Burning Betty

Meet Betty. She's refined, but volatile. Rub her the wrong way and you'll regret it. Despite all this, she lit a fire under me, and friends, I'm swooning! (note to self: learn better puns)

As you may recall, it's Pattern Parcel time and this one is all bags. I mentioned in my last post that I had a Betty Bowler from Swoon Sewing Patterns in progress- here she is, done just in the knick of time! This parcel sale ends today, so I'm just barely sneaking in to the PPP Inspiration tour. (psst- if you have any inclination to sew any of the patterns in this parcel ever, just go ahead and buy the parcel. It is so worth it- and you'll probably end up sewing something you didn't expect!)

So Betty. Burning betty, she snuck in to my brain and persisted until she got made. I had the vision in my head for what I wanted this to be and it just. wouldn't. quit. Rich, worn leather to pair with this fantastic Cotton and Steel print that I got as part of my spoils for taking 2nd place in Shorts on the Line 2014- yeyeah! I scoured Craigslist for a leather couch to dismantle (a la Mandy) and almost got one for $50, but I was mere minutes too late and they'd sold to someone else. Blerg. Then I did what any self respecting scavenger does- I hit the thrift stores. My usual haunts came up fruitless in the leather department, but I did find what I *thought* was my thrift score of all thrift scores- this vintage steamer trunk for $8.50!

It is in great shape, all things considered, and even has the original travel labels. Turns out this trunk was owned by a naval officer from Myrtle Beach stationed in Naples. Double awesome points for having the history still attached!

But my search continued. Must find leather. Two more thrift stores turned up no leather, but mother of thriftiness, I found this beaut:

It's a Singer 66-16, made in Elizabeth NJ on Aug 25, 1947, and it still runs. It was marked at $15 because there was no foot pedal. Lucky for me, I knew that some machines are equipped with a knee lever rather than a foot pedal and this happened to be one of them :) Naturally I snatched it up as quick as I could and madly started researching.

But anyway, back to the hunt: I finally found a leather jacket for sale on an online yard sale site called Varage Sale. $35, lovely color, and beautifully worn.


So yes, then I promptly cut it apart and began sewing Burning Betty. I learned a few tips and tricks for sewing leather along the way, but I'm going to share them in another post because this thing is already so so long, and I'm not even done yet, ha!

I'm planning to have this bag double as a camera bag with an insert that I'll make to fit lenses and camera snugly inside. Stay tuned for that. I'm also making a shoulder strap, hence the D-rings on the zipper pull tabs- it'll attach to that with a removable clasp.

Things I loved:

  • that shape. mmmm Betty, love them curves.
  • the size- a nice big-but-not-a-duffel size
  • easy to assemble pattern pieces
Things I changed:
  • omitted the large and small exterior stripes for an in-between width leather panel
  • added faux piping next to the leather panel
  • enlarged my zipper pull tabs and added D-rings
  • moved the zippered pocket from a vertical position next to the stripe to a horizontal one on the leather panel
  • divided the inner pocket into three smaller ones
  • added an extra layer of interfacing for extra stability (as suggested in the pattern)
Things I'll change next time:
  • omit the extra interfacing (it was plenty sturdy)
  • no leather zipper pull tabs. while I love the look, I broke 3 needles trying to sew through all that bulk.
Fabric and notions:
  • up cycled leather jacket
  • fusible fleece from Pellon (also part of my Shorts on the Line spoils- thanks Pellon!)
  • heavy weight interfacing and fusible stabilizer, all Pellon
  • metal zipper, main purse zipper, piping, contrast fabric (from fat quarters), lining fabric, and D-rings from JoAnn
  • rectangle rings from Hobby Lobby
  • main fabric is Cotton and Steel- Moonlit Blue Meet Your Match by Rashida Coleman Hale from The Fat Quarter Shop (thank you FQS!)

Yeah, I'm a little lovestruck. Our love burns bright, Betty and I. We're a match made in heaven. Still swooning:)

Flower Child Barcelona Wallet- Parcel #7

Is it just me, or does it feel like we just did this... it's Pattern Parcel time again!! The last one ended just a week ago, but I'm not complaining- I LOVE seeing what everyone makes with these patterns, and I love sewing things up for the Parcel blog tour. This is the last parcel of the year so I'm soaking it up while it lasts.

Parcel #7 is all handbags. Feast your eyes.

Pattern Parcel #7: Choose your own price and support DonorsChoose. Win/win!

