Thursday, August 31, 2017

lemon lady skater dress

I've seen lemon print everywhere this year, and I just love it! Mom gave me a lightweight lemon-print scarf for my birthday, which whetted my appetite for more citrus-y goodness. I spotted this Art Gallery fabric and immediately wanted a comfy lemon sundress. I love the silhouette of the Charleston dress pattern, but was worried this fabric wouldn't be sturdy enough for the fitted skirt. I started looking for a dress pattern with a circle skirt, since a flat front (as opposed to gathers or pleats) tends to be my preferred style. The Lady Skater dress has a circle skirt and a bodice very similar to my Lark Tee, so I figured it was probably within my skill range.

I made a practice version of the bodice with inexpensive fabric, as recommended by the pattern, and decided to try my hand at a few adjustments to my pattern pieces before cutting into my lemon fabric. I made a size 4 except I shortened the arm holes to size 3, shortened the bodice by 1 inch, and did a 1/2 inch swayback adjustment per the instructions provided on the author's super helpful blog post. The fit on the sleeves is still a bit off, but the back looks pretty decent!

I ignored the instructions for the neckband and installed it and the sleeve cuffs using a method similar to the Lark Tee neckband. I like that there are no exposed seams around the edges that way. On my first real attempt at the bodice, I did a narrow zig zag topstitch on the neckband which looked a bit messy. Because I'm a perfectionist and knew the topstitching would bother me every time I wore the dress, I remade the bodice and omitted the topstitching. In the future I'd consider a long straight stitch, or maybe a wider zig zag (which at least looks intentionally wiggly). I love the twin needle finish on the hem (my first time using a twin needle); it looks so professional!

You might have noticed that these photos weren't taken in our backyard... I desperately wanted to finish this before our vacation, since there are only a few weeks left to wear such a summer-y dress! More details on our beach trip later!

Monday, August 21, 2017

biscayne blouse

This is the Biscayne Blouse pattern by Hey June Handmade in a Kathy Davis rayon from Joann. It is so lightweight and fluid that the finished product is supremely comfortable. I made this shirt as a practice before using a more expensive fabric, but I have a feeling this one will get lots, if not more, wear. We'll see if it holds up okay in the wash. The orange and white feathers on blue background remind me of little koi fish. I made a size XS graded to a size S at the hips.

I wasn't thrilled with my finish on the front gathers or the bottom of the placket, but my collar and pocket turned out decently. The busy print hides some of the sewing imperfections. I interfaced all pieces of the collar before cutting them out as recommended by the pattern for lightweight fabrics (Tip: buy more interfacing than the pattern calls for). I don't need a functional front pocket so I would consider making a faux welt or basting the flaps together in the future so it doesn't pull open. I used French seams (my first!) to enclose the raw edges of the sides and shoulders since the fabric wanted to fray like crazy.

I'd like to try some modifications on the placket now that I understand the construction. This one took me about a week start-to-finish, but the process might go quicker in the future. I'm looking forward to making more of these shirts!

I wore this shirt to dinner a couple weeks ago. We stopped by the little park outside the restaurant for play time before ordering our food. Mae takes her park visits very seriously.

Fortunately, she lost the grump face after a few trips down the spiral slide with Dada! Glad we got to take advantage of such a beautiful summer evening.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

cactus pincushion

After finishing my detailed, time-consuming pajamas, I needed a quick and easy sewing project. I spotted the idea for a cactus pincushion while browsing the Art Gallery Studio fabric look books online. This little guy is made from some green spotted fabric from JoAnn, a small scrap of pink leftovers from Mae's crib skirt, and a tiny heart-shaped button from my box of orphaned fasteners. I followed the steps of this tutorial from Sewing Lab. I wrapped the base of the stuffed cactus in green felt and hot glued it into a tiny terra cotta pot.

I now have two sewing buddies: the cactus and a hedgehog, which are both very appropriate pincushion subjects. Dan said I should make a voodoo doll next. Now I just need an enemy to model it after...

Thursday, August 10, 2017

carolyn pajamas

Quick blog update before we get to the real post! I have added a gallery page where you can view all of my recent projects and quickly link to the blog posts about them! Click here to view the gallery or click the link in the sidebar on the right side of your screen! Ok, now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

​My latest sewing project! These are the Carolyn Pajamas by Closet Case Patterns made from (believe it or not) an Ikea ÅKERTISTEL duvet cover. I was looking for an inexpensive fabric to try out this sewing pattern, and figured that if sheets are comfy enough to sleep on, they should be comfy enough to sleep in. The weave feels slightly nicer than quilting cotton, but there were other Ikea bed linens that were even softer. The cover had a different color top and bottom, so I used the yellow side for the main fabric and the white side for the contrasting piping. I had plenty of fabric, so I didn't have to worry about making mistakes, since I could always cut out another piece!

