Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A Backpack For Boo

My little guy is turning three in just a few days. In addition to planning his birthday party - A Tiny Foods themed party - I'm getting ready for him to start preschool. What does every little boy need for the first day of school? A new backpack!

I decided to make the Toddler Backpack from Made By Rae. This is my first time using one of her patterns but I read all of the positive reviews on them and I'm excited to give it a try. It's all techniques that I'm comfortable with - piping, zippers, linings, straps - so I know I can muck my way through any unclear instructions. Besides, the pattern is SO CUTE. And I have the CUTEST fabric.

Since my fabric is heavy in weight (a non-woven medium weight utility fabric) but sheer, I decided to flatline everything with a white cotton. I'm so glad I did. The extra heft is pretty nice:

So far I've got the pieces cut:

The zipper inserted:

And the front piece piped:

Doesn't it look great?!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A Baby Present

I whipped up this baby present for a family friend's new little boy, and I'd love to share it. It's all my favorite essentials for a new baby, done up elephant style. I just think the fabric is adorable!!!

There is a changing pad:

A baby cocoon/swaddle:

A diaper pouch:



Wash Cloths:

There's also a binky strap, but I didn't get a good close up of it. I tossed in some diapers, binkies, wipes, and onesies to finish it off and I wrapped this all up in a re-usable box from Ikea. I hope she enjoys the gift as much as I enjoyed making it! I need more babies to sew for.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Project Quandries

Which came first, the project or the fabric? For me, it's usually the project that inspires the fabric choice. Hence, a major question this week.

I found two great fabrics at the thrift store. (Fabric Grab Bags for the win! More on that in another post...) What do I make with them?

The first is a great heavyweight upholstery fabric covered in really pretty fuchsia flowers and I have about 2/3 or a yard of it. I got the piece for $.99! I'm thinking a bag perhaps, but even so, what style? Hobo? Messenger? Clutch? Lunch tote? No idea...

The other great fabric find is a cotton print of knights, elves, wizards, and dwarves. It's a great bit of fantasy and perfect for a little boy. I've got close to a yard of it in three smaller cuts. Pajamas? The lining of a jacket? A bookbag?

I need ideas! Where do y'all go for inspiration when it comes to finding the perfect project for a great fabric find?

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Fabric Store Happiness

I finally had a chance to visit SewFisticated Fabrics, a fabric store in Somerville, MA. I haven't been to that fabric store since I lived in Somerville so it was at least 6 years. It kind of slipped my mind that it existed since I do most of my fabric shopping either at Joann's or from online fabric stores. SewFisticated shouldn't be forgotten though! It's amazing in there!

Firstly, they are inexpensive. I don't know how they do it, but you can find designer fabrics at incredible prices. Knits are $3.99 - $5.99 a yard and knit remnants are $1.99 a yard with a 2 yard minimum. I found Heaven and Helsinki there! I got a great cut of giant red flowers on a black jersey knit.

Quilting fabrics are $2.99 - $3.99 a yard and quilting cotton remnants are $2.49 a yard with a 2 yard minimum. I saw everything from basic batiks to Michael Miller designer prints. I got Boo a few cuts for back to school shirts.

I found denims for $1.99 a yard - I got two cuts for pants for Boo. I found wools for $5.99 a yard. Flannel are $3.99, home dec fabrics are $5.99, sweatshirt knits are $2.49, and shirtings are $3.99. It was just awesome!

They also have a giant array of dressier fashion fabrics the range from $3.99 - $8.99 a yard. They hav silks, rayon prints, satins, sequins, bridal fabrics, lace, dancewear...everything you could think of! I even snagged a few zippers which are sold there by the inch! Only $.05 per inch!

Clearly, I had a blast. I can't wait to go back. I focused on fabrics for Boo clothes this time but I have a sew-for-me project brewing for October and I KNOW I'll be heading back to SewFisticated to get some of my fabrics.

Oh, and I'd originally gone into SewFisticated as part of my quest to find some nice cotton twill without having to order it online. Sadly, cotton twill was the only thing I couldn't find there. I guess I'll be placing an order at Fabric.com after all!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Complete! Coastal Cargo Sew-Along Was A Success!

The Coastal Cargo Sew-Along hosted by Melissa of Melly Sews was a complete success! I LOVE my finished pants.

  1. The pattern had clear directions and was easy to follow.
  2. The garment came together quickly.
  3. The garment has amazing details that add so much interest to both the sewing process and the finished product.
  4. My color combination and contrast fabric choice work together to make me so happy.

