Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Retro Look from a Modern Pattern New Look 6049

My pattern stash is filled with fun retro styles. Some styles are great and I wish they were still current. Other pattern styles have gone the way of the dinosaurs and rightly so. I like using vintage patterns because they suit my style, taste and are not worn by everyone at the mall. I sometimes feel guilty sharing the projects I make from vintage patterns. The pattern may be hard to come by making it difficult for others to replicate the look. I like it when I find a current pattern with a vintage vibe to make and share with you.

I found this little number while shopping thrift stores with a visiting relative last week. It was in a bag with three other patterns for $2! I like a simple shift dress and was drawn to view B in the length of A. It seemed like a perfect match for some of the vintage fabric in my stash.
I liked this dress for the simple details, the bell sleeves, slight boat-neck neckline and shaping of the darts.
Slight bell sleeve
Bust and bodice darts.

I will get to the completed dress in a minute. I just want to show my most perfect invisible zipper installation. I upgraded from a plastic universal foot on the left, to  a better quality vintage foot. It is made of very hard plastic and does not slide out of alignment as the other does. It also has a deeper dividing line that holds the zipper teeth flat allowing you to get closer to the teeth. A sturdier foot has increased the invisibility of my zipper.

Where's the zipper?
Here is the completed dress

Isn't it fun? The length is perfect for a mini dress, but not long enough for everyday wear. It is great for date night, but I am not sure I could pick up my 2-year old and hold him and my dignity at the same time. I am 5'8" and this is just long enough to be decent. For an everyday length, I will need to lengthen it when I make it again. I may also widen the sleeves when I make it again.

I love this little dress. It is fun, flirty and completely me! After wearing a knee brace for the past two weeks, it is great to let my legs out.

Happy Sewing,

Sunday, August 17, 2014

O-Laf with me at the lenghts I go to amuse my children.

Summer is winding to a bittersweet close. In a little more than a week, my daughter will begin her first day of kindergarten. I am a whirlwind of emotion balancing productive preparation and feats of distraction. Little Miss is undecided if she wants a purchased backpack or for me to make one for her.  I have given her many options but she does not know yet what she wants. 

As she deliberates, and in an attempt at distraction, I have decided to make a new diaper bag/backpack for Little Man.  He is a huge fan of the movie Frozen and delights in all things Olaf. He is usually indifferent when I sew for him, but I am hopeful the delights of summer snowflakes will sway him.
For the body of the bag, I chose denim fabric from my stash. For the lining, I chose the same denim and added an interior pocket. There are two kid-sized straps on the back and a magnetic closure in front. To make Olaf's face, I used felt to appliqué the features of this hilarious snowman. The details are made using pipe cleaners for his hair, embroidery thread for the spot in his eyes, and variegated thread for the coloring of the carrot nose. I added a bit of depth to his eyes and around his mouth using a silver colored permanent marker.

Details of Olaf's face.

Olaf on a summer bike ride.

It is large enough to hold the necessities of a toddler's day.

Back of the bag.

Olaf swinging in the summer breeze.
I am very pleased with this first draft of a backpack of this kind. I imagine I will be making more of these as there a birthday parties on the horizon. I may try a larger re-positionable nose and a larger capacity backpack. 

Little Man is thrilled to have Olaf on his back, though he did not want to be photographed. Little Miss loves this bag, she thinks he is fun to wear. She believes I can do anything and has requested an Anna or Elsa version, or maybe a Hello Kitty, or maybe a Tinkerbell, or Minnie Mouse or…

When she makes up her mind, I will be sure to update you. 

Happy Sewing,


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

It's quiet over here.

After a frenetic July resulting in a contest win (yeah!), things over here have been quiet. With all my sewing last month, I hurt my right knee from the repetitive motion on the pedal. I have always had issues with this knee, but I aggravated it recently. I have pricked my finger numerous times, and run a machine needle through it, but a knee injury of this kind is a first. I am doing the required rest, ice, elevation and compression and will be back to my machine soon. 

Happy (safe) Sewing,

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Pattern Stash Busting and a Win!

For the last month, I have been working furiously and ferociously sewing up patterns. I delved into my stash for patterns I have owned before January of this year, but had not sewn. All of this sewing was a part of the Pattern Review Pattern Stash Busting Contest. The prize is a Google Nexus tablet loaded with Patternade, pattern drafting software . 

When I began the contest I had a goal of creating one garment a day over the course of the month completing 30 garments in total. To me, this seemed like a manageable goal that would not interfere with my life too much. I was cranking along nicely making things I enjoyed like my whimsical button dress, my Leo Narducci jumpsuit, my three piece swimsuit and my reversible wrap skirt.  The quality of these items was good and I was really enjoying myself.