Parcel #7 includes:

Barcelona Bag and Wallet by Pat Bravo
Butterfly Sling Purse by Emmaline Patterns
Evelyn Hangbag by ChrisW Designs
Midtown Messenger Bag by Betz White
Betty Bowler by Swoon Sewing Patterns
BONUS PATTERN: Daphne Bag by Clover & Violet

Bonus Pattern:

Choose a price of $32 or greater for Parcel #7 and you will automatically also be sent the Bonus Pattern! That's just over $5 a pattern. The Bonus Pattern for this Parcel is the brand new Daphne Bag pattern from Clover & Violet. The Daphne is a slouchy satchel that can be worn cross body or as a shoulder bag. The zip top keeps your gear secure and the internal pockets keep your accessories where you need them. This is a brand new, never been seen before pattern and is an exclusive opportunity for Parcel #7 customers! And in case you haven't been around here much, or don't know what Perfect Pattern Parcel is- here's the spiel:

"Here at Perfect Pattern Parcel, we believe in supporting independent pattern designers. It’s our opinion that indie patterns are just, well, better than big box patterns, and we’re pretty sure our customers think so too. So, we allow customers to show their support in naming their own price for each Parcel.  We also encourage customers to allocate part of their Parcel price to the charity Donorschoose.org in order to help classrooms in need. Pattern Parcel donates all profits after expenses from Parcel sales to the charity as well. Its our goal to raise over $20,000 for Donors Choose this year."
I am Holli Coats, and I support this message. (just a little post-election humor for you :)
Anyhow, Parcel #7 launched TODAY and I'm happy to be sharing my (first) make from this parcel today on the blog tour. I've got quite the story for you on my Betty Bowler bag journey that I'll be sharing some time soon, once I can get it sewn up, but suffice it to say I ran in to some snags (not pattern related at all) and decided to put that project on hold for a bit and sew up the Barcelona Wallet. Don't see it up there in the parcel pictures? I almost missed it too, since it isn't pictured, but the Barcelona Bag comes with a wallet pattern as well- double bonus! And it's a super cute wallet pattern, at that!
I was drawn to the quilting detail on the front immediately. I wasn't sure how this striped fabric would work with the diagonal quilting but I went for it anyway because I love it. Also I'm channeling my inner hippie/flower child here with the retro green/blue stripe and the floral lining. I'm totally ok with this.
This wallet is a great size. I have a small wallet to hold all my cards (and occasional cash) that my keys attach to. If I'm ever going out for a quick trip without my kids I just grab my wallet/keys and phone and leave my purse that is generally caked with smashed goldfish and littered with kids meal toys from Chick-fil-a. Then there's the diapers, wipes, random bags of snacks, water bottle, multiple sets of headphones, and whatever else I've left in there for far too long. I love being able to ditch all that when I'm out by myself, but then I never have a place for my phone. Enter the Barcelona wallet. This is just big enough to fit my cards, phone, chapstick, keys, and even some feminine products if the need arises. It is cute enough to carry by itself, but small enough to stash in whatever bag I need to take on any given day.
I find that I have a lot of packed bags- my every day with kids bag (the above mentioned one caked with goldfish crackers), my church bag, and another bag for day trips or times when I need more stuff. I switch between all of these depending on my needs, so I'm excited to have a wallet to hold my essentials that I can throw in whatever bag I'm using, which invariable is stuffed with various kid stuff. It's sort of like my own little space where my things won't get lost in the sea of markers and board books.
As for the sewing details, here they are:
Pattern: Barcelona Wallet by Pat Bravo
What I loved:
  • the quilted front
  • separate pattern pieces for interfacing mean I don't have to cut into my pattern or trim down myself
  • the size, as I've already raved about
  • lots of organization inside
What I changed:
  • I used heavy weight interfacing because that's all I had. Don't do that.
  • I omitted one card pocket because of bulk (from the too-thick interfacing)
  • used leather for my flap piece and opted to leave the edges raw
  • added a leather pull tab to my zipper
What I'll change next time:
  • BUY THE RIGHT INTERFACING. Because the bulk makes the lining sort of buckle and not fit right inside the wallet
  • if I use this thin leather again I'll fold over the edges
  • I'd like more card slots and less cash pocket spots, so I'll probably omit the card pockets and stitch down the cash pockets to the lining in intervals to form pockets. Does that make sense?
  • insert my interior zipper the same direction as my exterior one- right now when the outer zipper is open it covers the tab of the inner zipper and makes it hard to open. A simple switch would make life easier
  • I might add a d-ring on the side for latching keys on to, just to keep things easy to find
Notions & Fabric:
  • exterior fabric- thrifted years ago, a medium weight wool blend I'm guessing
  • lining fabric- floral remnant from a dress up cape I made a while back- originally from Joann
  • leather- upcycled from a leather jacket
  • heavy duty yellow thread for topstitching
  • zippers both from Joann
So there she is, my new wallet, and a whole parcel of fabulous bag patterns just in time for holiday gift sewing! As I said, today is the first day of the blog tour, so you can follow along with all the great bloggers over the next two weeks. Links are below, or you can make it even easier and follow @patternparcel on instagram, like the Perfect Pattern Parcel Facebook page, and even join the Pattern Parcel Facebook group for a more interactive experience.

Parcel #4 Inspiration Tour Schedule:

Friday, November 7 Stitched || Sew Exhausted

Saturday, November 8 Made by Sara ||Oliver's Fancy || Strawberry Patch Ramblings

Sunday, November 9 from a box || Mia's Creations || MOMENTS

Monday, November 10 owen's olivia || While she was sleeping

Tuesday, November 11 Nutta || Radiant Home Studio || La Pantigana

Wednesday, November 12 Sew Fishsticks || Stacy Sews || Stitching Insane || GnomeAngel

Thursday, November 13 Needle and Ted || Patchouli Moon Studio || Sprouting JubeJube || The Crazy Tailor

Friday, November 14 Casa Crafty || A Jennuine Life || 'So, Zo... What do you know?'

