Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Back to Handmade - Chevron Relay Dress

It's not as though I ever really stop producing handmade but this dress is the first item I've finished for my kids since February. The last Kids Clothing week was a complete bust for me. Between a great surge in my business and a 3 week bout with Bronchitis I never made it beyond picking fabrics and cutting out patterns. So now, as I'm winding down the custom order side of my business for the summer, it was important to make something new for one of my family amidst all the stock sewing I've been doing for the shop.

I can't remember when I came across this Striped Relay Tutorial over at iCandy Handmade, I'm sure it was almost 2 years ago because I remember being intimidated by having to size it for a smaller child. However, here is one of those beautiful examples of procrastination working out because now my almost 6 yr old is wearing a size 5 perfectly. I love dresses with leggings, my daughter is incredibly active, always on a bike and the long, flowy dresses she loves to wear are highly impractical. Outfits like this are the happy medium in our house.

To make the dress I followed the tutorial right up to the last steps where instead of finishing the edges with elastic trim I used the double needle on all the hems. I haven't done many project with the twin needles so far but I have to say I love how it turned out. I did upsize the bow a bit, the first bow I made with the measurements on the pattern became a hair bow with just a piece of 1/8"elastic looped through and a bow that was 2" larger was put on the dress.

This was such an easy pattern to follow (mostly sewn on the serger which I love!) that I'm now thinking I may watch for some fall fabrics and do a couple up for the next school year. I think by widening the arm openings slightly it would be a great layering piece once the weather turns cool.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

KCW Prep - Spring 2014

Alright, I am determined to find the balance between sewing, blogging and managing my home business so I'm going back to the advance prep version of KCW. Here I sit, 19 days out from the start and I have 4 patterns selected to sew, a potential 5th and still trying to decide if I want/need to sew anything for the little guy. I hate to leave him out but realistically he has a closet full of t-shirts and a stack of shorts as tall as he is, so any boy sewing is really gratuitous...doesn't mean it won't happen but for the moment I'll try to maintain my tenuous grasp on what is achievable in a week.

For all the patterns I'm choosing to sew my intent is to have the patterns traced & cut, have the fabric washed & cut and edge finished as required. I'm aiming this season to get that gratifying pile of finished clothes by the end of the week. The past few seasons I seem to end up with a pile of mostly finished pieces or worse one or 2 pieces done and pile of fabric waiting on me.

The other conflict I have is time of day. Because my business is sewing I tend to prioritize the paid work and try to get through it in the first part of the day. That leaves me evenings to do my own sewing....not my creative time of day! I love reading about people who sew late into the night and have a pile of goodies for their littles in the morning, it makes me laugh because I literally become unable to sew at 9pm...there is a 90% chance that any seams sewn at that time of day will be ripped. Don't get me wrong, there is no one who would accuse me of being a morning person. You are just as unlikely to find me at the machine at 6am as at 9pm....I need a good couple of hours and a cup of coffee before I'm ready to sew anything. My sweet spot is 9am, that's when my studio is bright with morning sunshine and I find all my creativity.

Now for what I'm planning to sew, this season is all about the dress starting with an online tutorial & pattern: Striped Relay Dress. My daughter is a small size 5 so the size 5 pattern should be ok, but I'm thinking of adding an inch or so to the length just to keep it as a dress through the summer and not turn into a tunic. I have some fun knit fabrics from Girl Charlee that I'm excited to use, still need to narrow down which one will be used for this dress.

My next project is intended for this spring, the Piped Peplum Top. I'm thinking of a solid cotton with simple contrast piping. Something simple to "fancy-up" a pair of pants, who knows maybe she'll be more willing to wear them?!

My next 2 planned patterns are old school fabric store patterns. I learned to sew with these and when I saw my local shop clearing out their stock for $1.50-$2.00 ea I stocked up. So I'm planning on New Look 6202 and Simplicity 1670. I have a couple of modifications planned but my daughter has picked the view she likes best for each and I've agreed to let her come and pick out the fabrics so we're both looking forward to having a couple of dresses added into the mix for Spring.

