Monday, May 22, 2017

Mom Says Wear Your Sweater

In a major victory for parents, Taco suddenly decided that he wanted to wear his rainbow sweater.




As you will recall, the pattern is Atlantic Coast by Gabrielle Danskknit. The yarn is Mighty Stitch from KnitPicks. It came out super cute but Taco refused to even put it on. Toddlers




My strategy was to be patient. I hung the sweater where he could see it near the front door, occasionally offering it as an option as we would head outside to play.







Yesterday as we were heading out to play, he proactively pointed to it and insisted on wearing it.









Hurrah. Patience pays off.  And it looks like it will most likely still be big enough for a second go round come Autumn.








Happy Monday, Everyone!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Big Batch Cutting: A Method to the Madness or Just Plain Madness?

I could have just as easily called this post "what I'm working on" or "Spring/Summer sewing plans" or something like that.  But I thought it would be better to share what I'm turning over in my head as far as my sewing "method" goes.

Over the winter I tried prepping and cutting patterns and fabric in a big batch rather than one at a time. It happened organically: I had several days off, and once I started prepping and cutting, it seemed logical to just leave everything on the dining room table and cut for a few days. Despite being unplanned, this method of sewing led to a number of positive outcomes - from being less distracted with what to sew next to sewing from stash to having a variety of projects to work on according to my whim and more. My mini wardrobe, my birds skirt outfit and my gold trouser outfit all owe some credit to my having a big pile of garments ready to sew.

So you can see why I would want to repeat that winning situation. However, now that I am purposefully cutting in a big batch I'm pondering where do you stop the cutting and start the sewing? Here's what I have cut so far, with no signs of stopping.

Project pile 

I've begun work on a four piece mini-wardrobe project that is quite different from my last one. All of the pieces will be in the off-white with charcoal pin stripes linen blend fabric from Theory you see above. Queue the mystery music; it's a fun little project.

I also cut a pair of white trousers for summer from my TNT Burda trouser pattern and am figuring out if I have enough yardage left for a companion piece - a jacket or shrug

Hiding underneath the white and off white fabric pile are three knit shirts. All three are from OOP patterns and fabric remnants from other projects or stashed fabrics. I cut these thinking that it would be fun to have some easy projects cut for whenever I need a little pallet cleansing sewing or want a quick and easy project.

All OOP:  the top from Simplicity 4699, and McCalls M6797 and M6326


I also cut 2 more rompers for Taco. Since the romper I made him last summer (B5625) still fits this spring - arguably even better than last summer - I decided to use up some fabric remnants with a few new versions.  The only change I made was to add a little length and width so he has room to grow. Here he is last summer and then on Easter in the madras version of the romper.


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So, that is 10 garments cut and ready to sew.  But there's more in the wings!  I have fabric out and prepped for several more garments. And here is where the method begins to teeter on madness. How many cut and prepped garments are too many? I am desperate to sew some summer jumpsuits for myself and some casual pants in addition to a few more baby gifts and a few shirts for Phin. Plus, I am already lining up end of summer/early autumn projects in my head. I recently reorganized my fabric stash and it led to all kinds of inspiration and pulling out of fabrics.

Where does it end? When is it time to put away the cutting mat and get on with sewing?  Do you cut several projects at a time or not? What is your strategy for productive sewing? 

Monday, May 1, 2017

Baby Love: Unselfish Sewing for a Mom to Be!

When my dear friend, Dr K, had her first little guy, way back in 2012, I made her a diaper bag. But now there is a second baby on the way, and so a new project was in order.

Now that I have the benefit of having actually gone thru pregnancy and early parenthood myself, I knew immediately what to make. Of all my own maternity/baby projects, the ones that got the most use are the two cardi-wraps that I made from Simplicity 2603. One and two!


Oooh, here is the zero makeup and hair willy-nilly version of me.


Wow. Now that I am seeing this on me, I'm kicking myself just a tiny bit for giving it away. Ha ha, oh well. I found myself constantly reaching for one of my two cardi-wraps during my maternity leave. During those early months, putting one on over my yoga-pants-and-tank or jeans-and-tank uniform made me feel a bit more pulled together.  Add a necklace and cute flats and it was an outfit.  Also, before I felt comfortable nursing in public, I could drape the wrap like a nursing cover. At home I would snuggle Taco inside the wrap on my chest for some skin-to-skin care.




Anyway, I had some beautiful black tissue weight burnout jersey in my stash that had been waiting for just the right project, and this seemed like it. My thinking was that this would be a good fabric for a summer baby's mom - perfect for warding off air conditioning chilliness and then as a light layer for autumn. My gosh how I loved this fabric right up until the second I started trying to sew it. What a PITA! It had the worst properties of a slithery thin woven paired with the stretchy distortion-provoking qualities of a knit. I'm glad I have a serger; it would have been awful to sew this without one.

