Thursday, June 30, 2011


Thursday is my day off... sorta.  Instead of babysitting, we run all over, getting errands done.  And my errands are done today!  My entries into the Pattern Review Vintage Contest are in--I entered the Hollywood dress and the mail order pattern that I finished yesterday.  I've been experimenting with making hair bows, and I made tractor bows to go with Evie's tractor outfit today.  I also redid the top for it, (it's not quite finished yet because I haven't sewn the patch on) and made her an Independence Day dress.

This is fast becoming my go-to dress for toddler and little girl sundresses.  It's fast, easy, and my SIL and niece are in love with it.  While it is an Independence Day dress, I'm confident that it can be worn for much more than that.  And since it's such an easy option for my SIL to put on the Bit, it's sure to see lots of wear. 

Here's a detail of the fabric.  It's cotton, of course.  I seem to do most of my sewing in cotton--though that makes sense here in Georgia because it's lightweight and breathable!

Hope y'all had a great sewing day!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Can I sleep now? ;)

I spent so long trying to creep under deadlines and pulling all nighters to do it that I'm used to being on weird schedules.  Three hours of sleep and the girls arrived.  Took me all afternoon to get the buttonholes and button done, and the dress ironed, but I did it! 

It is, perhaps a touch long.  It's a bit past her knee, but with the way the Bit grows, it won't be for too much longer.    I made panties to go underneath, and I think my first foray into drafting missing pieces was a success.  If I did it again, I'd like to go for the sailor collar, which Joanna didn't like, and use smaller rick rack.  Unfortunately, the baby rick rack wasn't available at Joanns in pink and brown when I went after it. 

Here are the matching panties from the pattern.    Honestly, I'm glad it's done and over with.  I have lots more projects to get done, so this being done is a relief!

This is without the sash--it's sewn permanently in place, but with it not tied, it blends easily with the middle section.
The sash provides a waistline and breaks up the brown. I think it looks pretty good! The buttons help, too. I decided on covered buttons instead of plastic to stick with my pink and brown theme. Ran into a problem with the covered buttons, though--

I was rebuttoning it so I could stash it in Nikki's diaper bag for the trip home and the shank bit popped off.  I emailed Dritz to complain.  We'll see if anything comes of it!

And one more for the road--the back of the dress!


Did it again.  Sometimes I get involved in a project and lose track of time.  Next thing I know, it's 9 AM and I haven't been to bed.  At least the result is attractive.  Okay, so it still needs buttons and buttonholes.  But I'm tired, so it can wait until later this afternoon.  The panties to go underneath are finished, too.  I decided pink was the way to go.  The buttons are covered in the brown fabric, and they'll be going all the way down the front.  I also need to fray check the slashes that make the yoke possible.  And take pictures with Bit.  I have matching hair bows and clippies, and I'll need to take a better hangar picture, because it isn't quite straight on this one--the yoke looks crooked, even though it's not.  I'm glad Gracie insisted on a sash.  I don't like the way this looks with out it!  Have a great day, y'all!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

And sometimes, it just doesn't work

I can count on one hand the number of times I've had to scrap a project and start over.  Today makes number 2.  Not bad for twenty-odd years of sewing!  The tractor shirt is garbage.  Sewing on the patch screwed it up, and the fabric is a little more sheer than I thought it was.  And in trying to take the patch off, I, um, accidentally ripped the fabric pretty badly.  My seam ripper went through and the next thing I knew, I had a two-inch tear on the front.  So I spent two hours taking it apart enough to remove the patch, band, and straps.

Sometime this week, we'll go buy some yellow broadcloth to remake it out of.  In the mean time, MO 351 is getting closer to completion--it's all in one piece, but not yet finished.  I need to hemstitch down the back side of one cuff, topstitch both cuff tops, and then turn it up and stitch the bottom and stitch in the ditch on the seam.  The collar and placket need topstitched, too, and I need to hem it and do buttonholes.  And I still need to make the matching panties.  Though since they're of the type that has no side seams, it should be fairly fast.  I'm aiming to have it done before 3 pm tomorrow, because then I can put it on Gracie for pictures.  I even have matching hair bows for it.  Cross your fingers---I'll need all the luck I can get.

Not even noon yet...

It's not even noon yet, and we've already been through two and a half bottles, had to go out to buy diapers, and gone through several fussy sessions.  I also have yet to sew anything because I've been too busy.  Ah, the joy of babies!  Now don't get me wrong--I love babies, and I love Nikki and Gracie.  But when Daddy didn't check the diaper bag for diapers and I have to install the toddler car seat in a different place, do a contortionist act to fasten the toddler in, all while the baby is crying because she hates the car seat and isn't fond of the car, it's hard.  I haven't gotten around to ordering another base for the infant seat yet, either.  And we still need to buy a five-point harness booster for once Gracie grows out of the car seat.... which she's getting close to doing.  Hopefully, my SIL and brother'll be back soon so I can start measuring seam allowances so that I can employ my fav quilt piecing trick so that the t-yoke is a perfect 90 degree angle.  Tomorrow, Joanna starts work, so they're having some grown-up time before she goes back because her maternity leave is up.

Have a good day!

Monday, June 27, 2011

girl tractor outfit.