So that is my list and I'm excited to get started, maybe a little fabric shopping this weekend, probably trying to talk myself out of the coat that I also have a pattern for and I'm dying to make....but mostly I'm trying to clear some space on my cutting table by getting all those other projects out of here so I can sew for myself while the sun is shining.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Springtime babies

Another friend called the other week looking for a shower gift and I was so happy to finally get to use this fresh and spring-like fabric from Michael Miller. Paired with a little Chartreuse Kona Cotton I think this set is so sweet and fresh for a little boy while still feeling completely modern.

I loved it so much I had to go ahead and reorder the fabric...I'm thinking of a baby blanket for the shop maybe, or who knows, it could be another baby set, we'll have to wait and see!


My stand by gift was always the eclectic mix of "must haves" for mommy-hood - the cup holder for the stroller, hooks to hold your purse, the bags to hold a dirty diaper (because we've all been in that washroom with no garbage before, how does that even happen!?) - and typically I'd also include an outfit or pajama's for around 9mths+ because that's where most of my shower gifts seemed to taper off. What is your favorite thing to give as a baby gift? Do you resist the teeny tiny clothes or jump in with both feet and buy the whole collection for the new baby?

Linking up at:

Elizabeth and Co.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Valentine's Day Round Up

As a kid I was so excited about Valentine's Day each year. Putting all the little cards in the tiny envelopes and writing all my school friends' names on them...then waiting all day to see who gave you a card. It was right up there with Birthday's and Christmas as far as I was concerned. Now that my own children are off to school it's weeks of planning and choosing what little gift & card we want to hand out. This year I started my search on Pinterest, DANGEROUS! I kept having to remind myself that I only have one class full of gifts/cards to give this year, plus a couple for some friends.

So as a way of celebrating the many, many fabulous ideas I found I thought I would share them with you here:

4. Bubbles Valentine's 5. thread lightly Valentine - see below 6. Candy Free
If you are still scrambling for a last minute Valentine's Card idea most of the links will take you to a free printable. Unfortunately that is still a little beyond my capabilities, however I was able to turn some limited desk topping skills and some supplies from around the house into a fun gift & card.
To make these "Having a Ball" Valentine's I used some left over business cards as bag toppers and because they are a standard template in MS Word all I had to do was layout a single card and print on my color printer. I deliberately kept the text simple since I wanted to leave room for my daughter to personalize the Valentine's somewhat. In the finished batch, she's applied stamps and stickers to the white space around the card.
Next I out a bouncy ball from the local party supply store and put it in a treat bag, then stapled the treat bags to the cards. All that's left is some decorative stamps and stickers for my daughter to apply, along with her name and they are ready to go. Fast, economical and best of all using up supplies I already had!
Happy Valentine's Day!
 Linking up at:

Monday, 10 February 2014

Sunny Yellow Chevrons

I love some of the current trends in fabric patterns. In particular, who doesn't love a chevron in sunny yellow?

Spun off from this bear/doll carrier in my shop I created this adorable baby gift set for the soon to arrive nephew of a friend.

An adorable baby bathrobe for 6-9 months.

The always necessary bib and burp cloths.
And a sleep sack to keep the little guy warm all night. I love these, especially in winter because your little one never wiggles out of the blanket. This one is a navy jersey lined with snuggly flannel, nice and cozy for spring. It's been such fun making baby gear again!
Linking up at: read moreMy Uncommon Slice of Suburbia

The Dedicated HouseElizabeth and Co.

One Project at a Time Link party - ABFOL

Friday, 7 February 2014

KCW - Snap! pajamas

So I'm finding the process of blogging as I go, instead of just writing about the finished pieces to be disconcerting. It's made me recognize that a lot of the projects we sew for our families take time that is so easily dismissed because at the end it was only a pair of pajama's or a dress. Now, because I really am only doing the hour per day, and a broken hour at that. I found myself on day 3 with just one pair of pj's ready. In my plan at the start of the week, I had assumed that I would have both pairs done and probably a good start on the nightgown. Ah, reality! Such a cruel mistress!

