Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Country Garden Apron out of a Recycled Jean Skirt

I was given the idea to make a garden apron out of recycled jeans by a friend named Sandra a while back, and I've been meaning to do it ever since.  I decided that her birthday was a great chance to put one together!  I started with an old jean skirt of mine.  I cut off the back being careful to cut behind the belt loops on the sides so that the apron front would have two sets of loops for attaching garden gadgets.  I cut off the back pockets, going around the seams with enough room to stitch them down again later.

Make sure you pin up the existing pockets in the front so that you don't accidentally sew them down when you attach the other pockets.  You want these to remain functional as well!  Sew the back pockets onto the front.  I used a red zig-zag to give it some personality and then top-stitched over it to lock it down. 

I then cut various strips of fabric to add embellishments.  I started by adding a small white ruffle to each side.  When I make ruffles I usually cut the fabric about 1" wider and about 150% to 200% longer than I want the finished ruffle to be.  The longer you make it, the fuller the ruffle will be.

I then added a non-ruffled red strip to each side before adding the final ruffle to the bottom.  I chose fabric that had a "bandanna" sort of feel to it.
Here is the finished product minus the straps.  I forgot to take a picture of it after I attached them for some reason.  They were made of the white fabric, and are long enough to wrap around and run through the belt loops and tie in a little knot at the front.  Or you can simply tie them in the back.  This project could also be done with jeans (not just jean skirts) fairly easily.  It was a fun change of pace from what I normally make!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

My "Eddie Cap" from Mushroom Villagers tutorial

Today's project was borrowed from Irene at Mushroom Villagers.  She calls this the "Eddie Cap."  I don't fancy myself a mad hatter, but I gave it a shot.  I had some polka-dotted flannel left over from a teddy bear I made.  That's him on the right.
Anyways, I won't show every step since the tutorial is linked and is very thorough.  I followed it pretty much exactly.  The parts to keep in mind are to clip all curved edges so that it lays nicely and to cut into your bill to so that it isn't too long and floppy.  The tutorial says to cut a curve on the unfinished edge so that the center of the bill is about 3" long but I think 2.5" would be even better for a toddler.  The bill on my finished hat was a bit big.  I lined it with two layers of interfacing.  Some people use things like milk jug plastic of other refurbished items to stiffen bills, so be creative!
The bill is attached to a band lined in interfacing (this lining isn't necessary, but is probably a good idea).  A second band is attached to give the bottom of the hat a finished edge.  The top is an octagon that is folded with 2 little folds on each of 4 sides (8 total folds)  This is then attached between the two bands.  This step was a little confusing, but I think the tutorial explained it as well as it could.

Here is the finished hat on a balloon because my daughter wasn't being a cooperative model this morning.  She did let me get one picture while she was sipping milk and watching cartoons though.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Next on the Agenda...

I'm back from my vacation touring the Western side of the Mid-West and got inspired to make a few things.  For one, my daughter needs a prairie style sun bonnet and matching full-coverage apron.  I also took the time to learn to spin wool.  I've always wanted to spin wool at home because I think it would be awesome to take a project from beginning to end in that way.  The problem with this fantasy is that I don't live somewhere convenient for raising sheep, so I couldn't start at the very beginning, and I can't knit very well at all.  My crocheting is pretty blah for the most part, meaning that, yes I can crochet things like scarves, simple hats, granny squares, pot holders, simple blankets, etc..., but not sweaters or anything with real form to it, and these limitations make spinning my own wool seem like overkill! 

And for those wanting to know, which I imagine there is no one(!) but I'm going to tell you anyways, yes, I'm wearing a dress in this picture that I made for myself.  I hope to someday have enough stuff to wear a majority of home-sewn clothes.  Right now I only have a few pieces, but I'm getting there!

