Wednesday, June 17, 2015

testing, testing


Very first try at custom printing at Spoonflower for the quick-sew version of the Early Bird Night Owl pillow. The colors came out better than I thought from the screen preview, though some patterns are darker than anticipated.


This is a big experiment with both the method and the cost effectiveness. So far I really don't like the results that I get sewing together the small pieces like the beak and eyebrows. Those would look much better in felt, IMO. The small size makes them kind of a pain to turn and the stuffed shape doesn't look smooth even when I carefully clip the allowances. I'm rethinking those parts.

I'm considering having the large pieces pre-printed (front and back of the bird) and then just adding felt and pom accents. That would sure be a lot cuter and easier. And you could also embellish with trims and embroidery if you wanted to. And maybe that way it would fit on a fat quarter. I'll have to check that. That would bring the cost down.

And no worries, I'm also working on the traditional sewing pattern for this in woven cottons with applique, felt accents, and poms!

Friday, June 12, 2015

painted my brown brick hearth white, check


For so long I've wanted to do this. Why O why did I wait?


I um. Didn't mention it directly to my husband just before I did it. I totally did mention it several months ago to him and received a noncommittal noise in reply that completely might have meant 'Yes, please do this, it will be gorgeous' or may have possibly meant 'Over my dead body'.

I got the bee in my bonnet a few weeks ago to follow through so I went right out to the home improvement store and got a quart of stain blocking paint/primer in one, matte finish. Thanks, Mr Paintguy. I actually needed every bit of that quart because the brick and mortar are so porous.



Here's a before shot and also an action shot taken by my daughter. I didn't even think about taking a before shot until she mentioned it right before I started in on the mortar. She'll make a better blogger than I. The brick is the same brick as the accent on the outside of our house and just looked so dated in my light/bright room. It was a light sucker, especially with that black gas stove in the middle.


And yes, I managed to get paint in my hair. The painting took a few hours because I'm super picky about getting very accurate edges.


I wanted pretty full coverage but I didn't get the brush in every nook and cranny. Before I started painting, I considered just hitting the high spots of the brick with a roller instead of a brush to create a more distressed, patchy look. I was afraid it would be too busy in the small space. I wonder if I could go back with sandpaper and knock off some of the paint in random spots? I'm kind of enjoying the white out right now though.

When Michael got home I was in our bedroom. I heard him pause in the family room. I squinched my eyes and called "Don't you LOVE it?? I think it's GORGEOUS." (go for the over-the-top sale)
Short pause.
Then he said, very kindly, as he came into the bedroom and loosened his tie, "I don't love it yet."

He later mentioned that he was going to get used to it quicker than he thought. (For the win!) Now to get rid of the man-chair.

Monday, June 1, 2015

oh my! thank you, National Nonwovens


You know very well my strong feelings about wool felts, so you also know what a stack of happy this was to get in the mail. SIGH. This gorgeous and generous fat quarter sample pack is from National Nonwovens! Oh, the things I will make.

If you are not familiar with National Nonwovens it's probably because they are primarily wholesale. They offer such a wide range of lovely felts. It took me a good while to peruse all their color cards. They have options for 100% wools, wool blends, bamboos and acrylics. And of course, wool roving. Chances are if you've made something with a wool-blend felt, it was made by National Nonwovens!


I was also delighted to be featured in their newsletter and to have my Partridge & Pear ornament set displayed at the National Nonwovens spring quilt market booth in Minneapolis. What an honor! Thanks again, Christin!

Friday, May 22, 2015

wiksten based tunic top with pockets



I've been doing some sewing for myself lately. This Nani IRO print has been burning a hole in my fabric shelf and I finally formed a concrete plan for this tunic. The fabric is one of my favorite prints ever and I didn't want to waste it on a top I wouldn't like. I made a muslin from an old sheet before I made this one.


The fabric is a lightweight double gauze. I started with the top of my Wiksten tank pattern and cut it off just under the bust. Then I drafted a gathered skirt and big pockets to make a comfy tunic. I'd prefer it just a bit longer but I didn't have enough fabric and even ended up having to add a hem facing to keep as much length as possible. This tunic would make a nice casual dress too by lengthening it even more.


I kept the fit loose so I could slip it on over my head but the back ended up looking a little too roomy. I added some shirring to make the fit more flattering but not too tight.


I have a thing about big pockets. They make me happy. I considered adding buttons to the pockets as a decorative touch but decided it was better without them in the end.

Actually, the accidental hem facing makes a nicer looking hem on double gauze than a folded up hem does, IMO. It's very hard for me not to pull or distort the hem if it is folded because the double gauze has such a loose weave. For the facing I just cut a bias strip and finished one edge with an overlock. Then I sewed the other edge to the hem RST, ironed it toward the wrong side, and secured it with a blind stitch by hand.

If you have the Wiksten tank pattern you could make this mod pretty easily. (Assuming you have already made any adjustments to the tank for a good fit first.)

