Tiny Dresses and Bees

Dexter and I had a lovely evening at the park today. He was thrilled to find the entire area swarming with bumblebees. It was actually quite relaxing to watch them go about their buzzy business.

My mind has been preoccupied with lots of different types of bees lately… Particularly quilting bees.

I never manage to catch the beginning of a quilting bee, I just see blocks showing up on blogs I follow. So I’m toying with the idea of starting my own, although I honestly don’t know if I could come up with 12 interested quilters.

*If* I do this, these are the things I’m mulling over:

I’d definitely want it to be continental US only, because of shipping. During my research I saw some people say that there are 2 ways of doing things. You can either mail out fabric so you can control what goes into your quilt, or you can agree to use your own stash to create blocks for each quilt. The first option will be pricier. I am open to suggestions on that point.

I’ll also judge by interest whether to do a year long bee or a 6 month bee.

And I will be thinking about how many blocks each person should make, depending on the number of people interested and the agreement of quilt size and block number and size. (A typical bee consists of 12 members, 12 months, 1 block per person per month.)

So leave a comment if you’re interested in something like this. I will continue to update the status of the potential quilting bee when I have more info!

And for my followers who may not know about virtual quilting bees and really just keep up with my blog because you love me, tell me if you want more info. I didn’t go into what a quilting be really is because it’s getting late and I still want to watch TV with Alex :).

Finally, I made some dresses for my sister’s baby (Full disclosure, I may be more excited about this baby than any other baby besides my own. I LOVE the dickens out of all my nephews. But I’m really REALLY excited about this little girl person!) and I wanted to give a heads up that I will be putting out a tutorial and pattern for them very soon!

 

 

Link: Training Pants Pattern

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Occasionally, I trip around my WordPress dashboard, noting sporadic spikes in readership. Usually those are from mentions here and there on fellow bloggers’ pages. But, taking a look at my data just now, I discovered that someone has does something WONDERFUL with one of my tutorials.

Amber at Mom Road has created a pattern based on my Training Pants Tutorial! I can’t thank her enough, because I keep promising that I will gain the ability to produce patterns, and I never do.

I plan to print out her pattern and size it for Dex, because *whisper* I never even got around to making a pattern for myself! I just kept my ruined prototype pieces. So there is my confession of the day: I never officially used my own training pants because the knit was too tight and I got discouraged and never modified them! Any wonder why I never put out patterns Winking smile ?? Thanks so much, Amber!!

Postage Stamp Quilt (Am I Crazy???)

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I’ve always wanted to do a block quilt, possibly out of 4” squares… sometime in the distant future, because that would take forever, right??

But then I saw this beautiful postage stamp quilt over at The Curious Quilter, made of 2” squares, and I felt I must rise to the challenge.

I told the creator (borrowing from her comments section):

“one of my favorite parts of the process is dreaming up my new creation. i do enjoy piecing (by machine) but i don’t enjoy the technical planning stage (figuring out how much fabric i need and how big everything needs to be), it just seems like it takes all the fun out of it. i just want to create!!!”

And she replied with this great advice for getting started:

“Thank you! Actually this is a great project for you then. Every time you make something, cut yourself a few two inch squares. When you have a pile, start sewing them into squares of 64 each, for a 12.5 inch block. You can assemble blocks using the Classic Squares Tutorial, but with two inch squares instead of ten inch ones. Over time, you will build a healthy pile of blocks!”

So I recently got started! I cut up tons of scraps into two inch squares while I was watching tv. (Got to love a simple, mindless task!) After a while I thought maybe I had enough for about half a quilt. I counted my squares… 420.

I checked Mary’s blog again to see how many squares I’d need. And I realized I didn’t pay enough attention before. That beautiful quilt is made up of 4096 pieces!!!!

At least I’ve made a dent 🙂

Anyone up for a quilt-along? If so, hop on over to The Curious Quilter and check out her postage stamp quilts. She calls them “Big Hugs”, and really, after that much work, that is exactly what they are! And the quilts can be very personal, made up of favorite fabrics or bits of old, well-loved clothing.

She also has great storage tips for all those teensy squares.  Don’t do what I’m doing… you can see mine are all thrown into a box and that I didn’t even iron the fabric before I cut it.

Book Review: Illustrated Guide to Sewing: Couture Techniques: The Home Sewer’s Guide to Creating Designer Looks

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I’ve been given the opportunity to review a few books in this line, and I chose Couture Techniques first because I knew I didn’t have the slightest clue about what constitutes couture. And I was right!

I thought couture was just a fancy schmancy term for “expensive clothing made by famous designers.” But really, these garments are set apart for a reason. So much thought and care goes into how these pieces are created, resulting in well-fitting, long-lasting, beautiful clothing.

This book was surprisingly easy to understand. I wondered if I’d just be wading through fashion-industry-gibberish accented by pretty pictures of clothing. Instead I found user-friendly charts and lots of great diagrams that teach you how to do everything, from choosing the right fabrics for your purpose to trouble-shooting common problems in clothing design.