Saturday, November 15 Stitches by Laura || Rebekah Sews || Serger Pepper

Sunday, November 16 Blogs Like A Mother || Vicky Myers creations || Blossom Heart Quilts

Monday, November 17 Shanni Loves || So Sew Easy || GYCT Designs || Tiger In A Tornado

Tuesday, November 18 The Nosy Pepper || Keep Calm and Carrion || There & Back || Sewing Sober

Wednesday, November 19 Sew Like My Mom || Knot Sew Normal || Stacy Sews || sewVery

Thursday, November 20 Mimi's Mom || Our Family Four || shades of BOLD || Modern Handcraft

Friday, November 21 Shawnta Sews || Lulu & Celeste || Amanda Rose || Robin's Fabric Nest || House of Pinheiro

I'm living in Hudsons.

I'm just barely sneaking in another make for Parcel #6  (here's the first) before the tour ends and this parcel is gone forever! (don't know what I'm talking about? Check out their site to learn more about how awesome Perfect Pattern Parcel is) I've been dying to make some Hudson pants since before I even got the pattern but I've been supa supa busy sewing many other things. In the past couple of months I've sewn 2 wedding dresses, 2 Halloween costumes, 20 drawstring bags, and two makes for separate Pattern Parcel blog tours. That's all I can think of, but for some reason I feel like there was something else... Oh and I had a photography retreat, a trip to Utah (2 weeks!), my sister came to visit, and I'm training for a marathon. Way too many good things to even deserve, but it meant those Hudson pants went on the back burner.

Anyhow, I've been wanting some Hudson pants because I basically live in yoga pants these days and mine are all stretched out from maternity/postpartum wear. And yes my baby is 18 months old already. I know. Buy some clothes that fit already, right? But I made time! And I sewed them up in literally one evening, which is nearly unheard of for me. I've worn them every day since I finished them 2 days ago, and I don't plan on stopping. I guess I'll probably need another pair ;)

So the pattern- I printed the large format version at the copy shop because NO TAPING MAKES ME HAPPY so that expedited the process quite a bit. I literally started tracing my pattern at 8:30 and put the final touches on them at 11:15. Boo to the yah.

I'm short on pictures this time because we were all a little hangry and dinner needed to be made. Also, anyone have recommendations for a camera remote? My marriage will thank you.

Behold, my Hudsons.

Pout pout fish photo bomb!

This is pretty accurate- no fancy photo shoot for these. I'm lounging in them, reading books, really spending much too much time on the computer in them. #momlife.

The details:

Things I loved...

  • the fit! I sewed a size 6, no changes, and I love the fit.
  • fast sew! record speed for me, I tell ya.
  • the waistband! The finish of it looks pretty pro.
Things I changed...
  • nada. not one thing.
Things I'll change next time...
  • I'd love to try a cropped version
  • use a heavier fabric to make them feel less pajama like
Notions & Fabric...
  • Charcoal reversible rayon jersey blend, from JoAnns. It is DIVINE. So soft. So supple. The waistband and pocket detail show the opposite side of the fabric.
  • Dollar store shoe lace for a waist tie
There she be. They may not look like much- not flashy or fancy- but these babies are in heavy rotation which makes this project an absolute WIN.
There are only 8 hours left of this parcel sale so GET IT NOW!!

Handmade Halloween: Anna and Olaf

I kinda wish I was sewing something more inventive or funky this Halloween. I mean, if you've got to sew something that likely will only be worn a few times, it might as well be a show stopper, right? But Halloween costumes aren't about me, and Charly is Frozen obsessed like every other 2-6 year old girl right now. An Anna costume was in order, which WILL get tons of wear. IT WILL SO HELP ME!! Olaf of course had to happen next, since Caroline is always whatever character Charly deems her to be.

For the Anna costume I used Simplicity S0733 and made very little changes. I used a charcoal tweed for the bodice just to make it a little more special, and I used cotton everywhere else. I lined the bodice with more cotton so the tweed wouldn't be itchy, and I stitched the bias tape binding from the neckline to the lining by hand to give it a more polished look. My goal was to have a very wearable and washable costume, unlike the ones you can purchase in major stores. We actually bought an Anna costume for her back in January for her birthday and it started to fall apart the same day she opened it. Such poor quality. The tags on those dress ups actually tell you not to wash them- no dry-cleaning, no hand washing, no machine washing. Seriously. Have they ever been around children??

