Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Fall paisley and philosophy

I made this dress a few days ago and I've been wanting to get a modeled picture of it. But Rylee and I are both sick so there's no energy or patience (on either of our parts) for that.

The picture doesn't really do justice to the colors which are lovely, creamy browns and pinks. I bought them for her fall wardrobe but with no particular pattern in mind. I finally decided to use Simplicity 5695, which I originally bought because I couldn't get hat measurements quite right.

Because it's for fall and temperatures in Arizona in the fall can drop all the way into the low 70s, I made the sleeves slightly longer. I had my Cool Girl confidence to do something so simple and I like how they came out.

Sewing this pattern coincided nicely with a philosophical discussion over on Amanda's blog about non-technical sewing.  My first official foray into sewing was helping my mom, just a tiny bit, sew a prom dress for me. She was an accomplished sewer and made a lot of our clothing back when it was something you did to save money rather than the complete money-sucking hobby it is today. She was very clever with mixing and matching patterns and I remember picking out a couple patterns to merge for that dress. (I also vividly remember being tortured as a smaller child by long trips to the fabric store, a tradition I have happily continued). She could make anything. Anything. She once made my dad a suit. Although I don't think she ever drafted anything from scratch.

After she died I sewed a few costumes for my nieces because that was something she had always done and I wanted to continue that. Sewing costumes can be low stress because as long as they last a single night or two you're good. The most involved modification I ever did to those patterns was replacing all zippers with velcro. I also made a very easy vest or three for my sister's girls, cutesy little things made from holiday fabric with festive buttons.  Back when I was super skinny I made a few sundresses for myself but with no knowledge of FBA even skinny-me wasn't going to get a big wardrobe by my own hands.

Fast forward to now when I'm starting to sew more for Rylee. So far, this time around has been a LOT more fun. Why? Because of the wonderful, generous non-technical (and technical) sewers on the internet. There's a post I've been meaning to write for awhile called "Why Commercial Patterns Make Me Cry" and it will be heavy on those line drawings that purport to show three steps in a single picture. Because I usually have to stare at them for a good hour or so to figure out what is actually going on. The instructions usually make that worse. I think this is why I stayed away from sewing for so long (that and the FB with no A :-)

As I sewed the dress that is ostensibly the topic of this post I was thinking "This is just like vegbee's peasant top and I can make two of those in the time it's taken me to trace the pattern, cut out the tissue, pin the fabric and cut it out."  And you know what? Vegbee's tutorial was just as cute, way more fun and a LOT less stressful. I'll probably make the next dress like this one from that tutorial plus a few rectangles for the gathered tiers. Because do perfectly squared off corners REALLY matter in a dress for a two-year old?

I'm so grateful to and indebted to those I've met through these sewing blogs not only for the support and friendship but for the loads of free information. And this isn't limited to tutorials and patterns, either. I also now know that the Big Four aren't the end-all of commercial patterns. I bought my first Jalie pattern earlier this year and I'm going to put some Ottobre issues on my Christmas list.

So there, Butterick.

Friday, September 24, 2010


I made another dress in Rylee's fall wardrobe and I think it's super cute. But I'm too lazy to take pictures of it today.

Go watch all four videos by this woman instead. You're welcome.





Saturday, September 18, 2010

Scotty dog plaid in peek-a-boo pleats

Rylee foiled my plans to reuse a lot of last winter's wardrobe, purchased a bit large, by having a growth spurt over the last few months. I recently inventoried her warm weather clothing and came up with several pieces that still fit, but precious few outfits.

Being a crazy, anal-retentive, list-making psycho prudent shopper, I made up a list of everything she has that still fits and what she needs to match it.  I then cross referenced this against my stash, my patterns and my lusty sewing dreams and came up with a pretty big project to get her outfitted for the winter with minimal outlays of cash.

Here's how the first one of those projects shaped up.

Had this shirt which should still fit this winter:

Had these in my stash. The dogs from an impulse purchase last year and yards and yards of the black for making boys bowling shirts:

Found this on Etsy. And after purchasing it even saw the same style skirt on Peggy of Mad Men wardrobe lusciousness.