Tonight, I sewed together the Bit's tractor outfit.  Yes, she is a little girl, but we saved up for a long time to buy a brand new John Deere riding lawnmower that she's taken with.  And she was here while I was cutting out Ricky's tractor shirt and shorts and stole them.  See, she thinks that anything Auntie Laura makes belongs to Gracie.  To be fair, that's true more often than not.  I had to make a deal with her to get the pieces back--I'd make her a summer outfit, too, out of the leftover tractor fabric, and she'd let me have it back.  (Some things just aren't worth fighting over--she needs some summer outfits, anyway, and since it's from leftovers, I count it as free.) So I pulled out a standby summer pattern, Butterick 3477.   I learned the quirks last year--like no matter what it looks like, that shirt is too short.  So I measured the Bit's torso, added two inches in length, and made the longest view plus the band on the bottom.

The main body is pale yellow batiste, which matches the pale yellow in the gingham, with the straps and band in yellow gingham tractor fabric along with the shorts.  I have a green tractor patch that'll be sewed on tomorrow.  It also needs ironed before I send it home, but that's usual, to be honest.    I'm a lazy sewer who tends to skip ironing until the last minute.  Okay, so everything gets ironed while I'm fusing interfacing, and then I skip ironing until the end.  Hm.  I think the patch needs moved down a bit.  Anyway, I'll be finishing this tomorrow and working on MO 351.  And say what you will--this most definitely doesn't look like a little boy's outfit, tractors aside!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sunday again.

It's Sunday again here on Granny Lane.  Last night, I cut out and altered the back of the 3T Itty Bitty dress pattern, and I've decided on the fabric.  I'm going for plain pink for the lining so it goes with the pink binding I bought yesterday afternoon.  I have the two-tone dress cut out (Mail Order 351) and all the fit alterations made.  I lengthened it by five inches, and took off the 1/2 inch seam allowance from the collar, facing, and neck openings.  Through trial and error, I've discovered that Bit doesn't like high necklines because she thinks they choke her.  And her Mommy is the same way.  So if I take off the seam allowances, everybody is happy.

Remember, it's Sunday.  Which if I do sew, translates into disaster day!  So first thing in the morning, I'll fuse the interfacing to the collar, cuffs, and facing.  Because this is a button-front dress--heck, let's just call it a shirt dress, because it might as well be!  I'll be doing 5/8 covered buttons in the brown with pink dot fabric down the front.  I'm making the sashed version because Gracie specifically requested a sash.  I lengthened that by five inches as well.  With a two inch hem, that'll give Bit a 23 inch dress, so it'll hit her at the knee.  I try for that on every dress I make for her, so that she has a bit of room to grow before it's too short.

The hardest part of this was redrafting the collar and cuffs.  The cuff piece was missing, and my SIL doesn't like sailor dresses for some reason.  So I traced the collar, took my french curve, and played connect the dots.  The collar is round now.  And, well, at least the cuff pieces were straight lines.  The collar is plain brown and the cuffs are plain pink.  The sides and sleeves of the dress are brown with pink dots, and the t-yoke center is pink with brown dots.  I'm putting brown rick rack on the pink cuffs and vice versa.    It should be a cute dress!  I haven't decided yes or no on the panties yet, but as Bit still hasn't quite outgrown the pulling up her dress stage, I need to decide if the pants are going to be the pink fabric or the brown.  Part of me thinks that they'll have to be pink so that it doesn't show through.  Not that any of these are sheer, but dark colors do sometimes show through light colors.  Hopefully, I'll be able to finish the dress tomorrow, and then worry about the panties.  Hope y'all had a good weekend!  Happy Sunday!

Ear piercings, infections, and Absorbine Jr.

Okay, this is my sewing blog.  But, well, Gracie has one of her ears infected where it's pierced.  I told my SIL to slap some Absorbine Jr. on it.  The stuff smells like medicine strongly, burns like hell, and then feels better once the pain relieving stuff kicks in.  It will also kill the infection and help it heal faster than anything else.  It's old fashioned and not so well-known as some and I know that Evie will probably hate us for using it because it'll hurt.  But it works better than anything else that's OTC.

My Dad inherited the family's jewelery store back in the 80s.  (This was before the mid-late 80s recession and the big chain jewelery stores drove the little guys out of business.)  Next door was a beauty salon that also handled piercings and it's what they recommended.  It's better than the stuff they hand out to keep you from getting your new piercings infected, too.  I've used both--the stuff they give you, well, I got an infection using it (I had two holes in each ear.  Haven't worn earrings for a long time and have to get them re-pierced if I want to.) that the Absorbine Jr. got rid of.

Honestly?  I'm expecting a tantrum.  Gracie is an easy-going child, but, well, no antiseptic is pleasant.  They all sting if they're any good at all.  (Yes, I believe in iodine, too.)  And I have yet to meet a kid who liked it when you slap one on!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Sewing plans

Another no-sewing day.  Roaches are a fact of life here in the South.  We had a few.  Very, very few.  And then Grandma had a stroke and moved in, complete with her dirty, nasty cocktail that she lets fly free and spread poop, dander, seed and dirt.  Which brought more roaches.  She's moved back to her house, but we were left with the bugs.  We usually bomb twice a year anyway, and the problem she left behind speeded us up.  Today was a bombing day.  Hopefully, the bomb cocktail we let off in the house took care of our problem and we won't have to call in the pros.  So we instead ran errands and went to see Cars 2.  Cute movie.  It's a 007, The Man Who Knew Too Much or perhaps The Man With One Red Shoe  movie mix with a bit of racing thrown in for backdrop.  Enough in jokes for grown-ups to enjoy and cute enough for the kiddies.

