Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Winter Sewing Blues

Not blues as in "depressed, wanna curl up with a vat of ice cream and cry myself to sleep" (what? isn't that what everyone does when they are down?). No, I just mean I've got blue in my serger and I'm too lazy to change colors.

I switched to blue for the sole purpose of sewing this:

Pattern: Simplicity 2603
Fabric: Navy and Steel Gray Stripe Rayon Jersey from Bamblue Fabrics

This is a very popular pattern, and for good reason. It is ridiculously easy to sew, has only 3 pattern pieces, and is very much on trend. And what luck! I have the absolute PERFECT fabric to use with it. This rayon jersey, from LA designer Ella Moss, is TDF. It is very lightweight and ephemeral, which is just what you need with this pattern. I rolled the entire hem of this cardigan, which gives it a bit of a lettuce edge...makes it more romantic and feminine, in my opinion. Love it.

My 6 year old daughter lives in dresses. I've made her countless shirts and tunics and hoodies that she never wears. All she wants are dresses, and I'm absolutely sick of seeing her wear her favorite: a pink velour Henrika that I made her two years ago and miraculously still fits her. I decided a new Henrika was in order. I pulled out one of my cherished fabrics, light blue polka dots on periwinkle cotton lycra. I know, I know, polka dots are not exactly HTF - but just try to find this colorway anywhere. Impossible!

Anyway, I'm beyond thrilled that I didn't mess this up. This is now my favorite knit dress that I've ever made for her (and I love how it looks with her adorable Beeko boots, too).

Pattern: Farbenmix Henrika
Embroidery: Huups
Freakin' Adorable Boots That I Wish They Made in My Size: Beeko

And more blue! I've had this fabric for ages, thinking I would make a dress for me out of it, but couldn't decide on which pattern. I gradually came to the conclusion that the print looks a little juvenile for a 40 year old woman like myself, so I decided maybe just a top, rather than a dress. 
Pattern: Jalie 2805

I had enough of the fabric left over to make my daughter a dress too, although she flat out refused to model it. So, we have to make do with this horrible picture. Believe me, the dress is WAY cuter in person.
Pattern: Onion 20026

As I said before, my daughter is firmly in the dress-wearing, girly girl camp. I told her I was going to make her a dress out of a thrift store Tigger t-shirt, and she took one look at the navy blue fabric and turned her nose up. "It looks too boyish!" I did it anyway. I think it's cute, although my lack of a willing model is really working against me here. You'll have to take my word for it. 

And, finally, I've been dying to use my Silhouette Cameo again for sewing purposes. I finally decided to do this long-planned but much put off doggie shirt for my youngest. I was so fixated on careful Silhouette cutting (so as not not to waste my $4/sheet vinyl) that I did not pay much attention to what SIZE I was cutting out for the shirt itself. I accidentally cut out one size too small. !@$%!! I didn't realize this until it was half-way sewn up. Dangit! I briefly debated sucking it up and cutting out another one, but then I had the brilliant idea to just add a hem band and some extra length to the sleeves. The extra doggies along the bottom looked cute as I envisioned it, but in real life? Not so much. Did I mention.....!@%!!!? Well, I'm not doing it over. I'm just not.

Pattern: Farbenmix Antonia (which runs one size too small! I can't believe, given the number of times I've made this pattern, that I forgot this little nugget)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Finally! Some time to sew

I found myself in a wonderful, yet entirely too rare situation yesterday: I actually had time to sew. It was marvelous. I had anticipated this event and cut out a few things the night before. I dropped my kids off at school and then luxuriated in the fact that I had THREE WHOLE HOURS of uninterrupted sewing time. Bliss!

Here is what I accomplished.

First, an Onion 2017 done in some of the new J Crew rayon jersey that I just listed on Bamblue Fabrics. The pictures are really not doing this justice. I love this dress, and the pattern is fanatastic. It's hard to see all the details, but it has gathering near the shoulder seams, pleats at the front waist, cuffed sleeves and it ties at the back. I made a short sleeved version of this a long time ago, which you can see here.

Pattern: Onion 2017
Fabric: Purple Floral Stripe Rayon Jersey from Bamblue Fabrics

My next project was a Jalie 2804 in some J Crew ITY fabric that I also listed recently. I was a little torn about stocking ITY, as there is just so much of it to choose from - where to begin? But it is relatively inexpensive, and the variety of prints is endless. I will probably be stocking much more of this type of fabric in the future.

Anyway, here is the top I made with the lace damask ITY. I just love this top! I'm wearing it right now, in fact. The fabric itself is very smooth and buttery; really quite a tactile fabric, even though it is polyester.
Pattern: Jalie 2804
Fabric: Black and Silver Lace Damask ITY from Bamblue Fabrics

Finally, I also made this upcycled Lego shirt for my oldest. I love the color of those stripes! I got that fabric from usvisalaw on eBay. They have the best selection of stripes. It's a bit rumpled because I laid it out on the couch prior to taking pictures ....I got delayed....and then came back to find people had been sitting on it. Sigh.

Pattern: Ottobre 4/08

I was thrilled to have completed THREE sewing projects while my son was at preschool. It felt so....decadent, almost as if I was lying around in bed all day eating choclate ice cream. But the problem with sewing is that I just always find myself wanting more and more time. It truly is a terrible addiction. This morning I carved out some more time and made myself another dress. This is Simplicity 3503, which gets rave reviews from everybody, but I had not yet attempted it - it's been sitting in my pattern stash for about 2 years. I thought it would be perfect for the patchwork rayon jersey that I listed the other day.