Things I'd Change Next Time? (And yes, there will be a next time and soonly!)

  1. I'd make the zipper fly differently, the way I was taught in college. The pattern pieces would be the same, just the order of construction would be different.
  2. I'd skip the contrast front pockets and only use the contrast for the front pocket lining. Design fail on my part, but I love the pants anway.
  3. I'd use a fabric with a tighter weave. The loose weave of the cotton I chose made the pants a little more fiddly to sew than a nice twill would have, so I'm planning twill for the next pair.

Ideas For My Next Pair?
  1. I'm jonesing for this elephant patterned twill that I saw online at Fabric.com. I think it would make fantastic pants, especially with a contrast bias in a crazy color like lime green or day-glo orange.
  2. A cranberry colored twill with a rusty orange colored contrast bias.
  3. A navy blue twill with a fishy patterned contrast fabric for the cargo pockets and no bias seams. 

This pattern can be used so many ways - I'm really pleased!

Now for my next project, another pair of Burda pants, with a false fly and elastic waist. My little guy is potty training so easy-on pants are a must these days! They aren't as cute as the Coastal Cargos though, so I'll be making another pair of those next week!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Coastal Cargos Update

Well, I've spent the past few sewing sessions working on my Coastal Cargos and so far, so good.

First, I put in welt pockets and it was love at first sight. Then I attached the side pockets and those were super cute too.

Second, I put in the fly. That was one snafu after another, but the end result wasn't bad. I know what to do next time.

Third, I prepped my bias tape.

Fourth, I put in adorable side seams bound with my homemade bias tape. They came out fantastic and I love the way they encase the seams.

Lastly, I put on the cargo pockets. I lined them with the contrast cotton print. I'll get a picture of the insides soon but trust me - it was a good choice.

I'm really happy with these pants so far. I definitely want to make them again, soonly. I'd like a second crack at the fly to prove to myself that I can do it right on the first try. I'd also like to shuffle around where I put the contrast print for added pop to the pants. Either that, or I'm going to cave and buy the elephant print twill I'm craving and use that as the main fabric and a nice solid color contrast bias...so many ideas!

Monday, August 12, 2013

My First Sew Along

How super is this?! While I'm no stranger to Knit-Alongs, this is my very first time participating in a Sew-Along and I'm really, really, excited.

The stash raid and some notions from the store.

When Melissa of Melly Sews and Blank Slate Patterns announced her Coastal Cargos Sew-Along last week, I decided to take the plunge and join in. I've been eying the pattern for those adorable cargo pants for a while and it seemed the perfect reason to bump them to the top of my queue. I downloaded the pattern, joined the Blank Slate Patterns Facebook Group, and raided my stash.

The pattern calls for a bottomweight type fabric so I chose a springy green cotton woven with a small amount of heft out of my stash. I also grabbed the zipper and the thread from stash.

Isn't it a cute print?!

I wanted a fun contrast print for pockets, linings, and homemade bias tape, so I went to the fabric store and found a great cotton print in the children's section. It's got all of Boo's favorite colors! I also think it will make great bias tape because the print is small, but large enough that it will look color blocked. We'll see if I'm right, but I have high hopes.

Cutting out pattern pieces...

So far I've printed the pattern, pieced it together, and cut out all of the pieces. I'm about to start making bias tape in preparation for the Sew-Along to start today.


Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Cutest Boy Pants Ever

I tried to get a good picture of Boo modeling his new pants, but just like a good two year old, he wasn't having it. This is the best I've got!

I am on a quest to make my son Boo's preschool wardrobe. I want him to have cute clothes, interesting clothes, comfortable clothes, well made clothes, clothes that allow him to run and play. I don't want him to have cheap clothes that will fall apart, clothes with logos on them, clothes that say "Daddy's Lil' Sport" or other goofy sayings. I want clothes in colors other than blue, green, brown, and black. Unfortunately, that sort of children's clothing is only available at posh boutiques that our current budget will not allow. Even if it did, I couldn't grasp spending that sort of money on clothes that would be outgrown so quickly at his age. 

I plan to do some shopping for him at Target for the basics like undies and socks and some shopping at our local Saver's (I LOVE THRIFT SHOPS!) for jeans and and a jacket but I have a list of about a dozen items that I want to sew myself to add some pop into his wardrobe and express his already vibrant almost-3-year-old style. He will be starting his very first day of school in just over a month so I'm sewing up a storm.