I've added two dresses to my sewing list--one for Little Bit and one for Tiny Bit.  Joanna picked up the Itty Bitty Dress, looked at me, looked at Nikki, and pouted.  And then pouted harder when she found out that it also comes in 3T.  So I'll be using some Moda Girlie Girl sunflower fabric and some pink binding to make matching dresses for the Bits. (In reality, the colors are brighter.)  For the lining, I'll find something appropriate in the stash.  I'd prefer a contrasting pattern, just so it looks like it could be reversable.... even though it's not.  I tried that last year with a Itty Bitty Dress for Lizzy.  Even though my sister, Sarah, loved it, I thought it made it hang funny.

Maybe it's just the hanger, but it hangs funny, and I just don't like it.  So I'm not doing a reversible one again.  It was just about the only thing that fit Alina for the first couple months of her life.

I just... didn't think to make one for Nikki.  I've been told repeatedly that they don't need anything for her because they kept all of Gracie's old clothes.  It will be cute, though.  I'm afraid I'm in love with making the girls' clothes match--while they're too little to object!  And I still want to make that layette, anyway.

So my sewing plans for this next week are matching dresses for the girls, and I soo need to make the pink and brown dress for Gracie this week.  It's the last week of the vintage contest, and I need to put in an entry and my two-tone dress its the way to go.  Luckily, it should be fast... especially with my new serger!

Friday, June 24, 2011

baby shower joyousness and other randomness.

Today, for the baby shower, I took with me the Itty Bitty Baby Dress,  (And darn it, but I forgot to take pictures!)  four extra-large receiving blankets,  (the pictured set was for a shower last week and that was a boy... this was a girl, so we had bright pink, bright lavender, teal green, and yellow), and my version of the Hip Mama Diaper Bag.

This is the unfinished picture, because I was in a hurry and never took another.  (It was getting on 5, the shower was at 7, and nothing was wrapped!)  I put my own twist on it.  Inside, there are two extra elastic pockets on the sides, the lining is tacked down on the corners and the sides of the bag, it has an extra piece of interfacing in the back, and the snaps show from the outside.  I learned a long time ago that with bags, all sides need interfacing with heavy-duty interfacing and so does the bag front. And I learned that snaps should go through a minimum of three layers of material, including heavy-duty interfacing if you don't want to it to tear out.  So mine go through the canvas, lining, and interfacing on the flap, and through two layers of canvas and one layer of interfacing on the body of the bag.

All of it was a hit!  The dress, blankets, and bag were all oohed and ahhed over and people were shocked that I made them.  Truthfully, I made it so that it would be sturdier than what I can buy.  And the changing pad shown with the bag is larger than the commercial ones.  Much larger.  You could probably comfortably change a toddler on it.  I may change it up with Penny's and add a layer of batting and a layer of muslin to the interior to make it cushier and comfier to changer her on and it would have the added advantage of making it a bit less floppy.  The top layer is the same as the lining--

It's laminated cotton and bright and happy and cheerful.  And best of all, it's easy to wipe out when inevitably, something gets spilled in the diaper bag. sells scads of laminated cotton... and I had a discount coupon for it, so I didn't pay full price.  (It was also on sale at the time, too.)  Evie picked out the canvas from Hobby Lobby when it was 40% off.  I will be making another.  But this one will be for Penny, and I'll be putting her name on it.  This last one was for a as-yet unnamed baby girl, so the front was bare.  Penny's will be brown and pink, because that's my SIL, Joanna's favorite color combo for her girls.

Heather's aunt offered to pay me to make them, but I told her that since it was a free pattern that I didn't own the rights to, I couldn't do it.  Besides, there's a lot of work and $$ in materials in one of those bags.  Honestly, they're labors of love.  I make stuff like that for people I care about, but it would cost people too much for them.  After all, I have around $50 invested in materials for it.  Add on labor and considering that the originals, the Queen Bee Diaper bag, which the Hip Mama bag is a copy of, sells for around $150, there's not really a profit in it.  By the time she paid for my materials and labor, she'd not be able to resell them for enough to make a profit.  I prefer making kids' clothes.  They're faster, easier, and, well, I love making cuteness!

A couple days back, I promised pictures of the finished jammies for Joanna's birthday.  I have the pics, but I never got around to posting it.  (Yes, I do need a round TUIT.  I lost mine.)

Here's the tank top.  Remember, this is Simplicity 3971.  It has a tank top, button-up PJ shirt, and PJ pants.  The knit was easier than I thought it would be. Especially after I serged the raw edges before I hemmed.

The ribbon piece in back it my version of a label, and I put a bow in the front so it was even easier to tell front from back.

Here's the pants  It's a cotton/poly blend.  Lovely and lightweight for sleeping in during Georgia's 100 degree summers.  And I cut 3 inches off the rise so they weren't so high waisted.

And the matching top.  I cut the pocket and the cuffs on the bias, actually following directions this time.  I think I prefer cutting them on the grain because the stretch makes it difficult to work with.  I also glued the pocket seam allowances down to make it easier to top stitch on.  The buttons are a matching blue--the value buttons that cost around $0.90 at Joanns.