Also in the world of very cool, when I got home from vacation, waiting on my stoop was a box of 53 vintage patterns that I won on eBay for well less than $1 a piece.  Most of them are from the 1960s and I adore them.  These are just a few of them.  Many of them are uncut and all of the ladies ones are *gasp* my size.  There are tons of little girl ones for my baby too :-)  I'm too excited about these.  I love vintage styles (40s, 50s, 60s) most of all since they are so flattering to the female figure.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Leaving on a Jet Plane. Well actually, a tiny two-door hatchback.

Bethany Sew-&-Sew is going to explore the fashions of northern half of the Midwest this coming week.  Hopefully I'll come home with some great ideas!  (Okay, so I'm actually going just to relax and see some stuff I haven't seen before).

Anyways, this is my daughter eating "princess pancakes."  Which are basically pancakes with food coloring (they're pink) and sprinkles in them, topped off with powdered sugar.  I try to make her food...ummm...healthy?  Well, not really, but it's pretty.

This is me at Kansas City's Planet Comicon in 2009 wearing Joel Pfannestiel's crazy "soul-reading" glasses (he runs the Astrokitty Comic book shop in Lawrence, KS btw).  I'm putting this here simply because I've always liked this picture.  I'm wearing my Incredible Hulk t-shirt too.  Gotta love Comic Book Conventions.  Okay, so time to pack for my vacation!

And for everyone else out there in cyber world, Sew Sew Sew!  Or at the very least, Craft, Craft, Craft!

Friday, August 20, 2010

How to Make a Laptop Sleeve--Tutorial!

To make a laptop sleeve, first you need to measure your laptop.  Measure it from the front latch all the way around and back to the latch, then measure the width of it.  Add a couple inches for seam allowance to each of these measurements.  At this point, cut a rectangle the size you just measured.  I used a pre-quilted scrap piece I had.  Fold this in half and sew it together leaving the top open.  I sewed it down the folded side as well so that both sides would have a seam and it would look more uniform.  I then "blanket-stitched" around it to finish off the raw edges.  I then cut another rectangle to make a flap.  I just eyeballed how big to make it by holding the fabric up to my sleeve.  I blanket-stitched all the way around it and then I centered and sewed it onto the top of one side of my sleeve.  At this point the project is really close to finished!
I also blanket-stitched around the top perimeter and then sewed it down to make a nice clean edge at the top.
The last step is to sew velcro onto the underside of the flap and the front side of the case.  Put your laptop into the case and fold the flap over to see where the velcro should go (if you do this with the case empty you might put the velcro too low.)  And here it is, a nice quilted laptop sleeve!

You could also do this without using pre-quilted fabric if you want to use batting and line it separately.  Of you could use fleece or felt or any number of other things.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Quick Sew McCall's Dress

I made this dress (McCall's M6070) for a good friend.  The fabric looks black in the photo but it is actually a dark green.  This dress proved to be a pretty simple pattern, so I'll probably be making another one for myself!  I think it's a universally flattering style.  I pinned it to fit my mannequin in the picture, but since my mannequin has a very very small chest and no shoulders the dress doesn't looked filled out right.  (I also boosted the color to show you the green because my camera made it look black and it is such a pretty color!)  Now I just need to fit it to it's owner and make sure it works!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Another simple "1 Hour Dress"

Friday I attempted another 1-Hour dress.  I love the idea of simple to make clothes, although usually simple means no structure, which can mean no real style.  This is Butterick "Fashion Express" pattern B5211.  It is described as "Fast & Easy," which in my opinion is quite accurate.  If I hadn't made a couple smack yourself on the forehead sort of mistakes, I could have made this in the 1 hour stated (plus about 30 minutes for cutting out the pattern and fabric).  I was worried about this one fitting me since the models on the package have no hips and the dress is pretty shapeless.  I made dress B (the blue one).

I made this dress out of a blue twin sheet I got at the thrift store for $1.99.  I really like using cheap bedsheets for "rough drafts" of dresses and things because I hate to cut up fabric I adore without knowing if I'm going to like what I'm doing with it!  I had to adjust the sizing on this one to be a size smaller on top than on the bottom, but that's pretty easy to do with dress patterns.  You just cut along the size you want, slowly sliding your scissors over to the larger size you want as you cut past the waist (or at least that's how I do it!).

