Saturday, March 23, 2013

Pajama time

I've been wanting some official pajamas to make me feel like less of a slob. Normally I wear a tshirt and my man's basketball shorts. Paired with my short hair and short stature, I feel like a 12 year old boy. I've made two pairs so far.

 I was planning on taking photos of the first pair, but I can't seem to find them. *scratches head* They turned out alright, but pretty sloppy. I made them out of a certain lost and found skirt that had a huge rip in it. It hadn't been found in a while, so I swiped it. I did manage to get a photo of it before I cut into it.

You'll have to imagine this in a tank and shorts set.
 I managed to get a big swirl over each butt cheek, cinnamon bun style.

When I went to cut it up, I realized it was home sewn. It look like it was originally a home sewn dress, that had been chopped into the skirt. Whoever made it into a skirt was super lazy. They left the seam allowance raw and sticking out and it varied in allowance by 5/8" to 3". The elastic was tied instead of sewn, they didn't close the elastic casing all the way, and the top stitching was a pink metallic while the bobbin thread was white. It sounds like something I would have done in high school, but now that I'm grown up and all, I obviously have higher standards. *nods*  I made the top with Grainline's Tiny Pocket Tank and the bottoms were curved hem athletic shorts (is there an official name for this?) from an old McCall's pattern. The instructions missing for the shorts, which I needed for the curved and bound hem. I thought they were supposed to be piped, but half way realized they needed to be bound. I also wasn't sure how to attach the side seams and they came out pretty bad. They were also too big.

Second time around I used some poly blend? twill? from my mom's stash. It actually feels a little satin-y. This fabric has been in my mom's linen closet for a long time and I remember seeing it there all through my childhood and thinking how ugly it was. Now I'm wearing it! Yahoo!

The top is from McCall's 6519 in size 10. It ended up being too small, especially around the hip and stomach, so I slit and bound the sides. I cut a size 12 for the shorts in the first pair, but went down to a 10 this time around, and now they fit how I like them. At first I thought that maybe I should have curved them hem at the sides of the top to mimic the shorts, but I saw that with both of them together, the binding makes it look like an arrow. I love it! I hereby call this pajama set "my arrow pjs"

These photos are pretty much straight out of bed, sans make up, avec bedhead.

See the arrow? Awwww, yeeeeaaah!

Tucked in, romper style!

I love having something a little more put together to go to bed and wake up in.

I think next set I'll go for something a little more romantic. Just need to find the right pattern.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The tanks that started the obsession.

When I made these tank tops, a light turned on in my head and I knew I wanted to sew my own clothes. After months of wearing knit tees that clung to my muffin top and failed attempts at shopping for new clothes, these  felt amazing.  I love the way they fall away from the body, which is great for the heat and humidity of where I live. I also think they are pretty dang versatile. Tucked in. . . left out. . . belted . . . under a cardigan. . . there are a lot of options to play with. These tanks have seen a lot of use since I sewed them up in January. They are Tiny Pocket Tanks (sans pockets) from Grainline patterns.

This blue floral is from my mom's old fabric stash. She has a lot of fabric from the 70s and 80s. Most of it is in bad shape and a lot of it is gross polyester, but there are a few decent things in there. It's a little too tight in the upper bust area. At first I didn't care for the print, but it has grown on me. 

blue floral woven tank top

This next tank was re-purposed from a rayon maxi dress that was too small for me. I'm pretty sure it's rayon challis. I'm not very knowledgeable about different types of fabrics yet, so I'm guessing it's challis from what I've read about challis. It stretched a bit after cutting and I had to create an impromptu pleat in the front to keep it matching with the bias tape. A bit of the seam allowance frayed out of the neckline binding in the back. Grrr. Should I try to keep it in check with super glue? I'm not ready to give this tank up.

lilac rayon challis tank top

I've sewn up another tank to use in a pajama set, which I'll post soon. I underestimated the effort it would take to get photos of finished projects. Um, modeling is totally harder than I thought it would be. Mad respect for professional models, ya'll.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

So I entered a contest. . .

I couldn't help myself and entered a remix challenge over at Project Run and Play. I thought it would be fun! Turns out it wasn't. I don't think I should try to take on challenges a day before the deadline. I thought I had another day to complete it, but nope. There was a lot of seam ripping and cut corners. *Shrugs shoulders*

The challenge was to remix Me Sew Crazy's "Spring Fever Dress".

When I saw the bib detail I thought of a tulip, which is pretty much Spring's official flower, I think. Perfect!

I applied bleach to the top edges of the tulip to lighten it. I did some hand sewn top stitching around the edges of the bodice with embroidery floss.