And to make it even better, they were a big hit with Joanna.  She says that they're her favorite jammies ever and swears they're the most comfortable things in existence.

Thank goodness birthdays are over with for the next few months.  And no events, either.  So it's back to sewing for me and mine.  Tomorrow, I'll talk about my new pants... which was a semi-successful experiment.  I didn't have enough fabric for traditional jeans, so I made mock jeans with an elastic waistband.... which needs taken in as it's a little big.  And I think I'm going to need to re-hem them higher.  We'll see!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Brilliant basics

Tonight, I'm not talking about sewing progress, or lack thereof .  (pants cut out.  Simple pull on ones because I didn't have enough fabric for real jeans)  Much.  Or the exhaustion that comes from taking care of a two-month-old fussy baby and an active three-year-old.  Instead, I thought I'd talk about sewing tools.

I've heard a lot about things people think they have to have for sewing.  And with the sheer volume of gadgets available online and in the fabric store, I can understand why people think they have to have such-and-such tool.  But I've been sewing for most of my life and while some of the tools I've acquired are occasionally useful, I thought I'd talk about what I really do have to have for sewing.

1)  Sewing shears.  And I'm not talking the cheapies.  While I lived with the cheap Fiskers and Singer scissors for years, you'd never believe how much easier it is with a good, quality, pair of sewing shears.  I have Ginghers.  They're lovely and sharp... and did I mention sharp?  And yes, I do keep band aids next to my sewing table.  (It is actually possible to cut yourself with closed scissors.  I've done it.... but trust me, the good shears cut through fabric like butter)

2) A seam ripper.  Actually, multiple seam rippers.  They have a tendency to grow legs and walk away... and break.

3) A seam  gauge.  I know, it's a weird tool to say is essential.  But for small measuring jobs, it's absolutely a life saver.  I use it to mark buttonholes, measure hem widths, and basically anything else that a six inch ruler with a little plastic guide to keep you consistent is good for.

4) A tape measure.  If you want to have a prayer of making clothes that fit, you need to be able to measure the body the clothes are being made for.

5) A chopstick.  It's invaluable for turning collars and cuffs and pressing out points.  And yes, it's free!

6) A 12 inch school ruler.  Very useful for spacing buttonholes.

7) Parchment paper.  I don't use expensive pattern drafting paper.  Instead, I go to my local grocery store and stock up when it's on sale.  Especially when I have coupons, too.

8) Pins.  I'm a pinner.  It's how I was taught, and twenty years later, I've never taken to the pattern weight method.  Be sure to read the packaging to make sure you're not getting something too heavy for what you're sewing.

9) A sewing machine.  Preferably one that makes buttonholes.  I'm not the only one who thinks that older models are better because they're sturdier, last longer, and for neat, even stitching, you can't do better.  I have a Pfaff 1222E.  It's older than I am, and does everything from sew denim to quilt quilts without a hiccup.  (most of the time.)  It was state-of-the-art in about 1965 according to my manual.  If you do have an older one, find someone in your area that specializes in old machines and have it serviced.  It's worth the money.  If you're in the Atlanta area, I recommend Kirby Sew and Vac in Mableton, Georgia.  Their repairman is fantastic.  And you should see their collection of vintage machines for sale!

10) Embroidery transfer paper.  I know it sounds a little hinky, but really, it's the best stuff in the world for transferring pattern markings.  And you can use your chopstick to help.

11) Washable fabric marking pencils.  For marking buttonhole placement and any alterations.

12) A pencil.  You know, the kind you used in school.  Any time I need to alter a pattern, that's what I reach for.

While there are undoubtedly other tools out there that are useful to have, the dozen I listed above are ones I couldn't sew without. Occasionally, I need other things... like the hammer in the junk drawer in my kitchen for things like snap, grommet, jean button, and jean rivet installation, but usually, that's what I've got around me when I sew.  One thing I didn't list, though, was paper scissors.  I never, ever use my sewing shears to cut patterns.  (Members of my family have been promised death, dismemberment, and unspecified torture if they use my shears for anything but fabric.)  For that, I have a pair of $5 paper scissors I got in the office supply section of Wal-Mart.

Thread, patterns, notions, and fabric goes without saying.  Though the pattern instructions----those, I recommend you throw them over your shoulder and ignore them. That's what I've done almost since the beginning!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

too tired for pictures

It's been a long day.  We went to Stone Mountain to see my sister and her kids and celebrate Lizzy's birthday.  I'm sooo glad I stuffed packages with more tissue and ribbon than they needed because, as expected, she played more with the ribbon and paper than she did with the toys.  Well, except for the Brilliant Basics Stroll Along Walker.  That was a huge hit!  Oh, she's not good at it yet, but she's totally in love with that one.  Ricky loved the tractor shirt and shorts.  But alas, I forgot my camera and only got pictures of Lizzy and her birthday brownies.

I'll post pictures tomorrow. I'm just too tired to fight with the cell tonight to download pictures of chocolate-covered Lizzy into my computer.  We ran into a huge rainstorm on the way home and then mom and I had to go out.  We helped Sarah cut back some of her bushes with delusions of grandeur (they think they're trees).  And after a day in and out of the hot weather, we were just too tired for cooking dinner, so it was to Sam's to pick up some prescriptions, and then next door to Wal-Mart for pizza.  From reading my pattern instructions on the way to Sarah's house, I realized that I needed some twill to put in the waistband, and I already knew I needed more velcro (was almost out 'cause of the bag), a new tape measure, and some serger thread, so Joanns was our last stop on the way home.  It took me about five minutes to gather supplies, but then I had to wait in line for an hour, because their computers were down, and everything had to be done the old fashioned way---pen, paper, and calculator.

