Posts Tagged ‘sewing’

Quick Sewing: Ruffle Raglan Floral Dress

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Sewing is perhaps one of my favorite Sunday activities. I try not to go all “Project Runway” by pinning, hemming and cussing as I’m walking out the door to church, I try to approach Sunday sewing from a more meditative perspective. Strange, I know.

Sewing can be so relaxing for me sometimes!

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A couple of weeks ago I was in one of those moods. I had the time and the energy and blue thread already in my serger. I picked up this leftover fabric from these leggings, the Recess raglan pattern and set to work. I literally squeaked out every square inch of the leftover floral fabric! I had under 10 square inches of fabric left when I was done sewing up this dress. Kind of a proud moment to use up every scrap. Usually what happens is I have an awkward amount of fabric left over and I don’t know what to do with it. Give it away? Throw it away? Try to recycle it to something else?

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I opted for simple finishings with this dress. The sleeves and hem are raw with a simple band for the neckline. The knit on the sleeves is curling up ever so slightly now so it looks like it was left that way on purpose. The un-hemmed ruffle seems to finish off the bottom without an actual hem.

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When I was sewing it up, I actually just eyeballed the length of the dress, assuming it would fit. And it did. But with Penelope growing so much, she’d be able to wear this as a dress for about 3 days before growing too tall for it. The ruffle adds the perfect amount of length to the bottom, letting it graze right at her knees so she’ll have the whole summer to wear it alone, and the fall and winter to wear it with leggings.

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The floral fabric is a 25% stretch cotton knit that I scored at the thrift store a couple years ago. I may have gotten the yardage for somewhere around $2 for 2 yards. $2 for leggings and a dress? Major win. :) I also love that this print has a lot of masculine colors incorporated with the feminine print. It just fits Penelope to a T. She’s a girly girl getting more obsessed each day over hair, makeup and clothes; but there are only boys her age on our street. And she not only keeps up with them, but she keeps them on their toes. It’s pretty cute.

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One of Penelope’s preschool teachers a few years ago told us, “She’s the girliest tomboy I know.” Which I think is the best of all worlds!

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When I surprised Penelope with her new dress, she gave me the world’s best reaction. Seriously, this girl knows how to make her mama feel loved and appreciated. Unfortunately I don’t think I’ll have time to sew her a fancypants Easter dress this year. I’m hoping to put something together after the holiday, though.

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I told Penelope to strike her most adorable pose. This girl is ridiculous.

Do you have an Easter dress tradition in your house?

Sewing: Maternity Raglan Circle Tee

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YUP! Another baby bump!

We’re so thrilled to announce that we will be welcoming Esplin #3 into the world the beginning of October. The news wasn’t completely real until I heard the heartbeat last week (at 14 weeks!). That first listen to the heartbeat gets me so choked up every time.

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All the discomfort and nausea is for something. Although, I must confess this time around has been much easier than with Felix or Penelope. As long as I’m consuming a steady stream of soda water, gummy bears and pot stickers; I seem to be just fine. It’s mostly been my energy and focus levels. They’ve been at an all-time low lately. I’ve been working on clearing my plate of extra work, slowly but surely that’s happening (as you can tell with the lack of posts here).

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Penelope is thrilled with the news. She’s hoping for a girl. And secretly, we all are. We only have a girl name and girl clothes! Felix destroyed all of his clothes, so we’d have to start completely from scratch if we had a boy. I don’t know why, but my heart has been set on a girl from the beginning. We’re happy with a baby, boy or girl. But I still want a girl. ;)

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I’m about 15 weeks along and quickly starting to show. I’m at this awkward point where I still fit in my old clothes, but I feel like if I wear anything too form-fitting; I’ll look like I ate a giant burrito, not pregnant. That’s pretty much what I’m thinking all the time. Can we blame those crazy thoughts on hormones?

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Besides that, I’ve been thinking and sewing up various pieces that I feel may be versatile during and after pregnancy. I don’t want pieces that make me look like a giant tent; but things that I can wear alone, with a belt or a blazer and feel perfectly comfortable in my own skin.

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Inspired by this look, I used the base of Hey June’s Raglan tee, did a little slash and spread (I use the same technique in the maxi wrap tutorial) and lengthened the hemline by about 7-8 inches and created a slight high-low curve to the base.

