model was not feeling cooperative, and it's been too cold for outside pics. 

Construction: For the Tokyo skyline and Godzilla images, I snagged silhouette images off Google and traced them in the Silhouette Design software. When I did this this summer with my Darth Vader image, this process took forever because it included a whole lot of extra "noise" that shouldn't have been traced and had to be deleted manually. After reading another tutorial to refresh my memory on how to trace, I discovered the sensitivity settings, and after playing with them, the software perfectly traced my images with no editing of points by me. It was so easy! Like, less than a minute easy! I may never buy anything from the Silhouette store again! (Does this extreme number of exclamation points convey my excitement level with this discovery?? Probably not--here's another!)

SFB raglan with Tokyo skyline (sillhouette heat transfer)
Raglan T with Tokyo skyline.

Materials: I really had to restrain myself from going out and buying some fabric for this vest, since I wasn't sure the t-shirts I had would work, but I held myself back because I also wanted to be able to use this as an entry in the Love Challenge for the Stashbusting Sewalong (trying to get a two-fer out of this). But aside from being a little bit stretchy, it worked well. I toyed with the idea of lining it with something, but decided that I really wanted this to be a piece Will could wear this spring and even summer if he wants to. Last year, he had a down vest that he got really into and wanted to wear even after it was way too hot.

"Godzilla" outfit--tail wraparound
Here you can see how Godzilla's tail wraps around onto the back of the vest a little. Love this!

So, all of this was made with 3 clearenced-out ladies-sized Tees from  the refashion pile (on the T-shirt I was able to utilize existing hems and sleeve cuffs--score!). The zipper was deeper-stash--I bought it about this time last year, when I first found the Hooded-Vest Tutorial and had planned to make Will a Cars version. The heat transfer material was even on-hand from this summer when I was making the Darth Vader Tee.

A note about the Silhouette: Now that I know the right place to insert my mat, everything has been working great! I cut out Godzilla and the Tokyo skyline with NO PROBLEMS!! I really can't express my relief. It's the first project I've done on the Silhouette that didn't result in extreme frustration. And as suspected, it's been user error all along. Sigh....

Bonus pic of poor Soren's major goose-egg from earlier in the week. Poor baby was climbing on the chair and fell into the table creating a gash/abrasion and then landed on his forehead on the tile floor. Ouch. It swelled up so fast and huge--pretty scary!

Soren's goose egg
Picture does not do it justice--it looked terrible!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Shirts for Will: Love Challenge Items

Poor Will only has about 5 long-sleeved shirts for some reason (apparently my buying-ahead at garage sales ended with summer-suitable 3Ts). Although Bil informed me we could afford to, you know, buy him clothes, I haven't done it because I know I can make cuter shirts out of t-shirts I already have on hand waiting to be refashioned. Too bad I don't have the time to get them done!

SFB Raglan with reverse applique dinosaur

Anyway, I did make him this brown and teal one at Christmas (I think to wear under his owl blazer), and he only wore it twice before he stained it with something. ARGH!!! No matter, I thought, I'll just cover it with something. He saw Cation Design's Sewasaurus and said he'd like that on a shirt, so I thought I'd get a tyrannosaurus shape and use the Silhouette to cut some heat transfer vinyl. Well, as usual whenever I go to actually use the Silhouette, I had nothing but trouble. First my heat-transfer vinyl slipped (after talking to Silhouette's customer service, I think I figured out why and got it straightened out), messing up my vinyl. I had just enough to recut, with just a little bit of my dino's foot being cut into, so after talking to CS, I finally got it cut out and weeded, then went to adhere it to my shirt, and very carefully ironed it to the shirt for a LOOOONG time. I was so proud of myself for being so careful. Then I went to peel it off and realized I did not remove the backing paper before I ironed it on. ARGHGHG!!111!1 So, not only was that cut-out ruined, but I couldn't even get it all picked off of the shirt. So, the back-up back-up plan was put into effect--reverse applique to save the day!

Dino detail
(That's just water all around the outside of the applique, not stain)

There's nothing interesting about this, except that I traced it onto the front of the shirt since I needed to be sure my dino covered as much of the stains as possible; most of the directions I've read suggest doing it from the back. I think it turned out pretty cute, though a lot of headache for one little shirt!

I want to love my Silhouette, but I just have such a terrible time every time I try to use it. I think I have a mental block.