After dinner was over, I started sewing.  I mean, the girls will be here tomorrow, so I needed to get through the baby shower gifts.  The snaps are going on the bag in the morning, but I finished the changing pad, four oversized receiving blankets, and the itty bitty baby dress.  I should take pictures, but I'm just too tired tonight.  I'll post them tomorrow after I finish the last bit of the diaper bag construction and the girls go home.  It's been a busy day.  And well, all things considered, I did get a lot of sewing done!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Hip Mama Diaper Bag (contd) and mostly no sewing

I wish I could say that I sew every day, but I can't.  Today, well, I tacked the lining down in the bag with hand stitches, but I didn't get any further.  Had to go on a shopping trip for my grandmother.  I hate those.  You'd think that going grocery shopping would be a one stop shop, but it never is with her.  Today, we were lucky--it was only three stores to get everything on her list.  If we're lucky, we won't get another "I'm hungry" call for another two weeks.  I wish she'd plan better.  I mean, you'd think that if you have to have someone else get your groceries for you that you'd plan ahead and when you were starting to run low on a few items, call and say, "Here's what I'll need soon and anytime this week is good," right?  But no.   She never calls until there's nothing left, she's taken her last pill from a prescription, or it's somehow an emergency and so she needs whatever RIGHT NOW.  We told her today that we couldn't drop everything and come as of next week, because we're going to have a eight week old baby and a three-year-old toddler starting next week.  We'll see if it actually worked.

Tomorrow, I'm hoping to start altering my pattern for my pants, but I don't know how that will go.  We have to go downtown for my one-year-old niece's birthday party.  Okay, so it's really late considering that her birthday was May 27th, but my BIL was home and we weren't really welcome, and so much has been going on that we didn't have a chance to come before now.  Her presents are wrapped (I expect her to have more fun with the paper and ribbons than the gifts) and neatly stacked ready to go.  I'm going to get up early and bake some of our $0.19 brownies and frost them for her birthday.  And we'll dig up a candle just so we can watch her blow it out...  and hopefully stick her hands in the icing and get that look that all babies get before they figure out that icing tastes good.  :D

Hip Mama Diaper bag

It's 3:30 am here, and I just finished the sewing of the Hip Mama Diaper Bag.  I deviated a bit--I added side elastic pockets on the inside, and I'm putting the snaps through the lining, interfacing, and outside all. It'll mess with the pockets a little, but past experience has taught me that the more layers the better in between snaps.  One thing that surprised me was that the back wasn't interfaced.  Yes, there's a zipper pocket back there, but it needs the stiffening to stand up.  So I added a layer of non-fused interfacing to the back.  I sewed it 1/4 inch around the edges and thus my version stands very well. 

I bought some heavy-duty snaps that I'll be installing in the morning.  The thing next to it bristling with pins is the oversized changing pad.  Some things you can never have too big--changing pads and receiving blankets!  After I wake up, I'll need to stitch down the back binding by hidden hem stitch and get out my hammer. 

Money is tight at my brother's and SIL's house, and she's been invited to this shower, too. So I'm thinking that she should go through my scraps, choose some fabric, and we'll make  the Itty Bitty Baby Dress.  I've done it before.  It's a very, very, very fast project.  I can whip one up in a couple hours, and then Joanna has both a good present and more importantly, a free present.    I'm going to call her in the morning and offer.  If she wants, she can go to Joanns and buy some fat quarters.  It'll be around $5 then.  The charm of that dress is that it fits right away.  And since it's hot here in Georgia, it's a good thing to give as a June baby present. 

Tomorrow, we have to shop for my grandmother, and hopefully, I can get home fast enough to start the necessary adjustments to Butterick 5403.

This is my starting jeans pattern.  I'm making a wearable muslin this week.  We'll see how it turns out.  And now, bed for me.  It's been a long day--at least I don't have lots of random squares of laminated cotton and duck canvas hanging around!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Granny Lane Sundays

I don't sew on Sundays.  Okay, let me qualify--I don't sew on Sundays without spending more time taking things apart than I do putting them together.  For some reason, nothing ever... quite... goes together on a Sunday.  Occasionally, I'll do it if there's no other choice, but otherwise, I give my sewing machine a wide berth because if I try, I will fail.  Spectacularly.  This holds true for any other kind of project I attempt.  So painting, drawing, and everything else are on the list.  Thing is, I'm a bit under the weather right now, anyway, so I spent today sleeping mostly.  At least I know what I'm doing this week, sewing wise.  As soon as the shipment arrives, I can make more receiving blankets for this Friday's baby shower.  I love that project.  It's fast, quick, easy, and requires no pattern.  And to make it even better, they'll be used.  A lot.  Oversized receiving blankets are always appreciated!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Random bits and sewing plans.