Specifics
Just in case you have the pattern and also have fabric that is burning a hole in your shelf:






Saturday, May 16, 2015

spoonflower swatches, check


Exploring the world of Spoonflower for the Early Bird Night Owl quick-sew pillow. These are my fabric swatches and RGB color guide.

First impression: Many more cool fabric options than I thought there would be. Bit disappointed in the saturation on the color guide though, especially the blacks. The guide is printed on Kona Cotton, which I felt was the best option for the pillow. It needs some nice, rich darks on the Night Owl side.

I'm also not excited about the hex color builds. They look wildly inaccurate onscreen to me, so previews can be iffy. Erg...

This might still be fabulous or it could be underwhelming. I'm excited to run a sample when I get it ready! I'll post the results.

Monday, May 11, 2015

ooga chakka, ooga ooga ooga chakka...thing 2 is eleven


Mixtape! It really surprises and gratifies me how anticipated these birthday soundtrack CDs are. The girls still get so fired up about them and I get such a kick out of my little birthday ritual: putting it in the player and turning the volume up to a really obnoxious level to greet them on their birthday morning. They emerge from their bedrooms with sleepy smiles and then park themselves in the living room to listen to the whole thing beginning to end. Dancing and lip synching may occur at any time. (Usually that's me.)

This one starts out with Hooked on a Feeling (this kid is really into anything Marvel and Guardians Of The Galaxy was one of her favorite movies this past year) so the unmistakable and stomach vibrating Ooga Chakka started the whole thing off in style. That movie has one of the best soundtracks I've heard in a while! (And also includes a boy who really loves his mother's awesome mixtapes.)

Here's the whole playlist. It's a smattering of sounds she's really into right now (Ellie Goulding, Paul Simon, Rainbow Rocks) and memories from the year.


She was birthdayed in style and made a weekend of it with a spend the night party at her Nana's, shopping trip, family dinner and ice cream cake. I tried this one this year and it was quite tasty. I'm a big fan of ice cream sandwich cakes because of the minimal prep time. I relaxed my usual rule about subbing in real whipped cream for the Kool Whip for the sake of ease and regretted it. I don't think Kool Whip is actual food. It has a weird mouth feel. But my husband got the really short end of the stick because I sent him out to get the 'easy' ingredients and he found there was 1) no blondie ice cream sandwiches 2) no fresh strawberries. ANYWHERE. In May! What in the world? He went to four stores and two berry farms before arriving home triumphant. Poor guy.


Here's birthday girl on the left with big sister on the right modeling her mommy-made tiered skirts. You can see nothing's changed. She wore the blue skirt to worship yesterday. I plan to make more. So easy. Here's the tutorial if you are interested.



She's shown an interest in polymer clay lately so I got her this super cute book with the polymer clay included. It usually shows through that little window in the cover but we've already opened everything. It's a great way to get introduced to the techniques and each charm is a minimal time committment. You can see she's already made two charms. It's a really well-done book. I'd recommend it.

I also got her some air dry clay so she could test them both and this book to go along with it, which is also fantastic: 


She also discovered our old stash of Far Side books a few months ago. I'm a bit envious of her getting to see the genius that is Gary Larson for the first time. I remember absolutely doubling over, unable to breathe when reading Far Sides way back when. We got her Gallery Four because she's worn out the ones we have. That girl loves to laugh.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

quick tiered skirt tutorial for preteens


You'll need:

A girl that is 10-13 yrs old and sized more or less like my kids. haha. My two girls are 21 months apart but right now they wear the same size of clothes. They are both taller than average and usually wear a 12/14 in girls clothing (and sometimes a 16). I made the gray Washi skirt slightly longer than the navy original since they are both growing at an astonishing rate right now.


This is an elastic waist skirt, so it's pretty forgiving and there's room to adjust the waist a few inches either way.


If your kid is a much bigger or smaller than mine you may need to adjust widths and lengths before you begin.

Pondering? Measure your kid's:
1) waist (wherever they wear their skirts)
2) length from their waist to their knee.
This will give you an idea if this skirt will work for your kid as is.
Or if you are a petite mom, this skirt may work really well for you!

Finished size: 
This skirt is about 21 inches long from waist to hem. The waist on ours is about 30 inches around and is meant to be worn low, just below the belly button (you can adjust the waist size below and of course you can adjust the hem).

That's how both my girls wear everything, slung low.


Materials:
  1. About 1.5 yards of medium weight cotton or chambray.
  2. A package of 1 7/8 inch wide bias hem facing. Mine is Wright's brand. This makes for a really easy channel for the elastic and adds a nice contrast of color inside the waist. (If you don't want to buy hem tape you can use a wide grosgrain ribbon.
  3. A length of 1.5 inch wide elastic for the waistband that is long enough for your kid. In my case, that was 30 inches.
  4. A ruffler for your machine.
Rip the fabric pieces:

Don't be afraid to rip! It's so much faster than cutting and you can count on it being on the grain and straight. And it's OK if your yardage is wrinkly. Rip first and press later! See, I'm already saving you gobs of time.

