Wednesday, October 26, 2011

LTTSA: Bias Tape decisions and a swap idea

Last night I finally got around to making my bias tape. A LOT of bias tape. There are about nine yards of the stripes and 10-11 of the green. And that's all from half-ish yards of fabric to start off. Yowzers.

So now I can't decide which to use on the yellow striped apron. The obvious answer would be the green because it's more contrasty. But I kind of like the subtle stripe-on-stripe action too. I really just like striped bindings. But do you think it's too light? Too babyish? Too many stripes? Maybe I just think baby because H's crib skirt was made from this fabric. Anyway, I like them both. You decide for me.

Now let's talk a little more about bias tape. Most of you will probably go pre-made for the apron, which you should not feel ashamed of at all. Making your own really does make the project take about twice as long and it can be tedious. But there is something about those tedious tasks that I really like taking the time for sometimes.

So if you decide to make it for this or any other project, you could do it this way (great post about bias tape in general) which is pretty much how the back of our book explains it.

But I do it this way, which was taught to me by my friend Julie. The difference is that you cut it in a way that it's one long continuous strip, instead of cutting the strips first and then having to sew each one together. It's pretty brilliant once you get the hang of it.

You don't need a fancy bias tape machine (though that would be nice), you just need one of those doo-hickies pictured in my first photo here. Just be sure you buy the size that is twice what you want your finished double-fold bias tape to be. For example, I mostly just want 1/2 inch tape, so I bought a 1 inch bias tape maker. They run about $6-$7. Tip: Some instructions will say to cut your strips to 2" for 1/2" tape. But I've found it runs through the maker much easier if I cut the strips to 1 7/8"

If you are unsure about actually applying the bias tape, I'm going to send you to another great Prudent Baby tutorial. (Geez Jessica, this would have been helpful last week when I was actually making my apron. I know, lame of me.)

So here's an idea I had when I was making a bazillion yards of this stuff:

Since just a half yard of fabric makes 9-10 yards of 1/2" tape, you will usually be left with a good amount after whatever project you are working on is done. And then you will get sick of that particular print of bias tape before you use it all up.

So what if we did some kind of homemade bias tape swap??

I'd have to work out the details, but it would probably look something like everyone buying a 1/2 yard of a cute print, making it into tape, then dividing it into 3 three-yard portions. Then you'd send two of those to me, I'd mix them all up and you'd get two different prints back. Does that make sense? If you wanted to get more, you could make as many half-yard's worths as you wanted.

There is no way I picture being able to organize this before the holidays, but is this something anyone would be interested in for sometime in the new year? Can you just imagine all the cute varieties of print bias tape wrapped on cards and lined up on your sewing table? I can. And I love it. Let me know if there's any interest, because I think it's a pretty fun idea!

The apron link party will start Monday. I know that's Halloween (woohoo!) but as always, you'll have a week to join in before I pick a winner for the Mama Stellato giveaway.

I'll leave you with this. But be careful, you might just want to watch it over and over for the rest of the day. (found here.)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Dragon Costume!

Hendrix, who is two and a half, has been talking about having a "bwack fwagon" costume for at least 2 weeks straight now. I thought this would be the last year that I got to choose what he would be, but no. His mind was made up.

At first, I was trying to talk him out of the black, because I was thinking it would end up a little too evil looking for a 2 year old. But black has always been his favorite color, and I guess he was thinking of the main dragon in "How to Train Your Dragon."

But now I'm really glad he wanted black because it was easy to find cheap black sweats at Target, and it just looks super cute with the blue and green accents. He absolutely loves it, and I think it's my favorite costume yet as well. It really is more fun to make what they want. (Last year he was a fox, and he spent his first Halloween as a garden gnome.)

The tail is sagging here, but usually it's very um, erect. I used this tutorial, which is awesome. For the rest of the spikes up his back, I just cut the hoodie completely in half, attached a row of spikes and sewed it back together.

For the wings, I just drew the shape I wanted on to the felt and cut, added a little black trim and the decorative black stitching, and hand stitched them on the jacket. 

Before I sewed the two halves of the hoodie back together, I also cut into them from the top to halfway down each side of the hood, about an inch back from the edge. Then I attached the ears and horns and sewed that back together. This of course took the hood in a little, which is why it doesn't quite cover his huge noggin. But it still stays on fine. I stuck pipe cleaners inside the ears to keep their shape. I think it's definitely the ears that keep the whole costume cute and not too black demon-ish. Nick says they are dopey ears. 

