Sunday, September 28, 2014

Selfish Sewing: Jocole Pencil Skirt Dress

I'm not sure if Selfish Sewing Week at Imagine Gnats is over or not, but I wanted to share this dress regardless. I actually sewed it on Thursday, had Jason take some very hurried pictures of me on Friday, but after a busy weekend, I am just now blogging about it.

I'm not barefoot, just wearing my absolute favorite shoes in the world, nude flats. 
The dress is a mix of two Jocole patterns: The peplum top (without the peplum obviously) and the pencil skirt. The peplum instructions actually suggest attaching the pencil skirt as an option and I am so glad the idea was in the pattern. I love the result!

The fabric is a ponte knit from Joann with black dots on black. This is my first time sewing with ponte and it was fantastic. I love knits to begin with, but this took it up a notch in my book. It doesn't roll, is incredibly stable and is a nice heavy weight. And like all knits, it stretches making it so forgiving to sew with.

I was very impressed with Jocole's patterns. The instructions were great, including helpful instructions on how to lengthen/shorten the pattern. The top has six different sleeve lengths while the skirt has eight different length options. I will be sewing other variations of both sometime. I wish I could say sooner than later, but I have three kids that are needing some winter clothes.

I originally sewed this dress with the intent of wearing it to a mystery dinner this past weekend. However, they cancelled the show at the last minute. What a bummer. My friend who was supposed to come with me still came up to visit and we went shopping instead. Of course, besides super cheap $10 H&M skinny jeans, I bought nothing. This is the sewing curse, everything I liked I would telling myself I could just sew it instead. Now to go find the time... 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Selfish Sewing: Sloane Sweater

Ok, so this a little embarrassing. I'm not used to be on this end of the camera. Likewise, my husband Jason isn't used to being the photographer. 

I made a resolution this year to start sewing for myself. I normally don't do resolutions, but for some reason felt left out this year. 

This is not the first thing I have sewn for myself. I previously made myself another shirt that I even wore out in public. It was scary. I actually liked the shirt and might even let Jason take a picture of it later.

I decided to share this shirt, however, because it just so happens to be Selfish Sewing Week at Imagine Gnats and I wanted to play along. So here I am, blasting my photo on the internet, yay!

I am currently a pattern tester for Love Notion's Ladies Sloane Sweater. And I love it. It is so comfy and the material is heavier than I'm used to in my "ready to wear" clothes. I think I might enjoy sewing for myself after all.

Even though this pattern is currently in testing, the release date is still up in the air. Love Notion's designer has put the testing on hold while she works out some kinks and maybe even changes small details about the design and options. I love, love, love that she is doing that instead of rushing to release the pattern. I feel that it speaks volumes about her quality control and it makes me feel that I can trust that any pattern she releases will be up to her high standards.

When the pattern is release, I will gladly sew another sweater and blog about it. In the meantime, I will proudly wear my handmade sweater out in public.

On a final note, do you think that purple fabric is floral or animal print? I grabbed it at Joann's thinking it looked like floral but noticed on the website that it is supposed to be animal print. I'm not a big animal print fan, but somehow I managed to slave away at the sewing machine to make myself an animal print shirt. 

I am hoping to sew myself another piece of clothing before Selfish Sewing Week ends. I am going to a murder mystery dinner with a friend this weekend and I would love to be able to wear a dress I made. This may be wishful thinking as I am in the middle of another pattern test, want to sew for Project Run and Play, promised my husband I would to go to an MLS (Soccer) game tomorrow and have plans to take the kids to the aquarium before the murder mystery dinner. I have a feeling Emmett might be eating a lot of cheerios today so I can give this an honest shot!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Tea Dying

Earlier this week, I shared an outfit I made for Project Run and Play, the "hand-me-down" challenge. It included a dingy pink cardigan that I turned into a lovely oatmeal color... using tea!

I have seen tea dying in the past and loved the vintage look that results from the process. When I decided to give it a go myself, I looked online for tutorials since I had never done this before. However, the information was all over the place and I just decided to do what I do best, just jump in and figure it out as I go.

I'm glad I gave it a go, it was so much easier than it seemed it would be. You basically just need to make some tea, let your clothes sit in for however long you want and then rinse, wash (with detergent and vinegar to set the dye) and that's it. So simple. I'll share my process if anyone else is interested in trying for themselves. My biggest piece of advice is not to over-think it. 