First true up the top edge. Cut a 1 inch slit in the selvedge side close to the top of the fabric. Snip it straight across the selvedge and then use your hands to continue ripping the fabric all the way across. I pause at the end (which is the opposite selvedge) and then I snip the that last little bit with scissors to keep from tugging it too hard. Discard what you ripped off. Now you have a straight top edge to measure the rest from.


Rip the following pieces for the skirt by measuring along the selvedge and clipping a slit through it, same as you did above. Measure one, clip, rip. Then measure the next one.
Press all the ripped pieces and whack off the selvedge edges. (Which has the added advantage of squaring up the ends. They can look a bit wonky from the ripping.)

FOR ALL THE SEWING: Use 1/2 inch seam allowances.
RST = Right Sides Together

Make the waistband.

1) Shorten the ripped 7 inch waistband piece to your kid's waist measurement plus about 8 inches. Mine was 38 inches total. Cut a piece of hem tape to the same length.


2) Sew the short ends of the waistband fabric RST (right sides together) to form a loop. Finish and press the seam.


3) Press 1/2 inch toward the wrong side along the top edge.


4) Press under 3/8 inch of the bias hem tape on both ends. Starting to the right of the waistband seam, pin it all the way around about 1/16 inch down from the top edge. The ends should meet and overlap just a tad. Edgestitch the hem tape in place on top and bottom. When you finish you'll have a slit for the elastic where the hem tape meets. Tada.


Make the tiers.

5) Did you already cut one of your 8 inch pieces in half? Good. Throw one of the halves in your scrap pile. Sew the other one RST to the full length 8 inch piece on the short side. Finish and press the seam.


6) Sew the two 10 inch pieces RST on the short side. Finish and press the seam.


7) Break out the ruffler. Set it to one tuck every 12 stitches. Stitch length should be 2 or 2.5.  If your child's waist measurement is larger than my kid's, go with 2.5.

8) Ruffle both the tiers along the top edge with a slightly less than 1/2 inch allowance. Clackety clackety clack. ALERT: Be sure to check that your needle is screwed in tight every few tucks. The ruffler might be busy trying to loosen your needle as it goes along. It's a bummer when you have to stop and screw the needle back in while your ruffler tries to look all innocent.


9) Press the ruffles nice and flat.

10) Now sew the two tiers together RST. The ruffled edge of the longer tier goes face to face with the UNRUFFLED edge of the shorter tier. Those sides should be somewhere near the same length, give or take a few inches. Pin them starting at the midpoints. Sew the seam. Finish and press the seam.



11) Now trim the sides flush. Just follow the line of the shortest tier on both sides.



12) Lay the waistband loop flat on a table. Fold the skirt tiers in half, wrong side out, and line them up to the bottom of the waistband as straight as you can. Measure how much you need to cut off of the skirt in order for it to match up to the waistband but don't forget to keep an extra half inch for the seam. If you need to, err a bit on the large side. You can always ease it in. Trim it!


13) Pin that seam together and sew RST. Finish and press the seam.


14) Pin and sew the tiers RST to the waistband. To do this, turn the waistband right side out and upside down. Turn the skirt wrong side out and tuck the waistband down inside the top, lining up the raw edges. I like to put the vertical waistband seam in the center back and line up the skirt seam on the side.


15) Pin the front, back and sides, evenly distributing the fabric. Finish pinning well and sew. Finish and press the seam.


16) Feed the elastic through the waistband with a bodkin or a hugemongous safety pin. Overlap the ends of the elastic by about an inch and secure it with a (normal sized) safety pin. Don't bother tucking the ends inside yet.


17) Now's the time to check the fit on your kid and also the length. Call them imperiously to you and tell them to drop their shorts. Haha. If they complain about trying it on, make them stand there longer than is strictly necessary while you pretend to dither about the length of the hem.*
*Parenting styles may vary.

18) If the fitting was great, sew as is. If you need to adjust the waist elastic, do that now.

19) Sew the overlapped ends of the elastic together. Pull it inside the waistband by stretching out the waistband. Pop! It disappears inside.

20) Zig zag stitch over the hem tape slit to close.


21) Hem the skirt 1 inch with a double fold 1/2 inch hem. (Or a different amount depending on your kid.) To do that, press 1 inch over to the wrong side, then fold it under itself and press. Edgestitch and you are done! Yay!


I hope you enjoyed this tutorial! I made these two skirts in two afternoons, kind of working on them here and there.


My girls love these skirts. And each other. Deep, deep inside.


I need to make them one in plain chambray because that is such a versatile fabric. I might even take a crack at making myself one. No reason you can't make an adult-sized tiered skirt for yourself. Just make adjustments for your waist size and skirt length and use the same process. You'll probably need to use a longer stitch length for the ruffler. Love to see what you make!