I'm tired.  I finished both four receiving blankets and the PJs and got the diaper bag cut out and the interfacing fused.  We spent the day picking up supplies and me fusing duck canvas to interfacing.  And it wasn't easy.  The stuff just didn't want to stick to the canvas!  I labeled all the pieces--as is part of my usual process for pieces that look the same--and it's ready to go.  I'm doing a separate changing pad with two layers of interfaced canvas and my laminated cotton.  It's lighter weight interfacing than I'm using in the body of the bag, because I need to be able to fold it to carry it in the bag. 

We got a good deal at Kohl's today.  Okay, a fantastic deal.  Today, we had a $10 off anything over $20 coupon and a $10 coupon.  We raided the clearance section of the toddlers department and walked away with two outfits for the Bit for absolutely FREE.  Yes, FREE.  Summer clothes are on clearence, even though summer has just begun.  So Bit got a pair of bermuda shorts, a really cute shirt, and a dress, retail value $48, for absolutely nothing.  Works for me! 

This week, the must-do projects are the diaper bag and I have more double-napped flannel coming for receiving blankets,  The shower is Friday night, so it has to get done, and the sooner the better.  I also need to dig out my khaki fabric from three Christmases back to use for a wearable muslin for jeans.  Hopefully before Friday night.  Shorts are not on--too casual--and I don't have any other pants right now because I've worn them out and not bothered to make more.  Evie is much more fun to make clothes for than I am!  And, well, I don't want to wear a dress.  I wish I could go RTW, but due to my disease (don't worry--not contagious) I can't find pants to accommodate my over sized legs.  So if I don't find time to make 'em, I don't have 'em.  This week, I'm doing it, I swear.  I know that it's summer and thus, really too hot for jeans, but I want long pants.  Technically, I'm not supposed to wear shorts, anyway, on the theory that long pants will protect my compression stockings.  We'll see.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Knits and other scary things

Probably the scariest things I've ever sewn are knits.  Sure, they're less ravel-y than wovens, but they've got lots of stretch, which, frankly, is scary.  Without meaning to, you can create something that's so stretched out of shape that it's ruined.  And today, I'm  sewing up knits. 

Okay, it's not all knits.  I'm making  Simplicity 3971.  They're classic jammies, and I'm making the tank top to go underneath.  I was lucky enough to find a blue knit that matched the blue stripes in the cotton/poly shirting that I'm making the PJs out of.

Here's my shirting.  It's lightweight, because it's a blend, won't wrinkle like 100% cotton will, and IMHO, pretty much perfect for summer jammies.  To make it even better, I got knit at Joanns for around a $1 a yard (the shirting was $1.93/yard) so this was a fairly inexpensive project.  I'm going to do my topstitching with matching blue thread.  And yes, I've tried topstitching thread, but my machine is allergic to it and refuses to sew with it in.  I don't know why, but I may be talking to my repair man over at Kirby Sew and Vac in Mableton.  Yeah, it's a long trip, but they're fantastic, so it's soooo worth it.  Yes, my machine is old (it was state-of-the-art in 1965) but they specialize in the old machines.  And I love my Pfaff 1222E.  I learned to sew on a 1222, so I'm familiar with its' quirks and I don't like the newer ones much.  Too high-tech, too easy for something to go wrong.

Anyway, I spent hours yesterday cutting out (and cleaning strawberries) And today I'm ready to start sewing.  This weekend, because I'm going to a baby shower next week, I'm making the Hip Mama Diaper Bag.  I've gathered the materials, purchased a rolly foot, so it's now a matter of buckling down and getting it done.

I'll post pics of the jammies, and you'll be hearing more about the diaper bag.  And for once, my rotary cutting mat and the cutter and ruler that go with it will be used for more than quilting.  Oh, well, it's better than gathering dust the way it was before I started quilting!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Hollywood unprinted patterns

For my first venture into the world of unprinted patterns, I chose a very cute Hollywood brand pattern.  Unknown, to me, but my, isn't it cute?

It was easier than I thought, and the results are charming.

Here's a close up.  After I took the picture, I decided that I didn't like the bows, removed them, tied some nicer ones, and sewed them on by hand....  I've added five inches to the dress to make it longer.

Here's a full view.  This is from about 1936.  And it fits really well without any changes other than length.  The whole thing is french seamed, with 1/2 inch seam allowances.  (Bit insisted that Buzz had to have his picture taken, too.)  Because of Bit's distressing habit of pulling her skirt over her head, she had to have matching panties underneath.  So I pulled another Hollywood pattern, Hollywood 1111, for that.

See the panties shown on view 2?  I fixed them so that they had an all-around attached waistband and added elastic to the back waistband so that they'd stay up.  They'd be too big without the elastic in the waist, but they fit everywhere else, so elastic was the quickest fix.

Gracie decided that her undershirt was something to play with here!  (I didn't want to deal with the "I naked" again! LOL)

This was also an unprinted pattern, and I thought it was interesting that the sides button up.  Initially, I put elastic in the legbands, too, but I removed it when it became obvious that it made them a little tight for her.
 And here's from the side.  Thanks to this project, I'm not afraid of the unprinted anymore. 

giveaway stuff

Key to taking pictures like a pro giveaway

Just because I could use the help with pictures of the Bit!

