Tuesday, June 2, 2020

FO: Hostess Apron

I've had a definite theme going on with my makes this past year. While I was in the beginnings of my divorce last summer, I just didn't have the mental space to plan out and start any new projects but I still desperately wanted to make things to occupy my mind. This started me on a rampage with finishing long standing projects like my Dahlia Cardigan, Someone Else's Blanket, Lady Russell Shawl, and Mint Gingham Dress. I've finished a few other projects too that are waiting to be posted. I feel like it's a mental exercise in clearing out the old in my life and not feeling like I have unfinished things hanging over me, so by the time I am ready to sew myself new clothes I won't have any guilty secrets in the background weighing me down. I believe this is officially the oldest project I've finished and I'm thrilled to finally be able to say it's done regardless of its practicality (more on that below). So check out my cute apron!
I started this project when I first wanted to try "real" sewing (meaning more than just slap dash Halloween costumes) back in 2010 or 2011. My mom and I went to The Sewing Studio and decided we wanted to make aprons from this cool *new* vintage pattern (it was brand new at the time). We both picked which view we wanted and bought all the supplies for our chosen view. I started making mine - meaning I cut out the pieces and started trying to understand the instructions only to fail miserably with attaching the rick rack, which is one of the first steps. So I set this aside in hopes that one day I would be better at sewing and able to make it work. I made my mom's apron from this same pattern for Mothers Day back in 2012, then left all my pieces together in a bag in an obscure location for years. This bag was in the same box as my recently finished Mint Gingham Dress, and thankfully I had all the components I would need to finish the project in there. So after sewing the mint dress, I decided to sew this one up :)  
This is Simplicity 4282, a vintage reproduction pattern that kind of started the vintage reissue trend. I remember I was so excited to see this 50s style in the catalog at the time. This was also the time when I was super into film photography and wore a half apron on the regular in the dark room to carry my can opener and whatnot, so I chose view B. I have no idea who designed this adorable quilting cotton, but as soon as I finished this apron I wished it was an actual skirt I could wear. The color combo turned out just as great as I originally hoped it would. 
A big draw for this pattern with me was all the rick rack and binding. Incidentally the rick rack and binding is also what kept this unfinished in a bag for more than 8 years. When I pulled everything back out a few weeks ago and read the instructions, I still had to scratch my head and think it over a few times before understanding what they meant. Things have to be done in a certain order to get the neat finish this has, and thankfully it all worked out fine. I'm very glad I decided to just buck up and change out my thread constantly for the top stitching because it means you can't see that my stitching isn't perfect on the brown binding, lol.
The pockets were another big draw for me with this pattern. Just look at those big shaped pockets! Adorable! I love that everything on this is edged in rick rack and binding, even if it was a pain in the butt to sew. I'm not a huge fan of bindings as it is - who is, though? They are awfully fiddly in general. But this was a particular pain given that it calls for 1/4" wide bias tape. You're taking 1/4" wide binding and wrapping it over the bulk of the jumbo rick rack. Fiddly, friends. Not super fun. But once I made myself slow down it all worked out just fine.
I love that the apron almost closes in the back. I made the size Large because that's what I was at the time by the pattern envelope suggestion. If I hadn't already cut this out, I think I would've done a Medium now off the finished measurements, but I'm honestly glad I did the bigger size mostly because it covers so much on the back. And just look at that binding! So pretty! Even if I will always think how annoying it was to sew, lol.
Here's a closer view of the pocket loveliness :)
And in spite of not loving how I had to apply some of the binding, I can't help but love that beautifully enclosed finish on the back. Man, it's so good. The side seams are serged, but the front seams are encased in the binding and I just love it.
So that's the finished apron! I really love this so much and it makes me sad that it is completely impractical for my life right now. The fact is that I am WAY too messy for just a half apron. If I need an apron, I need my top half covered as well, lol. So this has sat in my linen closet ever since I finished, but maybe one day I'll have a party or something and need to play hostess and pull out this adorable apron. One day...

