Sunday, January 31, 2016

10th Birthday Shirt: PASS

Birthday shirts broke into double digit territory this year. (Give me a moment to catch my breath.) As we have since he turned seven, we used the Flashback Skinny Tee pattern and recycled t-shirts in his choice of colors. 

This year, my kid opted for solid colors instead of stripes and a reprise of the silver numbers we used last year. I had just the shirt in my stash for the job.

This pattern is always a bit tight in the arms for my guy, so I made them about a quarter inch wider when I traced his new size. They're perhaps a bit large now, but better that than too tight.

I'm so pleased with the construction on this shirt. I took extra care and it really shows. No puckers or wonky stitching. And check out the seam matching!

My kid points out on a semi-regular basis that high school is only four years away. (He knows this gives me a small heart attack.) But for now, he's still somewhat small. Happy 10th birthday, kiddo!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Double Zip Wallet: PASS

I've carried a billfold wallet since my teens. The initial appeal was how it fit easily in my back pocket. But as I started having more to carry (cards and receipts--not wads of cash, unfortunately), my wallet became a bulging mess. I couldn't pull things out quickly. It no longer easily fit my back pocket or even my wristlet bag.

After the umpteenth time struggling to fish out my key card at work, I decided it was time for something new. Something bigger than a standard wallet, but small enough to stuff in my coat pocket. Something where I could easily get to what I needed. It would replace my wristlet, too, and have space for my business card case, change purse, phone, and earbuds. After thinking this was perhaps too much to ask in one design, I spotted the Double Zip Wallet in Handmade Style. Perfect!

Anna Graham of Noodlehead has created a lovely and practical collection of projects. Each is thoughtfully described and beautifully photographed. Despite the mind-bending geometry involved, I was able to assemble the wallet without much of a hitch. Anna knows what she's doing and by following her instructions (saying them out loud when I no longer understood what was happening), I came out the other side with a wallet that works!

I used all stash materials, some of my favorites that I've been saving for a special project. It's wonderful to see and use them on a daily basis. I've been carrying my new wallet for three weeks now and absolutely love it. It fits nicely in my coat pocket or backpack. The only downside is that I may never have a need for the Handmade Style Rainbow Clutch. This wallet works too well to move all my stuff to another bag.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Abstract Print Lane Raglan: FAIL

Love the fabric, hate the fit of this Lane Raglan. I attempted a FBA (full bust adjustment), which gave me more room in the bust, but also a pool of fabric where the sleeve joins the bodice. I pinched out the excess into a dart on each side. This took care of the bagginess, but left me with a pair of creases that point straight to the nipples. My husband says he can't notice a thing. But it makes me uncomfortable enough to keep this one in the closet until I can figure out a retrofit. Possibly a series of gathers? Or maybe just cutting this apart for another project...

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Basic Baby Pants: PASS

I attended a baby shower recently for a coworker and his wife who are expecting twins. TWINS! That's twice as cute as just one baby! So, in addition to books (because reading to babies from birth is a good thing), I sewed up two pairs of baby pants. Which are twice as cute as just one pair.

It's been a long time since I sewed baby pants. I don't own a pattern for anything smaller than size 3T. An internet search led me to Rae's basic newborn pant sewing pattern, which she generously offers for free on her blog. I make the Made-by-Rae Parsley Pants and Flashback Skinny Tee on a regular basis, so I knew this pattern would be good.

You guys, this PDF pattern is adorable. It's so tiny! It's also easy to make, has instructions for extras like contrast cuffs and pockets, and uses barely any fabric at all.

I chose two flannel prints from my stash. The blue pair is a remnant I bought five years ago and have had tucked away ever since. The green pair is leftover lining fabric from our laptop sleeve.

I used French seams to prevent fraying and roughness. This made the crotch seam a bit thick, so maybe I'll rethink that for the next pair. I also had to cut away some of the seam allowance that was folded on itself at the waist in order to leave enough room for the waistband elastic.