Monday, June 13, 2011


Today was, unfortunately, not a sewing day.  More like a shopping/cooking/comedy of errors day.  I pulled my pattern pieces out, only to discover that in my sewing fugue of Christmas (13 pairs of pajamas in a little over a month--I'd lost my ever-lovin' mind!)  I'd cut off the size I needed for Joanna's birthday summer PJs.  Luckily for my budget, Simplicity patterns are on sale this week for $1.99 each, so it was off to Joanns.  I also discovered that I was out of waistband elastic, which meant that Wal-Mart was on the list for today.  Now, at Joanns, elastic sells on average for $0.99/yard.  If I go to Wal-Mart, they've been selling pre-cut, pre-packaged elastic for years for that price... 3 yards each.  The price has gone up a bit, but I'll take $1.37 for three yards over Joann's price any day.  I cleaned them out, which, frankly, with the way they've cut the craft department, isn't hard.  I also got new sheets because mine are almost pretty much worn out.  Not a fantastic deal, but meh, they were what I needed and I couldn't wait for a sale.  Last stop was Publix.  We've been looking into the coupon thing, because, well, if anyone needs to save money, we do.  (So I can spend it on fabric ;) )

Today, we think we got a good deal.  This week, Publix has a deal where you buy 1 box of Pillsbury brownie mix (which is on sale for $0.99) and one container of Pillsbury frosting (BOGO $3.00) and get $2.00 off milk.  Now, we had a $0.40 coupon for the brownie mix, which doubles and makes the brownie mix $0.19/box.  and a $0.50 coupon for the frosting, which also doubles, so it was $0.50/canister.  Which made it so we were going to pay $1.00 for a gallon of milk.  Score!  Only they were out of Pillsbury brownie mix.  Because it was so complex, they told us to choose another brand and they'd give it to us for the sale price, take the Pillsbury coupons, and we could still use the milk deal.  Double score!  We got the Ghiradelli brownie mix as a substitute for $0.19!  I can't buy the flour for that.

Then I got to go home and start cooking.  We had a turkey in the deep freeze that needed to leave, and so we had a mini-Thanksgiving for Joanna's birthday.  Which meant that while I managed to cut the new pattern apart and out of the surrounding paper, I didn't mange anything else because I spent the rest of the day in the kitchen cooking.

Tomorrow, I have a lesson on my new serger, and then if I'm lucky, I can get stuff cut out and start sewing.

Sunday, June 12, 2011


Didn't get stuff cut out last night.  Don't think I'm getting things done today, either.  Sick.  There's a stomach bug going around and guess who caught it?  It's almost 3:30 in the afternoon, and I've pretty much spent today either sleeping or in the bathroom.  Hopefully, it'll go away enough for me to sew tomorrow.  Please. 

Saturday, June 11, 2011

No Sewing day

Hopefully, I'll at least be able to manage cutting stuff out, but no guarantees.  Other than that, today's been a no sewing day.  Probably the first of many as in about two weeks, we'll have the girls regularly.  Joanna's birthday is tomorrow, and they really couldn't afford to go out do much to celebrate this year.  Finances are extra tight with the new baby and Joanna on maternity leave.  So we babysat both girls while they had a burger and free redbox movie (coupon).  I was planning on cutting out pajamas today, but didn't manage it.  Well, the night is young, we ordered pizza for dinner, and Joanna and Jared have taken the Bits home.  That's right.  I now have two Little Bits.  Only one is littler than the other because she's only a month old. 

Really, they're somewhat boring jammies, but I was driven by 1) poly/cotton blend and 2) price point.  Honestly, for something that's gonna be slept in, I don't want to pay much more than I would for a commercial pair.  The fabric is blue and white stripes and it was $1.95/yard.  Works for me.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Busy, busy!

I've been a busy little sewist these past few days.  I finally finished Gracie's birthday dress.  It's a 30s Hollywood pattern, Hollywood 984--

And I used another to make matching panties to go underneath with Hollywood 1111, which is also late 30s--

I also finished three coordinating sundresses from modern patterns, Simplicity 2375, and Butterick 3477.  This year, they're made from cupcake fabric--

(the reviews are last year's models)

And Rickie's tractor overalls were a big hit--

They're from Jalie 972.

And I hope his new tractor shirt that he hasn't seen yet will be, too.  It's from Advance 4440, which is a 1940s pattern.  Unprinted, too.

And I've reviewed all of these, at one time or another. My next project is more pajamas.  Lightweight summer ones for SIL.  After Christmas, I swore off 'em, but I just can't seem to stay away....

Thursday, June 9, 2011

why do I get myself into these things?

My brother came over last night and brought the Bit with him.  Normally, this is a cause for joy, because since she's been home with Mommy, I don't get my hug and sloppy baby kiss fix for the week or the lap sitting cuddles you get for story reading time.  Oh the sweet rewards of helping raise little ones! 

But last night, I was cutting out tractor shorts to go with the tractor shirt for my nephew.  I finished Alina's sundress.  Now all three girls can match.  But after cutting out Ricky's shirt, I had about a yard and a half left, so he got shorts.  And as soon as I'd pulled the pins out of the pattern paper and folded it, Evie stole the shorts pieces.  Apparently, anything I make belongs to her.  I explained that they were Ricky's shorts, and asked if I could have the pieces back.  Now I've got over a yard of tractor fabric left. 

Gracie informed me that she wanted tractors, too!  *sigh*  She needs summer clothes.  I have the fabric.  And a favorite pattern.  Butterick B3477--

And some yellow cotton/poly batiste and a tractor patch.  So I guess my little girl will be wearing John Deere this summer....