Fabric: 1.5 yards adorable quilting cotton (going by yardage on envelope) - $11.00
Pattern: Simplicity 4282 (out of print now) -$1.00
Notions: 2.25 packs yellow jumbo rick rack - $3.40, 2 packs brown 1/4" wide double fold bias tape - $2.12, white thread - $0.50, brown thread - $0.50
Time: 8 years?
Total Cost: $18.61

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

FO: Lady Bug Bags

It has been SO LONG since I last made an amigurumi-type item to share. So here are two to make up for lost time :)
My twin girls turned 2 in April and I wanted to make them something for their birthday. Since they came on the scene 2 years ago, I've basically had almost no crafting time due to obligations with them, work, crazy life events like divorce, being exhausted, etc. So I've really never made much for them no matter how much I wanted to. Now that they are 2, I have things much more under control with my time and schedule, so I've been able to start making things again. A few months ago, I realized that my girls are the perfect age for me to use a pattern book I've had for years but never really made much from: Amigurumi On The Go! by Ana Paula Rimoli. I was obsessed with her designs when I first started making amigurumi, so I bought all of her books. I made the Turtle Tote from this book for my nephew, but then never made anything else. Fast forward to now - I have 2 adorable little girls that are loving purses at the moment, and I knew I needed to look through this book again. 
This pattern is the Cupcake and Lady Bug Snack Bag, and as the name implies it give directions for making this simple draw string bag shape as either a lady bug or a cup cake. I went with lady bugs, obviously. I have a ton of Vanna's Choice yarn in Scarlet, Black and White that was given to me by a church member years ago when his mother died. Think blanket quantities of this yarn. So anything with red, black, and white is a big yes from me just to try and use this yarn up. 
Cute little back view :) The spots and center line are applied onto the solid color blocked bag after the fact. I'm a big believer in this yarn for any projects for kids. It's kind on your hands as you work (unlike Red Heart Super Saver), it's inexpensive, it washes great, and it's durable to hold up to toddler abuse.
The pattern has you make a holed tip edge and then a simple crocheted draw string...
So you can cinch it closed like this :) I will say - my girls accidentally pull the string out all the time and I have to re-thread it around the top, so I think I may sew it to the center back just to keep that from happening and them losing the string. Those ling thin cords were my least favorite part of this project so I'd like to not have to make them again.
Since my girls love purses, I wanted to make a strap for these bags so they could carry them around. This was a super easy addition - I just made another draw string as per the pattern and sewed it to the side top of the bag. Easy peasy. It's the perfect length for a toddler shoulder.
All in all, I totally love these little bags and my girls do too :) I made these in a few hours over the course of a few nights and gave them to them for their birthday. I would like to make them each something for their birthday each year, and this was a fun start to that tradition. I hear them say, "My purse!" and point to the bags quite frequently, then they stuff some random toy inside and carry it around for a while. I love that these are cute AND functional, and even as they get older we can use these for snacks as the book suggests. So it doesn't feel like these will be a short lived thing. Yay for fun but useful projects!

