Friday, December 31, 2010

handmade gifts 2010: Weekend-Away Travel Bag

I sewed my first item from my copy of Weekend Sewing by Heather Ross, the little zippered travel bag for my niece Erin. I've had the book a long while so I'm glad this gift gave me the excuse I was looking for to break into its patterns.

I also gave her a copy of Denyse Schmidt Quilts as part of her gift, and that's where I got the idea for the flower and vine applique on the bag. The vine runs underneath the bag and the flower motif repeats on the opposite side of the bag. After flipping through Erin's copy of the book I decided I needed a copy of DS Quilts for myself, so hopefully I will soon be getting that for a birthday gift from my lovely, gracious, and did I mention generous sister, Lita.

It's a nice sized bag, and would be ideal for a makeup or small toiletries bag. I like how Heather designed it to have no unfinished edges inside, but I think I might just add some bias binding to the inside seams next time and avoid all the turning.

I added a cotton webbing handle because Erin is always running out the door somewhere and it would be easier to grab when you have ten other things in your hands, including the cutest boy toddler in the world.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

handmade gifts 2010: turtle dove

Ok, so I went into ornament hyperdrive this year. Even though I had just made the three ornaments for her kids, I couldn't skip a 12 Days of Christmas ornament for Robyn, since the full set will be twelve years in the making (go here for the first installment). My eldest said, "Aren't you supposed to make two?" Then she said, "Mom, how old will you be when you finish the set?" Sigh.

The embroidery on the back was done when I was errrm...ready to be finished. You all know embroidery is not my strong suit. It was supposed to say "2nd Day, Love, M&L, 2010", but this works. Right?

I wish Robyn would blog the tree topper she made. If you've seen the really pretty Teeming Forest topper at Anthropologie, you will have also noticed the staggering (no pun intended) $498.00 price tag (it has since gone on sale for like $125). Is it made from uranium or something? So Robyn did her own version, and it is really pretty.

Monday, December 27, 2010

handmade gifts 2010: Alice In Wonderland ornaments

The White Rabbit blew three blasts on the trumpet, and called out, 'First witness!'

Alice tried the little golden key in the lock, and to her great delight it fitted!

The Dormouse slowly opened his eyes. 'I wasn't asleep,' he said in a hoarse, feeble voice: `I heard every word you fellows were saying.'

These three ornaments were given to Robyn's kids along with a copy of the classic book for Christmas. I tell you I had such fun making these! They were a challenge but I always like a crafting challenge, especially one that plays to my strengths: 1) tiny size and 2) made from felt.

The dormouse and rabbit are from two really cute patterns purchased from here. I did deviate a bit from her instructions in the way I made the limbs and some other details, but the main parts follow her patterns.

After I had made those two woodland cuties I definitely needed an Alice, but I didn't have a pattern so I just kind of winged it for her. After a couple of false starts, I'm pretty happy with how she turned out. Her head is a large wooden bead and her hair was an experiment in folding and tacking felt.

I kept reminding myself to make notes and measurements as I went along on all the new pieces I was making for the animals and all the pieces for Alice, so that I can make another set for our own tree. We'll see if that ever happens. I still need to make myself the partidge and pear from last year.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

denim skirts with tucks

Here are the skirts from the Santa shot. I stuck to my guns on the construction this time and didn't get distracted by the shiny ruffler. They just needed a plain layering jean skirt, however I could not resist adding some half inch tucks around the hem, because those are just so easy.

If you'd like to make a similar skirt, start with a simple pattern like this one. Instead of the ribbon hem, just do a traditional double folded hem.

To allow for 1/2 inch tucks, add an inch in skirt length for each tuck you take. Iron a crease on the right side where the tuck should bend, pin, then sew 1/2 inch away from the crease. Then after I iron it down I also sew the tuck down, very close to the existing seam.

I love the extra style it gives for the minimal time invested.

I also experimented with a new waist on one of them. I like the simplicity of the elastic-in-a-tube waist, but it tends to look bunchy in the front. I did a tube waist on Thing 1's but with Thing 2's skirt I attempted to copy something I've seen in store-bought skirts: the front having a smooth waistband attached to the gathered skirt, and the back waistband having elastic:

So I made the skirt length shorter since I didn't need to allow for the fold over waist, and added two rows of gathering stitches at the top where it would connect with the waistband. For the waistband I cut two additional pieces. Both were 3 inches wide and the same length, which was:

1/2 waist measurement + four inches

I did that because I wanted the front smooth part of the waistband to reach around her sides and the back elasticized part to start a bit around the back instead of right at the sides. I pressed both strips in half, wrong sides together.
I made one piece into a tube just by sewing a 1/2 inch seam on the right side and threaded it with a shorter piece of elastic inside (the length of the elastic was what was left after you subtract the length of the front piece from the waist measurement and then add back an inch for seam). I sewed the elastic in place on both ends, so that now I had a gathered tube with elastic inside, with raw edges on the bottom.

I pressed the raw edges of the flat piece under on either end to have a finished edge, and then I sewed the two pieces together on each end by tucking the elasticized piece inside the flat piece. Now I had a waistband that was the size of Thing 2's waist with some stretchy give in the back.

At this point I tried it on Thing 2 to make sure my math skillz were on target. It fit fine. So I pinned the waistband on the skirt right sides together and raw edges aligned, pulled the gathering stitches to fit and sewed it on with a half inch seam.

It came out great, but I'll do two things next time:
  1. Use interfacing in the smooth waistband to add some body
  2. Use a wider waistband, just for looks