Color-blocked SFB raglan with 

A couple of weeks ago, during one of the RSV weekends, I made this red shirt for Will. I wanted to play with colorblocking a bit, and I even took myself to make new patterns for the SFB raglan T, dividing it into hirds horizontally and vertically. While I was making it, Will decided it needed a pocket, so I created a little kangaroo pocket. It's two layers, and I had intended the red layer to be the outside, but I was using a decorative stitch with black thread and something went wrong, so it ended up looking terrible. So, rather than chucking it all, I just went with the black side facing out. I got all fancy and actually hemmed the thing and even broke out the twin needle. Unfortunately the top row of stitching around the neck busted almost immediately. I think that happened last time I used the twin needle. I'll have to do some googling and see if I can figure out what's causing that. It's really annoying!

I have plans for some more Will clothes (involving more Silhouette work--what am I thinking??) that will hopefully happen soon, but in case I don't get to those, these shirts should count toward the Stashbusting February Challenge of creating stash-made items. Both were made from shirts I had in the refashion pile, and the dino applique was made with the scraps left over from the shirt that was made back in Dec.

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Butchering

A sad, sad day arrived last week, during the long, lost week of sickness. While I was in the sewing room, Will was in there pestering me and going through every drawer in the desk as usual and started playing with scissors. He asked if he could cut some papers, and since that is preferrable to having him perching on my neck, I said to go for it. He chopped away, and I sewed, and then I realized I was no longer hearing the "snick, snick, snick" of the paper cutting. I had an inkling and yelled, "Will, what are you DOING?" And he answered cheerily from underneath the desk, "I'm cutting my hair!" NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

He cut off quite a bit from one side (the other side was untouched). We had to wait till Thursday to get it fixed (he and Soren didn't go back to daycare till Wed--almost out for a full week!), and the girl had to cut it all off. I think she said it's about a half inch. I am so sad. He looks so much older. And his hair had just attained maximal cuteness after the very bad bangs of last July had finally got grown out. It must have been because I had just commented to Bil like, the day before he did it that he really did look like a little boy model. Sigh.......

Bad hair, Good hair, VERY bad hair, No hair

We have discovered though that without his hair, he actually looks a lot more Yount-ly than we'd previously thought. He looks a lot like Uncle Tony now!

Although he felt a little trepidation about getting it cut, he did a great job of sitting still (ice cream is a great bribe), and it was funny to watch him notice how different he looked whenever he'd catch a glimpse of himself in the mirror. Before bed, he was looking at it and said, "Mom, my new hair looks like Annekin from the new Star Wars!" So, win, I guess?

An amusing tidbit: Will has taken to saying, "Save your friends! Eat zombie carrots!" Bil googled the phrase, and it's from a short called Night of the Living Carrots. Apparently we should be more closely monitoring his Netflix watching.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Oliver + S Art Smocks: A Review

Oliver + S Art Smock

I got the Oliver + S Little Things for Little People book last Christmas, had a great time looking through it, and then made nothing from it till the following December. Since Ella and Aubrey had an art-themed Christmas going, we contributed a nice art smock for each of them, using the pattern int LTLP.

I checked out reviews online, and they were all favorable (I don't think I've ever read anything negative about ANY Oliver + S pattern, come to think of it....). I thought it was strange how long people reported these taking, given that it seemed such a simple pattern. I assumed I would be faster (ha, ha--you would think I'd have learned not to tempt fate that way).

Anyway, true to all the reviews, these went together so nicely, the instructions were flawless and complete enough, and the product looks great and very professional. And just like everyone else, I was surprised how long they took to make. Yes, I was making two of them, but I really didn't expect that it would take so long. It took me probably a good, solid 4-6 hours (maybe more--my sewing time was rather interrupted as per usual). It would have gone together faster without all the nice finishing touches, of course, but that's what make this pattern so nice!

Oliver + S Art Smock

I didn't get to see Ella's on her, but Aubrey was happy to put hers on and let me shoot some pics. That girl is such a ham for the camera (and an adorable ham!). The size small was just perfect on her. Hopefully the large fits Ella. I love the complete coverage that these provide, and that the neck and sleeves are both elasticized. Floppy sleeves are no good for painting, and this will definitely keep the clothes underneath clean unless it just gets soaked. If it was made in laminated fabric, it would be bulletproof!

So add me to the list of people highly recommending this pattern!