Three weeks in, I had made 23 items and was well into my goal when something unexpected happened. One morning I woke up and decided I really wanted to win. After making 23 items, I felt like I was "in for a penny, in for a pound".
My strategy shifted from sewing an item when I had an opportunity, to sewing every opportunity I had. I chose patterns that would be fast to sew, but also had some practical  use in my life. When it was all said and done, I used 51 patterns made 54 items and sewed 85.325 yards of fabric! 

All of the contestants sewed approx. 598 yards of fabric. On average, 63 sewists completed 371 projects, for an average of each person sewing 5.7 projects. The contestants made some wonderful items. Many of them from patterns I am sure to acquire. You can see their wonderful projects here in this gallery.

Sample of everyone's projects. Photo Credit Pattern Review.
You can see all the items I made here in this gallery. I apologize for the quality of the photos and imagination in items near the end of the contest. I was tired and trying for numbers :)

I am very proud of my efforts and the fact that I won this contest!   

I have been asked how I was able to sew so many items in such a short time. Here are some tips that worked for me:
  •  I sewed vintage patterns that had been cut by the previous owner, saving me from doing that chore. 
  • I pre-wash my fabric immediately after buying. I walk in the house and head to the laundry room. I can choose a fabric and get sewing right away.
  • I sewed similar colors at the same time so I didn't have to change my threads. 
  •  I used two machines and a serger. One machine threaded with a light color the other with a dark. 
  • I chose patterns that I knew I bought at an estate sale last year so I didn't have to wonder about the date of acquisition. 
  • Where possible, I made items reversible. This added versatility to the item, but also eliminated the need for hemming items like my wrap skirt. 
  • I got my kids involved in the process. My son really enjoyed pressing the foot pedal and "driving" the sewing machine. My daughter enjoyed sorting pins and buttons, choosing fabrics and exploring her pattern stash. 
  • I had the benefit of my mother in-law visiting for a time. She played with the kids while I sewed and they did not notice my absence.
  • I wrote my reviews in draft when I had some down time and updated it with photos when I completed it.
  •  I also had the benefit (and misery) of my husband being out of town for a while so I was able to get stuff done after the kids were in bed.
  • We have extensive food allergies in our home. I try to prepare meals in bulk, in advance, so we are not scrambling to find food when hungry.
Would I do this again? I don't know. I enjoyed myself so much more when I was trying to meet a personal goal. I sewed specific items because I wanted to make it from that pattern.  It became less fun and less rewarding when I decided I wanted the prize. I sewed the fast item in a pattern even if it was not the item for which I bought the pattern. 

I was also anxious about the possibility of not winning if someone chose to make only scarves or fast ponchos. These items may be completely necessary for their lifestyle, but the speed and possible variations on style may have given an advantage. I had the benefit of having kids to sew for and that was an advantage that may have discouraged some. The bottom line is this, this contest got in my head. I would not be surprised if it got in the head of others.

Now that it is over, I am so glad I have some slow hand-sewing projects in the wings. I need to organize my sewing room, but beyond a kindergarten backpack, a swap project and a few alterations, I do not want to see that room for a bit. :)

Happy Sewing,

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Christmas in July

Since the end of July, I have been leading another semester of Journey Groups at my church. A Journey Group is a special interest group of people who get together for a common goal. Some goals are entertainment, socializing, Bible studies, exercise and whatever else instructor feels will bring the group together. In last two semesters I have led a group of Sewing for Starfish Kenya. We made pillowcase dresses and shorts for the children at an orphanage at the House of Hope. You can read more about it here.

After two successful semesters, I felt led to look for new organization we could work with. A friend introduced me to Supports Hope in Uganda. I thought we would make more dresses and shorts but, I wanted to be open to other options. I got in touch with my contacts to find out from them what would be most useful. I offered a list of fairly economical projects that we could offer and waited to hear back.

They requested stuffed animals to be used as Christmas presents for the children. What an awesome idea! I was happy to make clothing, but I was I got really excited about making stuffed animals. 

I have made Wacky Creatures using Mccall’s 5826 from my kids and they loved them. I thought this pattern would be a perfect candidate for my Journey Group. We have a wide range of ages and skills in this group. I thought this project was a good opportunity for the newbies to acquire sewing skills but also give those with advanced skills the opportunity to be creative with the design of the faces and embellishments.

There are 144 orphans who will receive these Wacky Creatures. We will construct them flat and leave an opening for them to be filled with available materials in Uganda. My contacts will work with the kids to stuff and close them, so they are a part of the process there.

We are five weeks in and our group is in full swing. We have cut all of the Wacky Creatures we need and are creatively and excitedly working on the embellishments and various face designs. 

We are having so much fun! We are laughing at our own silliness and the thought of the delight on the faces of the children when they receive them. Look at some of these designs!

We have a lot of work yet to do before we meet our goal. It is such a good time, I know we will get it all done.

Do you have an organization that can benefit from sewn projects for another semester of Journey Groups? Do you have ideas for other items to sew for charity? Please share in the comments below.

Happy Sewing,