Sunday, November 23, 2014

Pencil Roll: PASS



A young friend of ours had a birthday this week. It wasn't until I saw his mom's rainbow-birthday-cake-in-progress pictures on Instagram last night that I realized we forgot to RSVP to his party. Which started in 12 hours. Some weeks are like that.

Enter the 10-minute pencil roll tutorial. When paired with some of your husband's old-fashioned pens and nibs, it makes for a spiffy little gift package. Our son approved of the idea and helped choose the appropriate fabric.



Making a pouch out of a single piece of material felt a bit like magic. Cintia's tutorial instructions are very clearly written and illustrated. The only change I made was to attach the cord when I serged (overlocked) the side vs. serging first and attaching the cord with my sewing machine. I had to clean and rethread my serger, so this took longer than 10 minutes. But probably not more than 30.

Thanks to this quick project, we made it to the party on time, gift in hand for a really cool 11-year-old. We weren't the only ones who had forgotten to RSVP. And that rainbow cake was really something.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Crazy Pockets Parsley Pants: PASS


I wish I were as easy to fit as my kid. It took just one pattern adjustment to improve the fit of this season's second pair of Parsley Pants. Eyeballing the first pair, I figured the next ones could be taken in an inch. I slashed the pattern at the tuxedo stripe line, overlapped the pieces by a half inch, taped them back together, and redrew the waistline.

And that's it!

There is the matter of the pockets. Aren't these enormous fish ridiculous and wonderful? I didn't think I could use this fabric scrap for anything. I don't even remember where I got it. But when I pulled it out of my blue/green scrap bin, it coordinated so well with the corduroy. My kid thought they were great. (Despite the look on his face in the pic below.)

Pants in action at the end of a school field trip. Note the jaunty walk and nascent preteen glare.

Hoarding. It's how the magic happens.


Do you hang on to your dubious scraps? Or do you keep your stash pared down to only what you know for sure you'll use?


Sunday, November 9, 2014

Tiny Button Down Shirt: FAIL



Last winter, just before my son's school concert and Kid's Clothes Week, I realized he had outgrown his dress shirts. What a perfect opportunity resize one of my husband's castoffs into an adorable and practical item!

Or not. As the shirt came together (Burda magazine 9/2008, 142), I realized it would be too small. Much. Too. Small. (Again!) I couldn't bring myself to finish a shirt my kid would never wear and bundled the whole mess away.


Last week I cleaned up a pile of fabric scraps, patterns, and unfinished objects. At the very bottom, I found the tiny shirt. Looking it over, I remembered enjoying the puzzle of reusing the button placket, collar, cuffs, and hem instead of making them from scratch. I ran the fabric, delightfully soft, through my hands. And I realized that I was nearly finished!


It took just an evening to complete. The shirt looks great, aside from one ugly buttonhole and a couple of lumpy seams. An utter failure for my intended purpose, but maybe some little guy can put it to use.

Egads! At least it's the bottom buttonhole.

Do you abandon projects you know you won't use or finish them up to give away? Or, like me, do let them sit for eight months while you decide? :)



Sunday, October 19, 2014

Bright Blue Parsley Pants: PASS


I've been sewing bags and fabric shopping instead of making my kid pants. Nothing like a sudden temperature drop to make those gaping holes at the knees a priority. (Seriously, even the patches on all his pants had holes!)

Though there are many cute patterns to try, I'm sticking with Made by Rae's Parsley Pants. I love them. My kid loves them. And they go up to size 10.

As always, my kid chose the fabric and top stitching thread. It's a good way to make sure the pants will get worn. And he can't blame me later for dressing him funny.

My kid is slim, but his measurements were close to the size 8 so I didn't adjust the pattern. The fit is much too baggy. These pants look like scrubs with bright red topstitching. (Unnoticed by him, making this a PASS.) Next time, I'll make the pattern narrower, adjusting at the pintuck tuxedo stripe line.

I used Rae's super seams tutorial to make these pants good and strong. So even if the knees blow out, those crotch and leg seams will stay together!




Monday, October 6, 2014

Bionic Gear Bag: PASS


This adorable little bag has a big surprise...