The top tier of the bubble skirt is in a mock-wrap, with the stem of the tulip running along it's edge.

I used the same slit opening as the original Spring Fever Dress, put fastened it with a snap at the top, creating a peek-a-boo effect.

I'm pleased with the overall design, but I wish I would have had more time to make a really polished product. I think it would be cool to try out different flowers for the bib detail.

In any case, my girly has an Easter dress! I'm almost glad I didn't have more time to finish it, she will likely stain it in 5 seconds. White isn't a terribly practical fabric to put on a toddler.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Wardrobe Planning

December 2011

When I moved to a climate that had 4 seasons, including a long winter period, it took me a quite few years to figure out how to dress myself in a way that was practical and attractive. There were these things called coats, jackets, sweaters, scarves, gloves, hats, boots, and tights to consider. Why oh why did I not consult the internet for fashion advice back then? It would have saved me a lot of grief. Now that I'm back in a tropical climate, in a different phase in my life, with a fast weight gain thrown in, I face the same challenge with different considerations. 

As mentioned in my last post, I recently bought 15 patterns in an online pattern sale. I snatched them up in a hurry, as the sale was ending soon. In retrospect I wish I would have spent more time pondering what would make for a practical wardrobe. I bought too many dress patterns; ones that probably won't get much use for my lifestyle at the moment. It got me thinking that I need to come up with a practical wardrobe planning list, so I don't waste money and time. As much as I love meandering through pattern and fabric options online, I'd rather be focusing on the actual sewing.

Here's what is what is on my sewing wish list. I've included images of some patterns I already own to assess what I still need to buy.


3-4 Light weight, woven tanks
3-4 Light weight, woven, non-button up blouses
3-4 knit tops

Butterick 5610

Butterick 5495

Grainline's Tiny Pocket Tank

McCall's 6519

1 a line
1 fuller, gathered knee length 
1 maxi skirt

1-2 "Modest" church dresses
1 fancier day dress for casual weddings
1 date night dress

McCall's 5974

McCall's 6696

McCall's 5750

1 pair dark wash skinny jean
1 fun colored/patterned skinny jean
1 boot cut or flared jean
2-3 pairs of shorts
1-2 pair of leggings
1 pair linen pants/capris
Vogue 8774

McCall's 6404

1 One piece swimsuit
2-3 bikini/tankini
1-2 beach cover ups
1 pair slip on board shorts
McCall's 5400

McCall's 6552
2-3 light weight tank/shorts sets

1 hoodie
1 lightweight jacket
McCall's 6531

I will definitely need to find some patterns for shorts right away. I will also probably need a couple more pants patterns and a sleepwear pattern down the road. Other than that I realize that I'm better off, pattern wise than I realized. Whew! I'm glad I did this list. 

Friday, March 1, 2013

Diving In

Here I am, in fashion limbo.  It's been this way since the birth of my daughter 15 months ago. Nursing breasts to be accessed easily. 25 pound weight-gain. Moving to the hot, sticky tropics from a dry, wintry desert. These kind of things can mess with a person's wardrobe.

Searching through the clothing racks that are in my price range, I find a lot of polyester. I find a lot of shirts that are too short or slide off my shoulders funny, revealing my hefty nursing bra strap. I find bottoms that give me a serious case of muffin top. I used to love going to thrift shops and now I can't seem to focus and power through the racks. I can't find anything that seems to work for me.

Back in January I remembered Grainline's Tiny Pocket Tank. I had come a across it a year or so ago and knew it would  meet all the criteria I had been searching for in a top:

I could make it in a non clingy breathable fabric.
It could be in a print to hide the many stains my daughter likes to deposit on me.
It would fall away from my donut belly, instead of accentuating it.
It would be long enough.
It would be inexpensive.
It would allow me to nurse my daughter easily.

I sewed one up out fabric from my mom's old stash. The feeling I got was amazing. I quickly sewed up another one, recycling a rayon beach dress that was too small for me. I went on a sewing frenzy and I sewed some things for my daughter and my niece and a couple of dresses for myself. I found myself on a tour through various sewing blogs and was inspired by those who were building a great wardrobe through their sewing efforts.

 I love the nervousness and uncertainty going into a sewing project and the thrill that starts to creep in when things start taking shape. I love that I can feed my creative needs and have something practical to show for it.  It's a kind of high I don't get with many of my other creative endeavors.

A few days ago, I purchased 15 patterns at an online Butterick/ Mccall's/Vogue sale, determined to build a new wardrobe out of home sewn clothing and to expand my humble sewing skills. I'm excited to see what comes of it!