Thursday, April 28, 2016

Baby Shower Bundle: PASS

Remember the wedding gift coasters? The happy couple is expecting a baby any minute next month! For their baby shower, I bundled up basic baby pants with some of my favorite books, toys, and baby items from when our emerging tween was just a little guy.

The pants, a free pattern from Made by Rae, are simple to sew and get lots of "oohs" and "ahs." The adorable prints are de-stash fabric from my friend and my mom. Both are lightweight quilting cottons that are soft to the touch. I used French seams to avoid scratchy seam allowances on the inside.

The drawstring bag idea came from the Village Haberdashery's Genuinely useful new baby makes with Zoe series of posts. I took Zoe's advice to heart, right down to applying a line of trimming. (Thanks, Zoe. Your design sense is brilliant!)

Now, I could have figured out the construction just from Zoe's photos. (Smart idea, cutting out one big rectangle and folding it over so you don't have to match up the trim on two pieces. Wish I had done that.) But instead, I sought out a tutorial and was pleased to find this one from Carpe Creativity. The directions are easy to follow and the steps are well illustrated.

The exterior bag fabric is from my friend (the same de-stash that yielded the baby pants and these shorts), trimmed with thrift store rick rack. The lining is a repurposed crib sheet. (Yes, I've been hanging on to that sheet for nearly 10 years. Don't judge. That interplay of the exterior and lining prints was amazingness waiting to happen.)

Will these baby makes be genuinely useful? Still to be seen. Mom-to-be was happy with her gifts, though, which makes this bundle a PASS.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Birthday Lady Skater Dress: PASS

Birthdays are a day to act like royalty at our house. The person of honor is exempt from all responsibility and can do whatever they want. And I wanted a lot: a cycling class, lunch with my sweetie, dinner with friends, roller skating, birthday cake, and hours and hours in the studio for sewing!

When my guys gifted me the Lady Skater pattern from Kitschy Coo, I knew how I'd spend that studio time. I set out to make a Lady Skater for my evening at the roller rink. My measurements are between size 3 and 4 in this pattern, so I traced between the cutting lines to create a size 3.5. I also cut the sleeves to elbow length and made a square shoulder adjustment (a life-changing suggestion from M.T. in my Lane Raglan post).

Kitschy Coo Amanda offers sound advice in her pattern instructions to make a bodice muslin before cutting your good fabric. I'm so glad I listened to her. The muslin showed I needed further tweaks. A cheater FBA and a sway back adjustment improved the fit immensely. I referenced the Lady Skater fitting and adjustments post for guidance.

The Lady Skater is a close fit on top, which can be disconcerting if you are making the dress in a thin fabric. My muslin showed off some less-than-lovely lumps on my back. I had already decided to underline the bodice of my final dress with swimsuit lining because the fashion fabric was too sheer to wear alone. Adding a second layer also created a smoother look on my back. (At least the upper back. This picture shows there's still some work to be done.)

I also needed a second layer in the skirt to stay decent. I've tried underlining swishy skirts before and been unhappy with the results. A lining that hangs freely gives the skirt more movement. In this pattern, the assembly instructions are to sew the side seams of the bodice, skirt, and sleeves in one go. This is super quick.  Unless, of course, you realize AFTER you start assembling that this method doesn't work if you plan to line your skirt. Then you spend a lot of time with the seam ripper.

So, did I finish in time to wear the dress roller skating? I did not. But I had a wonderful time giving it a try.

The dress was ready by the next evening and I wore it to work the following day and to a fashion show on campus that weekend. (These photos are from a nearby computer lab, where my friend and I warmed up after spending three hours watching models in a TENT while it snowed.) This dress feels great to wear and I'm sure it will be in heavy rotation through spring!