But I digress. Where was I? Anna costume. The dress was fairly easy to assemble, and I liked that this one actually had a mandarin collar and a few other details, unlike the McCalls pattern I initially purchased. The appliqués were a beast, though. Matt cut them out for me, bless his soul, and saved me hours of time, but unfortunately my ironing board cover was sacrificed in the process. Don't ask. It's a sore subject. As is the insane amount of time I spent sewing around the appliqués. The pattern advises using puffy paint to secure the edges but since "wearable and washable" was my goal I figured I'd put in the time on the sewing machine and have this last for the long haul. It was miserable. It could have been made better if I was any good at appliqué or had a free motion quilting foot. I'll try to remember that next time, haha!
The cape was a cinch- cut out of felt so no hemming was necessary, and the purple and black details are just ironed on. They are holding up so far and have had at least 8 wears already, but if they start to peel I'll go ahead and stitch around those, too.
And of course, OLAF!
I made Caroline's Olaf costume using the Bimaa pattern because I love the fit, it's quick to sew, and I knew anything more costume-y wouldn't fly with Caroline. She doesn't tolerate much in the way of dress ups yet. I followed the pattern exactly, adding felt "buttons" to the front, and the felt face appliqué pieces to the outer hood before it was sewn to the hood lining. The teeth are formed by a piece of white felt folded over and stitched down the sides and center to give some definition. The verdict: She tolerates it. Barely. I'm surprised we got any pictures with the hood on- she's pretty adamant about pulling it down pretty promptly. Candy helped. Luckily it still looks cute with the little Olaf face draping down her back.
We even managed to bring Sven along for a bit.
So there they are- Handmade Halloween 2014. Who else is sewing costumes? I'm a bit of a curmudgeon about it, but it sure is fun to see the delight on their faces- or at least on Charly's face!
And just for fun, here's Halloween 2013 and Halloween 2011.

Aztec Floral Zsálya Top- Pattern Parcel #6

Another Pattern Parcel is here!! This bundle of PDF patterns from indie designers, available for two weeks, is all women's patterns and all fabulous! As always, you can choose your price when you purchase, and all profits are donated to the charity Donors Choose, which provides supplies for classrooms in need. Pattern Parcel #6: Choose your own price and support DonorsChoose. Win/win!

The patterns included in Parcel #6 are: Bronte Top by Jennifer Lauren Hudson Pant by True Bias Julia Cardigan by Mouse House Creations Syrah Skirt by Lauren Dahl/Selvage Designs Zsálya Top and Dress by Kate and Rose

aaaand a bonus pattern, if you choose a price of $32 or greater, the Odette Dress by Bluegingerdoll! It's a star lineup of patterns, folks! Some I've been pining after for a while, some are completely new to me, but I can see myself wearing every one of them.

Pattern Parcel #6: Choose your own price and support DonorsChoose. Win/win I chose to sew the Zsálya top first. This is a risky move for me, I have to admit. I have a pretty petite/narrow frame, so while I love the look of loose and drapey tops they rarely look good on me. My shoulders are narrow and generally can't balance out a voluminous top. I decided to sew it anyway and hope for the best because I love that crossover front detail so much. It reminds me of a grown up Fawn Lily pattern, which I've been eyeing for my girls.

Totally works, right?! I love to layer in fall, especially since our weather is pretty temperate. I can start the day with a cardigan over the top and take it off when things warm up in the afternoon.

The fabric is refashioned from a Laura Ashley dress I bought at the thrift store. Charly was bemoaning me for cutting it apart. Apparently 90's fashion is her jam.

I chose it because of the funky floral. The flowers have an aztec sort of styling to them that for some reason spoke to me. The dress is a lightweight cotton that doesn't wrinkle, making it the perfect mom top. Aint nobody got time for ironing. I love that it dresses up my normal t-shirt and jeans look but isn't too fussy- no closures, high neckline that can't be pulled down by tiny hands exposing me to the other parents at the children's museum... you know, all the important things. And comfy. Did I mention that?

And it looks good with my favorite boots, which is requisite for any fall staple.

Back yoke, so pretty.

You can see the aztec-ish floral on the sleeve detail here. And speaking of sleeve detail, I love the gather and the shaping of the sleeve!

I'd wanted to use piping to accentuate the crossover detail but I didn't have any and I was antsy to get started. Next time.

I cut out a small and ended up sizing it down later. I should have cut an extra small (I was on the border size wise, and should have known from past experience to size down on these sorts of tops) but I solved it by holding the taped together yoke and front bodice pieces over my sewn together top (sans sleeves), shifting them over about an inch, and literally drawing a new side seam and armysce based on that. It's a bit of an unconventional solution, but it worked like a charm and meant I didn't have to worry about changing the sleeve shape any.

As for the pattern, I'm in love. I love the pattern diagrams- very clear and easy to follow. The pattern had great pointers and explained things really well. I really loved that they gave two methods of finishing the yoke so you can choose if you want the easy way or the more polished way. It's a pattern that can teach you something while you sew, and I love that! Everything came together relatively quickly, although I did have to think through the bodice/yoke sewing method a few times before I figured it out. The sewing was made quicker by reusing the existing hem of the dress I refashioned. Hooray for up cycling!

So sewing friends, do you want these patterns? Head over to Pattern Parcel to purchase this bundle before it's gone!

Kenzie's Wedding Dress

Two posts in one week?! I'm on a roll here, folks! I finished my sister's wedding dress on wedding eve with some last minute hemming and alterations. Last minute sewing is the price of making a wedding dress for someone who lives on the other side of the continent. We arrived in Utah on August 30, one week before the wedding, but I got a stomach bug shortly thereafter that set me back a couple of days. Luckily my laid back and patient sister didn't seem one bit bothered by the fact that her dress was one of the final pieces of the puzzle to come together before the wedding, so I just chugged along! I am so happy to have been able to add to her special day by making her dress. She was radiant- really and truly- and my pictures don't do it- or her- justice at all. Nevertheless, my pictures are all we have right now, so they'll have to do!

