Saturday, October 17, 2009

Little Dresses for Little Girls

It seems to be the year when all the babies being born in my life are little girls. And I have no problem with that, at all. Of course I would love any boy baby as well, but little girls are so much easier to make things for. I whipped a couple of dresses for our friends' new daughter and for a friend expecting her first daughter in the Spring, just to get her excited.

The pattern is Simplicity Newlook 6576. I love this pattern so much. It is super easy to make because there are only four pattern pieces to cut, maybe five, depending on how you want to finish the hem.
I have tried a bunch of different patterns and have found that using a lining for the bust of the dress is so much easier and looks so much better than trying to wrestle with bias tape around those little tiny arm holes. The bias tape never lies flat and just seems to look a little sloppy. I vear off from the pattern directions and finish the bottom lining with my overlock machine which takes all of two minutes and looks so great. Fast and easy, just like me.

I hemmed each dress a little differently. For the orange floral, I used my overlock machine to finish the dress and then sewed ribbon over the edge. It was super fast and looks great. It also gets me around the trouble I seem to have when hemming an A-line skirt that comes with the wider fabric needing to be tucked into the more narrow part of the skirt. I am sure there is a trick to it but I sure haven't been able to figure it out. If anyone has any tips, I am all ears.

I didn't take a close up of the hem on the dress above but if you look closely, you can see the hem I made with the same material I used for the lining. I roughly traced the curve and angle of the bottom of the dress, finished the top of the hem with my overlock machine and then sewed the hem to the dress, right sides together. I flipped the hem over, pressed it and then sewed the top of the hem to the dress, as you can see the seam in the picture above. I also top stictched the lower seam to give it a more finished look.

Now that I am getting so good with this pattern, I should probably start making my girl a couple of these. I love that it is so versitile and can be used with winter cordoroy or light weight summer cottons.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Working My Way Down The List

I actually have three running lists of things to do before having this baby. I could consolidate them but it makes me feel more sane if they are divided up by category, and naturally, one category is sewing projects. As I have lamented before, the early pregnancy and move really cramped my sewing style. Now that I am up and running, I only have a few more weeks to get caught up on my projects, including making some baby quilts for some newborn friends.

This quilt was inspired by a post from Pink Chalk Studio of a picture of a quilt she saw at the Spring Quilt Market. The post and image were tagged immediately and squirreled away as inspiration. Since I don't have a lot of time for a quilt top with intricate piecing, this seemed like the perfect design for something simple but different.

I also really wanted to use fabrics from my stash for so many reasons, but mostly because I have a lot of great fabrics that should be used and not just folded up for me to look at and move around the country. Seriously, I buy them and then refuse to cut. Lame.

The way I picked the fabric was actually happenstance. I was poking through my stash and realized that the 6 or 7 fabrics I would need for this quilt were already picked for me just by the way I had sorted the fabrics. If you look closely, you can see that I just grabbed fabrics from the right hand side, easy breezy.

And here is the quilt in all its finished glory. It does need a wash so it can get all crinkly and lovely but I am just too tired to wash it tonight and am too excited to wait until tomorrow to do the photo shoot and blog post.

I wanted a color pallet and prints that would be feminine but not too baby. If I had more time and less of a belly, I would totally make a larger version of this quilt for my house. It was actually so easy to do, I just might, but I might wait until after the baby is born before I wrestle another queen size quilt.

I don't know why it has taken me so long to do a quilt binding with a striped fabric cut on the bias - I absolutely love the way it looks and can't for the life of me figure out why I am not doing it all the time. It is just so cute.

This will go off in the mail on Monday to my new little friend in Brooklyn. Hopefully it will keep her warm this winter or at least provide a fun and colorful place for tummy time.

Fun With Furniture, Part 2

My in-laws are superstars. They have a great eye for furniture, great bargaining skills and love to share whatever they find with me! They picked up this chair for me recently and it just blew me away. It is such a cool piece and needed a little work, which is exactly the sort of thing I want to get my hands on.

My father-in-law fixed the crack in the side so well you can't even tell there was ever a problem but the upholstery needed to be redone. It was tired and the burlap texture was just too much for my cat to resist scratching.