This was definitely a small effort, big payoff kind of make. I can't wait to sew another pair. The next office baby arrives in May, so I don't have to wait long.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Rayquaza Costume: PASS

Pokémon is a powerful force in our household, making up at least 60% of our daily discussions. (There's been a decrease due to new guidelines such as "reciting Pokémon statistics does not qualify as conversation.") So it only follows that my kid broke his four-year inanimate object costume streak this Halloween by dressing as his favorite Pokémon, Rayquaza.

We spent an afternoon searching for inspiration and sketching up ideas. Though there are jaw-dropping, intricate, and even sexy Rayquaza costumes out there, this simple version was the most helpful when planning our design.

Projects like this one make me so grateful to be married to an artist.  While I figured out the construction for the tail, he drew templates for the head pieces and painted boxboard for those head extension thingies. I have no doubt that would have taken me ages on my own.

All the materials were harvested from my stash and my kid's dresser. Sewing the felt headpiece to the painted boxboard extensions was the best part. It's fun to see what kind of materials my sewing machine will tolerate.

No, the BEST part was seeing how excited my son was to wear his costume. Maybe he'll even get another year out of it. Or perhaps by next Halloween another obsession will have taken over.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

High-Low Hem Lane Raglan: PASS

I've been toying with the idea of an asymmetrical hem for a while now. Wouldn't it be nice to have a slightly higher hem in the front without having to tuck in just the front of my shirt? (Which makes me feel ridiculous. Though not as silly as tucking in just one side.)

But how much to raise the hem in front and lower it in back? I looked to the Hey June Lane Raglan pattern hacks blog post for guidance, then decided on a more rounded look for my back hem. 

Husband/Photographer: Are you sure you want a photo of the back? It's pretty wrinkly.
Me: [Sighs] Yeah. Go for it.
The hem, if you can find it amid the wrinkles, is just the right length and shape. The rest just hammers home that I need a sway back adjustment. 

I also cannot understand what's making my necklines gape. (Maybe not having done a FBA, full bust adjustment, is part of the problem? Or maybe I've got a rounded back?) I tried a new technique, gathering it slightly with elastic thread, but that turned out lumpy. Here's what I came up with instead.

My coworkers say this tuck looks like a design element. That is now my official story.

Intentional design elements included shortening the sleeves and using narrow sleeve and hem bands (same width as at the neckline). I thought this gave a more dressy look to what is essentially a double-knit polyester sweatshirt. There wasn't nearly enough fabric to match plaids, so I didn't even try to come close. I took in the side seams a bit at the waist (after the fact) to give the shirt more shape.

Overall I'm happy with the result, but know that I need to suck it up and make some pattern adjustments next time. Then maybe I can spend more time sewing shirts instead of fiddling with each one after the fact to try to make it fit!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Chartreuse Parsleys: PASS

We've gone through a lot of Made by Rae Parsley Pants in our household. My son loves the style better than anything else and will wear them down until they're threadbare cutoffs. Even then, it's hard for him to let go. Of course, it's easier if he has a bright new pair.

And these are bright! My kid chooses the wildest color combinations and the results are fabulous. I only wish I had the time to Scotchguard these before he wore them to an outdoor party last night. They're not filthy, but are definitely a bit grubby around the knees.

I traced a size 9 based on his height and outseam, then made adjustments to fit his skinnier build. I slashed my traced pattern along the tuxedo stripe line, then overlapped it to reduce the width to that of the size 8. (You can do this right on top of the assembled pattern pieces, which is why it pays to trace instead of cut out your pattern.) I cut the back elastic one inch shorter for a snugger waist fit.

These came together quickly, which was good because I was sewing to a deadline. I used Rae's super seams blog post instructions for finishing the crotch (fold down and stitch) and inseam (flat fell seam). Sewing faster than usual led to some shabby looking stitching. Fortunately, I don't think anyone will notice because of the color combination.