You won’t learn how to draft patterns here, but you will learn a lot about fitting existing paper patterns to your measurements. It has never been quite clear to me how to execute those changes, and I’m certain this will be a valuable resource next time I’m working on my pieces.

The only thing I actually missed were more pictures of the final products. Partially so I’d have a better idea of whether or not I’d like to attempt some of the techniques (a tie collar?? I’ve got to see someone looking cute in that before I’ll attempt it!), but mostly because I like to look at pretty pictures 🙂

I’d be surprised if any intermediate seamstress was disappointed in this book. It might be overwhelming for newbies, but it wouldn’t be a bad idea to check it out. I could have benefitted from some of these tips long ago!

*Note: When looking for this book, I’ve seen the title listed 2 different ways. On the cover it says “Home Sewer’s Guide”, but it is listed everywhere as “Home Sewing Guide”. I don’t know how important this distinction is, but I thought I should point it out. I went with what was on the cover!

Tutorial: Easy Robot Appliqué

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This story begins with a Bert and Ernie marathon. My son loves Ernie and talked us into watching probably 30 clips on YouTube before nap. He’s very persuasive 🙂

I started thinking how cool it would be to surprise him with an Ernie shirt, and in my search for Ernie inspiration, I stumbled across an awesome it’s-already-been-done tutorial over at MADE. It’s almost exactly what I was hoping to do! But I realized that I didn’t have all the colors I need, and I’m also hoping to do some textures, especially in the hair. So we’re shelving Ernie for later.

But I still had the crafting itch, and it’s been a while since I’ve made something for our family. I’ve been on a steady diet of car seat ponchos (separating zippers, AAAGH), so I really needed something to cleanse the palate.

Dexter has also been deeply immersed in a robot craze, so it didn’t take long for me to change directions.

Step 1: Sketch an awful picture of a robot that you will quickly scrap.

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Step 2: Cut out trapezoids for the head and body, rectangles for the legs and feet, and then shapes for the arms and hands. I used a pincher-type hand, and then I wanted the arms to broaden near the hands. The fabric I used was gray t-shirt scraps.

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Step 3: Place and pin the pieces. I liked the way the pieces didn’t quite touch.

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Step 4: Sew around the edges of the  pieces. I used a black thread, about 1/8” away from the edge. I didn’t use backing, adhesive, or stabilizer, but it might make it  easier to keep the pieces in place if you’re nervous. I didn’t take pictures of the sewing process, so hopefully that’s pretty simple to figure out. Just remember to not sew through all the layers!! You want your shirt to be wearable 🙂 I know this sounds obvious, but it’s exactly the sort of thing I might do without thinking. My robot is still messy in this picture, but eventually clip the threads.

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Step 5: Add features! You can use buttons, fabric, stitching, or paint. Be creative! I took a minimalist approach and I love it! I love that I had a deep red button to sew over the “heart” area 🙂

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When Dexter saw the shirt this morning, he cheered, “Robot!!!” and I knew it was worth the work 🙂

My little photographer was pretending to take pictures of me with the lens cap. He kept saying, “Cheese!!”

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I also like how keeping the pieces separated allows the robot to have a little movement. It’s funny how he looks slumped over when Dex is sitting 🙂

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Dexter is not a fan of photo shoots these days. Even though I don’t force him to do anything, besides stand at least 10 feet away from me, there is something in him that just makes him resist  having pictures taken. It must be the genes he got from his dad!! Here’s where we had to break so he could crawl at me, growling like a monster.

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And then he rests…

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De-Stash Giveaway #2

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I bought this fabric with the intention of making curtains, but after several years of procrastination, I now know I don’t actually want sheer blue-brown curtains!

I haven’t recently measured this, but I think there are around 5 full yards! It would make great fabric for layers in a formal dress. I’m not sure what the fabric is, but it is translucent and is blue with brownish tones from different angles.

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Leave a comment to enter. Please include your email address in case you win! (Also, check out giveaway #1 for more details and for a chance to win other fabrics!)

Toddler Hoodie Tutorial

Time for my long-awaited return to the blogging world! This past month has been full of sick family members and other craziness. After my nephew recovered, my son got sick. That was a 2 week ordeal (Thankfully not as intense as it was with my poor nephew!!) and just when it felt like Dexter would never be Dexter-y again, suddenly he was! So things are slowly coming back around to “normal”, if that term can be applied to my everyday life.

Now, let’s get down to business.

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This tutorial will include a walkthrough of how I created and assembled my new toddler hoodie pattern. What it does not currently include is the pattern (boo), but as soon as I figure out how to create and attach printable files I will do an update! Until then, you can create your own pattern the way I did: Take one of your child’s shirts and trace all the pieces, adding about a half-inch seam allowance. Don’t forget how much your seam allowance was (maybe write it on your pattern) because if you don’t sew enough your shirt could be a little big, or worse, too tight if you sew too much. I did choose a roomy cut because I wanted my son to be comfortable and for this shirt to last for several seasons. The sleeves are a little long, but we cuff them.