A HUGE INTERIOR FULL OF POCKETS! I spend a long time at the beginning of a sewing meetup or class locating my materials and the rest of the session trying not to lose them. Enter The Bionic Gear Bag by RipStitcher.

This pattern includes four zipper pockets, generous space in between, and a huge stable work area (aka "The Box") at the front for keeping track of things you set down. You can also download instructions for a fabric pouch that snaps in place to create temporary upright storage for seam rippers, etc.

Seriously, go check out this video of all you can fit in this bag.

The instructions are written in a chatty tutorial style and provide many helpful construction tips. There were times when I could have used more explicit instruction (e.g., cut the side panels as mirror images, make sure the bottom zipper stop is within the 1/4 inch seam allowance), and the photos end about 2/3 of the way through. That said, this would still be a fine project for an advanced beginner.

I used some of my favorite stash/scrap fabrics and zippers for this project and it makes me happy to look at them. Another surprise benefit!




Sunday, September 14, 2014

Yoga Mat Bag: PASS


I've taken several yoga classes over the years, but always at studios where mats were provided. Naturally, I hadn't considered the logistics of carrying a yoga mat in a thunderstorm. As I trekked to my workplace yoga class across campus last week in the pouring rain, struggling to keep my mat dry and upright in a backpack covered with a plastic bag, I thought, "There's got to be a better way!"

Enter the Sewaholic yoga mat tutorial, duck canvas and strapping from my stash, and Scotchguard Fabric and Upholstery Protector. Caroline's tutorial is very easy to follow, with detailed instructions and lots of photos. It took me just an evening to put together.



My only changes were using ready-made strapping and adding a key loop to the pocket. If I were making this again I would remember to add the key loop before I attached the pocket and sew it in the seam instead of attaching it to the flap. I might also plan ahead and treat the fabric with Scotchguard before cutting out the pattern pieces instead of after the bag was assembled.

But then, if I were 100% awesome at planning ahead, I would have made this project before the start of the session!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Polly Drop Waist Maxi Dress: PASS



Last spring I acquired a beautiful Hawaiian floral print that flows like a waterfall and feels absolutely delightful. On an impulse, I also picked up this sheer polyester border print that is itchy and sweaty when you hold it close. Apparently, I bought it so I could try out a maxi dress pattern before cutting into my cherished Hawaiian print.

My original plan was to extend the Polly Top to the floor, but I lost my nerve once I laid out the pattern pieces. I just wasn't sure I'd wear a column shaped dress without more shaping. I set my (enormous!) pattern pieces aside and started to improvise.

Since the print runs along the selvedge, I turned the yardage sideways. Then I measured up from the floor to my waist, added a few inches, marked the fabric, and cut. I made a deep hem at the bottom, folded the piece in half, and sewed up one side.

I cut the Polly Top out of the remaining fabric. It wasn't enough for a full-length top, but that was fine. I assembled the top as usual, omitting the hem and leaving the finishing for last.

Now I had an assembled bodice and a big, rectangular skirt. The waist opening of the skirt was at least twice my waist measurement. The next step was to take in the skirt and attach it to the bodice. I tried gathering (by zigzag stitching over a piece of yarn, SO EASY), but it was a terrible look for my backside. Instead, I folded deep pleats and basted them in place. I slid on the bodice, pulled up the skirt, and marked the spot where the two should attach.

Either fashion is changing or I'm going through a phase, because I thought this drop waist look was pretty cool. I sewed the skirt and bodice together and pulled the assembled dress on over my head. And then scratched my head, because now the dress was too long. Huh?

Oh, well. I pinched the top of the shoulders to bring up the hem and neckline, marked with pins, and made new shoulder seams at the marks. Then I finished the neckline and armholes with bias tape and swished around the yard.



The fit is very, very loose. This is perfect for the material, leaves plenty of room for a slip, and makes me feel glam. However, it's not the most flattering look from the side and the length is comically difficult to maneuver on a bike.

Although I'll wear this dress for these last weeks of summer, a Polly Hawaiian print maxi is a no-go. I'll have to make a new plan for that fabric. Any suggestions?