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The funny thing about this fabric is that it seems to stretch vertically as the day wears on. I steamed the shirt not long after and instantly added 4 inches to the hemline! Strange, right? I’m thinking this hemline will work for now, but I won’t know for sure until after I have washed and dried the garment for the first time. I’m tempted to keep the longer hemline because my belly is only going to grow 10 fold, too.

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Adjusting the pattern of this top took about 20 minutes and sewing up the top took just under an hour. I used a slightly different method for hemming the sleeve and neckline. instead of sewing the bands with folded side out, I sewed them with the raw edges out. So the top is finished with all raw edges, but it looks more finished than if I had just left it as is. Given the pattern on the shirt, this detail is incredibly subtle, not something that the camera could pick up really well.

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I’ve got Penelope to thank for pictures today. She was such a doll, beaming with excitement to help me in the studio. It’s fun to have my own little assistant in-house!

Outfit details:

  • glasses: c/o Coastal.com (use code SAC1PE6T for 25% off)
  • necklace: c/o Cambria Cove
  • earrings: etsy
  • bracelet: THP Shop
  • skinnies: Forever 21
  • shoes: Forever 21

How to Organize Sewing Patterns

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The silence over here has been killing me! It’s been a crazy couple of weeks around our house. Chris got the renovation bug not too long ago and we’ve been working our tails off on completing the last unfinished bedroom in our house (pics soon!) and updating all closets. The new closets are heavenly!

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While in spring cleaning/nesting mode, I’ve taken the opportunity to re-organize my sewing patterns. They’re out of control. I’ve drafted about as many patterns as I’ve bought, so coming up with a good system for easy storage was necessary.

In the past, I’ve bought envelopes the same size as as standard pattern envelopes and tried to stuff drafted patterns into those. It’s not terribly effective for me, since most of my pattern envelopes end up sitting on my desk for weeks simply because I’m too annoyed with the thought of putting them away.

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A few fellow sewers mentioned to me how they organize patterns in clear sleeves in three-ring binders. Genius. Wanting them to look polished in my new closets, I went for leather binders*. They’re gorgeous. So far I’ve only separated out tops and bottoms. I’m filling these binders fast, so I’ll likely need to branch out to more categories. Here’s how I’ve done it (and you can too):

Supplies:

  • binders, either 8 1/2 x 11 or 12 x 12
  • clear sheet protectors
  • large labels
  • fun marker or pen

Step 1:

I never cut into store bought patterns. They always remain intact, I simply trace the appropriate size on tracing paper and make adjustments there. I bought a giant roll of 36″ wide x 50 yard tracing paper at a local art supply store for somewhere around $20. If you sew, it’s a worthwhile investment. Store bought patterns stay in their envelopes and those envelopes get stored in a box. Pattern tracings, PDF patterns and self-drafted patterns get stored in binders for easy-access.

Step 2:

Pack the sheet protectors with your pattern (one pattern per protector).

Step 3:

Label the protector. I labeled it with the pattern maker (i.e. Megan Nielsen, Hey June, Self-drafted), pattern name or description and traced size or estimated draft size at the bottom.

Step 4:

Sort. Alphabetical order, style, preferred fabric type, etc. Figure out a system to easily find your patterns and your done!

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I had a lot of fun busting out my brush markers and washi tapes to fancy-up the labels for each pattern. The lettering is far from perfect, but it was great practice.

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Let’s end on a keeping-it-real note. This is how awesome my studio looks at the moment. I’ve got a lot of organizing ahead of me, but with binders, cute boxes and new shelving I feel unstoppable!! WEEEEE!!

How do you organize your sewing patterns? Do share in the comments below!

*Binders and sheet protectors provided by Lifestyle Crafts.

Sewing: Comfy Sweater Raglan with Kangaroo Pocket

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A long-sleeve raglan tee is a favorite wardrobe staple of mine that I’ve longed to make for the last several months. It took me so long to finally get around to making one for the simple fact that I tried to draft one up on my own and failed miserably. The first one I drafted was too straight-edged (literally, I just drew straight lines) and didn’t fit right. The second was too curvy (draped on my dressform) and also didn’t look right. All around too baggy or bulky in the wrong spots. So I went for a pattern instead. Shoulda done that from the get-go. WAAAY easier in this case.

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I used a rayon/polyester blend double knit for this top. I fell in love with the print a week ago. It reminds me of something art-deco/the matrix (minus that hideous computer green), but I wasn’t totally sold on the texture. I tend to steer clear of polyester because I’m so particular about texture. Thankfully, a cycle in the washer and dryer softened it up to perfection.