Monday, May 18, 2020

FO: Hortencia Cardigan

One nice perk of having all this Covid-19 craziness has been all the very generous free offers by various designers and artists out there. One of them was that Andi Satterlund (I've knit many of her patterns over the years) generously offered one pattern of your choice for free. I love her vintage aesthetic of her patterns, which is why I've knit so many. This freebie happened at the perfect time because I had suddenly developed a love for the Hortencia pattern, which I really didn't care much for when it was released. Funny how our tastes change, isn't it? I had contemplated grabbing this pattern a few times, but I just have so many patterns that I couldn't justify buying another that I wasn't necessarily going to knit up any time soon, you know? So when Andi put up the freebie code, I knew exactly what I wanted to get with it :) And I was ready for a simple knitting project AND I had yarn on hand to make it with. So this project was just meant to be. I officially started knitting this on March 27th, and even with not devoting a ton of time to knitting I managed to finish it by April 15th.
I checked through my whole stash on Ravelry (holy cow, I love the stash feature - seriously you should look into it), and I came across 5 skeins of Cascade Avalon in the Pirate Black colorway. Avalon is a 50/50 cotton and acrylic blend, so it makes for a sweater that is warm enough for air conditioning but not heavy like wool and too warm for Florida. I bought this yarn for crazy cheap in a Craftsy sale back in 2016 thinking that "black" meant black. My monitor showed it as closer to black black, maybe slightly lighter, and I know I had it flagged for a certain sweater pattern (can't remember what now); but when the yarn arrived it was very much not black. The yarn is a charcoal gray color, which is nice and all, but at the time it was just not what I had expected so I wasn't super happy with it. So this yarn sat for 4 years with no project in mind for it, making it perfect for this sweater :) And it turned out that I had the exact amount I needed - meaning "I had to unravel about half of my gauge swatch to finish this" exact amount. Kismet!
One thing I have noticed about Andi's patterns over the many years of knitting them up is that the shoulders always end up too wide on me. Given that I've lost weight and my other sweaters are all too big, I went down to a size Medium for this project. Even with that, the shoulders are still too wide on me. For this style, I think it looks fine, like a design choice, but I think next time I make up one of Andi's patterns I will have to figure out the alterations to narrow the shoulders. 
The real feature of this design is the shawl collar. The entire sweater is stockinette stitch, then the collar is garter stitch, which normally I'm not a huge fan of but I really like the contrast in texture on this sweater. She has a clever short row construction for the collar and it helps it lay nicely. Having said that, the pattern does recommend tacking the collar down to keep it in the right position, which I didn't do yet, but having worn this a few times and having to adjust the collar a lot I known I will be doing that sometime soon.
Interestingly (for me), I actually had no idea what buttons I would use, lol. This was such a quickly envisioned project that I never even thought about my buttons. Even after I finished the knitting, it was over a week before I started looking through my button stash to pick some buttons. The funny thing is that I went with the first option that I picked up - I didn't even dig further in my stash! That is pretty unheard of for me.
I have an entire vial of these buttons in 2 sizes that I grabbed at The Sewing Studio in one of their Annex sales. They are gray and have a slightly iridescent lined design. They looked good + I was in the mood to finish + I was already taking blog photos of my other makes, so I decided to just sew these buttons one and get the pics and call it done, lol. I'm glad I did because now I can wear this when I'm chilly at work.
So that's my Hortencia cardigan :) I really love the finished sweater. I think it will be great over dresses and high waisted skirts (once I make some that fit me). I like the style and color and cotton yarn. So yay for a quick and satisfying project!

Yarn: 5 skeins of Cascade Avalon in Pirate Black - $13.90
Pattern: Hortencia by Andi Satterlund - Free (Thank you, Andi!)
Notions: 2 buttons - $0.10
Time: 3 weeks
Total Cost: $ 14.00

Saturday, May 9, 2020

FO: Mint Gingham Dress

So it's been a while since I blogged YET AGAIN. I thought I was going to be better about this since my absence is not due to lack of making things to show, which is very different than my reasoning for the past 2 years. I'm still avoiding sewing clothes in general, but about a month ago I came across a box full of my very old projects. This box has been hanging out in my spare room ever since I moved last April, and before that all the contents of the box were hanging out in a drawer anxiously awaiting me to give them my attention. This dress was among the projects and since Easter was coming up and this was a very springy dress, I decided to go ahead and finish it up. 

I started this dress during Me Made May in 2014. At the time, I had decided this pattern (Butterick 5982) was the perfect princess seam bodice block that I could do all the fitting work on and then produce ad nauseum in various adorable cotton prints à la Modcoth. So I made a few muslins, changed the pattern, got it to fit me, then cut into this adorable mint green gingham seersucker fabric I bought at a thrift store, which I loved, as well as my super fancy lining of a white poly cotton bed sheet from the Target clearance section. Everything looked good in bodice assembly, but when I added the lining it became too tight across the bust. I was soooo discouraged. Here I had put in all this work (which was a lot for me at the time) and thought I would be fine in the finished dress only to have it not turn out that way. I was new to fitting myself back then and I really didn't know what the problem was nor how to fix it. So I stuffed the dress, all the pieces still to be sewn, extra fabric, and pattern into a big ziplock bag and forgot about it until now. 