I started with two sweaters. Both had tragic laundry accidents and never fully recovered. The sweater on the left fell victim to brand new black skinny jeans while the one on the right suffered from sharing the same washing water as a red towel. I blame my husband, he did the laundry.

I did wear them in public from time to time, hoping that people would just assume that dingy grey ivory and putrid pink tan were the color they were intended to be. But enough was enough, these sweaters deserved respect. 

I must apologize in advance for any pictures taken in my kitchen. Although I like my kitchen, there is no natural light and the pictures make me cringe a little.

I boiled a big pot of water and put in all the tea bags we had left in the water. I think I had 13 bags. Remember, don't over-think it. Just put in some tea bags.

I dumped the hot tea in the sink and noticed that it wasn't going to be enough to cover both sweaters evenly. So I took those same tea bags and boiled them with some more water. And then I used them a third time in a new pot of water. Finally I had enough to cover both sweaters.

I also added a cup of coffee. No reason except for that I don't like tea. I love coffee and wanted to add a little personal touch. We have a Keurig so I couldn't brew more than a cup at a time. That was all I had the patience for. I'm sure it didn't do any good except for making me happy. 

I kept an eye on the fabrics to make sure they were continuously evenly covered. They took to the dye right away but I really wanted to make sure the difference was visible. I left them in the tea bath for about two hours. Remember, there is no magic formula for how long to leave them in. It will depend on how the fabric takes the dye, how strong the tea is and how dark you want them to end up. After a couple hours, I was pretty convinced I had saturated the sweaters as much as they would hold and I took them out.

I rinsed them out and put them in the wash in cold with detergent and vinegar. The online consensus was one cup of vinegar, but I like to live on the edge and I put two cups in.

After drying them in the dryer, here they are: 

I ended up sewing the lace cardigan down to fit my six year old. Here we are wearing them, being all matchy-matchy. That's what mothers and daughters do, right?

I would like to thank my husband for taking this picture. I would also like to tell him to please make sure there are no vehicles in the background next time. Oh well, this is what I get for stealing all his tea. :)

The absolute best part of tea dying? The cost went towards my grocery budget instead of my sewing budget. Total win!

Monday, September 22, 2014

PRP: Oatmeal Lace Cardigan and Raspberry Linen Pants

It's another week of Project Run and Play and I am happy to have been able to participate in another week of the sew-a-long. Truthfully, when I sew anything for no reason at all, I am happy, but when I have the opportunity to enter it into something as fun as PRP, even better!

This week the challenge was the hand-me-down, or upcycling challenge. This is right up my alley as I have lots of clothes hanging around that need a little "reviving," just begging to be loved again.

I choose to sew for my oldest daughter Kylie. She is 6 years old and grows taller by the minute. She is in desperate need of warm weather clothes that fit. I scrounged around in my closet and after a few days at the sewing machine, I came up with this:

These were fast sews and it shouldn't have taken me several days to whip them up, but as many of you know, life with a baby in the house is full of interruptions. Especially a baby that is hardcore into cuddling and just loves to take his naps in your arms and not in his crib. Thankfully he makes up for it with cuteness and I have agreed to keep him... for now!

See, his cuteness is totally worth it! This is Emmett at 10 months old.
I also had originally planned on making a different shirt. I had a black linen dress I was going to use and Kylie just so happened to request a black shirt with butterfly sleeves with a huge butterfly on the front of the shirt. Not my style at all, but she's the one I'm sewing it for, so I agreed to her very specific request.

I sewed the shirt she requested from my old black dress but just didn't fall in love with it. I had to make something else for PRP. I will upload pictures of the crazy butterfly shirt shortly, but I don't want to distract from my real submission.

So not only did I have a clingy baby and I sewed a shirt I wasn't going to use after all, I decided I wanted to dye the shirt I ended choosing to recycle. I settled on tea dying so that the cost could go towards my grocery budget and not my sewing budget, haha!

I had this lovely ivory lave cardigan from Old Navy, until one day Jason washed it with something red. It came out a very light and dingy color of pink. I still wore the shirt from time to time and for some reason received compliments on it. Which was mind boggling to me because the color was just awful, like a mix between beige and pastel pink and the ivory buttons were clashing horribly. They must have felt pity for me wearing it and felt like they should say something nice. See for yourself:

What was I thinking, photographing this sweater against this similar shade of concrete? 