The facing was sort of a PITA, but otherwise, I really love the pattern and the dress. I also think it was a good choice for this fabric, which is definitely on the busy side.

Pattern: Simplicity 3503
Fabric: Patchwork Print Rayon Knit from Bamblue Fabrics

I've got another couple weeks before my workload skyrockets again, but until then, I am going to enjoy becoming reaquainted with my machines!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sewing with my Cricut and Silhouette Cameo

A few months ago, I was checking out Willow and Moo's flickr page (if you have not seen Sara's blog, you need to check that out too. Her sewing is TDF). I noticed she had made some really cool velours, which you can iron onto clothing. Instantly intrigued, I asked Sara how she did it, and she nicely explained that she has a Silhouette cutter. I had never heard of it and she told me it was like a Cricut (I had a vague idea what that was). I immediately sensed a new obsession coming on, but I didn't have time to do any research into the matter.

And then it was proven, once again, that I have the greatest husband in the world. I mentioned in passing that I would really love a Cricut so I, too, could cut out cool velours like that and he surprised me with one for Christmas! I was overjoyed! I played around with it a bit, and realized fairly quickly that it doesn't do what I thought it could. My impression was that you could get software that would allow you to cut out ANY image. Turns out that used to be true, but then the makers of Cricut sued those software companies, and now you can only cut out images from their cartridges. Well, rats. It is still a cool machine, and I do love the images that comes on the cartridges, but the VAST majority of those images are really cutesy stuff and totally not appropriate for boys, especially almost 9 year olds like the one in my house.

So, what to do? I did some research and found out that the Silhouette will cut out anything, as it uses software instead of cartridges. Now, normally I'm a pretty frugal person but in this instance, I completely lost my senses and did something extremely frivolous. I bought a Silhouette so that I could have the best of both worlds. My husband briefly tried to convince me to take the Cricut back, but I'd already grown attached to it. He knows better than to get me to part with one of my crafty machines!

Anyway, I've done a lot of experimenting with how to work these machines into my sewing. This was much harder than it sounds, as I've been absolutely slammed with work lately (I work part time - which often feels like time and a half - reading applications for a graduate program at UC Berkeley). It is just tortuous having so much work to do while I've got not one but two gleaming, super cool new toys to play with. ARGH! But by strategically re-aligning my priorities (ie, I stopped doing housework for 3 weeks) I managed to get some playtime in.

My first attempt was this shirt. I cut out the flowers and heart on my Cricut using fabric. This was a bit trial and error. I used Heat N Bond to stabilize the fabric, then cut it out with the paper side up. It didn't cut it them out perfectly, but good enough. I was going for a Boden-esque look here, obviously.

Pattern: Farbenmix Antonia

My next attempt was using some heat transfer flock, which I got from As an aside, I do like that company, as they have nice video tutorials about how to use these machines with vinyl/flock and they ship fast too. The video tutorial says that you are supposed to adjust the blade depth so that it does not cut all the way through the transfer sheet. I tried cutting out these stars on my Cricut twice, and both times it went right through the transfer sheet. It really wasn't an issue though - I was able to use them just fine. With a more intricate design, that might be a problem - clearly, I will need to experiment some more.

I used the stars to decorate the sleeve and back of this Buzz Lightyear upcycled shirt for my little guy.

Pattern: Farbenmix Antonia

Then, I got my Silhouette. I figured out how to use the Print and Cut feature, which is just extraordinary. I found some images on the Internet that my boys would go crazy for. I downloaded them and then imported them into my Silhouette software. There were a few more steps in here that I can detail if anybody is interested, but basically, I printed them out on heat transfer sheets and cut them out with the Silhouette.

Of course, you don't need a cutter to do this, but the Silhouette is far quicker and more accurate than me with my little scissors!

Another thing I like about the Silhouette is that you can use any font on your computer to cut out letters. I used fabric and Heat N Bond to do the words on this shirt, for my oldest:
Pattern: Ottobre 4/08
Of course, my little guy took one look at this and lost his marbles. He could not WAIT for me to make him one too. This shirt is little boy bliss, let me tell you.

Pattern: Ottobre 4/08

Just when I thought my days of sewing for my almost 9 year old were numbered, the Silhouette has opened up whole new worlds to explore. I just finished this shirt this morning:

Pattern: Ottobre 4/08

Cutting this one out was a little more difficult. Even though I had traced the outline and told the Silhouette to just cut that out, it kept trying to cut all the little shadings inside the image (like around the eyeballs, for example). By doing a Low Pass Filter and setting the threshold on the trace almost down to zero, I was able to get it to just cut around the image. Sounds tricky, but it really isn't. 

The other thing these machines have done is introduced me into the world of scrapbooking. I had been trying really, really hard to avoid that whole scene, because I just don't have time for another hobby. My sewing machines sit neglected for far too long as it is! But now that I've got both the Silhouette and the Cricut, not to mention a stack of pictures from our trip to Disney World sitting around - well, there was no avoiding it any longer. I've started on the Disney scrapbook, and now have a new obsession. Where I'm going to store my scrapbooking stuff is a mystery. My house is not big enough for two hobbies!