If you don’t have a shirt that has everything you want, then use multiple shirts to get your pieces! I used a jacket of Dexter’s to trace the hood for this pattern.

Choose your fabrics, and have fun doing it! You can make the shirt entirely out of the same material, but this pattern is perfect for using up scraps! (In another blog I’ll show you just how scrap-friendly this pattern can be!)

You will need 5 total pieces: 1 front, 1 back, 2 sleeves, 2 hood halves. In the following pictures, you can see that I originally planned to just use a regular neckband, but decided to take a chance and make my first hoodie!

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I have LOTS of scrap knit fabric, so I cut the front out of the graphic area of one of my husband’s old tees, and then used a fabric for the back that was similar to the front. Then I used the dark green for all the accent pieces.

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Here is a tip for the arms: Cut along the length of an already hemmed tee if you want hemmed sleeves. You’ll learn later that you don’t have to hem at all, but if you want that finished look (and don’t have a serger) this is an easy way to cheat and get it.hoodie tute 7

I did the same thing with the hood, laying my pattern piece so the hem created the part of the hood that frames the face.

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Then put the front and back right sides together, and sew (ZIG ZAG!!!) along the shoulders and sides.

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Next, sew down the length of the sleeves. Do NOT sew around the shoulder curve. You would sew the upper arm of your sleeve shut, rendering the sleeve useless, and making you a big dummy. It’s possible I might have done that one a shirt recently, but I will neither confirm nor deny it in this particular blog post.

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Also, if you decide to go with the pre-hemmed look, I suggest that you start your stitches at the wrist side of the sleeve, that way it will definitely match up and look a little neater. (Side note: don’t freak out that I’m using 2 different thread colors. It means nothing other than that I was too impatient to wind a matching bobbin.)

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Attach your sleeves to your shirt. Keep the body of the shirt inside out, but turn the sleeves. Place the sleeves inside the shirt. Match seams at the shoulder first, and then at the underarm if things work out well.

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I did have a problem here. And if upload my pattern and you use it, you will possibly have the same problem. The shoulder of the sleeve was a little bigger than the armhole for the body. The way I corrected this is not ideal, and if you’re OCD about these things, the following truth-bomb might make your head explode: I just folded the excess fabric at the armpit and went on with my life.

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It might be a little hard to tell, unless you click to enlarge the picture, but you can see where I’m making about a half-inch overlap here.  I just pinned it with the fold toward the back (I’m not OCD enough to care about the fold, but my seams WILL face the same direction. Always toward the back.) and sewed right over it. I never even see the gather when my son is wearing it. If you’re making this hoodie for a girl and this problem pops up, use the excess fabric to make subtle gathers at the top of the shoulder! It will be a cute addition, and no one will ever know you didn’t plan it.

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Take a minute and admire your almost-finished shirt! I always love this stage because you can see that it’s really happening! Also, it never hurts to model the shirt at this stage to make sure no adjustments are needed! if it’s just way too huge, you could always put a seam down the middle of the front or back. it might not work with every design, but this particular shirt is pretty forgiving. My next blog about the pattern will show how seams can be used effectively when working with scraps, so I’m certain it would work for sizing issues and be just fine.

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Next sew the 2 hood parts together (right sides together). Remember to match up your finished edges and sew from there if you want to be certain there won’t be weird overlap.

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Ok. There comes a time in every tutorial where I’m so focused on the finish line that I forget to take pictures. This is that time. And I’m not happy that it’s the hood-attachment part, because that took some time for me to figure out. I’ll do my best to explain it verbally, and I apologize if it’s just too unclear.

With this pattern, the 2 sides of the hood will overlap. I marked the center of the back of the shirt and matched the hood seem up with that. I didn’t explain earlier, and when I upload the pattern it will be marked, but the hood slopes down toward the face. the short part is the back.

So, your shirt is right side out this time, the hood attached on the outside, with the right side facing the shirt. Start pinning the neck, matching the centers of the shirt and the hood. When you get around to the front, overlap the sides. This might be preferential, but when the hoodie is on, the left side overlaps the right side. If that’s what you want, pin left side down first, and lay the right side over that. Then sew all around the neckline.

Here you can see the slight overlap of the finished hood.

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Lastly, evaluate any unhemmed areas. (Check the bottom of the shirt, the sleeves, and the hood edge). Either turn those areas under and stitch (I hope you’ve been zig-zagging. Always zig-zag when sewing knits with a regular sewing machine, or your seam will pop when stretched!!) or, you can leave them raw. In a lot of cases it’s perfectly fine to not even stitch, but if you’re worried at all about unraveling, go ahead and stitch near the edge.

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And there you have it! A finished hoodie! Clip the treads and trim any really wide seams, and you’re done!

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Put it on your kid and take some awesome pictures 🙂

Dexter wasn’t extremely pleased to model immediately after nap, but he did what he could!

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Thanks for making it through the excessive Dexter pictures! I could claim that I included so many so you could see what you could expect your hoodie to look like, but really I was just showing off my baby lol. Send me a link if you try the tutorial!!! I’d love to see other people’s interpretations of the design!