I like my pattern placement on the sleeves.

This isn't the last time I will sew this pattern.  And seeing how nice this looks, I can't even swear that this is the last time I will sew burnout, as terrible as it was. I still get a lot of use out of my two cardi-wraps and they are really starting to show it. Replacements will be in order before too long.

Anyway, I saw the mom-to-be on Friday and delivered this gift. I hope she enjoys it during these last weeks of pregnancy and beyond.  And that is that!



Monday, April 24, 2017

Totes for Sure!

One of the great things about sewing is that if you are exhausted from working on a bodice muslin, you can set it aside and sew some quick and easy tote bags. It's even more of a win if you use fabric remnants from stash.




These four tote bags were all sewn up from stash.






These two (above) were sewn from home dec fabric remnants that I bought the very first time I met Oonaballoona. We were both in LA for work and got drunk on fabric at Mood LA.  Because I couldn't decide which fabrics were my favorites, I made the totes reversible. The pocket can be on the inside or outside.


Flip side! Reversible tote bags!


These other two are made from remnants of past projects and are not reversible.

I made a blue wax cloth tote.



It's lined with quilting cotton and has an internal pocket.

Inside the blue wax cloth bag

And the orange cotton canvas one is from remnants from Phin's diaper bag.




It is lined in wax cloth and has fun rainbow straps.



This one might be my favorite.

The only part of these totes that wasn't from stash are the webbing straps. I could have sewn straps, but since I was going for quick and easy, purchased webbing seemed like the path of least resistance. The blue ones are from Botani and the rainbow strapping was a find at Vardhman, a trimming store that I should go into more often.

As you can see, each of these totes is a different size and dimension. That's entirely based on the size and shape of the remnants that I had.  But if you want a tutorial for reference, you can always look at Purl Soho's Easy, Easier and Easiest Totes. For the most part, I made these totes like the Easy Tote - lined, with a pocket and a boxed bottom.

How do you like to use up remnants from projects past? What are your favorite easy sewing projects for times when you feel like sewing but don't feel like a challenge with fitting or fussing? 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Rainbow Sweater for Taco: But Will He Ever Wear It?

Knitting baby sweaters is such a mixed affair. On the one hand, they are so much easier and quicker to knit than adult size sweaters. But babies grow fast and toddlers, well, they don't always appreciate their mama's efforts.





I knit this beautiful rainbow sweater for Taco over the winter, thinking it would be a great spring sweater. I intentionally knit it a bit large; I didn't want him to outgrow it as quickly as his Teddy Sweater, which I also adored on him. This was wise; toddlers are tyrants. Taco has so far refused to wear it. At all. Not once. Toddlers.  But I think it is large enough that it will likely fit in the fall. 

The pattern is Atlantic Coast by Gabrielle Danskknit. The yarn is Mighty Stitch from KnitPicks. It is a worsted weight 80/20 blend of acrylic and superwash wool, and is super soft. Truly.  I normally favor natural fibers, but this was just the thing for this little sweater that Taco may or may not wear. Even better, it came as a rainbow colored sampler set. So, I just had to buy a few balls of black, and my stripe pattern was set.




This was a really easy and satisfying knit. The sweater is knit top down, all in one piece with a simple ribbed neck, hem and button band. I could see this being my go-to sweater for baby gifts and such.  And if Taco ever wears it, I would be up for knitting it again in a larger size.





This is not the first garment Taco had rejected.  He also refused to wear these cute black corduroy overalls that I sewed him for the holidays, except for on Christmas. I never blogged about them because I have already written about the pattern - KS 3145 - twice.



But here is your slice of Taco cuteness in overalls since he refused to model his new sweater.  

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Mini Wardrobe Final Piece: A New Nettie Dress

Last post about my mini wardrobe! When I finished the first 4 pieces, I had a number of scraps of faux leather left over. It was the sort of annoying amount that almost isn't worth saving, but is too much to feel justified in tossing. So, I decided to use it to make one last coordinating piece of my Mini Work Wardrobe.





This is a Nettie Dress with faux leather insets.





I sewed the Nettie Dress by Closet Case Patterns twice last spring (here). One is perfect as a wearable muslin - but only in the deep winter on account of it being a snuggly sweater knit -  and the other, which fit better, turned out to be a fabric fail. So, I knew I would sew the dress again. I still don't feel like I have totally nailed this pattern (note to self: the bust dart height needs adjusting).