I had planned to do a photoshoot with her a few days before the wedding to get some good pictures, but since the dress was finished the evening before I ended up just following the photographer around between the ceremony and reception as she took their photos. This explains why they aren't looking at me in nearly any of the pictures:) This also explains the sub par pictures. I work well in one kind of light and that light only- I have very little photographic range. Hopefully that will change soon- I'm going to a photography workshop in October at Lake Anna, VA and I CANT WAAAIIIIIITTTTT!
The dress was inspired by a few she found on pinterest- this one and this one, mainly. She wanted strapless, sweetheart neckline, form fitting bodice with lace appliqué, and a gathered flowy skirt. I used Burda Style 7086 for the bodice and made a simple gathered skirt for the bottom.
The bodice was fairly straightforward, only my fabric choice made things difficult. Apparently chiffon is like, kind of tricky? Yeah, first time chiffon sewing here. Any tutorials/advice on sewing it said stuff like "practice on a simple project first" and "don't make something you care too much about on your first try" ..... and so I made a wedding dress. Ha! Still, I managed, and while it isn't perfect (I'm looking at you, little lace leaf on the upper bust! Stop drooping like that!) I'm really happy with how it came out. And most of all, she liked it!
And now, for my pattern review summary:
Things I loved:
  • the bust shaping- the pattern pieces came together quite lovely
  • the boning insertion was easy and straightforward (its been a good while since I've done boning)
Things I changed:
  • omitted the skirt pieces and opted for a gathered skirt instead
  • added a chiffon overlay to each bodice pattern piece
  • applied lace appliqué over the entire bodice, post assembly
Things I'll change, next time:
  • use a more stable base fabric to better support boning (you can see it buckling a bit in some pictures)
  • omit some fullness of underskirt to reduce bulk at the waist
Notions & Fabric:
  • dove colored chiffon from Joann Fabrics
  • lightweight poly for bodice, lining and underskirt from Joann Fabrics
  • invisible zipper from, you guessed it, Joann Fabrics
  • Lace from Touch of Lace (lightly dyed to match the fabric better with a poly dye)
Congrats Kenzie and Abe! Aren't they a fantastic pair?! Thanks for sharing your special day with us!

Sunki Village Dress & Pattern Parcel #5

Hello my friends! I've been a busy seamstress, and I should have a post up with pictures and details from my sister's wedding dress SOOOOOON!! The wedding was lovely and our trip was too much fun. I've missed the desert air. Utah was on the cusp of autumn when we left, and had I not known that the blissful Virginia autumn was soon to come I may never have left that dry and blessed state. I'm done with humidity, yo. Thankfully, the leaves are starting to turn and we've even had a couple of boot-and-soup days so I'm in my element. I even made pumpkin crap cookies, which is the official mascot of fall in this house.

But yes, enough blabbering about air and cookies, right? This post is about clothes! I'm happy to be sewing along for Perfect Pattern Parcel again with Parcel #5- girls and tweens! It's a stellar parcel, to be sure. Every parcel seems to have a few patterns I've been eyeing and a few new-to-me patterns, which is a perfect mix I think. For those unfamiliar, Perfect Pattern Parcel offers limited time sales of pattern bundles from indie designers, and donates all profits to a charity called Donors Choose. Donors Choose provides supplies to teachers and students for their classrooms. It's a win-win-win- support indie designers, help students, and get patterns!

This particular bundle of patterns includes sizes from toddler to tween- meaning these patterns will be in rotation in my house for YEARS to come! A few of the "tween" sizes may even fit me, so I'm excited to see how versatile these patterns become. Click through the links or pictures to learn more about the patterns in this parcel!

Pattern Parcel #5: Choose your own price and support DonorsChoose. Win/win!

Oh, and did I mention that you can name your own price?! Yes. I know. Unreal. And hey, if you name a price of $28 or more, you'll be sent the bonus pattern as well- the Sunki Dress!

Pattern Parcel #5: Choose your own price and support DonorsChoose. Win/win So what did I sew? There's a sneaky peek at the top, but I couldn't resist making another Sunki Dress. Yes, I've sewn it before (twice actually, but this one is my fave) but it's just. so. good. I'm a Figgy's fangirl, truly. The Sunki Dress was my first indie pattern purchase. I saw it and the Nituna Coat (you can see the one I made here) on Pinterest in the early early days (like, 2010, folks) and I pined after them for a long time. I had never seen such hip patterns before. I just dig the aesthetic and the ease of wear. So modern and still kid friendly. Both the Sunki and Nituna are some of my favorite kid makes to date:

So here's the deal: I started with this wool skirt I bought earlier this year at the thrift store.
It is dated and kinda weird but the print sucked me in. It's a village scene that, despite being fairly dreary, is completely whimsical at the same time. I loved the juxtaposition of those muted colors with the intricate village scene, full of towers and mountains, fishermen and horseback riders, just waiting for a story to be told. So I bought it, with every intention of turning it in to children's clothing. Sunki was perfect for showcasing the scene, with no gathers or pleats to interrupt the pattern.
It is dark and chic but still totally wearable and playable.
To keep it from feeling too grown up or dreary I decided to embellish the scene with a little embroidery. I kept it simple, mainly because my embroidery skills are rudimentary at best, but also because I love how subtle it is.
And the easier to see version- Charly said she wanted an orange haired princess in the tower. Orange hair it is!
I tried to line up the horizontal pattern as much as possible. The large repeat meant total pattern matching was impossible, but I did manage to line the sleeves up fairly well.
I love how easy this dress is- not necessarily assembly wise, but wear wise. Sure, it's wool, and pretty grown-up looking, but that won't stop the puddle jumping, leaf collecting, bug catching girl who is wearing it.