I also added the blue felt on the front for a belly, first stitching decorative scales onto it. I love the way that detail looks. 

The feet just tie around his ankles with black straps. Let me know if anyone would like more details about those or the ears and horns. Those things could be adopted to lots of easy hoodie-and-pants costumes. 

I really love Halloween. Like a lot. It's probably taken the lead over Christmas as my favorite holiday since becoming an adult. I grew up in Florida and I just don't remember it being as much fun there as it is up here. Probably because fall is kind of non-existent there. Here in Ohio, there are so many Halloween and Harvest events going on in October you couldn't possibly do them all. I love it and I'll be sad when this month is over and the holiday blur begins. I mean, I love Christmas too, but Halloween is still about fun and not stress. Anyhow, that's my unsolicited opinion on holidays, so stick that in your back pocket. 

When Hendrix first put this on, he immediately said he had to go fight in the sky. Love this kid.

Friday, October 21, 2011

PR Finale Part 1

I almost entitled this post "PR finale- WTF??" But I can't say I'm surprised in any way. If there was ever any doubt that the producers are pulling the strings on everything and the judges' critiques are basically meaningless, well, that doubt is gone.

I know Anya became a bit of a fan favorite and it's inspiring how fast she learned and blah blah, but she definitely should have gone home. Despite his ass-iness issues, everything Joshua said at the end of the episode was completely justified and I would have felt the same way. Someone should have gone home today. How are the other three supposed to feel that they've accomplished anything?

And the fact that they showed that whole scripted part at the end with the judges saying anybody could win? Please. They might as well have said, "Well, we can't send Anya home because we have already picked her as the winner."

Let's have a look-see at the fashion in this completely pointless episode.

I thought Viktor's showing was far and away the best. Each piece was striking, different, well-made and very him. The only thing he really got critiqued for was putting pieces together that were each too strong. But to be fair, Tim told him that the leather zipper skirt made that dress and Tim also advised him to put a "wow" gown under that jacket. It must be frustrating to the designers when they listen to Tim and are then criticized over it. I just love what he does with those large prints and how everything looks completely professional. I wish that gown was long all the way around instead of a mullet, but that's probably all I would change. I want that black tuxedo jacket. 

(Sorry about these bad screen-grabs. I got lazy.)
So this is Anya's.... Completely agreed with everything the judges said. That bathing suit outfit looked silly and unflattering and the gown is AWFUL. She really did everything wrong with the satin. Even if she had chose a better fabric, it would still just be a basic one-shoulder goddess gown. The first dress on the left was cute. But it was helped greatly by the fact that her other two looks were so disappointing. On it's own, it's nothing that special. She was easily the worst today. I honestly don't know how she made it past last week without the judges noticing that everything looked like her assistant Bert and not her. Anyway, we really don't even have to watch next week because at this point it's clear they will do anything to make her the winner. Don't get me wrong, I think she's a lovely person and not a terrible designer, but it really hasn't been a fair game.

I really don't get him. All season they have been calling him a good designer but at the same time saying he has terrible taste. I would guess that a person would have to have some pretty good taste to design clothing, but what do I know. I have no idea what kind of woman would wear his clothes. Who would buy a neoprene LBD? And for the love, stop putting pieces of plastic on everything! I just feel like he should find his niche in designing for men like himself. (Or Stefon.) I mean, the guy wore a half-vest with leather bound books printed all over it in this episode. To me, that automatically disqualifies you from winning Project Runway. But they love him. Or more likely, they love his TV personality. Whatever.

They were right that Kimberley had some styling issues. But I'm really glad she's going to fashion week and I think she deserves it. Her clothes are not my style at all, but I think they are great for her audience and it really is a voice that is missing in high fashion. I could easily see stylish urban girls working these looks in downtown Cincinnati. You can't really tell here, but the backs of each of these were interesting and pretty. I don't think her collection will be win-worthy, but her point of view is unique enough that making it to the top three will at least jumpstart her career. 

Well, at least we got lots of Tim time this week...

You guys, I don't want to be one of those people who complains about the quality of PR going to the dogs and threatening to never watch again.... but I'm so disappointed with this season I might never watch again. I don't even care who wins next week. That's not true, I really hope it's Viktor. But it will be Anya. That other thing I said isn't true either, I will watch next season. I'm mostly just full of it  :) 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

KCWC Day 6

Yikes, I'm a little late wrapping last week up. I don't know where this week has gone. Mostly into pots of chili, pumpkin farms, hanging out with good friends, enjoying the Walking Dead premiere, keeping up with a scooting babe and delving once again into sewing hell. (I know, I said never again. They pay pretty well, what are you gonna do?)