I decided to use a remnant of black ponte for this dress. I knew the ponte would be more stable than the fabrics I had previously used and figured that I would just s
ew the dress with a smaller seam allowance to give myself some extra wiggle room. But after cutting, I realized that the seam allowances for Nettie are only 3/8" to begin with. Oopsie! So, I've ended up with a rather close fitting dress, particularly thru the bust. C'est la vie!





The fun part of this dress is the faux leather accents which inspired it. I didn't stress too much about perfection. I just drew the insets onto the pattern - triangles that peak at the waist - traced off the pieces and added seam allowances. One of the great things about a pattern like Nettie is that a small simple embellishment can transform a simple dress into something more.


Insets
I've already had a few people ask about the neck binding. It's important to note that I used a stretch faux leather for this dress; it married well with the ponte.







I cut the neck band according to the Nettie Dress pattern's specifications. Since this is a stretch fabric which is not a knit and doesn't really have a grain line, I cut it with "the DOGS" (that's the Direction Of Greatest Stretch) which you find by grabbing hold of your fabric and stretching it in a few directions until you find the way it stretches most. In this case, that was perpendicular to the selvage.





I followed the basic method of inserting a neckline binding that Heather outlines in her sew along (prep the band here and insert it here).  I find that I get the best results on a neckline when I:
  • stretch the binding more around the curves and don't stretch at all or very little along the straighter parts of the neckline - this prevents any parts of the neckline from gaping. It hugs nicely; 
  • make sure NOT to stretch the neckline of the dress. ONLY stretch the binding. Otherwise, wonkiness ensues. 
To make sure that the faux leather stays neat and doesn't flip to the outside, I stitched in the ditch as best as I could - you can see the stitches peeking out in the photo below, but it really is not discernible when I wear the dress.





And that is all there is to tell for this dress, other than I really like it. And messy haired photos.


Bed head, in need of a haircut, and sun damaged. My hair. 

So, that's a wrap on my mini-wardrobe! I've been wearing it pretty nonstop for work to the point where I don't really remember what I wore before. Ha ha.





But I do have lots more going on, so check back soon. 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Mini Wardrobe Pieces 3 & 4: The Skirts!

This is my attempt at a proper post about drafting my pencil skirt using Kenneth King's The Skirts CD-book.





At some point last summer I decided to sew a pencil skirt and went on the hunt for my pre-baby self-drafted skirt pattern. I had spent a lot of time on it and really achieved a great fit.  But I couldn't find the pattern anywhere. During pregnancy a lot of moving and reorganizing happened as we made space for Taco. I spent a lot of time looking, but in the end concluded that I must have tossed the block and patterns, thinking that they would probably never fit again, even though the skirts I made from them still do. Sigh.

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So, I went through the process of carefully measuring and re-drafting, with Taco helping. Naturally, moments after cutting fabric for a wearable muslin I found the original pattern. Go figure. And the patterns are virtually identical, aside from Taco's creative scribbles on the new one.




Anyway, the wearable muslin - the turquoise skirt in the photo above - really has never been particularly wearable, and not for any fitting issues. It's a bit of a fabric fail.  The stretch cotton sateen I used is unbelievably clingy and afflicted with a terminal case of static cling.  Seriously, it sticks. I've tried a slip, tights, no tights... it's a clingy mess. But the actual fit was fine. So, when I was doing my mini-wardrobe, I sewed up two skirts - one in suiting and one with a faux leather front just for fun.

Faux leather skirt!

I honestly think that drafting your own basics is a great way to get a perfect fit.  And a skirt is a great place to start, since they are the easiest garment to draft - no worries about fitting your shoulders or crotch or other tricky areas. Kenneth King's method is solid and has good fitting tips sprinkled in for good measure (eg: for those with a 10" or more waist-hip difference, he recommends twin darts, which really improved the fit for me.)  I did more of a comprehensive review when I first used his method in 2013 - here.





I haven't 100% nailed the fit with these first two skirts. I was a little sloppy transferring changes back to my flat pattern, but I think I am almost there.  And now that I have a good working pencil skirt, I may actually go back and draft a straight skirt too, since the pencil skirt is supposed to be a bit more slinky and curvy.




One of my planned uses for this pattern is already in the works. If you saw my IG feed, you know I am working on a sheath dress. Rather than reinventing the wheel, I used this skirt pattern as the bottom, adjusting the dart placement to line up with the bodice darts.  Here is a sneak peek of the back waist area with invisible zipper, if you didn't see it on IG.





Oh! One last thing. So, the faux leather that I used for this project is what was left over after the peplum top I made a few years ago. Remember that project?  Well, you will be pleased to know that I still have that top and it goes great with the faux leather skirt. I haven't actually had an occasion to wear the two together, but the next time I have a reason to don as much faux leather as possible, I'm ready!