I remembered the problems when I first opened this project up back in March, but given that I have lost so much weight recently I knew the dress wouldn't fit my body now anyway so it wasn't as precious of a project anymore. I tried the dress on as it was, which was bizarre - word to the newer sewists: don't sew your skirt to the zipper and not to the bodice, please. My justification was that I wanted to try it on with the zipper but before fitting the skirt in order to make any bodice adjustments I needed. This was a terrible idea that caused a lot more work for me now. Anyway, the dress was too big, as I expected. I scooped a bit out of the princess seam under the bust and took the waist in about 2 inches. It looked a little roomy still, but it was no worse than a ready to wear dress might be and I didn't want to spend a ton of time working on it given that I am still trying to lose more weight. So I just decided to attach the skirt after that. This was a challenge - not only had I already attached the skirt to the zipper, but I also had never figured out the new pleat layout to make it match up to my bodice. Even if I had done the pleats back in the day, I would've had to change it now given my change in size. So I had to make up the pleats as I went and hope that they looked even enough in the finished dress. This was a big pain in the butt, and my mental state at the time didn't really help things. I found myself on the night before Easter in a big wave of depression but with this dress still unfinished. I knew I wanted to get it done, but I just wasn't feeling it at all. I muscled through, and I even cleaned up and made myself take blog pictures just after hemming the dress on Easter before taking my kids to hunt eggs, but these smiles are quite forced. Interesting how the context of our photos can change with how we are feeling. Anyway, it wasn't the best weekend overall, but sewing does help me when I'm down, so I got a mental boost knowing this project was finally finished 6 years after I started it.
That said, this is probably the most ill-fitting thing I've ever sewn to completion. After attaching the skirt it became clear that the bodice was too long. I have a long torso and I am always worried about things coming up too short at the waist, but back in 2014 I overcompensated for this. That is why I have all that bunching at the waist. It's not awful when worn just since most things will bunch a bit as you move around, but it does bug me. I just wasn't in the mental space to unpick that whole skirt and redo it 1/2" shorter. So it stays.
The upper bust looks pretty good though. There is a little bit of wrinkling at the sleeve seam but it wasn't anything I was willing to unpick them over. Also the sleeves are quite roomy, again not something I wanted to mess with. I do love the neckline of this dress. It's high enough to not feel like you're going to show much but still open enough to not feel strangled. A good combo :)
It's still pretty loose at the waist even with my alterations - I really should have taken in the princess seams as well as the side seams - but it made the dress quite comfy to wear on Easter. Here you can also see how wide the sleeves are. They are totally lined and enclosed - I was not going to unpick them now. 
I am happy with how the zipper itself turned out, and that was done back in 2014. I love a regular slot seam zipper. The long waist is pretty obvious in the back, but fortunately I don't have to look at my back when I wear it, lol.
I am also very happy with the lining. I've actually made very few lined items, mostly because it feels like I'm making the dress twice. I'd rather just pick a fabric that doesn't require a lining, generally speaking. Plus lining = extra layer = very hot in Florida. But I do love how they make everything so neat and tidy inside a finished garment. The last part of making this dress involved me hand sewing the lining to the zipper tape just to ensure a smooth finish, and I really like how it turned out.

So, that's my dress. 6 years in the making only to turn out as a cute but not great fitting item, lol. Sorry, dress. I do love mint and gingham and seersucker, and I still love this style of dress. The only thing it's missing are pockets, which I still can't believe I didn't include even way back when, but I just couldn't be bothered now. I'm glad it's done, and should things open up again soon I will certainly wear this to church while it still fits me. So yay for finishing old projects even if it's not a total win - done is better than perfect!

Fabric: 3-ish? yards of mint green gingham seersucker - $3.00 (thrifted), white poly cotton bed sheet - $1.00
Pattern: Butterick 5982 - $2
Notions: 18" white zipper - $2, white thread - $1.00
Time: 6 years? and then 3 hours
Total Cost: $9.00