I made this little Amelia top on Saturday, which ended up being my final KCWC garment. Sunday was just too perfect not to go to the farm... So I made something 5 out of the 7 days, which I'm really happy with. I usually sew at least a little every day, but trying to finish something every night really is a marathon. A fun one, nevertheless.

I really adore how this pattern turned out. I just need to find the right color onesie for Elsie to wear underneath. I added the piping detail around the neck and under the bodice, and used it instead of the fabric trim suggested around the bottom. I'm mostly just a huge fan of piping. It makes most everything better. But putting it one the corners of the neckline was pretty tricky. I'm pretty sure knowing how to bind a quilt helped me with that one.

The button is from my mom's vintage collection. I just love the pop of brick red, very fallish don't you think?

I'm entering into Celebrate Color this month. I hope to scrape together a couple more entries, but October is disappearing way too fast. How did that happen?? I still have to start Halloween costumes and make my LTTSA aprons- I still haven't got past the cutting!

Speaking of the sew-along, if you are waiting on your leader to get her crap together, just check out Jenny's post. She links to a great bias tape tutorial, and gives awesome tips for sewing with laminates. Love it. And don't forget, if you link up this month you might win a couple Mama Stellato patterns- including this Amelia top if you want. Yay for sew-along sponsors.

Celebrate Color

WARNING! Totally unnecessary and gratuitous kid/pumpkin pictures ahead...

Friday, October 14, 2011

KCWC Day 4

Last night I made pants. I realized I've made lots of pairs of shorts from Dana's pattern, but this is the first time I actually used it for pants. I made them from an old pair of cords I've been saving for this very purpose. The best part was that I managed to cut them so that I didn't have to hem, just used the original hem. It's a really wide hem, which I thought might look too girly, but I think it's super cute on him. 

I also added knee patches from this funky waffle knit. They turned out to be slightly too far to the inside, but they will do. I had meant to add pockets, but the pants were already put together before I remembered that. Whoops. Sometimes this KCWC can really rush you thru your vision for a garment. You know, it's probably exactly what it's like to be on Project Runway :)

I couldn't resist putting another Echino piece in for a tag. Now that I think about it, I probably should have used the rest of this particular square for those knee patches. See, late night sewing really lacks that kind of clarity. 

Speaking of Project Runway, I'm hoping to muster up a PR post tomorrow, since we are nearing the end of this very lackluster season. I just can't get too excited about any of the contestants, and a lot of the goings-ons this season have been slightly more ridiculous than usual. Plus if I wait a couple of days past watching an episode, I just don't have anything to say about it. Lately, I forget to even watch it right away, if that tells you anything. So sorry to that small percentage of you out there who look forward to those posts.... am I alone in my looking forward to this season being over already? Yeesh.

Nick got off very early from work tonight unexpectedly, so no Project KCWC here tonight. I'd like to get two more things done by Monday, but even if I don't, it's been very fun and I'm so happy with what I've done. Now, it's wine and movie time.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

KCWC Days 2 & 3

So remember how I said I was hoping to get both of these LBB hoodies done on Tuesday? Well that was dumb. Since I already had all the pieces cut out, I thought I might do each step to both at once. But then I realized I needed to use different color thread on each, so that was out. I also forgot about the extra time you need to spend spray starching the t shirt knit and doing extra careful pinning. But I was at least happy to get one done each night.

The Beatles are from his dad's old shirt that had a stain on the bottom. I really love the teal and gray with it. I made him the size 4, since that is what he has been wearing lately, and it fits well other than the sleeves being a little long and the hood being gimungous. Probably should have cut the size 3 hood. He was really excited to put it on when he saw it, which as you know, is the best thing ever when it happens.

This one also came out a little large in areas, but I still think it's super-cute with some pink leggings. It was an old Threadless shirt of mine. And yes, it had already been spit up on in that last picture.

I really love this pattern. I love that it is such a comfy wardrobe staple that I can make them year after year. (Last year's version here.)  I also love that it's made from old shirts and cut in a way that you don't have to hem it. It's an awesome one to try if you are nervous about sewing with knits. Check it out here, along with loads of other cute LBB patterns.

Tonight maybe a pair of pants, maybe a girly top, maybe a grandpa cardigan. Who knows, I'm leaving my plan and going rogue.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

KCWC Day One

So if you don't know what Kids Clothing Week Challenge is about, let me explain just a little. Meg of the blog Elsie Marley runs it in spring and fall and challenges everyone who would like to join in to spend one hour a day sewing for your kids, for a week straight. Then we all add our creations to the flickr pool and blog about them and tell each other how awesome we are. Well, that's what blogging is always like, but this week is intensive and all about kids clothes.