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The Hey June Lane Raglan pattern* I used recommended I sew up an XS based on my waist measurements (although I wonder if those were meant to be bust measurements?). Since the double knit didn’t offer a 50% stretch like the pattern recommended, I sized up. I almost wish I would have sized up to the medium for a hoodie-like fit (a little closer to what I had envisioned), but the tighter fit is still very comfortable, and lends itself towards a more polished look.

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The fabric pattern is pretty busy – borderline overwhelming – breaking up the print with jersey knit piping around sleeve lines solved the issue.

I winged it with the pouch, and if I were to do it all over again, I’d shorten the top trapezoidal part of the pouch by about an inch and a half.

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The pocket does add a little extra weight to my middle section; but I’m so over the moon how this top fits, I couldn’t care less. I’m sure if I zipped up the sides tighter it would reduce that visual weight. Or I could simply add a structured jacket overtop, no extra sewing required!

It’s been so cold around here, I’m not ready to part with my winter wardrobe just yet. I have plans to make even more early spring transitional pieces in the near future. It’s all about comfort, medium/lightweight fabrics, but long sleeves and hemlines to cover the skin from chilly breezes.

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I finished the top just in time to throw it on and pick up the kids from school (Felix is loving his preschool, btw!). I felt comfortable, warm and put-together. All three major wins in my book. I will definitely make more of these in the near future.

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Outfit details:

  • glasses: coastal.com
  • earrings: c/o Pamela Susan
  • necklace: handmade by my dad
  • bracelet: THP
  • purse: Basik 855, c/o UmbaBox
  • raglan: handmade by me
  • denim: Forever 21
  • booties: Seychelles

A few simlar raglans, in case you don’t want to make your own.

*Pattern courtesy of Hey June. Just a little shout out about her patterns: they’re awesome, well drafted, well written and 25% of all patterns sold goes to Christian Care Foundation, an organization that provides care for special needs children in Thailand. This hits close to home since Felix is now technically “special needs”. We’ve been so blessed to have such great resources at our fingertips to help felix and our family grow together. I think it’s pretty awesome that there’s an organization out there providing supplemental help out there to families that may not have access to the same care that we do.

Let’s Start a “Dear Abby” Type Meme

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I haven’t gotten around to sewing this week. I’m going crazy without it! I traced a really cool pattern, now I need to just cut it out and figure out how to do the funky sleeves (more on that hopefully next week). 

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In the mean time, I got an email from reader Natasha asking what to do with some special yardage she’s had stashed away for years. It’s a bright double-knit type fabric with polkadots. It’s got good drape, but also some structure to it and not a whole lot of stretch (from what I can tell from the pic).

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I think for this type of knit, a peplum pencil skirt would be really neat. The peplum would have a little extra drape so you could make it a full circle peplum and the layers would fold on top of each other nicely. Depending upon how “sticky” the knit is, you may want to line the under part of the peplum so the two pieces don’t get stuck on each other. There’s a full skirt pattern from By Hand (I have it, it’s a really well designed pattern, but I can’t vouch for the pattern itself as I have yet to make it) or DIY your own using this tutorial from a pair and a spare.

Not to toot my own horn (but totally tooting my own horn), I think it’d look really cute as a box pleated skirt. I made a knit version of my DIY Kate Spade-Inspired skirt tutorial and I love how it swishes. I’d recommend going about 2-3 inches shorter on the proportion, though. Merrick just posted her own version of a box-pleat skirt tutorial as well.

Lastly, I’ve had my eye on one of the new patterns from the “Just Add Jeans” collection by Pattern Anthology. I love the casual Day Tripper top. The sleeve is just right and the tabs on the sleeves are a fun detail. Break up the bright polka dots with white or chambray colored knit on the hems and the tabs.

There you have it! So, I don’t intend to replace my sewing posts with these challenges, but that’s just how it worked out this week. If I get enough reader requests, I may make it more of a regular thing just on a different day. Contact me using the form above if you have a crafty project that has you stumped or some yardage that you want ideas for!

I’ve been drawing up all sorts of clothing plans the last week, it’s been fun to get my sewing brain working again! Hopefully I can sit down at the sewing machine this weekend and do something about the sketches I have piling up!

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