For this pair of pj's I started with a pair of pajama pants that were a little long and traced them, adding seam allowance, hem and room for the elastic waist. (In this photo I have drawn it too narrow at the waist, if you use this method remember to add more width than I am showing - I had to redraw it and forgot to retake the photo.)

For the shirt I used the MADE Basic tee tutorial. This is the first time I've used the pattern pieces from the tutorial since they are offered in a 4T-5T but it made it even faster to be able to simple print and cut the pattern. I did extend the sleeve length since it's winter here and if anyone else is reading this from the NE you know it's been a REAL winter this year!

Of course it wouldn't be KCW if I didn't decide to do something I've never done. So I decided to cut some of the shapes out of the pattern and applique them on the shirt. I will admit to having no idea how to do this but vaguely remember reading something last year on how to applique so working from that foggy memory I used a heat n'bond product to put the appliques on the t-shirt, then I put some interfacing on the back of the shirt fabric since it's a thin jersey. Finally I finished the appliques with a satin stitch around the whole thing. I just hope they stay on through the wash!

From there I cheated, or at least it feels like cheating, and used my serger to sew everything possible. All the pant seams, all the top seams except the cuffs which I used my sewing machine for.

And here is my smiling guy hamming it up with what he's calling the Snap! Pajama's.

And if anyone has any tips for how to applique properly I would love to hear them! They made these pajama's so much more fun.

Monday, 3 February 2014

KCW - Day 1 - Pattern printing and Fabric Choices

I am filled with admiration for all those women who manage to sew for KCW, do their photography and have amazing blog posts all at the same time. My previous seasons of sewing I have tried to accomplish all of this, I've done the prep work in advance, cutting fabric and patterns ahead of time. What I've found is that between my 2 active children, my etsy shops which inevitably get busy and life in general something always goes wrong and it stresses me out. So this season I decided to participate on my own schedule. I'm still sewing my hour/day, sometimes more, but I'm blogging this all a week late so I can still manage my life.

I also thought I would go through this season from the very beginning. Other than a little advance thought about which patterns and items I wanted to complete as listed here I even shopped my stash as part of Day 1. I love that I finally have enough fabric collected that I can dream up projects and start work on them right away. Given that many of my project ideas strike at nap time or late at night when the fabric stores have closed this is a real win.

So here is what I managed to accomplish in my first hour of sewing for my kids (please forgive the lackluster photographs, they get better as the week goes on, I promise):

These are all the fabrics I'm expecting to sew with this week, less the fabric for a dress. I just couldn't decide where I wanted to go with that yet. Practicality suggests a play fabric but who said it ALL had to be practical?

Destined to be 2 pairs of pajama's for the little guy, I have a fun, snuggly flannel print and 2 knits to make a wintery pair for immediate wear and a t-shirt I started last year (kind of cheating, I know) to hem and pair with a lightweight Spider-Man print fabric. This is the first time my little guy has really weighted in on the fabric choice so I'm excited to finish these and get them into circulation for him. Well, that and the fact that many of him pajama's only reach mid-calf of late.

For my daughter it is always about the nightgown. I'm torn on the pattern, usually I just do a long-sleeved peasant-style dress but maybe this time I'll adapt one of the other dress patterns and mix-it up a little....juries still out on this one.

Another project for the boy, I want to do a vest to layer him up this season and next as it hopefully starts to warm up. I've pulled out 2 fleece fabrics but I may swap out the blue for some blue knit accents. He's been dying to wear his "puffy" vest lately so this will be an excellent surprise.

Continuing with the vest theme, the little guy got a lot of Jake and the Neverland Pirates toys over the holidays and he has been asking for a Jake vest, so here is the start. I've even printed off the Frontier Vest Pattern by Dana of Made you can get a copy here, complete with a tutorial on making a quick western-style vest.
I'm a bit of a fanatic when bringing new fabric home and it tends to hit the washing machine before it makes it into the drawers so I am literally ready to do some cutting. I know it's a matter of some debate as to whether fabric should be pre-washed and pre-shrunk but I love having the head start. Where do you weigh in on the pre-wash debate?