It needed a little livening up. So I died it with very strong tea. While I was at it, I threw in another one of my once ivory sweaters that had a little laundry mishap. Now I had something "new" too. Score!

I was extremely happy with how the tea dye turned out. I will share my experience for anyone else who wants to try it out in a blog post later this week.

For Kylie's cardigan, I simply wanted to size down the original sweater. A true "hand-me-down" without waiting for her to actually fill it out.

Since the sweater had raglan style sleeves, I pulled out Peek-a-Boo Pattern Shop's Grand Slam out of my collection. I love that this pattern has two different fits (athletic or slim) per size and also a dress option. Plus I just love raglan tees.

You can tell in the photo that I had to do some adjusting in the shoulder area. I also added a tad bit of length as Kylie is a tall girl. I did a size 5 for width and 7 for length and it amazes me that her pattern piece is taking up most of my shirt. Crazy!

And here it is sized down to a perfect Kylie size. I also glad to be rid of a dingy sweater from my closet, who knows how many more times I would have dared to wear it out in public again?

Now as much as I love that cardigan, I just have to admit that I love the pants even more. I took the most hideous dress out of my closet and made a perfect fitting pair of raspberry linen button down skinny pants. If you are thinking that something that cute couldn't come from something ugly, well let me give you exhibit A:

Are you laughing? My husband was when he come home for lunch to find me wearing this and handing him the camera. Someone had given this to me several years ago, insisting it was my color and I took it graciously. Not only were they being kind in playing the hand-me-down game themselves, but it was a beautiful color, it was linen, it had amazing buttons. I knew I could repurpose it. I know this person intended me to wear it as is, but what they don't know can't hurt them!

I knew I wanted to use those buttons down the seam of one of the pant legs.I also was hoping that I could make them into a skinny legged pants. I knew that might have been wishful thinking as these were linen without any stretch.

Still I wasn't going to give up on my dream (yes, I dreamed about it!) without trying. I pulled out my Kudzo Cargo Pants pattern from Willow & Co and created a muslin with the skinny version. I wanted a pair of pants without a back yoke and without front pockets so that I could piece the front and back together to create one pattern piece and place it over the buttons in the dress. I had to alter the pattern very slightly as it had front pockets but it was a simple fix. 

After trying on the muslin, I was so excited! My daughter was thin enough in the hip area that she could easily wear skinny pants without stretch. With the exception of needing to add some length in the rise area, the muslin fit perfectly and I was ready to cut into my dress. 

I simply unpicked my muslin down the inside leg seam and so that I now had a combined front and back leg pattern piece. The muslin was now my pattern and I simply placed the seam where the front and back joined right over the buttons in the front for one of the legs. 

The finished pants, with faux fly, flat front and elasticized back:

I know that they are so simple, but with the color, buttons and fit, I love them so much.

Now you may have also noticed a lace scarf in the first picture. That was seriously a one seam, one minute project. And it's not really a hand me down, because I'm keeping it for myself, haha!

I had this beautiful stretch lace scarf that my sister brought back from France from studying abroad. We grew up in France, so the scarf was extra special to me. But I wasn't great at styling the scarf. I felt like it just didn't look right no matter which way I wore it. Here it is just plain, for perspective's sake:

Finally while sewing Eve's scarf in the last PRP challenge, I realized I would wear it if it was an infinity scarf. I literally just gave the scarf a few twists, and sewed up one seam attaching the short ends together, and tada:

I love it now and will even let Kylie borrow it from time to time. Maybe! At least for this outfit.

And there you have it, a new outfit for Kylie, from my closet to the sewing machine to her closet.

If you are wondering about that apple, I took these pictures last week when we took a trip to an orchard to do some apple picking. The whole family had a great time and I will post some pictures of the rest of the visit later. I want to be better at chronicling the fun memories we are trying to make during these childhood years.

In the meantime, I leave you with this picture of Kylie drinking her apple cider slushie while looking very stylish.

Update: If anyone is interested, click here for my blog post on tea dying. It's so easy!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Let's launch off this blog with a Party Dude!

Meet my little party dude!

How awkward it is to write the very first post in a brand new blog. Here goes nothing! 