Front View

Rear View

My latest project is a pair of adorable little capri pants. I used a Burda Kids pattern from my stash, number 9793, view B. I had a remnant of grey cotton twill that I purchased at Joann's a long, long time ago that I wanted to use, but it was a tad too small to lay out the entire pattern on to. Never fear! I pulled out a fun two-tone grey cotton remnant from my stash and used that to make the rear patch pockets and to line the front pockets. Perfect!

The pants were quite easy to make. It was my first time using this Burda pattern, and like usual, those Germans can really write a pattern. It was simple and clear to follow with the exception of the fiddly bits at the fly. Luckily I have made a lot of pants in the past (Back in the day, I made 19 pairs of overalls in one week for Disney!) so it wasn't a problem to figure it out on my own. I still think these were quite easy.

Such Cute Contrast!

I really like the details on these. They are elastic waist pants but they have a fake fly so they look a little more polished. The elastic drawstrings at the bottom hems look sporty and fun on a little boy. My favorite it my my contrast pockets though. They take the pants from standard boy pants to stylish and different.

Drawstring Cuff Detail

Rear Pocket Detail

And what shall he wear with them? A stack of multi-colored tees! I made three tees and embellished them with fun appliques. I think they look great and will be fun to wear with his new grey capri pants.

Super Fun Tees!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Castles and Dragons Tee Shirt

Well, the third time WAS the charm!

The body of the tee shirt is a jersey knit printed with adorable castles and dragons that was reclaimed from a thrifted baby blanket I purchased at Savers for $2.00. The back of the blanket is a solid white jersey knit with a cool embroidered castle on it. I think it will be used as a pocket patch on a later tee shirt.

The sleeves were cut from an old navy blue polo shirt of mine that I only wore a few times. The shirt fit me all funny after I accidentally threw it in the dryer one day so I'm glad I was able to finally find a good use for it. I also used the navy blue fabric to bind the collar.

I think this time it all worked! I used Burda 9614 again, only this time with long sleeves. I thought the shirt would have greater visual appeal if the sleeves provided a greater contrast to the large expanse of white.

Boo loves his new shirt and I do too. It's been added to his back-to-school clothes pile (is it back-to school if it's the first day of preschool?) and he can't wait to wear it.

I can't wait to get back to Savers and hunt for more baby blankets. The prints are great, the price is right, and there is a LOT of fabric in each. I still have the whole back of the first blanket PLUS a very long piece of light blue knit binding that I saved when I took the blanket apart. I'm sure that will come in handy one day too.

My next project is up in the air. It's either a pair of  The Madeleine Mini Bloomers from Colette in a pink and brown stripe cotton for me or it's a pair of Number 9 Trousers from Shwin Designs in a grey twill from Boo's back-to-school pile. I've also got a baby shower to attend this weekend and I've got to whip something up as present...so many ideas, so little time!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Tee Shirt Failure...And A Second Try

Well, I attempted my first tee shirt for Boo. It went together quick and easy and looked great...until I got to the neckline. Somehow I botched it BIG TIME.

See the wonky neckline?

I serged the binding before I sewed it on...and then I serged it after I stitched it to the neckline. I thought I was being smart and securing it well. What I really did was turn it into a stiff, wonky mess. I put the shirt on Boo and the collar was practically 3-D, standing up off of his chest. It was bad. Luckily my little boy is the sweetest toddler ever. He told me it was beautiful and he insisted on wearing it to bed.


After seeing my epic failure and doing a few hours of internet research while eating a comforting bowl of chocolate ice cream, I came up with a new plan to tackle necklines on tee shirts. I tried again. This time I took a bright blue tee shirt from the thrifted pile to use as the fabric.

The tee shirt came along nicely. I'm still not thrilled with the neckline but it's 100 times better. I followed a great online tutorial and it came out neat, smooth, stretchy, and attractive. Then I made the mistake of "stitching in the ditch" rather than just plain top-stitching. It looks fine but the perfectionist in me thinks it's too messy looking. I know that no one else but me will ever notice the difference but I still plan to change it for all future shirts.

Since the end result of tee shirt attempt #2 was a plain, boring, but well crafted blue shirt, I decided it needed some embellishment. I stenciled a dark green alligator near the hem in the front and embroidered the outline and some details in a brighter shade of green.


I'm about to tackle my third tee shirt attempt. Look at this fabric!!! I can't wait to show off my plan for this. Third time is the charm, right?

Dragons and castles!!!

How many tries did it take you to master sewing knit shirts?