Also, it layers sooooo well! Perfect for autumn! I wish I could show every part of this fabric. It truly is beautiful, the way the colors flow and the village streets blend to marshland and then mountain scenes. I'm so happy to have rescued it and given it a good imaginative home! Surely many stories will be conjured up for the orange haired princess in her tower! Will she call out to the fisherman below? Are the horsemen coming to her rescue- or is she diligently guarding the kingdom from their attack?

So, the details:
Things I loved:
  • That silhouette, y'all. The pocket detail gets me every time
  • I finally totally get the pocket construction- 3rd time's the charm! But wait- there's a picture tutorial here to guide you!
  • The fit is spot on with my daughter's chest measurement, with just enough room to grow
Things I changed:
  • Added piping at the pocket detail
  • Created a lining- sort of. I didn't want this fabric to get itchy, so I basted lining fabric to the body pieces (using the back pattern piece and the assembled front piece with pockets as patterns) and then sewed as usual. It's a cheater lining, but I'll take it:)
  • Added an inch to the hem for my tall skinny gal
  • Cut the back piece on the fold so the pattern wouldn't be interrupted, then did an exposed zipper over top
  • Cut the side panels on the bias
Things I'll change next time:
  • I won't change anything about the pattern- but I'm sure I'll find a way to customize again! Maybe patchwork pocket details in some modern solid colors with a neutral main fabric. Mmm now that sounds right up my alley.
Notions & Fabric:
  • Thrifted 100% wool fabric (As a side note, I disregard wash labels on thrifted fabric often for kids clothing. Aint no way I'm going to dry clean this bad boy.)
  • Black piping from Hobby Lobby
  • Black fashion zipper, also from Hobby Lobby
  • Lining fabric from the thrifted skirt

Special thanks to my model, who worked splendidly on two conditions: 1. We HAD to have a pajama photo shoot first, and 2. Gummy worms.

I work for gummy worms, too.

Blingin' Prefontaines for Perfect Pattern Parcel

I'm so so excited to be sewing for Perfect Pattern Parcel again- this time for Parcel #3. Not sure what Perfect Pattern Parcel is? Here's the gist of it, straight from their own mouths...er...keyboard.

"Here at Perfect Pattern Parcel, we believe in supporting independent pattern designers. It’s our opinion that indie patterns are just, well, better than big box patterns, and we’re pretty sure our customers think so too. So, we allow customers to show their support in naming their own price for each Parcel.  We also encourage customers to allocate part of their Parcel price to the charity Donorschoose.org in order to help classrooms in need. Pattern Parcel donates all profits after expenses from Parcel sales to the charity as well. Together we've raised almost $4,500 towards eliminating educational inequality."
Pretty great, right? It's a fabulous way to support indie pattern makers (which I love!) and teachers and children (which I also love!) while getting some fabulous new patterns. I love buying pattern bundles because I end up with patterns that I otherwise may not have sought after, but sometimes those end up being ones you love the most. Parcel #3 includes these awesome patterns:

Pattern Parcel #3

When I first saw which patterns were going to be included I picked out 3 immediately that I knew I wanted to sew up. The Prefontaine shorts were not one of them, which just goes to show how awesome it is to get a bundle of patterns, even if every pattern isn't one you think you'd buy on its own. But enough words, how bout I show you what I made?
So here's the deal: I don't do shorts. I wear shorts when I run, and I have one pair of knee length jean cutoffs I wear when I really really have to. And that's it. But I was walking around Hobby Lobby and I spotted this gold bias tape, and it was like I had a vision. Gold trimmed linen prefontaines. Perfection. Maybe a little crazy or maybe super chic? Hard to say, but I knew I had to make it happen. I snatched up the bias tape and made my way to the thrift store hoping to find a linen dress I could dissect to make these shorts. The thrifting gods looked kindly on me and sent this 100% linen dress that was perfect. Plenty of fabric, very few seams to worry about.
Please forgive my poor phone photography!

So the pattern. It's simple, just a few pieces to cut out, and comes together very easily. The most time consuming part is the trim, but even that wasn't bad. If I wasn't confident using bias tape to finish edges before, I am now! I got lots of practice and perfected some of my technique. I finished them up but wasn't totally happy with the fit- I'd done the longer inseam and they just felt a little frumpy. 

Let's ignore my unmade bed. And brassiere.

