Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My new Missoni wardrobe

Well, it's a work in process, anyway. So far, I just have one piece, but I adore it!

I've always loved Missoni. Those bright, bold zig zags really appeal to that part of my nature that wants to make a statement with my wardrobe choices. Of course affording Missoni is quite another story. So when I saw the Missoni for Target line, I was overjoyed....until I tried to get on (along with everyone else in the world) to stock up on Missoni treasure. By the time I was able to get on the site, almost everything was gone. Sob!

But all was not lost. A few months ago, one of my suppliers announced the arrival of some beautiful zig zag crochet fabric, and I hopped on board quickly. The colors are just divine! Before I even got the any of it listed on Bamblue Fabrics, I had cut out several yards for myself and started planning my new wardrobe.

Because it is crochet knit fabric, it has to be lined or worn over something. I decided Burda's double layer top would be the perfect pattern, although I didn't do the weird twist at the hem. I thought that would make it look like I messed up, not a particularly desirable feature. The under layer is bamboo jersey.

Closer up:
Pattern: Burda 8/10

In other sewing related news, I got a new serger! It was Black Friday, and I was scanning the lightning deals on Amazon religiously, and was quite surprised to see a Juki serger sitting there. I've wanted a new serger for quite awhile, so when this popped up, I sprang into action! Which wasn't that difficult because I have Amazon's one-click ordering and a Prime membership, so all in all, it was a little too easy.

My new toy arrived yesterday, and I decided to try it out with something easy, yet serger-intensive. Farbenmix Antonia fits that bill exactly. I decided to do a recycled Antonia, also known as a total, blatant knock-off of my sewing friend Katie's wonderful shirts (be sure to check out her Etsy store, Little Overcoat.)

So, here's a Speed Racer shirt for my little guy.

Love the new serger. It works like a dream.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The annual Christmas card photo shoot debacle

Every year we go through this torture. Sometimes I just want to go back to the days before photo cards, when all you needed to do was decide between a picture of a partridge in a pear tree or the three wise men. Trying to wrangle three kids into a single frame, and then somehow make them all look at the camera at the same time and - heaven forfend! - smile nicely is really just too much to ask.

When all was said and done today, we had taken 350 pictures. Exactly zero were good enough for the Christmas cards. Skoober just refused to stay in one place, and didn't make it into 97% of the pictures. My oldest was in a foul mood and just decided to complain, whine and grimace the entire time. I didn't realize until we came home that my hair was a disaster. My husband didn't set the camera's timer correctly, so we got a good shot of his butt as he hurried to get into the picture.

This is pretty representative of the shots we took today:

My daughter, despite the fact that she is running away screaming in this picture, was the only one who came close to cooperating today. This is a good thing, because I had made her a top and skirt to wear for the occasion, so luckily I was able to get some good shots of her outfit.

Pattern: Farbenmix Antonia and Insa

I have no idea what is going to end up on the Christmas card. We may have to do another photo shoot, but for obvious reasons that idea appeals about as much as a fork in the eye. I wish I were a Photoshop whiz, and then I could just surgically replace the scowling, screaming faces of my children with some more angelic-looking little ones. Or maybe I should just find the worst of the bunch and use that. I'll get my payback when I bring out that picture to show their prom dates.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Vogue 8634 done 3 ways

I used to be very into vintage clothing, and one of my "finds" was a tan cashmere roll neck sweater from the 70's. I absolutely loved that thing, but somewhere along the line it disappeared. I was going through my fabric stash the other day and came across a lovely brown sweater knit that had been a remnant from a local designer. While I stood there fondling this lovely bit of fabric,  it occurred to me that the perfect use for all its drapey goodness would be a roll neck sweater exactly like that vintage 70's one that I loved so much. But where to find a pattern?

My first thought was to check the vintage patterns on Etsy and eBay for something suitably 70's, but that search turned up nothing. I next went through all my Ottobre Women and Burda magazines - still zilch. Feeling rather defeated, I decided to abandon the roll neck sweater idea and find something else in my pattern stash to use. That's when I found my untried Vogue 8634 pattern - perfect!

Once I sewed up a muslin, I realized how brilliant this pattern is. It is so incredibly easy - foolproof, really. I've had my ups and downs with Vogue patterns, but this one is fantastic. I loved it so much, I did it 3 times. Given that I have almost zero sewing time at the moment, this is quite an accomplishment. Each one only took about 45 minutes start to finish, including cutting time. That's my kinda pattern.

Here is the version with the brown sweater knit:

Here is a close up of the fabric. Isn't it divine! To get the full effect, though, you have to touch it - it is supremely soft.

Here is my muslin version. It is some sort of shimmery poly fabric. Quite nice, actually, but I didn't realize until I tried my finished garment on that it is basically see through.  My husband may appreciate that, but it's not so good for picking up the kids from school.  I have to wear a camisole underneath, which shows through at the bottom - yuck. Oh well!

For my third version, I wanted to lengthen it to a dress. I could have spent a lot of time fooling about with measurements, but luckily I realized that my much-adored Simplicity 2580 has a similar construction with the exact length I wanted. When I put the Simplicity bottom panel piece up to the upper front of the Vogue top, I was delighted to see they matched up exactly!

I was a little hesitant to use this fabric - it is rather loud, after all. But I threw caution to the wind and went ahead. My husband, rather surprisingly, LOVES this dress. I did take it in about an inch on either side to make it more slinky - maybe that has something to do with it.

I may want to break up the fabric's pattern with a belt, but after scouring my closet, I came up empty. How could I not own a black, skinny belt? I'm going to be 40 in a couple of weeks, for heaven's sake. How I managed to live that long without a black skinny belt is beyond me.

A slightly different view:

Anyway, you get the idea. I highly recommend this pattern, especially if you are a beginner or not used to sewing with knits. There is not much you can do to mess this up.

I also managed to make another Vogue dress, the highly acclaimed V1250. Everyone on RAVES about this dress. I can't resist a good cowl neck pattern, so of course this was high on my to sew list. I added the long sleeves per Art Attack's instructions which merge Butterick 5495 with the Vogue pattern. The end result is fine, and the whole thing is very easy to sew. I still think I like my Simplicity 2580 cowl neck dress pattern more, though. I like how the Simplicity cowl hangs much better than the Vogue version.

Isn't that just an awesome color? I wish I had more of that fabric.

And one final thing for me, a Christine Jonson Shirred Top. There were approximately a billion pattern pieces to this top, many of which look exactly the same but aren't, and I did not properly mark them, so this took forever. However, I adore the end result. It is actually quite simple to make once you have the pattern pieces figured out, but it doesn't really look simple. As I've said before, that is my main criteria for judging a pattern. Love this one.

Here is a bit more of a close up so you can see all the shirring:

I just started a new part time job, so I feel like all my sewing time has evaporated. But looking at all this makes me realize I've actually been able to squeeze in a fair amount of sewing for someone who has no free time anymore. And I haven't even included the three pairs of pajamas I made for the kids last week! That makes me feel better. A girl's gotta have her sewing time.