Unselfish Crafting

I usually like to make handmade gifts for the holidays to go with the store bought ones which most frequently consist of knitted items, but I haven’t really spent much time knitting since I have thrown myself into sewing and I really didn’t have a lot of time. I did however manage to do a tiny bit of unselfish sewing recently. I made my nieces (ages 5 and 6) matching My Little Pony skirts. I bought the fabric almost a year ago at Jo-Anns and the pattern is a Burda kids pattern. I made this skirt pattern for my niece almost a year ago on my old Brother machine. I have to say that the experience was a lot smoother on my Juki and it was nice to be able to sew the two skirts at the same time assembly line style.
Matching My Little Pony Skirts for my nieces

Matching My Little Pony Skirts for my nieces

My second item of unselfish sewing is a silver leather pouch that I made for my sister. I got the leather/zip at Sew LA when I was there for my intro to leather class. It is the same pouch that I made myself in that class only a different color.
The zipper doesn't look too bad

The zipper doesn’t look too bad

I also managed to knit my sister a pair of fingerless mitts and my other sister a chunky infinity scarf.
Catching Butterflies

Catching Butterflies

Tiny Owl Knits pattern

Tiny Owl Knits pattern

I also bought some fabric for pajama patterns for the bf and I got Thread Theory’s New Castle Cardigan pattern with the thought that I will make a sweater for the bf, but both of those items will have to wait until after the holidays.

Tilly and the Buttons, Love at First Stitch – Clemence Skirt

Anchor Chambray

Anchor Chambray

When I saw that Love at First Stitch by Tilly (of Tilly and the Buttons) wasn’t being released in the US until October I figured that would give me plenty of time to get some other makes off my “to sew” list done before ordering the book and I placed the book on my Amazon wishlist. Well, I had been seeing a lot of cute Tilly and the Button makes lately and was feeling pretty jealous of all the UK sewists, so I ended up ordering the book, whoops. The book is really cute and fits the Tilly brand very well. It has a very clean, cute, Parisienne feel to it. The book teaches you various sewing techniques by walking you through different projects. I have had some anchor print Chambray by Robert Kaufman in my stash that I had been saving, but a couple weeks ago I saw the fabric made into a skirt on ModCloth which I thought looked perfect for summer. I was going to make a simple gathered skirt out of it,  I had made a few gathered skirts before, but decided to use the instructions from Love at First Stitch. For the Clemence skirt, Tilly basically goes over how to make a gathered skirt to fit your waist as an introduction to pattern making. Tilly suggests using French seams, but since I added pockets to my skirt I figured it would be too much of a pain to figure out how to incorporate the french seams with the pockets. Originally I was going to make the skirt sit lower on my hips so cut the waist band based on a 27″ waist, but when I tried it on after inserting the invisible zipper it just didn’t work right (of course this time my zipper looked good on the first try too). I took out the zipper and ended up cutting off an inch from each side of the skirt, I re-sewed the zipper and hemmed up the skirt. The zipper didn’t insert quite so smoothly the second time and the back looks a little bunch around the zipper (I guess maybe I cut the sides a little unevenly?), but it doesn’t look too bad. Overall it’s pretty cute. I bought some black Kona cotton to make a bow belt (which Tilly goes over in her book).

I’d definitely recommend Love at First Stitch. It is fun to read through, gives some good tips and includes some cute patterns.
Chambray Clemence skirt

Chambray Clemence skirt

Birds and Bees Megan Nielsen Cascade Skirt

During the summer I love wearing long flowy skirts and recently finished the Sewaholic Gabriola and thought that another skirt would be just the thing. I also personally find skirts so much easier to make because I don’t have the same fitting issues that I do when making a dress (because my bottom is actually a normal size that one might find on a pattern :P). I picked out the Cascade skirt by Megan Nielsen, because it looked like it would be perfect easy flowy summer skirt. After my disastrous issues with cutting rayon challis I figured I would give voile a try and ended up getting 3 yards of Tula Pink’s birds and the bees print in yellow.

Birds and the Bees Cascade skirt

Birds and the Bees Cascade skirt

I cut out an XS and I have to say that cutting out voile was a breeze, pretty much just as easy as quilting cotton. I did have an issue finding a space big enough to cut out all of those giant pattern pieces. I tried pinning on the floor then moving to my table…it was an interesting process. The pattern calls for french seams since the skirt is hi-low and you can see the back seams from the front. I had never done french seams before, but found them to be really easy. This was also my first time using a rolled hem foot. I looked up a bunch of tutorials and had trouble figuring out exactly how I was supposed to hold the fabric, but ended up watching a pretty good video on YouTube so I could actually see what was going on. I have to say that the rolled hem did not come out perfectly (not even close), but it doesn’t look too bad. I also used my machine to make a button hole for the first time! It was surprisingly easy; yay automatic buttonhole! I definitely should have made the buttonhole further away from the edge though as I need to pull too much of the skirt out the button hole in order to make the skirt fit tight, I guess I can just add another buttonhole.