This dress does absolutely nothing for me without a belt.  I love love love the retro vibe of it and I am starting to really adore dresses with pockets (which I used to hate because I thought they added too much bulk to my already prominent hips).  I think with age comes confidence though because I'm no longer afraid to let my hips be what they are!  This pattern is a great project for a novice because if you leave the pockets out, there is absolutely nothing to it (not that pockets are hard, but you could make it even more simple).  The back has a button closure at the top (I used a hook and eye).  I think I will remake this one using some awesome fabric since I like the bed sheet version.  I'm thinking of making a version I can wear in the fall with a jacket and tights.

Friday, August 13, 2010

A Spot of Life

Check out my new crazy cool magnet!  I was given this by the very creative and cool Lea from the Red Rocket Webstore.  I love it.  If you aren't in the know, it's the hearts from Zelda (one of my all-time favorite games ever.

I also wanted to share a picture of my sewing partner, Cordelia (or Delia as we often call her).  She usually hangs out by my sewing machine whenever I'm working.  She is very useful at tangling up thread and chasing bobbins across the floor.  Her brother, Fitzgerald, does these things as well, but usually behind my back.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

How to Make a Quick and Versatile Stretch Knit Skirt

A couple weeks ago I saw a bolt of stretch knit, red and white striped fabric at a flea market for $7.99 and bought it.  Since then I've been staring at it trying to figure out what to do with it.  Today I was determined to make at least one project out of it.  I decided to make a quick little simple skirt.  I cut a waist band by just cutting a long strip of fabric and tying it around my waist.  I marked where I tied it on each side of the bow so that I'd know how must material I needed left to be able to tie it on my hip.
 I also cut out two big rectangles the length I wanted my skirt to be and the width of my waist so each was big enough to go around me by themselves.  I wanted a full skirt so I sewed these together on both sides making a large tube.  I gathered up the top and sewed it to the waist band, leaving the ends of the waist band loose so that I could tie them.  I had to stretch the waist band as I sewed it.  The finished skirt took less than 30 minutes to make (although I still haven't hemmed the bottom).
I like it best as a high-waisted skirt tied on the side.  (For me, my natural waist counts as high-waisted since I usually wear everything on my hips!)  I realized later that the skirt is quite versatile.

It works as a comfy summery top if you put the ties in the center above your bust and tie it behind your neck.  I was surprised at how much I liked it that way since I never intended this to be a top.  I also like it lower on my hips although it isn't as flattering!

Monday, August 9, 2010

A sundress designed by Bethany Sew-&-Sew

I wanted to make a sundress for myself based on a dress I saw on craftster.org (I looked but couldn't find the direct link to it), but that one wasn't going to work for my body type.  I had to rethink it and come up with my own design.  I started by creating a tube that fit loosely over my body from the chest down.  I'm a hippy girl hence the trapezoid shape!  I didn't measure the length since I just cut it to the right length later.  I also cut out the shape you see to the right.  This started as a long rectangle cut to fit around my chest (the same length as the circumference of the top of the other piece), but later I decided it needed to have a dip in the back.  I then hemmed the entire top of it.
I made channels on the two ends of this piece where the straps I made would be inserted.  The straps are made from scrap fabric that I braided.  I sewed off the ends of the braids so they wouldn't unravel and then threaded them through the channels I made on the end of the top piece.
I sewed this piece around the circumference of the top of the dress, making sure to sew in the straps at the bottom of the channels.  At this point the dress was almost wearable!  I sewed some elastic into my seam allowance under the bust to get a good fit and then knotted the straps at the top of the bust after scrunching them to where they fit well.  I later decided to sew the fabric together behind the knot in order to get a better, tighter fit.
Here is the close up of the top.  I really like the braided straps.  I have to admit that I saw this done on another dress, so it's not my original idea, but I had never done it before.  I like the dress since it is very comfortable, but mostly because I made it and I really like the fabric.  Sorry this picture is so blurry.  It's hard to take pictures of yourself with a three year old running around!