But the thought of removing all that trim to shorten them... ugh. So I played around with it a little and realized if I shortened the rise of the waistband and overlapped the side seams a bit more I'd end up with a more fitted, but still loose and easy, fit. I lowered the waistband by 2" in the front and 3/4" in back, then overlapped the side seams (at the bottom circle, for those who have/are making the pattern) by 2". I made sure to taper up so I wasn't taking in any extra up near the bum area, just down in the leg.

After those alterations the pocket needed to be shortened (since the rise was lower) and moved so it was better centered to the new shape. I just safety pinned it on where it looked right, tried it on, and finished it up. And then I fell in love with them and we lived happily ever after.
We are living with my in-laws right now, and their neighborhood has a super awesome pool and splash pad that is a ten minute walk on a wooded path from our house. So shorts to wear to the pool, if nothing else, will get lots of use this summer. Oh, and I've made something else for our swim days, too. Do you spot it in these pictures? I'll be sharing it in a couple of days!

Are you convinced you need these patterns yet? This parcel is available until Friday, June 13th at Perfect Pattern Parcel! Check out the posts by these bloggers over the next two weeks for more inspiration! Parcel #3 Inspiration Tour Schedule:

Friday, May 30 Sew Busy Lizzy || Pienkel || SeamstressErin

Saturday, May 31 Design By Lindsay || the Brodrick design studio || Cookin' and Craftin'

Sunday, June 1 Diary of a Chainstitcher || a happy stitch || Disaster in a Dress || sew Amy sew

Monday, June 2 Idle Fancy || Casa Crafty || Kadiddlehopper || Dandelion Drift

Tuesday, June 3 Our Family Four || Casa Crafty || Cookin' and Craftin' || a happy stitch

Wednesday, June 4 Lexi Made || The Quirky Peach || Stitched || a happy stitch || Casa Crafty ||

Thursday, June 5 verypurpleperson || Casa Crafty || sew a straight line || Sewbon

Friday, June 6 Shawnta Sews || Mama says sew || a happy stitch || Cookin' and Craftin'

Saturday, June 7 Casa Crafty || sewninestitches || 'So, Zo... What do you know?'

Sunday, June 8 oonaballoona || A Stitching Odyssey || Sew Charleston

Monday, June 9 Sew Sweetness || True Bias || Ozzy Blackbeard

Tuesday, June 10 Welcome to the Mouse House || Sew Caroline || Adventures in Dressmaking

Wednesday, June 11 Peneloping || YoSaMi || sewVery

Thursday, June 12 la inglesita || La Pantigana || Sanae Ishida

Friday, June 13 Seamster Sewing Patterns || Paunnet

Ombre Bohemian Babydoll

When I saw the Bohemian Babydoll Dress and Top pattern by Elegance and Elephants popping up all over my blog feed I fell in love. The curves are phenomenal and the simplicity is right up my alley. No closures means my fiercely independent three year old can dress herself at will (which she does, multiple times, every day) without needing me to button or zip every time she's ready for a change. Hallelujah! She also demands dresses most days, but loose fitting, flowy tops are considered dresses in Charly land, so I also knew this would actually make it into her rotation. The hem band appealed to me because I just don't like hemming. It isn't hard, or complicated, I just don't like it. I think it is the folding and ironing. I'll iron seams all day long, but folding the edge and keeping it consistent is tedious to me. I don't purchase a lot of patterns; I have to REALLY love something to buy it, and then I try to use it in several different ways. But man, I had to have this one. So I pulled the trigger and sewed up three of them assembly line style, one for a gift and one for each of my girls. This one is the one I made for Charly.

First, the fabric. Matt hates it, but that's ok. He says it reminds him of a grandma's tablecloth. That's what I like about it!  And the ombre... is ombre still in? I'm a little slow on trends, but... I love it. I found it at Wal Mart of all places, on clearance for $2 a yard, so naturally I bought 4 yards of it and now I've got to figure out what to do with it. It's a poly/cotton blend, and the pattern is woven, not printed. It's a bit stiff, sort of like chiffon, but not too fancy feeling. It could easily be dressed up or down. I lined it with white cotton broadcloth because it is cheap and lightweight.

So the pattern. Here's the thing. This pattern is adorable. I'd say it requires intermediate sewing skills, despite the lack of zipper/button holes. Because it doesn't have a back closure, the armholes of the main bodice and lining have to be folded, ironed, and topstitched together. Remember that part where I don't like folding and ironing? Yeah. Bummer. And because it is curved it is kind of tricky to get those to lay just right, so I had quite the time getting those armholes to lay nicely and look right. Maybe it was the fabric? I think I would have preferred a zipper or button. I may try finishing the armholes with binding next time for a slightly different (and hopefully easier) look. After that the construction went together swimmingly, until I got to the hem band and realized I'd still have to fold over the raw edge and iron it down before topstitching- and of course since it is a high/low hem, it's folding and ironing curves. My favorite!  I know, I know. It's part of the whole process and I just need to get used to it.  And I like the look of it, so that's a plus. Next time I'm going to use this as a chance to add a fun print or pop of color. Maybe in the same fabric as the armhole binding... hmmm...