From the back

From the back

Mullet skirt ... party in the front, business in back?

Mullet skirt … party in the front, business in back?

(Pardon the terrible pictures, I am terrible in front of the camera and my “photographer” never warns me when he is taking the picture).  My final thoughts on the skirt are that I will definitely need to add something to the skirt to keep it from flying open, because when the breeze was blowing the skirt did want to fly open (Megan gives directions on her blog for adding ties or elastic just for this purpose) and that I am not entirely happy with my fabric choice. I was so happy when this fabric arrived, loving the bright colors and fun print, but wearing the skirt I feel like the color palette is just not me. Oh well, I will still wear it and I think I may try the skirt again, but in another color.

Sewaholic Gabriola – or Cutting Rayon is the Worst

I have been MIA from the blog for the last few weeks for a couple of reasons, 1) I have been busy with work, and 2) I haven’t had any completed sewing projects to show off. Well, at least I can gladly say that I now have 2 completed sewing projects to debut.

My completed Gabriola!

My completed Gabriola!

The first project is the Sewaholic Gabriola skirt. As soon as I saw this pattern on the Sewaholic blog I knew I wanted to make it. I love maxi skirts and I loved how the bias paneling on the skirt really made it look different. I wasn’t sure what fabric to use for the Gabriola, but I knew I wanted something swishy and floaty, and finally settled on some emerald rayon challis from Fabric.com. I washed, dried, and ironed my fabric and cut out a straight size 2 from the pattern (I actually traced my pattern pieces onto tracing paper instead of cutting into my pattern, which took forever with the long lines of the maxi skirt). I folded and laid out fabric on my cutting table and carefully laid out all my pattern pieces, which I have to say was difficult because the rayon really wanted to slip and move off grain every time I tried to smooth the fabric, but I pinned and cut and I thought I did a pretty good job of it, that is until I tried to match up my pattern pieces. That is when I realized that my fabric must have slipped off grain/moved when I was cutting out my pattern pieces, because none of the pieces didn’t seem to fit together correctly when I went to pin the panels together! Ugh! Trying to match up the panels on this skirt was so frustrating; my fabric looked the same on the front and the back (I did mark the back with chalk, but the chalk was rubbing off as I handled the fabric pieces), there was really only one notch to match the pieces so I wasn’t exactly sure how the pieces were supposed to line up at the other sides, and I was dubious that my pieces were the correct shape to begin with after my cutting fiasco, also the pieces are cut on the bias so I think they maybe stretched a bit…so yeah, frustrating.

I managed to get all the panel pieces sewed, and finished the edges by pinking them, we’ll see if that holds up. I had an easier time sewing the skirt pieces and finished those edges with my serger. I put in the zipper (I still don’t think I am doing a regular zipper correctly because it looked pretty messy) and attached my waistband. I was pretty excited that it looked like a skirt, but when I tried it on and showed it to the bf he informed me he could see my underpants. Crap! So, I figured I had to add a lining if I didn’t want to scrap the skirt. I knew I didn’t want to completely remake the skirt for the lining with all the paneling, no way. I ended up  taping the pattern pieces together to make one front and one back piece in the same shape as the skirt, but short (I figured I only needed the lining to cover the butt). I cut out my lining from ambience bemberg lining, took the waistband and zipper out of my skirt and then attached the lining the skirt. I re-sewed the zipper and put on the waistband (making it slightly smaller this time).

My next frustration came with trying to even out the hem. I hung up my skirt from a hanger and sat there with my ruler, chalk, and scissors and stared at my skirt, I had no clue how I was supposed to even out the hem. Was I supposed to let it all fall in the middle or hold out the sides? No idea. I ended up evening it out to where it all naturally fell off the hanger. I then folded up the hem and tried it on, hmmm, too long….okay re-mark, re-fold, re-iron…better. I did the hem by hand, which took quit a while, but I finally finished! This skirt took me over 2 weeks of pure frustration to complete. I kept telling myself that after all the issues I had with this skirt that as long as it was wearable I would be happy. Well, it is wearable, but of course I keep thinking about all the things that are wrong with it. But you know what? After wearing it out I was actually pretty pleased with it. It is floaty and swishy and feels nice against my legs when I walk, so who cares if the zipper is wonky?