So yesterday was the beginning- I think. Lots of people already had stuff made and blogged yesterday, but I didn't do my 1-2 hours until late last night, as usual. It's the blogging about it every day that might get really tricky...

Anyway, I made a fall dress for Elsie, who is nearly 6 months(!):

The pattern is the Charlotte Dress from Mama Stellato. I love this pattern. It's super quick to go together, but the options for details and embellishments are endless. If you have a daughter to sew for, this basic peasant dress pattern is a must. I know I'll use it over and over. 

I used fine charcoal corduroy left over from the penguin backpack, some AMH Innocent Crush for the sleeves, and bright pink 1/2 ric rac. Loving ric rac lately. It's funny how important finishing details have become to me in my clothes sewing. When you first start sewing, you are happy just to get through a pattern without puncturing any fingers or throwing your machine out the window. It's nice to feel comfortable making a pattern your own.

I even added a cute little tag in the back. It's actually a scrap from one of my Echino squares I cut into. It was almost painful to cut that first square up, but I'm glad I did. Well, I was glad now I'm a little angry...

See, this is the little quilty project that I'm using it for. Looks nice so far right?

Well, it has this happening all around the edges thanks to a certain 2 year old who got a hold of my thread clippers while I was at work and his dad was feeding his sister. Of course it's probably my fault for leaving my stuff out, but... grrrrrrrrrrrrrr! This one might have to go away for a while before I have the motivation to repair it. At least none of the Echino pieces were clipped into. 

On deck tonight for KCWC is two LBB Hoodies. I love patterns that I can use for both of them, and hope I can zip thru them assembly line style. 

Finally, some good news for those planning to make the LTTSA apron this month- Rachel from Mama Stellato has agreed to giveaway one of her pick 2 pattern packs to one of our lucky entries! And there are going to be two winners this month, I'll tell you about the other prize later this week. Anyone can join in the sew-along and link up their project to enter, check out more info here. 

Celebrate Color

Friday, October 7, 2011

LTTSA: Apron part 1 (and Winner!)

Can I just say how inspired I am by you guys? I mean, the projects everyone linked up this month are kind of mind-blowing. And I'm so encouraged that we had nearly as many finishes as last month. That's saying something, since the backpack was really a lot more work than the hats. You guys are hardcore and I love it.

Now let's get to it- who wins the Oliver & S pattern of their choice?

It's #15, Meryl! I'll email you soon to discuss your choice of winnings, congrats!

So this month when cutting out my pieces for the bias-trimmed apron, I took Sarah's advice and used freezer paper. It was GLORIOUS. I've had some on hand forever because I love using it for stenciling on clothes, but I don't know why it never occurred to me to use it for patterns. I decided to cut fabric for 3 aprons, and it took no time with the freezer paper.

Just make sure you trace the pattern onto the freezer paper with the shiny, plastic-coated side down. Then iron your cut-out pieces right onto the fabric. Since it stuck so well, I felt like I was able to cut much more accurately than with pinning.

And the amazing part is that you can peel it up and iron it to another piece of fabric, and it sticks just as well! Have you guys tried this yet? I'm really excited about it, like to a degree of ridiculous sewing-geek proportions.

I found my roll of freezer paper at Target a while back. I'm not sure if all grocery stores carry it, but I'm telling you, it's worth hunting down! It was even easier to see thru than my blank newsprint I've been using.

So here are my pieces cut for all three aprons. All of this fabric is from Ikea, you may recognize that middle print from when I used it on a floor cushion

I'm really glad I planned this project for October because we always like to paint pumpkins. Well, always, as in starting last year. I want to try to do more indoor painting projects with the kids as the weather cools down too, so these will be perfect for that. I thought about using laminated cottons so they could just wipe down, but I decided it would be better to be able to throw them in the wash. These are all sturdy home-dec weight fabrics too.

... Speaking of, did you hear that Ikea is going to stop selling fabrics?!?! I'm a little sad about it, and I need to get to ours SOON to clear them out. 

Anyway, next week we'll talk about making bias tape, though using pre-made is ok for this too. After making that, this project will go together like cake, which will be nice after those backpacks with 57 pieces. 

Also, I'm working on getting another prize together for this month, so stay tuned for that! What are you guys using for the aprons?