I have been reading upholstery books and watching online tutorials about how to do more advanced upholstery over the past couple of weeks. I was ready to up my game from slip seats and benches to more complicated stuff. I did learn some great basic techniques from these videos if anyone is interested. And of course, now I want a long nose staple gun that can attach to an air compressor sooooooo much. Maybe Santa will read this post and think of me in December.

Here is the chair before:

And here is the chair after:

The seat for this chair was easy breezy but the back was a little tricky. It required that I take the entire chair apart, which wasn't really that hard. Because of my delicate condition, I needed my husband's help on this one and we decided not to rebuild the cushions since the back of the chair was a little tricky. I have a feeling that I will redo this chair again down the road and take it all apart, but decided to play it safe the other night by just adding fabric over the existing fabric and foam. Cheating, maybe, but it still looks good.

Here is the chair modeling with another recent in-law acquisition, the most lovely mid-century modern secretary in my guest room. I imagine my guests sitting in the chair, writing me love notes to leave behind after their stay.

This is definitely a project that went well enough but my skills will definitely be improved with more practice, but overall, I am really happy with the way things turned out. I used Amy Butler's August Fields decorator weight fabric for the redo. The material was easy to work with and felt strong enough to be stretched nice and snug without warping.

Fun With Furniture, Part 1

Redoing furniture has been an interest of mine for a long while. I was able to redo some chairs and a bench back in NYC, but that was about the extent of what I could in my tiny apartment. But now that I am out of the city, with access to all this great, really crazy inexpensive furniture that is just crying out to be redone and the space to finally work, I am finally getting to almost fully embrace my dream of redoing furniture to my heart's content. (I say almost because I am almost 9 months pregnant so I am slightly hindered by a giant belly).

Here is my first project - the bench. My in-laws picked this up at a garage sale and I quickly snatched it up from them. I wasn't in the market for a bench but I wanted an easy project that I could do as a warm up.

There is an upholstery supply store near me so I picked up some foam and dacron to rebuilt the bench and some new paint. I have plenty of upholstery weight fabric in my stash and ended up using some lovely silk that was given to me by someone special who also really loves fabric. She bought this fabric at ABC in New York and then gave it to me when she was moving.

And here it is looking all cute and fancy:

And here it is in it's temporary home in my bedroom. Since this wasn't a planned project, I don't really have a place for it yet. I imagine it eventually in my girl's room, once she has a room of her own, but that won't be for a while. I know I am playing fast and loose using silk with a small child, but then again, I am a risk taker.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Another Commissioned Quilt

My good friend asked me to make her niece a quilt back when I was still a New Yorker. We went to Purl together and picked out these fabulous fabrics, which were them promptly packed away in boxes and moved across the country. This design is becoming my go-to pattern - I love picking the fabrics and finding the balance in the block combinations, which are highlighted with the white frames.

The Echino fabric that my friend chose for the back is my favorite part of the quilt. It ties in the colors from the quilt top and more importantly, looks like I put a lot more work into the back than I actually did.

I apologize for the terrible quality of the pictures. I was rushing to take a couple of shots before the post office closed for the day. Maybe I will get some action shots to supplement my meager collection. I will keep my fingers crossed.

Thank You Presents

We have been blessed with amazingly generous friends who have shared and given us so much baby stuff. It has been such a huge relief because 1) baby stuff is expensive, and 2) I have no idea what a baby needs so having experienced parents share their knowledge is pretty awesome.

As a way to thank you, I put together a little care package for one family. I tried making some dolls again for the twin girls and a tote for the mom. I am sure the dad could use the tote too, but my money is on the mom claiming dibs on it.

The dolls are tricky and I am still on the fence about how I feel about making them and the final product. They are funky, that's for sure. I didn't bother to make a pattern (as you can tell from the differences between the two dolls) and wanted to make them close enough that it would feed twin rivalry but wanted them different enough that they could be clearly distinguished.

I hope they will hold up to some intense 1 1/2 year old love and kept them free of any buttons or other things that could get loose. I added a little apron to each doll because the little ones might enjoy untying the bows and I know the mom is going to just love me for giving her another job to do when she has to tie them back on.

The tote is super simple - I didn't line it and just sewed and trimmed off the corners of the to create a flat bottom. I love the fabric, which I picked up in Mexico.

Hopefully the family will like their homemade treats and will send me some action shots (hint hint).