I love the paneling

I love the paneling

Yay! It's done

Yay! It’s done

So overall the pattern wasn’t bad to make and the skirt design is super cute, I think all of my issues stemmed from fabric choice and inexperience.

I definitely plan to make this again, but maybe in a more stable fabric next time, like voile?

I also completed the Coco dress by Tilly and the Buttons, but I hope to blog about that later this week.

Here's Coco!

Here’s Coco!

Sewaholic Hollyburn

When Sewaholic was having their birthday sale I picked up the Hollyburn skirt pattern and the Renfrew top pattern as they both looked cute, like something I would wear, and fairly easy. I decided to try the skirt pattern first (big surprise I know) and had a bit  of trouble deciding on the right fabric. I knew I wanted to use a solid fabric because I really don’t own anything plain, but just wasn’t sure what to use. The fabric store didn’t have any denim, none of the linen colors caught my eye and chambray seemed too light, so I finally settled on a green cotton (I’m not really sure what it is, but it sure does wrinkle).

My green Hollyburn

My green Hollyburn

I did have a few issues sewing up this skirt and I think it was just because I was rushing through it. First, it took me a few reads through the instructions to figure out the pocket instructions, for some reason it wasn’t making sense to me. My next snag came when attempting to put on the waistband, I had too much fabric on the skirt to fit on the waistband on one side and instead of taking out the waistband and reattaching I simply hacked off a little bit of the skirt on that side. Of course when I sewed it up and put in the zipper the skirt was uneven, so I basically had to take most of it apart, cut out a new skirt panel and re-sew everything (I really should have just taken off the waistband in the first place, but that is what I get for trying to be lazy). The first time I sewed the zipper in I tried using a decorative houndstooth zipper, but it looked really messy, so when I put the zipper back in I used a matching green zipper and the results were neater, but not perfect (one side of the back is definitely higher than the other even though I hand basted the zipper on before machine sewing it).

You can see the waistband is uneven, oops

You can see the waistband is uneven, oops

I finished the skirt by hemming it by hand. I think it turned out pretty well (if you don’t look too close) despite all the mishaps,  it is pretty cute (except I kind of think it creates roundness over my stomach that is unflattering), and I love a skirt with pockets. I really need to give the skirt a good press and wear it because I finished it a couple weeks ago and just realized I never blogged about it. I think I will try this skirt again in another material and be more careful next time.

I really need to iron out those wrinkles

I really need to iron out those wrinkles

Successfully Wearing my Handmadeables

So I wrote a post a while back about trying to wear more of my handmade items and I just wanted to report back that I have succeeded! The last few weeks I have managed to wear a handmade item at least one day over the weekend. This past Friday I actually wore my second Colette Laurel out to dinner (even though I still want to go back to adjust the bias tape in the back)! Happily I can report that there were no handmade dress disasters, no sleeves falling off or zippers becoming unattached, Yay! On Saturday I wore my pink and navy pocket skirt that I made in sewing class. I guess I better start sewing some tops to go with all the skirts I have made.

 

All ready for dinner in my Lineage Laurel

All ready for dinner in my Lineage Laurel

Testing a Pattern

Pocket skirt from test pattern

Pocket skirt from test pattern

So I had the opportunity to participate in a class at Sew LA where we were testing a pattern that the owner of the shop, Shaerie, is creating. The pattern we were testing is a skirt with front pockets intended as a beginner project (which is good as I had only completed one sewing class). Basically the point of the class is to make sure the pattern works in each size and to make sure there are no errors in it. The day of the class was super rainy (which is rare for LA), so I was a bit nervous about lugging my machine in the rain, but it was only a short distance from the car and it was find. I decided to pick out fabric at the shop because I didn’t really have anything appropriate at home. I picked out a pink and navy plaid-esque material; I was really tempted by pink cat heads, but figured I should be slightly more normal (everyone else in class brought plain fabric with them). I set up my machine and we were all given layout instructions, our paper patterns and instructions. While we laid out our pattern pieces Shaerie came around and made sure all of our pattern pieces fit on our fabric and she measured how much fabric each pattern took (each student was testing a different size of the pattern). We then cut out our pattern pieces, looking for any missed notches, and began sewing them together, making sure all the pieces fit together correctly. By the end of the first class I had a skirt front with two pockets. During our second class we sewed on the other side of the skirt, made our elastic casing, added our elastic and hemmed our skirts and voila! a completed skirt. My skirt turned out really cute (I don’t have any pictures of it on that don’t show my messy apartment :P) and Shaerie promised us all finalized patterns in our sizes once the pattern is completed. I started making the short version of the skirt and will have to post some pics when I am done.