And had this today:

I'm planning to add black quilted buttons to the top of the pleats. Those need to be purchased and coupon commotion starts tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Note to self

Waiting for me on the kitchen counter when I got home from playgroup:

At least I remembered Rylee's lunch and the frozen meals for the new mom. And the banana bread.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Kitschy Coo Pettiskirt, Version One, Lessons Learned

Because princess-itis has seized our household - earlier and with greater intensity than I could have ever imagined - I decided the time has come to venture into tulle territory. I didn't enter lightly, having wandered on these plains of desperation, climbed these cliffs of insanity while sewing a Tinkerbell costume ten years ago. But motherhood has its costs and pay them we must.

I armed myself with the high quality Kitschy Coo Pettiskirt tutorial and took Rylee shopping to pick out the tulle. I have to thank Amanda here not only for a great tutorial but also for her unwavering support as I begin life in a princess inhabited household. It's nice to know we're not alone in our trials.

My first attempt will be for At Home Dressing Up and not for Public Wearing or Viewing but I do have some valuable lessons learned.

1. Gathering on the serger does make quick work of the gathering but it will certainly eat into your seam allowance if you're dumb enough to forget to add extra for the necessary trimming of the ugly serger seams. This will render your pettiskirt a tutu.

2. Cutting tulle while it's still warm enough to require ceiling fans running will make you cry.

3. Things that are more fun than gathering yards and yards of tulle.

4. Even if you spend an entire nap time (PLUS some) sewing something you already spent an entire nap time cutting out, right after nap is not the best time to present a bratty little ingrate slow to wake toddler with her new princess dress.

5. Things that are higher quality than the tulle I bought.

6. Things that are sadder than watching your rolled hem fall right off the skirt because it was too narrow and the satin frayed away right underneath it.

7. The smirk that makes it worth it and might even make me try again.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Circle of Life, US Mint style

I finally completed my set of the 50 State Quarters. The program ended in 2008 but it took me a long time to get that final Hawaii quarter. I had one last summer and accidentally spent it. A year later my sister gave me one when we were shopping together.

It was an odd feeling looking through the book. I put the first quarter in it in 1999. The dot-com market hadn't crashed yet, let alone the housing market. The twin towers were still up. Skirts were short, unemployment was down. More personally, my mother was terminally ill but still alive. It was two years before I would meet Eric, and Rylee wasn't even a dream.

The antepenultimate quarter is Arizona, a state I never imagined I would move to and my state of residence when I put the Arizona quarter into my book.

I've been putting quarters into this book at four different homes, doing five different jobs, in two different states, single, married, childless, pregnant, a ma-ma, a mommy.

I can't think of anything else that I've done for 10 years. I've only been married for eight, never lived at a single address more than seven, never worked a single job longer than four. I felt a weird sense of accomplishment.

And then I popped out the first eight so Rylee and I could buy carrots to feed the giraffe at the zoo. Because come on, it's over ten bucks and I'm no sucker.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Eyes on the prize, or being lazy with clip art

This is me, cutting tulle under a ceiling fan and gathering it under same.

This is Rylee, dancing with a scrap of tulle she found when she got up from her nap (Joy shown 1/10000000 scale).

I should have a pettiskirt in a day or two.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Apples and Pears shirtdress

Well, one post in two months is pretty pathetic, even with a long vacation thrown in there. I keep planning to post some pictures of what we've been up to but we didn't really take that many on vacation. And sewing is dragging right now.

But I did manage to sew something with the Alexander Henry Apples and Pears that I coveted for so long. Thanks to KID, MD (the sewing goddess) for the idea for this adorable shirt dress. So super cute!!

Because I just took a serger class and was all geeked out with new techniques, I did a rolled hem on the sleeves and bottom. I wanted a more casual look and thought it might be cute. Eh. It does look cute enough, but I'll probably save it for knits from now on.

I also tried cloth covered buttons for the first time. I don't know why I waited, because if you can put the lid on a bottle of ibuprofen, you can make these things.

I made size 2, even though Rylee is very small in the chest. It came out a little long, but not ridiculously so. She refused to hold still long enough for a picture so all the pictures from the front are just of her lunging for the camera with a maniacal grin on her face. So here's the length from the back.  With all her newly grown curly hair.