A word about sizing: I do this all the time. Pattern says my three year old should wear 12-18m. I think that's silly and don't want to make something too small, so I choose a middle ground and cut a 2. Size 2 ends up being baggy and I curse the fact that so many patterns just run so so big. Sure my little gal is skinny, but she wears a solid 3t in most ready to wear brands, so I kind of scoff at the thought of making her something 12-18m size. Sure enough, a size 2 is a bit large (you can see it especially around the armholes) and the 12-18m top I sewed for Caroline fits Charly perfectly, with a little room to grow and ease to get it on and off. The size chart won't lead you astray, as long as you FOLLOW IT! Sigh. When will I ever learn? Or when will pattern makers start using blocks that are more consistent with modern sizing?? But I digress. Measure your kids. You won't regret it.

That is one happy customer! Now on to more projects. I'm on a roll here so I should have some fun projects to share coming up in the next couple of weeks! Anyone else doing some summer sewing? Or constantly disregard sizing info and live to regret it? Tell me all about it.

Fashion Revolution- a guide to a more ethical wardrobe on a budget

My Photo for the #insideout and #handmadeinsideout
Today is Fashion Revolution Day- a day to remember the Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh just one year ago, and a day to ask the question, "Who made my clothes?" A day to bring awareness to sustainable fashion and make us all think a bit about where our clothes come from, and who makes them, and how they are made. Because it matters. And if you don't know why yet, watch this five minute op-doc about the Rana Plaza collapse. It's good. Really good.
I've had sustainable fashion on my mind for a bit now, ever since I came across this article- 6 Things You Should Know About Your Clothes- in my facebook feed. (You should really read it, and the follow up post, 4 Things You Should Remember Every Time You Shop for Clothes). Here's the thing- I've always been a seeker of bargains. I pride myself on finding a good deal, but this article made me rethink the cost of those "deals.'  I'd started to see the light on quality over quantity (as a twenty something who naturally wants ALL THE THINGS this is a slow going change) but I'm more committed to that change every day, as I'm learning about the options I have as a consumer. I'm on a tight budget, which means I can't afford to buy all organic cotton, sustainably sourced, ethically made clothes for myself and my family. I'm using this fantastic and lovely graphic by Sarah Lazarovic, along with the ideas in the articles linked above, as my guide to navigating a more ethical wardrobe, on a budget.

source: http://longliveirony.com/?p=575 by Sarah Lazarovic

1. I'm gonna use what I got. When I look through my closet there are always those things that I pass by because they don't fit just right, or a button needs to be replaced, or there is a hole somewhere. Well guess what- clothes can be fixed! Mending and alterations can extend the life of clothes you already have. I do mine myself, but when I don't know how I usually search the internet for a tutorial or video. If you want to learn how, the information is there! And if you don't want to learn how, find a tailor or someone who can do the work for you. Costs range on this quite a bit, but it never hurts to ask, right?
Matt and I both had holes forming in the crotch of our jeans a few months back. I finally convinced myself to try patching them because we just couldn't afford new ones at the time. That was 5 months ago, and we are both still wearing them with no signs of them wearing out, and the patches aren't even visible!
2. I'll borrow and swap when I can. I don't have a clothes borrowing friend near me now, but when I did I loved it. For family pictures or a special occasion, raiding a friends closet can give just the extra something you want without purchasing anything. I've also borrowed maternity clothes. Pregnancy can be a tricky time for clothes, so borrowing makes so much sense. Something you wear one week may look terrible or not fit the next, so borrowing from others was a great way for me to have a wardrobe I wasn't sick of by the end of my pregnancy. Oh, and kids clothes? Borrowing saved us from having to buy a new infant wardrobe, since my girls were born in opposite seasons. Moving forward I'll try to lend more, too.
3. I'll keep on thrifting. Its no secret that thrifting is one of my true loves. Sometimes when I need to get some "me time" at the end of the day I'll leave the kids with my man and go to the thrift store. Yeah, I know how to party. Needless to say I'll continue to thrift for my family's wardrobe- and alteration skills come in handy here too- and thrift for pieces to upcycle or refashion. Which brings me to the next part of my plan:
4. Make, make make! Wearing something I've made makes me happy. Seeing my girls wearing something I've made makes me happy. I haven't tried it yet, but I'm betting seeing Matt wearing something I've made would make me happy. I'm going to try to add to all of our wardrobes with handmade when I can, using lots of thrifted materials, and try to use patterns by indie designers (my fave!) whenever possible. For anyone who doesn't sew but wants to, the online sewing community is one of the nicest and most helpful out there! There are tutorials! Patterns! Bloggers galore! So many resources to help anyone, at any skill level, hone the skills needed to sew. It doesn't take a special talent, just patience and practice. If you've ever thought about learning to sew, DO IT!
5. I'll put my money where my mouth is. Yes, I'm sure I'll still be buying lots of things, but I'll try to do a little research and buy less 'fast fashion' and more quality products from companies who treat their makers well. Because I sew, so I know the skill it takes to make clothing. I want to show, with my dollars, that I value that skill in the global market. I'm not promising to only buy from a certain company, or to only buy organic, but I am going to be a more conscientious consumer. Because it matters.
So what about you- how are you going to be part of the fashion revolution?
Check out Behind the Hedgerow, Petit a Petit and Family, and Things for Boys for more info on #handmadeinsideout