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

three days, two projects...

My brother is going to Tucker on Friday.  Really, it doesn't mean much except for the fact that my sister lives out that direction, and I need to finish up Alina's new sundress and Ricky's new tractor shirt before he goes so I can send them along.  With the price of gas these days, it's just better to send it if he's already going there.  And we can send Lizzy's other birthday presents at the same time.  So today, I need to sew together Lizzy's sundress and get Ricky's shirt cut out and the interfacing fused.  If my shipments get here, I can start getting Joanna's birthday present cut out, too.  See, they sent the wrong things the last time around.  If you sew a lot (like me) a glace tells you if something is the standard width (43-45 inches) or if you're lucky and it's 60 inches.  I ordered some 60" fabric from the $1.95/yard clearance section and received 44" fabric.  Thin is, I wouldn't have had enough fabric at 44" inches!  And it was the wrong fiber content, too.  I'd ordered a cotton/poly blend, but got 100% cotton.  It was an easy mistake to make.  It looked the same at first glance.  After all, the color and pattern were the same on both.  I sent 'em back, and according to my information, I should be getting the replacements today.  Which is good, since I need to get sewing to get it done by Monday.

I don't think she's reading this.. heck, I don't think she knows where this is.  Joanna's favorite things are sheet sets and jammies.  And last year's jammies weren't a good fit.  Thanks to the pajama explosion we had at Christmas, I now know exactly what sizes to make out of my pattern.    She loved her Christmas flannel ones, next comes lightweight summer jammies that actually fit her.  I'm making the tank top this time, too.  Now that I have a serger, it seems like a waste not to use it.

I'm considering a new feature.  I love patterns.  I spend a great deal of time looking at them and I have a fairly large collection, most of which I got by accident, since I buy in large lots.  And in my pattern browsing, I've found joy in stumbling over the weird, the wacky, and insane.  You know, the patterns that make you wonder what their designers had been smoking at the time.  The craptastic and cracktastic patterns of the past and present.  And then there are the pretty ones, the ones that I find and have to have.  So, I'm thinking of perhaps having a pattern of the week.  It'd be fun!  I know I have no readers out there at the moment, but I think I like the idea...

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Make and Mend (or a new outfit a day, pint-sized style)

When I heard about Make and Mend 2011, I wanted to participate and luckily, I had just the thing--an outfit of Gracie's we bought second hand last year, thinking she'd grow into it and knowing we'd probably need to tweak it.  Exhibit A.  This is a 3T, that's too wide and too short, both.  Thing is, from the capris, which are perfect (3T pants are usually too big) I'd say that it runs small, except for the fact that the top is both too wide and too short.  And we hated the shoulder strings.  (They were tucked inside when we bought it for $1.50.)

So, my first order of business was to do a bit of seam ripping.  Bye, bye weird shoulder strings!  Too trailor-parkish for us.  :D  Next, I took the shirt in to make it fit better.  It is after all, shirred with elastic thread, so baggy wasn't going to work. 

Then, I undid some of the side seam so that we could add some lace to make it longer.  At 3, a lace ruffle on the bottom isn't a bad thing, and since it already had a ruffle, we're just going to exaggerate it a little!

I tend to buy lace in bulk. Even with shipping, I save money that way since even eyelet can cost you more than fabric yardage in the chain stores. Ebay is a favorite source for lace since I can get it for around $1 a yard there. Needless to say, I have a lot of lace stashed away for just such an occasion. Marissa, over on A New Dress A Day, convinced me that RIT was useful to have on hand, too. And I didn't want white lace here, so out comes Petal Pink dye to take care of my lace. And lucky for me, I had lace that was a decent match for the lace already on the capris.

And since it was her "new" outfit, Gracie insisted on getting into a picture--

After it was dyed and dry, I trimmed the lace to the width I wanted, (this is where getting really, really, really wide lace from the stash is useful.) 

threaded pink ribbon through the beading lace,   (I have a large ribbon collection from sewing for the Bit)

and started sewing. Rather than overlock, I sewed wrong sides together--and then sewed the beading lace over the raw edges. Then I sewed up that side seam and overlocked the raw edges.

Next, came the shoulders. If Gracie weren't three, I probably would have left them alone. But she is three.  And as anyone who takes care of a toddler will tell you, if it's easy to take off, you're going to have a naked kid on your hands in about three seconds flat.  So, taking some of the leftover lace, I sewed shoulder caps in place so that she can't just pull the shirt off by pulling it down.  I tucked the raw edges underneath and sewed them in place so that it wouldn't fall apart. I had some leftover ribbon, so I tied it in bows, sealed the ends, and hand sewed them in place on the shirt.  Now, the capris had one problem--one of the appliques had come loose on one side.  So I turned my sewing machine to buttonhole and zig-zagged over the raw edge with pink thread.

Voila!  Two days later, when my model returned--
If I'd had just a little more ribbon, I would have added bows to where the new shoulders meet the shirt, but I ran out, and actually buying some was out for this project!

And to think, it only sat around a month this time waiting for me to fix it! I'm much faster at making clothes than I am fixing pre-existing ones! (In my defense, I do have a distraction in the form of a brand new niece--Nikki--

(Gracie, aka. Little Bit, Nikki, and my brother, Geoffrey)

And since it's going on, anyway.... The New Vintage Lady's Make and Mend Giveaway....