I'm not a total stranger to the blogging world, as I used to blog at However, that blog has been severely neglected and it's been on my mind to start a new one for a while. 

This summer, I transitioned to a new role as a stay at home mom. I am taking the change of pace as an opportunity to jump back into the blogging world, this time with a new focus: sewing! 

When I started my original blog six years ago, I never would have guessed that I would ever have any interest in sewing. Yet, here I am, completely obsessed and constantly in a sewing daydream.

I feel that is only appropriate that I kick off this blog with the start of a new Project Run and Play season. I have sewn along from time to time on my old blog, and I'm excited to do it again. I wasn't able to sew along as much as I would have liked in the past, but I have always followed each season from behind my computer monitor, drooling over the talent and voting for my favorite look each week. 

This week the theme is to create an outfit inspired by a cartoon from the 1980s. I will admit that this was difficult for me, as I don't know if I have ever watched a cartoon from that era. I was born in 1985, and we didn't have cable when I was a child. We owned 2 VHS tapes: Bambi and Peter Pan. When I was four years old, my mom claims that I could recite the whole Bambi script from memory.

Neither Bambi nor Peter Pan are actually from the correct time period, so I had to do some Googling for this challenge. I was completely clueless until my husband reminded me that our girls loved the Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles, which are in fact from the late 80s. 

In fact, my husband had recently purchased the original TMNT series so that he could watch it with our daughters. They love watching it together, while I do something way more important, like sew, haha! 

Apparently there is one turtle that both girls like best: Michelangelo, who is nicknamed the "Party Dude." When they watch the intro of the show, they are usually arguing over who "gets to be" the Party Dude while they watch the show... whatever that means.

The goal of the challenge was to create an outfit inspired by the cartoon without creating a costume. This was good news for me. I love practical clothing and am not a big fan of creating costumes. In fact, I usually (*gasp*) buy my children their Halloween costumes. However, I made the mistake of telling Eve, my second daughter that I made her an outfit inspired by the ninja turtles and she was disappointed in the outcome at first. 

"Mom, where is the half shell? How can I be a turtle without a shell?"

Sorry Eve!

She warmed up to it quickly though, as she loves new clothes and these ones were soft, a nice added bonus!

And she looked adorable. Here is the final look:

Let's break down the outfit piece by piece, first the pants!

I love how these pants turned out! I used a corduroy and had fun with the "stripe" placement on all the pieces although it's hard to tell in person. All details in this pants had a purpose as I used the character April's pants as inspiration:

I thought I would create a pair of yellow pants, but when I went fabric shopping, I felt that the yellow looked too "costumy" when paired with the other fabrics.

Instead I choose the fabric to coordinate with the rest of the look and kept the details on the pants, which are:

-Patch pockets
-Cargo pocket (I only put on one, because I love the look of just one cargo pocket.)
-Knee patches
-Elasticized hem 

I used Dana of Made's short pattern, with the provided patch pocket pattern pieces to get started. I elongated them into pants and drafted the rest of the details myself. I am so happy with the fit and the details and these will be a staple in Eve's Fall and Winter wardrobe for sure.

Next up, the shirt:

For this shirt I used a very soft flannel. No Ninja Turtle reason, I just like my kids to be cuddly. The weave on this flannel just happened to be the perfect color and pattern for a turtle shell, without being over the top. 

I used Peek-a-Boo Pattern Shop's Classic Oxford shirt and made the following modifications to make it more ninja-turtley:

-I changed the pocket shape to a hexagon to mimic the turtle's shell.
-I rounded the collar to not only make it a little more girly but because turtles have a round shell, duh.
-I added a belt because the ninja turtles all wear a belt. I added a casing because I felt like the belt needed a shell (Am I stretching it too far?)

Finally, the last piece of the outfit: the infinity scarf:

The inspiration for the scarf comes from Michelangelo's orange headband (eyeband?). Instead of having the fabric worn like a mask (yes, that's better word than "eyeband") I much prefer it as a scarf. I feel like it pulls the whole outfit together and now she is truly ready for fall.

I used this tutorial to make the scarf. It was truly a 15 minute project and I'm planning on making a lot more for both girls for the fall and winter. 

And there you have it, my party dude outfit for my Ninja Turtle lovin' daughter:

"Mom, is that where the Ninja Turtles live? Is that a sewer? What's a sewer again?"