I made a size 6 in the top and bottom with no alterations. I am getting used to sewing-pattern sizes, which haven't followed the same vanity sizing trend I see in most stores. Both fit nicely, if only a bit snug. All exposed seams were finished on my serger. The pattern suggests french seams, but I am enjoying using my new machine whenever I can.

I printed out my pattern at the beginning of July and finished these pajamas in about 3 weeks. I can only do a few steps at a time in the evenings before I get tired and start making mistakes. I could probably make this pattern faster without the cuffs and contrast piping, but I love that little detail! My goal with this project was to build my confidence in sewing things like collars, sleeves, and pockets on a low-pressure project like pajamas. Okay, one last look, since this is probably the last time these jammies will ever be nicely pressed and unwrinkled!

Monday, August 7, 2017

i finally saw her

I have made several trips to the zoo over the last few months hoping to catch a glimpse of Fiona, the premature baby hippo whose story captured the hearts of animal-lovers around the planet. I wore my Team Fiona t-shirt each time as a good luck charm, but she was only outside for a few minutes a day and I never happened to catch a glimpse. Now that she is 6 months old and has been successfully reintroduced to her mom and dad, Fiona spends most of her time in her outdoor pool. Last week, I was determined to see her, even if I had to linger around the enclosure for an hour!

When I arrived, Henry and Bibi were snoozing in the pool with no sign of Fiona. I asked a zoo volunteer who indicated that Fiona was tucked in between her parents and completely hidden by Henry's huge body. Then I saw two tiny, wiggly ears pop up over his back. My first glimpse! After a few more minutes, Henry woke up and started nudging Fiona. A decent crowd had gathered and I think he was encouraging her to show off for her fans. She swam up and down the length of the enclosure windows, so I got a great view! She is 400 pounds of cuteness!!

We met up with Jen and Anna (we were sad to miss Stacey and Isaac this week) and treated Mae to her first train ride. She enjoyed it, though she wanted to stand and look out the sides towards the end. She is walking all over the place now! Just in the last week she has made the transition from primarily crawling to primarily walking, and she is getting very steady on her feet! Most of the time she only falls over if she's being too silly to stand up.

Looking forward to our next fun playdate!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

the missing link

We had such a fun time during Aunt Colleen's visit! The weather was beautiful all weekend, so we took advantage with lots of outdoor activities (and plenty of indoor time watching Harry Potter weekend). Colleen arrived Friday afternoon and we walked to a nearby brewery for drinks and pizza. Mae especially enjoyed the outdoor seating area since there were so many doggies to meet.

Colleen is the missing link that proves Mae is actually related to us. She doesn't look much like Dan or me with her light hair and blue eyes, but she looks just like a mini version of Colleen!

After a lazy Saturday morning (for us... Colleen ran 9 miles), we went to the swimming pool in the afternoon. Colleen showed Mae how to blow bubbles in the water and how to kick while swimming. We all took turns running through the splash pad with Mae, which made her very giggly.

Sunday, we walked to the farmers market and picked up fresh pasta and veggies for dinner. Tomato season is the best time to hit up the farmers market. I'm not a huge fan of tomatoes, but I love the little tiny heirloom ones splashed with balsamic vinegar and tossed with little pieces of fresh mozzarella and basil. Our garden is about 4 feet high with weeds instead of veggies this year, but I still managed to plant basil... it's a summer necessity!

We are looking forward to seeing Colleen again in just a few weeks when we travel out East. It was super fun having her here for some undivided Mae time! The weekend was very relaxing, since Dan and I both got a bit of a break while Colleen was playing with Mae. Thanks for visiting, Aunt Coll!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

julia cardigan

Another sewing project completed! This is the Julia Cardigan by Mouse House Creations in a light gray Robert Kaufman laguna cotton jersey. I made the doubled-over version of the collar and finished the seams with my serger after basting with a zig-zag stitch on the sewing machine. Construction was easy, though I did encounter a few learning opportunities. I rethreaded my serger for the first time (which I had been dreading), and it was super easy. I also unpicked a serged seam which was not nearly as time-consuming as I had been lead to believe.

cozy birdhouse | julia cardigan

All-in-all, a success! I have already worn this to work several times and will definitely need to make a few more in different colors!