Oliver + S Art Smock

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Scrap Bustin' and Sickness

babydress2 013

I read about Cation Design's Stashbusting Sewalong and want to participate since my SFB sewalong, which I have really enjoyed, is ending. It also seems like a great one since it's about using up your stash, and mine is full and growing all the time! I didn't officially pledge how much I was going to use up, but I am planning to follow along as best I can (ha, ha--how's that for the wishy-washiest pledge ever?). The theme for January (link party here), is Itty Bits.  I have tons of fabric that would fit that bill, so that seemed like a great challenge. When I surveyed my fabric, one piece stood out: the remnant from the ruffle fabric I used to make a scarf for Alisha last Christmas. It was too big to throw away, but it had long ago stumped me on how to use it for anything, since I just had maybe 1/4 yard; plus, there's also that issue that most of my sewing is for the boys, and really, I can't think of any way to incorporate white ruffle fabric into anything for them. Maybe a puffy pirate shirt a la Seinfeld?

Anyway, one of my old college friends is having a little girl, and I realized that I probably had enough fabric to get a newborn-sized dress out of the fabric. I used the Infant Peasant Dress Pattern & Tutorial from Sew Much Ado (completely coincidentally, I was also looking at Sew Much Ado's tip for hemming jeans to utilize the original hem this week, though I haven't used it yet. Hmm, maybe I need to add her to the RSS feeder?). Here's how it turned out.

babydress2 012

I had some trouble with the ruffle that was over the casing. I think I should have moved the pattern up and started it at the top of a ruffle rather than at the top of the non-ruffled line. Because the ruffle was pulled over the top of the casing, it was wanting to flip up once the elastic was inserted. So I had to tack it down. It looks.....well, not good, if you are looking at the tacks up close, though I'm not sure you would notice them at all if you weren't examining it. I'm hoping on a moving target of cute baby, no one will be looking that closely.

casing v. ruffle issues

It needed something to break up the great white expanse, so I added a bias-tape flower (from my now quite ginormous stash of thrifted bias-tape--I just can't seem to pass it up whenever I find any for 10 cents...what can I say?). I also ended up cutting two layers of ruffles off the dress and one row off the sleeves. I was envisioning something kind of tunic length, and it was looking a little more dedication-style when it was long and unembellished.

Since I STILL had more of the fabric left, I made a bonus diaper cover using the pattern and tutorial from Dana at Made. The diaper cover gave me fits and took WAY longer than it should have. I accidentally cut the pattern out with the ruffle fabric upside down, so then it took me even longer to sew it down because I had to make sure each of the ruffles were flipped upside down. This ruffle fabric is so fiddly to work with--I will be very glad when it's gone (and yes, there is STILL some--it's the scrap that won't die!). I think I'll have to use up the rest as an embellisnment on a shirt for me or something.

My friend is also going to be cloth diapering, and I had given her an IOU for 12 cloth wipes (they were registered for some, but I just couldn't bring myself to buy something that I had the supplies for and was so easy to make), and I had quite a bit of flannel scrap left over from other baby shower gifts, so I whipped up some flannel wipes. Some are serged, and then some I decided to turn & topstitch. Hopefully she's not anal about having all exactly the same size and shape!

wipes: scrap busting

After I took this picture, I also made 7 more out of leftover dachshund flannel from Will's Goodnight Sweetheart PJs. I had my whole extra left leg of that. I was glad to get some use out of that screw up!

And, if I was going to fit in another challenge/sewalong this month (in addition to the somewhat more in-depth 2-in-1-Jacket), a small and easy one was the way to go. Soren has been coughing around since last week, and I kept waiting for him to develop full-blown flu symptoms since Will was diagnosed with Flu Type A last Monday, but Soren never developed a fever. He just had a terrible cough and was getting hardly any sleep at night or naptime. I finally took him in Wednesday, fully expecting the doctor to just say, "congratulations, he has a cough" since he wasn't running a real fever, but it turns out he has RSV with bronchiolitis and an ear infection. Poor little guy! RSV is highly infectious, and so I wasn't surprised when Will started hacking up a lung on Wed. as well. They both had to stay home from daycare, so I've just went in only for my classes on Thurs/Fri. Thankfully Annie was able to come and keep them. We are so lucky that she is close enough and willing and able to help out when they are sick! Hopefully they will be feeling better soon, as being cooped up in the house has been pretty miserable for all of us. Pretty sure I'm coming down with it too, but for adults it's just a cold, so I'm not feeling as bad as the boys.

Bonus sick kid pics:

babydress2 015
The littlest ninja and his light saber.

babydress2 007

babydress2 002
Looking a little happier today.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

2-in-1 Jacket: Review

SFB 2-in-1 Jacket
The Froggy Coat

I am going ahead and blogging this even though it's not quite finished. My buttonholer is absolutely refusing to make even one buttonhole on this, let alone 5, so my new plan is try get some heavy duty snaps, but that's going to require a trip to the store or maybe even some online shopping, and the deadline for the sewalong is in a few days.

SFB 2-in-1 Jacket
Pockets! This red was really hard to photograph. 

My review...

Pattern: Unlike the robe, there were no issues with the pattern pieces in this one, except for pocket placement. Thankfully, I looked at a couple of tutorials dealing with the welt pocket, and they noted that the pocket placement was going to be wrong if you were doing anything but the biggest size, so I used their notes for moving mine over. I think I it about 2.5" from the edge, which was just about perfect. One of my pocket linings was pretty close to getting in my seam allowance, though, so I had to trim it down and then shove it out of the way when I was sewing the front together.

SFB 2-in-1 Jacket
You can see the pockets here

Instructions: I thought the instructions were pretty straightforward. The welt pocket is the only tricky part of this pattern, and I don't know if I didn't do it right or what, but it seemed pretty easy to me?  Ha ha--I kind of assume I'm doing some wrong if other people are saying it might be difficult, and I didn't find it to be that bad.

Fit: Definitely big and wide. I didn't want to go with the 2/3 since I was really thinking of this more as being a coat for next year, but it's really too big to look at all fitted this year. It's not just really wide on him, but the shoulders are falling off. I would certainly expect a 5 in RTW to do the same thing, though, so I don't think it's that off. The length on this was pretty decent, although it would probably be fairly short if he were 5!

All in all, I definitely recommend this pattern. It was quick to sew up, and if my buttonholer would cooperate, it would have been done in a very reasonable 2-4 hours (it's really hard to gauge total time when I only get to work in 5-45 min spurts). 

SFB 2-in-1 Jacket
Sweetened up with his bribery candy. You can see a little bit of his ninja costume he's sporting underneath this. I don't know how anyone ever gets their kids to cooperate with styled action shots.

Froggy's Best ChristmasMy construction details: Will has plenty of jackets in his current size, so I was mainly making this to complete the sewalong and as a trial run for a nice one (maybe in wool?) for next year. Therefore, I only wanted to use stash fabrics (free!). I am still kicking myself for spending about $25 on the robe in November. :-(  Looking for something that might be appropriate, I turned up this red/black plaid flannel and some navy blue corduroy. No, they do not coordinate. I decided not to care. I don't have time to go to the fabric store, and I didn't want to spend even 40%-off price on something that matched. Of course, Will chose the flannel for the outside since it's red. I told him he'd look just like Froggy from the Froggy book series, and so the Froggy coat was born.

I was looking for something warmer than just two layers of fabric, so I interlined it with leftover flannel from the ill-fated Jedi robe.

This was my first attempt at matching plaids, and it went, well, not particularly well. It took me forever to get the pieces cut out, between reading tutorials on how to match patterns and fiddling with the pieces. Then, because I was looking at the interlined sides when I was stitching it up, I completely forgot I was supposed to be matching plaids and didn't remember till I had already inserted both arms and checked to see how it had turned out. Apparently I did well cutting on one side, as it matched perfectly, even doing it blind, the other side is off by a good 1/4". I thiiiiink I fouled up in trying to cut 2 layers at once, and I'm not sure the plaid was actually straight to start with. Grr.... I briefly considered ripping out the arm and the side seam and trying to work it so it would mostly match, but, being me, I of course quickly decided not to.

I barely have the time to get anything sewn, let alone done correctly! I was reading an old blog post on the Coletterie where Sarai was talking about sewing being an art, and meditative, etc, and we should take the time to do it correctly and fix mistakes. Clearly, she has never tried to sew with two high-needs kids under 4 before. Sometimes when I'm sewing, I literally have Will sitting on my shoulders or climbing me like some kind of spider monkey, and I'm snatching all manner of pointy, sharp objects from Soren and his long monkey arms. I do everything as pedal-the-metal-fast as possible and consider it good-enough if it's just complete. Maybe someday I'll have time for contemplative, enjoy-the-process sewing, but not any time soon, I fear. /grumpy-mom-rant.

SFB 2-in-1 Jacket
I asked Will to stand by Soren so I could get a picture of them together. He very deliberately positioned himself in front of his brother and then cheesed for the camera. 

Brothers, in a rare non-forced picture. I got them both to smile and was a hair too late in taking the pic to capture it. Sigh. 

Little Cutie1
Bonus baby cuteness!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Sew Liberated Art Satchel: A Review

I decided to make two of the Art Satchels from Growing up Sew Liberated for Ella & Aubrey for Christmas.  I did some quick Googling to see if I could find any reviews before I started, but all I turned up was a bunch of bloggers from the book's blog tour saying they had made the Art Satchel or that they wanted to make it. That seemed promising, and I have liked most of the other things I've tried from the book. So Will and I went and purchased fabric (he picked out the fabrics and did such a great job--that boy really has a good eye for color!), and I planned to get going. Unfortunately, the final product left a lot to be desired.

Sew Liberated Art Satchel

Cutting took forever, but I think there's no way around that since there are a ton of little pieces. However, it would have been nice to have included the shapes in the pattern rather than just giving dimensions, so people wouldn't have to do as much measuring. Once I had cut out my first batch of pieces, I just used them as templates for the next batch. When I got finished cutting out, I was in shock at how much fabric I had left! Almost 1/2 yard of each of my two main fabrics! You can definitely safely purchase 1/3 of yard less than called for at minimum. If you're not doing any fussy cutting, you could go even less than that. Interfacing just needs a small scrap--the only two peices you'll cut from it are 4.5x3" and 2x2".

Then I started sewing and the problems with the pattern instructions started showing up. The first problem was in Step #7. The instructions say to sew down the elastic at 5.5" below the top right corner. When the crayon roll is complete and the button sewn on, this will result in the elastic being below the button by about 1", which makes the crayon roll hang all whoppy-jawed, as my mother would say. I played around with a piece of paper and think changing the original measurement to be 4.5" from the top right would correct this.

Sew Liberated Art Satchel
Check out that funky-hanging crayon roll.

I also was not able to get as many crayon holder-slots out of the fabric as I was supposed to (I assume sloppy seam allowances caused this, but the measurements could have been off here too--who knows; I didn't go back and do the maths on this issue in my post-mortem). Since the author then would give directions based on the number of crayon slots, I had to eyeball it when deciding where to fold and sew down my crayon roll. Actual measurements from the edges would have been much more helpful than "from the fourth crayon slot...."

The second problem was in Step # 14where the instructions say to put the contrast and main fabrics right sides together. Doing this will result in the right side of the contrast fabric stitched down out of sight against the satchel, with the wrong side visible inside the marker pouch. I believe it should be wrong side of contrast to right side of main fabric. Too bad I didn't realize this till mine was already hemmed backwards. Grrrr!

The last problem I had was with the snap closure on the outside of the art satchel (Step 30). The instructions say to fuse the interfacing to the body panel and 2.5" from the left edge and 7 5/8" from the upper and lower edge. Ok, so I did that, but what the instructions don't indicate is what portion of the 2x2" square is at that point, so I aligned it so that the square didn't start till 2.5" from the edge. After not being able to close my satchels, I'm pretty sure that the author meant for there to be 1/2" from the edge to the beginning of the interfacing, and then the square would end at 2.5". This placement would have allowed plenty of room for the tab loop to close. I know this is probably my own fault for not being able to visualize how this would work in the 3D version, but the author really should have indicated the measurement on her diagram with brackets showing where the measurements indicated fell. I made it as I thought the instructions were indicating (being very careful with my measurements) and the tabs would not close on my satchels--frustrating!!!

Sew Liberated Art Satchel
Holding the tab down since it was too tight to close. :(

An additional problem I ran into was that when it came time to stuff my "plexiglass" into the satchel and close it up, one of my sets wouldn't quite fit in to the satchel height-wise. There is NO wiggle room in this pattern for not cutting super-well or taking any too much seam allowance. I would definitely recommend cutting your stuffing material 1/4 to 3/8" shorter than what is called for. Luckily, my dad had cut mine and was able to go back to the shop and take off a hair more, but if I had this cut at a glass shop, I would have been SOOOO frustrated! 

The satchels did come out very cute, aside from the problems noted and their non-functional clasps. However, considering the amount of time and expense I put into these, they were quite disappointing. I didn't realize how expensive these little suckers would be either--I had about $35 of material (and that was with two pieces of my fabric at 30% and 40% off!) in them, and that was with the "plexiglass" for free since my dad did it for me with materials from his shop. I had priced a piece at Hobby Lobby, and they told me it would be about $25--jaw drop!, so I knew I'd be doing some sort of cheaper option.

So, while cute, I do not recommend this pattern because of the mistakes and level of frustration that it caused me--frustration that was definitely not entirely user error.